Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tasty Thai Style Trout with Nutty Noodle Salad

Thai Style Trout with Nutty Noodle Salad
Asian flavors and cooking methods are all the rage right now and it’s easy to see why. In a world overcome with salt and sugar, Asia is showing us a better way. Instead of bombarding you with artificial ingredients, Asian cuisine uses flavors derived from herbs, fruits, vegetables, fermented products and vinegar. This trout is beautiful example of how to use them.

Instead of frying it in a pan, I bake the trout in the oven. Instead of hiding the fish in a thick breading or batter, I emphasize its fatty richness using tamarind paste – a traditional ingredient in pad thai - and a little sweet chili sauce. Can’t find tamarind paste? NO PROBLEM! Try mixing some ketchup with lime juice and Worcestshire sauce to recreate that tangy flavor. I pair this fish with a cold rice noodle salad loaded with veggies and homemade pickles.

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Medium-Easy
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes

Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients

TROUT

1 Trout Fillet – Trout is a great fish because it’s widely available in North America and a lot more budget-friendly and leaner than salmon. If you want to go extra fancy, feel free to use the salmon instead.

3 Heaping Tablespoons of Tamarind Paste
- OR –
2 ½ Tablespoons of Ketchup mixed with 1 Teaspoon of Lime Juice and 1 Teaspoon of Worcestshire Sauce

2 Tablespoons of Sweet Chili Sauce – This sauce is more sweet that spicy, but if you’re scared of spice, feel free to use honey instead.

½ Teaspoon of Soya Sauce

1 Teaspoon of Lemon Pepper – Optional

1 Teaspoon of Vegetable Oil

If ya wanna get Fancy – Sesame Seeds

SALAD

1 Cup of Snow Peas, rinsed and the ends removed – snow peas have a stringy bit running along the outer edge that’s not easy to eat. Removing the ends will often get rid of the stringy bit too.

1 Pack of Rice Noodles – I used the wide ones, but use whatever looks good to you.

1 Tablespoon of Vegetable Oil

2 Tablespoons of Vinegar

2 Tablespoons of Peanut Butter – If you can melt it in the microwave, do for 20 seconds. Can’t have peanut butter? Try sesame paste or almond butter instead.

1 English Cucumber, rinsed, cut lengthwise, and thinly sliced

1 Cup of Pineapple – canned in chunks or crushed or frozen is fine.

1 Cup of White, Cane, or Rice Vinegar

4 Tablespoons of Sugar

1 Clove of Garlic, peeled and smashed

1 Tablespoon of Fish Sauce – Optional

1 Tablespoon of Hot Sauce – Optional

Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, rinsed

Equipment

1 Baking Pan

1 Small Pot

1 Heat Proof Mixing Bowl

1 Regular Bowl

2 Mixing Spoon

1 Slotted Spoon

Measuring Cups and Spoons

1 Large Heat proof Plastic container

1 Spatula

1 Pair of Tongs

Put the cucumber and pineapple in the container.

In the pot heat the vinegar and sugar, mixing until the sugar has dissolved.

Turn off the heat and mix in the hot sauce and fish sauce, if using.

Add the garlic and pour the hot vinegar mixture, garlic and all, over the cucumber and pineapple.

Close the container and stick in the fridge.

Fill your mixing bowl with hot water and add the rice noodles.

Leave the noodles to soak for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, rinse the pot you used to heat the vinegar and fill it with water.

Put it on the stove on high heat.

When the 15 minutes are up, drain the noodles and put them in your serving bowl with the peanut butter and vegetable oil and toss everything to coat.

Fill the mixing bowl used to soak the noodles with water and ice.

When the water on the stove is boiling, dump in the snow peas and leave them in the boiling for one minute.

Turn off the heat and using the tongs or slotted spoon, dump the snow peas into the ice water. This will stop the cooking process and allow them to keep a little of their crunchiness.

Drain the snow peas and add them to the noodles.

Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 oF.

Grease your baking pan with a little oil.

