Braised Black Cod with Sauteed Spinach and Mushrooms

January 27, 2013 § 4 Comments

Some time last October, Trader Joe’s had black cod on sale. I never bought frozen seafood from TJ before but it was the perfect opportunity to final try Morimoto’s braised cod recipe from his book Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cooking. You can actually find a copy of his recipe here if you don’t have a copy of the cookbook.

I love braised fish dishes. And since I’ve had one of the braised fish dishes at one of Morimoto’s restaurant before, I was pretty sure this was going to be delicious. Yup, it was wonderfully delicious, one of those where we could just kept eating until our bellies popped. I only had 1.5 pounds of black cod so I decided to half the remaining ingredients in the recipe. There was plenty of yummy sauce with lots to spare (drizzle that over some steamy white rice, yum!). Made me wish I bought an extra piece or two of black cod.

As a side, I just used what I had in the fridge. Some sauteed mushrooms and spinach with garlic. Very quick to throw together.

You’ll need:

  • Rinsed spinach (about a bunch), make sure all the grit and dirt is gone
  • sliced button mushrooms (about 8-10, more if you like, Creminis are nice too)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Tamari
  • 1 Tablespoon low sodium chicken broth (optional)

In a skillet on medium heat, butter and EVOO. Add mushrooms and salt, saute until mushroom is brown. Add garlic and cook for about a minute. Add spinach, Tamari,  and chicken broth (optional) and cook until spinach is wilted. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve immediately.

My mouth is watering now just thinking about this. Oh yeah, one other thing, I julienned some green onions (soaked in ice water for a few minutes to make them curl) and fresh ginger to garnish the top of the black cod. Purely optional. As a matter of fact, I remembered about these just as we were about to scarf enjoy our dinner. It didn’t add a whole lot to the dish IMO but it did make it look prettier.

 

Japchae

August 3, 2012 § 4 Comments

Since coming back from the Bay Area, I’ve been eating a lot of Korean food. At home, I’ve made mostly bulgogi (post to come) and galbi, but I recently tried my hand at making banchan, well, other than the simple cucumber salad. I typically buy banchan from Zion but since I like to have banchan on hand for just about anything lately, it was time to try making my own. I’ve been craving japchae lately although I don’t really know if japchae is actually considered a banchan dish or not. But anyways…moving on.

For Korean recipes, I usually go to my first source, Maangchi. If you haven’t checked out her sight or her videos, you gotta do it if you’re interested in Korean food. I normally don’t see japchae at Zion, and with the craving and all, it seemed like a good one to start with. It’s also a nice option for the Mister since it’s *mostly* Paleo friendly. At least now he can have another type of noodle other than kelp noodles. For hard core Paleo folks, leave out the sugar. Thank goodness I don’t have those kind of constraints!

So for my first japchae attempt, I followed Maangchi’s recipe almost exactly. There were a few things that I had to adjust, like the cooking time for the sweet potato noodles (dangmyun). Maangchi says to cook the noodles for 3 minutes but the brand I used said 7 minutes. It actually took about 6 minutes for the noodles to get soft. She also mentioned not to rinse the noodles after cooking. Other recipes I’ve read (online and in cookbooks) all recommended rinsing in cold water thoroughly. Lesson learned here, rinse after cooking because the noodles are soooo starchy that it took way more sesame oil to keep the noodles from sticking together. A whole lot more than what the recipe called for. So rinse those noodles immediately, people! That is unless you like sticky noodles and a shit load of sesame oil.

The other things I modified was just the amount of vegetables. I wanted more carrots and onions so I used 2 carrots and 1 very large onion. Once all the prep is done, this dish comes together very quickly. Oh yeah, one other note, Maangchi’s recipe called for 2 bunches of noodles. That’s about half a package of noodles. When I was at Zion, I looked at all the various brands of noodles and most of them weren’t separated in bunches within the package. Most packages were about 1 pound so for her recipe, use about 8 ounces. Oh yeah, one other thing to note. Maangchi cooked most of the ingredients separately and then added them all together. To make it simpler, you can cook the onions and carrots together to save a step.

