Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pan Fried Basa Topped With A Grape Tomato Sauce

The first time I tried Basa a couple of weeks ago, I was very impressed by it's light, buttery flavor. Seeing as we have 10-12 filet's to eat, we thought it would be a good idea to try them again.

The Basa's flavor is one you don't want to mask or overpower with any other ingredients. You want it's flavor to come through clearly. As usual, I went to the fridge to see what was in there and took a look around the rest of the kitchen to see what ideas I could come up with. It looked to be a tomato-y kind of day again and I wanted to keep it simple. Here's what the end result was.

Ingredients

- 1 Basa filet, cut in half
- 20 grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp chopped parsley. I just use a small handful.
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) white wine or sherry
- EVOO
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Lay out the fish flat on a cutting board. Sprinkle salt and pepper over it, then cut it in half.


2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When it's ready (you'll know this it swirls around the pan quite easily), put the fish in. Always let it fall away from you as you don't want to get splashed by the hot oil. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side.


3. When finished, take the fish out of the pan and place them on your serving plates. Throw the tomatoes in to the pan along with the garlic, parsley and a little salt and pepper. The oil which the fish cooked in plus the juices from the fish will help make the sauce. Stir and let cook for two minutes. If you'll notice, the fish isn't browned. I don't pan fry it over extremely high heat, which makes the fish cook a little slower and in turn won't get hard.


5. After the two minutes is up, pour in the wine and stir again. Let the wine cook down for another 1-1.5 minutes. When this is done, spoon the sauce over top of the fish and serve.
Yield: Serves 2


This dish seems to have a lot of tomatoes in it compared to the amount of fish, but I like it this way. For every bite of fish there will be enough tomatoes to go with it all the way until the fish is done. There's a nice balance there between the flavors of the two.

The Basa fish is also known by another name, the Mekong Catfish. I have some reservations about Basa as I have read a few articles about how it is raised in pens on the Mekong River. You can buy it farmed or fresh, but fortunately it's not farmed like shrimp or salmon. If they are the farmed type, the water flows through the pens to ensure the excrement from the from the fish leaves the pens, unlike shrimp. Yuuuuuck! I'm not too sure what we bought, but it tasted good to me. Now, the Mekong is not the cleanest river in the world (no offense to my Vietnamese readers), but I am going with the Government Of Alberta Health And Wellness website on this and they say it is an acceptable fish to eat. Until I find out otherwise (and I will keep looking), I will eat it once in awhile. It's a nice, light fish to eat and has exceptional flavor. Eating it with this sauce will make it a very healthy and tasty meal.

Little O's Menu

When we go out for dinner, she is eating a little more all of the time of what we eat. We make sure it isn't too spicy or hot temperature-wise, so she is eating everything from Indian to Thai to Canadian and everything in between. Her little palate is getting a good work out from butter chicken with naan bread, chicken shawarma and maybe a small chunk of steak once in awhile as we don't eat a lot of that. Almost everything I make here she eats as well, except for a few things which get pretty spicy, for her not for me.

Restaurant Review

We went to Banff a couple of weeks ago for one night to get out of town and relax. For lunch we ate at Coyotes Southwestern Grill. This a nice little place we go to for breakfast normally, but we didn't get out there until 11 am so lunch was on tap. We didn't really have anything to eat for breakfast, just a small bowl of fruit with a little yogurt, granola and ground flax seed over top. Good thing to start the day with, but it was a pretty tiny bowl. We shared the Warm Shrimp and Goat Cheese Wrap,


and the Fresh Apple and Gorgonzola Flatbread.


Both were great dishes with lots of flavors. Who would've thunk the flatbread would be that good, but it  is definitely something I would order again. It was a lot of food and we couldn't quite finish them off. We were both nicely full and even O ate some of the flatbread. We will definitely keep going back when we go out again, more than likely in two weeks. We decided O should experience more travelling and spend more time in the fresh air out in the wonderful Rocky Mountains.


We stayed at The Rimrock Hotel last time and it was great as usual. This next time we will be staying at The Fairmont Banff Springs (seen below). Both are pretty swanky, but well worth the money. The Fairmont is where The Rocky Mountain Food & Wine Festival  happens every year in May. If you get a chance, check it out. It's a lot of fun.


In the next post I will talk about our dinner at the Three Ravens Restaurant, where we went for dinner later that evening.

