Ratatouille

Ratatouille 1

Ratatouille has its roots in Provence, and commonly associated with Nice. It is something of a melange of vegetables, stewed or braised with the seasonings of the region… Thyme, Garlic, Basil, etc. … but there are many variations. The main ingredients typically include Eggplant, tomato, onion, and bell pepper, but zucchini and fennel often appear, with mushrooms and black olives being added in some recipes.

Most traditionally, the main ingredients are individually sautéed with a little olive oil, and then finally cooked together until everything gets nicely blended with a rich ‘creaminess’. These days, Balsamic vinegar is often added, with white wine also being used in some cases. The dish could be served hot, as a side dish, but it is often served at room temperature, on its own, or with other foods, essentially in the manner of a relish.

For today’s recipe, I am also doing a two stage cooking but, here, I am roasting some of the vegetables before-hand and then letting them sit overnight with some aromatics to develop flavor before finishing with  the ‘saucier’ portion of the recipe … Continue reading “Ratatouille”

Dim Sum: 台灣泡菜

Taiwan Pickle 1

I had this pickled Cucumber in Ottawa recently. I have had Chinese pickled cucumber many times before, but generally Sichuan style versions which generally use chili, or chili oil. I recognized the last two characters in the Chinese same as meaning ‘pickled, or steeped, vegetable’ but the first two characters had me stymied for a bit … it was only once I realized that the first character was a phonetic that I guessed that the combination is rendered as ‘Taiwan’ (which proved to be right)… so, it seems that this little dish is a Taiwanese pickle.

Anyway, the cucumber were nicely macerated (using a little salt, I imagine). The result is not salty, though, but a good bit of sugar was added quite obviously, as the pickle is really quite sweet. The red strips are red bell pepper but there was a slight spicy heat coming through so I think just a touch of ground chili must have been included as well. The other addition was ginger cut into very large, thin slivers. This added a lovely flavor and another layer of sweetness. I really enjoyed these and I will make them myself this coming week … I am thinking that just a drop or two of rice wine might go nicely in it too…

Review: A’Roma Meze – Ottawa

239 Nepean St, Ottawa

A'Roma Meze 1

Date of Visit: April, 2018 – Website

I have to begin by saying, right off the bat, that this place is a little gem of a find. I had it on my list of places to visit on four or five visits to Ottawa and never managed to make it until just recently. I am just sorry, now, that I didn’t get there earlier … Continue reading “Review: A’Roma Meze – Ottawa”

Fish Maw Stir-Fried with Shrimp

Fish Maw Stir-Fried with Shrimp 01

Not long ago, I introduce you to the Asian foodstuff widely known as Fish Maw. In both the commercially available forms, plain-dried, or deep-fried, it occurs most frequently as a component of soups and braised dishes. It is also used, however, in stir-fried preparations, and, today, I am doing such a dish using shrimp and button mushrooms. The permutations, of course, are endless, but this particular pairing is very nice … Continue reading “Fish Maw Stir-Fried with Shrimp”

Foodstuff: Thai Chili Paste with Holy Basil

Thai Chili Basil Paste 1

This little item arrived in a parcel of foodstuffs I recently ordered from down south. I had completely forgotten ordering it but I ended up being very glad I did …

It is a Cock Brand™ product, and at first, I mistook their logo as being the same as that of the manufacturers who make one of my favorite Sriracha Sauces. They are a different company, however, but when I checked their website, I saw a number of other products I have bought before and which I found to be very good.

The ingredient list on the label specifies the main components being, in descending quantity order: Soybean Oil, Holy Basil leaves, Garlic, Red Chili, Sugar, Salt, and Oyster Sauce.  The aroma, on opening the jar, is a little hard to describe in that no specific ingredient leaps out at one… It smells a little like a mild XO sauce, but with a very herbaceous quality … even a little ‘minty’.

The flavor, though, is terrific. It is somewhat fiery, although not blindingly so, and the oyster sauce and sugar lend it a marine sweetness. The Holy Basil, which can be quite pungent, even harsh, when used fresh in some dishes, is nicely mellow in here and really adds a very pleasant herbal note to the overall flavor.

Anyway, just before this product arrived, I was trying to think of a way to ‘round out’ a specific dish I had in mind… this suddenly seemed like the perfect addition and I will be posting the recipe very shortly…

Review: 222 Lyon – Ottawa

222 Lyon St N, Ottawa- Website

222 Lyon 1

Date of Visit: April, 2018

This place was my last restaurant visit on a recent trip to Ottawa. It is a Tapas Bar with a pretty decent selection of different small plates, and though I went at lunchtime, which has a much smaller menu than in the evening, I had some fairly good selections and a pretty decent time…  Continue reading “Review: 222 Lyon – Ottawa”

Miso-Grilled Char

Miso-Grilled Char 1

A while back, I featured Miso in a ‘Foodstuff’ post, but, though I have used the product in several previously posted recipes, this is the first since then. I mentioned, in that post, that Miso can be used as a marinade, and the Japanese often use it that way, especially with salmon. Here I am using Arctic Char, which, for those unfamiliar, is a pink-fleshed fish that is very similar to Pacific Salmon. If you wish to try this recipe, you can use either without fundamentally changing the result … Continue reading “Miso-Grilled Char”

Foodstuff: Fish Maw – 魚肚 (or 魚漂 or 花膠)

Fish Maw 1

The picture above shows what appear to be three very different things but, in fact, they are just different forms of a product used in Chinese and South-East Asian cookery, and commonly referred to as ‘Fish Maw’. The word maw actually means stomach, or gullet, and, as such, the term for this product is a bit of a misnomer as it is really the ‘Swim bladder’ of certain bony (non-cartilaginous) species of fish. The swim bladder, is a gas filled sac that lies in the belly and allows the fish that possess them to maintain and control buoyancy at different depths.

As with a number of products in Chinese cookery, this item is used primarily for its texture. Some sources state bluntly that it has no taste of its own but, like tofu, takes on the flavors of other ingredients in a dish. In fact, it does have a certain, mild, ‘fishiness’, but it is still the texture that is important. It is rich in collagen, which not only gives a pleasant texture itself, but the collagen will dissolve into soups and braising liquids to lend added richness.

Several species are harvested for their bladders (Yellow Croaker is a favored type), but I do not know what from what fish any of the ones you see picture were taken… the packages I have, all written exclusively in Chinese characters, are silent on that point… In any event, the two basic forms are the plain dried article (the yellowish things at the bottom right of the picture), and the sort that consists of the same thing that has been deep-fried before being packaged for sale… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Fish Maw – 魚肚 (or 魚漂 or 花膠)”