Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fried Salmon with Japanese Flavor Sauce

I did not like fried salmon although I love salmon sashimi. When it is fried, I felt the fish gets dry and tasteless. It was just a few years ago I realized dredging in flour prevents from losing salmon’s flavor and stays juicy. Since then I like fried salmon very much.
The other day I found a wild frozen salmon fillet from Alaska on sale. Today I decided to thaw it out and make Fried Salmon with Japanese Flavor Sauce. Usually I make tartar sauce for fried seafood. However, today I prepare a different sauce, so called, “Japanese Flavor Sauce”, using ginger, soy sauce, lemon juice and green onion. This sauce can be used for beef stake or pork sauté, too.

Ingredients (3-4 servings):
1 lb salmon
1 cup all-purpose flour or as needed

Japanese Flavor Sauce:
4 tsp soy sauce
4 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp minced green onion
Chill pepper

1. Prepare Japanese Flavor Sauce. Place all of the ingredients for Japanese Flavor Sauce in a small bowel and mix well.
2. Cut the salmon pieces. Dredge them in the flour and coat well.
3. Heat oil in a fry pan. Place the salmon pieces and fly both sides on medium heat until the surfaces become brown.
4. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Steam the salmon for 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Take the salmon out of the pan and transfer them to serving plates. Pour this mixture over the fish.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tandoori Chicken

tandoori chickenI love curry, especially curry rice, which may NOT be served in regular Indian restaurants. I have seen this dish as “Japanese curry” in a few American restaurants. Using curry roux and curry mix sauce, which are available in any Japanese or Asian supermarkets, makes so easy to make this dish. Also you can mix with a lot of vegetables. Many Japanese mothers cook this curry in order for their kids to eat vegetables.
This tandoori chicken recipe is from my sister in Japan. She uses many kinds of Indian seasonings. I make simpler to use curry powder and paprika since I am not able to find some of the seasonings. She learns Indian cooking from an Indian cook. So this is not Japanese Tandoori. But the chef may arrange for Japanese people. Therefore this may not be the same as the one in India.
Anyhow, I found it is very easy and tasty. This is quite different from tandoori chicken in Indian restaurants that I have been. But I love this more than the ones in restaurants!

8 chicken drumsticks
1tsp minced garlic
1tsp minced ginger
1 cup plain yogurt
3 tsp curry powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tsp lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
Ground pepper

1. Place all of the ingredients except the chicken drumsticks in a bowl and mix well.
2. Pour this mixture over the drumsticks and marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature or refrigerate overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 370 F degrees.
4. Cook in the preheat oven for about 30 to 40 minutes till the drumsticks are done.
Serve with rice, Nan or bread!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gâteaux Chocolat (Chocolate Cake)

Gâteaux ChocolatMarch 25 is Greece Independence Day and my husband’s name day. As I mentioned before, people in Greece eat cod fried in kourkouti. Of course I made this dish but beside this I decided to make something special, Gâteaux Chocolat. This is a very simple and easy chocolate cake, yet delicious. Make it a day before so that the taste would settle and be better.

Ingredients (a 9.25x5.25 loaf pan):
100g chocolate (semi-sweet dark chocolate is recommended)
50g butter
50 ml heavy whipping cream
3 eggs, separated
100g sugar
40g unsweetened cocoa powder
20g all-purpose flour
*Optional: 1tsp rum or brandy

1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt it with butter over hot water or using a microwave.
3. Beat the egg yolks with half of the sugar, mix with, heavy whipping cream, cocoa powder, flour, and rum (or brandy). Mix with the melted chocolate and butter.
4. Whip the rest of the sugar into the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff and in peaks.
5. Slowly mix 3. with 4.Cook in the preheat oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, low the heat to 330 F degrees and back for 30 to 35 minutes.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kumquat Marmalade / Jam

