Monday, July 20, 2009

Hearty Smoked Fish chowder

Nothing beats fresh vegetables when it comes to good cooking. However, chopped, frozen veggies are sometimes practical, especially if you're pressed for time and you just can't be bothered preparing the ingredients--chopping, dicing, slicing, etc.--which is very time-consuming.

This smoked fish chowder was one of those recipes I saw on "Food in a Minute" (a one minute advertorial program to fill gaps between programming), which got me interested. However the recipe required for a packet of ready to cook frozen potatoes, capsicum and onions. Stingy me, would rather use fresh veggies (some of which may come from our garden), rather than buy the more convenient packets of frozen goodies. So I peeled, diced and sliced equal amounts of potatoes, capsicums and onions. Plus, I altered the quantity in the ingredients as the original recipe was meant for 4 - 6 people. I do not like using butter so much, so again, I used substitution--olive oil instead of butter. I'm sorry, I could not tell the difference in taste had I used butter, but there probably isn't much difference.

The picture may not have done justice to the taste of the dish because I took the photo in a rush before dinner, but David and I find it really nice. He asked me to do it again soon.

Hearty Smoked Fish Chowder


1 tsp olive oil
1 leek, trimmed, rinsed and cut into 1 cm slices
1-2 stalks celery cut into 1 cm slices
1 tbsp flour
1 cup vegetable stock or water
3-4 pieces medium size potatoes
1 piece onion
1/2 cubed red and green capsicum
1 cup frozen sweet corn
250 g smoked fish fillet, skinned and flaked
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped celery leaves
1 cup of milk
1 tsp (optional) grated lemon rind

Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the leek and celery until tender, but not brown. Stir in the flour and cook over a low heat for 1 minute or until frothy.

Gradually stir in the vegetable stock and milk, stirring continuously as the sauce thickens.

Add the cubed potatoes, green and red capsicum and onions. Add sweet corn. Simmer gently stirring regularly until the vegetables are hot and tender

Stir in smoked fish, herbs and lemon rind if using. Season as wished.

This can be divided into four servings for small appetites.

Crispy Vegetable Rolls

After three days my mung bean sprouts were ready for the harvest and for the wok. I don't know why but even after years of making this lumpiang prito, there would always be excitement and a feeling of satisfaction as I look at the pile of just-rolled lumpia on my kitchen table ready for frying and freezing. Moreso, if they were rolled properly and they are in uniform sizes.

Here's how I did them:

Lumpiang Prito
(Vegetable Spring Rolls)

250 gms ground pork
500 gms mung beans sprouts
1 medium size carrot (grated)
1 good size sweet potato (grated)
1/2 small cabbage (shredded)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch (for sealing)
soy sauce to taste
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Vegetable oil for frying

Heat oil in a big enough wok, saute garlic and onion till fragrant. Add ground pork and cook until pork loses its raw color. Add the chicken stock and boil for five minutes. Add the grated sweet potato, carrot and shredded cabbage, Cook till veggies wilt then add the mungbean sprouts. Cook for five minutes more, turning the veggies to make sure they don't go soggy.
Remove from heat when veggies are cooked. Transfer into a colander to cool and drain.

Dissolve cornstarch with a little water, bring to the stovetop and heat, stirring until it thickens. This can be used instead of a beaten egg to seal the spring rolls.

Separate the spring rolls skin and cover with a damp cloth to prevent from drying. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the filling onto the skin about two inches from the bottom corner, then fold it over the filling and roll upwards encasing the filling. Fold in the corners and press down firmly to seal, creating an envelope. Moisten the left and right corners of the skin with the cooked cornstarch and seal. Repeat with the remaining filling and skins.

Using a deep fryer or a deep work, heat the oil until almost smoking and begin frying your lumpiang prito until they turn golden brown.

Drain with paper towel.

Vinegar Dip:

In a small bowl, combine half a cup white vinegar, 4 cloves or more garlic (crushed), half a teaspon ground black pepper and salt to taste.