Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Grain of the Week - 40 - Jasmine Rice

Jasmine Rice is a long grain variety of rice that is also called fragrant Thai rice. Jasmine is available as both brown rice and white rice. The brown rice has a better nutrition profile than the white rice.

Jasmine rice when cooked is bright white and they stick together. This is different than when Basmati rice is cooked where the grains are separate. We usually prefer eating Jasmine Rice as accompaniment with Chinese stir fries. The scent and aroma when cooked is caused by the chemical 2-Acetyl-1-pyrroline which is present in elevated levels in most fragrant rice. An electric rice cooker or stove top might be the best method of cooking rather than a pressure cooker.

Jasmin Rice is originally from Thailand where it is has been cultivated for centuries initially mainly for royalty. The rice today is popular all over South East Asia.

While the nutrition profile of most white rice varieties don't differ by much, the history of rice and how they came to be are very interesting.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Salmon Cutlets / Croquettes

I usually buy canned Wild Alaskan salmon at Costco thinking of the flaked salmon quick stir fry on a busy weeknight. The quality of the fish though canned is pretty good actually. Like everything bought in Costco you do not buy one or two cans you get about 6. So after the first few are over the rest languish in the pantry for months. Luckily the canned stuff does not get spoiled. The last time I bought some a few were sitting in the pantry and to use them wisely I made these salmon cutlets.

Cutlets vegetarian or fish is a well liked and is a much sought after snack item. If you are ready to deep fry this is actually a pretty easy snack to make. I have not tried baking these but I am thinking these are perfectly suited for baking because the insides are already cooked and only the outside has to crisp. The trick to come these from getting soggy or breaking apart is that the salmon/potato filling should be moisture free. While onions are a good addition for the taste I would avoid them here just because of the moisture they generate. Cooking the potatoes ahead of time so there is enough time for it cool down. This is better than the normal hurry burry way of holding the potatoes under running water to cool them down which makes the potatoes soggy and another reason why the cutlet does not hold its shape.

If you can get the Costco Canned Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon they taste good and do not have the strong fishy smell. Also there is nothing else in it other than salt.

Mix the salmon, mashed potatoes, ginger-garlic-green chilies minced along with the masala powder, salt and red chili powder.
Keep the egg wash and bread crumbs ready. Dip the shaped salmon cutlets in the egg wash first.
Dip the cutlet in bread crumbs next.
Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the cutlets till they are golden brown.
Drain on paper towels.

Salmon Cutlets/Croquettes
Preparation Time:25 minutes
Cooking Time:30 minutes
  1. 18 oz of cooked salmon (or any fish)
  2. 2 medium sized white or Russet potatoes
  3. 6-8 green chilies
  4. 5-6 garlic cloves
  5. 1 inch piece of ginger
  6. 2 tsp curry masala powder (optional)
  7. 1 tsp red chili powder
  8. salt to taste
  9. 2 eggs
  10. 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  11. 1/2 cups onions sauteed (optional, I did not add them) (See Note:)
  12. Oil for deep frying

  1. If using canned salmon open it and let it strain in a colander till all the water drains. Set it aside. If using steamed fish flake it and set it aside.
  2. Boil the potatoes and let it cool, peel and mash the potatoes till smooth.
  3. Mince the green chilies, garlic and ginger.
  4. To the potatoes add the flaked salmon, minced ginger,garlic and green chilies, salt, masala powder and red chili powder. Mix with a fork or use your hands. Check for taste.
  5. Heat a deep fryer pan or kadai with oil.
  6. Break the eggs and whisk it and keep the egg wash in a wide mouthed bowl. Take the panko bread crumbs in another bowl.
  7. Shape the cutlet into oblong or flat rounds. Dip the shaped cutlets in the egg wash first and then dredge them in the bread crumbs so the cutlet is well coated on all sides.
  8. When the oil is hot add the coated cutlets and deep fry till it is golden brown on all sides.
  9. Drain well on paper towels.
  10. Serve with tomato ketchup or tomato chili sauce with wedges of lemon and cucumber.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Plants for the Fall - 2014

For some who are tired of the heat and humidity of the Summer, Fall is welcome relief to cooler and less humid temperatures. For me Fall is a down season, all the changing color on the tress and the dropping leaves signal the coming period of cold and snow - weather that I will never get used to and just about tolerate till the warmer weather is near the horizon.

Monarch Butterflies?

Well anyway an exception to this gloom is the fall garden, planted towards the end of the summer the green is a sight that is invigorating and makes one forget for a while the approaching winter.

Greens like collard, kale, spinach , pak choi all prefer the slightly chillier weather that is typical of the fall. Planted towards the end of August they work their magic till the snow hits the area which for us is usually late Dec or early Jan.

Pak Choi

There are always exceptions to this rule however when some years we have had snow as early as Halloween. The frost works itself here way earlier than that but unlike the other plants that literally die during the first frost, the greens on other hand supposedly thrive and the leaves take on a sweeter note with the drop in temperature. I will know pretty soon.


Growing greens is the most easiest of all plants. They start producing literally in 2-3 weeks from the time you sow the seeds in the ground. If you trim the leaves leaving the young ones alone they produce for a long time.


Eggplants although nearing the end of the season seem to be still fruiting.

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