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Scallops with Salted Black Bean

Scallop with Black Bean 01

A while ago, I tried a dish called ‘Scallop Xao Tuong’ at the Café Indochine Vietnamese Restaurant in Ottawa. It was described on the menu as being Scallops with Eggplant and Zucchini in a Fermented Black Bean Sauce and, while it was really delicious, I was a little disappointed in that there was almost no hint of black beans to give it the really rich umami flavor I was expecting. I also noted, in my review of the restaurant that, in addition to the eggplant and zucchini, there were all sorts of other vegetables included and that I felt the end-result was too ‘busy’.

I decided that I would try and improve upon the basic theme at home and my idea was to up the amount of salted black bean, replace the tiny bay scallops used by the restaurant with slices of large sea scallop, and keep the vegetable component to a much simpler minimum…  Read more

Black-Faced Polar Bears

Resolute Bears 01

Well… I haven’t actually discovered a new breed of bears. Rather, whilst on Court circuit to the tiny community of Resolute Bay last week, I just happened to encounter the filthiest group of polar bears I have yet seen…

Although I have been visiting Resolute about 3 times a year for the last 13 years, I have only given it a brief mention in my blog pages thus far. Not only is it the second-most northerly community on the whole continent, it is probably the most-busy ‘bear-wise’ in the territory. I promise that, sometime soon, I will get around to featuring the community itself in a more detailed post but for now I thought I would share my most recent bear encounter.

In a decade and a half up here, I have seen Polar bears many times but usually only one at a time. On this occasion, I saw nine in the space of about twenty minutes…  Read more

Notable Nosh: Soursop Juice

Nosh - Soursop Juice 1

Soursop anyone?

I have to confess to having never heard of Soursop before but one of the best things about my trips down south is getting to try exciting new foods and drinks from around the world. This particular beverage you see pictured above was produced in Vietnam and was very interesting indeed… Read more

Vote for Meeeeeeeee….

Vote for Me A

Okay … I really have no idea what all this is about….

A few days ago, I got an e-mail asking me to register for this MiB thnigie with unspecified promises of great blogging success. I get these all the time and usually ignore such ‘offers’ since they are so blatantly schemes to bilk me of money. MiB, however, asked for no dollars at all so I agreed to follow along.

Apparently, if I include the above ‘badge’ on my page (you can see it in my right-hand sidebar) people can vote for me and great things will accrue should I get the largest number of votes. The actual benefits are not clear, but, so far, I am hoping for lots of girlfriends and to become hugely (ahem) endowed.

Anyway, I told my dear wife about the scheme and she was quite insistent that new girlfriends are totally out of the question (although she seemed disturbingly receptive to the whole endowment idea)… I can’t quite fathom this all just yet but, in the spirit of scientific inquiry, would you all please click the ‘badge’, follow the link, and then vote for me there…. Let’s see what happens!

Steamed Mussels

Steamed Mussels 01

There really is nothing like fresh Mussels. Sadly, we can usually only by them frozen in these parts so when our local stores do have a supply of the fresh article on hand, my signature Steamed Mussels always follows.

I never follow a precise recipe when I steam mussels… each version is just slightly different than the one before… but, essentially, I steam them whole in butter, garlic, onion, white wine and parsley.  I also occasionally add lemon zest, or even chopped tomato to the blend. Basically, my dish is pretty much a version of the famous ‘Moules Mariniere ’, and goes great with crusty bread to sop up the delicious broth that is created by the steaming process… Read more

Foodstuff: Shrimp Paste – Lingayen™ Brand

Lingayen Shrimp Paste 1

I have featured a number of fermented shrimp products in these pages, including the dried paste variety used in South-East Asian cookery known as Terassi or Belacan, and the Lee Kum Kee version of a Chinese style Shrimp Paste. When I saw this particular product on our local store shelves, I initially assumed that it was a sauce of some type intended for stir-frying shrimp but, after closer inspection, I realized that the shrimp ‘fry’ refers to the baby shrimp typically dried and fermented to make culinary pastes and that the word ‘fry’ is used in the same sense as ‘small fry’ when referring to tiny fish.

The Lingayen™ Brand variety is a product of the Philippines (some may remember the name from the WW2 naval battle of Lingayen Gulf), and the paste, I was interested to learn, is a bit different than its Chinese and South-East Asian counterparts… Read more

Notable Nosh: Unagi

Nosh - Unagi

Unagi, or freshwater eel, is a Japanese delicacy I have enjoyed many times and I thought I would share my most recent experience of it with you here. Japanese cuisine also makes use of sea eel (or ‘anago’) but you tend to find unagi appearing much more frequently on the menu at Japanese restaurants.

Like octopus and a few other fish products, unagi is always cooked, even in sashimi or sushi preparations. The cooking generally involves grilling but the eel is also sometimes steamed first. Often (indeed, every time I have ever had it) a sweetish glaze is added before grilling, but there is also a ‘shirayaki’ or ‘white-grilled’ version that does without. The glaze, when used, is often a Teriyaki sauce type preparation but here, on this particular occasion, I rather think that actual Eel Sauce formed the glaze. This is more than simply a sauce prepared for eel; it actually contains an extract from eel in the same way oyster sauce contains oyster extract and it has the same sort of sweet, umami flavor.

Although the sashimi and sushi pieces I ordered came plated very prettily with shiso leaf, shredded daikon, pickled ginger and wasabi, I didn’t think the eel was nearly as good as usual. It may have been due to overcooking but, in any event, I found the flesh really quite pallid and lacking in texture. Without the sauce, there probably wouldn’t have been a great deal of flavor and, on this occasion, the ginger and some soy were welcome additions. Normally though, I really enjoy this dish and, if you enjoy grilled fish you really should give it a try…

Review: Water’s Edge Restaurant – Iqaluit, NU

923 Federal Road, Iqaluit, NU – (867) 979-6684 – Website

Water's Edge 1

Date of Visit: October 14, 2013

I don’t generally eat at, nor review hotel restaurants but, here in the northern city of Iqaluit, the only restaurants that offer anything close to fine dining are all situate in, albeit not necessarily owned by, the four local hotels. The other three restaurants are pretty much snack type places (although the food is pretty good in a couple of them) and, as such, the dining options in this part of the country are fairly limited.

The newest of the hotels in Iqaluit, which was once  briefly called the ‘Nova’, is the ‘Hotel Arctic’ and it houses a pretty decent eating place known, somewhat inaccurately, as ‘The Water’s Edge. I have eaten there probably a half dozen times since it opened and, on my fifteenth wedding anniversary, which happened to coincide with Thanksgiving, I took my wife there for dinner…  Read more

Barbecued Ginger-Pineapple Back Ribs

Barbecued Ginger-Pineapple Ribs 01

One of our local stores had some lovely racks of back ribs for sale and I grabbed three packages; one for immediate use, and two more for the freezer. Not long ago, I did a post featuring my Grilled-Poached Ribs experiment wherein I slow-poached a rack of ribs in my Firepot Stock before finishing them quickly on the barbecue at high-heat. That time, I used side- ribs but for this dish I am using the much more tender back-ribs and will employ a slightly more mainstream method of slow grilling over indirect heat using wood-chips for a nice smoky flavor, and then finally caramelizing over direct flame to finish… Read more

Foodstuff: Sambal Oelek – Huy Fong™ Brand

Huy Fong Sambal Oelek 1

Hardcore fans of Asian food will likely recognize this brand and product, but if you haven’t come across it yet it really (really) bears trying. I have made, and regularly make my own Sambal Oelek, but this beats mine hands down and I can unstintingly recommend it as the best, and most versatile, commercial chili paste on the market… Read more

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