Hawaiian Poke

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The first time I ever tried poke was, appropriately, in Hawaii. I was having dinner at Sam Choy’s Diamond Head restaurant in Honolulu a few years ago and the waiter brought around an amuse bouche of raw ahi tuna, tossed with flecks of onion, nori seaweed, edible flowers and the most magnificent sauce I’ve ever tasted.

Ever since then I’ve been obsessed with recreating the dish. One of my go-to cookbooks is Martin Yan’s Chinatown, and coincidentally, it contains Yan’s adapted recipe for Choy’s tuna poke. I made this one day when I was feeling especially wistful for Oahu and you know what? I might not have to get on a plane again to taste that memorable poke.

Tuna poke

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon mirin
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1 pound sushi-grade ahi tuna, cut 1/2-inch cubes
1 small tomato, diced
1/4 cup chopped onion, preferably sweet
1/2 sheet nori seaweed, shredded

1. Stir the soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, sesame oil and chili garlic sauce and cilantro together in a large bowl until blended.

2. Add the tuna, tomato, onion and seaweed to the bowl and toss until coated. Marinate for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve.

Lentil Salad with Browned Sausages

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Lentils have always been a comfort food for me. Adas polo, an Iranian lentil and rice pilaf topped with fried onions, was a dish frequently requested by my sister and I when we were kids. Adasi, or soupy lentils served with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkled with golpar, is one of my favorite meals when I’m feeling under the weather.

A dish of lentil salad with browned sausages that I made recently is French-inspired rather than Iranian, but the comfort factor is still there. With the days getting shorter, darker and rainier, a bowl of well-seasoned lentils couldn’t be a better antidote to the autumn blues.

Lentil salad with browned sausages

Ingredients:

2-3 cups cooked brown lentils
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
1 lb smoked sausage, sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and saute, turning ocassionally until browned, about 10 minutes.

2. In another saucepan, heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute until the onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and remove from heat.

3. While the sausages cook, make the vinaigrette: In a bowl, whisk one tablespoon vinegar with the mustard and a pinch of salt. Whisk in two tablespoons olive oil. Season to taste with salt.

4. If lentils are not warm, reheat them. In a large bowl, toss the lentils with a little salt and remaining vinegar and olive oil. Drain the sausages and add sausages and vinaigrette to the lentils, tossing to coat. Stir in the parsley, onions and carrots and add salt and pepper to taste.

Hearts of Palm Salad with Shrimp and Avocado

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I first encountered hearts of palm at Pampas Grill, a Brazilian churrascaria in the Farmers Market in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. I have no idea how I’d gone so long without coming across the vegetable, but it’s been a favorite ever since then. I used them in making what is now one of my favorite salads:

Hearts of palm salad with shrimp and avocado

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cans hearts of palm, drained and rinsed
1 hard-boiled egg, shelled and chopped
1/2 pound cooked tiny shrimp
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper

1. In a bowl, whisk olive oil, vinegar, capers, lemon juice, shallots, mustard, and salt to taste. Cut hearts of palm in half lengthwise. Lay hearts of palm in dressing, turn over, and let stand for 5 minutes.

2.Lift hearts of palm from dressing and arrange on a large salad plate. Add shrimp to dressing in bowl and mix. Arrange avocado on salad. Spoon shrimp and all the dressing over the hearts of palm and avocado. Top with egg, and sprinkle with pepper to taste.

Pasta and Chickpea Soup with Clams

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savory cuts of meat and hearty bowls of soup. to me that’s what fall cooking is all about. well, at least a pretty big part of it. can’t forget breads. oh, and earthy root vegetables. that too.

here’s what i’ve been cooking:

i love beets
beet and raspberry salad

this was fantastic
veal marsala

yum, anchovies!
multilayered anchovy bread

land meets sea
pasta and chickpea soup with clams

here’s the recipe for the soup:

1 cup dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
5 T olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 fresh rosemary spring
1/4 t dried crushed red pepper
1 1/2 lbs small clams
1 cup short hollow pasta

1. place beans in bowl. pour enough warm water over to cover; let soak at room temperature overnight. drain. place garbanzo beans in large saucepan; add enough fresh water to cover. boil 15 minutes. drain.

2. return beans to pan; add 4 cups water, 3 tablespoons oil, 2 garlic cloves, rosemary spring, and crushed red pepper. bring to boil. reduce heat and simmer uncovered until beans are tender, adding more water as needed by 1/2 cupfuls, about 2 hours. discard rosemary spring.

3. transfer 1 cup garbanzo bean mixture to processor and puree until smooth; reutrn to mixture in saucepan.

4. heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. add remaining garlic clove, saute unti golden, about 2 minutes. add clams and 1/4 water; cover and cook until clams open, about 5 minutes. cool clams slightly; reserve pan juices. working over bowl to catch juices, remove clams from shells; discard shells.

5. strain pan juices and clam juice from bowl into garbanzo bean mixture, then add 3 1/2 cups water and bring to boil. add pasta and cook until pasta is al dente, adding more water if soup is too thick and stirring occassionally, about 10 minutes. stir in clams. season to taste with salt and pepper.

Hot and Sour Egg Flower Soup

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everyone says i cook too much east asian food. i guess its true, but i never tire of it. i mean, there’s so much to discover. and this of course includes chinese food. these are adapted from martin yan recipes:

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sichuan spicy noodle salad

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macanese steak with mushrooms

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hot and sour egg flower soup

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hakka shrimp-stuffed eggplant with black bean sauce

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gum-lo wontons with seafood sweet and sour sauce

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fujian fried rice

here’s the recipe for the soup:

3 dried black mushrooms
1 dried wood ear mushroom
2 ounces dried bean thread noodles
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup carrot, sliced thinly
1/2 package medium tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch, drissolved in 2 tablespoons water
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 green onion, sliced thinly

1. soak mushrooms with warm water until soft, about 20 minutes. drain and slice thinly.

2. soak noodles with warm water until soft, about 10 minutes. drain and cut into four-inch lengths.

3. bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan. stir in the mushrooms and carrot, simmering for about 2 minutes.

4. stir in the noodles, tofu, vinegar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and sugar. simmer for about 2 minutes. pour in the dissolved cornstarch and cook, stirring, until the soup boils and thickens, about 1 minute. slowly pour in the egg, stirring the soup to create “egg flowers.”

5. ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with green onions.