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Tag Archive: frying

Fried Calamari

July 19, 2014 Print this page

There is something so incredibly delicious about fried calamari. It was my choice appetizer at an Italian restaurant when I was younger–I loved the crispiness and the slightly acidic, sometimes spicy punch of tomato sauce on the side. I also have fond memories of snacking on some in a fancy dress atop a high building in Boston and in a dive on a lake in the summertime…it’s just an all-around amazing food. 

Ingredients

Prep Time 10 min
Cooking Time 2 min per batch
Total Time 25 min
Yield 4 servings

2 cups of cooking oil (I recommend avocado oil, coconut oil, or some kind of animal fat)

1 lb of calamari (bodies, tentacles, or a combination of both)

3/4 cup of arrowroot powder

1/4 cup of coconut flour

1 teaspoon of paprika

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of thyme

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

A crack of black pepper

Basic Tomato Sauce, for dipping

Directions

First, pour two cups of your fat of choice into a medium saucepan–one with high sides and a fairly narrow bottom. I used leftover drippings from when I sear duck breasts because it has a high smoke point and doesn’t sputter like mad–you can also use avocado oil, coconut oil, or even lard, if you’d like. Whatever you do, don’t use olive oil–it has a low smoke point, which means lots of sputtering and possible smoke in your kitchen. Better to be safe than sorry. 

While the oil heats up, chop up the calamari. Make sure you pat them dry with a paper towel and give the bodies a rinse with some water to get out any grime.

In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot powder with the coconut flour, paprika, salt, thyme, garlic powder, and black pepper. Stir together with a fork and drop in 1/4 of the squid pieces. Toss to coat, taking care to remove any excess flour mixture. Transfer to a plate.

When the oil reaches 350 degrees, drop in the coated squid. Let it fry for 2 minutes, using a slotted spoon to move the pieces around every 30 seconds or so. Make sure the pot isn’t overcrowded, or the squid won’t brown!

Once light brown and crispy, transfer the fried squid pieces to a plate lined with paper towels. Eat immediately, or keep warm in the oven.

Repeat the same process with the remaining squid until all of it has been cooked. Make sure the oil doesn’t get too cold between batches–you can always pause for a minute and let it heat it up again.

Serve hot and fresh with some Basic Tomato Sauce for dipping.


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Fried Calamari (gluten-free, grain-free, paleo)

July 19, 2014 2 Comments Print this page

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It’s aliveeeeeeeeee!

Actually, not really. It’s just calamari, which always looks a little wild when you’re serving the tentacles.

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A lot of people don’t like seafood or rarely cook it at home, and personally, I think it’s very unfortunate. Fish and shellfish are chock full of protein, healthy fats, and minerals, and cultures who regularly eat it are shown to be healthier and live longer overall.

Like meat, it’s very important to source good-quality seafood from a reputable source. Remember: you are what you eat eats! Like factory-raised livestock, farm-raised fish are forced to swim in tight enclosures and are fed cheap feed usually made from genetically modified wheat, soy, and corn–none of which are good for the fish or for you. Besides, are salmon and tuna really supposed to eat these things? Have you ever seen a fish roaming around a field munching on a grain stalk? I think not.

While wild-caught seafood can be very expensive (sometimes over $25 a pound, twice as much as a less-expensive cut of grass-fed steak at our local butcher), squid tends to be very cost-friendly. Maybe people are afraid of cooking this tentacle-y critter? Whatever the reason, buying squid is an excellent opportunity to incorporate sustainable seafood into your diet at a relatively low cost.

Besides, in the summertime, what could be better than some tasty fried seafood?

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While I don’t fry things often (mostly because I hate smelling like MacDonald’s after I drop things into a pot of hot oil), there is something so incredibly delicious about fried calamari. It was my choice appetizer at an Italian restaurant when I was younger–I loved the crispiness and the slightly acidic, sometimes spicy punch of tomato sauce on the side. I also have fond memories of snacking on some in a fancy dress atop a high building in Boston and in a dive on a lake in the summertime…it’s just an all-around amazing food.

I wouldn’t likely order fried calamari in a restaurant again, but it’s really fun to make at home…and actually very easy! So easy, in fact, that I feel a bit silly about posting it on the blog, but I will anyway, because I need some more seafood recipes in my recipe index. But no, seriously, this fried calamari is tasty squared.

