Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hi everyone,
I'm moving my blog to a new web address.  
To follow our crazy culinary adventures check it out here... Swallow Tail Blog

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Figwood Smoked Salmon - Melt in your mouth

Everyone was asking me for this smoked wild BC salmon recipe, so here it is.  I love serving this with roasted eggplant or babaganoush, homemade kamut flour bread and wild sorrel leaves as a sandwich or a tasting plate.  I don't like smoking my fish until it's dry, this fish is meant to be eaten sooner and definitely refrigerated.  This is the kind of fish that melts in your mouth.

The Fish
This is key.  You can use this same recipe on trout too.  Pick a fatty fish, so that it stays moist while you smoke it.  Spring salmon is a good pick or steelhead.  You want to buy it as fresh as you can find it.  It shouldn't smell fishy at all and if you are buying it whole the eyes shouldn't be cloudy.  Fillet the fish yourself to save cash or buy it ready to go.  Make sure it's fully deboned before you start.  Keep the skin on and the fillet whole. 

A solution of 50/50 water/kosher salt enough to cover the amount of fish you have
A good test is to taste the solution once you've dissolved the salt.  However salty it tastes, your fish will be around the same level of saltiness once brined.  I add in whatever flavourings I have on hand, ginger beer, lemon rind, keefer lime leaves and cracked pepper was in the last batch.  This is the fun part, so experiment and TASTE the brine.  Whatever you taste will be what your fish tastes like.
Leave fish in brine solution in the fridge for 24 hours.

The Fire
Start a small fire with your hardwood of choice.  It will burn at varying temperatures depending on how dry it is etc., so you have to check it every 1/2 hour or so and put another small log on here and there. I have a huge olive oil drum that I had made into a smoker with a vent at the top and bottom, so I can control airflow.  If you don't have a proper smoker then you can just prop your Bbq's door open enough to let the air in.  If you find that the smoke then doesn't come low enough to cover the fish, get some untreated cedar planks, soak them and place the fish on them (higher in the bbq).  Basically, you want the fire to stay burning at a very low temperature, creating smoke for a good 4 hours.  If you have a smoker... it's way easier.
Remember everyone - A grill isn't a barbecue!  A barbecue is a cooking device made for coal or wood, not gas!  I'm sure you could try and do this on a grill, but it wouldn't be the same... prove me wrong, I dare ya!

The Smoke
I had to chop down a lovely fig tree in my backyard, so I use figwood for the smoking.  You can use any good hardwood like cherry, applewood or alder. I like these better than hickory or mesquite for sure, fruit wood smoke is lighter and sweeter in aroma. I 'warm' smoke my fish.  Yes, yes, there's no such thing, ha!  Basically, you start the wood fire at one end of your barbecue and place the fish on the other far side of the grill.  If you place your hand where the fish will sit, it should be warm, not hot!  I usually put it in for around 3-4 hours, but you should check your fish and fire every 1/2 hour as this time will vary. Place your fish skin side down on the well oiled grill as far away from the flames as possible.  Check the fish every 1/2 hour until you see a white film coming out of the fish.  It's ready at this point.  Test the thickest portion of the fish and check that it's just done, not overcooked!  It's way better to undercook the fish, that can always be fixed, either by eating it that day (oh my God, it's soooo tasty) or just throwing it back into the smoker to cook longer. Take this off the barbecue and serve some of it warm to your best friends with a good beer on a hot day.  The rest put in the fridge for your second best friend to eat later.

Chef Robin

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tiki's Falernum Cocktail Recipe

Everyone's been asking so here it is from our mixologist, Hailey Pasemko...

Tiki Event - bar in the jungle
"The greeting cocktail that was served at the party is called falernum.  It's a traditional syrup that originated in the Caribbean that can be made alcoholic or not.  It is often used as an ingredient in cocktails, but it is quite acceptable to simply drink it over crushed ice with a bit of fresh lime juice.  There are countless variations on the recipe.  I used the one from the kaiserpenguin website (great cocktail site by the way) and just tweaked it a tiny bit here and there.  It yielded about 600ml of syrup."

50 cloves
1 tablespoon whole allspice
1 whole nutmeg
zest of 8 limes (I used a micro plane to avoid the bitter white pith)
1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
4 oz white rum
4 oz amber rum
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
crushed ice
Combine the lime zest and ginger in a glass jar.  Toast the cloves, allspice and nutmeg in a dry pan over medium heat for for a few minutes or until they start to smell really good, and then add them to the jar too.  Add the rums and make sure all the goodies are covered by the rum.  The stuff in the jar looks pretty cool at this point.  Then seal the jar and let it sit overnight.  The next day strain the spiced up liquid through cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer.  Try and squeeze as much goodness out of the solids as you can.
Combine the sugar and water in a pot over high heat and stir until dissolved.  Let cool.  Combine the spicy rum with the sugar syrup and you have a basic falernum syrup.  Some recipes call for fresh lime juice to be added to the syrup at this stage but apparently it wont keep as well.  So just add the fresh lime at the time of consumption.  For the party I used a ratio of 3 parts syrup to 2 parts fresh lime juice.  The crushed ice is key as it chills, dilutes and mellows out the sweetness and acidity.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What to do for Mother's Day? Wild Edibles Trip...

