Feb 25, 2014

BEETS, Beautiful BEETS!

If you've read this blog, or my cookbooks, you know that I love beets in any form. To me they are one of the most beautiful vegetables on earth, and are considered a superfood because of its health benefits. Beets not only lower blood pressure by helping improve blood flow, but increase a person's stamina and energy. They're packed with fiber, vitamins A, B & C, magnesium, and iron.

I love that deep blood red of the beet root, it's like the color of burgundy wine. The tops, when sauteed with onion, garlic, salt, and a smidgen of water make the most wonderful side dish, much better than spinach but similar in flavor and texture.

Fortunately for me, Kumu Farms, grows beets almost year-round here on Moloka'i. It must be the acid volcanic soil of the Hawaiian islands that makes their beets so full of life, and delicious!

I love to try new things, but to me beets are not new, but I think there are a lot of people out their who haven't cooked beets for some reason. They couldn't be any easier to prepare. I used to think you had to peel beets, but you don't. Whether you boil them or roast them, just let them cool and the outer skin just slips off. If they are small, tender beets, you don't even have to peel them. One other thing, fresh beets are much better than canned.

Beets have been popular all over the world for a very long time. Our friends in the Ukraine love beets, they're one of Ukraine's most beloved root vegetables. I think they're national dish is a stew-like soup called borshch. There are many variations, but the end result is a thing to behold. If you are not familiar with borshch, it's made with beets, naturally, but also with many other vegetables, with or without meat, and topped off with a dollop of sour cream and fresh dill. Oh my god, my mouth is watering. The recipe is below. Here are just a few of my favorite beet recipes:

Pickled Beet Root with Daikon Radish
This is my version of the sweet Japanese pickled daikon called "Takuwan" which uses yellow food coloring to make the radishes yellow. I use beets, which color the daikon a beautiful vibrant red. You want to use equal amounts of cooked beets and raw radish for this recipe. This condiment pairs well with pork, chicken or fish. Only a couple of tablespoons are necessary per serving.

Pickled Beet Root with Daikon Radish
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5 medium sized beets, peeled and cooked in salted water, about 1 teaspoon of salt
4 cups daikon radish, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 medium onion, sliced
8 whole cloves
2 cups cider vinegar
2 cups beet juice
1/2 cup sugar

Cook peeled beets, cover in salted water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the beets to a cutting board to cool, save the beet juice in the pot. Take out two quart jars that have been boiled with the lids for 20 minutes. Divide the onions, uncooked daikon pieces, and whole cloves into the two jars. Put the vinegar, 2 cups of beet juice, and 1/2 cup of sugar in a pot and bring to a simmer long enough to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile cut the cooled cooked beets into the same size that you cut the daikon. Put the cut beets into the jars, and fill each jar with the hot vinegar solution. Fill the jars to 1/4 inch from the top of each jar. Tightly seal the jars with the clean lids and leave out on the counter to cool. When cool, refrigerate. They are ready to eat in about 24 hours. Makes 2 quarts.

Roasted Beet Bruschetta
Bruschetta is an appetizer from central Italy whose origin dates to at least the 15th century. It consists of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Variations may include toppings of spicy red pepper, tomato, vegetables, eans, cured meat, and/or cheese. I happen to be a big fan of roasted beets, which led me to creating my version of Bruschetta.

1 pound beets
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon fresh chives
8 slices of crusty bread
extra-virgin olive oil
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the beets, do not peel. Dry with paper towel. Place beets in a pouch made of heavy duty aluminum foil, large enough to enclose the beets. Sprinkle the beets with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of salt. Wrap the foil tightly around the beets. Place in oven and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour (timings vary from oven to oven). Test with a sharp knife, if it slides through easily, the beets are cooked. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Remove the skin, and cut into 1/4 inch cubes.

Preheat the broiler. Combine the beet cubes, caraway seeds, chives, salt, and pepper.

