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Ang-moh Fish Soup

Fish soupThe first time I tasted fish soup that is entirely different from the good old hawker favourite fish slice bee hoon soup was two years ago, when I first moved to Germany. Granted, I have tried some fish chowder at an American style restaurant in Sg before. But a clear fish soup, nope.

Actually Bremen is not known for seafood. In fact, all the prawns and most of the fish I have eaten thus far were frozen. It’s ironic because we are an hour’s drive from Bremerhaven where there is a big port and two hours’ drive from Hamburg’s Fisch Markt. Still, the fish rarely make it here fresh. They are either already smoked or marinated.

I suppose the first fish soup I had was probably made also with frozen fish but really, my non-gourmet savoury tongue couldn’t tell. It was served at a local cafe with a variety of typical german and other european dishes. I figure the fish soup is somewhat Italian in origin because the soup is tinged with tomato red. The taste of fish is strong but not overpowering, and that without the use of ginger. Nonetheless, this fish soup experience didn’t motivate me to recreate it in my own kitchen.

The most recent fish soup I had at Gosch Sylt, a renowned seafood bistro in the Lloyd Passage in the city, did just that. A. recommended the soup to me a couple of weeks back but it took some convincing for the Mister to agree to lunch  there because it’s been branded a place for snobs. We didn’t regret the decision though because the fish soup was absolutely inspiring and the Mister’s salmon steak was well worth the price.

This photo brings you to the Gosch Sylt website.

I took a really long time to savour the soup so as to remember the taste, in order to decide which herbs to use later. A. advised that I should try to get fish bones but really, we both know that’s somewhat far fetched. A jar of gourmet fish stock has to suffice.

I’m the sort of cook who prefers recipes with few and preferably easily obtainable ingredients. So here’s my version of an ang-moh fish soup, which is simple yet satisfying.


Ingredients

  • 300g of 2-3 different types of fish, preferably deboned filets ( I used salmon and sutchi)
  • 100g mussels (optional but recommended as they add flavour and texture)
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 800 ml fish stock
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 -2 tbs dried parsley
  • 1-2 tsp dried tarragon (optional; sharpens taste of soup)

Method

  • Cut fish into bite-sized pieces
  • Bring fish stock to a boil and add white wine
  • Allow mixture to simmer for 10 minutes
  • Add fish (and musels) to soup
  • Add parsley, salt, (tarragon) to taste
  • Simmer soup for another 20 mins

Makes 2 generous portions

Drink up your DHA!

Fish soup with baguette

Preggie notes:

  • As we know, DHA is an important aid in fetal development, especially of the brain. Fish is definitely an excellent source. Choose wisely though because some fish may contain either too high a level of mercury or pollutants.
  • White wine? During pregnancy? Well, after half hour of simmering, the alcohol in the wine has mostly vaporised, leaving only the desired taste of wine.

Recipe Review – Cheesy Broccoli Crepes

Cheesy broccoli crepe
I realise I have spent more time looking for recipes online than trying out the recipes themselves. At the end of the day, it may seem more worthwhile to have made a failed recipe than searching for the perfect one. Nonetheless, I hate to have to dump food. That’s why I continue to look out for reliable recipes on the Internet.

I steer clear of certain ‘big’ websites with thousands of recipes and ten thousand more variations of one dish. It’s always tempting to try a recipe which has 500 reviews. Careful reading reveals that there are plenty of tweaking done by the reviewers in order to make the dish tasty. So the 5-star rating is pretty pointless.

The recipes that I try nowadays are found mostly on blogs by food enthusiasts, well thronged by loyal followers. These are reliable and rarely turn out inedible or bland. The recipe I’m reviewing in this post comes from http://www.exclusivelyfood.com.au. It’s a blog managed by Amanda & Debbie. The first recipe I tried from them is the lemon meringue pie. It turned out like the one from Cedele Depot, which is dearly missed. Needless to say,  it prompted me to try a few of their other recipes.

The cheesy broccoli crepes are relatively simple but a little tedious to make because the crepes have to be made separately.

Today’s my first successful attempt at making some decent crepes. I have tried to make crepes countless times but never succeeded in getting them to be as thin as I like it to be. The crepe recipe from exclusivelyfood is amazingly good. The ingredients are simple – eggs, flour and milk. And they really did turn out to be tender and delicate as the blog claimed. Without butter and sugar, it’s even a pretty healthy crepe.

The mix of cheese, cream and mayonnaise for the broccoli filling is really yummy. Don’t feel guilty about sneaking spoonfuls of it while assembling the crepes. It’s perfectly normal.

