Posted in Notable Nosh

Notable Nosh: Wasabi’s Unagi Taters

Wasabi's Unagi Taters

Dear, Oh dearie me… this little offering was… just… sad…

Normally, a dish or meal is featured as a ‘Notable Nosh’ dish because it was either very good, or otherwise interesting in some way, but, unfortunately, that was not the case here… I love the Japanese Restaurant, Wasabi, down in Ottawa’s Byward Market, not just because they usually have top notch food, but also because, sometimes, they can be innovative in clever and tasty ways. Occasionally, though, or at least a couple of times in my experience, they have managed some truly frightful boners. Their ‘Unagi Taters’ which I tried just before this past Christmas, were, I regret to say, boners in the first degree

The menu introduced ‘Unagi Taters’ as: Miso herb croquettes with unagi (eel), cheese, and chives.

Sounds sorta interesting doesn’t it?

Let’s unpack ….

To get the full idea of the croquette, imagine a dollop of cold, unseasoned and mashed potato that is pressed flat, coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. You may well imagine that the result would be somewhat flavorless and with an unpleasant texture, and… you would be right. Had these ‘croquettes’ included the advertised herbs or miso, the additions might have saved them. As it was, however, they were nowhere in evidence; Not merely added insufficiently, mind you … but completely absent.

The Unagi was the only thing that added any sort of decent flavor here… Unfortunately, it may be that the chef was having a bad night or something, but only two of my four ‘taters’ managed to have any eel put atop them, and in both cases, the amount was not quite enough to be described as ‘stingy’. The final insult to the otherwise decent fish came with the addition of the cheese.

The cheese, and I swear this is true, was actually squares of processed cheese that were added to the ‘taters’ before being popped under the grill. This might have been alright except that the grilling wasn’t even long enough to properly melt the cheese (much less toast it to make it flavorful) and so there it remained as cold, and plastic-like, as it usually is. Sadly, this is not a dish that was poorly executed, it wasn’t even well-conceived to begin with.

Well… in all fairness to Wasabi, despite my little diatribe here, I love the place and will continue to eat there when I come to town. But guys … for heaven’s sake, retire this one from the menu and, for future innovations, if it comes to mind that processed cheese with fish might be a good idea then … NO, NO, and .. NO!!

 

 

Posted in Notable Nosh

Notable Nosh: Aloo Tikki Chaat

KCH Aloo Tikki Chat

I had this Indian appetizer dish in Ottawa way back in September and have only just now  got around to writing up my notes. I am not sure if this looks especially appetizing to you or not, but it rather caught me off guard as it was not at all what I was expecting. It was, though, really, really good.

The word ‘tikki’ in Indian cuisine generally refers to a cutlet of sorts and, since ‘aloo’ means potato, a ‘chaat’ (or snack) involving ‘Aloo Tikki’, basically means a fried patty of spiced potato. At the Curry Kebab House in Ottawa’s Byward Market, they described their version on the menu as patties ‘topped with tamarind sauce and chick peas’. This was, in fact, what I got, but it was also a good deal more.

It is not possible to see the patties in this dish, so you will just have to trust me that they were there. I was rather expecting a visible fried patty with a sprinkling of chick peas and a drizzle of sauce. As it was, my potato was smothered in not just tamarind sauce, but also coconut cream and mint chutney. This may sound like a bit of overkill, perhaps, but, in fact, all three worked very nicely together and offered a sweet and sour counterpoint to the spice. In addition to chickpeas, there were also chopped tomato, onion and coriander leaf, and, the effect was as satisfying to the eye as it was to the palate.

The potato patty was quite nicely spiced and, though the blend was fairly complex, I could only specifically identify chili and cumin. The chili was added with a fairly light hand, and the overall heat was not much more than the typical hot-wings you would find in a tavern. The best part of the patty, though, was the texture. I had been expecting something a bit like the sort of potato patty you can find for breakfast in a supermarket freezer. The ones here may have initially been like that (crisp outside and tender in), but the effect of the heavy sauce changed it entirely. There was still a semi-crispness to the outer surface but the inside was transformed into something that was delightfully chewy. It surprised me and I really enjoyed it very much. It will probably take me a number of attempts to duplicate this but, once I do, I shall be sure to post the results.

