Monthly Archives: February 2015

Catch of the Day: Trout in Ham Recipe


I don’t know what pushed us to go ice fishing few week-ends ago, but it wasn’t a common sense. But it made a good story, so I guess it was worth it anyways. Although very cold, the morning was bright and shiny and promised all kind of fun nature adventures. Doggy, the house astrologer was giving us her blessings…
When we arrived at Phillipsburg, it was minus thirty in Celsius, windy (which translates into minus forty five with the wind chill factor) and unbelievably humid because the day before was much warmer. The man on duty at Activités Plein Air with lobster-red face and neck briefly explained the rules of serious ice fishing and handed us a can of worms (greeting bonus for the ice fishing newcomers). ‘Go check your place and tell me when you’re ready,’ he said chewing cigarette roach and waving to the few cabins (cabane à pêche) available, so we could take a pic before parting with Canadian $75.00. ‘Is it biting well?’ – we inquired. ‘Keeps us pas mal busy, he replied. Perhaps he was talking about his liver, I don’t know. He had a breath of the United Distillery although it was just little past the afternoon. I realized we didn’t bring any alcohol, just a six-pack of Blanche de Chambly, which sounded more like a joke in this weather condition. What were we thinking? This kind of adventure calls for some hard alcohol, like the 120-proof Jamaican rum that can curl your nose hair just by looking at it. I also realized I should have put three pairs of pants instead of two, brought snow goggles, covered the rest of my face with Vaseline and wrapped the rest of my body in extra wool and feathers…
It was around half-mile to get to the nearest free cabin walking over the frozen lake. By the time we did with our back packs and fishing gear, I couldn’t take pictures anymore because my fingers went numb. So felt my camera – the buttons froze and were not working. The shack was empty, dark and cold: we had to go back to buy and bring some fire wood to start warming it up. The neighbor within few meters flung his cabin door open to take a loud steamy piss disregarding us as if we were some kind of uninvolved bystanders stoned as much as him by that point of the day. He then gulped some moonshine from a plastic water bottle and vanished back into his cabin. Although many shacks have been already rented, we’ve seen no fish caught around and heard no screams of excitement. Everything was dead silent, steamy cold and wild.
In less than 15 minutes I felt like I’ve been ice fishing for a century. I might even have taken this image a hundred years ago in Gilford, Ontario, except I absolutely wouldn’t want to be that person…
The landscape reminded me of ‘The Red Tent’ vintage movie my parents used to make me watch as a toddler for like thousand times because they liked it and thought it was a ‘masterpiece tragedy’. Sean Connery played Roald Amundsen, Claudia Cardinale was a hot nurse Valeria. Most of the time (script) all was lost; the characters would suffer from the situation, relationships and excruciating cold. Everyone’s face was covered with icicles. Everything went epic bad to the score of eternal Enio Morricone…
‘I think we have just screwed our day. The fish is not biting. Most of my blood circulation has shut down… And our phone is dead…. What other signs do we need to stop before it’s too late? It feels to me like this kind of adventure can only give pneumonia or a prostate whatever… What if we freeze to death, or worse, drift into the ocean on break-away sea ice floes like those 220 Latvian anglers? I should have SKYPEd with my Mom this morning.’
‘Just for today, I wish I had a giant beard like Hans Langseth to keep me warm. I could wrap it around my neck and shoulders and protect myself better from the Arctic cold and hard-blowing flurries’, the idea crossed my mind while we soldiered back to the station at the sunset empty-handed. The landscape was breathtaking though…
‘I thought the catch would happen fast and easy like that Finnish angler promised in his blog. ‘Next time may be you should check the real Canadian website for more information on local conditions,’ suggested honey-bunny. Oh well. That was our tribute to cold.We did catch one fish – a small pregnant perch, which we released:
