Tag Archives: curry

Smoked Tofu Curry Noodle

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I spent the first beautiful weekend of summer in Ithaca, NY. Between hiking, ultimate frisbee, and yoga, I had a little bit of time to check out the local food co-op and grocery store.

Ithaca is home to a thriving vegetarian scene, including the landmark Mosewood Restaraunt, so I couldn’t wait to try the locally made organic tofu I found. Each individually-wrapped, golden brown block of Ithaca Soy Tofu-Kan cost around $2.00, and came marinated, baked and ready to eat.

After using it in this recipe, I fell in love with this ingredient. Continue reading

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Fish Head Curry

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The best curry I ever had was made of fish heads. It was with Jean, two years ago, at the Banana Leaf in the Little India section of Singapore. I liked this place a lot. For one thing, we ate off of banana leaves instead of plates. And instead of utensils, we followed local custom and used our hands to eat.

We started off messy, but then copied a group of businessmen seated nearby, using our fingers to roll compact balls of curry-sopped rice. I felt like a child learning to use a fork for the first time, and that was big fun.

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Notice, in the above picture, the small pile of bones on the corner of Jean’s leaf. In the USA, fish heads are what we throw away. But they are so meaty! I heard somewhere that the most tender flesh in the fish is at the back of the “scull,” and it is true. Like soup cooked with bone-in, skin-on, fatty chicken vs. soup cooked with cubes of white breast meat, fish head curry is ten times more flavorful than any other fish I’ve ever tried.

I lived around cities my whole life, where food came from the supermarket, from restaurants, or machines. We had an aversion to the whole animal approach to food. Gizzards, eyeballs, bones and blood were considered “dirty” food. We only used the breast of the chicken, the filet of the fish, and the ‘mignon’ of beef: the cutest cuts for the most proper presentation.

But now, with the whole “snout to tail” (or is it tail to snout?) philosophy gaining popularity, we are reaching back into the theoretical garbage can to reclaim lost treasures. Marrow bones have become a menu must. A new cookbook features bacon fat cookies. Headcheese is on the rise. On my first day at a new job, the chef made summer rolls with leftover crispy duck skin…they were to die for.

So, city or country; trend or tradition; Stateside or Singapore; have your fish– and eat it, too.

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$6 Lunch and Pomegranate Cotton Candy

As I struggle to find my identity in the food world, like a teenager, I go through phases where I become totally absorbed with one particular thing. There was the ramen phase. Then came the picnic phase, and from that bloomed the lunch box phase.

I was mostly interested in bento boxes, but then one day, in Patel Brothers, I became transfixed by a shelf of shiny metal tins, in stacks of three, each stack fastened with a locking handle. I wheeled my cart over, picked one up, and took it apart.

It seemed like the perfect way to transport a sumptuous feast for one – with ample, separate compartments for an entree, side dish, salad, bread, or even soup – but it was too bulky to carry around every single day.

When I got home, I did some research. I found out that they were called tiffins, and, like bentos, they came in many shapes, sizes and colors, but, unlike any other lunch box, tiffins had their own, extraordinary system of transport. Continue reading

Going the Dumpling Distance

One of my most valuable learning experiences to date was getting published in Bon Appetit Magazine. (The article is no longer posted, but the recipes are here, here, here and here).

It was almost a year ago that my recipes went through the hoops and hurdles of the BA test kitchen. I remember nervously opening the email from the editor with the final versions, and being delighted that, while slightly different than my original versions, the recipes remained true to my style and taste. Still me; but with an exclamation point. It’s kind of like when Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tinman and the Lion got all dolled-up to go see The Wizard of Oz.

What I learned was that my preoccupation with simplifying everything, minimizing ingredients, and streamlining recipes was misplaced. Where I’d held back, their version took a dish one step further. Where I’d thought “that would be overdoing it,” they fearlessly added a step, an ingredient, a twist – with stunning results. The process gave me an even greater respect for those genius ladies in the BA test kitchen, and showed me exactly where I had to shed inhibitions.

A beautiful example of taking a dish “to the max” was the $5 plate of Jade Seafood Dumplings Jean and I shared at Sea last night (to kick off our “sweet yet sophisticated” dinner ‘n’ a movie date). The menu described them as“steamed crab meat & shrimp wrapped in green wonton served with massaman curry sauce.”

What I pictured was a plate of flat dumplings with a little ramekin of dipping sauce. What we got was a plate of plump green globes smothered in a thick, deep green curry sauce, with crunchy bits of dry rice noodle mixed in. The dumplings were tender and juicy; delicate, while still holding their own against the smoky and richly complex flavor of the sauce.

On their own they would have been great. In just the sauce, they would have been heavenly. But the dumplings in the sauce punctuated by the crunchy noodles was a flavor, texture, and overall sensory experience that had me reeling.

As we continued onto a whole fried snapper in tamarind-chili sauce, I confessed “I would give anything to spend a day hanging out in their kitchen, seeing how they make all this stuff.” Jean replied “You know, I feel the same way about music. What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall when a musician I admire is creating a sound that I really like.”

So, can anyone get me backstage passes? ­čśë

Sea Thai Restaurant and Bistro
114 North 6th Street, Between Berry and Wythe
Williamsburg