Thursday, November 30, 2017

Fish Almondine

It's been maybe 25 years since I last made this dish so I thought it was time to revisit this classic. Almondine (or Amandine), a sauce made with sliced almonds in a butter sauce with a squeeze of lemon, is typically served over pan-fried sole or trout, but also works well with tilapia, cod, or other mild white fish. I cut the richness of the butter with a little olive oil and white wine and the Asian side of me had to serve this with white rice instead of potatoes to soak up all that yummy sauce. 

6 filets of tilapia, sole, trout, cod, orange roughy or other mild white fish
1 1/2 cups flour
Salt & pepper
2 eggs, beaten

8 tbsp. regular salted butter (ok to use light butter), divided in half
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbsp. lemon juice

Lemon wedges
Chopped fresh Italian/flat leaf parsley

1. Pat the fish filets dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper. 

2. Place the flour in a shallow dish and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

3. Place the eggs in a shallow dish and beat lightly.

4. In a dry saute pan over medium heat, add the sliced almonds and toss with a spatula for about 30 seconds until very lightly toasted. Remove the almonds to a dish and set aside. 

5. In the meantime, add 4 tbsp. of butter and 2 tbsp. olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. 

6. Coat the fish filets, one at a time, on all sides in the flour, shake to remove excess, dip in the beaten egg, then back into the flour; remove to plate and set aside. Do this with the remaining fish filets. 

7. When the butter-olive oil mixture is hot, add the fish filets to the pan and cook 2-3 minutes per side until browned. Do this in two or three batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. 

8. Once all the fish is cooked, strain the butter-olive oil into a small bowl to remove all the brown bits and wipe out the pan. Return the mixture back to the pan and add the remaining 4 tbsp. of butter. Bring to a boil, then add the toasted sliced almonds. Toss the almonds with a spatula and cook for about 1 minute or until they just start to brown.

9. Stir in the wine and lemon juice and simmer until the mixture has thickened; taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, as needed. Add the chopped parsley.

10. Plate the fish filets and top with the almondine sauce. Garnish with additional fresh parsley and lemon wedges on the side. Great served with steamed white rice (my preference) or potatoes on the side. 

These are tilapia filets - very mild like sole, but firmer and easier to handle.

Toast the sliced almonds in a dry pan, remove and set aside.

Seasoned flour and beaten eggs in separate dishes.

Coat the seasoned fish in the flour, then in the beaten egg, then back in the flour, 
shaking off any excess flour.

Cook the filets in the butter-olive oil mixture in batches, 2-3 minutes per side, 
until lightly browned and cooked through.

After all the fish filets have been cooked, strain the butter sauce to remove all the browned bits and return to the pan. Add the remaining 4 tbsp. of butter and bring to a boil until the butter has melted.

Add the toasted almonds and cook for about 1 minute or until they just start to brown. Stir in the white wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened, add the chopped parsley.

Plate the fish and top with the almondine sauce. 
Garnish with extra parsley and lemon wedges on the side.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Korean-Style Braised Beef Short Ribs (Galbi Jjim)

This popular, traditional Korean dish is, frankly, freakin' delicious and should be in every cook's repertoire. The ingredients are super simple and redolent of a western-style beef stew with carrots, onion, and potatoes, but turbo-charged with the addition of soy sauce, sake, mirin, brown sugar, sesame oil, ginger, Shiitake mushrooms, and grated pear. Some recipes call for the addition of cubed daikon radish and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts for garnish at the end. I've omitted these here, but feel free to add them if that floats your boat. I adapted this recipe from Judy Joo's cookbook Korean Food Made Simple.

3 lbs. bone-in beef short ribs
2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 onion, sliced
8 cloves garlic, sliced
3 tbsp. grated ginger

1 Asian or other pear, grated (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sake
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. sesame oil
2 cups water

6-8 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water, stemmed and sliced
5 white potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced

Chopped scallions for garnish

1. Pat the beef short ribs dry with paper towels then season all sides liberally with salt and pepper.

2. Heat 2 tbsp. vegetable oil in an enameled cast iron pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the seasoned short ribs in batches (do not overcrowd - I did these in two batches) and brown on all sides by turning occasionally with tongs. Remove and set aside on a plate.

