Khoresh-e Gheymeh (Iranian Lamb and Chana Dal Braise)

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Khoresh-e gheymeh, or Iranian channa dal and lamb braise is one of the most popular (and mercifully easiest) khoreshes to make. Khoreshes are Iranian braises that are served with basmati rice, and this one in particular is the perfect example of cross-cultural evolution: high five to the genius who decided that French fries would become a required part of this dish.

Make sure to seek out limoo omani (dried limes) here, as their flavor is essential to the success of khoresh-e gheymeh.

Khoresh-e gheymeh

Ingredients:

For the braise:

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 pound leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 dried limoo omani (Persian limes), pierced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tomato, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoons ground saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
1/4 cup yellow split peas (chana dal)

For the French fries:

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into thick matchsticks, and soaked in cold water
1 cup vegetable oil for shallow frying
Salt to taste

1. To make the braise: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onions until beginning to brown and then add the lamb, continuing to saute until the onions are golden brown and the juice has been absorbed. Add the dried limes, salt, pepper, and turmeric, and saute for 3 minutes.

2. Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the tomato, sugar, and saffron water. Cover and cook over low heat for 35 minutes.

4. In a saucepan, cook the yellow split peas in 3 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt for 30 minutes. Drain, rinse, and add to the pot with the lamb. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

5. To make the French fries: Drain and dry the potatoes. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the potatoes, and shallow fry until golden and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes and place on paper towels. Season with salt.

6. To serve, place the braise in a serving bowl and top with the French fries. Serve with basmati rice (and Iranian pickles and a fresh herb platter of sabzi khordan, if desired).

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Quiche

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Asparagus season is almost over in the Bay Area but I’m still finding ways to cook with it before the window closes. This asparagus and goat cheese quiche is a quick and easy way to showcase the seasonal bounty of Northern California: the asparagus is local and I picked up the goat cheese from a recent visit to Pennyroyal Farms in Mendocino County.

This quiche is perfect for breakfast or lunch, or better yet, packed up and served at a picnic.

Asparagus and goat cheese quiche

Ingredients:

1 pie crust
3 ounces diced pancetta
6 eggs
1/2 bunch (7 ounces) asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut on a diagonal into 1-to 1 1/2 in. pieces
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

1. Follow instructions on pie crust to pre-bake crust on a baking sheet in the oven before adding filling ingredients, if needed.

2. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until very crisp, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels.

3. Whisk eggs in a large bowl to blend. Stir in asparagus, chives, the creme fraiche, salt, and pepper until blended. Fold in pancetta. Pour filling into crust and dot with goat cheese.

4. Bake at 400F degrees until filling is set in center when tart is gently shaken, 13 to 20 minutes. Let quiche cool about 10 minutes. With a knife, loosen crust from edge of pan. Carefully push quiche out and set on a platter. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

Crispy Cod with Miso Vinaigrette

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Who knew that corn, miso, and fish would pair so well together? I use cod in this east-meets-west entree, but you can use halibut too — any firm, flaky white fish will do just fine. I love the crunchy, crispy, creamy melange of textures in this one-dish meal. Don’t be put off by the long ingredient list; this dish may take a while but the technique is straightforward.

Crispy cod with miso vinaigrette

Ingredients:

For the ginger-green onion oil:

2 tablespoons minced green onion
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/4 cup vegetable oil

For the vinaigrette:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons chicken stock
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white miso
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup water, or as needed

1 pound cod or halibut fillets
Salt
Pepper
3/4 cup panko
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons butter
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
2 green onions, trimmed and julienned into thin strips 2 inches long
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

1. Make the seasoned oil: Heat a small skillet over high heat until just hot. Add the vegetable oil and heat just until it begins to smoke. Carefully add the green onion and ginger to the oil. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Make the vinaigrette: Whisk the olive oil, rice vinegar, chicken stock, mayonnaise, miso, sugar, peanut butter, mustard, and sesame oil in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in enough water to attain a syrup-like consistency.

3. Season the cod fillets with salt and pepper. Drizzle enough of the ginger-green onion oil onto the fillets to coat both sides. Pat the bread crumbs onto both sides of the fish.

4. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat until hot. Heat the 1/4 cup vegetable oil and place the fillets in the pan. Cook, turning once, making sure the bread crumbs do not burn, until both sides are golden and the cod is cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Remove and place on paper towels to drain. Pour the oil out of the pan.

