Korean Short Ribs with Kimchi and Greens Namul

My husband is a sucker for grocery store samples, which is why last weekend after trying a bite of Mother-in-Law’s Napa Cabbage Kimchi, a big jar of it found its way into our cart. We’re no strangers to the spicy, pickled, fermented cabbage that bubbles as you open the jar, reminding you that it’s happily alive with probiotics. In fact, we were fortunate enough to have our first taste of the stuff in Korea, where it originated. It didn’t take long. We were hooked.

With the jar of kimchi now in our cart, we decided a Korean-inspired dinner was in order. What a coincidence that our butcher recently started carrying Korean short ribs! Also called the “flanken cut,” these beef ribs are cut straight through the bone and are about 1/2 an inch thick, making them ideal for quick cooking. The marinade is a tasty combination of puréed Asian pear, soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic, and the ribs get even more flavor from throwing them on a charcoal grill. White rice and our kimchi were obvious accompaniments, but we went in search of another Korean side dish, and found the perfect one – namul (or namuru in Japanese, which you often find as a Bento Box filler). You blanch greens, squeeze out the liquid, roughly chop and throw in a bowl with sesame oil, garlic, and salt. So simple.

Our recently married friends (congrats, M+T!) joined us for this Korean-inspired dinner, and we successfully got them hooked on kimchi as well. The jar boasted a good 16 servings, but the 4 of us polished it off in one evening.

Korean Short Ribs

(Slightly adapted from The Paupered Chef)

3 lbs. short ribs
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 Asian pear, peeled and diced
1/4 cup mirin
1 TBS. brown sugar
1 TBS. sesame oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped

  • Place the diced asian pear in a large bowl and purée with an immersion blender (alternatively, use a food processor or blender).
  • Add the soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic. Whisk until combined.
  • Put the short ribs in the bowl with the marinade.  Toss until coated evenly with the marinade.  Refrigerate for 3-5 hours.
  • Prepare a charcoal grill for high heat. Have a squirt bottle handy (I will explain in the next step).
  • Remove ribs from marinade and place on the grill. Cover. Because of the fat content, you might find that they flame up a little bit. That’s where our squirt bottle came in handy! But then they calmed down and cooked nicely, about 3-5 minutes per side. Serve with Greens Namul (recipe below), kimchi, and steamed white rice.

Greens Namul

(From Just Bento)

2 cups or so blanched greens (we used 1 large bunch of young, tender dandelion greens, and 2 bunches of spinach. Get more than you think you’ll need because they cook down a lot)
1 1/2 TBS. dark sesame oil
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 large garlic clove
1 TBS. toasted sesame seeds
Optional: pinch of sugar
Optional: chili oil

  • Before blanching your greens, first wash them very well to get all the grit off of them. If your greens have stalks, cut the tender part of the stalk thinly. Discard the tough part of the stalks, if any.
  • Bring a pot of water to boil. First put in the stalks, then the greens that take the longest to cook (we threw our dandelion greens in first). Boil for 1-2 minutes, then put in the spinach. Boil for another minute or less. You don’t want your greens to turn to mush.
  • Turn off the heat. Drain the greens well, then add cold water to refresh and cool them. Drain again and squeeze out the moisture well. Roughly chop. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Grate the garlic clove on a fine grater, or smash it to a pulp with a knife (we did the latter). Mix with the salt and oil. Use your hands to mix the garlic mixture into the well drained and squeezed out greens. Mix in the sesame seeds. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt if necessary, or adding a little bit of sugar if the greens are too bitter. If you want it spicy, add a few drops of chili oil.

Lettuce Wraps with Pork, Cilantro, Crunchy Chow Mein Noodles, Peanuts & Sriracha

It was a typical summer in Japan, hot and humid with the occasional torrential downpour and thunderstorm. In an effort to save money on our bills, we played this silly game where we would see how far into the summer we could make it without turning on our air conditioner (once we made it until the beginning of August!) Absurd, yes, but there it is.

So our little Japanese apartment was obviously warm, but we had several fans going that made it bearable. I thought that lettuce wraps might be a good meal for a hot evening. I washed the lettuce leaves then got the “brilliant” idea (blame the heat?) to throw them in the freezer for a minute to keep them cold while we set the table. Ha. You know what happens when you put lettuce in the freezer? All the moisture in the leaves freezes almost immediately, and then when you take them out, they defrost immediately, leaving you with pathetic wilty leaves. Awesome. I can’t believe I just told that story. That night we enjoyed the lettuce wrap filling on its own, and I think I made some steamed rice to go with it. Needless to say, I never blogged about lettuce wraps. And we might have broken down and turned on the air conditioner.

This time around we were much more successful, and since we live in Santa Cruz and most houses don’t even have air conditioners, we’ll never play that ridiculous game again.  Leaves from a beautiful head of red leaf lettuce remained in the refrigerator until dinner time and were perfectly crisp and ready to be filled with seasoned pork, bright green cilantro, crunchy chow mein noodles (from a can, yes, but oh so good), peanuts, and plenty of Sriracha to spice it all up.

