Spinach & Pork Wontons

Folding wrappers over a filling and pinching the edges closed is fun, especially when there’s two of you so you can converse while you’re doing it. My Mom and I made these wontons the other day after she was inspired by the recipe in Food & Wine. Since we couldn’t find fresh wonton wrappers at our store, we used frozen gyoza/potsticker wrappers, which changed their shape from the traditional pointy triangles to half moons. But we still deem them a success! The filling is really tasty, and packed with nutrient-rich spinach. The sauce has a nice spicy kick from the chili oil, and the cilantro is the natural accompaniment to sprinkle on top. We served the wontons with an Asian-inspired slaw: My Mom tossed our leftover peanut sauce from the chicken satay a few nights ago with shredded cabbage, some rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar. It was finished with a sprinkling of peanuts on top. Since it was inauguration night and all, we decided to open a bottle of sparkling wine, which paired nicely with the Asian flavors.

We ended up changing a few things from the original recipe: First, the serving size. It supposedly served 6 as an appetizer, but a 1/4 pound of ground pork didn’t seem like enough, even for 4 people. So we doubled the recipe and it was enough as a main dish for 4. Second, we encountered some difficulty in the last step of the recipe, when we were told to toss the boiled wontons in a bowl with the sauce — ours must have been more delicate than Food & Wine’s because they started to break apart! We abandoned the tossing, and decided to spoon the sauce over the wontons after plating them.

Spinach-and-Pork Wontons
(Adapted from the January 2009 Food & Wine)

4 cups baby spinach, washed
2 TBS + 3 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil

2 tsp. dry sherry (or madeira)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. sugar

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 small scallions, chopped
1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
1/2 lb. ground pork
cornstarch, for sprinkling
60 potsticker/gyoza wrappers, thawed if frozen
4 TBS chile oil
4 TBS sesame oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 TBS chopped cilantro

  • Cook the spinach in a skillet, stirring until wilted. Transfer to a colander. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess moisture, and chop. Set aside.
  • In a bowl, combine 3 tsp. of the soy sauce, the sesame oil, sherry, salt, sugar, black pepper, scallion, and ginger.
  • Add the ground pork and spinach and mix with your hands until combined.
  • Dust a large baking pan with corn starch. Fill a small bowl with water. On your work surface, lay out 4 wrappers at a time. Place a small spoonful (about 1 tsp) in the middle of the wrapper. Dip your finger in the water and wet the edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half over the filling and pinch together, forming a half moon shape. Place on the baking pan. Repeat with all the wrappers until you’ve used up all of the filling. (Make ahead: You can cover the pan of wontons with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight)
  • Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the wontons and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When they float, cook for 3 more minutes. Drain the wontons well.
  • In your serving bowl, combine the remaining 2 TBS. of soy sauce, chile oil, sesame oil, and garlic. Add the wontons, and try to toss gently. If they start to break apart, abandon the tossing and simply serve the wontons, then spoon the sauce from the bottom of the bowl over them. Sprinkle with cilantro and enjoy!

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

We’ve been having unusually warm weather for January! Last Sunday we pretended it was summer (although it wasn’t that hard to pretend when it was 70 degrees at 5:00 in the evening), fired up the BBQ, and invited some good friends over for appetizers. They brought rounds of polenta (both regular, and sun-dried tomato) topped with sautéed collard greens (fresh from their CSA box), bacon, shrimp and a dollop of roasted red pepper & artichoke tapenade. We loved the combination of flavors and textures – the saltiness of the bacon complimented the sweet polenta, the bitter greens, and the briny shrimp.The tail was even taken off the shrimp making it easy to eat. Well done!

Our contribution was chicken satay with peanut sauce, one of the first things that we ever made together when we started cooking in college. Strips of chicken are marinated in coconut milk, curry power, fish sauce, and cilantro, weaved onto wooden skewers and then cooked over a charcoal grill. Paired with a slightly crunchy and spicy peanut sauce, you will definitely want to serve these at your next party, no matter what temperature it is outside!

