Pickled Red Radishes

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i’m a little late on the persian new year wishes, but happy noruz nevertheless! i’ve been so busy this week that i’ve neglected my blog (again).

but i have been cooking:

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chilled udon noodle salad

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wakame and turkey potstickers

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tofu-stuffed shiitake mushrooms

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soy-simmered soybeans with vegetables

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picked red radishes

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chicken donburi

my weekend involved vietamese egg noodle soup, a spike lee movie, a number of bookstores, a whole lot of traffic, and a silly attempt at wardrobe modifications. i relished it all. after all, its not every week that i get to see the boy four days in a row.

Here’s the recipe for the radish pickles:

10-15 red radishes, trimmed
1 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 one-inch piece kombu (kelp) seaweed

1. Combine the vinegar, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and kombu in a small saucepan and let the kombu soak for at least 20 minutes. Place the pan over low heat and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Slowly bring to just below a boil and cook until the sugar and salt have completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let the sauce cool in the pan.

2. In the meantime, slice each radish into quarters. Place the radish pieces in a bowl and sprinkle with remaining teaspoon salt. Allow the radishes to sit undisturbed for about five minutes. Gently toss and squeeze to wilt the radishes. Pour off any accumulated liquid and rinse the wilted radishes briefly under cold water to remove excess salt. Squeeze again.

3. Place the radishes in a glass jar and pour the cooled sauce over them, setting the kombu piece on top. Cover with plastic wrap and a tight-fitting lid. Let the radishes stand at least 30 minutes at room temperature and up to one day. After one day, refrigerate the radishes. The radishes will keep in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Spicy Chinese Eggplant

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while its been pouring buckets outside, i’ve been inside cooking. (well i’ve been outside too, but that’s another story.) the theme this time was chinese.

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shandong stir-fry soup noodles

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spicy eggplant

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sizzling singapore chili shrimp

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chinatown roast duck

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daikon with bean thread noodles

here’s the recipe for the eggplant:

1/3 cup chicken broth
1 T hoisin sauce
2 t soy sauce
2 t lemon juice
1 t plum sauce
4 chinese eggplants (1 lb)
vegetable oil
2 t minced garlic
1 t minced ginger
1/2 jalapeno chili, sliced into thin rings
basil leaves
sliced green onions

1. prepare the sauce: stir the chicken broth, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, and plum sauce in a bowl until blended.
2. cut the stems from the eggplants, then cut them lengthwise into quarters, then cut crosswise into 3-inch pieces.
3. pour enough oil into a large saucepan to come to a depth of 2 inches. heat over medium-high heat and deep-fry the eggplant until tender. remove and drain on paper towels.
4. heat a wok over high heat until hot. add 1 tablespoon of oil and the garlic, ginger, and chili and stir-fry until fragrant, about 20 seconds. add the sauce and bring to a simmer.
5. add the eggplant and stir to coat. scoop onto a serving platter and garnish with basil leaves and green onions.

Sweet Potato Simmered with Kelp

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sunday evenings are always a bit naaraahat konandeh because they signal the end of yet another fantastic weekend. this time around the boy and i made up for not being able to spend valentine’s day together. (i know its a commercialized holiday and all, so i guess its not so bad that we still haven’t been able to spend one together.)

but i’m still trying to play blog catch-up, so i’ll make sure to write about my last two weekends in my next entry. for now i’ll make do with the japanese food i’ve been cooking as of late:

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burdock root and fried tofu soup

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chilled sesame-miso noodle salad

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octopus salad with radish sprouts

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toasted rice and salmon flakes in green tea broth

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sweet and sour lotus root

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sweet potato simmered with kelp

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soy-stewed beef

Here’s the recipe for the sweet potatoes:

Ingredients:

20 square inch pieces kombu (kelp)
1 sweet potato, cut into one-inch chunks with skin intact.
4 1/2 cups cold water
1/2 cup loosely packet katsuo-bushi
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablesoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons mirin

1.  Place the kombu in a pot with the water. Let soak for 15 minutes, then place over medium heat. Remove the pot from the heat as soon as small bubbles begin to break the surface. Add the katsuo-bushi, scattering the flakes across the surface of the water. After 5 minutes, strain the broth with a fine sieve. Reserve the kombu pieces and slice into thin strips.

2. Place the potato chunks and kombu in a pot with the reserved stock and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes and kombu are tender. Add the sugar, soy sauce, and mirin, distributing evenly. Simmer for five more minutes and then remove the pot from the stove.

3. Allow the vegetables to cool to room temperature in whatever cooking liquid remains in the pot, and serve.

Spinach Steeped in Dashi

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gohan

despite this entry’s lack of written substance, i’m hoping that at least the photos (somewhat) make up for it, at least until i have something more definitive to write about:


soy-braised hijiki and carrots


soy-stewed chicken with vegetables


foxy soup noodles


spinach steeped in dashi


silken tofu topped with mushrooms


dark miso soup with roasted eggplant


crisp fried sole in spicy vinaigrette


rice cooked with ginger

a number of the japanese dishes i’ve been learning to cook seem to be missing something by the time i’m done cooking it. i don’t know where i’m making a mistake, but i need to work on the seasonings. practice makes perfect, i guess.

Here’s the recipe for the spinach steeped in dashi:

1 bunch spinach, washed and drained
1 cup dashi (you can make this homemade with kombu and katsuo-bushi or purchase at any Japanese grocery)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
katsuo-bushi flakes and sesame seeds for garnish

1. Blanch spinach in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and squeeze out excess water. In a seperate bowl, mix dashi broth and soy sauce.

2. Arrange spinach on a serving platter and gently pour dashi mixture over the spinach. Garnish with katsuo-bushi flakes and sesame seeds and serve.

Banana Wontons with Coconut Cream Sauce

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What I’ve been cooking: banana wontons with coconut-cream sauce:

Ingredients:

For the filling:
2 bananas, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon sweetened flaked coconut

For the sauce:
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
wonton wrappers
vegetable oil (for deep frying)

Directions:

1. Stir the bananas, sugar, cinnamon, and coconut together in a small bowl, lightly mashing the bananas as you mix. The mixture should still be a little chunky.

2. In a small sauce pan, bring the milk and coconut milk to a boil then remove from the heat.

3. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl until pale yellow and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Stirring constantly, gradually pour half of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, then stir the yolk mixture into the milk mixture remaining in the pan. Over medium heat, stir the milk mixture constantly until thickened, about 2 minutes. Strain the sauce into a medium bowl. Let cool to room temperature, then cover the bowl and chill until cold.

4. Place a heaping teaspoonful of the filling in the center of one of the wonton wrappers. Moisten the edges of the wrapper with a fingertip dipped in water, then fold the wrapper in half to form a triangle. Pinch the edges together firmly to seal. Pull the opposite corners of the base of the triangle, moisten one of the corners with water, and press the two corners firmly to seal. Repeat with the remaining wontons and filling.

5. Pour enough vegetable oil into a wok or 2 quart saucepan to come to a depth of 3 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350°F. Slip a few of the wontons into the oil and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining wontons. Serve cold, with the coconut cream sauce.