Lettuce Wraps with Pork, Cilantro, Crunchy Chow Mein Noodles, Peanuts & Sriracha

1/2 TBS. canola oil
1/2 TBS. sesame oil
1 lb. ground pork
1 TBS. grated or minced ginger
1 TBS. minced garlic
2 green onions, diced
2 TBS. soy sauce
1 TBS. mirin
1 TBS. rice vinegar
1/2 TBS. oyster sauce*
1 small spoonful of peanut butter
2 tsp. agave nectar
1 head of red leaf lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried
Cilantro leaves
Crunchy Chow Mein Noodles, such as La Choy
Roasted, salted peanuts

*This can be omitted if you don’t have it on hand – we used it to add a little thickness and saltiness to the sauce

  • Add the canola oil and sesame oil to a large skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add the ground pork and cook until no longer pink, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat. If there is any fat, drain with a spoon. Return skillet to medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and cook for several minutes, stirring frequently. Add the green onions and stir to combine.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, oyster sauce, peanut butter, and agave nectar. Taste and adjust ingredients as necessary. These lettuce wraps are very adaptable to your tastes!
  • Add the sauce to the pork mixture and cook over medium high heat, stirring, until it reduces slightly and incorporates into the meat.
  • Transfer the pork mixture to a serving bowl. Place your lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Put the cilantro, chow mein noodles, and peanuts in little bowls and place everything on the table for everyone to serve themselves. Don’t forget the bottle of Sriracha!

To go with our lettuce wraps, I used a vegetable peeler to make shavings of daikon (Japanese white radish) and carrot, tossed with a little sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, sugar & salt to taste, and a sprinkling of black sesame seeds.

Miso-Sriracha Glazed Salmon with Spicy Slaw

After two flavorful dinners from The Sriracha Cookbook — Ultimate Sriracha Burgers and Camarones a la Diabla — it was time for Sriracha dinner night #3. In this recipe, Sriracha plays a more subtle role, adding just a hint of spiciness to a sweet glaze balanced by the savory flavors of miso and soy sauce. Broiling caramelizes the glaze nicely, while cooking the salmon to a perfect medium/medium-rare. Most of the spice in this meal comes from the slaw. The addition of mint, peanut butter, and fish sauce is reminiscent of Thai flavors. It’s the perfect companion to the salmon, or try it as a zesty alternative to coleslaw at your next BBQ. We also made a quick side dish of sautéed sugar snap peas with fresh chopped mint to tie all the flavors together.

Miso-Sriracha Glazed Salmon

(From The Sriracha Cookbook; Serves 6)

3 TBS. toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white miso paste
3 TBS. Sriracha
1 clove garlic, minced
nonstick cooking spray (or canola oil for greasing)
6 (6-oz.) salmon fillets, about 1-inch thick (alternatively, you can buy one large salmon fillet and divide it into portions after cooking)
6 sliced green onions, green part only, for garnish (reserve the white parts for the slaw!)

  • Preheat the broiler.
  • In a small nonreactive bowl, combine the sesame oil, brown sugar, soy sauce, miso, Sriracha, and garlic.
  • Line a rimmed baking pan with foil (this will make clean-up much easier later on!) and spray with cooking spray (or lightly grease with oil). Place the salmon on the foil and brush some of the glaze over the salmon, enough to evenly cover the surface.
  • Broil 6 inches from the flame, basting the salmon twice with more glaze (we had some leftover so don’t feel like you need to use all of it). Broil until the salmon flakes easily at the center of the fillet, 9-10 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if you see some smoke. That’s what the soy sauce does when it’s caramelizing.
  • Remove salmon from baking pan and transfer fillets to plates. Garnish with green onion and serve.

Spicy Slaw

(From The Sriracha Cookbook; Serves 6-8)

For the Dressing:

1/3 cup chunky natural peanut butter
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice
1/4 cup Sriracha
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS. fish sauce
1 TBS. grated ginger
2 TBS. sugar

For the Slaw:

1 1/2 lbs. napa cabbage, shredded
1/2 lb. red cabbage, shredded (we used green, so our slaw wasn’t quite as colorful)
2 carrots, peeled and julienned (we grated them)
2 red bell peppers, seeded and julienned
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (depending on your heat tolerance, you may want to omit this. It’s already pretty spicy with the Sriracha)
6 green onions, white part only, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
salt & freshly ground black pepper

  • First, make the dressing. In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, lime juice, pineapple juice, Sriracha, garlic, fish sauce, ginger, and sugar. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Next, make the slaw. In a large bowl, mix together the napa and red (or green) cabbages, carrots, bell peppers, jalapeño, green onions, cilantro, and mint.
  • Add the dressing and toss to mix. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Spicy Pork with Asparagus & Chile

