Archive for the ‘Ethnic’ category

Jamaican Fish Stew

April 22, 2018

This is a winner on many fronts. Very flavorful, it is a good way to feed fish to people who aren’t fond of fish in simpler presentations. Leftovers do well, also. You can use pretty much any white-fleshed fish: cod, haddock, mahi, etc. as long as the fillets aren’t too thin. Serve with white rice.

2 lbs fish in 2 inch chunks
2 limes
1 large or 2 small onions
4 cloves garlic
1 hot pepper such as Scotch bonnet
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried thyme
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
3 TB tomato paste
4 tsp white or cider vinegar
1-1/2 tsp sugar

Dust the fish with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the juice of the limes. Set aside.

Coarsely dice the onion and slice the garlic. Put in a skillet with a bit of oil and the whole pepper (see note below), pepper flakes, thyme, and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the onion is just starting to color. Add the coconut milk, tomato paste, vinegar, and sugar and cook slowly for about 10 minutes. Add fish and any remaining marinade. Stir and cook slowly until fish is cooked thru, perhaps 5-7 minutes. Adjust salt and add a touch more vinegar and/or sugar if you think necessary. Remove whole pepper and serve.

Note: For more heat, cut the pepper in half before adding.

 

Congee with chicken, scallion relish, and crispy shallots

March 24, 2018

Congee is Chinese comfort food at its best. At its simplest it is, like fried rice, something to do with your leftovers – cooked rice, some shreds of meat and vegetables, cook in broth until the rice is soft and soupy. But it can be made as a more formal recipe, as this one, and is worthy of serving to guests.

The chicken:

2 large chicken thighs with bone and skin (about 1 lb)
1 tsp black pepper
1 TB oil
2 c low salt chicken stock
5 scallions, white and green parts, in 1 inch lengths
2 inch piece ginger cut into coins (no need to peel)
4 garlic cloves, halved (no need to peel)
1/4 c Chinese rice cooking wine or dry sherry
1/3 c soy sauce
2 whole star anise
2 tsp Chinese hot pepper paste (optional)

Heat the oil in a soup pot and brown the chicken well on all sides. Remove excess oil from the pan. Turn chicken skin-side up, add all remaining ingredients, then simmer gently for 60-90 minutes until the meat is very tender. Remove chicken from the pan and take the meat off the bones, discarding bones and skin. Set aside. Strain cooking liquid thru a fine-meshed strainer. Set the broth aside and discard the solids. Shred the meat and set aside.

The Relish

5 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 fresh hot red pepper such as a Thai bird chili or a ripe jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c unseasoned rice vinegar

Mix all ingredients and set aside

Crispy shallots

Thinly sliced shallots, about a cup
2 c vegetable oil

Place oil and shallots in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle bubbling and stir occasionally until golden brown. Strain and spread on a paper towel, salting lightly.

Note: Strain the shallot-cooking oil thru a paper coffee filter and save it. It can be used for frying again or as a tasty change to your salad dressing.

Final prep

1 c raw short-grained rice
Chicken cooking liquid
4 c water
2 c low salt chicken broth
Shredded chicken

Put all except the chicken in a heavy bottomed soup pot and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 1 to 1-1/2 hour, stirring frequently, until the rice is very soft and soupy. Add some more water if needed. Remove from heat, stir in the chicken, and serve in bowls, passing the relish and shallots separately.

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 minced
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 1 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.

Thai Red Curry with Tofu and Lentils

February 2, 2018

This dish is very flavorful and loaded with protein from the tofu and lentils. Its main flavoring is Thai red curry paste, which fortunately you can get already prepared. Making it yourself, which I tried once, is a huge hassle because it contains a lot of obscure ingredients such as galangal and lemon grass. But excellent commercial versions are available (I recommend the Mae Ploy brand) and you can freeze what you don’t use for another day. This recipe is flexible, for example, substitute parboiled green beans or broccoli for the snow peas, or perhaps add some cubed potato. I like this served on jasmine rice.

