Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sweet and Sour Fish with Bok Choy and Vegetables

This is a straight up recipe I did tonight. I had about three kinds of bok choy that needed using up. When I purchased them I wanted to make a load of sweet and sour bok choy as sides, and tonight with a separately prepared chicken dish; but I had already baked all the chicken in the infamous orange-honey-mustard dish from my misbegotten yute. Having nothing other than raw frozen fish pieces (tilapia, roughy, sea bass), I put them together "ah so":

For Sweet and Sour Sauce:

  • ½ cup diced tomatoes with 1 tablespoon tomato paste mixed well
  • 4 Tbl soy sauce
  • 2 level Tb brown sugar
  • 2 Tbl red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbl ground ginger – or 2 TB fresh grated ginger
  • 1-2 TB brown sesame oil
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin

For the wok:


  • 1 tsp olive oil· 1/4 cup minced scallions
  • 2-3 diced shallots
  • 1 diced jalapeno pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup grated fresh ginger


  • 1 more TB cornstarch preferablt Kudzu Root as thickener at end
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup coconut milk

For Fish:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 to ½ pound fresh white fish fillets, cut into 1-2 inch strips
  • 1 large TB cornstarch

For Vegetables:

(Note: you do not need all the veggies just a sweet one e.g., carrots to balance the bok choy. earth mushroom would complete the trio of tastes.)

  • 2 -3 cups baby carrots diced small
  • 1 lb baby bok choy, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 5 -6 cups)
  • ¼ to ½ pound fresh shiitake or any other fresh mushroom, thinly sliced
  • ¼ - ½ cup diced celery or water chestnuts
  • ¼ - ½ cup frozen corn defrosted or canned corn


  1. Stir together all sweet and sour sauce ingredients in a prep bowl, and set aside.
  2. In large nonstick wok, warm vegetable oil over high heat.
  3. In a second skillet with its 1 TB olive oil, stir fry scallions, shallots, jalapeno, garlic, and ginger, and cook until scallions about 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Coat pieces of sea bass with 1 Tbl of cornstarch. Add fish to skillet and cook until golden, about 4 - 5minutes. Transfer fish to a plate using a slotted turner or spoon and cover with a bowl to keep warm.
  5. To the wok, add carrots, bok choy, mushrooms, celery, corn and ½ cup of water. Cook until vegetables are crisp but tender, about 2 – 3 minutes
  6. Stir in sweet and sour sauce mixture and ½ cup of water. Simmer until vegetables are almost crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.
  7. Return fish to skillet and simmer until cooked through, about 2 minutes.
  8. In the sweet and sour sauce prep bowl, mix kudzu root powder (or cornstarch) and water.
  9. Stir into skillet and cook until sauce is lightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes.
  10. Serve hot over rice. Basmati rice prep takes 15 mins for soaking and 12 mins for boiling, the same time as this dish.

Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Internet Vindaloonies

This appears to be a colder and wetter winter for the entire North American continent than experienced for many a year. Short memories and still shorter IQ's have people screaming "global cooling is the new global warming".

This is the time for warming foods, hence we dredge up an oldie but goodie for this sort of season, the VINDALOO curry.

Take a Google-gander at the Internet: About 30,000 hits for "VINDALOO CURRY". Hmm, something's wrong. OK, omit the word "curry" and search again. Now you get about 612,000 hits!

Originally a pork dish made with "red wine and garlic", the Portuguese brought it to Goa, India, and it immediately merged with local spices. it became an authentic Indian dish when the Hindu people got ahold of it - no red wine and no pork! They are completely forgiven because what they did with the spices brings this dish to new culinary heights, that those two simple ingredients (which end up jangling the nerves) cannot accomplish.

We find the Queen of Indian Cuisine, Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking (1982) to be one unwitting cause of the epidemic of Indian Slob Cuisine cropping up all over the Internet.

Mrs. Jaffrey is a world-class gourmet cook, author and teacher, and it is her recipe books which made Indian cooking accessible to the Far West.

Her recipes have been slaughtered by those reading her, too many of whom decided, it appears from Internet food sites, they are in a most unique position improve upon her curry.

There has been no more grievous bollixing up of Madhur Jaffrey's recipes than in the Vindaloo arena by those I call Internet Vindaloonies.

You can always can when a self-appointed Curry Cuisine-artist has ripped of Jaffrey - e.g., the tell-tale signs of her uniquely phrased original in their instructions, such as but not limited to: "remove them with a slotted spoon".

In fact, if you Google just that: "remove them with a slotted spoon" you will find over 1,000 hits, having mostly to do with curry, and people who have borrowed Jaffrey's work and minced their own around hers. Imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery, but the Vindaloonies should know that when you flatter someone you have to give them credit, or else it's just plagiarism.

A few Vindaloonie hints:

Authentically speaking, Vindaloo is a very dry hot curry process applied to meats mostly. It's a standalone kind of thing, meaning, don't ADD stuff to it, it is not a stew.

Most people add potatoes. Don't. All that potato starch chemically changes the curry sauce. If you must add, add chickpeas, some appropriate green bean, or dessicated coconut for an appetizer version.

And by the way, if you are looking on the web at an "AUTHENTIC CURRY RECIPE" that has beef in it, remember that the COW is a sacred animal in India, and there is NO AUTHENTIC RECIPE that calls for BEEF.

Now, it's merely a point of cultural fact: I eat BEEF, I just don't expect to see "Authentic Indian" and "Beef" in the same sentence.

One last thing: the real thing does NOT require electric blenders, mixers etcetera etcetera etcetera just as real Mexican Mole makers shun that process. It don't mix up the same, and it don't taste the same, period.


(Despite popular misconceptions, the "-aloo" in Vindaloo does NOT mean "potatoes")

There are two approaches: marinate the meat in the vinegar and some of the spices then process, or not. If you are using a gamey meat such as lamb, marinate, if chicken do not marinate.

Vindaloo Chicken with Coconut:


  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider or Rice Wine or WHITE Vinegar
  • 1 TB to 1/4 CUP DARK BROWN SUGAR (you can use less but use SOME sugar it is bitter without).
  • 4 TB light vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, quartered OR diced fine
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 TB tamarind paste IF YOU CAN GET IT.
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup coconut flakes unsweetened (optional) mixed in just enough water to wet
  • 1 TBL brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (chilli pepper crushed is fine)
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1" cube fresh ginger


For Vindaloo Masala:
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 6 green cardamom pod seeds only
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp TURMERIC


Make the Vindaloo Mixture:

Grind the ingredients for the masala together. Pour into a small bowl, and add vinegar, salt, cayenne pepper and sugar.

Heat 2 Tbl oil in a skillet and add the onions. Saute on low heat for a long time, covering when the onions sigh, until they turn a dark golden brown. Remove them leaving as much of the oil and moisture in the pan, and grind them to a pulp, making an onion paste. Add this to the masala mix. This is the vindaloo mixture.

Grind the garlic with about 1 Tb water until you have a garlic paste. Grind the grated ginger, and add to the garlic paste. Add a Tbl oil to the skillet and add the garlic ginger paste. Stir constantly make sure it doesn't burn just browns. Add the coriander and turmeric, then add the chicken pieces, stirring constantly. Brown the chicken.

Now add the vindaloo paste, tomato sauce, and about 1/4 to 1/2 cup water (and potato pieces if you must). Stir and bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about an hour.

Serve with Indian bread (roti) or rice.

eXTReMe Tracker