I enjoy meat – don’t get me wrong – but I’d also be perfectly happy with a main course that consisted entirely of cheese. Because of this, I often let Dustin decide what protein we should have with dinner. When he came home from the butcher shop (yes, the same place I’ve mentioned in several posts now) on this particular night with some course-ground pork, I immediately thought of stir frying it with some asparagus. It is spring after all, and we’d just been talking about how much we miss the beautiful cherry blossoms in Japan, so I had Asian food on my mind. Later, I was casually flipping through the new issue of Bon Appetit and lo and behold; there was exactly what I had in mind: Spicy Pork with Asparagus & Chile. It was meant to be. In true stir-fry nature, this dinner comes together quickly, so make sure all of your ingredients are chopped, measured, and ready to go. We loved the flavor of the pork, seasoned with soy sauce and sherry (we didn’t have any Chinese rice wine, alas), with the crisp-tender asparagus. Some red jalapeño chile added some heat, which was balanced by the savory and sweet flavors of oyster sauce and honey. Next time we would actually add a little more honey, as well as a little more heat. I’d have your Sriracha bottle handy when you’re eating, or better yet, add some to the oil when you add the chile and ginger and let it really infuse the oil.

The first thing I do when I sit down for dinner is start cutting everything on my plate into little bits, so that I can give them to Levi. (But the other day I found myself doing the same when it was just me and my lunch! I realized what I was doing and laughed at myself). The good thing about this meal is that the ground pork could go straight from my plate to Levi’s. Only the asparagus had to get the special knife treatment. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of my little foodie’s version.

Spicy Pork with Asparagus & Chile

(From the April 2011 issue of Bon Appetit)

3 TBS. soy sauce, divided
1 TBS. Shaoxing Chinese rice wine or dry Sherry
2 tsp. cornstarch
12 oz. ground pork (preferably coarsely ground; sometimes labeled chili-grind)
3 tsp. Asian sesame oil, divided
12 oz. thin to medium asparagus spears, trimmed, cut on extreme diagonal into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces
1 red jalapeño chile, minced with seeds
1 TBS. minced peeled fresh ginger
2 TBS. oyster sauce
1 tsp. honey
2 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal
fine sea salt

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch. Add the pork and toss to blend.
  • Heat 2 tsp. of the oil in a heavy large wok or deep skillet over high heat. Add asparagus, chile, and ginger. Toss until asparagus is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer asparagus mixture to plate.
  • Add remaining 1 tsp. oil to wok. Add pork mixture and stir-fry until browned, using wooden spoon to break up pork into small pieces, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Return asparagus mixture to wok. Add remaining 2 TBS. soy sauce, oyster sauce, and honey. Stir-fry until pork is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add water by tablespoonfuls if it becomes too dry.
  • Add green onions; toss to incorporate. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve over steamed rice.

Pork Meatball Banh Mi

I recently learned about banh mi from reading various food magazines in the past year. It’s basically a Vietnamese-French sub sandwich. A crusty baguette holds flavorful fillings (such as pork meatballs, barbecued or shredded pork), mayo, pickled daikon and carrots for a little crunch and tang, and sliced jalapeños to add the perfect heat. Bon Appetit’s recipe features a kick-ass Sriracha mayo that will surely please your palate, especially if you’re as obsessed with the spicy condiment as we are. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make the mayo and the meatballs the day before, and throw everything together very quickly the day of. Then sit back and enjoy the familiar chewiness and crunchiness of a French baguette with sweet, sour and spicy Vietnamese flavors. These cultural hybrid sandwiches are definitely going to be made again around here! The recipe below makes 4 sandwiches.

Pork Meatball Banh Mi

(From the  January 2010 issue of Bon Appetit)

For the Sriracha Mayo:

2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)

For the Meatballs:

1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

For the Sandwiches:

2 cups coarsely grated carrots
2 cups coarsely grated peeled daikon (Japanese white radish)
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
4 10-inch-long individual baguettes or four 10-inch-long pieces French-bread baguette (cut from 2 baguettes)*
Thinly sliced jalapeño chiles
16 large fresh cilantro sprigs

* 10 inches sounded a little excessive to us. If I go to Subway, I’m a 6-inch sub kind of gal. So cut the bread according to your appetite! Also, the recipe doesn’t say to, but we toasted our rolls in the oven before assembling the sandwiches.

  • Stir all ingredients for the Sriracha mayo in a small bowl. Season with salt. This can be done 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
  • Next, prepare the meatballs. Line rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Gently mix all ingredients in large bowl. Using moistened hands and scant tablespoonful for each, roll meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Arrange on baking sheet. Meatballs can also be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
  • Toss the grated carrot and daikon with the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour, tossing occasionally.
  • Heat sesame oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs. Sauté until brown and cooked through, turning meatballs often and lowering heat if browning too quickly, about 15 minutes.
  • Cut each baguette or baguette piece horizontally in half. Pull out enough bread from each bread half to leave 1/2-inch-thick shell (we skipped this step and were still able to assemble our sandwiches just fine — it depends on the density of your baguette).
  • Spread Sriracha mayo over each bread shell. Fill each with 1/4 of meatballs. Arrange jalapeños, then cilantro on top of meatballs. Drain pickled vegetables; place on top of the sandwiches, pressing down on baguette tops. Enjoy!

