Asia, Thailand

Thai beef salad

I was introduced to Eatzi’s in Denver by my good friend who visited me from South Dakota. I had past it several times and had dismissed it as an Italian restaurant. I was totally wrong! Eatzi’s is like this glorious grown up, gourmet, college food court. If you love food, but hate to cook. You will LOVE Eatzi’s. Another friend recommended that I try their Thai Beef Salad. It looks unassuming but it is absolutely delicious. The ingredient list is long, but it’s completely necessary. All the fresh herbs and umami seasonings make this one of the best salads I’ve had. I could not find a recipe for it online, so I made my own. This makes the perfect lunch or main-dish dinner salad.

Thai Beef Salad

Serves 6

  • 6-8 oz. flank (or sirloin) steak- seared and cooked to rare/medium rare
  • 1 head green cabbage- cored and sliced
  • 4 oz. thin rice sticks (Asian sections)- cooked according to package instructions
  • 2 limes- juiced
  • ½ cup avocado oil
  • ¼ cup tamari, soy sauce, or bragg liquid aminos, or coconut aminos
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (Asian section)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste (Asian section)
  • 6 green onions- thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper- thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion- thinly sliced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger- peeled and minced
  • 2 small stalks lemongrass- minced *
  • ½ bunch cilantro- chopped
  • ½ cup fresh mint- chopped
  • 1 plastic container or ½ cup fresh basil- chopped- Use Thai basil if you can find it.

*If you can’t find fresh lemongrass (it would be in the fresh herbs sections). Don’t worry. There is lemongrass in the red curry paste, so you’ll still get that flavor. Also, all of these ingredients are easily found in any grocery store. Lemongrass is probably the only one that may be hard to find.

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the lime juice through red curry paste. Mix very well.
  2. In a large bowl, add the sliced cabbage
  3. Pour the sauce over the cabbage and mix very well.
  4. Add the veggies and herbs, mix.
  5. Very, very thinly sliced the steak. Add that and the rice noodles to the salad.
  6. Mix together. Let sit for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. If it’s not salty enough, add a little more soy sauce or salt. If it’s too salty, add a little more rice wine.
  7. Serve room-temperature.
  8. Store in the fridge. It’s good for about 2-3 more days.
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Hawaii

macadamia crusted cod

My husband left for 3 weeks of work in Hawaii. He will be working on a home show about luxury swimming pools. (enter Hawaii-ish and jealousy emjois) I wanted to make a nice dinner for him last night with a Hawaiian flair.  Turns out, this week is also Hawaiian Food Week. How perfect! I made macadamia crusted cod with sushi rice and a salad of pineapple, avocado, and cucumber.  The macadamia nuts are finely chopped and then mixed with some panko bread crumbs for the perfect crunch. The sushi rice is mixed at the very end with some lime zest, coconut aminos, and rice vinegar. The avocado, pineapple, cucumber salad adds the perfect fresh contrast and really makes this dish. I have to be honest though, I used nectarines instead of pineapple because that is what I had. It was fantastic! But this is Hawaiian foods week, so pineapple it is.

ingredients:

macadamia crusted cod

8-12 ounce cod fillet

1/4 cup macadamia nuts- finally chopped into crumbs

2 tablespoon panko bread crumbs (I use gluten free)

1 egg + 2 teaspoons water, throughly beaten

salt and pepper

sushi rice

1 cup sushi rice

zest of 1 lime

1 tablespoon coconut aminos (or soy sauce)

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

*a note about sushi rice: This is easy to find now in most grocery stores. I like it for this because it keeps with the Hawaiian theme and I love the sticky texture. You could definitely substitute regular rice in this dish. Quinoa could be a good choice too if you’re trying to behave yourself.

salad

1 small avocado, small chunks

1 cup pineapple (or nectarine or mango), small chunks

1/2 cup English cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch thick and then into fourths

1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt and pepper

method:

Start the sushi rice. Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Then combine with 1 1/2 cups water plus 2 tablespoons in a small saucepan.  Sprinkle a little salt in there and turn on high.  Once it’s boiling turn it to low for about 10-15 minutes and then turn it off, DON’T PEEK, and let it set for another 15 minutes. My big rice cooking advice is to just not lift the lid. Every time I peek, ruined.

