Glühwein

I moved to Germany shortly after the beginning of the new year, 2010. That meant I was exposed to Glühwein (hot mulled wine) for the first time, although it became much more relevant and loved later on, during my first full winter in Dresden.

Way too hot. My bad! No boiling allowed!

Way too hot. My bad! No boiling allowed!

A friend recently asked for my Glühwein recipe and I realized, my recipe and column are behind a paywall at my former newspaper. Alas. However, I did manage to save the recipe, listed below.

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It was Friday, which meant the Hispanic grocery on Wells, Marketon, was having its one day sale. I looked at the ad and lo and behold, Swai was on sale. However, I had no idea what Swai is so I looked the confusion fish up.

The Iridescent shark (it’s not a shark) is actually a type of catfish (shark catfish, Wikipedia says.) It is, however, packaged as “swai.” Three names: iridescent shark, swai, and catfish. It’s a native to fresh water in southeast Asia.

Speaking of, which, one of its relatives, the Wels Catfish, is reported to jump out and eat pigeons. If only we had them in our fountains.

At $1.99/lb, I figured they must taste decent enough and if they’re anything like their North American cousins, the flesh should stand the test of the grill. So, I bought two packages, totaling 7.89 pounds. The fillets I bought were huge, the length of a small cookie sheet. I poured lemon juice on it, threw on some lemon pepper, pepper and garlic salt and let it sit for half an hour before throwing it on the grill.

The plain recipe is: here.

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I love fish, which seems to be a shame considering I was born and raised in the inland desert. While smoked salmon was a treat growing up, it has always been an unaffordable luxury in my adult life. Fortunately, there are many alternatives, including one of my favorite fish: the sardine.

Two of the three sardines in a can sit on English muffin halves, straight from the can.

Two of the three sardines in a can sit on English muffin halves, straight from the can.

Lightly smoked canned sardines may not have the exact taste, or consistency, that smoked salmon does. They certainly do not have the nice presentation it does. However, they are cheap (around a dollar a can for three sardines) and make for sustainable and delicious cheap eats.

 In this case, I have been using English muffins as the base, although bagels or bread would certainly work as well. That and some cream cheese. Two adjuncts, capers and red chopped red onions, as seen in cream cheese and lox preparations, make good companions. Sometimes I like them, sometimes I like it plain.

That’s all there is to it. Kippered herring is also a good choice, as are other smoked canned fish.

Three sardines come in a can but usually one sardine is sufficient to cover an English muffin so I save the third for the next day.

The sardines' supple flesh has been spread over the muffins.

The sardines’ supple flesh have been spread over the muffins.

Since I’ve been unfortunately bereft of cash, I’ve moved much of my diet over to the produce that’s on sale for the week and brown rice. Brown jasmine rice, to be exact. The other part of my diet is using up whatever I have in the refrigerator. Recently it has been small dill pickles.

Eating so much rice quickly (soon I will move on the quinoa and the bulgur wheat I have stored) means I have to mix up what I’m doing with the rice. Early in the month, I made a conglomeration of black beans (I had cooked in the slower cooker,) chorizo and brown rice with ample amounts of onions, (home-made) salsa and Taptio (not home made.)

Curry rice with a wee bit of cilantro on top.

Curry rice with a wee bit of cilantro on top.

I then moved on to the stir-fry route with a failed General Tso’s chicken, made with broccoli. The sauce (made with apricot preserves) did not come out at all. (The point of the dish, to me, is the sauce, not the meat.) I considered it a failure. That left me with extra rice and no eggs. I didn’t want to just fry the rice — no eggs. Instead, I dug through the quickly-emptying refrigerator for my big container of yellow curry paste. Two pounds, to be exact, of spicy goodness. I poured some oil into the cast-iron skillet, put the curry in, let it disintegrate some and then threw in the rice.

Curry paste

Curry paste!

Had I other vegetables, or had I remembered the just-bought sack of onions sitting with the potatoes, I would have thrown them in. Good contenders range from potatoes to eggplant to broccoli and sprouts, peppers and tomatoes and squash. I then made a hole in the center of the rice, cracked for eggs, cooked and mixed them into the rice. I cut up cilantro I had bought for the purpose and threw it in, leaving a little extra to be used as a un-cooked garnish.

It serves its purpose. Now only, if I had vegetables left.

If you’re looking for a little extra somethin’-somethin’, then consider making some dill-heavy tzatziki to go with the curried rice.