Monday, July 28, 2008

Spice up that fish


I have a lovely little Thai cookbook I picked up from the bargain books table at Chapters a few years ago. It's British and I have no idea who the author is - no one famous. It's part of a series of international cuisine cookbooks, I believe. In any event, I made a dry red curry beef recipe from it right away and it was so hot we cried while we ate it. I make the chicken satays fairly regularly as well, but apart from that I haven't used it much, but late last week I was staring down the barrel of a week's worth of meal planning and I was just plain tired of everything I've been making. Out came a stack of cookbooks and the Thai one happened to be on top. I made a list of all the dishes I wanted to try out and then picked a few for this week.

It tends to be easier to make a few dishes based on the same cuisine in a short time period, for me, because it means I can get through more of the bag of lime leaves or chilies, bundle of lemongrass, and bunch of coriander before they go off. We paid a visit to my favourite Thai grocery store, Manphong, down in Chinatown on Sunday afternoon (with a stop down the block for superlative banh mi for lunch) and stocked up on aromatics and jasmine rice, as well as one impulse purchase - a bag of the most adorable green baby globe eggplants I've ever seen. They begged me to buy them. I'll put them in a curry or something.

So last night we began with something pretty simple - stir fried pineapple with ginger and red chilies, to put on top of some lovely haddock fillets. It had been ages since we'd had haddock and I forgot how awesome it is, but it falls apart at the drop of a hat once cooked. So my plating was a little messy. The pineapple came together quickly and easily and was marvelous with the mild white fish, but that one small red chili was more than we bargained for in the heat department, for sure. I took the seeds out and everything, but it was wicked spicy even so. The coconut-lemongrass rice I made to go with the fish helped cool our mouths, and we rounded out the plate with homegrown kale straight from the backyard garden, simply wilted down with a little garlic.

Everything was yummy and bright-tasting; the flavours complemented one another well and though it took a lot of pots and pans, it didn't take long - I panfried the fish in a spray of canola oil which was simple and quick, but you could bake it too.

Coming up in thai cooking this week: pork and pineapple coconut curry, sweet and sour tofu and vegetables, and a Friday night Asian fun food evening: fish cakes and corn fritters with sweet chili dipping sauce and cucumber relish. Can't wait.

Stir-fried pineapple and ginger

1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 small sweet onion or 2 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 whole pineapple, peeled, cored and diced
2" piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chili, seeded and minced
juice of 1/2 lime
2 tbsp soy sauce

In a frying pan heat the oil over medium heat; cook the onion and garlic 2 minutes or until golden; take care not to burn garlic. Increase heat to medium-high, add the pineapple and stir-fry 4 minutes or until beginning to brown at edges. Add ginger, chili, lime juice and soy sauce to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring well to incorporate. Serve warm over fish or chicken.

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