Archive for ‘East Asian’

June 4, 2012

Two Light and Easy Nights | Summer Miso Soup

This past weekend the most recent Top Chef winner Paul Qui was in town at Market District to do a demo and answer questions.  Honestly, I don’t think there has been a nicer, more unassuming winner of that crazy show.   He’s just such a humble, talented guy.  His dishes were lovely light versions of chicken rice (his with lots and lots of a lemony ponzu) and a summer miso soup.  Things, he says, are his comfort foods.  I can completely see why.

His cooking got me thinking about dishes I had made in the past but could bring together for the perfect, almost no effort summer dinner.  Granted, you’ll have Asian food a couple of days in a row, but I don’t think that ever hurt anyone.  Plus, this is the time of year that you can gather just about everything locally, aside from the kombu, katsuobushi and a couple of pantry items.

But perhaps the thing that makes me happiest about this kind of dinner is that since everybody gets to choose what to include in their bowls, it’s lots of fun for Cherub.  She amazed even me tonight by her choice of tofu, zucchini, carrots, green onion, bean sprouts and snap peas.  But she passed on the fresh sweet corn.  (What kid does that?)  And she even had seconds.

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January 11, 2012

Explorer | Long Beans

I am not a snob when it comes to where I’ll shop for ingredients.  I am very happy to pick up whatever looks good where ever I go.  I was at Meijer recently (which is a mid-western version of Wal-Mart) to pick up some Kinder for Cherub.  And batteries, for all the toys she got for Christmas that died faster than you can blink.  Le sigh.  I digress.

I am always so pleased to see the wide variety of produce they carry.  Not just limited to your typical cucumbers, lettuces and onions, Meijers in Columbus seem to have every manner of exotic produce that you can imagine: from fresh tamarind pods to bitter melon to long beans.

I have heard from a friend that the partial reason for this was a well-loved local chef/owner of a very posh restaurant used to stop at Meijer on the way to his restaurant to pick up the stray ingredient.  And the good folks at Meijer would order just about anything his heart desired.  Hence, local Meijers now stock rather comprehensive produce departments that are well worth a stop in and a meander.

I was inspired by the long beans that day.  Similar to green beans in taste and texture, they are only different in their magnificent length.  Which for the harried cook, means far less trimming!  Nice.

Long beans partner especially beautifully with Chinese cuisine, most notably buckwheat noodles.

But don’t let that stop you.

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November 11, 2010

Spicy Skirt Steak with Far Eastern Flair

Cherub was at school this morning so I had time to peruse the aisles at New Asian Supermarket without worrying that she would try to “pet” a fish in the tanks or topple a display of gigantic bottles of Squid brand fish sauce.  Good times. 

But as I was doing this, I was realizing just how important it is for anyone with a desire to eat well, but on a budget, to become friendly with their local ethnic grocery stores.  People!  Such a resource for inspiration and flavor and ingredients!  I saw some gorgeous Chinese noodles (it felt like a three-pound package, or at least 12 servings) for $2.49.  The three bands of Japanese noodles, made in Australia, I pick up at Fresh Market (God love ’em) are $4.99.  I suck at math, but that’s way cheaper.  And there are things you can find in the produce section that you can’t find other places.  The baby bok choy was real baby bok choy.  We were at Whole Foods a bit later and saw what was called baby bok choy and it was four times the size. 

I’m not suggesting that you go all non-local with all your produce shopping.  Not at all.  You know P loves her local farmers.  But for a change every once in a while, take a stroll through the aisles of your local market and see what you can find that gets you excited.  Don’t know what to do with it?  PK tip: Get it anyway.  Do a bit of Googling or heck, send me an e-mail.  I love a challenge.  Let’s get cooking!

Tonight’s dinner was a quick one.  (I was fortunate to be invited to a little lunch with super chef and super nice guy David Tanis who’s on a tour for his new book The Heart of the Artichoke.  I’ll post about that in full later.)  Anyhoodle, I marinated some grass-fed steak in vegetable oil, lemon grass all bashed up, ginger, garlic and Chinese chili paste.  This was served with some fresh mung beans (remember the just buy it advice???) and that baby bok choy that was pickled.  Awesome.

Quick Spicy Skirt Steak with Fresh Mung Beans and Pickled Baby Bok Choy

For the steak:

2/3 to 3/4 pound skirt steak (this was grass fed from White Oak Pastures, available at Whole Foods)

1 stalk lemon grass, cut crosswise in thirds and then bashed thoroughly (soooo satisfying)

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