Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Well seasoned

Three vegetable dishes

DSC_7626I’m cutting back on meat lately, due to a lack on meal planning. What? 5:45 already? The time flies when I’m watching Korean drama. I don’t have time to defrost meat, beside I really need to use these vegetables before they get moldy like sooo yesterday.

I have to come up with vegetable dishes that make any vegetarian proud?
Easy (going), wholesome, and well seasoned …Thank you for the compliments but let’s not talk about me, I have a dinner to prepare.

The crown daisy (shun giku 春菊) is not available in regular markets and spoils rather quickly so it’s shame to waste it, today it is my number one priority veggie. This vegetable has harshness (アク) to it, in another words, I can’t eat it fresh. I must tame this sucker by giving it a hot bath…now I’m on my way to a vegetable galore meal!  All three are accompanied well with cooked rice.DSC_7609

Burdock and Crown Daisy Salad for three people

  • 1 Dried whole hot red pepper. Remove seeds and slice.DSC_7615
  • Rice vinegar 2 Tablespoons
  • Soy sauce 1 Tablespoon
  • Sugar 1 - 2 teaspoons
  • Sesame oil 1 teaspoon
  • Burdock roots about 10 inch length. Wash well and cut into 2 inch lengths then soak in cold water for 5 minutes.
  • Corn starch or flour 1-2 Tablespoons
  • Crown Daisy 1 bundle about 4-5 stems. Wash thoroughly  .
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt.
  • Fried bean curd (油あげ) 2-3 Place in a strainer over the sink and carefully pour very hot water over it to remove grease residue. Slice. Note: Fried bean curd can be frozen but not tofu.DSC_7673DSC_7669
  • Oil for frying
  1. Make dressing first – combine hot red pepper, rice vinegar, soy sauce , sugar and sesame oil in a small bowl. Keep refrigerated.
  2. Prepare ice water in a large bowl. In a medium pan, boil 2 cups of water. When the water starts to boil sprinkle in the salt . Put the stems of the Crown Daisy in first and boil for 30 seconds in an up-right position then lower the leafy part into the pan for another 30 seconds, cook a little bit longer if you like tender texture, however you loose more nutrients that way. Drain the water then immediately immerse in icy water. Drain and squeeze liquid from the vegetable. Cut in about 2 inch lengths. Set aside.
  3. Paper towel dry the burdock, put in a zip lock bag and seal it. Pound the burdock with mallet or rolling pin to crush, not smash the texture a little but. Heat oil to about 340 degrees in a heavy bottom pan.
  4. Pour corn starch or flour in the zip lock. Seal it and shake the bag to coat the burdock well. Dust off excess flour.
  5. Fry the burdock for about 2-3 minutes until tender but still firm. Place on a paper towel to remove excess oil.
  6. Arrange fried bean curd on a plate then put the  crown daisy on top and lastly the fried burdock on top. Pour dressing over the salad.DSC_7630

Tofu keeps well in the refrigerator but even it eventually reaches its expiration date. Old tofu gets acidic in my opinion, when the water in the package becomes cloudy it is time to throw it away. I usually remember it’s there but occasionally it gets pushed further back in the refrigerator or someone leaves it on a higher shelf that I can’t see…put the candle back… I mean tofu back where I can see it. Note; My joke is from an old movie Young Frankenstein.
My son does not like this dish very much saying that he is not into tofu. Ou-key then, you don’t know tofu.

Seasoned Pan Fried TofuDSCN1680

  • 1 packaged firm tofu
  • 2 green onion chopped
  • 2 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 red hot pepper, remove seeds and slice
  • 3 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (Korean preferred) More if you like spicy.
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  1. Remove tofu from its package and wash under running water. Wrap in paper towel and place it between two cutting boards to squeeze out some of the water, about 6-8 minutes. The longer you do this the tougher tofu gets.
  2. In the meantime, combine the green onions, garlic, red hot pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds and chili powder in a small bowl.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Slice the tofu into thin slices. Slide the tofu in with a spatula. Brown tofu until the edge is crispy about 4-5 minutes. Do the same to other side.
  4. Lower the heat a bit and spoon the green onion/garlic mixture over the top of the tofu. Cover and let steam for 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately. Saucy variation; Add about 1/4 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch to green onion/garlic mixture and mix well. Pour in the pan and cook until the sauce thickens and tofu is coated with the sauce.DSCN1677

Ginger la-yu marinated cucumber is appetite enhancer, with this and rice I could eat a lot! Ginger la-yu is also used as seasoning in fried rice or sautéed vegetable.

Ginger La-yuDSC_7637

  • 1Green onion chopped small
  • 1 garlic minced
  • 2 Red hot pepper seeds removed and  sliced
  • Olive oil 1 Tablespoon and 1/4 cup
  • Dried powdered ginger 10g
  • Soy sauce 1 teaspoon
  1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Put green onion and garlic in and sauté until garlic turns brown, turn off heat.
  3. After green onion and garlic is at room temperature, add olive oil, dried ginger and soy sauce and mix well. Keep refrigerated. Use in two weeks.

