Today marks two months since I’ve been back in San Jose and one month since I’ve been sheltered in here. I didn’t plan on being quarantined at my parents’ place for so long and although I miss being in my own home with JM, there are a lot of things about being here that I’m grateful for. I’m thankful I get to spend this time with family and that we’re all still alive (surviving viruses and each other, mostly each other TBH). Extremely blessed for the friends that we have – the ones close-by for helping with groceries and gathering the essentials, the far-away ones for delivering pick-me-ups and keeping us in their thoughts, and for everyone who has been checking in. Then lastly, I’m appreciative for something I probably took for granted prior to all this – my parent’s occupation.
My mom caters for a living and as a byproduct, our house is equipped with an endless supply of flours, seasoning, cooking utensils, trays, and appliances. Items that other households and even grocery stores may be lacking during this time. My dad is a gardener and has a green thumb. Our backyard is a maze filled with fruits and different produce making my cooking experiments here a lot more exciting and eye-opening.
In this episode of #QuarantineChronicles all the ingredients for this meal is a perfect combination of all the things that I am truly grateful for. The surprise morning glory delivery from my friend Olivia, the turmeric spices my mom had on hand, and the fresh lemon-grass stalks from my dad’s backyard – all these flavors blend well together in a recipe I made with gratitude!
If you are unfamiliar with some of these ingredients, I hope to inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and try them out! Here are some #nganstopfacts:
- Turmeric is an antioxidant and is anti-inflammatory, this can improve symptoms of depression and arthritis. As a bonus, I’m giving you my Asian mother’s cure all pill – coat droplets of honey with turmeric and leave to harden. My mom gave these to us whenever had stomachaches or were feeling ill. They’re not my favorite thing when it comes to taste, but they helped ease the pain.
- Golden milk has been gaining a lot of popularity these days and the nice golden color comes from turmeric. Most of the benefits of golden milk stems from turmeric.
- Morning glory goes by a bunch of other names, I know it as “Rau Muong” – the Vietnamese name. I have also seen it in stores as water spinach and ong choy.
- Water spinach is a super food! It contains antioxidant properties, is rich minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium and is high in vitamin C and E. It’s also very low in calories!
- Water spinach juice or smoothies is said to be helpful for hair and skin beauty. It improves hair texture and helps with hair loss. Skin benefits include elimination of acne and promotes clear, glowing skin.
- Lemongrass contains substances that can help relieve pain and swelling, reduce fever, improve levels of sugar and cholesterol in the blood.
- TSA Approved?: Although this recipe will pass through the airport security line, it is not recommended as travel food. Fish and other seafood smells are disastrous for small spaces; unless you want to be receiving death threats on the flight, keep this meal in the home!
All the ingredients in this recipe can help boost your immune system, when is a better time to try than now?
Turmeric Fish and Water Spinach with Rice
Description: A rice plate that brings me back to my roots. Flavorful turmeric, lemongrass marinated white fish paired with sautéed water spinach served with rice. Pair with a cup of EmegenC for the ultimate pandemic meal.
Serving Size: 6-8
I N G R E D I E N T S:
For Turmeric Fish
- 2-3lbs (~3-4 Filets) Swai Filets (or any other mild fish: tilapia, bass, etc.)
- 1 Tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 Tsp Fish Sauce
- 5 Garlic Cloves minced
- 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- ½ Tsp Pepper
- ½ Tsp Salt
- 1 Tsp Monkfruit Sugar (Or regular sugar)
- 2 Stalks Lemongrass Root – about 2 tbsp minced
For Morning Glory:
- 1 Bundle Water Spinach
- 5 Garlic Cloves minced
- 1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
- 2 Tsp Olive Oil
- ½ Tsp Chicken Bullion Seasoning
- ¼ Tsp Black Pepper
- Water for blanching
T O O L S:
- Air fryer – can substitute with oven or stovetop
I N S T R U C T I O N S:
- Cut each Swai filet up into 3 pieces.
- Mix together turmeric, fish sauce, minced garlic, oil, pepper, salt, sugar, and lemongrass. Use this mixture to marinate the fish. You can do this in a bowl or a zip-lock bag. I prefer the bag, so I can easily mix the fish and mixture together without getting my hands dirty. Leave to rest for 15 minutes – overnight.
* Note: While the fish is marinating, you can work on the morning glory recipe.
- Turn the air fryer on 400 degrees and place fish into the air fryer basket. Cook for 12-15 minutes, flipping half way. Fish should be buttery and soft.
- Boil a pot of water with a sprinkle of salt while you wash the bundle of water spinach, and then cut into 3-4 sections. Once water is boiled, blanch the spinach for 2 minutes. Strain spinach.
- In a wok or large skillet, add the oil and garlic – cook until fragrant, then add in the blanched spinach, fish sauce, chicken seasoning, and pepper. Cook until spinach is wilted.
- Blanching water spinach before sautéing will keep its color vibrant. This will also soften the stem to help with the texture!
- Water spinach much like regular spinach, shrinks in size after cooking so don’t be alarmed. I use a big size wok/skillet due to the original volume of the spinach, but know that it will shrink about 70%.
- Fish can also be fried, but I prefer the air fryer or oven for a healthier alternative. If choosing to fry, coat the fish lightly in cornstarch for crispy results.
- These two items are good together, but they are also delicious separately! If you prefer one over the other, or only have ingredients for one – the meal will still come out amazing. I do suggest eating with rice as they’re seasoned to be paired with it.
- To make the water spinach vegan or vegetarian, substitute soy sauce for the fish sauce.
- Monk fruit sweetener is my favorite sugar substitute! You can use it at a 1:1 ratio. In a lot of Vietnamese or Thai dishes, sugar is used in the marinade or seasoning – having monk fruit sweetener on hand you can have all the flavors without the guilt. Also can be substituted in baking! Its my favorite ‘healthy’ hack.