Saturday, August 23, 2014

{made} salmon wellington

"encased in pastry
moist pink fish flakes atop leeks
salmon wellington"

i am most certainly not a poet... but i try with the haiku.

perhaps i should start with the story behind why salmon wellington became my next food project/experiment.

so, i could either blame it on or give credit to the first season of masterchef canada...

i watched one of the episodes for the first season of masterchef canada and guess what intimidating dish that headlined the pressure cooker test that threatened to send one of the cooks home: exactly! salmon wellington (was it not obvious enough?)

also known as salmon en croute, i'd categorize it as the healthier sister dish of the famous beef wellington. it intrigued me when one of the judges on the show professed that although the dish may look easy to prepare, to cook it right was the challenge since the fish is encased in a blanket of puff pastry. this is especially true since you can't gauge the doneness of the salmon (moist and not overcooked) as it is hidden in a golden package of the perfectly cooked through puff pastry.

that was exactly what MADE me do it.. it was the challenge and my curiosity if i could actually do it right! that and my desire to learn a new simple recipe which can be found at the bottom of the entry.

{ veg. prep. }

{ mise en place. }

{ leeky filling. }

{ wrapping. }

{ egg wash. }

fin. }

{ side. whipped. }

made a couple of modifications due to the scarcity of the ingredients. the addition of mushrooms and substitution of white wine with apple cider vinegar + sugar mixture at a lesser extent as well as the substitution of dijon mustard with whole grain mustard for the whipped cream to be served on the side.

as it came out fresh from the oven, the pleasant aroma of pastry and the leeks emanated and filled the kitchen, whetting the appetites. from the scores on top of the pastry, the natural oils from the salmon bubbled as it cooled while the leek-mushroom stuffing spilled our of the pastry pocket seam that burst opened. i smiled with a slight smugness as i counted the layers that promised flakiness. 

using a serrated knife to cut into the pastry, slight disappointment struck when i realized the bottom of the pastry was slightly undercooked and almost soggy. despite that, you will first sink your teeth through the golden crispy shell that encase the flaky, butteriness of the pastry that echoed the richness of the perfectly seasoned, moist salmon and finally cut through by the hearty, sweet onion flavor of the leeks-mushroom stuffing, flavored with a borrowed hint of apple cider vinegar tartness. pair it with the light, airy whipped whole grain mustard cream to bring the whole dish together. 

one comment from my fellow tasters having the pastry thicker for a better ratio of salmon to pastry -- too much fish, not enough pastry although personally, i prefer the way it turned out... and i think a combination of dijon mustard with the whole grain would have been nice for the bite.. minus those two, my effort was rewarded with encouraging, positive feedbacks and even a request for recipe sharing!

half portions served with a side salad would make a lovely lunch/dinner. it always helps when this hearty dish is really simple to make. 

a recipe for keeps, perfect for entertaining.

salmon wellington
adapted from food network
makes 2 strudels, sufficient to serve 4 persons

ingredients |
  • 1 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed (follow packaging instruction)
  • two 1/2 lb. portions (1 lbs in total, 2 fillets) of salmon fillets, skin removed 
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 fat leeks, washed and trimmed (white parts only), sliced on a bias
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 5 fresh button mushrooms (or 3 fresh shittake mushrooms), chopped roughly 
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup of white wine (i replaced with 1/8 cup of apple cider vinegar & 1/3 tsp of sugar)
  • 1 egg plus a tsp of water for the egg wash. 
mustard cream
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 tbs dijon mustard (substituted with 1/5 tbs whole grain mustard)
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • black ground pepper

directions | 
  • in a heavy skillet, melt the butter on medium, saute the leeks and red onion for about 8 minutes until soft. add the mushrooms about 5 minutes in.
  • season with salt & pepper and add the tarragon and wine and bring to a boil until the liquid is totally cooked off.
  • set aside and cool the leek-mushroom mixture. 
  • on a floured board, roll out the puff pastry into sheets, making sure it is wide enough to wrap the salmon fillets. (if you purchased them as puff pastry sheets you can skip this step)
  • line the baking sheet with parchment paper . 
  • lay the cooled leek-mushroom mixture on the bottom of the puff pastry.
  • make sure the salmon fillets are patted dry to avoid the pastry from getting soggy. season each fillet on both sides with salt and pepper and then rest the salmon atop the leek-mushroom mixture.
  • fold the pastry to cover the salmon and leek-mushroom mixture, making little packages. 
  • pinch the edges closed with your fingers and place them seam sides down onto the baking sheet.
  • brush with egg wash all over and score the top of the packages with a paring knife.
  • bake at 400 F for 25 minutes (dependent on the thickness of your salmon)
  • make sure you let rest for about 20 minutes before cutting it in half with a serrated knife.
  • serve with mustard cream (directions below)

mustard cream

  • whisk the mustard and cream together and season with pepper. 
  • keep refrigerated until ready to use.

disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.

