Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Spam Musubi

Spam Musubi is one of the gifts of Hawaii. I personally love it even though Spam often gets a bad rap for being salty and fatty. But It's really just chopped canned ham! And you can now buy the low fat/low sodium version. I think my love of Spam comes from my childhood when my Father would bring  it home from the PX (the military exchange store) and my Mom used it to make Fried Rice with it. I still like Spam in my fried rice. Many years later,  Spam Musubi was one of the foods I tasted on my first trip to Hawaii and it became a dish that I made at home often. These days, I often buy it at the SeaTac Airport Waji's on my way somewhere as it travels well. I just returned from a trip and found myself craving it so I made it at home once again today. It is just so satisfying! All you have to do is make some Sushi Rice and then slice the Spam and pan fry it until is browned. Then you add some Mirin (Japanese Rice Wine) and some Tamari to give it some Asian flavor. Then, you place it on top of the Rice (shaped like the Spam pieces) and wrap Nori Seaweed around it. You can buy a Spam Musubi press, but I like to make them by hand.  Believe me, Spam Musubi is delicious!

Spam Musubi

1 12 oz can of Spam Light
1 Tablespoon of Vegetable Oil
3 Tablespoon Mirin or Chinese Shaoshing Rice Wine
2 Tablespoon Tamari
1 cup Japanese Sushi Rice or Japanese Medium Grain Rice
about 1 1/2 cups water
2 sheets of Nori Seaweed cut into 4 pieces each lengthwise
Optional:  Furikake (Seaweed Sprinkle)

Wash the rice in a colander until the water runs clear. Place in a small pot and add enough water to cover the rice by one knuckle of your index finger. Heat on the stove until the water begins to boil. Wait until the water lowers nearly to the level of the Rice, reduce heat and cover. Let cook for 20 minutes and remove from heat.

Remove the Spam from the can. Slice into 8 pieces. Put oil in the frying pan and heat. Place the Spam pieces in the pan and cook until browned on one side. Turn over and brown the other side. Then add in the Mirin and the Tamari. Turn the Spam at least once. Let the liquid evaporate. Remove the pan from the stove.

For assembly, take 1/4 cup of cooked rice and fashion into the shape of the Spam piece with the paddle or your fingers, pressing as tightly as you can. Sprinkle with Furikake if desired. Lay one Spam piece on top. Continue until all the Rice and Spam are used. Then, take the Seaweed and wrap each Musubi with the cut ends on the bottom. Cut off extra Nori if necessary.

Five Element Analysis

As a variation of salted Pork, Spam belongs to the Water Element and the Tamari and Seaweed add just a bit more. The Sushi Rice contributes the Metal Element. The Mirin brings in a tiny bit of the Fire Element, but for balance it would be good to serve this with a Vegetable Salad to bring in the Fire and Wood Elements.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Deirdre's Green Egg Salad

I just came back from a teaching trip to Germany and while I did cook there a little, I had trouble with internet connections so couldn't post this recipe. I was teaching my own program the first week and we decided to bring lunch every day.  My friend Deirdre, who has contributed to post before made this lovely Egg Salad that I just loved so I am sharing it with you today. We had a little Arugula, Parsley and Green Onions left over from a salad and she added it to the Egg Salad and it was just so delicious that I had to share it with you!  It's simple and makes sure that you get a nutritious lunch or snack that we served with gluten free Crackers. Hope you enjoy it too!

Deirdre’s Green Egg Salad

5 Eggs
¼ cup Mayonnaise (we used Heinz but usually I use Best Foods or Hellmans)
¼ cup chopped Arugula
2 Tablespoons chopped Parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped Green Onion tops

pinch of Salt and fresh ground Pepper

Bring several cups of water to boil in a small pot. Bring to a boil and add eggs carefully. Cook for 10 minutes and then drain and fill pot with cold water. Peel eggs and chop coarsely.

Place eggs in a mixing bowl and add the Arugula, Parsley, Green Onions, Salt and Pepper.  Mix thoroughly, but gently so as not to break up the eggs too much. Refrigerate for at last 30 minutes and serve with crackers.