Freshly baked crepes

The recipe is good to use as it is. I didn’t change a thing. Here are however some additional notes:

  • You can use frozen or refridgerated readymade crepes. But I strongly advocate that you give the crepe recipe a try because it’s plain and doesn’t contain unnecessary amounts of fat and sugar.
  • While making the crepe, I always remove the pan to the side to cool for a few seconds before pouring the batter in. This prevents the batter from cooking before you can spread it out decently. It also helps to own a wooden crepe spreader.
  • Wooden crepe spreader

  • Since the batter does not contain any fat, you may need to oil the pan once every three crepes to prevent them from sticking to the pan or burning too quickly.
  • I managed to make only 6 rather sparsely filled crepes. The portion of filling would definitely be doubled next time. Not that I don’t like crepes. I love them. But if you’re also a HPLC person, you will likewise make very fat crepes so that you are eating more broccoli filling than crepe.
  • The serving size Amanda and Debbie recommended is 2 crepes per person. Initially, I was wondering if I would really stop at two. I did. They are filling.

The recipe can be found here.


Hearty mushroom soup – The perfect light dinner

P1010155
The best mushroom soup one can ever have would be found in Poland. In fact, the best of any mushroom dishes would have to be had in Poland. That’s because the assortment of forest mushrooms is tremendous. If you are a mushroom freak, you should plan a summer trip to Poland. During summer, mushroom picking is a favourite family outing. The collected mushrooms are either promptly used to cook a cauldron of soup or preserved in jars to be served later as appetisers.

Unfortunately, back home, the supermarket choices are limited to white or brown button mushrooms, and if I’m very lucky, oyster mushrooms. I’m always hesitant to make mushroom soup, fully aware of the high standards of mushroom dishes the Mister has grown up with. Anyhow,  I chanced upon a Jamie Oliver recipe that persuaded me to throw caution into the wind and be convinced that this mushroom soup would semi-satisfy a mushroom soup craving.

The secret to transforming an ordinary mushroom soup into a smacking good one seems to lie in the use of dried porcini. Porcini is a type of mushroom with a pronounced flavour. When dried, the piquancy is further increased. Even though the main ingredients used in the recipe below are button and oyster mushrooms, I find the taste of the soup edging somewhat towards that of the ones tasted in Poland. Not bad at all.

I always wonder how restaurants make thick mushroom soup with floating pieces of mushroom. After reading Jamie’s recipe, I know. Puree only half of the soup mixture and then remix them. Ensure that the mushrooms are very soft before you puree them. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be very smooth. The result is a thick soup and with bite too.

As mushrooms are filling, this soup is perfect as a main course for dinner on days where you had too much for lunch. In line with my HPLC diet, I had it with some vegetables, simply boiled and lightly buttered.

Recipe simplified from a Jamie Oliver original.

Ingredients

  • 600g mushrooms, preferably a mix
  • 5 pieces dried porcini
  • 30g butter
  • 1 medium-sized onion, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 600-750 ml vegetable stock
  • handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp of cream (if one can afford the fats)

Method

  • Soak dried porcini in hot water till they are softened. Chop them up.
  • Chop mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. Mince garlic and onion
  • Melt butter in a big pot
  • Add mushrooms and stir fry for a couple of minutes
  • Add garlic and onion
  • Allow mixture to cook for about half hour, until the juices released by the mushrooms are almost gone
  • Add porcini, the soaking liquid, stock, parsley and bay leaves and salt to taste
  • Simmer for another half hour or so.
  • Remove half of the soup to a separate big bowl and puree
  • Add pureed soup back into pot. Stir to combine.
  • Add cream, if using

Oven fried chicken

Fried chicken is not well loved in Germany. There is only one KFC outlet in the whole of Bremen and it’s not within walking distance. Also, because their coleslaw disappoints, I lost my KFC craving some time ago but the desire to bite into a good piece of fried chicken lingers.

Flipping through an old Martha Stewart magazine, I came across a Southern Oven fried Chicken recipe. It intrigued me and I recalled reading somewhere that KFC original recipe chicken is also oven fried. So I searched for a recipe to use. The Martha Stewart one was eliminated because it requires a special flour called Wonda flour and also cornmeal, both of which I do not have in stock.

Finally, I created my own after reading through a couple of recipes and watching a video on youtube. The result was surprisingly impressive. The chicken was unbelievably tender and the coating was crisp. The Mister was all in praise despite the fact that chicken was his least favourite meat.

This has become a dinner regular because it’s so guilt free to eat, what with the lack of deep frying and removal of skin.

The recipe requires that you marinate the chicken overnight. I hope you are not reading this 2 hours before dinnertime.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole chicken legs
  • 1 cup of buttermilk*
  • 2-3 tablespoons of meat seasoning salt**
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 egg
  • flour
  • breadcrumbs or biscuit crumbs***

* If you can’t find buttermilk, simply stir 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice into 1 cup of skimmed milk and let stand for 5 minutes before using.

