One thing I can't eat as much as I want because of being pregnant that I miss much is eating fish. There are some fishes that are of no go during pregnancy such as shark, tuna, and other big fishes because of high mercury level. Raw fish is also off the chart, which makes me crave raw sushi eventhough I don't usually eat raw sushi often. Luckily, there are some fishes that are considered "safe" for consumption during pregnancy, although there is also recommended limitation such as no more than 2-6 ounces of that fish per week.
Trout is one kind of fish that falls on that category. So, hubby was so excited when he found trouts at Earth Fare. We bought 2 and planned on steaming them with ginger and broccoli. As I looked for recipe, I became more and more interested in pepes ikan (fish wrapped in banana leaves, then steamed, and grilled). Making it was so simple. The most hassling part was to take out our giant steamer from our kitchen cabinet, and of course it would take up so much space of our stove for days. Mom gave that steamer, which was her favorite, to me when I moved to the US. It's big and served its purpose in my parents' house because she used it everyday to heat food (our family didn't use microwave to do so although mom had it since I was in highschool). Here in the States, I don't use steamer that much, so we store it at the very back of our kitchen cabinet.
We had a pepes party that evening. This kind of food makes us FAT! because we liked it much and couldn't stop eating. The nice aroma filled our apartment, which reminded me of my grandma. Oh, and the best way to eat this kind of food is by using hand, no silverware needed! Ah, something I took for granted when I was still living in Indonesia.
I love when Earth Fare has great deal for salmon. Last week, they had a half-price deal for wild caught sockeye salmon. It is hard to get fresh seafood in Knoxville, so we are happy that Earth Fare has some options. Their salmon is kinda pricey, so we don't want to miss the great deal. In case you don't know, sockeye salmon is also called red salmon. The color of the live fish when spawning really is deep red. I suspected that the salmon was tinted when I saw it the first time then the butcher explained that it was their natural color. It was the carotenoid pigments from their diet that causes the red color.
I found some articles online saying that sockeye salmon was so flavorful so it deserved to be eaten as is. That's what I did. I only light-seasoned it with five-spice powder, salt, and pepper to let the natural flavor shine. Growing up with spicy (heavily seasoned) food, I almost couldn't resist myself not to add salt nor hot sauce. It took me a while before I could taste the true flavor of the fish. It was good, and more importantly, it couldn't be simpler than that.
Five-Spice Salmon Adapted from: The Best Ever Low Fat
Ingredients: 1 pound Sockeye salmon, cut to 6
2 tsp five-spice powder
salt and pepper
3 large leeks, shredded
3 large carrots, shredded
1 cucumber, cut into strips
1/2 onion, chopped
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs vegetable oil
Rinse the salmon cuts under running water then rub them on both sided with Chinese five-spice powder, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and sautee the onion until fragrant. Add the shredded leek and carrot and soy sauce then stir fry until just tender. Transfer the vegetables to a serving plates.
Using the same pan, place the salmon, skin-side up in the pan. Cook until golden brown on 1 side, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook until it feels firm to the touch and the skin is crisp if desired. Serve the salmon on a bed of stir-fried vegetables. Garnish with cucumber strips.
I think I am spoiled! I get a box of great local organic vegetables right from the farmers every week. How can I not be spoiled? I didn't have to pick the veggies I get. I remember those years, when hubby and I had to do grocery shopping every week or two. We spent too much time choosing veggies from grocery stores' fresh produce section only to get the usual vegetables. I like how it works now. I like to pick what I can cook when given vegetables better than the other way around. That way we don't get bored of eating limited option of veggies, and also don't need to do grocery shopping too often.
This early Fall we've been getting different kinds of beets. The red one is the one that's very usual and thought of the only beet ever existed. The golden one is labeled to be less sweet than the red ones, and claimed to be a good source of fiber and potassium. The last one is stripy. It always makes me smile when I cut it and brings me to a whimsical world. I usually cut them up then baked them together in a big baking pan. However that day, I separated them up to three containers to avoid the maroon color domination.
I also made pan-fried salmon that day to accompany the beets. Salmon is somewhat pricey in my area I guess because we live far from the ocean. So, when it is on sale, we usually buy it. That day was a special day then because we had salmon for dinner Knowing that I was going to cook the salmon that day, hubby told me several times not to overcook it. He likes it juicy; and makes it a big deal if it is too dry. I was glad it turned out great. I used a recipe from Food Network, which was a great and easy recipe. The only different I did from the original recipe was I pan-frying it instead of grilling it.