I enlarged it on purpose (like they do with many things) to compare with the Finnish angler (bottom right image is a Finnish pike):
I was happy to be back to Montreal safe and sound. We passed by Costco and I bought a pack of freshly caught trout with one single wish in my head: ‘Summer, come back to me!’.
The wish manifested later in the form of Trucha Con Jamón dish – my favorite Spanish way (originating from Navarra region) to cook trout wrapped in cured ham. Crisp ham and fish skin, juicy tender fish fillet inside, contrasting exotic flavors. It guarantees to bring the sunshine back to your plate rain or shine! Next time in February, Costco will be as far as I can go for my winter catch of the day adventure, I swear.
Naturally, this recipe can be done with other wrap-able fresh fish, or even better, fish fillet. Pickerel, cod, haddock, rockfish or bass fillets would be my best bets; lean salmon would be OK  (as long as the piece is not too greasy).
Equally, some versions of Trucha Con Jamón are done with the ham going inside the cavity of the fish instead of the outside. The most known is the one called Truca a la Riohana. Still heavenly tasty!
Quick note: TOTALLY OPTIONAL – often I de-bone the fish (which is easy in case of the fresh trout) for the comfort of consumption, but it’s really not necessary if you’re OK with fish bones (although it does give you a hint that you can do the same with any pair of fish fillets – sounds to me like a great idea for a restaurant menu):
Another quick note/disclaimer: although it makes quite a stretch from the classic recipe, thinly sliced fresh pork belly makes a great riff on this dish for both, to stuff or to wrap it in:
Some words on side courses:
– Excellent with simple green peas and some other steamed or sautéed veggies extra, like zucchini, broccoli, sprouts, etc.;
– Out of this world with the side course of warm sautéed leeks and carrots  and/or olive salad; 
– Festive with Waldorf;
– Light and easy with simple green watercress salad;
– Groovie with classic potato salad,
and many more…
Enjoy!
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TROUT WRAPPED IN CURED HAM (Trucha Con Jamón)
Yields: 1 to 2 portions depending on the trout size or your appetite. Multiply the ingredients accordingly.
Ingredients:
1 small to medium size fresh trout, gutted and cleaned (deboned if necessary)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 wedge of lemon to sprinkle (optional)
1 slice of bacon/lard, cut in cubes (optional)
1 small red bell pepper, diced (optional)
2-3 pieces of cured ham (Serrano, Proscuitto, etc.) thinly sliced
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Ingredients:
Season the trout with salt and pepper, sprinkle with lemon inside out and set aside.
Heat the skillet to medium high, add bacon and fry it for 2-3 minutes. Add red bell pepper to the skillet and continue frying for another 2-3 minutes. Transfer to the plate and let cool. Keep the liquid bacon fat leftover in the skillet for the next step.
Pat-dry trout with paper towels and stuff the cavity with bacon-red pepper mix.  Wrap the trout with cured ham making sure the cavity with the stuffing is well closed.
Re-heat the same skillet to medium high. Add olive oil and warm it through. Place the trout wrapped in ham carefully into the skillet. Cook on each side for 5-7 minutes, lowering the heat a bit if necessary to make sure the fish is cooked through. Enjoy with some light vegetable side dish!
TROUT STUFFED WITH HAM (Trucha a la Riohana)
Yields: 1 to 2 portions depending on the trout size or your appetite. Multiply the ingredients accordingly.
Ingredients:
1 small to medium size fresh trout, gutted and cleaned (deboned if wish be)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
2-3 pieces of cured ham (Serrano, Proscuitto, etc.) thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions:
Season the trout with salt and pepper. Pat dry the trout with paper towel. Stuff the cavity with ham.  Heat the same skillet to medium high. Add olive oil and warm it through. Place the trout carefully into the skillet. Cook on each side for 5+ minutes, lowering the heat a bit if necessary to make sure the fish is cooked through. Enjoy with some light vegetable side dish!

