Archive for the ‘Ethnic’ category

Gochujang-glazed eggplant

October 7, 2020

Gochujang is the national hot sauce of Korea. It is spicy, yes, but not super-spicy, and it has lots of flavor. It’s become so popular that you can often find it in the supermarket. It makes a great glaze for eggplant. You want the long, dark-skinned, Asian eggplant for this, although our common globe eggplant would work too.

3 large Asian eggplant, about 1 lb or a bit less
2 TB gochugang
1 TB soy sauce
2 tsp dark brown sugar, packed
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 small or 2 large garlic cloves
Vegetable oil, about 1/3 c
4-6 scallions

Rinse but do not peel the eggplant. Cut off the stem end and then crossways into 3 equal pieces. Cut each piece in half lengthwise and then in half again to give you 4 wedge-shaped pieces (12 total). Toss in a colander with 1 tsp salt and let sit for at least 30 min.

Put the garlic thru a press. Mix the garlic, gochujang, soy, and sugar in a small bowl.

Cut the scallions, whites and most of the greens, into 3-4 ” lengths. Cut each piece lengthwise once or twice to get slivers. Set a few lengths of green aside for garnish.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. It’s hot enough when a small shred of scallion starts sizzling in a few seconds. Add the scallion white and fry, stirring, for a minute or two. Add the green parts and continue frying, stirring, until all is browned. Remove to a paper towel on a plate (chopsticks are great for this task).

Pat the eggplant dry with paper towels–do not rinse. Heat oil again over medium-high and add the eggplant cut side down. Cook until starting to brown, then cook for a few more minutes until starting to soften. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the gochujang mixture. Cook while stirring and flipping the eggplant until the sauce is bubbling, reduced, and just starting to caramelize. Remove to a platter, scatter the fried scallions on top followed by the reserved garnish. Can be served warm, at room temp (my fave), or right out of the fridge.

Note: If your skillet is not large enough to hold all the eggplant in one layer, fry it in two batches then combine in the pan and proceed with the saucing.

Pierogis with sauerkraut or cheese

September 3, 2020

If you are trying to limit carbs and/or fat, read no further. These little guys are irresistible and you always have room for one more! Because the dough in this recipe is made with sour cream instead of water or milk, it is extra rich and tasty. They freeze beautifully, too. I give the sauerkraut recipe first and the cheese variation follows.

For the dough:

  • 2-1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Put the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together. Add the remaining ingredients and, using the dough hook, mix on low for a few minutes until a smooth dough forms. If it seems too dry or wet, add small bits of milk or flour as needed. Turn out onto a floured countertop and knead by hand to form a smooth ball. Cover and let sit while you prepare the filling.

For the filling:

  • 1 lb fresh sauerkraut or one 15oz can of sauerkraut
  • 2 russet (baking) potatoes
  • 1 TB butter
  • Salt and pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks. Cook in simmering water until completely cooked, then drain and return to the pan. Add the butter and mash with a hand masher or use a ricer.

While the potatoes cook, drain the kraut and put in a bowl of fresh water. Swish around and drain again. Repeat the rinsing and draining one more time. A handful at a time, squeeze out extra moisture. Put on a cutting board and take a few cuts thru it with a knife (to avoid long strands). Add to the mashed potatoes and mix well. Correct seasoning.

For cheese and potato filling: Replace the kraut with 1-1/2 c sharp cheddar cut into small cubes. Be sure the potatoes are fully cooled before adding the cheese.

Assembly: Roll the dough out 1/8 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter, drinking glass, or empty tin can to cut 3 inch circles. Place 1 TB filling in the center of each circle and fold over, pressing the edges to seal. Set on a wax or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Form excess dough into a ball and roll out again to cut more circles.

To freeze, set the baking sheet in the freezer, uncovered. When the pierogi are frozen solid, transfer to a zipper bag for storage.

Cooking: Drop pierogi (fresh or frozen) into gently boiling water, being careful not to crowd them. Cook for 5 minutes (6 if frozen) and remove to a plate to drain. Using a nonstick pan, saute over medium heat in a bit of butter and oil until the bottom is lightly browned, then flip and brown the other side. Serve immediately.

