Tag: Appetizer

Notable Nosh: Tongue on Toast

BB Tongue on Toast 1

When I saw tongue on the menu at Brothers Bistro in Ottawa a while back, I racked my brain trying to remember if I had ever eaten beef tongue before. I have seen whole tongue in stores before, but I have never cooked it yet, and though I have had duck tongues before, I think the only mammal tongue I have ever had was likely in a canned meat spread or the like. Anyway, I like trying new things and when I saw this on offer I grabbed the opportunity. The menu described it as being ‘Braised ox-tongue on garlic cheese bread with beef jus and garlic-anchovy mayo’, and, with the exception of the fact that the ‘garlic-anchovy mayo’ might easily pass for plain mayonnaise, that is pretty much what I got…

I have to apologize for the poor photography here (I was having camera issues) but the ‘beef jus’ in the menu description was the brownish sauce over which the bun and lines of mayo were laid. It was tasty enough, but not markedly different from the sort plain beef gravy you might get with, say,  poutine.

The tongue itself was quite nice. In texture it was a bit like nicely cooked flank steak (fibrous, but chewy tender) , and the taste was somewhat like beef-heart… that is to say, more of an ‘innards’ taste than steak, but less than the strong pungency of, say, kidney. The pairing of textures with the crusty bread worked really nicely but the addition of cheese, I have to say, made the result overly unctuous without adding anything beneficial in terms of taste.

All in all, I enjoyed this. Had the mayo actually added an appreciable touch of garlic and anchovy, it might have elevated the finished result from pretty good to definitely good, but, still, I thought it decent enough…

Notable Nosh: Japanese General Tso’s Chicken

Japanese General Tso

General Tso’s Chicken (or some spelling variant thereof) has become so ubiquitous that most people who have dined in a Chinese restaurant have had it at one time or another. Surprisingly, though, even though the dish has been popular for a decade or so, it was only last year that I tried it for the first time. There are many different variations on the basic theme, of course, and one can almost so that no two representations are more than passingly similar. After my first try, I decided to order it in various locations and see if I could get a handle on the range of different preparations …

My first experience was in a fairly westernized Chinese restaurant in Vancouver. Just recently though, I was down in Ottawa and I came across an appetizer version in a Japanese restaurant. It was an ‘All-You-Can-Eat’ Sushi place and it had a small section of ‘Chinese Food’ listed on its extensive menu.

Anyway, the result you see here was … well, interesting. Even in my limited experience with this dish, I can pretty much guess that experienced aficionados would probably say that, whatever this dish is, it is NOT General Tso’s chicken. There are no vegetables in the mix (although, to be fair, this was meant as an appetizer so ‘filler’ was not needed), but the sauce that covered the chicken was completely off base. The chicken itself was actually pretty good… it was only dusted with flour rather than being battered (which is a plus to mind), and it was fried to the point of being nicely crispy on the outside. As for the sauce?

Well, as far as I have been able to tell, General Tso’s Chicken is supposed to have a bit of a fiery bite to it. It is not a ‘hot’ dish, as such, but it should have a little chili somewhere in the mix to give it a little spark. Here, though, the spicy heat quotient was zero (zip, zilch, nada, nyet, niente… etc.). The actual result was much more like the sort of sweet and sour sauce poured over chicken balls in the lower end ‘Chinese’ restaurants. It was, to my mind, quite a bit like ketchup diluted with a little vinegar, and with extra sugar added. Not horribly bad, at all… just not right. I rather think the good General might be rolling over in his grave at the thought of this production in his name…

Foodstuff: Beef Marrow Bones

Beef Marrow Bones 1

Marrow, the rich, fatty substance in the center of certain animal bones, has long been used as a food by humans. It is very nutritious, and thus has been used for eminently practical reasons, but it has also, at various times, and in various cuisines, been regarded as something of a delicacy.

Chiefly, one finds bones being used in the preparation of hearty stocks, and occasionally  extracted and eaten as sort of a ‘side benefit’ in certain dishes, but, for a long time, the idea of marrow being a treat in and of itself has been a bit dormant in the west. This, however, has been changing in recent years, and the appetizer of roast marrow bones you see posted above, and for which a recipe will follow, is a common representation of the trend … Continue reading “Foodstuff: Beef Marrow Bones”

Shrimp Salad Boats

Shrimp Salad Boats 1

My typical way of serving Shrimp Cocktail (not that I do very often), is to lay tiny cocktail shrimp on a bed of shredded lettuce and top it with a creamy mayonnaise based cocktail sauce enhanced with horseradish and chili sauce. Today, I have departed from my usual style and combined the shrimp and sauce, then served it in hollowed out tomato halves. For either version, frozen cocktail shrimp are best but you can, as I have done here, use the canned variety as a decent substitute… Continue reading “Shrimp Salad Boats”

Scallop Bhaji

Scallop Bhaji 1

A little over years ago, I posted a little appetizer recipe for something I called Scallop Clusters. It was a Japanese inspired dish featuring bits of scallop deep-fried Kakiage style and I like it very much. For today’s post, I have used that appetizer as a starting point and created something along the lines of the Indian style fritter called a ‘Bhaji’. The recipe isn’t an actual Indian recipe but seasonings are definitely Indian in spirit … Continue reading “Scallop Bhaji”

Lemon-Stuffed Olives

Lemon-Stuffed Olives 1

A few months ago, I had an appetizer in a Greek restaurant that featured olives stuffed with a number of different ingredients, one of which was lemon. In following up, with a view to trying something similar at home, I discovered that most recipes for lemon stuffed olives tend to use the zest for the stuffing. The ones I had at the restaurant were quite mild when It came to the lemon flavor and I am not sure whether they used the zest or the flesh. In any event, for today’s recipe, I went with the latter… Continue reading “Lemon-Stuffed Olives”

Octopus Banchan

Octopus Banchan 1

Today, I have used the tentacle tips and other scraps from a recent Octopus Purchase to make a little Korean style Banchan, or side-dish. This style of Banchan involves cooking the main ingredient with the Korean Chili Paste known as Gochujang, and a sweetener, usually a syrup such corn, or rice syrup, or even honey. The presence of the latter allows for such dishes to keep a long time in the fridge.

There is a very similar dish to the one that I am making called Nakji bokkeum in which additional vegetable are added during stir-frying. Typically, the result is served hot, often over rice, but the simple, banchan-style type is served cold… Continue reading “Octopus Banchan”

Scallop Appetizer

Scallop Appetizer 1

Back when I was a kid growing up in Maritime Canada, Clams and Chips were nearly as popular is Fish and Chips and, if you were in a restaurant that served both of these, it was generally a safe bet that you could get Scallops and Chips as well. That dish generally used the larger variety usually of scallop referred to as ‘Sea Scallops’, and even a half-dozen of these, along with chips and cole-slaw, made for a very filling meal. For today’s appetizer version, I am using the smaller ‘Bay Scallops’… as with the old-standby of Scallops and Chips, the scallops are battered but, here, I have jazzed things up a bit … Continue reading “Scallop Appetizer”

Shrimp with Pesto

Shrimp with Pesto 1

This dish is just something I put together using my Pesto Piccante, although you could probably just use a more traditional Pesto Genovese, either home-made or commercially prepared.

Basically, I just sautéed some nice shrimp in butter then deglazed the pan with a little white wine before adding back the shrimp with a generous dollop of pesto. I served them immediately with lightly grilled slices of baguette. The latter could be spread with butter, or drizzled with oil, I suppose, but there was enough sauce under the shrimp that it was nice to just dip the bread in it. I conceived of this as an antipasto sort of dish, but it made for a nice light lunch all by itself….