soy sauce

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

sauce:

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.

{ 4 comments }

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables and whenever I see a new recipe for it I just want to try it right away. This recipe is featured in the March 2013 edition of Saveur Magazine. A few years ago Steven’s colleague at work lent him a wonderful cookbook, “Pei Mei’s Chinese Cookbook Volume 1.” That book had an excellent recipe for Sichuan Eggplant.

vegetarian Sichuan fried and braised eggplant

vegetarian Sichuan fried and braised eggplant

He made it once and we were hooked. I’d say we have this dish at least once a month. It is so flavorful with black bean sauce, ginger, sesame oil, scallions and other delicious ingredients—and eggplant, of course: sweet, savory, sour and lots of umami flavor.

I would say that this recipe is actually a variation on Steven’s version. Both are Sichuanese style using very similar ingredients. In Steven’s recipe he cooks the diced eggplant in a hot pan, just tossing it around until they are done, so the oil absorbed is very little. This recipe calls for deep frying the eggplant, which I did, despite the guilty feeling. To prevent the eggplant from absorbing too much oil they suggest soaking it in ice water first. I’m not sure if that helped much, but it hardly mattered, as the dish itself had such a lovely delicate flavor, you could hardly tell.

vegetarian Sichuan fried and braised eggplant

4 Japanese eggplants
2 cups chopped Chinese chives
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp fresh ginger paste (I used fresh ginger that I ground with a fine micropane)
2 tbsp Chinese chili bean sauce (Toban Djan)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp Chinese black vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1½ tsp sugar

Quarter the eggplant lengthwise. Make incisions in a lozenge pattern in the flesh without piecing the skin. Soak pieces in salted cold/ice water for 5-10 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Fry in hot oil (350F) for about 3 minutes. Remove from pan and lay eggplant pieces on paper towels.

Drain all but two tablespoons of frying oil from pan. Add garlic, ginger and cook for a minute just until raw aromas disappear. Add Chinese chives and continue cooking for another minute or so to wilt. Add chili bean sauce, soy sauce and sugar. Continue cooking to warm through. Add eggplant, one cup of hot water, black vinegar and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Drizzle with sesame oil, transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle some Chinese chives over and serve with some rice cooked in the Brazilian way.

{ 4 comments }

spicy pressed tofu salad

by Stevie on August 21, 2012

spicy pressed tofu salad

spicy pressed tofu salad

I’m so excited about this new-to-me book, Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Tofu. I saw it by chance at the local Whole Foods and was cautiously interested. I ordered a copy from the library and couldn’t put it down once I started reading. I shall have to splurge and actually buy a copy soon.

Nguyen writes in a lucid style with a modern sensibility. Despite the extremely broad sounding title, the focus here is on traditional uses of the various kinds of tofu. She’s lots of helpful illustrations and really breaks down the subject matter into digestible portions—pun intended. I made this dish last week just before we left for a trip to LA to hear fun. at the Wiltern. Mmmmm!

spicy pressed tofu salad

1 package pressed tofu cut into bite-sided cubes
2/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
4 spring onions, cut into rounds
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp fermented black beans, mashed
2½ tbsp chili bean sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp sugar
1 to 2 tbsp spicy chili oil to garnish

Andrea recommends “refreshing” the peanuts by lightly roasting them in a dry pan. Let cool. Add to tofu with spring onion.

In a small pan, add canola oil, sesame oil, fermented black beans and chili bean sauce. Heat about two minutes on medium. Remove from heat and add sugar and soy sauce.

Toss sauce with tofu. Sprinkle with some chili oil. Serve.

{ 7 comments }

I have fond memories of a cooking class we took in Chiang Mai, Thailand several years ago. The chef picked us up early in the morning from the hotel then off we went to a thrilling local market to buy the ingredients for the cooking class feast. I think there were about 16 of us divided into pairs. Each group, after a brief classroom training session, was directed to an open restaurant kitchen area to cook different Thai recipes with the produce we bought earlier. We all shared the prepared dishes at the end.

vegetarian Vietnamese Pho

vegetarian Vietnamese Pho

Steven and I made Tom Yum with coconut milk. Since then I learned to make the one with clear broth which is my favorite. I have been making my Thai inspired soups at home for while now. They’re very versatile: here’s one with fresh salmon, another more traditional style and a third with Dungeness crab. Mmmm!

me at a buzzing Chiang Mai market

me at a buzzing Chiang Mai market

our Thai chef instructor

our Thai chef instructor

ready to cook amazing Thai food

ready to cook amazing Thai food

slurping up my first ever homemade Thai Tom Yum soup

slurping up my first ever homemade Thai Tom Yum soup

I have not yet had the honor and pleasure of travelling to Vietnam, but I can’t wait! I love Vietnamese Pho, that brothy spicy clear soup that’s usually served with paper thin slices of steak and other cuts of meat. Since becoming pescatarian, I haven’t really had it in a while. It’s hard to find a good pesce-veggie pho alternative. Though we’re blessed in San Francisco with two places, The Loving Hut and The Golden Era, both of which make good vegan versions. However I wanted to make my own soup at home.

