Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fish with Coconut Sauce (Pescado Encocado)

While I loved the Dominican Republic beaches and eating (see part 1 and part 2 of our trip), the highlight was getting my scuba diving license!

B got licensed in Chicago (yes, in the middle of North America away from all ocean) a few years ago and had always wanted me to learn so we could dive together.
Fish with Coconut Sauce (Pescado Encocado) | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
Initially I had wanted to do just one day of diving during the vacation, but learned a single day of diving was an option but couldn't toward classes/certification in the future. Also, when B got licensed, he had to drive back and forth over two weekends, and both his open water dive were an hour's drive away). In the Dominican Republic, the beach was right there and all the transport was arranged. And once I got the full certification, I could dive anywhere in the world.

So, naturally, I took the full course - I've always been a go-big-or-go-home kind of person anyway.
Fish with Coconut Sauce (Pescado Encocado) | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
My thought was that I was going to lounge and sleep in on this vacation, but I quickly found out diving is no joke.

I had to wake up super early everyday for "theory" classes (so much physics and science of diving - pressure, volume, nitrogen calculations) then do a lot of diving exercises, initially in the pool (closed water), then four open water dives (ocean) and lots of quizzes and a final exam.
Fish with Coconut Sauce (Pescado Encocado) | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
Breathing underwater is very unnatural, but the number one rule is never hold your breath (unless you want your lungs to over-inflate and pop). My exercises included what to do if your tank oxygen runs out, controlling my buoyancy with breathing, taking off my mask underwater (the worst!), and removing and replacing my breathing tube. 

Doing them in the safety of a pool is one thing, where you can poke your head above water if there's issues, but doing them all more than 40 feet underwater  in very choppy ocean water is nerve wracking. I can swim for long distances, but it was quite tiring even for me. The last day, someone on the boat got seasick and skipped the last dive, but I was determined to get my license!
Fish with Coconut Sauce (Pescado Encocado) | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
Still, the ocean coral is just magical and worth all of the training. There were so much beautiful fish, coral and even wreckages, reminding me of Finding Nemo. I even got to hold a little hermit crab in my hand the last day. B is super jealous because his open diving was in a muddy lake in the Midwest while I had the Caribbean ocean.

Today, I'm sharing the last of my Dominican inspired recipe - Fish with Coconut Sauce (Pescado Encocado). I had a coconut milk fish stew in the Dominican restaurant on my resort with savory plantains and rice. I really love fish - whether I'm eating them or swimming among them!  Hope you enjoy the Pescado Encocado and our adventures! Recipe adapted from Laylita.

Fish with Coconut Sauce (Pescado Encocado)

1 lb white fish (I used cod)
2 limes, juiced
1/2 cup orange juice
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 bell peppers, diced
1/2 cup tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes)
1/2 (14 oz) can of full fat coconut milk
tapioca starch or cornstarch, to thicken (optional)
3 tbs cilantro, finely chopped
Pepper and salt to taste

Mix the lime juice, orange juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Marinate the fish for at least an hour if possible.

Heat the oil in a pan. Prepare a base for the sauce cooking the onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the coconut milk, mix it in well and cook for about 10 minutes. If you prefer, you can thicken the sauce by adding 1/2 tsp of tapioca starch or cornstarch.

Add the fish fillets, with the marinade, to the pan. Cover partially and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Top with cilantro and serve with rice and fried ripe plantains. Enjoy!
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Friday, May 19, 2017

Pina Colada Smoothie

Sharing more Dominican republic adventures on this post (you can see part 1 featuring plantain tostanes)! When we first arrived on the island, we were both exhausted. I had just taken my medical licensing exams, then we immediately jetted to Michigan for a friend's whirlwind wedding. Then after just 3.5 hours of sleep, we took off to the Caribbean on the earliest flight to maximize our time there. 
Pina Colada Smoothie | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
As soon as we got to our resort, we marveled at the beach, the food, the resort gardens and pools, activities/amenities for about 5 minutes before we passed out in our garden canopy bed for a much needed nap.