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
(adapted and reworded from William Sonoma Asian)
Serves 4 as an appetizer

1 1/2 lb (750 g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 1/2 cups coconut milk, divided
4 TBS fish sauce, divided
5 TBS. brown sugar, divided
2 TBS. chopped fresh cilantro, plus 1 TBS. chopped stems
1 TBS. hot curry powder
1 shallot
2 garlic cloves
1 TBS. peeled and chopped ginger
1 TBS. peeled and chopped lemongrass
1 fresh hot red chile, seeded and chopped
1 TBS. canola oil
1 TBS. fresh lime juice
1 cup unsalted peanuts, toasted and minced
12-15 bamboo skewers

  • Start soaking the bamboo skewers in a pan of water.
  • Prepare your charcoal (or gas) grill.
  • Cut the chicken thighs into strips, about 3 or 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide.
  • In a large bowl, combine 1/2 a cup of the coconut milk, 2 TBS of the fish sauce, 3 TBS. of the brown sugar, the curry powder, and the cilantro. Add the chicken strips and toss to coat. Let marinade in the refrigerator while you prepare the peanut sauce.
  • In a food processor, throw in the shallot, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chile, and cilantro stems. Process until combined, then add 1-2 TBS. water until it reaches the consistency of a paste.
  • Heat the 1 TBS. of oil in a saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the shallot-garlic mixture. Sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the remaining 1 cup coconut milk, 2 TBS. fish sauce, 2 TBS. brown sugar, the lime juice, and peanuts. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 7 minutes. Taste and add more sugar, fish sauce, or lime juice if you desire.
  • Drain the skewers. Working with one skewer at a time, take a strip of chicken out of the marinade, shaking off excess. Weave the chicken strip onto the skewer (if chicken strips are short, weave 2 or 3 onto 1 skewer).
  • Place the skewers on the hot grill, away from the direct flame. Cover the grill and cook chicken until opaque, about 5-6 minutes.
  • Transfer the skewers to a platter and serve with peanut sauce on the side.

My First Caviar!

On New Year’s Eve I branched out and tried some caviar at my parents’ house. I wasn’t sure what to expect, being that I’m not a fan of tobiko in Japanese cuisine (orange fish eggs, which are larger than caviar. There’s something about that “bursting ” sensation when you bite down on them that I dislike). But despite my expectations, this was a great culinary experience. The whole spread is perfect for special occasions. I’m a caviar-convert. First, my Mom made some buckwheat blinis (little savory Russian pancakes). If you haven’t had buckwheat before, it imparts a nice earthy flavor to the light pancakes.

We spooned some melted butter over them (I learned that there’s a phrase in Russian – something to the effect of “If the butter isn’t running down your elbows, you don’t have enough butter on your blini“). Indeed, I had enough butter. Then we topped the buttery blinis with a dollap of crème fraîche, some chopped hard-boiled egg seasoned with salt and pepper, some chives, and finally the caviar. It was one bite of bliss, followed by a flute of delectable sparkling wine. What a way to start the culinary journey of 2009!

Did you know that you’re not supposed to serve caviar with a metal spoon? I didn’t either. Use a serving utensil made of something else, such as plastic or bone. Also, keep the caviar cool over ice.

Taverna-Style Baked Feta Dip

Once upon a time, on our first night in Oia on the island of Santorini, we were starving and jet-lagged, walking along the cobble stone streets in search of something to eat. There were many stray dogs and cats wandering the streets, almost all of which appeared to be well fed and taken care of by the many shop owners. One tall dog that came up to my hip started walking alongside of us. Delighted (because I love dogs, especially big dogs), we continued on together, until the dog diverted to the right and bolted inside a small, dimly-lit taverna that was blaring jolly music. We decided this was a sign and followed the dog into the restaurant where we were greeted by a smiling Greek man who didn’t speak much English. We ordered this appetizer from him, along with a basket of crusty bread, and a bottle of local Santorini wine; it was heaven. As we spooned the hot feta and veggies onto our sliced bread, we were happy to see that the dog also received a treat for entering the restaurant. Throughout the meal we talked about how to recreate it at home. Luckily, the ingredients were so simple that it was possible to do so, even in Japan. Now we’ll share it with you!