“Thai” Basil Stir Fry

One of our favorite Thai dishes was the inspiration for this meal, except that we used regular basil instead of thai basil – the kind that everyone has tons of right now that screams caprese salad or pesto. Well, we wanted to do something a little different with ours. We found it was the perfect addition for a stir fry! Mizuna, carrots, and green beans were sitting in the CSA box waiting to be used, which we coated in an almost-perfected sweet/spicy/salty sauce. As usual, the measurements I’m giving you aren’t specific, but there are some guidelines. Trust your tastebuds! When we were done, it tasted pretty darn close to Thai take-out! If you desire to give your basil a break from Italian food, we recommend this dish.

sesame oil and canola oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
a spoonful of hot chile paste and/or 2 small dried chiles, sliced
2 scallions, white and light green parts chopped, and dark green parts chopped and reserved for garnish
a couple generous handfuls of mizuna leaves
(it cooks down a lot, so don’t be shy)
4-5 small carrots (or 1 large) , sliced into medallions and blanched for 1-2 minutes
(you can skip the blanching if your slices are thin)
a few handfuls of green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
soy sauce
rice vinegar
fish sauce
brown sugar
a handful of fresh basil leaves, washed, dried, and sliced

  • Heat a splash (about 2 tsp.) of sesame oil, and a bigger splash (about 2 TBS) of canola oil in a wok until very hot.
  • Add the garlic, chile paste and/or dried chiles and stir fry for 1 minute.
  • Add the scallions and stir fry for another minute.
  • Add the mizuna and green beans and stir fry for 3-4 minutes until mizuna is wilted and green beans are still slightly crisp. Add the carrots and cook a minute or two longer.
  • Add about 1 TBS each of soy sauce and rice vinegar. Add about 2 tsp. each of mirin and fish sauce. Add about 1-2 tsp. of brown sugar. Stir everything together.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking (remember, fish sauce is salty so don’t add too much without tasting!)
  • Turn off the heat and stir the basil into the stir fry until it’s wilted.
  • Serve on top of steamed jasmine rice and garnish with reserved green part of scallion.  A dry Riesling would go great with this meal.

    Asian Meatloaf with a Sweet & Spicy Glaze

    I have to admit I was more the souf chef for this one. Dustin comes up with the greatest recipes. I’m proud to have a husband who enjoys being in the kitchen! I had an idea a few weeks ago about making some sort of Asian flavored burger. He was thinking along the lines of meat loaf (which we’ve never made before). So we combined the two and the result was one of the best dinners we’ve had in a while (though the spicy pork tenderloin on Sunday was pretty hard to beat). You can change this recipe any way you like – try adding shredded carrot or chopped water chestnuts, or anything else you desire. We used ground pork and beef, but you could also sub turkey or chicken. Steamed rice seemed like the natural accompaniment, and since the oven was already on for the meatloaf, we roasted some asparagus that I tossed with sesame oil and chili flakes.

    For the Meatloaf:

    2 TBS. red miso, dissolved in a little water to form a paste, divided
    1/2 lb. ground pork
    1/2 lb. ground beef
    1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
    1 egg
    4 green onions, white & green parts chopped
    1/2 cup chopped shitake mushrooms (we used baby shitake mushrooms)
    a thumbnail-sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 TBS. soy sauce
    1 1/2 tsp. fish sauce
    1 1/2 tsp. rice vinegar
    a squeeze of honey
    1 1/2 tsp. mirin
    1 tsp. brown sugar

    Simply Asparagus

    For the Glaze:

    1 TBS. chili paste (such as Sambal Oelek)
    squeeze of honey
    squeeze of hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
    1/2 tsp. brown sugar

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a little bowl, combine the red miso and a little water to form a paste. Set aside.
      • In a large bowl, combine the ground meats, breadcrumbs, egg, green onion, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, and 1 TBS. of the miso paste. Mix with your hands until combined.
      • In the same little bowl as the remaining miso paste, add the soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar, honey, mirin, and brown sugar. Mix well. Spoon this mixture a little at a time into the meat mixture, and use your hands to incorporate it in. Reserve about a spoonful of sauce in the bottom of the bowl to make the glaze.
      • Shape the meat-mixture into a loaf-shape on a greased baking sheet.
      • To the bowl with the reserved spoonful of sauce, add the chili paste, honey, hot chili sauce, and brown sugar. Stir to combine. Spoon on top of the meatloaf.
      • Bake the meatloaf for about 45 minutes or until done. If making a side of roasted asparagus, toss the asparagus on another baking sheet with a drizzle of sesame oil, a sprinkling of chili flakes, and some salt & pepper. Put in the oven for the last 10-12 minutes of baking time.
      • Serve with steamed rice. Serves 2.