Honey Mushrooms
I can never figure out what to give my mom for Mother's Day, usually, she just wants to spend time with me and have some fun.  So, I created this tour for her, a stroll through the forest with a gorgeous lunch in a mountain cabin to finish.

Mother’s Day 2 for 1 Wild Edibles Trip:
Treat Mom to a Wild Herb Tour and you can come along too, for free.
We’ll do a guided walk through the forest, learning about native edibles like Fiddleheads, Plantain, Miners Lettuce, Wild Willow & more.
Then, lunch will be served in a mountain cabin featuring Home-Made Kamut Bread, Wild BC Mushrooms,  Fiddleheads & Dandelion, plus a delicious herbal tea made with the wild plants we will be identifying.
When: May 13, Mother’s Day
Duration: 2 hours 
Where: Near Vancouver
Price: $69 for guided herb tour + gourmet lunch. (treat mom and you come for free!)
To book, email info@swallowtail.ca.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How to make "Chili Garlic Crisp Snowflakes"

This recipe is really fun to make with kids or adults that act like kids, either one. They're easy, pretty and add a tasty, spicy crunch to the any soup.  Why, you might ask, did I think these up? I was bored one day and had extra spring roll wrappers, plus I love deep frying everything.  I once tried to make deep fried ice cream with my sous chef, Helen.  We were tired from cooking all day, but thought it was a brilliant idea.  We proceeded to put ice cream scoops directly into the scalding hot oil... no batter.  Oops, we pissed ourselves laughing.
- Chef Robin

Snowflaked crisp on Tom Yum Soup
  • Buy some 5 inch spring roll wrappers
  • Fold them in squares and cut sections out of them like you did when you were five.  Or if you are so ancient that you've forgotten, follow these instructions - How to make snowflakes
  • Heat some peanut oil to deep fry them in - 375F
  • Unfold snowflakes and set in to deep fry one at a time till golden brown
  • Lift out carefully and drain onto paper towels
  • Use a mortar and pestle to grind 1 clove garlic and 1 red Thai chili into a paste, add 1/4 cup salt and grind the flavours into the salt.  You can grind any spice into salt, or a fresh herb like cilantro even.
  • Sprinkle salt on to each snowflake
  • Serve on top of tom yum soup, tom ka gai.. or some other soup you've been craving.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

French Quarter Beignets - Recipe

I remember these from years ago, sitting in an outdoor cafe in New Ordeans where powdered sugar covered the floor of the cafe an inch thick. People eat these for breakfast, lunch or after dinner with strong coffee. It's basically a bread dough, not too sweet. I've put a twist on these and added Kaffir lime leaves, so that when you first bite into one, the escaping steam reminds me of the tropics. - Chef Robin

 This recipe base is taken from Paula Dean


  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 7 cups bread flour
  • 3 Kaffir lime leaves, ground into small bits
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • Oil, for deep-frying - I used peanut oil and vegetable shortening, equal proportions
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar


Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the bread flour. Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the shortening and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Coat a large bowl with a light film of oil. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 375 degrees F.
Add the confectioners' sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.
Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Deep-fry, approx 5-7min, 3 min a side, until they become a golden color. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then toss them into the bag of confectioners' sugar. Hold bag closed and shake to coat evenly.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Tiki - A cocktail party of tropical proportions

Our lastest Pop-up Restaurant, shelter from the rainy day, Vancouver blues.  April 13, 2012
Tiki is currently SOLD OUT, but if you want to get on the waiting list, we will be releasing a few more tickets the week before.  Email us at theswallowdive@gmail.com if you want in.

Location Imagine a warm indoor jungle, koi pond, whimsical wooden bridge, orchids blooming all around you.

The Food There will be five tiki stands in the jungle serving canap├ęs and hand-food for under $5 each. We’ve collected together a diverse group of Vancouver’s underground culinary stars to create tropical themed nibbles.
  • Butter on the Endive chef Owen Lightly formerly of Araxi & West will dazzle us with his gorgeous canapes.
  • The classy Curious Oyster Catering boys on fresh shucked BC oysters.
  • Caribbean whole pig smoked by Anatoli Belov Woodland Smokehouse
  • Soho Road bringing the spice to the mix and their delicious homemade naan and Indian food.
  • Sea Monstr Sushi creating some classic Tiki rolls.
  • One more mystery sweet tiki creator.
The Drinks Tiki inspired cocktails are the stars of our show, mixed by award winning bartender Hailey Pasemko!  There will be beer as well to keep you cool. 
What to wear? We encourage tropical inspired outfits, bright colours and crazy hats, whatever you like.  Please remember that it will be warm in the jungle, and there is no space for a coat check at this venue.  As this is a cocktail party (standing), wear your most comfortable, sexy shoes.

Time: 8pm to midnight
Tickets: $15 including one Tiki cocktail