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Bhindi Masala

There are so many recipes for this dish, but basically they all have a few commonalities. Onion, ginger and garlic purée and tomato base with additional ground spices. The names okra, bhindi and lady fingers are used interchangeably. 


Some recipes include an additional step of precooking the bhindi/okra in half the oil and setting it aside. I can understand this, as it keeps the okra from getting slimy, which was a frequent concern in the recipes I read. I was lucky in that my okra was very fresh, so I didn’t have that issue. Bottom line, if you are at the market and all the South Asian customers are buying okra, it is likely very fresh. 

Additionally, many recipes called for adding something acidic to keep the okra from going slimy. I felt lemon juice would work well, and was happy with the results.

One additional note. Many recipes called for using cumin seeds. As I had literally just run out, I substituted black mustard seeds. It tasted fine, but I think the cumin seed would have been…

Oven Roasted Salmon

This has to be one of the easiest and best tasting recipes I have. I developed it so I could always pull together a healthy dinner in a few minutes and then have beautiful cold salmon leftovers for the next day.

All you need is a nice piece of fresh salmon and a few basic spices. The real key is to get the oven very hot, so it sears the outside of the salmon and locks in the juices.



Ingredients 

2 lb filet of Fresh Salmon, skin on is best, but not essential.
Celery Salt
Dill Weed
Roasted Garlic Powder
Freshly ground Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Butter
Parchment Paper

Preheat your oven to 550F. Take your parchment paper and put it onto a 1/2 sheet baking pan and lay your salmon onto the paper.



Melt your butter and brush it onto the salmon filet. Sprinkle on your spices to taste and bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon. Remove and allow it to rest for 3 minutes before serving. It goes well with the seafood rice pilaf I featured in an earlier post.



Note: All of these spices can be…

Vegetarian Sichuan Dry Sautéed Green Beans - Gan Bian Si Ji Dou

I can honestly say that this is my favorite Sichuan dish, second only to MaPo Tofu. I’ve eaten it many times, but had never made it. Well, that has changed. This was really incredible.


I found so many different recipes, but sort of merged a Fuchsia Dunlop recipe and a Wok of Life recipe to create this vegetarian version, which replaces the standard ground pork with Shiitake mushrooms. I’m very happy with how it turned out.


Ingredients

1 pound Green Beans, trimmed.
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 Tbsp Ginger, minced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 tsp Sichuan Peppercorns, crushed
2 Tien Tsin Chilis, crushed
2 ounces dried Shiitake Mushrooms, soaked in hot water and chopped.
1 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 drop of Liquid Smoke
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Dash of Toasted Sesame Oil, optional

You will want to prepare everything up front, because the cooking time is very quick. 




Start your wok and pour your oil in the wok. Once it is up to temperature, add your green beans and cook them for 6 …

Catfish Couvillion - A Cajun Delight

A couvillion is in the same family of the Creole/Cajun courtbouillon and the French court-bouillon. The major difference is that couvillion starts with a medium dark roux and is thick and almost stew like.



There are many different recipes, but mine is traditional and very good. It’s not difficult to make, but the roux takes time and can’t be rushed. If you burn the roux it is unusable and you will need to start over. So once you start the roux, keep stirring. I will give you a step by step to make the roux. If you feel you need additional info, here is a link. http://www.thepasadenachef.com/2011/02/how-to-make-roux.html

As I had guests over, I was unable to get a pic of the final dish, but the pic above is from the amazing meal I had at Couvillion here in Louisville. Mine looked very similar and tasted almost as good, but not quite.

Ingredients

3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
3 Tbsp Butter
6 Tbsp Flour
1 Onion, minced
1/2 Red Pepper, minced
1/2 Green Pepper, minced
2 ribs Celery, minced
2 cloves garlic, mi…

Cuisine Provencal-Bouillabaisse

I wanted to create a more traditional Bouillabaisse and decided to give it a go and I must say I preferred it to my original version. The flavor is amazing and so layered. You keep tasting new flavors as you enjoy it and the fennel really does add a vital element.


I decided against the rouille, as I find the garlic blast can overpower the delicacy of the seafood. If you prefer it, it can certainly be added.

