Month: February 2014

Notable Nosh: Tuna Tataki

Empire Grill Tuna Tataki

Aside from the odd can for making tuna salad sandwiches, I have only ever eaten tuna raw. With this particular dish, recently sampled at the Empire Grill in Ottawa, I only just managed, barely, to break with that tradition…

In my post featuring Beef Tataki, which explains in a bit more detail the specific Japanese grilling technique in question, I mentioned that the process is sometimes applied to fish, and, as you can see, the tuna in this particular case is very nearly raw all except for a tiny margin around the edges. It is this brief grilling that allows the tuna to develop a range of flavors beyond that of the purely raw article and the Empire Grill managed, I must say to do a very nice job.

The slices of tuna, crusted with white and dark sesame seeds were served over a bed of seaweed dressed with soy and ginger. This salad, which certainly added to the visual appeal of the presentation, was very pleasant in both texture and taste, although I rather suspect that a pre-packaged seaweed was used rather than prepared from scratch. The dark sauce you can see was not mentioned in the menu description but it had a very good umami taste that makes me think that soybean paste may have been present.  In any event, it worked really well with both the fish and the seaweed.

My only real criticism about this dish was that the tuna slices were ever so slightly dry. The waiter confirmed for me that the sesame seeds are pressed into the meat after grilling and I rather think that the restaurant probably prepares a large section of fish then keeps it pressed by wrapping tightly before slicing individual portions as ordered. This would make sense for restaurants to do but it does, if I am right in my guess, result in a slight diminution of the nice, soft texture of a freshly prepared piece. Still, this was really only a minor flaw and I really enjoyed the dish as a whole. I look forward very much to trying at home sometime as soon as fresh tuna appears in our local store…

 

Methi Masala Chicken

Methi Masala Chicken 1

Today’s production is very Indian in character and features chicken roasted in a green spice blend, or masala, whose central ingredient is dried Fenugreek leaf (known in India as ‘Methi’). In my post on the fresh Fenugreek Leaf, I noted that, whereas the fresh article is useful as a vegetable, when dried, the flavor becomes very concentrated and, as a culinary herb, lends dishes a very warm, almost maple-like flavor that is quite unique… Continue reading “Methi Masala Chicken”

A Response to a Review…

food-art-cover 1

About a year and a half ago, I posted a review of Food Art – Garnishing Made Easy by John Gargone. I haven’t, until now, ever had a reply to any of my book reviews by an actual author, but Mr. Gargone took the trouble to drop me a line, obviously taking the view that I had been a bit overly negative in my assessment. I reproduce his remarks below:

I have always believed in constructive criticism. However you do not give me that input. This book has been a great success with customer reviews and is being utilized in many culinary institutions as a guideline to food garnishing. These techniques of been taught to thousands of food service personnel and home chefs. The basic methods outlined in detail can be utilized on a daily basis even at home. They are all simple quick and the presentations have astounded guests in many casino hotels and country clubs across the nation visit my many edible art galleries at foodgarnishing.com to see the many variations of the displays in my book Food Art, Garnishing Made Easy

Note; I wrote this book because most other food Garnishing books I have read and it’s been in the thousands have all been about garnishes that either took too much time but did not equal impact or two silly to present. My book also entails how to display food which is something I personally have not seen in any other book.

I don’t know that I can really respond to this other than to say that, although I try to be as fair and objective as possible, I am somewhat constrained by my own culinary experience and interests when reading and reviewing different material. I am not a professional cook and so I was possibly a little intemperate in suggesting that actual professionals might not find the book useful… perhaps I should have restricted myself to saying that Mr. Gargone may have assumed knowledge, skills and experience that many purchasers may not possess. As Mr. Gargone points out, others reviewed his work positively so, clearly, there can be two opinions on the issue. Obviously, my readers who choose to take a closer look at the book can make up their own minds…

Foodstuff: Fish Sauce

Fish Sauce 1

I always rather think of Fish Sauce as being the south-east Asian equivalent of soy sauce as it is employed in much the same way, being ubiquitous in use as a cooking ingredient, a base for other sauces, and as a stand-alone condiment in its own right. Anybody who has ever eaten in a Vietnamese or Thai restaurant has likely consumed the sauce, even if not conscious of the fact, but, as yet, it does not appear as a regular item in many western pantries…  Continue reading “Foodstuff: Fish Sauce”

The Turkmeni Challenge …

The Turkmeni Challenge 1

Yesterday morning, I was perusing my blog stats with particular attention to the countries from which I have received visits. Pakistanis have been fairly regular visitors, and even 8 Afghanis have popped by at one time or another. Further down the list, but still represented, are *most* of the remaining ‘Stans’, towit: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan…

So WHERE is Turkmenistan????

Have I said something to offend? Do the Turmenis not like me for some reason? If, and I can’t imagine how, I have committed some sort of international faux pa, or other slight against the great Turkmeni people, then I mean to remedy that right now!

I am challenging all my readers to scour their recipe books (or ancestral memories, maybe) and post a recipe featuring either a traditional Turkmeni dish, or one inspired by the cookery of Turkmenistan, along with a little ‘blurb’ describing the origins or history of the dish. Please send me an e-mail announcing the post and I will collect them and later publish links in a follow-up post celebrating Turkmeni cuisine.

The challenge will close on March 31st, 2014, and I will announce the results on April 4, 2014, which I am hereby declaring the ‘International Turkmenistan Appreciation Day’. On that day of great celebration I hope that you will join me in a rousing rendition of the Turkmenistan National Anthem (just hum the bits you don’t know) and feast mightily on… well, whatever…

Men türkmençe geplemeýärin!!

Notable Nosh : Chili Garlic Peanut Brittle

Chili Garlic Brittle1

Today, I thought I would share with you a rather interesting item I picked up while in Ottawa just before Christmas. There is a very nice confectionary store called the ‘Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory’ down in Byward Market and on my last visit to the city in order to pick up some treats for the holiday season. I snagged some regular Peanut Brittle (which I love) and then my eyes fell on this Chili-Garlic variety and I couldn’t resist. It had all the hallmarks of something potentially awful but, as it happened, it was actually pretty darned good….

Aside from the red color, the appearance is little different from the usual sort (although nuts other than peanuts are included). At first bite, it didn’t really taste much different but then a slow warmth began to develop as the chili made its appearance. With successive pieces, the heat was a bit more noticeable but it never got stronger than a background taste and didn’t overwhelm the rest of the flavor by any means. As for the garlic, this brittle definitely did have a little’ something else’ but whether this was garlic or not was a little difficult to tell. In any event, the overall effect was surprisingly tasty and if you get a chance to drop into ‘Rocky Mountain’ it is well worth trying…