Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mongolian Beef with Fresh Lo Mein Noodles

This is not to be confused with chow mein dish. Lo Mein noodles have a great texture, lot of bite and are flat and relatively thick. Chow Mein noodles are more like wheat vermicelli. Fresh noodles are always so much better then dried variety.
This dish, like most Chinese dishes takes very little time to cook but the preparation takes time:
Cook noodles till almost al dente, drain, rinse in cold water, drain again and toss with a bit of peanut oil.
Slice flank steak very thin and marinade with chopped garlic and ginger, soy sauce, sugar and sake.
Prepare vegetables you are using (in my case it was just garlic, ginger, white onions, red pepper and snow peas.
Prepare sauce using 1 part each of Hoisin sauce, Oyster sauce and sake and 1/2 part Sriracha sauce. You will need about 1/2 cup for each serving.
Once mise en place is done it is very fast.
To a very hot wok add peanut oil and brown the beef for about 30 seconds. Remove and keep warm. Into same wok ad another half tablespoon of oil, add vegetables and stir fry for a minute or two. Add sauce, then noodles and reheat. Beef goes back into wok, toss to combine and serve.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Salmon and Asparagus – Three Ways

Salmon is such a versatile fish. We just love salmon any time of the year, Last week I have prepared it 3 times using same base ingredients (salmon and asparagus) and same sauce (teriyaki).

Simplest way is just pan fry it in very hot pan for 1 minute, turn over and add teriyaki, cook another 30 seconds and it is done. Plain steamed rice, nuked asparagus (1 minute on high) wasabi mayo dressing and sliced plain cucumber completes the meal.

Second way is basically same except that salmon is cut into large chunks and wasabi-mayo sauce is replaced with teriyaki glaze. Served with bowl of steamed rice topped with Furikake Seasoning and cucumber.

Third way is more complicated. It is a regular stir fry where you cook sliced red onion, asparagus and snow peas. When veggies are just soft add salmon chunks and teriyaki sauce, Stir fry for a minute and serve on bed of rice with Furikake Seasoning or just toasted sesame seeds. Cucumber salad is a natural with salmon.

Even though most ingredients are same the taste is little bit different because of cooking technique.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Japanese Furikake Seasoning

Furikake is our favorite Japanese seasoning but utill now we used it very sparingly because it is so expensive and we have to drive over one hour to buy it. We use it on fish, rice, cucumber salads, noodles etc.
There are few rough recipes on Internet but for me the biggest stumbling block was how to chop nori (dry seaweed) into small pieces. With the knife it is very tedious and messy job – the nori flakes fly all over the kitchen. When I tried food processor or mini chopper it was a failure as I was left with mix of powder and some large chunks, there was no consistency at all
Then, I had an idea: why not to use spaghetti attachment on my pasta machine? Today I gave it a try and it is a winner!!! It is so fast and easy I couldn’t believe it!
Here is my version of Furikake and my technique to chop nori. You can adjust ratio of ingredients to your taste, add some more or omit some. Just use your imagination.

2 Tbs. toasted white sesame seeds
2 Tbs. black sesame seeds
2 Tbs. bonito flakes
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tsp. Dashi soup base powder or 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. dried mandarin or tangerine peel, cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp. chili powder or to taste
4 sheets toasted nori, chopped (see tip at bottom)

Remove stems from shiitake mushrooms, chop into smaller pieces and grind in coffee or spice grinder into powder consistency. Add orange peel and grind till fine. Add bonito flakes and pulse couple times to break larger pieces.
Empty grinder contents into mixing bowl, add sesame seeds, Dashi, chili powder and nori flakes and mix till well combined.

Tip: How to chop Nori into flakes using pasta machine.

Take 4 nori sheets and cut into 4 equal pieces.  You will have 4 piles with 4 small sheets.

Take each pile and run through spaghetti attachment of pasta machine. Keep strands running in same direction.

When all piles are cut into strips, place them across cutting roller and cut them into flakes. If you want longer flakes use fettuccine cutting roller.

