I have eaten Alligator meat many times. The first time was at a roadside stand just outside ‘Gator World’ (I think it was called) in Florida about twenty years ago and, since then, all my other experiences have been in restaurants, most of which, as best as I recall, were of the ‘Cajun variety. Alligator meat has yet to appear in local stores but I was recently in Rankin Inlet over on the eastern shores of Hudson’s Bay and I came across a half-dozen packages in the freezer section of a nearby supermarket. Luckily, my hotel room had a fridge with a freezer and I was able to grab a couple to bring home with me… Read more
I have been seeing quite a few different varieties of Cheese from this Manitoba based manufacturer recently. I haven’t, as yet, seen Gruyere or Emmental on local shelves, which is a pity, as it is the cheese I most commonly buy for snacking, but this type looked interesting.
I was rather suspecting that the ‘Maple Smoked’ quality of the product would be an artificial flavour. However, the ingredients list states ‘Natural Wood Smoke’, and while this is not conclusive (Liquid Smoke is made using the oils from smoke and could be an additive here), it is possible that the cheese is actually smoked. In any event, the very clear aroma one gets on opening the package is, not exactly maple smoke, but rather the richness of bacon… sweet, maple smoked bacon.
The texture is very nice and creamy and the normal bite of aged cheddar is apparent. It is also dominated by the same very rich bacon quality as in the aroma. Thus far, other than eating it cold, I have only had it melted over rounds of ham sausage and garnished with caramelized onion, but I think it would be a great burger cheese. Indeed, one could almost have a bacon cheeseburger without using bacon. I wasn’t expecting a great deal from this product, to be honest, but I have to say that it is worth a try…
Eel Sauce is a Japanese preparation sometimes known as ‘Nitsume’ or ‘Kabayaki Sauce’. While it is quite commonly used as a glaze for grilled eel dishes (indeed, the ‘Unagi’ on the bottle label means the freshwater eel commonly appearing on sushi menus), the name arises because it was traditionally made by making a stock by boiling eels and reducing it to a syrupy consistence. Nowadays, sugar, Mirin, sake and soy sauce are all commonly used in the basic recipe and Dashi often replaces eel stock.
I often think of Eel Sauce as being the Japanese equivalent of Chinese Oyster Sauce and the two can be used almost interchangeably. Indeed, the taste is very similar, although, some varieties, especially those made with Dashi, have a slightly smoky taste that goes very well with grilled foods… Read more
The radish in this particular case is the large variety most commonly known by the Japanese name Daikon. This very versatile vegetable is preserved by a variety of different techniques all across Asia, especially by lactic acid fermentation, but the most basic method is by salt curing the flesh to dehydrate it and prevent microbial spoilage. The Chinese were probably the first to treat the vegetable this way but the technique is widely used elsewhere, especially in Korea and Thailand. Indeed, the product pictured above is of Thai manufacture… Read more
This rather gnarly looking object is not a withered old tree branch, but rather is the root vegetable that is the source of that sharp, pungent white condiment usually only encountered in jars purchased at the supermarket. Most people are well familiar with the commercial product as an especially good accompaniment to roast beef, but it does have other uses as well. It is sometimes used in ‘Bloody Mary’ concoctions, it works well as a sandwich spread for all sorts of creations (and not just those using cold beef), and it is very commonly used to provide the sharp bite of the standard seafood cocktail sauce. Quite a few Cole-slaw sauces also use it too. The purchased varieties are fine to use, as long as you don’t let them age too long, but there are some benefits to using the fresh article that are also worth investigating… Read more
I have had Haggis about a half-dozen times in my life (almost exclusively in restaurants) but I have never tried making one from scratch and have never had one of any sort inside my home. I was quite excited, therefore, to find a prepared commercial variety in one of our local stores. Curiously, it was the only one there and there had been none there the day before. Why ever that might be I don’t know (did the store only order one, I wonder?), but I wasn’t going to lose the opportunity to sample it so I snapped it up.
