Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Japanese Inspiration

This week I have turned to Japan for my inspiration - I know I have some Japanese readers, so first let me say that my dish is by no means traditional and I am far from being a proficient Japanese cook - I just love the food! This recipe is just my Gourmet Goddess take on some Japenese flavours, using some beautiful salmon, a selection of yummy seasonal mushrooms, Soba (buckwheat) noodles, seaweed and vegetable broth.

This dish was very easy to make, but don't be limited to what I put together. You could substitute any kind of firm fish for the salmon, different stock, another variety of noodles (Ramen would be great) or other vegetables. Whatever is in season and fresh. I took advantage of the great mushrooms around at the moment, mixing Shitake, Enokki, Swiss Brown and Oyster mushrooms for more complex flavours and textures. I used bought stock for convenience, but of course you could make your own.

A selection of mushrooms for the dish - 
Shitake, Swiss Brown, Oyster and Enokki

You will find the Nori (seaweed) , Mirin (cooking wine) and Soba noodles at most Asian grocery stores - ask them to point you toward the Japanese ingredient section. This dish serves 2 people and took around 40 minutes to make - the fiddliest part was pulling all of the bones from the salmon with tweezers. So here is what I ended up with - a lovely healthy dish with lots of flavour, and a little touch of Japan. And for my Japenese readers - あなたの夕食を楽しみなさい! (That's "enjoy your dinner!" for the rest of us)

Crispy Salmon with Nori
Soba noodles & mushroom broth

You will need: 2 pieces of salmon fillet – skin and bones removed, 1 sheet nori (sushi seaweed) , 3 cups vegetable stock, 1 whole clove garlic, about 6 generous slices fresh ginger, 2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese cooking wine), ½ cup finely sliced spring onion, about 2 cups sliced mushrooms (use a combination if you can – I used Shitake, Enokki, Swiss Brown and Oyster mushrooms), 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (and some extra to pan fry the fish) 2 teaspoons sesame oil, about 80g of Japanese Soba (buckwheat) noodles. Most are sold in packs that contain bundles of noodles – I used 1 bundle, 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, soy sauce to serve.

Method: First, Cut you salmon into 3 pieces lengthways – this will give you 6 pieces. Now cut the nori in half, and then each half into 3 pieces. This will give you 6 pieces of nori.

Wrap a piece of nori around the salmon – you can make it stick by using a little bit of warm water as “glue”. Do this for all of the salmon. Set aside.

Now, make the broth - Add the mirin, garlic and ginger to the vegetable stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic clove and the ginger

Add the noodles and cook until just tender. Remove the noodles from the stock and place them in 2 serving bowls. Be sure to keep the stock!

In a hot frypan, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and the sesame oil. Add the mushrooms and cook for about a minute (you want them to still have a decent amount of shape and firmness) Arrange the mushrooms in the serving bowls with the noodles. Wipe out the frypan, ready to cook the salmon.

Pour a little vegetable oil into the hot pan. Cook the salmon for about about minute or so, until it is cooked through and slightly golden turning gently.

Pour the broth over the noodles and the mushrooms, place the salmon on the top of the noodles and garnish with spring onion and sesame seeds. Drizzle over a little bit of soy sauce just prior to serving.

Serves 2.


Monday, September 19, 2011

The Urban Gardener

A quick update - Spring has well and truly arrived and this week I have been out in my little inner city back yard digging, planting and hopefully preparing for a harvest of lovely home grown treats in the Summer.

Here is a snapshot of our little garden in the first two weeks of Spring.
Just because you live in the middle of a big city doesn't mean you have to go without a touch of nature. I'm growing lots of things in pots and it works really well. Easy to take care of too.
Hope everyone is travelling well - stay tuned for this week's food feature in a day or two. I have a few ideas buzzing around in my head as we speak.....
Love GG XX

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Spring Zing - Rainbow Trout

During the week we visited the fishmonger, with the intention of choosing some nice fillets of something or other to cook on the BBQ that night. Looking at all the different fish they had for sale, the one that really stood out were beautiful, glossy and super fresh rainbow trout. I couldn't go past how great they looked and decided to ditch the fillet idea and bought two of them, one for each of us to have whole. The fish were about 30cm long. They were scaled and cleaned by the fishmonger to make the prep work at home easy. Rainbow Trout has such delicious pink and flavoursome flesh, similar to Salmon and they are ideal for cooking on the BBQ.

Spring is well and truly in the air, so I also bought some new season potatoes and red radishes, and built my accompaniments around them. I wanted a dish that was simple and vibrant, so good fresh ingredients were important. I also added some green herbs, a touch of fennel and plenty of fresh lemon. Very zingy flavours and very spring!

Starting with fresh, in season ingredients

To prepare the fish, I just patted them dry inside and out, and the filled the cavity with sliced red onion, dill, lemon, garlic and fennel. I seasoned the inside with Kampot pepper (fabulous super aromatic black pepper that comes from Cambodia - if you don't have Kampot pepper, normal black pepper is fine) and a little sea salt. To ensure that the flavourings stayed put, I tied each of the fish up with cooking string. The fish were then brushed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked on the BBQ with the lid on for about 25 minutes. I didn't turn the fish during the cooking process.

Preparing the trout for cooking

While the fish was cooking, I finely sliced cucumber, red onion and radishes and mixed them with a generous handful of parsley and a touch of fresh dill to make a simple, crunch salad. The dressing was simply a drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and some salt and pepper to season. To finish the accompaniments, I just boiled a few baby Chat potatoes and then tossed them in a little butter and a sprinkling of the fresh dill to finish.

Rainbow Trout with fennel and lemon
served with a crisp radish salad and new potatoes

Once the fish were cooked, they were carefully removed from the BBQ, placed on a bed of the crisp radish salad and served with the potatoes and some extra fresh lemon. Delicious. You could also cook this dish in the oven if you don't have a BBQ with a lid - I would do it in a medium to hot oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the fish.

This dish was so simple to throw together and would be a great no fuss spring/summer entertaining idea. Keeping the fish whole really ramps up the flavour and it looks great on the plate - it also makes preparation hassle free. If you aren't familiar with Rainbow Trout, give them a go - they are pretty inexpensive and should be available from most fishmongers at the moment.

In Gourmet Goddess gardening news, I have just planted a whole lot of tomatoes and peppers (the long "bullhorn" kind) that I hope will thrive over the coming months so that we can eat them in the summer. There are also new herbs - two kinds of basil (green basil and the vibrant opal basil, with bright purple leaves) thyme, continental parsley, mint. I have spinach and beetroot (the last of the current harvest which I will pick very soon) as well as carrots, lettuce and lemongrass. In the last week, the nasturtiums have gone crazy - I think I will have plenty to use in salads over spring. The garden is also starting to show colour - masses of pansies in purple and crimson and yellow and the jasmine that I planted a year ago is flowering too. I plan to add a few more spring plants and herbs over the next few weeks. I'm looking forward to plenty of time in the garden to enjoy it all as the plants all wake up from winter hiberbnation.