You know, it’s getting to the point where if Rick Bayless gave me a recipe for stewed monkey brains with rabbit feces, toilet paper and chalk, I’d probably make it…and it would be delicious. I’m not sure how we hadn’t made today’s recipe thus far, but it’s fantastic. It’s almost like a chunky chicken and potato salad hybrid, infused with oregano, vinegar, spicy chipotles, crunchy Romaine, and sweet and creamy avocado. Rick’s original recipe calls for the chipotles to be seeded, but we kept the seeds and added a little honey to offset the spiciness a bit. We used a rotisserie chicken, but any leftover chicken you have would be fine. It’s a one-dish meal, perfect for warm summer days. Enjoy!
Chipotle Chicken Salad Tacos with Avocado, Red-Skin Potatoes and Romaine
1 large red-skin potato or Yukon Gold, sliced about ¼ inch thick 1 tbsp. salt 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon dried oregano 2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, chopped
1 tsp. honey ¼ small white onion, finely chopped 6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) coarsely shredded cooked chicken breast 2 cups sliced romaine leaves – slice them about ¼ inch across 1 ripe avocado, cut into ¼ inch cubes 2 tablespoons olive oil 12 warm corn tortillas
Place the sliced potatoes into a large microwavable bowl, pour in ¼ cup of water and sprinkle generously with salt. Cover and microwave on high for about 4 minutes. Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon to a cutting board and let cool, reserving cooking liquid. Add the vinegar, oregano, chipotles, honey, and onion to the bowl with the potato water to make the dressing. Mix and then add salt. Use a fork to break up the potatoes into ½ inch pieces, then place them in a large bowl. Add the chicken and the dressing, and toss to combine. Refrigerate it for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Just before serving, add the lettuce and avocado, and drizzle with olive oil and toss gently to combine. Serve with warm tortillas. Eat!
I don’t know if there is such a thing as Korean soul food, but if so, I think this would qualify. It’s so absolutely delicious, bursting with the aromatic flavors of garlic and ginger, sweetness from brown sugar, salty soy sauce, and fiery pepper paste and pepper flakes. The original recipe, from www.maangchi.com, calls for pork belly. We didn’t feel like going to the Asian market, so we used boneless pork chops and they worked just fine (though we did slightly overcook them). But you could certainly use chicken, thinly sliced beef, or tofu and it would still be terrific (you’ll just need to adjust the cooking time depending on the protein you use).
The pepper paste gochujang is what really gives the dish a great texture – you can find it in your Asian market in varying degrees of spiciness (get at least the medium one – it’s not that spicy).
We served this with a fantastic new product we found at Trader Joe’s – frozen kimchi fried rice. Despite being microwaved in a plastic bag, I was fluffy, moist, and flavorful. There weren’t many pieces of kimchi in it, but it was a little spicy and very tasty. Good for the Seoul. Enjoy!
(Insert unpronounceable Korean name) Spicy Korean Stir-fried Pork
1½ pounds boneless pork chops, cut into bite size pieces about ¼ inch thick
1 medium onion, sliced
3 scallions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. minced ginger
1/3 cup gochujang
2 tbsp. hot pepper flakes
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. black ground pepper
2 tsp. of sesame oil
1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
Heat a wok or deep skillet over high heat. Place all ingredients except the sesame seeds into the pan. Mix and stir with a wooden spoon, until the pork is cooked thoroughly, about 7-8 minutes. Transfer it to a serving plate, sprinkle sesame seeds on top, and serve with rice and kimchi. Eat!
“Chicken is so boring!” That mantra is something not only uttered by certain 5-year-olds who reside at the MHK, but also by plenty of adults out there. We feel sorry for anyone who feels that way – yes, a plain cooked piece of unseasoned, skinless chicken is boring, agreed. But honestly, if that’s the kind of chicken you’re eating, you have no right to hyperbolize chicken and its excitement factor. We submit that even the pickiest chicken eaters out there will go nuts – peanuts – for this recipe. This dish, presented by the Hannaford Supermarket magazine, is made with common Thai ingredients like coconut milk, curry powder, ginger, fish sauce, and peanuts, but it’s not really something you’d see on a Thai restaurant menu. Regardless, it’s frickin’ delicious. The sweetness of the coconut milk and peanut butter is balanced by the kick of the garlic and ginger, the salty fish sauce, and the aromatic curry powder, and the turmeric adds some earthiness and bright color. We served this with a salad made with a cilantro-basil dressing. Add some rice for a complete and healthy meal that tastes fantastic. Enjoy!
