Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lingcod tempura with kiwi cucumber salsa

This weekend we had a burst of activity--we ventured out to the International District on foot, taking public transportation, with our 8.5 month old. Since Max decided to take an impromptu nap in the carrier, we had some time to kill--hey, if a baby gives you half an hour of leisure time, you take it, even if it does mean hauling around his 18 pound body on your torso.

The lingcod from Alaska at Uwajimaya looked especially fresh, and I remember it getting a pretty good rating on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch. (I have been known to eat shark fin soup, but I've since turned over a new leaf!) I thought it'd go well with some sort of fruity sauce, so we picked up some kiwis too. When we got home, we debated how we should make it--grilled? steamed? sauteed? Something that would keep in the moist juiciness without overdrying.

"I know, how about you do a tempura?" my husband asked. I responded with a shudder. Anyone who's ever done it knows that making tempura is very laborious and a big pain, especially with a baby still awake and curious to know everything that mommy is doing. But, I agreed that it would be damn delicious and we should break out the old Japanese cookbook and do it.

When you're making tempura, your technique can't be like you're just frying anything. It's essential to keep those little fluffy pillows of flour crisp and open in the end--otherwise you just get very plain fishsticks. So set everything up in advance, work very quickly and don't let your batter sit around!

Here's my recipe:
1 cup flour
1 cup ice water
1 egg yolk
A little salt

Once you have all your fish pieces cut and de-boned, set aside a cup of ice water, and let it chill. Meanwhile, clean your pan, lay out some paper towels and heat about 2 inches of light oil. (Don't use olive oil--it burns at high heat.) Separate your egg yolk, and mix with your ice water. Dump in your flour all at once, and here's the hard part--run a chopstick through to mix exactly once--no more. Add in a little salt.

Dip your fish in the batter quickly and gently lay into the oil. It should be hot enough so that it sizzles. Keep working in your pieces but don't over crowd your pan. Ideally you should only flip them once to avoid handling them too much. So flip after a minute or so, or when one side is light brown. When they're light brown all over, transfer to paper towels. Shake on some shichimi togarashi, a mixture of pepper, orange peel, sesame, seaweed and ginger. Yum!

For the salsa, combine 2 diced kiwis, 1/2 diced cucumber, chopped jalapenos (to taste) some salt and about 1 tbsp rice vinegar.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bacon fried rice!

After spending a week with a couple of weeks with some pretty hard core vegan and vegetarian friends, I ended up with some leftover bacon after a particularly enthusiastic (not matched by said veg-heads) bacon breakfast. No problem, I thought, I'll just have it over white rice for a delicious carby, greasy snack!

After relaying this story to my sister we came up with a great recipe for bacon fried rice, influenced by her Hawaiian friend. Here it is!

1 cup white rice
6 strips bacon, or as you like it
1/2 sweet white onion
1/4 cup soy sauce
6 tsp. sugar
1 can pineapple tidbits

If you don't have old white rice from last night's dinner, you can make a fresh batch. Cooking it in a rice cooker ensures optimal moisture balance--you don't want soggy rice.

Cut your strips of bacon into little pieces and put into your frying pan or wok. Let the grease melt into the pan a little bit. Put in diced onion and fry until soft.

Meanwhile, heat soy sauce on a little sauce pan, add sugar and stir until it's dissolved. Turn off and set aside.

Put your rice into the wok with bacon and onion and smush around with your spatula to break it up. When the rice is well-coated with bacon grease, add in the soy sauce mixture slowly, and stir until well mixed. Lastly, add your pineapple and cook until the bits are heated through.

You can also add scallions or cilantro at the end if you want some greenery.

And it's done! Greasy lips are happy lips.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Born to roll: spring roll eating competition

I recently partook in a spring roll eating competition for the Seattle Chinatown/International District Preservation and Development Association. Or, affectionately, SCID/PDA. Honestly I got roped into it at the last minute and I partly wanted to just represent women on the eating stage, as well as the International Examiner.

Let me just say...competitive eaters have skill. It is seriously hard to shove spring rolls, with crispy fried wrappers down your gullet un-chewed. I at least thought I had a leg up on Dino Rossi because he confessed to me in the green room that he hated cabbage. But alas, he beat me by 2. But at least he has some gas as a result of the competition. I comfortably made the rounds and topped off on chicken wings and fried rice.

Here's a pic of me with the rest of the competitors, Dow Constantine, King County Councilman (and running for King County Exec.) famed controversial "GOP" gubernatorial candidate, Paul Costant, books editor at The Stranger, Toby Crittenden of Washington Bus, Brock Huard, former Husky and Seahawk, James Sun, former contestant on The Apprentice and Uncle Bob Santos, "Mayor of the ID" (not pictured). Here's The Stranger's Paul Costant crowing on his victory.

And the video