Monday, April 27, 2009

Sardine Casserole

Because I regretted very much not to buy enough sardines last time when I got only 4 sardines (fried sardines with horta), I swore myself I would buy ENOUGH next time. Unfortunately I had not seen them in any fish markets since then. Yet, finally I found them. They were from Portugal and looked OK. So I ordered 20 good-looking sardines. Then, a lady waiting to be served next to me in the fish market suddenly approached me and asked me how I cook sardines.
“I have never tasted or cooked this fish,” the lady, around age 60, said.
“It is very good. You can fry them.”
She said, “Oh, I don’t eat fried fish.”
She seemed health conscious.
“You can bake them, too,” I suggested.
She smiled and ordered 2 good-looking ones. At that time, I also decided to bake the half of the 20 sardines I purchased. This dish, sardine casserole, is very easy to prepare. Other fish fillets, such as red snapper, cod, sea bass and drum fish, can be used equally fit for this dish.
10 sardines
2 cups panko (bread crumbs)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup finely chopped flat leave parsley
2-3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 420 F degrees.
2. Remove guts, gills, scales and backbones of the sardines. Wash the sardines well.
3. Season the sardines with salt and pepper both side.
4. Put the panko, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well.
5. Coat the sardines with the panko mixture and place on a casserole pan.
6. Put the rest of the panko mixture over the sardines. Sprinkle the olive oil.
7. Bake in the preheat oven for about 20 minutes.
8. Transfer to serving plates and sprinkle olive oil and lemon juice. Enjoy it!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pasta with Clam and Tomato Sauce

When I had the most delicious pasta with clam and tomato sauce, it was cold early spring in Venice. I was a poor college student and traveling Europe for about a month with one of my girlfriends. Unfortunately she became sick when we arrived Italy. We found a cheap but clean and cozy hotel in Bologna. Then she decided to take a break for a few days and I chose to travel alone. I took a train and headed for Venice, which had been my dream.

I still remember the amazing sight suddenly appearing on front of my eyes while the train was approaching to Santa Lucia Station. I was so excited to be there and decided to absorb the city as much as possible. After getting off the train and stepped out of the station, I ran to cross the bridge, Ponte Tre Ponti. I walked narrow streets to see the people’s lives. I went to a few museums and stores selling beautiful Venetian art pieces. Every moment and every sight enormously fascinated me.

When I realized it was time for me to go back, I also felt starving. Then I recognized I skipped lunch. I was missing one of the most important factors of Italy, FOOD! I jumped to a small restaurant, which looked a cheap Italian fast food restaurant for tourists. At that time I had the most amazing pasta with clam and tomato sauce. I was young with an empty pocket but full of energy and dreams. Maybe I was hungry for anything. Since then, I have been to Italy, again, and many Italian restaurants around the world. However, the dish I had in Venice at that day has been still the tastiest pasta dish I have ever had.

1 lb fresh clams with shells
1 lb pasta (I used large conchiglie)
1 chopped onion
2-3 chopped tomatoes
½ cup white wine
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

1. Wash the clams very well. Place the clam in a large pot. Add 1 cup of water. Cover and bring to a boil. After boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the clams from the pan. If the clam is not open, discard it. Strain the water and keep it aside.
2. Boil water in a large pot and cook the pasta for 8 to 10 minutes or al dente.
3. Heat the olive oil and the garlic in a large pot and fry the onion until it becomes transparent. Add the tomatoes and fry them for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Add the pasta and clams in the tomato mixture. Add ½ cup of the water from 1.
Stir and simmer for 3 minutes. Serve hot!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Greek Salad

