Steamed Salmon Filet with Shitake Mushroom

 

(Serves two on rice) 

Ingredients:

2  pc. 1” thick Sockeye salmon steaks

2 pc. Shitake mushroom, sliced

3 stalks scallions, shred one sideway and half the other 2

½ cup shredded cilantro (optional)

2 thin slices ginger, julienne

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tbsp. each light and dark soy sauce

2 cups of water

Utensils: 1 medium wok with cover

               1 steamer stand

               1 deep dish (for steaming the fish) 

**Please make sure the cover closes all the way with the stand and dish inside.

Method:

1. Line the halved scallions evenly in the deep dish. Put salmon on top.

2. Distribute ginger and mushroom on fish.

3. Heat water in wok, bring to a boil.

4. Put in steamer stand and place deep dish on top.

5. Steam for 6 – 8 minutes, depending on the size of the steak.

6. Remove dish from wok. Add shredded scallion and cilantro on top.

7. In a small pan or sauce pot, bring oil to a boil, sizzle onto scallion and cilantro.

8. Pour soy sauce on top. Ready to serve.

**Though not recommended for this recipe, you can steam fish in a microwave.  Just make sure you add 1 oz. of water into the dish and cover when nuking.

 

VQA – The grind and the pride

By Henry Yuen

BC VQA’s 20th anniversary is no doubt a blast for celebration, yet it is also a concrete statement telling the world we take our wines very seriously; and no doubt a milestone for BC’s wine history and those working so passionately and believing in it for so many years. Before VQA, the industry was in a state of ‘ever body does it own thing.’ Seemed like as long as you got grapes, knew how to press them, barrel them; waited and there would be wine. The public had no idea what’s going on in those wineries, no one was applying any pressure. But the winemakers definitely wished they could have sold more wine, perhaps had to know how to improve the situation. Industrial folks saw with their own eyes the differences VQA’s presence made. It not only brought vineyards, winemakers, winery owners, government bodies and marketing groups together to build a better, stronger wine industry, it also signified our position in North American’s new wine world. During the celebration where the founding winery members generously poured some of their library wines and went down memory lane with those who were there with them back then, Harry McWatters made a short, sweet and crispy speech, briefing the crowd how hard it was to form VQA, the challenges it faced (and still facing), the ups and down it experienced through the years. Harry, the co-founder of VQA, a leader and the voice of the industry, the one who rolled up his sleeves and pushed VQA to the starting point and strides side by side along the way, thanked everyone: from growers; field workers; grape pickers; winery workers; to winemakers, owners and friends of the industry for making VQA what it is in 20 years. Yes, getting to where VQA is today would have been like climbing the grind. The hardships, the emotions, the signs and the joyful tears were there along the path and will still be there as BC’s wine industry goes forward. But as everyone in the room raised their glasses on this special day, we all knew, VQA is a seal of approval; recognition of good quality and most importantly, the reason behind BC’s many wine awards. Let’s salute the pioneers, and many more who made their marks in the making of BC’s wine industry. Let’s cheer for more good BC VQA wines, more VQA accolades!

Las Vegas – the bad, the good and the gorgeous

Stephanie & Henry Yuen

Las Vegas is ever-changing – brighter, flashier and always expanding. Cheap eats along the main strip are no more.  $9.99 all-you-can-eat buffets belong to outskirt hotels and casinos, those who must do whatever means to remain competitive.

Our 4-day Vegas vacation began on noon Wednesday and ended on late Saturday night when we hugged our friends goodbye and got ready to take an early morning Sunday flight back home.

Vegas at dawn is like a hung-over middle-aged woman with smashed make-up who struggles to go back to her suburban home. The dining rooms are less than half-full. Look around and you’d find your breakfast companions with blurred faces and sleepy eyes, quite often, smoking cigarettes to stay awake, a scene far away from the glamour Las Vegas sells to the world. However, Vegas’ indoor world never ceases to amaze passers-by. Unique architecturally designed restaurants, million-dollar wine lists and the best of the best menu items. Do go to Bellagio and say hello to Lady Chocolate and look up to find the top of the Chocolate fountain at Jean Philippe Patisserie, and admire the mega cage-like structure of Maestro’s Ocean Club Seafood Restaurant at Crystals.   