1 block of feta cheese
Extra Virgin oilve oil
cherry tomatoes, sliced
green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
red onion, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
dried oregano, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place the feta in the middle of a small ceramic baking dish. Add the olive oil to the dish until it almost reaches the top of the feta.
  • Scatter the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion and garlic around the dish. Add the oregano, salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 15-20 min. or until the olive oil is bubbling nicely, and the feta is starting to melt around the edges. Let rest for 5 minutes. Place in the center of the table and serve with lots of sliced bread and a spoon for serving.

Deviled Eggs

I needed an easy appetizer for our Halloween party and thought that Deviled eggs were the obvious choice! If I had had more time, I would have decorated the eggs like little devil faces using small pieces of bell pepper and olives for horns, eyes, mouths, and beards. That’s what my brother and I did once when we were kids. But alas I ran out of time, because I had to rush to get into my geisha costume before everyone arrived! Instead I finished off my deviled eggs the traditional way with a sprinkling of paprika. There are so many ways to make deviled eggs, but this is my (not-so-secret-anymore) recipe that includes a bit of cumin for spice and garlic for kick (and since it was Halloween, I guess I should say to ward off those vampires)!

As an appetizer for 10:

10 hardboiled eggs
about 5 spoonfuls mayo (or to taste)
about 3 spoonfuls Dijon mustard (or to taste)
1 clove of garlic, minced
a small handful of fresh parsley, minced
Tabasco (or your favorite hot sauce)
salt & pepper
pieces of red bell pepper and black olives for making “devil faces” OR paprika

  • Hard-boil the eggs by gently submerging them into boiling water. Simmer for 12-14 minutes. Rinse under cold water, and gently peel the eggs.
  • Cut the eggs in half lengthwise and spoon out the yolks into a bowl. Place the white halves on a serving platter and set aside.
  • To the yolks, add the mayo, mustard, garlic, parsley, cumin, Tabasco, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
  • Spoon the filling back into the whites.
  • If feeling artistic, decorate like devil faces, or just sprinkle with paprika and serve immediately. You can cover and chill overnight before serving.

    East Meets West

    Coconut Shrimp

    First things first, I’d like to say a very enthusiastic “Happy Mothers’ Day!” to my amazing Mom, my favorite cook who has continually inspired me to explore all things culinary! Second, Oh how we love these crispy shrimp with a tropical flair. This is one of our favorite recipes when we want something that tastes like home without having to trek all the way to the import food store to get ingredients. I first became addicted to coconut shrimp at Aldos in Santa Cruz, while enjoying the view of the Harbor along with my family and of course Faith, our German Shepherd, sitting happily under our table. Aldos is known for encouraging local dogs (0r out-of-town dogs) to lounge on their harborside deck. Tonight we ate our coconut shrimp with fries and sweet chili-lime sauce for dipping. The recipe comes from Epicurious.

    Enjoying dinner at Aldos with Mom and Dustin. Dogs welcome.

    For the Sauce:

    3/4 cup Asian sweet chili sauce
    3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (we omitted this due to its scarcity in Japan)
    2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

    For the Shrimp:

    3/4 cup all purpose flour
    1 teaspoon curry powder (preferably Madras style)
    3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 large egg, beaten to blend 1 cup club soda
    Vegetable oil (for deep-frying)
    1 1/2 cups medium shredded unsweetened coconut
    16 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails left intact (the recipe makes enough batter for almost 32 shrimp!)

    • Mix sweet chili sauce and lime juice in small bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead) Cover and chill.
    • Whisk flour, curry powder, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Add egg and club soda; whisk just until combined but still lumpy. Let stand 15 minutes.
    • Meanwhile, pour enough vegetable oil into heavy large saucepan to come halfway up sides of pan. Attach deep-fry thermometer to pan; heat oil over medium heat to 375°F.
    • Line baking sheet with paper towels. Spread coconut on plate. Working with 1 shrimp at a time, dip into batter, allowing excess to drip back into bowl, then roll in coconut.
    • Working in batches, deep-fry shrimp until cooked through, about 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to paper towels to drain. Serve hot with dipping sauce and fries.

