Moo Shu Catfish

Moo Shu Catfish

This is a delicious moo shu that I made with an asian variety of catfish.

To make this dish, pan-fry a light-flavored, white fish fillet in canola oil with thin strips of fresh ginger and a bit of chili garlic sauce, removing it as soon as it’s cooked and flakes easily.
In the same pan, deglaze with perhaps 1/3 cup thin sauce made of water, oyster sauce, honey, bean paste, and soy sauce and quickly stir-fry thinly-sliced cabbage, matchstick carrot, sliced scallion, thinly-sliced black mushroom, and bean sprouts. Remove while vegetables are still slightly crisp; flake the fish and add it to the mixture. (You might also add scrambled egg, as in many moo shu recipes.)
Serve wrapped with moo shu pancakes or in a flour tortilla as I did here, or with rice.

I bought the fish by the name “Swai”; it’s also known as basa, tra, panga (e.g., France) or pangasius, vietnamese river cobbler (U.K.?), and iridescent shark (although it’s a catfish, not a shark.) In the U.S., it is not allowed to be sold by the name “catfish” because it competes with U.S. catfish in the market.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iridescent_shark
It’s a commonly farmed fish in the Mekong Delta region.

I made Ginger Catfish previously, and this is likely the sort of fish that would be used in Vietnam.

Here’s some more info on the fish, which has gotten some scrutiny as it has become popular world-wide with a commensurate explosion in farming of it in asia. Perhaps surprisingly, it has become one of top ten most popular fish in the U.S., due to its flavor and low cost. (For instance, I bought a 6.5 ounce fillet for under $2.)

“What is Pangasius? Only the 9th most consumed fish in the USA”
http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2011/09/13/what-is-pangasius-only-the-9th-most-consumed-fish-in-the-usa/

“Pangasius hypophthalmus”
http://www.fao.org/fishery/culturedspecies/Pangasius_hypophthalmus/en

Here is a documentary film, critical of its farming, c. 2008:
“Qu’est ce qu’un Panga ?”
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xo87j_quest-ce-quun-panga_sustainable_dev

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Stuffed Shrimp and Oven-Roasted Asparagus

Stuffed Shrimp and Oven-Roasted Asparagus

Here’s a delicious, decadent dinner!

Ingredients (to serve 2):

Large raw shirmp, ~3/4 to 1 pound (6-10 whole with tails intact but otherwise peeled and deveined, the remainder peeled and chopped)
Extra virgin olive oil (a few tablespoons)
White onion, (~1/2 cup)
Scallions, (2, thinly sliced)
Fresh garlic (2 cloves, minced)
Celery (2 stalks, finely diced)
Fresh mushrooms (e.g., Baby Bella or white, ~3/4 cup, finely chopped)
Salted butter (1/2 cup)
All-purpose flour (~1/4 cup)
Soup stock (e.g. chicken or fish, ~1/4 cup)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Thyme (dried, 1 teaspoon)
Cayenne pepper powder (1/8 teaspoon)
Worcestershire sauce (~1 tablespoon)
Saltine crackers (6-8, finely crushed)
Fresh lemon or lime (1)

Optional:
White wine (a few tablespoons)
Fresh asparagus (oven-roasted, as a side)

Here’s my video recipe for Stuffed Shrimp:

This recipe is based, in part, on a recipe by Chef John Besh.
Check out his site here:
http://ChefJohnBesh.com

Enchilada with Chard, Olives, and Chickpeas

Enchilada with Chard, Olives, and Chickpeas

This large enchilada, prepared with a burrito-sized flour tortilla rather than the traditional corn, is a modification of my earlier recipe for Olive and Chard Enchiladas.

I added chickpeas (for protein), a bit of feta cheese, and ground whole, dried oregano to the filling and added chopped stewed tomoato to the cheddar cream sauce. Otherwise it’s as described there.

This is a really tasty combination of ingredients, and I think it could be done with a tomato-based sauce as well.

Thanks to a local pub for the idea to make one ginormous serving-sized enchilada rather than so many smaller ones!

A tip: unfortunately with sauces made of cream and cheese, the oil tends to seperate when reheating. I experimented with reheating both slowly in an oven and quickly in the microwave and didn’t see a substantial difference; in both cases the sauce separated. To rememedy this, I suggest microwaving, and then mix in a bit of milk with the sauce afterward, and blend the sauce with a whisk or fork.

Pepper Steak and Tofu

Pepper Steak and Tofu

I made up this dish based on leftover ingredients from other recent meals; it is essentially a tasty combination of asian pepper steak and fried rice.

I used Angus Beef stew meat, thinly sliced. I also used tofu, cut into 1/4″ thick triangle-shaped pieces and fried in shallow peanut oil, so that just one side was browned. I like this restaurant-inspired way to prepare the tofu for its visual appeal.

