Category: Seafood

Asian Noodles with Pork and Prawns

asian noodle final2I LOVE noodles. Husband does not. He has been gone for almost a week on a business trip so it has been a regular noodle-fest around these parts. Spaghetti with bolognese, udon with stir fry veggies, and now… TA DA!

These noodles are based on a recipe by Jamie Oliver except I switched out a couple ingredients and have given more exact measurements and cooking instructions. It is not a quick “throw-together” recipe; there is a lot of washing and chopping. It’s best to prep everything before you begin to cook as it goes very quickly once you start… like 5 minutes quick! The vermicelli noodles can be prepared ahead of time and I like to
cut them in half or thirds just to make it easier to toss and eat.

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side. The recipe is easily halved or doubled but if you are going to double, you will need to cook half at a time as there are too many ingredients to properly cook in a regular frying pan.

4 ounces (100 grams) vermicelli noodles

A good glug olive oil
1/2 pound (8 oz) lean ground pork
2 TBS Chinese five-spice powder

1/2 pound (8 oz) shrimp or prawns, peeled and deveined, cut in half or thirds if large
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced with seeds (taste for heat and adjust to your liking)
1 TBS fresh ginger, grated or finely diced
2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup plain skinned peanuts, roughly chopped or crushed
pinch of salt

4 green onions, very thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 sweet red pepper, finely diced

1 large bunch (2 cups) cilantro, leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 small bunch (1 cup) mint, leaves removed and roughly chopped
2 limes, juiced
1 TBS soy sauce

asian noodle prep

Cook vermicelli noodles according to package directions. This usually means soak in very hot water for 3 minutes, rinse with cool water, drain and set aside. This can be done ahead of time.

Heat oil in large frying pan and add pork, breaking up with spatula until almost cooked through. Sprinkle over five-spice powder and stir to coat. Add prawns and toss for a minute to start cooking. Add garlic, jalapeno, ginger, sugar, peanuts, and a pinch of salt. Continue to toss and stir for another minute until prawns are almost cooked through.

asian noodle 1

Add vermicelli noodles, green onion, and sweet pepper to the pan. Continue to toss and stir for another minute or two until prawns are completely cooked and the noodles are warm. Remove from heat and add herbs, lime juice and soy sauce, stirring until herbs just start to wilt.

asian noodle 2
asian noodle 3

Pile all that beautiful spicy, fresh goodness into a bowl and enjoy.

That’s how it’s done when the cat’s away. :)

Vietnamese Salad Rolls

salad roll final What to do for lunch tomorrow?! This was my great dilemma this morning as I lay in bed listening to the rest of the world start their day. I didn’t feel like going shopping for salad ingredients. I had some carrots in the fridge, a half a pepper from the pineapple salsa I made the other night, some cilantro, green onion, and not much else. My pantry is usually pretty well stocked with Asian ingredients and I always have prawns in the freezer. Sounds like salad rolls are on the menu.

These rolls are very adaptable to whatever you have in the fridge. Other filling ideas are bean sprouts, matchstick cucumber or zucchini, basil or mint instead of cilantro, poached chicken instead of shrimp. I used very little green onion in mine because I’m taking them to work but feel free to use more.

Don’t worry about getting the vegetables cut perfectly. I’m a bit obsessed but even using a vegetable peeler to make strips of carrots would work just fine!

As far as the peanut sauce goes, it was very good but next time I might try adding some fish sauce. Sesame oil would be tasty as well.

For the rolls:
9 medium-size (I used 16/20 count) prawns, shelled
2 oz vermicelli noodles (or about 1 1/2 cups of finished noodles)
6 round rice paper wrappers
1/2 red bell pepper (thinly sliced, pole to pole)
1 large carrot (cut into thin 3″ matchsticks)
1 green onion (thinly sliced on the diagonal)
leaves from 20  or so sprigs of cilantro

Peanut sauce:
4 TBS peanut butter
1 TBS hoisin sauce
1 TBS fresh lime juice
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp honey
1 tsp chili garlic sauce

Mix peanut sauce ingredients in bowl, then blend in enough cold water to get the consistency you want. For me, this is about 3 tablespoons. Set aside.

Heat a good amount of water (enough to also cook noodles below) in medium-size saucepan. When it starts to simmer, add prawns and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the prawns from the hot water with a slotted spoon, rinse in cold water and pat dry. Cut in half lengthwise and set aside.
salad roll shrimp

In the still hot water in which you cooked the prawns, cook vermicelli noodles according to package directions. This should entail adding the noodles to the hot water for about 3 minutes, then rinse in cold water and drain.
salad roll noodles

Putting it together:

salad roll ingredients

Place a clean, damp kitchen towel on a work surface. If you work very quickly you don’t need the towel, just make sure the work surface is wet. But if you think making the roll is going to take you longer than a minute, use the towel or the rice paper will stick to your work surface (like my first one did!). Fill a wide, shallow dish large enough to hold a rice paper wrapper with hot tap water (big pie plate or frying pan). Working with 1 wrapper at a time, completely submerge the wrapper until it is soft and pliable, about 10-15 seconds. Remove the wrapper from the water and place it on the towel.