Five Element Analysis

Eggs belong to the Water Element so this is a very Water dish. The Mayonnaise is also made of Eggs and Oil adds even more and a bit of the Metal Element as well since it is white. The Green Onion tops and Parsely and add even more of the Metal Element. The Fire Element is represented by the Arugula. Only the Earth Element is missing so serve this with something sweet!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Roasted Green Beans with Roasted Garlic and Sumac

I had a salad that I bought from the International Market in Portland that I really liked. It was Green Beans that had clearly been roasted with big roasted Garlic Cloves and a sprinkling of Sumac on top. Sumac is made from a dried tart berry and is used a lot in Middle Eastern cooking. I particularly like it with Kebabs. And, this dish gave me another reason to use it. I recreated these Green Beans and I changed it up a bit (of course!) and roasted the Garlic Cloves more so that they became soft enough to mash with a little Olive and then they became a kind of dressing. I don't know why, but I just prefer roasted Garlic spreadable on toast and don't love biting into big pieces. This way, I still got all that wonderful Garlic flavor but in a creamier texture. I also added a little Lemon as the Sumac gives it just a hint of a sour flavor and I think the Lemon enhances it a lot. This dish was so good that I wanted to eat the whole bowl myself. I actually kept picking at it before I photographed it so there's already some missing!  It was incredibly easy to make as the oven did most of the work. The Garlic took 45 minutes and then the Green Beans cooked the last 15 minutes of that time so then all that was required was to put it together. By the way, this dish is it is really good both hot and cold.  I will be making this dish over and over again!

Roasted Green Beans with Roasted Garlic and Sumac

1 whole Garlic, top 1/2 cut off
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 pound of Green Beans, washed and ends removed, snapped in half (discard any that don't snap)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
2 teaspoons Sumac

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the Garlic in a piece of Aluminum foil large enough to enclose it. Drizzle the Olive Oil over the cut top and then enclose it completely. Place on a small oven pan and cook for 30 minutes. Then place the Green Beans on a large baking pan and drizzle with the Olive Oil and Salt. Roast for 15 minutes, tossing and turning every 5 minutes. Remove the Garlic and the Green Beans from the Oven.

Place the Green Beans in a large bowl. In a small bowl, squeeze out the Roasted Garlic and mash (or leave whole). Add the Olive Oil and Lemon Juice and stir to combine. Pour over the Green Beans and toss to coat. Sprinkle with Sumac to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Green Beans belong to the Wood Element and the Olive Oil and Lemon Juice add even more. So this is a very Wood dish.  The Roasted Garlic is from the Metal Element except that it cooks so long that it becomes caramelized, making more Earthy. However, overall, this is a good contributor of the Wood Element in a meal.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Chicken Jalfrezi with Basmati Rice

This is a dish I order frequently at Indian Restaurants because I can get it without Yogurt.  I so love Indian flavors, but I just can't do that much dairy and if I'm going to do dairy, I will save it for Butter Chicken. Anyway, I decided to make it at home tonight and I'm so glad I did. For those of you who haven't had this dish, it is a mix of Chicken with Peppers, Onions and Tomatoes. I cut the Chicken, Onions and Peppers into smaller pieces than usual but I don't like picking up big chunks. This dish is seasoned with an assortment of warm spices that is part of the magic of Indian food and my favorite seasoning in it is the Kashmiri Chili Powder.  Now, I can't eat really hot food, so I toned this one down and I changed the Green Peppers to Yellow and Orange as I like them so much better. And, instead of hot Green Chiles, I used just two little Red Jalapeños with the seeds and membranes removed. I also leave them in half so I can pick them out. I know - I'm a lightweight!  Of course, you can add more Chili Powder and hotter Chiles to your taste, but I need to feel my tongue when I am done eating and I hate to sweat!  You can also add Yogurt if you like creamy sauces at the end.  So, this is a very moderate version that is simply so delicious!  I've been trying to add more warming foods to my diet and this dish fit the bill. It's really a kind of Indian stir fry and it tastes even better the next day, if there is any left over!

Chicken Jalfrezi with Basmati Rice

For Chicken:

1 pound of boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs
a 2" piece of Ginger, peeled and grated
4 small or 2 large Garlic cloves, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon ground Cumin
1 teaspoon ground Coriander
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons of Ghee for stir-frying

Cut the chicken into cubes about 3/4 - 1".  Place the pieces into a bowl and add all the other seasoning ingredients. Mix thoroughly and cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours.