The beef is sautéed in peanut oil with minced fresh garlic and ginger, then with coarsely diced green bell pepper and white onion. I also added some rice (prepared earlier), fresh whole basil leaves, and stir fried it, and mixed with a brown sauce of water, white wine, rice vinegar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, black bean paste, chili garlic sauce, and honey then reduced to desired consistency.

Rice Stick Noodle and Beef Sauté

Rice Stick Noodle and Beef Sauté

This dish is my approximation of a favorite a local noodle restaurant where it goes simply by the name “D8.” :-)

Stir fried in canola oil, ingredients are: sliced beef (I used relatively inexpensive Angus Beef stew meat), jalapeno slices, minced garlic, minced ginger, bean sprouts, scallion, egg scrambled in a bit of sesame oil, and combined with sauce consisting of fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, rice vinegar, and honey, cooked until sauce reduced to desired consistency.

The noodles were extras, left over from my recent Pad Thai, and had been sitting in water in the refrigerator for a few days. (This seemed to neither hurt nor help; the noodles were just as they were after soaking only a half hour or so.)

This dish is a variation of fried flat noodles known as “Char Kueh Teow” as in the following recipes, popular in Malaysia and Singapore. It’s probably no surprise, then also, that it is somewhat similar to Pad Thai from adjacent Thailand, that is partially located on the Malay Peninsula.

“Fried Flat Noodles/Char Kueh Teow”
http://www.mykitchensnippets.com/2008/11/fried-flat-noodleschar-kueh-teow.html

“Char Kuey Teow (炒粿條/Penang Fried Flat Noodles)”
http://rasamalaysia.com/char-kuey-teow/2/

“Fried Flat noodle (Char Kueh Tiaw)”
http://www.chopstickdiner.com/index.php?m=recipe&c=show_recipe&recipe_id=96

Fish Chowder

Fish Chowder

This is a thin, mild chowder with flavors of salmon, fennel, and thyme, and sweetness from tarragon and sweet corn.

First, I prepared a fish stock, roughly according to this recipe, except I used fresh tarragon rather than thyme:

“Traditional Fish Stock”
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Traditional-Fish-Stock-105267

Then I used that fish stock rather than chicken broth according to this recipe:

“Salmon and Vegetable Chowder”
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Salmon-and-Vegetable-Chowder-3042

Other modifications: I substituted celery for zucchini and diced white onion for leek. My original intention was to make a salmon chowder, but having had only about a pound of salmon bones and fin portions (the butcher’s leftovers – hey, it cost $1) with only a modest amount of edible fish meat, I added 1/2 pound of bite-sized pieces of tilapia fillets. Also, I used slightly less fennel seed than the recipe suggested since a fair number of people seem to object to the flavor if it’s strong.

A tip: if you buy frozen tilapia fillets, I suggest thawing them in water instead of the microwave, because they can overcook easily and get a rubbery texture.

Pad Thai and Tom Yum Goong

Pad Thai and Tom Yum Goong

I’d not made a proper pad thai before nor had I deep-fried anything, so I decided to do these popular Thai treats for dinner.

The pad thai has shrimp and tofu – the firm tofu was cut into ~1/4″ thick triangles and deep-fried in peanut oil; other ingredients include: peanut oil, scrambled egg, sesame oil, rice noodles (banh pho), bean sprouts, thinly-sliced green cabbage, minced garlic, shallot, scallion, finely-diced serrano pepper, crushed dry thai bird peppers, soy sauce, fish sauce, water, sugar, natural peanut butter, chili garlic sauce, lime juice, and chopped peanuts.
Served with fresh lime, chopped peanuts, and fresh cilantro leaves.

The soup was prepared simply using Tom Yum Paste from a jar (Lee brand), with sliced fresh black mushrooms, bean sprouts, chopped green cabbage, sliced jalapeno, minced garlic, shallot, shrimp, and topped with fresh cilantro leaves.

I consulted the following recipes for ingredient ideas.

“Pad Thai”
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pad-Thai-380593

“Vegetarian Pad Thai”
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Vegetarian-Pad-Thai-240960

A Tale of Two Enchiladas

A Tale of Two Enchiladas: Olive and Chard Enchiladas, Chicken Enchiladas

Rick Bayless’ website says: “The word `enchilada’ simply means `in chile’ and in Mexico, the most beloved version is actually a street snack: a corn tortilla dipped in chile sauce that’s a far cry from the limp, stuffed tortillas swimming in a sea of red sauce and molten cheese that we’re familiar with in the U.S.”

This is the first time I’ve made enchiladas, so I made the familiar latter, molten, swimming variety. :-)

The vegetarian Olive and Chard Enchilada (center of plate) is a corn tortilla wrapped around a filling of sautéed chopped red swiss chard, sliced jalapeno-stuffed olives, finely diced fresh jalapeno (seeded), sliced scallion, minced garlic, cumin powder, and a pinch of salt. The sauce is a cheddar cream sauce made with whipping cream, sharp cheddar cheese, garlic powder, and a touch of cayenne powder.

