Savor The Earth

eat tastier, eat greener, eat cheaper

Salmon Sales and Cheap Chocolate August 28, 2009

Filed under: easy,fast,fish,grilling — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 1:29 pm

king salmon

If you’re looking for something excellent to throw on the grill this weekend, perhaps an enviably-nutritious, sustainably procured, luscious and easily prepared protein, look no further than Central Market’s wild king salmon from the Rosario Strait in Washington state.  On sale for the low, low price of just $9.99 a pound (normally $24.99/pound), I believe CM has made me an offer I can’t refuse.

Prepping salmon for the grill is simple.  I like to leave the skin on, for moisture, and slather my slab with a mixture of mustard (organic) and honey (local) and fresh herbs like Mexican mint marigold (Texas tarragon–grows practically unassisted in my yard), lemon verbena—this bush requires some tough love pruning–and chives (my garlic chives outperform my regular chives year round).  Season with lots of black pepper and a little salt.  And don’t overcook your beautiful fish.  Medium-hot coals should cook your fillet at the rate of about 8 minutes per inch of thickness.  I like to grill one large piece of salmon w/o flipping it if the fillet’s not too thick.

For dessert, check out Whole Foods for Green & Black’s chocolate bars on special for only $1.50 each (milk chocolate and dark chocolate w/cherry varieties).  If you still have a coupon or two for G & B from the last Whole Deal issue ($1 OFF any G & B product) you can buy yourself a delicious organic 3.5 ounce chocolate bar for a mere 50¢.  That’s like 1970’s prices!


Texas Bún August 12, 2009

Filed under: easy,grilling,meat,noodles,salads,vegetables,Vietnamese — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 9:56 am

We’ve got a produce-challenged member in our household, but luckily that person loves bún , that fun (aren’t all salads fun?) Vietnamese rice noodle salad.  Pretty much any other dish containing the word “salad” repulses this individual.  But my bún is so tasty, and delights our mouths with such a charming medley of tastes and textures, resistance is futile.  Here’s how we’re búnning right now.

BÚN serves several salad suppers

Nước chấm–dressing/dipping sauce

  • 3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce (nước mắm)–I’m using Thai Kitchen right now.  You may have a favorite.  If not, this one’s fine and readily available.
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey, local of course
  • zest of 1 or 2 limes

Mix all dressing ingredients together.  You can prepare your nước chấm ahead of time and store it in the fridge.  In my house we always use it up well before it has any opportunity to turn on us.  If you have an under-one-year-old wantin’ to bún, be sure to replace the honey with 1/2 cup turbinado sugar and increase the water to 1 cup.  This is a kid friendly dish, by the way.

Pork Patties

  • 1 pound ground pork.  I usually buy Richardson’s pastured pork at Sunset Valley Farmers Market
  • 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup or so minced shallot and or scallions.  throw in a little minced garlic, too.
  • 1 small green Texas pear, peeled and finely shredded
  • and fat pinch of black pepper and cayenne or paprika

Mix the pork patty ingredients together well, either with a stand mixer (my first choice) or by hand.  Refrigerate the mixture for a while–overnight or all day–to allow the flavors to come together.  Form about 9 patties (mixture may be somewhat loose–that’s OK) and grill them on a medium-hot fire.  Get them cooked through.  They’ll retain their moisture.


Different brands of rice noodles will cook up at different rates, so instructions here are inexact.  For the brand I’m currently working with, I placed the noodles in a 3 1/2 quart pot of boiling water.  I stirred the noodles down, covered the pot and took them off the heat for about 8 minutes.  Try testing your vermicelli at about 5 minutes.  When the noodles are tender, drain them in a colander and rinse them well with cold water.  Go ahead and rinse enough to cool the noodles on down.


  • julienned cucumbers (scoop out the seeds first).  I’m still finding Texas pickling cukes at our markets.
  • mung bean and sunflower sprouts–I buy these locally sourced from Central Market.  They’re available year-round.
  • sliced sweet onion–I’m enjoying the allium bounty of Hairston Creek Farm lately.
  • medium-shredded peeled Texas pear (ripe) or Asian pear.  I found Asian pears recently at Gundermann Farms booth at Sunset Valley.
  • julienned carrots are traditional but out of season at this time.  Hence the pear.
  • sliced hot chiles–red or green, your choice.  Somewhat optional.
  • fresh basil and mint leaves, cut in chiffonade or torn by hand.  Cilantro should take center stage here, but locally it’s out of season.  Every summer I’m saddened by fresh coriander’s absence, and I always swear I’ll grow rau ram or culantro next year.
  • crushed roasted peanuts or soynuts.  I’ve even used almonds.  I haven’t tried good ole Texas pecans, though.
  • fried sliced onion garnish–I last purchased Laxmi brand at Whole Foods.  Fiesta will certainly sell this product (maybe a different brand, though) and possibly Phoenicia.  Sometimes I find fried onions at the other stores, sometimes I don’t.

Now you’re ready to assemble your bún.  I like to use wide, not too shallow bowls.  Nestle a tangle of noodles in your bowl.  Festoon with a shower of toppings including one or two pork patties.  Some folks around here go for more veggies, some go for more meat.  Anoint the colorful arrangement with 2- 4 small ladlefuls of nước chấm.  You’re not aiming for soup here, but you do want well-seasoned performers in this show.  Prepare for a polyphonic jamboree of colors, flavors and textures!