Tag Archives: basil

Mediterranean Fish Stew

28 Dec

mediterranean fish stew

I’m getting settled in here in Montevideo, and although a lot of things are very similar to Buenos Aires, there are also a lot of noticeable differences. For one, food on the whole is surprisingly expensive – about two to three times as much as I’d encountered in my neighborhood in Buenos Aires. So I’m cooking even more in order to save money. The river here is a lot cleaner, and we’re just at where it meets the ocean, so there’s a lot more seafood available here, and that’s one thing that’s actually cheaper. So I put together this basic fisherman’s stew, using tilapia that was on special (though any firm white fish should do). I’d never cooked something quite like this before, but it was very easy to throw together and packed with flavor. I especially liked the technique of using anchovies and garlic to create the base (instead of the usual fish stock or clam juice). Topped with fresh herbs, this stew makes a lovely simple meal.

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Roasted Tomatoes and Green Beans with Basil

1 Oct

roasted tomatoes and green beans with basil

Every once in a while, I cook something delicious but don’t get around to posting about it. As I was going through some photos from late summer, I stumbled across the photos of this simple but tasty side and knew it was worth putting up on here. My kitchen was overflowing with cherry tomatoes and basil from my garden, and green beans were dirt cheap at the farmers’ market, so I put this together when I was feeling a bit lazy. But the end result was amazing – roasting the veggies concentrates their natural sweetness, and combined with herbaceous basil leaves, this makes for a great side dish (and I know I don’t post enough recipes for sides on here). I seem to remember that I actually mixed the end result with crumbled goat cheese which added a great creamy and tangy element, but even in its healthier vegan version, as written here, this is a dish worth making (or at least bookmarking for next summer).

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Anchovy Chimichurri

12 Sep

anchovy chimichurri

Today, I have an exciting announcement. I’m moving to Buenos Aires, Argentina! While I’m certainly going to be sad to leave my hometown of DC, it was time for a little change of scenery. Last week was my last one at my full-time job (yes, I do more than just write this blog), and a week from now, I’ll be on a plane heading to South America. I’m looking forward to new culinary experiences (in between learning Spanish and taking online classes towards my masters) and have big plans for improving and expanding this very blog, so the next year or so should be an exciting time!

In honor of the occasion, here’s a recipe for the classic Argentinean sauce, chimichurri. A pureed combination of herbs and spices, chimichurri is usually used to top grilled meats in traditional Argentinean asado (barbecue). But, although I’ve shown it over a pan seared rib eye here (made with this Alton Brown recipe, by the by), it’s also well-matched to roasted or grilled vegetables or as a spread on sandwiches. Of course, in my usual way, I couldn’t just make a typical chimichurri recipe. So this one has a twist – the inclusion of anchovies. The flavor isn’t overtly fishy, but the anchovies provide extra umami for an intensely savory and rich version of this sauce. Of course, any anchovy haters (probably the group I’m least likely to convert on here) can feel free to simply omit the anchovies.

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Crispy Tilapia with Spicy Thai Basil Sauce

25 Jul

crispy tilapia with spicy thai basil sauce

Usually when I go out to eat, I love sharing. It makes the meal delightfully communal and also means that I get to try a variety of different dishes. But every once in a while, I encounter a dish so spectacularly tasty that I need to have it all to myself. The crispy tilapia with spicy basil sauce at my neighborhood Thai restaurant, Beau Thai, is one such dish. When it first showed up on their rotating specials, my boyfriend and I thought we’d give it a try. We were amazed by the perfectly cooked fish, crunchy fried crust, and fragrant and flavorful sauce. Luckily, it has since been moved onto their regular menu. These days, we’ll stop by for dinner, take a look at their menu (as though we might order something else), and then each get an order of this. So finally I decided I had to try my hand at recreating the dish. I did a simple panko-crusted and fried preparation for the fish itself and modeled the sauce off of my Thai basil stir fry. The end result was like hitting jackpot – now I can get my fill of this dish at home! And maybe I’ll finally try some new dishes the next time I’m at Beau Thai.

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Peaches in Basil Syrup

13 Jul

peaches in basil syrup

I knew I wanted to combine peaches and basil for a tasty summer dessert, but none of the recipes I came across seemed quite right. I wanted something simple, something that would really focus on these delicious, seasonal ingredients – peaches from the farmers market and basil from my garden. So I created my own easy recipe. Basil leaves pureed with orange juice and honey then poured over peaches (I actually used a mix of peaches and nectarines). You only need a handful of ingredients and a couple of minutes of work to create this delicious concoction – great eaten plain but absolutely fantastic served over strained yogurt (straining yogurt makes it extra thick and creamy, just perfect for desserts). A wonderful little celebration of summer!

