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SushiThai_first

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a restaurant review. It’s not that we haven’t been going out (not the case at all) but I’ve been relatively uninspired, not by the restaurants or meals, just kind of an overall humdrum feeling. Night falls far too early and the days seem to be full of grey, mostly. On the plus side, it hasn’t snowed…yet. Most of the leaves have plummeted to earth and the birds and squirrels are running around frantically looking for food. The bird feeder needs refilling almost every two days; those little sparrows eat quite a bit! Speaking of eating…

Last spring I purchased a couple of Groupons for Sushi Thai on Bloor, a restaurant in our hood so that my Hungarian relatives could experience Thai food. We’ve been to Sushi Thai several times but I wanted to get as many plates for them as possible to vary their experience, hence the Groupon. What I completely forgot was that you can only use ONE Groupon per table and we weren’t going to sit at separate tables, so I had an extra Groupon left over for a lunch JT and I had recently.

I’m always surprised that this little place isn’t busier, the décor is contemporary Asian with some tasteful Thai embellishments; it has flattering lighting and the service is good with authentic Japanese staff with a reasonable command of English. The Sushi is fresh, delicious and often creatively prepared (piped mayo, toasted sesame or rice puffs etc. and decoratively laid out on a white plate). Both Thai and Japanese foods are also very good. Complimentary tea is not offered.

A delicious bowl of soup and salad.

A delicious bowl of soup and salad.

We both ordered the lunch specials ($11 each) that came with a small bowl of miso soup and a typical Japanese-style salad made with iceberg lettuce, a few shavings of carrot and beet, thinly sliced cucumber and radish and a slice of tomato dressed with a thousand island-style vinaigrette (it has been my experience that almost all the Japanese restaurants in Toronto make a salad like this, some better than others). The miso was warm, with lots of dashi and small cubes of soft tofu garnished with green onion. Some misos can be salty but this one was not. We both commented that it could have been warmer, of course, the day was one of the first of the colder days so we were still stinging!

Sushi

Just the perfect amount for lunch.

I ordered the Sushi plate which came with 11 pieces of tasty sushi. There were 3 salmon rolls, 3 tuna rolls, and 5 pieces of Nigiri: Tuna, Hamachi, Salmon, Shrimp and Surimi. I could do without the Surimi but it seems to be prevalent on the more budget conscious restaurants. The fish was fresh with a lovely soft texture and the wasabi was pungent!

A decent lunch portion.

A decent lunch portion.

JT ordered the Chicken Teriyaki which came with a good amount of thigh meat in a light teriyaki sauce and a reasonably large mound of rice and a few broccoli florets, all garnished with some white sesame seeds. The chicken was tender and all of the fat had been properly trimmed off (you’d be surprised at how much fat and grissel JT leaves in some places). All in all we both really enjoyed our choice. We did not have dessert.

Overall rating of Sushi and Thai (in my opinion): Decor 3.5/5, service 3.5/5, food 4/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

Disclaimer: We purchased our meals for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

Sushi Thai on Bloor

2279 Bloor St W
Toronto, ON
M6S 1P1

Tel: 647-347-6826

Monday to Thursday 11:30 am-10:00 pm

 

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We’ve been off on a little vaycay to the U.S. capital city, Washington, DC and I’ll post the photos and stories soon — but I also have a little surprise!
My friend Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella posted a wonderful alternative to fried rice and for obvious reasons I was ALL OVER IT. Of course, this blog wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t change it up a bit — not that Lorraine’s version her Cauliflower Fried Rice wasn’t perfect, I just didn’t have all of her ingredients handy and I wanted it now! So I made it Curried Cauliflower “Fried” rice and boy did it hit the spot; it was even delicious the next day when I took it to work with some grilled shrimp on top. Very tasty indeed.

Thai"Fried"CauliflowerRice_4728

Resist over cooking because you really do want a tiny little crunch.

Curried Cauliflower “Fried” Rice

Serves 4 generous portions

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup sultana raisins
  • 2 green onions finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp low fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened grated coconut
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • a few sprays of non-stick EVOO

Directions:

  1. In three rounds, place the washed and dried cauliflower into a food processor and pulse roughly until you get a coarse grind, like rice.
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet add the EVOO and the ground cauliflower and “fry” until lightly browned. You are trying to achieve a nice golden crust on it, scraping is essential. Try not to add liquid as that will boil the cauliflower and you don’t want it too soft — you still want a touch of a bite to it. If your pan isn’t large enough, you may need to “fry” in batches so the excess doesn’t ‘steam’ the caulflower.
  3. Add the curry powder and heat until fragrant mixing it into the “fried” cauliflower rice.
  4. Remove from heat and add the coconut milk, lime juice and honey (it’s easier if you mix the three in a small container and add at once). Give it a good stir into the cauliflower.
  5. Add the raisins and green onions and mix well.
  6. Garnish with unsweetened grated coconut, serve warm.
Thai"Fried"CauliflowerRice_4730

The curry flavours really went well with the sweet cauliflower.

