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All About Swai


All About Swai

All About SwaiI like fish. It’s a genetic thing.

My dad was crazy about fish and seafood. So much so, that when he came to visit me in Hong Kong, we pretty much had fish/seafood three meals a day because of the preponderance of fresh product there.  When I was growing up, we routinely had fish at least once a wek, but it was some frozen preparation, tho my dad might cook fresh fish for himself on occasion.

There are so many more types of fish available in the market today than there were in my salad days. OK, I never had “salad days.” But I’ve come to discover that fish isn’t always precisely what it’s labeled in the grocery counter.

How did this happen?  Back in the 1960s, when cotton and other cash crops began losing their footing in the deep south, farmers were looking for an alternate source of income and aquafarming began to take root, particularly for catfish, which was gaining popularity on US dinner tables. Raising All About Swaicatfish domestically provided for an easy to raise, cheap cash crop.

Not wanting to miss out on this growing market, other countries, and particularly Vietnam also started raising catfish and exporting it to the U.S.

American catfish farmers didn’t cotton to this (see what I did there?) because the Vietnamese were undercutting American wholesalers prices in an attempt to get a foothold in the market.  Seeing this and feeling the wrath of his constituents, Uncle Sam raised a bony finger, pointed at the Vietnamese and said “knock it off. Go open nail salons or something.”

Eventually they got the message and imports of Vietnamese catfish dwindled. Or did they? Turns out those crafty folks merely changed the name of the Asian cats. To Swai. And/or Basa.  The Asian cats are milder than the US farm raised, and lend themselves to easily being manipulated with different flavorings and cooking methods.

The Swai comes from the Mekong River, which starts in the Tibetan plains and meanders 2,703 miles  through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It’s one of the world’s most diverse and productive fisheries, producing 4,500,000 tons of fish/seafood per year!

So now you know.  Anyway, I was thinking about this over the weekend as I was screwing around with different types of breading for frying fish. Got out the mini-Cuisineart and pulverized pretzels, cheetos, cheese popcorn, saltines, matzo and the like.

All About SwaiIn any case, I was disappointed in my experiments, except I thought the pretzel one had potential, tho most people would find it too salty. I suppose I could find unsalted pretzels somewhere.

In the end, I used my old standby,  2/3 cornmeal, 1/3 flour, and am doses of Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning and paprika. For me, that combination works just fine.

Swai and Basa come in multi-pound packages of individually wrapped frozen boneless filets. Generally about $3 a pound. What other healthy protein can you buy at that price?

Oh, before I go, one more thing. There’s no such animal as “Chilean Sea Bass.”  It’s a marketing term designed to sound nice on menus.  Cooked up by a fish wholesaler in 1977. The actual  fish itself? It’s a Patagonian Toothfish.  Doesn’t that sound yummy?

All About Swai

Seasoned cornmeal coated fillets, 375 oil, 3 minutes per side


HomeBeck Burgermaster Review


BurgerMaster ReviewI’m a big burger eater, and I’ve developed my own fairly elaborate system of buying burger and getting them ready for cooking on demand.

It’s rather time and labor intensive – I buy bulk ground beef, shape, shape it into patties of a uniform size and weight, but them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet in the freezer, then, when they are frozen (generally over night), I cut the parchment holding the patties into individual sizes, put them in freezer bags, and take one out at a time when I crave one.

The genius folks at HomeBeck have eliminated most of my work with their new “Burger Master,” a silicone mold that shapes, portions and freezes the burgers all in one operation. Boy, does it save me a lot of work!

I just put the ground beef in the mold, close the cover, freeze, and the burger patties are ready to go on demand!

The silicone Burger Master is BPA free, 100% food grade, and dishwasher safe, though a quick soapy wash in the sink cleans it easily, too.

Not in the mood for burgers? You can use the tool to make individual servings of soup, chili, hashbrowns or other foods, which is perfect for one of my personal favorite dishes, a unique concoction they dreamed up in Springfield, IL, the “Horseshoe.”

The Horseshoe is a piece of toast, topped with burger, hashbrowns and smothered in gravy or cheese sauce, and I can have servings ready to cook with the Burger Master – with a meat patty, molded hashbrowns and gravy portion ready to toss in the skillet in an instant! Just add toast! (Pictured).