For Sauce:

2 Tablespoons Ghee
2 small Onions, chopped roughly
10 small Yellow and Orange Peppers or 2 large Red, Green, Yellow or Orange Peppers cut into small pieces (about the same size as the Chicken)
2 Red Jalapeño Chiles top cut off, cut in half and seeds and membranes removed
4 - 5 Roma Tomatoes stem end removed and chopped coarsely
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 - 3 Tablespoons Kashmiri Chili Powder
Optional:  1/4 cup Yogurt + additional 1/2 teaspoon Salt

Heat the Ghee in a large frying pan and add in Onions, Jalapeño Chili halves and Peppers. Cook until the Onions and Peppers soften. Add in the Tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes or until the Tomatoes have softened into a sauce. Remove to a bowl.

Heat the additional 2 Tablespoons of Ghee in the frying pan and add in the Chicken. Cook until lightly browned on one side and then turn, browning the other side as well. Then stir and cook until the Chicken is no longer pink. Add the sauce back in and reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked and still tender.  If using Yogurt, add it off the heat and stir until mixed in thoroughly.  Serve over Basmati Rice.

Basmati Rice

1 cup Basmati Rice, rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cup Water
1 heaping Tablespoon of Ghee
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Place all ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and turn down to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for an additional 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Chicken belongs to the Wood Element. The Tomatoes, Peppers and Chili Powder make sure that the Fire Element is fully present. All of the Spices and Ghee along with the Ginger and Onions and Garlic make sure contribute a lot of the Metal Element and the Rice adds even more. This meal is missing the Water Element so an Eggplant dish would be a good side and the Earth Element is also not present, so plan on serving a sweet dessert to creat a balanced Five Element meal!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Black Sesame and Rice Porridge with Shredded Eggs

I was just down visiting my friend Sabine down in Portland and she made this wonderful Korean breakfast for me while I was there. It was a hot Porridge made with Black Sesame Seeds and Sticky Rice and topped with Pine Nuts. It is very much a kind of Congee or Jook and can be eaten sweet or savory. She tops hers with Maple Syrup, but I had to make Shredded Eggs for mine and I drizzled a small amount of Tamari and Toasted Sesame Oil on top. It was so nourishing and delicious!  Besides that, Sesame Seeds are an amazing healthy food. In Chinese Medicine, they are considered very good for the Kidneys. They are  also supposed to make your hair grow, nourish your blood and in addition, treats dry skin. Sabine based this recipe on one found in Quick and Easy Korean Cooking, although she changed the proportion of Sesame Seeds to Water. The only thing you have to remember is to soak the Rice the night before.  The recipe for Shredded Eggs is one that I have been making since childhood. This is a wonderful breakfast for a cold morning and one I really think you should make soon!

Black Sesame and Rice Porridge with Shredded Eggs

1 cup Short Grain Sticky Rice, soaked overnight
1 cup Black Sesame Seeds
4 cups of Water
1/2 cup toasted Pine Nuts

Combine the drained Sticky Rice and Sesame Seeds in a food processor or blender with 1 cup of the water. Pour into a medium pot and add the additional 3 cups water.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes stirring often and add a bit more water if necessary. 

Divide the Porridge into 4 bowls and top with Pine Nuts and serve with Shredded Eggs or Maple Syrup.

Shredded Eggs

2 Eggs, beaten lightly
2 teaspoons vegetable Oil
2 teaspoons Tamari
1 teaspoon toasted Sesame Oil

Heat the Oil in a 10 inch frying pan. Pour in the Eggs and tilt pan so that a thin layer of egg covers the entire pan. Cook until the top is nearly dry and roll with a spatula onto a plate. Let cool slightly and cut into thirds and then into shreds. Place on a serving plate or in a bowl and drizzle with the Tamari and Sesame Oil.

Five Element Analysis

Black Sesame Seeds are a great Water Food, because they are seeds but also because they are black.  The Eggs and Pine Nuts along with the Tamari and Sesame Oil all add even more of the Water Element. The Rice brings it the Metal Element and the fact that it is a Porridge makes it a bit of the Earth Element as well.  So, make sure you add in some foods from the other Elements later in the day.