Archive for the ‘Sauces/dips’ Category


Korean BBQ For You

July 5, 2012

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.


Salad Dressing Spontanaeity

January 7, 2012

During our sojourn on the west coast, I took it upon myself to help with Christmas dinner, in the form of making a salad dressing (big task, I know). My first instinct was to make a simple vinaigrette, but as I began rummaging through the MHK-in-law’s pantry, I just began throwing things into the food processor, tasting and adjusting as needed, until I was happy with the results. The most unusual ingredient? Bacon fat. Not much, just a little, but I think it worked – I had cooked some bacon to crumble into the salad anyway, so it’s not like I went out of my way to procure bacon fat. It added some salty, smoky flavor to the dressing, and it seemed to go over well. Enjoy!

The MHK’s Pantry Raid Salad Dressing

(makes approx. 1/2  cup)

1 tbsp. bacon fat (somewhat cooled from the pan)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp.mayo

1 tbsp. white vinegar

1/2 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. Cajun seasoning

1 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 tsp. lemon juice

3 tbsp. olive oil

Add all ingredients except the oil to a food processor. Pulse to combine. Slowly add the oil while processor is running. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Eat! (On a salad).


Really Really Good Salsa

December 13, 2011

Not much else to say about it, really. This salsa is similar to ones we’ve posted from Senor Bayless, but this may be the best of them. Roasting the tomatillos and garlic brings out their flavors marvelously, matching well with the spicy peppers, crunchy onions, and aromatic cilantro. It’s great for chip dipping, but will compliment roasted chicken, steak, or pork as well. Enjoy!

Rick Bayless’ Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

(makes about 1 1/2 cups)

4 medium (about 8 ounces total) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and halved

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

1 jalapeno, stemmed and roughly chopped

About 1/3 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro

½ small white onion, finely chopped


Set a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Lay in the garlic and tomatillos, cut side down. When the tomatillos are well browned, 3 or 4 minutes, turn everything over and brown the other side. (The tomatillos should be completely soft.) Scrape the tomatillos and garlic into a blender or food processor, and let cool to room temperature. Add the jalapeno, cilantro, and ¼ cup water. Blend to a coarse puree. Pour into a salsa dish; stir the chopped onion into the salsa. Taste and season with salt, usually about ½ teaspoon. Eat!


As Authentic as it Gets

November 28, 2011

Here at the MHK, we love to find simple recipes that don’t take much time to prepare, but are extremely delicious nonetheless. Today’s recipe isn’t necessarily simple, and needs a bit of time to make, but the end result is a truly amazing dish. It’s hard to believe there is a Rick Bayless recipe that we hadn’t made, but we found one. We posted another recipe for chilaquiles a while ago, but that recipe is more like a Mexican lasagna than authentic chilaquiles, which is a traditional Mexican breakfast dish (but they’re great for any meal). Bayless’ recipe uses guajillo peppers, which are dried Mirasol peppers – both are widely used in Mexican cooking; they have a mild flavor and are used primarily in sauces. By toasting them and then rehydrating them, the smokiness of the flavor comes out nicely. Chances are you can find these in your area (we found them in Albanyof all places). Mexican crema may also be readily available in your area, but we thinned out some sour cream with a little water and it was great. We skipped the step about straining the sauce before cooking it and it turned out fine (but using a good food processor helps). The egg is a critical component – the runny yolk imparts great texture to the dish. Next time we will add some heat to the dish; it definitely would benefit from some spicy addition. This is comfort food at its finest. We served it with some watermelon for a complete meal. Enjoy!