All done and no mess.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Japanese Seven Spice Blend

Shichimi Togarashi
photo by george billard
Togarashi, the Japanese word for “chiles,” is a group of condiments always including chiles that bring out the clean, simple flavors of Japanese food. Shichimi togarashi is also called seven spice (shichi is “seven” in Japanese), because seven ingredients are generally used. It works well with fatty foods such as unagi (broiled eel), tempuras, shabu shabu (small bits of food cooked in rich broth), noodle dishes, and yakitori (grilled dishes). Nanami togarashi is a close cousin, with a slightly different proportion of ingredients emphasizing citrus zest.
2 tablespoons sansho (or 1 tablespoon black peppercorns)
1 tablespoon dried tangerine peel
1 tablespoon ground red chile pepper (or less to your taste)
2 teaspoons flaked nori
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
2 teaspoons white poppy seeds
2 teaspoons minced garlic

To make shichimi togarashi:
Combine 2 tablespoons sansho (or 1 tablespoon black peppercorns), 1 tablespoon dried tangerine peel, 1 tablespoon ground red chile pepper, 2 teaspoons flaked nori, 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds, 2 teaspoons white poppy seeds and 2 teaspoons minced garlic. Grind together to a chunky consistency.
Makes 1/2 cup.
Store refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 month.

From Chowhound

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Salmon Sausage with Somen Noodle Salad

This recipe is still very much in development stage. On my last supermarket trip I bought couple of salmon sausages on a whim and now I had to come up with a way to cook and serve them. I did a search on Google and almost all hits were recopies on how to make the sausages but very few on cooking them.
Decision on how to cook the sausages was fairly straightforward since there are basically only three choices: pan fry, grill, bake or poach. My choice was the simplest, pan frying. The choice of what to serve it with or on was more complex. Do I serve it as a hotdog or on top of rice or some sort of noodles like cellophane or rice noodles? Since I had some leftover Somen noodles from last night’s dinner the decision was basically made for me.  All I had to do was add some julienned cucumber and radishes plus arugula and dress it with rice vinegar dressing (one part each of rice vinegar, Mirin or honey and water). I sliced the salmon sausage, served it on top of some noodle salad and topped sausage slices with mayonnaise & wasabi sauce.
Next time I will try glass noodles (cellophane, mug bean, starch noodles…too many names for same noodle) or rice vermicelli with teriyaki sauce.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Sunomono is Japanese cold noodle salad made with somen (buckwheat) noodles, served with rice vinegar dressing and topped with cooked cold shrimp, crab meat, daikon, shiitake mushrooms and cucumber. Very much a summer favorite.

3 bundles of Somen Noodles
Cook somen:
Bring 2 1/2 quarts water to a rolling boil in a 4-quart saucepan over moderately high heat. Add noodles and 1 cup more water. When water returns to a boil, add 1 cup cold water and bring back to a boil. Simmer noodles until just tender and slightly translucent, about 2 minutes. Test noodles for doneness by dipping 1 strand in cold water and sampling. If noodles are not tender, add 1 cup more water and return water to a boil. Drain noodles in a colander and rinse well under cold water. Return to saucepan filled with very cold water and rub noodles till all starch is removed. Drain again and keep noodles cold.
Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup Mirin (or 2 Tbs. honey dissolved in 2 Tbs. sake)
1/4 cup Kikkoman soy sauce
1/4 cup water
Mix all ingredients and adjust to your taste. Sauce should taste sweet and sour.

