Thursday, August 25, 2016

Peruvian Style Roast Chicken (Pollo a la Brasa) with Green Chile Sauce (Aji Verde)

Roast chicken is very popular in Peruvian cuisine, but what makes it unique are the spices and seasonings used along with the sauces that are traditionally served on the side. A key flavor component is Aji Amarillo paste, a quintessential Peruvian ingredient made from yellow Amarillo chiles. There really is no substitute for the flavor so, please get yourself a jar or two! You can buy these online at www.amazon.com (I buy the Dona Isabel brand). For this recipe, I opted to use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken, which makes the prep quicker and easier but still aromatic, juicy and delicious, and served it with a green chile sauce made with Aji Amarillo paste, cilantro, lime juice, light mayo, and yogurt.


MARINADE:
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup (4 oz.) beer

3 1/2 - 4lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs*

SAUCE (Aji Verde):
1/4 cup light or regular mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
Juice of 1/2 a lime
2 tbsp. Aji amarillo paste

*You can substitute with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but then you'll miss out on that crispy, aromatic, deliciously spiced chicken skin!

1. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. Rinse the chicken thighs and pat dry with paper towels. Remove as much excess fat as you can from under the skin and place in a bowl.

3. Add the marinade ingredients to the chicken, toss well, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

4. For the sauce: add all the sauce ingredients to a blender or small food processor; blend or pulse about 10-15 seconds until just blended. Remove to a bowl, cover, and set aside (refrigerate if not using right away).

5. Place a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Place the marinated chicken thighs, skin side up, on the wire rack, spaced at least 1" apart.

6. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is golden brown and at least 160F.

7. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the chicken rest for 15 minutes.

8. Plate the chicken thighs onto individual serving dishes and serve with the Aji Verde sauce on the side.

To serve leftovers, just heat the thighs in a 350F oven on a baking sheet for 10-15 minutes or until the skins have re-crisped and the meat heated through.

You can use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

OR, you can also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs to keep the dish on the lighter side.

Toss the chicken with the marinade ingredients.

Place the marinated chicken into a Ziploc-type bag & seal; refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Marinade ingredients: beer, ground cumin, black pepper, garlic powder, kosher salt, paprika, and Mexican oregano.

For the green chile sauce: add Aji Amarillo paste, cilantro, 1 seeded and chopped jalapeño pepper, mayonnaise, plain Greek yogurt, and lime juice to a small blender or food processor.

Pulse a few times, 10-15 seconds or until blended through but not too smooth.

Place the marinated chicken (blotted dry) onto racks over a baking sheet; roast at 425F for 30-40 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and/or internal temperature of the chicken is at least 160F.

Let the chicken rest out of the oven about 15 minutes before serving. Serve with the green chile sauce (Aji Verde) on the side. 

Miso-Glazed Salmon

I typically use a miso marinade/glaze with black cod (sablefish), but it's really a perfect complement to any oily fish, especially salmon, which is readily available in most markets. In this preparation, I marinated the salmon in the miso glaze for about 3 hours (anywhere between 2-6 hours is ideal), pan fried, then served them with additional reduced miso glaze on the side. White rice is a must to soak up some of that scrumptious, umami-filled sauce.


Miso Marinade/Glaze:
1/2 cup sake
1/2 cup mirin
6 tbsp. white (Shiro) miso
2 tbsp. sugar

1.5 lbs. salmon filets, skinned, and cut into 6 oz. pieces

2 scallions, minced
Steamed white rice


1. Combine the miso marinade ingredients together in a bowl.

2. Check the salmon filets for pin bones and remove any you find.


3. Place the filets into a shallow casserole. Pour about 1/2 cup of the miso marinade over the fish, turn the filets over a couple times to coat, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2-6 hours. 


4. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of miso marinade in a small saucepan or skillet; heat over low heat until the sauce has slightly reduced/thickened, about 10 minutes. Keep on a low simmer until the fish is cooked.


5. Add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Remove the fish filets from the casserole and wipe off most of the marinade with your hands. Add to the hot skillet and saute about 3-4 minutes per side or until browned and just cooked through. 


6. Remove the fish filets to individual serving plates and ladle a little of the reduced miso marinade over and around the fish (a little goes a long way). Garnish with minced green onion and serve with steamed white rice.




Marinate the salmon filets in half of the miso glaze (the easiest way to do this is to place everything in a Ziploc-type bag). Refrigerate and marinate anywhere from 2-6 hours (a little longer is ok).