Rub the bread slices with half of a garlic clove. Brush olive oil on top of the bread. Toast the bread slices under the broiler until toasted. Spoon the beet mixture on top of the bread. Shave Parmigiano over the beet mixture, and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Roasted Beet Carpaccio
with Pickled Green Tomatoes
Roasted Beet Carpaccio
with Pickled Green Tomatoes

Click on photo to view larger
Carpaccio is Italian. It is a side dish of raw meat or fish (such as beef, veal, venison, salmon or tuna), thinly sliced or pounded thin and served mainly as an appetizer. While I was in the Caribbean years ago, I was served beet carpaccio in a French restaurant made from thinly sliced beets, placed in a circle on a bed of arugula, with a vinaigrette dressing. I have also seen thinly sliced roasted beets serve over thick yogurt, then sprinkled with dried mint, or thinly sliced roasted beets sprinkled with feta cheese, and garnished with watercress leaves. My version pairs the sweet taste of roasted beets against the tart and crunchy pickled green tomato. This is one of my favorite side dishes.

4 small beets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt
pickled green tomatoes (see recipe)
dried dill for garnish

Pre-heat your oven to 400˚F.

Wash the beets, do not peel. Dry with paper towel. Place beets in a pouch made of heavy duty aluminum foil, large enough to enclose the beets. Sprinkle the beets with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of salt. Wrap the foil tightly around the beets. Place in oven and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour (timings vary from oven to oven). Test with a sharp knife, if it slides through easily, the beets are cooked. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Remove the skin and carefully slice the beets very thinly. Set aside.

Next, thinly slice the pickled green tomatoes. On a large serving plate or individual plates, arrange the beet slices overlapping in a circle. Now place several slices of pickled green tomatoes in the center of the beets, also arranged in a circle. Garnish with a sprinkle of dried dill. Makes 2 servings as an appetizer or a side dish.

Watercress Salad with Roasted Beets
Ingredients for the salad:
1 large bunch watercress, stems removed
2 medium sized beets (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt

2 small sticks of celery
1 Granny Smith or Pippin apple
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1/3 cup roasted walnuts, chopped

Ingredients for the dressing:
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 crushed clove of garlic
1 teaspoon of mild curry paste
1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
salt and pepper

Wash the beets, do not peel. Dry with paper towel. Place beets in a pouch made of heavy duty aluminum foil, large enough to enclose the beets. Sprinkle the beets with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of salt. Wrap the foil tightly around the beets. Place in oven and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour (timings vary from oven to oven). Test with a sharp knife, if it slides through easily, the beets are cooked. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Remove the skin.

Wash, drain and dry the watercress, removing the stems. Arrange on serving plates. Cut the beets and celery into thin slices. Wash, halve, core and slice the apple. Arrange the beets, celery and apple on top of the watercress leaves. Sprinkle the spring onions and walnuts over the top. In a small mixing bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients together until smooth. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve. Makes 2 servings.

Roasted Beet Gratin
Roasted Beet Gratin
Click on photo to view larger
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound beet greens (about 2 large bunches), cleaned, stemmed, and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound of fresh whole beets
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated or ground
16 Ritz crackers, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Place whole beets in a shallow pan and cover with aluminum foil. Place in the oven for 45 minutes. When done, cool then remove the skins with your fingers. Cut beets into slices, then into sticks. Reduce the oven heat to 375˚F.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic and saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the beet greens and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens begin to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk together the eggs, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Fold the cheese mixture into the slightly cooled greens. Pour this into a lightly butter 9-by-11-inch baking dish. Evenly sprinkle the roasted beet stick on top of the mixture. Cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with the crumbled Ritz crackers and bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until the crackers are warm. Cool for 5 minutes before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Beets with a Brown Sugar Glaze
3 cups, 1/2- to 1-inch cubed beets
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

*Trim beet greens (if any) and root end; peel the skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut beets into 1/2- to 1-inch-thick cubes, wedges or slices.

To steam on the stovetop: Place in a steamer basket over 1 inch of boiling water in a large pot. Cover and steam over high heat until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

To steam in the microwave: Place in a glass baking dish, add 2 tablespoons water, cover tightly and microwave on High until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

Combine brown sugar, orange juice, butter, salt, and pepper in a large nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until the sugar and butter are melted and starting to bubble. Stir in beets and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the beets are coated with glaze, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve hot or warm. Makes 6 servings.

