Saturday, March 27, 2021

Daikon Radish Pickle with Japanese Flavors


I have a love of Japanese Pickles and I buy them often at my local favorite grocery store - Uwajimaya. One of the Pickles that I enjoy is Tukuan - a bright yellow Daikon Radish Pickle that is very sweet. I decided to make it at home so I could make it a bit less sweet and then suddenly ended up making a slightly different version by adding Tamari instead of Turmeric and I ended up loving the result!  As you can see from the photo, the Daikon Radish slices start showing their beautiful flower design after they soak up the brine and I just love how beautiful the Pickle Slices are!  Next time, I will go ahead and add the Turmeric instead to make the more traditional Pickle that is often found in Sushi and you can use this same recipe, leaving out the Gluten Free Soy Sauce, adding a bit more Salt and adding a teaspoon of Turmeric. I'm giving the option to make a tangier Pickle by using less Sugar or a sweeter Pickle, using more. I went right down the middle. It's important to start with a little Salt and Sugar to draw out the juices of the Daikon to make a more crisp Pickle and then make the sauce to go with it and add it later. I was so happy with the results of this experiment and I will be making these all the time now!

Daikon Radish Pickle with Japanese Flavors

1 pound of Daikon (as thin as you can find) peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices

1 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Sugar 

Place the Daikon Radish slices in a bowl and sprinkle on the Salt and Sugar. Toss to coat the slices and leave to marinate for 30 minutes. Drain the accumulated liquid. 

Pickle Sauce

1 Tablespoon Tamari

1 Tablespoon Mirin

2 - 3 teaspoons Sugar

In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients. Pour over the drained Daikon Radish slices and mix to combine. Let marinate for at least one hour up to several days. 

Note: To make Takuan: substitute 1/2 teaspoon Salt for the Tamari and add in 1 teaspoon of Turmeric and use all of the Sugar. 

Five Element Analysis

Daikon Radish is white and pungent, which makes it part of the Metal Element. The Salt and Tamari bring in the Water Element and the Sugar adds the Earth Element - if you use Turmeric, you add even more Earth. The Mirin is a combination of the Fire Element and the Earth Element since it is sweet Rice Wine. A meal where these Pickles are served needs to have more Fire and Wood foods to create balance. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Spiced Sweet Potato Bread with Pecans


I was in a Sweet Potato mood last week and because I had two in the pantry, I went ahead and roasted both - they were big!  I only ate half of one and saved the rest for the next day and then I was done. So, I froze the remaining Sweet Potato and today I pulled it out because I decided to make Sweet Potato Bread, Southern Style with Pecans and Spices. Cooked Sweet Potatoes are very similar in texture to ripe Banana, so I did a riff of a Banana Bread recipe using Gluten Free Flour. I seasoned the Bread much like you would for Sweet Potato Pie, with some Cinnamon, some Ginger and a little Nutmeg. And because I like my sweet breads to be not so sweet, i played down the sugar, but you can add more. On the top I sprinkled chopped up Pecans and Cinnamon Sugar all over before baking it. It was so good and is even better the next day!  

Spiced Sweet Potato Bread with Pecans

1-1/2 cups of cooked Sweet Potato

1/3 cup of melted Butter

1 Egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup of White Sugar

1/4 - 1/2 cup of Brown Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground Ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg

1 1/2 cups Gluten Free Flour blend with Xanthan Gum or add 1 teaspoon (I used Cup4Cup)

3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/2 cup chopped Pecans or Walnuts

1 additional Tablespoon Sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon

Turn the oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan

In a food processor (or stand mixer), mix together the Sweet Potato, Butter, Egg, Sugars and Vanilla. In a mixing bowl, blend tougher the Gluten Free Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Salt and Spices. Then add to the Sweet Potato Mixture and mix until just blended. Pour into the loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with the Pecan pieces and the Cinnamon Sugar. Cook for one hour or until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clear. Cool before slicing.

