Category Archives: Main courses

Capers-Lemon-Parmesan-Prosciutto Linguine Umami: Fast, Full-Flavoured, & Fantastic Pasta for Mid-week


I am not a “super taster”. My palate is not sensitive nor is subtlety my desired approach in cooking. Forget the understated, muted flavours for me. While I would like to be more “discerning” in my ability to distinguish barely distinguishable flavours, this is not the case. So it is not a surprise that I prefer highly seasoned, strongly flavoured, and spicy foods – not to mention coffee, chocolate, rich caramel, raspberry, lemon, and mint in desserts.

One way for those of us who are decidedly not super tasters to enjoy food is through “umami”, which is hard to translate from the Japanese. It describes rich, savoury, meaty, and satisfying earthy flavours, such as prosciutto, Parmigiano Reggiano, ripe tomatoes, as well as soy and fish sauce. Interesting that these are hallmarks of Italian and Japanese cuisines, both of which are noted for their simple preparations of high-quality ingredients.


For more Umami – and the recipe  Continue reading

Carrot-Ginger Dressing + Composed Avocado Salad: Colourful, Flavourful, and Healthful as a Main Course

How do you feel about the wide world of food blogs?

I am fascinated by this subculture of the blogosphere and the online do-it-yourself culinary world. As someone relatively new to this milieu (blogging and blogging about food, to be precise), I enjoy the variety of food sites from around the world, having read a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands of blogs (probably in the hundreds of thousands, if not the millions, by now).

As a contemporary literary form, the food-as-secondary-to-a-story genre intrigues me most. There are many fine writers – not necessarily trained culinary professionals – blogging today. Likewise, one also can find many fine chefs/bakers, who are not necessarily the best or most compelling writers. Occasionally, professionals do tell a good story with clear instructions and captivating pictures (e.g., David Lebovitz – justifiably popular for his adventures and clever accounts of the pastries, food, and life in Paris).

Most engaging are the amateurs, who convey the context of their recipes in conjunction with clear directions and captivating photography. Of course, there is the whole visual element of food styling and web design, too, which can make or break a site. Top-notch food styling is a draw for some of my favourite sites, Memories in the Baking, pierre.cuisine, Mowielicious, MattBites, and island-neighbour, Island Vittles. None of the above, I believe, work full-time as professionals in the food industry (though Matt is a professional in the design world).

What I seek in the best food blogs Continue reading

Linguine with Roasted Broccoli, Prosciutto, & Pine Nuts: Truth in Advertising (albeit delicious)

Toothsome, nutritious, and satisfying, this dish is not at all Asian, however.

I am a big believer in factually representing any product. Thus, I was very surprised by the recipe, which inspired this post. The original recipe came from a cookbook called, Everyday Asian , by Patricia Yeo and Tom Steele.

At a bookstore in Vancouver, I bought a copy of Everyday Asian on sale, as I liked to do when indulging my compulsion bad habit hobby of buying cookbooks. It looked like a fun and diverse collection of pan-Asian recipes. I liked the simplicity of the recipes I reviewed and the variety of approaches (including substitutions and options for many ingredients, techniques, and variations). I am always on the hunt for new approaches in synthesizing the exciting range of Asian cuisines. Of Chinese descent, the author grew up in Malaysia, received her culinary training in France, worked at China Moon Café in San Francisco, and then worked for Bobby Flay at the Miracle Grill. So it appeared that Ms. Yeo knows a thing or two about Asian food.

Roasting broccoli is a breeze.

The review continues – and the recipe Continue reading

A Fast, Spicy, and Satisfying West Coast-Indian Dish: Halibut Masala

Halibut masala

As I had mentioned earlier, I started to learn about different cuisines during my vegetarian childhood. One cuisine, which is arguably the best for vegetarians, is Indian, of course. Palak (or saag) paneer became one of my favourite dishes – among all cuisines – as well as my particular litmus test for Indian restaurants; none I have eaten in even the best restaurants, however, can compare to my friend Kip’s stellar version.

Classic Indian spices make the mise-en-place

Indian food now is very popular around the world, but its complexity and variety is often misunderstood. Just like Chinese, Mexican, or American cuisines, Indian regional cooking represents a mind-numbing array of varied dishes from the Goan vindaloo to Rajasthani buttermilk soup to the crisp crepe-like dosas of southern Indian to Punjabi tomato-based curries. I guess it is similar to lumping New England clam chowder, Chicago pan pizza, Louisiana crawfish etouffee, and a French dip sandwich in Los Angeles as one coherent “American” cuisine – not to mention Peeps, candy corn, Twinkies (which were invented right near where I grew up!), and other uniquely food items, which add to the range of eatin’ in the US of A.

Halibut Masala, the recipe Continue reading

Poulet au citron, or Lemon Chicken

Enough of the pies and pastries – bring on the poulet.

Freshly roasted, the chicken rests next to its recipe source.

When I was a graduate student at La Sorbonne in Paris, I spent much of my time in food-related pursuits. Quelle surprise. I relied on Patricia Wells’ Food Lover’s Guide to Paris (I think I had purchased the first edition before leaving for France). When I was in Paris, Ms. Wells was the food writer for the International Herald-Tribune, published in Paris. It was a great resource for me, in exploring the city’s markets, restaurants, and, of course, bakeries – so here we come back to patisseries again…no escaping this recurring theme for long.

My favourite pastries in Paris were:

Tarte aux framboises – the classic raspberry tart,

Tarte au citron (the more puckery, the better for the true Parisian lemon tart),

Religieuses au chocolat or au café, (a variant on the éclair with a small ball of pate au choux on top of a larger one – to resemble some sort of religious figure – these delights represented my religious experience in Paris), and

Macarons – 20 years or so before they became a global food fetish trend, I was chasing down the best across the City of Light.

Ms. Wells’ book helped me to find the best things to eat, while discovering some more obscure parts of the city. I compared and contrasted the best examples, with the rigour a French literature student applies to l’analyse du texte. Besides, the best pastries were much tastier than the literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance I was studying.

Since then, Ms. Wells has garnered a justifiably international reputation for her knowledge and expertise in French cuisine. I have purchased some of her later editions of “food lover’s guides” and cookbooks. Her cookbooks are always engaging with the backgrounds and context of recipes, consistently well-written, and precise in the directions for all recipes, which always turn out well for me.

After a brief rest, the chicken is now ready for carving.

More on The Paris Cookbook and the Poulet au citron recipe Continue reading