Energizing Rainbow Vegetable Broth Recipe


‘Eat a Rainbow’ we hear more and more often from doctors when they refer to the variety of vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables to include in our diets to give our immune system the benefit of a range of antioxidants. This simple rainbow broth that you can start or finish your day with or just drink throughout the day will for sure help to strengthen the immune system and help combat winter fatigue and melancholy.  With this year’s never-ending severe winter, I am taken by Japanese traditional types of breakfast, which has actually led to many experiments with different kind of stocks and broths, hence this particular post is all about starting your day with a trendy sip of warm broth (with uber healthy alkalizing and anti-inflammatory properties) instead of the usual and boring bowl of cold cereal. Most importantly, a few sips of this broth fill you up so well, the ”Hara Hachi Bu” (eat until you are 80 percent full), a famous Okinawans principle becomes really easy to follow…

This is our next morning Sunday Brunch photo: Rainbow Broth & Fried Sushi – What a Wonderful Marriage!

Well, may be except for this case, although the broth does help to stop devouring the sushi a bit earlier…

Another upside of this broth is that its vegan, easy to pull off and/or modify to your taste, and can be made either from scratch (on a budget) or to recycle the collection of the quality veggie’s scrap assuring a great range of essential nutrients. Excellent recipe to take a note of if you are going to detox, to fast during the lent, or to start taking better care of your lunches (absolutely awesome in combination with classic egg or tuna salad sandwich, for example). It is also a wonderful starting point for further interesting layering with other ingredients: from hot noodle/dumpling soups to cold soups with fresh veggies additions. 
The humble rainbow ingredients are: potato, leek, radish, celery, carrot, scallion, ginger, and beet: 
For and extra detox properties, flavor and kick, I also added kombu (kelp) seaweed, jalapeno, coriander and black peppercorn seeds:

And the last, but not least: cover the veggies with quality mineral/spring water.
The unusual variety of the stock ingredients gives it a unique light flavor with some Asian notes of ginger, seaweed and coriander. Radish makes definitely lighter touch than usual rutabaga/turnips while beet gives the broth a radiant ruby color and agreeable sweetness. The reconstituted wakame seaweed adds an extra comfort touch bringing the taste of broth closer to that of the Miso soup.
Stir in some quality fermented Miso paste and you are one step closer to the Japanese heaven:
 KILLER APP: Alternatively, collect the variety of any best quality vegetable scraps in your freezer (in Ziploc bag) until ready to use to make a stock.
For more further applications, feel free to exclude the beet ingredient and you will have a perfect vegan stock full of goodness, that you can bring to the next level as per my next post. In fact, this post was a prelude to the mystery dish I’m going to offer you next based on the vegan stock. Here’s the hint. Stay tuned.
Speaking of, Happy Chinese New Year, dear readers!

PS: SATURDAY AFTERNOON REPORT. This is what we just had (a day after me featuring the proverbial broth): the out of this world fried sushi I made last night on a wing, but was too tired to eat at midnight to avoid having my next visceral cauchemar… We just had them now for brunch, and LIFE CAN’T BE ANY MORE BEAUTIFUL. Viva Japanese breakfast!

  PS2: God, I need to start Instagram!

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Two other major vegetarian must try recipes for this time of the year:
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RAINBOW VEGETABLE BROTH
Yields: 2 generous or 4 small portions
Ingredients:
1 potato with skin on, chopped
½ leek, chopped
1 carrot with skin on, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 beet with skin on, chopped*
1 radish with skin on, sliced
2 slices of fresh ginger
1 scallion, quartered
1 spring of parsley
1-2 pieces of dried kombu (kelp) seaweed (optional)
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)
1 tsp coriander seeds
8 black peppercorns (optional)
31/2 cups quality mineral/spring water
1 tbsp dried wakame seaweed to garnish (optional)
Instructions:
Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan, add the mineral water and bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 1 ½-2 hours over low heat.
Remove the pan from the heat and strain the liquid. Discard the vegetables. Pour the broth into a heatproof resealable container. Add dried wakame seaweed and seal. Drink glassfuls of the broth throughout the day.
*Excluding the beet from the list of ingredients will deliver classic looking vegetarian stock as opposed to red-colored stock.
Adapted from: Healing Foods, DK Publishing, 2013