We wandered the beach for a while, which had one of the bluest oceans I had ever seen (contenders include Maui, Hawaii and Mykonos, Greece), before we went back to bed again.
Pina Colada Smoothie | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
Drinks were unlimited on the resort, so to celebrate, B and I ordered a pina colada, which we both love. If you can drink a lot, you can certainly get your money's worth in all inclusive resorts! (B and I, alas, did not drink our worth since we're super lightweights regarding alcohol... but B made up for it with the lobsters he devoured)
Pina Colada Smoothie | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
I ate endless fruit everyday, especially the pineapples and mangos which are harder to get in Connecticut. I kept eyeing the coconuts on the top of the palm trees everywhere on the resort. The one time I bought fresh coconuts in Connecticut, they actually turned out to be rancid -_-' so I've given up on eating them in the North. On the second to last day of our trip, we discovered that coconuts were unlimited - you just had to find a gardener to get the coconut and chop it with a machete for you. 

After that, we ate so much coconuts! You can see pictures of our coconut drinks (and the ocean) on my instagram feed. I still don't know how the gardeners scale such high palm trees!
Pina Colada Smoothie | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
This recipe is for a pina colada smoothie, which is creamy and light and doesn't have alcohol, although you can add if you wish of course. There's a more classic, rum spiked pina colada recipe on the blog (where you can read to find out the story of why I don't drink much alcohol). The little umbrella is actually from the Dominican Republic, a little souvenir I brought back from the resort :)

Pina Colada Smoothie

1/2 cup fresh pineapple
1/2 can coconut milk
almond milk, to taste
ice, to taste

Add all the ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth. Adjust the milk and ice to desired thickness. Pour into your cup when ready to serve. Garnish with fresh pineapple and paper umbrella. Enjoy!
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Friday, May 12, 2017

Plantain Tostones with Mango Salsa and Cilantro Chimichurri

I'm excited to share today a recipe inspired by my time in the Dominican Republic! Vacation is a precious time in residency, especially because there's no summers or holidays, and we used this to celebrate our 1 year anniversary.

Our last time off was 8 months  ago (which we just went home), so our last true vacation had actually been our honeymoon. As B had never really traveled, I planned the entire honeymoon to Paris and Greece.  Of course, that meant the honeymoon involved a lot of food, museums, art, museums, culture, museums, history, museums, architecture, and museums in a fast paced, action packed trip that included lots of waking up early and no naps (That's how B describes it to our friends). What can I say, I'm a jet-setter!

While B enjoyed the honeymoon, he said he would plan the next trip. It would be a "leisurely," "non-thinking," "no museums," "relaxing" beach resort where he would get to sleep all day.
Plantain Tostones with Mango Salsa and Cilantro Chimichurri | Obsessive Cooking Disorder

I agreed and let B pick - we settled on the Caribbean, close by since we only had a week because of my medical exams and schedule. Also, at this point of residency, I was happy to have a more laid back vacation that included lots of sleeping.

B wanted an all inclusive resort because that would take care of the vacation planning, and we looked at recommendations by friends .... until we saw the $$$ prices.

So we googled "Budget Caribbean Islands" and discovered Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Since we vacation at weird times, there was a package on a huge sale, and the deal was even better because we booked it through Costco (we do love Costco) - so we got grocery vouchers too!
Plantain Tostones with Mango Salsa and Cilantro Chimichurri | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
Our all inclusive resort had beautiful beaches, fun activities (Latin dancing classes, paddle-board yoga, casino, local arts and crafts), but most of all, had tons of food. There were buffets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as dine-in restaurants.

As B devoured an impressive amount of steak and lobsters, I tried to eat the Latin and Caribbean foods. I ate lots of seafood, coconuts, and plantains / tostones, which you don't see as much in the northeast. Even back in Texas, I always preferred traditional Hispanic food over the heavy Tex Mex dishes.
B and I were super sad to leave our resort, so to ease the vacation blues, I've been cooking some Caribbean inspired food this week.  Plantain Tostones, twice fried plantains (fry once, then smash, then fry again), are a common side dish. They are delicious on their own, and I've topped them with mango salsa and a cilantro chimichurri for even more flavor. Recipe adapted from Get Inspired Everyday. Enjoy this taste of the Caribbean!

Plantain Tostones with Mango Salsa and Cilantro Chimichurri

1-2 plantains
olive oil
salt, to taste

3/4 cup mango, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 lime, juiced (2 tablespoons)
1 small jalapeno, diced
salt and pepper, to taste

1 small bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 1/2 limes, juiced (3 tablespoons)
1 small jalapeno, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Make your salsa and chimichurri first.