For the Chicken Enchiladas, chicken breasts were boiled in strained tomatoes (a purée/juice in a box; V-8 juice would be a reasonable alternative) seasoned with salt and pepper, then cooled and shredded. Corn tortillas wrap a filling consisting of the shredded chicken combined with black beans, grated cheddar cheese, and a sautéed mix of finely diced white onion, diced fresh jalapeno and serrano (with seeds), minced garlic, seasoned with minced fresh cilantro leaves, crushed whole oregano, and cumin powder. The sauce is a smoky tomato sauce, based on the strained tomatoes used to boil the chicken, seasoned with smoked spanish paprika, salt, and a touch of cayenne powder.

Some enchiladas were topped with both sauces. The enchiladas were placed in a baking dish (sauce also in bottom), sprinkled with grated cheddar cheese and sliced scallion greens, then baked at 350°, first covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 10 minutes to slightly brown the top.

Served with sliced avocado, sour cream, and salsa.

Whew, that’s enough of cooking for today.

This recipe was inspired by some enchilada recipes on Epicurious using either green olives or chard, and these video recipes:

“Beef Enchiladas”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrGLSbFComI

“Chicken Chimichanga”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwlSZzdUFmc

Twice-Cooked Pork

Twice-Cooked Pork

Szechuan Twice-Cooked Pork, a.k.a. Double-Cooked Pork, is one of my favorites and thankfully available at most every Chinese restaurant where I live. It almost always consists of sliced pork, cabbage, black mushroom, scallions, and a brown sauce that is a blend of sweet and spicy.
I added a bit more color with red pepper and carrot in this preparation of about 4 servings.

I’ve learned that twice-cooked pork is traditionally made with pork belly (but I’ve not seen that in american restaurants). I decided to use inexpensive, lean chops instead.

First, I boiled three whole pork chops in water with salt and pepper, cooled them (with ice cubes in the water), then thinly sliced them diagonally so that cuts are across the grain and so the slices can be wider than the thickness of the chop.

To prepare the sauce: start with about a cup of stock (I made the stock with some granulated chicken-flavor instant bouillon and the water used to boil the pork), add minced fresh ginger and garlic (4 cloves), coarse ground black pepper, sugar or honey (1-2 T.), soy sauce (2-3 T.), oyster sauce (4 T.), rice vinegar (1-2 T.), a dry red wine (1 T.), black bean paste (1 T.), chili garlic sauce (1-3 T.), and a couple teaspoons of corn starch. Be sure to taste-test the sauce for the right balance of sweet, sharp (vinegar), and spicy. There’s plenty of salt in soy sauce and bean paste, so don’t add salt!
This resulted in about 2 cups sauce before reduction, which worked well, since I like my pork saucy, like my … oh you know the joke.

To fry: in canola oil, stir-fry the pork slices to brown edges, coat with some sauce, then remove. Next stir-fry the vegetables, occasionally adding sauce slowly (to coat and reduce): carrot, green and red bell pepper, scallions, then sliced black mushroom (fresh or reconstituted), and then chopped cabbage and scallion greens. Return the pork to the pan, add remaining sauce and reduce to your liking.

Serve with sticky rice and enjoy!

I read a lot of recipes and watched videos while researching this one. Here are some of the most useful:

“Chinese Twice Cooked Pork”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07L92tgRVfY
– I really like this guy’s amateur video… he seems like a kindred spirit. :-) He would have been fine if he’d just stir-fried the pork before putting in the vegetables that release moisture.

“Twice-cooked pork”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDhnq0v7ck8
– This chef shows an interesting stir-fry technique and a minimal recipe.

“Double Cooked Pork Slices”
http://www.tastehongkong.com/recipes/

UPDATE (March 2013):

I’ve made this dish many times, most recently with pork shoulder roast ($1.99/lb.) and skipped the mushroom and substituted white onion for scallions, simply because I didn’t have them on hand. It always comes out great.

Twice-cooked pork.

Twice-Cooked pork

Veggie Fried Rice and Wasabi Pea-crusted Tilapia

Veggie Fried Rice and Wasabi Pea-crusted Tilapia

This is a recipe that I just made up, while getting over a learning and coding-induced headache this evening. :-) I’d been meaning to use dried wasabi peas in a dish, and found that many people online had also thought of it, such as to coat fish or to season popcorn.

Fish: small tilapia fillets, dipped in an egg wash and in a mixture of powdered wasabi peas (crushed with a mortar and pestle) and a bit of rice flour, then pan-fried in peanut oil.

Rice: canola oil, sliced carrot and scallion, sticky rice, green peas, soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar, minced garlic, chili garlic sauce, black pepper, scallion greens, and egg scrambled (in advance, then added to the rice at the end) in a bit of peanut and sesame oils.

Surprisingly, the fish wasn’t particularly spicy. I added plenty of additional chili sauce when eating this one. Next time I’d add a couple other seasonings to the fish as well or just mix pieces into the fried rice.