Take Me to Pleasure Town Lobster Salad Rolls Recipe


Somewhere between creating his flamboyant romantic poetry, looking for his next love affair, and fighting for independent Greece or with his swings from gluttony to binge eating and back, the Lord Byron wrote: ‘A woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unlessit be lobster salad and Champagne, the onlytrue feminine and becomingviands.’ Sounds to me like a perfect Valentine’s dinner app. Yes, it’s not yet a lobster season, but we are all SOOO tired of this cold never-ending winter! A bit of a summer fling in your plate might help, no? And what can be easier, faster and tastier than a quick hearty lobster roll in the midst of a snowstorm table traveling you to someplace hot?
This week Loblaws made it even easier for everyone with the real bargain: uncooked cold water frozen lobster tails are at $2.99 a pop (hey, I’m not sponsored for this ad, I swear) – what a wonderful and timely occasion for the Valentine! Naturally, it will never be a real hot summer deal from the grill, but it has some advantages: it’s faster and easier to prepare. No need to wrestle with the live lobster; sweat with breaking precision and artistry, spraying and flying shells; and only half-bib is required, WOW!
Few years ago I learned from Serious Eats a simple trick on how to prevent the lobster tails from curling while cooking: insert a wooden skewer down the length of each lobster tail I also learned that ‘The best lobster rolls are a careful balance of texture and temperature… Something magical happens when a warm, soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, golden-griddled, fluffy bun contrasts with the cool sweetness of the lobster, with just a touch of lettuce for crunch. It’s the interplay between those elements that make an outstanding lobster roll, not just the amount of lobster meat served in the sandwich.’
Photo credit Serious Eats
I’ve also learned that the lobster rolls bun can’t be a piece of baguette or a sweet bun: it can only be specifically top-split white bread hot dog buns like these:

While I admit, it might offend the purists with some additions like smoked paprika infused mayonnaise and bits of celery, please don’t forget: this is a lobster salad winter version made of frozen lobster tails. I find it much more tasty with these additions.

Ready to pamper? Now, close your eyes and imagine it’s summer, you’re some place hot (like on a wonderful beach) and you absolutely need to take a break from the sun and refresh. 
You dive into the local seafood shack with conditioner and embark on a marathon lobster roll tasting session. You make an order and some miraculous server brings you a simple plate of warm lobster rolls in no time. It’s not just a picture: the sweet fresh lobster chunks kissed with mayo and paprika and sprinkled with chives and (optionally) dill popping out of warm butter grilled venerable roll. You take a bite and everything else drifts away. For a split moment nothing matters but this this roll, it tastes heavenly, completely carrying you away: this is how real best American sandwich should taste. You are in a pleasure town
Ultimately (and as Lord Byron prescribed) champagne will bring everything to the whole new level. A bottle of the ‘’king of wines and wine of kings’’ with few of these babies on a side shall turn any Valentine into a sublime intimate feast.  However, a glass of Kim Crawford or vino verde will help to bring that sunshine back into life as well. 
Happy Valentine’s Everyone!
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Other easy and fast recipes you can do with lobster tails:  Dublin Lawyer; Lobster Club; Lobster Waldorf
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LOBSTER SALAD ROLLS
Yields: 4 lobster salad rolls
Ingredients:
4 uncooked frozen cold water medium+ lobster tails
2 tbsp unsalted clarified butter, melted
1 pinch of fresh parsley, minced
2-3 tbsp mayonnaise
Pinch of smoked paprika (optional)
1 inner celery stalk, minced
1 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
½ tsp lime zest (optional)
1 scallion or few chives, minced
1 tbsp fresh dill, minced (optional)
Pinch of the best salt and pepper you have (I used pink salt and freshly ground pepper)
4 top-split white bread hot dog buns
Instructions:
Thaw the lobster tails in the fridge from few hours to overnight. Optional but useful: insert a wooden skewer down the length of each lobster tail, so it doesn’t curl during the cooking process.  Bring the large pot two third full of water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Add lobster tails and boil for:
3 minutes for 3 ounce tails
4 minutes for 4 ounce tails
5 minutes for 5 ounce tails, and so on.
Drain the pot and remove the lobster tails. Let cool and remove the skewers.
Split open the lobster tails with sharp knife or kitchen shears from underneath. Pick the meat and cut into ½ inch (or smaller if you wish) pieces. Toss with 1 tablespoon of melted butter and parsley. Set aside.   Mix mayonnaise with smoked paprika. Add celery, lemon or lime juice, zest and half of scallion/chives and dill.  Add lobster meat and toss carefully.
Heat the pan over moderately high heat. Brush the hot dog buns on the outside with the rest of the melted butter and toast for a minute per side or until slightly golden and crisp (don’t burn it, please). Fill each bun with ¾ cup of the lobster salad mixture and sprinkle with the rest of chives and dill. Serve immediately.