Coconut Curry Udon

Coconut curry noodles

I used to not like fat udon. The thick, round noodles look childlike and lacking in sophistication.

Now that we live in Vancouver, I’m coming around to them. Many Asian restaurants serve some form of udon in this city, and the noodles are easily available at the supermarket. We decided to give them a try at home.

It’s best to buy udon that’s pretty much already cooked, so all you have to do is drop it in boiling water for about 3 min.

I got the idea to make a sauce for the udon with coconut milk and curry, which creates a rich flavor, full of umami. You can add in any protein you like. This dish uses chicken.

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

4 large chicken thighs, deboned and cubed
salt to taste

Heat up olive oil in a skillet, sprinkle the chicken with salt, toss the chicken into the skillet, and cook thoroughly, stirring occasionally.

For the noodles:

2 packets of single-serve udon noodles
3 pinches of salt
1/2 can coconut milk
curry paste to taste

Boil water with the salt in a large pot and add the udon. Cook for about 3 min., then drain.

Put the empty pot on low heat, pour in the coconut milk, and stir in the curry paste. The paste is very concentrated, so be conservative as you dole it out, making sure to taste. Add the drained noodles back into the pot and stir the sauce into the noodles thoroughly. Add salt to taste if you like.

You can serve the chicken on top of the noodles; the dish is prettier that way. But for the best flavor, stir the cooked chicken into the noodles, including the oil that the chicken has been cooked in.

Enjoy!

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Salmon Over Rice

Salmon on a bed of riceIn addition to trout, the other fish we love in Vancouver is the wild sockeye salmon. It’s so easy to get at the supermarket, whether filleted or whole. We saw a great deal the other day and bought a 4-6 lb. salmon for only $16. We carved two large portions for one meal and still had about 1/3 of the fish leftover to use for another day.

As with other seafood, we like to keep things simple when cooking salmon. Pair it with a starch-and-veggie side, and you’ve got a beautiful meal.

For the rice:

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice
salt, 3 pinches
1/3-1/2 bag of carrots, sliced into small circles
1 small onion, cut into small cubes
1 small tomato, cut into cubes
1 small eggplant, cut into small cubes
salami (desired amount), cut into small cubes
cheddar (desired amount)
arugula, for garnish
lime wedge, for garnish

Boil 2 cups water in a large pot with the salt and add in the rice, carrots, onion, tomato, eggplant, and salami. Lower the heat to simmer and cook until rice is tender (approx. 45 min.), stirring occasionally. When the rice is ready, stir in the cheddar, let melt, and serve the rice as the bed on which to place the salmon.

For the fish:

Ingredients:

2 portions of salmon
1 small onion, sliced,
1 small tomato, sliced
1 lime wedge

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Lay foil in a Pyrex, rub the bottom with olive oil, and lay the fish on top. Place the onion and tomato slices into the gutted cavity of the fish, and drizzle the top of the fish with olive oil and fresh lime juice. Cover the top of the fish with foil and cook in oven for about 30 min.

Enjoy!

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Capellini With Parmesan and Arugula

Capellini with parmesan and arugulaI’ve developed an obsession with noodles since moving to Vancouver. It’s easy to see why. There are so many good Asian restaurants in downtown alone that it’s hard to keep track, and they pretty much all serve noodles in one form or another.

But I’m not so much obsessed with making noodles according to Asian cuisine as much as I’ve become obsessed with using capellini noodles, a very thin Italian pasta. It’s a versatile noodle; you can use it for all sorts of cuisine types. For example, it would stand up well in ramen, if you know how to make your own broth.

I like to keep things simple. Just boil the pasta, drain, and toss in your choice of seasoning and toppings. In this case, I season the capellini heavily with olive oil and parmesan and stir in arugula for a colorful vegetable element.

Ingredients:

capellini (desired amount)
salt, 3 pinches
olive oil, to taste
parmesan, 1/2 bottle
1 package arugula
1 tomato, cut into small cubes

Boil water in a large pot with the salt, add the capellini and cook for about 3 min., or until al dente.

Drain the pasta, and keep the pot on low heat. Coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil and put the drained pasta back in. Stir the parmesan into the pasta and add more olive oil to taste. Stir in the arugula until it wilts. Plate the pasta and garnish with the tomato.

Enjoy!

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Baked Trout

Trout Urban Fare is  only a block away from our current apartment, and while I’m not crazy about some of the prices–the least expensive package of salt costs $10–I’m impressed with their selection of fresh fish, which is also decently priced. The trout is one of our favorites; beautiful, whole fish that’s already been gutted, so it’s ready for your culinary artistry.

I like to keep the dish basic when it comes to whole fish. All it needs are a few loving touches.

Ingredients:

2 whole trout, scaled and gutted
1 medium tomato, sliced
1 small onion, sliced thinly
lime wedges, spritz juice to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lay out foil in a large Pyrex, drizzle olive oil on it, and place the trout on top. Stuff the gut cavity of the trout with the tomato and onion slices, spritz the juice of fresh lime and drizzle olive oil over the fish. Cover the trout in more foil, and bake for about 30 min. You’ll know it’s done when you can stick a fork in the flesh and the fork goes through easily and comes out cleanly.

