Broccolini with Sesame Miso Dressing
Broccolini with Sesame Miso Dressing

Broccolini with Sesame Miso Dressing is inspired by a common Japanese way of dressing spinach and other cold greens. The dressing in question is made by toasting sesame seeds then grinding them to a paste along with a little sugar and mirin, sake and soy sauce, but, here, I have made a few twists on the classic theme.

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Broccolini
Broccolini

Broccolini may very well look like some sort of ‘Baby Broccoli’, or perhaps regular Broccoli that shot up a little too quickly before the ‘flower’ top grew, but it is neither of these. There is a relationship, though, and the two vegetables are similar, but broccolini tends to be a bit more delicate in texture and flavor. Accordingly, it is even enjoyed by those who don’t much care for its better-known cousin…


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Greek-Style Broccolini Salad
Greek-Style Broccolini Salad

This Greek-style Broccolini Salad came about because I was blanching a fairly large amount of broccolini with a view to making a few different things and I had a little bit of the vegetable leftover. The result is a bit of an amalgam of a few different salads I have seen but, in the main, it is Greek in spirit and very easy to put together.

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King Oyster Mushrooms
King Oyster Mushrooms

King Oyster Mushrooms (officially named Pleurotus eryngii) go by quite a lot of different names. You may well encounter them as ‘King Trumpets’, ‘Trumpet Royales’, or even ‘French Horn Mushrooms’, depending on where you live.

The flavor of this variety is not especially remarkable in that they have roughly the same fungi-umami taste you would get from, say, Portobello’s, fresh Shiitake, or even just the plain white Button variety. What is special about them is the texture, which is very meaty and chewy, much like the similar ‘Oyster Mushrooms’ (which are similar, but just haven’t been elevated to ‘royal’ status). They can be lovely in stews or braised dishes, but are also terrific when grilled or pan-fried by themselves with just a little seasoning…

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Dongpo Pork served with Baby Bok Choy
Dongpo Pork served with Baby Bok Choy

The classic Chinese dish, Dong Po Pork, is named after the Chinese poet Su Dongpo, who, by all accounts, loved pork belly prepared this way. The dish is an example of the Chinese technique of ‘red-cooking’ (紅燒), meaning that the main ingredients are braised in a soy sauce based cooking medium. Here, as in the classic Dongpo Pork tradition, aromatics and sugar are added for sweetness, and the slow-cooking of the fatty pork belly makes for a result that is rich, unctuous, and absolutely delicious.

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Cocktail Shrimp Boats
Cocktail Shrimp Boats

The name ‘Cocktail Shrimp Boats’ is a bit of a culinary play on words, as it makes a combination of the two very different terms, ‘cocktail shrimp’, and ‘shrimp cocktail’ The shrimp themselves are the tiny variety usually sold as  ‘cocktail’ shrimp, and, for this recipe, they are served in a version of the ‘cocktail sauce’ that is often served along side cold shrimp or other shellfish. The ‘boats’ of course, are the hollowed out plum tomatoes used as edible containers for the cocktail filling itself…

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A Horseradish Root
A Horseradish Root

This rather gnarly looking object is not a withered old tree branch, but is actually a Horseradish Root, the source of that sharp, pungent white condiment usually only encountered in jars purchased at the supermarket. The purchased varieties are fine to use, as long as you don’t let them age too long, but there are some benefits to using the fresh article that are also worth investigating…

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Dry-fried Green Beans and Bamboo Shoots
Dry-fried Green Beans and Bamboo Shoots

This recipe for Dry-fried Green Beans and Bamboo Shoots is based on a very popular Sichuan dish called ‘Dry-Fried Four-Season Beans’. In that particular dish, the long green beans are first deep-fried in order to make them deliciously crisp-tender, and then pan-fried with other ingredients. Here, bamboo shoots get the same treatment as the beans, and then they are both stir-fried together with ginger, chili, and umami-rich reconstituted dried shrimp.

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