Thai-Inspired Chicken Thighs
1 tablespoon light coconut milk
1 tablespoon peanut butter
2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
1 ½ to 2 lb. boneless chicken thighs
1 tbsp. chopped roasted peanuts
Preheat grill to medium high. In a large bowl, whisk together coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, turmeric, curry, sugar, and fish sauce until evenly blended. Pat the mixture all over the chicken thighs. Let marinate at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Brush hot grill with vegetable oil. Place thighs on the grill and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until well marked. Turn and continue to grill until done, about 5 to 6 minutes more. Divide on to plates, sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Eat!
Yes, I know the last two posts have similar titles. It was intentional. Not that funny, but intentional. Moving on.
Ground pork is a terrific alternative to beef when you’re in the mood for a burger. They are pretty lean, though not as much as ground turkey, so the meat doesn’t need as much help as turkey to keep it seasoned and flavorful, but it does need some attention. Going for an Asian flare, we kept it simple but tasty by mixing the meat with scallions, grated ginger (yummy), garlic, salt and pepper, and sesame oil, which kept the burgers nice and moist. The savory burger topped with smoky grilled onions and capped by a Sriracha mayo created an intense and aromatic flavor combination that was fantastic. We used boring hamburger buns – the dish would be even better with a nice onion roll or Kaiser roll. We served this with a cucumber salad for a complete and healthy meal. Enjoy!
Asian Pork Burgers
1 1/2 pounds ground pork 2 scallions, thinly sliced 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger 2 large garlic cloves, minced 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 thick onion slices
4 buns, lightly toasted
2 tbsp. mayo
1/2 tbsp. Sriracha or other spicy Asian chili sauce
Heat a grill on medium. In a large bowl, mix the pork with the scallions, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Form the meat into four 3/4-inch thick patties. Lightly oil the onion slices. Grill the burgers and onions, turning once, until cooked through, about 8 minutes (the onions may take less time). Spread 1/2 tbsp. of the chili mayo on the top half of each bun. Place the burger on the bottom half, top with onions, close with top bun. Eat!
There just isn’t anything better than real, quality Mexican food. I know coming from the MHK that isn’t big news, but it just needed to be said. Again. Today’s recipe comes from Aaron Sanchez’ book Simple Food, Big Flavor, a great tome for Mexican recipes. His adobo rub seems complicated at first, but it’s actually a breeze and this dish can be made in less than 45 minutes. We didn’t have ancho chiles, but we used ancho chile powder and it turned out fine. The aromatic spices, the deep chile flavor, and the lean pork combine for a beautiful taste experience. We served this with grilled vegetables and mini cheese quesadillas for a well-rounded, healthy Mexican meal. Enjoy!
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Aaron’s Adobo
¼ cup cumin seeds
¼ cup coriander seeds
¼ cup fennel seeds
¼ cup mustard seeds
2 pasilla chiles (dried poblanos), stemmed, seeded, torn into small pieces
2 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into small pieces
½ cup dried oregano
2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. garlic powder
¼ cup paprika
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 ½ lb. pork tenderloin
Heat a skillet over med-low heat. Toast the cumin, fennel, coriander, mustard, and chile pieces until aromatic, about 3 minutes. Pour into a bowl to cool, then grind in a spice or coffee grinder. Pour powder into a bowl, add the oregano, onion and garlic powder, and paprika. Stir to combine. Heat grill on medium-high. Rub olive oil over pork, then coat on all sides with ¼ cup of the spice rub. Grill pork on both sides until done – 145 degrees in the center. Let pork rest for five minutes, then slice and serve. Eat!
A few months ago I stumbled upon a product that has become very useful at the MHK. They are pre-baked flatbreads from Stonefire – you top them with whatever you want, bake at 400 for 15 minutes, and you can make amazing flatbread pizzas that could honestly be sold in a restaurant. What you top them is obviously important – here are three combinations we’ve tried that have been fantastic.
1. Italiano – fontina cheese, prosciutto, arugula, olive oil
Shred the cheese and cover the flatbread with it. Top with a couple handfuls of arugula. Cut the prosciutto into strips and add to the pizza. Bake 15 minutes. Drizze olive oil over the pizza. Slice, serve and eat!
Divide the peanut sauce – coat the pre-cooked, diced chicken breast in the sauce. Spread rest of peanut sauce over the flatbread. Top with mozzarella (a thin coating). Top with shredded carrots, chicken, and bean sprouts. Top with chopped peanuts. Bake for 15 minutes. Drizzle Hoisin sauce over pizza, sprinkle cilantro on top. Slice, serve and eat!
Cover the flatbread with mozzarella. Brown the sausage in a pan, then slice into 1/4-inch rounds, then place on pizza. Sprinkle corn and diced poblano over the pizza. Bake for 15 minutes. Add some water to sour cream to make it thin, then drizzle over pizza, sprinkle with cilantro. Slice, serve, and eat!
