There’s always a part of me that wishes I could consume an unlimited number of carbs and still feel good about it. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. But that doesn’t stop me from making the best of my meals that revolve mainly around carbs.
Have you heard of or tried mentaiko? It’s a seasoned pollock roe that’s quite popular in Japanese cuisine. I came across a box of it while shopping at E Mart and decided to try making my own mentaiko spaghetti. I love the distinct salty taste and texture of it paired with strands of spaghetti in a light sauce. At my first attempt, I added it to a sauce made up of butter, cream and a squirt of Japanese Mayo. Although it was good, I found it a bit too rich and masked the taste of the mentaiko. This time, I used a mix of melted butter and pasta water and it was much better. It was lighter and I could taste the pop of the mentaiko with each bite. It was a perfect pairing with nori strips. If only I had some shiso leaves to add to it.
Remember, it always important to taste and season as you go when you’re cooking. I used salted roasted nori and found I didn’t need to add any salt to the dish.
For two servings, a rough estimate of ingredients.
- Two loonie sized handfuls of spaghetti
- 4 tbsps unsalted butter, melted
- 3 sacks of mentaiko
- Dash of Japanese soy sauce
- Pasta water, as needed
- Strips of nori
- Defrost 3 sacks of mentaiko a hour before you’re planning on making the dish. Once defrosted, slice sacks in half vertically and scrape out the seasoned roe. Set aside.
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Salt and add spaghetti. Cook to al dente stage according to directions on the package.
- In a large bowl, add melted butter, dash of Japanese soy sauce and 3/4 of the mentaiko. Add cooked spaghetti to the bowl and toss everything together, adding pasta water as needed to loosen the mixture and to form a light sauce.
- Plate up your spaghetti, top with nori strips and the remaining mentaiko. Slurp up and enjoy!
This made for a fabulous quick lunch for my hubby and I. It was absolutely delicious and satisfied all cravings I had for carbs. As I was eating it, I began to wonder how it would taste if I added a raw egg yolk or a soft sous vide egg to the dish. I bet the creamy runny egg yolk mixed in would taste great. Well, there’s always next time and it gives me an excuse to make this dish again.
My friends and I always look forward to each other’s birthdays because although it means we’re getting older, it also means we get to pick a restaurant to celebrate at. This year, I decided to check out Whitehall’s Roast Sunday Lunch. It was a nice change from dinner and who doesn’t love to get dressed up and enjoy an exquisite lunch? Their Sunday lunch menu is an exceptional value in my opinion. You get to choose either two courses for $38 or three courses for $45.
Our server bought along some bread and butter to start. The oval sphere on the left is whipped pork fat and if you’ve never had pork fat over anything; well then you’re missing out. The pork fat had a light whipped texture and my inital taste was of a light toasty flavor. However, subsequent bites after that was not as flavorful. The butter was on the cold side and did not spread easily. The bread was too hard and dense for my liking as well.
For a while now, I’ve been ogling over Instagram pictures of their famous cheese soufflé so I was definitely getting that as my first course. No doubt about that. However, we wanted to try the chicken liver pate as well and got an order to share between the four of us. The Double Baked Cheese Soufflé certainly lived up to expectations. The souffle was fluffy, light and had excellent cheese flavor. The creamy sauce around the souffle put it over the edge. I basically licked the plate clean. This was the best souffle I’ve tasted in Calgary and definitely a dish that one must try.
We were really look forward to trying the pate; mainly because there was shaved foie gras over top. The chicken pate was smooth and creamy. The pickled cherries were just the thing to provide a hint of seeetness and to cut the richness. It came served with toast; however we all agreed that it would’ve tasted better on toast points or toasted baguette rounds.
The main course is served family style so our server recommmed that everyone order the same dish. This was not a problem for us considering that we all wanted to try the beef. The Dry aged Alberta beef was cooked to perfection and incredibly tender. It was served alongside Yorkshire pudding, dripping potatoes, kale, red wine sauce and horseradish creama. Everything was delicious and definitely hit the spot. Our only complaint was that we wished for more vegetables as an accompaniment.
We were all pretty full after the two and a half dishes but decided to share dessert anyways. What’s a birthday celebration without dessert, right? The treacle tart with mascarpone ice cream provided a sweet ending to our meal. The tart was a tad too sweet for my liking although the crust was very well done. The mascarpone ice cream was just perfectly creamy.
We all enjoyed the Sunday lunch and would return in a heartbeat. Personally, I would skip dessert next time as British desserts are not to my liking. I’ve recommended their Sunday roast lunch to many friends and family because it’s truly not to be missed out on.
If there’s one thing you’ll always find in my freezer is a bag (or two) of dumplings. It’s something that I must always keep on hand for a quick meal or snack. My favorite are meaty dumplings with a fair amount of visible vegetables. Why? Well, because then I feel like I’m eating my portion of vegetables along with the meat and carbs. Win-win, right?
I don’t know about you but I’ve noticed how pricey those freezer dumplings have become at my local supermarket. The quality has also gone down. Don’t get me wrong; those will do in a bind but they’re definitely not my first choice.
What’s my first choice? Homemade, of course. How can you beat that? So when I have some extra free time I’ll make 200-300 and freeze them so I’ll always have some ready to go. My go-to is always ground pork with a healthy dose of whatever vegetables/greens I can get my hands on. Spinach, bok chiu, mustard greens, kale, watercress, cabbage. Seriously, they all taste great in dumplings. The key is to ensure you blanch them, squeeze all the water out of them and then finely finely chop so you get any stringy bits.
To ensure you get the proper texture for the meat you’ll want to add a fair amount of water to the mixture and stir, stir, stir with a pair of chopsticks. I also like to add shaoxing wine for added flavor. Now, that’s how you get a tasty and moist dumpling filling without it being dry.
