Japanese Nabe (Hot Pot)

How to describe this?  It’s really not a recipe – just ingredients and an idea of how to put it all together.  Our friend Tom made this the other day and I was immediately hooked.  How can something that just looks so simple end up feeling immensely satisfying and ever so delicious??

Nabe 1

Looks like a pile in a pot ….. right?  But, oh so good!  I could eat this on a weekly basis!

 

The base of this broth is as simple as the kombu you create it with.  Add about a 6 inch piece to 8 cups of water, let it sit for about 15-30 minutes, and then bring to a boil and allow to simmer until the kombu softens.  Some recipes will say to remove it at this point, but I didn’t, and we ate it – a bit chewy but still good!

Prepare all your vegetables while the kombu softens.  and broth simmers.

Keep the vegetables in groups according to how long it takes them to cook.  i.e., cabbage takes longer than snap peas!

I used:

  • savoy cabbage
  • carrots
  • sweet peppers
  • snap peas
  • bok choy
  • red onion
  • asparagus
  • bean sprouts

For a protein I used chicken breast and tofu.  The sky is the limit here, you can easily use whatever you like – just be aware of how long it will take to cook it, and put it in at the right time.  The last thing you want is soggy veg.

Nabe 3

Prepped and ready to go.

Nabe 2

If you have a pint sized helper like Stella, she will add the vegetables in the right order and keep everything moving.  That is teriyaki chicken beside her, and it was fantastic too.

For serving you need:

  • Ponzu (citrus soy sauce)
  • chili oil
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • thinly sliced green onions
  • cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Goma Shabu Sesame Sauce (I don’t have that one …yet)

Prepare Udon noodles while the sauce simmers.

The main objective here is not calling it a noodle bowl.  They finish off the show.  If you have individual mini bowls then each person can have their little assortment of the above condiments and sauces.  Traditionally you would ladle the veg & protein into your bowl, accepting the small bit of broth that comes with it.  You can either dress your bowl with the above, or dredge each bite in the accompaniments – your choice.  The pure joy in this comes from adding your finishing touches so everybody has it just they way they like.  When everybody is finished, then you add the noodles to the hot broth.  Once again, traditionally this would be on the table with a heating vessel to keep everything hot but I found it was warm enough to stir in the cooked noodles once we had finished eating the first “course”.  Those noodles are such a delightful way to finish slurping up your meal.

Shopping List:

  • assortment of veg
  • protein of choice
  • udon noodles (I like frozen best, if you can’t get fresh – over dried)
  • condiment toppings …… ponzu, sesame sauce, chili oil, sesame seeds, cilantro & green onion
  • kombu
Nabe 5

This is the dried kombu I found – you only need about 1/2 of one piece to go with 8 cups of water.

 

 

 

Tom’s Teriyaki Chicken

teriyaki chicken 6

This teriyaki chicken hits all the notes, crispy bits of carmelized chicken, sweet and salty,  tender and juicy – give it a try, you will love it.

Thanks go to our friend Tom for this simple teriyaki marinade that is as perfect as it is easy.  Works well with any protein, just to make it even simpler for you.

Marinade:

  • 1 cup soy sauce (reduced sodium)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 golf ball size knob of ginger, grated or finely minced.

Combine and stir until sugar has dissolved.

2 pounds of bonelesss, skinless chicken thighs – cut into bite size pieces

Garnish:

  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • sesame seeds, toasted until golden brown

Marinate the chicken in the teriyaki sauce for at least an hour and up to overnight.  Remove from marinade and place in hot saute pan.  Do not overcrowd the pan or the chicken will just steam rather than get nice crusty bits of caramelization.  Allow to cook, without disturbing, until you see the colour start to change on top of the chicken and the chicken releases easily from the pan to turn over.

Serve with rice and your favourite greens.

Teriyaki chicken 1

See the marinade bubbling up beneath the chicken?  That’s going to get all glossy and give the chicken nice little bits of delicious caramelization – don’t disturb it while this is happening.

teriyaki chicken 2

You can see some of the browned bits – that is pure gold.

Teriyaki 3

If you’d like a little extra to drizzle over, make a little sauce without the ginger and allow it to thicken.  Adds a fantastic bit of sweet and salty flavour.

Drizzle:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup soya sauce
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn starch

Combine the water, soya sauce and sugar, stir until sugar has dissolved.  Add in the corn starch and cook over medium heat until sauce has come to a boil and allow it to reduce slightly.  (Corn starch as a thickener has to boil or you will still taste the corn starch!)

Teriyaki 2

Tonight’s dish was a teriyaki bowl – utilizing a combination of chicken thigh and chicken breast with a little shredded carrot for crunch and cilantro for brightness.

Realistically you could use this recipe for any protein you like, or make it with a large assortment of vegetables for a vegetarian dish.  The teriyaki sauce is the star!

Thai Halibut Curry

Thai halibut curry 4

I made this today with Penang curry paste, which is my current fave, but it would be equally delicious with your fave curry paste.

