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May 2008

27 May 2008

Wild Salmon & Kaffir Cakes with Ponzu Sauce


I did a seafood & citrus cooking class last week at the Cookshop in Vancouver and these salmon cakes were one of the items on the menu.

We used wild Pacific Salmon which is oilier than the sockeye I'd normally use and much more 'forgiving' as the chef kept saying. What he meant was that Sockeye being a drier fish is much easier to ruin when frying in recipes such as this one.

The salmon cakes were simple to prepare and delicious. They were peppered with kaffir leaves which added a citrusy bite to the natural sweetness of the salmon. The little cakes were coated with Panko crumbs and then gently pan-fried about a minute or so on each side.

We made a Ponzo dipping sauce using soy sauce, brown sugar, green onions, ginger and lime juice.

The chef used an ice-cream scoop to make the salmon cake rounds which worked brilliantly and kept each cake the same size. I promptly raced out and bought one!

I'm submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging being hosted this week by Wandering Chopsticks.


Continue reading "Wild Salmon & Kaffir Cakes with Ponzu Sauce" »

25 May 2008

The Little Green Puy


The delicate Puy Lentil was an excellent substitute for beef in this cottage pie recipe. While delicate in flavour, Puy lentils are thought by some to be the best of their kind for their ability to keep their shape when cooked over long periods.

Considered the 'pearl of central France", the lentils are cultivated in the Le Puy region where they were introduced from the Mediterranean by the Gauls. So loved are the little lentils that a group of locals established the Confrérie de la Lentille du Puy (The Brotherhood of the Puy Lentil).

The group takes part in annual food events and parades where members don slate-green coloured robes embroidered with lentils and wear lentil-shaped hats. All the while singing songs about little green lentils. If this isn't a testament to their greatness, then I don't know what is!

I threw in whatever ingredients I had handy including squash, okra, carrots, celery and canned Roma tomatoes. I used some parsley and cilantro freshly picked from our windowsill herb garden. I also added a dash of dried chili flakes. The filling was topped with a creamy topping of mash potatoes and Parmesan cheese.

The cottage pie was scrumptious. The lentils soaked up the flavours of the vegetables and herbs while still retaining their distinct pepperiness. While I do love the traditional beef-filled cottage pie or lamb-filled shepherd's pie, I think the little green Puy has a new place in my heart.

I'm submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted this week by Cate at Sweetnicks.


Continue reading "The Little Green Puy" »

21 May 2008

Thai-style Okra Tempura


Okra is the pod of a tropical perennial of the Mallow family. It is thought to have originated in the mountainous regions of Abyssinia, now known as Ethiopia. 

The earliest account of okra was in the early 1200s by a Spanish Moor traveling in Eygpt who witnessed the tender pod being eaten.

Since then okra has spread across the world where it is eaten today in Europe, South East Asia, the Caribbean and the Americas.

Okra is known by a variety of names including 'lady fingers', 'Bhindi', 'Bamieh' and 'Gumbo'. It is high in fibre and contains vitamins A, C and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.

The versatile little pod can be used in a variety of ways. Here are just a few I found in my research:

  • It is cooked in soups, stews, battered, fried, dried, grilled or steamed
  • It is used as thickening agent for soups
  • It is ground into a fine powder and added to food such as cous cous to stop the grains from sticking
  • Its seeds can be pressed to make good quality oil and are also high in protein
  • Mature, dried okra seeds were ground and used as a coffee substitute in Central America, Africa and parts of Asia

I fried my okra in a light batter made of plain flour, tapioca flour (starch), soda water and baking soda. The okra was accommpanied by a Thai nam pla prik sauce consisting of fish sauce (nam pla), fresh bird chilis, coriander, lime juice and a little sugar.

I battered about four okra at a time and then placed them in the hot sunflower oil where I cooked them for 1-2 minutes until they were just starting to turn golden. The quick frying retains the okra's delicious crunch while still heating it up enough to make it tender.   

Continue reading "Thai-style Okra Tempura" »

15 May 2008

In Awe of Raw


There's a whole raw food movement going on in LA, and I'm sure other places, of which I have been quite ignorant.

I had heard about 'raw foodism' but quite honestly, the thought of eating uncooked vegetables for the rest of my days was quite unappealing. That was until my recent trip to LA where I was introduced to two very exciting raw food restaurants, Juliano's Raw and RAWvolution, both in Santa Monica.

The premise behind raw food is eating primarily uncooked, unprocessed and organic fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts. Raw foodists believe that cooking food either kills most of the essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes or transforms them into carcinogens or 'free radicals'.  So to get the most out of most foods, it is important to eat them either raw or cooked at temperatures under 100F (38C).