Meanwhile, mix the finely chopped macadamia nuts with the panko breadcrumbs. It should be chopped this fine, or even finer:

season with some salt and pepper and set aside. Mix the egg and water and set aside. Get out the cod and pat it very dry with a towel.

Prep your salad fruits, then mix with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Don’t start making the fish until after the rice has cooked. Transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl like this:

Stick it in the fridge while you get the cod going. For this meal, the cod is best nice and hot but the rest of the meal is best at room temp. Cut the cod in to the portion sizes you desire. I cut our 2 servings into four pieces. Season each side of the cod with salt and pepper. Add the 3 tablespoons of coconut oil to the non-stick pan and turn on medium high.  Then, take the cod pieces and dunk into the egg and then dredge into the macadamia nut/breadcrumb mixture.  Press each side firmly into the crumbs and then place into the hot pan. Repeat with all cod pieces.  You want to keep the temp on medium high so that the coating gets nice and crunch and brown but the fish doesn’t get too done. overdone cod is pretty gross. Perfectly done cod is, well, perfection. 2-4 minutes each side should do the job. ​

​Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and season with a little more salt and pepper while it’s hot. Stick it in a 180 degree oven while you mix the rice.

Take the rice out of the fridge and mix it with the coconut aminos, rice vinegar, and olive oil. Use a microplane to zest a lime over the bowl and then mix it into the rice. Save that lime to serve with the meal.

Time to plate! Use a 2/3 measuring cup to scoop out rice and press it firmly into the cup. Turn it upside down and transfer to a plate to make it look fancy.  Put the cod on the plate and then spoon the salad over everything. Garnish with green onions or chives, lime wedge and some chili pepper powder. I used gochugaru (Korean pepper flakes), but ground ancho pepper would be good, or a little smoked paprika, or even spicy cayenne pepper.

Makes 2 servings with a little extra rice to put in the fridge and to make fried rice with the next day.

 

Asia, Korea

kimchi fried rice

Kimchi. Fried Rice. Yes please. This recipe is so easy, delicious and comforting. You have to use cold rice from the day or two before or at least make it in the morning and then stick it in the fridge. After that, this recipe really only takes about 20 minutes. If you haven’t started buying kimchi on the regular its time to start. Buy it for the delicious fermented taste and then keep eating it for the probiotic health benefits. You’ll find it at any grocery story in the refrigerated pickles and saurkraut section.

I learned how to make fried rice in 10th grade home economics class. Oh how I loved these classes with the fake little kitchens.  I liked to pretend that my group was my own little family. It was playing “house” for a 16 year old.  I loved how we all helped to cook, sat down at our little table, ate together, and then all did the dishes together.  Don’t worry I wasn’t deprived of this in real life, I just really enjoyed playing house. I remember we had this recipe for fried rice and our teacher explained that the rice needed to be cold and made a day ahead of time.  This helped it to fry better.  The recipe she had did not have kimchi but it did have ham, onion, garlic, carrots and peas! Also soy sauce so you know I liked it. This recipe I’m posting may be even easier than my 10th grade cooking class recipe.  Most of the flavor comes from the fermented kimchi.  I’m adding a little cut up pork chop and of course a fried egg on top.  I used chives as a garnish because they are growing outside in my garden.  You of course could use green onions.  I had an extra pork chop that’s why I chose it, plus I love pork with Korean-inspired dishes.  You could use any protein, or not.  That’s what eggs are for! I’m topping it all with a super umami sauce made from soy sauce (this is my favorite brand), gochujang, and sesame oil.

kimchi fried rice

serves 2 really hungry people or 4 sorta hungry people

ingredients

2 cups cold cooked rice- made that morning or the day before- I used short grain rice  (mepssal).

