Saturday, June 29, 2013

Food-shopping bargains, wild salmon, Costco Egg Whites

At H Mart, the Korean supermarket in Englewood.



Editor's note: Today, I go in search of food-shopping deals, discuss a meal in a bottle and continue to adapt to Costco Wholesale's new Kirkland Signature Egg Whites.


I cut out a few coupons from my H Mart summer savings booklet and tried my luck in Little Ferry, one of the Korean supermarket chain's bigger stores.

In contrast to the large, seedless watermelons I found at the Englewood H Mart, Little Ferry had small watermelons for $3.99 with a coupon, limit of 2.

Liter bottles of 100% Pomegranate Juice were 2 for $4 with a coupon, compared to the regular price of $3.99 each.

Liter bottles of Looza Apricot Juice and Looza Mango Nectar, made with sugar and imported from Belgium, were 2 for $5 (no coupon needed).

ShopRite

At the Englewood ShopRite, my wife found a loose fillet of boneless salted cod for $6.99 a pound, compared to the usual price of $8.99.

But a half-gallon of ShopRite Lactose Free Milk is now $3.49, a dime more than before. It also has a new cap, which uses less plastic.



I saw organic produce for the first time on Thursday at the International Food, Liquor and Wine Warehouse in Lodi. I go for the food, because I haven't seen any  wine, beer or liquor bargains.


On Thursday, at the International Food Warehouse in Lodi, I found organic produce for the first time.

A big stalk of Earthbound Farm Organic Celery was only 99 cents, compared to organic celery hearts I bought at Trader Joe's for $2.29.

A 12-ounce package of Earthbound Farm organic romaine lettuce (3 pieces) also was 99 cents.

Liter cartons of Dimes Peach Nectar and Mango Drink from Turkey, both from concentrate and made with sugar, were 2 for $3.

That works out to about 4.5 cents an ounce.

I saw 2-liter bottles of juice from Pakistan at a low price, but didn't buy any.

I also looked over the store's beer offerings, but had a hard time finding price signs.

When I got home, I made canned-fish salad, dicing some of the organic celery and leaves, and combined them with 2 cans of pink salmon, 2 cans of Moroccan sardines and 1 can of yellowfin tuna, including all of their oil or water.

I dressed them with Dijon mustard, ground cumin and fresh lime juice to taste.




Wild sockeye salmon from Costco Wholesale poached in bottled Mexican Green Salsa with fresh lime juice, and served with leftover organic brown rice and organic diced tomatoes prepared in an electric cooker.

Bring the salsa to a boil, add small pieces of skin-on fillet, cover and cook over a medium-high flame for 5 minutes (pink inside) to 7 or 8 minutes (cooked through). The fish will continue to cook in the covered pan after you turn the fire off.

The fillet comes with the pin bones removed.


Meal in a bottle

After an exhausting day in traffic, the last thing I wanted to do on Friday night was cook dinner.

But my wife had picked up a fillet of wild-caught sockeye salmon at Costco Wholesale for $10.99 a pound.

We also had a bottle of Mexican Green Salsa in
the cupboard, leftover organic brown rice in the refrigerator and for salad, plenty of red-leaf and green-leaf lettuce from the garden.

Dinner was on the table in under 10 minutes.

This is the second time my wife bought wild salmon at the Hackensack Costco on a Friday, and the second time she could find only fish packed the day before.

The fish packed the previous day has a faint, fishy smell, though that isn't evident in the taste.

The fillet she bought on Friday was labeled "Product of the USA," and was $3 a pound cheaper than the wild salmon from Alaska's famed Copper River we have been buying.

Next week, she'll buy wild salmon at Costco on Thursday. 



An omelet made with the new Kirkland Signature Egg Whites, which seems to have replaced Costco Wholesale's old Real Egg Product with thickening agents, spices and color.

I added too much ground tumeric to this Kirkland Signature Egg Whites omelet with sun-dried tomatoes, served with organic quinoa prepared in an electric rice cooker. I moistened the quinoa with a spicy green salsa from a Peruvian restaurant.

Kirkland Signature Egg Whites formed the basis of this fluffy Pesto Frittata, which I started on the stove and finished under a low broiler setting. In addition to about 8 ounces of Egg Whites (half a carton), I used 4 whole organic brown eggs, a couple of ounces of grated Italian cheese and low-fat milk.

Pesto Frittata, wild salmon in green salsa and organic brown rice made a filling breakfast today.