Quality breakfast buffets average $12 and more nowadays, but we knew ourselves good enough not to go for buffet at 11am but instead, we opted for sit-down meals: An Egg Sausage and McMuffin meal and a $1.00 Parfait at McDonalds ($2.50); a top-notched sit-down breakfast at Grand Lux Café Palazzo ($15.00); and a very disappointing sit-down brunch at Café Vettro at Aria that cost $20 each.  There’s not much one can say about Mcdonald’s, except that it’s cheaper down south.  The Tuscany Farm House Eggs at Grand Lux Café ($12.95) was a delicious deal: Egg white scramble, sautéed halved grape tomatoes on bruschetta and toasty hash brown. Café Vettro has a beautiful sun-filled dining room that ran out of peanut butter and tea-pot lids already at 11:30am. The fries were soggy; the ham steak hard and dried; and a very salty plate of pasta with clam in pesto sauce. The very testy female manager who blamed everyone else for her mistakes, however, topped the list.

A late lunch buffet at Paris Hotel’s La Village ($17.99) received a B+ from both of us. Stations like Savoie, Provence, Alsace offered French fares such as Duck confit, Orange Duck, Leg of lamb, Roasted pork and apples, Bouillabaisse, along with a handsome platter of cheese at the fattening dessert bar and a made-to-order crepe station.  Itchy for 2-steps?  Gilley’s at Treasure Island is where the dancing cowboys and cowgirls go. Their award-winning (N. America best Chili cook-off) is pretty exotic.  Another fun spot we dined at was the Nine Fine Irishman Pub at New York New York.  The Beer & Cheese dip paired wonderfully with the Smithwicks and Snake Bite.  Being the only Chinese couple who didn’t know any of the songs the Iris Band was playing, we did enjoy watching the folks around us singing and tapping along. The young lady with long legs who performed Irish dances at the stage side was also very entertaining too. 

An afternoon snack at Bellagio’s Petrossian Piano Bar was a pleasant interlude.  The $15 Crab & Cucumber Roll was a piece of culinary art.  Scallop Crudo was fresh and juicy ($16).  There’re ample choices for the Trio of cheese which would be even better if accompanied by proper bread selection.

Inside the tacky and overly adorned Wynn we had a scrumptious dinner at The Buffet. From salad to dessert, Asian dishes to Alaska King Crab legs, each item was professionally prepared and presented.  The array of seductive feast, including melt-in-your-mouth Prime-rib roast, rack of lamb, made-to-order pasta station, energy-filled wok-fried meats and vegetables; plus many more pace-yourself courses, were definitely worthy of $38.95.

Chinese Cuisine at Vegas

While one could find a Chinese restaurant in almost every hotel establishment, Chinatown (Off Spring Mountain Road) still offers the best value in Chinese dining. The now bigger and more noticeable Chinatown houses a handful of decent Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai restaurants. The dinner we had at Sam Woo BBQ soothed our hunger for Cantonese cuisine, though their BBQ meats could be more moist and didn’t look like they’ve been hanging for at least a couple of hours. We enjoyed the Pork stomach & preserved mustard green soup; loved their Tofu Hotpot and wiped out the plate of wok-fried green.  However, though rated highly by Zagat, please do not apply the Vancouver standard here at Sam Woo. 

What about Chinese food inside the Vegas hotels?  They are mostly vogue-designed restaurants with new Asian menus. You can probably get an okay meal of dimsum, chowmein and fried rice at about $20 each (don’t mind the MSG!).  Sorry but we had no desire to try the $33.80 per order of Pork Chowmein, the $62 1-course Peking Duck and limited menu choices in these fine-dining Chinese restaurants with hefty price tags.  Yes, we’re completely spoiled by the good-value Chinese restaurants in Vancouver!   

Oh, if you’re ‘lucky’ enough to dine in any of the fine Chinese restaurants, send us an email and let us know how you enjoy it.

Kitchen tips

Burned a pot of rice?

Just place a piece of white bread on top of the rice for 5-10 minutes to draw out the burned flavor. Be careful not to scrape the burned pieces off of the bottom of the

pan when serving the rice.

Shield your hand against chilli oil

Before you chop chili peppers, rub a little vegetable oil into your hands and your skin won’t absorb the spicy chilli oil.

Test the freshness of the egg

If you arent sure how fresh your eggs are, place them in about four inches of

water. Eggs that stay on the bottom are fresh. If only one end tips up, the egg is less fresh and should be used soon. If it floats, it’s past the fresh stage.

