Our friend John prepared this dish for us long ago. Completely delighted, I meant to ask for the recipe but kept forgetting. The southeast Asian mix of fresh garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and chili pepper is divine.

southeast Asian-style shrimp and Persian cucumber with rice

southeast Asian-style shrimp and Persian cucumber with rice

Recently I was craving it so I decided to take the risk of making/mixing my own sauce. I may have made it a bit Japanese with the addition of mirin and rice vinegar for an extra bit of sweetness and tartness. You know rice just goes so well with these two flavors, right?

Another thing I find makes me eat with gusto is atypical use of cucumber, here served in a warm dish. I grew up eating cucumbers only in salads so enjoying them any other way is incredible. The cukes were warm but still crunchy. I think Persian or Japanese cucumbers work best for this dish.

southeast Asian-style shrimp and Persian cucumber with rice

1½ cups rice (Thai Jasmine, Basmati or Spanish)
4 tbsp olive oil
1 lb wild caught shelled and deveined medium sized shrimp
6 Persian cucumbers
sea salt
1 clove of garlic
Chili pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper


juice of 5 large limes
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic
1 green or red chili pepper seeds partially removed
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp mirin
2 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves

Heat olive oil in a large pan, add rice and a sprinkle of salt. Toss to coat rice with oil. Add 2 and ½ cups of hot water. Bring to a boil, stir, reduce temperature to low, cover pan and cook for about 15-20 minutes until soft and water absorbed. Removed from heat and keep it covered for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut a ¼ inch top of the cucumber and rub cut sides together for good luck and good flavor. This will create a bit of a gooey slime that you should rinse away in cold water. Cut cucumber into ½ inch disks and soak in cold water. Repeat process for remainder.

Turn oven on to broil. Rinse and pat dry shrimp. Toss with juice of ½ lime, salt, chili flakes and one garlic clove that has been crushed. Spread shrimp loosely on a large baking sheet then broil for about 5 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and let rest. For a delicious charred flavor and lovely grill marks use your outdoor grill.

To make the sauce, put garlic, sugar and pepper in a mortar and grind ingredients to a paste. Transfer to a bowl. Add lemon juice, mirin, fish sauce, soy sauce and cilantro. Toss to combine. This sauce should be salty, sweet, sour, and pungent with a spicy kick. Taste and adjust flavor with more of any of the ingredients. If you find my mix to strong you can dilute it with a bit of cold water. You should have around ¾ to 1 cup of sauce.

Drain cucumber slices and pat dry on a dish towel.

Mix rice, cucumber, shrimp and shrimp juices carefully not to break the rice too much. Drizzle most of the sauce over and carefully give it another toss. Taste and add more sauce if needed.

This is a delightful, simple, and chock full of flavor meal.


fava bean tempura

by Heguiberto on May 14, 2012

Since we were in rush to move to the new garden plot we weren’t able to wait for the fava beans that we planted back in November (in the old plot) to be completely ready. It takes a while for the pods to appear and then grow to a useful size. So we harvested what we could, mainly the pods growing at the bottom of plants. We were able to get a fair amount. Steven gave away some to his co-worker Ernestina. She’s my Facebook friend, so I know she sautéed them in butter, salt and garlic. Because the favas were super young you don’t need to remove the inner membrane that covers the flesh of the bean. I made some of ours exactly the same way except that I used olive oil instead of butter, added a bit of chili flakes and some cherry tomatoes for additional color. It made a great side dish.

fava bean tempura

fava bean tempura

I used the rest for this incredible fava bean tempura. I got the idea from this restaurant in town that, unfortunately, has closed now. I left the beans in the pods but since they’re very young you can treat them just like green beans. And just like them, when cooked, they’re very tender. The texture is a bit different. Fava bean pods have a white velvety layer inside that acts as a cushion for the actual bean: nature’s way of protecting the development of life? That spongy layer makes eating this tempura especially fun as when you bite into it, it almost feels like it will pop in your mouth.

Enjoy this as a side dish or snack. It matches very well with a cold beer or a crisp un-oaked white wine.

fava bean tempura

about 20 fava bean pods
1 cup plain four
2 tbsp rice flour
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 tbsp mirin
Canola oil for frying

Remove the tips and the stringy part of the pods.

Whisk together flours, salt, black pepper, mirin and enough water for the consistency of a runny pancake batter.

