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Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category

For the first time in my life, I am on the West Coast of Canada, enjoying the casual Vancouver life. I’ve been indulging in delicious seafood, and it reminded me of one of my favourite seafood salads.

This salad is the very essence of fresh – the cool cucumber and green melon accents the crab meat perfectly.  The mayonnaise dressing is lightened with lemon and dill, making the seafood shine.  This is one of my favourite salads to enjoy as it’s simultaneously light and refreshing, while filling.

I can’t take credit for this salad – that goes to my mom a few decades ago who had the brilliant idea of substituting imitation crab meat for chicken in a Silver Palate recipe.  It’s been a family favourite ever since, often the star during a picnic lunch. The salad keeps well undressed for a few days in the fridge – so if it’s just me enjoying it, I’ll dress individual portions as I eat them to help it hold. To make it a meal, serve with a crusty roll and enjoy!

Neptune Salad

Neptune Salad

Ingredients

1 lb imitation crab meat, flake style (usually blend of Alaska polluck and king crab)

2 cups honeydew melon balls

2 cups cucumber balls with skin

4 green onions, chopped

2 cups washed green or red seedless grapes, halved

½ cup chopped fresh dill

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon (optional)

Coarsely ground fresh pepper and salt, to taste

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest, and seasoning until thoroughly mixed.

Shred the imitation crab meat into bite-size pieces and place into a large bowl. Add the melon and cucumber balls, grapes, green onions, and dill. Fold the mayonnaise mixture into the salad. Adjust seasoning to taste.  Best served cold.

Bon appetit!

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Roasted Northern Pike

As many of you know, for the past year Sitelle (chef extraordinaire and my partner in crime when it comes to writing Gourm(eh?)) and her partner have been living in Hayriver, a small community in the North West Territories.  After their year-long placement, they embraced the incredible opportunity of paddling the whole of the MacKenzie River, Canada’s longest.  It runs from Great Slave Lake up to the Arctic Ocean. 

 

Along with four other friends, I had the pleasure of joining S&G during the first leg of their journey.  Over 13 days, we paddled 80 km along the south shore of Great Slave Lake and 300 km down the Mackenzie River to Fort Simpson.  Our journey was special – despite the multitude of mosquitoes and bulldogs, we loved every second we spent in the North.

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Sun setting over the MacKenzie

 

Our paddling days were long – ranging from 30 to 55 km each day.  We thus needed ample delicious food to keep us going.  The menu was surprisingly varied, given we carried most of the food we needed for the 13 days (although we did have one opportunity in Fort Providence to bulk up on some fresh foods and GORP).  While we had not planned on catching fish, we were secretly hoping we would be lucky enough to supplement our meals.

 

Our first opportunity to fish came a few days into our journey.  After paddling until nearly 2am in the midnight sun, we stopped at Dog’s Island at the mouth of Mill’s Lake.  On the island, we wisely decided to take a rest day.  We caught four fish for the seven of us (including my first-ever fish!) – all beautiful Northern Pike ranging 16 to 24 inches.  

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Catching the Pike!

 

We served the fish in the simplest way possible.  Mere hours after catching the fish, they were grilled over the fire and served sprinkled with salt. We hungry paddlers quicly devoured all four of the succulent fish!

 

 Roasted Northern Pike  

Each fish serves 2 generous portions

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Roasting our beautiful Northern Pike over the campfire

 

Ingredients

1 whole fresh Northern Pike, gutted and cleaned (or any whole fish of your choosing)

Salt to taste

 

Directions

Cook on grill over campfire.  Flip after 10-15 minutes depending on strength of flames.  Remove from fire when fish is cooked through and skin is charred.

 Serve hot, sprinkled with salt to taste.  A delicious camp meal 🙂

 Bon appétit!

 

Catherine

 

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Fish Stir-Fry

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go ice fishing with a local fisherman who showed us how to set nets under 4.5 feet of ice, which blew my mind. After we brought the nets in, I watched him fillet at least two dozen large fish, of four or five varieties. I’m looking forward to fishing myself, and attempting to fillet the fish after what I learned – I assume it will be a lot sloppier and slower, but I’m ready for the challenge!

After we fished we ate an absolutely delicious meal of sashimi, pan-fried fish with dill, and bannock in one of his cabins out on the lake. I have never had such fresh sashimi!

We ate so much fish, and yet there were many left-overs. We brought many different types home, including the left-over sashimi fillets which we turned into this delicious stir-fry for lunch the following day. This stir-fry is amazing not only because it’s delicious but because it is also incredibly fast and simple!

Heading out for fishing

Ingredients – 2 servings

1 lb fish fillets, sliced into strips

2 green onions, chopped

1 carrot, cut into match sticks

1 zucchini, halved and then finely sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

Soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Rice, cooked

Directions

Slice, dice, and prepare all stir-fry ingredients. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat, then add garlic. Stir, then add the fish. Saute on medium for a few minutes, then add the remaining veggies. Continue to stir often, and cook for about 6 minutes until the fish is cooked and the veggies are still crunchy but hot. Season with salt and pepper and soy sauce.

Serve the fish stir-fry over rice with soy sauce.

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Wishing you and yours a very happy new year!

The past year has flown by.  It’s been a busy year – finishing up my Master’s thesis, travelling in Tanzania, starting medical school – and I have been very fortunate.  While I’ve had fewer new cooking adventures (to be remedied in 2013), I have certainly enjoyed many old favourites with friends and family!

Gourm(eh?) continues to exceed expectations. It’s hard to believe that a small project for me and Sitelle to share recipes has turned into a blog that has received over 30,000 hits!  We look forward to sharing many more in 2013 – including a few more Canadian specialties.

To start off 2013, I wanted to share the five most popular recipes from 2012.  Bon appetit!

– Catherine

5. Lotus Land Linguini

Creamy lotus land linguine

This pasta from rebar was initially cooked to fulfill a peanut craving.  The lotus land linguini turned out to be a fun and tasty dish enjoyed by all – the leftovers were perfect as a picnic lunch the next day on a wintertime outing to Peggy’s Cove!

4. Whitewater Cinnamon Buns

Waiting for the cinnamon buns to finish rising

Waiting for the cinnamon buns to finish rising

These cinnamon buns from Whitewater Cooks were nice and cinnamony, and perfect for a late morning brunch!

3. Spicy Steamed Fish, Gambian Style

Gambian platter

Sitelle shared many of the recipes she picked up while living in Gambia – and this one looks divine!

2. Christmas Cookies

Swedish Pastries (Thumbprint Walnut Christmas Cookie)

SAM_7309

Slice-and-Bake Icebox Cookies

Icebox Cookies

Christmas baking is a favourite family tradition, and these two cookies are my great-grandmother’s secret recipes.  They continue to be loved year after year!

1. Benachin

Bowl of benachin

Another of Sitelle’s Gambian dishes was our most viewed of 2012, and this is certainly a dish meant to be shared with company!

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It’s always been my dream to eat from near-by as much as possible. It gives us variation through the seasons, simplicity, and always freshness. Freshness is especially salient up here in the Northwest Territories, as we do receive some imported fruits but all too often they are spoiled by the time they arrive, and they cost a pretty penny.

Living on the shores of the Great Slave Lake means we get a lot of fresh fish. Whitefish and Jackfish are the common ones, but there are others as well. As one of the deepest lakes in the world and being situated where few people live means there still is a good stock.
As winter settles in, and the cold envelopes everything, the fish is changing too. It gets fattier – more full of omega fatty acids – it’s reserves for getting through the cold winter months.

The whitefish from this lake is absolutely delicious. This recipe is one of my favourite. Rapid, simple, and delicious, it’s pretty well perfect.

DSCN3892

Ingredients

4 whitefish fillets
1 onion, diced

2 carrots, quartered lengthwise and thinly chopped

4 sprigs fresh thyme

olive oil

4 medium yukon-gold potatoes

butter

fresh parsley, shredded

salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F. Finely chop onions and carrots. Cut 4 squares of parchment paper. Wash the fish fillets, and then drizzle with 1tsp olive oil. Place diced onions and carrots on top, season lightly with salt and pepper, and top with thyme sprig. Fold the parchment paper over it all. Repeat for all 4 fillets.

Place in oven and bake for 14-18 minutes, until cooked (time depends on thickness of fillets).

Meanwhile, place water on to boil. Boil the potatoes for 15 minutes until just tender. Drain and slice in half. Serve potatoes next to fish with butter and parsley. Enjoy!

-Sitelle

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Last Saturday I took advantage of passing through Kensington Market in Toronto and picked up some fresh whole jackfish. “Do you want me to clean those fish?” the fishmonger asked me. Stunned, I took a second to reply. “Why, of course, that would be really nice” I ended up saying, while I smiled inwardly realizing how I have no problem doing so myself, but enjoyed having someone offer to help. I had sent scales flying on more than one occasion in Gambia, and I’m not squeamish. I’m not going to turn down the help though!

It’s kind of funny and ironic: some of my most common culture-shock has surrounded food (perhaps I should call it food-shock). Although I definitely felt it when I arrived in Gambia (I would have given almost anything for vegetables, fruit and sweets at first, and then it was low-oil cooking,  and finally it became meat and dairy), the real surprise has been feeling reverse food-shock as I readjust to Canadian life. I wake up craving fish, I don’t feel full unless I eat rice, and I eat as if 10 people were competing with me for my food at each meal- meaning I eat a mile a minute. Mind you I am definitely enjoying my veggies again.

This recipe is one I was delighted to discover: its spiciness I couldn’t resist on a hot, hot day, and I was forever grateful for its lack of oil.

For me on a hot steamy day there’s nothing better than a spicy but light at the same time meal.

Ingredients – 4 servings

4 jackfish or other small-ish fish, gutted, cleaned, spines removed, with slashes in their sides (jackfish have spines on the sides also)

1 red onion, finely sliced

1/2 sweet red pepper, minced into tiny pieces

1 tomato, seeds removed, pounded or crushed

2 cloves garlic, germs removed

1 jalapeno, seeds removed (medium hot), or half a scotch-bonnet, seeds removed (extremely hot)

1 cube vegetable bouillon

1 tsp whole peppercorns

salt to taste

1 1/2 cups water approximately

juice from 1/2 lemon

Fresh baguette

Directions

Clean and wash the fish. Slice the onions. Place water in a pan, add the onions, and increase heat to medium-high until it boils. Meanwhile, clean the garlic, and pound the garlic, peppercorns, hot pepper, and bouillon until they are a smooth paste.

When the water boils, dissolve the seasoning mixture into the water, and add salt to taste. Add the red pepper and tomato and stir, letting the mixture simmer, for 2-3 minutes.

Add the fish and lemon juice and poach the fish in the soup, for approximately 4-5 minutes per side.

Serve with fresh baguette in a deep plate. You can sprinkle finely chopped parsley on it if you’re feeling creative!

-Sitelle

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As I write this, mango pollen and flowers are falling from above me and are lodging themselves in my keyboard. And I will begin with a warning that this is a long, long post! I promise, though, that there is a true Gambian recipe waiting for you at the end, and before it, the story of a Canadian who has attempted to cook it.

As I learn the Gambian way of life, I must admit that I have found it difficult to cook. Hence the lack of posts on Gambian food so far. That is not because cooking here is difficult – most dishes are one-pot dishes or two-pot dishes – so they are not too complicated. Cooking here is difficult because the women don’t believe that I can cook. This is aggravated by their love of repetition… and if a dish is not cooked exactly as they do it or they know it – then they don’t like it. After two months living here though, I decided to push all help out of the way and cook a meal all by myself. Oh boy, it was not easy! All throughout my cooking women would come in and tell me different things about how I should be doing it… but I kept on saying ‘today I am cooking, and you will eat’. So I guess before I give you the recipe, I will tell you the story of how this meal was created. The way I made it was a fusion of Gambian Benachin and Senegalese Chebu Gen, because I learned to cook it in Dakar as well as in Gambia.

It started off with a deal with a friend of mine, P., who told me that he didn’t think I could cook because every time I say I cook I end up watching more than anything else because the women take over.

Mid-morning I headed to the market with my friend F. who helped me with the transactions so that I would not be nailed with Toubab prices. My basket was soon filling up with fresh fish, sea snail, salt-dried fish, carrots, tomatoes, bitter tomatoes, garlic, squash, niambi, cabbage, egg plant, onions, rice, preserved tamarind, hot peppers, salt, seasoning, pepper corns, peanut oil, and charcoal.

On my way home, several men told me jokingly, ‘I look forward to you bringing my lunch!’. Every time I go to the market and return with food, the next time I pass, men (who I don’t know) ask me ‘where is my lunch?’. Here, people like to joke jovially a lot.

Back home, I started by cleaning the fish to fry it right away, because even though I was going to cook dinner, I had to cook the fish right away so it didn’t spoil since there is no refrigeration. I lit the charcoal, and began to heat the oil to fry the fish. As the oil heated up, fish scales were flying everywhere as I cleaned it. I hauled buckets of water to the back of my house, and washed the fish three times. Then I drizzled it in lemon and salt.

After frying it, I put it in a bowl and let it stand in the shade all afternoon while I visited a friend.

That evening, I returned to cook around 5pm. First, I started by cleaning all the vegetables, and lighting the charcoal again. That is easier said than done, and took a lot of blowing and fanning in order for the charcoal to be fully lit. The women kept on coming over to watch and tell me what to do (all the time different instructions). I had to shoo them away every time. The kids would then come and ask to help me. That day, there were 5 women at the house, so I got 5 different sets of instructions. It was exhausting!

Finally, when I got to the stage of picking through the rice to clean it and then wash it, I was relieved. I was also worried that the pot was too small for the 7 cups of rice I was about to cook… It just fit. Barely. Now, I will try to estimate quantities for you to make this – but I definitely did not have any measurements as to the amount of water to use with the rice – just a lucky guess!

Anyway, after an exhausting but nonetheless fun cooking session, I had two big bowls of food prepared for the family. When I came to Gambia I was given a Gambian name, Yandé, which means ‘everyone’s mother’ – after the mother of the Director of the Agricultural Centre where I work. So all of her children call me ‘my mother’ and their children call me ‘Grandmother’. I was very happy that I could share this meal with 4 of ‘my children’, their spouses, and many, many grandchildren. Despite the fact that the recipe was not exactly like they usually have it (I made a slightly healthier version than normal… with less oil and no palm oil and lot of vegetables), they all said they loved it and said, Yandé, you can cook!’.

So there you have it, the story of the first truly Gambian dish I have cooked entirely on my own. Sorry for the long story! Bisimilah – that means ‘bon appétit’, among many things.

Ingredients – for a full meal for approximately 6 – 8 people

-3 cups of medium or long-grain (not basmati) rice
-2 onions
-6 cloves garlic
-5 kani chili peppers (scotch bonnet – you can alter the amount based on how spicy you like your food)
-1 Tbsp black pepper corns

-3 firm-fleshed whole fish
-1 piece of sea snail (substitute some smoked oysters or dried fish from an Asian food store)
-1/2 a salted dried fish
-4 lemons
-1 tbsp coarse sea salt

-1 cup peanut oil
-2 cups water (plus more)

-2 cubes vegetable stock

-4 carrots
-2 pieces of squash
-2 bitter tomatoes (not sure if there is any substitute for this in Canada – maybe just add more of something else)
-4 pieces of niambi or cassava root
-1/2 a medium cabbage, cut into two pieces
-1 sweet potato, cut into 4 pieces
-4-6 medium tomatoes
-8 cups water approximately

-Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Clean, gut, and scale the fish. Cut in half, and cut slits onto each side. Drizzle with the juice of two lemons, and salt with the coarse sea salt. Make sure there is plenty of lemon juice in covering the fish and in the slits.

In another bowl, wash the salt-dried fish and snail thoroughly three times.

Pound the pepper corns, and then the garlic. Once it is a smooth paste (you can use a food processor for the garlic with ground pepper instead of pepper corns if you don’t have large enough a mortar and pestle). Add the hot peppers, and pound until smooth. Then chop the onions and add them and continue pounding until it is a relatively uniform paste. Transfer to a bowl and cover until it will be used.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Once the oil is very hot, fry the fish pieces one-by-one until it is fully cooked and golden. Remove from oil and let drain on paper towel (I didn’t do this here… but I think it is a good idea if there is paper towel available!).

Set fish aside. While the oil is still hot, fry the snail and the salt-dried fish. Once they are in the pot, they should never leave it until it is time to eat! Fry them until they are golden brown.

After this, crush or crumble one cube of stock and carefully stir into the hot oil. Stir well so no clumps form. Add the pounded garlic, hot pepper, and onion mixture. Traditionally, you would add the tomatoes and pound them with the garlic but I like them separate.

Stir the pounded mixture in well, then fry in the oil for two minutes while stirring often until everything becomes fragrant. Then add two cups of water and the remaining stock cube, and bring to a boil. When it boils, add the hard vegetables. Add more water until the vegetables are fully covered. Boil them until tender, approximately 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, add the whole tomatoes, the two remaining hot peppers, and the egg plant (and any other soft veggies you might want).

Put the preserved tamarind in a bowl with a lid, with the juice of one lemon. When the veggies are cooked, remove them with a slotted spoon and put them in the bowl on top of the tamarind, and cover.

Replace fish in the pot, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and put in with the vegetables.

Add more water until it makes approximately 8 cups of stock and bring to a boil (instead of measuring, I use the following technique to guess the volume necessary: there should be approximately 2-3 fingers-thick of water above the rice in the pot). Taste the broth and add salt accordingly. Pick through the rice and remove any rocks and other seeds. Wash the rice three times until clean. Add rice to boiling stock and cover. Once it boils, reduce the heat (for me, this meant removing charcoal…). Cook for 10 minutes more or so and then stir and remove from heat.

Place rice in a big bowl. Spread vegetables on top, with fish. Serve with juice and tamarind from the bowl where veggies were reserved. Slice a lemon and juice it on top of everything, and a dusting of minced parsley if you like.

If you want to eat Gambian-style, use your right hand and make a ball of rice with small amounts of veggies and fish for each mouthful, and everyone eats out of the same bowl!

Bisimilah!

-Sitelle (alias: Yandé)

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