Teriyaki Salmon

I started this blog on August 27, 2012, so a couple of days ago, my blog turned 3. Happy Birthday, Blog! *blows party horn* I feel like I should celebrate by posting a cake recipe or something but the truth is, I seldom bake. ( I enjoy chocolate chip cookies and carrot cake as much as if not more than your average human being though.)

Short of a cake post, I thought I’d write about a dish that has been on our fortnightly rotation for the past years: Teriyaki Salmon! This is one of our favorites because there is so little prep and few ingredients involved. Plus, apparently eating fish is good for your brain.

 

Teriyaki Salmon

Teriyaki Salmon

Ingredients
0.5 lb fillet of salmon, skin on
salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons water
1.5 teaspoons sugar
1-2 scallions, minced or sliced thinly diagonally (optional)
vegetable oil

Method
1. Rub salt and black pepper on both sides of fish. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in skillet on medium heat.
3. Add salmon to skillet (skin down), making sure that skin is oiled.
4. Cook for about 5 minutes or until skin is nicely colored and starting to crisp up.
5. Flip salmon. Cover with lid.
6. Cook salmon for about 5 more minutes until cooked through.
7. Remove salmon from heat, turn heat down to low. Using a paper towel, carefully wipe away residual oils from pan.
8. Mix soy sauce, mirin, water, and sugar in bowl. Add to skillet.
9. With an eye on the pan, heat on low-medium heat until it caramelizes into a glossy sauce. Ensure that it does not overboil and burn.
10. Pour teriyaki sauce over salmon. Add scallions if using for extra color and flavor.

Ginger Cod

My mom really liked this Ginger Cod dish the first time I cooked it for my family when they were visiting me earlier this month. I haven’t quite achieved my vision of it but it is getting there. It does turn out a little different every time I cook it but I guess this is what makes cooking fun — there’s always room for improvisation and improvement!

I made this at a time when I was getting bored of steaming fish so the cooking process is slightly more involved – just slightly.  First, you shallow fry fish covered in a flour and corn flour batter; the fish is removed from the wok when it’s cooked. Then there’s the sauce: ginger, garlic, spring onion (typical Cantonese combination) and sweet soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, and white pepper with the juices of the fish still in the wok, mmm. Finally, you return the cooked fish to the hot wok so that it absorbs the ginger and garlic flavours and also thickens the sauce. I think this three-stepped method works pretty well; maybe it’s not something I would do on a normal weeknight but when I do have more time, I quite relish the gradual process of cooking the fish, the ginger/garlic, and then the sauce.

you can’t get much more Cantonese than cod with ginger, garlic and spring onion…

Ginger Cod

Ingredients, for 3 persons as one of several mains

250-300 g cod fillet (skinned and de-boned), cut into 2-inch pieces
white peppper and salt to marinate the fish
sunflower or vegetable oil, 2 1/2 tablespoons

to coat the fish
flour, 1/2 cup
cornflour, 1/2 cup
dash of salt for the batter mixture

for the sauce
ginger, 1-inch piece, sliced thinly into discs
garlic, 4 cloves, minced
spring onion, 3 stalks, sliced diagonally into 1-inch pieces
Shaoxing rice wine, 2 tablespoons
soy sauce, 1 1/2 tablespoons – I use for this dish the Rose brand of soy sauce, which is a light soy sauce that is quite sweet and fragrant. It’s from Malaysia, haven’t seen it in the UK, but you can use any light soy sauce and add a little white sugar to the same effect.
water, about 2 tablespoons

Method
1. Prepare the cod and marinate lightly with dash of salt and white pepper.
2. Mix the flour, cornflour and salt in a bowl or small baking dish.
3. Heat oil in wok on medium heat. As you wait for wok to heat up, thoroughly coat the marinated cod in batter mixture.
4. When oil is hot – you can tell by putting chopsticks into it and seeing if bubbles appear – carefully slip in coated cod pieces to the wok.
5. Shallow fry until cod is lightly golden. Remove from wok onto a plate.
6. Turn heat down to low. Stir fry ginger and garlic in leftover oil until fragrant.
7. Add rice wine. After thirty seconds, add soy sauce and water.
8. Sprinkle in spring onions, cook it in the sauce for at least a minute and a half.
9. Add a dash of white pepper.
10. Return the cod to the wok, and heat thoroughly in the sauce. The batter will thicken the sauce; if you want more sauce, add a little water and soy sauce.
11. Once the cod is coated in sauce and piping hot, switch off heat and serve immediately.

