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Chili-Mint Lamb Buns

Lamb Buns 1

I was planning to use some of the lamb leftover from our Easter feast to make Shawarma but, unfortunately, the roast in question was not suitable for carving into appropriate slices and so I decided to try something a little different. I had bread dough leftover from making pizza and I thought that I could use some of this to make something along the lines of the stuffed Chinese buns known as Baozi. As a twist, however, I went with a filling that was more middle-eastern, and thus Shawarma-like, in spirit… Read more

Foodstuff: Cherimoya

Cherimoya 1

 

This rather interesting looking item with the attractive, rather reptilian skin, appeared in our local Co-op recently. It was identified as a ‘Cherimoya’ but, while the name was somewhat familiar to me, I doubt if I could have identified as a fruit. After doing a bit of a search on-line, I discovered that it  is native to South America (although cultivated as far north as California) and is also grown in southern Asia. Wikipedia tells me it is also known as a ‘custard apple’ in some quarters, but I have to confess to never having heard that name before. On tasting the fruit, however, it is rather apparent how that particular nickname came about… Read more

Easter Lamb with Gremolata

Lamb Gremolata 1

For our recent Easter feast, I vacillated between duck, goose or leg of lamb, but the realities of northern living settled the issue for me as I could find none of the above and had to settle for a lamb shoulder instead. Thus far, I have only bought the shoulder so as to cut it up for use in curries or Chinese dishes involving bite size pieces, and I have to confess to never having cooked one whole. When I was bemoaning the fact that I could find neither lamb leg or even chops for our Easter meal, Stefan over at Stefan’s Gourmet Blog suggested that I do the shoulder sous-vide or braise it, but since the former is technically beyond my equipment-wise, and since my wife prefers roast lamb, I decided to go ahead and do it in the oven using a herb-spice combination known as a Gremolata.

A Gremolata is similar to another well-known preparation known as a Persillade, which, in its simplest form is just parsley minced with garlic. The essential difference between the two is that a Gremolata includes lemon zest but, like the persillade, there are many variations on the basic theme. Some versions include sage, thyme, rosemary or mint, and in Milan, I gather, anchovy paste is sometimes used. Oil, chiefly olive oil, may also be added depending on the intended use for the finished preparation. For today’s dish, I am keeping my Gremolata fairly simple… Read more

Foodstuff: Tienjin Pickled Vegetable (天津冬菜)

Tienjin Pickle 1

Today’s post features a very interesting food product that I have used in my kitchen many times over the years. Essentially, it is a salted cabbage pickle, somewhat like a rather dry Chinese version of sauerkraut, and is a specialty of the northern Chinese municipality of Tienjin. It is commonly available in Asian groceries, often packaged in vacuum-sealed plastic bags, but it also comes in a variety of attractive earthenware crocks, which, I have to admit, is probably what inspired me to buy it in the first place… Read more

Scallops with Snow Peas and Black Fungus

Scallops with Snow Peas 1

My wife and I purchased a big box of some lovely frozen scallops over the Christmas holidays. They are very large indeed (and we have only eaten a few so far) so I thought I might use some in a fairly simple but tasty stir-fry dish using snow-peas and a bit of the Chinese Black Fungus I featured in a Foodstuffs post not long ago. The dish I came up with is generally Chinese in spirit but I departed from traditional methods and briefly grilled the scallops before adding them to the wok… Read more

Review: Earl of Sussex

431 Sussex Dr., Ottawa – (613) 562-5544 – Website

Earl of Sussex 1

Date of Visit: March 16, 2013

On the last full day of my recent week long trip to Ottawa, I felt like a relaxing day of doing not too much. I had been everywhere I wanted to go, seen what I wanted to see, and a pleasant afternoon reading in nice surroundings while being served a little food and drink seemed perfect. I settled on the Earl of Sussex Pub down on Sussex Drive and was well-rewarded in my choice… Read more

Foodstuff: Mint Jelly – President’s Choice Brand

Mint Jelly 1

When I was a kid growing up in England, a lamb roast was always served with my mother’s homemade mint sauce, or else a very nice mint jelly made by a Scottish company called Baxter’s. Once we moved to Canada, Baxter’s couldn’t be found and the only commercial variety we ever had in the house after that was a truly awful concoction I couldn’t stand. Honestly, I couldn’t understand why my parents continued to buy the stuff after the first time we had it as it was a horrible fluorescent green muck that tasted like toothpaste. Occasionally, over the years, I have managed to find imported varieties, including Baxter’s, in specialty stores, but I recently came across this domestic version from ‘President’s Choice’ that is really quite good… Read more

Notable Nosh: Enoki Mushroom Beef Rolls

Enoki Beef Roll

Negimaki, or beef rolls, are fairly common on Japanese restaurant menus and there are many variations on the basic theme. I have had them stuffed with asparagus before,  and also with just scallions, but enoki mushrooms are also a favorite.

The rolls pictured above were served to me at Ken’s Japanese Restaurant in Ottawa not long ago and I thought I would share them with you, not because they were particularly special, but because I would like to experiment with the same idea sometime in the near future. Ken’s version was simply very thin slices of beef wrapped around some enoki mushrooms and a bit of scallion. They were not the prettiest I have ever seen by any means, nor plated especially well, but they were actually much tastier than they look.

The sauce was basically a soy-mirin composite, but it is clear that the chef used the mixture to de-glaze the pan used to fry the rolls as the rich, beefy flavor was clearly apparent. Beef sliced this thinly can be difficult to cook as just a few seconds too long in the pan can take the texture from tender and succulent to something like wet-cardboard in a heart-beat. Ken’s managed it just right, however and the result was very toothsome. My only real complaint, other than the presentation, was that the mushrooms were not of the highest quality. They were a bit stringy and the flavor (admittedly subtle at the best of times) was hard to discern. I am thinking that lightly poaching the mushrooms first in a nice stock would improve the result. In any event, I will be playing around with this basic idea in a future post so stay tuned…

 

Review: Alirang Korean Restaurant

134 Nelson St., Ottawa – (613) 789-2223 – Website

Alirang 1

Date of Visit: March 16, 2013

Alirang is a bit outside the concentration of eateries in the Byward Market section of Ottawa and is thus one of those places that the average diner will be unlikely to simply happen across. This is a bit of a shame really as the tiny Korean restaurant is a real little gem of a place and well-worth investigating… Read more

Notable Nosh: Beef Tripe (牛百葉)

Imperial Beef Tripe 1

When I saw this dish labeled on the dim sum menu at Palais Imperial in Ottawa as ‘Beef Stripe’, I was rather at a loss. The Chinese characters did not immediately suggest anything to me, even though I recognized the first as meaning ‘cow’ and the second as ‘hundred’, and the rather grainy photograph on the menu was so indistinct that I though that beef tendon was being offered. It was only after seeing the dish that I realized that ‘Stripe’ was a misprint and that the delicacy in question was, in fact, beef tripe… Read more