Category Archives: Asian

Barbecued maitake and mee goreng

Maitake frondosa, known to some as ‘hen of the woods’ is a saprotropic fungus that makes a living by eating decaying wood.   While that may not sound incredibly appetizing, this ecology makes them fairly easy to cultivate and to produce reliably for consumption. This is lucky for me since they are not native to California and I can’t easily forage for them!  Since they are not native California mushrooms, I had never cooked these beautiful and intriguing mushrooms before, and I did not quite know what to do with them. Luckily, Justin Reyes from Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc suggested a delicious marinade inspired by this youtube video from chef Louisa Safia of LucidFood, which turned out to be quite the crowd pleaser. It was so popular in fact, that my friends Meera and Judy asked me for the recipe immediately after the dinner, and Meera went home and tried it out the next day!

Maitake Frondosa

Maitake Frondosa or ‘hen of the woods’

The first step is to make the marinade the night before you want to cook the mushrooms and let them soak it up overnight in the fridge.  Unfortunately, I only realized this last minute and found myself mixing up the marinade at midnight the evening before I cooked these mushrooms, but hopefully you can be smarter and plan ahead – trust me, this marinade is worth it!

Marinated maitake

Marinated maitake

Here are the ingredients for the marinade:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 scallions, green and white parts
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp white wine
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 3 lbs Maitake Frondosa

Blend the olive oil, whole pieces of scallion whites, whole garlic cloves, honey, 2 Tbsp wine, salt and fresh ground black pepper in blender. My handy dandy immersion blender worked great for this :) Then you either need to find a giant zip lock bag or a bowl and pour the sauce over the mushrooms and let them soak it up in the fridge over night. Save half a cup of the marinade for the reduction sauce the next day. While this recipe suggest barbecuing the mushrooms or using a cast iron skillet, I unfortunately had neither so I just used a big pan to saute them up. Don’t worry -they still tasted great! Just make sure to leave them alone and let them cook for a really long time until they start to get brown and crispy. While they are cooking, you can make the reduction sauce by adding 3 Tbsp of white wine to the reserved 1/2 cup of marinade and reducing it to a simmer after you’ve brought it to a boil. When the mushrooms are nice and crispy you can spread the reduction sauce on them and it tastes so good!

Barbecued maitake

Barbequed maitake

I decided that this meaty mushroom  would make a great accompaniment to the vegetarian mee goreng from Plenty, which I featured in this post.  Mee goreng is a Malaysian street food that is super healthy and super simple, and takes only a few minutes to stir fry up after all the vegetables have been chopped and prepared.

Mee goreng

Mee goreng

Ottolenghi suggests serving the mee goreng with shredded lettuce, fried shallots, lemon wedges, and a Malaysian spicy chili sauce called sambal oelek. Fortunately I was able to find sambal oelek  at Berkeley bowl, but it looks like it is super easy to buy online!

Mee goreng with lettuce, lemon wedges, sambal oelek, and fried shallots

Mee goreng with lettuce, lemon wedges, Sambal oelek, and fried shallots

Here is my plate all loaded up with mee goreng:

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Here is the mee goreng served as suggested with the shredded lettuce, lemon wedges, fried shallots, and sambal oelek on top:

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It went really well with the maitake mushrooms and my friends Judy and Meera gratefully gobbled it up. They were both super fun to cook for and claimed that these dishes induced euphoria and it was hands down one of the best meals they’d eaten that year.  This meal was probably the easiest and simplest of my three Gourmet Mushrooms Inc. feasts. It was also probably the most delectable! Don’t you just love when that happens?

Mee goreng with bbqed maitake

Mee goreng with BBQed maitake

Broccolini and sweet sesame salad and Brussels sprouts and tofu

So for the last Saturday of January I prepared the broccolini and sweet sesame salad from p. 94 of Plenty and also featured online here, and the brussels sprouts and tofu dish from p. 105 of Plenty and featured here.  I’ve been totally obsessed with Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty and these two asian inspired meals captured my attention. After cooking and eating them I realized that everything I had made was vegan, except some might want to swap agave for the honey in the broccolini sauce. So here you go, a healthy, delicious, and an unintentionally vegan feast :)

Me showing off the unintentionally vegan feast

Me showing off the unintentionally vegan feast

As any reader of Plenty will know, some of the ingredients are seriously difficult to source. There’s no quick dash to the grocery store when it comes to these recipes.  I looked all over and let me tell you, as far as I’m concerned, nigella seeds don’t exist in grocery stores.  I even looked up alternative names on  Wikipedia such as black caraway, and Roman coriander, but the Safeway spice guy was at a loss. It appears that the internet is the way for these supposedly delectable seeds (I wouldn’t know quite yet) and here is a nice cheap version of the seeds.

