Korean Seaweed Salad

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Confession time: I’m eagerly awaiting the day that seaweed goes trendy in American food circles. Greek yogurt had its day. So has turmeric. It’s seaweed’s turn, y’all. I’m glad nori has gone mainstream. Now let’s make it happen for wakame, for mokuzu, for hijiki.

This easy to prepare and super healthy Korean salad makes good use of wakame, or miyeok as it’s known in Korean. It’s perfect alongside a meal of grilled meat and rice, or by itself, really.

Korean seaweed salad


1 cup dried wakame (miyeok) seaweed, soaked in cold water for 20 minutes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Blanch the drained soaked seaweed in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain again and set aside.

2. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and garlic in a serving bowl and add the seaweed and mix well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving and serve cold or at room temperature.

Artichoke and Spinach Filo Rolls

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This is the story of how misreading a recipe can lead to glorious results. Almost twenty years ago when I just learning how to cook, I mistook a recipe’s instructions to use puff pastry for filo dough. Frozen artichoke hearts became marinated artichokes. Shallots became onions. You get the picture. By the time all was said and done, this appetizer was the result. I had a totally different recipe on my hands. And you know what? It was delicious.

This recipe is endlessly adaptable but the spinach and the artichokes have stayed the same over the years. Oh, and nutty, melty Gruyere is key. It’s an impressive appetizer that’s easier to make than it looks. In this case, just make sure to read the recipe.

Artichoke and spinach filo rolls


1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch spinach, blanched, squeezed dry, and chopped
1 cup drained marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1 package puff pastry sheets, thawed
1 egg

1. Heat oven to 400F degrees. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender, abut 4 minutes. Remove from pan and combine in a bowl with spinach and artichokes. Set aside to cool. Stir in Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses and season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Unfold half of the puff pastry sheets (about 15 layers) in one stack on a flat surface. Top with vegetable-cheese mixture, leaving half-inch border. In a small bowl, combine egg and 1 tablespoon water. Starting at one end lengthwise, roll up pastry, jelly roll-style. Cut into 1-inch slices.

3. Lay slices flat 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Brush with egg mixture. Bake 15 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

Homestyle Sichuan Tofu

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Sichuan chili bean paste is my most used condiment in the fridge these days. Made from fermented broad beans, soybeans, salt, rice, and spices, doubanjiang is spicy, salty and packs a punch — a delicious, warming punch. It’s perfect stir-fried with all manner of ingredients (seriously). It’s essential in this easy, warming dish of tofu and a healthy amount of alliums. Add a bowl of rice and you’re all set.

Homestyle Sichuan tofu


1 block of firm tofu (about 1 pound)
Vegetable oil for shallow-frying
2 tablespoons chili bean paste
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 inches ginger, sliced
2 leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced diagonally
1 1/3 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons cold water

1. Cut the tofu into square slices 2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick.

2. Heat oil for shallow-frying to a high temperature. Add the tofu slices in batches and fry for a few minutes until golden (they should still be tender and white on the inside). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3. In the same wok, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over moderate heat. Add the chili bean paste and stir-fry until the oil is red and fragrant. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry about 30 seconds, until fragrant.

4. Add the chicken stock and tofu and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down, season with sugar and soy sauce, and simmer for 4 minutes until the liquid is reduced and the tofu has absorbed some of the sauce. Add the leeks and stir briefly until just cooked. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the wok, stir until the sauce thickens, and turn out onto a serving platter.

Mixed Vegetable and Yogurt Pachadi

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This “salad” of sorts is actually a pachadi, or a south Indian yogurt-based side dish not unlike raita, its north Indian counterpart. This pachadi is endlessly adaptable — feel free to use more or less of whichever vegetable depending on your preference. Easy to prepare, this makes a perfect accompaniment alongside rice.

Also, please ignore the awful lighting in this photo. I mean, sometimes you just gotta eat the pachadi and there’s no time for perfect lighting, amirite?

Mixed vegetable curd salad


1 cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1 tomato, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 green chili, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
2 cups yogurt
salt, to taste
2 teaspoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal
1 teaspoon chana dal (yellow split peas)
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder
1 red chili, halved lengthwise
1 sprig curry leaves

1. In a bowl, mix the cucumber, tomato, onion, green chili, and cilantro leaves with the yogurt, adding salt to taste.

2. Heat oil in a small skillet and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal, chana dal, asafoetida powder, red chili, and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds begin to sputter, add this mixture to the yogurt and mix thoroughly. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Iranian Lentil Soup (Adassi)

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This recipe is greater than the sum of its parts. With only seven ingredients, it’s easy to overlook, but don’t be fooled. One spoonful of adasi and I’m instantly transported back to my childhood summer visits to Tehran. I can almost taste the freshly-picked and hand-dried angelica seeds and the bright, tart Persian limes that are so difficult to come by in the U.S.

I’ve substituted Meyer lemons here but the golpar, or angelica powder is essential to this hearty soup. You can find angelica powder at Iranian and some Middle Eastern grocers.

After the gluttony of the holidays, adassi is simple, comforting, and exactly what I’m craving in the new year.



2 cups lentils, cleaned and washed
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon angelica powder
1 lime, halved

1. Place lentils in a saucepan and add 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally; adding more water if needed.

2. In a skillet, fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until golden brown. Add it to the lentils, season with salt and pepper, and let simmer over low heat for another 45 minutes.

3. Add angelica powder and lime juice to taste and remove from heat. Serve hot.