Tag: Appetizer

Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers

Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers 1

The filling for these Jalapeño peppers is very straightforward and simple… not much more than ground pork with scallion and garlic, really. It is the sauce, though, that I think makes this dish. It is based on Oyster Sauce mixed with some rice wine and a little chilli oil, and the sweetness of the primary ingredient is just right without needing any added sugar… Continue reading “Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers”

Foodstuff: Brome Lake Duck Pâté

Brome Lake Duck Pate 1

For several years now, while dining in Ottawa, I have seen ‘Brome Lake Duck’ appearing in various menu selections, as pate, confit, or what have you … I have yet to try any of the offerings and had always vaguely assumed that Brome Lake was a lake somewhere in Ontario and that the ducks were wild ones hunted in the general area. As it turns out, the lake is in Quebec and the name, more properly ‘Canards du Lac Brome’, refers to an outfit that specializes in raising Pekin Duck (which is also known as ‘Peking Duck’, but doesn’t have any particular connection to the dish of the same name). Anyway, I have been seeing jars of the pate you see pictured above in my local store for some months now and I thought it time I gave it a try… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Brome Lake Duck Pâté”

Smoked Salmon Roll

Smoked Salmon Roll 1

Today’s post features a little creation that was one of my recent ‘non-rice sushi’ experiments. This is a ‘maki’ type preparation (a ‘roll’, that is), except that here, egg-salad replaces the rice one would normally expect. Slices of smoked salmon form the actual outer roll, but I have used nori sheets for an inner wrapper for the filling in the interests of both tradition and texture … Continue reading “Smoked Salmon Roll”

Lamb Stuffed Zucchini

Lamb Stuffed Zucchini 1

They had some lovely fresh mint in our local market and I bought a large bunch with a view to making a new batch of Mint Sauce for the fridge as well as some mint tea. I also decided to use some of it in combination with some frozen ground lamb I had on hand. This little appetizer sort of dish is what I came up with … Continue reading “Lamb Stuffed Zucchini”

Cucumber Gunboats

Cucumber Gunboats 1

Many of you who have eaten in Sushi restaurants regularly will likely have come across the specialty known as ‘Gunkan Maki’. For those who haven’t experienced it yet, it is very much like Nigiri sushi in that it is a topping (‘Neta’) on top of an oblong pad of sushi recipe except, in the ‘Gunkan’ case, the topping is ‘loose’ rather than solid (as, say in the case of a block of tuna ), and, thus, a collar of Nori is wrapped around the rice to hold it in place. The name ‘Gunkan’ is usually rendered in English as ‘Battleship’ on most menus to reflect the boat-like shape of each item.

Today, I am showing you the way I have experimented with the basic theme by replacing the rice pad with a section of cucumber (in keeping with my low-carb diet). In celebration of this novel idea (which I haven’t found elsewhere) I have named my creations ‘gunboats’ and I have played around with some non-traditional toppings (or fillings, if you prefer) …. [ Continue reading “Cucumber Gunboats”

Notable Nosh: Squid Balls

Squid Balls 1

Well, I first have to a bit of an apology for this post, folks … I ordered three of the above pictured ‘balls’ at Hokkaido Sushi in Ottawa a while back and I scarfed down two before remembering to take a photograph. It is also a little difficult to get any sense of the size of these balls (Yes, yes… I get you didn’t know that squid have balls), but I can tell you that each of these little delicacies is about the size of a quail egg…

Anyway, I almost didn’t bother with doing a post, given my photographic lapse, but the fact is, these were really terrific and worth a mention. Each little sphere was coated in a very thin batter (or maybe just dusted with a starch of some sort), but it was the ‘innards’ that really shone.