Add canola oil to the pan and heat to medium high. Dip individual bean pods in batter and drop them carefully in hot oil. Fry for a couple of minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels. Repeat with remainder. Sprinkle some extra salt over pods as they come out of the pan. Fried food is naughty good, don’t you think? Eat responsibly 🙂


I love pumpkin. Lately, I’ve begun to think that I might not be alone, as I’ve been reading Neide Rigo’s blog, come-se, and am thrilled to see that she’s been advocating it too.

kabocha pumpkin in dashi-shoyu sauce

kabocha pumpkin in dashi-shoyu sauce

These are some of my favorite pumpkin recipes that we’ve published thus far: quibebe, risotto, compote, ravioli, bread, gnocci, garden tempeh, snow peas and kabocha. They’re all good and feature pumpkin in classic and sometimes unusual ways.

I made this recipe to go with a Japanese inspired dinner we had recently. The dashi-mushroom broth adds umami flavor.

kabocha pumpkin in dashi-shoyu sauce

½ kabocha pumpkin, cut into wedges, skin on, seeds removed
1 cup dashi broth (follow link for instructions on making dashi)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp sugar
sprinkles of kosher salt

Place kabocha wedges at the bottom of a large sauce pan. Add remaining ingredients, cover pan and cook at low heat until pumpkin is soft. Liquid will evaporate. Add a couple more tablespoons of water if needed. Serve warm or room temperature as a side dish to go with any meal.

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With this unusually cold and wet spring in San Francisco, I feel like I want to eat hearty, earthy food. Something flavorful that fills you up and makes you happy and satisfied. Something like mushroom risotto.
Initially I was going for the Italian approach. The thing with the Italian approach is all that cheese and butter.

Japanese mushroom risotto, or kinoko gohan

Japanese mushroom risotto, or kinoko gohan

I wasn’t feeling dairy-ish. Inspiration struck when we went to a Korean market in Daly City.

The market has a huge assortment of fresh mushrooms for sale. I settled for the shimeji, button and shiitake types. I also bought some aanori seaweed salad, a couple of servings of cucumber and cubed daikon kimchi to serve as side dishes to jazz up our meal a bit more. I served the Japanese mushroom risotto with pan fried mahi-mahi steaks and kabocha pumpkin wedges cooked in dashi-shoyu broth, so we had fun.

Mushroom risotto is still English-Italian. This is originally called kinoko gohan in Japanese. Kinoko stands for mushroom, and gohan, for rice. The dish is rich and flavorful yet does not use a single drop of fat.

Japanese mushroom risotto, or kinoko gohan

1 tray (100g) fresh white shimeji mushrooms, aka beech mushroom, rinsed and very bottom discarded
1 tray (100g) fresh brown shimeji mushrooms, rinsed and very bottom discarded
8 large fresh shiitake mushrooms, rinsed, cut into ½ moons, stems chopped and reserved
1 lb fresh white button mushrooms, rinsed and quartered
3½ cups dashi broth (see below to make fresh)
2 cups Japanese sushi rice
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sake
4 tbsp soy sauce
Kosher salt to taste
toasted sesame oil
Ponzu-soy sauce
1 4×4 inch piece dried kelp (kombu)

Wipe white layer of salt off the kombu leaf using a wet paper towel. Put it in a sauce pan with 4 cups of water and shiitake mushroom stems. Let soak for 30 minutes. Place saucepan on stove top, and bring to a boil. Immediately turn it off, remove from heat and let kelp and mushroom stems continue soak for another 15 minutes. This is your dashi broth. Discard mushroom stems. Kelp can be stored in the fridge and reused another time soon, otherwise simply discard it.

Bring three cups of prepared dashi to a boil. Add ginger, mirin, sake and soy sauce, a sprinkle of kosher salt and all the mushrooms. Cook mushrooms for a couple of minutes. Scoop them out of the broth and set aside. Top up broth with hot water (if needed) to make up for 3 and ½ cups then add rice. Bring temperature to a boil. Turn it down to medium low. Stir rice to prevent sticking. Cover and cook for about 14 minutes, lid on, until liquid absorbed. Stir occasionally. Top with mushrooms and their liquid. Cover and cook on low for another couple of minutes to warm through. Remove from heat and keep pan covered for another 5 minutes.

Transfer rice to a serving platter. Scatter with chopped scallion. Serve with toasted sesame oil and ponzu-soy sauce on the side.


yummy wakame salad

by Heguiberto on December 31, 2010

yummy wakame salad

yummy wakame salad

I completely agree with the post on girlie girl army about sea veggies. She claims that sea vegetables are overlooked in terms of taste and nutritional value, at our loss. Here’s what she writes:

Sea vegetables contain high levels of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, iodine, chlorophyll, enzymes and fiber and offer more vitamins and minerals per ounce than any other food and are one of nature’s richest sources of proteins, having up to 48% of plant-based protein! Sea vegetables are also high in vitamin b-12, which is usually only found in animal-based sources and is responsible for regulating the central nervous system and blood cell production. Ounce per ounce, they are higher in vitamins and nutritional value that almost any other food!