This is one of the easiest, quickest curries I make.  Amazingly, it is also one of the tastiest!  We make it with halibut, but you could just as easily make it a vegetarian dinner or cook any protein you like to make the complete meal.

  • 6 four ounce halibut pieces
  • peanut oil (or any neutral oil)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup sliced shallot
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp (heaped) curry paste
  • 1 tbsp roasted red chili sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • juice of 1 fresh lime
  • 2 tbsp (dry) white wine
  • salt & pepper to taste

Season halibut with salt and pepper.  Fry in hot oil on each side for 2 minutes each … then set aside.

In the same pan, saute shallot, garlic, ginger, curry paste and chili paste.  Cook for one minute just to allow the flavours to wake up.  Add one can coconut milk, brown sugar, lime juice, and simmer until it has reduced by half.  Depending on how fresh your curry paste is, you may need more paste.  I also find that curry paste varies a lot by brand so please make sure you taste it to be sure you have enough curry flavour.

Taste …. does it need salt and pepper?  If so, add to taste.

Now is time to add the vegetables if you are going to make this a one dish meal:

I’ve made this in so many ways:

  • on a sheet pan, roast cauliflower, patty pan squash &  chicken thigh pieces
  • on a saute pan, cook shrimp just until pink and cooked through
  • saute bits of pork tenderloin with snap peas and peppers
  • saute tofu and mushrooms in garlic butter

Or simply add any vegetable you like:

  • bok choy
  • broccoli
  • red pepper
  • snap peas

No matter how you do it, this curry sauce enhances anything you come up with!  Serve with jasmine rice, your protein of choice and this amazingly delicious curry poured over top.

Garnish with slivered green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

Thai halibut curry

The brand of curry is my favourite …. it is the same as the packs I brought home from Thailand, and I always look for it.  The “Thai Kitchen” chili paste is the best mistake I’ve made ….. didn’t have reading glasses on and thought I was buying red curry paste …. I love it, and add it to so many curry dishes, it just adds so much punch.

thai halibut curry 2

Throw in whatever vegetables you like. Today I used bok choy and red pepper from Farmers Market, and the last little broccoli floret I had in the fridge.

Thai halibut curry 3

Sear halibut on both sides.  (Or just use whatever protein you have on hand)  I like that this curry dish is poured over the halibut, keeps the curry fresher tasting somehow.

 

 

Lemon Artichoke Pasta

 

Lemon Artichoke Pasta

Have you ever seen artichokes growing in the field?  Well, maybe it isn’t a big deal to Californian’s……  It took a few miles before we realized that was what we were seeing but ever since we cooked some fresh artichokes (Thanks Meghan)  I can’t stop adding them to everything. This quick and easy pasta dish is bright and refreshing – dinner ready in 20 minutes!

  • 2-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 pack angel hair/capellini pasta
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 can (14 ounces) water-packed quartered artichoke hearts, well drained
  • 1/2 cup minced sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper

This recipe makes enough to serve 2-4 people.  4 as a side, 2 as a main meal

Angel hair pasta cooks very quickly (4 minutes) to prepare the artichoke sauce first and allow it to sit while you cook the pasta.

Saute the shallots in the melted butter, adding the artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, and garlic as soon as the onions have softened.  When heated through add the olives, parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Set aside while the pasta cooks.

As soon as the pasta is cooked, pull it out of the boiling water and drop it into the lemon artichoke sauce, allowing some of the pasta water to drip into the pan also.  Stir in the spinach and let the warm pasta wilt the spinach.  Add feta and serve with fresh ground pepper and parmesan shavings to garnish.

 

 

Hot & Sour Soup

Nothing like a steaming bowl of hot and sour soup to fight off the cold season!  This soup is surprisingly easy to make and can be as versatile as the ingredients in your fridge.  You won’t be calling for take out after you give this a try.

Hot and Sour Sop

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp sambal oelek (or any Chinese hot sauce)
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 4-5 tbsp rice vinegar (start with 4 and see how it tastes to you)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • shitake mushrooms
  • thinly sliced red peppers
  • thinly sliced cauliflower
  • slivered snap peas
  • 6 ounces extra firm tofu, cut in small pieces
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • green onions, thinly sliced

For a little extra protein, stir in some cooked chicken or pork.

Combine chicken broth, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, hot sauce and white pepper.  Bring to a boil, then simmer.

Stir in vegetables.  Be as liberal with the vegetables as you like, I like to pack the soup with a variety.

Mix rice vinegar with corn starch and stir while pouring the mixture into the pot.  Allow to gently boil and thicken.  If you need more thickening, add a mixture of 2 tbsp vinegar and 1 tbsp corn starch.

This is the point where you really need to taste …. how hot do you like it?  How sour?  Work with the white pepper and vinegar if you need a little more punch in your soup.  Once you like the flavour it is time to work in the eggs.

