Sunday, July 27, 2014

Jammin': Omurice, Latin Edition

This is about as "Williamese" as it gets (my cheesy label for the creative, cross-cultural concoctions I come up with): omurice filled with carnitas and arroz rojo, topped with some chimichurri. These things come about not because I'm specifically trying to make something "fusion", but because when you cook, you end up with excess and leftover components--sauces, sides, stocks, parts of main dishes, raw ingredients--that you can use in preparing your next dish. If you happen to draw on many cultural traditions in your cooking, as I do, then you'll end up combining concepts in novel (and delicious) ways. And really, a lot of concepts carry over between cuisines. Take Argentinian chimichurri, for instance, which I actually plan to write on some time because of this. It shares a similarity in concept to other sauces that I find to be extremely versatile and tasty with many things, like the Chinese scallion-ginger sauce, and the Italian pesto. Well, I'll elaborate next time.

Oh, one more thing: this time with my omurice, I did the roll-up approach, instead of the blanket approach I used last time. Didn't I say the concept's flexible?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Jammin': Stuffed 8 Ball Squash

There's never a neat way to eat these things. The round ones you can't eat like a hot dog, and when you try to slice them into smaller pieces, it's easy for the stuffing to separate from the squash. That's alright, stuffed squash, I forgive younomnomnom.

Well, it's the season of squash, and a friend gave me some of his excess eight ball squash to work with.

I happened to have some Mexican chicken and black bean rice on hand, so I scooped out the innards and stuffed the squash with the rice and baked them until they were tender (about 25 minutes at 400F in my oven).

What'd I do with the innards? Chopped them up, blanched them, and ate them. I already had simmering water going for blanching some excess spinach I had (tossed with garlic and sesame oil, destined for combination with a microwave poached egg in the morning) so it wasn't extra work just for squash innards.

The stuffed squash turned out well. I'm still not entirely sold on stuffed squash as a concept, though. It seems like mostly a presentation thing to me. You end up having to cook the filling separately or it won't cook through while baking in the squash. Some recipes even have you just bake the squash by itself before stuffing with the cooked filling. This just serves to emphasize that you could really just cut up the squash and incorporate it into the filling component directly. It is a very neat presentation, though.

Like my leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Where'd the lids go? I ate them so everything'd fit.

Pilipino Pop-up

How cool is this? MC Prometheus Brown and his wife in Seattle do monthly Filipino food pop-ups!

Seems like a more appealing idea to me, since I don't think I ever want to run a restaurant. Though even a pop-up's probably bigger scale than I ever want to do.

/more Filipino food in my area please.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Miso-Glazed Broiled Salmon

Oh man, broiling fish is so easy and quick that it almost feels like cheating! All you have to do is season or marinate your fish, put it under the broiler for several minutes, turn once and keep broiling for another several minutes, and that's pretty much it. If you're working with filets or whole fish (which your fishmonger scaled and gutted for you), then there isn't a lot of fussy prep work you have to do if your seasoning ingredients aren't too complicated. Really, at a minimum you could just salt (and a bit of oil) your fish and it'd be delicious, like with mackerel, as in Japanese cuisine's saba shioyaki.

If you're barbecuing this Independence Day weekend, miso based marinades are great for the grill, too. Happy 4th!

Miso-Glazed Salmon

1.5 lbs side of salmon, skin on, scales and bones removed
2 TBS mirin
2 TBS soy sauce (use gluten-free or tamari if desired)
2 TBS white miso (see kitchn's breakdown of what to look out for if gluten-sensitive)
1 TBS brown sugar
1 inch of ginger root, peeled and grated (1 TBS or so)

1. Place the filet in a large baking dish or pan (line with foil for easier cleanup afterward) and score the filet with 1/4-inch deep cuts about every 2 inches.
2. Stir marinade ingredients together until miso and sugar have dispersed. Spoon/pour over the salmon, covering completely. If the filet is too long, tuck the tail end back underneath the filet after pouring the marinade over. Let the salmon marinate for 30 minutes.
3. Set oven rack at highest level (about 4 inches from the broiler elements). Broil for about 12 minutes, turning the baking dish halfway through, until marinade has browned and started to char. Inside the thickest parts of the filet should have just turned opaque. If not quite opaque in the center, you can still just let the salmon rest 5-10 minutes to finish cooking through. Alternatively, if you want the salmon to just finish cooking through as it cools, you can pull it out of the oven after a total cooking time of 10-11 minutes instead, and then let it rest to finish cooking.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Puy Lentil Black Rice Salad

Doesn't that look fancy? I'm definitely not generally so trendy in my cooking, but that's a puy lentil, black rice, microgreens, and marigold salad. I had some lentils and rice left over from the batch of puy lentil black rice salad I'd made, and just needed some more greens. The local farmers market had a nice carton of microgreens and marigolds packaged together, so I thought I'd give them a shot.

The "normal greens" version of this salad is one of my favorite things I've made lately, and the microgreens and marigold version was excellent, too. I haven't had marigolds before, but they're a nice accent to add. Marigolds have a developing flavor that starts citrusy followed by a more floral flavor. Microgreens are apparently much more nutritious than their mature counterparts, at least as far as preliminary studies have found. Give them a try if you haven't before. I'll be keeping an eye out next time I'm at a farmers market.

Puy Lentil Black Rice Salad
Makes 4 servings

1 ½ cups puy lentils, picked through, rinsed (about 300g)
1 small onion, diced small
1 carrot, diced small
1 anchovy filet, mashed to a paste with a fork (omit to make this recipe vegetarian/vegan)
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
water (or chicken or vegetable stock if not using anchovy)
1 tsp salt, to taste
cooking oil (vegetable, peanut, other)

1 rice cooker cup (about ¾ cup) black rice, or half black and half brown rice, soaked 20-30 minutes, steamed

  1. Heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and a pinch of salt, and sauté until softened. Add mashed anchovy (if using) and sauté until fragrant. Add herbs and bay leaves and sauté until their aroma comes out. Add lentils, 1 teaspoon salt, and enough water (or chicken or vegetable stock) to cover the lentils by about an inch. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook gently for about 20 minutes, until lentils are done. Taste the lentils and add salt to taste. Pick out the bay leaves to discard, and drain the lentils.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, or even before you start preparing the lentils, depending on how fast your rice cooker cooks (or your stovetop rice cooking), rinse, soak, and steam the black rice.
  3. Once both lentils and rice are ready, toss together in a large bowl. You can enjoy these tossed with a vinaigrette (a basic one is described below) or with salad greens added in as well.

For the Salad:

several handfuls per serving (about 2-3 oz): salad greens, microgreens, any sort you like
1-2 cups lentil and rice mixture

Optional Additions
shallots, thinly sliced, steeped in lime juice or cider vinegar and a pinch of salt for 30 minutes or longer
cucumbers, peeled, thinly sliced, steeped in lime juice or cider vinegar and a pinch of salt for 30 minutes or longer
scallions, thinly sliced
Thai basil leaves
marigold or other edible flowers

4 parts olive oil
3 parts balsamic and/or other vinegar

To prepare the vinaigrette, combine ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until emulsified, or combine in a sealable container or bottle and shake until emulsified.