Healthier Fish ‘n Chips

I love fish. It can be prepared so many ways and contains so many important nutrients including omega-3s which can help keep your heart healthy and reduce the risk for stroke and arthritis.

Breaded fish

Breaded fish

This was the first time that I ever cooked fish, so I didn’t want to do something too difficult. Still, I bought fish at the farmers’ market and cut it into small slivers. In other bowls, I filled one with egg whites and the other with whole wheat panko breadcrumbs. Similarly to the breaded chicken for my General Tso’s chicken, I dipped the fish into the egg whites and then made sure to thoroughly coat all sides of the fish. Then I laid them out on a lightly greased pan. Once I had repeated these steps about 8 times, I put the fish into the oven at 450 degrees for 12 minutes.

Potato chunks

Potato chunks

As the fish was cooking, I cut up potatoes into small chunks. I lightly sprayed them with olive oil. Once the fish was done, I cooked the potatoes for about 20 minutes.

I added some carrots and some parsley. I cut up a lemon to give the fish a bit more flavor.

I am very happy with how this meal came out. In all honesty, this is probably one of my more successful meals, and definitely something that I can do all on my own.

Yum!

Yum!

Grades:

Health: A-. Overall really good, but potatoes are full of carbohydrates and could be substituted with lower carb Popchips, or another healthier chip alternative.

Taste: A. One of the best meals I’ve made so far.

Cost: B+. Fish is pretty expensive, but everything else is pretty cheap. Not too bad.

Overall: A-. Really enjoyed making and eating this. As did my mother.

 

Sushi Making!

This week I attempted to make sushi. The rice is the most important part of making good sushi, so I started by learning about the different types of rice and learned how to cook it.

Cleaning rice

Cleaning rice

I began by following Helen’s recipe on her site, Beyond Salmon. Thanks Jacob for recommending her site for the rice cooking technique. I followed to a T, because I was worried that my rice was not going to come out right. I rinsed the rice in my sieve at least 5 times, until the water came out clean. I added the rice to my pyrex dish, but I only had a 8 by 6 dish, not an 8 by 8 like the recipe asked for. I brought the two cups of water to a boil and then added it to my rice in the pyrex dish. Then I covered it with aluminum foil and put it in my oven for 20 minutes.

While it was cooking, I made the finishing dressing, by combining the vinegar, mirin, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. I made sure to not let it boil, and let it heat up just enough to let the sugar melt.

Once the rice was done, I transferred it into a large bowl and then added about 3/4th of my dressing. Then I put damp paper towels on top of the bowl and let it sit while I prepared the sushi add-ins.

I sliced an avocado, cucumber, and tuna and salmon. My mom is a big fan of tuna, while I prefer salmon, so I bought small amounts of both.

image (5)

Attempting to roll

Now it was the time of  truth. I took out my nori and spread some rice around the entire sheet. Then in the center I placed down some fish, cucumber and avocado. Then I began to roll, which actually wasn’t has difficult as I thought it was going to be. I made about 8 sheets, which was way too much, but I bought too much fish that I didn’t want to waste.

Then I dug in. The rolls were pretty good, but for some reason the texture of my rice seemed a little off, which was disappointing. This is the first time that I ever made sushi, so I understand that I may need to practice. Next time, I may try to cook my rice in a rice cooker and see how it comes out. Besides the texture of the rice, it was good. Even my mom said it was pretty good, and she eats a lot of sushi. I am definitely going to try to make sushi again, but as I said I may try to use a rice cooker next time.

YUM!

YUM!

Grades:

Taste: B+. I wish I could rate this higher, but the rice was a bit off putting. Rice cooker next time.

Health: B. Rice isn’t really healthy, but this can be a once in a while food. Maybe I’ll try brown rice next time to try to add some fiber?

Price: C+. In reality, it’s actually about the same price to just order sushi at a restaurant. It was definitely an experience to make it, but the fish is pretty expensive.

Overall: B. I enjoyed the experience of making this, but I would probably only make this once or twice a year. It’s a lot of work, and it’s not all that cost effective compared to restaurant made sushi.

General Tso’s Chicken

After watching The Search for General Tso’s on Monday, I was inspired to make my own, semi-healthier, version.

I began by researching recipes. Most of them had a recipe for a very thick, sugar-heavy sauce. This was the complete opposite of what I wanted. My goal was to find a lighter sauce and also figure out how to sweeten the sauce without using flat out sugar.

Ultimately, I found what I was looking for: apricot jam. It had just enough sugar to give the sauce a sweet taste, but was not too overwhelming.

This is the recipe I used:

1/4 cup of all-purpose flour

3 large egg whites

1/2 cup of Panko bread crumbs (but you can use any bread crumbs you have)

1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 2/3 cups of water

1/4 cup of soy sauce

1/4 cup of apricot jam

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

small pinch of red pepper flakes

Breaded Chicken

Breaded Chicken

I began by preheating the oven to 475 degrees. I took a pan and lined it with aluminum foil and sprayed it with vegetable oil (I need to look for a better alternative in the future). Then I cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces. I poured out the flour, egg whites, and Panko breading into three separate bowls. Then I dipped the chicken in the flour, then egg whites, then Panko. Then I put the pieces of chicken on the tray and sprayed it with my cooking spray. I let the chicken cook for roughly 14 minutes, and flipped them over halfway through.

As the chicken was cooking, I combined the water, soy sauce, apricot jam, and cornstarch together in a large bowl. Then I poured the mixture into a saucepan. I brought it to a simmer and then let it sit until it began to thicken. Once it was thick enough, I turned the heat off and covered it with a lid.

Sauce

Sauce

Once the chicken was done, I took the pan out of the oven and placed the chicken into the sauce. I coated the chicken and then it was time to eat!  I had already made some rice and was ready to see how this dish came out. The smell of the sauce was already amazing, so I had a feeling this one was going to be good!