¼ cup high heat oil- I used red palm but avocado would be good too

1 cup kimchi- strained over a bowl, reserving the liquid

1 ¼-⅓ lb pork chop

3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)

Sesame seeds for garnish

2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onions

Salt and pepper

Sauce:

3 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons gochujang 

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Method:

Chop up the kimchi and set aside, make sure to reserve the liquid that drained from it. Thinly slice the pork chop and cut into small pieces. Heat a tablespoon of the high heat oil in a wok or deep skillet. Once hot, add the pork pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on high until cooked through and set aside. Without cleaning out the pan, add the chopped kimchi on high. Add a little oil if needed. Fry the kimchi for about 3-5 minutes. You want it to get cooked down and develop a sweetness. Add the red pepper flakes and toss and then add the rest of the oil, make sure it returns to high, and then add the rice.  Fry, tossing frequently, for about another 4-5 minutes. Add some or all of the reserved kimchi liquid to help create a desired consistency and get any cooked bits off the bottom of the pan. Return the pork to the pan and add the 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and the 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Cook for another couple of minutes. Taste and adjust soy sauce and or salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid for a moment while you fry your eggs and make your sauce. For the sauce, just whisk together the soy sauce, gochujang, and the sesame oil. For the eggs:  use as many eggs as there are people eating.  Each person gets a fried egg on top. You want the yolk to be runny. You’ll feel so sad if you overcook it. If you do overcook it, just save it for egg salad and make a new one. Having a runny yolk over your fried rice is quite satisfying. Now plate your fried rice. Put your perfectly cooked fried egg on top of the rice. Now drizzle the sauce all around all cute-like and sprinkle with sesame seeds, more pepper flakes, and chopped chives. Yummy!

 

Those are some seriously seductive chives right there.

 

Asia, Korea

japchae

Japchae with egg omelet and green onion garnish

When I was in college and visiting my parents on a break, I found a recipe in one of my Mom’s Cooking Light magazines. The feature was on a Korean American woman who I think was also a cook (the details are blurry). She recalled all of her favorite Korean dishes she had growing up.  One of the dishes was “chapchae” or “japchae”.  It sounded so good! I took the magazine to the library to make copies of it and all the other Korean recipes.  Mind you, I was 21 years old in 2003, and this was my first experience with Korean food. I had to rely on these recipes alone having zero background knowledge on the cuisine. Lucky for me, the recipe author was really good at explaining the process.   I went back to my college apartment after the break and made all these Korean dishes.  My favorite was the japchae! This recipe is super fun to eat because of the unique texture of the noodles.  The ingredients are very easy to find.  I know because I could find them all at the Hy-Vee in Iowa in 2001 so I know you can find them wherever you are too. You can find the more authentic Korean sweet potato starch noodles in Asian grocery stores or you can use bean thread noodles which are found in the Asian section of most all grocery stores.

I’m not able to give the recipe author proper credit because her (it was a she) name isn’t on the copies I made.  I’ve made just a few tweaks such as less beef because I like a heavy noodle to beef ratio.

Japchae

serves 4

ingredients:

beef:

1teaspoon cornstarch

6 ounces round steak or sirloin, trimmed and thinly sliced into matchsticks

1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger (get the fresh stuff, don’t cheat!)

2 teaspoons sambal oelek plus a teaspoon of gochujang. The original recipe recommends the red Thai chile paste.  I used this back in college and it was really, really good.

1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil

noodles:

1- 3.75 ounce package sweet poato starch noodles (aka jap chae, chap chae, Korean glass noodles) or (mung) bean threads (aka cellophane noodles)

vegetables:

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

5 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 6 ounces), you can use white button mushrooms instead

1 cup (2 inch) julienne-cut carrot

1 cup (2 inch) diagonally sliced green onions

1 (10 ounce) bag fresh spinach

remaining ingredients:

1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted ( I really enjoyed Eden Shake instead of just sesame seeds)

  1. To prepare beef, sprinkle cornstarch over beef; sprinkle cornstarch over beef; toss to combine. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and next 4 ingredients (1 tablespoon soy sauce through 3 garlic cloves); toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet or wok with a little oil over medium-high heat. Add beef mixture; stir-fry 3 minutes or until done. Remove mixture from pan. Cover and keep warm.
  3. To prepare noodles, pour boiling water over noodles; let stand 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain. Snip noodles several times with kitchen shears.
  4. To prepare vegetables, wipe skillet or wok clean with paper towels. Heat 1 teaspoons sesame oil and vegetable oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add half of spinach; stir-fry 2 minutes or until spinach wilts.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add beef mixture and noodles to pan, stirring well to combine. Combine 1/3 cup soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon sesame oil, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over noodle mixture; stir well to combine. Cook over medium-low heat 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. I also garnished mine with an egg than I beat with a little water and fried into a little omelet that I cut into slices. For the green onions you see in the picture, take a very sharp chef’s knife and cut into thin strips.  I was trying to be like Ivan Orkin.