Chicken wings Korean or Buffalo style

July 21, 2020

Fried chicken wings are immensely popular and the Korean and Buffalo styles perhaps top the list. This is a way to get tasty and crispy wings without the hassle and mess of deep frying.

Wings, as many as desired
Kosher salt
Sugar
Neutral oil (canola, peanut, avocado, etc.)
Flour

If not already done, separate the wings and discard the tips. Put in a bowl and cover with water in which you have dissolved 1/4 c kosher salt and 1/4 c sugar per quart. Refrigerate for an hour or two then drain and pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees using the convection setting if available. Put the rack toward the top of the oven.

Put the wings in a dry bowl and toss with enough oil to coat. Add some flour and toss to coat. Arrange the wings, not touching, on a rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes then broil until the wings are sizzling and browned. They are perfectly fine served at this point, but for extra crispness turn the wings and broil for another couple of minutes. Remove wings to a bowl and proceed as follows.

For Korean style

Gochujang (Korean hot sauce)
Sriracha
White toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Thinly sliced scallions (optional)

Mix equal parts for gochujang and sriracha to mix with wings to coat. Put on serving platter and top with optional sesame seeds and/or scallions. Pass extra gochujang/sriracha sauce at the table.

For Buffalo style

According to history, or perhaps legend, buffalo wings were invented in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. The story goes that a favorite item on the menu was a fried chicken sandwich, but one evening the cook discovered that the supplier had brought a box of wings instead of breasts. Not wanting to disappoint customers, the cook came up with this now-famous recipe.

Frank’s or similar hot sauce (Texas Pete, for example, but not Tabasco)
Melted butter
Blue cheese dressing
Celery sticks

Toss the wings with the hot sauce and butter then serve with the dressing and celery on the side. Some people sub ranch dressing, but as best I can determine the original calls for blue cheese.

Mexican red rice

June 2, 2020

This is a staple at Mexican restaurants, plopped on your plate next to the refried beans. But with rare exceptions it is but a pale shadow of what it should be, consisting of little more than tomato-tinged rice. It can be so much more, and it’s not all that difficult. It goes well with many non-Mexican dishes, too. It’s very helpful to have a kitchen scale. This is vegetarian if you use vegetable stock.

2 c long-grained rice, preferably Carolina Gold
1-14 oz can diced or whole tomatoes
1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
5 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 or 2 Jalapeño peppers, stemmed and seeded
1/4 c oil
1 c chicken or vegetable stock
3 whole bay leaves
1/2 c frozen peas, thawed

Rinse the rice well and let drain thoroughly.

Drain the tomatoes and save the liquid.

Put the tomato solids, half of the liquid, onion, Jalapeño, and garlic in a blender and zap for 30 sec or so, until fully pureed. Pour into a bowl on your scale–you want 20-21 oz. Either remove some or add reserved tomato juice to get correct weight.

In a heavy bottom soup  pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat and when hot add the rice. Stir until the rice turns a light golden brown, 3-4 min then remove the rice to a bowl. Add the pureed vegetables to the same pot, bring to a simmer, and cook until the raw onion/garlic smell is gone–a few minutes. Add the stock and bay leaves and when simmering add the rice. Stir, cover, and simmer slowly until the liquid is pretty much all absorbed. Turn off heat and add peas. Let sit for 10-20 min then fluff with a fork and it’s ready to serve.

Ramja (kidney beans in a spicy tomato sauce)

May 14, 2020

Ramja is a Punjabi-inspired stew of kidney beans in a spicy tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella. It’s adapted from a NY Times magazine recipe. I like to serve it with white rice and/or a flatbread such as naan.

Preheat oven to 350o

1 large red onion, peeled
1-2 green chilis (serrano, jalapeño, etc) seeeded
1 TB oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 inch piece ginger root, peeled
1 tsp red chili powder
big pinch powdered cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-28 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes, not drained
2-15 oz cans kidney beans, drained or 4 c of home-cooked beans
1 c diced mozzarella
¼ c white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
¼ c water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 c chopped cilantro

Cut the onion into quarters lengthwise. Slice 1 piece thinly and set aside in a small bowl. Put the other 3 pieces in a blender (preferred) or food processor along with the oil, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, chili powder, and green chilis. Process until not-quite pureed. You may need to scrape down the bowl and/or add a bit of oil.

