Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A girls opinion on Wines and Lettuce Leaves: Part 2

If I am Achilles, to admit my own ignorance about wines will have me limping already. That is speaking from a foodie's point of view of course. Again in the  previous post, I claimed to have 2 weaknesses. Aside from not knowing a lot about wines , the other , much to my shame is....not knowing too much about vegetables. Ok maybe I'm being too harsh to myself, of course I know vegetables. I'm from Asia! We have enough sunshine  all year long to garantee a perfect tan and perfect gardening! Veges, flowers,  plants, trees , grass , weeds are around us. Vegetables and greens are  the cheapest things you can get in the market . The problem is, cooking or preparing it is a big challenge to me. Well brings me a wheelchair already!

photo from growyourownveg.com

I grew up in a minimalist kitchen. I guess it is still vivid in my cooking. I like things simple, non fussy and not so overly complicated . Back home, my mother cooked recipes that uses relatively few ingredients. Usually eaten with rice are  fish cooked in venigar ( Paksiw),grilled or simply fried . So to compensate for this  lack of nutrition ( her words), vegetable is almost always present in every meal.  Stir fried beans,  stir fried broccoli, stir fried spinach, stir fried lettuce, stir fried  cabbage  ooooh I could go on forever. We stir fry almost everything in garlic and onion! If not then tomatoes,  carrots, paprika, peas and even potatoes  are put into stews and meat dishes. The last option would be, having  my grandmother put  all things green  and healthy  in a pot and cook the life out of them. Boil them veges til limp baby. Then she will make us drink all the greenish and most of the time soury/bitter soup to get  all those non existing nutrients. Sigop gid damo sabaw apo ( slurp more  soup grandchild ) so you will  grow strong and healthy. Of course I never really knew that the sought-after vitamins and minerals have long evaporated in thin air at the first 3 mins of harsh boiling.

It never really occurred to me that one could actually eat vegetable raw. Salad is totally foreign to a simple town girl like me. Oh I know salads alright, or at least two of them then. Buco salad which is made from young coconut flesh and fruits which is served as dessert and macaroni salad which is cooked,prepared and mixed with  fruits,  shredded cooked chicken, mayonaisse and is also eaten as dessert. There you go, salads back home is associated with sweets and desserts. A treat!

picture from kuali.com

Then I came to Europe, people here eat salad almost every freakin day! And it's not the kind of salad that I know.The first month was hell, I had too much raw vegetables, my stomach probably suffered from  culture shock of having too much fiber in one day. I somehow missed my lola's limp and dead vegetable all of a sudden. Called home and told my mother ( in a rather overly cheerful tone) how much greens I  consumed in a month. Her reply: ''Wow! You are officially a cow!'', and I coudn't agree more. I ate too much raw lettuce it's a miracle I still haven't mooed in my sleep.

So after five raw-lettuce-eating-filled-years ,  I still am , to be honest ,not a fan of it. So making salad is still a challenge. But this challenge, unlike wine drinking,  am starting to take up. I don't want to be overly hard upon myself so when I make salad, I tried recipes with things I like in it. Here is one, I know a lot of non-lettuce-fans might equally like.

This Thai inspired salad is adopted from Jamie Oliver's  recipe. If you know nothing about something, look up to somebody who does for guidance. They knew at least what they are doing.The good thing about salads is, you have a choice what vegetable or fruit you can use. If you don't like a particular vegetable, simply replace it with something you like.

Spicy Mango Salad with Seared Scallops

In a big mixing bowl, put one stoned, cubed mango, one cubed cucumber, handful of beansprout, cherry tomatoes and something green like spring onion to give  contrasting color. Salads are often colorful and beautiful. Like I said, omit anything you don't like and replace it with the  vegetable of your preference. Put bell pepper in if  you like, chili strips for a lovely spicy kick, coriander leaves instead of spring onion if you fancy its flavor and aroma.

Prepare marinade  using one thumb sized grated ginger root, 1 small red chili seeded and chopped, 5 tbsp. lime juice4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil1 tsp. sesame oil and soy sauce, 1 tbsp of brown sugar and 1 clove of garlic crushed. Mix everything together. Drizzle half of the marinade on the scallops. Then pour the rest on the salad and toss everything. Sear the scallop in a pan for few minutes until done but still juicy. About 2 minutes on each side. Cooked too long it will be dry and rubbery. Transfer salad to serving plates and scatter some chopped roasted  peanuts . Toasted sesame seeds is an equally yummy alternative. Put seared scallop on top and serve. Almost as good as buko salad...well almost. Enjoy!

H-e-a-l-t-h-y  Me!

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