Tag Archives: shrimp

Mediterranean Fish Stew with a Viet Twist

Fish stew with rice

Verdict: A hearty and delicious stew of tender fish and succulent shrimp which can be made in 30 minutes. The dill and soft licorice flavours make for a refreshing version of a traditional fish stew recipe.

Memories are the unreliable narrators of life; selective, pleasantly fuzzy around the edges, and often showered in a soft, warm glow is how I recall most of the past. Since enjoying food can be such a wonderful experience, I tend to hold on tightly to the memories of sharing great meals with friends and family.

Adding tomoatoes to fish stewTomato broth with a soft licorice flavour from the fennel (or anise seeds).

Last year, on a dark, blistering cold night in Calgary, Alberta (Canada), I first enjoyed the comfort of this fish stew. My roommate, with a newly acquired recipe collection from her mom, decided to make this on a -40 degrees Celsius winter night, the kind of cold that freezes nostril hairs together and eyelashes shut. In my memory, we huddled over a small table lit by a solitary kerosene lamp while the wind whistled a lonely tune across the Arctic landscape. Dressed in knee-length parkas, we handled the hot bowls of stew with seal skin gloves. Outside, the sled dogs howled for their dinner.

In reality, we ate this over an Ikea wooden table, in our well heated but poorly insulated house, its windows always dewy with condensation in the winter time. I can recall with confidence that the soup was delicious, fragrant and oh so comforting. Like the shrimp niçoise pasta, this was another example of the winning combination of seafood, licorice flavour and tomato based broth.

Dill for the fish stewFresh dill, a herb commonly used in North Vietnamese cooking.

The Mediterranean fish stew recipe reminded me of my mom’s take on fish stew: she poached salmon steaks in a simple broth composed of sauteed shallots and tomatoes, and seasoned with tamarind powder for the sweet and sour element. When the salmon was almost cooked through, she would add fresh chopped dill and large lettuce leaves, which would wilt slightly but retain their crunch. The stew was served with your choice of rice or vermicelli and garnished with chopped green onions and cilantro.

Since I was too intimidated to re-create my mom’s fish stew, I followed my friend’s family recipe and threw in some Viet twists along the way, like the fresh dill and serving it with white rice. Try out this wonderful stew and create some new fuzzy and warm food memories of your own, Arctic themed or otherwise.

Mediterranean Fish Stew with a Viet Twist

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Shrimp Niçoise Pasta

Verdict: A wonderful and easy to make pasta dish that sets itself apart from the rest. The licorice flavoured liqueur compliments the tomato sauce and shrimp, lending depth and a subtle sweetness to the dish.

I planned to write about our Meatless Monday recipes today but my coworkers said they would appreciate some meal ideas for Valentine’s Day. I’m not crazy about celebrating it but I understand if people want to spend this day with someone special and perhaps impress them with a home cooked meal. I went through my recipe trove in search of a recipe with a definitive flair, a certain je ne sais quoi.

I found a pasta dish that is pleasantly different, easy to make,  yet gives the impression that you slaved away in the kitchen. Shrimp Niçoise (French pronunciation: [niˈswaz]) pasta borrows ingredients from the traditional Niçoise salad which consists of various vegetables topped with seafood and finished with Niçoise Cailletier olives.

The shrimp is succulent, the pasta sauce full bodied with the je ne said quoi quality from the licorice flavoured liqueur. You can try using Sambuca, Absinthe or Perdon Ricard for the liqueur. It’ll be between you and I how simple it is to prepare.

A key step added to this recipe was using sea salt to refresh the shrimp before cooking. The salt is rinsed off with cold water and the shrimp is patted dry before sauteeing in the garlic butter. I learned this from a Vietnamese cookbook and have noticed the step refreshes the shrimp by removing the ocean smells and making the meat more tender.

Other Valentine’s Meal Ideas

Bonus: They’re all gluten free recipes.

  • Thai Green Curry with Chicken and Broccoli – exotic, super simple and quick to prepare. Lots of flavour pay off here.
  • Balsamic Foil Packed Chicken – take a quick trip to the Asian aisle of your grocery store for sweet soya sauce and prepare this unique and delicious dish. This could be your new chicken and rice recipe for life.
  • Steak Ssam Lettuce Wraps – marinade flank or skirt steak in apple juice, grill them up and serve with rice, kimchi and the ginger-scallion mixture, all wrapped in a crisp lettuce leaf. You will impress the pants off anyone who eats the dish.

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