Sauteed Beet Greens
For years people have been throwing away one of the best parts of the beet experience. The leafy top of the beet root, when sauteed, make the most wonderful side dish that tastes like spinach. This cooking technique can be used for all kinds of greens, including kale, collard greens, and mustard greens.

1 pound beet greens (2 large or 3 small bunches)
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
freshly ground black pepper
red wine vinegar
hot sauce (optional)
crisp bacon bits (optional)
hard cooked egg, crumbled (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove the larger stems from the leaves, then wash the leaves in 2 rinses of cold water to remove any dirt. When the pot of water comes to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the greens. Blanch the greens for only 2 minutes, until tender. Transfer immediately to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, then drain the ice water out from its leaves. Chop coarsely.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant and translucent, 30 to 60 seconds. Stir in the greens. Stir for a couple of minutes, until the greens are nicely seasoned with garlic and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, remove from the heat, and serve with a few drops of red wine vinegar, hot sauce, and a sprinkling of crisp bacon bits, and/or crumbled hard cooked egg. Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Note: Beet greens reduce in volume by about 80%. Even though it looks like your are making a lot to start with, you're not.

Ukrainian Borshch
This borshch takes about 4 1/2 hours to prepare, but it's worth it.

Ingredients for beef stock:
3 pounds beef shanks or 2 1/2 pounds beef chuck on the bone, well rinsed
8 cups (2 quarts) cold water
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper

Ingredients for the soup:
1 pound beets, trimmed and peeled
3 large carrots, trimmed and peeled
1/4 large cabbage, shredded
2 large peeled and thinly sliced potatoes
2 large diced onions
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper
sour cream
fresh dill
lemon wedges

Procedure to make the beef stock:
Combine beef and water in a stockpot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently. Skim top surface until impurities no longer appear, about 30 minutes.

Add onion, carrot, celery and seasonings to the pot. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour or until meat falls off the bone, adding water as needed to cover.

Remove beef to a bowl and pull the meat off the bones, chop into bite-sized pieces, and set aside. Strain stock into a clean, heatproof container, pressing on vegetables to obtain maximum flavor. Discard vegetables.

Procedure to make the soup:
Cook the beets and carrots in the beef stock, covered, until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from broth, let cool and then coarsely shred. Set aside.

While beets and carrots are cooling, add cabbage, onion and potatoes to broth. Bring back to a boil and simmer 20 minutes, covered, or until tender. Add beets and carrots, tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve in warmed bowls with a dollop of sour cream, fresh dill and a lemon wedge, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Roasted Beet Chutney
The earthy flavor of the beet is balanced by tart apples, spicy cloves, cinnamon, and sweet raisins.

3 pounds of red roasted beets (wrap beets in foil and cook in a 375˚F oven for 45 minutes)
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 teaspoon crushed red chilies
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons salt
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups apple cider vinegar
5 ounces sugar
2 ounces raisins

Peel and dice roasted beets into 1/4 inch cubes; set aside. In a large saucepan, combine the apples, onions, garlic, red chilies, cloves and vinegar; bring to a boil and let simmer 15 minutes; add the roasted beets, sugar and raisins; continue cooking for 15 minutes more. Remove cinnamon stick. Pour chutney into hot sterilized jars; cover and seal. If you're using within a week or two, there's no need to sterilize–just cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate. Serve chilled. Makes 2 quarts.

Feb 23, 2014

Tasting BLOOD Sausage

Blood Sausage
Rego's Purity of Hawaii brand
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When you say blood sausage, you might think that it is some kind of ghoulish vampire food, and you would probably be right, if there were such a thing as vampires. There is however such a thing as sausage made from BLOOD, usually pigs blood, but also from cattle, sheep, duck, chicken and goat blood depending on what part of the world you are talking about. But blood sausage is more than just blood, its mixed with fillers including meat, fat, suet, bread, cornmeal, potato, onion, chestnuts, barley, oatmeal, and many other things.

In the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, blood sausage is referred to as black pudding, and is considered a delicacy. In Germany, Blutwurst is the blood sausage of choice, made with pork rind, pork blood and different fillers such as barley. In France, blood sausage, usually known as boudin noir, is taken very seriously. It is traditionally prepared with pork, duck and game. In Spain, blood sausage is referred to as morcilla, and has many variants, but usually containing pork blood and fat, rice, onions, and salt.

