Basa Fillet in Lemon-Caper Butter


Basa Fillet in Lemon-Caper Butter 1

Today, I tried Basa, a fish I have never had before. To give it a taste test, I cooked it in one of my favurite ways to prepare fish fillets; to wit, by simply pan-frying and finishing with a light sauce of butter and lemon juice. Parsley or scallion can be added but, today, I am using some capers for a little sparkle of added piquancy. It is a very simple method and suitable for even very delicate fish such as the Basa… Continue reading “Basa Fillet in Lemon-Caper Butter”

Notable Nosh: Chinese Green Dumpling

Chinese Green Dumpling 1

I chose to present this particular offering as a Notable Nosh post, rather than as part of my ‘Dim Sum’ series because, though I was served this from the Dim Sum Menu at the Palais Imperial in Ottawa on my last visit, the selection wasn’t really a standard dim sum offering and, indeed, differed rather significantly from what was described on the menu.

In the inset to the above picture, you can see the picture as it appeared on the menu. It is not a great picture and roughly indicated a slightly a slightly translucent dumpling with a very green filling. The first two Chinese characters beneath the image are 韭菜, which can mean ‘leek, or ‘chive’ and my server asked me, when I placed the order, whether I wanted chive or ‘sweet pea pod’. I went with chive and was expecting, from that, and the picture, that I would be getting some sort of vegetable dumpling.

What I received, as you can see in the main picture, is something that looks very much like well-formed Har Gow. It is not easy to tell, but they were actually pretty large and a little difficult to eat with chopsticks. They held together well, though,l and the wrapper was well-steamed and tender. What surprised me, in the event, was that the filling was not what I expected. There were chives present certainly, and in large enough amount to be very noticeable taste-wise, but the rest of the filling, indeed the bilk of it, was minced shrimp. It caught me off-guard and I might have been disappointed by it save for the fact that it was very, very good. I am not good at making Har Gow style dumplings as yet, but I think the next time I make Jiaozi, I will try this very decent filling combination…

Domaine Billard Père et Fils Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune 2015

Domaine Billard Père et Fils Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune 2015

Today’s choice is Burgundy from the Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune AOC. It is a little pricey, and rather unusual, but still very good.

  • Winery: Domaine Billard Père et Fils
  • Price: $25.15 CDN
  • Alcohol: 12%
  • Sugar: 2.1 g/L

This wine has a pale ruby color and I noted a very slight effervescence on decanting. There is dark berry on the nose, along with a woody, earthy quality and faint notes of flowers and spice. It has a medium body, with a pleasantly smooth texture, and the tannins and acidity both in the low-moderate range. The latter is very indistinct at the start but develops more fully towards the end. A slightly tart base of red berry is overlaid with a definite taste of orange blossom and tea, and there is also a mild spiciness with a hint of leather. Overall, the combination of flavors is quite offbeat but very pleasing.

Dim Sum: Chang Fen 腸粉

Chang Fen 1

Rice noodle rolls (as they are commonly known in English) are pretty much a standard on dim sum menus and are, indeed, one of my favorite selections. Typically, they consist of a sheet of steamed rice flour batter that is then rolled around various ingredients and served in sauce of some sort.

In Chinese, you will find these appearing as 腸粉, which translates as ‘intestine noodle’ from the resemblance to the same. It is pronounced in Mandarin as ‘chángfěn’. On menus, you may see it appearing as ‘Cheung Fan’, or ‘Cheong Fun’… Continue reading “Dim Sum: Chang Fen 腸粉”

Baked Cauliflower

Baked Cauliflower 1

I eat a fair bit of cabbage and cauliflower as they are good vegetable choices if one is trying to watch one’s carbohydrate intake. I like to experiment to keep things interesting though and this little side dish I put together is one I have eaten several times recently. It has a bit of a Mediterranean flavor to it and is very satisfying…  Continue reading “Baked Cauliflower”

Coste Della Plaie Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2012

Coste Della Plaie Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2012

The Italian Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC lies in the Abruzzi region and features wines produced using the Montepulciano varietal. One should be careful not to confuse them with those of the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG in Tuscany which are Sangiovese based.

