Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing

Making a fridge cleanout soba salad with this dressing (including some chicken, shiitake mushrooms, and the last of the lettuce, cabbage, some carrots, and mint and cilantro in the fridge), so I thought I'd move this post over to the new blog today. :)

So Chinese Chicken Salad was invented in an era in our culinary timeline in which anything that had soy sauce in it was considered Asian and everything Asian was thought to be Chinese.

Its now somewhat politically incorrect and obsolete title aside, the reason it's still served in restaurants all over the country today is that, well, it's yummy.


For tonight's Bigass Salad Dinner, I'm making our Chinese Chicken Salad with:

- the last of the chicory greens left over from our Korean sashimi dinner two weekends ago
- the last of the bean sprouts in the fridge
- one large carrot, peeled and julienned
- half of the weekly roasted chicken breast
- an avocado
- some deep fried wonton skins
- chopped green onions and cilantro
- toasted sesame seeds

all dressed with some

Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing
Makes a little over 1/2 cup.
Time: About 10 minutes

- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2.5 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1.5 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons minced shallot or onion
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh garlic
- 1/8 teaspoon ginger powder or 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1.5 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Mix all ingredients except oil in a bowl until all sugar is dissolved, adjust seasoning if needed (it's easier to taste the dressing before the oil is added), then whisk in the oil.



To make this a super easy weeknight meal, buy yourself a packet of mixed salad greens, some of those La Choy Fried Chow Mein Noodles, a rotisserie chicken, green onions and cilantro, maybe some bean sprouts if you're so inclined, come home, take 10 minutes to make the dressing, throw everything together in a Bigass Salad Bowl, toss, and enjoy a light, healthful and delicious dinner!

Enjoy. ^^

shinae

Full album HERE.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Easy Berry Crisp/Crumble/Cobbler-Type Thingy with Cereal Streusel Topping

It was hot enough to inflate the playpool for Izz and her buds today, so between the ice cream on top and berries being in season, transferring this recipe over to the new blog today seemed like the thing to do.

If you've been with me long enough, you know that I am admittedly not much of a baker. And even for a non-baker like me, to call a crisp/crumble/cobbler type thingy "easy" is almost redundant.


This is also admittedly not the best crisp/crumble/cobbler type thingy recipe out there. But the point is that even if it isn't, and if you've never tried making one, you'll probably be so pleasantly surprised at how easy, adaptable, and yummy this oven hack's recipe turns out that you'll add these thingies to your regular repertoire and start searching epicurious or allrecipes for even better ones.

The streusel topping can be made and refrigerated up to a week in advance.

Easy Berry Crisp/Crumble/Cobbler Type Thingy with Cereal Streusel Topping
Serves 4 to 6 with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream on top

So the general rule to these things is that there's some fruit filling, and there's some kind of streusel topping, and the ratio of one to the other is up to you. I'm a roughly 60/40 fruit/topping type gal, which works out to about a 2-inch layer of fruit to a roughly 2/3-inch layer of topping (the fruit will reduce and thicken a bit).

If you're in a real hurry, you could even go the Aunt Sandy route, buy a can of pie filling, and mix it with half fresh or frozen berries. A little pinch of salt mixed in helps to round out the flavors and soften the saccharin sweetness of canned pie filling.

Streusel topping:

- 1 cup cereal with flakes (if it's got dried fruits and nuts, even better!) Granola and muesli work, too.
- 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
- 3/4 cups packed brown sugar (light or dark ok)
- 1/2 cup AP flour
- 1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on how much you like that sweet-salty contrast in your desserts, but you do want at least a good pinch of salt to give the flavors depth
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Berry filling:

- 1.5 to 2 pounds berries, washed and drained (most berries - bluberries, raspberries, blackberries, and the like - can be left whole, but strawberries should be hulled and halved or quartered depending on their size)
- 1.5 to 2 Tablespoons flour or corn starch
- 1 to 3 Tablespoons sugar, depending on how tart your berries are and how sweet you want your filling
- a pinch of salt

- 1 Tablespoon water for each 1/2 pound of berries

1) In a large mixing bowl, throw in all the streusel topping ingredients, making sure to distribute the salt and cinnamon as evenly as you can across the mixture. Leaving the cereal off to one side, use your fingers in a milking motion to incorporate the butter, brown sugar and flour together until you have pea-sized clumps.