5. Add the butter to the pan and melt over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the corn and saute for another 3 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.

6. To serve, spoon the vinaigrette onto a serving platter. Make a well in the center of the vinaigrette. Spoon the mushroom and corn mixture onto the well. Set the cod fillets on top. Scatter the green onion strips and sesame seeds over the fillets. Drizzle a small amount of the seasoned oil over the fillets and serve.

Fish Tacos with Wakame Slaw

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Craving fish tacos but don’t want to go to the trouble of deep-frying? Then try this recipe. I thought I’d miss the crispy batter, but honestly, the flaky cod, the Old Bay Seasoning, and the tangy, seaweed-laced slaw make these my new favorite fish tacos. And they’re waaaay healthier and easier to make.

This recipe makes more wakame slaw than you’ll need for the tacos, which is fine, because it’s delicious on its own as a salad.

Fish tacos with wakame slaw

Ingredients:

For the fish:

2 pounds boneless cod fillets
3 tablespoons avocado oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
Corn or flour tortillas

For the slaw:

2 ounces dried wakame seaweed
1/2 to 1 red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced

1. Make the slaw: Soak seaweed in warm water for 10 minutes to re-hydrate, then blanch by tossing into boiling water for 15 seconds. Drain wakae in a colander and rinse in ice bath. Drain wakame again and squeeze out excess water. Cut into 1-inch pieces.

2. Make the dressing for the slaw: stir together tahini, lemon juice, water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, garlic, and ginger, adding salt to taste if necessary. Toss wakame, cabbage, carrots, and green onions with dressing and sprinkle salad with sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Set aside.

3. Make the fish: Season fish with Old Bay and salt. Heat a large pan to medium-high and add avocado oil. Saute fish until cooked through and golden on both sides, about 7 minutes for each side.

4. Warm up the tortillas in a pan on medium heat for about 30 seconds per side. Place fish on a warm tortilla and top with a generous serving of wakame slaw.

Zereshk Polo ba Morgh (Barberry Rice with Saffron Chicken)

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This is comfort food for every diaspora Iranian kid growing up. Fragrant rice and tart barberries become more the sum of its parts. The best part? Spooning the lime and caramelized onion-inflected chicken sauce over the rice and letting all of the sweet-sour-salty flavors meld.

Dried barberries can be hard to find, but they’re worth seeking out as any Iranian grocer will carry them. Try to use aged basmati rice here, which will produce a fluffier, more aromatic dish.

Zereshk polo ba morgh

Ingredients:

For the saffron chicken:

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup lime juice
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water

For the rice:

3 cups basmati rice
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons yogurt
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup slivered pistachios

For the barberry mixture:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups dried barberries, picked over, washed, and drained
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water

1. To cook the chicken: In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and saute until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the chicken cook, turning, once, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, give the pan a stir, and cover. Cook over low heat for about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

2. To cook the rice: Wash the rice in a large container and cover it with water. Agitate gently and pour off water, repeating 3 or 4 times until the water is clear. Bring 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil in a large pot. Add the rice and boil briskly for about 6 to 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times to loosen any grains that may have stuck together or to the bottom of the pot. When the rice feels just al dente, it is ready to be drained. Drain the rice in a fine-mesh colander and rinse with cold water.

3. In a large bowl, whisk 1/4 cup oil 1/4 water, yogurt, a few drops of saffron water, and 3 spatulas of rice. Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pot.

4. Arrange the remaining rice in a pyramid shape in the pot, adding one spatula of rice at a time. Cover and cook for 10 minutes over medium-high heat.

5. Mix the remaining oil with 1/2 cup water and pour over the rice. Pour the remaining saffron water over the rice. Add the pistachios and almonds on top. Wrap the lid of the pot with a thin, clean dish towel and cover firmly to prevent steam from escaping. Cook for 60 to 70 minutes longer over low heat.

6. To cook the barberries: In a skillet, combine the oil, barberries, sugar, water, and saffron water. Saute over medium heat for 5 minutes, watching carefully to make sure the barberries don’t burn. Set aside.

7. Remove the rice from the heat and carefully pour run the outside of the bottom of the pot under cold water. This helps to release the tahdig, or crust, from the bottom of the pot. Allow pot to cool, covered, for 5 minutes.

8. To assemble the rice, take 1 spatula full of rice and place it on a serving platter in alternating layers with the barberry mixture. Arrange the chicken around or next to the platter. Detach the tahdig and serve on the side.