Generally, these wines are very moderately priced. They are, in large measure, somewhat rustic in a rough and ready sort of way, but mostly pretty good sipping wines that stand up well to hearty foods. This particular selection, though a bit more expensive than many, is a decent representative of the type…

The pertinent details are:

  • Winery: Podere Castorani SRL
  • Price: $21.55 CDN
  • Alcohol: 13.5%
  • Sugar: 4.3 g/L

The color here is a dark cherry red that is very attractive but, unfortunately, of teeth-staining strength,. It has a medium nose with red berry, candied fruit and a bit of spice, while the body is full with a velvety texture. It is off dry with some residual sweetness, moderate acidity and smooth tannins that develop into a nice astringency near the end.  Slightly tart red fruit forms the base and there are strong notes of pepper and an earthy, vegetal quality. The finish is a bit short but ends with a really nice tobacco note. All in all, it is pleasing and eminently drinkable.

Equipment: Makiyakinabe


Makiyakinabe 1

The Makiyakinabe is also known as a Japanese Omelette Pan as this generally describes its primary function. The name, however, translates as ‘roll-cook-pan’ so, more particularly, it is used for the multi-layer, rolled style of omelette known as Tamagoyaki. These pans are rectangular (or sometimes square) in shape, in contrast to the rounded western omelette pan, and they come in a variety of sizes.  I bought the Kotobuki™ brand version you see above to replace one I lost in a house move some time ago and, today, I gave it a test-run…  Continue reading “Equipment: Makiyakinabe”

Notable Nosh: Soft-Shell Crab

Softshell Crab 2017-07 1

This is only the third time I have eaten this particular delicacy; The first time was in Vancouver 12 years ago, the second in Ottawa (some time since then), and this last time was also in Vancouver during my recent vacation, although I can’t, for the life of me, remember in which restaurant…

For any crab lovers, the soft shell variety (those taken whilst ‘in-between’ shells during moulting) are an especial treat. There are, of course, no hard shells to deal with and the soft carapace that remains just adds to the overall flavor. Here, unusually, instead of several tiny crabs, I was served one large one cut in half and the shell had already started to harden… not enough to spoil the dish, by any means, but just enough so that it added a nice crunch and added the same, indefinable, taste that one gets from the tail section of whole shrimp after being deep-fried to edibility..

The crab itself was served atop a bed of crispy fried cellophane noodles (which worked really nicely) and was drizzled with both Japanese style Eel sauce and a sweet Mayo. Both of these were almost superfluous given the sweetness of the crab flesh but they enhanced rather than detracted from the main attraction and I though the overall effect excellent …

Château De Chamirey Mercurey 2014

Château De Chamirey Mercurey 2014

Burgundy is world known for excellent wines but, quite often, one finds the quality to be hit or miss. Expensive ones can be disappointing, and the cheaper ones can sometimes surprise. Today’s selection is not especially expensive, but it is one of the AOC wines above the basic ‘Bourgogne’ designation and that tends to give a certain expectation of quality. It is not a bad wine by any means, but not particularly noteworthy either …

The pertinent details are as follows:

  • Winery: Marquis de Jouennes d’Herville
  • Region: Burgundy, Cote Chalonnaise , Mercurey AOC
  • Price: $27.60 CDN
  • Alcohol: 12.8%
  • Sugar: 2.7 g/L

The color is not especially attractive: It is a pale, rather watery ruby and faintly turbid. The nose is indistinct with a vague red berry base with some floral and vegetal notes and not very pleasant meaty quality. It is medium to light bodied and fairly dry with moderate acidity and medium strength tannins, both of which complement each other quite well and carry on through a decently long finish. The overall effect is not especially interesting. Slightly sour red fruit is overlaid with a somewhat earthy, forest floor quality and a hint of  butcher-shop. There is a little spiciness and some floral notes but not enough to to provide any good highlights. Overall, it is not bad but not really worth the price.

Spicy Bagoong Prawns

Spicy Bagoon Prawns 1

Almost five years ago now, I posted a recipe for a Prawn Curry that was my take on a dish I first ate as a small child. That dish, mostly Indian in character, incorporated Belacan to enhance the rich prawn flavour and used tomato to make a thick sauce. Today, I am using some lovely giant prawns to make something similar, except that I am using Filipino Bagoong instead of the fermented dried shrimp paste, and producing a result that is less a ‘curry’ than a spicy, stir-fried dish… [ Continue reading “Spicy Bagoong Prawns”