/* Variable definitions

Tasty Side to Life Tours Website

Friday, October 29, 2010

Authentic Japanese & Indian curry: Two recipes with a bit of Heat

Photo courtesy of Vanderlyst

So my 10 month MBA in Reims, France was all about absorbing as many new business concepts as I possible could in order to hone my skills and sculpt myself into a perfectly proficient manager/ entrepreneur. Yet, I decided why not take advantage of the cultural depth in my program (13 different nationalities in 30 people) and learn the gastronomy of the diverse nations I was surrounded by. So, that is what I did. http://theglobalgastronomykitchen.shutterfly.com/. Last Spring, once every 2 weeks I hosted a culinary class at my flat in the center of town with a view of the ancient Cathedral where the Kings of France were crowned from my skylights.
My goal was by the end, to have mastered dishes like Indian madras curry, Japanese curry, udon, + sushi, have taught them American bbq ribs, cornbread+ gruyere, blue cheese and white cheddar mac and cheese, Spanish gambas ajillo, Chinese Dim Sum, chaomian,Taiwanese san bei ji, French quiche, Coq au vin, Moelleux au chocolate and a handful of other tasty Interntational dishes from Romania, Kazak, Mexico, etc. We got through a good number and I'm just getting around to posting our work now!

The first class was the varying yet oh so delicious flavors of Curry. As i had an Indian classmate and a few Japanese classmates we decided to combine the day into a Curry extravaganza and learn them both at once. Japanese curry is subtle, warm and a bit sweet while Indian is hot, fiery and so spicy it could knock your socks off. I love them both and really enjoyed learning true "authentic recipes". Along with the curry we also made a kind of like a sushi salad which is a traditional dish called Chirashi-sushi. It was so much easier than having to fold up little rolls and was delicious as well.

We started with some bread with brie, apples and local honey

Recipe for Authentic Japanese Curry -Courtesy of two friends from Tokyo

For 3-4 people


Curry paste Half the box- Spicy levels vary from 3-5. We love spicy so we had the 5. You can find Japanese curry in an local asian shopping market. In Paris there is a big one off St Anne.

Meat (pork, chicken, beef)250g- we used chicken thighs and wings here with skin

Onion 1

Potatoes 2

Carrot 1

Water 700ml

How to cook

1. Slice the onion and cut the potatoes and carrots into dices.

2. Chop the meat.

3. Heat the big sauce pan, put some salad oil and saute the vegetable and meat.

4. Add the water into pan and cook them with low to middle heat for around 15 minutes.

5. Stop the heat, and put the curry paste.

6. Cook again in the low heat for about 10 minutes.

7. Serve curry with cooked rice.


A Chirashi-sushi (Chirashi-zushi) is a big sushi served in a big plate with fish and vegetables over the rice bed inside the bowl. It is popular sushi which we usually make at home.


- 3 cup of Japanese Rice ( can buy at the local Reims Chinese market)

- Eggs (5-6)

- 1 tea spoon of starch (or gravy thickener)

- Seaweed (nori)

Sushi materials

- Shrimp

- Green peas

- Salmon

You can put whatever you want such as…

- Dried shiitake mushroom

- Avocado

- Cucumber

- Fish (eel, tuna)

Make it colorful!!

- Sushi vinegar

1/2 cup of vinegar (white or rice wine)

3 table spoon of sugar

2 tea spoon of salt


  1. Cook rice in a steam cooker if you have it*. Follow rice cooker guidelines. While cooking it mix the ingredients for sushi vinegar.
  2. While cooked rice is very hot, mix in vinegar mixture slowly with a spoon. While mixing, cool the rice down using a fan.
  3. After 1min, cover the mixed rice with a wet towel (cool it down so that it will absorb the vinegar)
  4. Make egg crepe: This should be a slow process. Keep the heat at low (setting 1) and put starch in a bowl and pour 1 tea spoon of water, then mix them well
  5. Scramble eggs 2 at a time in a small dish. Add the mixed starch mixture.
  6. Pour a very small amount of the scrambled eggs into a frying pan just to coat the pan and cook slowly creating very thin sheets. Once it looks cooked flip it over and cook a few more minutes. The mixture of 2 eggs should make a few very thin omelets similar to crepes. Reserve.
  7. Cut the pancakes into thin strips. Fold over each pancake and cut into very thin strips and reserve in a bowl.
  8. Mix rice and sushi materials together and add egg strips and cut seaweed to the rice

If you serve them to guests, decorate sushi materials, seaweed and egg over the rice well first. Then, just before you serve them on each dish, mix all togetherJ

* If you do not have a steam cooker, you can cook rice with a pan.

  1. Put 3 cup rice with 3.6 cup of water and wait 30 min so that rice absorb water
  2. Use a cover and heat the pan at high
  3. Keep it till boiling and never open the cover!!
  4. When it start boiling, turn heat on medium and wait 5 min
  5. After 5min, turn heat on low and wait 15min

Turn heat off and wait 10min for steam (Don’t open the lid!)