Enjoy!

Illustration by Aileen Torres-Bennett

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Foodie Weekend in NYC

20150614_114344As I’ve mentioned before, my husband and I used to live in New York City when we were single, and our romance with the town is still going strong. We visited NYC again for a weekend getaway recently and had a good foodie time.

Like anywhere else, restaurants can be hit or miss here.

The Hits:

Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque–We tried the large pulled-pork sandwich at their stall in Smorgasburg and loved it; tender and delicious.

Distilled–An upscale gastropub in Tribeca with a good brunch menu. We went here for brunch on a Sunday and were blown away by the country-fried duck and waffle. The generous chunks of duck meat are shredded and fried in batter and served atop a waffle with the taste and texture of a pillowy buttermilk biscuit; a total umami bomb. Bonus: The popcorn, on the house, is sprinkled with what they like to call “magic dust”, which I’m guessing is Old Bay and/or paprika, salt and pepper, with the popcorn cooked in leftover oil infused with the yummy flavors of other dishes they’ve been cooking.

Duck and Waffle

Rosie’s–A Mexican restaurant in the East Village situated in a bright, airy space and offering “authentic”, elegant food. In the middle is an island where people are busy shaping handmade tortillas. The stuffed pepper appetizer was meh; small and bland. But the raw oyster salad was delicious and refreshing. For my main, I had the carne asada; tender, grilled skirt steak.

The Misses:

Gato–Bobby Flay’s new restaurant in Noho did not live up to our expectations. The shrimp appetizer was oversalted, and the steak I ordered for my main was mediocre. The portions were small and the menu was overpriced, given the portion sizes and the quality of the cooking. Gato’s been getting rave reviews from food critics, but I don’t agree with them. I could’ve cooked some of the menu better at home, really. One bright spot: the grilled octopus appetizer was perfectly seasoned and cooked (but still way too small to be filling).

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Hato Popo in Vancouver

wild sockeye salmonWe’ve only been in our new home city, Vancouver, for two weeks, but we’ve already become regulars at the new Japanese restaurant Hato Popo, located downtown on Robson St.

We ate dinner there our first night in the city. Exhausted, jet lagged and hungry, we sat down, hearing Guy Fieri’s voice in the background. “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” was on one of the two TVs in the nearly empty dining room; a comforting sound because I like to have cooking shows in the background when I putter around at home.

On our first visit, we ordered ramen, sashimi and a few rolls. I was impressed with the soft-boiled egg. It seemed to have been boiled in the broth so that the intense flavor of the broth was concentrated in the egg white. The wild BC sockeye salmon sashimi was excellent; buttery, melt in your mouth, and subtle but full of flavor.

The next two visits, we ordered sashimi and sushi plates. The quality of the fish was incredible. You’ve got to try the salmon, tuna and scallop, either as sashimi or on pressed rice. They’re so good, you’ll want to close your eyes and savor the oily, fresh, delicious fish.

This place is unassuming. The interior looks like any middle-of-the road Japanese joint–bamboo décor and small tables. But the sourcing of ingredients and the chef’s knife and plating skills are excellent. Working behind the counter, he exudes calm efficiency as he prepares dishes. This is a man who knows what he’s doing, and he’s proof that amazing things are possible in quiet corners.

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Chicken and Rice

chicken and riceChicken and rice is a classic. There are lots of ways to make it, and, I must say, I’m pretty proud of my take.

We just moved to Vancouver, an amazing city that happens to be our new post, and we’re in temporary housing, which means I have to get used to cookware that’s not mine. There have been some glitches in my first meals here in this kitchen, but the chicken and rice I made last night turned out well. It’s packed with flavor and is a very pretty plate.

Start cooking the rice first (try a 15 min. head start) because it will take longer to cook than the chicken.

Ingredients:

For the rice:
3/4 cup brown rice
1.5 cups water
olive oil (desired amount)
half a bag of baby carrots, sliced into small circles
1 package of arugula
salt (desired amount)
hot sauce (desired amount)
fresh squeezed lime (desired amount)
parmesan cheese (desired amount)

Put the water, rice, olive oil, carrots, salt and hot sauce in a large pot and bring to a boil. Stir, then lower the heat to simmer. Cover and stir every 5 min. or so. until the rice is tender (will take approximately 30-45 min. to cook). Add more water if necessary. When the rice is almost cooked, stir in the arugula, lime and parmesan. I recommend adding a lot of parm for bold flavor (try 1/3 cup).

For the chicken:
4 chicken thighs
1 large roma tomato, sliced
1/4 large onion, sliced

Heat up olive oil in a skillet, and lay the tomato and onion on first, then place the chicken on top of them. Cook on medium-high heat, turning the chicken over and cooking until both sides are golden.

When the rice and the chicken are both cooked, plate the rice as a circular bed and place the chicken on top.

Enjoy!

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