Archive for July, 2012

Swai. That’s right, swai.

Let me guess, you’ve never heard of it either.  Cub Foods had a great sale on frozen fish, so I picked up four pounds of frozen fish for about $10.  There wasn’t much of a selection, so I grabbed a couple of packs of cod (a favorite), one of tilapia, and because I was curious, one of swai.  When I got around to cooking it, I was as completely clueless about this fish as when I bought it.  It was a firm fleshed white fish, I decided to go the safest route that I could think of: baking it.  Which is what the bag recommended as well.

These fillets were quite large. That’s a 9×13 pan they are crammed in.

I seasoned the fish with a dill dip blend that I like to put on cod and a bit of lemon juice sprinkled over it.  It then went into a 375 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes.  It turned out to be decent, but I think it would have been better pan fried.  Flavor-wise, it reminded me of catfish which makes sense from the research that I did for this post.  And should have done before I cooked the darn things.

Basically, swai is a Southeast Asian river catfish that is farmed commercially and available across the U.S. in its frozen form.  There are some concerns about the farming practices used to raise this fish, so domestic catfish is a better sustainable option.  The flavor is milder than channel cats and the flesh is a bit more delicate.  Knowing this now, I would have taken an entirely different approach to cooking swai.  I would have treated it just like catfish, i.e. cornmeal breading and deep frying the nuggets.

I found a couple of websites that I have now bookmarked and will be referencing quite a bit in the future.  The first one is the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.  This site is jam-packed with information about ocean issues, sustainability, recipes by some pretty big names, and info about numerous types of seafood species, just to name a few of the areas.  The other site is Chef’s Resources.  I haven’t dug around this one much, but what I can say is that it has all the info that you can think of that is useful in the kitchen.  For example: flavor profiles, purchasing guidelines, nutritional info, history/habitat of the species, and in the case of fish, a link to the Montery Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch page.

Mmm . . . Tuna Melts

For some reason I always forget how cheap and easy tuna melts are to make and how much I enjoy them.  It may have something to due with the fact that I’ve had plenty of bad melts in my time.  This mostly stems from institutions, i.e. school, and a particular restaurant that I used to frequent.  In the former case, it was just flavorless and in the latter, the tuna always seemed to be cold.  I’m guessing it was due to the fact that they pre-made the tuna and refrigerated the mixture and it never got a chance to heat through when they made it.  Which leads me into the major benefit of making it for myself and Lindz.  The tuna starts off room temp which is a 30 degree headstart going into the oven.  Also, I get to make it to suit my palette instead of going with a more neutral flavor.

For two people, I start off with three tins of tuna and add mayo until I get the right consistency.  For me it usually is where the tuna looks wet with mayo but not swimming in it.  I finely dice a couple of slices of onion and add them to the mix.  A little salt and pepper to taste, and this part is done.  I then evenly distribute it among six slices of bread.  For mine, I added some sliced banana peppers.

The base of a good tuna melt is a good tuna mix.

Add a slice of tomato.

I first ran across the addition of tomato at the cafe that consistently had cold tuna and I have been using it ever since.

And finally the cheese for the melt.  I usually use cheddar, but this time I used up some mozzarella that was hiding in the back of the fridge.

Usually I would try to squeeze another slice of cheese on each, but I ran out.

Finally they go into a preheated oven (I think I had it set at 375 degrees F) for about 15 minutes (I think).  I usually check it frequently to make sure nothing is burning.  I pull everything out when I have a nice golden brown on the cheese.

Great. Now I’m craving tuna melts.

You probably should rotate the pan once or twice while baking.  As you can see, some of the cheese is significantly more browned than others.  Unfortunately, Lindz’s pieces took the hit the hardest which ticked me off more than if mine were worse.  It’s a pride thing.

Categories: recipes, supper Tags: , ,

Another Beautiful Selection from Pizza Luce

This is from the last time that Lindz and I went to Pizza Lucé.  One of their specials of the month was a Thai Chicken pizza.  Being the lover of Asian food that I am, it was an easy choice.

Despite all the jalapenos, it was surprisingly mild in it’s heat.