Thanks to the Portuguese immigrants, blood sausage made its way here to Hawaii. There are varieties local to Portugal, the Azores, China, India, and the US. One company on the Big Island, here in Hawaii, has a reputation for excellent blood sausage, Kulana Pork Blood Sausage from Kulana Foods. Unfortunately it is hard to find on the other Hawaiian islands. Check out this Hawaii website if you want to make your mouth water, click here.

So at this point you must be asking yourself if there are so many people around the world that are eating blood sausage, then what does it taste like? The worst description I read about was Irish blood sausage (called black pudding), on Fodor's travel website and it read... "it looks like clotted blood, and tastes like a nosebleed!".  Personally I have no problem with the taste of blood sausage, but I guess it depends on who makes it and what country it was made in. To me it's a mind over matter thing. If you didn't know that it was made from blood you would have no problem eating it. It just tastes rich, and it compliments so many recipes. As a chef, I am quite aware that there is a certain segment of society that will not try anything that is out of what they regard as normal, things like oysters, snails, pigs feet, beef tongue, chicken gizzards, or even liver. Take my mother-in-law for example... Please!

Because of our country's squeamishness, blood sausages are very difficult to find in American supermarkets, however that is changing, and blood sausage is slowly making inroads into popular cuisine, especially here in Hawaii. So the next time you get a taste for blood, and want a dark, funky, iron-packed tube steak, search out some good blood sausage, then try one of these recipes:

Azorean Grilled Blood Sausage 
with Pineapple
Azorean Grilled Blood Sausage
with Pineapple
Click on photo to view larger
Many Azoreans and Portuguese came to the United States via Hawaii. Pineapples are also grown on the Azorean islands 850 miles west of Portugal, and blood sausage is a favorite there as well. They combine the two for this delicious sweet and savory bar snack, which I saw on Anthony Bourdain's travel show... Anthony is my hero, and he loves blood sausage.

1 blood sausage
fresh pineapple
8 short bamboo skewers

Grill the blood sausage enough to slightly char it. Slice into eight 1 inch pieces. Remove the top from a fresh ripe pineapple. Remove the outside rind with a sharp knife. Slice pineapple into 1/2 inch slices. Cut slices into quarters. Remove the core on each slice. Take a sharp bamboo skewer, polk a hole through the center of each slice of sausage and into each slice of pineapple. Place each li'i lea on a small plate and serve. Makes 8 servings.

Portuguese Blood Sausage & Beans
Portuguese blood sausage is called 'Morcela'. It is made from beef blood, pork fat, onions, garlic and spices, and then formed into a thick ring. This beautiful Portuguese stew is wonderful served with a good dark beer, crusty bread, and a rustic side salad.

1 pound dried white beans, or chickpeas soaked overnight
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, whole
olive oil
1 chorizo sausage, thickly sliced to 1/2 inch
1 blood sausage, thickly sliced to 1/2 inch
1/2 pound smoked ham hock, cut into chunks
4 chicken thighs
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1– 14.5 ounce can sliced tomatoes
5 or 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon sweet Spanish paprika
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley for garnish

Put the beans in a pot with the 2 bay leaves and the whole garlic. Cover with about 2 inches of water, bring to a boil, put the lid on and simmer for 1 hour.

Brown the sausages, ham hock and chicken thighs in some olive oil until crusty brown. Remove and set aside. Add the chopped garlic and onions to the pan and cook until the onions are soft. Add the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and sweet paprika, then cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the meats and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour the meat mixture into the beans. Add enough water to just cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour with the lid on. The beans should still have shape but be creamy inside. Taste for seasoning (salt & pepper). Serve, garnished with parsley. Serve with crusty bread, a rustic side salad, and a good dark beer. Makes 4 servings.

Penne Pasta with Kale and Blood Sausage 
2 cups uncooked penne pasta
1/2 teaspoon table salt, or to taste, for cooking pasta
8 ounces uncooked blood sausage, cut into little chunks
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups uncooked curly kale, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup canned chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Cook penne pasta in salted water according to package directions; drain.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook sausage slices in olive oil about 3 minutes. Add garlic and kale; cook, stirring frequently, until kale is limp, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add broth to skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low; cook until kale is tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in cooked penne pasta; heat through.