Indian Curry Recipe courtesy of Varun

Here is Varun from Delhi's Authentic Indian Curry Recipe


3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter)

1 medium onion - Chopped and then placed in food processor

4 cloves garlic - peeled, sliced

1.5 inch piece root ginger - peeled and thinly sliced

2 mild fleshy green chillies - de-seeded and chopped

half teaspoon turmeric powder (Varun added 2 Teaspoons but it was smoking hot!)

half teaspoon ground cumin seed

half teaspoon ground coriander seed

5 tablespoons plain passata (this is the smooth, thick, sieved tomatoes or puree that you can make my hand with a handfull of tomatoes in the food processor) or you can use 1 tablespoon concentrated tomato purée (US = paste) mixed with 4 tablespoons water


1. Heat the oil in a heavy pan then add the chopped onion-tomato-garlic mixture which you previously ground up into a liquid mixture in the food processor and stir for a few minutes with the heat on high.

2. Add the ginger, garlic and green chili. Stir for a minute and now turn the heat to low

3. Cook for 20 mins stirring every so often

4. Add the spices: turmeric, cumin and coriander and and simmer over gentil heat for few minutes longer.

5. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool. Blend entire mixture in batches in the blender for a super smooth consistency if desired.

6. Place puréed mixture back into the pan and cook for another 30 minutes over super low heat stirring occasionally.

Check out the Videos Below

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another Trip to Champagne: La Semaine du Gout en Champagne

So this last week was "La Semaine du Gout en Champagne" which means the week of tasting french gastronomic treats and drinking lot and lots of free small producer Champagne. Basically about 20 small local producers had a week of free tasting paired with french gastromonic delights. I'm talking Champagne with foie gras, escargots, pate en croute, local honey, chocolates, etc all paired with Champagne to match. Sounds incredible, right? Well it was...

We chose to go to Chatillon which is a small beautiful country town in the Marne Valley made up of 195 inhabintants. The village has a history from the french revolution and is surrounded by rolling hills, woods and lots of vineyards. We planned the aggressive bike route mode of transport and our idea was to take the 45 minute 25 euro train to Epernay, bike 13 kilometers through beautiful champagne vineyards (which mind you are currently changing colors from green to red) and make our way to Champagne J Charpentier in Chatillons http://www.jcharpentier.com/index.php . The only problem was I stayed up a bit too late hanging out in the Bastille and when we woke up it was 6 degrees celcius which= ummm no I will not bike and quiver at the same time. We decided to veto the biking (which was a bit of a disappointment b/c I was thrilled about the adventure and had so much fun planning). Instead, we picked up a car in Reims and drove.

Our first stop was this beautiful viewpoint and this amazing looking Chateau. I have to recommend people to stay here for a peaceful and tranquil setting and BEAUTIFUL view!

I mean a view like this when you get back to your hotel? I think it would be pretty pretty incredible!!

As we approach Champagne J Charpentier we quickly realized Semaine du Gout en Champagne is not a secret b/c the place was swimming with lots of local frenchies...

And the food begins...Pate en Crout below (Basically beef, veal, pork, rabbit, red wine, onions all ground up and covered in puffed pastry)

The Primier Cuvee

Some private villas just up the street

This chateau below-Chateau Villers is a must for the next visit

Warm escarot brought to the table. Actually the shells here were puffed pastry so you could eat the whole thing. Ahh parsely, butter, garlic and a little snail. Really it is delicious

Finally.. the menu! Feuillete de Saint Pierre a l'oseille (Filet of fish inside puffed pastry), Farci de canard forestier suace ratafia (Duck with a brown sauce), Garnitures de Legumes (shredded and baked vegetables), Mesclun de salades (Mesclun salad always after the main) with Chaource de Troyes cheese, Champenois avec son gateau aux biscuit (Regional flan dessert with Reims regional rose biscuits).

The Reims Biscuit Rose specialities of the region

The food was good but didn't knock my socks off but the ambience was amazing. I also really enjoyed the Champagne and it was comforting to sit next to a french couple who had come every year for the past 6 years to buy the Brut. They said the quality stayed the same from year to year which is nice to hear.

Next time, new house, new food, new adventure!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Scallops 3 Ways: Poached in Coconut jus with Fennel. Seared with Parmesan, Potato and Pancetta. Pan fried with fresh peas, mint and scallions

The other night I decided to make a Michael Mina http://michaelmina.net/ inspired dish and prepared scallops in 3 distinctively different ways. I love the delicious, soft and delicate texure of scallops and I adore the idea of taking one main ingredient and preparing it in 3 stark contrasting ways allowing you to appreciate the contrasting beauty of the ingredient.

