Sesame Miso Sauce

Sesame-Miso Sauce

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The key to this rich, nutty sauce is to toast the sesame seeds beforehand. Pre-toasted sesame seeds are fine in a pinch, but I suggest toasting them a little further to enhance the flavor. The final swirl of sesame oil also amps up the bold sesame flavor. I like to keep a jar of this sauce on hand in the refrigerator because you can serve it with almost anything: a sauce for meats and vegetables fresh out of the hot pot, drizzled over a salad or as a dip for crudite.  

Skill Level: Easy

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1½ cups

½ cup white sesame seeds

½ cup shiro (white) miso

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)

1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

  1. In a small skillet, toast the sesame seeds over low heat until fragrant and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Maintain a constant stir or swirl the seeds in the pan as they are cooking.

  2. In a mortar and pestle, crush the toasted sesame seeds into a fine powder. (See Note)

  3. In a blender, puree the ground sesame seeds with the miso, sugar, shoyu, mirin, vinegar, garlic and ¾ cup of water until smooth. The sauce should have the consistency of a salad dressing. Add more water, if needed.  Scrape the sauce into a small bowl and stir in the sesame oil before serving.

MAKE AHEAD The sauce can be refrigerated for up to one week.

NOTE Alternatively, you can use a clean coffee grinder, but be careful not to over-process the seeds or you'll end up with sesame paste. Stop before the seeds start to release oil or the powder will clump.



Thai Chicken Coconut Curry Hot Pot

** Please see recipe below for the Thai Coconut Curry Broth before making the Thai Chicken Coconut Curry Hot Pot

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Thai Coconut Curry Broth

This soup has so many layers: the creamy coconut milk soothes the complex curry paste, the brininess from the fish sauce gives it all the salt you need, while the pineapple and lychee make it slightly sweet and sour. From poultry to meat or seafood, this soup base is very versatile, plus gluten free, low carb, paleo. With the option to make it vegetarian by swapping out vegetable stock for the chicken, it can please anyone - so I like to make it ahead and store in my refrigerator for quick, flavorful meals. On a busy weeknight, I serve it poured over a hot bowl of steamed rice finished with a mess of fresh herbs on top.

Skill Level: Moderate

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Makes 8 cups (2 quarts)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons red curry paste

3 ¼ cups full-fat coconut milk (approximately two 13.5 oz cans)

4 cups Chicken Stock (you can substitute store bought low-sodium broth) or 4 cups Vegetable Stock if you want it vegetarian.

¼ cup lychee (about 6 small canned lychee), finely chopped

¼ cup pineapple, finely chopped

1½ tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon grated palm sugar (you can substitute with light brown sugar)

4 kaffir lime leaves

1 teaspoon kosher salt

  1. In a 4-quart hot pot or large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high (about 425 degrees for an electric hot pot). Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

  2. Stir in the the coconut milk, stock, lychee, pineapple, fish sauce, sugar and lime leaves and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer until very flavorful, about 20 minutes.

MAKE AHEAD The broth can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently on the stove top.

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Thai Chicken Coconut Curry Hot Pot

The most difficult thing about this recipe was coming up with a name for it. My Thai friend Katie was explaining to me that you cannot call a curry a hot pot in Thailand because they are two separate things. Thai curries are traditionally thicker in consistency, while Thai hot pots are more similar to traditional dashi-based Japanese recipes. I think the creaminess of the coconut milk and the robust profile of curry lend themselves well to hot pots - the meat and vegetables soak up so much of that flavor in a brief time. Here, I use a base that has all of the complexity of a creamy Thai curry, but it is thinned out with a bit of chicken broth so it’s thin enough to swish your vegetables around in.

Skill Level: Moderate

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

To Make in Advance: Thai Coconut Curry Broth (above)

Preparation: Stovetop

3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces

Kosher salt and pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

8 cups (2 quarts) Thai Coconut Curry Broth (see Note)

6 baby eggplants, such as Thai or fairy tale, stemmed and quartered (you can substitute 1 medium eggplant, cut into bite-size pieces)

½ small kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), seeded and thinly sliced

¼ head Napa cabbage, cored and the thick white parts cut into bite-size pieces

1 cup cherry tomatoes

2 cups loosely packed thai basil leaves (you can substitute regular basil)

¼ cup Red Thai chili - stemmed, seeded and minced (you can substitute Fresno chilies; optional)

Steamed rice, for serving

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add half of the chicken and cook, stirring once or twice, until browned, but not cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a clean bowl and repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and chicken.

  2. Heat a 4-quart hot pot or large saucepan over medium-high (about 425 degrees for an electric hot pot). Add the broth and chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the eggplant, kabocha, cabbage and tomatoes and continue to simmer until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Stir in the basil leaves and chilies, if you would like a spicy soup.