Sprinkle each serving with cheese before serving. Makes 2 servings.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
with Blood Sausage
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup fresh broccoli crowns
4 portobello mushrooms
olive oil
1/2 cup chopped blood sausage
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs, or I like to use crushed Ritz crackers
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Cook the brown rice according to package instructions. Remove the top crowns of the broccoli and blanch them in boiling salted water for 1 minute. Drain and put them on a plate to cool.

Carefully remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them into small pieces. Take a teaspoon and gently remove the black gills on the underside of each mushroom cap with the tip of the spoon. These gills have a bitter taste and should be discarded. Using your hands, lightly rub each portobello mushroom top with a little olive oil.

Cook the chopped blood sausage in a medium skillet until browned, about 4 minutes. Add the onion, celery, and chopped mushroom stems and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat. In a medium sized bowl, combine the cooked rice with the sausage mixture. Add the blanched broccoli, and the egg to the mixture and gently stir until combined.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Fill both mushroom caps with the mixture. Place the filled mushrooms on a baking sheet. Combine 1/4 cup of bread crumbs with 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the tops of the mushrooms. Bake until golden brown on top and the mushrooms are tender, about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Drizzle the tops with vinegar and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings.

Bloody Hero Sandwich
1 tablespoon olive oily
8 ounces of blood sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic, or to taste
1 medium uncooked red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium sweet red pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium green pepper, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
8 ounce loaf Italian bread

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large nonstick skillet and set over medium heat. Sauté sausage until browned, about 5 minutes; remove to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the same skillet and heat for about 45 seconds; add garlic and sauté until golden, about 30 seconds. Add onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add peppers and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 6 to 8 minutes more.

Stir in vinegar and then return sausage to skillet; toss to combine.

Split bread lengthwise and fill with sausage mixture. Cut into 4 equal pieces and serve. Makes 4 servings. Note: This mixture can also be put into heated pita pockets instead of Italian bread.

Feb 14, 2014

SALMON... Bits & Bones

Friendly Market
$5.14 for both

click on photo to view larger
I've lived and cooked on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i for 12 years. During that time I have been to Friendly Market, our largest grocery store, hundreds of times. They always have salmon for sale in their fish department which I have always thought was strange because it is imported. Occasionally they sell packages of salmon bones, or heads... yes salmon bones and heads. I have always wondered what people here do with packages of salmon bones, that by the way, have lots of meat still left on them. At first I thought that they are buying these bits & bones because they are inexpensive, but there is more to this than that.

Today I was checking out of the market when I noticed that the lady behind me had a package of salmon bones. I asked her politely, after mentioning that I love to cook, how she cooked her salmon bones. She told me that she didn't cook, but that someone in her family did, and that she sauteed them and then put tomatoes over the top. She said that she just had them two nights before and they were delicious, full of meat, and here she was buying more.
Yield 2 cups of fresh salmon meat

It turns out that the bits & bones are quite possibly the best cuts on the salmon, as they are fattier and have a more interesting texture and flavor than the fillets. We are not just talking about the salmon bones now, but the heads, bellies and collars as well.

One way they enjoy these salmon bits & bones is to roast or smoke the bones, bellies, and collars of the salmon and pick off the meat for salmon salad and salmon cakes. Grilling is another way to cook these salmon bits & bones. Salmon is full of fat which is stored in their bellies which is great grilled. The salmon collars and fins are crispy when grilled, then it is dipped into a soy, mirin, and sake sauce, laced with a little sugar and dash of togarashi seasoning. We are talking about foodgasms here folks. I guess there is some truth in the saying "the closer to the bone, the sweeter the meat." The next time you see salmon bits & bones, be adventuresome and buy it, then try some of these recipes.

Salmon Bone Tartare
This simple salmon tartare can be made from the bits of raw salmon found around the bones, belly, and collar, topped with Moloka'i avocado.