MANGO SALSA: Toss your diced mango, red onion, cilantro, lime juice and jalapeno in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

CILANTRO CHIMICHURRI: In a blender or food processor, combine your cilantro, garlic, onion, lime, jalapeno and pulse for a few seconds. Add a bit of the olive oil, then pulse for a few seconds. Add more oil then pulse briefly againm and repeat until eventually all the olive oil is in, to emulsify the sauce.  Blend until the chimichurri is creamy. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

TOSTONES: For the tostones, preheat a large skillet over medium heat with oil. Peel plantain and slice straight down to make 1" thick circles (not diagonal) and add to skillet. Fry for a few minutes per side til just golden without browning on each side. Adjusting the heat if they brown too much

Using tongs, remove and place on a chopping board. With the side of a large knife (or something flat), smash the fried plantains flat into 1/4 inch thick discs. Fry the flattened plantains again, a few minutes per side until golden brown and crispy. Sprinkle sea salt.

To serve, top each plantain chip with your mango salsa and top with the cilantro chimichurri. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
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Friday, May 5, 2017

Sushirrito (Sushi Burrito)

B loves watching documentaries. He's watched ones about planet earth, about mountain climbing, and of course about sushi, and constantly tells me to watch them with him. I've wanted to watch the sushi documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, forever and finally found some time while on a plane flight.
Sushirrito (Sushi Burrito) | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
The documentary talks about Jiro, one of the world's most prominent sushi chefs, who, at over 90 years old (!) still runs his 3 star Michelin restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro near a Tokyo subway.  The documentary captures his essence perfectly - how mind works, his mannerisms, his approach to sushi, and most of all, his impressive work ethic. I can't think of anyone who works are hard as he does for 83 years (he started working in restaurants as a child) - you just have to respect his discipline and admire his passion. I may be OCD about details, but he is quite like no one else in his quest for perfecting the art of sushi
Sushirrito (Sushi Burrito) | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
My foodie cousin actually ate at Sukiyabashi Jiro on her honeymoon and said it was so worth it (planning for a 3 month reservation time, $400 for a 20 piece meal). He serves sushi to some of the most prominent people in the world. I'm not sure I could ever get myself to spend that much on a meal (even when I have a real salary after residency), nor is my palate probably refined enough to tell the difference between great sushi and perfect sushi.... but if he's still working when he's 100 years old, and I'm around Tokyo, I really need to check it out.
Sushirrito (Sushi Burrito) | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
We may never eat with Jiro, but B and I did eat at one of his apprentice's sushi restaurants in NYC (Sushi Nakazawa) to celebrate B's birthday! Daisuke Nakazawa was one of Jiro's protoges; in the documentary he talked about how he cried of happiness when after months of failure with 200 rejections, his tamago (egg omelette) is finally approved to Jiro's standards. His restaurant is slightly more afforable's Jiro, and it's more laid back than the extremely formal atmosphere of Jiro's restaurant.

When you eat at his restaurant, you can at the bar where the chefs work (more expensive, and you eat each piece one by one) or the regular dining room (where they bring out sets of sushi). The meal is predetermined by the chef based on the market's availability. The fish is paired with interesting flavors like mint or smoked to give it an interesting flavor. His tamago was excellent - practice pays off.

Like starstruck fangirls, we asked to take a picture with Chef Nakazawa, and he kindly obliged. (B even practiced his Japanese with him)
Sushirrito (Sushi Burrito) | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
Here is our bastardized version of sushi, the sushi burrito, inspired by when I ate Sushirrito in California. Chefs Jiro would probably be mortified to see this, and my rolling technique is certainly lacking, but I think I did a pretty good job!

Sushirrito (Sushi Burrito)

Salmon sashimi or tuna sashimi
1 cucumber, cut to matchsticks
1 carrot, cut to matchsticks
1/2 avocado
1 stalk green onion
white sushi rice
4 sheets of roasted sushi seaweed (nori)
sesame seeds
siracha mayo (recipe below)

Lay sushi mat on your counter; place parchment paper under a sheet of roasted sushi seaweed. Spread cooked rice on top thinly, covering the surface of the seaweed. Lay your sliced avocado, sashimi, carrots, cucumbers, and green onions on top of the rice. Finish with sesame seeds and spicy mayo. Roll up sushi burrito with the parchment paper around it and slice diagonally. Use a rubber band to keep it wrapped. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Spicy Siracha Mayo

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons sriracha hot sauce
1/2 lime, juiced

Mix mayonnaise, sriracha hot sauce, and lime juice together in small bowl. Serve immediately
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