Category: General

Oil Sizzled Shrimp

Oil Sizzled Shrimp 1

Today’s little appetizer is adapted from a Chinese recipe I first tried many, many years ago. I can’t quite recall where I saw it, but I am fairly sure it is Cantonese. Although it is ‘oil sizzled’ the shrimp are actually first steamed with some aromatics, and hot oil is drizzled over them just before serving to really enhance the flavor. Once you have done the finicky part of ‘prepping’ the shrimp, the process is pretty easy… Continue reading “Oil Sizzled Shrimp”

Notable Nosh: Steamed Crab

Steamed Crab 1

This was a very nice dish I enjoyed at a Chinese restaurant on my summer trip to Vancouver. The restaurant kept their own crabs alive in a tank (see the inset) allowing me to choose my ‘victim’ for the kitchen to prepare in a style of my choice… This was the first time I have been able to do this, and I really enjoyed it.

As to the type of crab … during my visit to Vancouver’s Chinatown, I saw several tanks of crab in various fishmongers… all the same type of crab… and in some notices, they were identified as 大肉蟹 which would be pronounced as ‘dà ròu xiè’ in Mandarin and could mean either ‘pork crab’ or ‘big meat crab’ depending on whether you treat the first two characters as stand-alone, or a compound. I asked my server what the crabs were called and she first said ‘Vancouver Crab’ but when I asked her what she called them, she said something that was so close to the aforesaid Mandarin rendering that I am pretty sure that it was the Cantonese equivalent (it was a Hong Kong style restaurant, after all). Anyway … I recall having Dungeness Crab in BC some 12 years ago and these looked the same so, upon comparing the shell markings to those in pictures of Dungeness Crab at Wikipedia, I am convinced that this is what I was served…

As to the preparation, I was given the choice of several different ways (all steamed) amongst which were included: black bean sauce, garlic sauce, ginger and scallion, and some sort of cream sauce… I chose the garlic. In retrospect, I think I probably should have gone with the ginger and scallion as ginger really does work well with crab (and fish in general), while the garlic came across as a little oily tasting after vigorous steaming. Still, I enjoyed it immensely, and, while it was a very messy dish to eat, the meat was so succulent and sweet I could have eaten two of the sizeable beasts. My final thought on completing this meal was to regret the unavailability of live crab in my own community so that I could reproduce the experience myself…

Chilli Clams

Chili Clams 1

A while back, I had some leftover King Crab legs after making a seafood soup. The crab was, unfortunately, not the best quality and I decided to jazz them up a little with a spicy sauce. I took as my inspiration the very popular Singapore Chilli Crab and made a ‘quick and dirty’, less complex version of the sauce for that dish that was based primarily on simple canned tomato sauce with Sriracha Sauce for the fire. Anyway, the end product was very good (despite the poor crab) and I wanted to reproduce it. Unfortunately, the only crab I could find was the same poor quality brand I had the first time, and Snow Crab, which I don’t much care for. Instead, I decided to use some clams I had in my freezer and the result was even nicer… Continue reading “Chilli Clams”

Notable Nosh: Pork Rillettes

Pork Rillettes

Rillettes is a specialty of French cuisine that can be thought of as something of a cross between the rustic Confit and a fine Pâté. Like a confit, it uses salt and fat to preserve meat but, as with the confit, the preserving process produces a lovely result that is prized in and of itself. It has been many years since I last made a batch, and I am still planning to post the recipe when I finally do again, but, for now, I am just going to share with you the very pleasant version I had at Play Food Wine in Ottawa not long ago…

This rillettes dish came with slices of pickled cucumber. They were clearly not a lactic acid ferment type, but were made using a very mild and slightly sweet vinegar. What set these apart is that the pickling medium also included some finely shredded seaweed of some sort (Wakame, perhaps), and this added a different level of flavor that was both unexpected and very good.

The rillettes here were quite bit more finely processed than others I have had. My own have tended to be quite granular in consistency, and others can be composed of tiny shreds, but these were very smooth and quite unctuous, almost like a pâté, in fact. The mix was not heavily seasoned, indeed, other than the expected salt, the only thing I could identify were some tiny brown mustard seeds. These, surprisingly, were softened to the point that I had absolutely no sensation of biting into seeds and their flavor had obviously been given up to the blend. The result was anything but bland, though, and the pork really spoke for itself without a lot of additional enhancement. I have to say that my own efforts, thus far, haven’t exceeded this particular dish.

Wine, Wine, Wine … Whine’s about Wine?