3. Add the sliced onion, garlic, and grated ginger to the same pan with the remaining drippings/fond and saute over medium high heat for about 2 minutes or until softened.

4. Add 2 cups of water, then the grated pear, mirin, soy sauce, sake, brown sugar, and sesame oil. Stir to combine. Add the browned short ribs with any accumulated juices, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for 2 hours.

5. After 2 hours of simmering, add the diced carrots, potatoes, and sliced shiitakes. Bring back up to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, partially cover and cook another 1 hour.

6. Serve with steamed white rice and garnish with sliced scallions.

3 lbs. bone-in beef short ribs.  

Dried shiitake mushrooms rehydrating in hot water, grated ginger, sliced garlic, 
sliced onion, diced potatoes, sliced carrots, and grated pear.  

Beef short ribs, patted dry and seasoned liberally on all sides with salt and pepper. 

Brown the short ribs in batches.

Remove and set aside. 

Mirin, sake, sesame oil, and soy sauce.

Add the sliced onion, garlic, and grated ginger to the drippings in the same pan used 
to brown the short ribs. Saute 2 minutes or until softened.

Add the grated pear, mirin, sake, soy sauce, sesame oil, and 2 cups of water. 

 Add the browned short ribs and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for 2 hours. 

Add the diced potatoes, carrots, and sliced shiitake mushrooms. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, 
partially cover and simmer for another hour or until the meat is super tender.

Serve with steamed white rice and garnish with chopped scallion.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Taiwanese Pork Balls (Gong Wan)

Pork balls, aka "Gong Wan," are a Taiwanese staple that are typically served in a simple broth seasoned with fried shallots, white pepper, finely chopped celery, and cilantro. I equate this dish with something uber comforting like Matzo balls in a soul-satisfying homemade chicken soup, evoking all those warm and fuzzy feelings you might get from reading anything from the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. But of course since pork can never be kosher, that's as far as I can take this analogy. Gong wan is readily available these days in most Chinese markets here in the U.S., but since I live in an area that doesn't have a significant Asian population, I decided to try my hand at making these guys at home. The ingredients are simple but it totally helps if you have a food processor and stand mixer with a paddle attachment. After 2 attempts, I still haven't perfected the recipe - the pork balls are supposed to have a "bouncy" texture if properly made, but mine still have the residual texture of a regular meatball. Nonetheless, I have to say that the flavor is pretty good and Gil happily downed all that I gave him - practice makes perfect and I'll keep on truckin.' 

Here's the low-down on making a proper Gong Wan:

1. Keep the pork really, really cold at all times (in fact, it's best to partially freeze the ground pork before blending it in the food processor).

2. Adding a little iced water to the ground pork while processing loosens the mixture and gives it a better consistency.

3. Nevah evah use LEAN ground pork. Fatty is good in this case.

4. You must NOT boil the pork balls. A low simmer helps them to achieve their bouncy texture. You should only bring them to a boil during the last 10-15 seconds of cooking.

2 lbs. ground pork (do not use lean), placed into two Ziploc-type bags, flattened, and frozen for 30 minutes to 1 hour before using

6 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water, stemmed and finely chopped
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tbsp. rice wine
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. cornstarch or tapioca starch
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 scallion, minced
2 tsp. minced or grated ginger
1 tbsp. minced celery
1/2 tsp. Hondashi (bonito fish powder), optional
1 egg white

1. Remove the two Ziploc bags with the partially frozen ground pork from the freezer. Break up the pork from one of the bags into pieces and place into the bowl of a food processor. Process/pulse for a few seconds and add a few teaspoons of ice cold water to the mix to loosen it up. Continue blending/pulsing for up to one minute or until the mixture is very smooth and pasty. Remove to a bowl and process the second batch the same way.

2. Place the pork paste into the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add the remaining ingredients then turn on the mixer to medium speed (#4 on my KitchenAid) for 20 minutes, scraping down occasionally.

3. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or even overnight.