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Are you ready to chow on some tentacles? I hope so! Let’s get cooking.

First, pour two cups of your fat of choice into a medium saucepan–one with high sides and a fairly narrow bottom. I used leftover drippings from when I sear duck breasts because it has a high smoke point and doesn’t sputter like mad–you can also use avocado oil, coconut oil, or even lard, if you’d like. Whatever you do, don’t use olive oil–it has a low smoke point, which means lots of sputtering and possible smoke in your kitchen. Better to be safe than sorry.

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While the oil heats up, chop up 1 lb of calamari–I used a combination of bodies and tentacles, but you can use whichever you prefer. Make sure you pat them dry with a paper towel and give the bodies a rinse with some water to get out any grime.

In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup of arrowroot powder with 1/4 cup of coconut flour, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of thyme, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, and a crack of black pepper. Stir together with a fork and drop in 1/4 of the squid pieces. Toss to coat, taking care to remove any excess flour mixture. Transfer to a plate.

When the oil reaches 350 degrees, drop in the coated squid. Let it fry for 2 minutes, using a slotted spoon to move the pieces around every 30 seconds or so. Make sure the pot isn’t overcrowded, or the squid won’t brown!

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Once light brown and crispy, transfer the fried squid pieces to a plate lined with paper towels. Eat immediately, or keep warm in the oven.

Repeat the same process with the remaining squid until all of it has been cooked. Make sure the oil doesn’t get too cold between batches–you can always pause for a minute and let it heat it up again.

Serve hot and fresh with some Basic Tomato Sauce for dipping.

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Long live summer! (Although I am looking forward to starting my junior year…)

What is your favorite kind of fried seafood? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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General Tso’s Chicken (gluten-free, dairy-free)

April 10, 2014 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Wohoo! We’re making Chinese food! And it’s not even Chinese!

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You can even put the leftovers in one of those red boxes, if you’re craving the authentic American Chinese food experience.

In this country, people have a way of taking food from other cultures and passing it through the American filter of “acceptably shiny and tasty.” Go to my high school (or any other, for that matter) and ask the average Joe or Jane what [insert nationality here] food is. While there are some truths to these food stereotypes–they do eat baguettes in France and salsa in Mexico–chances are, if you were to actually travel to the country, you’d find quite different dishes than you’d expect from dining in a food court in a Western mall.

General Tso’s chicken is a prime example of food stereotyping. Supposedly, it’s named after Zuo Zongtang (cool name, huh?), a Chinese general from Hunan, although there’s reportedly no connection between him and the coveted chicken dish. Like so many other “Chinese” classics–fortune cookies, egg rolls, those fried things in duck sauce that are always on restaurant tables–General Tso’s chicken was likely invented by Chinese chefs who, after immigrating to the States in the 20th Century, wanted to create dishes to appeal to the American palate.

Which means lots of oil, lots of salt, lots of sugar, and a boatload of unpronounceable chemicals. Yum.

Despite its false Asian origins, General Tso’s chicken was still my choice entree when my family and I would pick up Chinese food after my Tae Kwon Do classes when I was younger. (Did you know I got my black belt at age 10? Watch out.) With a side of steamed dumplings–which, believe me, I’m working on a recipe for–I’d chow down happily on a festival of greasy delight.

I’m long past those days; in fact, I think I’d go into sensory overload if I ate Chinese takeout food now. Despite that fact, I still thought it would be fun to recreate General Tso’s chicken with healthier ingredients, and I do believe I’ve succeeded. Crispy, juicy, and bursting with unami flavor, this dish is a lot like the takeout original, only better. It’s also fairly easy to make, so if a sudden craving comes along, this can come together quickly to satisfy it.

Adapted slightly from here and here.

Are you ready to become a fake Chinese food aficionado? I am! Let’s get started.

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You’ll first need 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Normally, I prefer chicken thighs for their superior flavor and juiciness, but sometimes, life calls for white meat.

The trick to making the chicken moist in your final dish is to brine it–but not for too long, or you’ll go into sodium shock when you take a bite. I recommend placing the chicken breasts in 4 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of salt for 2-4 hours, which is just long enough to tenderize and season the meat but not long enough to make it a pure block of sodium chloride.

