Monday, July 27, 2015

Potato Batter II, Tilapia II, and the Wirtues of Woodman's

West Coast Guy Made this fish last night. Previously, I tried using a batter of potato starch alone (with swai)--I liked the texture, but it was bland. This time I marinated two small tilapia filets in a marinade of half a Filipino flavored vinegar called Suka Pinakurat and half Indonesian Kecap Manis.

I just discovered this Suka stuff at Woodman's yesterday. It is very strong tasting (ingredients: fermented coco nectar, chiles, garlic, onion, sweet peppers, salt). Kecap manis is sort of like almost too sweet teriyaki sauce, sort of syrupy or even caramel-like. They were a great combo.

After marinating the fish, I then simply coated it in potato starch, and shallow fried it in a non-stick ceramic pan at medium heat. It soaked up a lot of the canola oil, but I suppose that's all good because tilapia is nearly fat-free. You can't tell how good it was from a photo, but it was delicious. I also boiled some of the marinade and then used it as a dipping sauce, but it didn't need the extra flavor really. I was going to have it with a dab of store-bought, mayo based tartar sauce, but I was out.

I could have made a fat-free tartar sauce with Greek yogurt, if I wanted to be extra healthful about it....

(Incidentally, the style of cooking I used was what Japanese do when making karaage, a kind of fried (usually) chicken. It is marinated, coated with some kind of starch, and fried. This will work with tofu too--tried that once.)

Woodman's by the way, is a great place to shop. One can get ingredients and completed products from nearly all Asian cuisines. For finished products, I sometimes get Indian breads (chapati and parathas). One can also get what in Japan is called nikuman, or in Chinese (Cantonese?), siopao or baozi.

The best siopao is pork. It is a guilty pleasure for me because i know it is not all that healthy to eat, but it really tastes good. They have chicken too, but it is nowhere near as good. In the photo on the right, there are plenty of chicken, but no pork, so apparently, I am not the only one who thinks this way--couldn't get any pork yesterday.

Woodman's also has an extensive selection of Mexican food products, and pinatas.

To return to Asian stuff, they are the only store in the region that still stocks soft tofu, and all kinds of tofu and other soy products such as tempeh (which is a bit expensive).

Woodman's has such a variety of Asian stuff that one can get Thai, Vietnamese, or Filipino fish sauce, and hordes of other sauces, canned goods etc. One can, by the way get a brand of fish sauce called shrimp, OR one called squid (and neither has any shrimp or squid!):

Recently, Woodman's added sushi. A vegetarian friend (!) said to me that it was stupid to buy seafood in the midwest, but because I happen to know that even in Tokyo, Tsukiji Market, a lot of the fish is flown in from very far away, buying tuna or whatever in La Crosse doesn't bother me much (the idea of eating too much mercury does trouble me a bit, though). I have bought sushi from grocery stores in the area before, and it is generally not bad (roughly equal in quality to some of the kaiten/revolving belt sushi I had in Tokyo last year, and better than two of the sushi restaurants in La Crosse, both run by Chinese people). I do find it frustrating that the midwest's idea of (marketable) sushi is overly much some kind of outlandish roll that has little to do with Japanese food.

 You can get nigiri sushi (the kind with the fish or whatever on top of a rectangle of rice, but usually in these packages, it also comes with one of those sliced up rolls.

All in all, in any case, I am very grateful that Woodman's is around. That it is employee owned is a plus too. West Coast Guy worries that his '96 Toyota might break down and though he can walk or bike to work or shopping, Woodman's would be too far away to get to easily, unless he goes into debt and gets another car.