Ah, the 4th of July – time for baseball, fireworks, and barbecue. How do they celebrate in Seoul, you may ask? Well they don’t – it’s an American holiday, what a silly question. However, barbecuing is not an American original, no sir. Asian countries have been doing their version of barbecue/grilling for centuries, and a couple of months ago, I got an in-depth look at Korean barbecue during a class at A Different Drummer’s Kitchen in Albany, led by locally famous chef Jaime Ortiz.
Chef Ortiz is the Corporate Chef for the Mazzone Management Company, which owns some the most acclaimed restaurants in NY’s Capital Region. To be able to have an intimate cooking demonstration and conversation with him was a foodie’s dream come true. He first addressed the issue that was on most of our minds – since none of his restaurants feature Korean food, why was he teaching the class? It turns out he has had extensive training in many cultures’ food, including that of Korea; and that was enough explanation for us.
He made 5 main dishes and two side dishes that evening, explaining the history and use of the individual ingredients and their significance in Korean cuisine. He had many dishes prepared in advance, but made one of each of the dishes from scratch so we could see the process. He knocked our culinary socks off right off the bat with his Korean pork belly sliders. Yeah, pork belly sliders. Not a bad start, eh? Pork belly strips were marinated in very typical Korean ingredients – soy sauce, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, mirin (rice wine), onions, and gochujang, a medium-spicy chili paste (we sampled some on its own – the next day I went to an Asian market and bought some. It was so tasty!). The pork belly strips were then grilled until tender, put on to soft slider buns, and topped with a scallion salsa made with soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, sesame seeds, mirin, and gochugaru, the chili powder found in the gochujang. Needless to say, it was delicious. The pork belly was sweet with a little heat, the marinade created a nice glaze on the meat, and the scallion salsa added some tangy freshness to the dish.
Since pork belly was on our palettes, Chef Ortiz honored us with another pork belly dish – samgyeopsal gui. This is a very simple dish – you grill the pork belly until done (no marinade or seasoning), then slice it and wrap it in lettuce with chopped vegetables, rice, chili sauce, and kimchee (more on that later). As was explained to us, Koreans typically eat this in one bite – one mouthful of pork belly, lettuce, veggies, and accompaniments. Again, it was very tasty – the tender pork absorbed all the flavors of the kim chee and the chili sauce, with the veggies adding great texture and freshness.
Up next was galbi, which are basically barbecued short ribs. Oh yeah, this class was not for vegetarians, if you hadn’t guessed. The short ribs were cut into ½-inch thick slabs across the bone and marinated in soy sauce, water, vinegar, brown and white sugar, pepper, sesame oil, garlic, and onions. Then they were simply grilled until done, about medium-well. They were fall-off-the-bone tender, and bursting with flavor. But we weren’t done yet.
Beef bulgogi was next, which was the one meat dish I was familiar with (as posted here). Chef Ortiz’ recipe was slightly different from the one we used, but all in all in came out just about the same. I’ll spare you the details here because it’s pretty much the same as in that post.
The heart and soul of Korean food is kimchee. It dates back hundreds of years and no Korean meal is complete without it, even breakfast. There are several variations, but the main thrust of the dish is cabbage that is jarred along with water, salt, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, chili paste or powder, scallions, and sugar or honey. Sometimes daikon radish is used along with or in place of the cabbage; bok choy is another vegetable that can be used. The jar is then traditionally placed in a hole in the ground for several days – of course modern times allow for just storing the jar in a cool, dry place. The idea is to let the ingredients ferment – when it starts to bubble, it’s time to refrigerate it until chilled. The result is a spicy pickled cabbage dish that I believe to be one of the world’s perfect foods, when it’s made correctly. It can be an acquired taste – it’s not like a jar of spicy pickles from the deli. The fermentation gives it a unique taste that is terrific eaten on its own, or as a condiment for the dishes I’ve described above. Chef Ortiz demonstrated the whole process to us and then presented some kimchee he had made a few days prior, and it was delicious…and healthy!
Finally we were shown a side dish and a condiment. Pajori is a green onion salad made from scallions tossed with soy sauce, hot pepper flakes, sugar, sesame seeds, and sesame oil. I had never seen a dish that featured scallions so prominently, and it was great. The scallions had a good crunch to them but were softened by the dressing, which was full of flavor. The condiment, which went with everything else from the class, was called samjang, a soybean paste dipping sauce. Gochujang was mixed with soybean paste, scallions, garlic, and sesame seeds, creating a sweet and spicy topping for anything. I couldn’t get enough of it – I think the staff was getting annoyed at me asking for more all class long.
