Saturday, January 16, 2010

: deconstructed sushi :

Back in university, I was obsessed with watching Iron Chef - the original Japanese version. I would watch it every weekend without fail, and was always amazed at the quickness, agility and creativity of the chefs after only finding out the secret ingredient mere moments before battle mode.

In a much less intense environment, this semester I'm enrolled in a Chef's Table class where we're separated into groups and receive a 'black box' of ingredients 4 days prior to having to prepare a 3-course meal. Our theme last week was Japanese, so using our list of ingredients, I developed a deconstructed sushi - all of its elements separated out into its simplest forms. Shrimp was one of the proteins on the list, so I decided to saute them in a combination of soy, ginger, and wasabi - all of which you would find on a regular sushi plate. We served it as an appetizer, but I think it would actually make a neat hors d'oeuvre that you could serve at a party. I also originally served the sushi sprinkled with black sesame seeds, but unfortunately didn't have any at home when I recreated it for the blog! I think it adds a little something, so would recommend adding it.

Deconstructed Sushi with Ginger-Wasabi Shrimp


4 cups Japanese short grain rice, cooked
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
*(or 3 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar - I use the Mitsukan brand and just follow the directions on the bottle)

400 g raw shrimp (approx. 24 medium)
2 tbsp Japanese soy sauce
1 tbsp Japanese mirin
1 tbsp fresh ginger root, minced
2 tsp wasabi paste (or less depending on your taste - you can also substitute with 1 tsp wasabi powder, which I prefer)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sugar

1 tsp canola oil
12 Nori squares, 2x2-inch pieces
Black sesame seeds (optional)


1. In a small saucepan, heat vinegar, sugar and salt until sugar is dissolved. Sprinkle vinegar mixture over cooked rice when hot and mix through until everything is combined.
2. To prepare shrimp, peel, butterfly and remove vein.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, mirin, ginger, garlic, sugar and wasabi paste until thoroughly combined.
4. Heat 1 tsp oil in a nonstick pan. Add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes or until cooked through. Add soy sauce mixture and toss until all shrimps are coated. Set aside.
5. Arrange small mounds of rice on nori squares, and place the shrimp on top of rice. Sprinkle black sesame seeds if you have some on hand. Serve.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

: spiced chick peas :

Ever since I watched the documentary, Food Inc., I've been on a bit of a vegetarian-ish kick. I use that term loosely because I am still - first and foremost - an omnivore at heart; however, I also understand the health benefits of eating less meat. I won't even start on the political aspects of eating meat, but let's just say that everyone should learn a thing or two about where their grocery store meat comes from!

That said, my next couple posts will more or less be devoted to vegetarian cooking, with the exception of a few meat dishes here and there that I've promised some people I would post for, er, some time now... *sheepish smile*

As some of you know, I did a stint at the Sobeys Compliments' test kitchen last summer. Together with my colleagues, we spent our time testing, re-testing, and adapting recipes for their Inspired magazine and blog. One of the recipes was a spiced chick pea dish submitted by cookbook author Bal Arneson in their guest chef feature. After re-creating this dish about 4 times, I think I swore to myself that I would never make it again.

But I did.


And again.

In fact, it's kind of turned into one of my favourite dishes when I'm hankering for a quick Indian fix. Not only is it tasty over rice or with naan bread, but it's healthy, full of good-for-you protein and dietary fibre, and literally takes about 15 minutes to throw together!

So if you're thinking about delving into some ethnic cooking that's both healthy and simple to make, I really recommend trying this out. Check out the Inspired Winter issue for other recipes too!

Spiced Chick Peas (Serves 4)

2 tbsp (30 mL) Compliments Pure Olive Oil
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped onion
1 tbsp (15 mL) each ground coriander and ground cumin
1 tsp (5 mL) ground turmeric
1 can (796 mL) Compliments Diced Tomatoes, lightly drained
1 can (540 mL) Compliments Chick Peas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup (60 mL) lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

1. Heat oil, garlic and onion in a saucepan over medium heat for 2 to 3 min. Stir in ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and salt to taste; cook until fragrant, about 1 min.
2. Add tomatoes and cook on medium heat, stirring, for 5 min. Add chick peas, turn heat down and simmer, loosely covered, for 10 to 15 min., stirring occasionally. Serve over rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.