  3. Ladle into shallow bowls and serve with steamed rice.

NOTE

This recipe is easy to scale up or down depending on the size of your group and hot pot. Just be sure that your hot pot is filled about halfway with broth. If the liquid reduces overtime, add more.




Easy Peasy Knife Skillzzz

To have knife skillzzz, you need a good knife. The one I’m using here is an 8” Miyabi birchwood chef’s knife.

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How to make an oblique cut:

  1. Peel the carrots and cut off the stems.

  2. Hold each carrot on a cutting surface with your non-dominant hand and hold the knife with your dominant hand at a 45-degrree angle.

  3. Cutting about 1-inch (2.5 cm) slices on the diagonal, roll the carrot a quarter turn toward you after each cut. Repeat until the carrot is completely cut. The cuts should be angled towards each other.

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How to make a shiitake mushroom star cut:

  1. Wash, rinse and de-stem your mushrooms.

  2. Hold a mushroom with the cap-side up in the palm of your non-dominant hand.

  3. Using a small paring knife, make a beveled cut straight down the middle, removing the portion of which you’ve cut out so it reveals the white flesh.

  4. Repeat on the diagonal twice so that you have a star shape with 6 points as shown in the image.









Super Bowl Sunday with a Japanese Twist!

Super Bowl Sunday is coming up and there’s no reason you can’t have ribs, chili AND sushi! If I were to host the ultimate Superbowl Party, here my fave picks to score a touchdown with your guests.

My Mom’s Crispy Chicken Wings

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Savory, sweet, crispy, delicious. Addicting. Recipe here.

Chinese Chicken Salad

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The perfect side and it’s healthy. Recipe here.

Make Your Own Sushi Station

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Who doesn’t want sushi? This is super easy because you can make everything ahead of time and lay it out for your guests to make their own hand-rolls. Recipe here.

My Mom’s Salty Baby Back Ribs

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My mom’s baby back ribs are super easy and tender. You just need to pop them in the oven at least 5 hours before the party so that they can sit and tenderize and are warm and ready to go when guests arrive. Also, don’t forget to set your oven rack to the middle, otherwise the ribs will burn when you broil them.

Ingredients:

2 racks baby back pork ribs

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup garlic salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat broiler to high with rack set on the middle.

  2. Make a dry rub out of the salt, pepper and garlic salt.

  3. Sprinkle the dry rub on both sides of the ribs very generously.

  4. In a roasting pan or cookie sheet on top of a rack, lay the ribs (rib side up) and broil for 10 minutes. Watch your oven, you might want more or less time depending but you want them browned and crispy.

  5. Flip them over and broil on the meat side and broil for another 10 minutes or until nice and crisp.

  6. Turn off the oven and keep the ribs in the oven until they tenderize (about 3-5 hours).

Tina’s Turkey Chili

This recipe is from my sister’s sister-in-law Tina. I’ve added Mexican chocolate and Guinness beer to the recipe to make it a bit more layered in flavor. It’s super easy if you have a crockpot because you just throw it all in and it’s done.

Ingredients:

2 lbs ground turkey

30 oz can tomato sauce

30 oz can chili beans, no need to drain

30 oz can kidney beans, no need to drain

8 oz can chopped green chiles

4 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp ground red pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 block of Mexican Chocolate (I use Nestle Abuelita Authentic Mexican Chocolate Drink Mix)

1 Guinness beer (1/2 for the chili and the other 1/2 for you to enjoy!)

Garnishes:

Chopped green onion, sour cream, cheddar cheese, Fritos

Directions:

  1. If you have a crockpot with a removable pot, brown the turkey in this. If not, brown it separately in a large saute pan.

  2. Put all of the other ingredients into your crockpot and set it to high.

  3. Add the turkey (or if you cooked the turkey in the removable pot, leave it in).

  4. Combine well but gently so you don’t crush the beans.

  5. Cook on high for at least 3 hours, stir occasionally, then turn down to warm.

  6. Serve with garnishes on the side for people to add as they please.

Skewered BBQ Veggies with Miso Dip

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Skewered Vegetables:

Any combination of veggies really. I like to use red, yellow and green peppers, shiitake mushrooms caps, red onions and Japanese eggplant. Just choose a colorful variety. Skewer, salt and pepper and BBQ until charred on all sides.

Dip Ingredients:

¼ cup Red Miso paste

2 tbsp mirin

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce, preferably low sodium

Directions:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together and serve in a nice dipping bowl with the vegetable skewers.

Japanese Pumpkin Fries (Kabocha – カボチャ)

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These fries are a big hit with the kids.  Dunked in catsup or alone, they are a nutritious side dish to any meal and they’re better because they are baked, not fried.