Heat 2 TB of oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat and add the cumin seeds. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly browned. Add the blended mixture and cook, stirring, for about 5 min until very fragrant and just starting to brown. Add beans and tomatoes and stir. Salt to taste and scatter the cheese over the top. Put, uncovered, in the oven and bake (without stirring) until bubbling and the cheese is lightly browned, 30-40 min

Dissolve the salt and sugar in the vinegar and water. Pour boiling water over the onion slices and drain after about 20 sec. Stir in the vinegar mixture. Serve, passing the onions and cilantro at the table.

Mediterranean-style lamb shanks

March 23, 2020

Lamb shanks are one of our faves, and this is a lovely way to do them. Za’atar is a spice mixture that has been used for ages in the middle east. There is no one fixed recipe for it, but the three base ingredients are thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac. Middle Eastern markets will carry it and of course you can get it by mail order. A pressure cooker is ideal, but not required. I serve this with rice or couscous.

4 lamb shanks trimmed of excess fat
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1/2 c pitted and halved kalamata olives
1 TB za’atar
1/2 c dry red wine
1/2 c beef or chicken stock

Pat the shanks dry, salt and pepper then and dust with some flour. Brown on all sides in a bit of olive oil. Remove from pan. Add the onion and garlic, cook until soft. Add olives, wine, and stock and return shanks to pan. Sprinkle za’atar over all.

To pressure cook: Bring up to pressure using the high setting (if your cooker gives a choice). Cook for 1 hour, let the pressure release on its own for 15 min., then release the remaining pressure manually. Remove the shanks and keep warm. Boil the liquid down rapidly until it is the desired consistency. Skim off excess fat if needed. Spoon some sauce over the shanks and pass the rest at the table.

Regular cooking: The steps are essentially the same as above, but simmer gently for 3 to 3-1/2 hours. Check the liquid now and then and add more stock if needed.

Plaki (Greek fish in a pouch)

February 17, 2020

There used to be a wonderful Greek restaurant in our town that served the most delicious plaki. When they closed we decided to try to develop our own recipe. This is what we came up with, and while it strays from the traditional recipe a bit, it sure is good! And it’s a great dish for company. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the juice, a green salad, and (of course) white wine.

The amount of vegetables can be varied. You can use less, say 1/2 c per fillet and you will get the flavor, or as we like to do about 1-1/2 c per fillet and you will have your veg dish cooked along with the fish.

You can use any firm, white-fleshed fish, such as cod, haddock, snapper, flounder, etc. Try to get fillets that are about 1 inch thick.

Preheat oven to 400o

Four single serving-size fish fillets, or 2 larger fillets cut in half crosswise
Thinly julienned fennel bulb, onion, and carrot (see note above)
½ c roughly chopped kalamata black olives
Olive oil
1 lemon, cut into 8 thin slices

4 sheets of parchment paper, each large enough to wrap 1 fillet

Mix the julienned vegetable and the olives in a bowl. Use roughly equal amounts of fennel, carrot, and onion—it’s not critical—but we are fennel-lovers and always add extra. Dribble with olive oil, maybe 2 TB, and season with S&P. Mix.

Place 1 fillet on each piece of parchment and season. Mound the veg mixture equally on them. Drizzle with a bit more oil and lay 2 lemon slices atop each. Wrap up the parchment paper and secure with wooden toothpicks. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 min. Place 1 pouch on each diner’s plate, cut open with scissors, and serve.

Variation: Add ½ c drained, diced tomatoes and/or 2 cloves minced garlic to the veg mixture.

Mexican chicken enchilada casserole

January 7, 2020

Greatly simplified by the use of a jarred enchilada sauce. Homemade tortillas are best, but not necessary.

About 12-6 inch corn tortillas, preferably home made
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Adobo seasoning (preferred) or chili powder
1 small or ½ large green bell pepper
1 medium onion
2 cans red or green enchilada sauce (you may have extra, which can be frozen.)
1 small can chopped jalapeño peppers, or 2 fresh
1-12 oz package shredded Mexican cheese blend

If you have a sous vide gadget, dust the chicken with adobo seasoning or chili powder. Seal in the bag and sous vide at 165o for 90 min. Remove from bag and shred. Set aside.

Lacking a sous vide, poach the chicken in gently simmering salted water for 25 min. Remove to bowl and shred, then dust with adobo or chili. Set aside.

