Do you ever have those moments when you look at yourself in the mirror and say, “What the hell did I sign myself up for?”
I do. All the time. My most recent mirror confrontation was, in fact, in regards to this 13-week Top Chef Canada challenge. Too often, I fall victim to my oh-that-couldn’t-be-that-hard tendencies, but I digress… I am signed up and 100% committed to recreating your favourite dishes from this series week after week and I hope you’ll join in on the fun on occasion as well.
So, without further delay, here is my first adventure in Top Chef Canada land…
The FoodNetwork.ca poll closed on Wednesday evening and you decided I would make Kunal’s Masala Cod with Potato Pakoras, Mango Onion Slaw and Herb Raita. This was fairly fitting for the first recreation seeing as the chefs were challenged in episode one to create dishes inspired by their hometowns—and I was just about to board a plane back to mine: Saskatoon.
I woke up bright and early and headed to the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, grocery list in hand (with each of these cooking adventures I’m hoping to source all ingredients locally, when possible). I was tipped off (via Twitter) to stop by Fono’s Fish stand in the market to pick up my fish for the challenge. In lieu of cod, the worker recommended a local variety of fish called Burbot. Best described as an eel-like freshwater cod, it certainly sounded ugly—but I bought it anyway!
I made a quick stop at a local ethnic marketplace, Swadesh Super Market, to grab some Garam Masala spice mix as well as the chickpea flour for the pakoras. While walking down an aisle, I did notice some packaging of pakora mixes, which were tempting, but that would be cheating, wouldn’t it?
The majority of my produce I obtained through a Saskatoon food initiative called Good Food Box. It’s a program where local vegetables, fruits, and grains are available for weekly order.
The box contents vary based on season and availability, but I was able to use the bulk of the items in my cooking process. Perfect! Now it was time to start cooking…
2 13.5oz cans coconut milk
1 cup half and half cream
1 stalk lemon grass (trimmed and cut into ‘fish out of the pot easily’ size pieces)
1/2 yellow onion (quartered)
4 cloves garlic
2 TSP yellow curry powder
1 TSP chili powder
4 red snapper fillets
1 1/2 cups daikon (peeled and 1/2″ cubed)
1 cup fresh snap peas (pods removed, peas only)
1/4 cup red onion (finely chopped)
1 kiwi (1/2″ cubed, you can leave the skin on, it won’t kill you…)
1 TSP sugar
1 lemon (zest and juice)
salt and pepper
1 tomato (sliced, optional, I just wanted some colour variation on the plate!)
So here’s a story for you. I originally wanted to try poaching this fish in some red wine and spices, but while I was sitting at home contemplating about whether or not to use the wine to poach I accidently drank it all…and that’s my story. Well, not actually, but it definitely is something that could happen to me. I do like my wine. Anyway, life is always a little bit better when there’s some coconut curry involved, and this light dish is definitely perfect for a summer dinner date. My dinner guests seem to really like it when I poach things. Except pandas, they don’t like that.
Start off by combining the coconut milk and cream in a large pot. Whisk briefly to get rid of any lumps from the coconut milk. Add-in the remaining ingredients, aside from the snapper, and give a good stir. Let the mixture come to a bubble on medium-high heat, then reduce to low heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. While it’s simmering, give it a taste, and add some salt and pepper to your liking.
For the salsa, simply place all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and toss to combine. Season with some salt and pepper, then set aside until you’re ready for it. Feel free to give it a taste on its own. It’s oddly delicious.
When the poaching liquid has simmered for long enough, remove the pieces of lemon grass, turn up to medium heat and pop in the pieces of snapper. Let the fish cook for about 6 minutes, or until it is fully cooked through. Remove the fish from the pot and scoop some of the liquid onto each plate, followed by a couple tomato slices, then a piece of snapper, and, finally, the daikon salsa! You should probably eat this on your patio…just saying…
Total cook time…30 min
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