I didn’t need any convincing because I adore sea veggies. They just have that marvelous oceanic flavor you can’t get anywhere else. When I eat sea vegetables I literally feel I am getting a slice of the ocean. Plus they’re good for you! Eat more sea vegetables! On that note here’s a simple, delicious recipe for a salad made of reconstituted wakame and lettuce:

dried wakame

dried wakame

yummy wakame salad

40g. dried wakame (I get mine at Nijiya Market)
1 small head lettuce, cleaned and torn into bite-size pieces
1 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp light shoyu (soy sauce)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp pan roasted white sesame seeds
red pepper flakes to taste

Place wakame in a large bowl and cover with about 2 pints of water. Let it re-hydrate for about 30 minutes. Drain, rinse and squeeze as much water out as you can. Transfer to a serving bowl with lettuce.

Meanwhile to make the dressing add mirin, shoyu, rice vinegar, sugar and toasted sesame oil to a jar, cover with a lid and shake to combine. Taste. It should have a pleasant salty, briny, tart, sweet and toasty flavor. Add more of any ingredient if needed. Toss with wakame and lettuce. Sprinkle with pepper flakes and sesame seeds.

I made a similar Japanese sea vegetable inspired salad before check it out here


gobo salad AKA burdock root salad

gobo salad AKA burdock root salad

Last weekend we went shopping at the San Francisco Japanese Center for some hard to find Japanese food products. I was specifically looking for fresh ramen noodles. I wanted to try to reproduce at home the delicious ramen noodle soup I had at the Tuesdays-and-Thursdays-only food stall located in front of the Ferry Plaza. Stay tuned, as I’ll feature more about this amazing place soon!

While perusing the isles at Nijiya Market, I spotted this bag of ultra fresh burdock roots, which are called gobo in Japan. This root is deservedly revered there. I like burdock a lot but it is difficult to find them freshly harvested. When they are not that fresh, they tend to get dark outside and a bit limp. When peeled, instead of having an off-white colored flesh, it looks grayish instead. That is not cute. These from Nijiya looked like they had just come from the field, just the way I like it.

People always stare at me when I’m carrying my fresh burdock home. Even in San Francisco, where we have a large Asian population, I still get strange looks. I don’t get it. Is it just me? I wonder why… When I buy my baguettes at the shop nearby nobody gives me that look. Clarence, too, was extremely quizzical about these very long slender roots. Look at him here acting funny:

Clarence checking out the fresh burdock root

Clarence checking out the fresh burdock root

Whenever I eat this dish I think of Middle Eastern recipes that use tahini, such as humus or babaganush. Yet, this gobo salad is a complete departure from how sesame paste is used in the Mediterranean and Middle East. People are so creative! I love it the way one culture will take an ingredient common to another and come up with such deliciously novel ways to cook with it. Gobo salad is a perfect example of this.

Burdock root is crunchy with a nice sweet, herbal and earthy flavor. You can serve this preparation as a side dish or as a snack with beer, a crisp white wine or even a vegetable-friendly red, such as pinot noir.

gobo salad AKA burdock root salad

2 long very fresh burdock roots (each about one meter long)
¾ cup sesame seeds
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp ponzu/soy sauce blend
1 tbsp light soy sauce (shoyu)
1 tbsp mirin
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp garlic chili paste
1/3 tsp sugar
1 whole scallion chopped
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp water

Peel and cut gobo roots into two-inch thick sticks, making sure they are roughly the same thickness. Plunge them in cold water for about 5 minutes. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add burdock root and cook for 10 to 12 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

some key ingredients for burdock root salad:  soy sauce, ponzu, toasted sesame oil and fresh sesame seeds

some key ingredients for burdock root salad: soy sauce, ponzu, toasted sesame oil and fresh sesame seeds

Place sesame seeds in a frying pan and lightly toast them. Shake pan continuously for even toasting and to prevent burning, about 3 minutes. Transfer to food processor and process it for few seconds just to partially break the seeds. Transfer sesame seeds to a bowl, and mix in ginger, ponzu mix, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, rice vinegar and water. Add sesame oil, give it another stir, then taste. The sauce should be smoky, tangy, salty and a bit sweet. Adjust flavors if needed.

Pour sauce over burdock roots and garnish with scallions. This is an amazing dish!

obs: If you don’t have ponzu you can replace it with equal amount of lemon juice

Here’s another version of this salad.

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