January is a month full of new years resolutions, trying to watch the pennies and often a time when we are all feeling a little flat. It is hard to come to terms with the aftermath of the post Christmas frenzy, especially when it comes to food. We are mostly all trying to lose a little weight, cut back on the booze and restrain ourselves from splashing out at the sales. Fun? Maybe not.
Luckily for me, I got invited to take part in the #aldichallenge. A challenge which is all about saving money. Who wouldn’t want to try this out? Saving money is not easy for any of us with children. Food however, is an area in which cutting costs has a significant effect on our weekly spend and I was up for the challenge of putting Aldi to the money saving test.
Part of the challenge was to come up with an interesting yet achievable recipe to feed the family with an emphasis on healthy, fresh flavours and ingredients. I decided to create a recipe with influences from Japan. Japanese food is inherently light, delicate and sophisticated. The only ingredients I used that you won’t be able to find at Aldi are white miso paste and Mirin but they are widely available online.
Before this shop, I hadn’t ever been to an Aldi. My nearest is about half an hour away. They are currently building one which is only ten minutes from my home but it is a way off being completed so I made my trip to Walton-on-Thames and put Aldi to the test. Here is what I found………..
-Very low prices. I have no idea how they do it but it is easy to see that with prices such as these Aldi are knocking other competitors out of their way.
-Chocolate. The dark chocolate is excellent value for money, both for eating and cooking with. When I go back, I will be buying it in bulk.
-Less brand choice. How refreshing to go into a supermarket and NOT be bombarded with hundreds of brands selling exactly the same thing. It makes shopping a much faster operation.
-Paying & packing. Aldi don’t let you pack at the till. This really speeds up the time spent queueing. You unload onto the conveyor belt, put everything back into the trolley and pack at a designated packing area. It works!
-Aldi have very little in the way of Fairtrade products and I don’t think I saw any organic produce. My one weekly organic purchase is always milk. Our milk industry is in a bad way and I like to feel that I am paying a fair price for a product that we all take for granted. I also like to support fair-trade products, but apart from tea, I struggled to find any more.
-The bread & baked goods section. There was a very limited range of breads and freshly baked goods. This would not be an issue if the breads were of a decent quality but I found the so called “fresh baked” loaves poor. The same goes for their pastries. I struggled to find anything in this section to take home with me. It is definitely an area of the supermarket I would like to see radically improved.
My overall impression of Aldi is one of pleasant surprise. It reminds me of supermarkets in the 70s when choices were far fewer and shopping took far less time because of it. Do you remember a supermarket called “Presto”? It was big in the 70s and it stocked essentials such as French bread pizzas, crispy pancakes and Lean Cuisines as well as “Lovely” frozen chocolate mousses. So, for me this a supermarket that has gone back in time but offers “old fashioned” prices which we can all benefit from.
When I discovered that Aldi is German in origin it made me wish for the breads and cakes that I used to buy from the German bakery in Ham, Richmond. Dark ryes, sourdoughs, pretzels, nutty spelt loaves, sticky Danishes, gingerbreads, baked cherry cheesecakes and spiced lebkuchen. If Aldi could bring just a few of these German delights to it’s stores it would be “wunderbar”.
I have included a selection of salmon/fish recipe inspiration for you from around the web:
Norwegian fish soup – Kavey Eats
Foil baked Shetland salmon – Elizabeth’s kitchen diary
Pan fried salmon with blood orange & beetroot salsa – Cook Sister
Bacon wrapped salmon – Fab Food 4 All
Steamed salmon with cauliflower risotto – Fuss Free Flavours
Wasabi & chilli salmon en croute – Franglais Kitchen
Disclosure: Recipe commissioned by Aldi. All views expressed within this post are my own.
- For the salmon:)
- -5 salmon fillets,
- -2tbsp dark soy sauce,
- -1tbsp ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks,
- -4tbsp white miso,
- -2tbsp Sherry/Sake,
- -2tbsp Mirin
- For the coconut rice:)
- -2 cups of basmati/jasmine rice (300g approx) I use a small mug to measure,
- -1&1/2 cups coconut milk,
- -1&1/2 cups boiling water,
- -coriander and sesame seeds to garnish (optional)
- For the salmon:)
- 1.Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees,
- 2. Mix the marinade ingredients in a large shallow bowl then place the salmon into the marinade and leave for 30 minutes,
- 3. After 30 minutes place the salmon onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and roast for 15 minutes,
- For the coconut rice:)
- 1. Measure the rice into a saucepan and cover with the coconut milk, large pinch of salt and boiling water,
- 2. Bring the rice to a rolling boil then turn the heat to it's lowest position and cook, covered with a lid, for the recommended time on the packet,
- 3. When the rice is cooked let it sit covered with the saucepan lid to steam until you are ready to serve the salmon. You could also cook the rice the day before and re-heat it in the microwave.
- 4. Garnish with chopped coriander and a sprinkle of sesame seeds (optional)
- The salmon and coconut rice should also be served with some greens stir fried with a little garlic with a teaspoon of sesame oil added into the cabbage at the last minute.