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We first had this slaw in NYC about 5 years ago at Susur Lee’s now defunct Shang restaurant in NYC’s LES (Lower East Side). Fortunately, he still serves this incredible dish in Toronto and DC. This is not a new slaw in our household. In fact, a month doesn’t go by without a version of this slaw surfacing (here, here, here, here, here, here and here) offering up left-overs for the entire week. Yes, we love it THAT much! I decided it would make a lovely main course with BBQ’d rib eye slices (the way Lorraine makes the steak here) last weekend for our dinner party. It was a huge success and now I have slaw left overs for the week!

I’ve had a few people ask me for the recipe recently, you can see the original Susur Lee’s recipe on Food Network or in his gorgeous book A Culinary Life; my version below, is my version. Now the ingredient list is daunting, but I beg you not to be put off, it is a recipe worth making. Also, a lot of time can be cut down if you get everything organized “mise en place” before beginning. I will go through some of my time saving techniques in TIPS below and hopefully it will help encourage you to make it. It is one damn good slaw, if I do say so myself.

Despite the overwhelming number of ingredients, it is WORTH making this slaw

It’s not all that time consuming if you have everything ‘mise en place’

It’s such a colourful slaw, that your eyes sing with glee when you first see it. Please click here to see the slaw Chef Lee and his famous slaw.

You can chop your herbs by hand, but I needed a time saver on this day, so I chopped them in my Cuisinart mini processor

It’s all about balance in this slaw, so tasting throughout is very important

The colourful dry ingredients above.

By keeping the ‘wet’ ingredients separate to the ‘dry’ you will preserve the freshness of this slaw and be able to stretch it out over a week

It’s all about balance of flavours.

The dressing is sweet, tart, tangy and a bit spicy

I had a luncheon of grilled shrimp and the slaw. YUM YUM YUM!

The assembly with the pickled onions, watercress and grilled shrimp

Susur Lee’s Singapore Slaw, AKA 19 Ingredient Slaw

Serve 8-10 (please click here to see the original unadulterated recipe)

Ingredients:

Pickled Red Onion (make 2 days ahead):

  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly on a mandoline
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme

Salted Apricot Dressing (make 2 days ahead):

  • 1 cup dried apricot
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mirin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (taste and adjust)
  • lime juice (to taste) I find the dressing a little sweet and the lime juice helps cut it, but you must taste it to be sure there is balance.

For the Singapore Slaw Salad:

  • 1 pickled red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups Apricot Dressing
  • 1 large English cucumber, julienned
  • 1 medium sized mango, firm but not soft, peeled and julienned
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 1 small jicama, peeled and julienned
  • 1 medium sized fennel bulb, julienned (this is my addition)
  • 1/2 head of purple cabbage, julienned (this is my addition)
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (to dress)
  • handful of watercress (to dress)

For the herb mix:

  • 1/2 cup of Thai basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, green and white parts, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Make the pickled onion and dressing 2 days ahead, so it has time to develop the flavours, plus it will take the pressure off having to do everything in one day. Store both in the refrigerator.

For the Pickled Red Onion:

  1. Peel and julienne red onion and set aside in a medium bowl. In small saucepan, bring vinegar and water to a boil. Season with salt, peppercorns, fennel seeds, bay leaf, and thyme; continue boiling for another 5 minutes. Pour mixture into a heat proof jar while hot and let sit for at least 1 hour or two days in the fridge.

For the Salted Apricot Dressing:

  1. In an immersion blender container, combine the dried apricot, vinegar, mirin, onion, sugar, ginger, and salt. Purée until smooth. Taste and add lime juice and additional sugar if necessary.

TIPS:

  • A mandolin with a fine julienne attachment is a MUST. I use my Borner Roko Vegetable Shredder. Part of the beauty of this slaw is that all the ingredients are julienned uniformly, plus you’ll be standing for a very long time if you have to do this by hand! You need not clean it out between shredding as it all goes into the same pot.
  • Get yourself two large bowls and one medium sized bowl. One large bowl is for your ‘dry’ ingredients and one is for the peelings; the medium sized bowl is for your wet ingredients.

For the Singapore Slaw Salad:

  1. Julienne the wet ingredients first mango and cucumber, as there are only two, combine well and cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
  2. Julienne the ‘dry’ ingredients: carrot, jicama, fennel and purple cabbage, combine well and set aside.
  3. Wash and dry all the herbs for the herb mix, including the green onion. Add to a little food processor (I find the fuller it is the better) and processes until all the herbs are finely chopped. Add to the “dry” ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Serving:

  1. In a new bowl, take 2/3 of the “dry” ingredients and 1/3 of the “wet” and combine thoroughly. Dress with about 1/4 of the dressing (start small and increase as required) and combine well. Serve on a platter, piled high in the centre. Sprinkle sesame seeds overall and dress with the watercress leaves. Add the pickled onion over the summit to curl here and there (you don’t need a lot, just a few strands). Serve immediately with grilled chicken, grilled steak (please see Lorraine’s amazing technique for a full flavoured steak here), tofu or shrimp.