2) Add the cereal in and gently massage to evenly incorporate it throughout the butter/sugar/flour paste. Put in a container and refrigerate for at least 20 to 25 minutes to allow the butter to harden again before baking. If you're going to bake fairly immediately, put the streusel mixture in the freezer for a good 10 to 15 minutes before baking.


 


3) Preheat the oven to 400F (This usually takes anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the oven).

4) Prepare the berries by gently tossing them in a large bowl with the flour or corn starch and sugar to evenly distribute the flour and sugar and to coat each berry thoroughly.





5) Pour the berry mixture into a baking dish that is at least large enough in surface area to allow you to spread the berries in a roughly 2-inch layer. Then spoon the appropriate amount of water over the top of the fruit mixture. The reason I suggest the water be added after the fruit is mixed with the flour or starch and sugar is to avoid too much clumping.


 

6) Top the berries with a roughly 2/3-inch layer of streusel topping and bake for roughly 25 minutes, or until the streusel topping is baked through to a dark golden brown.




Not to worry if your baking dish is so large that the berries would spread out more thinly. Just gather them toward the center to make a roughly 2-inch thick mound. It's called a crumble. How precise could it be, right? :D

7) Cool for 10 minutes or so and serve a heaping scoopful with a slightly less heaping scoopful of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top.









Enjoy. :)

shinae

P.S. The leftovers go great with your morning yogurt.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A (Quick & Easy) Better Pickled Jalapeño


As a follow up to The Man's Favorite Fish Tacos, I thought it would be appropriate to transfer this reader favorite recipe for pickled jalapeños over to the new blog.


They're zestier, crunchier and so much prettier than the stuff you get from the store. Better yet - they're ready to eat in 45 minutes. :)

A Better Pickled Jalapeño
Makes about 25 ounces
15 to 20 minutes active time, 45 minutes wait

VEGETABLES

- 1/3 pound of jalapeños (about 5 or 6 large), sliced into 1/8-inch thick pieces (tips on how to pick them here)
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced on the diagonal into 1/8-inch thick pieces
- 1/2 a medium onion, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices vertically
- 1 or 2 garlic cloves, each sliced into 2 or 3 pieces
- optional habanero or scotch bonnet cut into 3 or 4 slices for added heat

BRINE

- 1+1/3 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar

OIL

- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 Tablespoon Mexican oregano
- 1 bay leaf

1) Prep a minimum 24 ounce jar or tight-lidded plastic container by washing with soap, rinsing with hot water, and drying thoroughly.

2) Pack your vegetables into the jar or container, placing the peppers, onions, and carrots and garlic in alternating layers.

3) Make the brine in a medium bowl by mixing the vinegar, salt and sugar and stirring or whisking until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved.

4) Pour the brine over the vegetables.

5) Bloom the oregano and bay leaf by heating the oil to medium hot and then stirring in the herbs - just a quick stir or two should do it. The oil should be hot enough that the herbs sizzle when they touch it.

6) Pour the herbed oil into the pickle. If you're using a jar, screw the lid on tight and give it a few gentle shakes to distribute the herbed oil throughout. If a lidded plastic container, give the vegetables a few gentle presses with the spoon to distribute the oil and immerse the veg in the brine. In any event, the oil will float back up to the top, but its flavor will be imparted to the brine at that point.

7) Refrigerate the pickles. They'll be ready to eat in 45 minutes, and they'll keep for at least a couple of weeks, refrigerated, if they last that long.

Goes without saying that this stuff is great with all kinds of Mexican food, but I also like it with noodle soups, fried chicken and sandwiches among other things.

I usually re-use the brine once after all the pickles are eaten by adding a little more salt and vinegar and adding as much veg as will immerse in the brine.