In a regular bowl, mix the tamarind paste or ketchup mixture with the sweet chili sauce and soy.

Put the fish in the baking pan and season with lemon pepper if you wish.

Spread the tamarind and sweet chili mixture over the fish and top with sesame seeds if ya wanna get fancy.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the juices coming out of the fish are a milky colour. This will make the fish medium rare, but if you like it more flakey, leave it in the oven for 5 extra minutes.

While waiting, you can finish assembling the salad.

Add the tomatoes to the noodles along with the cucumbers, pineapple, and half of the vinegar mixture used to marinate it.

Take the fish out of the oven and serve!

Enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.











Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wonderful Wontons


In Montreal, wonton/dumpling places are all the rage. Whether they’re boiled, steamed, pan fried, filled with soup or served with it, restaurants offering a myriad of flavors and fillings are popular eateries among urban Gen Yers and Millenials. Bite into a wonton, and it’s easy to see why.

Wontons, when done right, are little bundles of heaven. Soft pillowy wrappers with moist flavorful fillings of meat, seafood, tofu, or vegetables that you can eat with anything from plain soy sauce or chili oil, to more complex sauces made from peanut butter or spicy vinegar. Though wontons look dainty, they’re surprisingly easy to make and it’s the kind of dish that’s sure to please everyone. The trick is offering a variety of dipping sauces to choose from and keeping the filling tasty, but simple.

I boil my wontons because this method makes it very easy to tell when they’re done and guarantees that the wrapper and filling will be ready at the same time. Speaking of filling, I use ground meat and shrimp, but you could use just the meat or minced firm tofu. While there are tons of sauces you could eat with these, I’ve included two of my favorites. Don’t be put off by how sour they seem, the liquid in the dumplings will temper them.

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Medium
Prep Time: 20-30 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Ingredients

WONTONS

1 Pound of Ground Meat – Beef, Pork, or Veal works best. Aim for lean or medium meat as a little fat makes the dumplings moist.

1 Cup of Finely Chopped, Shelled Cooked Shrimp – About ten large shrimp will do, and feel free to use frozen ones, thawed in cold water.

2 Green Onions/Scallions Cleaned, and all but the fuzzy bit at the bottom, thinly sliced

1 Large Clove of Garlic, finely chopped or grated

1 Teaspoon of Fresh, Grated Ginger

1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon of Oyster Sauce, Optional – This is an Asian sauce found in Oriental markets and the Asian foods section of a lot of major grocery stores. It adds a wonderful savory umami flavor to the wontons, but if you can’t eat shellfish and shellfish products, feel free to leave it out. You won’t be shellfish for doing so.

1 Pack of Wonton Wrappers – You can get these in Asian markets and some grocery stores. A pack will yield about a hundred wontons. If you can’t find em, there are tons of decent wrapper recipes online.

Water - OR – 1 Tablespoon of Cornstarch mixed with 1 Tablespoon of Water – OR – 1 Beaten Egg – To seal the wontons.

6 Cups of Water or Chicken Stock for boiling the wontons

LEMON SOY SAUCE

6 Tablespoons of Soya Sauce

3 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice

1 Drop of Sesame Oil, Optional

SPICY VINEGAR SAUCE

6 Tablespoons of White, Rice or Cane Vinegar

2 Tablespoon of your favorite Hot Sauce – I like Sambal Oelek or Sriracha, both Thai chili sauces, but use what you have or like.

1 Heaping Teaspoon of Sugar

1 Teaspoon of Fish Sauce – Available in Asian grocers and many major supermarkets

1 Tablespoon of Water

1 Clove of Garlic, peeled and smashed

Equipment

1 Large Bowl or Plastic Container

1 Large Pot

1 Slotted Spoon

1 Knife and Cutting Board

Measuring Spoons

3 Small Bowls

Regular Spoons

With clean hands mix all the wonton ingredients except the skins together until just combined.

You’re now ready to assemble them.

