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SXSW Meat/Taco Detox: Day One

14 Mar

After five days of egg and chorizo or brisket breakfast tacos, miscellaneous BBQ and a steady supply of cocktails, it is so very good to get back to fresher, lighter food. And vegetables. Lots and lots of vegetables. And so goes the annual SXSW detox. Fortunately for me, the fiance is trying out a new diet of eating healthier in general, including mainly plant-based and whole foods. Don’t get me wrong, I seriously doubt my resolve in avoiding juicy steaks from time to time, and fish has to stay. However, I do think that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is always wise.

Walking into FreshWorld was a breath of vibrant, healthy, fresh air. We picked up assorted fruits and herbs to get us through the rest of the week. Here they are, washed in diluted vinegar water and hanging out to dry.

Fresh cilantro, basil and green onions go with everything. Nectarines, clementines, kiwi, pears and pomolo's not pictured for sweet snacks.

Fresh cilantro, basil and green onions go with everything. Nectarines, clementines, kiwi, pears and pomolo’s (not pictured) for sweeter snacks.

I’ve been eager to try new recipes from Andrea Nguyen’s Into the Vietnamese Kitchenand settled on Canh cải cá rô (Gingery Mustard Greens and Tilapia Soup) to go with Sweet Chili Lime Tofu and Rice. The peppery bite of fresh Mustard Greens balanced with ginger and fish sauce sounded perfect for a light yet filling meal.

Gingery Mustard Greens and Fish Soup and Tofu

Canh cải cá rô and Sweet Chili Lime Tofu

I won’t go posting Andrea’s recipes on the blog, but I will share modifications.

Canh cải cá rô (Gingery Mustard Greens and Tilapia Soup):

Mustard Greens, onion, tilapia, ginger, pepper, fish sauce

Ingredients for Gingery Mustard Green and Tilapia Soup

To get the soup going, in goes the tilapia and some of the onion sliced raw. FreshWorld and Super H offer a few options for cleaning whole fish purchased at the store – this is FreshWorld’s #6 where they clean, remove tail and fins, and cut into steaks.

tilapia and onions in water

What are you lookin’ at?!

She advises to “slow cook” the onions that will remain in the soup they become opaque and sweet without browning. I’ve never done that for soups before, rather often tossed them in to the water or broth raw, this led to a much fuller and developed flavor. This is also a good opportunity to find all of the bones that were hiding after removing from the soup stock.

Slow cooking the onions with spices and the tilapia

Slow cooking the onions with spices and the tilapia meat.

After this gets warmed up, you toss the chopped mustard greens in to the soup until they become bright green and cook through a little bit. I like them more on the raw side where the flavors are still strong, he prefers them cooked through a little more and with less bite. We’ll find our way to the middle. In all, this soup took 30 minutes. Not bad starting with water!

Mods:

– Different fish. Tilapia are too bony and difficult to separate the meat when using a small fish. Any recommendations for what you use?

– Add more Fish Sauce and Mushroom Seasoning to the broth – the soup was a little bland and needed some Soy Sauce. Mushroom seasoning would do the trick.

– Season with Pepper and chopped Cilantro before serving.

While all of this was going on, I attempted to make a Sweet Chili Lime Tofu recipe I found via Pinterest.

Sweet Chili Lime Tofu (from VeganYumYum):

This was interesting. I’ve never ‘dry fried’ anything in my life. And like the more common oil frying method, I suck at this one too. Drying and slicing the tofu were fun. I like geometry and symmetry with my food.

Well dried and triangle-cut tofu

Well dried and triangle-cut tofu

Then you’re supposed to plop these things in a hot, well-seasoned cast iron or other super non-stick surface, press often and get the liquid out. And they’re not supposed to stick. But mine did.

Dry frying tofu

Oops.

After these are sufficiently dry-fried (I gave up half way through), pour in the Sweet Chili Lime sauce until it bubbles and thickens. Serve over rice.

I probably won’t make this again. The sauce was too sweet and too…everything. Not enough of the right things. I am still on the hunt for a really amazing Thai-style chili lime or chili basil sauce recipe. Do you have one?

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