Saturday, August 31, 2013

Banh Mi Fish Taco


For me, living in the rural country has many perks and luxuries.  There is nothing quite like waking to the sound of  beautiful chirping and singing birds in the quiet calm of the morning and listening to the blusterous lolls of those randy little crickets and other nocturnal insect in the eve of night.  Although I must say that I am rather fed up with the mosquito, tick and spider population brought on by this wayward summer! 
Aside from the alarm clocks and beckoners of bed, here in Leesville VA, we are afforded the opportunity of observing wildlife in it's natural habitat.  In addition to the usual deer, we have black bears, bobcats, owls, eagles and humongous woodpeckers,  but  more nerve racking, coyotes, rattlesnakes, copperheads and moccasins.  I have seen more snakes this year than in any other year I can remember, and that is a bit scary, considering the kids love playing in the yard.
On a lighter note, we have access to wonderful and plentiful lakes, dam, rivers and streams supplying us with the epitome of freshwater fish.  Some of the fish include small and large mouth bass, perch, catfish, a local trout farm, where you can reel in your own spoils, and large striped bass,  which brings us to the recipe above.
 My cousin Milton happened by late one evening with an amazing bounty of striped bass, easily weighing about 40 pounds.  They were caught at our own Leesville Dam 1 mile away, talk about fresh caught to table huh!  My wheels were churning ahead as I began to configure and compile ideas new ideas while I cleaned and prepped the fish.  It was a great live lab of sorts for me, cleaning, fileting and portioning the fish for their new and improved purpose.
 I came up with 5 recipes.  My family gave tons of positive feedback on the dishes, enough so that I wish to share them with you.  The following dish is an inspiring spin of the popular Vietnamese sandwich traditionally served using pork and an airy and French type baguette, whereas I use the bass and a lightly fried tortilla, gently shaped to hold the palate pleasing goodies.  Quick pickled veggies and a creamy and almost spicy mayonnaise, shine in this hand held bundle of yumminess! I also have a Slender Version of this recipe, which I will mention the substitutions after the original recipe *.  Omega 3's never tasted so grand!
Recipe:
For quick pickled veggies:
2 c. julienne of carrot
1 c. julienne of radish
1 tsp. black sesame seeds
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
1/4 c. sugar
SPST
Combine veggies and sesame seeds in a medium bowl.  Whisk together wine and sugar, pour over veggies and toss vigorously to coat.  Set aside and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or while you prepare the remainder of the recipe.  Drain before use.
For the Tortillas:
Fry tortillas in oil for about 30 seconds to 1 minutes turning once, until they begin to puff up, then drape over cylindrical object like a rolling pin covered with a paper towel until set in a loose curve.  Set aside until ready to plate.
For the fish:
2 lbs. boneless, skinless striped bass, or other meaty fish of choice, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices on a bias or strips
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic
1 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
10 flour tortillas
cilantro leaves for garnish
olive oil for drizzling
SPST
Drizzle fish with olive oil and add spices. SPST and toss to coat. 
In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, drizzle with olive oil and in small batches sear the fish on both sides and cook through, about 2 minutes per side.  Keep warm under tented foil until all have been seared.
For the Sriracha/Basil Mayo:
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. Sriracha
2 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 tbsp.fresh basil, julienned
juice of 1 lime and zest
SPST
Combine all ingredients in bowl until well blended.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  May be made 1 day ahead if desired.
Assembly:
Place a portion of fish in taco.
Add portion of pickled veggies.
Add dollop of Sriracha mayo.
Garnish with cilantro leaves.
Makes 10 tacos.
*For the Slender version, bake or steam the fish, use baked or plain warm tortillas, and use low fat mayonnaise or Greek yogurt.




Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Uncle Billy’s Day 2013: A Foodie’s Perspective

sign 2
thai sign
This past June, during the first Saturday weekend, marked yet another wonderful year of entertainment featuring live band music, crafts, carnival style rides and games, a beer garden adjacent to the stage and a smorgasbord of festival eats and treats here in Altavista, Virginia.  The Uncle Billy’s Day Festival has been a part of our community for around 65 years and is growing bigger and stronger by the year.  I remember attending this event from early childhood, now I bring my girls, who really enjoy the pageantry of the fireworks, which happen on evening two of the 2 day celebration! 
When I was younger, I was all about the congregation of people including my schoolmates, the games and the rides, pizza, candy apples and funnel cake being the fuel of choice.  As I became older, I began to appreciate the beauty of the crafts, car shows, music and beer garden LOL, opting for the food fanfare with an edge like the warm and delicious Gyros, the lamb juicy and tender, the Greek Yogurt smooth and creamy, the shredded lettuce and tomato crisp, Smoked Turkey Drumsticks, the size of a small dog’s leg, slow cooked to smoky perfection, eaten in a relatively cave man fashion by tearing it easily from bone as you stroll the grounds, Hand-cut potato chips, salted just so, hot from the oil, Fragrant Smoked Sausages and Cheese Steaks, billowing over with grilled peppers and onions,and various types of Asian cuisine, like the hearty portion of marinated and grilled Thai Chicken (above) and beef, grilled with just the right amount of caramelization and teeming with exotic flavors, the perfectly cooked noodles, loaded with a barrage  of tender-crisp carrots, broccoli, cabbage, peas and corn, with what I would consider a savory potato, veggie and curry infused Puff with a unique sweetness from Faang Thai Restaurant and Bar, based out of Warrenton VA, meats- on -sticks-Yes! and much more! The smells wafting through the food court is intoxicating, a possible Achilles heel to wayward dieters, but a welcome ‘Foodapalooza’ for die- hard foodies like myself.  The experience is worth the travel and something to talk about, as you can see I just can’t shut up about it.  Definitely something to pencil in to kick off your next year’s summer, hope to see you there!  
Me and a fellow festival goer in one of his Uncle Billy's Day ensembles!
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Smokinhotchef
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