Monday, October 26, 2009

Lime Steak Skewers!

Kabobs! We love anything skewered, especially with limes! Fave steak recipe - I usually make this Lime Steak with a pan on high heat, searing each side of the cubed steak. This time I tried it on the grill, skewered the steak cubes onto bamboo chopsticks (10 pair, 20 pieces for $1). Yummy with no smoky house!

Tenderloin (fillet mignon cut into cubes)
Salt & Pepper
Fish Sauce
Maggi or Soy Sauce
Fresh Limes
Olive Oil

(1) In a bowl, add equal amounts of fish sauce and Maggi, enough to coat and season all the meat. Don't add too much or else it will get way too salty. Add enough sugar granulated garlic to coat the meat. Add pepper and a tiny bit of salt or no salt. Let marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.
(2) Set the Grill oh HIGH. Use bamboo chopsticks to skewer 4-5 pieces per stick. Brush on Olive Oil.
(3) Place the skewers on the grill (gas grill here), cover down, for 3-4 minutes, then turn once for another 2-3 minutes. Check for the center to be reddish, not hard, barely firm, RARE.
(4) Serve with cut lime wedges, soy sauce or maggi for dip, and fish sauce with fresh cut chilis.
School-night dinners....

Much action, keeping awake...too much fun here.

It has been so busy here that there is now a daily assembly line of Vietnamese coffee filters between the rice and Jura Capresso. Smell industrious heaven here now...dripping and dripping. AHH! All the mamas must keep wired and awake!
We are calculating our every move...
Peewees stragetizing over sorbets...I love our evenings. I'll get some more food stuff up this week. Promise.

Fried Rice, King Crab, Viet Coffee...tasty teatime

My favorite meal-to-make is the sorta-spontaneous, unfussible Teatime Nibbles, served 3pm-ish in the "time-out room" (aka, den or "cigar room"). This brilliant block of time is neither lunch nor dinner, so visitors arrive comfortable (from lunch, i.e., not starving, ergo, not expecting any food). No expectation = No anxiety and a big PHEW. People usually expect coffee, tea or some sugary drink. And for sassy ones, we have beer, wine and cocktails too - still got another half day to get through now!
For this particular group, Chinese reporters and state reps, I immediately think, a tray piled with awesome Fried Rice, Mix Mushrooms and Chinese Broccoli. Let's do some flash fried King Crab (VERY nice) in mushrooms, Chinese broccoli and oyster sauce...with, of course, the standard condiment bowls of chili and fish sauce. Beverages will be RO water and ice COLD Vietnamese Coffee.
Okay, this month we are gonna eat rice with EVERYTHING and we're gonna eat it all day long! Why?! Because I just came home with 50 pounds of aromatic new crop jasmine Buddha rice, the absolute BEST!
Warning alert: There are no real measurements this time - SORRY again. I was rushing, lost in the moment, blinded by hoodless cloud of smoke at the Viking. Excused, excuses. Even though I seem unreliable (flaky), I did take pictures! I thought I could easily give some exacts and the pics would jog my memory, BUT, converting handfuls-of-this-much and almost-a-coffee-cup-of-this-much into tablespoons and teaspoons is terribly confusing. The risk of ruining new crop fried rice and king crab because of my bad recipe is too much to bear and I could just DIE. This time, see if the pictures make sense and next time I promise to write down EVERYTHING.

olive oil
garlic & onion
salt and pepper
jasmine rice, cooked
sesame seeds, white and black
frozen corn or fresh corn