4. In the meantime, make the soup base:

Soup Base:
8 cups water
3 scallions, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 cup fried shallots (or 2 tbsp. fried shallot oil)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. chicken base powder

1 1/2 cups finely diced celery (about 3 stalks)

1. Combine all the soup ingredients (except for the celery) together in a medium pan; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

2. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. In the meantime,

Cook the Pork Balls:
1. Take the pork paste mixture out of the frig. Using 2 spoons, scoop out a tablespoon of the pork paste and shape into a rough ball. Drop into the barely simmering broth. Continue doing the same with the remaining pork paste (you may have to do this in two batches). Once the pork balls float up to the top, simmer for about 30-60 seconds, then bring up to a boil and cook another 10-15 seconds. Remove one of the pork balls from the soup and cut in half - if the inside is no longer pink, then it's done. Remove the remaining pork balls with a slotted spoon to a bowl or plate and set aside.

Assemble the Soup:
1. Bring the soup up to a boil and add the diced celery. Cook for 10-15 seconds, then turn off the heat.

2. Place a few of the pork balls into each serving bowl and ladle in some of the soup.

3. Serve piping hot.

2 lbs. of ground pork, halved and each pound placed into a Ziploc bag, flattened out, and 
frozen for 30 minutes to 1 hour until partially frozen.

Rice wine, baking powder, tapioca starch, egg white, sesame oil, Hondashi powder, white pepper, sugar, finely chopped celery, ginger, scallions, dried shiitake mushrooms (rehydrating in hot water). 

Baking powder, sesame oil, rice wine, tapioca starch (ok to substitute with cornstarch),
sugar, Hondashi (bonito stock powder) and white pepper. 

Place the semi-frozen ground pork, broken up into pieces, in a food processor. Do this in two batches (1 lb. of ground pork at a time) so as not to overcrowd the food processor's bowl.  Pulse/blend for up to one minute or until the meat is processed to a smooth paste. Feel free to add a little iced water (1 tablespoon at a time) to loosen up the ground meat while processing.

 Place the pork paste into the bowl of a stand mixer along with the seasonings. Using the flat paddle attachment, blend the mixture (#4 speed on my KitchenAid stand mixer) 
for 20 minutes, scraping down occasionally. 

Once the mixture has reached a very smooth, paste like consistency, cover and refrigerate at 
least 30 minutes (ok to refrigerate overnight).

 For the soup base: sesame oil, chicken powder, white pepper, fried shallot sauce/oil (you can substitute with fried shallots, aka fried red onion, like the one in the jar behind).

 Bring the soup base to a bare simmer. Drop the meat mixture, 1 heaping tablespoon at a time,
into the simmering broth. You will probably have to cook the pork balls in two batches. 

  Once the pork balls float up to the top, continue simmering for 30-60 seconds. 
Bring up to a boil and cook another 15-20 seconds. To test for doneness, remove one of the pork balls and cut in half. If the center is not pink, then it's done. Remove the pork balls from the broth with a slotted spoon to a plate or bowl and set aside.  
Place the pork balls into serving bowls and ladle in some of the soup.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Stir-Fried Ground Pork with Chiles and Thai Basil (Pad Krakow Moo)

This popular Thai pork dish is flavored with fish sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, garlic, fresh red chiles and Thai Basil leaves. You can also substitute with ground chicken (Pad Krakow Gai) or ground beef (Pad Krakow Neua). Regardless, the dish comes together in no time since it's essentially a stir-fry and makes for a really delicious meal served with steamed jasmine rice. 

2 lbs. ground pork
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
8 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
4 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. thick soy sauce
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 - 3/4 cup water
2 cups Thai basil leaves
3 red (Fresno) chiles, seeded and sliced

1. Heat 3 tbsp. vegetable oil in a wok or saute pan over medium high heat. Add the chopped garlic and stir for about 10-15 seconds until fragrant. 

2. Add the ground pork and stir frequently to break up the meat. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the meat starts to brown. 

3. Add the oyster sauce, thick soy sauce, sugar and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until the meat is just cooked through. Add the sliced red chiles and cook briefly, about 30 seconds.

4. Add the Thai basil, toss and cook briefly until the basil leaves are just wilted.

5. Plate and serve with steamed jasmine rice on the side. 

Sliced Fresno or other fresh red chiles, Thai basil, fish sauce, oyster sauce and thick soy sauce.