Costco Wholesale's new Kirkland Signature Egg Whites are egg whites and nothing but egg whites.

So they form a thin, almost clear liquid that isn't as thick as the Real Egg Product (99% egg whites) that Costco seems to have stopped selling, and that means home cooks will have to adjust.

My wife doesn't think the new product looks appetizing, and has stopped making scrambled eggs with it.

I've adjusted by adding more whole eggs to frittatas and reduced-fat grated or shredded cheese to simple omelets.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Miyoshi in Hackensack: 33 years and counting

Miyoshi, the only Japanese restaurant in Hackensack, opened in 1982. At lunch on Tuesday, I was very happy with an $11 platter of sashimi, below. In Fort Lee, a center of Japanese and other Asian cuisine, the same dish would cost far more.

The platter included raw mackerel, salmon, yellowtail snapper and other fish.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss eating out in Hackensack -- at a Japanese restaurant I haven't been to in decades, and at our favorite Chinese place.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR 

A couple of months ago, I turned my car down Mercer Street in Hackensack, saw the red door and sign of a Japanese restaurant called Miyoshi, and blinked a couple of times.

Miyoshi, which opened in 1982, is where I ate occasionally after I started working for a newspaper on nearby River Street.

Seeing it all these years later made me wonder how it had survived.

I met a friend there for lunch on Tuesday, and discovered Miyoshi doesn't have any free parking, unlike the other restaurant on the block, Villa de Colombia.


Some of the sliced fish in the $11 sashimi platter, above and below.



The dated interior looks like it hasn't been touched since the place opened, and it needs a good airing out.

There was a Japanese sushi chef, whose shaved head was wrapped in a small, rolled-up towel; a Korean waiter, who handed us an extensive menu; and an unseen cook in the kitchen.

Flipping back to the lunch pages, my friend ordered a pork lunch box ($6.50).

I was told there was no sushi or sashimi lunch box available, just platters, so I went with the sashimi plate, which came with a bowl of steamed white rice ($11). 


The green tea was excellent, and free.
The pork lunch box ($6.50).

When the waiter brought the lunch box, my friend looked at the portion, and said he probably would be able to eat only half of it. 

Even if I ate meat, it didn't look appetizing.

I couldn't possibly recommend Miyoshi, based on such a limited experience, but I look forward to having that sashimi platter again when I don't feel like driving to Fort Lee.


The farmed salmon in the sashimi platter wasn't anything special. I told the waiter I didn't want any tuna, which is high in mercury.

Details

Miyoshi Japanese Restaurant, 21 Mercer St., Hackensack; 201-489-0007. Closed Mondays. Metered parking in lot off State Street.


Seafood Soup for 2 at Lotus Cafe in Hackensack, above. Large Shrimp with Yellow Chive, below, is garnished with an edible flower fashioned from radish, toothpicks and a rubber band.




Lotus Cafe is a Chinese restaurant in Hackensack that I heartily recommend, especially if you enjoy seafood that is cooked perfectly. 

The scallop, squid, shrimp and fish cake in the Seafood Soup for 2 were tender and delicious ($7.50).

The large Shrimp with Yellow Chive also were perfect amid crunchy vegetables, but this was a rare instance when the sauce was too salty ($17.95).

When I mentioned that to the waiter, he said he would tell the chef.

For less salt, I have ordered seafood, including whole fish, made with ginger and scallion.



Brown rice, above, and Sauteed Chinese Star Squash ($7.95), below.




Details

Lotus Cafe, 450 Hackensack Ave., in the Home Depot Shopping Center, Hackensack; 201-488-7070. BYO, open 7 days, free parking in lot.



Monday, June 24, 2013

Wild Salmon with Ripe Peaches and Tomatoes

Homemade wild Alaskan sockeye salmon with ripe peaches and tomatoes. I roasted the fish on parchment paper in a 375-degree oven for about 10 minutes.

Other ingredients are fresh oregano from the garden, fresh lime juice, ground Aleppo pepper and ground cinnamon. Everything except the Aleppo pepper and oregano is available at Costco Wholesale.



I had to wait a few days for the peaches to ripen on my kitchen counter before buying a fillet of wild sockeye salmon from the Copper River in Alaska at Costco Wholesale ($13.99 a pound).

I also had reserved a few ripe Sunset-brand beefsteaks to prepare Wild Salmon with Ripe Peaches and Tomatoes, but decided to try it without the salty capers I used last year.

My teenage son suggested I try cinnamon on the peaches, in addition to the lime juice and spicy ground Aleppo pepper I use for seasoning the fish.

