Green Fronds and White Froth

While my (somewhat) equals hop into re-done cars with muscle-top apes, I retreat to my favourite shops and market in the more quiet extremes of town. Bruce’s country market down by the riverside sits on the skirt fringe of my small enough gem-of-a-town Maple Ridge. It’s also my salmon place. Yes, I’m a B. C. girl and I love my salmon, but only wild sockeyes please. The farmed, beastly humongous monster fish of the Atlantic are practically lumps of hormone- and antibiotic-injected flesh anyway.

You may have noticed that I’m starting to clean up my blog, starting from the last post in terms of style and image. Yes, and I’m not just starting now, with only what meets the eye. People, eat clean, eat less. That way you get the best ingredients, and don’t actually spend a dollar more. This is particularly true with proteins. These days, it seems the mot du jour is always along the lines of sustainability.

Hello, does buying so-called “sustainably sourced fish” in such large quantities that the following year you still find the carcass of an animal skinned and filleted twelve moons ago represent sustainable? Does cooking so much “free-range organic” ground beef into a tub of meat sauce then letting the leftovers (which is half that tub) stink and rot environmentally conscious?

I’m not saying that we should live as monks or saints. But I do find that moderation is a rather valuable trait, it will actually save you legitimate bucks.

So what does all this have to do with the plat du jour? Well, you don’t need a whole fillet to serve two. You just need 200 g of really good quality salmon.


Ingredients for the coconut poached salmon:

1 can organic coconut milk

8 thin slices ginger root

20 lemon balm leaves

1/2 tsp fish sauce

1/2 tsp sea salt

200 g wild sockeye salmon fillets with skin, cut into 2 portions

2 drops sesame oil

finely shredded lemon balm, for garnish

To make the poached salmon, bring the coconut milk and ginger to the boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the lemon balm, fish sauce, and sea salt. Remove the pan from the heat and gently lower in the salmon fillets, skin side facing down. Cover and return the pan to barely a simmer for 6 minutes; you can cook it slightly longer, but I would not exceed 8 minutes. Add the sesame oil at the last minute.

Lift the salmon with a slotted spoon onto warm serving plates. To make the sauce, strain the poaching liquid and froth it up using an immersion blender. Spoon the sauce over the salmon and garnish with more lemon balm.

Serve immediately. Also, this makes plenty of sauce, which implies that you could double the amount of salmon to serve four people or mop it up with some french crusty bread. I would just throw some glass noodles and bok choi into the poaching liquid to make it a meal, though.


Fad Thai

Arms flailing and thrashing to keep my dizzy head above crashing waves of deadlines, presentations, and life in general, I was tempted to abandon the task of making dinner altogether and make an SOS call for pizza. I picked up the phone…and set it back down: I couldn’t. I knew I would feel terrible as, for one, I don’t eat wheat, and for another, a pizza was certainly not a cure for my temporary depression.

I needed something refreshing, full of flavour, and nourishing. Something exciting to make, even. My hands were restless, desperately craving to do some chopping, slicing, and wok-frying.

I needed a pad thai fix.

Not too many limitations, other than a general starting point ratio of 1:1:1:1. What for? Yup, soy sauce, tamarind paste, brown sugar, and fish sauce. As for bean sprouts, chives, scallions, rice noodles, egg, firm tofu and if you’d prefer, chicken and shrimp, they are completely to your own personal liking. Have fun, prep well, and keep the wok smoking hot!


Ingredients for the singleton pad thai:

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp tamarind paste

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp brown sugar (or palm sugar if you have it)

70g dried medium-width rice noodles

2 tbsp virgin coconut oil

1 free range egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup julienned carrot

1/2 an onion, thinly sliced

1 large clove of garlic, minced

2 scallions, cut into 1-inch long sections

2 pieces firm dry tofu, thinly sliced

3/4 cup bean sprouts

2 tbsp roasted chopped peanuts

extra bean sprouts

lime wedges

To make the pad thai sauce, combine the soy sauce, tamarind paste, fish sauce, and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Soak the rice noodles in room temperature water. Meanwhile, prep all the ingredients – once you start cooking everything will come so fast you won’t have time to leave your wok (it will literally be on fire).

Heat your wok until very hot, then add 1 tbsp of the coconut oil and swirl it until shimmery. Pour in the egg, and allow it to set a little before scrambling it. Once the egg is cooked and lightly golden, transfer it to a plate.

Heat your wok again, until very hot, then add 1 tbsp coconut oil. Once the oil is hot, add the carrots and onions and saute until lightly browned. Add the garlic and scallions, stir until fragrant. Push the onions and such to one side of the wok and add the dried tofu to the empty side. Leave them the slices to brown for about a minute without stirring, then incorporate in the sauteed vegetables, adding the bean sprouts and the scrambled egg. By now, the rice noodles should be softened, with just a bit of resistance; add them to the wok, and pour in the pad thai sauce. Mix until the sauce is evenly distributed, then check the seasoning (add more salt or sugar to your taste) and test the noodles for doneness by sampling a piece.

Once you’re happy, transfer to a plate and garnish with the roasted peanuts and bean sprouts. Serve with a squeeze of lime.

There really is no secret to making pad thai; just taste-test a lot while it’s cooking, and make it often.

Enjoy and have lots of fun!