Thai Marinated Steak:

Prepare your steak just as Lorraine shows you in her blog here (don’t worry, it works like a charm!). Once it has aged for a couple of days, marinate it in the marinade below for a few hours.

Ingredients:

  • 50 mL lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup cilantro stems and roots
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Combine the ingredients in the bowl of an immersion blender and blitz until smooth.
  2. Pour over the aged steak and refrigerate. Turn the steak throughout the day occassionally.
  3. Remove steak from fridge for about 1 hour to bring to room temperature before grilling.
  4. Follow Lorraine’s instructions on grilling.

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My friend, Barb (Profiteroles and Ponytails) went to Australia several years ago and shortly after we visited her in Vancouver; for our premier dinner she made us the Thai Coconut Soup that is so famous in restaurants and it was delicious! I had no experience cooking Thai food at home and as a gift she bought me a Thai cookbook called Australian Woman’s Weekly, Easy Thai-Style Cookery. It is really my ‘go to’ cookbook for Thai food, my favourite being Lemongrass Soup. It has great step-by-step instructions on how to with very clear photos. You really can’t go wrong. I have made this soup so often I don’t even look at the recipe anymore and basically just eyeball and taste it, so you’ll have to excuse my loosey-goosey measurements! I have served this soup at several dinner parties and I am told by some of my Thai food-lover friends that it is very delicious!

Thai cooking is about balancing salty, sweet, spicy and sour so you really have to taste, taste, taste and adjust as you go along. My Lemongrass soup is my favourite to the restaurant variety as I find some too salty and too sweet. Most restaurant versions also don’t include fettuccine-sized rice noodles (half centimetre wide) in the soup, but there was one place across from the Eaton Centre on Yonge Street that always had the noodles in the soup and I really enjoyed it, so I usually include them!

This soup comes together very quickly, the hard part is waiting for the rice noodles to soften up. You can also substitute shrimp for the chicken.

Comforting lemongrass chicken soup

I always make an extra huge batch so I can take some to work for my lunch the next day.

A mouthwatering delicious balance of salty, sweet, sour and spicy; can I get you a bowl?

Thai Inspired Lemongrass Chicken Soup

Serves 3 in large bowls

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp flavourless vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3oog boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups thinly sliced plain white mushrooms (I like a lot of mushrooms in my soup)
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ginger (ground is fine, fresh is better)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped lemon grass
  • 4 kafir lime leaves
  • 2 small bits of dry galangal (Thai ginger)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2-4 tbsp sugar (or I used agave nectar)
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes (or to taste)
  • 4-6 cup water or low sodium chicken stock (I did a mix of the two to mitigate calories)
  • a good handful of fettuccine-sized rice noodles

Garnish:

  • 1/4 cup finely sliced green onion (forgot to add for the photo)
  • 2-4 Thai basil leaves, chiffonade (did not have this, nor did I miss it)
  • handful of chopped cilantro (did not have this, but I surely missed it)

Directions:

  1. Heat the water in your kettle until boiling. Pour over the rice noodles and allow to sit until they are totally reconstituted, 10-15 minutes. Do not over soak, you want a bit of a bite to it.
  2. In a large soup pan, heat the two oils until hot but not smoky (the sesame oil has a very low smoke point). Add the onions and stir until slightly translucent. Add the chicken and brown a bit. Turn the heat down to a simmer.
  3. Mix the cumin, coriandre, ginger and lemon grass together, sprinkle on the chicken and stir until you can really smell it. Add the garlic and stir once. Add all of the chicken stock, kafir leaves, galangal, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and chili flakes. Stir well. Heat so that the chicken cooks through. Once the chicken is cooked, taste for salty, sweet, spicy and sour balance and adjust accordingly. Remove the galangal and kafir lime leaves, discard.
  4. Put one third of the cold noodles into a large decorative white bowl. Add ladle-fulls of the chicken soup with bits of chicken, onion and mushrooms. Garnish with the green onion, chopped basil leaves and cilantro leaves. Enjoy.

Cooks tips:

  • Store your fresh ginger knobs in the freezer in a resealable container; grate on a fine micro-plane grater when required, you need not peel it! Keeps indefinitely.
  • I usually buy a large quantity of lemongrass and chop them finely in my food processor, and then I freeze them in a reusable container. I can usually break off what I need.
  • If you are taking the left overs to work, I recommend storing the cooked noodles in a separate container to the soup so that they don’t absorb any more liquid. When you reheat the soup, do so to just before boiling (so the chicken doesn’t cook further) and that way when you put the chilled noodles in, they will cool it down to a palatable level.
  • Fish sauce is used in thai cooking instead of salt.
  • To save time, I have sometimes used Rosa’s Lime Cordial instead of lime juice, but you have to remember NOT to add the sugar.

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