Me checking in with Ottolenghi to make sure I'm getting everything right!

Me checking in with Ottolenghi to make sure I’m getting everything right!

So the first step of the broccolini and sweet sesame salad is to make the sauce, which involves whisking together tahini paste (I bought this from the Middle eastern store down on San Pablo and University but I’m sure regular grocery stores have it too), water, a garlic clove, tamari soy sauce (not sure exactly why tamari soy sauce is specified here, but I took his word for it and bought it), honey (substitute agave if you are vegan), cider vinegar, and salt. Next, you have to blanche the vegetables. So as you’ve probably figured out by now by my tales of bumbling around the kitchen, I’m a total novice at this.  I’m sure many more could manage to blanche broccolini, grab it out of bowling water and rinse it off and boil the snow peas and green beans in the same water more adeptly than I, but basically I used a plastic tong to grab the vegetables out of the boiling water and dumped them into a colander in the sink.  I think I need to buy one of those scoopable colanders if I’m going to keep up with this! So basically you blanch the vegetables then rinse and dry them, add some oil and sesame seeds, and then mix in the sauce, and voila, delicious hearty salad! It’s really a very tasty and hearty salad and you can see I had a lot of fun making it despite the difficulties blanching the vegetables :)

Mixing in the tahini and sweet sesame sauce with the broccolini, green beans, and snow peas

Mixing in the tahini and sweet sesame sauce with the broccolini, green beans, and snow peas

And here is the completed dish!

Broccolini and sweet sesame salad

Broccolini and sweet sesame salad

Next I put some white rice in my handy rice cooker, and started onto the brussels sprouts and tofu dish. I must say, this is one of the most delicious ways I’ve ever had tofu or brussels sprouts before. Bravo, Ottolenghi! This dish is pretty easy too. I had never bothered to marinate and sear tofu in this way before (usually I just throw it into a stir fry and add teriyaki sauce or soy vay) but the marinade on this dish is so good. It definitely takes an investment into buying a lot of asian sauces (see below), but hopefully I will find a use for my giant bottle of sweet chilli sauce! I’d actually never used sunflower or peanut oils before so I had to buy those for this dish as well, but less than a month later and I’m already almost out of my sunflower oil so it’s definitely a useful oil to have on hand!

Ingredients for brussels sprouts and tofu dish

Ingredients for brussels sprouts and tofu dish

You have to whisk together 2tbsp of sweet chilli sauce (I bought this at Safeway in a ginormous bottle for under $3), 1.5 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp sesame oil (this stuff is really really good, definitely worth buying), 1 tsp rice vinegar, and 1 tbsp maple syrup.  I learned the importance of real maple syrup while living on a farm in Vermont in high school (it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup! Tapping trees is hard! Real maple syrup is wayyyy better than the fake stuff!) so I always happen to have real maple syrup on hand. So whisk together the ingredients for the marinade, place the tofu in it, and set aside.

Making the brussels sprouts and tofu dish

Sauteeing shiitake mushrooms, green onions, and chile

This dish actually called for mushrooms, so of course I loved that :) After sauteeing the brussels sprouts in a ton of sunflower oil and getting them super crispy in one dish, I had to chop up onion, a red chile, and mushrooms to saute in a different pan. I was super nervous chopping up the red chile so I was a nerd and put plastic bags on my hand. I’ve heard enough horror stories of friends cutting chiles with their bare hands and then burning their eyes while taking out their contacts to know to be careful!  Next, add the tofu to the pan and let it caramelize.

Brussels sprouts with tofu and mushrooms

Brussels sprouts with tofu and mushrooms

These dishes complemented each other really well and resulted in a hearty, substantial, tasty, healthy, vegetarian dish. It was the kind of food that just made you feel healthy and good about yourself eating it!

