Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lobster Ravioli

I was watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and saw the most decadent recipe: lobster ravioli! I quickly googled "Rino's Place" for the recipe but only found Rino's Special veal cutlet recipe, so I quickly scribbled down the ingredients for future reference. (I could also have watched the episode on youtube here.)

I really love lobster but have never cooked with it. When there was a lobster sale on Father's Day, I quickly went and bought 3 small ones at $4.99 each. I was hanging out with my friend T, so she made the pasta dough while I prepared the filling. It was a lot of work to get the lobster meat out of the shells, especially for someone inexperienced like me. However, the work was well worth it!

Lobster Ravioli

Lobster Ravioli - Makes about 3 dozen ravioli's (about 4-5 servings)
Adapted from Rino's Place on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Watch the episode here.
You can make these ravioli's as small or large as you want. My friend T and I had 7 each and it was plenty. You could make less and serve 2-3 per person as a decadent starter! These would also be great with crab instead!

Lobster Ravioli
* olive oil
* 1-2 shallots, chopped
* 1-½ cups of cooked lobster meat, from 3-1lb. lobster (set aside ¼ cup or so of lobster meat for the sauce), or use canned lobster - chopped roughly
* parsley
* ½ lb. ricotta
* 3-4 Tbsp Parmesan
* salt, to taste
* pepper, to taste
* 6 pasta sheets - or make your own!

Cook shallots in olive oil on medium high heat.
Once the shallots have softened, add lobster meat and parsley.
the pan off the heat and mix in the ricotta and Parmesan.
Taste filling and season with salt and pepper to taste.
On a pasta sheet laid out on the counter, add about a tablespoon or so of filling a couple of inches apart. (I was able to make about 12 ravioli's on one sheet but it depends on the size of your pasta sheet.)
Wet the pasta in between the filling creating the borders of the ravioli's so they seal properly.
Top off with another pasta sheet.
Around each mound of filling, press out on the wet area, making sure there are no air pockets in the filling.
Cut each ravioli out with a pizza roller.
Ensure the ravioli's are well sealed again (or they will open up in the water when cooking).
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the ravioli's for 7-8 minutes until they float up.
(If you are lucky enough to have extra, lay them individually on a baking sheet and freeze before cooking them. When they are frozen, place them in a sealed plastic bag.)

Lobster Shells Lobster Meat
Taking out fresh lobster meat was hard work but worth it!

Sauteeing lobster Lobster filling
Making lobster ravioli Making lobster ravioli
Top: Sautéeing the lobster; adding cheese.
Bottom: Making the ravioli's.

Lobster Sauce - for 4 servings
If you want to make this sauce even more lobster-ey, cook the shells in the sauce and strain out. I didn't do this and it was still very good!

* oil
* chopped shallots
* minced garlic
* a handful of sliced mushrooms (optional)
* ¼ cup lobster meat that was set aside
* ½ cup tomato sauce
* 1 cup cream (heated in the microwave - this helps preventing from curdling)
* salt, to taste
* pepper, to taste
* a few basil leaves, chopped

Cook shallots and garlic in oil.
Add mushroom slices and cook on high heat.
When the mushrooms have softened, add lobster meat, tomato sauce and heated cream.
Turn down the heat and let the sauc simmer until it has slightly thickened.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
basil last.
Place the ravioli's in a deep plate.
Top with the sauce.

Making the lobster sauce

My friend T and I were so happy with the outcome of this dish. It felt like quite a treat between the lobster in both the sauce and the filling, and the fresh pasta! This recipe is definitely worth saving for special occasions or when lobsters are in season!

Lobster Ravioli
I wish I had this in front of me right now!

Cutting in the lobster ravioli
Slicing into the lobster filling!

For other lobster recipes:
* Lobster and Corn Soup
* Salt and Pepper Lobster
* Stir Fried Lobster with Ginger and Green Onion

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Café Vasco Da Gama (Montréal, QC)

1472 Rue Peel
Montréal, Qu

I went to meet two of my friends during their lunch time. My friend D suggested Café Vasco Da Gama in between both their workplaces, in downtown Montréal.