Have you made your own dumplings? What’s your favorite filling combination?
Do you ever have instances where your eyes are bigger than your stomach? It happens to me a lot especially if I want to try multiple items on a menu. Recently, I had lunch at Sushi Bistro Anzu and that’s precisely what happened. Halfway through the meal and I already felt all the food settling in my stomach and that feeling of a satisfied tummy setting in. However, being a true foodie I powered through and finished the meal. After all, Japanese is my favorite and I just can’t let all this food go to waste.
The aji (horse mackerel) fry was just delightful. It was crispy with a light crunchy coating and the aji was cooked perfectly. It came with a worchestershire dipping sauce which was perfect to cut the richness.
I’ve never had stingray before so this dish of roasted stingray fin immediately appealed to me. I loved the charred roasted pieces because they were so flavorful and savory. When it first arrived at the table, the pieces were warm and had a slight crunch to them. Once cooled, it was much chewier and tasted quite similar to the Asian squid jerky snack. I definitely preferred them when they were warm so if you do order this dish then eat them when they’re still hot.
For a foodie, the lunch bento box is like a dream come true allowing me to try a variety of items without having to order full sized portions of everything. This lunch set included grilled mackerel, assorted tempura, 4 pieces of sashimi, salad, side dish, miso soup and rice. Honestly, a steal at $13.95 considering how filling it is. They have a variety of different lunch sets but the grilled mackerel always calls my name everytime.
I find the food at Sushi Bistro Anzu to be very enjoyable and their lunch sets to be of an amazing value. The quality is outstanding and you will no doubt leave satisfied with a full belly. Have you tried them before? What’s your favorite menu item? I would love to hear your feedback and perhaps try out some of your favorite menu items next time.
There are certain days when you just need something warm and comforting. Maybe it’s the weather. Or maybe it’s just one of those days where you need to make yourself feel better through the comforts of food. On those days I tend to turn towards noodle soups. I’ve been craving for banh canh lately which is a Vietnamese thick noodle soup characterized by its chewy noodles. Since I didn’t have those noodles on hand I made a similar broth with pork hock however I added diced tomatoes to the broth to change up the flavor and served on top udon noodles. I always have a stash of frozen udon noodles in my freezer for my noodle cravings. They’re great for noodle soups or noodle stirfrys. I added some toppings of green onions and fried shallots to round out the flavor and viola dinner is served. What’s your favorite type of noodle soup?
I always love a quick stirfry for dinner; especially when its filled with umami and a perfect pairing with rice. Many of you probably have not tried stirfrying cucumbers before but it’s always been a favorite of mine. I love the sweetness and slight tender crispness it yields. In order to achieve that you must salt the cucumbers in advance to exude some of the liquid so your dish does not turn watery. Before I do anything else, I deseed then slice the cucumbers and place into a bowl with a heaping 1/2 tsp of kosher salt. Give it a small massage then I allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes while I prep the rest of the ingredients and my meal. Here I’ve stirfried it with ground pork, Chinese sausage, green onions, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, dark soy sauce and light soy sauce. It’s a perfect dish paired with rice.
Peaches and I were debating on whether to have ramen for lunch or go to Long’s and we both decided we wanted to spicy food. None of the staff here speak English but thankfully we were able to skate by since Peaches was able to speak some Mandarin and communicate with the server. Upon stepping foot in the restaurant, I immediately noticed how cold it was in there and Peaches commented on that too. But it’s definitely for the best because once you start eating spicy food, your body warms up and you wouldn’t want to be uncomfortably hot and sweaty.
We started off with the complimentary spicy pickles and these were perfect for whetting the appetite. The pickles were spicy and sour and had that numbing affect from the Szechuan peppercorns. I was tempted to ask for another serving.
The Cold Spicy Jelly Bean Curd Noodles ($8.95) arrived shortly thereafter. Initially, I thought the dish was on the sweet side but it got spicier as we continued to eat it. I wished the noodles were firmer though as they were a tad too soft for my liking. Overall, flavors were great – spicy, sweet, salty and a tad vinegary.
I really wanted to try the Deep Fried Chicken with Chili Peppers ($15.95) and convinced Peaches to do so even though she can’t handle as much heat as I can. All I can say is WOW! This was definitely my favorite dish! The chicken was incredibly flavorful, well seasoned and fried to a nice crisp. I’ve tried this dish before at Szechuan Restaurant but was less than impressed as the chicken was flavorless and not even spicy. Now I finally understand why this dish is made with bone-in chicken pieces. The bone-in pieces really add extra flavor that you wouldn’t get with boneless pieces. What was really interesting were the pieces of biscuits throughout it. I assume they’re put into the dish to break up the heat and I can’t put a finger on whether I like them or not. This dish was spicy but not as bad as you think because it’s more of a numbing spice. I am completely and utterly addicted to this dish and cannot stop thinking about it to this day.
The Eggplant in Soya Sauce(?) ($11.95) was another winner. The problem is I’m assuming we ordered the Eggplant in Soy Sauce and not Garlic because the translation in English does not match the Chinese description at all. This eggplant dish is cooked in a sweet bean sauce and was perfect eaten with rice. The eggplant was tender and creamy and soaked up the sauce. I will definitely be ordering this again.
We found the Steamed Sliced Pork Belly ($13.95) to be a bit disappointing considering how flavorful the other dishes were. The dish was really salty and the flavor was a bit one dimensional. I couldn’t even taste the sweetness from the mui choy. The pork belly was cooked well and was tender and the broccoli was also steamed to perfection.
We really enjoyed our meal here and I’m already trying to think of when I can come back to try more dishes. If you enjoy spicy food then be sure to check them out.
Long’s Chinese Food
1448 17 Avenue Southwest
Calgary, AB T2T 0C8