Ingredients 

4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large Onion, chopped
1 Fennel Bulb, cored and chopped
1 Shallot, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp Garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Thyme
2 Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1/2 lb Baby Potatoes, quartered
1 cup White Wine
1 tsp Saffron threads, crushed in palm of your hand.
1 -2 Tbsp Pernod
1 (28-ounce) can diced Tomatoes, juice included
1 quart Seafood or Fish Stock
1 cup/bottle Clam Juice
1 cup/bottle Lobster Juice
1 Tbsp Red Boat Fish Sauce
1/2 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined.
1/2 lb Sca…

Sichuan Chili and Garlic Prawns

If you follow my blog you know that I’m a big fan of spicy food, and Sichuan/Szechuan food in particular. It’s such a unique regional cuisine. From the smoky fermented vinegar to lip numbing Sichuan peppercorns, it’s a flavor explosion.


When I want a spicy food fix, this is the perfect dish. The interplay between the ingredients is classic Sichuan. Additionally, I like the simplicity of this recipe as the marinade becomes your sauce.

It’s well worth searching out the Sichuan peppercorns, as they add a an authentic flavor that really can’t be substituted. They are not particularly spicy, but give a tingling mouthfeel that is very unique. They are best ground fresh and it’s the perfect place to use your spice grinder.

As I’ve mentioned before I have two coffee grinders and one is exclusively used for grinding whole spices. The white one for spices and black one for coffee beans. They are both well over 20 years old, so they were a good investment.

Ingredients

3/4 lb raw peeled Prawns/Shrimp
2…

Turkish Stuffed Eggplant

This is a variation on a traditional Turkish dish. I love the bold spices and the richness of the tomatoes in the savory sauce. It is not difficult to prepare, but does take a little bit of time, as you need to cook the eggplant prior to stuffing them.


Ingredients
4 medium Eggplant, about 2 lbs 1 lb of Boca Crumbles 2 Tbsp Olive Oil 3 cups of diced Tomato 1 Onion, finely chopped 1 tsp Oregano ¼ tsp Cinnamon 1/8 tsp Cloves 2 cloves Garlic, crushed 1 Tbsp Pomegranate Molasses 4 Tbsp roasted Pine Nuts 1 cup Greek Yogurt, or suitable non dairy substitute
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Slice the eggplant in half and scrape out about half of the flesh and set aside. Then brush the halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake the eggplant halves for 20-25 minutes until just soft to touch, but not mushy.
While the eggplant is baking, start preparing your sauce by browning the Boca crumbles in 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and set aside. Then add in the remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil to your pan and sauté the …

Spaghetti with Poached Salmon

I’ve made this recipe two ways and both are very good. The first is lightly poaching the salmon in the pasta sauce and the second is using some leftover broiled salmon from the night before. The key to both methods is not to over cook the salmon.


The only other interesting ingredient is the Parmesan cheese. Normally, in Italy, pasta with fish or seafood do not include cheese, but it works well here.

Ingredients

1 lb Spaghetti
2 cups fresh Salmon, cut into 1/2 inch cubes or 2 cups cooked Salmon, flaked with a fork.
3 Tbsp Butter or Earth Balance.
Juice of one Lemon
1 medium Shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1-2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup White Wine
1/4 tsp Sea Salt, this is only for the sauce, you will need 2 Tbsp for the pasta water.
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Sprinkle of Chili Flakes, optional
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, about 1 cup.

Start the water for your pasta in a large pot with lots of water, and while you were waiting for the water to boil, begin making your sauce.

Add…

Grilled Shrimp with Harissa

Harissa is a fiery paste which is commonly used in North African cuisine. You see it show up in Tunisian and Moroccan food quite often. It is packed with flavor and comes in many varieties, but common ingredients are chilies, olive oil, garlic, sundried tomatoes, salt, coriander, cumin and caraway seeds.


You can certainly make your own, but for a quick meal, I always have some on hand. It’s a versatile ingredient and can be used in many ways. That being said, I’m particularly fond of it with fish, shrimp, vegetables and anything grilled. It’s amazing in shakshouka, makes a mean mayonnaise and would certainly be great paired with any grilled meat.