3/4 pound fresh salmon picked from fresh salmon heads and collars
2 teaspoons scallions, finely minced
1 teaspoons tamari sauce
1 teaspoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine for cooking)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 ripe avocado, diced
juice from one fresh lime
Japanese cucumber, sliced 1/8 inch thick
Ichimi Togarashi (Japanese seven flavor chili pepper)
fresh chives or green onions, minced
black sesame seeds

In a medium bowl, mix together salmon, scallions, soy sauce, mirin and sesame oil.
In a small bowl, gently toss avocado, lime juice and salt to taste. Spoon Salmon Tartare on top of cucumber rounds, then top with a little chopped avocado. Sprinkle some Ichimi Togarashi or black sesame seeds, and chives on top to garnish. Serve immediately. Makes 8 pupus.

Hoisin Salmon Cakes
Everyone loves salmon cakes. This recipe puts a Hawaiian spin on the typical salmon cake with a sweet hint of hoisin sauce.

Hoisin Salmon Cake with Side Salad
Click on photo to view larger
1 pound salmon meat taken from bones, or from a filet
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (best to use a garlic press)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped spring onion
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons canola oil for frying
additional 2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce to brush on cakes
lettuce, tomato, and capers for a side salad, with a squeeze of fresh lime juice
sliced green onions and sesame seeds for garnish

Spread the fresh salmon bones, heads, and collars out in a baking dish that has been sprayed with Pam to keep from sticking (see photo above). Roast them for 20 minutes in a 325˚F oven. After the salmon has cooled, pick the meat from the bones, being especially careful to remove all of the bones. Note: If you don't want to go through this process, then simply buy a 3/4 pound salmon fillet, then dice it into 1/4" pieces without cooking it.

In a small bowl, combine ginger, garlic, soy, hoisin, sesame oil, and egg.

In a large bowl, combine the salmon pieces, onion and 1/4 cup of the panko. (Set aside the remaining panko in a shallow bowl.)

Add the liquid ingredients to the salmon mixture. Shape the salmon into 4 cakes. Carefully pat each of the cakes with the remaining panko.

Cover and refrigerate cakes for at least 1 hour up to 4 hours, which helps to solidify them.

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Heat canola oil in a non-stick fry pan over medium heat. Fry cakes 2 minutes on first side, turn, then fry second side 1 minute. Brush a small amount of hoisin sauce on the tops of the cakes.

Bake in oven for 3 to 4 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve with a side salad of lettuce, tomato, and capers, with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, salt and pepper. Garnish everything with green onions and sesame seeds. Makes 4 servings.

Salmon Cakes with Panko
An economical and delicious way to have crispy salmon cakes.

2 cups (about 12 ounces) cooked and flaked salmon
2 to 3 Tablespoons minced green onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 Tablespoons minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 eggs
1/3 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs), plus more for coating the cakes
2 or 3 Tablespoons of olive oil for cooking

In a medium bowl, combine the salmon, green onion, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, and cayenne pepper. Mix to combine everything thoroughly. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Now gently combine the salmon mixture and the beaten eggs. Now combine the Panko with the salmon mixture.

Put a little olive oil on your hands before forming into 3-inch cakes. Place them on a baking sheet, cover, and chill for a few hours for the best final results.

Now press the cakes into Panko to make them extra crispy.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and cook salmon cakes, until golden brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn over and cook until golden brown on the other side and cooked through, another 4 minutes. Repeat with any remaining cakes. Serve hot with steamed snow peas. Makes about 4 cakes.

Salmon Head Soup
This Japanese soup recipe has no unsavory parts of the head in it, like eyeballs, only the meat and bones. The bones have a wonderful gelatinous quality from the collagen that make the broth so satisfying.

4 salmon heads (gills removed)
1 small onion, chopped, about 1 cup
one 2-inch piece of dried kombu seaweed (optional)
one 3-inch piece of peeled and slivered ginger
salt to taste
1/4 cup mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine, used for cooking)
Asian noodles (somen, udon or rice noodles... your choice)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons white miso paste
chives or diced spring onions
sliced chiles for garnish

Wash the salmon heads well to remove any blood or gills. Gills will ruin the broth by making it bitter and cloudy. Cover the heads with water in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, kombu and ginger and bring to a simmer. Do not let this boil. Simmer gently for 20 to 30 minutes.