Rick Bayless’ Guajillo Chilaquiles

(serves 2 as a full meal or 4 as a side dish)

8 medium (2 ounces total) dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into flat pieces

15 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted), drained

4 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

2 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil

3 cups chicken broth

½ teaspoon sugar

1 tsp.salt

8 oz. corn tortilla chips

4 eggs

½ an onion, thinly sliced

About 1/3 cup Mexican crema (or sour cream thinned out with a little milk)

½ cup grated Mexican queso añejo or other dry grating cheese, such as Romano or Parmesan

Toast the guajillo pieces a few at a time in a dry heavy skillet or on a griddle heated over medium, pressing them flat against the hot surface with a metal spatula until they are aromatic, about 15 seconds per side. In a bowl, rehydrate the chiles for 20 minutes in hot tap water; keep the chiles submerged. Use a pair of tongs to transfer the rehydrated chiles to a food processor or blender. Measure in 1 cup of water; add the tomatoes and garlic and process to a smooth puree. Press through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl, if desired. Heat 1½ tablespoons of the oil in a medium (4- to 5-quart) pot or Dutch oven or a large (12-inch) deep skillet over medium-high heat—you’ll need a lid for whichever vessel you choose. When hot, add the chile puree and stir until nearly constantly until reduced to the consistency of tomato paste, about 7 minutes.  Add the broth, partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Season with sugar and salt. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the eggs and cook on one side just until set, sunny-side up. Raise the heat under the seasoned sauce to medium-high. Stir in the chips, coating all of them well. Let return to a rolling boil, cover and turn off the heat. Let stand for no more than 4-5 minutes. Uncover the pot and check that the chips have softened nicely—they should be a little chewy, definitely not mushy. Spoon onto plates; drizzle with the crema (or thinned out sour cream), strew with the sliced onion and dust generously with the cheese. Top each portion with an egg and serve right away. Eat!


No Meat, No Problem

November 21, 2011

I think I’d go vegetarian if I didn’t think I’d eventually get sick of tofu. This dish is just as satisfying, if not more so, than many meaty meals. The flavors of the marinade absorb into the tofu and then explode in your mouth, intensified by the sweet and subtly spicy peanut sauce. You can make your own peanut sauce if you like, but there are some good store-bought brands (make sure you get one fromThailand though). The pickled vegetables make for a nice contrast in texture and taste; serve it with some rice and it’s a healthy and delicious complete meal. The recipe is borrowed from what seems to be a defunct food blog (there have been no posts since September of 2010); they did not provide a standard recipe format for the dish, so what follows is the recipe we used. You can marinate the tofu and veggies up to 24 hours, but we only did so for about an hour and they were great. Enjoy!

Tofu with Peanut Sauce and Pickled Vegetables

(serves 2 hungry people)

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

¼ cup water

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. sugar

1 cucumber, sliced thin or diced

1 carrot, julienned or diced

½ a bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange), sliced thin or diced

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 tsp. fresh ginger

15 oz. extra firm tofu, sliced into ½-inch slices

1 tbsp. turmeric

½ tsp. cumin

½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

½ tsp. fennel seeds

½ tsp. ground coriander

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp. peanut oil

1 scallion, diced

Add vinegar, water, salt, pepper, and sugar to a bowl; whisk until salt and sugar dissolve. Add cucumber, carrot, bell pepper, garlic, and ginger; toss to combine. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 24 hours, turning periodically if necessary to keep the veggies coated. Combine the turmeric, cumin, red pepper flakes, fennel, coriander, and soy sauce in a bowl; mix well. Lay the tofu slices in a shallow bowl; cover with the soy sauce mixture, turning slices to coat. Cover and marinate up to 24 hours. Heat oil in large skillet on med-high. Drain the marinade from the tofu; add tofu to the pan. Cook tofu on both sides until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Remove tofu to a paper towel; pat dry. Plate tofu slices, top with peanut sauce and scallions. Serve with rice and the veggies. Eat!