Quote Of The day:

"Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I will eat for a lifetime."

~ Chinese proverb


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mixed Greens Salad With Goat Cheese And Avocado

Right off the start I want to send my condolences to anyone who lost a family member or friend and to everyone in Japan for the unfortunate circumstances which occurred this past week. What has happened there is very sad. I am heartbroken over this, but also in awe of what Mother Nature can unleash on us. To see what kind of devastation water can do, besides what the movement of the earth's tectonic plates can do is hard to imagine as Japan lost around 8' of it's coastline after the earthquake. I consider myself extremely lucky to live in a place where it is safer than most other places in the world in that regard, and I'm glad to see the North American west coast made out alright, except of course for the area around Santa Cruz, Ca. I really hope the rest of the world comes together to help out wherever it is needed in Japan. They are a very proud culture and it is difficult for them to even ask anyone for help, but they need it very badly.

On a happier note, I have a nice, fresh salad for you today. I started making this just before Mrs. Urban Eater (then known as my girlfriend) and I went to Maui a few years back. We rented a condo with a full kitchen, so we figured it may as well be taken advantage of. One of the things I experimented with before we went was this salad. I wanted something which was light, healthy and didn't weigh us down. Here are the results of my tinkering.

Salad

- 5 oz (142 g) Mixed greens, washed and thoroughly dried
- 1 avocado, cut in half, pitted and sliced. Do this just before you serve it so it doesn't go brown from oxidation. The best way to peel the avocado can be found on the link above.
- 10 grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 2.1 oz (60 g) goats cheese
- 4 Tbsp (30 ml) dried cranberries
- 4 Tbsp (30 ml) pumpkin seeds

Vinaigrette

- 2 oz (59 ml) EVOO. This was all I had to make a dressing with. A more neutral oil like grapeseed would work just as well or better.
- 2 tsp (30 ml) red wine vinegar
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
- 1 tsp (5 ml) Dijon mustard
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Add the salad to 2 different serving bowls
2. Find a small container with a lid. Add the oil and then the vinegar. I usually go with 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 oil. You don't have to as it's your dressing, but some oils can overpower the flavor of the vinaigrette.


Add the other ingredients to the container,


Put the lid on and give it a good shake.
3. Add the tomatoes to the salad. Pour the vinaigrette over top of the salad and mix it all around with your hands. Mix it all around, turn it over and over a couple times. This will ensure all the leaves will get coated.
4. Take the goat cheese and add about 6 or seven pinches of it to each salad. Pour 1/2 of the pumpkin seeds and cranberries over top.
5. Prepare the avocado and place it on top of the salad and serve.
Yield: Serves 2


This salad is a full sized salad we eat as a meal, not as a starter. Don't be scared of the fat in the avocado. It's a different type of fat and is actually very good for you. It's health benefits are too numerous to talk about here, but to start they are high in vitamin K, fibre, potassium and folate. All of these and everything else the avocado brings to the table makes it a solid, healthy ingredient to use and use often. I use goat cheese whenever and however I can. In this salad, it's the source of protein. Not a lot, but it has to be there as protein should be consumed in almost all of your meals in some form. It's also lower in fat and calories and higher in calcium than cows cheese. Pumkpin seeds go well with this salad as they are full of vitamins and minerals such as manganese, iron, vitamin K and zinc and add a crunchy element to the salad. The cranberries add another chewy texture and bring other health benefits as well. And of course, there's the tomatoes. Besides adding color, they add so much more on the health side.

Little O's Menu

They say you aren't supposed to feed your child peanut butter until they are 3 years old. I decided to try this with her when she was one because there were a couple of time I gave my little tortellini a kiss and didn't realize I had some on the outside of my mouth. I was always very careful about this, but sometimes just a speck got away from the water and towel. We also gave her some ear drops which had peanut oil in it and she was fine. I figured it was time she and her dad shared some toast, peanut butter and jam together. Loves it. We have this about 2 or 3 times a week now. We buy the natural organic peanut butter, none of that processed stuff. The other stuff is a treat for me when we visit the in-laws, but that's all.

We had a nice, quiet night out in Banff a couple of weeks ago. Next time I will talk a little about that and the restaurants where we ate.

Quote Of The Day:

"To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist - the problem is entirely the same in both cases. To know exactly how much oil to put with one's vinegar."
~ Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, novelist, dramatist and critic.


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark