I’ve been wanting to make gravlax (AKA gravad lax) for some time now. Salmon is one of my favourite foods, especially when raw or semi-raw, and the idea that I might be able to cure my own salmon without buying a smoker or paying extortionate prices for sashimi-grade salmon strongly attracted me. However, for a long time I was nervous because the recipes I’ve seen vary dramatically. Some call for as much as a full cup of salt while others call for as little as a couple of teaspoons. Some call for much more salt than sugar; others call for much more sugar than salt. Some recipes I’ve seen also make the process seem incredibly complex, involving weights, precisely timed curing, even the use of thin slices of lime that can’t actually touch the fish.
After consulting a ton of recipes, I became convinced that a fairly minimalist approach would work, but although I wanted to simplify the process (and avoid ending up with a fish-flavoured lollipop or salt lick), I also wanted to experiment with a variety of flavours. So I ended up making four different kinds. Continue reading →
Bibimbap is one of those beautiful dishes to which you can add almost anything, substitute almost anything, and still end up with something delicious. Basically, you need a bowl of hot rice, some toppings, and a spicy sauce. You mix it all up at the table and you have a bellyful of Korean comfort food. Depending somewhat on the toppings you use, it’s a relatively healthy dish, and because it’s improvisational by nature, you don’t really have to measure anything. It’s a good way to use up leftovers too. And did I mention it tastes great? It’s a real family favourite around here.
I’m posting this a bit late, but this week has been American week at our house. Though Indian tacos and bannock were both Canadian and American, gumbo is totally Louisiana. I visited Louisiana once, years ago, before Hurricane Katrina changed New Orleans forever, and I loved the food. This was also before I had to worry about a gluten-free or low-FODMAP diet, so I chowed down on fried oyster po’ boys, muffalettas, beignets, crawfish étouffés, and of course, gumbo.
However, I left Louisiana feeling unsure about what a “proper” gumbo should be, because every one I had was significantly different. One was thick and stewy, another was thinner and soupy. One was full of seafood, another, if I remember correctly, featured only chicken and sausage. That’s because, I gather, every Louisiana chef has their own version of gumbo. About the only common ingredients seem to be some form of flour-based roux and okra. Unfortunately, both wheat flour and okra (it’s high-FODMAP) are out for me. So how to create an authentic-tasting gumbo without either of those ingredients?
Curry is one of Japan’s great comfort foods. Does that sound strange? I know curry is normally associated with South and Southeast Asia. Japanese cuisine, by contrast, doesn’t tend to use a lot of spices, especially not curry-like spices. Also, while I love Indian brinjal curry, red Thai curry, Malaysian penang curry, etc., they’re not foods I would want to curl up with on the couch on a cold winter’s day or eat by a campfire while camping.
Japanese curry is different. In fact, you might not want to consider it curry at all. It’s more of a hearty beef and potato stew that happens to be curry flavoured. Some Japanese curries contain ingredients that would make any self-respecting Indian or Thai chef want to cry. Ketchup, soy sauce, dashi, yogurt, honey, apples, raisins… Sound gross? You’re wrong. Virtually every Japanese person, from toddler to centenarian, loves karei. And so will you if you forget your ideas about what a proper curry should be and think of Japanese curry as another beast altogether. Continue reading →