I read an inspiring article in the New York Times on vegetarian pho broth and a related post on the subject at Ellie May’s blog.

Like that Thai cooking class for Tom Yum, these stories demystified pho for me. It is completely easy to make provided that you have the correct ingredients. One funny thing about this is that I have never been a huge fun of cinnamon or star anise and these spices shine in the soup… go figure. I’ve already made it twice and will be returning to this recipe often I’ve a feeling. Pho broth has a tart, salty, smoky, slightly sweet, and earthy flavor that matches perfectly well with the fresh herbs added at the end. Love it!

vegetarian Vietnamese Pho

for the broth:

3 quarts water
1 small daikon radish, cut into chunks
3 carrots, cut into chunks
2 tbsp soy sauce
Kosher salt to taste
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 large onion, quartered
1 shallot, halved
1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger
4 shiitake mushrooms
5 large cloves garlic, skin on, crushed
2 star anise pods
4 whole cloves
1 piece of good cinnamon (~3 inches)

for the solids:

Rice Noodles (~1 lb) – (pad Thai noodles)
Small pack of seitan strips soaked in 1 tsp soy sauce and 1 crushed fresh garlic clove
Field Roast cold cut sliced thinly
2 oz of Yuba cut into strips
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups fresh mung bean sprouts
Chives
Thai basil leaves
Mint leaves
Cilantro leaves
Lime cut into wedges
1 serrano chili pepper cut in rounds

condiments:

Hoisin sauce
Chili garlic sauce

preparing the broth

preparing the broth

Put first seven ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile place onion, shallot, garlic, ginger, mushroom, star anise, cloves and cinnamon in a skillet and toast until veggies begin to caramelize and everything becomes aromatic. Add toasted ingredients to the boiling broth, turn temperature down and simmer for 25 minutes. Discard solids.

roasting the onion, garlic, ginger and various spices

roasting the onion, garlic, ginger and various spices

While broth is cooking boil another pot of water, drop rice noodles in, remove from heat and let soak for about 15 minutes. Check every now and then for doneness. Noodles should not cook too long. Look for an al dente texture. Drain

Using the same skillet add olive oil followed by marinated seitan and cook for about 4 minutes then set aside.

To assemble the soup, place some noodles in the bottom of a bowl, add some mung bean sprouts, then ladle some piping hot broth over them. Top with a wedge of lime, some seitan, yuba, Field Roast cold cut slices, a few leaves of basil, mint and serve with more herbs and mung bean sprouts on the side.

Broth should be adjusted at the table with a dash of hoisin and chili garlic sauce.

{ 4 comments }

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.

{ 1 comment }

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
scallions
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.

{ 3 comments }

This recipe was adapted from the latest issue of Vegetarian Times. I didn’t have most of the veggie ingredients so I made do with what was available at home. It turned out as granola as it can be, of course not in any pejorative way, but simply healthy and delicious. The sauce reminded me of something similar that I made to dress a Thai inspired salad.

springtime garden tempeh with snow and garden peas, Kabocha with quinoa and almond butter sauce

springtime garden tempeh with snow and garden peas, Kabocha with quinoa and almond butter sauce

springtime garden tempeh with snow and garden peas, Kabocha with quinoa and almond butter sauce

1 block of garden tempeh, cut into bite size cubes
2 wedges Kabocha pumpkin, skin on; steamed and then cut into bite size cubes
1 cup snow peas
1 cup fresh garden peas
1 cube vegetarian bouillon
1½ cups dried quinoa
1 tsp black sesame seeds
2 scallions cut into thin rounds

for the sauce:

1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp red miso paste
2 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp cider vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
2 tbsp canola oil

Rinse and soak quinoa for 20 minutes. Drain, add to a sauce pan with vegetarian bouillon, 2 cups of water, bring to a boil reduce the heat to medium/low and cook until water has absorbed and grains are soft, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Keep covered for few minutes.

Prepare the sauce by combining together ginger, miso, almond butter, cider vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic and a third to a half cup of water. You want the sauce to be relatively thick but with a runny consistency. Set aside.