Brand Unawareness

September 14, 2011

Chicaoji (chee-KOW-jee). What, it’s not a household name for you? Perhaps not yet. But if word catches on about this marvelous product, you may soon be seeing it in stores near you. Mrs. MHK happened to pick up a bottle of Chicaoji on a recent trip to Seattle, and then reaped the benefits during a dinner soon after her return. There are three main components to this marinade/dressing/sauce: chipotles, cacao (ka-KOW), and goji berries. If you’re a regular reader of this blog (and even if you’re not), you should be very familiar with chipotles. Cacao is the raw seed of the plant used to make chocolate, and goji berries are nourishing fruits, native to the China and Mongolia regions. Chicaoji is rounded out with cider vinegar, agave nectar, and salt. The combination is complex and very flavorful. I was not expecting as much heat as the sauce provides – it was actually a nice surprise. The sweetness of the goji berries helps balance out the heat, and the cacoa seed is utilized beautifully. The subtlety of the chocolate flavor is done to perfection, sort of like the use of chocolate in a good mole sauce – you can tell it’s there, but it’s slightly hidden within the other flavors. It adds depth and complexity to the sauce, and the vinegar and salt are measured out in just the right amounts.

There are many uses for this sauce – we chose to marinate some skirt steak in it for about 30 minutes, and made steak tacos. We then also used the Chicaoji as a sauce for topping the tacos. What was interesting was that the heat of the chipotles seemed to mellow out a lot during the cooking of the steak – eating the meat by itself was very flavorful, but not very spicy. But then adding the sauce to the taco provided that heat we were looking for. The tacos were fantastic – just steak, onions and cilantro, along with the sauce (very traditional street taco style).

Chicaoji is made on Lopez Island, Northwest of Seattle, part of the San Juan Islands. You can visit the Chicaoji web site and check out all the info for yourself; you can even order their product. Chicaoji gets the MHK’s Seal of Approval…whatever that’s worth. Enjoy!


L.A. On a Plate

July 15, 2011

Speaking in culinary terms, Los Angeles is famous for two things: the birthplace of hamburgers, and fabulous, authentic Mexican food. Those two characteristics are married beautifully in this recipe, found in the L.A. Times’ contest for burger recipes. The cemita is a Mexican sandwich, similar to a torta but the bread and fillings are less varied. This recipe creates a hamburger cemita of sorts, featuring a chipotle-infused burger topped with a chipotle crema and mashed avocado. The spicy chipotles are balanced by the cool avocado, and the cheese adds a nice salty touch. Plus the cilantro and onions give it a nice tang. The result is a very messy burger, but one that’s full of the flavors of L.A. The original recipe called for a few ingredients that might be tough to find outside of places with large Latin-American populations, but this one should be accessible to all. Enjoy!

Mexican Cemita Burger

(serves 4)

Chipotle crema

2 canned chipotle peppers (packed in adobo sauce), diced, and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup mayo

In a small mixing bowl, combine the chipotle, adobo sauce, garlic, sour cream, and mayo. Mix until well combined.

Avocado spread

1 avocado, lightly mashed

1 tablespoon lime juice

Kosher salt

In a small mixing bowl, combine avocado and lime juice. Season with salt to taste.

Patties and assembly

1¼ pound ground beef

1 canned chipotle pepper, minced with 1 tablespoon adobo sauce

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

3 oz. Jack cheese, pepper jack, queso fresco, or mozzarella, sliced

4 buns or onion rolls, toasted

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

½ red onion, sliced

In a large bowl, combine the beef, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine, but do not over mix. Divide the mixture in half and form the portions into patties to fit the buns. Heat oil in a skillet over med-high heat, then add the burgers to the skillet. Cook the burgers until set and browned on one side, about 3-4 minutes, then flip. Top the burgers with the cheese then cover the pan with aluminum foil. Cook an additional 4 to 5 minutes for medium burgers, or until the burgers have reached desired doneness. Spread the chipotle crema evenly on each cut side of the toasted buns. Sprinkle the cilantro over the crema on the cut sides of the bun tops. Top the bottom halves of each bun with a cheese-topped patty, a slice of onion and equal amounts of the avocado spread. Top the burgers with the bun tops and serve immediately. Get lots of napkins. Eat!


