Month: May 2014

Review: Il Campari Centro – Montreal

1177 Rue de la Montagne – 514-868-1177 – Website

Il Campari 01

Date of Visit: April 24, 2014

 

Montreal, though essentially French in culture and spirit, is actually very well known for its excellent Italian Restaurants. On my recent visit to the city, I made sure that at least one of my meals would be at one of these establishments and I chose Il Campari as the venue for my last dinner in town. I had rather expected this to be the most special of all my restaurant adventures on this particular trip but, sadly, it was a little bit disappointing… Continue reading “Review: Il Campari Centro – Montreal”

Tapas: Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas 1

This rather simple little preparation is a standard on most tapas menus and, as one might expect, there are many variations. Typically, it involves potatoes that are deep-fried, but pan-fried, roasted and even boiled versions occur. The sauce, while always spicy, can be quite copious, or else little more than a glaze, and recipes often incorporates tomato in the mix, with mayonnaise sometimes being added, both as a sauce ingredient proper, or else drizzled on top before service. Today, I am going to roast chunks of potatoes and then quickly fry them in a light but piquant sauce… Continue reading “Tapas: Patatas Bravas”

Culinary Chinese 101… Where’s the Beef?

Where's the Beef 1

First of all, apologies to those of you who are too young to recognize the catch-phrase I adopted for the title of today’s post. However, even if you didn’t get the reference, you can still probably guess, from the various clues, that the two Chinese characters in the above picture are translated as ‘Beef’…

The first of these characters means ‘cow’ or ‘ox’, while the second translates as ‘meat’ or ‘flesh’. The Pinyin transliteration ‘niúròu’ doesn’t really suggest the pronunciation very well but our cow helpfully provides this as ‘Nyoe Roe’ (which is close enough for now).

The main focus of today’s lesson will actually be on the first character. We will also be looking at the second in much more detail in an upcoming lesson but, for now, take note of its shape. To me it looks rather like a coat rack with one of the coat-hangers falling off, but others see it as a rib-cage, which does rather suggest the meaning…

Continue reading “Culinary Chinese 101… Where’s the Beef?”

Ants Climb A Tree – 蚂蚁上树

Ants Climb Tree 1

This curiously named dish, with origins in Sichuan, is a classic in Chinese cuisine. It is based on the wiry, thin Mung Bean Starch noodles (粉絲), whose transparency yields the common English names of ‘glass noodles’ or ‘cellophane noodles’. Ground meat, generally pork or beef, is cooked in a sauce and then tossed with the noodles so that the ‘grains’ of meat give the appearance (with some poetic license) of ants climbing the branches of a tree. In Sichuan, Chili Bean Paste, and sometimes chopped fresh or dried chili, is incorporated into the sauce, while in Taiwan or other parts of China, a less spicy version results from the use of the milder black or yellow bean sauces. Our version today will be of the traditional spicy, hot variety… Continue reading “Ants Climb A Tree – 蚂蚁上树”

Notable Nosh: Silverfish Peanuts

Silverfish Peanuts1

I have quite a number of Chinese cookery books printed in China that contain recipes for a small plate preparation consisting of peanuts fried with a type of tiny white fish. I actually have all the necessary ingredients to prepare this for you sometime but, just recently, I was fortunate to come across a commercially packaged snack that I just had to try…  Continue reading “Notable Nosh: Silverfish Peanuts”

Culinary Chinese 101: Chinese Radicals…

CC Chinese Radicals 1

Okay, I admit it… Today’s opening picture is a really, really bad pun. The protesters in question apparently have some issue with a trade pact, or something… I don’t know what point they are trying to make exactly, nor do I understand the significance of the flowers, but I am fairly sure that somebody, somewhere quite likely dismissed these people as ‘radicals’ …

The topic of radicals, you may recall, is something I have mentioned several times now and, on each occasion, I have promised that I would be shedding some light on the whole issue. What is going to follow is a little bit technical but it is very important… Indeed, I can pretty much guarantee that today’s topic will be one of the most important things you need to know. Bear with me and I will try to make it as painless as possible…

Continue reading “Culinary Chinese 101: Chinese Radicals…”

Twice-Cooked Pork – 回鍋肉

Twice-cooked Pork 1

The name of this very common and classic Chinese dish, 回鍋肉 (huíguō ròu), translates directly as ‘Return to the Pot Pork’.  In English, however, it is usually rendered as ‘Twice-Cooked Pork’ as two separate processes  are used for cooking the meat. Basically, a fatty cut (most commonly Pork Belly) is simmered in a flavored liquid, then cooled, sliced, and fried, typically with a vegetable or two.

The dish is probably Sichuanese in origin, but it is prepared in homes and restaurants all over China and has many variations on the basic theme. Often a simple sauce based on bean paste coats the finished ingredients, with Chili Bean Paste common in Sichuan, and Sweet Bean Sauce elsewhere. I like to fry the meat with sweet green peppers sometimes, but leeks are quite often used as well. Today, I am preparing a non-spicy variety that would probably be very much at home in Taiwan, and I am using simple Scallion for the sole vegetable addition…  Continue reading “Twice-Cooked Pork – 回鍋肉”

Review: Devi Indian Restaurant – Montreal

1450 Crescent St. – (514) 286-0303 – Webpage

Devi 01

Date of Visit: April 24, 2014

There are several Indian Restaurants in downtown Montreal that I have wanted to try. On my most recent visit to the city I made plans to visit one on Peel Street but it was closed when I wanted to dine and so I ended up going to Devi instead. Happily, my initial disappointment at missing the first choice was assuaged by a very pleasant experience… Continue reading “Review: Devi Indian Restaurant – Montreal”

Stir-fried Potato Shreds -炒土豆絲

Stir-fried Potato Shreds 1

The potato has historically not been widely used in China (although that is probably changing with the incursion of western-style fast food) and, where it does appear, it is not as a major starch component of a meal, as it usually is in the west. Instead, it is treated more as a secondary vegetable and will often appear alongside rice based dishes, or even noodles. Today’s dish is a good example of a Chinese potato preparation and, while it appears to have originated in Sichuan, is becoming widely popular elsewhere as well.

The basic form of the dish is simply potato shreds stir-fried to a tender, yet still slightly crunchy, state. Some preparations add little else other than a bit of salt or soy for seasoning while others are more complex. Sichuan variations often include dried chili and Sichuan Peppercorns, while others are less spicy and may include green onion, red or green bell peppers, or shredded carrot. Today, I am going to walk the middle line and use shredded green chili for color and a little spicy kick…  Continue reading “Stir-fried Potato Shreds -炒土豆絲”