Broccolini and sweet sesame salad, brussels sprouts and tofu, and white rice vegetarian meal

Broccolini and sweet sesame salad, brussels sprouts and tofu, and white rice vegetarian meal

 

Mee goreng

 

Mee goreng - vegetarian Malaysian street food - super healthy and easy dish!

Mee goreng – vegetarian Malaysian street food – super healthy and easy dish!

I decided to remove the stress from Valentine’s day this year and cook a delicious meal for some girl friends. I was grading papers all day so I needed something that was relatively quick and easy to make.  While my love for Yotam Ottolenghi runs deep, the recipes in Plenty can be filled with complicated ingredients that are time consuming to source – so I picked out the vegetarian Mee goreng – see recipe here – http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2008/nov/01/mee-goreng-yotam-ottolenghi .

Ha that doesn’t sound like something that would be simple, does it? I’d actually never even heard of it before but it’s a Malaysian street food that is designed to be cheap and fast to make – so it was perfect! I must say Mr. Ottolenghi did not disappoint :)

Lauren and I took a trip to the Berkeley Bowl to grab the onions, bok choy, green beans, lettuce, tofu, egg noodles, bean sprouts, and the slightly more esoteric sambal oelek, which is a savory chile paste. Luckily the Berkeley Bowl basically has everything, so it wasn’t hard to find :) I’m finally getting to the point where I have a nice baseline of spices and oils so I didn’t have to buy the peanut oil, soy sauce, coriander, and cumin because I already had them at home! I also had lemons and green onions, which I figured could substitute for shallots.

onions, green onions, lettuce, green beans, bean sprouts, and lettuce washed and prepped and ready to go!

onions, green onions, lettuce, green beans, bean sprouts, and lettuce washed and prepped and ready to go!

key to making this dish as stress-free as possible: prep station!

key to making this dish as stress-free as possible: prep station!

Our friend Stella, another ecology grad student, met us at my apartment and brought the wine. After busting open the bottle of pinot noir and toasting to good friends, we washed and cut all the vegetables while grooving to Lauren’s favorite new tunes by Eric Church – Lauren’s from eastern Washington and has a thing for country, and I decided to humor her.

Lauren is very happy to be grooving to Eric Church, drinking wine, and getting a delicious meal cooked for her :)

Lauren is very happy to be grooving to Eric Church, drinking wine, and getting a delicious meal cooked for her :)

Since we got dried noodles and not fresh we cooked all the noodles first which I had to do in batches because there were a TON of them and my pot isn’t that large.

cooking the noodles

cooking the noodles

Luckily the cooking goes pretty quickly after all the prep is done.  I didn’t realize that I needed to heat the pan before adding the peanut oil – whoops! It smoked as it heated – oh well, next time I will get it right :)

tofu and green beans cooking in peanut oil

tofu and green beans cooking in peanut oil

I ended up making two batches because the recipe says it serves two and there were three of us, but the servings in the recipe are super generous. I mean, I like big portions, but these are crazy big. Luckily I got to practice on the first batch, and decided that the noodle to vegetable and sauce ratio was way off and used half the noodles in the second batch.

Lauren too excited to wait for me to get the noodle to vegetable ratio correct in the second batch, showing off the first batch with glee!

Lauren too excited to wait for me to get the noodle to vegetable ratio correct in the second batch, showing off the first batch with glee!

I accidentally sort of burnt the green onions as there were many pans to keep track of at once and we were  laughing too much while preparing the dinner… Despite the burnt onions the dish came out super delicious and refreshing tasting, and the fresh lemon squeezed on top added a lot. Turns out that wine, Mee goreng, and good friends is the recipe for the perfect Valentine’s day :) Of course, no meal is over without dessert, so we rounded it off with red bean mochi that Lauren and I had bought at Berkeley bowl and orange and chocolate Milanos that Stella brought over. Thanks Plenty for another great dish :)

Sambal oelek (savory chili paste) and lemon wedges to accompany the Mee goreng

Sambal oelek (savory chili paste) and lemon wedges to accompany the Mee goreng

Stella says hand over the noodles!

Stella says hand over the noodles!