Taco Triumph

July 6, 2011

Spontaneity strikes again, this time in the form of some sweet and spicy chicken tacos. Traditional street tacos contain meat and a salsa of some sort, with the option of onions and cilantro. This MHK recipe, which utilizes the wonderful time saving device known as the rotisserie chicken, features a delectable sauce with smoky, spicy chipotles and honey infused with the meat. Remove the seeds from the peppers if you don’t want it to be spicy. Deglazing the pan with the chicken broth blends all the flavors together well; the only thing needed to top these tasty treats is cilantro and sour cream. I usually prefer thigh meat for tacos and burritos, but the breast will work just fine as well. If you have the time, marinating and then grilling fresh chicken would of course be great. But for a quick weeknight dinner, this will do. Enjoy!

The MHK’s Honey-Chipotle Chicken Tacos

(serves 2)

1 rotisserie chicken

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

½ cup onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 canned chipotle peppers, minced

¼ cup chicken broth

2 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. salt

6 corn tortillas, warmed

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Sour cream

Heat chicken in oven according to directions. While chicken cooks, heat oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and chipotles. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth, stirring to scrape up anything stuck to the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low, add honey, oregano and salt. Mix well and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When chicken is done, remove thigh and drumstick meat (save the rest of the chicken for another day). Shred the chicken and add to the skillet. Toss to coat. Transfer chicken mixture to a bowl. Serve with the warm tortillas, cilantro and sour cream. Make tacos. Eat!


This Time, the South Wins

July 1, 2011

It just goes to show – words can be deceiving. When we first came across this recipe, upon seeing the term “Alabama White Sauce,” we immediately assumed this was some Paula Deen-influenced, butter/cream-heavy gravy of a sort. But after perusing the ingredients, we decided to give it a shot; turns out we were way off. This is far from gravy – it’s a light, tangy and flavorful BBQ sauce that just happens to be white instead of having that reddish hue. The vinegar, mustard, lemon juice and horseradish balance out the mayo nicely, creating a delicious alternative to traditional BBQ sauce. The original recipe called for chicken with bones and skin-on, but it worked wonderfully with the boneless, skinless breasts (much healthier that way too). Skinless thighs would also taste great. Enjoy!

Grilled Chicken with Alabama White Sauce

(serves 4)

1 cup mayo

½ cup white vinegar

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 Tbsp. ground black pepper

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. prepared horseradish

2 tsp. spicy mustard

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Mix the first 8 ingredients in a bowl. Set ¾ cup of the sauce aside, then cover and refrigerate the rest. Oil grill and heat on medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken on grill and brush top side with sauce. Grill about 8-10 minutes, then turn chicken and brush with more sauce. Grill until chicken is done and juices run clear. Place chicken on serving platter; serve with refrigerated sauce on the side. Eat!


From the Farm to Your Face

June 27, 2011

There’s something intensely satisfying about eating food you just picked from a field. Yesterday the MHK ventured out to a local farm and picked a bushel or a peck (or some other weird term of measurement) of fresh strawberries. Off the vine (as it were), they were sweet and slightly tart. We knew we’d have to serve them in some fashion at dinner, and luckily we happened upon this recipe from the Semi-Homemade Cooking magazine. The sweet berries are a great match for the crisp cucumbers and the tangy blue cheese, and the salad is bound together wonderfully by the dressing. The honey and the rosemary offer a nice flavor compliment, balanced by the subtle spice of the red pepper flakes. This is summer on a plate, folks. Enjoy!

Strawberry Salad with Honey-Rosemary Vinaigrette

(serves 4)

1 head leaf lettuce (Boston, bibb, red leaf, etc.)

2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

1 cup cucumbers, sliced

½ cup crumbled blue cheese


½ cup honey

½ cup cider vinegar

1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced

¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

1/8 tsp. salt

½ cup olive oil

Combine all dressing ingredients, except the oil, into a bowl and whisk together. Slowly whisk in the oil. Combine the lettuce, strawberries and cucumbers in a large bowl. Top with blue cheese. Pour dressing over salad and toss gently to coat. Serve and eat!