Served with white rice and blanched green vegetables, this is really a quintessentially Cantonese meal :).

食飯! (“Sik fan” or “Let’s eat” in Cantonese.)

Sole with Light Parsley Dressing and Spaghetti

pan fried sole with light white sauce and spaghetti

not the most refined of plates but who’s judging?

This dish was an experiment: I’ve never cooked sole before, nor have I ever made a dressing with parsley. But it was so much fun to cook!

I picked up sole in the first place because recently I’ve been trying to find alternatives to foods that I normally pick up on the weekly grocery run. Lemon Sole for some reason is cheap here compared to sea bass, plaice, cod. I’m not quite sure why though. It’s surprising because sole seems to me to be a more delicate fish compared with cod, which in this country is often battered and deep fried for fish n’ chips. I like the chips but don’t understand battered cod — why would you do that to a nice piece of white fish?

Well I wanted to do sole justice, so I paired it with a light white parsley dressing (I thought a full-on sauce would overpower the fish), and spaghetti tossed in olive oil, parsley and garlic. The flavours blended well. I think the star was the parsley – it’s a herb with personality, but  not too overbearing and it goes well with sole and spaghetti. I then made a dressing using milk and butter for the base and had fun with it, improvising by adding a bit of Dijon mustard and minced yellow onion to give it extra kick.

 

Sole with Light Parsley Dressing and Spaghetti

Ingredients, for 2 portions
2x lemon sole fillet (approx 250 grams)
spaghetti, 150 grams
parsley, 10 stalks, chopped finely
garlic, 2 cloves, minced
1/2 small yellow onion, minced
milk, 1/4 cup
butter, 3 tablespoons
Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon
olive oil
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method
1. Bring dried spaghetti to boil in pot of salted water.
2. Crack a little bit of sea salt and black pepper on both sides of the fish. Set aside.
3. Heat pan on medium heat. Wait for pan to heat up, then add olive oil to hot pan.
4. Pan fry sole fillets, pressing down gently on the fish to make sure each side cooks evenly. Add one tablespoon of butter to the pan as the fish is cooking. It should take no more than 2 minutes on each side. You might have to turn down the heat to low-medium at this point to avoid burning the butter.
5. Remove cooked fish from pan. Turn down heat to low-medium heat if you haven’t already. Check on your spaghetti.
6. For the dressing: in a little olive oil, fry the yellow onion, two minutes. Tip in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to pan and milk, mix, then add chopped parsley and mustard. Cook for another minute, then pour this mixture into a small bowl.
7. Your spaghetti would most likely have been done during step 6. Drain away the hot water. Then in the previous fish pan, turn up the heat. Sautee the garlic with some olive oil, and when the garlic’s edges are turning golden, tip in pasta. Toss in some parsley, sea salt.
8. Once pasta is mixed well with the other ingredients, plate up with the fish and dressing. Garnish with extra parsley.

This was one of the more involved dinners of last week, but as I said, really fun to make because everything cooks very quickly so I never got bored and wandered off to do something else. It’s incredibly satisfying when cooking becomes more than just the means of getting to an end (dinner!), when you enjoy preparing the food as much as you do eating it, no?

Steamed Sea Bass and Plain Congee — food for the sniffles

You know that awful feeling when your throat is sore and your face is so congested you can’t breathe properly through your nose? Well that feeling hit me on Monday evening, and I knew straight away that I wouldn’t be fit for work the next day. I’ve been at home for two days now as I literally couldn’t do anything but sleep, make myself simple meals, and check e-mail and WordPress. Hoping that I’ll get well enough to be able to go into work tomorrow and to London on Friday for a training course on digital editing, which I’ve been looking forward to for awhile.

