Category Archives: Entree

Mushroom Stroganoff with Cardamom Basmati Rice

Recipe adapted from: Feast – Food to Celebrate Life (by Nigella Lawson)

mushroom stroganoff

I didn’t like mushrooms when I was growing up, and I was a fool.

I thought they were slimy and kind of gross, and they always seemed like a “filler” or even an afterthought in sautéed veggies or meaty pasta, which I felt was rather pointless and unnecessary. The idea of truffle being one of the world’s most precious and sought-after delicacies perplexed me more than fish roe and duck liver being the others. Of course I had never tasted truffle at that time, I only knew it was a type of mushroom. And people train pigs to find them in the forest. That sounded as bizarre as “Where the wild things are” to a 9-year old Japanese kid.

Fortunately, my taste bud had caught up to be able to appreciate the fantastic world of fungi by the time I was introduced to this version of mushroom stroganoff.  Still, I was absolutely shocked by how delicious this dish came out despite of the recipe’s simplicity when I made it for the first time. Since then I have made this for many, many occasions, but every time, I’m amazed and almost confused as to how only mushrooms and a couple of spices (paprika and nutmeg) can deliver such a deeply rich and complex flavor. And every time, it makes me regret about all those years when I diligently picked out any mushroom slices I could find from my plate to avoid eating them. Continue reading

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Tuna Steaks Braised with Radicchio, Chickpeas & Rosemary

Recipe from: All About Braising (By Molly Stevens)

tuna steak braised with radiccio chickpeas and rosemaryI would assume a variety of content is critical to have an awesome blog and increase readership especially when you are starting out. So, obviously, I was planning to post something else this week as I knew I shouldn’t keep cooking chickpeas and fish even though it’s not that far from the reality. But then I went to grocery shopping and found thick, red, perfectly-sized sashimi grade ahi tuna steaks (on sale!) so I had to drop everything and buy them to make this dish because that’s what I do now if I come across a good-looking tuna steak. This is such a recipe. It’s a game changer.

It comes from All About Braising, an award winning cookbook by Molly Stevens. I ordered it when I got my first set of Le Creuset simply because I just wanted to make sure I get most out of those heavy pots as they were quite an investment. Soon the book arrived – And it completely floored me with my economically-motivated intentions by opening up a whole new world of cooking possibilities.

Not only is it a collection of great recipes, some of which I can no longer live without, but also her precision and accuracy in describing both principles of the technique as well as subtle details of each steps are MIND-BLOWING. You are guaranteed to be successful if you do exactly what she tells you to do. I do just that, and let myself indulge in a fantasy of being a domestic diva as I take out my prized Le Creuset from the oven and witness complete transformation of what’s inside from assortment of ingredients to an amazing meal. I might even throw an apron on. All that while I am developing some serious muscle. Fantastic. Continue reading

Noodle Salad with Fried Tofu and Spinach

Recipe very slightly adapted from: Simple Vegetarian Pleasure (By Jeanne Lemlin)

fried tofu and spinach noodle salad

Where I grew up, we had a local tofu shop around the corner from my elementary school. Every morning when I walked to the school along with other students, we could see steam coming out of their kitchen window and smell cooked soy beans as they make fresh tofu from scratch. They would close when the daily batch was sold out since that’s all they had, and if you didn’t make it there by 4:30 or 5, you would most likely have to head to a super market to buy packaged stuff – So all the housewives in the area built the stop in their daily routine, including my mother. Their daughter, Fumie, was my sister’s classmate and tofu in my household always had a prefix of “Fumie’s dad’s” whenever it is served, often in miso soup or as is with simple toppings of soy sauce and grated ginger. The shop had been around for a long time in neighborhood, I figured, because Fumie’s dad was my aunt’s classmate, whom everybody in my dad’s siblings lovingly referred to as “the son of the tofu shop”.

Perhaps it is because of this sentimental and intimate relationship I had with tofu that I tend to get agitated when I hear somebody say they don’t like tofu. And usually I take it upon myself to attempt converting them without being asked to. I know. You’re welcome.  Continue reading

Puerto Rican Fish Stew

Recipe slightly modified from: http://www.eatingwell.com

Puerto rican fish stewI will be honest; I am not familiar with Puerto Rican cuisine. Actually, I haven’t even been to a Puerto Rican restaurant. I only decided to try this recipe because it has avocado in it, and I had a big jar of pimento-stuffed olives I bought by mistake that I didn’t know what to do with. I’m aware the statement is wrong in so many ways that it is making my qualifications as somebody who writes a cooking blog even more questionable. But all I have to say is that I’m now finishing the third jar of pimento-stuffed olives, and they are solely used for this dish in my house.

Rewound to a few months ago – I really didn’t expect much from this dish. Sure it includes a couple of things I didn’t think about adding to “stew” such as olives and capers. But other ingredients are fairly basic – Garlic, onion, tomato, pepper, and fish. Only spice/herb listed in the recipe are oregano and cilantro, while usual Latin American heavy hitters like cumin, chilli powder, or cayenne didn’t seem to have made the cut. I was skeptical but then thought: How bad could it be? I mean, you can’t possibly go THAT wrong with these. Plus it’s from eatingwell.com, so I get to be skinny at least (Isn’t that how it works?).

Shame on me.

Continue reading

Chickpea and Spinach Stew with Cumin and Harissa

Recipe inspired by: Chickpea Stew at Gjelina (and the lack of Robert Downey, Jr.)

chickpea and spinach stew

Gjelina is a restaurant on trendy Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, which is very popular despite of its unpronounceable name (it’s ja-lee-na).  It is a kind of place that embodies everything great about LA when we get it right; The setting relaxed and casual but sophisticated and stylish, food simple at a glance but masterfully crafted and balanced with well selected ingredients, and wait staff good looking and friendly but not too friendly. You get the idea.

The problem is that EVERYBODY thinks the place is great (including Robert Downey Jr., who apparently makes frequent appearances… at least according to Yelp, although I have never seen him there) so the table is rather hard to book. But when I want to go there, I must go there and have their decadent maitake mushroom toast with truffle oil, super thin-crust pizza with Gruyere and arugula, and most of all, the unforgettable chickpea stew – NOW. Not tomorrow, not the day after. And definitely not in 2 weeks. Continue reading