Ingredients:

1 Japanese Pumpkin – Available at most natural food stores or Japanese grocers

2 tbsp Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Choose your spices - add paprika for a nice kick or make them sweeter with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar!

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 Degrees.

  2. Cut the kabocha in half and remove the seeds with a spoon.  (The seeds can be used just like pumpkin seeds for roasting so save these! )

  3. Cut the stem and bottom off.  No need to peel, just leave the skin on.  Cut into 4 inch lengthwise strips.

  4. Place on a cookie sheet.  Coat with olive oil, salt, pepper and spices.  Mix to incorporate.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until they are browned - turning once.

My Mom's Best Apple Pie

What can I say, I’m a little biased but I have tasted a few apple pies in my day and I think my mom’s is hand’s down the best. I remember growing up seeing her test out different types of crust with butter vs. lard, making sure not to over mix the batter, adding an ice cube to the batter to keep it cold, rolling out the dough in a frenzy before it got warm. It has taken over 40 years to perfect (a small hint to my age) but I think it’s at its best right about now.

She makes her apple pie for Thanksgiving and that’s it. I like it that way because I get to look forward to it every year and I know it’s going to be pretty special. I like it heated a la mode but it’s also great a bit chilled for breakfast. #mymomspieisbetterthanyours

Ingredients:

8-10 large pippin, granny-smith or gala apples - peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thin (depending on size of pie pan)

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 heaping tbsp AP flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 pinch salt

Directions:

  1. Prepare apples before making the crust by mixing apples with ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

Fabulous Crust:

1 1/4 cup AP flour plus 1/4 cup AP flour

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

3/4 cup butter (Irish Butter preferred)

1/4 cup butter sliced in small pieces

1 egg beaten

1/4 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

  2. Sift together 1 1/4 cup flour, salt and sugar in a medium-sized bowl.

  3. Cut in 3/4 butter. Leave in large pea-sized chunks.

  4. In a separate small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons ice-water with 1/4 cup flour to make a paste (this is the secret to the crust).

  5. Combine the ice-water mixture with the cut-in butter mixture to form a ball in the medium-sized bowl. Mix with a fork, do not use your hands.

  6. Mix as little as possible. Add a sprinkle of ice-water if the dough is not binding.

  7. Divide the ball into 2 parts for upper and lower crust and wrap in saran wrap. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes minimum to chill.

  8. On a well floured board, roll one of the crusts out into a long oval and fold over into thirds to make the crust flaky. Repeat. Work quickly and handle as little as possible. Keep the other crust in the refrigerator until ready to use. Roll out in a large circle for the bottom crust to fit your pie pan with enough to go over the edges by 1/2 inch. Place in a large pie pan.

  9. Sprinkle the bottom crust with flour. Do not prick the crust.

  10. Heap in the apples and press down lightly to compact the apples.

  11. Add butter slices on top evenly.

  12. Roll out the top crust the same as the bottom crust by rolling out into a long oval and folding over to make the crust flaky. Repeat. Work quickly and handle as little as possible.

  13. Roll out into a large circle. Cut in vents.

  14. Roll the top onto the rolling pin to place on top of the apples.

  15. Trim around the raggedy edges with a scissors so dough hangs over 1/2 inch from rim of pie plate. Roll the edges under to seal the crusts together and flute the edges.

  16. Brush top of crust with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with sugar.

  17. Place in 450 degrees oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees for 50 minutes.


Chocolate Mochi Cake

Mochiko is a glutinous rice flour made from mochigome (a short-grained Japanese rice) that is ground into a fine powder. The mochiko in this cake gives it more density and moisture, while the cake flour and baking soda help it to rise like a more traditional cake. But, there’s nothing traditional about it - the result is a rich, not-too-sweet, chocolatey confection that sticks to your fork and is somewhere between a brownie and a cake. My family prefers it heated up a bit and served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

Skill Level: Moderate

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 18 to 20 servings

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Non-stick cooking spray, for greasing

2 cups Mochiko (280 grams; Japanese sweet rice flour)

½ cup cake flour (See Note)

½ cup unprocessed cocoa powder (43 grams)

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups whole milk

1 (12 oz) can coconut milk

½ cup melted dark sweetened chocolate, cooled slightly

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 large eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup salted butter, softened

2 cups packed dark brown sugar (320 grams)

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Ice cream, for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-by-13 inch pan with cooking spray.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients - mochiko, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the wet ingredients - whole milk, coconut milk, melted chocolate, vanilla extract and eggs.

  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl and using a hand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides

  5. With the mixer running, gradually add the dry and wet ingredients, alternating between the two until smooth and just incorporated.

  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool in the pan for about 30 minutes. Cut into thin slices and transfer to plates. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve with ice cream.  

Note: Cake flour is finer and has a lower protein content (therefore less gluten) than all purpose flour, so when used it gives a more delicate texture.