Gently remove most of the marinade from the filets (I use my CLEAN hands to do this rather than paper towels because I don't want to completely blot all the marinade off). Pan-fry the filets in 1 tbsp. vegetable oil over medium-high heat until browned on both sides. 
 
Serve the filets with steamed white rice and garnish with chopped scallions. Drizzle some of the reduced miso marinade over the salmon. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Miso-Glazed Black Cod

I wish black cod (aka sablefish or butterfish) were more widely available. Asian markets sometimes have them (although the quality varies) and I've also bought frozen filets from Trader Joe's (which are seasonal, so not something they stock year-round). Then, lo and behold, I found them available for purchase from not one, but TWO local (i.e., CA) sources online! You have to imagine my gleeful excitement, notwithstanding the fact that the cost for overnight shipping to an address within California was a mere $10.00! Oh joy! So they are Giovanni's Fish Market in Morro Bay https://www.giovannisfishmarket.com and Catalina Offshore Products http://catalinaop.com in San Diego, both of which carry an incredible array of fresh seafood and sushi-grade products, many of which are locally sourced. Granted, the prices aren't exactly cheap so the low shipping cost is a plus, but you're truly getting what you pay for.  If you've never tried black cod, well, you simply must. It's an oily fish, but not in the same sense that sardines or mackerel are. Black cod is super tender and flaky, not fishy tasting at all IMHO, with an incredibly buttery flavor, and (unlike, say, Salmon) very hard to overcook. Naturally, it pairs well with a miso glaze, something that a lot of Japanese and Asian-inspired chefs have perfected. For this preparation, I adapted Nobu Matsuhita's famous version using a bit less sugar, adjusting the quantities of the other ingredients, marinating for 6 hours rather than 2-3 days, and pan frying rather than baking the filets. 

Another great recipe I have for Black Cod is teriyaki-glazed: http://thegrubfiles.blogspot.com/2012/12/black-cod-sablefish-with-teriyaki-glaze.html 



 Beautiful Black Cod from Giovanni's Fish Market in Morro Bay.

Miso Marinade/Glaze:
1/2 cup sake
1/2 cup mirin
6 tbsp. white (Shiro) miso
2 tbsp. sugar

2 lbs. black cod (aka sablefish or butterfish) filets

2 scallions, minced

Steamed white rice


1. Combine the miso marinade ingredients together in a bowl.

2. NOTE: Black cod filets come with some pin bones, but no worries - it's easy to remove them AFTER they have cooked. I tried doing it in the raw stage and, trust me, it doesn't work - you'll just get flustered and mad with panties all atwist for the exercise in futility.


3. Place the filets into a shallow casserole. Pour about 1/2 cup of the miso marinade over the fish, turn the filets over a couple times to coat, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2-6 hours. 


4. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of miso marinade in a small saucepan or skillet; heat over low heat until the sauce has slightly reduced/thickened, about 10 minutes. Keep on a low simmer until the fish is cooked.


5. Add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Remove the fish filets from the casserole and wipe off most of the marinade with your hands. Add to the hot skillet and saute about 3-4 minutes per side or until browned and just cooked through. At this time, you can easily remove any pin bones from the filets (fish bone tweezers are an inexpensive buy from Amazon) before serving. 


6. Remove the fish filets to individual serving plates and ladle a little of the reduced miso marinade over and around the fish (a little goes a long way). Garnish with minced green onion and serve with steamed white rice.



 Shiro (white) miso paste, mirin, and sake for the miso glaze.

 Filets marinating in 1/2 cup of the miso glaze. 

Reduce the remaining 1/2 cup of miso glaze in a small pan over low heat, about 10 minutes or until it is slightly reduced and thickened. Keep on a low simmer until ready to serve.

 In the meantime, remove the fish from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels.

 Pan-fry the filets 3-4 minutes per side or until browned and just cooked through. Remove any pin bones before serving.

 Serve with rice and some of the reduced miso glaze. Garnish with chopped scallions, if desired.

Salted Chinese Mustard Greens with Red Chiles, Garlic and Ground Pork ("Red-in-Snow" - Xue Li Hong)

I'm not sure why this dish is called "Red-in-Snow" in Chinese. As a kid, I assumed that the red chiles had something to do with it but couldn't figure out where the snow part came in. Regardless of the origin of its mysteriously quaint name, this dish was a beloved staple of my childhood . The salty, slightly bitter taste of the chopped greens along with a hint of heat from the chiles is sooooooo good with a bowl of steamed white rice! Pre-salted mustard greens are actually widely available in most Chinese markets here in LA, but I learned how to do this ridiculously simple process by watching my Ah-ma (grandma) do it back in the '80s when she lived with me and my aunt in Montebello. We usually didn't add any meat back then, but I occasionally like to add ground pork for a more substantial and flavorful dish.
  