Leftover brine also makes a tasty flavored vinegar for salad dressings.

Enjoy. :)

shinae

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Man's Favorite Fish Tacos

With the weather warming up, I thought I'd transfer this recipe for The Man's Favorite Fish Tacos over to the new blog. Light, crispy, lager-battered fish, topped with a delicious Habanero Lime Garlic Crema and a zesty blended Pico de Gallo inspired salsa all wrapped up in a charred corn tortilla. I love to wash them down with a supercrisp lager that's so frosty it's got little icy bits in it. :)


The Man's Fave Fish Tacos
Serves 4 to 6
75 to 90 minutes active time

There are two sauces that go with the fish tacos, so the recipe reads a little long, but they're mostly just dump and blend jobbies.


FOR THE FISH

- 2 pounds of flaky white fish cut into 2-inch long, 1/2 inch thick strips and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. You can use tilapia, cod, halibut, haddock - whatever works for your family.

- 3 cups oil for frying (vegetable, corn or canola). BTW, you can save frying oil (refrigerated) and reuse a good 3 or 4 times before discarding. Just remember to keep the oil used for savory foods for the same purpose. Same goes for sweet/dessert stuff. Oil for fish tacos should probably be saved for another fish taco or fish & chips day.

- 15 to 20 5-inch corn tortillas

BATTER

- 2/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1+1/4 cup of golden lager beer (Corona, Bud, Kirin - doesn't matter), no foam (just under a full American 12 oz. bottle)
Sauces

HABANERO LIME GARLIC CREMA

- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 Tablespoons mayo
- 1 habanero, rough chopped(VERY hot. If VERY hot is not your thing, you might try using just an eighth or quarter of the pepper to start.)
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 very small clove)
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1/8 teaspoon salt

Dump all the ingredients into a bowl and stir or whisk until smooth. To save yourself some time and effort, you can mix this up directly in the serving bowl and just give the sides a good wipe down with a spatula or paper towel to clean it up for presentation. I prefer the flexible rubber spatulas - less waste that way. :)

BLENDED PICO DE GALLO

- 1 cup finely chopped tomato seeded, pulp removed OR 1 cup drained canned, crushed tomatoes
- 15 to 20 whole stems of cilantro, cut or hand-torn into 1 inch segments
- 1 small clove garlic, rough chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional for me - some days I'm feelin' it, others not so much)
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 1 jalapeno, rough chopped (or something hotter if you like - serranos and habaneros are always good)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice to start
- 1+1/2 Tablespoons neutral flavored oil
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt + a pinch OR 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar


Why blend it? My take here.

Throw it all in a blender, pulsing a few times to pull the ingredients into the blade, then blend for a minute or so until it's nice and smooth.

ADD-ONS

No hard and fast rules here, but the cabbage is a requisite for textural contrast (and roughage, of course).
- very thinly sliced cabbage (red or green) - I like to crisp the cabbage in a bit of ice water and drain well before serving.
- diced tropical fruit (mango, papaya, pineapple) to offset and balance the heat from the chilies in the sauces
- fresh diced avocado
- lime wedges
- cilantro sprigs
INSTRUCTIONS

1) Prepare the sauces and garnishes first and refrigerate. You'll want everything else ready as soon as the fish comes out of the fry so you'll have nice, crisp fish tacos.

2) Slice and season the fish.

3) Prepare the batter by whisking all ingredients together in a mixing bowl just until smooth (and no more). Put batter in freezer to cool while oil is heating.

4) Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or Dutch oven to 375F (if you've got a thermometer) or until it's hot enough that drop of batter sizzles and rises to the top within a couple of seconds. Prepare a plate lined with a double layer of paper towels to soak up the excess oil from your fried fish.

5) Get the batter out of the freezer and batter 7 or 8 pieces of fish at a time and fry until golden brown, about 2.5 to 3 minutes per side. Put batter back in the freezer between batches.


Deliciously flaky white feesh in a light, crispy batter...

6) When you're on your last batch, warm your tortillas per package instructions, or straight on a gas burner, like I do. 10 to 12 seconds per side, directly over high heat.



