Posted in Recipes

Shrimp Bites

Shrimp Bites 1

Recently, our local supermarket has been carrying some very nice cocktail sized shrimp and, since they don’t appear that often, I have bought quite a few packages and have been using them in different ways. I opened one pack to make scrambled eggs with shrimp and, since I didn’t need the whole package, I put together the little fritters you see above. They are somewhere half-way between an Indian Pakora and Japanese Kakiage, and, for this recipe, I kept everything very simple and clean… the only seasoning in the fritters is a dash of salt and the batter is made very light with egg-white rather than whole egg… Continue reading “Shrimp Bites”

Posted in Notable Nosh

Notable Nosh: Shafali Style Onion Bhaji

Shafali Onion Bhaji 1

I first visited and reviewed Ottawa’s Shafali Restaurant almost 7 years ago. On that occasion, I sampled the Onion Bhaji from their appetizer menu and rated them very highly. They were, on that occasion, made largely the same way as all the others I had ever eaten thus far ( including those I made myself), which is to say, thin strips of onion dipped in a seasoned batter and deep-fried. Just recently though, I stopped in to Shafali again, and ordered their Onion Bhaji a second time, only to find that they were prepared in a way I have not had them before …

The menu (which may read the same was it did on my first visit), describes the as ‘Onion balls bound with lightly spiced and fragrant chickpea flour batter and served with house tamarind mango chutney’, but if you compare the above picture with the one from my 2012 review (follow the above link), you can see that they are not the same. The seasoning in both cases was about the same as best as I can recall, and here included  turmeric, coriander, pepper and fennel seed among other spices, but it was the nature of the of the ‘batter’, though,  that was very different.

In most versions I have ever had (or made) the batter is quite thin and thus you get a result that is a bit like the crispy Japanese Kakiage style Tempura. Here it had a much ‘doughier’ texture. I am not sure, but I rather think that, having immersed the chopped onion to the batter (more minced than shredded, in this case), more Besan flour was added to produce a drier, possibly kneadable result. Accordingly, the final texture is still a bit crispy on the outside, but much spongier and chewier at the center.

I don’t think I would say that I liked this way better than the way I have usually had Bhajis, but it was still pretty good and I should like to experiment with the basic idea in some of my own creations.

Posted in Recipes, Restaurants

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”

Posted in Notable Nosh

Notable Nosh: Pakora Shrimp

Pakora Shrimp

I had this interesting little appetizer at an Indian restaurant in Ottawa not long ago. Normally, when I order a Pakora, I expect a small fritter type affair where the main ingredient is chopped into small pieces along with other things (onion, etc.), and then mixed into batter before being deep-fried by the spoon full to make small ‘bites’.

Here however, the shrimp was cooked whole with a batter coating and this might have been boring except that the batter (made with ‘Besan’, or chick pea flour), was nicely spiced. I am not sure of the blend, but I believe I could detect paprika, some chili, and possibly a bit of ground coriander seed).

The shrimp were served with a Tamarind based sweet sauce (very nice) and a mint chutney (which might have been nice but was a bit stale) and overall, I thought the preparation was very good except for the fact that the batter ‘shell’ tended to slip away from the meat as one bit into it. If I try this at home (and I will), I think I will butterfly the shrimp, make the batter thinner, and likely try some other dipping sauces than the ones given here ….

Posted in Recipes

Agedashi Tofu

Agedashi Tofu 1

An Agemono dish in Japanese cuisine is one in which the main ingredient is deep-fried. Age dofu (or tofu) is any preparation of deep-fried tofu, while today’s dish, Agedashi Tofu, is cubes if the fried bean curd served in a dashi based sauce. Our sauce today is essentially a Kakejiru (or dashi, soy, mirin blend) and we will be using a pre-prepared quantity of it in our recipe here…  Continue reading “Agedashi Tofu”

Posted in Notable Nosh

Notable Nosh: Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu - Izakaya

Not long ago, I featured a rather unusual preparation called ‘Oyster Katsu’, which, I noted, was a culinary offshoot of a very popular Japanese dish known as ‘Tonkastu’.  Traditionally, a ‘Tonkatsu’ consists of  breaded  pork cutlet that is fried and  then served over a bed of thinly slice white cabbage alongside a unique Worcestershire based barbecue-type sauce and the version you see pictured above, and which I enjoyed recently in Ottawa, cleaves to the basic idea with a few unorthodox twists thrown in…

First, the plain cabbage bed in this interpretation was replaced with a mix of white and red cabbage that had briefly been cooked and then tossed in a spicy-sweet chili based sauce. This was a novel addition and I rather liked it. The pork cutlet, however, was rather thickly cut and not pounded out for the tenderness you should really expect with this dish. It was also a bit too vigorously fried in this particular case with the result that it was just a little bit dry and overdone.

The biggest deviation from the basic theme was that the cutlet was slathered (a little too liberally, perhaps) with a Teriyaki style sauce and Japanese Mayo. The effect was actually not that bad but to then serve the typical katsu sauce alongside was really overkill to my mind. As it happened though, I actually preferred the topping blend and, after the first few bites, didn’t bother with the dipping sauce again. Possibly, purists might claim that the dish I was served can no longer be properly called a true Japanese Tonkatsu but I generally enjoyed this approach and may try something similar myself at home…

Posted in Notable Nosh

Notable Nosh: Oyster Katsu

Nosh - Oyster Katsu

Although this dish that I tried at Wasabi in Ottawa last July wasn’t very good, it does represent something of an interesting novelty and so deserves a mention here…

If you enjoy Japanese cuisine, you have probably tasted, or at least come across, the popular dish known as ‘Tonkatsu’. For those of you who have not heard of this, it is essentially a pork cutlet that has been tenderized and then deep-fried in a panko breading. Indeed, the suffix ‘katsu’ actually comes from ‘katsuretsu’, which is a corruption of the English ‘cutlet’. Often, the cutlet is served over shredded cabbage and it always comes with a sweetish, brown ‘katsu sosu’, which is basically a thickened, Japanese style Worcestershire sauce. At Wasabi, they have made deep-fried oysters a ‘katsu’ preparation by serving it, somewhat innovatively, with the very same sort of sauce.

My disappointment with this dish lay primarily in the fact that it was very poorly executed. The deep-fry oil was clearly old and past its best, yielding a greasy result, and the ratio of breading was too high. I could taste oyster in a few places here and there but, otherwise, I could have been eating any (very mild) whitefish, or plain old clam. If that were not enough, the whole was overcooked and very carelessly allowed to lump together so that the three oysters formed one, fused mass.

Beyond that disappointment, I have to say that the ‘katsu’ sauce just didn’t work here, in my opinion. It is perfectly okay with pork (although still not my favorite), but with oyster the flavors just didn’t complement one another very well. I’ll be deep-frying oysters at home as the opportunity arises, but I think, on the whole, that I’ll be giving the Worcestershire type dipping sauces a miss….


Posted in Experiments, Recipes

Deep-Fried Clam Appetizer

Deep-Fried Clam Appetizer 01

This is the first use of the Qikiqtarjuaq Clams my wife bought while I was away on Court circuit. For this recipe, I am going to deep fry the whole clam rather than just the muscular ‘strip’ so it will be, as they say in New England and the Maritimes, ‘Fried Clam with Belly’. I have always loved fried clams but I try to avoid too many deep-fried foods (and these can be very rich) so I am just doing three each for me and the wife as a little appetizer…  Continue reading “Deep-Fried Clam Appetizer”