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Thai Basil Lime Agua Fresca

29 Jun

thai basil lime agua fresca

I’ve been posting about Thai basil all week, and here’s a final recipe honoring one of my favorite herbs. Perfect for the seemingly constant heatwaves that have been hitting DC lately. An amazingly refreshing agua fresca. A little sweet and a little tart and packed with flavor from the Thai basil (this is one recipe where other varieties of basil can be readily substituted, too, if that’s what you have in abundance), this is exactly the drink I want to sit and sip on during a hot summer day. It’s also ridiculously simple to make and a vibrant glowing green color, so it’s a great option to serve to guests.

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Three Cup Chicken

27 Jun

three cup chicken

Here’s a follow-up to my post on Monday – another recipe that hinges on the unique flavor of Thai basil. This recipe, however, is a popular Taiwanese one. Similar to pound cake and 3-2-1 stir fry, the recipe is in the name here. Three cup chicken was traditionally made using a nearby tea cup to measure out equal amounts of soy sauce, shaoxing cooking wine, and sesame oil for the extremely flavorful sauce. Of course, it’s not just those ingredients that make this dish so tasty. You may notice the seemingly ridiculous amounts of garlic, ginger, and Thai basil called for here and be tempted to cut back. Don’t; you’ll thank me. If you don’t have much tolerance for spice, feel free to cut back on the bird’s eye chiles, but leave the rest be. I was amazed at the tangy, sweet, and spicy (yet not overwhelming) flavor in this dish. Definitely best served over rice (or cauliflower rice) to soak up any extra sauce.

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Thai Basil Stir Fry

25 Jun

thai basil stir fry

Can I tell you what I am most excited about in my garden this year? Thai basil. A sweet basil cultivar used not only in Thai cooking, but also in Vietnamese, Laotian, and Taiwanese cuisine, this variety has dark purple stems and a distinctive anise flavor. Here’s the very first dish I cooked using fresh Thai basil from my garden. A simple vegetable stir fry with zucchini, carrot, and mushrooms, finished off with a fistful of Thai basil leaves and a simple Thai sauce. Garlic, shallots, and bird’s eye chiles (which are quite spicy, by the way, so cut back if you don’t have a very high spice tolerance) help to round out the flavors in this addictive stir fry. This could easily be adapted to whatever vegetables you like, but don’t even think about leaving out or substituting the Thai basil. It can usually be found in large bunches at Asian markets (which is also your best bet for fish sauce and bird’s eye chiles). Once you try this stir fry, don’t be surprised if you find yourself seeking out Thai basil whenever possible and wishing for your very own plant.

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Lemon Basil Chickpea Salad

18 Jun

lemon basil chickpea salad

In the past, I’ve often found myself diving enthusiastically into projects and then quickly abandoning them. But I’m trying my best to change that, and it’s amazing what I’ve been able to accomplish. In past years, for instance, I bought seeds and seedlings and got really excited about the possibility of having a great garden, but when it came down to it, I didn’t have the energy for all the upkeep. But this year, I’ve been taking really good care of my garden (with a lot of help from one of my roommates), and it’s really gratifying to see my plants steadily grow. I recently pruned my basil plant and suddenly found myself with a lot of fresh basil to use. I wanted to do something a little different from a traditional pesto and found myself loving this lemon basil chickpea salad. The herbaceous basil plays well with lemon juice, honey, and mustard in an exceedingly flavorful dressing (which, by the way, can be used on all kinds of different salads), and I really enjoyed it over a basic mix of chickpeas and sauteed greens. Great served at room temperature or cold for a little something refreshing on especially hot summer days (and a good option for bringing along to a picnic!). I can’t wait to find more creative uses for all the herbs (and vegetables) I’m growing in my garden this year.

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Thai Corn Salad

25 May

thai corn salad

As we move into summer, I just don’t have the patience to spend a long time next to a hot stove or hot oven to cook. And I certainly don’t feel like eating anything too heavy or rich. So this easy Thai corn salad is perfect for a light lunch or as a side to a lazy summer dinner. A dressing of fresh Thai basil and cilantro along with lime, honey, and ginger perfectly complements the sweet corn that will soon flood our markets and makes this a lot more exciting than your usual corn salad. And since the salad tastes great cold, at room temperature, or even a little warm (and there’s no dairy to spoil), this is the perfect dish to bring along to a picnic. It only takes about fifteen minutes to throw together (or maybe a little bit longer if you use cooked corn rather than raw – I recommend grilling if you’re going to cook the corn), so you’ll still have a lot of time to get out and enjoy yourself.

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