Friday, August 22, 2014

kuay tiew reua boat noodles

"beloved thai dish --
a secret ingredient;
boat noodles, it's called"

boat noodles has sailed from the 'land of smiles' and landed at kuala lumpur since earlier this year. about a month ago, {jl} asked me to check out his friend's new boat noodles shack in kuchai lama -- the kuay tiew reua boat noodles.

i am a stranger to boat noodles prior to the first of of its kind that opened in damansara perdana, bringing that thai love that originated from the days when the kingdom's capitol was ayutthaya and the country was still connected by canals. ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ or guai dtiaw rua is a classic thai cuisine where the boats pulled up to the shore to serve soup to people who savored them on the banks of the canal. on present day, this beloved warm bowls of comforting noodles are also sold at urban floating markets. resonating its rich history of origin, the richness of the broth is attributed to the addition of a (or perhaps, not-so-) secret ingredient. 

kuay tiew reua boat noodles is a petite shop nestled in the commercial row in kuchai entrepreneur's park. its decor was oddly reminiscent of the local food shops that i had seen or eaten at during my visits to thailand  -- minimal decoration on the orange walls that contrasted the monochrome tables and chairs. you can find the cook in action as he dished out petite bowls and bowls of noodles in the open kitchen at the back of the shop.

despite the rainy evening, the queue outside the door was not surprising. after waiting in line for about 5-10 minutes as we were willing for our turn to come by very soon, much to our horror and disbelief, a staff placed a 'sold out' sign at the entrance! i almost over-reacted! >.< before they explained that they were still accommodating those who were already in line. phew, that was close! 

the menu was simple: there is a total of six noodle options. soup or dry versions where you can pick your options of noodles: thai rice noodles, vermicelli or glass noodles. not knowing how many bowls would take to satiate the hunger without stuffing ourselves silly, we started with five bowls each.

a few things: closed on mondays, it's cash only, no take away's, crispy pork rinds for extra texture are sold at the counter and waiting is inevitable. because it sure felt that our waiting moved from the queue at the entrance to the tables -- it took a pretty long time before the many bowls of noodles finally invaded our table.

with all the usual thai fixin's, it was customary to enhance the flavor of the noodles with the addition sugar, fish sauce, or the variations of chilli condiments - spicy chili oil, toasted chili flakes, spicy green chili in vinegar. or you can even combine them all in a ratio if are a daredevil of all things spicy. in other words, you can customize the noodles till your taste bud's content!

i smell the breathe of an englishman noodles, bowls aplenty..."

okay, my inner giant was awaken at the sight of the number of bowls on the table. (trust me, it's a lot better if you imagined it being said in a deep voice). each two-bite-noodle bowls were topped with slices of pork, pork meat balls, chopped spring onions and finally garnished with crispy chopped garlic.

between the soup and the dry versions, my vote of preference goes to the former. its stock was (here it is, the secret ingredient!) porcine blood-thickened giving it a nice depth and thin richness as its savoriness danced with the mild fragrance of the spices. it reminded me of vietnamese pho but with a very subtle hint of complexity. its mildness of flavor was probably to accommodate the addition of fixin's if you like it spicier, sweeter or saltier. the delightful pork meatball was moist and most of the pork slices were succulent. the fried garlic was a brilliant inclusion to bring another dimension to the flavor profile. the dry version was less inspiring since it didn't quite possess that familiar thai flavors distinction.

overall, this bowl of noodles was pretty tasty and the condiments are a must. i think i found my favorite combination of all varieties that we've tried: thai rice noodles in soup, a dash of fish sauce and a spoonful of vinegar-y chopped green chilies -- savory, vaguely sour and spicy. as we were working on our fourth bowl, we begun to think that five bowls per person were maybe one bowl too many. each portion was surprisingly filling although it looked deceivingly small. i had to admit that the long wait harbored some frustration that somewhat put a dent into the whole experience.

although i've never tried the boat noodles before in its country of origin, this pretty tasty offering from kuey tiaw reua boat noodles prepared by a thai local was enough to convince me to be on the look out for this beloved canal street food the next time i go on vacation to bangkok. :) just be prepared to do some waiting since crowds are probably steadily flocking towards these boat noodles as the novelty still runs high.

kuay tiew reua boat noodles | location
no 40-g, jln kuchai maju 9
off jalan kuchai lama
58200 kuala lumpur

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.