Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fish Tacos

This dish was inspired by our recent trip to Mexico. I had this fish tacos at Maria's Restaurant located in a small town of San Francisco, about 40 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. It was so simple but the freshness of the fish made it even better. Factor in the location, c'mon, this is where it was invented, they better do it right. Anyway, when we got back to the mainland, I was so into Mexican Cuisine that I had to suggest this for our school menu. But we made it a little fancier by using Flounder which is a flatfish. Then we served it with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, shredded Iceberg Lettuce and some Pico de Gallo, a tomato with lime juice relish.

I had this Mexican bug for a week which never happened before. I must have prepared Mexican dishes three times within that week for dinner. Even my hubby was taken aback coz of my craving for tacos which I used to take for granted. My hubby had to twist my arm just to prepare Tex-Mex, the Old Paso kind. My travel to Mexico helped me appreciate their food even more.

Fish Tacos

Flounder, sliced into thin strips
Salt and Pepper
Crackermeal for breading

4-inch Flour or Corn Tortilla

Served with Roasted Tomatillo sauce, Pico de Gallo, Shredded Iceberg Lettuce

Heat oil in a deep pan, enough to submerge the fish. Season fish with salt & pepper then coat with crackermeal. Deep fry for atleast 2 minutes or less. Line plate with paper towels to absorb the excess fat. Meanwhile, heat up a non stick pan, lightly toast tortillas or until heated through. Place fried fish strips on the tortilla and top with lettuce, relish and sauce. Buen Provecho!

Roasted Tomatillo Sauce (optional: Substitute Tomatoes if Tomatillos aren't available)

1 lb Tomatillos
2 Tbsp Oil

Soak in warm water and remove husks. Place on a sheet pan and roast at 425 degF for atleast 20 mins. or until charred. Puree in a blender. Heat oil in a sauce pot, pour the puree and let it simmer until thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Note: If using Tomatoes, roast them with 3 garlic cloves and 1 small onion (chopped)

Pico de Gallo/ Tomato Relish

5 Tomatoes, small dices
3 Tbsp Onion, small dices
1/2 Jalapeno or Serrano pepper, seeded and small dices
3 Tbsp Cilantro, chiffonade
Juice of one lime (or more if needed)

Combine all the ingredients. Also good on grilled Steak with salad, so it's okay to make extra.

Vail Ski Trip '10

------------------------Vail Village in Vail, Colorado-----------------------

This has been my second visit to Vail Mountain in Colorado. The first time we came here, I didn't know how to ski yet. I remember when our friends took me on a blue run on our first day and took me an hour to get to the bottom. I kept falling and rolling and even cried coz it's not easy and it hurts. The next day, I took a group lesson and the instructor taught us how to maneuver and control our speed. It was fun coz I was skiing with people of the same level as I am, eventhough, I felt ahead of the game coz I've been on a blue run the day before.

-----------------------One of the bowls we skied--------------------------

This time, I could really ski on bowls just like the image above. Yes, we skied on several bowls and couldn't believe I'm capable. Well, I've been skiing for 6 years now (has it been that long?). Never missed a season. But every mountain is different, in Snowmass Colorado, it seems like their Black runs are much easier than the ones in Vail. We stayed in Beavercreek this time about 9 miles west of Vail. We never liked the BC mountain so we drove to Vail everyday. The condition was quite icy coz they had shortage of snow so the covering was getting thinner and thinner. Where's the snow? We flew all the way here hoping to see some powder but totally disappointed. That's the problem of planning in advance, you can never predict the weather. Had we known, we would have cancelled. We still had a great time though. We took a day trip to Breckenridge, a smaller ski resort and it's got more character similar to Main Street in Park City,Utah. I don't mind coming back here next time. I thought Vail is over-developed and pricey. High-end boutiques and gourmet restaurants are prevalent. But we loved walking around, taking pictures, afterall, it doesn't happen everyday. Just go with the flow.

That's Breckenridge mountain in the background, Green runs, the easiest of all. We didn't ski here, just scouted the place to see if we would wanna come back on our next ski trip. One thing's for sure, off-street parking is a lot easier to find. Accomodations and rentals could be a lot more affordable, too. One thing I noticed while window shopping, they have a lot of shirt shops. I was just looking for some magnets coz I collect them from every place I visit. I stumbled upon a spice store named Spice Merchants. They have vast selections of spices and tea (oh yes, they ship everywhere), but the only thing that caught my eyes was the "Matcha Green Tea" which you don't normally find in supermarkets. Now that I got it, I don't know how long it's going to sit in my cupboard. So far, I don't have the energy to do some baking. Guess, I still have the vacation hang over. Okay, I must admit, I feel lazy. But i'll be back, given time. Below is an Asian style Spicy Wings we had at the Restaurant Avondale for Apres-ski. For just five bucks, they gave us a generous serving and it's really scrumptious. This is a great idea to include on our school menu for the Asian Spring Festival month in May. It was tossed in Thai Sweet Chili sauce. I'm sure it's going to be a palate pleaser.

Bistrot Lepic Inspired Chicken Curry

We've been to Bistrot Lepic twice. The first time I had this dish, I thought it was totally amazing. I've never had this kind of Asian Chicken curry before and to think that we were in a French restaurant, who would have thought they'd make a great curry? Whoever prepared it back in the kitchen really did an awesome job. My husband ordered it on our second visit and it's very consistent. I was going to order it again but I ordered the short ribs instead which was also exceptional. Aside from the great food, the ambience is great. Feels like you're really in France, from the servers to the decors, as well as, some French guests coz of it's close proximity to the French Embassy. The second floor is where the bar and a private room are. It was also packed when we got up there. The murals are very French, although, it's a little tight. Well, what matters most is that the food is worth going back for and I would go back again in a heartbeat.
So, one night, my husband challenged me to replicate this dish, see how I can execute just by recalling the flavors. Honestly, I had to cheat a little by checking out some recipes online. Like I always do, I would consolidate the ingredients in all the recipes I find. The rest is up to my judgment while cooking the dish.

Chicken Curry

2 Chicken breasts preferably organic
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Half inch Ginger, crushed
1 Lemongrass (stalk), cut in 4 pieces and bruised
1 Medium White Onion, small dices
2 tsp Madras Curry Powder
1 Generous pinch Saffron
1 C Chicken stock, warmed (add more if liquid has reduced a lot)
1 -15 oz Coconut milk (I used coconut powder so that I don't have to add more liquid)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Lime juice, some
Slurry to thicken the sauce (Cornstarch and stock)

Clean chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper and dust with just a little curry powder. Heat 2 tbsps. olive oil in a pot. Sear chicken until golden brown on skin side. Set aside on a plate. In the same pot, saute garlic, ginger, lemongrass, onion, saffron and curry powder until fragrant. Add chicken back and pour chicken stock. Bring to boil and simmer (covered) for about 20 mins. or until chicken is tender or cooked through. Remove the chicken and strain the sauce. Bring the sauce to medium boil, add the coconut milk or powder diluted with stock, if using. Simmer for atleast 10 minutes. Turn up the heat and slowly add the slurry while stirring to avoid clumps. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Splash some lime juice. Garnish with chiffonade of cilantro and some red pepper flakes. Bon Appetit!