On the plate: pan-fried salmon, beets, white quinoa, and celery leaf. Yumm... I wish we could have this kind of dinner every day... or will it not be so special anymore?
First of all, happy Eid Mubarak to all my Moslem friends. May this day brings joy, peace, and blessing to you and your family.
In my country, Eid is the biggest day of the year. I was always excited when Eid was about to come. The festivities usually started during Ramadan, when everyone seemed to be high spirited, and it would rub off on me On the day, we usually went to my relatives which involved eating a lot of good food! Our ex-assistant and his wife usually visited our house either on the day or the evening before Eid, bringing ketupat Lebaran. Ketupat Lebaran is a traditional Eid delicacy in our country, and theirs was and still is the best ever!
Since Eid holiday is the longest holiday in my country, it is also a time for my family to reunite. My extended family just had a big family retreat -a rare precious moment that I couldn't attend Hence, it is not surprising that my dad keeps sending pictures of that joyful time. So...yup...it's hard not to think about home...and about home food.
I was glad I made sambal balado because I could have home food in a jiffy when I didn't have much time to cook. We used salmon this time, and believe that it's possible to eat just the sauce with rice.
Our friends and us discussed about how we appreciated our traditional food more after we moved abroad. Now we realize more that Indonesian food is very elaborate. That's the food we used to take for granted because it was everywhere and inexpensive. Food originated from foreign countries including those from chain fast food restaurants is "cooler", which successfully steals Indonesian market. I used to prefer that kind of food too eventhough it put a hole in my pocket because the price could be five times as expensive as Indonesian food from a warung adjacent to my boarding house.
Living far away from our home country has 'forced' me to learn cooking food I grew up with. Sometimes my cooking tastes similar to the one traditional one, yet sometimes it isn't. Some food is too complicated and is time and energy consuming. Unfortunately I often don't have patience so most of the time, I prefer simple and quick food.
The good news is, living far from our hometown and family, hubby and I become less picky about Indonesian food. We even are grateful enough if we could have traditional Indonesian food wannabe! This food that I made, empek-empek is one of it. My cooking would not taste as good if I cooked it back home because getting much better one is just a motorcycle away. Haha...
So, what alteration and mistake did I make to my cooking this time? I used tilapia fish instead of mackerel. I also baked the boiled empek-empek instead of frying them. From making this food, I learned that making empek-empek kapal selam was so difficult. I couldn't make the dough to hold the egg. During the boiling process, the egg burst out.
Despite it's imperfection, it was a perfect dinner for our perfect Sunday evening. As hubby always says, "the secret of happiness is low expectation". Happy Thursday!
*Empek-empek/pempek is a traditional Indonesian food from Palembang, capital city of South Sumatra province.
We were excited when we found out that salmon was 50% off with coupon at Earth Fare, a supermarket in our area. That supermarket offers good deals and freebies weekly. What we need to do is just register and they'll send notification usually on Wednesday for what's special deal they have for that week. Since the location of the store is not far from where I work, hubby and I like to go there whenever their good deal interests us.
I baked the salmon this time. I found an easy recipe online and adapted a little bit. I may say that this one is much easier than the easy soy-sauce salmon I made earlier this month because I have a jar of pesto basil I made last year. Since there was some pesto left after I did the salmon, I also used it to coat some green tomatoes and baked them together with the salmon. I loved the combination of juicy salmon, salty aromatic pesto and sourish taste from the tomatoes. Yummm...
Wash the salmon then pat dry using paper towel. Tear three large sheets of aluminum foil. Place salmon on top. Spread 1 tablespoon basil pesto on each piece and lay sliced tomatoes on top.
Fold over sides and double the seams and ends so it is sealed completely. Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through.
A bag of salmon steaks had been sitting in our freezer since the first time we did grocery shopping with our parents. Since mom cooked hubby's favorite food most of the time, there was no need to cook the salmon. Dad reminded me once in a while that we still had salmon. I also tried to remind myself to cook them before they lost their freshness. So one day I searched for a salmon recipe. The search engine did not only show bunch of mouth watering pictures of salmon, but also listed "easy salmon recipe" as one of its options. Since we still had a long to-do list, I was an easy target for the marketing word "easy". I even went further with the easiness by making it easier than the original recipe.
Mix soy sauce, lemon juice, honey and ginger in a bowl until the honey is dissolved. Place salmon in a container, add the sauce and refrigerate; let marinate for 15 minutes.
Preheat a skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Transfer the marinated salmon to the hot skillet and cook until just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with scallion.