It is has been said: “When tomatoes become red, doctors become blue”. You may not need to visit a doctor very often if you eat enough of this notorious vegetable. Indeed, there are so many health benefits when eating tomatoes. It is rich in potassium, which may prevent high blood pressure. Also it is a good source of vitamins C and A. The red pigment of tomatoes is because of lycopene, which may help avoid prostate cancer (for men) and cardiovascular disease (for everybody). Last summer I was travelling in Japan where I gave a lecture about Mediterranean culture and food. During that event I served Greek salad and some other dishes to the audience. They were surprised by this simple, but nevertheless very exciting, salad! They were thrilled about the wonderful flavor that the combination of tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese and olives produces. Moreover, this amazing and super delicious dish is very easy to make. Eating and enjoying healthy and delicious food may be one of the keys of long and healthy life in Mediterranean communities (just watch the CNN series on this very issue these days by Andersen Cooper to see what I mean). Enjoy this simple, delicious and healthy Greek salad!
2-3 tomatoes
2 cucumbers
1/2 red onion (or 2 shallot)
½ green pepper (I use Anaheim pepper)
Lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Black olives (Kalamata Greek olives are recommended!)
Slices of feta cheese Extra virgin olive oil
1. Chop the tomatoes and cucumber. Cut the onion (or shallots) and green pepper into rings.
2. Place them in a salad bowl. Sprinkle the lemon juice, oregano and black pepper and toss.
3. Add the olives and feta cheese. Pour a lot of olive oil. That is it. Enjoy it!
I ran out of cucumbers the other day, but I was still able to make a wonderful Greek salad like below!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Roast Lamb with Oregano

I love the moment when I see the sign of spring in a filed after long winter. I feel like I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I sense strong optimism. In Easter, people honor hopes and confidence and celebrate new beginnings. I love this spirit of Easter. So I celebrate this holy event.
Easter is the biggest religious holiday among Orthodox Christians. This year’s Orthodox Easter was yesterday, April 19. My husband, a Greek Orthodox Christian, and I celebrated this holiday along with a guest.
Traditionally people serve lamb or kids at Easter in Greece. Unfortunately I was not able to find kids in any local meat markets but I was lucky enough to find fresh lean lamb legs.
Lamb meat is a good source of high quality protein and iron. After our one week of fasting (should be 40 days though…), this gives us a lot of energy and important nutrients, such as vitamins B1, B6, and B12 and zinc, too.
Easter morning began with a lot of cloud. However, around 11am, the sun started showing up. The time we started our Easter lunch, it became a perfect sunny Easter day. After about 2 hours of cooking, the roast lamb became very tender with astonishing oregano and wine flavor. We enjoyed this masterpiece under the sun and had a great time!

1 leg of lamb (about 5lb)
3-5 cloves of sliced garlic
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5-8 potatoes
2 cups red wine
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 450 F degrees.
2. Make deep cuts and insert sliced garlic in the lamb.
3. Place the lamb in an oven pan. Pour the 1-cup of wine and ¼ cup of olive oil. Turn to coat well. Season with salt, pepper and plenty of oregano all over the lamb.
4. Peal the potatoes and cut them 1/4-inch wide wedges.
5. Roast the lamb in the oven for 15 minutes and turn the lamb. Continue to roast for another 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 375 F degrees and turn the lamb over again.
6. After 20 to 30 minutes, add the potatoes in the same pan under the lamb. Pour the rest of the wine and olive oil over the lamb and potatoes. Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
7. Continue to roast for another 60 to 75 minutes until the meat become done and potatoes become soft. Turn over the lamb a few times.
8. Transfer to a carving plate. Slice the meat and sprinkle plenty of lemon juice. Serve with the potatoes!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Eggplant dip/salad (Melitzanosalata)

