February 22, 2007

miso soup with tofu

I was planning to make this miso soup but I forgot to pick up some dried wakame (seaweed) when we were at the Asian food store. So for now, I just want to post this recipe derived from The Book of Japanese Cooking by Emi Kazuko, one of the many cookbooks from our favorite series published by HPBooks. The ingredients are available in Japanese or Asian food stores. As requested by fellow foodie Ces of Spices and in connection with my previous post on salmon in miso broth, here's the recipe for miso soup with tofu:

2 tbsps. dried wakame (seaweed)
3 tbsps. miso
4 oz. firm tofu, cut into tiny dice
1 green onion, finely chopped
Ground sansho pepper (optional)

2 cups second dashi or 2 1/2 cups water
and 1 to 2 tsps. dashi no-moto (freeze-dried dashi powder)

First make the broth by adding dashi no-moto to boiling water and stirring to dissolve. Lower heat and simmer 5 to 10 minutes, then remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve. Meanwhile, soak the wakame in plenty of water 10 to 15 minutes until fully opened up. Drain and cut the wakame into small pieces, if necessary.

Put the miso in a teacup and mix with a few spoonfuls of the stock. Return the stock to a low heat (do not boil) and add the diluted miso. Add the wakame and tofu to the pan and increase the heat. Just before it reaches boiling point, add the finely chopped onion and immediately remove from the heat. Do not boil. Serve hot in individual soup bowls. Sprinkle with a little ground sansho pepper, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

February 21, 2007

sinigang sa miso ( sour fish soup in miso broth )

This dish is usually my first request for my sister-in-law to cook when I visit Manila. This is another sinigang version, which is a simple sour soup made with pork or fish. In Manila, fresh bangus or milkfish is the most popular choice for this dish. Made with miso ( soybean ) paste, the miso is sauteed with garlic, onions and tomatoes then flavored with sour tamarind broth. I was thinking about this fish dish and I remember miso paste is sold at the same Korean store we visited weeks ago. Fresh salmon, a good substitute for the milkfish, is always available in the grocery fish section. I chose a piece with a little of the belly part. The result was a most flavorful soup. This miso paste is used for the traditional Japanese miso soup but I think it worked well for this dish. It was much saltier and a little different in texture and taste than the miso we have in Manila, but there are some low salt varieties available, which I need to get next time. For the vegetables, mustard greens are the top choice but any green leafy vegetables like green leaf lettuce and escarole work very well. Serve hot with rice.
Japanese miso paste

salmon fillets make the broth rich & flavorful

February 14, 2007

valentine's day baklava

I was thinking of a creamier dessert like a layered torte maybe to make for Valentine's day but it has been awhile since I made baklava and I guess this is a perfect day for it. And besides I have all the ingredients needed just waiting to be put together. The filling is usually made of a combination of walnuts, almonds and pistachios. But I have this bag of walnuts in the fridge so I decided to make good use of them. The first step is to make the simple syrup. Combine a cup of sugar, 2/3 cup water in a small saucepan and gently boil for about 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of orange flower water and simmer for another 2 minutes. Set this aside to cool. I toasted the walnuts in the oven for a few minutes before finely grinding them in the food processor. Brown sugar and ground cinnamon were then added to the ground nuts and set aside. Meanwhile, about 1/4 cup of butter ( salted or unsalted ) was melted. Start the phyllo sheet layering process by brushing a 9x13" pan with melted butter. Lay a sheet of phyllo in the pan and brush with melted butter. Continue the layering process, making sure to brush melted butter in between the layers. Layer about 4-5 sheets of phyllo then sprinkle 1/3 of the ground nut mixture. Repeat the layering and sprinkling of the nut mixture finishing with the phyllo sheet layers on top. With a sharp knife, score the top layer of phyllo with a diamond pattern. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 40 minutes or until top is crispy and golden. Remove from the oven and immediately pour the syrup over the baklava. Let cool, slice and serve.

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 13, 2007

chicken tenders satay

Perhaps the best and most convenient way to make chicken satay is to use fresh chicken tenders readily available at the favorite grocer. Aside from being very lean and uniform in size, the chicken tenderloins are really what they claim them to be, very tender. A basic and simple marinade of finely minced garlic and ginger, soy sauce, a little peanut or vegetable oil, brown sugar, lemon or lime juice, hot sauce or red pepper flakes, salt and pepper works great but there are so many other variations and ingredients which may be substituted or added like peanut butter and coconut milk depending on one's taste. These satays ( skewered chicken ) didn't take long to brown and cook in a stovetop grill pan which always does a good job creating the grill marks. The pan is also quite handy during winter season when it's just too cold to grill outdoors. I used to bake them, but I prefer the grilled look better.
Peanut or sweet chili sauce may be served as dips along with some sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. There's no question about the popularity of these Asian appetizers, rich in flavor but not in fat. They're also great as a main dish with some Asian style salad, soup or noodle dish. Garnish with chopped cilantro or green onions before serving.

February 5, 2007

tuna burgers & veggies

Heavy rains prevented me from going out to pick up some fresh salmon to cook for dinner. However, for days like this, there's always a plan B. Canned tuna came to the rescue. For these tuna burgers, I opened two cans of chunk light tuna and drained them very well. The tuna was then transferred to a mixing bowl, then finely minced celery and onions were thrown in along with some cornstarch as a binder, a little mayo ( too much will make the "burgers" soggy ) cayenne pepper, worcestershire sauce, 1 T lemon juice, a little salt and pepper. Mix all the ingredients well. On a plate, combine plain and panko breadcrumbs together. Panko breadcrumbs are coarser and often used in Japanese cooking. They may be found in Asian markets. Form the tuna mixture into about 3 inch round patties. Coat well with the breadcrumb mixture and set aside on a tray. The patties may also be done ahead and refrigerated in sealed container or covered with plastic wrap. Pan fry in small amount of olive oil until golden brown on both sides. I served them with flour tortillas, guacamole, salad greens, fine carrot strips and cucumber ribbons which were neatly created using the slicer gadget below. It was a great idea to make tortilla wraps with the tuna burgers, topping them with the veggie sides and guacamole.

fine carrot strips, cucumber ribbons,
tomato slices & mixed spring greens

vegetable slicer gadget works great for cucumbers & carrots