Asian

 

This Asian rice based porridge is called either Jook or Congee depending where you might be in Asia or in Asian communities elseware. Congee is specifically identified as a Chines rice porridge from Guangdong province. Both are considered a breakfast porridge often encountered early in the morning simmering over red hot charcoal nestled in rustic clay hibachis. Jook’s aroma beckons as it wafts through the chilly morning air as the sun begins to rise.

What I am about to propose may not be quite as picturesque, but cooking J ook in an Instapot has its merits. The rice broth cooked under pressure delivers a silky soft porridge saturated with the flavor of ginger and the scent of kaffir lime in just 15 minutes. Of course you can cook this recipe on the stove top as well with about aone hour cooking time.

In either case, carry on with a quick saute of the mushrooms along with shallots and garlic that are then added to the porridge and you have a comforting bowl of Jook to begin your day!

Gingery Jook with Mushrooms

  •  1 quirt home made chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 inch finger of fresh ginger root, peeled and divided into thirds
  • 3 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
  • ½ cup jasmine rice, unwashed

Place the ingredients in the Instapot, or stock pot for stove top cooking. Lock the Instipot lid into place. Press Pressure cook., and set timer for 15 minutes.

For stove top cooking, set the pot over medium low heat with a lid on. Stir occasionally to avoid scorching, and cook at a low simmer for 50 minutes to an hour. Ideally the rice should be translucent and just barely holding its shape.

Meanwhile you can prepare the mushrooms.
Ingredients:

  • 8 white mushrooms, well cleaned, stems remove and discarded
  • 8mushroom caps, thinly sliced 
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • t twist of fresh ground white pepper
  • 1\4 cup white wine (Chinese cooking wine, or sake)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium low heat. Add the shallots and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and saute until they soften and begin to color. Add a little wine and continue sauteing until the e pan is nearly dry. Add the remaining wine and contuse sauteing. Season with salt and pepper and continue sauteing until the mushrooms are just starting to brown. When the skillet is nearly dry remove from the heat and set aside.

When the Instapot has finished, best to allow the pressure lower for 10 minutes and then you can carefully unlock the lid. Fish out the ginger and the kaffir lime leaves and discard.

Remove the container with the rice from the Instapot, placing it on a towel on your work surface.
For a very smooth Jook, use an immersion blender, or blender, and puree until the rice and stock are emulsified, smooth, and creamy. Otherwise you can skip the blending for a heartier texture.

transfer the sauteed mushrooms to t the Jook and stir to combine. Add the soy sauce, lemon juice and stir to combine.
Serving:

Jook is traditionally served with an array of condiments and garnishes.

That said, I recommend thinly sliced spring onions, coriander (cilantro) leaves, and gomasio (recipe here) lightly sprinkled over the surface.

                                            Jook’s subtlety is its allure!

Stir frying is hands down the best way to cook a quick meal using the season’s freshest produce. I’ve been stir frying all summer long an I intend to carry on doing so with fall’s hardier produce bounty.

Stir frying is Asia’s gift for anyone who loves to kook and for all those they may be cooking for. A seasonal stir fry never fails to deliver a gorgeous healthy meal with complex flavors, textures, color, and aromas. A few helpful tips is all that’s required for success.

I’m sure you’ve seen the cooks in Chinese restaurants at their stations tossing ingredients in a big woks set over licking flames and clouds of aromatic smoke. All well and good, but you too can produce the same results in your very own kitchen sans the pyrotechnics!

Stir frying does requires Intense heat, but I’ve found that gas, electric, and induction heat all deliver the heat required if you are using a proper wok. An inexpensive carbon steel wok made in China or a domestic upgraded version is going to give you the best results. Carbon steel responds instantly to the heat source and the bigger the better because you are going to be throwing lots of vegetables and leafy greens into that fired up wok! The more hot surface space the better the results.

A trip to your local Asian market may also be required, but with the following list of basic ingredients on hand you will be set to go!

  • soy sauce
  • oyster sauce
  • fish sauce
  • Chinese cooking wine
  • Chinese lap Chong dry sausage
  • Thai basil
  •  jasmine rice

With fall’s arrival seize the moment and expand your produce choices including baby Brussels sprouts, squash, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbages, kale, mushrooms  and anything else that strikes your fancy.

An Impromptu Fall Stir Fry

Successful Stir frying is all about preparation and organization. Arrange all of your ingredients and cooking utensils within reach before you begin and you are set to go!

As mentioned use a large carbon steel wok or if not a large heavy bottomed skillet.