The best way to prepare this dish is baking eggplants in a traditional Mediterranean wood fired oven, which my husband and I plan to build in our garden sometime soon. In the oven, eggplants are cooked slowly and evenly. Eventually they become very soft like butter with an amazing natural wood flavor. Cooking eggplants in a fireplace using real woods or grilling them with wood charcoal can be as good as baking in a Mediterranean oven. Unfortunately, it is already too hot to use a fireplace. Also I am lazy to cook it outside on a charcoal fire. Therefore, I have no choice but to use my electric oven to prepare this dish. Nevertheless, it is still gorgeous! One more point attention: it might be a good idea to penetrate it with a fork or a thin knife so vapors do not built up during the baking process. Some people wrap them in aluminum foil so they will not burn. This is a must if you use a fireplace to bake them but optional for regular ovens.
There are many kinds of eggplants in markets these days. The most common one is an American eggplant, which is huge, purple and pear shaped. I prefer narrower shaped Chinese eggplants (or sometimes called Japanese eggplants) or smaller sized Italian eggplants (or sometimes called Holland eggplants). In my opinion they are more aromatic and less bitter than American eggplants. Also, from an economic point of view, it takes less time to completely bake smaller sized eggplants.
This eggplant dish can be an excellent appetizer. Like the yogurt salad/dip (tzaziki), I love to dip pita bread into this! Eating eggplants is good for maintaining a healthy heart and coronary system. It is believed it lowers the bad cholesterol. Also, it has many compounds which may protect against various forms of cancer.

4 eggplants (Chinese or Italian eggplants are recommended)
¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley
2-3 cloves of ground garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.
2. Wash the eggplants and dry well. Bake them in the preheated oven for about 1 hour until they become very soft.
3. Remove the eggplants from the oven. Peel the skins.
4. Puree the eggplants until they are smooth.
5. Mix the rest of the ingredients with the eggplant puree. Make sure you use lots of olive oil!
6. Decorate it with a few whole olives. Serve with pita bread!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Yogurt dip/salad (Tzatziki)

Greek style yogurt, which is richer and creamier than regular plain yogurt, has been popular in US for the past few years. When I first tried to prepare this Greek dish a several years ago, the rich and creamy yogurt was not available in the US markets. So I had to drain regular plain yogurt overnight to make it like the Greek one. Thanks to many companies making and selling Greek style yogurt in local markets, I no longer wait overnight to prepare tzatziki! Health benefits of yogurt are numerous. It is well known that yogurt is an excellent source of calcium and protein. Also it is rich in vitamins A, B, D and E. Moreover, a recent study shows eating yogurt can enhance the immune system to prevent from hay fever and allergies! This dish can be served as an appetizer. Dipping pita bread in it is my favorite way of eating tzatziki. Also it goes well with grilled meat or seafood as a yogurt sauce.

500g Greek style yogurt (If you cannot find it, use regular plain yogurt which should be drained overnight.)
½ cucumber
½ cup chopped fresh dill
2-4 cloves of ground garlic
Salt to taste
¼ cup olive oil

1. Wash and finely chopped or roughly ground the cucumber. Squeeze and drain the water well.
2. Place the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and mix them well.
3. Refrigerate it for at least 15 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle additional olive oil. Serve with olives, pita bread or grilled food!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stuffed Tomatoes, Bell Peppers and Zucchinis (Yemista)

