Monday, July 3, 2006

What the Heck is This? Citrus Herb & Tea, that's what.

I'm sure you must be wondering what the heck this is. From the picture you might guess some new tri-colored pasta, but it's not. Actually it's a wonderful citrus herb & green tea rub from one of my favorite cookbooks - Simply Ming. I first read it when visiting my daughter Joanna in Halifax a couple of years ago and had to run out and buy it. Somehow, it's been sitting idle on my shelf for a while now but thanks to Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging event that I love so much, it got another look. This week Gabriella at My Life as a Reluctant Housewife is hosting (you have to check out her gorgeous boys) and I thought I'd share my version of his citrus rubbed halibut. I used cod because I read somewhere that cod is even better for you than tilapia - Be Aware - quick digression coming -

Am I the only one compulsive enough to have to spend 30 minutes looking through the latest batch of magazines for the article with the details? I can see it - left hand page, lower right corner...the table comparing cod to tilapia with cod coming out the winner - lower in calories, better at lowering cholesterol, etc.. If only I could visualize the COVER of said magazine. Anyway, bottom line, I like tilapia better, so I'll stop hunting for now. Okay, ranting over, back to the post.

But it's quite a long story from "Oh that looks awesome" when I was flipping through the book to the quick dinner it finally turned out to be. So I thought I'd share the journey. To appreciate the journey I'm sharing the recipe for the rub first- (You'll see why, be patient)

Citrus Herbal Tea Rub
from Simply Ming

Makes 4 cups

1 cup green tea leaves
1/2 cup dried mint
1 cup lemongrass powder or flakes
2 tbsp kosher or sea salt
2 tbsp turbinado or raw sugar
1/2 cup dried orange zest
1/2 cup dried lime zest
1/4 cup dried lemon zest
1/4 cup ground ginger

Mix them all together. Use right away or store for later. See how easy that was?I cannot begin to describe the wonderful aroma of this rub.

My one suggestion - because my rub was almost like grass and we ended up scraping it off the fish - is to use a mortar & pestle or mini food processor to get it to a finer consistency. I did make my own zest (hence part of the long story) which was really easy to do, but not speedy. Just zest your fruit (next time I'd use my microplane for a finer zest (I used my fancy zester that makes long strands which added to the hay- like nature of my version) and bake.

How to make your own zest:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F/100°C - a very low heat and line a baking sheet with foil.

2. Zest your fruit - remember, colored part only - it has the flavor while the white underneath is bitter.

3. Bake for 1-2 hours and then let it cool completely before putting in a container to store. Ming recommends storing homemade zest in the fridge.

Okay, back to the saga - don't worry, this is an abridged version.....

Toronto is a very multi-cultural city. In fact, you can find herbs, spices and other foodstuff from every part of the world here. That said, you do have to go further afield than the local grocery store to find many of those items we North Americans consider lemongrass flakes or lime zest, for instance.

So I started the journey over a week ago by zesting the limes (it took 6 to get 1/4 cup and now I have funny zebra like limes in my fridge), lemons and oranges. After hitting every food purveyor on every journey I took this week, I finally found the lemongrass flakes at Noah's - a health food store. But that didn't happen until yesterday!

And finally, last night, I coated the cod fillets with the rub and sauteed them for about 4 minutes per side in a touch of light olive oil. I must admit, I was a little disappointed with how subtle the flavor was since the rub is so fragrant, but I'm sure it's because we scraped off most of the "hay" that coated our fish. I've already crushed the rub to deal with that challenge. Next time up I'll try it on tilapia - or chicken...who knows.

Because we over indulged from Thursday to Saturday (pizza, then beer and fried munchies when out with friends), we need to regroup South Beach Diet-wise. So I just steamed some asparagus for 2 minutes (I like the tender, young shoots crispy) with some fresh basil (in the picture and as part of the presentation, I replaced the steamed basil which turned aubergine in color from the heat and the lime juice) and sprinkled some chopped basil at the table with a hit of fresh lime juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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J said...

hi ruth, what a fabulous idea...and sumptuous pictures too! i love using tea to flavour food, so this is definitely a print-and-keep. thank you for the recipe!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

This "rub" sounds very interesting and the combination with the fish is surely fine tasting!...

Kalyn said...

I haven't really cooked much with tea, but I like the idea of this. Also, I think Ming Tsai is adorable and a great cook, so if you got the idea from him it must be good!!

Dr.Gray said...

Matcha would also work great for this rub, would also probably make it easier to coat meats as well.