    Raw Tuna & Leek Salad with Ginger-Soy Sauce

    A few weeks ago one of our students, an old man in his 70s, handed us a small paperback cookbook called Japanese Favorites. Finally, some guidelines for making a few of the things we’ve tasted and enjoyed while living here. What I love about Japanese cooking is that the ingredients themselves, their colors, and textures take center stage; like this light, refreshing appetizer that stars fresh raw tuna and leeks.

    2 TBS. thinly sliced leeks
    1 Japanese cucumber, washed and shredded
    1 1/2 tsp. grated ginger
    400 grams (14 oz.) fresh sashimi-quality tuna

    Black sesame seeds

    1/2 tsp. dark soysauce

    Our sweet cat chopstick-holders
    • Place the sliced leeks in a small bowl of cold water and soak for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Shred the cucumber into long, thin strips with a vegetable peeler and set aside.
    • Transfer the leeks to a small bowl. Add half of the grated ginger and toss well to combine. Dice the tuna and add to the bowl with the leeks, along with the black sesame seeds.
    • Divide the tuna mixture into four equal portions. Place each portion on a serving dish. Garnish with the reserved shredded cucumber and serve with small bowls of soysauce and remaining grated ginger for dipping. Serves 4.

      Crispy Chicken Wontons with Sweet Chili-Lime Sauce

      We present to you Irresistible crunchiness paired with an addicting sauce. Wontons are one of our favorite appetizers to order in a restaurant, so we decided to make them ourselves! The weather is starting to warm up, our colds are (almost) gone, cherry blossom season is right around the corner, and spring break in Hawaii is just a week away. Things are looking up!

      1/2 TBS. sesame oil
      1/4 of a head of cabbage, shredded
      1/2 lb. ground chicken
      1 clove garlic, minced
      1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
      salt & pepper to taste
      1/2 tsp. garlic powder
      2 TBS. soy sauce or more to taste
      30 wonton wrappers
      vegetable oil for frying
      1/4 cup bottled sweet chili sauce
      1 1/2 TBS. fresh lime juice

      • In a small bowl, combine the sweet chili sauce and the lime juice. Stir and set aside.
      • Heat the sesame oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the cabbage until it softens. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Add the ground chicken and stir, breaking up the pieces until done. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add the soy sauce and turn off the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
      • Assemble the wontons by placing a spoonful of filling in the center of a wrapper. Dip your finger into a small dish of water and wet 2 of the sides. Fold the opposite sides over the filling and pinch together, forming a small triangle. Repeat with all the wrappers.
      • Pour vegetable oil into a pan to a depth of 1-inch. Heat over medium high heat. When hot, fry the wontons in batches (about 1-2 minutes per side) or until crispy and brown. Makes 30 wontons.

      Sizzling Hot Shrimp

      You can control the amount of chili that you add to this dish, but we recommend adding enough to make you sweat. In this cold weather, it feels better. This dish is based on a recipe for shrimp pil-pil that I recently came across in a Rachael Ray Magazine. It originates from Spain where it’s eaten as a fiery tapas dish.

      1/2 lb. of shrimp, shells removed (tails left intact), and de-veined
      1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
      2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
      1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
      1/2 tsp. paprika (preferably smoked)
      1/2 a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
      about 1 TBS. chopped fresh parsley.

      • In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper, paprika, and chipotle pepper and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
      • Season the shrimp with salt. Add to the skillet and cook until done, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped parsley.
      • Serve in bowls, along with some crusty bread and cold beer. Serves 2.

      Cardamom Spiced Cashews – New Year Nuts!

      Cashews are transformed when they’re sautéed in a skillet with yummy spices. These were a part of our New Years Eve spread, along with cheese fondue with bread, veggies, and apples (a Genco-family tradition), and spinach-artichoke dip (my contribution this year).