The most fun part of cooking this traditional Greek dish is making its stuffing. There are a lot of possibilities to prepare it. Therefore, you can explore your own creativity. Basically onions, parsley and rice are used for the stuffing. But depending on family’s tradition and region, the stuffing may change (for instance, it may include ground meat or be purely vegetarian). When I first tried to cook the stuffing, I simply used rice, onions and dill. The stuffing came out OK but I felt something was missing. Then my imagination was challenged. I added green onions, chopped mushrooms, raisins, and various kinds of nuts, herbs, and meats. Some were very good but others were not so good. However, I truly enjoyed these experiments. This week my husband and I decided to eat only vegetarian dishes until the Orthodox Easter coming this Sunday. Therefore, today’s dish is a vegetarian version of yemista (or “stuffed” in Greek). The stuffed tomatoes require ripen large tomatoes, which is hard to be found in markets at this time of the year; early spring. The tomatoes I used might had been picked when they were still green. So they were a little bit sour. However, the stuffed peppers and zucchinis were so delicious! Unfortunately, I ran out of potatoes so I was not able to bake them with the rest of the yemista vegetables. But adding also sliced potatoes together with the other stuffed vegetables is highly recommended.
4 large ripen tomatoes
4 bell peppers
4 large zucchinis
2 chopped onions
4 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 ½ cups rice
1 cup chopped mushroom
1 cup finely chopped fresh dill
2 cups tomato juice
1/4 finely chopped fresh mint leaves
3 tbsp and 1 cups extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cups crashed pine nuts
3-5 potatoes
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.
2. Wash well tomatoes, bell peppers and zucchinis and cut a slice off the top to form a lid. Put the lid parts aside.
3. Scoop out the insides of the tomatoes and zucchinis. These insides will be used for the stuffing. Take out the seeds of the bell pepper and clean them. Place the tomatoes, zucchinis and bell peppers in an oven pan.
4. Heat the 3 tbsp olive oil and the garlic in a large pot and fry the onion until it becomes transparent. Add the chopped insides of the tomatoes and zucchinis you just scooped out. Add the rice, tomato paste, 1-cup of the tomato juice, chopped mushrooms and pine nuts. Fry them till the rice becomes half cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Fill the tomatoes, zucchinis and bell peppers with the rice mixture. Sprinkle the mint leaves and cover them with the lids
6. Add sliced potatoes. Sprinkle the 1-cup of olive oil and 1-cup of tomato juice.
7. Bake them for about 1 hour. Serve them with Greek yogurt and feta cheese!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bean Soup (Fasolada)

Since my husband is a Greek Orthodox Christian, and Orthodox Easter is on this coming Sunday, my husband and I decided not to eat any meat this week. Traditionally, people observe the Great Lent in which they are supposed not to eat any meat or animal products. Also olive oil, seafood and wine are restricted during this period.
Luckily I found fresh baby green Lima beans in a local market, so I decided to make Greek bean soup. This is one of the simplest Greek dishes, yet, an ultimate dish to be proved that you are a good cook.
Lima beans are rich in soluble fiber, which helps to reduce high cholesterol. If you do not eat meat, they are a very good source of protein and iron.
I am not a big fan of bean soup. However, I admit I loved today’s soup. My husband was especially amazed how authentic the flavor was. Probably, it was because the Lima beans were fresh. Or maybe because I am a good cook ;) or we were just too hungry?

Ingredients (4 to 5 servings):
1 lb Lima beans (Either fresh or dried are fine. Dried Lima beans should be soaked overnight.)
1 chopped onion
3 cups diced tomatoes
3 chopped carrots
3 stalks of chopped celery
2 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cloves of garlic
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Place all of the ingredients except the parsley and olive oil in a large pot and add water till the ingredients are covered.
2. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Then, lower the heat and continue to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Add water if necessary.
3. Season with salt and pepper. Add the parsley and the olive oil and turn off the heat. Cover and leave for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Drum Fish with Sweet Soy Sauce (Kabayaki Drum Fish)

“I want to eat that kabayaki eel, again,” my husband said. Whenever we talk about our last trip to Kyoto, in Japan last year, we eventually come up to the day when my husband and I had the most delicious eel I had ever had. The eel was farmed, which is very close to being like wild cough in Japan. In that particular restaurant in Kyoto, they cook eel with a specially selected charcoal on front of you. The eel was very crispy and juicy in a wonderful sweet soy sauce. Ah, I want to eat the kabayaki eel again! Although it is impossible to get fresh and healthy eel here, sardine can be found in Louisiana and it is good when prepared in the kabayaki way. However, I was not lucky to find sardine last time. Yet, I came across fillet of fresh wild drum fish. So I decided to try this fish fillet in kabayaki sauce. Surprisingly, the fish was cooked very nicely with sweet soy sauce and we enjoyed every bite of it while recalling our unforgettable days in Kyoto!
1 lb Drum fish fillets
¼ cup cornstarch
Olive oil
Red pepper

Marinating sauce:
3 tbsp sake (or mirin, which is sweet rice wine with a low alcohol content)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp freshly ground ginger

Sweet Soy Sauce:
3 tbsp sake (or mirin)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar

1. Place all of the ingredients for the marinating sauce in a small bowel and mix well. Place the drum fish fillets in a shallow dish and pour the marinating sauce. Marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
2. Place all of the ingredients for the sweet soy sauce in a small bowel and mix well.
3. Take out the marinating sauce with paper towel from the fillets .
4. Put the cornstarch in a shallow dish and add the fillets and coat well.
5. Heat oil in a fry pan. Place the fillets and fly both sides on medium heat until the surface becomes brown.
6. Add the sweet soy sauce and continue cooking until the sauce slightly caramelizes.
7. Transfer the fillets to serving plates. Season with red pepper and serve it over rice or with rice!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Chicken with Okra (Kotopoulo me Bamies)

Fanni, my husband’s cousin living in Greece, was the first person to introduce me to this gorgeous Greek dish; okra in olive oil / tomato sauce (“bamies laderes”). “This is one of my favorites,” she said and served us this delicious food. It had a little bit of vinegar taste, which went very well with the okra and tomato sauce. Since then the dish became one of my favorites, too. Of course, I knew okra and ate them many times when I was a kid in Japan. But this vegetable had never fascinated me until the time we visited Greece. Today’s recipe includes chicken along with okra. If you are vegetarian, just ignore adding chicken. Remarkably, okra comes with lots of health benefits. It is rich in dietary fiber, which helps reduce high cholesterol. Moreover, it contains vitamins A, B1, B2, C, various minerals, calcium and potassium, which helps to beat the summer heat. Also for women who expect to be pregnant, it is a good source of folic acid. Thanks to Louisiana, where Cajun people frequently use okra in many kinds of dishes, I am able to find this vegetable easily almost anytime and at any market. Okra is a summer vegetable. It will be in season, soon. Please try when you find this vegetable in your local market!
40 – 50 pieces of okra
¼ cup vinegar
4 legs of chicken
1 chopped onion
3 cups chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups red wine (or water)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf

1. Wash the okra and cut off the stems. Place them along with the vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl and fill it up with water. Leave it for 10 – 15 minutes.
2. Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper.
3. Heat the olive oil and add the garlic in a large pot and fry the onion until it becomes transparent.
4. Add the chicken legs and fry them till they become brown. Add the tomatoes and okra and fry them for 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the wine, tomato paste and bay leaf and stir. Bring to boil on high heat.
5. Reduce the heat to low after it started boiling. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Cover the pot and simmer for 40-50 minutes. Serve hot with bread or rice!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rice with Vegetables in Cajun Flavor

The first kitchen tool I purchased after I moved to US was a rice cooker. It was around $20. It was cheap but did not work the way I expected. It cooked rice but only the rice on the bottom part of the pot. The rice on the top part was half cooked. I mixed the rice and cooked it again. But it still did not work well. After a few attempts, I gave up and donated it to Salvation Army. Then I purchased a rice cooker made by a Japanese well-known company with around $100. It worked nicely! For more than a decade I used this rice cooker simply for cooking white rice or brown rice. However, recently I discovered this machine gives me more varieties of cooking than I have imagined. Today’s recipe is one of my discoveries. I put rice, vegetables, Cajun seasonings, and olive oil in the rice cooker. Then switch it on. 15 to 20 minutes later, your appetite would be crazy about the aroma of this dish! I use mushrooms, green onions and dills in this recipe. But you can use many kinds of other vegetables, too. If you are health conscious, please use brown rice instead of white rice. Brown rice is rich in fiber, manganese and many kinds of vitamins. Again, the rice cooker saves my energy and hours being in kitchen. This is a MUST kitchen tool. I will introduce other recipes using this machine in another time!
2 cups rice (I use Nishiki rice, which is a form of Japanese rice. Any other medium-grain rice is fine)
2 cups water (Please note this is based on rice you use. Some rice requires more water to be done well and others are less.)
1 cup chopped mushrooms
½ cup chopped green onions
¼ cup chopped dill
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning

1. If you use a form of Japanese rice, please the rice wash well.
2. Put all the ingredients in a rice cooker. Mix well.
3. Switch on and wait till the switch is off.
4. Transfer to the plates and sprinkle olive oil. Serve hot!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Baked Blue Fish with Tomatoes (Psaria Plaki)

Plaki is my “"juuhachi-ban", which is literally my "18th" and means my “best” dish in Japanese. (Please refer to this site if you want to know more about “juuhachi-ban”). To tell the truth, I wanted to keep this recipe a secret so that I can always surprise my friends with this delicious dish, which is very easy to prepare and never failed me as long as the ingredients are fresh. Plaki was the first Greek dish I learned from my husband whose native country is Greece. Before I met him, I knew only one Greek dish, moussaka, which I never had tasted. After I started seeing him, he took me to many Greek restaurants and also cooked for me. I gradually learned how to cook Greek dishes. Then I realized Greek cuisine is very similar to Japanese cuisine. We both enjoy lightly-seasoned seafood and fresh vegetables. "Plaki" is one of these dishes. Using a lot of olive oil and tomatoes is not common in Japanese cooking but the taste of plaki reminds me of Japanese food. One day I even poured soy sauce on plaki and made my husband mad! Traditionally, in Greece, people cook plaki with mackerel fish. But red snapper, cod, sea bass and drum fish can be used equally well for this dish. The secret is to have very fresh fish, lots of tomatoes and onions and extra virgin olive oil.
1 lb fish (both a whole fish or fish fillets are fine)
3-4 cups of diced tomatoes (or thinly sliced tomatoes)
1 cup chopped green onion
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 cups of extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup white wine Salt and freshly ground black pepper Oregano
Optional: 2 cups thinly sliced potatoes
1. Preheat the oven to 360 F degrees.
2. If you use a whole fish, scale it off, take out the guts and gills and wash the fish well.
3. Place the potatoes and the fish in an oven pan.
4. Pour the white wine and half a cup of olive oil over the fish. Season with the salt and freshly ground pepper.
5. Put the green onions, garlic and tomatoes over the fish. Sprinkle the oregano.
6. Bake in the preheat oven for about 30 minutes till the fish is done.
7. Transfer to the plates and pour the rest of the olive oil. Serve hot!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Horta (green vegetables)

Like buying loafs of bread or milk, green vegetables, such as dandelions, red dandelions, spinach and arugula, are necessary for my shopping list in order to make horta. This is an extremely simple Greek dish. Just steam green vegetables and sprinkle a lot of lemon juice, olive oil. In Greece, usually people have a big lunch and simple dinner. Horta with feta cheese or anchovies are often served in dinner.
Generally people in Greece prepare horta with dandelions. Yes, it is the weed you remove or kill without any mercy in your gardens! Yet, they are amazingly nutritious. Dandelions are good for cleaning the intestines. It helps against polyps or intestine cancers. I found this site, which describes more details about the health benefits of eating dandelions.
Some people Greece go to get wild dandelions in the mountains, which have bigger leaves and more flavor than cultivated dandelions. My husband’s friend, whose native country is also Greece, says there are eatable wild dandelions in Louisiana! You have to pick them December through January before they get flowers. We already miss this year’s season. Cannot wait to try them this winter!

1 bunch of green vegetable such as dandelions, red dandelions spinach and arugula
Olive oil
Lemon juice

1. Wash the green vegetables very well. Cut into half.
2. Steam the vegetables for 4 to 8 minutes.
3. Transfer to plates and sprinkle the lemon juice and plenty of olive oil.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fried Sardines with Horta

