Saturday, July 26, 2014

Japanese Beef Bowl

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. – Leonardo da Vinci

Looks tasty, yes?

Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. We have quite a few in North America, most often filed mentally under the term “mom’s kitchen.” You know, family food.

Sometimes, though, you just crave something a little exotic. Now to those of Asian descent this won’t seem very unusual, but to those of us who subsist on boiled potatoes and the like mirin is quite an exciting introduction.

This may be Japanese “family food.” I’m not sure. The signature characteristic of family food is that it is filling, and easy to prepare. That’s the case with this dish. Super simple, super delicious, and super fast.

I have a real reluctance to turn on the stove during the heat of summer. So anything I can do to reduce the amount of heat it throws into my home is appreciated. 

We still have to eat, and we should still eat well. But at this date (nearly the end of July) we’re probably getting a little tired of abandoning the kitchen for the barbecue. Or at least we are looking for a little diversity between chops, burgers and hot dogs.

If you time everything right you can have this dinner on the table in the length of time it takes to cook rice.

Japanese Beef Bowl
Prep: 5 min  |  Cook: 15 min  |  Serves 2
1-1/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin (rice wine)
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
1 lb lean beef, sliced thin
sliced green onions
cooked white rice

To slice the beef more easily, partially pre-freeze until fairly firm. Then slice with a sharp knife. Set aside.

*** To ensure tender beef slice against the grain.

Bring broth, soy sauce, mirin, onion, sugar, ginger and garlic (and chilli if using) to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium let cook until the volume is reduced to almost half. It should start to look a little syrupy.

Mix the cornstarch with a teaspoon of water and stir into the broth. Then add the onions and cook until they are tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the beef slices and cook until just barely done, about 1-2 minutes. 

Serve over white rice with the green onion sprinkled on top.

If beef isn’t your thing, you can substitute thin slices of chicken breast.


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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Maple-Sriracha Grilled Trout or Salmon

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. – Harry S. Truman

Get your grill on this weekend.

No, I haven’t fell off the face of the earth, but it has been a while since my last post. I have a bunch of recipes stocked up to post, too. I just don’t seem to have it in me during this heat to get around to writing.

It’s glorious in Nova Scotia this weekend. Supposed to be approaching 30°C in many parts under wide open blue skies. Don’t get me wrong, I love the warm weather, but when it’s about 28° in the house at bed time it doesn’t make for good sleeping. 

BBQ grill pan, made from 5 layers of foil. Cheap!
So I’ve been tired and lazy. Or at least that’s my excuse. We’re in the process of installing ceiling fans. That might help...some.

One thing you can do to keep the inside temperature low(er) is to prepare as much food as you can outside, on the grill. It saves you turning on that blasted oven and heating the house up even more. 

You can cook a myriad of things on the grill besides steaks, sausage and hamburgers. But so many alternatives are either fragile or small. It sucks to have things fall apart or slip down onto the coals or flame.

That’s where tin foil comes in. No, you do not need to invest in a barbecue grill pan. Simply make a temporary baking sheet out of 4 layers of foil, roll up a rim, and you’re ready to go.

I love salmon and trout, and they’re two that benefit from using a grill pan. They fall apart the moment they start to cook. Nearly impossible to get off in one piece. 

So this is a recipe you really should try. Make no mistake. This is good stuff. Very good stuff. And simple and fast too, if you think 12 minutes is fast.

This recipe is also a bit unusual – at least the salad is. It’s raw swiss chard. Before you go “yuck,” consider it also has maple syrup dressing. Maple syrup makes everything good.

The weather is amazing, you should be outside with a cold beer or icy drink, and it’s too hot to cook inside. The perfect “storm” for a fantastic outdoor recipe!

Maple-Sriracha Grilled Trout
Marinade: 15 min  |  Grill: 12 min  |  Serves 4-6
2 large trout fillets, or salmon
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp soy
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sriracha sauce
2 tsp veg oil
foil pan

Mix together all the ingredients except the fish in a small bowl. This is your glazing sauce.

Place the fillets, skin side down, on a foil pan big enough to accommodate them without overlapping. Brush with the glazing sauce and sprinkle with cracked black pepper. Let sit for 15 minutes on the counter. 

If you don’t have a foil pan, you can make one by folding 4 or 5 layers of aluminum foil onto itself and then folding up the edges to catch drips. (Easy and cheap.)

Heat the grill to 400°F. Place the foil pan directly on the grate, close the lid and cook for about 12 min. Baste twice while the fish cooks.

Test the fish for doneness with a fork. If the fish flakes easily and is opaque it is done. Don’t over-cook.

Swiss Chard salad
1 bunch chard, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 medium cucumber, sliced
3 tbsp pine nuts
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp curry powder
generous pinch of salt & pepper

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake well. Combine the vegetables and pine nuts in a bowl, pour over the dressing and toss well.


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