Tag Archives: stew

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

Continue reading Mediterranean Fish Stew with a Viet Twist

Japanese Curry

IMG_9196

Verdict: This dish brings the complexity of a curry to the comfort of a stew. A perfect addition to your winter cooking rotation.

Curries are a mainstay in our house because they are healthy, easy to make, and complex in flavours. Although there are a few recipes that don’t include vegetables, curry recipes tend to fit the bill in healthiness and striking deliciousness. Curries are also very easy to make but can require more time to cook (with the exception of Thai curry). The extra wait is worth it though – over time, the spices and broth break down and dramatically change the cheapest cuts of meat into the most tender and flavourful morsels.

Caramelized onions

A new curry recipe can mean a new world of unfathomable flavour combinations. Each country and region has a unique take on curry, and so, preparing a curry from Japan one night, and one from India the next feels like an entirely new cooking experience. Often with curry recipes, the first time I try a curry recipe is the first time I eat that kind of recipe, for example, this Japanese curry.

Carrot and chicken thighs

I was intrigued by the use of garam masala which is usually associated with Indian cooking. A typical Indian version of garam masala includes peppercorns, cloves, cumin, cardamon, star anise and coriander seeds. I find garam masala softer and more wholesome than regular curry powders; it’s the cloves that warm up the recipe. The lack of chili powder also makes it milder and more approachable to eat. If the spice and heat experience in eating curry is like riding a bike, garam masala based curries are the bikes with training wheels while vindaloos are the down hilll mountain variety – best saved for the veterans or the adventurous. You won’t have to stray too far from your grocery routine for this recipe. You can find the garam masala in the international Foods aisle of your super market; you can make homemade garam masala as well. Use whole spices and grind them up in the mortar and pestle or food processor.

Crumbly roux Japanese curry roux with broth - voluptuous

During the cooking process, the carrots sweeten slightly, complimenting the garam masala’s clove and cardomon notes. The tender pieces of chicken are also a delight. The caramelized onions, hearty potato, and carrot result in a dish that looks like a stew with the surprising taste of a softly seasoned curry. We served this with brown rice and it was perfect for the minus 40 winter day, like curling up on the couch with a warm blanket and great book.

Hearty Japanese curry

Continue reading Japanese Curry