1 lb firm tofu
1 large or 2 small red bell peppers
6 oz snow peas
1-1/2 TB Thai red curry paste
1 TB red miso paste
1 c lentils (not red lentils, but pretty much any other kind will work)
3/4 c coconut milk
1/2 c fresh basil, slivered (use Thai basil if available)
1 TB lime juice
1/2 c slivered scallions

Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch slabs and place the slabs on a cutting board. Place another cutting board on top and weight it with a couple of books or cans of food. When much of the water has run out, cut the tofu into 1/2 cubes and toss with a bit of salt and black pepper. Set aside.

Trim and seed the pepper(s) and cut into 1/2 inch strips. Set aside. Take the strings off the snow peas and cut in half lengthwise. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 TB of vegetable oil and then add the curry paste. Sizzle gentle for a minute or so, until fragrant, and add the miso, lentils, and 2 c water. Stir well, bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer slowly for about 1/2 hour until the lentils are tender and most of the water has been absorbed.

Add the coconut milk, tofu, peppers, and snow peas. Simmer for a few minutes until the veg are crisp-tender. Stir in the basil and lime juice and serve, topped with the scallions.

 

 

Chicken “shakshuka”

January 13, 2018

Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern dish that, in a nutshell, consists of eggs poached in a well-spiced tomato sauce. It is great! I was making it the other night and to my horror discovered that I had no eggs–but I did have some boned, skinned chicken thighs. I subbed the thighs for the eggs and the result was very tasty. Serve with toasted pita bread and a salad.

6 boned, skinned chicken thighs
1-28 oz can of peeled plum tomatoes
4 fresh Anaheim chilis
1 medium onion
4 large or 6 small garlic cloves
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 TB paprika, either sweet or spicy, your preference
1 tsp black pepper
Chopped parsley

Stem and seed the peppers and peel the onion. Chop both. Peel garlic and slice thinly. Put tomatoes and their juice in a bowl and crush with your fingers.

In a deep skillet, saute the peppers and onion in a little oil for a few minutes and then add the garlic, cumin, paprika, and black pepper. Stir for a minute then add the crushed tomatoes. Simmer for a few minutes. Taste for salt, then add the chicken and stir around until the chicken is well covered by the sauce. Cover and keep at a low simmer for 30 minutes. Serve garnished with parsley.

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.

Chili-cheese-egg toast

April 11, 2017

This makes a great breakfast or lunch or even a light dinner. A few slices of ripe tomato on the side wouldn’t be amiss.

2 relatively thick slices good quality white bread
1/2c green chili salsa
1/2c grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 TB minced onion, preferably red onion
2 eggs
butter
Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

Put the salsa in a small strainer and press out the liquid with the back of a spoon. Mix salsa with the cheese and onion and set aside.

Toast the bread fairly dark and spread both sides with butter. Smear one side with some mustard. Spread the salsa mixture evenly on the mustard sides. Broil until the topping is melted and maybe bubbling a bit.

While you are broiling, pan fry the eggs in a little butter until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny. Top each toast with an egg, season to taste, and there it is!

Chick peas with sesame and honey

December 7, 2016

There’s a definite oriental theme to these beans. They are quite strongly flavored and could make a meal on their own. Serve on plain white rice.

2 c dried chick peas (measure when dry) cooked, or 2 – 15 oz cans chick peas
1 medium onion chopped fine
4 large or 6 small garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 c honey
2/3 c soy sauce (Kikkoman is excellent and widely available)
1/4 c toasted sesame oil
1/4 c vegetable oil
2 TB rice wine vinegar
1 TB grated fresh ginger
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Optional garnishes: Toasted sesame seeds and/or thinly sliced scallions

Put all ingredients except chick peas in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes or so, stirring now and then. Add the drained and rinsed chick peas and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. If the sauce seems to be getting too thick, add a bit of water. Serve over white rice.

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.


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