As a requirement for his new health insurance, hubby has to have regular check-up. Although some people may prefer insurance that doesn't required regular check up, he happily picked one that does. Usually, we had our health checked up everytime we went home. But, we haven't been home in almost 2 years and still have no plan to do so. Therefore, he feels grateful that he will know his health condition regularly, so we can make changes to make it better.
Last week was his first check up. The result was pretty good, although there are things that need to be paid attention to make him healthier. One thing I can't understand is, (for some cases) he seems to trust books that he read or physicians than his wife. Now he believes me that brown rice is better than white rice, and he is willing to have it in alternate with white rice. He is a jasmine rice lover, so he wasn't happy when I cooked brown rice. I am happy with his follow up after his health check up. For instance, he voluntarily brought 2 tangerines to work yesterday, something we wouldn't do before
Having healthy food here is more expensive than having non healthy ones, which is the opposite of the situation in my country. Vegetables, tofu, and tempeh are inexpensive, in contrast with meat, frozen food, and junk food's price.
Hubby and I don't always like the same things. He doesn't like as many fruit as I do. Sometimes we scoop down food we don't like to our belly just because it is healthy. But one thing I know, we both love...loveee...seafood. Having fish for dinner is a special dinner date for us. Making it is actually so easy, but we can't do it very often. First, because getting fishes here isn't as easy as getting fishes in my country. Second, because I don't want to have it on weekdays. We bring leftover food for lunch the next day, and I am afraid the fishy smell with bother my classmates.
We visited our mom's old friends in PA when we were on our road trip last week. Her friends are Americans who lived in Indonesia for more than ten years serving as a missionary. Hence their Indonesian is good, and they know our culture really well. Our mom wanted to meet them, so we arranged a meeting; and they ended up invited us for dinner. When we were circulating the dish one by one, the lady told us to try the fish, that was untouched in the middle of the table. I quickly saw the plate that she was pointing out. It looked like deep fried fish. Since next to it was a bowl of red sauce, I assumed it was fish egg foo young, a common menu from Chinese restaurants. Like usual, I tried every single meal available, including the fish. Yet, it was chicken that I thought was a strip of fish. I still had no luck on my second try. After leaving mom's friend's house, I asked the rest of my family if they got the fish. Who knew it was a mix of chicken and fish. Everyone said they got chicken instead of fish.
Why did I care about this fish-chicken thing? Because I was curious. In Indonesia, people often call main dish "ikan", which means anything that we eat with rice. The literal translation is fish. I think it is a misconception, because then people would say the fish is tamarind soup, or the fish is beef. So, I think our mom's friend, since she lived in our country for several years, she translated the word "ikan" into fish. This discussion was even funnier since hubby and I had been discussing funny translation of Indonesian to English and vice versa.
Yet finally, if someone had asked what was our fish for today's dinner, the answer would have been the fish was fish. Baked Sheepshead fish
My Indonesian friend sent me message asking if we would have BBQ at her house the evening I got her message. It was a short notice, but hubby just had finished his degree, and we were on resting mode. So I replied saying that I would be so happy to come. It was one of few gathering I had with Indonesian friends. For we are so busy and don't meet often, I almost forgot that I had Indo community here in my city.
Meeting my Indonesian friends is always fun. I met two families last time. Both are mixed Indonesian family. One got married to a Pakistani, one with American. I enjoyed meeting them, since I get a lot of new things from different culture. One of the kids speaks Indonesian very well - one thing that is difficult to teach in this English speaking community. I still don't have idea what is the best way to teach more than one language to kid. Sure that will be hard since so many Indonesian friends' kids who live in the States do not speak Indonesian. I'll cross that bridge later when I have to
There's not many options for me to cook in a short time. It was Saturday, we had to have our kitchen clean for Sunday. I counted time I needed to cook and clean the kitchen, and baking fish using this recipe was my option. I knew we would have BBQ, but I thought baking fish took sometime. So I had it ready and let my friends BBQ something else.
A day before, we went to Asian market and found a fishes looked like ikan dorang that grandma used to buy. Since they reminded me of ikan dorang and they were caught in the US, I picked two of those. I told hubby that I picked those because they didn't travel long from Asia. He said, "but they contain oil". Hahaa........ I liked the fish, but it's too meaty for hubby. He prefers ones with some juicy fat.
PS: In case you are wondering about the color, it was the unfamous sweet soy sauce we got from Asian market. They didn't have ABC brand that time, and the only one we found was one with plastic bottle whose wayang image on it. The sauce taste isn't as good as ABC or Bango.