The shape of your wontons will depend on the shape of your wrappers. The ones you often see in restaurants are made with round wrappers which are folded in half around the filling and sometimes have crimped edges, resulting in pretty semi circles. My wonton wrappers are square, so I made mine by folding them over the filling and then pinching the furthest ends together. See the images below.
Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
There are many ways to seal a wonton. I use plain water, which I use to moisten the ends of the wontons before sealing them by pinching the edges together. If water doesn’t work, feel free to use a beaten egg or add a bit of cornstarch to the water.

When sealing the wontons, be sure to pinch out any air bubbles so they don’t fall apart while boiling. It may look like a lot work but making these goes surprisingly fast once you get the hang of it. If you have kids, feel free to get them in on this. It’s kinda fun.

Bring a large pot of water or chicken stock to a boil.

While the liquid is heating, mix the ingredients for each sauce together in two separate bowls and set aside.

While the liquid is boiling, dump the wontons in 10 at a time. A minute after they float to the surface, they’re ready and you can scoop em out with a slotted spoon and put em in a serving dish.

Serve with dipping sauces.

Enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.





Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Asian-Style Spaghetti and Meat Sauce



Nothing says comfort food quite like spaghetti and meat sauce. It’s healthy, hearty, family friendly, and budget friendly as you can feed a crowd on very little meat. Unfortunately, once it becomes a family staple, people often get sick of it.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

With a few clever adjustments, you can convert the old-school spaghetti and meat sauce into something a little more exotic.

Take this recipe.

For this dish, I stick to the old-school combo of spaghetti, ground beef, and onions, but instead of using tomato sauce, I threw in some Asian flavorings and a bell pepper. The finished product looks a lot like spaghetti and meat sauce, but the flavor profile is deliciously different.

Try it on your family once in a while.

They’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Easy
Prep and Cook Time: 20-30 Minutes

Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients

1 Pound of Lean or Medium Lean Ground Beef

1 Onion, peeled, cut in half, and sliced

1 Red or Yellow Bell Pepper – coarsely chopped

3 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce

4 Tablespoons of Ketchup – I like using Filipino Banana Ketchup, which is a bit sweeter and available in Asian markets that cater to the Filipino community, but since it’s hard to come by, regular tomato ketchup is fine.

4 Tablespoons of Hoisin Sauce

1 Teaspoon of White Vinegar

Hot Sauce - to Taste – Optional

1 Teaspoon of Honey – Optional

1 Large Clove of Garlic – Finely minced

1 Teaspoon of Fresh Grated or Minced Ginger

Half a box of Spaghetti, Spaghettini, or 1 Pack of Rice Noodles

1 Teaspoon of Salt

2 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil

1 Teaspoon of Sesame Oil

½ Tablespoon of Smooth Peanut Butter – Optional

1 Teaspoon of Soy Sauce

Lemon Slices – Optional

Equipment

1 Pot

1 Strainer

1 Set of Tongs

1 Knife and Cutting Board

Measuring Spoons

1 Regular Bowl and Spoon

1 Frying Pan or Wok

1 Wooden Spoon


Put a pot of water on the stove and add the salt.

When the water is boiling, dump in your noodles and get started on the beef.

Put the beef in your frying pan and cook on high heat, stirring and breaking it up with a wooden spoon until the meat is no longer pink.

 While the meat is browning, mix the soy sauce, ketchup, hoisin sauce, vinegar, and honey and hot sauce (if using) in a regular bowl.

 Drain off some of the excess fat and liquid and put the pan back on the heat.  

 Add the pepper and onions and stir everything together until softened slightly.

Add the soy sauce mixture and the garlic and ginger and stir everything together and leave it to simmer for a minute or three.

By now your pasta should be ready.

Drain it in a strainer and dump it back in your pot.

Add the vegetable oil, sesame oil, teaspoon of soy sauce, and peanut butter (if using) and toss everything around with your tongs to coat.

Give your meat sauce one last stir and turn off the heat.

Put the noodles in a bowl, top with the meat sauce and a slice of lemon if you wish and serve!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.