7) While your last batch is cooling, set out your sauces, garnish and tortillas.

A little cabbage, a couple of pieces of fish, a healthy drizzle of each of the sauces, and maybe a little bit of that diced tropical fruit, a sprig of cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and you'll have a super delicious fish taco bursting with freshness and flavor that is totally worth every bit of effort you put into making it.



If you want to go light on the starches, make a salad of it.



Enjoy. :)

shinae

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cajun-Inspired Shrimp & Sausage

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

We love to eat this smoky, spicy shrimp and sausage with head-on, peel and eat shrimp because we're big on headfat and all the extra flavor you get from cooking the shrimp in its shell. 

But I get that not everyone is up to their food looking back at them, or having to work so hard to get to it, so if you end up going the peeled, beheaded and deveined route, you can reduce the amount of shrimp by half a pound or so.



Or don't.

Because this stuff is really scrummy, and you'll probably end up eating it all at some point anyways. :)

Cajun-Inspired Shrimp & Sausage
Serves 4 to 6
Time: 30 to 45 minutes
Printable Version

- 1/2 a medium yellow onion, minced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons butter at first, plus 1 to 2 Tablespoons butter to thicken sauce later
- 1 Tablespoon oil
- 3 tomatoes, cut into a 1/4-inch dice
- the zest of a lemon
- about 6 ounces Andouille or other generally smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices (They usually come in 12 to 13.5 ounce packages, so roughly half.)
- 1 to 4 teaspoons cayenne
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt (depending on how salty the sausage you use and how salty you like your food)
- 2.5 pounds shrimp (I recommend at least a 21/25 count )
- 1+1/4 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 2 green onions chopped for garnish
- lemon wedges

1) In a large pan or pot, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter with 1 Tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, tomatoes and lemon zest and saute until the onions are translucent.

2) Turn the heat up to medium high, add sausage, cayenne, salt and pepper, and saute until the sausages are lightly browned on both sides.

3) Add the shrimp, chicken stock, and 1 Tablespoon of butter and stir to scrape all the fond from the pan and distribute all the ingredients and seasonings evenly.

4) Let the shrimp cook for 4 or 5 minutes before stirring again to redistribute them and cook another 5 to 7 minutes, or until all the shrimp just turn orange from cooking through, no longer.

Serve sprinkled with chopped green onion and some steamed rice or crusty bread on the side to enjoy all that delicious resulting sauce and soppage. Lemon wedges on the side if you like a little extra tang with your shrimp like we do.

Enjoy. :)

shinae

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Buffalo BBQ Fried Chicken (or Chicken Wings)

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

The Man and I both love Buffalo and BBQ chicken wings, and we'd been craving them for weeks, so I finally decided to indulge the craving last night with this Buffalo BBQ Fried Chicken.



I didn't have any chicken wings in the fridge, so I broke down our weekly whole chicken into frying pieces, but you can easily make this recipe with wings (which I rarely buy because they cost 2 to 3 times as much per pound).

If all you need is the (super simple and easy) sauce recipe, I've offered it up first.

If you can use some guidance on the chicken itself, just read past the sauce.

Buffalo BBQ Fried Chicken (or Chicken Wings)
Serves 4 to 6 (You can easily halve the recipe.)
Printable Version

For the sauce:

- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2/3 cup basic storebought BBQ sauce (something really run of the mill like Sweet Baby Ray's, Bull's Eye or Kraft will work just fine)
- 1/3 cup Tabasco sauce (if Tabasco is too hot for you, you can use Frank's or Crystal, but you might like to add just a little more vinegar)
- optional: up to 1 Tablespoon distilled white vinegar if needed
- optional: up to 1 Tablespoon of a super high heat hot sauce to up the heat (If you're a chili head who likes this level of heat, I don't have to give you examples. ;) )
- optional: up to 1.5 Tablespoons brown sugar if needed (white sugar, honey, maple syrup, and agave are also fine)

Put the butter, BBQ sauce and Tabasco in a small sauce pan and bring to a very gentle boil over medium heat for about thirty seconds, stirring to incorporate the melted butter into the sauce.

