Friday, August 14, 2009

fish with sweet chili butter sauce and side salad

I bought some fish at the commissary the other day. It was written in German so I didn't know exactly what I was buying. Googling the label, I think it's a catfish, but my 2 minute research was inconclusive. Anyway, you could probably use any firm white flesh fish; cod, tilapia, or halibut.

I made a "beurre blanc" with sweet chili sauce*. I didn't wait for the butter to soften, so you can see it separated when I mixed in the sweet chili sauce. 1/2 a tablespoon of butter to 1 tbsp of sweet chili sauce. Season lightly with salt.

Season the fish with salt and pepper. Since the filets I had were quite thin, I let it sit for about 20 minutes. For thicker pieces of fish, you may want to season and refridgerate for a well seasoned fish. Dust the fish with "Wondra", a very fine quick-mixing flour. If you don't have the blue canister staple on hand, regular all purpose flour would do just fine. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet; cook the fish for about 5 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other. Transfer the fish to a plate and in the same pan, saute some diced red bell peppers. Add chopped scallion right before setting the sauted vegetables aside. Turn off the heat and let the pan cool down a bit. Heat the butter mixture in the pan with the remaining heat. Top fish with vegetables and the butter sauce.

Now for the salad; chop up any ingredients you have on hand in your crisper and wouldn't mind having in a salad. I added red and yellow cherry tomatoes, red onions, and cucumbers, to some green lettuce. Season somewhat generously with salt and pepper. Squeeze in the juice of half a lime, toss and plate. While you're at it, same a few drops of lime juice for the fish too.

*Sweet Chili Sauce can be bought in an Asian market near you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ginseng Chicken Soup (삼계탕)

Ginseng Chicken Soup on the "hottest" day of the Summer*

There are three of these days during the summer; first, middle and last**. And on these days, it's tradition to have a piping hot bowl of this special soup. Today is the middle day: "중복".

I had my usual morning phone call with my mom this morning. She had just gotten back to her office from the post office when she rang. She had sent some ramyun by post; which I have to look forward to in about a week. During our conversation, her cell phone rang. It was Dad, asking her when she'd be home and if she was going to go exercise after work. I could hear their whole conversation. Mom sounded a bit agitated because dad's line was a bit noisy. She asked dad to buy her the Chicken Soup because today was the day to eat it.

I stopped by Real near work to pick up some essentials; a whole chicken, smaller the better. My mom usually use Cornish hens. The main ingredients are ginseng, dried dates, garlic cloves, and sweet rice. I didn't have ginseng and dates, so I had to make do without.

Rinse thoroughly and soak the sweet rice in water overnight. Since I didn't have the time, I microwaved the rice for two minutes. Clean the chicken, inside and out. Stuff the cavity with the rice. I used half a cup for a three pound chicken. Place the chicken in the pot, fill with water to completely cover the chicken. Drop in several cloves of garlice, if you have ginsend and dates, add those too. Bring it to a slow boil and simmer for at least 1 hour. Serve with chopped scallions and season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper.

**The last day falls on August 13th, so why not give it a try.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

glazed salmon with polenta and tomatoes

In an effort to update this blog on a more regular basis, I'll start by posting my dinner menus throughout the week. I've been cooking for myself more often now that I'm on my own so might as well write about it.

I had bought salmon a couple of days ago and thought I'd make it for dinner. I wasn't sure what I wanted as a side so I stood in my pantry staring at a box of quinoa, a can of garbonzo beans, when I spotted a bag of organic polenta tucked behind the box of brown sugar. Polenta is ground cornmeal, a traditional stable you'll find in maybe central european cuisines. The texture is gritty, of course depending on the coarseness of the grind, and can be served creamy, baked, or fried. I kept mine simple; I was hungry. Guten Appetit!

plum sauce glazed salmon with polenta and roasted tomatoes


1 tbsp plum sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp garlic chili sauce
4 tbsp mirin
salt and pepper


dab of butter
1 cup milk
1 cup water
3/4 cups polenta

roasted tomatoes

salt and pepper
olive oil

Whisk the glaze ingredients together and marinate the salmon for at least 1 hour. Dice tomatoes into large chucks and toss it in extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper, and oregano (or whatever herb suits your fancy). Pre-heat oven to 375, bake the salmon on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Pop the tomatoes into the oven for the same amount of time. In a sauce pan, heat the butter, milk and water to a scald. Lower the heat, season with salt, and slowly add the polenta. Keep stirring until the cornmeal has thickened. You can add grated parmesan cheese, but I opted not to. Serve the tomatoes on top of the polenta.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

kale and pea rice salad

It's a weekday, I don't feel like cooking, but desperately need to consume some greens and all I have on hand are frozen kale and peas, some scallions and one tomato. So what's a girl to do? Chop it up and throw it all together with some barley rice and season it with a little love. I think it ended up needing a bit more love, but it was a light, healthy meal. Maybe adding some protein like grilled chicken or a fried egg would have been a nice touch.

[frozen] kale and pea rice salad

1 1/2 cup of day old rice*
1/4 cup thawed out frozen kale
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
2 scallions, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp light oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
dash of ground cumin
salt & pepper to taste

Saute garlic in the oil on medium high heat in a non stick pan making sure not to burn the garlic. Toss in the diced tomatoes; season as you go. Add the kale and rice, giving it some good stirs. Add the frozen peas, cook until peas are heated through. Season with soy sauce, sesame oil, and cumin. Always taste as you go. And yes, it reads more like fried rice, but rice salad sounds much healthier, don't you think?

* Make your own two-minute ready-rice. Having to cook for myself most of the time and cooking just one serving of rice be foolish, here is a little trick I learned. When the cooked rice is still piping hot, I scoop one serving size into a sandwich size freezer bag. When it's still steaming, zip it up and pop it in the freezer. Whenever you need rice, peel open a bag, add a sprinkle of water if you choose, and nuke it in the microwave for 2 minutes and voila!