There are recipes for raw breads, cakes, soups and even French fries. While I am not a complete raw food convert by any means, I was really impressed by the creativity, diversity and deliciousness of some of the raw meals I tried whilst in LA.

Take, for instance, the two meals in my photos, both from RAWvolution, run by renowned raw food chef, Matt Amsden. The first image is a trio of salads including a finely chopped broccolini with parsley and olive oil, cauliflower cous cous, and a 'mock tuna' salad with macadamia nuts, parsley, zucchini, olive oil and nama shoyu; raw organic unpasteurized soy sauce. The little crackers on the side were made from leftover almond pulp, flax seeds and rosemary.

Below is the 'cocophoria burger'. The 'bun' was made from ground onions and the filling was salad and 'coconut jerky' -- basically sun-dried coconut flesh marinated in curry powder and nama shoyu.


All this was followed by a dessert of coconut pie and one of the best chocolate brownies I've ever tasted - all raw.


Unfortunately I don't have any photos from Juliano's restaurant but trust me when I say that his 'strawberry parfait' was taste bud blowing. It was made of pinenuts, vanilla bean, honey, strawberries and a secret ingredient which I'm afraid I can't share. The parfait was rich and velvety and I savoured every mouthful.

If you're curious to find out about some chef Juliano's raw food secrets, he holds cooking classes on the first Saturday of each month.

2301 Main Street, Santa Monica 90405

Juliano's Raw
609 Broadway Ave. Santa Monica, CA 90405


08 May 2008

The Fiddlehead


I’m heading down to LA for several days but I just wanted to share a quick recipe with you from last night’s dinner: sautéed Fiddlehead Ferns.

This was my first time eating them and certainly not my last. I’ve read articles comparing Fiddleheads to asparagus but, other than the fact that they're green, I can't agree. Their flavour is more delicate and their crunch, more substantial.

Fiddleheads are the young, tightly coiled leaves of the Ostrich fern. The springtime delicacy was eaten by Malseet Indians, who lived in what is now known as New Brunswick, and is believed to have been introduced into the colonial diet in the 1700s.

Today commercial Fiddleheaders harvest the leaves in parts of coastal Canada and the northeastern United States.

Some important things to note about the Fiddlehead: it can only be eaten when it is young and must be thoroughly cleaned and cooked prior to consumption. I gave them two cold water baths to get rid of the little brown skins. You also must be sure to snip off the brown parts of the stem.

I boiled them for 10 minutes in lightly salted water and then sautéed them in butter, garlic and a dash of soy sauce.

Delicious and nutritious – they’re a good source of potassium and also contain vitamin C, iron and niacin.

06 May 2008

Thai Red Curry Mussels


I made these mussels a few nights ago with my homemade red curry paste.

The alchemy of the fragrant curry paste, coconut milk and the sweet, salty mussel liquor stimulated all of my senses.

This recipe was very simple to make. It was just a case of heating up the curry paste in a saucepan, adding coconut milk, bringing it to a simmer and then popping in the mussels, which took about five minutes to cook.

Even if you don't make your own curry paste, you can just substitute a commercial brand which will still be good. However, as I said in my last post, once you do make your own, you'll never look back!

Continue reading "Thai Red Curry Mussels" »

01 May 2008

Homemade red curry paste: I'll never go back


In my recent Thai Green Curry post, I was ashamed to admit that even though I'm half Thai, I had never attempted to make my own curry paste.

Well I finally did it and now I'm left wondering why I didn't try it earlier. The result was quite spectacular and I'm not sure I'll be able to eat the store-bought paste again.

It wasn't the easiest thing to do however that being said, it also wasn't too laborious. I even used my small mortar and pestle to do the job. As you can see in the photo above there are still some small flecks of chili which didn't grind down but it was fine.

It took me about 40 minutes to make the paste. I had to wear my ski goggles during the pounding so as not to get blinded by the juice of 15 or so chilis.  I highly recommend this. Wear sunglasses if you have to.

Ok, let's start with the smell. It was intoxicating. The pulverizing of the Makrut lime skin, lemongrass and galangal with shallots and a mixture of dried and fresh red chilis, released the most incredible, pungent aroma.

Now just to give you a quick run down on some of the ingredients, a Makrut lime is recognisable by its knobbly skin. It has a lovely fragrance, similar to that of a grapefruit. Galangal is a rhizome, similar to ginger, however it has a much sweeter aroma. Asian shallots are small and red with brown skin. For this recipe only the white part of the lemongrass is used as this is the most fragrant and fresh part.

Continue reading "Homemade red curry paste: I'll never go back" »

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