Posted in Foodstuffs

Foodstuff: Gnocchi – Delverde Brand™

Gnocchi Delverde Brand 1

When I came across this pre-made, packaged Potato Gnocchi from Delverde I wasn’t aware that such products existed and I was rather surprised to eventually learn that they are actually quite common (albeit not in my part of the world). I am not a huge gnocchi fan, indeed I have probably made the potato variety no more than a dozen times, but this product intrigued me and I had to check it out… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Gnocchi – Delverde Brand™”

Posted in Recipes

Potato Mizuna Nimono

Mizuna Potato Nimono 01

During my vacation from writing blog posts over this past summer, I was experimenting quite a bit with the Japanese class of dishes known as ‘Nimono’ or ‘Simmered Things’. Essentially, these are dishes in which the main ingredients are simmered in a ‘Shiru’, or broth, chiefly made with Dashi and other seasonings such as Soy, Mirin, or Miso. I will be looking at quite a few different sorts of Nimono in the upcoming months but today’s post illustrates a very simple example of the technique and allows me to use some of the Mizuna my wife grew over the summer…  Continue reading “Potato Mizuna Nimono”

Posted in Recipes

Tapas: Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas 1

This rather simple little preparation is a standard on most tapas menus and, as one might expect, there are many variations. Typically, it involves potatoes that are deep-fried, but pan-fried, roasted and even boiled versions occur. The sauce, while always spicy, can be quite copious, or else little more than a glaze, and recipes often incorporates tomato in the mix, with mayonnaise sometimes being added, both as a sauce ingredient proper, or else drizzled on top before service. Today, I am going to roast chunks of potatoes and then quickly fry them in a light but piquant sauce… Continue reading “Tapas: Patatas Bravas”

Posted in Recipes

Stir-fried Potato Shreds -炒土豆絲

Stir-fried Potato Shreds 1

The potato has historically not been widely used in China (although that is probably changing with the incursion of western-style fast food) and, where it does appear, it is not as a major starch component of a meal, as it usually is in the west. Instead, it is treated more as a secondary vegetable and will often appear alongside rice based dishes, or even noodles. Today’s dish is a good example of a Chinese potato preparation and, while it appears to have originated in Sichuan, is becoming widely popular elsewhere as well.

The basic form of the dish is simply potato shreds stir-fried to a tender, yet still slightly crunchy, state. Some preparations add little else other than a bit of salt or soy for seasoning while others are more complex. Sichuan variations often include dried chili and Sichuan Peppercorns, while others are less spicy and may include green onion, red or green bell peppers, or shredded carrot. Today, I am going to walk the middle line and use shredded green chili for color and a little spicy kick…  Continue reading “Stir-fried Potato Shreds -炒土豆絲”

Posted in Experiments, Recipes

Banchan: Jorim with Potato – Gamja Jorim

Gamja Jorim 01

The Koreans have a great tradition of serving small side dishes known as ‘Banchan’ along with the rice and other main dish selections of a meal. There are many different varieties, and several types (sometimes just a couple but occasionally, up to twelve, will be served at once, being replenished as necessary. The varieties are organized into categories and today’s recipe is for a type known as a ‘Jorim’ dish, which essentially consists of one or two main ingredients seasoned in a simmered broth. A Jorim could be a main dish, and is then usually served hot, but, as a Banchan, it is often served cold. Today, I am making a potato variety called ‘Gamja Jorim’…  Continue reading “Banchan: Jorim with Potato – Gamja Jorim”

Posted in Experiments, Recipes

Fried Potato Patties

Potato Patties 1

I occasionally make ‘Latke‘ style potato pancakes for breakfasts or brunches. They are very nice but they are also a bit of a pain to make. After grating the raw potatoes, they need to be vigorously squeezed to remove excess water, care has to be taken to form them so they aren’t straggly nests of loose shreds, and they can’t be too thick or the middles end up being partially raw. One Saturday, I decided to change the routine a little and use pre-cooked potatoes instead… Continue reading “Fried Potato Patties”