Turn the heat to low and simmer for another minute or two. Taste a little bit of completely cooled sauce (I like to use a plastic spoon because it doesn't retain or conduct heat) to see if it needs more tang, sweet, or heat, and add any of the optional ingredients as necessary to adjust the flavor to your liking. Give it a stir and let simmer for another minute or so to let all the flavors meld.

That's it!

For the chicken:

- 4 pounds chicken drums and/or thighs and/or whole wings
- 2.5 to 3 teaspoons garlic salt
- a mixture of 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup corn starch
- vegetable oil for frying

1) Season your chicken with the salt, giving it a gentle toss/massage to ensure that it's evenly seasoned. Let it sit on the counter, covered, for about 45 minutes, to let it come up in temperature and to let the seasoning absorb.

2) In whatever vessel you use to deep fry, bring 4 to 5 inches of vegetable oil up to roughly 360F over medium heat. You'll know it's ready when you throw a pinch of flour in it and it gently but immediately sizzles and rises.

3) Toss the flour and corn starch mixture into your chicken, coating it thoroughly, but lightly.

4) Fry 4 or 5 pieces of chicken at a time, about 20 minutes total, 10 minutes per side, and set aside on a rack while you finish frying the rest of the chicken. If you find your chicken browning too much too quickly, turn your heat down just a tad.




5) While you're frying your last batch of chicken, bring your sauce back up to a gentle simmer over medium heat, then keep it warm on the lowest heat setting.

6) Put all your fried chicken in a large mixing bowl, pour the warm sauce over it, and give it a few good gentle tosses (preferably with tongs, a large spoon, or cooking gloved hands to avoid capsaicin on your skin) to thoroughly coat all the chicken.



If you prefer to bake your chicken in the oven, preheat the oven to 425F, put it all on a rack over a pan to catch the drippings, and roast on the center rack for 50 minutes before tossing in the sauce.



Grab a tall frosty and enjoy! :)

shinae

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Soy Worcestershire Dressing

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

Since we have a surplus of spinach from the garden and just enough strawberries, I think I'll make some of this salad to enjoy with whatever we're having for dinner.



It's a kid favorite in our house as well as a crowd pleaser for picnics, BBQs and potlucks for the great mashup of fruit, veg, and sweet savory tangy dressing.

Unrelated, I read this quote a while back that said something to the effect of focusing on what you want to do rather than what you want to be. I think that simple distinction is having a profoundly positive effect on my ability to be present and living within the moment.

Just thought I'd share that with anyone else who might benefit. :)


Strawberry Spinach Salad With Soy Worcestershire Dressing
Serves 4 to 6
Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Printable Version

Here in California, we get strawberries pretty much year round, though they tend to be better in Spring. If it's not strawberry season where you live, a mildly tart apple or firm pear cut into small chunks or thin slices are both great substitutes.

- a roughly 12 oz. bag of spinach for salad
- 6 strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters or sixths, depending on their size
- 1/4 red or white onion cut into very thin slices
- optional: cubed avocado and toasted almonds, walnuts or pecans

FOR THE DRESSING:

- 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 3 to 3.5 Tablespoons sugar, depending on how sweet you like the dressing. Honey and agave nectar are easy substitutes for the sugar if you prefer.
- 2 Tablespoons minced shallot or onion if you don't have shallot
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2.5 to 3 Tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

1) Combine all dressing ingredients except oil in a bowl and stir or whisk until all sugar is completely dissolved.

2) Taste and adjust seasoning before whisking in oil. If too salty (different soy sauce brands vary in saltiness), try adding a teaspoon of water. Too sweet? Try adding just a dash more soy and Worcestershire. As a general rule, I adjust seasoning before adding the oil because the oil coats the tongue and makes it hard to taste the underlying flavors.

3) Whisk in oil.

Arrange salad veg on platter and serve dressing on the side. If you're planning to dress the salad before serving, as spinach wilts easily, do so immediately before serving.