Five Element Analysis

Sweet Potatoes are one of the Earthiest vegetables and the additional Sugar in the batter adds even more Earth. The Butter, Vanilla Extract, Baking Soda, Baking Powder and Spices all contribute the Metal Element. The Egg and Pecans bring in the Water Element. The Gluten Free Flour blend combines Rice Flour with Tapioca Starch adding more Metal and Earth. So, the Fire Element is missing and easily added when you eat the Bread by serving it with Coffee or Tea. And, the Wood Element is missing too, which should probably be added at another meal as this is a great treat for breakfast or afternoon tea.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Scallion Oil Noodles


I have a great fondness for Ramen Noodles from my years in Japan, but these days I use Lotus Foods' Millet and Brown Rice Ramen. And while these noodles are great in broth, one of my favorite ways to eat them is to toss them in some Scallion Oil and then I top them with a little sautéed Pork or Chicken or Egg Shreds, which is especially good for breakfast. Scallion Oil is very simply made by browning a bunch of sliced Scallions/Green Onions in Oil with a little Salt. You want to get them just starting to brown on the edges, so that the caramelization has occurred in most of the shreds and they become soft. Then you add some Gluten Free Soy Sauce and a little drizzle of Sesame Oil too and toss the Sauce with the cooked noodles. I usually sauté the Meat or Eggs separately and then sprinkle pieces on top. But, I will often use leftover roast Chicken or Pork if I have it. If you want to make it vegan, you can cook up some Tofu to put on top instead. I usually also serve another green vegetable alongside it to create a balanced meal and my sons love to add some Chili Garlic Sauce or some Togarishi Spice to make it hotter. For me, this is a light, quick and easy meal and I make it at least once a week. So, I'm not sure why I haven't posted this recipe before now, but here it is! This recipe is for 2 small servings or one very large one and can easily be doubled or tripled. This simple preparation for Noodles is a classical Chinese dish that is surprisingly delicious!

Scallion Oil Noodles 

1 bunch Scallions (about 6 - 7 Green Onions), ends trimmed, cult into 2 inch lengths and then cut lengthwise into shreds

2 Tablespoons neutral tasting oil (I used Safflower)

A pinch of Salt

3 Tablespoons Gluten Free Soy Sauce or Tamari

1/2 teaspoon toasted Sesame Oil

2 packages Ramen Noodles (I used Lotus Foods Millet and Rice Ramen)

1 cup of sliced and sautéed Pork or Chicken or Egg (recipes below)

Cook the Ramen according to the package directions. Drain and reserve.

In a frying pan, heat up the Oil and then add in the Scallion shreds and the sprinkling of Salt. Sauté the Scallions over medium high heat until they soften and stir with the spatula the edges of most of the pieces are browned. Take off the heat and add in the Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil. Put the Ramen into the frying pan and toss the noodles until they are coated. Put the Noodles in two bowls and divide up the Scallion Shreds. Top with Pork, Chicken, Egg or Tofu to serve.

Sautéed Pork or Chicken

1/2 pound sliced Pork or Chicken, cut into thin shreds

1 Tablespoon Gluten Free Soy Sauce or Tamari

1 Tablespoon Rice Wine

1 Tablespoon Cornstarch

1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

Put the Pork or Chicken in a small bowl. Add in the Soy Sauce and Rice Wine. Toss to coat. Let sit for a minimum of 5 minutes. Then add in the Cornstarch, coating all the pieces. Then add the Oil to a small frying pan. Add in the Pork or Chicken Pieces when the Oil is hot. Cook, stirring until the pieces are lightly browned. 

Shredded Eggs

2 Eggs, lightly beaten

1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

2 teaspoons Gluten Free Soy Sauce or Tamari

1/4 teaspoon toasted Sesame Oil

Heat the Oil in a small frying pan. Add in the Eggs and push the edges into to let the still wet Egg move to get cooked. When the bottom side is set, turn over the whole Egg cake and cook until the other side is set (don't worry if it splits. Remove to a cutting board and cut into thin shred. Sprinkle with the Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil and use to top the noodles or Rice - it is especially good over Congee (aka Jook).

Five Element Analysis

The Scallions/Green Onions belong mostly to the Metal Element, but have a bit of the Wood Element too as they grown in the Spring and are green. So those Elements are automatically covered. The Noodles I used are made of Millet - Earth Element and Rice - the Water Element. The Water Element is also enhanced by the Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil and the Pork or Egg if you are using either of those ingredients. Using Chicken will add more Wood and the Tofu would add more Metal. The Fire Element only makes an appearance if you use the Rice Wine to marinate the meat, but otherwise, to create a balanced meal, it would be good to have another green vegetable to add more Wood and maybe some Chili Garlic Sauce or Togarishi Spice on the side to add more Fire.