When the brining time has elapsed, remove the chicken breasts from their salty bath and pat them dry with paper towels. Cut each piece into 1-inch cubes and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together 2 large egg whites with 1 tablespoon of coconut aminos (or organic tamari, if you prefer) and 1 tablespoon of mirin. Make sure your mirin is the naturally-brewed kind: most brands fill theirs with glucose syrup, which the original rice wine product does not contain!

Add the chicken pieces to the egg mixture, toss to coat, and let marinate for 10 minutes.

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Meanwhile, mix 1 cup of arrowroot powder with 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a large bowl. When the chicken is done marinating, transfer the pieces–1/4 of the chicken at a time–into the arrowroot mixture, tossing well to coat. Transfer the coated chicken to a plate, and repeat the same process with the remaining meat. If necessary, add more arrowroot powder–it’s always better to coat the chicken well than skimp.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat with enough oil to cover the bottom with about 1/2 inch of oil. You can use almost any oil that heats well to high heat: I’d recommend refined coconut oil, but palm shortening, duck fat, or even lard would work well.

When the oil is shimmering, add in 1/4 of the chicken pieces, making sure to spread them out and not overcrowd the pan. Fry until golden brown on one side, about 2-3 minutes, then flip over and cook on the other side until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes longer. If the chicken browns too quickly or seems to not be crisping up, increase or decrease the heat accordingly.

Once done frying, transfer the chicken to a plate lined with paper towels and blot them a bit to remove the excess oil.

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Because the chicken pieces are small, they should be sufficiently cooked at this point. Taste a piece, if you’d like–it should be very tender and flavorful!

Repeat the same with the remaining chicken, working in batches to give the chicken pieces enough space.

When all of the chicken is done cooking, make the sauce.

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(Note: this is what my counter looks like a lot of the time.)

In the bowl of a blender, combine 1 cup of chicken stock (preferably homemade), 1/4 cup of coconut aminos (or organic tamari, if you prefer), 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of coconut nectar (or your preferred liquid sweetener of choice), 1 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of mirin, 1 tablespoon of tahini, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of ground ginger, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1 heaping tablespoon of arrowroot powder, and 1 small dried red chili pepper. The sauce should be thin and clump-less after blending; make sure you taste it and adjust it for proper sweetness/saltiness/sourness.

I know this is a lot of ingredients, but combined, they really impart the flavor of “authentic” Chinese food takeout! Each one contributes something special to the sauce, I promise.

Once you’ve made the sauce, transfer it to a small saucepan and whisk over medium-low heat until slightly thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes.

After thickening the sauce, lightly grease a large wok and heat over medium, then add the chicken…

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…followed by the sauce. Toss to coat the chicken completely in the sauce and serve immediately over rice (purple sticky rice is my favorite) or cauliflower rice.

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What was (or is) your favorite Chinese food takeout dish? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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General Tso’s Chicken

April 10, 2014 Print this page

I think I’d go into sensory overload if I ate Chinese takeout food now. Despite that fact, I still thought it would be fun to recreate General Tso’s chicken with healthier ingredients, and I do believe I’ve succeeded. Crispy, juicy, and bursting with unami flavor, this dish is a lot like the takeout original, only better. It’s also fairly easy to make, so if a sudden craving comes along, this can come together quickly to satisfy it.

Ingredients

Prep Time 2 hr
Cooking Time 30 min
Total Time 2 hr 30 min
Yield 4-6 servings

FOR THE BRINE:

4 cups of water

1 tablespoon of salt

1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken breasts

FOR THE MARINADE:

2 large egg whites

1 tablespoon of coconut aminos (can be substituted with organic tamari)

1 tablespoon of mirin

1 cup of arrowroot powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

Neutral oil, for frying (preferably coconut oil)

FOR THE SAUCE:

1 cup of chicken stock (preferably homemade)

1/4 cup of coconut aminos (can be substituted with organic tamari)

1/4 cup of rice vinegar

2 tablespoons of coconut nectar (or preferred liquid sweetener)

1 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste

1 tablespoon of mirin

1 tablespoon of tahini

1 tablespoon of garlic powder

1 tablespoon of ground ginger

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

1 heaping tablespoon of arrowroot powder

1 small dried red chili pepper

Directions

You’ll first need the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Normally, I prefer chicken thighs for their superior flavor and juiciness, but sometimes, life calls for white meat.