Ingredients

  • Two of the vegetables in this recipe quire some per-preparation as follows.I pint baby Brussels sprouts, trimmed and d steamed al dent, and set aside to used in the stir fry later.
  • ½ Napa cabbage, core removed, thinly sliced, placed in a bowl wit water to cover, and refrigerated for at least 30 minutes and drained before stir frying.
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 links Lap Chong Chinese dry sausage, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 small brown onions, peeled, halved, thinly sliced, and separated
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin batons
  • 6 red and yellow baby sweet bell peppers, trimmed, seeded, and cut into thin strips
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced, and cut into thine strips
  • 2 or 3 small fresh hot chiles, trimmed, seeded, and minced
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh ginger root cut into thin strips
  • 2 large bunches Bok Choy, trimmed, leaves halved on the diagonal
  •  1/3 cup Chinese rose cooking wine, or white wine
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce / more to taste
  • soy sauce to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ½ cup chopped Thai basil leaves, or sweet basil
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon cold water
  • Jasmine rice for serving

Place the wok directly over the heat source on medium high. Add the oil and swirl the wok. Add the sausage and stir fry while continuously tossing until the sausage begins to color around the edges. Add the onions and fry while tossing until the onions begin to wilt. Add the carrots and continue tossing until the carrots begin to wilt. Add the sweet peppers and then the garlic, chiles, and ginger and continue tossing.

Slowly add the Chinese cooking wine and toss vigorously until most of the wine has been absorbed.

Drain the cabbage and add to the wok and toss until it wilts. Then add the Bok Choy and toss continuously until the leaves are wilted. Then add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and fish sauce while continuously tossing.

At tis point if the wok is nearly dry add a half cup of water and continue stir frying. Toss in the Thai basil and  the steamed baby Brussels sprouts and continue tossing.

If you want to thicken the liquid in the pan, stir the cold water into the corn starch and stir. Then pour into the stir the stir and continue stir fry until the liquid thickens, about 3 minutes.

Finally stir in the lime juice and stir to combine just  before serving.

Serve the stir fry with freshly steamed jasmine rice.

Leftovers , not to worry. Reheat in a saute pan or microwave!

 

 

You are probably thinking where am I ever going to find purple sweet potatoes where I life? Well, Whole Foods does have them on their website, but Okinawan purple sweet Potatoes are gaining popularity so you may find them showing up in your local farm markets. They are delicious baked, or mashed ( see recipe below), But with summer’s arrival why not splash out with a Colorful “Hawaiian” Purple Sweet Potato Salad!

Purple sweet potatoes are generally identified as Okinawan sweet potatoes where thy are revered for their nutritive contribution to the islander’s historic longevity. The Okinawa’s are more likely to attribute their longevity to their warm tropical climate and their easy lifestyle. But that said, these purple sweet potatoes are just loaded with nutrients and antioxidants and have replace rice in the local Okinawan diet.

 

The purple sweet potato’s origins goes back thousands of years to Central and South America where native farmers cultivated purple sweet potatoes. After the Spanish Inquisition Spanish merchants brought the purple sweet potatoes to the Philippines, and from there to China in the late fourteen hundreds, Okinawa in the sixteen hundreds and onward into south East Asia and East Asia.

 

Here in Hawaii purple sweet potatoes arrived with Polynesian island settlers. Over time the original plantings were replaced with the Okinawan variety that are grown on the island of Molokai. They available in local farm markets and some super markets across the Hawaiian-islands.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Salad

The recipe that follows is my  own riff on a… Colorful “Hawaiian” Purple Sweet Potato Salad

  • 1 ½ lbs. Okinawa purple sweet potatoes

Peel the potatoes and cut them into ½ inch cubes. Place then in a saucepan and cover with water. Add a little salt and bring the water to a low boil. Cook until the potatoes are softened but still holding their shape. Purple potatoes will take longer to soften so be patient and attentive.

When the potatoes are done, drain and set them and set them aside to cool. when cool transfer them to bowl, cover, and refrigerate.

For the salad

  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced sweet Maui onion, or yellow onion
  • 1 six inch fresh red chile, seeded and finely diced
  • ½ cup diced canned pineapple, reserving the remaining rings that will be halved for garnishing before serving the salad.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate.

For the Dressing

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup full fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice + more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • sea salt to taste
  • ¼ cup sliced fresh cilantro leaves 

Combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk until completely combined.  Taste and add more lime juice and salt to taste. Cover the dressing and refrigerate.

Assembly and Serving   

  • several large lad leafy salad greens
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted macadamia nuts, cashews or pine nuts
  • sprigs of fresh cilantro leaves
  • halved pineapple rings

Line a serving platter or large shallow bowl with fresh salad greens leaves and set aside

Remove the bowl of salad ingredients and add the cubed purple potatoes and fold everything together until combined.

Add the dressing and fold the salad together until is evenly coated with dressing.

Spoon the salad onto the prepared serving platter or bowl and garnish with sprigs of fresh cilantro. Place half slices of pineapple rings around the the edge of the salad. Scatter the macadamia nuts lightly over the top of the salad and serve!

 

Mashed Okinawa Sweet Potatoes   

This couldn’t be simpler and absolutely delicious.

  •  4 Okinawan sweet potatoes
  •   1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
  • sea salt to taste

Peel the potatoes  and cut them into one inch chunks.  Put them in a pot and add water to cover. Add some salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer until the potatoes are soft.  Transfer the potatoes to a colander and drain. Then  then using  either aa potato ricer or a hand mashing tool, mash the potatoes into or in a mixing bowl.  Pour the olive oil over the mashed potatoes. Add the garlic and salt and, using a silicone spatula, fold the ingredients together without overworking to retain the fluffiness of the potatoes. Taste and season with more salt to taste. That’s all there is to it!