Whisk egg until creamy, then pour into the soup in a very slow, thin trickle, stirring the pot as the egg goes in to create those little streams that help give you that true hot and sour soup texture.

Garnish with the sesame oil and green onions.  Best served with these amazing scallion pancakes.

Scallion Pancake 9.jpg

Portugese Stew With Pork and Clams

I haven’t been to Portugal, but I sure do want to!  This aromatic braise melds fields, land and sea, in the most satisfying way.  Grab some crusty bread and you’ve got a fantastic meal.

Portugese stew 2

I had a few of these adorable baby Yukon golds at hand, along with some bell peppers that went in also ….. after all, a stew is intended to help you clean out the fridge!

  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, divided
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Pimentón de la Vera dulce (or your favourite paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium-size (9-ounce) yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock or lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 pounds baby Yukon Gold potatoes, halved
  • 2 pounds Manila clams or cockles, scrubbed
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Lemon wedges and crusty bread, for serving

How to Make It

Step 1

Season pork all over with 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and place in a large ziplock plastic bag. Smash 3 garlic cloves, and add to bag with wine, bay leaves, and Pimentón. Seal and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Step 2

Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove pork from marinade, and pat dry. Remove and discard garlic and bay leaves; reserve remaining marinade. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add half of pork, and cook, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer pork to a plate. Repeat with remaining half of pork. Chop remaining 3 garlic cloves, and add to Dutch oven with onion and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil; cook, stirring often, until golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes, red pepper, and reserved marinade

Step 3

Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring often, 3 minutes. Return cooked pork to Dutch oven; stir in 1 cup stock until pork is mostly submerged. Cover and bake in preheated oven until pork is fork-tender, 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Step 4

Stir in potatoes and remaining 1 cup stock. Cover and bake until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Step 5

Transfer Dutch oven to stovetop over high, and add clams. Cover and cook until clams open, 3 to 5 minutes. (Remove and discard any unopened clams.) Season with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.

bread

My “no knead” bread was a gift with this stew, the perfect combo!

Make Ahead

Pork may be prepared through step 3 and refrigerated overnight. Reheat before proceeding with step 4.

Suggested Pairing

Robust Portuguese red.
Portugese stew 3

If you should be lucky enough, you will have friends with an amazing bonfire pit to sit around and enjoy your stew, dunking the crusty bread and sipping your beverage of choice.

I spotted this recipe just as we finished making our own Paprika – grilling or smoking, then drying a variety of peppers before grinding them up to enjoy all winter.  This was featured in Food and Wine Magazine, and I’ve copied it exactly as written.  On this particular day we were eating it the same day, so I had to skip the lengthy marinade, and just carried on as it is written, stirring the onions and garlic together after browning the pork.  Everything went into the oven and it wasn’t long before the most magical aroma was filling the house.  We then carted it off, with the bread, to enjoy at our friend’s house with a bonfire.

Beautiful Bowl

Beautiful bowl 7

This bright and beautiful bowl is packed with intense flavour and crunchy bits along with the chewy barley combined alongside pickled radish & ginger.

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup miso paste
  • 4 tsp honey
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp wasabi paste
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup minced cilantro (use the stems!)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and give it a good whiz until it is bright and creamy.

Beautiful bowl 1

Gather all the dressing ingredients together and it will take just a few minutes to combine.

Beautiful bowl 2

Use the stems of the cilantro, that is where the most flavour is – mince it first before blending.

Beautiful bowl 3

Bright, fresh, green – this dressing is a flavour packed bomb.  I’m sure it would be great on anything as well as this bowl …. I’m going to put it to use in whatever way I can find.

Pickled Radish:

  • 6-8 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Slice radishes, and sprinkle with salt and sugar, then pour the rice vinegar over.  Allow the radishes to sit for at least 10 minutes.

Beautiful bowl 4

Barley:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 1/2 cups pearl barley

Bring water, miso and stock to a boil, then add the barley.  Bring to a slow gentle boil and allow barley to cook until just tender – about 25-30 minutes.  Rinse under cool water and allow to drain.

This recipe was inspired by Whitewater Cooks, and her Beautiful BC Bowl with salmon ….but you can do whatever you like with it.

YOUR BOWL:

If you are cooking a protein, marinade in some of the dressing, and then grill until cooked.  Grilling is by far the best – the honey will stick to any fry pan you use!

Beautiful bowl 6

This is as customizable as your fridge!  Use what you’ve got – tonight we had leftover flank steak so that made our protein, but honestly without a protein you will enjoy this just as much.

Assemble bowl with the barley, protein of choice and an assortment of toppings.  Tonight we used:

  • roasted peanuts
  • roasted sesame seeds
  • avocado
  • sliced snow peas
  • halved cucumber slices
  • slivered green onions
  • sautéed mushrooms
  • sautéed red onions & sweet peppers
  • cilantro, roughly chopped
  • nori sheets – roasted lightly and slivered

Everything about this bowl is a delight!  Customize it to your tastes.