      Chili-Lime Shrimp Stir Fry & (our best yet) Miso Soup

      Finally. FINALLY! We are back! Since I last posted, I joined the world of twitter. Immediately I thought of the episode of The Daily Show, where reporter Samantha Bee makes fun of the “tweet” frenzy. But nevertheless we’re jumping on the bandwagon. If you aren’t already, please follow along here. (You can also view our tweets on the right side of this page). I’ll be keeping people updated not only on what’s going on in our kitchen, but other random musings in my life. Ok, on to dinner. I was craving shrimp, and I love the flavors of chili and lime together. I suggested to Dustin that we make a stir fry involving all those things. When we got to the store, we couldn’t resist two cute baby bok choy, so we threw those in there as well. The result was a sweet/spicy combo that we really enjoyed on top of steamed rice with a side of our (now almost-perfected) miso soup!

      Chili-Lime Shrimp Stir Fry

      1 lb. shrimp
      1 lime
      2 TBS. fresh chili paste (such as Sambal Oelek)
      2 good drizzles of honey
      1 large splash of soy sauce
      1 thumb-nail sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
      salt & pepper
      2 tsp. sesame oil
      1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
      2 baby bok choy, tough white part of the leaves removed

      • Peel and de-vein the shrimp leaving the tails attached. Place in a medium sized bowl. Add the juice of a lime (reserve a little juice from one of the halves to finish off the dish), chili paste, honey, soy sauce, ginger, and salt & pepper. Set aside.
      • Heat the sesame oil in a wok until hot. Add the garlic and cook for less than a minute, stirring consistently so it’s golden, but not burnt.
      • Add the bok choy leaves and and stir. Add a small amount of water (or broth) and bring a lid down over the wok. Cook for 1-2 minutes more. Remove the lid.
      • Add the shrimp. Cook, stirring frequently, until opaque. Off the heat, add the last little squeeze of lime juice. Serve over steamed rice.

        This was our third time making miso soup, and it really was the charm! The first time we used white miso, which resulted in a really sweet-tasting soup. Good, but not the kind we remembered eating in Osaka. The second time we used vegetable stock because we didn’t have the ingredients to make dashi stock. Still, the wakame seaweed, cubed extra firm tofu and sliced green onions that we threw in made it almost taste like the real thing. This time we finally used some dashi powder (that one of my students in Japan sent us) to make a stock that tasted just like how we remembered. We also added these cute little baby shitake mushrooms that we saw at the store.

        Miso Soup our Japanese friends would approve of:

        4 tsp. dashi powder
        3 cups water
        a handful of baby shitake mushrooms
        2 TBS. dried wakame seaweed
        4 TBS. red miso paste
        5 oz. firm tofu, cubed
        1 green onion, sliced

        • Dissolve dashi powder into the water in a medium pot, and bring to a boil. Add the mushrooms. Cook for a minute or two. Turn off the heat.
        • Add the dried seaweed and stir.
        • Place the miso paste in a small bowl and stir in a little of the soup liquid until the paste is of pouring consistency.
        • Gradually stir miso paste into the soup and add the cubed tofu and green onions. Ladle into bowls

          Vegetable Lo Mein with Salmon

          Our bowls and chopsticks often inspire me to make dinner. Each one tells a different story and conjures up a different time and place. These bowls were hand-crafted at a local artisan shop downtown and were given to us as a wedding gift 3 1/2 years ago. I love that they have little indentations on the edge for resting your chopsticks. The chopsticks came from a student of ours in Japan as a goodbye present. My decision to make something Asian-inspired for dinner came from looking at these bowls and wanting to eat something out of them! Stir fried noodles seemed appropriate because it was one of our weeknight standby meals in Japan. I don’t know how it never made it on the blog, but finally it’s making an appearance. We enjoyed a nice Junmai-style sake (best when served at room temp) with this meal and it transported me back to our tiny apartment in Osaka.

          Vegetable Lo Mein with Salmon:

          1 package Chinese Style Noodles (such as Nasoya brand)
          3 to 4 TBS. canola oil
          2 cloves of garlic, chopped
          1 white onion, diced
          1 cup snowpeas, ends trimmed and cut in half
          1 cup sliced shitake mushroom, stems removed
          a small head of broccoli, florets removed, and stems cut into equal-sized pieces
          3 to 4 TBS. soy sauce
          1 TBS. hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
          2 TBS. rice wine vinegar
          2 tsp. mirin
          2 tsp. brown sugar
          salt & pepper to taste
          3/4 lb salmon, cooked and flaked*

          *This recipe is ideal for using up leftover salmon (or other meat), but this time we cooked ours on the same night: We preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, Dustin mixed up our usual Honey-Soy Glaze that we often put on tuna in Japan. We poured some of the glaze mixture over the salmon in a baking dish before putting it in the oven, then based it every 10 minutes until the salmon was done (about 20 minutes) and we could easily flake it with a fork.

