Posted in Recipes

Soy-Pickled Cucumber

Soy-pickled Cucumber 1

Today’s post is really just the result of me playing around with a number of different pickling recipes from both Chinese and Japanese cuisine. In many cucumber pickles, small ‘dill-pickle’ sized ‘cukes’ are used, and the pickling is by way of lactic acid fermentation for at least part of the process. Here, I am using large, seedless, English cucumbers and I am ‘quick-pickling’ using rice vinegar as the agent, and soy sauce, ginger, sesame seeds and rice wine for seasoning… Continue reading “Soy-Pickled Cucumber”

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Shrimp and Pork Balls

Shrimp and Pork Balls 1

Today, I am going to show you a couple of little dishes made with the same basic  ‘dumpling filling’ mix I made for my Shrimp and Pork Stuffed Mushrooms  a while ago. As I mentioned in that post, the combination of shrimp and pork is one of my most favorite dumpling fillings but I wanted to use it in a few non-dumpling applications as well. The stuffed mushrooms were first but then I used the remainder of the mix to make some ‘balls’ that I almost think of as ‘dumplings without wrappers’ … Continue reading “Shrimp and Pork Balls”

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Broccolini with Sesame Miso Dressing

broccolini with sesame miso dressing 1

Today’s simple little recipe is one I derived from a common Japanese way of dressing cold greens (notably spinach). 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. The result is called ‘Spinach Gomae’ (if using Spinach) and, while I like the dressing generally, I also find that it can have a bit of a bitter after taste.

I decided to try something that resulted in the same sweet/sesame flavors, but avoided any bitterness and, accordingly settled on Hummus as a milder (if not very Japanese) base for the dressing. I also incorporated a little light miso for depth, and then included a rich Japanese Sesame oil for the proper sesame punch. For today’s dish, I am using Broccolini rather than spinach to make a nice little appetizer salad…

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pre-blanched Broccolini, trimmed of thick stems;
  • 3 Tbsp. Hummus;
  • 1 tsp. Light (white) Miso;
  • 1 tsp. Lemon Juice;
  • 1 Tbsp. Dark Sesame Oil;
  • 1 tsp. Sugar;
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. Mirin;
  • Sesame Seeds for garnish.

Assembly is super simple … First, blend together all the ingredients except the Broccolini and sesame seeds and mix to a smooth paste. Allow this to sit for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

When you are ready, add the dressing to the Broccolini and mix. The idea here is not to drench, or drown the greens in the dressing, but rather just add enough to coat the pieces with sauce. Arrange the greens attractively on individual serving plates and sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish. Serve…

That’s it.

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Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad

smoked salmon pasta salad 1

Usually, when I buy smoked salmon, I end up eating it the traditional English way, which is with lemon juice, capers and onions, and thinly cut slices of buttered brown bread. Smoked salmon also goes well with wasabi and makes a very nice addition to a meal of both sushi and sashimi.

I had almost a half package of frozen smoked salmon leftover from a previous use and I decided to try something new by doing a sort of fusion of the aforementioned flavor combinations. I switched out wasabi in favor of horseradish (this was more a color issue, than one of taste), and I made pasta, instead of bread, or rice, the starch. The result was very easy to make and delicious…

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked Fusilli (or Rotini, or the like);
  • 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil;
  • ½ tsp. ground Pepper;
  • ½ tsp. Salt (taste before serving and increase if desired);
  • 2 Tbsp. Lemon juice;
  • ¾ tsp. minced Lemon Zest;
  • 1 Tbsp. Mayonnaise;
  • ½ – 1 tsp. prepared Horseradish;
  • 3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped Capers;
  • 2 -3 ounces Smoked Salmon sliced in to thin strips;
  • ¼ cup thawed frozen Peas;
  • 2 – 3 stalks of Scallion (green part only), finely slivered.

When you boil your pasta, you can do like I sometimes do and use garlic salt rather than regular salt as this adds just a little extra something. When the pasta is cooked, you need to rinse it thoroughly with cold water. The only time you should ever rinse pasta is when you are cooling it for a later use, as here.

Blend the cooled pasta with the oil, lemon juice and seasonings, and then fold in the mayonnaise, horseradish, lemon zest and capers. If desired, you can chill what you have for the time being and let the flavors blend a little.

Finally, fold in the smoked salmon, peas, and scallion and serve.

