Monday, November 30, 2009

Coconut Ginger Red Snapper with Bok Choy

As an avid lover of Iron Chef, I was instantly inspired in the Wholefoods seafood section when we made eye contact. There it was, laying in it's bed of ice, begging to be cleaned, cooked, loved, respected and consumed.

My secret ingredient:
A whole red snapper

It took me back to memories of my childhood, when my mom would make traditional Filipino dishes with a whole fish, and friends would come over to the house and politely cover their noses and wonder "What the hell is that smell?" (sidenote: this is not a negative comment towards my mother's cooking in anyway, just to the people that grew up with a strict diet of pizza and burgers)

I figured it was finally time to be a grown up in the kitchen and attempt to create my very 1st whole fish dish. "Coconut Ginger Red Snapper with Bok Choy"

The ingredients:
The must have staples: Olive Oil, Salt & Black Pepper
Miscellenous: Tomatoes & Long Green Pepper
Fresh Ginger & 1 can Coconut Milk
Classic combo: Red onion & Garlic

The sides: Bok Choy and White Rice

First, you must heat your Coconut Milk in the skillet for about 8-10min. Mince your Onions, Garlic, and Ginger. Add to the Coconut Milk. Let cook for another 1-2min.

(Tip: save a tspn of your already chopped minced garlic, you'll need it for your bok choy later)

Second, start your rice, so it's ready when you're ready! If you don't have the convenience of a rice cooker, it's just a ratio of 1:1 (1 part rice to 1 part liquid). Here is also when you want to prep your veggies, just rough chop the tomatoes, green peppers, and bok choy.

Third, stuff the tomatoes into the opening of the fish (which should've been cleaned out by the gentlemen/women behind the counter. Also, if you ask nice, they will scale the fish as well). Season it with S&P on both sides, then throw it in the Coconut Milk mixture. Depening on the size of the fish, let cook for 20-30min.

As you wait, heat some Olive Oil in a pan, and throw in your Bok Choy. It's going to look like a lot of greens, but I promise it will cook down (like spinach or kale). As it begins to cook down, add the minced Garlic.

Final thoughts: To create a dish you never thought you could accomplish, may be one of the best meals you will consume in your life.

Bon appetit!


Monday, November 2, 2009

What kind of restaurant makes you cook your own food?

Shabu-Shabu at Shabu Zen.

What is the sound of thinly sliced beef swishing in boiling hot water? And if no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

What is Shabu-Shabu you ask? Well according to Wikepeidia:

Shabu-shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ also spelled syabu-syabu) is a Japanese variant of hot pot. The dish is related to sukiyaki in style, where both use thinly sliced meat and vegetables, and usually served with dipping sauces.

Meshed in between the cluster f*** of restaurants in Chinatown, this hidden gem is located right in the middle of Tyler St. Upon entering, the lights are bright, the vibe is fast paced, and the smell is like no other. If you choose to go during prime time dinner hours, be prepared to wait an hour or even longer. Definitely DO NOT go if you have any hunger whatsoever. It will be the biggest mistake of your life. If you can't control this shabu craving of yours; I suggest you go during the middle of the week, early or late. Either way, there is little or no wait, and you can choose from 3 locations to be seated: A cozy booth, a seat at the communal U-shaped table in the middle of the restaurant or at the highly coveted bar (personally, my favorite place to dine at any establishment).

For a beverage: They start you off with hot green tea; but to enhance our dining experience, we chose Sapporo (premium Japanese beer) and a Red Bean Smoothie (yet another aquired taste of mine, but there are more delicious flavors to choose from). They also have a great selection of Japanese Sake, Beer and Wine.

While waiting for your food, there is a bowl of sauce that sits in front of you, with 4 little bowls housing different ingredients (garlic, chili flakes, scallions, black bean sauce). You mix your ingredients into the sauce, creating this magical mystery sauce that is salty, spicy, and delicious.

For an appetizer: On the repeat list are Seaweed salad, Kimchee, and Edamame; however, the must haves are the Salmon and Tuna Sashimi. A bargain at $4 for 4 pieces. They are fresh, melt in your mouth, to die for pieces.

For an entree: You can choose a main course or if you can't choose - go a la carte. Prices range of course depending on the quality of the protein. You can get plain beef for $10.95 or Kobe beef for $38. Unless I'm in the mood for seafood, I usually choose either the Rib eye or Short rib beef.

All courses are served with an assorted vegetable plate, a choice of Udon noodle, Vermicelli, or steamed Jasmine rice (My choice: Udon noodle), and last but not least a choice of broth (My choice: Spicy Kim-Chee broth). It's optional, but to me, it's absolutely necessary.

Once your hot pot is boiling and to temperature, you're ready to eat. Now this is where the fun begins. You throw in your vegetables, being very careful not to forget about them, because things can and will get over-cooked. Then you take your beef...

...and in less than one minute, it's ready eat. My personal preference is medium rare.

"A variety of exotic garnishes and sauces are provided with each meal for dipping the seafood, meats and vegetables, after cooking them in one of our delightful homemade broths."

16 Tyler St., Boston, MA

80 Brighton Ave., Allston, MA

Final thoughts: It most definitely satisfies the soul, on a cold brisk fall evening, but it can be enjoyed all year round. Shabu Zen is a sensational do-it-yourself treat.