Wines 1

About 8 or 9 years ago, I started keeping notes about meals I ate in restaurants and this, back in 2012, morphed into a blog that began with restaurant reviews and expended into the ‘Sybaritica’ of today…

At the same time as I began keeping notes on meals, however, I also started recording my experiences with various wines I tasted. At that time,  I didn’t feel I had enough knowledge about wine to start doing reviews, nor was I all that accomplished at suggesting pairings, and so, thus far, I have largely ignored wine as a subject for my posts. I am wondering, though, whether that should change, and, if possible, I would like to get some feedback, both on the subject of whether I should start doing wine reviews here on my blog, and, also,  with respect to a computer application I have written for those who would like to keep notes of their own wine adventures… Continue reading “Wine, Wine, Wine … Whine’s about Wine?”

Spicy Pickled Zucchini

Spicy Pickled Zucchini 1

I have been playing around with all sorts of pickling recipes lately, both the lactic acid ferment variety and those done with vinegar. Today’s recipe is one of the latter and I am curious to know if the spices I used here might inhibit a lactic acid pickling as some spices are supposed to have an anti-microbial effect. I shall have to try it sometime to find out, I guess. Anyway, I put this recipe together as I like pickled zucchini and I wanted to use some small fresh root turmeric I found in my local store… Continue reading “Spicy Pickled Zucchini”

Notable Nosh: Uni

Uni - 2017-07 1

Uni is sometimes referred to as the roe of the Sea Urchin but is actually the gonads of the creature and can produce roe or milt (semen). It is a delicacy in Japanese cuisine but it is seasonal, and not always easy to obtain, so one frequently sees it on the menus of Japanese restaurants only to find, on ordering, that it is not currently available. I came across some recently at Wasabi in Ottawa’s Bytown market, where they were available as a sushi selection, or as a sashimi preparation served, as you see above, in little cucumber cups. Each cup held four or five individual gonads and you can see an individual piece in the inset.

The texture of uni is not for everybody. It is very soft, with a silky mouthfeel and is rather like the white of a soft-boiled egg, or, perhaps, a very firm custard. When tasted, without any sort of additions, it is very reminiscent of the tomalley, or liver, of a lobster. Some would say it has a fishy taste, but I rather think of it has having a generic ‘sea flavor’ coupled with a distinct sweetness. Tomalley can also have an underlying faintly musky pungency but, with uni, it is sweet all the way through except at the very end where a similar pungency comes across as an almost bitter aftertaste. It is brief however, and does not really affect the overall pleasure of the taste at all.

In this preparation, the uni was served with a wedge of lemon, a small mound of wasabi (hidden behind the inset in the above picture), and a little dish for soy sauce. I tried soy first and, while it was pleasant, I found that the sweetness of the soy masked the delicate sweetness of the uni, thus robbing it of some of its impact. The lemon was an even worse choice as, not only did the acid mask much of the good flavor, it also made the final bitter quality more pronounced and I am surprised that anybody thought that this would be a good accompaniment. As for the wasabi, however, this worked really well. Despite the sharp, intense power of the root, it didn’t mask any of the sweetness at all and really complimented it nicely. I should like to try the delicacy in a sushi preparation sometime, but the sashimi along with just a little wasabi is terrific.

Lamb with Zucchini and Basil

Lamb with Zucchini and Basil 1.JPG

In the last few months, our local selection of lamb has gone beyond just legs and chops and many different cuts have become available. Today, I bought a large bag of frozen, bone-in pieces that will make me a fair number of meals. For my first use, I decided to prepare some using Basil. This is not as common a pairing as, say, lamb and mint, or lamb and rosemary, but the Basil I had on hand was top quality and I thought it would work nicely here, especially with zucchini as the vegetable quotient… [ Continue reading “Lamb with Zucchini and Basil”

Notable Nosh: Chinese BBQ Pork and Duck

Chinese BBQ

Not long ago, I posted a review of Gain Wah restaurant in Vancouver’s Chinatown. I mentioned therein that, as I was leaving, the very friendly owner who was manning the BBQ station offered some barbecued duck to try. It was absolutely delicious and I told him I would be back. Well… I did just that and ordered the plate you see above which, for the princely sum of just $7.50, gave me a generous helping of both duck and pork along with a little dish of plum sauce on the side. Now, though I have been tempted by Chinese BBQ on various occasions, this happened to be my first real experience (aside from the gratis sampling two days earlier). Now… I have to say that I am a convert. The duck was not quite as good as the first taste, as that had been freshly cooked and still piping hot, but both meats here were exquisitely succulent and flavorful. There was a slight hint of 5 spice powder here and there (which I can take or leave), but, otherwise, this was perfect and the plum sauce really wasn’t needed for either. I have had thin slices of BBQ pork tenderloin in fried rice and noodle dishes once in a while, but that cut is exceedingly dry and nothing like the lovely, slightly fatty portion here. I am going to have to experiment in my own kitchen…