      Thanks to my Mom for passing on this simple recipe:

      • Sauté the cashews in a little butter and olive oil.
      • Jazz them up with some cumin, cardamom, coarse salt, and cayenne pepper, and stir until they are golden and fragrant.

      Happy 2008, everyone!

      Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Caramelized Onions & Fresh Basil

      Before heading off to our Christmas party/gingerbread man-decorating-extravaganza, I wanted to jazz up our usual weekend lunch, so I came up with these quesadillas using things that were hanging out in our refrigerator. I’m obviously not the first to come up with this combination, but they were so light and tasty.

      • Spread a thin layer of goat cheese (I used a soft, spreadable variety) onto a flour tortilla.
      • In a frying pan, heat a small amount of olive oil and throw in some sliced onion. Cook, stirring frequently over low heat until light brown.
      • Remove onion slices and place them on the spread goat cheese. Chop up some fresh basil and sprinkle on top, then cover with a second tortilla. Cook in the same pan that you cooked the onions in, a few minutes per side.

        Artichoke-Spinach Dip

        I gave in and made one of my weaknesses. Blame it on the small jar of marinaded artichokes that I found at the import food store last weekend. And I also won’t admit that this is what we ate for dinner last night, along with a sliced baguette and a big salad (oh wait … just did!)  🙂

        2 8-oz packages of cream cheese, softened
        1/2 cup mayo
        1/2 cup sour cream
        2 cloves of garlic, minced
        1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
        1 small jar marinaded artichoke hearts, chopped
        2 bunches of spinach
        4 TBS. fresh lemon juice
        salt & pepper to taste
        tabasco to taste
        slices of french baguette, lightly toasted, for dipping

        • Preheat oven to 375 degrees (190 C).
        • In a pot of boiling water, cook the spinach for a few minutes, then drain, squeeze out excess water with a kitchen towel, and roughly chop. Set aside.
        • In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, mayo, and sour cream and stir until smooth. Add the artichokes, spinach, garlic, Parmesan, lemon juice, salt & pepper, and tabasco.
        • Grease a baking pan and pour in the dip, spreading evenly.
        • Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and light brown. (Stick it under the broiler for the last few minutes of baking time to ensure this). Serve with slices of bread, crackers, or whatever.

          Hummus, Baked Pita Chips, and Cherry Tomato, Cucumber & Feta Salad

          A bell chimes as we push open the heavy glass door and enter Kokoro (which means “heart”), a bakery the size of our pantry back home. A short lady with a round, smiling face greets us, saying, Irashaimase (welcome!) We grab a green plastic tray and a pair of tongs hanging from a small rack. Then we choose from a variety of Japanese-style (white & fluffy) or European-style (more dense and crusty) breads, all within an arms reach. Among the overwhelming variety in that small little space is homemade pita bread, hiding on the bottom shelf, between the orange rolls and the azuki (red bean) scones. We grab a bag of it and rush home to make these baked pita chips.

          Baked Pita Chips

          pita bread, halved and cut into triangles
          olive oil
          garlic powder
          paprika or chili powder

          • Lay the pita triangles on a baking sheet. Brush one side with olive oil. Sprinkle with any seasonings you like.
          • Bake in a 350 degree oven (180 C) for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your pita bread, or until browned and crunchy.
          • Serve with hummus

            Don’t ever take your ingredients for granted. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve planned to make a recipe, and then realized that I can’t find at least 1 or 2 of the ingredients in our supermarket (or anywhere in Japan for that matter!) . Today was no exception. Hummus. We’ve been craving hummus. We found canned garbanzo beans at the import food store, no problem. But tahini was nowhere to be found (surprising, in a country that loves goma — sesame seeds). We also had to use a blender (resulting in a much creamier texture), since a food processor was apparently not among the furnishings in our “furnished apartment.” This is our tweaked hummus recipe that you can use, whether you’re in Asia or not.