I cut the salmon fillet into serving pieces and placed them on parchment paper in a pan, adding the peach segments and sliced tomatoes between the pieces.

The peaches and tomatoes heated through in the 10 minutes I roasted the fish in a 375-degree oven, and the sweet fruit tastes great when eaten with the rich salmon.

Next time, I'll use capers and more cinnamon, and season everything with the sweet-hot powder.



I made a 10-inch frittata with smoked wild salmon, tomato, pesto, and reduced-fat milk and cheeses, using two whole organic eggs and the new Kirkland Signature Egg Whites, a clear, watery liquid that will take some getting used to. All the ingredients are available at Costco.

The watery egg whites don't give a frittata the body of the item it replaces, Kirkland Signature Real Egg Product, which was thickened with food gums and colored yellow. More whole eggs may be the solution.



Good and bad

I made my first Saturday morning frittata with the new Kirkland Signature Egg Whites, and may have to use more whole eggs for body.

The new product is 100% liquid egg whites -- clear and watery -- and doesn't have any of the thickening agents, spices or color in Costco Wholesale's old Real Egg Product.

I used only 2 whole organic eggs and may have to up that to 4 in the future.

The frittata came out fluffy, but a little watery.


Leftover frittata and wild salmon made for a filling breakfast.

Another Breakfast of Champions: Wild salmon with leftover collard greens.

A couple of pounds of green-leaf and red-leaf lettuce are the first produce from my garden. They came from plants we purchased at H Mart, the Korean supermarket chain. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

MP Taverna: Go for the great food, not the view

Trio of Dips with Pita -- from top, yogurt, eggplant and chickpeas -- is an appetizer at MP Taverna in Irvington, N.Y., that tastes even better than it looks ($11.95).




At the end of May, I just caught a glimpse of a restaurant sign and the Hudson River beyond as my fast-moving train passed through Irvington, N.Y.

Moments later, I Googled "MP Taverna" on my iPhone and came across a highly favorable review from The New York Times.

At home a week later, I looked at the menu on the restaurant's Web site. Then, I made a lunch reservation for this past Thursday.

The food and service were well worth the 25-mile drive, but I was mistaken about being able to see the Hudson River from the dining room, which are about a short block apart.

The Westchester County restaurant is described as Chef Michael Psilakis' modern interpretation of a traditional Greek tavern.

Of course, you can't walk into the kitchen and peek into pots or the oven to see what's cooking, as I did in Greece in the early 1990s.




We'll sit at a table the next time to avoid booths with uncomfortable upholstered benches that don't have enough seating surface to support customers' thighs.

Fresh pita triangles are ideal for scooping up the flavorful dips.



MP Taverna has a 3-course, $15 lunch, but it includes fish only on Fridays, when I work part time.

We ordered a la carte, which was a splurge, and ended up with too much food -- a salad and entree would have been enough.

My grilled sea bass fillets and especially a side of spinach tasted so rich I asked the waiter if the kitchen uses butter in the dish.

No. Only heart-healthy extra-virgin olive oil is used. 

A small bottle on the table tempted me to have a couple of crusts of fresh bread and a pita triangle or two dipped into the fruity oil.



The MP Side Salad ($5) is one of the best I've had, with chopped olives, tomato and cucumber, and feta cheese hidden under romaine lettuce.

Grilled Branzino or Mediterranean Sea Bass on a bed of spinach, which I asked for instead of fingerling potatoes ($19.95).

My wife had the Simply Grilled Fish of the Day with salad or vegetable -- head-on Prawns served with Asparagus ($19.95). No fish of the day was available, the waiter said.

For fish lovers, Friday is the day to land a 3-course, $15 lunch special.

The view of the Hudson River customers can't see from the dining room.



MP Taverna, 1 Bridge St., Irvington, N.Y.; 1-914-231-7854. Other MP Tavernas are in Rosyln, L.I., and Astoria, Queens. 

Web site: www.michaelpsilakis.com


Saturday, June 22, 2013

The North Jersey 'ethnic-food run' is alive and well

The takeout counter at Pollos El Chevere, where the menu of Peruvian specialties goes far beyond its signature rotisserie chicken.




Editor's note: Today, I discuss some of the great ethnic food available in North Jersey, and shop with a coupon booklet from H Mart, a Korean supermarket chain.



North Jersey's increasing diversity pays big dividends: Great ethnic food at nearly every turn.