**I used one called ‘Gyros & Fleisch Würzer’ from Ostmann (in Germany). If in Sg, try looking in the dried herb section in Cold Storage or NTUC.  McCormick should have a number of suitable mixes. The amount to be used is an estimate. Rule of thumb: Be generous with the seasoning. Then the chicken is well marinated and you wouldn’t have to season the egg, flour or crumbs.

*** Breadcrumbs work well, but biscuit crumbs give extra crispy. If you live in DE, use TUC crackers. In Sg, use ‘soda pia’ (my aunt’s secret to crispy pork chops. 😉 ) Make sure you crush them finely.

Method

  • Cut chicken leg into two parts. Remove skin and excess fat.
  • Mix mustard and meat seasoning salt into milk.
  • Cover chicken pieces with milk.
  • Leave overnight in fridge.
  • Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Crack the egg in a large bowl.
  • Place flour and biscuit crumbs on separate large plates
  • Remove chicken from milk
  • Dunk chicken in egg, then coat with flour
  • Dunk chicken once again in egg, then coat with biscuit crumbs. Ensure that the chicken piece is well covered in crumbs.
  • Grease an oven tray. Make sure the tray is well greased. Otherwise the skin would be found on the tray rather than the chicken. Place chicken pieces on tray and bake for 45-50 minutes until the skin is golden brown.
  • Flip the chicken pieces halfway through cooking.
  • Test a piece with a toothpick. It should enter the meat easily and when removed, is clean.

Notes:

  • The secret to the tenderness of the chicken lies in the marination in buttermilk.
  • According to the chef in the video, you could spray some oil on the chicken pieces so that the skin will be crispy. I don’t have cooking oil spray so what I did was to pat some oil onto the crumbs. During the cooking, I realised that because I greased the tray with sufficient oil, when I flipped the chicken pieces, the top sides would now also be oiled. So… 🙂
  • This recipe produces skin similar to KFC original recipe chicken, not the extra crispy. The extra crispy ones are deep fried.
  • I almost didn’t make it to cook the chicken the day after marination and was curious whether it would survive another day of marination. According to some responses, it would be a mess after a day. So the advice is to remove the chicken from the milk after a day if you have a sudden hot date and wouldn’t bake the chicken the day after.

Okara (free form) Lasagna

Okara a la Italia reminded me of lasagna filling. I love melted cheese and lasagna is always a good excuse to pile on the cheese. Since the okara is already fully cooked (which means pretty dry), I decided to cook lasagna sheets  and assemble the lasagna on the plate instead. The resulting dish is worth a dinner’s try!

Ingredients

  • Lasagna sheets (I use 2 per one-person serving)
  • Gratin cheese, mozarella, gouda or emmental, grated or sliced
  • Okara a la Italia

Method

  • Boil lasagna sheets according to package instructions (usually about 8-10 minutes, depending on the kind of bite you prefer)
  • Reheat okara if it’s been cooled. You may want to add a little more seasoning, especially salt because the pasta is plain and depends on the filling for flavour.
  • Cut each lasagna sheet in half
  • Layer lasagna sheet and okara filling alternately
  • Top with cheese
  • Melt cheese using either a microwave (about 30 seconds using 600 watt) or the grill function of the oven (2 minutes or so)

Buon Appetito!

Okara a la Italia

Okara a la Italia - 01

I still can’t decide if I like okara. Although it is commonly used as a meat substitute in the vegetarian food industry, I can’t agree that the texture is similar to that of meat. It taste rather like grounded nuts but for sure, it’s substantial on the tongue. I suppose they are processed once again in order for them to acquire a different texture to be used to make patties, etc.

I intended the mixture of okara, vegetables and tomato paste to be a pasta sauce. However, the okara soaks up liquid. So when more water is added, you simply get wetter okara rather than a nice thick sauce. In line with the high(er) protein diet, this dish can be eaten on its own. After cooking, the okara tastes like very fine couscous. It’s a good I-feel-like-veggie-day meal.

Okara a la Italia topped with cheese

Top it off with a slice of cheese for an extra boost of calcium!

Ingredients

  • One eggplant
  • One zucchini
  • One bell pepper
  • One medium-sized onion
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • One can of peeled tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Paprika or Cayenne Pepper
  • Dried italian herb mix
  • 1-2 teaspoons Sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons Oil

*I have chosen the typical ratatouille vegetables which go well with tomato. You can add, replace or omit as you like.

Method

  • Mince garlic and onion. Cut up the other vegetables as you prefer.
  • Crush peeled tomatoes in a bowl.
  • Heat oil. Sautee garlic and onion for a couple of minutes.
  • Add chopped vegetables. Sautee for another few minutes.
  • Add okara. Mix well with vegetables.
  • Add crushed peeled tomatoes, tomato paste and water (if tomato paste is concentrated)
  • Cover pot and allow mixture to simmer for about half hour. Stir from time to time to avoid a burnt bottom.
  • Add salt, pepper, sugar and italian herb mix to taste.

Makes 4-6 servings