Enjoy. :)

shinae

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easy Homemade Ramen Broth

Making that magical-mystical ramen broth of your Tampopo dreams at home is a fairly long and involved process of coaxing richness, flavor and texture from lots of ingredients including but not limited to the kinds of meat scraps and bones you're probably not likely to have on hand most days.


But that doesn't mean you can't make a really good (and easy) ramen broth at home with whatever stock you've got on hand and some fairly accessible aromatic components.


To mimic that generally "Oriental" flavor (I think it's funny that Asians in Asia still use that term and that it's the rest of us who get PC and indignant about it), the minimum you'll need is stock, onion, garlic, ginger, carrot, celery, and soy sauce. And that'll do a plenty good job of making your basic homemade version of instant ramen broth.

Other appropriate nice-to-haves that will add richness, depth and complexity and take your broth to the next level are things like:

- daikon radish, parsnips, turnips
- mushrooms (shiitakes are great, but you could also use buttons or criminis, which are accessible just about everywhere)
- green onions, leeks, shallots
konbu or dashima, both dried kelp products, for flavor and body
- katsuobushi, hon dashi, a little dash of fish sauce
- a little mirin for sweetness...

which I've grouped according to general flavor profiles. Clearly, some are more typical or native to Japanese cuisine than others, but ingredients from the same family do often tend to impart a similar flavor and character to a dish.

Dashi, which often includes konbu and katsuobushi, is a Japanese mother stock that you would likely have on hand as a base for your ramen broth if you cooked Japanese food regularly. But if you did, you'd probably be reading something much more authentic and esoteric about ramen broth making than anything I could have to say about it. ;)


The list could easily be expanded, but I'll leave it at that for now. You can tinker with the very basic recipe below, adding other suggested elements as you like, keeping in mind a good balance of the contribution each ingredient will bring to your broth.

And as this is supposed to be an easy recipe, storebought unsalted stock is just fine, but homemade is always great. If using homemade, and you tend to add lots of bones to your stock such that it sets like jello once completely cooled and refrigerated, you might consider a 2/3 stock, 1/3 water ratio for your liquid.

Easy Homemade Ramen Broth

Serves 4 to 6
Time: About 90 minutes total, 30 minutes active

- 2 teaspoons oil
- 2 medium carrots, cut into thirds
- 1 whole yellow or white onion, unpeeled and quartered
- 2 stems celery, cut into thirds
- 8 cloves garlic, unpeeled and slightly crushed
- a 1.5-inch piece of ginger root, cut into 5 or 6 slices
- 12 cups unsalted stock (chicken, pork, turkey, beef, veg, or any combination thereof will work)
- 4 Tablespoons of soy sauce and/or miso
- 1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar

On the day I took these pics, I also added a half bunch of green onions, 4 dried shiitakes and a small handful of dashima because I happened to have them on hand.

1) Pan roast your carrot, onion, celery, garlic and ginger by preheating your pan and oil to medium and letting the aromatics sit on one side for 7 to 10 minutes, or until they get some good caramelization on them. Flip/Redistribute and repeat.



Alternatively, toss them all in the oil and roast in a preheated 425F oven for about 25 minutes.

This is an optional step, but one that I like to do if I have the time because it brings out a sweeter, deeper and more developed flavor from the aromatics.

2) Put all the aromatics and the stock in a large pot, bring to a boil over medium high with lid on askew, let it boil for about a minute, then turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for about an hour.



3) Add your soy sauce and/or miso, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and stir into the stock until thoroughly and evenly incorporated, or until all miso has dissolved if you're adding miso. If you're making this broth for kids who aren't familiar with miso, I suggest going all soy sauce.

If you like your broth a little more salty, I suggest using more kosher salt rather than soy sauce or miso to up the salt flavor without overwhelming your broth with soy sauce or miso flavor.

If your aromatics aren't particularly sweet, and you need to round out the flavors or take a little edge off the saltiness or bitterness of the soy sauce or miso, add a little more sugar to taste.


4) Continue to simmer the broth on low with lid on askew for another 10 to 15 minutes, strain, and that's it!