This recipe gives you scallops in the first preparation surrounded with the warm, vibrant and soft flavors of Thailand with coconut milk and keiffer lime leaves. Then the taste explosion continues with the savory and rich experience of perfectly caramelized potatoes with a touch of crisped sage and prosciutto. Lastly a creative 3rd interpretation with fresh market peas, mint and cream.

I personally loved the center Thai version yet the others were absolutely delicious as well. This dish takes time but if you prepare the sauces in advance (even the day before) then all you have to do is quickly fire the scallops and voila you have a beautiful, artsy and delicious meal!! I think it’s best to serve this dish in little individual ramekins on a top of a large square white plate. There's a lot of sauce that accompanies each preparation and when you serve them together you run the chance of each sauce running together. If your in a very aggressive move I would follow this with filet mignon prepared in 3 ways and a dessert of 3's. I know, i know a bit much but it would be incredible wouldn't it?

Serves 4.

Poached in Coconut jus with Fennel

Poached in Coconut jus with Fennel

4 Scallops-Live or Dayboat if you can find them

Coconut jus

2 cups chicken stock
 (homemade if you have time)

3 cups coconut milk

1 cup coconut juice

1 teaspoon red curry paste (find in most supermakets)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 Lemongrass-thinly sliced

2 inches ginger thinly sliced

6 lime leaves, can be bought at any Asian market
- These make the dish so don’t leave them out! If you look hard enough you’ll find them!

Lime juice to taste

sea salt

1 baby fennel-thinly sliced


1. In a medium pot, mix the stock with the coconut milk, coconut juice, red curry paste and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil over med. heat and then bring back down to a simmer for 30 minutes.

2. Now add the aromatics. Add the sliced lemongrass, ginger, lime leaves and lime juice and infuse the sauce for at least 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt.

3. Strain the sauce and return to a pan.

Add 4 scallops and poach for about 4 minutes until just cooked through.

Season with lime juice to taste.

4. Plate each scallop in a shallow dish. Add ¼ of the shaved fennel to each dish. Pour ¼ of the broth over each dish.

Seared with Parmesan, Potato and Pancetta
– These in my opinion are the best.


4 Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut in large dice

4 Tablespoons Olive oil

1 Tablespoon Butter

2 cloves garlic, either roasted or poached in olive oil

½ bay leaf

1 sprig thyme

8 Cups Chicken Stock

White pepper to taste

Salt to taste

4 Scallops, Preferably live or Dayboats

4 teaspoons shaved parmesan

4 thin slices of pancetta (about one ounce), drizzled with olive oil and crisped in an oven with olive oil at 350 (about 10 minutes)

3 whole celery leaves

Olive oil to taste

Sea salt to taste


1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a medium sized sauté pan.

Add potatoes and caramelized.

2. Add butter and toss to coat.

3. Add garlic, bay leaf, thyme and toss to coat again.

4. Add chicken stock. Bring to boil and return to simmer until potatoes are very tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Crust scallops on one side with shaved parmesan.

6. Heat remaining olive oil on medium heat in a sauté pan. Sear scallops, parmesan side first, for 2 minutes on each side.

7. Place ¼ of the potatoes on each plate.

Add seared scallop and garnish with pancetta crisps, celery leaves, olive oil and sea salt

Peas with Lemon, Mint, and Scallions

Fresh peas you’ll only be able to find in late spring and summer. I’d say grow your own or find them in the local farmers market. If you have to use frozen pees.

Serves 4

Kosher salt

Package of shelled fresh peas (around 2 cups)

A few Tbls unsalted butter

4 large scallions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced

1/4 cup heavy cream

A few Tbls. finely chopped fresh mint

1/2 tsp. packed finely grated lemon zest

Freshly ground black pepper

If using fresh peas: quickly blanch them in heavily salted water and cook for about 2 mins. Try and few and make sure they are done and aren’t too crunchy. Use a mesh strainer and pull them out onto a dish towel and drain. If you’re using frozen peas just run cold water over them until they thawed. Reserve as well.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over moderate heat. Throw in the scallions and sauté a few minutes until soft. Add the heavy cream, a Tbls of the mint, the lemon zest, a heaping pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until it thickens a bit and is clinging to the back of a wodden spoon. Now add the peas and stir to heat everything thoroughly. Sauce the scallops in a pan a few minutes on each side. When they are done place in the dish and pour the creamy pea, mint, scallion sauce to cover.

This interpretation sounds great as well but I didn't have time to pull it off. Soon. It would be a perfect amouche bouche, no?


Ceviche style with radish and lime oil

4 scallops thinly sliced

3 small radish-shaved thinly

3 teaspoons olive oil

½ bunch chives tablespoon thinly sliced chives

1 tablespoon lemon juice to season

sea salt to taste

1. Lay one scallops on a chilled plate

2. Top with radish, olive oil, chives, lemon juice and sea salt.

And not a crumb left on the plate :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...