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monday musings

My chihuahua is pretty chill. Here we are snowmobiling in Maine.

Did you like the chill chihuahua? Last night, I made it for some friends and I accidentally grabbed the bottle of triple sec instead of tequila. Wowza! And yikes. It was quite the tart and sweeeet drink. It turns out that cocktails named after dog breeds is a thing!

On Thursday, I posted a recipe for japchae. The recipe I used called for bean thread noodles, but after research, I found that sweet potato starch noodles are the actual Korean japchae noodle.  This article clears most all your Asian noodle questions up!

Saturday’s post has tahini as the shining star ingredient. I use Woodstock Tahini, but evidently, I could be using several other more artisanal brands. Last year was the year of tahini.  I’m hoping tahini trend will continue in 2017.  I have a food scientist friend who works with companies to develop new products. I picked his brain for a bit the other day about 2017 food trends.  He said peppercorns are a big thing right now paired with sweets, such as pink peppercorns with chocolate.  Sounds like the new salted caramel?  He also said something about a cloudberry that has the texture of yogurt on the inside? Yes please!

I’ll leave you with a few more pictures of my chill chihuahua.

 

 

His name is Papo
Here is he with my husband and niece

 

 He met a man a couple of years ago that had just had his 107!! birthday! They really liked each other.
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.