Preparing cucumber –  Wash and dry 2 small cucumbers (I used Persian  cucumber that has tiny seeds) then pound to break up into chunks. Put in a bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Add 2 teaspoon of ginger la-yu and 1 teaspoon each of soy sauce, white sesame seeds and rice vinegar. Combine well and chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes or so. DSC_7643DSC_7641

Market find – Thai fresh ginger. A little bit easier on the wallet than Japanese new ginger but very tough. Yiiike! Where is the head?DSC_7589

Forgotten pumpkin – I bought it on impulse before Christmas. It became hard as a rock. I had to cook in a pressure cooker first to see if it is even still good.DSC_7600DSC_7606It was good! I made Pumpkin Flan with Pumpkin Chantilly Cream on top.

DSC_7647DSC_7652DSC_7659DSC_7663DSC_7686I momently forgot that I’m on a diet but it was super delicious!

My neighbor friend shared parsley with us. (This apple is ‘Junami’ a new variety)DSC_7679We sprinkled fresh parsley on top of the spaghetti meat sauce my husband made. My vegetarian days are over…DSC_7682..

No more frost, just rain

I can see the true color of the Burning Bush now.DSCN1683






Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Kimchi Hot Pot with Ginger/Gimchi Jjigae

DSC_7562I’m kind of spoiled by Oregon weather – gorgeous Summer and mild Winter. Utah friends letting me know that it has been crazy cold and tons of snow down there so I should not complain but it’s has been little chilly lately. We also have friends in Mineso-tta who act as if 30 below is nothin to them and probably is. My husband who did a contract gig there in beginning parts of 21st century speaks like a Minnesotan “Going up north to the lake, you want to come with?” Ah…no.. I’m good.

On a cold night like this though, you desire some heat. This dish hit the spot. I made a vegetarian version of kimchi hot pot soup but thinly sliced pork would add depth to this dish, so easy and nomo nomo mashisso! (Korean - very, very delicious!). 

Kimchi Hot Pot  for Two people

  • Sesame Oil  1 Tablespoon
  • Napa Cabbage (baechu) kimchi 3/4 cup to 1 cup sliced with its liquid.DSC_7476
  • Garlic 2 cloves minced
  • Water 2 cups
  • Sake 1 Tablespoon (optional)
  • Soy sauce 2 teaspoons
  • Soft tofu half package sliced – add rest of tofu after you finish eating the first batch.
  • Thinly sliced dried ginger 1-2 g (optional)DSC_7471
  • Green onion or garlic chives (にら)2 stalks, cut into 2 inch lengths.
  • White sesame seeds 1 Tablespoon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Korean chili paste about 1/2 Tablespoon (optional)DSC_7586
  1. Heat sesame oil in a stone pot or heavy bottom pan.
  2. Add kimchi and garlic sauté for 1 minute at medium low heat.DSC_7478
  3. Pour in water and  bring to boil.
  4. Add sake, soy sauce, tofu, ginger, and green onion. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste. If you like a more spicy flavor, add Korean chili paste a little at a time till desired spiciness is achieved. 
  6. Top with sesame seeds and julienned green onion soaked in ice cold water for 2-3 minutes as garnish (optional). DSC_7552

If you would like to use pork in this dish – sauté 1/2 pound (or less, more whatever) thinly sliced pork with kimchi and then just follow the recipe from there. I sometimes add miso paste to bring out umami flavor. I used mild kimchi because my husband can’t take the heat. Although adding ginger is optional, it makes your body warm and supposedly burns more fat – part of magic formula. DSC_7571The bottom of food drying net. It is open so that air can flow easily.

I stopped by Trader Joe’s  the other day and couldn’t resist buying lavender roses. I never stick to the grocery list. The roses are pretty yet have no fragrance, I feel like I over paid.


There were many frosty mornings.DSC_7497DSCN1661DSC_7502DSC_7515Looks like snow, feel like…brrrr.DSC_7526DSC_7509Even the Burning Bush is extinguished by the frost.

DSC_7542Spiders must like fire hydrant as much as dogs do. I saw four spider webs.DSC_7546DSC_7548

A handsome middle aged man left a handsome shoe print. “Honey it’s too cold, let’s go home!”DSC_7513

My husband took me not to the lake but to Baskin Robins. Really? In this weather? Yap! We were the only two customers there.DSCN1644
His pick is almost always vanilla or strawberry. He’s simple minded.

DSCN1648This poster is over 20 years old. Hummm they must be like 30 years old now? I wonder if they have a contract that says Baskin Robin ice cream is free for life?

Grilled ginger garlic shrimp oven rice noodle for supper last night – low fat ginger diet. I already am craving for sweets (the ice cream didn’t count). I got on the scale this morning…I lost..3 ounces...what?! It must be slow acting magic formula.DSC_7582