Friday, February 24, 2017


Last Year's Post:Chicken with Lemon Pomegranate Sauce and Pistachio Rice
Two Years Ago:  Baked Pumpkin Spice Granola

Yakisoba is a Japanese dish that reminds me of fried rice because it's a great way to use up leftover bit of meats and vegetables.  At its most basic, the dish is made up of noodles, veggies, and sauce.  After that, the specifics are up to you:  pork, chicken, or vegetarian versions are all good, and the vegetables can be whatever you want although cabbage, carrots and onions are common.  I added a little caramelized broccoli for crunch and nutrition but that's just me.

The sauce is a little peculiar - ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and a touch of hot sauce - but somehow it works.  Yakisoba sauce is traditionally slightly spicy and slightly sweet but the sweet part didn't appeal to me so I left out the mirin or sugar.  Again, that's up to you.  Just go easy on the hot sauce until you taste the overall result - you can always add more at the table.  I read something online that leads me to believe the combination of ketchup and Worcestershire is a substitution that's made to approximate the taste of Japanese Tonkatsu sauce, which you likely won't find anywhere except an Asian market and which virtually no one has at home (except me, I'm sort of embarrassed to say).  Even though I had a big bottle of Tonkatsu in my refrigerator I made the recipe as written to be sure I understood the flavors, which were excellent.

Be sure to use a Dutch oven to stir-fry everything because you start with a giant pile of veggies (they cook down a lot) and end with piling the noodles in there too.  Even a large saute pan is too small, as I discovered the hard way.  (Envision cabbage, carrots and onions all over the cooktop.)  Note the switch from the saute pan to the Dutch oven below.

You want to saute the veggies until they've wilted and started to soften, but still retain some crunch.  Speaking of, I've discovered the bags of shredded carrots in the store are perfect for salads and stir-frys because they're shredded to just the right size.

A couple of other tips:  it's easier and more thorough to wash cabbage after you slice it, then just spin it dry in a salad spinner.  Same thing applies to leeks.  The second tip is to peel and shred (or thinly slice) broccoli stems for your stir frys rather than throwing the stems away.  A regular peeler and a shredding peeler are perfect for the task.

Yakisoba isn't fancy, but it's fast, delicious and a great way to use up leftovers.  And it makes a great lunch the next day.

Serves 4

2 pork chops or 1 chicken breast, thinly sliced (or 1-2 cups cooked pork or chicken), optional
1 stalk of broccoli, florets cut off and stem peeled and shredded
1 small head Napa cabbage, sliced
2 medium carrots, grated (or ½ of a 10-oz bag of shredded carrots)
1 small yellow onion, sliced
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 (3 oz) packages ramen noodles (seasoning packages discarded)
1 tsp sesame oil
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons mirin, or a bit of sugar (optional)

Heat a large pot of water to boiling for the noodles.  When boiling, add the noodles and cook just until tender, 2-3 minutes.  Drain thoroughly and toss with 1 teaspoon sesame oil to avoid sticking.  Set aside.

In the meantime, put the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the ginger and sauté, stirring, for 30 seconds.  If your pork or chicken is raw, add it now and sauté for 3-5 minutes until cooked through.  (If your meat is already cooked, it will be added later.) Remove the cooked meat from the pan.  Add broccoli florets and allow to brown for 1-2 minutes, then add the remainder of the vegetables (cabbage, carrots, onion and shredded broccoli stem).  Stir and cook until wilted, add a few drops of water as needed to prevent sticking, 5-10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and sriracha sauce.  Taste and adjust with additional hot sauce or the mirin or sugar for a slight sweetness as desired.

When the vegetables are wilted, add the meat and sauce to the pot and stir well.  Add the noodles and stir to coat with sauce, allowing the noodles to cook in the sauce for a minute until the sauce is mostly absorbed.

Serve with additional hot sauce on the side. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Miso-Glazed Sea Bass

Last Year's Post: Pasta Arrabiata
Two Years Ago:   Spinach, Squash and Apple Salad

There's a reason that famous chefs such as Roy Yamaguchi, Nobu Matsuhisa, Tom Douglas, Jamie Oliver, and many others serve miso-glazed fish as a signature dish - because it's unbelievably delicious.  If you've never had a miso glaze the taste is hard to describe - there are definite hints of soy and what is best described as an umami taste (from the miso) while the brown sugar caramelizes the edges without adding sweetness.  The overall taste is complex and very restaurant-y.  This is definitely a dish to impress - serve it with white rice and some sauteed sugar snap peas for fabulous and healthy company dinner.

The glaze can be used with salmon, or any mild thick white fish such as sea bass, halibut or black cod (also known as butterfish).    You can either broil or grill the fish - either way it will be gorgeous.  In the picture above the sea bass was grilled.

Miso-Glazed Sea Bass
Makes 4 servings

1/3 cup sake or rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)*
1/3 cup light yellow miso (fermented soybean paste)*
1 ½ tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 6-ounce sea bass fillets
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions, optional
Black sesame seeds, optional

Mix first 5 ingredients in shallow glass baking dish or zip-top bag. Add fish and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.