Saute the garlic in oil.

Add the ground pork and cook about halfway through. Stir in the oyster sauce, fish sauce,
thick soy sauce, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil and cook until the meat is cooked through.

Stir in the sliced Fresno chiles.

Add the Thai basil and cook until the leaves have wilted.

Plate and garnish with some fresh Thai basil leaves. Serve with steamed white jasmine rice.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Hainanese-Style Chicken Rice (Hainan Ji Fan) in Clay Pot

Hainanese chicken rice, a very popular dish in Singapore and Malaysia, traces its origins to Hainanese immigrants from Southern China. The simplicity of this dish belies the complexity of its flavors: it's essentially chicken and rice cooked in chicken stock, flavored with aromatics like ginger, scallions and garlic, and served with a chili-garlic-ginger dipping sauce on the side. Traditionally, a whole chicken is poached for this dish, with some of the stock reserved to cook the rice in, but I opted to use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs for ease of preparation. A clay pot is not necessary to make this recipe (you can just use a pot or wok with a lid), but I like to use one because it makes a really nice presentation. My rice of choice is Jasmine for its flavor and texture, which I saute first in a little vegetable oil and sesame oil along with some ginger slices, smashed garlic cloves, and scallion sections for extra flavor (cooking raw rice first in a little oil is very similar to the way you would start off a risotto or pilaf). My dipping sauce is a combination of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, fresh chiles, garlic, and lots of ginger.

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 lbs.)
6 cups chicken broth (or 6 cups water + 2 tbsp. Totole chicken powder or bouillon)

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 slices fresh ginger
1 scallion, cut into 1" sections
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
Pinch (1/8 tsp.) white pepper

Ar's Dipping Sauce:
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
6 tbsp. water
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. sugar
2 Fresno chiles, seeded and sliced
2 tbsp. minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 scallions, finely chopped

Sliced scallions and chopped cilantro for garnish

1. Place the chicken broth and chicken thighs together in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes to an hour, turning the chicken thighs over 2-3 times during the cooking time. Turn off heat and set aside.

2. Heat 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil and 1 tsp. sesame oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add the garlic, ginger slices and scallion and toss 20-30 seconds until fragrant. Add the jasmine rice with a pinch of white pepper and saute 1-2 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the oil and is translucent.

3. Pour the rice into a clay pot and top with the chicken thighs; add 2 cups of the chicken poaching broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is just cooked through. If you don't have a clay pot, no worries - just use the same saute pan (as long as it's deep enough) or a pot, add the chicken and poaching liquid, cover, and cook as noted above. 

4. Combine all the dipping sauce ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

5. After 20 minutes, check the rice in the clay pot - if it's a little undercooked or on the dry side, add a few tablespoons of the reserved chicken broth, cover, and let sit for another 10-15 minutes.

6. Garnish the rice with sliced scallions and chopped cilantro, and serve with the dipping sauce on the side.

Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs.

Poach the chicken in 6 cups of chicken broth (bring to a boil first, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 1 hour until the stock is reduced by about 1/3). Turn the chicken thighs over a couple times during the cooking period. Turn off heat and set aside.

Totole is my fav brand of chicken powder to make chicken stock. 
You can substitute with chicken bouillon.

Aromatics for the rice: scallions, ginger slices, and whole smashed garlic cloves.

Saute the aromatics in 1 tbsp. vegetable oil and 1 tsp. sesame oil about 1-2 minutes, 
stirring frequently.

Add the raw rice and stir well to blend. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until
the rice is translucent and lightly toasted but not browned.

Pour the sautéed rice into a clay pot. 

Top with the poached chicken thighs, skin side up.

Pour in 2 cups of the reserved chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce heat to low. Continue cooking about 20 minutes or until the rice is just cooked through and fluffy.

For the dipping sauce: sliced Fresno chiles, minced scallions, cilantro, garlic, ginger, 
rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, water, and soy sauce.

After 20 minutes, lift the lid from the clay pot and check the rice. If it's still a little underdone, pour a few tablespoons of the reserved chicken stock around the edges, 
cover and let sit another 10-15 minutes.

Garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro sprigs.

Serve with the dipping sauce on the side.