            1 can garbanzo beans, drained
            a swig or more of olive oil
            1 small clove of garlic (sauteed in olive oil for a few minutes, if you want a milder garlic flavor)
            2 heaping spoonfuls of plain yogurt
            juice from 1/2 a lemon
            salt & pepper to taste

            • Place the beans, garlic, yogurt, lemon juice and small swig of olive oil in a blender (or if you’re lucky, a food processor)
            • Blend, add a little more olive oil, and blend again until the consistency is to your liking
            • Add salt & pepper to taste, along with any other spices you have around (cumin, chili powder, etc.)
            • Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

            We also made a made a quick “Greek” salad of sliced cherry tomatoes, cucumber and crumbled feta cheese, dressed with olive oil, white wine vinegar, and some oregano. Everything went really well with this wine that we found at the import store!

            “Angry” Gnocchi, Fried Mozzerella Salad & Zucchini Sticks

            Arrabbiata is one of our favorite sauces for pasta — it’s a garlicky, spicy tomato sauce and its name means “angry”. But garlic and spice make us happy! That’s why this is our weeknight standby pasta sauce.

            Dustin’s Arrabbiata

            2 1/2 TBS olive oil
            2 cloves of garlic, minced
            1 can of crushed tomatoes
            1 TBS sugar
            2 dried red chilies, chopped
            a few leaves of fresh basil, torn
            salt & pepper

            • Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and chilies and sauté until garlic is golden. Turn the heat off and let cool one minute (to reduce the tomatoes splattering). Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil, and sugar. Simmer for at least 10 minutes.
            • Cook the gnocchi according to the package directions (until they float to the top), and drain. Spoon on the arrabbiata sauce and finish with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

            To accompany the gnocchi, we tried this recipe for Arugula & Fried Mozzarella Salad with Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette from The Nest and it turned out great! There’s something so satisfying about fried cheese. I just love it. And the spicy arugula was delicious with the sweet vinaigrette.

            And the frying continues! We’re not condoning this as a healthy meal, but when you have flour, egg and breadcrumbs already out (from making the fried mozzarella for the salad), and a wonderfully spicy tomato sauce for dipping, it just cries out for fried zucchini! We cut zucchini into strips, coated them in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, and fried them until just tender inside and golden outside. Mmmm…

            Beat the Heat Japanese Style: Beer & Edamame

            Eda-mame are fresh, young soy beans that are often boiled in the pod and eaten in summertime with a generous sprinkling of salt and a chilled Japanese Beer. Their name means “branch beans” because sometimes you can buy them still attached to their stalks. You can probably find them at most grocery stores (check the freezer section), but if you ever come across fresh ones, here is a simple (and traditional) way to prepare them. Soy beans have always been an important source of protein in the Japanese diet. I like them because they curb my frequent salt craving without having to eat potato chips or popcorn!

            Boiled Edamame

            • If still attached, take the bean pods off the stalks. Sprinkle the pods with a lot of salt and rub the salt into them with your fingers. Let sit for 15 minutes.
            • Add the pods to a pan of boiling water. Boil over high heat for 7-10 minutes. Drain and run under cold water.
            • Serve in a bowl with a few more dashes of salt on top, if desired.
            • Serve with an ice cold Japanese beer, like Sapporo or Asahi. Oh, and just squeeze the pods with your teeth to pop out the tender beans inside. Some may fly across the room, but it’s more fun that way.

            The Nutritional Value of about 1 1/8 cup of these beans in the pod (from edamame.com):

            • 120 calories
            • 9 grams fiber
            • 2.5 grams fat
            • 11 grams protein
            • 13 grams carbohydrates
            • 15 mg sodium
            • 10% Daily Value for vitamin C
            • 10% Daily Value for iron
            • 8% Daily Value for vitamin A
            • 4% Daily Value for calcium

            Seared Wasabi-Sesame Tuna with Avocado Cream and Maple Soy Sauce

            We laughed at ourselves as we picked out the tuna in the supermarket today. We got it from the section that sells top-quality fish for sashimi, bite-size slices of fish, eaten raw with only soy sauce and wasabi. We predicted that we were the only people in the store who were buying that fish with the intention to cook it; the outside at least. I think it would have offended the sushi chefs in the back. Oh well. We saw this Asian-fusion recipe in the Readers’ Favorite section of the April 2007 Bon Appetit. The two sauces that accompany the tuna – avocado and maple soy sauce – are brilliant together. It sounds exotic, but it was actually easy to make! It’s meant as an appetizer, but we ate it as a light meal with cucumber salad, bread, and Japanese Beer. East meets West, sort of. This recipe has been featured on http://www.maplesyrupworld.com/.

