Tag Archives: vegetables

japchae: yummy korean noodles

13 Apr

Whenever I start a new job, my biggest concern is food. Feeding times. Snacks. Packing lunches. How my hours will affect weeknight dinner plans. What can I say, I’m a primate and I gotta EAT!

As an adieu to the fancy weeknight cooking I’ve become accustomed to working from home for the past year, I whipped up one fabulous weeknight “last supper” — Chinese-style steamed halibut, sauteed pea shoots, sukjunamul, and a Korean-style noodle dish called japchae.

This kind of Chinese-Korean hodgepodge meal is my favorite, probably because I am a hodgepodge of these ethnicities myself. Add a couple sides of kimchi or sashimi, and you’ll find me clapping with excitement.

I had never attempted japchae before, but it seemed pretty straightforward — sweet potato noodles, veggies, and some beef. I happened to have a scattering of leftover veggies and beef from Shabu Sunday (a new tradition), so this recipe also helped clean out the fridge!

japchae: korean noodles
chewy happy food

* 8 ounces sweet potato noodles
* 1/2 bunch spinach (about 4 ounces), rinsed and trimmed
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 6 ounces beef rib-eye, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick strips
* 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
* 1/4 medium onion, sliced into thin wedges
* 4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
* 1 carrot, julienned
* 3 green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths, whites halved and separated
* 1/4 cup sugar (I used agave nectar to avoid dissolving issues)
* Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Cook the sweet potato noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Be sure not to overcook the noodles, or they will lose their chewy texture. If you like, cut the noodles with scissors into 6- to 7-inch lengths for easier eating.

Blanch the spinach in boiling water. Rinse immediately under cold water, squeeze the water from the leaves and form into a ball, and then cut the ball in half. Combine the spinach, half the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the sesame oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Set aside to let the flavors soak in.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef, the remaining garlic, 1 teaspoon of the soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil. Stir-fry until the beef is cooked, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion, mushrooms, and carrot and cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the green onions and stir-fry for another minute. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the noodles, beef mixture, spinach, remaining 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, and the sugar. Serve warm, sprinkled with sesame seeds. Serves 4 to 5 as a side dish. Adapted from Quick and Easy Korean Cooking.

whole foods tofu caesar dressing

4 Apr

Lowfat creamy dressings rarely taste delicious, especially when they’re made with corn syrup and wacky gums. When blended, soft or silken tofu makes for an excellent non-dairy, lowfat ingredient that adds creaminess to any dressing or even a fruit smoothie.

The only problem is most packaged tofu you find in the grocery store tastes like bland sponge. If you’re lucky enough to live in the SF Bay Area, however, you can get your hands on the quality stuff — specifically, Hodo Soy Beanery’s Nama Yuba, a creamy, burrata-like soy cheese made from the fat and proteins that rise to the top of heated soy bean milk.

I was browsing through the Whole Foods iPhone app recently, and noticed a recipe for lowfat Caesar dressing made with tofu. After giving it a whirl, I have to say it does NOT taste like Caesar — more like a tangy garlic dressing, which was still yummy. With the addition of a couple anchovies, I think this could be a dressing Julius would be proud of.

tofu caesar dressing
et tu tofu?

2/3 cup (about 5 ounces) firm silken tofu (or the good stuff, if you’ve got it!)
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons light soy or chickpea miso (I used white miso and cut down to 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic
2 anchovies (packed in oil)
Ground black pepper, to taste

Put all ingredients into a blender and purée until smooth. Makes about 1 cup.

momofuku’s brussels sprouts with kimchi puree & bacon

11 Feb

For Christmas, LeeMa gave me David Chang’s Momofuku cookbook. Every time I’m in New York, I aim to hit up at least one of his famous mod Asian joints — typically a late night stop at Milk Bar for a slice of Crack Pie.

The cookbook reads like a biography of David Chang with wonderful anecdotes about studying ramen in Japan and trying times he faced in opening his restaurants. As for the recipes, many are focused on technique — for instance, I am not about to make my own ramen noodles. Others are about wacky flavor combinations that just make sense — the stink of brussels sprouts and the funk of kimchi, it’s a match made in heaven!

brussels sprouts with kimchi puree & bacon
stinky funky goodness

* 1 lb brussels sprouts, halved
* 1/4 lb smoky bacon, cut into 1- to 1-1/4-inch batons
* 1 cup cabbage kimchi, pureed
* 2 tablespoons butter
* Salt and pepper
* 1 cup julienned carrots

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Saute bacon over medium heat in an oven-proof skillet, until just crisp (around 5 minutes). Transfer to paper towel-lined plate.