The ‘filling’ (as it were) was definitely squid… Indeed, the flavor was so much more pronounced even than fresh, deep-fried squid rings. What made the dish (and possibly contributed to the strength of the flavor) was the texture. I don’t know exactly what they did here, but it seemed very much as they processed (‘whipped’ even) squid flesh to a fine paste and then (possibly) added a little cornstarch… The mouth-feel of biting into each ball was springy, and very toothsome indeed. I wish I could explain it better, and, even more, I hope I can figure out how they made this … I will be playing around in my own kitchen and will, of course, report any developments …

Experiment: Pork Belly Appetizer

Pork Belly Appetizer 1

Today’s post actually features two permutations of an idea I am working with for a little appetizer dish (although it would also work as a larger plate offering as well). The inspiration for these experiments came from an appetizer called Pork Belly with Kumquat I had in Ottawa some time ago, and which I thought could be improved upon. I begin with chunks of pork belly roasted so as to produce a nice crisp skin (using my Perfect Roast Pork Crackling method) and, instead of using parsnip puree as a base, I have tried two other ways of preparing the vegetable. I also replaced the kumquat with a sauce based on cranberry… Continue reading “Experiment: Pork Belly Appetizer”

Dim Sum: Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant

Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant 1.JPG

At the restaurant in Ottawa where I ate the above dish, it appeared on the dim sum menu as 煎釀茄子 (jiān niàng qiézi). The final two characters mean eggplant while the second character (which contains the wine radical) generally means to ferment or brew, but, in this specific context, it indicates a stuffed vegetable. The character that is a little odd here is the first which means to pan-fry. However, this particular version was, I am fairly sure, actually deep-fried.

The eggplant in question is one of the slender Asian varieties that has been cut into sections on the bias and then slit open to make a pocket for a stuffing of minced shrimp. After frying, the pieces were served in a sweetish, soy based sauce that went really well. The eggplant was nicely tender and I generally enjoyed this but the restaurant was too skimpy with the filling. Eggplant dominated shrimp to an unfortunate degree. When I reproduce this dish (probably using zucchini instead of eggplant), I will be considerably more generous…

XO Scallop Sliders

XO Scallop Sliders 1

About a year ago, while in Prince Edward Island, I enjoyed a very nice appetizer dish of Scallops with XO Sauce at the Claddagh Oyster House. At first, I thought putting the two together would a little overly rich but they turned out to be wonderful and so I put together the following little appetizer inspired by that pairing… Continue reading “XO Scallop Sliders”

Dim Sum: Chicken Feet 鳳爪

Chicken Feet 1

Chicken’s feet are a popular snack in many parts of Asia and are a regular item on the menu at dim sum restaurants where they are often not identified as ‘chicken feet’ but rather appear, in writing’ as 鳳爪 (fèng zhǎo), which translates to the slightly more poetic ‘Phoenix Talons’. I first tried them in Toronto about 30 years ago (as part of my first dim sum experience, as it happened) and, as with many westerners, the idea of actually eating the feet seemed a little strange but, after a while, they don’t relay seem that much different from eating wings (although the texture is quite different).

Feet are invariably served in steamer baskets in dim sum restaurants (and this is how they keep them hot), but they are first deep fried which not only gives them some color but also causes them to puff up slightly. Afterwards they are stewed in a simmering sauce that often contains bean paste, sugar, and, quite often whole black beans (though other ingredients and flavourings can be used as well).

The ones in the main picture above, which I recently had in Vancouver)  appeared on the menu as 豆豉鳳爪 (dòu chǐfèng zhǎo), meaning that they are prepared with Chinese Salted Black Bean. Actually, very few beans were apparent (you can just make out a couple), and the usual black bean flavor wasn’t very apparent. The ones in the inset (which I believe I had in Ottawa), were also made using black bean, although the paste rather than whole beans) and they were also really garlicky, as well as being very plump and tender.

There is almost no meat in chickens feet (in contrast to the wing), and it is the skin that gives them the very gelatinous quality that is much loved by the Chinese and favored by me as well. Another factor that distinguishes the feet from the wing is the sheer number of tiny bones. The general approach is to suck larger pieces into your mouth and then work the plump, unctuous skin away from the little bones and then spit these out. In a Chinese restaurant, you will often see people doing this right onto the tablecloth … it’s all part of the experience J