This is a great combination.  I really wish they would put it on the regular menu.  It was a nice balance of what you would expect from something labeled “Thai.”  Crunchy peanuts with some heat from peppers (I know jalapenos are not the usual choice, but they worked) and some herby basil to round things out.

A Treat for Lindz

This happened awhile back.  Lindz sent me out grocery shopping by myself (an iffy proposition at the best of times).  I managed to mostly stick to our list.  The two items that I splurged on were a pint of pickled herring for myself and some scallops for Lindz.  I thought it was a pretty fair deal even though her treat cost about twice as much as mine (the scallops were even on sale).

These suckers were huge!

To cook them, I went with the simplest approach I could.  I melted a couple of tablespoons of butter in my trusty cast-iron and fried them for a couple of minutes on each side.  The seasoning was barely a sprinkle each of salt and pepper.

By far the prettiest scallops I have ever cooked.

I got a great caramelization on the scallops, but I think I overcooked them by about 30 seconds.  They were a bit chewier than I was hoping.  One thing that I’ve been trying to work on is my timing with seafood.  As near as I can figure, there is about a 30 second window between under cooked and overcooked.  And I always seem to be on the plus side of this ideal temperature.

Despite the half minute of extra heat, Lindz did enjoy eating five of them.  Well, I had to try one of them.  Research you know.  I was trying to figure out what I need to improve upon for the next time.  No, really.  I was.  I read it in a book somewhere.  Towards the back.

Addendum: Last night Dave pointed out that his dad only grills scallops for around ten seconds on each side.  He also said that since they are so delicate, it is better to err towards sushi.  Which got me thinking again about how long I cooked the scallops.  It probably was closer to a minute a side rather than a couple.  They were over cooked, but not by that much.

Categories: recipes, supper Tags: ,


As seems to be the case all too often lately, by the time that I got home from work it was late and neither of us had any energy to make something for supper. Lindz was kind enough to run out and grab us some food. After running through the list of places nearby, we both decided that Maverick’s sounded the best.

Maverick’s Real Roast Beef is a small Mom & Pop BBQ place on Lexington Ave by Larpenteur. There is nothing fancy about their food, it’s just plain good. And good plain. (Notice that word play? I’m so clever! And I most certainly didn’t steal it from the CityPages review.) Also it’s very reasonably priced to boot. Although they are equally good, I usually get the brisket basket and Lindz gets the roast beef basket. The bonus for me is that they have a really good horseradish sauce that you can put on your sandwich. I grew up with homemade horseradish, so I am particular when it comes to this condiment. You should read that last sentence as “I am a horseradish snob.”

Not the greatest shot, but I was hungry. BTW, this is the brisket. The Horsey Sauce is top center. Yum.

To sum up, this is a place that deserves your business and you deserve to eat there.

Poached Egg Salad

I know I dropped the huge teasers of a Rhode Island trip and a new camera.  But I’ve been busy with work and making trips up north to make sure Grandma doesn’t go too stir-crazy in the nursing home.  In the near future, I’m going to be posting some short blurbs just to keep up the habit, and to shorten my queue.  So you’ll have to deal with crappy photos and short rambles.  Meh, such is life.

A while back I made myself and Lindz a salad with poached eggs on it.  I really enjoyed the combination.  So when I had some leftover stuff for a salad and I wanted a snack after work, it seemed like a good time to recreate it.

All that went into the salad was lettuce, sliced almonds, an Asian Sesame dressing, and a poached egg on top.  For as simplistic as the ingredients were, it was a very satisfying salad.  If you have a Rainbow Foods (grocery store) near you, I highly recommend getting the Roundy’s dressing (it’s the store brand).

No, I haven’t fallen off the earth . . .

I’ve been on vacation to Rhode Island for the last week and a half, so I’m more behind than usual on writing here. I’ve got about a half dozen posts in the “to do” folder, plus all the new stuff from the trip. Posts will start showing up soon, I promise.

In the mean time, here’s a teaser photo from the trip:

I never said the teaser was food related. 🙂

Categories: misc, travel Tags: , , ,