Tag: Food

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…

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)”

Notable Nosh: Calamari Manko

Calamari Manko

On the last evening of a recent trip to Ottawa, I went on an ‘appetizer tour’ and stopped for drinks and one or two appetizers at a series of restaurants. One such stop was at the ‘Curry Kebab House’ which sits in the space in Byward Market once occupied by another Indian restaurant called ‘Haveli’. I will have to go back there sometime and do a proper review of the place after sampling a few more of their dishes, but the one I tried there on this occasion was terrific …

The dish was called Calamari ‘Manko’ …. I have no idea of the origin of the name ‘Manko’ and a search only yielded the fact that it is a very rude Japanese slang term (I’ll let you Google it yourselves). The menu described the dish as being squid ‘tossed with curry leaves and toasted coconut [and] served with a tomato chutney’. In fact, the ingredients were actually served ‘in’, rather than ‘with’ the chutney, which, in addition to the tomato, included mustard seed and coriander leaf. Toasted dried chilies were almost added to the mix, lending an almost ‘Sichuanesque’ effect to the overall taste, which was unusual, but really nicely done. The squid was cooked just perfectly, being tender, but still a bit chewy, and there was a sweetness that came in part from the toasted coconut, but, probably, also from the addition of a bit of sugar.

The curry leaves really made a difference here. I have cooked with these at home, but this was the first time I have had them served to me in a restaurant dish. The woody, slightly herby taste, really added a nice note. I want to try making this at home, sometime… Unfortunately, curry leaves are very hard to come by for me, but I think that a peppery Thai-Basil might make a very decent substitute…

Foodstuff: Bad Boys Pickled Eggs

Bad Boys Eggs

Discovering this particular product represents one of those bizarre coincidences that sometimes happens in life… One morning I was corresponding with a friend about pickling and I mentioned that I liked pickled eggs but had only had one sort here in Iqaluit. The brand I mentioned were brine pickled (with a little touch of vinegar, as I recall) and I only ever bought one jar. They were, I told my friend, very nicely cooked with the yolks well centered, and could be useful for masking devilled eggs, or the like, but they were pretty bland and could use have used something to spice them up a bit.

Well, that very afternoon, while shopping, I saw these ‘Bad Boys’, described as ‘Spicy Pickled Eggs’, and I had to buy them. The jar lists onions, mustard seeds and ‘spices’ on the label (one wonders what they think mustard seeds are?), but there are black peppercorns in the mix, as well as enough dried chili to turn the vinegar a pinkish hue. On initial inspection, it certainly sounded like these would be an improvement over the first variety…

Sadly, this was not the case. The pickling medium was very tasty, and did penetrate the eggs to some degree, but, unfortunately, they just weren’t well cooked. They were overdone, leaving the texture soft and not very pleasant, and it is damned difficult getting an egg out of the jar without breaking it. They were so friable, I pretty much destroyed too before finally fishing out the one you see in the above picture. Naturally, in that state they don’t even have the advantage of being used for anything involving presentation… I guess the only thing I can do is to have a go at pickling some eggs myself.

Madrasi Grilled Beef

Madrasi Grilled Beef 01

A while ago, I posted a recipe for my homemade Madras Curry Paste and I wanted to try using it in something other than a ‘curry’ style dish. I came up with the idea of doing something along the lines of a Satay, but with the flavors of India and made the dish you see pictured abve. I made it is an appetizer but you could make larger (and more) skewers and serve them over rice for a more substantial course. Here, I served mine 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… Continue reading “Madrasi Grilled Beef”

Salted Char

Salted Char 1

The picture above shows my first attempt at salting fish for preservation. To date, my only experience with salted, dried fish is salt-cod, which I have purchased and used but never prepared for myself. In these of almost universal freezer-ownership, salting and drying fish in order to keep it is not really necessary but the process changes the texture in pleasing ways and intensifies the flavor. I didn’t have cod, which is a bit rare these days, but I had just purchased two large Arctic Char from a guy selling them door to door and I kept back a couple of fillets for this experiment… Continue reading “Salted Char”