          • Cook the noodles according to package directions (we boiled them for 3 minutes), drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Set aside.
          • Heat the oil in a wok until very hot. Add the onion and garlic and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the broccoli and put a lid down over the veggies for about 3 minutes to speed up the cooking. Remove the lid and add the shitake mushrooms and snowpeas. Stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce to taste (we add a lot), mirin, brown sugar, and salt & pepper to taste. Stir together with the veggies. Tilt the wok so the sauce runs to one side. Cook sauce over the heat for a minute until it begins to thicken a little, then combine with the veggies again.
          • Add the noodles to the wok, and drizzle a little oil over them (about 1 tsp). Stir fry for a few minutes, combining them with the veggies and sauce. We found using tongs worked best for this!
          • Add the flaked salmon and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve in your most beautiful bowls 🙂

          Spicy Peanut Noodles with Fresh Vegetables

          Yesterday it was 75 degrees. My cousin Nikita, Dustin, and I were in the backyard wearing short sleeves, enjoying pints of Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Company beer, BBQ-ing Cornish game hens to accompany spicy peanut noodles, and listening to the screams of delight that waft up the hill from people riding the Giant Dipper at the Boardwalk. Ok, hold that picture in your mind because today it’s cool and rainy and it feels sort of funny to write about such a summery dish. Now pair that first scene I described with cool noodles tossed with crunchy peanut butter, tangy rice vinegar and lime, sweet & spicy Sriracha chili sauce, and fresh, crunchy veggies. Do you feel like it’s summer? We sure did! As we were chopping the vegetables for the noodles, Nikita and I were laughing because we didn’t have the patience to cut everything into matchsticks. Instead we ended up with small, misshapen vegetable pieces that amused Dustin. Consider it the “rustic” look. We hope you’ll keep this recipe in mind for your next BBQ or outdoor party. We really enjoyed it with a Dry Riesling.

          Spicy Peanut Noodles with Fresh Vegetables
          (Slightly adapted from Rachael Ray)

          3/4 pound spaghetti
          3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
          Juice of 2 limes
          1/4 cup rice vinegar
          1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
          a few squeezes of Sriracha Chili Sauce
          4 carrots—peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
          1 cucumber—peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced crosswise
          1 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
          6 scallions, thinly sliced

          • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain, rise with cold water, and return to pot. Set aside.
            • In a medium bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, lime juice, vinegar, red pepper flakes, Sriracha, and a 1/4 cup water. Taste and season with salt.
            • Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss to coat. Add the carrots, cucumber, bell pepper, and scallions, and toss. Serve immediately, or cool completely in refrigerator before eating with your favorite grilled meat. Serves 4 hungry people.

            Ma-Po Tofu

            We enjoyed this dish several times in Japan. Ma-Po Tofu is to Japan what maybe Kung Pao Chicken or Chicken Chowmein is to America. In Japanese supermarkets you can buy an instant version of it in a box. You cook the pork and tofu and then squeeze in the little packet containing the flavorful sauce. Sort of gross, yeah, but we were guilty of trying it out once. Now that we’ve made the real thing, we’ve found that it’s really quite simple! We were excited to use the authentic red miso that one of our dear English students mailed us all the way from Japan. This rendition is from my favorite Iron Chef – Masaharu Morimoto – so I trust his Japanese twist on a Chinese classic. We served this dish on top of steamed short grain rice, homemade miso soup (the real thing this time – made with dashi stock instead of chicken! woo hoo!), and a cucumber salad with rice vinegar and sliced chilis.

            Tofu & Spicy Pork Rice Bowls
            (Slightly adapted from the book Morimoto – The New Art of Japanese Cooking)

            1 large or 2 medium dried shitake mushrooms*
            1 TBS. vegetable oil

            2 cloves finely chopped garlic

            1 TBS finely chopped peeled fresh ginger

            1 scallion, white and green separated, finely chopped

            1 TBS. finely chopped bamboo shoot**

            1 TBS. finely chopped celery

            12 ounces (250 g) ground pork

            1 cup chicken (or vegetable) stock

            1 TBS. red miso

            1 TBS. Chinese hot chile sauce (
            1 TBS. sugar

            1 TBS. soy sauce

            2 tsp. cornstarch, dissolved in 1 TBS. water

            1 pound (450 g) firm tofu, diced

            steamed rice

            scallion, sliced, for garnish

            * we used 3 medium fresh shitake mushrooms
            ** we could only find canned bamboo shoot in our store, but it worked out fine
            *** we used Sriracha hot chili sauce

            • If using dried shitake mushrooms, soak in hot water to cover until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain, squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible. Remove stem and finely chop mushroom caps. If using fresh shitake mushrooms, simply remove the stem and finely chop the mushroom caps.
              • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, white part of the scallion, bamboo shoot, celery, and hopped shitake mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic is tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
              • Add the pork and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook, breaking up any lumps of meat with the side of a spoon, until it is cooked through, with no trace of pink, about 7 minutes.
              • Add the chicken stock, red miso, chili sauce, sugar, and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 30 seconds.
              • Shortly before serving, add the tofu and gently stir to mix. Cook until it is heated through, about 3 minutes. Serve in bowls with steamed rice. Garnish with a little chopped scallion. Makes 4 servings.