However I’m not one to sit around feeling sorry for myself, and one of the good things about being ill is the comfort food. For comfort food, we often turn to our roots to the foods that we grew up with, so today I’d like to share two quintessentially Cantonese dishes that Hong Kongers love eating: steamed fish, and congee.

Cantonese Style Steamed Sea Bass

So healthy and fresh. Credits to WS for cooking this for me. I do suspect that he might be the better cook!

Ingredients
– two fillets of sea bass, descaled and deboned
– ginger, 2 inches of it sliced into very thin matchsticks
– spring onions (scallions), two stalks sliced diagonally into small pieces
– garlic, two cloves
– coriander, several stalks
– vegetable oil
– soy sauce
– sesame oil
– table salt
additional materials – bamboo lattice, slightly rimmed plate (so that the liquid doesn’t run over), and wok with a lid*

*This is just how I steam food but you can use any trivet or steamer basket within a large lidded pot/wok for the fish.

Method
1. Heat wok with water on high heat to bring water to boil. Set bamboo lattice inside the wok. You will use this lattice to rest the plate containing the fish, so that the water below the lattice gently steams it without touching the actual plate.
2. Put the fillets of fish on a rimmed plate, skin side up. Scatter the ginger and half of the chopped spring onions on the fish, pushing some of it gently into the fish.
3. Drizzle a tiny bit (no more than half a teaspoon) of oil over the fish. Drizzle a little bit of soy sauce and a bit of salt.
4. Place the plate containing the fish onto the bamboo lattice. Cover the wok with a lid. Lower the heat to low heat, or just enough so that the water steams so gently you can’t hear the lid bubbling up. The gentler the steam, the better the fish will taste. This is crucial.
5. Steam for 12-15 minutes, until fish is cooked through.
6. Remove plate, bamboo lattice, and water from the wok. Turn up heat to low-medium heat.
7. Heat wok with a bit of oil, and fry the minced garlic and remaining spring onions for 2 minutes.
8. Add the garlic to the fish. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Add a few drops of sesame oil. Serve hot!

//

Congee (say ‘juk’ for the Cantonese name) is another popular kind of breakfast/lunch food in Hong Kong. It is basically a savoury rice porridge cooked to a creamy consistency, almost to the texture of apple sauce. We usually eat it cooked with various ingredients, the most popular being preserved egg and shredded pork. Also, for some reason Hong Kongers like peanuts in their congee too, something which I’m not so crazy about — I have a slight aversion to peanuts (a story for another time).

I grew up eating congee with my paternal grandmother; in fact, I don’t remember eating much else apart from congee and pickled vegetables when I lived with her for a time. I believe she ate congee almost every day, often while watching black and white Cantonese and Teochew opera shows on TV in her tiny flat in North Point, Hong Kong. Sorry I’m getting sidetracked here by nostalgia — my paternal grandmother is no longer with us but my memories of her are deep. She was an incredibly strong and resilient woman: a single mother and silk-worm factory worker, and a reserved but loving grandmother.

Anyway, I’ve listed below my own basic recipe that uses dried scallops to lend the congee a seafood-y flavour without overpowering the delicate flavour of ginger and scallions. Yum!

Plain Congee (Rice Porridge)

Ingredients, for two generous portions
– uncooked long grain/Thai fragrant rice, 1/2 cup
– water, 5 cups*
– (optional) dried scallops, 4 pieces
– spring onions/scallions, 3 stalks chopped finely
– fresh ginger, two inch piece sliced thinly into matchsticks
– eggs, 2x
– (optional garnish) fried onions
for seasoning: soy sauce, sesame oil, a little salt, a little white pepper

*There’s no need to be exact here, but a general rule of thumb is the uncooked rice to water ratio should be about 1:10.

Method
1. Add rice grains, water, ginger, and dried scallop to a stainless steel pot. Bring water to boil.
2. When water starts to boil, cover, turn down heat to low, and let mixture simmer for at least 45 minutes. Check on it occasionally and add more water if you see that the congee is drying up.
3. In a separate small pot, hard boil the eggs for 10 minutes on medium-high heat. Drain water carefully, and de-shell eggs.
4. When congee has reached a creamy consistency, switch off heat and add in eggs.
5. Garnish with extra spring onions. Season to personal taste.