Tuna Poke on Nori Crakers

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Listen, I love my poke bowls like any good millennial should, but sometimes I want to mix it up. Sometimes I want poke straight out of the mixing bowl sans rice. And sometimes, I like to get fancy and serve poke on crispy, briny seaweed.

Adapted from a recipe by Liholiho Yacht Club’s Ravi Kapur, this is one of my favorite appetizers to make. It’s a showstopper and delicious to boot. The crackers are a little bit time consuming but the method is easy. Just make sure you assemble the final dish at the last minute so the crackers don’t get soggy.

Tuna poke on nori crackers

Ingredients:

Canola oil, for frying
3/4 cup cornstarch
Four 8-inch-square nori sheets, cut into quarters
salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
12 ounces sushi-grade tuna cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 teaspoons minced green onion
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons seeded and minced jalapeno
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1. Make the nori crackers: in a large frying pan, heat 1 inch of oil to medium-high. Set a rack over a baking sheet and line with paper towels.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the cornstarch with 1/2 cup of water until smooth. Dredge the nori in the cornstarch mixture, letting the excess drip off. Slowly drop the nori into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes. Flip and fry for 
2 minutes longer, until crisp. Transfer to the rack, season with salt and let cool.

3. Make the spicy mayonnaise: In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce, and chili garlic sauce until smooth. Set aside.

4. Make the poke: In a large bowl, fold the tuna, green onion, ginger, jalapeno, remaining soy sauce, and sesame oil together; season with salt.

5. Place the poke onto the nori crackers and dollop with some of the spicy mayo. Serve immediately.

Salmon Teriyaki

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Internet, do you have any idea how easy it is to make salmon teriyaki at home? I’m going to let you in on a little secret: it’s incredibly easy. Like, laughingly easy. And the best part? It tastes better than that sugary, syrupy rendition so many restaurants serve.

The secret to achieving the perfect glaze here is reducing the sauce appropriately. Reduce it too much and you’ll scorch the fish. Reduce it too little and you’ll end up with a watery sauce. You have been warned.

Salmon teriyaki

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sake
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 6-ounce skin-on, boneless salmon fillets
salt

1. Combine sake, mirin, and soy sauce bowl. Set teriyaki sauce aside.

2. Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat and season salmon lightly with salt.

3. Working in batches and adding more oil if needed, cook salmon skin side down until skin is brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook until other side is just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

4. Pour off excess fat in pan. Bring teriyaki sauce to a boil in pan over medium heat. Cook until reduced by two-thirds, about 5 minutes.

5. Add salmon, skin side up, and cook, spooning sauce over, until sauce is syrupy and salmon is just cooked through, about 3 minutes.

6. Transfer to a plate and serve with rice or salad.

Broccoli, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Radish Salad

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I’m eating healthier than usual these days (hello, thirties): lots of fresh produce, lots of salad, not so much salt and oil. But let’s be honest: lettuce will only get you so far.

This crunchy, flavor-packed salad is my response to lettuce fatigue. The broccoli, radish, and cucumbers bring the crunch and the sun-dried tomatoes, chiles, and a generous dusting of Parmesan shavings add a huge kick of flavor. At the risk of sounding like a women-eating-salads stock photo, this crave-worthy salad feels almost decadent. Appearances can be deceiving.

Broccoli, sun-dried tomato, and radish salad

Ingredients:

1 egg yolk
3 oil-packed anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 small head of broccoli, florets cut into bite-size pieces and stem peeled and trimmed, very thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1 Persian cucumber, thinly sliced
1 Fresno chile, thinly sliced
1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup mint leaves
6 radishes, thinly sliced
2 ounces Parmesan, shaved
Salt
Pepper

1. Make dressing: Blend egg yolk, anchovies, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and garlic clove in a blender to combine. Add mixture to a bowl and whisk in olive oil and blend until dressing is emulsified and creamy, then add oregano. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

2. Add broccoli, onion, cucumber, chile, sun-dried tomatoes, radishes, and mint to a large salad bowl. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat; add more dressing if desired. Serve salad topped with Parmesan.

Manti with Tomato Butter and Yogurt

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The first time Nishan had manti was at the Calgary Turkish Festival in 2013. I spotted a booth of aunties selling the tiny meat-filled dumplings and was so excited for Nishan to have a revelatory eating experience. Except the mantis weren’t very tasty, and that was that. Mantifail.

I had to make things right. Fast forward to 2017 and this recipe has righted all the manti wrongs of the world. The original version is intended to make six servings but the two of us ate the entire thing in one sitting. That’s how good these spiced manti are, covered in a yogurty, buttery, tomatoey sauce. They’re labor intensive but worth all the effort.

One last word about manti: it’s no coincidence that the name of these lamb or beef dumplings encased in a dough wrapper sound so similar to Chinese mantou and Korean mandu. Food has no borders.

Manti with tomato butter and yogurt

Ingredients:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 egg
salt
1/2 pound ground beef
1 onion, grated
3 tablespoons minced parsley
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup Middle Eastern or Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon finely grated garlic
4 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
Dried mint
Aleppo pepper

1. Make the dough: In a bowl, combine the flour, egg, and 1/4 teaspoon salt with 5 tablespoons of water and mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. On a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 1/2 hours.

2. Make the meat filling: In a bowl, combine the beef, onion, parsley, 1 teaspoon, salt, pepper, and mix well.

3. Make the yogurt sauce: In a bowl, combine the yogurt and garlic and season with salt. Mix well and set aside.

4. Make the tomato-butter sauce: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the tomato sauce 
and paprika and keep warm.

5. Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. On a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin or pasta machine, roll out the dough 1/16 inch thick. Cut the dough into 2-inch squares. Spoon 
1/2 teaspoon of the filling in the center of each square. To form the manti, fold the dough over the filling to form a triangle; press the edges together to seal. Transfer the manti to the baking sheet.

6. In a large pot of boiling water, boil the manti until tender and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a serving platter. Top with the yogurt sauce and warm butter sauce, sprinkle with dried mint and Aleppo pepper and serve.

Fried Smelt with Garlic Chips

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Why don’t Americans eat smelt more often? I have a theory: for starters, it’s called smelt. Not the prettiest word, amirite? Secondly, smelt slightly resemble anchovies and there’s that whole anchovies-on-pizza revulsion thing from our collective Saturday morning TMNT cartoon childhoods. But let’s be real: smelt is delicious. And if it were called, I dunno, Maritime butterfish or Japanese elvenfish, they’d fly off the shelves.

This is my favorite way to enjoy smelt: dusted with flour, fried to a crisp, and covered in heaps of garlic. A perfect finger food. These are addictive. You have been warned.

Fried smelt with garlic chips

Ingredients:

2 or 3 large garlic cloves
3/4 pound smelt, cleaned
1/2 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons umeboshi (pickled ume plums), pitted and minced to a paste
2 cups flour
salt
vegetable oil for deep frying

1. Thinly slice the garlic cloves. In a medium saucepan, heat 1/2 inch of oil. On low heat, fry the garlic slices until lightly golden, about 7-9 minutes. With a fine mesh sieve, transfer the garlic to a plate. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the fish sauce, water, sugar, and umeboshi. Add the smelt and leave to marinade for 15 to 30 minutes.

3. In the same saucepan as the garlic oil, add enough oil to reach 2 inches and heat to medium-high. Remove the smelt from the marinade, dredge in flour, and add to the saucepan. Deep fry until golden and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, drain smelt on a paper-lined plate and sprinkle with salt.

4. Garnish the smelt with the garlic chips and serve warm.