Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Dinner: Fried Tilapia and Lentil Soup

The last time I made fried tilapia, my husband dubbed it the unfortunate "fish mush incident." I had gotten tilapia from a Mexican market and wanted to make fried fish tacos. I've never cooked tilapia before but figured it couldn't be too hard. Maybe the tilapia was not fresh or maybe the pan was too hot. Either way, the entire fish disintegrated into a mushy mess. It was the first and last time I cooked tilapia; that was almost seven years ago. My mom and I were at Fresh & Easy last week and she picked up some frozen tilapia. I was hesitant at first, given our sordid history, but I decided to give it a shot. 

Panko-fried tilapia
4 tilapia filets 
4 tablespoons Japanese Kewpie mayo
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons garlic salt
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
White pepper to season
Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

Pat dry 4 tilapia filets with paper towels. Mix mayo, mustard, thyme, garlic salt, vinegar and white pepper in a bowl. Coat fish with marinade. Leave fish in the fridge for 1-2 hours. 

Heat oil in a pan. Coat tilapia with Panko and pan-fry fish until cooked through. 

Fried tilapia with pasta salad, farmers' market cucumbers and tomatoes. I also made a honey-mustard dipping sauce. 

Dipping sauce
2 tablespoons mayo
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey

Stir mayo, mustard and honey in a small bowl. Serve with Panko-fried tilapia. 

My husband is a picky eater. He hates most vegetables and anything remotely healthy. But, he likes my lentil soup =) 

Lentil soup
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 cup fresh lentils
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup ham, diced

Heat oil in pot. Add onion and stir for 2 minutes. Add carrot and stir for 1 minute. Add lentils and chicken stock. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add milk. Blend soup using an immersion blender. Add diced ham. 

It's not the prettiest soup, but it's so good! 


Sunday, July 18, 2010

How to Season a Wok

This year, I'm determined to learn Chinese home cooking the correct way. And in order to do that, I needed to start from the basics ... I needed a wok. During my last trip to Singapore, I picked up an authentic cast-iron wok. Just like a cast-iron skillet, you'll need to season it properly to create a natural non-stick surface. 

I admit, I was very disappointed when I first picked up this wok. It's steel grey and barely resembles the gloriously black version my grandma cooks with. But my mom assured me that all the cast-iron woks look like this at first.

$10 cast-iron wok from Best Quality House Ware in Ang Mo Kio

Step 1: Rinse with water

Step 2: Stir-fry old vegetables and scallions with pork fat

Step 3: Discard the veggies and reserve the pork fat. Wipe the wok with paper towel. 

Look at how dirty it was! So, I had to rinse and repeat steps 2 (using the reserved pork fat and more veggies) and 3. It took about three tries before the wok is ready.