I decided to make this at the last minute, so having the paste on hand was essential. It’s not often that you can find a recipe with only three ingredients that tastes this good.

Harissa du Cap Bon, Zamouri, Mina and Traditional Harissa Spread by Les Moulins Mahjour (this is the brand I use, as it’s made by a family in Tunisia and organic) are a…

Taglierini al sugo d’arrosto aka Spaghetti with Marmite

Years ago I had this authentic rustic dish in an old converted farmhouse restaurant near Turin. It was a very local place and didn’t look like much, but it was packed with truck drivers and a beef roast was cooking in front of an open fire. 
They collected the drippings in a pan below the roast and then used them to toss with the pasta. I still remember it as one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. It was called Taglierini al sugo d’arrosto. There are many recipes for it, but how do you make it if you no longer eat meat? 



Well, when I found this Spaghetti with Marmite on Nigella Lawson’s blog, I thought this would be great place to start recreating the sugo d’arrosto. With some minor changes and additions it came out absolutely amazing. Basically, we are recreating a roast beef flavor using Marmite, garlic and rosemary. 


Note: This can easily be made vegan by replacing the butter with Earth Balance and the cheese with non dairy Parmesan.

Ingredients
1 lb Spaghetti  3 Tbsp Butter 1 Tbsp Extra…

Miso Glazed Pacific Cod

I wanted to find a way to make the incredible Nobu black cod miso, without having to wait three days for it to marinade. Additionally, black cod can be difficult to find and expensive in many regions, so I wanted to try an streamlined version utilizing Pacific cod. Any flaky white fish will work, but fresh cod is perfect.



This version can be ready in as little as one hour, but I do think it benefits from 4-5 hours of marinating before you cook it. Read through the recipe in its entirety, as there is a hint that will make prepping the glaze a lot easier.

I found this recipe on the NYT cooking site and modified it slightly. I was very happy with how it turned out. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs fresh Pacific Cod filets, skinless.
1/4 cup Sake
1/4 Mirin
4 Tbsp White Miso
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil

To prepare your sauce add the mirin and sake into a small saucepan and bring up to a soft simmer for 20 seconds. Reduce the heat to low and add in the miso, then increase the heat to medium and …

Whole Green Moong Dal-Indian Comfort Food

Dal is an Indian staple which can be eaten in the morning, lunch, dinner as a side dish or for a snack. It can be eaten with rice, bread or on its own. Bottom line, it is Indian comfort food. A thick stew of moong (mung) beans, spices and creamy goodness. It is often made with spilt moong dal, but I prefer to use the whole moong dal
I had eaten various types of dal in many places around the word, including India and was always impressed with its creaminess, but speaking frankly I wouldn't have gone out of my way to make it at home. A friend kept mentioning that he was gong to cook “mug” which was a recipe from his Indian friend and I finally asked what he meant and he said moong dal.
I was intrigued and after comparing many recipes from my own cookbooks and online, I came up with this recipe which is nothing short of amazing. The house smelled wonderful while it was cooking and the flavor was hearty, wholesome and a bit spicy and just perfect for a fall afternoon. 

Additionally, it i…

Lucky's Chili and Garlic Fish

This is such a amazing dish. It has all the spiciness of Sichuan cooking, with that sweet and sour undertone that I really enjoy. 

The story behind it is that we had a wonderful Sichuan restaurant near my old office in City of Industry, California called Lucky Dragon aka Lucky’s. We probably ate this fish accompanied with dry sautéed string beans and ma po tofu at least three times a week.
To make it simpler to prepare, I’ve divided the ingredients into stages. Additionally, any of these ingredients can easily be found at your local Asian or Korean markets. Once you buy them, they last forever in your pantry, so you will be able to prepare many meals from just one buying trip. 
In Asian cuisine, the prep time is important, as the cooking time is minimal. You want everything within reach. Try to give the fish at least an hour with the glaze to soak up the flavors. 
Note: This could easily be made as a vegetarian/vegan dish by substituting extra firm tofu slices for the fish. 
Step One, Fish