If you’re so inclined, you can even make your patties different shapes to fit the molds. This is also perfect for seasoned patties or home made Juicy Lucys or other stuffed burgers!  Just by using this with plain ground beef, you’ll save a lot of money over purchasing frozen or fresh pre-formed patties.

HomeBeck supplied me with the product to try out, and I have to say, I’m pretty pleased, and will find many uses for it. Get yours on Amazon.

HomeBeck Burgermaster Review



Those Crispy Fried Onion Thingies


Frenchs Fried OnionsGreen bean casserole is the ubiquitous Thanksgiving (and other holidays) side dish.  Does anybody make it on days other than holidays?  The original recipe was developed in 1955 (happy 60th birthday!) by Dorcas Reilly, who headed the “home economics”  team at Campbell’s Soup Company.  They wanted to create a fast and easy dish from two ingredients most people had at home – green beans, and Cream of Mushroom soup.

At some point, the crispy onions were added as an ingredient and topping.  That product was originally created by Durkee Foods, which was acquired by French’s in 1995.

There have been “pretenders to the throne,” but most people, it seems, buy the original (on the left in the pic), the price be damned!

I decided I’d check out the competition, which were priced 30% less than the French’s.

The pic below has the generic on the left, French’s on the right.

For me, spending the extra money on French’s is worth it.  They have more flavor and are crispier.  The generics have kind of a weird flavor and less crunch.

“But Burger man, obviously the generic has bigger pieces, how about that?”

“Not so,” I replied, “as the photo represents the French’s after I have noshed on all the big pieces.”  Whoops.  Here’s the original recipe from Campbells.   BTW? Don’t make this mistake:  the late Mrs. Burgerdogboy and I hosted a Thanksgiving pot luck one year, and since we knew we’d have a whole spread, we told people to bring something “if they want” but it wasn’t necessary.

Seven versions of green bean hot dish showed up.  Most of them I didn’t like. LOL

Frenchs Fried Onions



Pastrami Dip Recipe


johnny2pngI first heard of, and experienced the “pastrami dip” at a West Los Angeles icon, Johnnie’s Pastrami, on Sepulveda near the Culver City border.  It’s a favorite corner of mine, also home to “Cinco de Mayo” (formerly Lucy’s #2)  a Los Angeles style Mexican fast food stand open all night.  I used to sit there in the middle of the night and write. Behind it is Tito’s Tacos, another local joint you’re bound to have to stand in line for. There’s a pretty fair pizza in the next block, as well. I like this corner so much, I have been known to hole up in a crappy  motel across Sepulveda for a weekend and indulge myself….on several planes.

There are a couple of different Los Angeles places that claim to have invented the “French Dip” a couple thousand years ago, and surely the pastrami dip is an off-shoot. You can sort out that whole “origin” thing at that online bastion of misinformation, Wikipedia, if you want, at their article on the French Dip.

Making the sandwich at home isn’t particularly challenging. Buy some high quality pastrami (high quality = at least $12 and up a pound), stuff it in a French roll, and prepare a dip.

Cheat on the dip by buying a packet of dry mix at the grocery, or beef bullion and adding (at least ) 5 cloves of garlic and simmering for an hour. Or the better way, deglaze a pan from a beef roast and make au jus from “scratch.’  My favorite way.

The Chicago version of the French Dip is called “Italian Beef” which is a marvel in itself. I’ve written a lot of posts on Italian Beef.

Johnnie's Pastrami

The Pastrami Dip

Pastrami Dip Recipe


Maries Salad Dressing Review


Maries Salad Dressing ReviewI admit to being a salad dressing snob, preferring the very premium brands.  Eh?  You’re saying you don’t believe BurgerDogBoy eats salad?  Well, sure, on occasion.