Drain off most of the fat and add brussels sprouts to skillet. Flip so sprouts are all cut-side down. Raise heat to medium-high and sear until sprouts start sizzling. Put skillet into the oven and roast until deeply browned, around 8 minutes. Shake pan to loosen sprouts, then put back in oven for 10-15 minutes more. Sprouts are done when they are bright green and tender.

Return skillet to stove top on medium heat; stir in butter and bacon. Season with salt and peper; toss to coat.

Divide pureed kimchi among four bowl and top with sprouts. Garnish with carrot. Serves 4 as a side dish.

shuck it

4 Jul

Over the years, the Fourth of July has undergone a transformation from National Independence Day to National Hot Dog Day. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take issue with this. As I see it, there’s nothing more patriotic than dousing coals in lighter fluid, cracking open a can of Bud and getting sunburnt.

But such is not the way we do in NorCal. Armed with kobe burgers, flank steak, sapporo and bottles of chilled muscat, we arrived to Tomales Bay Oyster Farm ready to barbecue. 80-degrees and mercury rising… large groups of Asians marking down their picnic tables… brine in the air.

Once Michael carefully stoked the fire (sans lighter fluid, thank you very much), he began on the kobe burgers… “how would you like yours done?” A question far too rarely asked at outdoor cookouts (pun intended). As the premature noonday sun scorched just the tops of our shoulders, we leisurely took to shucking sacks of pacific oysters, squeezing lemons, applying squirts of shiracha and sipping on muscat from red plastic cups.

To follow, two well-seasoned pieces of flank placed low to ashy coals then raised so cobs of sweet summer corn could rest on direct heat. Next course: live mussels beard and all tossed on the grill…. decidedly the “winner” of the day. Briney and as buttery as their golden shade.

Besides corn on the cob, we rounded off the meal with a fresh, citrus coleslaw. Orange juice-based vinaigrette dressing keeps this dish light, sun-retardant, and complimentary to seafood. Cilantro and green onions add signature NorCal Asian flair.

Cabbage and Corn Slaw with Cilantro and Orange Dressing
Adapted from Epicurious

*  1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
* 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
* 1/3 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
* zest and juice of 1 lime
* 1 head of cabbage (3 lbs)
* 4 ears of fresh corn, shucked, kernels cut from cob
* 2 medium carrots, peeled, coarsely grated
* 1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, cored, cut into thin strips
* 6 medium green onions, thinly sliced
* 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 2 large jalapenos, minced

Whisk orange juice concentrate, vinegar, lime zest and juice, and canola oil in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Combine slaw mix, corn kernels, carrots, red bell pepper strips, sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, and jalapenos in large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Season slaw to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand 15 minutes for flavors to blend. Toss again and serve.

a year in food

28 Jun

52 weeks ago, a couple of trailblazing cooks launched a website called food52. The first of its kind, food52’s aim was to create a completely crowd-sourced cookbook within the span of a year.

Each week, the internet universe was invited to submit their best recipe for the proposed ingredient, dish or theme — for example Your Best Beets, Your Best Caesar Salad, or Your Best Use of Lemon, Thyme and a Grill. Amanda and Merrill (of NYT fame) would then shuffle through the entries, test them, and post two finalists for readers to vote on. All winning recipes will soon be published as a hardback cookbook.

As you can imagine, I’ve been quietly stalking this website all year trying out recipes here and there. I just love it when people figure out neat ways to adapt technology to make the old new again. Some of my most cherished cookbooks (I own over thirty) are spiral bound, single print run collections put together by a bunch of moms for a school or church fundraiser. The magic of food52 is that it captures this sense of “community’s best” on a grand and gourmet scale.

Of the dishes I’ve tried out over the past year, I think this simple recipe for Your Best Broccoli was an unexpectedly delicious surprise. Try it! Don’t worry, it tastes a million times better than my sad photo.

Roasted Bagna Cauda Broccoli

* 1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
* 3 tablespoons butter
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 anchovy fillets
* a splash of white wine
* a big squeeze of lemon, preferably Meyer
* Parmesan cheese, for dusting
* 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
* salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425. Arrange broccoli florets on a Silpat or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes and remove.

In a small skillet, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and anchovy and saute for about three minutes. Add wine and lemon and allow to reduce for a minute or two. Season with black pepper if desired.

Meantime, in another small skillet over medium heat, toast almonds until they are lightly browned, taking care not to burn them.

Drizzle sauce and sprinkle almonds and parmesan cheese over broccoli, then serve. Or, dip the broccoli in the sauce at the table.