Café Vasco Da Gama

I got there right before the lunch time crowd to snag us a table. This small restaurant gets busy very quickly. Once you have a table, you wait in line to order. There are a variety of sandwiches, salads and baked treats. You pay, then go to your table with a number, and your lunch is served to you.

Café Vasco Da Gama

I decided to get a trio of salads ($10.25): hearts of palm and avocado, barley salad with sun-dried tomatoes and chorizo, and a Greek salad. I also ordered a salted cod fish cake, which I forgot to take a picture. The salty little treat was heated up and crispy.

Trio of Salads
Trio of Salads.

The trio of salads came with some bread slices. I loved all three salads. I've even tried to duplicate the hearts of palm and avocado salad with great success (recipe to come!). I liked the barley with salty bits of chorizo and sun-dried tomatoes. I ordered this another time, when the barley was replaced with orzo - also good, but not as healthy! I also enjoyed the Greek salad with large chunks of vegetables.

Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad Greek Salad
Hearts of palm and avocado; Greek Salad.

If you're in downtown Montréal and are looking for a little spot to eat, Café Vasco Da Gama will definitely hit the spot! I also noticed that they serve tapas after 6 pm. I'll have to come back and try them out!

Café Vasco Da Gama on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cuisine Szechuan (Montréal, QC)

2350 Guy Street
Montréal, Québec

My family in Montréal tried Szechuan for my mother's birthday back in March and really looked forward to take me. I am half Chinese on my father's side, more specifically Cantonese, so am not familiar with Szechuan cuisine.

[As a long side note - please skip if you're not interested: I just finished reading Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: a Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China by Fuchsia Dunlop. It was a very interesting read. "Chinese food" is really a general term that doesn't mean much considering how varied food can be from province to province. The book spends a large amount of time on Sichuan food since the author spent her first year in Chengdu. She then follows by cuisine in Hunan, Fujian, Hong Kong, Beijing, Kashgar, etc.

What was interesting was understanding Chinese cultures through food, such as one of the chapters callled "Only Barbarians Eat Salad", in which the author is frustrated that she has put effort in being open-minded about Chinese food and the feeling is not at all reciprocated. The book spans more than a decade of travel in China. Changes and events are discussed, and their impact on the food culture, such as the growing middle-class' purchasing power for delicacies like shark fin, pollution, the Communist regime and SARS. She also touches on how ethnic minorities are treated in China.

I thought the book came full circle. The author first opens herself up by trying all food. At a point, she realizes that she's moved on from being an open-minded adventurous eater to actually enjoying such delicacies as goose intestines. Finally, she becomes somewhat weary of eating Chinese food and yearns for simple food. I really liked the description of the progression of eating in China (p.303): first, 'eating to fill your belly' - this is eating as a means to stau alive, followed by 'eating plenty of rich food' - splurging to make up for years of deprivation and the final phase, one I think everyone should strive for, 'eating skillfully' -"eating with discernment, seeking out 'green food products', reducing their consuption of animal foods, and ordering less gluttonously in restaurants."

Each chapter ends with mouth-watering recipes related to the chapter, such as fish-fragrant aubergines (I've tried a recipe here.) and Dan Dan noodles. The book is also rich with descriptions of different foods - the one I was most intrigued with was guo kui.

I highly recommend this book if you're at all interested in Chinese food, and really China in general, since food plays such a large role in China.]

Cuisine Szechuan Cuisine Szechuan

On to the food, speaking of fish-fragrant eggplant , I think we ordered the Yu Xiang Eggplant with Dou Ban Jiang (Yu Xiang = Fish Fragrant, Dou Ban Jiang= black bean sauce). I think because my sister couldn't recall what she ordered the last time since there were 3-4 eggplant dishes. The aubergines were slick with a sweet and sour sauce that we all enjoyed.

