From healthful seasonings to sustainably sourced proteins, it all starts with ingredient selection.
The first time you open a bottle of fish sauce, you may be struck by its pungent, fishy odour. However, once you’ve made a few Southeast Asian recipes you’ll appreciate it for its depth of umami flavour. Just think of this Vietnamese Hue chicken salad calls for only 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, but the richness it imparts would sorely missed if omitted.
A bowl of Vietnamese pho without fish sauce is like Italian tomato sauce without basil!. Southeast Asian fish sauce is usually made from anchovies that are fermented with salt and water in wooden barrels and then slowly pressed to extract the fishy liquid. To ensure you’re buying a quality product, choose a brand that doesn’t list additives like sugar, hydrolysed protein, or preservatives. A good fish sauce should be deep golden amber but still transparent, and the odour should be robust, but not offensive. The words “first press” on the label is also an indicator of quality.
Pistou is a cold sauce from Provence, made from fresh garlic, basil, and olive oil. It was originally adapted from its Italian first cousin, pesto, but with one key difference-pistou does not contain pine nuts. As in Italy, some regions of France include cheese such as Gruyere, pecorino, or even Parmesan in their pistou.Since pistou is often stirred into a hot liquid, any cheese to be included should not melt into long strands; therefore, hard cheeses are always preferred.
You can find many uses for pistou in your cooking. Try it as a spread on sandwiches, or use it as a rub for meat or fish. The best known use of pistou is key ingredient in the Provencal soupe au pistou, but remember the pistou is stirred into the dish just before serving.
As a food lover and home cook, you probably hear the word “sustainable” over and over again in reference to our shared passion. But what does sustainable mean when it comes to fish and seafood? A sustainable fish species is one with a healthy and well managed population. The method of fishery is also important because some commercial fishing gear can have a negative effect on the ecosystem; specifically, the sea floor.
Fish species low on the food chain such as mussels and catfish require fewer resources and are generally healthier than larger, predatory species like swordfish or tuna, which often rate high in mercury. Fast growing fish like mahi-mahi and barramundi are usually a better choice than slow growers like grouper or Chilean sea bass.
A mainstay of Asian, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines, turmeric has long been considered one of the worlds healthiest ingredients. Derived from the Curcuma long plant, turmeric is a rhizome related to ginger. It has been used to fight a variety of conditions in Eastern medicine for ages, and has a growing reputation in Australia for its health benefits, specifically, the anti inflammatory properties attributed to its main component, curcumin.
Culinarily speaking, you can find turmeric in the spice aisle of your supermarket, or in its pure root form in the produce section of some grocery or speciality stores. It is one of the main ingredients in curry powder, turmeric has a deep yellow-orange hue and a warm, peppery, slightly bitter flavour that lends itself well to rice, potatoes. Turmeric does have an intense flavour, so when using it in your cooking, start off with a small amount and then taste and add more as needed to achieve the right balance.
RENT MY BRAIN…THESOLUTION