After the class I spent a little time talking with Chef Ortiz about Korean food, food around the region, his restaurants, etc. He was a very down-to-earth, nice guy, and capped off a fun and tasty evening.
So if you’ve been reluctant to try Korean food, maybe because you just haven’t been exposed to it and don’t know what it’s all about, I hope you found this post informative and hopefully appetite-stimulating. Enjoy.
Growing up, the term “tostada” in those big chain Mexican restaurants always referred to a Mexican salad served in a puffy fried tortilla the size of the Rose Bowl. It was basically a giant nacho chip topped with salad, and while my childish sensibilities may have thought this Americanized tostada was pretty cool, it’s quite far removed from the authentic Mexican tostada. Literally translated as “toasted,” the tostada consists of a single corn tortilla, fried until crispy, and then topped with meat and veggies. You don’t eat it with a fork – it’s street food that you eat with your hands, and when done right, it’s a fantastic treat. This recipe comes from television chef and restaurateur Aaron Sanchez’s book Simple Food, Big Flavor. If you’ve gotten tired of Rick Bayless’ recipes (not that you could), give Sanchez a try – he knows his stuff. But for this recipe, I’d use either Bayless’ tomatillo salsa from scratch, or his Frontera brand bottled salsa. The great thing about tostadas is that like tacos, you can top with your favorite ingredients and alter the recipe to your own taste. The only changes I made to Sanchez’ recipe is that I added diced tomatoes and omitted the radishes and beans. But again, the tostada is like a blank canvas for you to create a culinary masterpiece. Enjoy!
Aaron Sanchez’ Chicken Tostadas
2 cups tomatillo salsa
3 cups cooked shredded chicken
6 corn tortillas
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
3 cups shredded lettuce
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup crumbled cheese (cotija or Jack work well)
1/2 cup crema (sour cream with a little water to thin it out)
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
Heat the salsa and chicken in a skillet over medium heat until warmed through. Reduce heat to low. Pour 1/4 inch of oil into a frying pan and heat on med-high. Fry one tortilla at a time until golden brown on both sides, about 30 seconds per side. Let drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Spoon equal amounts of chicken mixture on each tortilla, then top with avocado slices, lettuce, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with cheese and drizzle crema on top, then add cilantro. Eat!
Korean seems to be the East Asian cuisine that Americans know the least about; it’s certainly far less well-known than Chinese, Japanese, Thai, or even Vietnamese. But hopefully with our help, that will change. Korean food is full of flavor, spice, and has a certain comfort food factor to it that is hard to describe. But maybe if you make this recipe you’ll see what I mean. The word bulgogi literally means “fire meat.” That should be all you need to know – ok, not quite all. It’s a very traditional dish – thin slices of marinated beef are quickly grilled, then served with rice and various condiments and sauces and, sometimes, wrapped up in lettuce leaves. This recipe calls for rib eye steak, but you can certainly use a more affordable cut like top sirloin. Freezing the steak about an hour prior will help you slice it nice and thin. It’s not spicy on its own, but generous doses of hot chili sauce will only enhance the dish. And you really should eat this with kimchee, the fermented cabbage dish that is the heart and soul of Korean food. Many supermarkets and certainly Asian markets offer kimchee these days. Enjoy!
1 1/2 lbs boneless rib-eye steak
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 an Asian pear, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup sweet white wine or mirin
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 each onion, cut in half-moon slices
8 whole lettuce leaves (such as Boston, bibb, or green leaf)
2 each scallions, thinly sliced
Asian spicy chili sauce, to taste
Place the steak in the freezer for 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare the marinade. In a blender or food processor, combine pear, garlic, soy sauce, wine, sesame oil, honey, sugar, and pepper and blend into a coarse mixture. Place mixture in a resealable plastic bag. Add toasted sesame seeds and onion and massage bag gently to combine the ingredients. Slice the partially frozen steak across the grain into very thin slices. If steaks are large, it may be easier to cut them in half with the grain, then slice thinly against the grain. Add slices to the marinade in the plastic bag, and massage the bag to distribute the marinade evenly over the meat. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. When ready to cook, adjust oven rack so that it is 4 inches from the heating element. Preheat the broiler to high (about 550 degrees). Line a baking sheet with foil. Spread the meat, onions, and marinade in a single layer on the baking sheet. Broil 5 minutes, then turn the meat and broil second side about 3 minutes. The meat should be cooked through and slightly caramelized in spots. While meat cooks, wash lettuce leaves and pat dry. To serve, divide beef among the lettuce leaves, sprinkle with scallions, then roll up the meat in the lettuce leaves. Eat!