Overall, we enjoyed this version, even with the extra sesame oil. I liked the white mushrooms in there as well. What’s really nice is that you can add whatever kind of vegetables you want in this as well as any protein. Want to go vegetarian? Leave out the meat or substitute it with some tofu (fried ones perhaps). Only like one kind of vegetable? Then add only that, albeit I think it needs onions for a fuller flavor. The sweetness of the dish can easily be adjusted. I don’t like mine that sweet so I cut back a bit on the sugar. I like just a hint of sweetness.

This dish holds well as a leftover. The noodles don’t get bloated like cellophane noodles and kept its chewiness for a few days of reheating. Loved it! I’ve added some spicy chili paste sauce to one lunch and that was really good, gave it a nice kick. Another time I added a few dashes of Golden Mountain sauce (or Maggi sauce) before reheating and that gave it a different and yummy twist. Best part is that I’m getting a good serving of veggies, if I eat enough of it at one sitting. This is definitely one banchan that I’ll be keeping as a regular.

Korean Cucumber Salad

May 12, 2012 § 8 Comments

There are all sorts of variations of this salad. I like mine on the sweeter side with a big kick of spicy. The one thing I don’t use is toasted sesame seeds. Call me weird but I just don’t like picking all those little seeds from between my teeth (ew). Anyway, this is a pretty simple banchan dish to make. I make this a lot since it goes quite nicely with non-Korean dishes as well. Depending on my mood, I will add more gochujang than what the recipe calls for but I’m addicted to that stuff. I also have to add a bit more honey when I do this to keep the balance of sweet and hot.

I typically use English (Hot House) cucumbers but sometimes I’ll use snacking cucumbers too, when I find them. I used to slice the cucumbers fairly thin (.5 mm) but lately, I found that I actually like the cucumber sliced a bit thicker (3 mm). I have a Kyocera ceramic mandalin that’s adjustable that makes quick work of slicing. If you can afford it, I highly recommend getting one.

So what do we eat with this? Kalbi, of course! Bulgogi, a must! Korean fried chicken wings, definitely! But we also have it with steak and even roast turkey and chicken. I like it with ramen, too.

Note: If the salad sits for a while, quite a bit of liquid will be released by the cucumber, and in my opinion, dilutes down the flavor. What I like to do is add half the sauce mixture with the onion and cucumber, chill for 30 minutes, drain the excess liquid and then add the remaining half of the sauce and then hold until ready to serve. But if you prefer a milder tasting salad, by all means add all of the sauce mixture as the recipe states.

Korean Cucumber Salad
Ingredients
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1/2 sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper)
  • 1 Tablespoon gochujang (Korean chili paste, more or less to taste)
  • 1-2 Tablespoon honey (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar, separated
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 Tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a colander, sprinkle salt over sliced cucumbers, mixing well. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, in a medium bowl, soak sliced onions in 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and water.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together minced garlic, gochugaru, gochujang, honey, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar and toasted sesame seeds. Set aside.
  4. Drain onions.
  5. Rinse cucumber thoroughly under water. Squeeze as much of the water out of the cucumbers as possible. Add cucumbers to the onions.
  6. Add sauce mixture to the onions and cucumbers, mix thoroughly. Serve chilled.

Spicy Garlic Dry-Fried Long Beans with Pork

March 27, 2012 § 7 Comments

I haven’t made any stir-fries in a while but on a recent trip to the store, I saw some long beans that looked good. I originally had planned on making green papaya salad with it but I never got around to getting the papaya. So instead, I made a dry-fried dish with it. I was actually surprised I’ve never posted on this dish before so I made an effort this time to actually take a picture of it before it was completely consumed.

This recipe can also be easily converted to a Sichuan dry-fried green beans dish, and it can be completely vegetarian, if you prefer. This is so good over a hot bowl of steamed white rice!