Seed the bell pepper, peel the onion, and dice. If using fresh jalapeños, seed and mince.  Sauté all in a little oil for a few minutes. If using canned jalapeños, add them at the end. Set aside

Pour a little sauce in the bottom of a 12” square casserole. Cover with a single layer of tortillas, cutting to fit as needed. Distribute 1/3 of the chicken, 1/3 of the pepper mixture, ¼ of the cheese, and enough sauce to just cover. Repeat 2 more times. Finish with a layer of tortillas, then sauce, then the remaining cheese. Bake uncovered at the middle level in a 350o oven until bubbling around the edges, about 40 min. Let cool for 10 min before serving.

Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory cabbage pancakes)

October 20, 2019

Okonomiyaki is, in essence, just a fancy, savory cabbage pancake. In Japan it’s available in many regional variations—you’ll hear about Hiroshima okonomiyaki, Tokyo okonomiyaki, and so on. This relatively simple version should, I guess, be called Okayama okonomiyaki because that’s where my wife’s cousin lives (it’s her recipe). It is served with okonomiyaki sauce and traditionally eaten with hashi (Japanese word for chopsticks) and a small metal spatula for cutting. And, of course, white rice and a selection of oshinko (Japanese pickles)! Our approach is to put a large electric skillet on the table and cook as we go along, but you can cook in the kitchen and keep warm in the oven.


1 c low protein flour such as White Lily or cake flour (not self-rising).
1 c water
½ lb small peeled shrimp, thinly sliced pork chop, chicken breast, or a combination
3 c thinly sliced (as for coleslaw) freshest green cabbage
1 egg
½ c bean sprouts
½ c slivered scallions

Mix the flour and water, making sure there are no lumps. Beat in the egg. Mix the cabbage, sprouts, scallions, and shrimp/meat in a large bowl. Add the flour slurry and mix well.

Heat your skillet to medium-high and add some vegetable oil, just a thin layer. When the oil is hot, add the cabbage mixture in about 1 c dollops and use a large spatula to flatten each into a pancake about 3/4 inch thick. Cook until the bottom is lightly browned, then flip. Continue until cooked thru, but not mushy, and remove to a plate. Continue with the remaining cabbage mixture, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Serve hot with the accompaniments mentioned above.

Empanadas

November 24, 2018

Almost every culture has its own version of a savory filling cooked inside dough – ravioli, dumplings, pasties, dosas, etc. This is South America’s contribution to the mix. There are probably as many empanada recipes as there are cooks, and there are plenty of creative ways to vary the recipe such as cooking small potato cubes with the beef or placing a slice of hardboiled egg on top of the filling. They are meant to be finger food, and can be frozen after assembly then thawed and baked at a later date. This recipe makes 20-24 empanadas

The dough

6 c all purpose flour (appx)
2 c water
2 tsp salt
1/2 c lard (preferred) or butter, plus a little extra

Bring the water, salt, and lard to a simmer and stir to melt the lard. Let come to room temperature. Add the flour a cup at a time, mixing to get a firm dough. You may not use all the flour. Knead for a minute or two until smooth, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

The filling

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 c pimento-stuffed green olives, cut in thirds
1/3 c dried currants or raisins
2 tsp dried oregano
A few grindings of black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 TB tomato paste

Saute the ground beef in a little oil until just browned. Add the peppers, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft. Dissolve the tomato paste in 1/2 c broth or water and add to the pan along with the olives, currants, oregano, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Simmer slowly for a few minutes. Taste and correct salt if needed. If necessary, add a bit more water or broth to get a moist but not soupy mixture. Set aside to cool (may be refrigerated overnight at this time).

The assembly

Bring the filling to room temperature if needed. Break off chunks of the still-cold dough and form into balls about golf ball size or a little larger. Roll into 4-5 inch circles on a floured surface and place 2-3 TB of filling in the center. Moisten the edge with water and fold over, sealing by pressing with a fork. The goal is to trap as little air as possible inside. If the sealed edge is wider than you want you can trim a bit off with a sharp knife. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Oven at 375.

Final prep and baking

Use a pointy knife to cut a small slit in the top of each. Melt the extra lard or butter and brush over the surface. Bake for 15-20 min until nicely browned. Serve warm.


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