Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fish Tacos

From the NYTIMES

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

1 jalapeño, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut crosswise into half moons (optional)

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

2 limes, 1 halved and 1 cut into wedges

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon canned chipotle pepper, finely chopped (optional)

1/2 cup flour, preferably Wondra or other fine-milled flour

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup peanut oil, plus a splash more for greasing pan

Pat of butter

1 pound flounder or any firm white-fleshed fish, cut across the grain of the flesh into strips about 1/2 inch wide by 3 inches long

12 6-inch fresh corn tortillas

2 cups shredded green cabbage

A saucy hot sauce, like Tapatio or Frank’s.

1. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro and jalapeño (if using).

2. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise and sour cream until combined. Season to taste with the halved lime, salt, pepper and chipotle (if using).

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, chili powder and 1 1/2 teaspoons each of kosher salt and black pepper. Pour the milk into another medium bowl, and place the fish into it.

4. Pour 1/4 cup of the peanut oil into a 12-inch frying pan and place over medium-high heat until it shimmers and is about to smoke. Remove the fish pieces from the milk bath and dredge them lightly through the flour mixture, shaking to remove excess. Add the butter to the pan. Place some fish pieces in the oil, without crowding them, and cook until deep golden brown on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn carefully and cook for 1 minute more. Remove to a warmed, paper-towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining fish.

5. Meanwhile, lightly grease a skillet with a drizzle of oil and set over medium heat. Heat the tortillas, one or two at a time, until they are soft and hot. Keep them warm, wrapped in a dish towel.

6. Fill each tortilla with 3 pieces of fish, browned side up, followed by tomato salsa and a pinch of cabbage. Drizzle with the cream sauce. Serve 2 to 3 tacos per person, with lime wedges and hot sauce on the side. Serves 4 to 6.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gai Pad Krapow

- serves 2 -
Ideally, this dish should be made with holy basil, which is not to be confused with sweet basil or even the purple-stemmed Thai basil. You'll know it by its scalloped edges and clove-like aroma, but you may have a hard time tracking it down. Regular sweet basil tastes just as good in this dish, if not quite so "authentic."
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Chilis, finely chopped (use 2-3 serrano peppers for a very mild heat; 2-3 bird's eye chilis for a medium heat)
1 large shallot, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 pound green beans, trimmed, chopped in 1¼-inch lengths
1/2 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 bunch basil, leaves only
To serve:
Boiled rice
Fried eggs, 1 per person (optional)
Nam pla prik (recipe follows) or fresh lime wedges
1. Heat the oil over high heat in a wok or large frying pan. When you can see waves forming in the hot oil, add the chilis, shallots, and garlic and stir-fry until golden, about 30 seconds.

2. Add the green beans and stir-fry until cooked but still crunchy, 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Add the ground chicken, using a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the meat into small pieces. Stir-fry until chicken is cooked through.

4. Add the fish sauce and sugar to the pan, and stir to distribute. Taste, and add more fish sauce or sugar if desired.

5. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the basil leaves and stir-fry until completely wilted. Remove from heat.
6. Serve with boiled rice, fried egg (optional), and nam pla prik or lime wedges.

Nam Pla Prik (Chili Fish Sauce)

No Thai table is complete without this all-purpose condiment. Drizzle it over rice and noodles, pour it over grilled meats and seafood, or use it in place of plain fish sauce in recipes.
Fish sauce
Fresh lime juice
Chilis, finely chopped
Shallots, finely sliced
Mix fish sauce and lime juice to taste (a typical ratio is 3-4 parts fish sauce to 1 part lime juice) and pour over chilis and shallots. Consume immediately, or pour into a clean jar and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.


serves 4

1 1/2 pounds of fish fillets. Good choices are halibut, cod, pollock or blue snapper
Old Bay seasoning
1/2 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup panko
olive oil

for special sauce -
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
squeeze of lemon juice

4 sandwich buns, sliced
4 slices of American cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.

Cut the fish into 4 pieces and generously sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning. Set aside. Place flour, egg , and panko in three separate shallow dishes. Dip each piece of fish first in the flour, then the egg, and lastly the panko. Place the coated fish on a tray to let the coating set for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil on the heated baking sheet. Place the panko-coated fish on the sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake for 16 - 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and are lightly browned. Place the bun halves on another baking sheet and put a slice of American cheese on each of the bottom bun halves. During the last minute or 2 of baking time, place the buns in the oven to warm and just melt the cheese. Remove fish and buns from oven.

To make special sauce, combine mayonnaise, pickle relish and lemon juice in a small bowl; set aside.

To assemble sandwiches, place a piece of the fish on top of the bottom bun with the melted cheese. Slather the top of each bun half with the special sauce and place on top of the fish. Enjoy!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Beets With Garlic-Walnut Sauce

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

2 pounds red beets, about 4 large, trimmed of greens

1/4 cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 cup walnuts

2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Salt and black pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash beets well. While still wet, wrap them individually in foil and place on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Bake beets, undisturbed, for 60 to 90 minutes, until a thin-bladed knife pierces each with little resistance. (They may cook at different rates; remove each one when it is done.)

2. Meanwhile, put oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. When it is warm, add garlic and cook until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Add walnuts and continue to cook until they begin to color, about another 4 minutes. Let mixture cool slightly and then put it in a small food processor; process until you have a relatively smooth paste. Add orange juice to taste and sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.