Anyway, the label contains the promotional tag ‘The Good Taste of the West’, which struck me as a little unusual, but then I saw the product is made in Saskatchewan. This is, among all the provinces and territories, the only one I have yet to visit, so I can only assume that they have permitted at least one Scottish person across their borders (possibly with a view to cornering the international haggis trade, perhaps?)… Read more
In the last few months, the availability and variety of lamb products has expanded tremendously up here on Baffin Island. Lamb has never traditionally been a widely popular meat in Canada and I attribute the new increased demand to signal a shift in the demographic. There has been a Mosque here in Iqaluit for about a year now and, since I haven’t noticed any sudden influx of Australians or Greeks of late, I rather think that the noticeably increased numbers of immigrants from the Middle East has brought about this welcome change.
Anyway, in addition to some other lamb products, there is a new line of packaged items produced under the name LÄM, a registered trademark of the ‘Canadian Lamb Producers Co-operative’. The website for the cooperative lists their products as being Burgers, Sausages, Kabobs and Meatballs, and, thus far, I have seen the first three of these available locally. I mean to try the Burgers and Kabobs in due course but, today, I am going to try out the Sausage… Read more
A few weeks ago, a colleague of mine dropped by for a beer and brought me the jar of Puttanesca Pasta Sauce you see pictured above. The timing was rather coincidental as I had been planning to do a blog post about Puttanesca Sauce for some time now as it is a favorite of mine and the origin of the name, which essentially means ‘Prostitute’s Sauce’, is a bit of a mystery. On reading the label, I was informed that Pasta Puttanesca was ‘first served in a popular night spot on the island of Ischia in the 1950’s’. This is the first time I have heard that tidbit of information and it is something I want to research a little further. I still plan to do a more detailed post on the Puttanesca Sauce, along with my own recipe, so for today I’ll save any further discussion of the origins and restrict myself to a taste test of the instant product… Read more
At one time, a ‘Madras Curry’ was a standard on Indian restaurant menus in the west, and was also a fairly common recipe entry in Indian cookery books. It seems, however, to be a little less frequently encountered these days and this is perhaps because the Indian City of Madras (whence the name) is now known as Chennai, and the eponymous curry was probably more of an Anglo-Indian, rather than a purely Indian creation. Whatever the case, the Madras Curry is still something of a classic and well worth adding to one’s culinary repertoire.
In my research of a wide variety of spice blends, I have found that the Madras Curry blend is the closest to what most westerners would call the ‘curry flavor’ and the typical ingredients are much the same as found in the generic ‘Curry Powder’ you can find in almost any supermarket. The one major difference between the two, as far as I have seen, is that the generic type tends to be high in Turmeric and low in Chili, while, in a Madras blend, the reverse is usually true. In this post, we will have a quick look at the general composition and then I’ll provide a fairly straightforward version that you can use as a starting point for your own culinary creations… Read more
If you have ever perused any Filipino cookery books, or Filipino recipes on the Internet, you have probably come across the name ‘Bagoong’ from time to time. Most sources confidently assert that ‘Bagoong’ is a fermented shrimp paste but this is only partly correct as there are many varieties made with fish as well. The fish types are collectively known by the name ‘Bagoóng Isdâ’, but there are also specific names depending on the type of fish being used. If a Bagoong is made with shrimp, however (and most commonly the super tiny variety known as ‘krill’, is used), then, strictly speaking, it should be called Bagoóng Alamáng.
Like Terasi and Belcan, or Chinese Shrimp Paste, the Filipino variety is manufactured by allowing small shrimp to ferment with salt. However, in the Philippines, the ‘raw’ product is only used in limited ways (generally as a condiment on cooked rice or fresh fruit), and, instead, it is generally cooked before packaging for sale, often with other ingredients such as garlic, chili or onion. Sometime ago, I actually featured the Lingayen Brand in a foodstuff post (which is a fairly complex variety), but I didn’t specifically identify it as a ‘Bagoong Alamang’. Here, I thought I might use the ‘Barrio Fiesta’ brand as a vehicle for a general discussion of the condiment as it is a pretty decent representative of the type … Read more