Ant-fighting tactic

To banish ants from the kitchen, find out where they are coming in and cover the hole

with petroleum jelly. Ants won’t trek through the jelly. If they are coming under a door, draw a line on the floor with chalk. The little bugs also won’t cross a line of chalk.

Fluffier popcorn

Before making popcorn on the stove or in an air popper, soak the kernels in water for 10 minutes. Drain the water, then pop as normal. The additional moisture helps the popcorn pop up quicker and fluffier with fewer old maids.

Store your bananas right

Dont store your bananas in a bunch or in a fruit bowl with other fruits. Separate your bananas and place each in a different location. Bananas release gases which cause fruits (including other bananas) to ripen quickly. Separating them will keep them fresh longer.

No more budding potatoes

To keep potatoes from budding in the bag, put an apple in with them.

Leftover wine?

 If you manage to have some leftover wine at the end of the evening, freeze it in ice

cube trays for easy addition to soups and sauces in the future.

Scrub-free cleaning

To clean crevices and corners in vases and pitchers, fill with water and drop in two

Alka-Seltzer tablets. The bubbles will do the scrubbing.

Extra nutrients for your plants

After boiling pasta or potatoes, cool the water and use it to water your house plants. The water contains nutrients that your plants will love.

Henry Yuen’s Maple Glazed Salmon Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 X 12–14 0z. salmon filet, clean and pat-dried
  • For Maple glaze:

1 tbsp. each grainy mustard, regular mustard, horse raddish, olive oil

2 tbsp. each Miracle Whip, Maple syrup

  • Grease a baking pan
  • Lemon wedges (optional)

Method:

1. Cover filets with 1/3 of Maple glaze.  Cover and put in in fridge till 30 minutes to cooking time.

2. Prehead over to 350F.

3. Place filet on baking pan. Bake for 2-4 minutes each side for half-baked salmon; and 5-7 minutes for well-cooked salmon.

4. Served with remaining sauce and lemon wedges.

(Fish can be pan-fried instead of baked)

What’s on my plate

My apology for not updating my blog postings sooner, I’ve been spending the last few weeks talking to chefs and collecting recipes for a book I’m working on.  “Vancouver Cooks Asian”, a cookbook about Vancouver’s Asian food scene, their chefs and their recipes, will be published Spring 2011.

 

Fresh From Yew’s backyard to our dinner table

Talking about value, what about superb cuisine, great ambiance and top-notch service in a beautiful dining room?  I can’t argue Yew’s $35 3-course dinner is one of the city’s best deals. 

  

Bravo to Four Season Hotel that makes this a year round offering of B.C.’s finest produce, 7 nights a week. This month of October, wild salmon is featured.  The Roasted Sockeye I tasted the other evening was brushed with Romesco Sauce, accompanied by a bountiful bed of fall vegetables, crispy chick peas and brown rice.  Looking for texture and flavour balance?  In to my mouth were moist flakes with a nutty tease, hearty zucchini and eggplants, juicy red peppers and sweet peas; topped off with earthy rice! Hm…I should go back for more.

 

Yew also offers scrumptious Saturday and Sunday brunch from 11:30 to 2:30. If you go on Sunday, you may want to check out their wine list – a bottle of bubbly or wine is 50% off all day.  

Yew Restaurant Bar 604-692-4939  

www.fourseasons.com/vancouver 

 

Galloway’s – The candy store for foodies

 

On a Tuesday afternoon, I found myself inside Galloway’s Specialty Foods. I started off with the rack loaded with packets of herbs and spices, then aisles of flours and rice; wheat and grains; baked goods, health products, organic products, Asian ingredients, groceries; nuts and beans; noodles and pasta… whatever your cooking, baking and even beauty or health product making needs are all there. I saw odd products; familiar products, new products and delicious looking products as well.  Totally elated, a 20-minutes quick-grabber became a 45-minute discovery in wonderland. Needless to way, my shopping basket was full when I cashed out. 

 

  

 Dinner plan for the evening? Baked Salmon with Indian Spices, Quinoa with black bean salsa and Cucumber & Mung Dal salad.  (Recipes from The

Galloway’s Cook book, Volume One, available in store.)

 

So you ask; what is the secret behind a store that is 70 years old (since 1940) and still running strong? All it takes is a stroll inside the store and check out their websites for classes, tips and recipes.  Besides the Alderbridge location, Galloway’s just opened a flagship store with a production warehouse on Glenlyon, east of Boundary Road off Marine Way in Burnaby.   www.gallowaysfoods.com