Preheat broiler (or outdoor grill to high). Remove fish from marinade. To broil: Place fish on rimmed baking sheet. With broiler door slightly open, broil fish 6 inches from heat source until just opaque in center, about 6 minutes. To grill: place directly over high heat for two minutes per inch of fish thickness, per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 140d.  Flip twice, basting with marinade once per side after the first flip. 

Transfer to plates. Sprinkle with green onions and black sesame seeds and serve.

*Available at Japanese markets, specialty foods stores and in the Asian foods section of some supermarkets.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Shrimp and Chorizo Paella

Last Year's Post: Vietnamese Shrimp Baguette
Two Years Ago:   Coconut-Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Rice

There's a gourmet cooking store in Minneapolis called Kitchen Window.  They used to have a holiday shopping event for their regular customers where they served food as everyone shopped.  One year they served this paella which had recently won a local food festival contest, and they had me at one bite.  What makes this paella so delicious is not only the combination of shrimp and chorizo, but the unusual addition of sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes.  The oil from both are used to provide additional flavor to the rice.  It's actually the best paella I've ever tasted, and it's not that hard to make at home.

Just note that if you want to have it for a party you need to invest in a paella pan large enough to hold all the ingredients.  If you cut the recipe in half, it'll fit in a large saute pan instead.  You can use the paella pan either on your cook-top or grill and it's great fun at a party.  If you really want to go all out and impress a bigger group, you can sometimes find a really giant paella pan to rent.

The only caution here is to be sure to understand the difference between Spanish and Mexican chorizo.  Mexican chorizo is a fresh bulk sausage; Spanish chorizo is a dry-cured sausage much like pepperoni.  You want Spanish chorizo for this dish.

Shrimp and Chorizo Paella
Serves 8

Note: if the recipe is cut in half it may be prepared in a large sauté pan.

1 (7 oz) jar grilled artichoke hearts packed in oil.  
1 (3 oz) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
1 lb extra-large shrimp
1 large onion, medium dice
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz Spanish hot chorizo (dry cured), paper removed and thinly sliced
2 cups paella rice
4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika (pimento) – hot, sweet or mixed
1 teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon saffron
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Special equipment:  8-person paella pan

Drain the artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes, reserving the oil from each jar separately.  Coarsely chop the tomatoes to make approximately one cup.

Add turmeric, saffron, pimento, oregano and a small amount of salt and pepper to the chicken stock and set aside.

To prepare the shrimp, peel and devein, then remove the tail segment.  Cut each shrimp in half lengthwise (along the curve).

Add ¼ cup reserved artichoke oil and ¼ cup reserved tomato oil to the paella pan over medium heat. add the shrimp and sauté for about 1-2 minutes per side until curled, opaque, and almost cooked through.  Remove and set aside.

To the same pan, add the onion and sauté until transparent, then add the garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds.  Add the chorizo and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the rice and sauté for 5 minutes.

Pour in the stock that has been combined with the spices along with the sun-dried tomatoes.  Stir once, but do not stir any more.  (This is important to build up the bottom crust which is signature to paella.)

Cook for 15 minutes, then add the artichokes and shrimp, stirring lightly into the surface.  Avoid scraping the bottom of the pan.

Cook for 5-10 more minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.  Taste and adjust seasonings before serving.  Be sure to serve each person some of the crust from the bottom of the pan.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Baked Potatoes with Crab

Last Year's Post: Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken with Asparagus Pesto Sauce
Two Years Ago:   Sea Bass en Papillote

Valentine's Day is coming up.  If you're not going out to a restaurant, you may be thinking about a special dinner at home.  Maybe a nice steak?  If so, think about serving a delicious baked potato with crab on the side.  This recipe also stands very nicely alone as a main dish using a larger potato.  Either way, it's pretty special, not to mention easy.

You just make a regular baked potato, then scoop out the insides and mash them with some butter, salt and pepper.  I added spinach for color and nutrition.

Put the mashed potatoes back in the shells, and top it with the crab that's been tossed with lemon, chives, a touch of jalapeno and some sour cream. Sprinkle with parmesan and pop back in the oven for a few minutes to warm the crab and brown the cheese,

The jalapeno adds a hint of warm but isn't spicy when part of the complete dish, so adjust the amount up or down according to your heat preference.  Yum.

Baked Potatoes with Crab
Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side

2 large russet baking potatoes (main dish) or 4 small russet baking potatoes (side dish)
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for oiling the potatoes
½ pound lump crab meat
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped chives, plus a few for garnish
½ small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
4 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped spinach
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450d.

Scrub potatoes under running water; dry them, and rub the skin of each with a little olive oil and a little salt.  Pierce the skin of each in three or four places with the tines of a fork.

Place the potatoes in the oven, and roast for 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the potatoes.

While the potatoes are baking, lightly toss the crab meat in a bowl with the lemon juice, zest, 2 teaspoons olive oil, chives, diced jalapeno and sour cream.

When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven and slice them open down the middle.  Use a spoon to carefully scrape out the flesh, leave a ½” thick shell.  Add the butter and spinach to the potato flesh and mash to combine; season to taste with salt and pepper.  Spoon the mixture back into the empy shells, place on a baking sheet, top with the crab mixture and sprinkle with cheese.  Return to the oven for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.

Serve, garnished with a few chives.