Sliced cucumber
Sliced daikon radish
Cooked shrimps
Crab meat or imitation crab meat (processed Pollock)
Sliced Shiitake mushrooms braised in teriyaki sauce

To serve:
Place somen in chilled bowls, drizzle with 1/4 cup of dipping sauce and top with seafood and vegetables of your choice. For little bit of kick I add 1 tsp. of wasabi paste to my dipping sauce.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Yogurt Sauce for Ćevapčići

Ćevapčići revisited

Yesterday I bought 1 pound of frozen ground New Zealand spring lamb and a chunk of pork butt. I let the lamb de-frost in fridge overnight, ground 1 pound of pork and made bunch of Cevapcici sausages. I kept four for supper and rest I froze and vacuum packed for a quick after golf meal. I used ice cream scoop to make uniform size sausages for even grilling and ended up with 19. That is a lot of food!
Anyway, this time I grilled them on barbecue and served them with yogurt and cucumber dip with Napa cabbage, arugula and tomatoes on side. I found this version better then Czech version with mustard. It was so refreshing and light!
Next time I’ll serve Cevapcici I will chop one sausage together with lettuce or Napa cabbage, arugula and white onions and fill half pita bread with yogurt sauce on top. Excellent summer snack or light dinner.

Yogurt Sauce
1 cup finely chopped seeded and peeled cucumber
1 cup plain yogurt, preferably Balkan style
1 Tbs. lime juice
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 clove garlic. finely minced
Pinch of sugar

Mix all ingredients till well combined. If you want a bit of heat add cyan pepper to taste.

Ready for grill or freezer.

Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

This was very first time that I have prepared this Thai classic and after tasting it I felt really sorry for people with nut allergies, they are deprived of such an incredible dish.
Few days ago I bought a bunch of lemon grass knowing that I will use it with a chicken. Then, I was asked to get some peanut butter for breakfast and suddenly I remember reading a recipe that used chicken, lemon grass and peanut butter: the famous Peanut Butter Chicken Satay. The marinade is quite easy to prepare if you have a mini chopper (one of the most useful tools in kitchen). The marinade can be made day or two ahead and stored in fridge.
I served this with cellophane noodles tossed with mixture of fish sauce, honey, lime juice and sesame oil.

8-12 skinless and boneless chicken thighs
Bamboo skewers 8” long
1/4 cup minced lemongrass
2 shallots OR 1 small onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic
1-2 fresh red chilies, sliced, or 1 tsp. Sriracha sauce
1 thumb-size piece ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. dried turmeric
2 Tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. cumin
3 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
4 Tbsp. fish sauce
5-6 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Soak bamboo skewers in water
Cut chicken into thin strips and place in a bowl.
Place all marinade ingredients in a food processor or chopper. Process well.
Taste-test the marinade - you will taste sweet, spicy, and salty. The strongest tastes should be sweet and salty in order for the finished satay to taste its best. Add more sugar or more fish sauce (in place of salt) to adjust the taste. You can also add more chili if you want it spicier.
Pour the marinade over the meat and stir well to combine. Allow at least 1 hour for marinating, or longer (up to 24 hours).
When ready to cook, thread meat onto the skewers, stopping about 3” from end.

Grill the satay on your BBQ, or on an indoor grill, basting the chicken each time you turn the skewers. Depending on how thin your meat is, the satay should cook in 5 to 10 minutes.  Do not over cook!
Serve with rice, rice noodles or cellophane noodles and a bowl of Satay Peanut Sauce for dipping.

Satay Peanut Sauce

This sauce is great with skewered grilled chicken, beef or pork and is also great as Asian salad dressing or cold noodle dressing. Most Western recipes are using peanut butter in satay but try this recipe using fresh roasted peanuts and you will taste the difference. And yes, it is OK to substitute peanut butter if you don’t have fresh peanuts or are short on time but if you do, omit the water, just use 3/4 cup of peanut butter.

1 cup fresh dry roasted peanuts, unsalted (make sure they are not stale)
1/3 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dark soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 to 2.5 Tbsp. fish
1/2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. Sriracha sauce (or to taste)

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend or process until sauce is smooth. If you prefer a runnier peanut sauce, add a little more water or coconut milk.
Do a taste test, adding more fish sauce (or soy sauce) if not salty enough, or more Sriracha if not spicy enough. If too salty, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice. If you'd prefer it sweeter, add a little more sugar or honey.