            For the Tuna:

            2 tuna steaks
            wasabi (as much as you want … how adventurous are you feeling tonight?)
            1/4 cup sesame seeds
            3 TBS. canola oil for frying

            • Rub both sides of the tuna steaks with wasabi. Don’t touch your eyes (just kidding).
            • Pour the sesame seeds onto a plate. Press both sides of the tuna into the sesame seeds.
            • Heat the oil over high heat. When it’s hot, sear the steaks, about 20 seconds each side.
            • Slice the steaks into 1/2 inch slices. The middle should be nice and rare!

            For the Maple Soy Sauce:

            2 TBS. soy sauce
            2 TBS. maple syrup

            • Combine the soy sauce and the maple syrup in a small saucepan.
            • Boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is reduced to half, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

            For the Avocado Sauce:

            1 avocado
            2 tsp. lemon juice
            2 TBS. water
            1 TBS olive oil

            • Puree all ingredients, then pour into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

            To Assemble the Dish:

            • On your plates, spread some avocado sauce in a circle, place the tuna slices in the middle, and drizzle the maple soy sauce on top.

            For the Cucumber Salad:

            2 cucumbers (1 if they’re large)
            rice vinegar
            salt & pepper
            chili pepper

            • Slice the cucumbers and place in a small bowl. Add the other ingredients, tasting as you go, until you find the perfect combination of tangy and sweet.

            Just Peachy!

            A fresh peach is the epitome of summer. Tonight’s menu was inspired by 1) the white peach (finally in season!) and 2) an item on our wedding reception menu, Casablanca Restaurant‘s fried brie. Although they serve theirs with jalapeño jelly, we enjoyed ours with a white peach salsa. We drank the Bellinis with the fried brie and crostini as a “happy hour” before we prepared the salmon and corn. 


            Fried Brie on Crostini
            Baked Salmon with white peach salsa
            Corn on the cob

            For the Salsa:

            2 white peaches, diced
            juice of 1/2 a lime
            1/4 cup diced red onion
            1/2 of a diced red bell pepper
            (If fresh jalapeños were available in Japan, I would have added one too!)

            • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate about 1 hour to let the flavors mingle.

            For the Crostini:

            1/2 a baguette cut into 1/4 inch slices
            Olive oil

            • Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes until crispy and brown.

            For the Fried Brie:

            1 6-8 oz. wheel of brie, cut into wedges
            1 egg, beaten
            salt & pepper
            1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
            vegetable oil, enough to fill pan to a depth of 1 & 1/2 inches

            • Cut brie into wedges (Japan individually wraps everything, seriously, including the cheese triangles seen in the picture. So we didn’t have to cut anything). The wedges shouldn’t be any bigger than your crostini.
            • In a small bowl beat an egg with some salt and pepper. Place the bread crumbs on a plate.
            • Dip each piece of cheese into the egg and coat with breadcrumbs. Place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.
            • Fry in vegetable oil over medium-high heat, until golden, turning occasionally, about 3 minutes.  Drain on paper towels. Serve on crostini with peach salsa. Serves about 4 as an appetizer.

            For the Salmon:

            2 salmon fillets
            olive oil
            salt & pepper

            • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
            • Place salmon fillets in an oiled, shallow baking dish. Season salmon with salt, pepper, rosemary, and dot with butter.
            • Bake 10-15 minutes or until done. Serve with peach salsa and corn on the cob.

            For the Bellinis:

            2 white peaches, pureed
            good sparkling wine (we used Italian Prosecco)

            • Fill the bottoms of 2 flutes with about 2 Tablespoons of peach puree.
            • Top with Prosecco.