Sardines were the cheapest fish in Japan when I was a kid. Yet, they are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, calcium and protein. My mother prepared sardine sashimi, sardine tempera, sardine teriyaki and grilled, broiled, and backed, etc, to try my sisters and me to eat this nutritious food. However, I did not like them. I remember each time when I see them on our dinner table I was immediately disappointed and lost my appetite. After more then a decade of not living in Japan I miss sardines very much. Especially now through the early summer when sardines are in season I want badly this fish. Then I found the ones in Whole Foods Market. They were from Portugal this morning. If the eyes of a fish are transparent and its gills are red, the fish is fresh. So I observed them very carefully. They were not super fresh but considering of coming all the way from Portugal, it was reasonably fresh. Therefore, my husband and I decided to try 4 pieces of the sardines. Later we deeply regretted. Yes, we were very sorry not to buy more of these tasty fishes! I simply fried the fishes with salt, freshly ground black pepper and oregano and sprinkled lemon juice. This dish with horta reminds me beautiful summer days in Greece. I ate the sardines’ bones and heads. My mother won’t believe me eating like this!
4 sardines
½ cup all-purpose flour
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Remove guts, gills and scales and wash the sardines well.
2. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Dredge the sardines in the flour and coat well.
3. Heat the olive oil in a fry pan and fry the sardines until they become brown.
4. Transfer to plates and sprinkle the lemon juice. Serve with horta!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki sauce is very popular among not only Japanese but also non-Japanese. I am glad to see many kinds of Teriyaki sauce are available in regular American supermarkets. However, unfortunately, none of them pleases me. It is not right that garlic is in Teriyaki sauce. Moreover they are too sweet! It is very easy to make delicious homemade Teriyaki sauce without putting any chemical. The sauce can be good with grilled, broiled, backed, roasted and BBQ seafood, meats or vegetables. I personally like backed Chicken Teriyaki because it is extremely simple but yummy.
4 chicken legs
2 onion, sliced and separated into rings
3 tbsp olive oil

Teriyaki sauce:
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp sake (or mirin, which is sweet rice wine with a low alcohol content)
4 tbsp honey
2 tbsp ground fresh ginger

1. Preheat oven to 360 F degrees.
2. Prepare Teriyaki sauce. Place all of the ingredients for Teriyaki sauce except honey in a small bowel and mix well.
3. Spread the honey on the chicken legs. Place the chicken legs and onions in a backing pan and pour the Teriyaki sauce. Sprinkle the olive oil.
4. Bake in the preheat oven for about 40 to 50 minutes till the chickens are done and become brown.
5. Transfer the chicken legs and onion to serving plates.

Calf’s Liver with Rosemary

I thought I was about to receive an oracle when I first saw small silver stars blinking in front of my eyes and became dizzy at the age of 8. But my mother said, “It is one of the symptoms when you become anemic.” Indeed, I frequently became anemic. I was a weak child. So my mother often cooked chicken livers with a lot of vegetables. Livers are rich in iron and Vitamin A, which help my body demands. Also it is very tender and delicious food.
“Let’s have Sykoti!” said my husband the other day. Sykoti is a liver in Greek. He said he knew a store selling good beef liver stakes. I had never have beef livers except chickens. When I saw them in a supermarket, they looked a bit disgusting. But my husband said it is tender and juicier than chicken livers. Unfortunately the store had no longer carried the livers. But the butcher recommended frozen calf’s livers he carried. It was $4 for 4 slices. So we decided to try.
Thanks to the butcher, as my husband mentioned it is taster than beef livers’. I added chopped rosemary leaves, which compliments the taste of the livers. We ate two stakes each but we immediately become hungry after an hour or so. This is the sign of easily digestible food and less fat. Just be careful not to overcook. It will become tough.

4 thin slice of calf’s liver
1/3 cup all-propose flour or as needed
Leaves from 4 fresh rosemary springs (oregano, sage or thyme are recommended, too)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon juice

1. Dredge the calf’s liver slices in the flour and coat well.
2. Chop the rosemary leaves.
3. Heat oil in a fry pan. Place the calf’s liver slices and season salt and pepper. Sprinkle the rosemary leaves. Fly the calf’s liver slices both side for 5 to 6 minutes. Please make sure it is not overcooked because it will be tough.
4. Transfer to plates and sprinkle the lemon juice. Serve with fried onions!