              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.

              Dustin’s Garlic-Pepper Pork & Green Beans

              This was a really tasty dish that uses familiar ingredients that you might already have at home! We love to just throw stuff together around here, instead of following an exact recipe; that’s why our measurements aren’t very specific. Just have fun with the seasonings, and then serve with some steamed rice and a bottle of dry Riesling. *Hint – make enough rice so that you have 1 1/2 cups leftover and keep it in the refrigerator. You’ll want to use it to make the next recipe that I’m going to post!

              vegetable oil, about 2 TBS. (enough to coat bottom of wok)
              1 center-cut pork chop, fat and bone removed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (or sub any kind of pork or other meat you want)
              a couple handfuls of green beans, trimmed and halved
              salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
              3 cloves of garlic, minced

              1/2 a white onion, diced

              soy sauce (about 3 TBS.)

              rice wine vinegar (about 1-2 teaspoons)

              ketchup (about 3 squeezes around the pan)

              brown sugar (1 TBS. or less)

              • Heat the oil in a wok over medium high heat until hot.
              • Season the pieces of pork with lots of black pepper and some salt.
              • Cook the garlic and onion until garlic is turning golden and onion is translucent.
              • Add the pork and cook until done, about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
              • Add the green beans and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
              • Add the soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, and more black pepper.
              • Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve with steamed white rice.

              sweet, sour & spicy

              Spicy Garlicky Stir Fry

              Stir fry is one of those great meals that doesn’t require a recipe. We make it so often, and it changes depending on what veggie looks fresh and what kind of protein we feel like throwing in, but I thought I’d write down our basic guidelines for this simple, delicious dinner. The only consistent thing is that we love it hot and garlicky; the first two things that get thrown in season the oil and set the stage for the rest of the ingredients.

              Start by getting your rice started. Place the rice in a bowl and cover with cold water. Mix the rice around in the water with your fingers and then pour out the water. Repeat until the water is clear when poured out, about 2-3 times. Combine 1 cup rice with just a little more than 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, and simmer, covered for 15-20 minutes. Let sit off the heat for 5 minutes before removing lid.

              Heat some sesame oil (or peanut or canola oil) in a wok until hot. Add a clove or two of minced garlic and some red pepper flakes (or chile paste) and saute for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add boneless skinless chicken breast meat that’s been cut into pieces (or beef, pork, firm tofu, whatever) and saute until cooked through, stirring frequently. Add veggies cut into similar sized pieces. Bell peppers and snow peas are good options. Saute for a few minutes, stirring frequently.

              Now make the meat and veggies come alive. Add a few swigs of soy sauce around the pan. Then one swig of of rice vinegar and 1 small spoonful of brown sugar. Taste and season with salt and pepper and see what else it needs. If you like cashews, this is a good time to throw in a handful. I like my cashews still kind of crunchy.

              Simply top your steamed rice with your delicious concoction! What could be simpler? We were excited to use our chopsticks and chopstick holders from Japan for this meal!

              Good Kitty.

              Miso Soup Take Two

              Ahh … as you lift a bowl of miso soup to your lips, and the smell of the steam meets your nose, there’s a short moment when you feel that everything is going to be alright. We love the taste of red miso. Its flavor is a little richer and earthier than white miso, which is sweet. Since coming back from Japan, miso soup has become my comfort food. Funny, huh? Even though this recipe isn’t as authentic because it’s made with vegetable stock instead of dashi, it was still warm, comforting, and nostalgic. I highly recommend it this fall!

              We had marinated some skirt steak in our own teriyaki concoction (equal parts soy sauce and mirin, a splash of sake, two spoonfuls of sugar, and some crushed garlic) for a few hours, then BBQ-ed it. We served it with the miso soup, steamed rice, cucumbers marinated in rice wine vinegar, sugar, and chilies, and a bottle of sake.

              Warm, Comforting Miso Soup for 4:

              6 cups vegetable stock
              3 TBS dried wakame seaweed
              3 scallions, thinly sliced
              4 TBS red miso
              9 oz. firm or semi-firm tofu, cubed

              • In a pot bring stock to a simmer.
              • Meanwhile, soak the wakame seaweed in fresh water for about 10 minutes. Drain.
              • Add the wakame to the stock and simmer for 1 minute. Add scallions and simmer for 1 minute more. Turn off the heat.
              • Add the tofu and gently stir.
              • Transfer a little broth from the pot to a small bowl. Dissolve the miso into the broth and then return to the pot.
              • Stir gently for a minute to allow the miso to steep, then serve immediately.

                Teriyaki Chicken & Miso Soup

                It’s about time we made two of the most well known Japanese dishes. The chicken teriyaki is best made with chicken thighs, but we used these skinless chicken breast strips instead. We were really happy with how the teriyaki sauce turned out. It actually tasted like the “real thing,” with just a hint of sweetness from the mirin. Serve with steamed white rice and sliced leek.

