Shrimp and Tofu Satay
When I purchased beef bones from my neighborhood butcher, he was more than a little surprised to learn they were not for Oscar. Apparently making Vietnamese soup isn’t a common occurrence around here! In an adventurous excursion to a Chinese/Latin American/Thai/Vietnamese grocery store (I really need to write about that place sometime- it is crazy!) I managed to identify many of the remaining ingredients and came home with all the supplies necessary for Pho soup.
Not wanting to give up before I even started, I decided to face my fears and take on the challenge issued by Jen of Use Real Butter to make homemade potstickers. While Jen gave the challengers complete leeway to create new and exciting fillings for the potstickers, I knew if I got wild and crazy it would simply end in disaster. So I followed her detailed instructions exactly.
Stack of Woe
Soon a pineapple, red bell pepper, and button mushrooms landed on the counter and tempeh kabobs were born. I raided the pantry to create a sauce that incorporated a tropical-Asian flavor into the kabobs, and luckily had the presence of mind to measure out what I was doing so I could share it here!
Asian Style Tempeh Kabobs (Printable Recipe)
3 Tablespoons Grapefruit juice
3 Tablespoons Orange juice
1 Tablespoon Seasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Fish sauce
2 teaspoons Sesame oil
1 teaspoon Chile oil
1 teaspoon Soy sauce
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz package of tempeh, cut into 1/2″ squares
1 Red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1″ chunks
1 cup pineapple chunks
8 oz brown mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds (optional, garnish)
6 Wooden or metal skewers
Pre-heat grill to medium-high heat (about 400-500 degrees). If using wooden skewers, place them in water to soak while assembling the meal.
In a gallon size Ziploc bag, place all marinade ingredients. Seal the bag closed, and shake a few times to mix up the marinade. Place all tempeh squares, bell pepper, pineapple, and mushrooms into the bag and seal again. Shake and gently squish the bag until the ingredients are well covered with the marinade. Set bag on the counter for 30 minutes, turning and shaking it occasionally.
Remove skewers from water if soaking, and thread kabob ingredients onto each skewer, alternating between ingredients for visual variation.
Place kabobs on the grill, and cook for 4 minutes on one side. Baste the kabobs with any remaining marinade in the bag. Turn kabobs over to cook the other side for another 4 minutes. Once all sides are cooked, remove from heat. Sprinkle the kabobs with sesame seeds if desired and serve.
Bonito flakes were also new to me. Apparently they are made by smoking and drying out skipjack tuna, pressing it into a block, and then shaving flakes off into bags. I cautiously opened the bag and took a whiff, expecting to be bowled over by a nasty fish odor. To my utter surprise the smell made my mouth water. It had a sweetly smoky fish aroma that was quite pleasant and made me think of an umami flavor.Making the ichiban-dashi was rather like a dance of ingredients in sequences that were new to me. You bring part of the water and the konbu to a boil, then remove the konbu and add more water. When that boils you turn it off and add the bonito flakes and wait while they fall to the bottom of the pot. Then you strain out the bonito flakes and set aside the water for some other use.
So how did it taste after dancing around with unfamiliar ingredients all afternoon? Well, I’m going to be honest. It was just okay. I learned that there are several different types of miso which vary on the flavor spectrum from sweet to savory. This recipe used a lot of Shiro miso, which is a sweet blond colored miso. It created a cloying almost muddy flavor and I think I prefer a more savory style Hacho miso. Also, in my efforts to make this soup more of a “meal” than an appetizer I ignored the recommended proportions of tofu and dumped in the whole package. This resulted in a miso-tofu stew. Not quite the delicate soup I was aiming for.
Will we try this again? Absolutely! Now that the ingredients and processes are demystified, I am eager to give this a try again with different miso. The broth was very satisfying and I think by tweaking the ingredients to match our preferences I will be able to make a miso soup that we enjoy on a regular basis.