Eggplant dish
Yu Xiang Eggplant with Dou Ban Jiang ($7.99).

The dish that my family was excited to have me try was the tofu flower & sliced halibut in a chili pepper & Szechuan peppercorn broth. It consisted of slices of fish in a very spicy sauce. The heat came from both chilies and Szechuan peppercorn, which gave the sauce a very distinct flavour. Under the fish, were soy bean sprouts. This sauce was very, very spicy!

Szechuan Fish dish
Tofu flower & sliced halibut in a chili pepper & Szechuan Peppercorn Broth ($11.99).

Sprouts Szechuan peppercorn
Soy bean sprouts and Szechuan peppercorns.

We also ordered the Kung Pao chicken. I don't remember it being overly hot, and it had a nice sweet and savoury sauce.

Kung Pao Chicken

Finally, we ordered a fried shrimp dish that was totally disappointing. Nothing exciting about it and the batter was too thick.


I know that Szechuan food has been out there for a long time but it was the first for me. This visit, combined with reading Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: a Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China really inspire me to not only try Szechuan food but Chinese food from different regions.

Cuisine Szechuan on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Gà Nướng Chao - Fermented Bean Curd BBQ Chicken

As I mentioned in the previous post (for the vegetarian mung bean noodle dish), one my sister's favourite dishes is Gà Nướng Chao, or fermented bean curd BBQ chicken. My mother uses the red bean curd, which leaves a nice red hue on the chicken. This recipe is quite simple as the bean curd is the main ingredient. The chicken is then grilled on charcoal.

Fermented Bean Curd BBQ Chicken

Gà Nướng Chao - Fermented Bean Curd BBQ Chicken - Makes 12 drumsticks
Red Bean curd can be purchased at Asian grocery stores in jars. My mom likes making this recipe with drumsticks but any part of the chicken will work.

* 3 cubes of red fermented bean curd, and 1-2 spoonfuls of the liquid from the jar
* 1 Tbsp sugar
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 12 skinless drumsticks, sliced to the bone but not cut through

In a large bowl, add the red bean curd cubes, the liquid, sugar and garlic.
Mash the cubes with a fork and mix, creating a paste.
Add the chicken drumsticks into the bowl and slather the paste into every nook of the chicken drumsticks (that is why the drumsticks are sliced so there is more surface area for the marinade).
Marinate overnight (ideally) in the refrigerator or at least for 5-6 hours so the flavours seep into the chicken.
Take out the drumsticks 30 minutes before grilling so the drumsticks come up to room temperature.
Grill the drumsticks (not on too high heat, so on the periphery of your grill), about 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through.
Serve with bún.

Red Bean Curd Red Bean Curd Cubes
Red Bean Curd Paste Chicken marinating in red bean curd paste
(1) Red bean curd jar (2) Red bean curd marinade ingredients (3) Red bean curd paste (4) marinating the chicken.

Not only does the red bean curd leave the chicken drumsticks with a red colour, it also imparts a distinctly bean curd flavour: salty and fermented. As my sister really enjoys this, it usually is a BBQ staple of ours when grilling Vietnamese food!

Fermented Bean Curd BBQ Chicken
It's really finger licking good and I love the char from charcoal!

I am submitting this to the July 2011 edition of Delicious Vietnam, a blogging event featuring Vietnamese food and created by A Food Lover's Journey and Ravenous Couple. It is hosted this month by Lan from Angry Asian creation. (For my other Delicious Vietnam recipes, click here).

For other Vietnamese BBQ recipes:
* BBQ Corn with Scallion Oil
* Bò Lá Lốt (Ground Beef stuffed Wild Betel Leaves).
* Bún Thịt Nướng (Grilled Meat with Rice Vermicelli)
* Gà Nướng Xả (Grilled Lemongrass Chicken)
* Nem Nướng (Pork Meatballs)
* Sườn Nướng Xả (Grilled Lemongrass Ribs)