Lay 3 prawn halves in a row along the centre of the wrapper. Add other vegetables lengthwise on top. Make sure they are neatly laid or they will poke through your rice paper when you try to roll it. Add a small amount of vermicelli noodles and top with cilantro.
salad rooll 1
salad roll 2
salad roll 3

Now comes the tricky part!

Fold the bottom half of the rice paper over the vegetables. Holding the vegetables firmly, pull back on them just slightly to tighten the roll. Fold in the sides and continue to roll away from you. SEE?!?! You did it! :) Note my picture below. The ones on the right were my first attempts (that second one from the right is especially bad!). Don’t worry if the first couple are messy, they will still taste good and once you’ve done it a few times, you will get the hang of it.
salad roll bad

If you want to hold them for a day or two, wrap them individually in cling wrap. When you’re ready to eat them, just dip them in peanut sauce and go for it. Very fresh and tasty.
salad roll end

Oh, and don’t tell Husband I made these, because I’ve already eaten half of them and the other half are safely hidden… um… STORED in fridge for my lunch tomorrow. :)

Grilled Fish Tacos

taco fishSpring has sprung and there are two fellows in my yard right now filling up my gardening boxes and spreading topsoil for new sod, so I’m feeling pretty positive this morning! And this lovely weather has put me in the mood for lighter, healthier food (but something that still tastes like a treat). I received this recipe in an email from Cooks Illustrated just a couple days ago and managed to hold off for about 8 hours before making it. Cha-ching! It was exactly what I was craving.

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Asian Grain Salad

Asian grain saladHusband and I had a great time in Seattle last weekend. A belated birthday dinner for me at an amazing restaurant and some shopping. The deals aren’t so great for Canadians anymore with our slumping dollar but the selection is still so much better than I can seem to find here. When the airlines started charging for checked luggage, I bought myself a new (very small) piece of carry-on luggage. I am not sure how I am going to travel in Europe this summer with about 6 square inches of clothing but that is a hurdle I have yet to cross. My most recent hurdle was finding the perfect “personal item” to go with my new (very small) carry-on luggage. It needed to be big enough to fit my purse, book, iPad, airplane snacks, plus any items that don’t fit into my regular (very small) carry-on luggage (for me, this usually means a couple more pair of shoes), while still maintaining the size parameters of a “personal Item”.  It also needed to be expandable in case I bring anything back from my travels that don’t fit into my (very small) carry-on luggage. It’s a tall order but I finally found the perfect bag in Seattle.

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The Best White Fish Recipe Ever… aka Fish Cooked With Fresh Green Chutney

sea bassIt’s a bold claim, I know. The best? What makes this recipe the best? I’m not a huge fan of fish…

Note: I know I keep telling you about things I’m not a huge fan of. I really really don’t like chicken breasts (dry and tasteless), I don’t like all fish (some of it can be very dry, but that is sometimes rooted in bad preparation… fish is easily overcooked), and I can live without legumes (but I eat them anyway because they’re good for me). Oh, and not a huge fan of kale except for one salad which I will tell you about someday. But truly, other than that, I’ll eat almost anything. Pass the bone marrow, please!

Aaaaanywaaaay, as I was saying, I’m not a huge fan of fish but this is my absolute favourite way to cook white fish. It’s aromatic, zesty, fresh, unusual, and easy. All good reasons to call it the best. The original recipe was first published in Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook An Invitation to Indian Cooking circa 1973. Food & Wine published it in 1980 and then again in 1998 as part of their Best 20 Recipes Of All Time collection.

sea bass recipe
That’s where I picked up on it and have been making it ever since, although over the years it has morphed into something healthier (such as omitting the butter) and easier (using store bought coconut instead of grating my own fresh coconut!!). Ms. Jaffrey recommends using halibut. I like using (sustainably caught) sea bass, but any white fish would be delicious.  As with most of my recipes, this serves 2, but can easily be doubled or tripled.

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Grilled Panzanella Salad

panzsaladThis is my first blog post! I’m so excited… yay me! Because we have been building a “garage” (bike studio for Husband) in our backyard for the past year (don’t even). And because in the course of building this “garage”, they have dug up my ENTIRE backyard (yup, all of it). And because I have been living with mud and debris for 6 months (I can’t even), I am dreaming of summer when this fiasco will (supposedly) be over. And because I am dreaming of lying on my lounger in my newly landscaped yard, with the sun dappling through the trees, cold beer in hand, I want to share with you one of my absolute favourite summer dinner salads.

I know it’s a bit early in the season but maybe it will get you dreaming of summer as well. Ahhhhh…

I fell in love with the idea of panzanella salad when I started growing my own tomatoes (thank you, dad) but the actual dish never quite lived up to my expectation.  I wanted the vegetables to have more depth and sweetness.  I wanted it crunchier.  And I wanted protein to turn it into a main course that would satisfy both myself and said Husband.

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