I love the addition of Sichuan preserved vegetable (zha cai), which actually is pickled mustard plant. You’ve probably eaten some of this before, like in Tan Tan Mein (dan dan noodles) or even niu rou mein. You can find it in most Asian markets. I like to buy the kind that’s already been cut into shreds since I think it tastes a little different than the whole vegetable. The can looks like this (the word “SHREDDED” is underneath in the “Preserved Vegetable”):

  

Even if you don’t want to add the preserved vegetable or can’t find it, this dish is still worth making.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 to 1 pound long beans (or substitute with green beans)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 pound ground pork, depending on your preference)
  • 2 Tablespoons Sichuan preserved vegetable, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced or grated ginger
  • 3 scallions, white parts only, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (optional)

Sauce:

  • 1/2 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chili bean sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic chili paste (I use 2 Tbsp since I like it really spicy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Directions:

Rinse the green beans and dry them very well. Cut the ends off and then cut the beans into 2-inch lengths.

Prepare the sauce: stir together the wine, chili bean sauce, garlic chili paste, sesame oil, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Heat a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the sides. Add green beans and stir-fry for about 7 minutes, keeping the beans constantly moving. Stir-fry beans until the outsides begin to blister and the beans start to look wilted. The beans should not burn. Remove the green beans and set them on paper towels to drain.

Remove all but 1 tablespoon of oil and reheat the wok. Add ground pork and stir-fry until no more pink can be seen.

Add soy sauce, Sichuan preserved vegetable, red pepper flakes (optional), garlic, ginger, scallions and ground white pepper (optional),  stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add sauce mixture and cook for another minute.

Add long beans back in and stir to combine everything. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary. Serve hot with some steamed white rice.

Hong Kong Fried Noodles – Revisited

January 9, 2012 § 10 Comments

For New Year’s Day, I decided to make Hong Kong style fried noodles with seafood. The original post with the recipe can be found here. I’ve updated the recipe since that first time and I think the sauce is much better now. As with most stir-fry recipes, you can add just about any kind of protein and vegetables to this dish. I typically like to have at least shrimp and squid in this. But it’s great with  pork, beef, chicken, fish, even tofu.

I did a couple of things different this time. I blanched the noodles a few hours ahead and them laid out two (very large) servings on a baking sheet to dry out the noodles. I thought this might help with the frying of the noodles and although the noodles didn’t fry any faster, it did make the noodles more crunchy throughout.  The previous method left some of the noodles in the middle softer. So depending on whether you like crunchy noodles like I do or a mixture of soft and crunchy, pick the method to your liking.. Here are the fried noodle cakes resting. BTW, the majority of the pictures in this post was taken by the Mister. I was kind of up to my ears in prep so I asked him to be my photographer and just take pictures as he saw fit.

I decided to use some shrimp and baby squid this time, about a pound of shrimp (shelled and deveined) and about half a pound of baby squid, already cleaned. I had both seafood marinading together but in hindsight I should have done these two separately since the shrimp was so large, it took longer for them to cook through. I removed the squid from the wok as it cooked but was kind of a pain in the ass. Would have been much easier if I had thought it through in the beginning.

I also bought a humungo lobster from 99 Ranch (that sucker was 4.5 lbs), which I steamed ahead of time, which took about 30 minutes to steam. That big boy was going to be 2 meals! Here’s the size of the lobster tail, about 1 lb of meat. I saved that for our meal the next night. The meat in the bowl was all claw meat.

For the fried noodles, I used only claw meat. Here’s an action shot of the chaos of removing lobster meat. Most of the lobster shell is in the freezer for when I need to make some lobster stock.

I doubled the sauce ingredients on this one since I was doing 2 noodle cakes. Since I was going through all the trouble of de-meating the lobster, I wanted to make sure I had leftovers. Other things I had in this version were bok choy and shiitake mushrooms. I had sliced sweet onions but completely forgot to add those but we didn’t miss them.  Here’s the only shot I took, my plate. Yum!

This would have easily fed 4 hungry people but the leftovers made 2 delicious lunches for me! Dang, now I want some more…

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