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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Bang Bang Shrimp

This is delicious, which makes it a winner in my books!  The biggest bonus is that the whole dish comes together very quickly with ingredients that you likely have in your kitchen anyway.  The dipping sauce is a bit sweet, a bit spicy and a bit tangy from the yogurt.

Bang bang shrimp 4

Grilling these outside would have been perfect, but the rain changed that plan!

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced chives
  • 1 pound shrimp (raw, peeled and deveined)
  1. Mix together the first four ingredients and set aside.
  2. Thread shrimp on skewers (if using wooden skewers soak in water for 30 minutes first).
  3. Brush the shrimp with some of the sauce and leave the rest for dipping after they are cooked.
  4. Grill shrimp until just cooked through – it only takes a few minutes so watch carefully to be sure they are’t overcooked.
Bang Bang Shrimp 1

I’m sure you have all these ingredients on hand, and the dipping sauce is amazing to just keep on hand so make enough for leftovers.

 

Bang Bang Shrimp 2

Smooth, creamy and absolutely delicious.

Bang bang shrimp 3

Grill just until cooked through – today it had to be on a grill pan because it was absolutely pouring out there!

If you’ve had these at a Chinese restaurant they are usually deep fried in a light batter, and the dipping sauce is a lot heavier – made with mayonnaise.  I prefer this version made with greek yogurt, and I bet you will too!

 

Halibut Veracruzana

halibut veracruzana

This is one of those recipes that is more a guideline.  Inspired by the flavours of fish we’ve had served in the style of Veracruz in Mexico, this is so easy to prepare at home, and if you have a good source of fish, give it a try!

You will need:

  • enough fish to feed your family (I’ve used halibut here but any white fish will work)
  • green olives
  • fresh tomatoes
  • black olives
  • capers
  • roasted red peppers
  • fresh red peppers
  • your best olive oil
  • lemon
  • sea salt & pepper

Generously butter a baking dish (extra points for using a pretty one that you can also serve this dish in!)

Lay in your fish, cut in serving size.

Chop the olives, peppers and fresh tomato, and then cover your fish with all the toppings.  Again, be generous with seasoning – liberally sprinkling salt and pepper over it all.  Then – squeeze a whole lemon and drizzle olive oil over the top.

Roast at 375 just until fish flakes nicely.  This will entirely depend on the thickness of your fish, so watch it carefully and check after 10 minutes.

Serve over rice, with a bright, crunchy salad on the side.  Add crusty bread to soak up those juicy drippings and you’ve got a quick easy dinner good enough for company.

Tossed Salad

Grilled Cauliflower & Shrimp with Romesco Dipping Sauce

Cauliflower & Shrimp with Romescu

Grilling the shrimp in the shell protects them from the searing heat of the barbecue, and is definitely worth doing.  Serve this as an appetizer and nobody minds getting in with their hands!

 

romescu

Go ahead and make a big batch of this, it goes really well with any cooked fish or chicken dish.

Romesco Sauce:

  • 1 jar (300 mL) roasted red peppers , including juices
  • 1/4 cup prepared tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter or 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Romesco Sauce: In blender, purée together red peppers including juices, tomato sauce, almond butter, vinegar, paprika and cayenne pepper until smooth. Season to taste with salt, if needed.  Transfer to small saucepan, and set aside.

  • 1 head cauliflower , cut in large florets
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 450 g unpeeled jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 count)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch green onions

Shrimp and Vegetables: Plunge cauliflower pieces into boiling salted water for just about 2-3 minutes, and then immediately drop into ice water bath.

This can easily be turned into a vegetarian dish by omitting the shrimp, just use an assortment of vegetables.

In bowl, toss together shrimp, oil and remaining salt.

Thread shrimp onto metal or soaked wooden skewers. Place shrimp and cauliflower on greased grill over medium-high heat; close lid and grill, turning once, until shrimp are pink and cauliflower is charred, about 8 minutes. Add green onions during last 3 minutes of grilling.

Heat Romesco Sauce, stirring frequently until warm, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve cauliflower, shrimp and green onions on large platter with sauce on the side for dipping.  Add some crusty fresh French bread and you’ve got a great appetizer!

Fajita Seasoning

Fajita Seasoning 1

Having this seasoning mix on hand makes dinner easy breezy!  (lemon squeezy??) Make a double batch and you can keep it for months in a cool, dry spot.  Use it on vegetables, fish or meat alike, these flavours go so well together and make dinner quick and simple.

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

How easy is this? just toss it all into a bowl and thoroughly mix.  Do yourself a favour and make lots.

Fajita Seasoning

Just looking at this, you can tell it’s tasty, right??

This works with anything your imagination can come up with …. salad dressing or vegetable dip or seafood bake …. you let me know if you come up with more!

 

For fajitas:

  • protein (or not to make it vegetarian)
  • onions
  • peppers

 

To make fajitas, simply generously sprinkle slivered chicken (or any meat, seafood of your choice) and toss in fry pan until just cooked through.

Cook sliced peppers and onions separately so they don’t overcook.

Serve with:

  • lime crema (sounds fancy, but it’s just a squeeze of lime juice with sour cream and a bit of salt)
  • salsa
  • avocado
  • lime wedges
  • chopped cilantro
  • toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • tortillas

You can so easily turn this into what is crazy popular right now,  power bowls!  Just serve with cooked quinoa or grain of your choice.

Turn it into a sheet pan dinner, also featured everywhere right now, just generously sprinkle everything with the seasoning and toss it into a hot oven (?400?).

Yes, you are welcome, you didn’t know dinner could be so quick, easy, healthy and delicious, did you???

 

Taco Seasoning Mix

Taco Seasoning 1

How pretty is this colourful group of seasoning?

Ever noticed how many ingredients you can’t spell or pronounce on those premade taco seasoning packs??  Stop the madness with this mixture.  A little bit of flour makes the ground meat have a wee bit of a saucy texture.  Don’t stop at ground meat for goodness sake (pun? word play?)..  Sprinkle this over vegetables and roast them up – drizzle with a little lime crema and you’ve got an amazingly tasty dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (use less if you aren’t keen on the heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano

Mix all this up in a small bowl, and then have it on hand to season meat or vegetables.  You’ll be so glad you took a few minutes to get this ready.

Taco Seasoning 2

To use this for ground meat tacos, brown your meat in a fry pan, then add 2 tbsp mixture for each pound of ground meat and add about 2 tbsp water, stir and cook just until meat is cooked through.

If you want to leave the flour out altogether that is just great, that makes it even more versatile:

Salad Vinaigrette:  1 tbsp mix to 2 tbsp lime juice and 7 tbsp olive oil.

Vegetable (or chip!) Dip: 1 tbsp (or to taste) with 1/4 cup each plain yogurt and good mayonnaise.

Grilled Shrimp:   Sprinkle a generous amount over shrimp before grilling.

Taco Seasoning 3

I like to mix up 3 x this recipe and just keep it on hand.  Try it, you’ll do the same thing!