The week we returned from San Francisco, I put off going to the grocery store for a few days. I wanted to let the happy afterglow of our trip hang around for a little longer before reality set in for good. When I finally did walk into the store it was difficult not to feel a bit depressed. After glorious piles of freshly picked produce, mouthwatering stacks of cheese and dizzying racks of wine, my grocery store seemed like it was part of a bad 1950′s movie set. The dingy florescent light reflected in the worn linoleum seemed even dingier and out of season wilting produce appeared even more droopy.
I sighed and pushed my cart into the produce aisle- half-heartedly glancing at the hard pieces of pineapple sitting in Styrofoam and the tomatoes that could pass as potatoes save for their color. As I reached in to grab a shrink wrapped cabbage to make Oma’s Roasted Vegetable Soup, an unusual green shape caught my eye. Hidden behind the bowling balls of cabbage, was what appeared to be a lone bundle of baby bok choy. I blinked and looked again, wondering if my mind was playing tricks on me. No, it was still there. Incredulous, I gingerly picked it up and looked at the vegetable up close. Sure enough, I was holding a baby bok choy.
My mood immediately changed for the better, and I couldn’t believe my luck. In three plus years of living here I had never seen a baby bok choy at the grocery store. The odd thing was that there were no other bok choy in the case. Just this one. I had no idea where it came from or why it was all alone hiding behind the cabbage.
When I reached the cashier (a very young teenager who slightly resembled Paris Hilton) she looked at the bok choy and said, “Um, what is this?” Grinning I told her “It’s a baby bok choy!” I was met with a blank stare- she obviously didn’t understand my excitement. “A what?” she asked. “A bok choy” I replied. She turned to the teenage checker in the lane next to her and said, “Sue, do you know how much this is?” Sue looked over blankly and said, “What is it?” The Paris look-alike replied hesitantly and sounding slightly like a chicken, “Bawk Choy”. Then she giggled. Sue had no idea. The produce manager was then called and he had no idea what it was or where it came from saying, “It’s not in the system”. They finally decided to charge me $2.00 and I left feeling like I had experienced a minor miracle. (Okay, very minor compared to what most would call a miracle.) It provided a much needed reminder that when you’re feeling really sorry for yourself life can provide a happy surprise if you just look behind the shrink wrapped cabbage.
After finding a miraculous bok choy I wanted to do it justice by cooking it in a simple way that celebrated the vegetable. Our weather had finally cheered up so after browsing the Internet a bit this recipe for grilled bok choy seemed to be the perfect fit. The flavors came together nicely and complimented a quickly grilled chicken. We savoured the baby bok choy with a glass of white wine and decided that there’s no place quite like home after all.
4 heads of baby bok choy, cut in half lengthwise, washed and dried
1/3 cup orange juice (fresh or bottled)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
Place a grill sheet or aluminum foil on your BBQ and heat it to medium heat (about 350 degrees).
In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, and dried red pepper flakes.
Brush the mixture onto the baby bok choy, and place them cut side down on the grill sheet or foil. Loosely cover the bok choy with foil, and grill for 8-10 minutes until they are tender. While the bok choy are grilling, baste occasionally with the sauce. Serve immediately.
I must confess that I don’t follow football. I couldn’t even tell you who’s playing in the upcoming game. However, when there is a reason to make over-the-top snack food and lounge on the couch watching crazy ads – who can resist?
This quick and easy recipe for stir fried edamame manages to satisfy the craving for salty, spicy and crunchy finger food while still scoring on the healthy side. When I introduced this recipe to my family, it quickly became a favorite snack. Even my brother, who grew up claiming to like nothing green but jelly beans, will chow down an entire bowl in nothing flat! So add this to your Superbowl line up and feel slightly less guilty about all those chicken wings.
1 lb. frozen edamame (soybeans in shell)
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Cook soybeans in a 5-6 quart pot of boiling unsalted water for 5 minutes, then drain in a colander.
Stir together soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and red-pepper flakes in a small bowl.
Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates immediately. Add vegetable oil, swirling it to coat wok. Add ginger and garlic and stir fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds, then add soybeans, and stir fry until pods are lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes. Add soy sauce mixture and stir-fry until soybeans are well coated and most of liquid is evaporated, about 1 minute.