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.
shandong stir-fry soup noodles
sizzling singapore chili shrimp
chinatown roast duck
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)
2 t minced garlic
1 t minced ginger
1/2 jalapeno chili, sliced into thin rings
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.
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:
burdock root and fried tofu soup
chilled sesame-miso noodle salad
octopus salad with radish sprouts
toasted rice and salmon flakes in green tea broth
sweet and sour lotus root
sweet potato simmered with kelp
Here’s the recipe for the sweet potatoes:
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.
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.
What I’ve been cooking: banana wontons with coconut-cream sauce:
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
vegetable oil (for deep frying)
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.
i’m back from yet another quick weekend trip to southern california. like the last, i spent a considerable time stuck in the notorious los angeles traffic. this time around, however, i played tourist. i didn’t take nearly enough photographs; in fact i only snapped a few on saturday afternoon.
on friday i took the scenic route down along highway 101, and although it meant spending a couple extra hours in the car, it was nice to look out of the window and see san luis obsipo and santa barbara as opposed to endless overcrammed herds of cows. by the time i reached the hotel, i had just enough energy to have dinner at california sushi roll in west la. i’d been (and still am) craving authentic japanese food, but i willingly obliged and went with japanese-california fusion instead. i was pleasantly suprised. my house special maki of salmon wrapped around seaweed, rice and fried fish cake was pretty good, and the beef gyoza’s offbeat hint of lemon was a good match.
the next morning i set out for lunch at the infamous roscoe’s house of chicken and waffles. my fried chicken was seasoned well and the syrup-laden waffles were yummy too, but i’m sure my arteries were begging me to stop.
afterwards i set out with a friend to the museum of contemporary art to check out their new exhibit, ecstasy: in and about altered states. to my dismay photography was not allowed, but i was really impressed. in particular i enjoyed olafur eliasson’s, erwin redl’s, and fred tomaselli’s pieces.
i spent the early evening in santa monica along the beach, and continued along to the third street promenade.
that evening i ate at korean char-b-que with a friend. i mistakenly ordered naengmyon. i’d accidentally ordered it a few weeks ago at another korean restaurant and found it to be anathema to my favorite flavors prominent in korean cooking. to my misfortune, the menu we ordered from on friday night didn’t have english translations, only pictures. i ordered what looked good yet recieved something quite different. the slushy ice water, flavorless beef and rubbery noodles and slices of pear made me wish i had ordered something else.
we redeemed ourselves by going to westwood to grab a mango hookah and mint tea at habibi cafe. i was in awe most of the time; almost everyone was iranian. i’d never been around so many iranians in public outside of iran at the same time. i don’t quite know how to say this politely without generalizing, but a lot of iranians i saw were, how should i put this, special. glitzy clothing and makeup, glitzy cell phones, glitzy attitude. everything seemed a bit overdone. i wondered if any of them had ever been to the iranian countryside, to ramsar or tabriz, to isfahan or shiraz. it seemed so far-removed. still, i had a great time people-watching. the music was great, as was the hookah, but the tea was a sorry mug of lipton with a couple of crushed mint leaves thrown in.
sunday was spent having lunch at farmer’s market. we met up with another friend for brazilian at pampas grill churrascaria. little did i know how delicious brazilian food is. the hearts of palm and cucumber salad, fried bananas, okra stew, and grilled garlic steak were all mouthwateringly perfect.
after a quick stop for shakes (i had banana flavor), it was time to say goodbye to los angeles and its sunny weather. tony toni tone was right; it never rains in southern california.