Cook It! Vegetarian Nut Rice and Fish Tonkatsu (April 3, 2008)

Saturday, June 07, 2008 Jonette 0 Comments

Weekends have always been designated cooking days for me. Why? That's when the boyfriend comes home to crash at my pad after a night of hard tech support labor, and well, it's the only time throughout the week I get to relish learning how to cook a new dish. For some reason, I decided that it would be a good time to make dinner extra special. (It was also a good excuse to finally bring out the foot-long and six-inch-wide fish fillets I stocked up for Holy Week to good use.)

To add to that, I wanted to introduce my boyfriend to a style of rice I enjoyed as a child with my dad. As a sitar teacher, my father took the family and I once to an eclectic concert for the benefit of an Eastern Philosophy institution. I can't recall anymore if he was one of the acts, but what I do remember singing along to a lively Hare Krishna Hare Rama chant. (You can just imagine how amazingly fan-tas-tic and mind-blowing this all was to an eight year old.)

By Intermission, each member of the audience was handed a styrofoam pack containing a full vegetarian meal -- soy meat a la barbecue, sauteed vegetables, rice, and Laddu. Each entree was pretty much a source of fascination for me, but the rice was especially familiar: it was slightly buttery to the taste, and was mixed in with assorted nuts. My mother successfully duplicated the dish when we arrived home, and usually served it for my dad's birthday. I wanted to see now how well I could bring it back. Call it reminiscing.

Fish Tonkatsu
you will need: 
  • 1 kilo of maya-maya (red snapper) or lapu-lapu (grouper fish), filleted and sliced into inch-thick fingers
  • 5 tablespoons of kalamansi (philippine lemon) Ordinary lemon will do just as nicely.
  • 2 medium-sized egss
  • 1 cup of japanese-style breadcrumbs (1 1/2 if you like 'em extra crunchy)
  • 1/2 cup of cake flour
  •  1/2 cup cooking oil for frying
  •  1 tsp salt
Let's get to it! 
  • After washing the fish fingers thoroughly, place into a bowl and pour the kalamansi or lemon juice over them Add the salt and pepper, and stir them in to make sure they're well distributed. Let them soak for 5-10 minutes.
  • While soaking the fish, have your eggs and bread crumbs ready. Beat both eggs slightly until you get a viscous texture. Place bread crumbs in a separate bowl, and resist the temptation to nibble on them.
  • Get your frying oil ready as well. With a low fire, heat the oil to a nice, steady (not smoking) heat.

Tip: Here's a trick my mom taught me. to test, flick a drop (just one drop!) of water into the oil. Once the oil starts popping and tossing the water drop around, that's when the fun begins.

  • Add the cake flour into the fish-and-lemon mix and mix well to coat every fish finger entirely. Take a batter-covered piece, dip first into the beaten egg, then dip into the breadcrubs then into the frying pan. Repeat with the rest of the fish fingers by batches -- you'll want your tonkatsu sitting comfortably spaced next to each other to get an appetizing golden brown. Fry evenly on all sides.
  • Once the fingers are done, take them out of the oil, and lay them on a plat with an absorbent kitchen napkin to soak up excess oil. Serve with Tonkatsu sauce, Japanese style mayonnaise, or in my honey's case, barbecue sauce.

Rice with Mixed Nuts
you will need: 

  • 3 cups of day-old cooked rice, loose (long grains are recommended. If you have Basmathi rice, you're golden.)
  • 1 cup of mixed nuts (salted is okay, just make sure they're not too salty or oily)
  • 1/2 cup of margarine or ghee 
Let's get to it! 

  • Take your margarine or ghee, and melt it in a frying pan over low flames. When it has completely melted, add the rice and mix well to evenly distribute the margarine.
  •  Once the rice has turned soft, plump and pleasantly moist, add the nuts and mix. If your nuts came with some salt, it will add to the flavor of the rice. Enjoy the aroma wafting from your frying pan. (It's highly likely as well that anyone passing by within a meter of you will be drawn to you out of curiosity-- and well, it just smells so good!.)
  • Once the nuts have been well distributed, transfer to a serving dish. Serve while hot.


Care to leave a comment? I'd love to hear what's on your mind. :)