Please, Cooking Light Magazine, since I know you’re reading this, tell us who was the recipe author! Thank you:-)

Asia

umami rice noodles

Umami.  This is how you say it: ooo-mommy. Umami is that perfect flavor of salty and savory.  But it’s more than that.  No one talked about umami when I was growing up in Iowa.  We didn’t know about it.  All I knew was that when I discovered soy sauce I was in love.  I doused it on every chance I could get.  It’s the reason I stopped finally stopped crying when my mom would tell us stir-fry was for dinner.  Soy sauce was definitely overused and abused by me.  Umami is also that flavor of slow roasted tomatoes, roasted so long that every flavor is intensified until it tastes like a tomato in heaven.  Umami is that flavor that is left in the pan after you sear meat, or make gravy, chicken piccata with lots of salt and lemon, and it has been sitting in the pan the entire length of dinner.  Then, you act like you’re going to go do the dishes but instead quickly touch for a taste with your finger and hope no one saw you. THAT flavor.

This recipe combines ingredients to create an umami noodle with lots of credit to Southeast Asian flavors.  I’m using rice noodles but you could use linguini if you want to.  I’m also topping the dish with watermelon radish. Watermelon radish looks like a watermelon on the inside and tastes like a radish.  See:

 

Gorgeous isn’t it? But now look how pretty this one is.

 

umami rice noodles

serves 2 over eaters (me) or 4 sensible eaters

  • 12 oz. rice noodles
  • high heat oil such as avocado oil
  • 2 teaspoons-1 tablespoon hot chili oil (This is spicy and you can find it in the Asian section)
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce ( I like San-J brand, organic, gluten-free, 100% whole soy)
  • 2 Tablespoon natural smooth peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 green onions (thinly sliced, white and green parts seperated)
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger (peeled and finely minced) You can also use 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger instead.
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground Sichuan peppercorns plus more for garnish (use white pepper or even black pepper instead)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts (chopped)
  • 1 big handful of cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 lime (quartered)
  • 1 watermelon radish (sliced into thin matchsticks)
  • 1 thai chile pepper or serrano pepper for garnishing  (but only if you like things extra spicy)
  • Course sea salt

 

  1. Wash, dry, and prep your ingredients.
  2. Get a medium-large pot of water on the stove over high heat.
  3. Slice and separate the green onions
  4. peel and mince the ginger if you’re using fresh
  5. chop up the peanuts and cilantro
  6. quarter your lime
  7. peel and slice your watermelon radish into matchsticks. Put them all in separate little bowls and feel organized.
  8. When your water comes to a boil, add some salt and the rice noodles.
  9. Boil for the amount of time indicated on the package.
  10. While those are cooking, combine the sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, chili oil, and rice vinegar in a bowl.  Mix until combined.
  11. Drain the rice noodles, rinse with cold water to prevent sticking and to stop the cooking process.
  12. In the same pot used to cook the noodles, put a little high heat oil in the bottom. I like coconut or avocado oil. Heat it up but don’t let it start smoking.
  13. Add the white parts of the green onion, ginger and ground pepper, season with salt. Cook for only about 1 minute.
  14. Then add your sauce and simmer for about 5 minutes until slightly reduced.  Reducing helps the umami factor. You want things to intesify!
  15. Add the rice noodles to the pot and toss, toss, toss to combine.  After everything is thoroughly combined, and heated through, it’s time to serve it up.  I like to serve it in a deep, wide bowl.
  16.  Garnish your noodles with the watermelon radish, cilantro, peanuts, a wedge of lime, green parts on the green onion, thai chili pepper and or hot chili oil (if using), more ground pepper, and just a pinch of extra course sea salt.

 

I love how spicy Asian style noodles are now widely excepted as comfort food all over. This turned out beautifully but next time I would slice my radish matchsticks even thinner.