I am sure you can probably find lots of ways to play with this little recipe. I have thought that a chiffonade of Basil might be nice stirred in at the last moment, and you could always add a little heat with, say, slivers of Jalapeno, or the like. Enjoy …

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Broccolini Salad

Broccolini Salad 1

When I introduced Broccolini to you in a ‘Foodstuffs’ post a couple of winters ago, I didn’t use it in a recipe immediately, but I did show you how to go about blanching it for subsequent use in other dishes.

Some weeks back, I was blanching a fairly large amount with a view to making a few different things and I had a little bit leftover that I put to use in the simple salad you see pictured above. It 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. Read on for the recipe….  Continue reading “Broccolini Salad”

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A Port ‘Demi-Glace’

Port Demi-Glace 1

A ‘Demi-Glace’ is a very rich sauce that is itself used as a base for other sauces in traditional classic French cuisine. At one time, it would be expected to be one of the essential skills for a chef to master but it seems to be far less commonly employed than was once the case. Indeed, back in the day, when I had quite a few jobs in the food service industry, I can recall only one chef actually making his own. A few kitchens used commercially prepared concentrates in lieu of the real thing, and the rest seemed unconscious of its existence.

Part of the reason for the decline in usage is, I am sure, that the traditional preparation is so dauntingly complex as to be intimidating, and actually requires such time and expense to make it impractical for the home cook. The basic form is the result of blending reduced brown stock with an Espagnole Sauce (which is itself based on brown sauce), and then further reducing it to a thick ‘half-glaze’. The result can then be used as the basis for many classic French sauces such as Bordelaise, or Sauce Robert, or else added to stews or ad hoc sauces for a major flavor infusion.

Anyway, the ponderous and complicated process of Escoffier’s day is now frequently supplanted by methods that dispense with the traditional Espagnole sauce and either thicken the basic stock with a light starch, or else rely entirely on reduction to concentrate and thicken. Today’s post is an experiment I tried in my own kitchen using the latter process, and which produced a pretty decent result …. Continue reading “A Port ‘Demi-Glace’”

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Deep-Fried Baby Octopus

Deep-Fried Baby Octopus II 1

In my recent ‘Foodstuff’ post featuring Baby Octopus, I did a quick little dish to try them out in which I deep-fried them whole with a seasoned coating. Today’s recipe is also a deep-fried appetizer style dish but I changed the approach very slightly: The last time, I fried the octopuses whole (except for the heads) and I used a fairly heavily seasoned cornstarch to coat them. This time, I decided to try marinating in order to influence the flavor (and perhaps the texture), and I tried using non-glutinous rice flour rather than cornstarch… Continue reading “Deep-Fried Baby Octopus”

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Spicy Shrimp Sauce

Spicy Shrimp Sauce 1

For years, I have been making a shrimp curry dish that incorporates Indian spices, along with fermented shrimp paste, in a tomato based sauce. The sauce is something I have always made on an ‘ad hoc’ basis, but I have long wanted to try a ‘make-ahead’ sauce that could be used to quickly put together a nice Shrimp curry, or even be used as a sauce with other meats or vegetables. I finally got around to doing it just a few days ago… Continue reading “Spicy Shrimp Sauce”

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Marrowbone Soup

Marrowbone Soup 1

A while ago, I introduced you to Beef Marrow Bones and included a short recipe illustrating an appetizer in which the marrow form certain can be enjoyed as a delicacy by itself. I also mentioned, in that post, that the primary use for beef marrow bones is generally for stocks. As such, as most of my readers will immediately recognize, they are equally useful in the preparation of soups.

One could certainly braise large number  beef marrow bones in a suitable liquid, along with other ingredients, and make a great soup that way alone, but, while the result would be very hearty indeed, it would also be necessarily, well… ‘rustic’ in appearance (not that there is anything wrong with that, of course)

Anyway, it is possible to make a soup that has a slightly more ‘elegant’ presentation, and which also allows one to enjoy the pleasure of extracting the marrow separately (rather than have it dissolve in the stock). I did this for the soup you see pictured above by using some pre-roasted marrow bones as follows:

First, I roasted 8 marrow bones and then used five them to make a stock by simmering them at very low temperature (to prevent cloudiness). I also added some vegetable trimmings and a little white wine. I then blanched some bok choy, and grilled slices of mushroom and set these aside. For the final cooking … I sautéed onion in a pot, added my remaining three marrow bones and simmered them in the strained stock for a half-hour or so. Finally, I added the bok choy and mushrooms, seasoned with salt and pepper, then simmered for a just a little while longer and served…