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Marinated Sweet Peppers

A dish of marinated peppers

Today’s recipe is a bit of a twist on the common Italian antipasto specialty of roasted and marinated sweet peppers. As the process of making those can be a bit time consuming (especially the fiddly task of peeling off the skins), I tried the technique of flash-frying strips of different sorts of sweet bell peppers and then marinating them, with the skin still on, in seasoned oil. The process turned out to achieve much  the same sort of smoky-sweet flavor roasting and made for a terrific appetizer…

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Japanese Dressed Cucumbers

Dressed Cucumbers 1

Dressed Cucumbers appear quite commonly on Japanese restaurant menus and today’s post is inspired by such a dish I enjoyed in one of them a while ago. I haven’t tried to completely reproduce that recipe (it was quite spicy, for starters), but I have borrowed the idea of using good, thick slices rather than the thinner ones you generally get…

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Snow Peas with Chinese Sausage

Recipe using Chinese Sausage and Pea-pods

Chinese Preserved Sausage has a lovely sweet, apple-like taste that makes it a nice addition to to vegetable dishes featuring robust greens like Gai-Lan or Green-Beans, but, personally, I think it also works nicely with the more delicate crispness of fresh snow-pea pods. You could pair the two to make a side dish within a larger meal, of course, but it is quite rich and I conceived today’s recipe as more of an appetizer, or a small offering served in a series of dim-sum type dishes…

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Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers

Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers 1

The filling for these Jalapeño peppers is very straightforward and simple… not much more than ground pork with scallion and garlic, really. It is the sauce, though, that I think makes this little appetizer so special. It is based on Oyster Sauce mixed with some rice wine and a little chilli oil, and the sweetness of the primary ingredient is just right without needing any added sugar…

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Octopus Pasta Salad

Octopus Pasta Salad 1

Today’s post features one of the sorts of dishes that comes together out of a need to finish of various foodstuffs that might otherwise go to waste. Here, I had some leftover grilled octopus tentacles (which actually would have been eaten one way or the other) along with some tomatoes that were getting very ripe indeed, and some basil leaves left after pruning the plants in my kitchen window.

The basil and tomato suggested a Caprese Salad sort of affair and, while I didn’t quite go that way, the basic idea did inspire the pasta salad I eventually created. To make it, I first boiled, drained, rinsed and cooled some fusilli pasta (rinsing is only employed when using pasta in cold dishes). I then tossed this with just a little olive oil and some dried thyme, savory, and black pepper. Later, just before final assembly of the dish, I tossed the pasta once again with just a tiny amount of mayonnaise to give the whole a creamier consistency, and then stirred in some diced tomato and basil cut chiffonade.

The tentacles of the octopus had already been prepared by blanching and were subsequently grilled on skewers. The majority (already eaten at this point) were threaded whole onto the skewers, while the remainder, used here, were sliced crosswise and grilled with just a little oil and seasoning. Once cooled, the meat, still on the skewers was marinated with a little more oil, some garlic, rosemary and lemon juice. The total margination time was no more than a few hours (basically long enough to make the salad), and, to serve, I just popped a few skewers atop a mound of the salad and, on this occasion, I garnished one of the bowls with some basil flowers.

Anyway, the result was very nice. The salad was simple and tasty and would easily make a great starter dish all by itself. The same was true of the octopus, which was very tender and enhanced by the combination of herbs and lemon juice. The only thing I was less keen on was the pairing of octopus with basil…. That would be something I may rethink in the future…

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Honey Chili Shrimp

Honey Chili Shrimp 1

You may already well know that shrimp cooked in the shell can often be much for flavorful than the pre-shelled variety in the same way that meat cooked on the bone is generally much better than boneless cutlets from the same source. Indeed, eating shrimp that is still in the shell can be a bit fiddly, and even quite messy, but, at an outdoor barbecue, or a casual meal with friends, this often enhances the pleasure of the meal…

Today’s little dish is very easy to prepare and could be served as a light snack, or appetizer with drinks. It is somewhat Asian in spirit, especially with the splash of soy sauce used to give saltiness, but there is no garlic or ginger used (though you certainly could, if desired) and the preparation could just as easily feature in a tapas meal as it could as one of a series of dim sum type dishes.

Basically, you just flash-fry the de-veined shrimp in oil until nicely pink and then add in thin slivers of red chili pepper (or sweet bell pepper for a less fiery result). Once the latter are softened, quickly stir in a splash of soy followed by enough homey to coat the shrimp and, just before serving, a generous sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.

That’s it …

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Pasta Gricia with Truffle

Pasta Gricia with Truffles 1

A while ago, I did a post featuring the Italian cured hog jowl meat known as Guanciale and I included a picture of a Spaghetti Carbonara I made using it. There are two fairly famous Italian dishes made using Guanciale (or sometimes Pancetta, or else regular bacon) and these are the aforementioned Pasta Carbonara and Pasta Amatriciana. Both of these are descendants of a simpler dish known as Pasta alla Gricia, which is basically pasta tossed in the pan with cooked Guanciale, generous amounts of pepper, grated cheese and sufficient pasta water to make a rich ‘sauce’.

Today, I am using the ‘alla Gricia’ style as my base but I am creating a ‘descendant’ version by adding sliced black truffle along with some brocollini for a little color and texture… Continue reading “Pasta Gricia with Truffle”