When my husband moved to the house we currently live in, there was no tree or flower but only grass in the back yard. One day he found a bunch of banana tree roots dumped by one of his neighbors on the street. They were half dead and in very miscible shape. He brought it and planted on his back yard. A few years later it clustered and produced a lot of fruits. Someday one of his neighbors saw them and said, “I had banana trees but they could not grow at all and started dying. So I threw them away. But yours are amazing.” That was when my husband realized who had dumped those semi-dead banana trees. When he explained the amazing story of the trees to the neighbor, she could not believe it! Most of our plants are doing better than their standards. Our kumquat tree is not exception, either. According to Wikipedia, a kumquat tree, from 8 to 15 fl tall, produces 80 to 100 fruits each year. But a kumquat tree in our garden produced more than 500 fruits just this year! You eat them with the skin on along with the seeds. They are rich in vitamins, including C. Kumquat fruits are not my favorite. One day Andy, a skilled carpenter, fixing our roof came up an idea to make kumquat marmalade/ jam. He picked up plenty of kumquats and a few weeks later brought a big jar of kumquat marmalade. It was unexpectedly yummy. It is less bitter and much sweeter than orange marmalade. This is the recipe Andy gave me. I tried and it was fantastic! Now I appreciate our kumquat tree.

Ingredients (about 3 and half of 8-oz jars):
4 cup minced kumquats without seeds
½ cup lemon juice 4 cup sugar or more if desired
1 pack of pectin (1.75-ounce)
2 cup water
1. Wash jars, lids and rings well.
2. Clean and rinse kumquats well. Take their seeds out while mincing the kumquats.
3. Add the kumquats and water in a large pot.
4. Bring to boil on high heat. Reduce the heat to medium after it is boiled. Simmer and stir occasionally for 10 to 15 minutes until the kumquats are soft.
5. Add the lemon juice, sugar and pectin. Bring to boil, again.
6. Fill the mixture to within ¼ inch of the top of the jars and seal the lids and tight with the ring. Put them into the boiling water. Cover the jars with at least 2 inches of water for 10 to 15 minutes.
7. Cool the jars, which may take overnight. It may take two weeks for the kumquat marmalade/jam to set.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lentil Soup

I had never had lentil soup until last March of 2008. Of course, I had seen them in supermarkets but I had never tried. Shame on myself that I had not noticed this delicious and healthy ingredient for a long time! In March 2008 when I first had lentil soup, I was incredibly sick. I was working in NYC and my former boss sitting next to me had coughed for a few weeks. He did not take care of himself or cared about passing his influenza to others. So eventually I got it. It was one day before my weekend getaway to Washington D.C. I had planted with my husband. When I arrived in D.C. I was extremely weak and did not have any appetite at all. My husband took me to an Italian restaurant, Ristorante La Perla of Washington in Georgetown. He insisted me to eat. So I ordered a house salad and lentil soup. That was how I met lentil soup first time. The soup immediately cheered me up and gave me energy. It was extraordinarily delicious and delicate soup I had never tasted! I remember after the lentil soup, I ordered lasagna and finished it up. The chef and owner of Ristorante La Perla of Washington, Mr. Vittorio Testa, told us that lentil soup was the favorite soup of many Roman emperors. I asked the secrets of his delicious lentil soup but did not give me any of them. But he only gave me a tip to use mineral water and fresh vegetables. I followed his advice and innovated this lentil soup recipe after a several tries. I do not use chicken or vegetable broth. Yet it is very tasty and yummy vegetarian soup. Lentils are rich in dietary fiber, iron and folic acid but very low calories. I cook this soup at least twice a month to satisfy my appetite and nutrition.
Ingredients (5-6 servings):
2 cups washed and rinsed lentils
1 chopped onion
3 diced carrot
3 stalks chopped celery
2 cup chopped tomato
4 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1 cup fresh basil leaves (or flat leaf parsley)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (or Cajun seasoning)
1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin olive oil is always the best choice).
1 Anaheim pepper

1. Place the lentils, onion, carrot, celery, tomato, garlic, bay leaf, and Anaheim pepper in a soup pot.
2. Add water and bring to boil on medium heat.
3. Reduce the heat to low after it boils. Cover and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes until all vegetables and lentil are soft. Season salt and pepper (or Cajun seasoning).
4. Turn off the heat. Add the basil leaves and the olive oil. Cover and leave it for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fried Fish in Kourkouti (Fresh Dill Batter Fried Fish)

The aroma of fresh dill reminds me of early spring although they are sold in any supermarket all year around. For my husband it reminds him of spring in his native country, Greece, and fried cod in kourkouti, which means batter mixture. In Greece, fresh dill is necessary for kourkouti.
Today I found fresh cod and monkfish in a fish market. So I decided to make the dish my husband dreams for. People celebrate Greek Independence Day on March 25 with fried cod in kourkouti. It is ten days early to celebrate with serving this dish but we decided to welcome the spring of 2009 with this food!