I often did my "ethnic-food runs" on Saturdays, starting in the city of Passaic with a snack of tacos, stopping in Paterson for a takeout soul-food dinner, and ending with food shopping and a meal in South Paterson's Middle Eastern bazaar.

The soul-food restaurant closed, and three and a half years ago, I stopped eating meat. But I can still do a food run.

Last Saturday, my wife wanted to shop some of Passaic's cheap clothing stores.

That set up a visit to Pollos El Chevere, an inexpensive Japanese-Peruvian-owned restaurant that is one of the nicest and cleanest in that poor city.

We ordered takeout for the meat eaters in the family:

Pollo Entero Solo, a whole rotisserie chicken with a side of white rice, french fries, green or sweet plantains or yuca ($10); an order of Tostones or fried green plantains ($2.75); and two Empanadas with ground meat and boiled egg ($2.50 each).

We also ordered an extra container of a pale green, spicy chili-cheese sauce ($3) that can be poured over the chicken, green plantains or just about anything else.

Plenty of seafood

I fondly recall meals at Pollos El Chevere, especially enjoying my favorite dish, Ceviche de Pescado ($12), a Japanese-Peruvian twist on sashimi, served with  sweet potato and popped corn kernels.

Another great dish is called Tallerin Verde, a green or pesto-like pasta dish available with shrimp, fish or steak ($12.50 to $14).

The menu also offers many seafood dishes, including stews, fried fillets and steamed fish.

Pollos El Chevere, 228 Washington Place, Passaic; 1-973-249-6330. 

Web site: www.cheverechicken.com




Al-Shark Moroccan Sardines in tomato sauce or spicy oil are still only 99 cents a can in the grocery section of Fattal's Bakery in Paterson. We use them in pasta sauce and salads.


Our next stop was Corrado's Family Affair, a big, ethnic supermarket on the Clifton-Paterson border where I used to go for salted cod from Canada in 1-pound plastic bags.

After two earlier visits to Corrado's, only to find they were out of those bags of salted cod, I called ahead and was told by a fish counter worker the cod had finally come in.

But what the employee called cod turned out to be salted Alaskan pollock, a cheaper substitute I buy at Costco Wholesale, and I left empty handed.

We drove less than a mile to Fattal's Bakery on Main Street in Paterson, where I picked up 21 cans of Al-Shark Moroccan Sardines in tomato sauce or spicy oil (99 cents each).




Aleppo Restaurant offers a great Syrian meal in a pleasant setting, above the below, free of the annoying hookah smoke so prevalent in other restaurants in South Paterson or over the border in Clifton.


If you like spicy food, Aleppo Restaurant's Muhammara is a must.



We finished our "ethnic-food run" with another great meal of soup, salad, fish and kebabs at Aleppo Restaurant in Paterson.

See a previous post: 

My heart goes out to the city of Aleppo, Syria 


Aleppo Restaurant, 939 Main St., Paterson; 1-973-977-2244.

Fattal's Bakery, 975-77 Main St., Paterson; 1-973-742-7125.

Corrado's Family Affair, 1578 Main Ave., Clifton; 1-973-340-0628.



One of the coupons in a book sent to some H Mart shoppers offers 20% off on big seedless watermelons, but that's just $2 off the price of $9.99.

The best coupon for me gave a $1 discount on 2 pounds of wild mussels harvested in Massachusetts just a week before I bought them. The discounted price was $1.99.

Whole whiting, here swimming in a sake-organic diced tomato sauce, were $3.99 a pound. There is no coupon for fresh fish.



H Mart has sent a "summer savings" coupon booklet to holders of the Korean supermarket chain's Smart Card, which gives a 1% rebate on purchases of $1,000.

On Wednesday, at the Englewood H Mart, I used coupons to get 20% off the price of green peppers ($1.59 a pound), and to buy 2 pounds of wild mussels for only $1.99.

I steamed opened the mussels in a little inexpensive sake, and they were deliciously tender and grit-free.

Non-coupon items I bought included a box of 20 intensely sweet Champagne or Ataulfo Mangoes for $8.99, a dollar less than before.

The store was having an even better special -- 2 boxes or 40 mangoes for $14.99. The regular price is $15.99 a box.

Jinga's Cheese Kimbap -- a seaweed, rice and vegetable roll -- were half price after 4 p.m. or just $2.49.

Fresh collard greens were 99 cents a pound.

H Mart has other stores in Fort Lee, Ridgefield and Little Ferry.  Coupons are good through July 14, 2013.