Lauren and Stella happy and enjoying the dish :)

Lauren and Stella happy and enjoying the dish :)

 

Ingredients:

2 tbsp peanut oil
½ onion, peeled and diced
220g firm tofu
100g green beans, trimmed and cut in half on an angle
100g bok choy, leaves and stems, cut into large chunks
300g fresh egg noodles
1½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp sambal olek (or other savory chilli paste), plus extra to serve
2 tsp thick soy sauce
2 tsp light soy sauce
50g bean sprouts
1 handful shredded iceberg lettuce
1 tbsp crispy fried shallots (available from oriental grocers; alternatively, use dry onion flakes)
Lemon wedges, to serve

Sweet winter slaw and soba noodles with eggplant and mango

Last Saturday (Feb 1, 2014) my friend Lauren who is a fellow graduate student in my department was feeling a bit down and her foot was really hurting from a running injury, so i forced her to get up and come cook with me.  Having been on the Mediterranean train for a while, I chose two yummy sounding asian style dishes from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. I must say, I’ve expanded my sauce and spice collection exponentially since I started cooking from these books! I figure I am in the investing stage right now, but pretty soon I will have a nice baseline so shopping for every new recipe will not be as big of an endeavor.  We made the cooked soba noodles with eggplant and mango from page 112 first. Lauren has an inexplicable love for chopping, so I set her to chopping the eggplant into beautiful diced pieces while I prepped the soba noodles.

Lauren loves chopping!

Lauren loves chopping!

This was my first time cooking soba noodles – they are very flavorful! We got the water boiling first and there was a lot of eggplant so we ended up frying it in 4 batches and then straining it.

eggplant about to be stir fried

eggplant about to be stir fried

soba noodles with eggplant prior to adding the mango and herbs

soba noodles with eggplant prior to adding the mango and herbs

After cutting up the mango, herbs, and onion, we mixed mixed all the noodles and mango and eggplant and herbs and onion together at once.

soba noodles with mango and egglant

soba noodles with mango and egglant

Unfortunately we didn’t realize you were supposed to let it sit for 1-2 hrs before, so we ate it right away and leftovers tomorrow will probably be even better! It was a super light refreshing flavorful and zesty dish with herbs that I would definitely never have bothered to use before but make everything taste so much better!

Who did it better? Me or Ottolenghi :) ?

Who did it better? Me or Ottolenghi :) ?

To accompany the soba noodles, we made the sweet winter slaw from page 102 featured here. Here are all the ingredients for the dish:

ingredients for the sweet winter slaw

ingredients for the sweet winter slaw

I don’t like papaya, so we used a single mango instead.  We made a few blunders during the cooking of the dish – we accidentally placed the red chile into the dressing before placing it on the stove! We decided to go with it and mixed the rest of the ingredients for the dressing into the ban, boiled them, let them cool, and strained it in a makeshift manner using my vegetable steamer and a bowl to get rid of the lemongrass pieces.

lemon grass, chile (whoops!), maple syrup, vinegar, and spices reducing for the dressing

lemon grass, chile (whoops!), maple syrup, vinegar, and spices reducing for the dressing

We washed and chopped the savoy and red cabbage and mango while the dressing was reducing.

Mango, savoy cabbage, and red cabbage for the sweet winter slaw

Mango, savoy cabbage, and red cabbage for the sweet winter slaw

I mixed together the cabbage and mango in a bowl and added the reduced part of the dressing before adding the oil, and was wondering why it looked like so little! No worries, I added the oil to the cabbage mixture and mixed it all super well.

Sweet winter slaw

Sweet winter slaw

The absolute most amazing part of this dish is the caramelized nuts. We couldn’t find macademia nuts at the Monterey Market, so we used cashew nuts instead, and they were incredible! I had never caramelized nuts before in sugar and butter and salt and chile but it made them super delectable (unsurprisingly!).

caramelized cashews with sugar, salt, butter, and chile

caramelized cashews with sugar, salt, butter, and chile

These dishes were super refreshing and delightful, and despite the rough start to her day, Lauren ended up a very happy camper that evening :)

sweet winter slaw and soba noodles with eggplant and mango

sweet winter slaw and soba noodles with eggplant and mango

Lauren enthusiastically digging into her dinner

Lauren enthusiastically digging into her dinner