Add canola oil to a skillet. Bring temperature to high. Toss in tempeh cubes, sprinkle with salt and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turning cubes occasionally to brown them evenly. Add one tablespoon of water, cover the pan and let tempeh absorb the water. Transfer tempeh cubes to a plate and keep them warm. Add remaining oil to the skillet, followed by snow peas, garden peas and cook for a couple of minutes until they turn bright green. Add kabocha pumpkin and tempeh cubes.

To serve, fluff quinoa with a fork, mix in scallions and transfer to a large serving platter. Pile sautéed tempeh and veggies combo next to the quinoa. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve sauce on the side.

{ 4 comments }

This intensely flavorful recipe comes from the wonderful blog, Pescatarian Journal. We always feel a spiritual connection with Alaiyo’s food, which is land-animal free, often vegetarian and low fat, and using both familiar and unusual ingredients in exciting ways. Her black-eyed peas and polenta with minced collards really caught my eye. This then is my “version” of her masterpiece.

black-eyed peas with purple kale and polenta

black-eyed peas with purple kale and polenta

Of course, I’ve had to modify things a little. For starters, I used the purple kale that we’ve been growing in our community garden rather than collard greens. I put the stems in the polenta and sautéed the leaves to serve separately. I didn’t have fresh turmeric or ground chipotle pepper, so I used dried for the first and pasilla pepper for the second. I was anxious about not pre-soaking the dried black-eyed peas, so went ahead and did that for about 3 hours before cooking to relieve my nerves. Finally, I cooked the stems as described below.

This dish was really thrilling!

purple kale from our community garden plot

purple kale from our community garden plot

Oh, just remembered, I couldn’t find the quick-cooking polenta which was a real drag. Instead I used the regular stuff which I prepared over a double boiler per package instructions.

black-eyed peas with purple kale and polenta

for the black-eyed peas:

1½ cups dried black-eyed peas, rinsed, picked over and soaked in water about three hours
3 cups water
1 yellow onion, in medium dice
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp dried pasilla powder
1 tsp dried turmeric
Black pepper to taste
1 cup veggie stock (I made my own with onion and celery)
Kosher salt to taste

for the polenta:

1 cup polenta
2 to 3 tbsp mascarpone
¼ tsp ground white pepper
1 large bunch of purple kale stems, sliced thin
½ onion, in medium dice
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup sake or cooking wine (white)
Salt to taste

for the sautéed purple kale:

1 large bunch purple kale (use stems above), sliced finely
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1 tbsp soy sauce

to prepare black-eyed peas:

onions with turmeric and pasilla powder in pot with uncooked black-eyed peas

onions with turmeric and pasilla powder in pot with uncooked black-eyed peas

Drain soaking peas. Place peas in pot with 3 cups water.

In a skillet, sauté the onion in olive oil until translucent. Don’t add salt or your peas won’t cook. Add garlic, turmeric and pasilla then cook for a half minute more. Add to peas and bring the pot to a boil then reduce to simmer. Stir occasionally. Add veggie stock when liquid is reduced by about half. Cook until peas are tender (about an hour). When ready, add salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside.

to prepare polenta:

Sauté the onion and crushed garlic in olive oil with a pinch of salt. After they’ve begun to cook, add the kale stems and sauté for a few more minutes. Add sake and cover to let steam. If still not tender, add some water and let cook until tender. Discard garlic clove and set aside.

Follow package instructions for your polenta. Instead of butter or olive oil, add mascarpone at the end of cooking with the sautéed purple kale stems and white pepper. Press polenta into an oiled pie or cake dish. I used a pie-shaped serving dish. Set aside.

to prepare sautéed purple kale:

Merely sauté kale in olive oil. Add soy sauce and crushed red pepper after kale has begun to wilt.

the three components for black-eyed peas with purple kale and polenta

the three components for black-eyed peas with purple kale and polenta

to assemble dish:

Ladle some black-eyed peas onto a dinner plate. Top with a slice of polenta. Garnish with sautéed kale. Mmm-mmm-mmm! Thanks again for this amazing recipe, Alaiyo!

{ 2 comments }

sesame and onion seed crusted swordfish with buckwheat soba and chard sauté

December 29, 2011

I know eating swordfish is supposed to be naughty. But per our fish monger, this one was line caught off the coast of California. So that’s good. It looked super fresh with that beautiful seafood aroma and so after listening to his explanation he convinced me. I lost my guilt and purchased 3 steaks for […]

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Korean pickled cucumber salad

December 5, 2011

This pickled cucumber salad is ultra easy to make and tastes so good! Some of its appealing qualities include the crunchy texture, the sour and tart flavors and the slight bite of heat from the gochujang chili pepper. I have reproduced it from the blog, I-eat-food (what an excellent name for a blog!) with some […]

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