The trick to making the chicken moist in your final dish is to brine it–but not for too long, or you’ll go into sodium shock when you take a bite. I recommend placing the chicken breasts in 4 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of salt for 2-4 hours, which is just long enough to tenderize and season the meat but not long enough to make it a pure block of sodium chloride.

When the brining time has elapsed, remove the chicken breasts from their salty bath and pat them dry with paper towels. Cut each piece into 1-inch cubes and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg whites with 1 tablespoon of coconut aminos (or organic tamari, if you prefer) and 1 tablespoon of mirin.

Add the chicken pieces to the egg mixture, toss to coat, and let marinate for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix 1 cup of arrowroot powder with the baking soda in a large bowl. When the chicken is done marinating, transfer the pieces–1/4 of the chicken at a time–into the arrowroot mixture, tossing well to coat. Transfer the coated chicken to a plate, and repeat the same process with the remaining meat. If necessary, add more arrowroot powder.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat with enough oil to cover the bottom with about 1/2 inch of oil.

When the oil is shimmering, add in 1/4 of the chicken pieces, making sure to spread them out and not overcrowd the pan. Fry until golden brown on one side, about 2-3 minutes, then flip over and cook on the other side until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes longer.

Once done frying, transfer the chicken to a plate lined with paper towels and blot them a bit to remove the excess oil.

Repeat the same with the remaining chicken, working in batches to give the chicken pieces enough space.

When all of the chicken is done cooking, make the sauce.

In the bowl of a blender, combine the chicken stock, 1/4 cup of coconut aminos (or organic tamari, if you prefer), rice vinegar, coconut nectar, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of mirin, tahini, garlic powder, ground ginger, sesame oil, 1 heaping tablespoon of arrowroot powder, and the red chili pepper. The sauce should be thin and clump-less after blending; make sure you taste it and adjust it for proper sweetness/saltiness/sourness.

Once you’ve made the sauce, transfer it to a small saucepan and whisk over medium-low heat until slightly thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes.

After thickening the sauce, lightly grease a large wok and heat over medium, then add the chicken, followed by the sauce. Toss to coat the chicken completely in the sauce and serve immediately over rice (purple sticky rice is my favorite) or cauliflower rice.


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Tostones (Crispy Plantain Chips)

March 31, 2014 Print this page

Plantains are completely under-appreciated in this country, and I think it’s time for a change. They may not be as gooey and sweet as their coveted yellow cousins, but with a little love, plantains are magical in their own special way.

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 15 min
Total Time 30 min
Yield 3-4 servings as a side dish

3 large green plantains

Coconut oil, for frying (or other heat-stable oil)

Salt

Freshly-squeezed lime juice

Directions

Using a small, sharp knife, cut slits all of the way down each plantain, taking care to NOT cut through the plantain’s flesh. Peel the slices of skin off of the plantain to reveal the starchy yellow interior.

Cut each plantain on the diagonal to make about 3/4-inch slices.

Meanwhile, heat enough coconut oil (or other heat-stable oil) to cover the bottom of a cast iron skillet with about 1/2-inch of oil. (When you put the plantain slices in, the oil should come up about half of the way up the side.) Once the oil sizzles, add in 1/3 of the plantain slices, and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until lightly browned on the side facing down.

Flip the plantains over to the other side and cook for another 2 minutes, or until lightly browned on that side, too.

Remove the plantain slices from the oil to a thick layer of paper towels and repeat the same procedure with the rest of the plantains. You should have two more batches to go.

They may look tasty enough to eat at this point, but I wouldn’t recommend it! They’ll still be super tough on the inside and not very appetizing.

Now for the fun part. Rip off two large pieces of wax paper and put one slice of plantain between the two. Using a mallet (or your hand), squish the plantain as much as possible until it’s very thin, but thick enough that it’ll hold together. Peel the wax paper away and set the squished plantain slice aside; repeat with the rest of the plantains.

Reheat the oil until it sizzles, then add 1/4 of the plantain slices back into the oil. Cook until brown on one side (only about a minute), then flip over to the other side and fry again until brown. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with the rest of the squished plantain slices.

Immediately season the hot plantains with salt and freshly-squeezed lime juice. Serve right away for optimal crispiness!


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