And since this recipe is about easy ramen broth, I suggest using your instant ramen noodles or premade plain ramen noodles boiled al dente in lightly salted water for your noodles. Making good ramen noodles from scratch is by no means an easy task.

Easy toppings include sliced storebought or homemade roast chicken, pork or beef, poached or boiled eggs, cold cuts, mushrooms, canned bamboo shoots, sliced green onions, veg odds and ends that you can slice up and lightly blanch in the broth as you're heating it up... 


Endless possibilities, really. I'm sure you've probably already got some great doctored ramen ideas up your sleeve.

Here are some of mine:



Roasted Chicken Breast, Fresh Oyster Mushrooms,
Green Onions, Shichimi Togorashi

Poached Egg, Boiled Pork Shoulder,
Matsutake Mushrooms, Green Onions,
Shichimi Togorashi, Bamboo Shoots (in the broth)



And yet more of my usual doctored instant ramen ideas HERE.

Enjoy. :)

shinae

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bulgogi


Having grown up on it, I love Korean food, particularly the spicy dishes. But as much as I love it, I can also see how the ubiquitous pungency, more than occasional spiciness, and bold flavor profiles can be a challenge for some. If I were to choose just one dish to ensure a Korean food virgin would return for more, bulgogi would be it.



Bulgogi (pronounced BOOLgohgi) translates literally from Korean to "fire meat," bul meaning fire, gogi meaning meat. Which understandably lends the stuff to being called Korean BBQ, when in fact, the cooking is achieved through a few methods - pan frying/sauteing and steaming in a shallow broth among them in addition to open flame cooking.
The word also applies to a number of different meats and seasonings or marinades, but this particular preparation featuring beef with soy, garlic, and sugar as the main flavor components is certainly the most popular one here in the US.
Umami from the soy sauce, savory from the garlic and green onion, just a hint of nuttiness from the toasted sesame oil, and a touch of sweet... 
I have yet to come across a carnivore or omnivore who doesn't love the stuff once they've tried it.
Bulgogi
Serves 4 to 6
30 to 45 minutes active time
Printable Version

- 2 pounds beef (ribeye or skirt steak work well) very thinly sliced, like a shabu shabu cut. I don't recommend super lean cuts for this preparation.
- 1 entire green onion (white and green parts) chopped
- 2 Tablespoons finely minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
- 1/4 of a sweet apple, finely grated (you can use 3 Tablespoons apple sauce in a pinch) which tenderizes and sweetens the meat
- 2.5 to 3 Tablespoons sugar, depending on how sweet you like your food
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 cup regular soy sauce

Combine all ingredients thoroughly in a mixing bowl and ideally allow to marinate for at least 25 to 30 minutes before cooking. In my experience, the best way to get all the meat evenly seasoned is to get in there with your hands, and mix and massage to distribute all the seasonings on and between all the slices of meat.


marinating bulgogi...

COOKING

There are different schools of thinking on bringing meat up in temperature before cooking, but I personally prefer to take the meat out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking it to bring it up closer to room temp because I find that the meat is much more likely to develop a proper sear or crust than if it’s cooked straight out of the fridge, which results in more of a steamed or boiled texture.

Pan-fry or Saute: Cook the meat in four separate batches on an oiled (about 1.5 teaspoons per batch) pan preheated to medium high, for 2.5 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure all pieces are cooked. If you, like I, love onions, you can saute some 1/4" thick pieces of sliced onions with each batch.
Oven Method: Preheat the oven to 425F. Mix and additional 1.5 to 2 Tablespoons oil in with the meat and spread it evenly in a single layer on a foil-lined sheet pan or broiler pan. Place the pan about 4 inches under the heat element (usually the second rack in your oven) and cook for 15 minutes.
Grill: You'll need a grill basket to keep the meat from falling through the slats. Spread the meat in a single layer and cook over medium high heat (and at least 5 inches above the coals or gas element) until the meat is cooked 4 to 6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the cut and grill heat.

Enjoy. :)


shinae