  
2 lbs. Chinese mustard greens (Jie Cai or Gai Choy)
2 tbsp. kosher salt 
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large Fresno chiles, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 lb. ground pork (optional)

1. Cut the ends off of the mustard greens and separate the leaf stalks. Slice each leaf stalk lengthwise into thin strips, then cut crosswise into fine dice.

2. Place the chopped mustard greens into a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tbsp. kosher salt (DO NOT OVERSALT). Using your hands, mix thoroughly and let sit for 30 minutes. 

3. Rinse the greens under running water in a colander then squeeze dry; set aside. At this point, you can place the greens in a Ziploc bag or container and refrigerate for up to a week before using. 

4. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a saute pan. Add the minced garlic and stir for a few seconds. Add the ground pork and cook, stirring well to break up the meat, until the pork has just lost its pink color (about 5-7 minutes). *

5. Add the mustard greens and stir fry 1-2 minutes; season with 1 tbsp. of sugar and stir in the sliced chiles. 

6. Serve with steamed white rice. 

*NOTE: Feel free to omit the meat if you prefer all veggies.


 Chinese Mustard Greens (Gai Choy in Cantonese or Jie Cai in Mandarin).

 Rinse the mustard greens then cut off the lower root end of the stem and separate the leaves. Cut each leaf lengthwise into strips, then chop crosswise into small dice.

 Place the chopped mustard greens in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt.

 Mix the salt and greens together well with your hands and let sit for 30 minutes.

 Rinse the greens in a colander under running water.

 Squeeze dry (I use my hands to do that) and set aside. At this point, the greens will keep for up to a week before using - just place in a Ziploc bag or container covered tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

 Minced garlic and sliced Fresno chiles.

 Saute the minced garlic in 2 tbsp. oil for a few seconds until fragrant.

 Stir in the ground pork and cook until the pork has just lost its pink color.

 Add the mustard greens.

 Stir fry the mixture until heated through, about 1-2 minutes; stir in 1 tbsp. sugar.

 Toss in the sliced chiles and remove to a serving platter.

 Serve with steamed white rice on the side.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Vietnamese Beef Pho Rice Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)

It ain't easy making a really good beef stock for Pho, that classic Vietnamese noodle soup that's, well, inimitably and insanely delicious because of and in spite of its sheer, deceptive simplicity. I tried my hand once before at making a long-simmered beef stock using the requisite beef knuckle and leg bones (I followed Jaden Hair's recipe), but found the end product way too greasy. I  couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. After some experimentation, this time using Andrea Nguyen's recipe from her cookbook Into the Vietnamese Kitchen as the base, I finally achieved a broth that I really, really like. Where I slightly strayed from the reservation for a beef pho was using both beef shanks AND chicken drummettes for the soup base, cooking it low and slow for 3+ hours and skimming frequently to keep the broth clean. I also added about 2 lbs. of  boneless beef top round to the broth, which kicked up the beefy flavor but was, unfortunately, too tough to use after 3 hours of cooking (of course, our ridiculously spoiled Akitas, Addy & Sasha, reaped the benefits of those leftovers). Instead, I added some very  thinly sliced raw beef sirloin (aka, New York steak) to the noodles just before serving. The hot broth cooked the raw beef slices to a very tender medium to medium-well, so no worries you squeamish 'OMG, WTF I can't eat freakin' raw meat' folks. It's all good!





1 large (1 lb.) yellow, white or red onion
4" piece of fresh ginger root, unpeeled

3-4 lbs. beef leg bones (e.g., shank) and/or oxtails
1.5 lbs. chicken drummettes
1.5 lbs. boneless beef chuck, top round or brisket, cut into large chunks
8 quarts water (32 cups)

Spices:

5 whole star anise
6 whole cloves
4" Vietnamese cinnamon stick 
1 black cardamom
1 tbsp. fennel seed
1 tbsp. coriander seed
1 tsp. black peppercorn

1" chunk of rock sugar (or 1 1/2 tbsp. light brown sugar)

1 1/2 tbsp. salt
1/3 cup fish sauce

2 lbs. New York/sirloin steak (to add to soup before serving)

16 oz. dried or fresh thin rice noodles (for 4 servings)

GARNISHES:

1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
2 cups fresh Thai basil leaves
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced jalapeño peppers (seeded if you don't want them too hot)
Lime wedges

MAKING THE BROTH: 1. Char the onion and ginger on the stovetop over medium heat (you can do this directly over the flame on a burner, but I find it easier, faster, and less messy to do this on a slotted or mesh grilling sheet, cast iron skillet or a Mexican comal over the burner). Turn over with tongs until blackened on all sides, about 15 minutes.

