Archive for the ‘Ethnic’ category

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 four. 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 bell 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.

Instant pot black bean soup

March 11, 2018

This hearty winter fave is ready in little more than an hour.

1-1/2 c dry black (turtle) beans, rinsed but not soaked
8 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 tennis ball-sized onion, peeled and chopped
1 red bell  pepper, seeded and chopped
1 or 2 jalapeño pepper(s), seeded and chopped
3 large or 4 small cloves garlic, peeled and mnced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp white pepper (or use black pepper)
6 c chicken or vegetable broth
2 tb chopped cilantro

Garnish:

More chopped cilantro
sour cream

Using the pot’s saute setting, cook the bacon until just starting to brown. Remove most of the rendered fat, leaving about a TB behind. Add the peppers, onion, and garlic and continue to saute, stirring, for another 5 minutes.

Add all remaining ingredients except cilantro, stir, and seal the pot. Pressure-cook on high pressure for 40 min, then let the pressure release on its own. Stir in the cilantro, adjust salt if needed, and serve with the garnishes.

Eggplant Parmesan

August 9, 2017

Like most simple dishes, this is dependent on highest quality ingredients. If you use pre-grated cheeses your result will be meh. Be sure you have a chunk of fresh, preferably local mozzarella and some real Parmesan (that is, from Italy). Breading and browning the eggplant gives a better taste and texture than simply using the bare eggplant slices.

2 medium size globe eggplant, as fresh as possible.
1 quart best marinara sauce, I like either Nellino’s or Rao’s (see Note 1 below)
10 oz fresh mozzarella
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan
1 egg
flour
fine dry breadcrumbs
About 2 dozen fresh basil leaves

Peel the eggplant and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle with salt and set in a colander for an hour or so. Rinse and pat dry. You can omit the salting step with super-fresh eggplant.

If you did not salt the eggplant, sprinkle with salt; then dredge in flour followed by beaten egg and then crumbs. Brown both sides in 1/8″ of olive oil. You do not have to cook it thru, just a browning.

Working a few at  time, roll the basil leaves tightly and slice thinly (see Note 2 below).

Cut the mozzarella into 1/4 inch slices and then into stick-of-gum sized pieces.

Spread a little sauce in a 12″ square baking pan. Layer half the eggplant, half the basil, half the cheeses,  and half the remaining sauce. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 min until cooked thru and bubbling a bit at the edges. Let sit for 5-10 min before serving.

Note 1: I find some jarred sauces, such as the ones I mention, to be every bit as good as almost all homemade sauces, and better than many. They certainly are convenient! The downside is price – you are not going to get really good sauce for a few bucks a jar.

Note 2: It’s a common misconception that one should tear basil leaves rather than cut them for best flavor. This is not so. If you are interested in the details, click here.

Denba Zuke (daikon pickle)

October 25, 2016

The US was not the only country to send people of Japanese ancestry to concentration camps during World War II. Canada was just as bad. In one camp, the residents, who missed their traditional tsukamono (Japanese pickles), and could not get the required ingredients to make them, came up with this delicious substitute. It is called Denba Zuke (zuke = pickle) because the camp was near the town of New Denver in British Columbia (Denba = Denver).

denbazuke

This is a distinctive pickle because it uses daikon radish, which while not “hot”is still definitely a radish. It is a sweet/sour pickle that goes beautifully with many Japanese, Korean, and Chinese dishes.

4 medium daikon radishes, leaves removed
sugar
white vinegar
salt
turmeric

Peel the radishes and cut into rounds 1/4 inch thick. For fatter radishes you may want to halve lengthwise and cut into half-moons.

Estimate the amount of liquid that would be required to cover the sliced radishes. Make the pickling liquid as follows:

1 part salt (e.g., 1/2 c)
1 part white vinegar (e.g., 1/2 c)
4 parts sugar (e.g. 2 c)
Ground turmeric, 1/4 tsp per cup of sugar

Combine in a bowl and stir for a few minutes. The sugar will not dissolve completely, that’s OK. Put the sliced daikon in a bowl and pour the sugar slurry over. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours, stirring now and then. The water drawn from the radish will complete dissolving the salt and sugar. Pack pickles and juice into clean jars and keep in fridge for up to a month.

Tortilla eggs

October 24, 2016

Simple and tasty. Can be a nice lunch dish as well. Serves 4.

Four 6-inch corn tortillas
4 eggs
6 oz thinly sliced melting cheese, such as mozzarella or Gruyere
Sriracha sauce or salsa

Put a little oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat and add the tortillas. After half a minute flip over and sprinkle with salt. Break an egg on each tortilla, keeping the yolk intact, add a dusting of salt and pepper, and spread the cheese on top. Cover and cook gently until the egg white is set but the yolk is still runny. Serve with hot sauce of choice.

Chinese barbecued spareribs

August 22, 2016

These are traditionally an appetizer at Chinese restaurants but they make a fine main dish when served with a vegetable stir fry.

3 lbs pork spareribs (can also use baby back ribs)
1 tennis ball-size onion, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c water
1/2 TB Chinese hot chili paste or more to taste
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp black pepper
1 TB fruit jam such as fig or apricot
1-2 TB brown sugar
2 TB vegetable oil

If necessary, separate the meat into individual ribs. Put the ribs in a pan large enough to hold them in one layer.

Put all remaining ingredients in a food processor and zap to a paste, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add to the ribs and bring to a simmer. Cook for, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

At this point the ribs (in the sauce) can be refrigerated for a couple of days.

If refrigerated, let the ribs come to room temperature. Remove from sauce and broil or grill until nicely browned, turning and brushing with sauce once or twice. Note: because of the sugar in the sauce it can burn easily, you do not want them too close to the broiler or to use a really hot grill.


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