(1) First, cut up all those Baby Carrots. Purely a visual appeal - bright little confetti circles, beautiful perfect tiny rounds. Heat a pan generously coated with Olive Oil on High. Cook Carrots on High until some edges turn golden brown. Then add Salt & Pepper and throw in fresh minced Garlic.
(2) Separate all those Eggwhites! About 10 eggs equals almost 1 and 3/4 cups of Eggwhites. (I hate cooked scrambled egg with yolk in fried rice. The texture and flavor takes away from the rice. Eggwhites, cooked separately (vs mixed into rice while cooking) is silky smooth and delicate.)
(3) Cook the Eggwhites in Olive Oil, carefully keeping the whites soft but cooked through (no hard fried crispy brown edges!). Keep heat on medium to low. Eggwhites should be thin, WHITE and crepe-like. About 4-5 batches should cook all of it. Chop into small bite-size pieces, but not too small. Set aside.
(4) In another pan in Olive Oil, cook Chopped Onion on High. Salt and Pepper. Add onions to the cooked Carrots, toss and set aside.
(5) Frozen Corn. Grab a few handfuls and set aside with the Carrots-Onion. Let it thaw. (Since seeing Where the Wild Things Are, I will never look at frozen corn the same:( Sadness overcomes me...)
(6) Again, in a pan coated in Olive Oil, add cooked fresh hot jasmine Rice. Press the Rice down against the pan with a rice spoon against the heat. Salt and Pepper. On High, let the Rice sit for a few minutes to sear (fry) the rice and turn over to sear the other side. Look for golden texture, crunch! (Mushy rice no good, i.e., Panda Express, ew.) We want elegant chewy slightly crunchy texture.
Do you see the flat crunchy golden brownish Rice I turned over with the spatula?!
(7) Add the Carrot mixture and Eggwhites to the Rice. Toss evenly.
(8) Next, cut up the Asparagus into small slices similar to the carrot effect - little green confetti circles.
(9) Add the Asparagus to the rice last to prevent wilt and shrivel-up (from overcooking). By adding them last, they will also stay vibrant green (won't turn a nasty olive muddy green color from being in heat too long).
(10) Add chopped Scallion. Toss evenly and add more Salt and Pepper to taste. Add soy sauce if you feel like it.
(11) Add Black Sesame Seeds for nutty taste and accent contrasting color. I find by adding just the right amount of Black Sesame Seeds to something so white and colorful makes the dish strikingly attractive. Add enough Salt or soy sauce for additional flavor.
We need a substantial item with this gorgeous Fried Rice. Still on a Mushroom kick, we have plenty of Shitake and Empire Mushrooms - awesome, chewy, flavorful with a consistency nearly identical to abalone (or sauteed calamari). People cannot believe how good this is! I always think in terms of color - like, Chinese Broccoli, GREEN, and King Crab meat, ORANGE.
olive oil
fresh ginger root
empire mushrooms
shitake or black mushrooms - fresh
frozen corn or fresh corn on cob
oyster sauce
sugar, salt & pepper
fresh garlic cloves
Thai chili peppers
black sesame seeds
LadyK asked me one day, "How do you stir-fry?" Hmmm. I suppose it is the same as "sauteing," but in very High Heat temperature the entire time. The high heat "searing" creates the flavor. Adding water to the food and covering it with a lid, "steaming," ensures that the food gets fully cooked. So the timing and order of ingredients added to the pan or wok are critical to the success of the dish.
(1) Beautiful Empire Mushrooms, about 6 inches long and 2-3 inches in diameter. Cut, cook and eat the entire mushroom. Cut the trunks into small bite-size pieces and add to a hot pan overed in Olive Oil.
I always keep fresh Ginger root in the fridge.
(2) Fresh Ginger Root. Peel, slice, then julienne. Chop the Chili into thin slices. Add the julienne Ginger and Chili to the Mushrooms (still on High Heat).
(3) Add a big spoon of Oyster Sauce and a tablespoon of Sugar to everything while cooking on High. You may get popping oil or sauce, so have a splatter screen handy! (After as many corneal abrasions as I've had from this High Heat cooking, you'd think I would keep safety chem goggles around? Be careful -buy a splatter screen!)
(4) Peel all those King Crab legs. Claws can be a pain, so stick with meaty thick legs. I break the segments and use kitchen scissors to cut the shell down length-wise to pull the Crabmeat out. A rich awesome orange and white. (Also, wear surgical gloves to protect your hands.)
(5) Add some scallions, pepper and a small bit of salt. The Crabmeat is already salty, so easy on the NaCl.
(6) Fast steam the Chinese Broccoli by heating Olive Oil in a Pan on High. Add Broccoli. Cover with lid. Then add 1 cup of water and close lid. Let it steam for 5 minutes. Remove cover so the green doesn't turn ugly.
(7) Add the Crabmeat to the Mushrooms. Throw in some leftover Corn.
(8) Arrange on serving plate. Put the Broccoli down first. Then add the Crab and Mushroom. Serve with some Black Sesame Seeds. Done...delicious!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Late dinner, short notice for 2 guys...more Tilapia, Avocado and some Corn!

Amuse-bouche :)  Corn-Potato-Avocado Salad in Lime and Chile
Entree: Grilled Tilapia over Brown Rice with Avocado Corn Relish

