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Recap: Try Something New Tuesday 97

Posted Feb 29 2012 7:33am

Hey Friends!

How are you today? I hope your morning has been just peachy so far. With the exception of my Recipe of the Week, this edition of Try Something New Tuesday has a theme: From the sea. You’ll see why in just a second. But first, I’m excited to share this awesome recipe with you!

1. Recipe of the Week: I don’t know about where you are, but here in southwestern Ontario, we had a huuuuge dump of snow on the weekend. When I was getting dressed on Sunday morning, I couldn’t help but notice the load of clothing hanging in my closet that I haven’t worn in months. Even though our snow came late this year, it feels like it’s been here for.ev.er. To take my mind off of the dull doldrums of winter, I needed some fresh, bright colours:

After throwing all of them together with a few other tasty ingredients, I had a Coco Lime Quinoa Salad , one I’ve been dreaming of all month. You see, this past week was Reading Week for university students, and at this time 2 years ago, I was laying on the beach in Punta Cana, reading magazines, drinking tropical beverages (with far too much rum… that stuff is way too cheap down there) and soaking up sun without a care in the world.

Although that’s not quite the case this year, I can still pretend by eating mangoes and coconuts.

I packed this for lunch at work on Monday and could not stop smiling because it really was that good.Yes, it may be cold outside. But there’s absolutely nothing dull and dreary about this recipe!

2. Irish Moss. This was a suggestion from one of my readers, Raeanne , and I couldn’t wait to track it down! I’ve read about the benefits of Irish moss before, but like many other sea vegetables, it can be a little challenging to find. Lucky for me, a trip to my local health food store was all it took. Before it arrives in shops, it looks like this:

(Source)

First of all, what is Irish moss? It’s a sea vegetable found along the coasts of Europe, Canada, north-eastern United States, and the Caribbean. In short, it’s a super-detoxifying food. In more detail, it helps to treat thyroid disorders, remove excess buildup in our digestive systems, and prevent cold and flu symptoms – and I’m sure that by this stage in the season, we’ve all had at least one cold! Nutritionally, it is full of minerals and nutrients including beta carotene, iodine (common in all sea vegetables, and a superstar for improving thyroid function), bromine, calcium, irun, potassium, selenium, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, and vitamin C. Regardless of whether you’ve just feel a sore throat coming on or if you’ve got a manly chest cough, Irish moss can help!

In addition to being edible, Irish moss can be good for your outsides too. Once prepared, it can be used as a topical treatment for eczema, burns, rashes, and other troublesome skin conditions. Oh, and know what else is awesome about Irish moss? It can be used as a gelling agent, helping to create a nice creamy, jelly-like consistency in desserts, drinks, and preparation of many raw dishes. It functions a bit like gelatin – minus the whole gross animal cartilage thing.

Although Irish moss can be found in packets as a dehydrated whole plant, mine came in a dried, flaked form. (Powder was also available but I didn’t notice that until later.) Most recipes that use the whole dehydrated version call for several days of soaking in cold water, plus a brutal pummeling in a blender. When I Googled the suggested water:moss ratio, it seemed most folk were using 1 cup of liquid for 1 oz of Irish moss, left to gelatinize for 24 hours in the fridge. After beer making and dessert recipes, smoothies seemed to be the next most common use. With that in mind, I thought I’d substitute Irish moss for guar gum and xanthan gum in my morning smoothie to boost the nutrition factor. There wasn’t much info on flaked moss, so I kind of had to wing it.

On Monday morning, I mixed about half an ounce of flaked Irish moss with 1/2 cup of water and set it in the fridge to do its thing. (I didn’t go for more because I wanted to see how thick this amount of flakes would really get.) It smelled absolutely foul, but apparently this is the norm so I didn’t worry too much. By Tuesday morning, things weren’t looking any different. The moss sunk to the bottom and was definitely more plump, but the water wasn’t all jelly-like as you’d expect with something like chia seeds. Nevertheless, I still scooped about 2 tablespoons into the blender. My smoothie ingredients were as follows:

  • 1 big handful mixed fresh kale and spinach
  • 1 scoop Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer  in Vanilla Chai
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 2 tbsp Irish moss jelly
  • 2 tsp organic maca root powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • ice

For a fair test, I made the exact same smoothie the previous day, minus the moss. After a whirl around the blender, yesterday’s version looked like this:

Yes I know, the colour is enough to send anyone unfamiliar with drinking their greens running for the hills. Thankfully the oceanic scent was no longer noticeable, and I really hoped the same would be true for the taste! As I poured the smoothie into the glass, I did notice that it was a little thicker, but not by much. The taste was just as delicious as usual, so even though there wasn’t a whole lot of thickening going on, I still like to think that my body benefited from the vitamins and trace minerals!

3. Calamari. There hasn’t been any seafood featured in recent Try Something New Tuesdays, and I’ve been wanting to try calamari for a really long time now. The trouble, like the moss above, has been tracking some down. In the case of calamari, most restaurants seem to only serve it in deep-fried form (hello tempura) and unfortunately deep-fried anything doesn’t tend to sit well in my stomach. When I finally did find some fresh calamari at Sobeys this weekend, I immediately sought out some recipes that didn’t involve deep-frying of any sort.

I like to think I’ve got a pretty high tolerance for fishiness when it comes to seafood (as was evident when I tried my first oyster in San Fransisco), but prior to this Tuesday I’d never tried squid of any sort. Stir fried veggies with some sort of lean protein are a go-to easy dinner for me, so I thought that might be a good way to try calamari for the first time. Since I knew that squid has a naturally chewy texture, I sauteed it first, on its own, with a bit of olive oil, grated ginger, and garlic.

Next I stir-fried the veggies on their own, with some garlic, low-sodium soy sauce, dried chili flakes, and a little more ginger. During the final couple of seconds, I stirred in some kelp granules (just for an added nutritional boost), cilantro, and the calamari.

All on a plate:

After crossing my fingers and saying a quick prayer to the squid gods (which went a little something like “please don’t let this kill me”), I picked up my fork and went in for the first bite.

Verdict? Not bad. Definitely chewier than my usual picks, but it wasn’t like chewing rubber which is what I expected. Taste-wise, they were quite mild, maybe even more so than scallops. A word of caution though: These definitely had a more distinct scent after they were cooked. If smell is something that really puts you off, my guess is that you might not enjoy calamari very much. Looking back, the meal was good, but I’m certainly not dying to eat a ton of squid the future!

Alright, now it’s over to you! Tell me…

  • How ‘fishy’ do you get with seafood? Are you more of a mild fish only person (tilapia, cod, and other white fish) or are you ok with stronger tasting fish (salmon, trout, halibut) and shellfish (clams, crab, oysters, mussels)?
  • Ever tried Irish moss? What did you think?
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