2. Remove the charred onion and ginger and let cool. Peel the charred bits off of the onion and ginger (you can use a teaspoon to scrape off the blackened parts of the ginger); quarter the onion and cut the ginger piece in half and bruise/smash lightly with a cleaver; set aside.


3. Place the beef shank and/or oxtails, beef chuck or round, and chicken drummettes into a large stock pot and add enough cold water to just cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, about 2-3 minutes to release the scum/foam from the meat. Drain the water from pan and rinse off the meat and the pan to remove any remaining scum. 


4. Add all the spices to a dry skillet and cook 1-2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Remove immediately to a plate & set aside. 


5. Add 8 quarts of water to the pan with the parboiled meat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer; and continue skimming off any foam/scum that floats to the top. 


6. Add the onion, ginger, spices, salt, fish sauce and rock sugar. Simmer, uncovered, 3 hours, skimming off fat and scum throughout. 


7. Strain broth through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl or a medium pot. (should yield about 4 quarts or 16 cups of broth). Taste and adjust seasonings if needed (more fish sauce, sugar, and/or salt). Once cooled, you can refrigerate the broth at this point and keep for 2-3 days before serving. 


SERVING THE PHO:


1. Place the New York/beef sirloin steak (wrapped in plastic) in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes; remove and cut into thin slices; set aside.

2. Bring the stock to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer.

3. For the noodles, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Directions for fresh and dried noodles:

     a) FRESH NOODLES: place the noodles in a colander and rinse with cold water, separating the
         strands. Place a large handful (1 serving) of the noodles into a vertical strainer and immerse in
         the boiling water for 5-10 seconds until softened. Immediately strain and place into a serving
         bowl. Repeat with the remaining noodles.

     b) DRIED NOODLES: Pre-soak the noodles in hot tap water for 15-20 minutes until softened;
         drain in a colander and set aside. Place a large handful (1 serving) of the noodles in a vertical
         colander and immerse into the boiling water for 15-20 seconds until softened. Immediately
         strain and place into a serving bowl. Repeat with the remaining noodles.

4. Place several pieces of sliced raw sirloin over the noodles in each bowl. Top with sliced onions,
cilantro, basil, mint, bean sprouts, jalapeños and scallions, according to taste. Ladle hot broth over each bowl. Serve with lime wedges on the side.


Char the onion and ginger over the burner of your cooktop


Peel off the burnt part of the onion skin and (using a teaspoon), the charred skin of the ginger.


Cross-cut bone-in beef shank


Chicken drummettes


Boneless top round.

Top round, cut into large pieces.


Add enough water to the beef shank, beef round, and chicken drummers to just cover. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes to release the scum/foam. Pour out the water and rinse off the meat and also the pot.


Add the beef shank, drummettes and pieces of top round back into the pot and add 8 quarts of water.


Add toasted spices, charred ginger and onion. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer on low heat, uncovered, for 3 hours.


Cloves, fennel seed, coriander seed, black cardamom, black peppercorns, rock sugar, star anise, cinnamon sticks, fish sauce.


Skim off any foam from the surface of the broth throughout the cooking time.


Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve, discarding all the solids (I saved the meat from the beef shank and top round for our fur babies, Addy & Sasha). Keep the strained broth simmering over low heat.

Fresh rice noodles that I bought from 99 Ranch Market. You can also use dried.

New York/Sirloin steak. Wrap in plastic and freeze 20-30 minutes before slicing and serving with the finished pho.


Rinse the fresh noodles in a colander to soften before cooking.


Place a large handful of the noodles (1 serving) into a vertical strainer and dip into a pot of boiling water for about 10-15 seconds until the noodles have softened. Strain and immediately pour the noodles into a serving bowl. Repeat for additional servings. 

Take the sirloin beef out of the freezer.

Slice the beef super thin. 


Garnishes: bean sprouts, mint, lime wedges, cilantro, jalapeños, Thai basil, scallions.

Place some raw beef sirloin slices over the noodles along with thinly sliced white onions. Pour piping hot broth over. Let your guests add their own jalapeños, basil, cilantro, scallions, bean sprouts, mint, and freshly squeezed lime juice, according to their individual tastes.