1 egg
1/2 cup all-propose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh chopped dill
1 cup beer or milk
2 pounds fish fillets (fish can be any white fish)
1 lemon

1. Wash and dry fish fillets well. Cut them into 2 inches wide or desired size.
2. Mix the egg, flour, salt, pepper, dill and beer (or milk) well until the batter is smooth.
3. Dip the fish slices in the batter and cover them well.
4. Heat oil (I usually use extra virgin olive oil for best flavor, but any vegetable oil will do) in a fry pan. Place the fish when the oil is hot enough and fry for about 4-5minutes. Drain the fish from the oil when you take it out of the pan.
Before you serve the fish, sprinkle it with fresh lemon juice. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gyoza (Dumplings)

Gyoza, Jiaozi in Chinese and Dumplings in English, came from China. Yet, it is one of the most popular dishes among Japanese. Every family has their own Gyoza recipes. When I moved to US, one of the first things I asked my mother was sending me our family Gyoza recipe! It is easy to make and after cook you can freeze and eat them later.
My mother’s recipe requires Nira, known as garlic chives. It was not easy to find it around my neighborhood in NYC. Even thought I lived in the city where you can find a lot of Asian supermarkets or Japanese grocery stores, still I had to take a subway to get them. Now I live in Louisiana and it is almost impossible to find fresh Nira in any supermarket.
Therefore, I innovated this Gyoza recipe without Nira. You can get all of the ingredients from any regular American supermarkets.
After many experiments, my husband finally approved my Gyoza. Moreover he admits mine is better than his Taiwanese friend’s Dumplings or my mother’s. I start believing he is right ;)

Ingredients (for 4 servings):
4-5 cabbage leaves
½ cup chopped green onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp minced or grated ginger
½ lb ground pork
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1 pack of Gyoza (Dumpling) or Wanton wraps

Dipping Sauce:
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp lemon juice or rice vinegar
A few drops sesame oil
*Optional: Paprika or chill pepper

Chop finely cabbage leaves and mince a clove of garlic. Mix them with chopped green onion, minced ginger, ground pork, sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and cornstarch. Use your clean hand to mix them well!

Put a tablespoon of the mixture on the center of a Gyoza wrap and water around an edge of a Gyoza (Dumpling) wrap by finger. Fold one side of the edges a few times and seal the top (Please refer to the pictures. If you cannot do it, do not bother! Just close the top. It does not affect the taste of Gyoza!).
Heat oil in a fry pan. Place dumplings and fly on medium heat until the bottoms become brown. Add hot water filling up to the half of their height.
Cover the pan and steam them till the water is almost gone. Open the cover and fry on low heat until the water is completely gone.

Serve hot Gyoza with the dipping sauce!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lemon Chicken

When I walk into our garden, I immediately smell sweet lemon flowers. Lemon flowers in March? This is unbelievable for me, a person who has lived in NYC for 12 years and just moved in this semi-tropical state, Louisiana! There is an 8-feet lemon tree in our garden. A few years ago only one small lemon grew. My husband almost forgot it was a lemon tree. This year we have tons of fruits that we are unable to pick to use. Some of them already went bad and miserably felt on the ground. If we do not pick within a few weeks, they would be absolutely gone! So I decided to cook Lemon Chicken, which requires a lot of lemon. This recipe comes from my husband’s hometown, Greece. It is extremely easy and delicious. Ingredients (for 4 servings):
5-6 potatoes (I use big Yukon potatoes)
4 legs of chicken
Salt and pepper (or Cajun seasoning, which contains salt, pepper, red pepper, paprika, chill pepper, garlic and so on.)
1/2 cup of lemon juice
Olive oil
*Optional: Some herbs such as theme or oregano

Preheat the oven to F degrees.
Cut potatoes 1/4-inch wide wedges and season with salt and pepper (or Cajun seasoning). Put them on a baking pan and sprinkle lemon juice olive oil.
Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper (or Cajun seasoning). Set them on the baking pan and sprinkle olive oil, ¼ cup of the lemon juice and herbs.
Cook in the preheat oven for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle the rest of the lemon juice. Cook, again, for about 20-30 minutes until chicken legs are well done and potatoes are soft.

My husband adds a lot of olive oil when he serves.