 

 

Hawaiian Macadamia nut sables flavored with Pandan

Everyone associates macadamia nuts with the Hawaiian Islands and for good reason. They have either enjoyed a holiday in Hawaii or have receved a a colorful Hawaiian Host gift boxefilled with chocolate covered macadamia nuts ! Hawaii is one of largest producers of these irresistibly rich and buttery nuts from the Pacific islands. But there is a fascinating backstory as well. Macadamia nuts are not native to the Hawaiian islands. Macadamia nuts and their host the screw pine trees are native to Queensland in northeast Australia.

The first screw pine trees that produced macadamia nuts in Hawaii were brought to Hawaii around 1880 and planted in Kukuiheale on the big island of Hawaii. The rich volcanic soil from the Mauna Loa volcano proved to be the ideal and macadamia nut orchards thrived. The industry grew and flourished and Hawaiian macadamia nuts are now exported to the rest of the world.

Sables, essentially shortbread cookies that originate from Breton in France, seemed a likely match for macadamia nuts with their light crumbly texture and a lovely buttery flavor that blends seamlessly with the macadamia nuts subtle tropical flavor notes.

Several years ago I posted a Saigon cinnamon sables recipe (click here) that turned out to be a complimentary Asian  pairing as well

Macadamia nuts isolated on white backgrounds.

The macadamia nuts subtle flavor and rich coconut like texture makes them a perfect choice for baked goods. White chocolate is hands down the most popular pairing and indeed an excellent choice. But I was looking for a more local melding of flavors when pandan popped up in my head. Pandan is a local palm leaf that has a sweet aromatic flavor and scent as well as adding a very very pale green tint to whatever the application. It is the perfect alternative to vanilla and used throughout South East Asia to flavor rice, sweets, or in any recipe that calls for vanilla extract. This is an ingredient, like kaffir lime leaves, that can add a whole new dimension to your cooking repertoire. A few fresh or dried leaves of either cooked with rice will fill the kitchen with the most incredible aroma you could ever imagine. And yes macadamia nuts, pandan, kaffir leaves are all Available on line at.    See note following the recipe.

Hawaiian Macadamia nut sables flavored with Pandan

makes 36 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup / 5.2 ounces best quality salted butter (Kerrygold Irish Butter) at room temperature
  • 4 large organic egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1cup coarsely chopped dry roasted macadamia nuts with sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pandan extract (thinned with a little water if using paste) or vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, whisked

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter using a silicone spatula until completely smooth.

In another bowl whisk the egg yolks while gradually adding the sugar until light and fluffy.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and gradually stir into the butter mixture until completely combined.

Stir in the pandan extract or vanilla extract until completely combined and then fold in the macadamia nuts until evenly combined.

Gather the dough together and transfer to a piece of cling film placed on your the work surface. Pat the dough into a rectangle loaf. Cover with cling film, and refrigerate for at least one hour, for several hours, or overnight.

Line two baking sheet pans with parchment or silicone mats and set aside.

When the dough is very well chilled divide the loaf in half and refrigerate the other half.

Place a sheet of parchment on your work surface, and dust it with flour. Place the dough in the center and dust lightly with flour. Begin rolling out the dough slowly, dusting with flour as needed, until it is about ½ inch thick.

Using a 2 inch round cutter, cut out circles of dough and, using a spatula or dough scraper, lift the cookies and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet ,placing them about ½ inch apart. Gather any scraps of dough and set aside.

Transfer the sheet pan of cookies to the refrigerator while you role out the remaining dough, cut out the remaining cookies and place them on the second prepared sheet pan.

Gather up the scraps of dough, kneed them together, roll out the the dough, cut out the remaining cookies and place them on the baking sheet. and transfer them the refrigerator. Discard any remaining scraps of dough.

preheat the oven to 350 f / 180 c Adjust the baking rack in the center position of the oven.
Beat the reaming egg until frothy and set aside.

For the best results bake each baking sheet of cookies separately.

Remove a tray of cookies from the fridge. Mark the tops with a crisscross pattern using a fork. Then brush the tops of each cookie with the egg wash.

Transfer the cookies to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, rotating the tray half way through the baking time.

The edges of the cookies should be slightly browned and the tops are a light golden color. Do not over bake!

Remove the cookies from the oven and place the tray on a cooling rack. After about 15 minutes you can remove the cookies from the tray and placing them directly on the rack to cool completely.

Repeat the same sequence for second batch. When all the cookies are completely cool they may be stored in an airtight container for at least a week at room temperature.

Keu a ka ono !

 


Note: Ingredients available at Amazon.com

Oven roasted macadamia nuts with sea salt
24 oz / 1.5 lb $26.95 (they freeze well)

McCormic pandan flavor extract
2o ml $12.76 (2 pack)

Pandanus Leaves Dried 0.5 oz 9.99

Kaffir Lime Leaves Dried o.5 oz 9.99

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