Well it turns out it was good, really good. Definitely something I would make again and it uses far less ingredients than an average General Tso’s.

With sauce

With sauce

Without Sauce

Without Sauce

Grades:
Taste: A. Amazing. While it is a little different from “conventional” General Tso’s, it really is pretty great.

Health: A-. What can I say, soy sauce is extremely salty, but otherwise everything is pretty healthy.

Price: A. I had all of these ingredients already (besides the chicken), but this can serve multiple people and is probably even cheaper than buying it from a restaurant if you shop at the right places.

Overall: A. I really enjoyed both making this dish and eating it.

Chicken Stir Fry

As stated in my last post, this week I am going to be focusing on East Asian cuisine. I started this week by making a chicken stir fry. I looked at recipes, and ultimately made up my own recipe.

My recipe is as follows:

2 carrots

1/2 cup of broccoli

1/2 cup of peppers (yellow/orange/red/green, your choice)

1/3 cup of cucumber

4 oz of chicken (rough estimate)

1/3 cup of onions

Ginger

pepper

1/2 tablespoon soy sauce (less if that’s what you prefer)

 

I started by cutting up all my vegetables. I sliced my carrots, cucumber, onion and cut up my broccoli and peppers. Then I sliced my chicken into thin, but not too thin slices. I first added the carrots, broccoli, and onions to the work, because they take the longest to cook. This is my first time using a wok, and wow it’s really amazing, but more on that later. Then I added the chicken. Next was the cucmber and peppers. And finally the ginger. I let it cook until the chicken looked thoroughly cooked, constantly stirring. Lastly I added the pepper and soy sauce, but I used less than 1/2 tablespoon because I didn’t want it to be too salty.

Cooking

Cooking

 

Attempting to flip

Attempting to flip

 

The dish came out great! I completely made this dish on my own and it turned out awesome! I cooked up a bit of brown rice and placed my stir fry on top of it in a bowl. I still have to work on my flipping skills. While I really enjoyed using this stir fry pan, it was a bit too heavy to flip.

 

 

 

 

 

Grades:

Health: A. The chicken is a great source of protein and it is full of veggies. The only thing to watch out for is the salt, but just don’t use too much soy sauce

Taste: B+. It’s a bit bland. Next time I add more spices to make it a bit more lively.

Price: A-. Surprisingly, the vegetables were not too expensive, but unfortunately most of them are not in season, so I could not buy them at the farmer’s market. Still, I can make multiple servings and with the amount of vegetables I purchased, I can probably make at least 6 portions.

Overall: A. This is a great dish, and can have as many or a few vegetables as you like. Try it out for yourself and maybe try it with some different sauces!

Finished dish. Stir fry over rice

Finished dish. Stir fry over rice

 

Week 4: General Tso’s Chicken (and Other East Asian Dishes!)

Today I started off my week by seeing The Search for General Tso’s at the Tribeca Film Festival. I am very interested in making East Asian foods, so that is what I am going to be focusing on this week.

I’ve honestly only had General Tso’s chicken once or twice in my life. I prefer to have authentic Chinese food in Chinatown, but if I go out for Americanized Chinese food, I usually get sesame chicken. While I went into this movie thinking it was just going to be about how General Tso’s is made, I was pleasantly surprised to get a nice history and cultural information about it.

One line in the film was about how General Tso’s is like gaining an “invitation into the world.” I really have never thought about food in this way, but it really is true. Food can tell so much about a culture, including the agriculture, nutrition and values. After seeing this movie, I feel like I have a newfound interest in the culture and background of food. It was so interesting to “walk” through the various Chinese dishes, such as Chop Suey, and see how they evolved into what we see as General Tso’s today.

While General Tso’s is now considered American-Chinese food, it was created by a Chinese man in China. Although the dish has changed dramatically since then, it is interesting to notice how the dish has evolved, and even more interesting to examine what kinds of dishes are popular in the United States (mostly consisting of sugar, salt and fat).

I really enjoyed this movie and I think it was a great way to start my week. This week I will indeed by concocting my own General Tso’s chicken as well as a homemade stir fry and some simple sushi. I may also try to recreate an East Asian dessert! I have never made any of these dishes before, and I am very excited to be trying them out. I hope they will taste as well as I imagine they will!

Macaroons

I basically figured out this recipe on my own after looking at many different recipes for inspiration. I wanted to make macaroons with the least amount of ingredients as possible and cut down on the sugar.

Ultimately I used this recipe:

2/3 cup of sugar

5 Egg whites

6-8 oz of shredded coconut

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

That’s it! Pretty simple!

I started by combining the egg whites, sugar and coconut, stirring periodically until the coconut was completely covered. Then I put the coconut into the bowl added the almond extract and vanilla extract. I stirred the coconut together and then put the bowl into the fridge. It is important to put it into the fridge so it’s easier to work with when making the macaroons.

I came back a couple of hours later and preheated the oven to 325 degrees. Then I prepared the baking sheet with parchment paper. Then I put small balls of the mixture onto a baking sheet and baked them for about 25 minutes. My recipe yielded 24 macaroons.

I am very happy with how they came out. They were my most successful dish this week and tasted delicious. Next time I would probably use even less sugar. When they were warm, they were divine.

Grades:

Health: B. Compared to regular, store bought macaroons these are healthier. But still, they are a dessert and contain a lot of sugar.

Taste: A. Not much to say except I absolutely love these. I tried them side-by-side with store bought macaroons. The difference is huge!

Price: A. So much cheaper than buying store bought ones. The bag of shredded coconut I purchased was 2 dollars. The other ingredients are pretty inexpensive as well.

Overal: A-. I not only would make these again, but I definitely will!