One of the groceries I frequent isn’t very ‘brand loyal” meaning from time to time, you’ll see different manufacturer’s products than you are used to. This week, in the refrigerated dressing section, they had Marie’s Chunky Blue Cheese, so i picked up a jar.  It’s very creamy with great blue cheese flavor, but I found the label boast of “chunky” a bit amiss.  I stirred and fished, but any bulk pieces of cheese could be described as “bits” not “chunks” and not so plentiful.  Marie’s is owned by Ventura foods, which is a joint venture of CHS, a diversified cooperative ag /energy company with 77,000 member/owners, based in suburban St. Paul, MN, and Mitsui, a major Japanese industrialist.

Marie’s is a good alternate dressing for me when I am leaning towards “creamy,” but as for chunky blue, I’ll stick with Litehouse brand’s Big Bleu, with plenty of good sized chunks of cheese in the dressing.



Maries Salad Dressing Review


Olive Soup Recipe


Olive Soup Recipe

Traveling in Eastern Europe, I became quite a fan of hearty soups, especially in Poland, where my one of my favorites became “Dill Pickle Soup.” I was thinking about it the other day, and thought, “hey, why not, olive soup?” So I gave it a try and it’s wonderful.


  • 1 T Penna Crema Verde Olive Spread
  • 2 T Penna Crema Negra Olive Spread
  • 6 T EVOO
  • 1 C pitted, unstuffed, diced,  chopped olives (I used home brine cured fresh Penna greens)
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Qt chicken stock
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 6 T flour
  • Seasonings to taste, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes


Olive Soup Recipe

Sweating veggies

Make a roux with 6 T flour and 3 T oil, cooked and stirred until it’s a dark paste.

Soak your diced olives in water for an hour to remove some of the salt, if desired.

Add 3 T oil, garlic, onion, and 2/3rds of the olives to a skillet, saute while stirring until the onions are sweated.

Take the skillet contents, along with 1 C of stock and puree in your food processor.

Place mix with balance of stock in sauce pan, simmer for 15 minutes, add cream. 

Olive Soup Recipe

Starting a Roux

Continue to simmer while adding the roux, stirring constantly until the soup thickens.

Add seasoning to taste, and garnish with remaining chopped olives.

(OK, garnishing with chopped olives didn’t work – they sunk!)  This is a delicious soup on its own, but it might also be great if you use it as a base, adding rough chopped vegetables or salad shrimp!

Dig in!

Olive Soup Recipe



Sunday Brunch Recipe


Before Mrs Burgerdogboy passed, we lived in Portland, Oregon, for a number of years, which celebrates the complete and utter silliness of Sunday brunch on so many levels;  in short, you’ll wait in line a really long time to overpay for pretty normal fare.

The television show “Portlandia” did a pretty funny bit on it, which is closer to reality than satire, IMHO.


There were a few places I liked, but they most certainly weren’t on the brunch “a-list”; greasy spoons like the Tik Tok,  but mostly Sunday breakfast was an en suite deal for us, which was always enjoyable.

Mostly, I’d rather have people over for brunch and I’m always interested if someone has a new brunch recipe or approach beyond quiche or eggs benedict. One of my “off-beat” ones is a “reuben strata,” which is usually fairly popular.

Today I had some folks over, and one of them produced this baked egg concoction, which I really enjoyed.  It was simple and fast to prepare, and could be easily customized for each diner’s choice.

To wit:

Greased ramekins with chopped tomato, fresh spinach, cumin, black pepper, brie, sweated diced onion, crack an egg on top, bake for 15 minutes at 350.   Great taste, beautiful presentation. Add breakfast meats or bread on the side if desired. You might want to garnish with some greenery, too.

Burgerdogboy Recipe


Read more about what’s going on at the BurgerDogBoy condiment ranch.


Fried Onion Burger Recipe


Every year, in El Reno, Oklahoma, they hold the Fried Onion Burger Festival; they’ve been cooking up their special recipe burgers for nigh onto fifty years or more.  Local favorites include Robert’s Grill.

I had a fancy to whip some up at home recently, with mixed results.

In Oklahoma, a handful of fresh ground is placed on a flattop, smashed, smother with onions, and cooked until crispy.  That was my intent as well.

I started with freshly sliced white onions, sweated in butter in a cast iron skillet, and took a course ground 1/4 pound of 85/15 and smashed it on the onions.