After a FULL day, kids finally in bed and kitchen cleaned, I get a text request at 9pm for 2 plates of dinner ready by 9:15pm (in 15 minutes). Hubby tells me our solo friend hasn't eaten all day and could use some company and a home-cooked meal. OF COURSE. Come on over! I have some fillets of Tilapia left that must be cooked anyway. This time, I want to use corn. I see 3 little fingerlings laying around and the super ripe avocados must be eatened tonight - PERFECT timing.
olive oil, enough to coat pan
3 fingerling potatoes, sliced thin
2 cups of frozen corn (or fresh corn)
1 ripe avocado, cut into bite size pieces
1 small ripe tomato, cut into bite size pieces
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 sweet onion, julienne thin
1 scallion, chopped
a dab of chili paste
black sesame seeds
Salt & Pepper
with Vietnamese Lime-Chili Dressing (recipe below)
(1) Season the cut avocado, tomato and scallion with salt and pepper. Set aside.
(2) Heat Olive Oil in pan. On high, add onions for 2 minutes, add sliced fingerlings to brown on both sides, add smashed garlic. Add salt and pepper.
(3) Add frozen Corn
(4) Toss in Avocado, Tomato and Scallion, arrange in 2 bowls, add black sesame seeds.
(5) Add some chili paste and a squeeze of lime. Sweetness, crunch, creamy avocado...with chili kick, very tasty, very good.
2 thick fillets of Tilapia
1 ripe Avocado
1 ripe small Tomato
1 Scallion, chopped
2 cups of frozen Corn
Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper
Granulated Garlic
Cooked Brown Rice
Black Sesame Seeds
(1) Turn the Grill on HIGH first. Season the tilapia fillets with Salt, Pepper and Granulated Garlic, Olive Oil. Let marinate room temp.
(2) Grill on HIGH (600 degrees) one side for 3 minutes, turn over and grill for another 2-3 minutes. Check for some grillmarks.
(3) Have 2 plates of Brown Rice with sesame seeds ready by the time the fish is done. Take the fillets carefully off the grill immediately so that you don't overcook the fish (dry & hard & no good)...deep black grillmarks, soft delicate white center. Perfect.
(4) Place the Grilled Tilapia on top of the rice.
(5) Add Corn (cold okay).
(6) Add/scatter the avocado, tomato and scallion.
(7) Add the Vietnamese Lime-Chili Dressing: Pound in mortar 2 garlic cloves and 2T sugar. Add/mix in juice of 2 limes, 1/4C rice vinegar, 1/4C fish sauce, 1/4C water and 1/4tsp chili paste. Pour finished dressing over the fish. Enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Awesome Tilapia Lunch...Avocado, Tomatoes, Brown Rice

So, hubby calls to see if I am, by chance, home and willing to whip up a quick lunch. (A very appropriate and routine request, as he works just 5 minutes away.) I love it when there are fresh fillets of thick (thick anything=GRILL!) Tilapia ready in the fridge. I see tomatoes and an avocado, and notice brown rice still hot and fresh in the Zojirushi (ricecooker) from the night before.
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 fillets fresh Tilapia fillets (not frozen)
granulated garlic
sea salt and pepper
olive oil, 3T or enough to coat fillets
2 small tomatoes
1 ripe avocado
small bunch of cilantro

(mortar and pestle)
2 garlic cloves
2T sugar
2 limes
1/4C rice vinegar
1/4C fish sauce
1/4C water
1/4tsp chili paste

I start immediately. Total time: It took me about 15 minutes. Love lunch! First, I light the gas grill to 500+ degrees.

(1) Take 2 fillets of Tilapia and cover both sides generously with salt, granulated garlic and fresh grated pepper. And then Olive Oil. (Expect some of the seasoning to stick to the grill grates, so don't skimp.)
(2) Cut up the avocado and 2 small tomatoes into bite-size pieces and grab a small bunch of cilantro. Salt and pepper it. Set aside.
(3) I quickly mix up a Vietnamese-style lime dressing: Pound in mortar 2 garlic clove and 2T sugar. Add and mix in juice of 2 limes, 1/4C rice vinegar, 1/4C fish sauce, 1/4 C water and 1/4tsp chili paste.
(4) Place the olive-oily Tilapia onto the grill. Close cover. Temp is at now 500+ degrees. Leave the fish in until the edges char, about 4 minutes. Flip the fillets over to grill the other side. (Careful - keep the fragile fillets from breaking.) Close grill cover. Let cook for another 2-4 minutes.
(5) Scoop brown rice onto a plate. Transfer Tilapia directly from the grill and on to the rice. The fish center is is silky white, moist, flaky and the outside is charred, crispy and flavorful. Perfection!
(6) Scatter the salted-peppered tomato, avocado and cilantro over the fish. Then pour a generous amount of the Vietnamese Lime Dressing on top of EVERYTHING. Omg, the colors...this dish is just too beautiful!
People who like fish LOVE this dish. Add more chili paste (or even better, chop some fresh Thai chili) for a spicier kick. Refreshing, light, beautiful and DELICIOUS. Flavors are incredibly intense. Excellent with a glass of chilled Polka Dot Riesling (sweet).

(Personally, I prefer jasmine rice because it tastes much lighter to me. Brown rice is thick, more substantial and is quite filling. Variety is always nice though!)
This brown rice was $9.95 a bag - expensive. Feeling a bit indulgent and decadent, I bought 2 bags, and could not WAIT to treat myself to a bowl of luxury rice. Regarding rice, you get what you pay for. Wow, this was the good stuff!