Seaweed Salad with Garlic at the Harmony Restaurant in Ottawa

Seaweed Salad with Garlic at the Harmony Restaurant in Ottawa

Seaweed Salads are quite common in Japanese restaurants, but they do occasionally appear on Chinese restaurant menus as well. What made the version at the Harmony Restaurant in Ottawa stand out was the use of Kelp, rather than one of the more commonly used varieties like Wakame, or Arame. A variety of Kelp, known as ‘Kombu’ is widely used in Japanese cuisine to make the ubiquitous ‘Dashi’, but it doesn’t appear often otherwise. As such, I was very interested to try this particular appetizer.

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Tindora Pakora Appetizer

Tindora Pakora Appetizer

Pakora are Indian snacks made with vegetables and sometimes chicken or other meats. These are deep fried in a batter most commonly made with Besan (chick-pea flour), and, usually, with added spices. Vegetable Pakora are the most common type and the vegetables can either be a single vegetable in chunks, or one can use a variety of different veggies that are shredded and mixed before being dunked in the batter. Here, I am using lovely Indian vegetable known as Tindora, or Ivy-Gourd, which are first split lengthways and then stuffed with a Chili Pickle before being battered and deep-fried.

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Jellyfish Salad at the Juxiangyuan Restaurant in Ottawa

Jellyfish Salad at the Juxiangyuan Restaurant in Ottawa

Jellyfish appears only occasionally on Dim Sum menus and the version you see above was actually served as an Appetizer at the now defunct Juxiangyuan Restaurant in Ottawa’s Chinatown. It was reasobaly fresh, and the vegetables were nicely tender, but the rendition, though generally good, was not the best I have ever had.

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Dried Shrimp Paste a.k.a Belacan

Dried Shrimp Paste a.k.a Belacan

Dried Shrimp Paste a.k.a Belacan

Dried Shrimp Paste, known as Belacan in Malaysia, Terasi in Indonesia, and by a variety of other names elsewhere, is not widely used, or even known in the West. The ingredient can be very pungently aromatic when raw, and even actively unpleasant to some, but this ceases to be an issue once it is cooked, and the umami richness adds terrific depth to all sorts of dishes.

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Grilled Haloumi at Play, Food & Wine in Ottawa

Grilled Haloumi at Play, Food & Wine in Ottawa

Grilled Haloumi at the PFW Restaurant in Ottawa

I love visiting the Play, Food & Wine Restaurant in Ottawa’s Byward Market district. Aside from being a lovely wine bar, they specialize in ‘Small Plate’ dishes rather than full meals, which is my favorite sort of dining experience. I have only had a few ‘fails’ there over the years, and the Grilled Haloumi Cheese you see above was most definitely not one of those.

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Galingale Curry Ribs

Galingale Curry Ribs

A Galingale Curry Ribs Recipe

In South-east Asia, particularly Thailand, curries are almost always made with a pre-made spice paste and then coconut milk is generally used to form a sauce. Water, or stock, can also be employed and the sauce can vary from being ‘soupy’, very thick, or, in the case of ‘dry curries’, not much more than a thin glaze on the main ingredients. Here, I am using my own Homemade Galingale Curry Paste to make a dry curry with Pork Ribs and Basil.

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Chive Dumplings at the Yang Sheng Restaurant in Ottawa

Chive Dumplings at the Yang Sheng Restaurant in Ottawa

Chive Dumplings at the Yang Sheng Restaurant in Ottawa

Steamed Chive Dumplings are a relatively common Dim Sum item, but you are more likely to find them in the larger restaurants specializing in Dim Sum service, and generally less so elsewhere. The Yang Sheng Restaurant in Ottawa’s Chinatown actually has a fairly limited range of Dim Sum items, but they did offer a version of this particular specialty as well as more popular, mainstream dumplings. Sadly, they weren’t very good.

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Madrasi Grilled Beef Skewers

Madrasi Grilled Beef Skewers

Madrasi Grilled Beef Skewers

This spicy little preparation can be made with almost any Indian Masala you like, but I created it as a vehicle for my Homemade Madras Curry Paste. For this post, I have served the skewered Beef appetizer style on a bed of finely shredded cabbage and Jalapeno peppers that were macerated in a little garlic salt before being tossed with some oil and lemon juice. However, you could also serve a larger number of skewers per person as a main dish along with rice and other accompaniments.

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Vietnamese Cucumber Shrimp Salad at Wei’s Noodle House in Ottawa

Vietnamese Cucumber Shrimp Salad at Wei’s Noodle House in Ottawa

Vietnamese Cucumber Shrimp Salad

The rather attractive salad pictured above was one of the Vietnamese appetizer dishes offered at Wei’s Noodle House, an Asian Fusion Restaurant in Ottawa. It actually contained more lettuce than cucumber, as it turned out, but the ingredients were fresh, the dressing subtle, and the overall effect very pleasant.

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A Package of Tindora aka the Ivy Gourd

Tindora – the Ivy Gourd

I have perused many Indian cookery books over the years, but I had never heard of Tindora until I came across it by chance in my local supermarket. I had to research it, of course, and discovered that the vegetable is quite widely used in the cuisines of Southern India. It is still not easy to come by in the West, even now, but it is well worth trying if you get the chance.

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