See its Web site: 

http://www.hmart.com/

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How 1% can make a big difference at Costco

A quick omelet made with Kirkland Signature Real Egg Product, above, and with Egg Whites, a new product that replaced it at the Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, below.

After a few minutes in a hot pan, the new product looks like this, but it pours out of the container as a thin, clear liquid, below.
100% Egg Whites pour clear and turn white as they cook.



Editor's note: Costco Wholesale has a new egg-white product, and a new mango nectar. Also today, I discuss a problem with Kirkland Signature spice bottles, an easy preparation for shrimp and how to prevent separation in Costco's Natural Peanut Butter.


By Victor E. Sasson
Editor

Costco Wholesale's Kirkland Signature Real Egg Product contained 99% egg whites, plus color, spices, salt, onion powder and other ingredients.

Now, a new product contains nothing but 100%, cholesterol-free egg whites.

I used the new Kirkland Signature Egg Whites to make a simple cheese omelet on Monday morning, but blinked twice when I saw a clear, watery liquid pouring out of the container.

The old product had beta carotene and looked yellow, but the new one cooks up white.




The new product and carton, left.



When I ate the omelet made with 100% egg whites, I didn't miss the spices, salt and onion powder in the old one.

Other ingredients in the Real Egg Product were xanthan gum, guar gum and maltodextrin.

It's hard to compare sodium and protein in the new and old products, because different  serving sizes are listed.

Six 16-ounce cartons of Kirkland Signature Egg Whites were $9.49 at my warehouse store in Hackensack.

2% reward

I got a Costco Wholesale rebate check for $174.75 today -- a 2% reward for being an Executive Member.

The check more than covers the $110 annual fee for my Executive Membership.

That check was in addition to several hundred dollars in rebates I received earlier this year from the American Express card I use at Costco.

The American Express card gives me a 1% rebate at Costco, as well as 1% to 4% back on restaurant, gasoline, travel and other purchases.



The loosely fitting white cover with holes, left, came off and too much black pepper ended up in the ackee and salt fish my wife was preparing on Sunday morning, below.



Kitchen accident

We continue to have problems with the poorly designed or poorly manufactured perforated tops used on Kirkland Signature spice bottles.

The spices are terrific, but once in a while, the tops come off and you end up dumping too much pepper or too much granulated garlic on the food you're preparing.

Sometimes, the perforated top comes off with the screw top. At other times, it's too loose and falls off when you upend the bottle.

Mango drink

Last week, I received a comment that Brazil Gourmet mango nectar was no longer available at the Huntsville, Ala., Costco, and I haven't seen it at my Hackensack store, either.

We've been buying Langers Mango Nectar, which is 20% juice and contains filtered water, mango puree and sugar.

Two 3-liter, BPA-free plastic bottles of Langers Mango Nectar were $8.89 at the Hackensack Costco.

I've been using it to make smoothies with fresh bananas, frozen strawberries and non-fat Greek yogurt, all from Costco.




When bottled green Mexican salsa and fresh lime juice are boiling, remove the cover and place thawed and shelled Black Tiger shrimp from Costco Wholesale into the sauce. Cover and cook for a few minutes or until the shrimp curl up and turn white, below.

We had them over Della-brand Organic Brown Rice made in an electric cooker with Kirkland Signature Organic Diced Tomatoes, both from Costco Wholesale.


Easiest shrimp dish

Bottled Mexican green salsa, fresh limes and Costco's Black Tiger shrimp are all you need for a quick, tasty dinner that is ready in minutes.

Empty the bottle into a pan, squeeze in the juice from a lime, bring to a boil and add the thawed and shelled shrimp, which are already deveined.

Cover and cook until the shrimp curl up and turn white. 

You can eat shrimp and sauce over rice, pasta, quinoa or bulgur wheat.

I used a 16.7-ounce bottle of La Costena-brand salsa verde I found on sale last week for $1.50 at Hackensack Market.

The green salsa also can be used to cook any fish fillet.

The U-15 shrimp are farm raised in Vietnam, and cost $10.50 a pound when you buy the 4-pound package at Costco.

They are previously frozen and contain salt.



To prevent separation of the oil in the ground peanuts, you should refrigerate Kirkland Signature Natural Peanut Butter right after you purchase it. The thick, flavorful Costco product contains Valencia peanuts and salt, but none of the rapeseed, cottonseed and other hydrogenated vegetable oils added to prevent separation in national brands like Skippy, which Costco also sells.