Fried Onion Burger Recipe


Fried Onion Burger Recipe


I over cooked them, intentionally, trying to get the crispy edges and crust that the Okie burger purveyors serve up, but wasn’t successful.  I dressed them with mustard and house made pickles, and achieved a close proximity to the OK version.  I think a hotter skillet from the onset would have made the difference.  Very tasty, nonetheless!

Fried Onion Burger Recipe

fried onion burger recipe


Millionaire Tuna Salad Recipe / Melt


Millionaire Tuna Salad / Melts

Why “Millionaire?” Because I start with fresh Ahi which I order from a sashimi supplier. Regardless of your source, using fresh tuna of any ilk to your preparations that call for tuna, adds an entirely new depth of flavor and texture over the canned product.


  • Fresh tuna steak, sushi grade   ( I buy it here, great company)
  • Mustard (your choice) Stone ground, Dijon, Yellow)  (French Maille is the best, you can order it here).
  • Mayonnaise
  • Diced Green Pitted Olives
  • (Optional crunch factor) Add diced celery or onion if desired
  • Bread (choose English muffins,split baguettes, or sliced bread)
  • Cheese for melting (Havarti, Provolone, or American)


Sear the tuna well on both sides in a hot skillet. I season mine with Tony Chachere Seasoning….it’s similar to a ‘blackened’ seasoning, but with more heat and less salt.

Rough chop the tuna and olives.

Mix in mayo and mustard, measurements depend on your preference for creaminess.

Lightly toast your bread, ladle on the tuna salad, cover with cheese, and dust with paprika, before putting it under the broiler until the cheese is thoroughly melted.



Tuna Melt Recipe

Seared Ahi


Tuna Salad Recipe

Mixing Ingredients


Tuna Melt Recipe

Open Face on Rye Toast



Tuna Salad Recipe


Cuban Pork Roast Recipe


I had this girlfriend from Barcelona  who had many charms and talents, not the least of which was in the kitchen.  On occasion, she would make me a traditional dish, which I have long forgotten the name of –  it was cubed chunks of porks heavily encrusted with herbs.   It was delicious, especially served with her family’s version of patatas bravas.

(Funny, I’ve traveled all over the world, and nearly the best Spanish food / tapas I have ever had was at a joint in Amsterdam.  At least I think so.  Too much “coffee” prior to dinner may have influenced my opinion.)  (Warning:  do not attempt to negotiate the stairs to the bathroom in that place if you aren’t 100% “right.”)

Now that you know all that, this recipe is nothing like hers, but it’s good, nonetheless, and turns a quite ordinary event into a culinary masterpieces.  Spoiler alert?  It does take some advance planning.

Cuban Braised Pork Shoulder

Total preparation time 42 hours!!!!!


Crock pot


3 pound pork shoulder or butt


  • 1/2 C fresh oregano
  • 1/4 C fresh parsley
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 T black pepper
  • 1 ½ T sea salt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T white vinegar
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste, is an option


Using a mortar and pestle (or mini Cuisineart), grind the ingredients above together into a thick paste:

Make a series of deep crosshatch -cuts into a 3 pound  pork roast (shoulder best, butt second choice) , and rub the paste well into the meat, covering as much of the surface as you can.

Cover, refrigerate for 24 hours.

Place in a crock pot with 2 more T of vinegar and cup of water.

Cook on low, for 18 hours. Turn ONE time during cooking, otherwise leave that F&*((&&  lid on!

Remove from pot, let rest on cutting board for 20 minutes. The roast will fall apart easily, into larger pieces or shredded, as you desire to serve.

Serve with roasted potatoes or black beans and rice.

Leftovers? “Cuban” pulled pork sandwiches!

What I thought was ultra-cool about this method, tho I was hesitant to leave anything in a crock pot for 18 hours, was that the liquid eventually evaporates and some of the bits of pork get crusty edges and tips (second photo below), much like if it had been done on a smoker or grill.   Come to think of it, if one desired, they might add a dash of liquid smoke.


Crock pot pork roast

Herb paste rub into roast


Crock pot pork roast

18 hour pork result





pork roast recipe slow cooker

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