3. After beets have cooled, peel off skins. Slice beets into wedges or cubes and toss with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with parsley, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kumi’s Gyoza

Makes 96 gyoza

300g round cabbage, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
500g minced pork
50g Chinese chives, finely chopped
50g spring onions/scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced young ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2½ teaspoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon cooking sake
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon chilli bean paste (dou ban jiang)
96 gyoza wrappers

Julienned young ginger
Rice vinegar
Light soy sauce
Chilli bean paste (optional)

The flavour of these dumplings highly depends upon the provenance of your ingredients. The cabbage we use is circular, but flat rather than dome-shaped. Whenever possible, we try to use Japanese cabbage as it tends to be sweeter. Alternatively, we tell the green grocer at our local wet market that we want the sweetest cabbage he can find—specifically the sort you would serve raw with certain Thai dishes. While you can use any sort of minced pork (or mix it with chicken if you like), we prefer a combination of pork shoulder and pork belly for flavour. Opt for whatever you prefer. If you can’t get Chinese chives, just substitute with more spring onions. Again, we try to use Japanese negi. We also prefer Japanese made soy sauce (shoyu) for this dish as it isn’t as straightforwardly salty. But it doesn’t make sense to buy a whole bottle of it just for this recipe. Use what you have handy. The flavour and quality of store-bought dou ban jiang varies. Pick one that appeals to you. One day soon, we hope to find the time to make wrappers from scratch. For the moment, we opt to purchase wrappers made in Japan as they seem to be a little more pliable than the ones made elsewhere.

Toss the chopped cabbage in a bowl with the salt. Set aside for 30 minutes then squeeze the cabbage to extract water. Discard the water.

Combine the cabbage, minced pork, chives (if using), spring onions, ginger, garlic, light soy sauce, sake, sesame oil and chilli bean paste in a large bowl. Mix well and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To wrap the gyoza, have a small bowl of water handy. The frozen wrappers should be defrosted in the fridge and kept under a damp towel as you work. Place approximately 1 tablespoon of filling onto a gyoza wrapper (a No.100 ice cream scoop is useful for this). Place it slightly off-centre. Dip a clean finger into the bowl of water and use it to moisten the rim of the wrapper (see photograph). Fold it over so that you end up with a semicircle, crimping only the layer facing you as you press it down to seal. Six pleats are usually just about right. Place the completed dumplings on a tray dusted with flour. Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.

At this point, the gyoza can be dusted with more flour and frozen. We don’t know how long they can be safely stored this way. We usually get though ours in a fortnight or so.

To cook the gyoza, preheat a shallow pan filled with just enough oil to thinly coat its base. Use a pan that has a lid. A non-stick surface also makes the whole process much easier. Place the gyoza in the pan (frozen ones go in frozen). Be careful not to overcrowd the pan or they will stick together. Fry them until they develop a crisp, golden brown base. Drizzle some water into the pan and cover it immediately. (Add just enough water to cover the base of the pan, and be sure to drizzle some onto the gyoza themselves so that the crimped edges don’t get crispy.) Let the dumplings steam until their skins become somewhat translucent. Uncover the pan and continue to cook until the water has evaporated.

Serve immediately with julienned ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce and chilli bean paste (if using) combined to taste.

Japanese Hambaaga

Disgustingly Good Hambaaga
makes 8 patties

650g minced wagyu rump
350g minced pork belly, preferably Berkshire
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 teaspoons finely grated ginger and its juice
1 egg, beaten
60 ml Japanese soy sauce
40 ml mirin
30 ml Worchestire sauce
40g Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
salt and pepper

Combine all of the above ingredients (save the salt and pepper) in a bowl. Mix by hand until everything is mixed thoroughly. Taste and season with salt and pepper. You want the meat to have a nice savouriness.

Make eight oval patties from the mixture and set aside on a tray lined with baking paper. Cover with clingwrap and pop the tray into the fridge. You really shouldn’t keep these in the fridge for more than a day or so, so the best thing is to make them the day you want to serve them. That said, you will need to let the patties rest in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours so that the flavours in the meat mixture can develop.

To cook these, slide them into a hot pan in which you have heated both some vegetable oil and sesame oil. You want these burgers to cook completely through. If you’ve used wagyu and berkshire pork, the patties will release a lot of fat during the cooking process.

To serve, put some hot rice (preferably Japanese) on a plate, place the Hambaaga patty on top or next to it and sauce the patty with some Japanese Hambaaga sauce. This you can find at any Japanese supermarket. The sauce is usually a rich, very thick soy-vinegar-meat glace that is sweetened with tomatoes and fruits, sometimes peaches or pineapple.

Ropa Vieja

Many recipes call for flank steak or skirt steak, although I've happily used chuck roast when it was on sale, and just discard the fat after it's cooked.

This is adapted from the wonderful cookbook MMMiami, which I fear may be out of print.

1 1/2 lbs.skirt, flank or chuck
2 stalks celery, washed and cut in chunks
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs. kosher salt.

Cut the meat in half is necessary, and place in large soup pot., Add about 2 quarts water and bring to a boil over high heat. Drop the heat to very low. Skim off the foam and add the onion, celery, bay leaf and carrot. Cover and simmer at barely a bubble for 1 1/2-2 hours until meat is beginning to shread.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool Keep 1 cup of the broth and use the rest for soup or whatever. (It freezes well.)

Shred the meat with your fingers, discarding fat and connective tissue. If it starts to look a little dry, dribble some of the broth over it.

Then prepare the vegetables:
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 green or red bell pepper, seeded, cored and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
about 1 1/4 c. canned tomatoes with their juice or tomato puree.
1 trsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
`/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 tsp lime juice (I've used wine vinegar when no limes were on hand.)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the onions, bell pepper and garlic until soft. Stir in the tomato, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and cayenne. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice, meat and the 1 cup of broth. Simmer for about 10- minutes, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors. Taste. Salt? Pepper? Add as needed.

Serves about 4, but of course you never know. Better made the day before, like so many things.