                4 boneless chicken thighs with skin
                2 tsp. + 1/2 cup sake
                2 tsp. + 3 TBS. soy sauce
                3 TBS. mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine)
                2 tsp. vegetable oil
                1 leek stalk, sliced (optional)

                • Place chicken, 2 tsp. sake and 2 tsp. soy sauce in a medium bowl and marinate for 30 min. or overnight. Drain and pat dry on paper towels.
                • In a small bowl, combine the mirin, 3 TBS. soy sauce, and 1/2 cup sake and set aside.
                • Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Fry the chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
                • Add the reserved mirin mixture, reduce heat to low and cook for 7-8 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce thickens. (If using thinner chicken breasts, remove after 5 minutes so they don’t overcook and continue thickening the sauce in the pan).
                • Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve with sliced leek. And don’t let that leftover sake go to waste!

                  We used white miso in our miso soup, which had a much sweeter taste than we were expecting. We’d recommend using red miso if you can find it. It’s the preferred kind in the Osaka area anyway. There’s something really comforting about miso soup. I just love it. I think it’s one of the few Japanese foods I could actually eat every day for breakfast (everything else just isn’t as appetizing before noon). Feel free to add cubed tofu if you want too! Also, I learned it’s important not to bowl the miso or it will lose its flavor. Most of the “cooking” is done off the heat.

                  4 tsp. dashi powder dissolved in 3 cups water (or 3 cups of Dashi Stock. Another alternative is bouillon).
                  2 TBS. dried wakame seaweed, torn
                  4 TBS. red miso paste
                  150 grams (5 oz) silken tofu, cubed
                  1 TBS. thinly sliced green onions, to garnish

                  • Place dashi mixture or stock into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and sprinkle with the dried seaweed (soon it will turn a vibrant green!)
                  • Place the miso paste in a small bowl and stir in a little of the stock liquid until the paste is of pouring consistency.
                  • Gradually stir into the soup stock and add the cubed tofu.
                  • Ladle into bowls and garnish with green onion.

                    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.

                      Roll Out!

                      It doesn’t get much simpler than fresh raw fish. Add crisp nori, fresh lettuce leaves, a bowl of sushi rice and a variety of sliced vegetables and you have temaki-sushi: a typical weekday do-it-yourself dinner for many Japanese families. Unlike other Japanese meals, it’s ok to use your hands. In fact, it’s encouraged!

                      We had our first hand-rolled sushi experience at my student Rei’s house. There were so many slices of various things on the table that we had to take cues from Rei’s daughter, trying to inconspicuously imitate her combinations as the meal unfolded: First, isaki (sea bream), cucumber, shiso leaf (a pungent herb reminiscent of basil). Got it. Next. Hamachi (yellowtail) with slice of sweet omlette. Put a squeeze of wasabi at the side of dish. Don’t mix into soy sauce with chopsticks. Check. Lastly, salmon (pronounced sa-moh-n) and avocado on a lettuce leaf.

                      We came home and tried it out a few weeks later, adding new combinations: tempura sweet potato, cucumber, avocado.

                      Tempura prawn, shiso, and cucumber.

                      And tuna and avocado.

                      The combinations are endless, really. Each square of nori and leaf of lettuce is a blank canvas awaiting our creativity.

                      Shiso leaves (photo from gourmet sleuth).

                      Sushi Rice

                      1 cup short grain rice
                      1 cup water, plus more for rinsing
                      1 tablespoon sushi vinegar (rice vinegar)
                      1 tablespoons sugar

                      1 tsp. salt plus more to taste

                      • Place the rice in a bowl and cover with cold water. Mix the rice around in the water with your fingers and then poor out the water. Repeat until the water is clear when poured out, 2-3 times.
                      • Put rinsed rice and 1 cup of water into a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. When it begins to boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for another 10 minutes.
                      • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine vinegar, sugar and salt. Heat in microwave for about 30-45 seconds.
                      • When the rice is done, put it into a large wooden or glass bowl. Gradually add the vinegar mixture, folding into the rice with a rice paddle or spatula. Taste and add more salt if needed. Allow to cool before making sushi. Makes about 2 cups – perfect for 2 people.

                        Hand-Rolled Sushi

                        12 3×5 inch squares of nori (seaweed) and/or large romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried.
                        A variety of thinly-sliced sushi grade tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and sea bream
                        Any of the following:
                        1 large cucumber, cut into 3 inch long sticks
                        1 avocado, sliced
                        6 shiso leaves
                        3 tempura sweet potatoes, sliced into 3 inch long sticks
                        2 tempura prawns

                        • Take a square of nori. Place a spoonful of rice in the middle. Top with any combination of fish and veggies.
                        • Gently pick up both sides of the nori, fold together the best you can, and eat!
                        • Serve with soy sauce and wasabi in small dishes, but don’t mix together 🙂

                          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.