Strain the broth and save the heads. Pick out all the meat from the heads, especially the cheek meat. Reserve in a bowl.

Return the broth to a clean pot and add the mirin. Heat but do not let boil. Add the soy sauce. If the broth still needs salt, add salt — not more soy sauce, as that will make the broth too dark.
Bring another pot of salted water to a boil: This is for the noodles. Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package.

Ladle out some broth into soup bowls. Add a heaping teaspoon of miso (or more) to each bowl and stir to combine. Portion out the noodles to each bowl. Add the salmon meat on top of the noodles. Each person should get at least one cheek. Cover with more broth, garnish with chives and sliced chiles and serve at once. Makes 4 servings.

Salmon Chowder
The broth for this salmon chowder is made from bits & bones of the salmon, which help to make this wonderful chowder taste like you knew what you were doing.

Ingredients for salmon broth:
3 to 4 pounds salmon, heads, fins and bones (make certain the gills have been removed!)
salt to taste
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup white wine
1 handful of dried mushrooms (preferably matsutake)
2 bay leaves

Ingredients for chowder:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 pound thick bacon, cut into batons
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
5 to 6 cups salmon broth (or 4 cups chicken broth plus 1 to 2 cups water)
1 to 2 pounds skinless, boneless salmon meat, cut into chunks
1 cup corn, fresh or thawed
2/3 cup heavy cream
black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or chives, for garnish

To make the broth, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it well. Add the salmon bones, heads, etc. When the water returns to a boil, let this cook for 1 minute. Remove the salmon bits and discard the water. Blanching this way removes the scum from the stock and will give you a cleaner-tasting broth when you are done.

Wipe out the pot, add the oil, and turn the heat to medium-high. When the oil is hot, saute the onion, carrot and celery, stirring often, until the onion is soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine, bay leaves and the dried mushrooms and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Let the wine boil for a minute or two, then add the remaining ingredients — including the blanched salmon bones. Pour in enough cool water to cover everything by about 1/2 inch. Bring to a very gentle simmer (barely bubbling) and cook like this for 45 minutes. Note: you don't want to boil the heads, keep the liquid at a gentle simmer, around 190˚F.

Get a large bowl for the broth and set a strainer over it. Line the strainer with a plain paper towel or cheesecloth. Turn off the heat on the broth and ladle it through the strainer and into the bowl. Don’t bother trying to get the last little bit of broth out of the pot, as it will be full of debris. Discard the contents of the pot and reserve the broth.

To make the chowder, melt the butter in a Dutch oven or other soup pot set over medium heat. Add the bacon and fry, stirring and turning often, until crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the onion and celery and saute until soft, about another 4 to 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and the salmon broth and being to a simmer. Add salt to taste. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

When the potatoes are tender, add the corn and the chunks of salmon. Cook gently until the salmon is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the dill, heavy cream and black pepper. Serve at once. Makes 4 servings.

Cooking Crispy Salmon Skin
The skin of the salmon is wonderful as a snack or garnish, and it's fairly easy to prepare. Here's what you do:

Slice the skins from the meat off the salmon fillets. You will notice that you still have some meat and fat attached to the skin. That needs to go. Next you need to tenderize the skins. You do this by boiling in salty water; the salt helps season the skins. Salmon skin needs to boil for 3 to 5 minutes.

Now you need to carefully remove all the meat and fat from the skins. Gently lift the skins out of the boiling water and lay them meat side up on a cutting board. Now, using a butter knife, carefully lift and remove all the meat and fat. This is fairly tricky, so take your time, you don't want to tear the skin.

Once you have all the meat removed, you need to dry the skins. I do this in a dehydrator at 120°F until the skin dries, which isn’t too long — about 2 to 4 hours depending on the species of fish. I’ve also greased a baking sheet and laid the skins down (meat side up) and dried them in an oven set to 170°F. You will need to flip the skins at least once if you do this option.

When the skins are dried you can save them in the freezer indefinitely.

Frying is easy. Heat about 1 inch of high smoke-point oil, like canola oil — to between 350°F and 360°F. Get your seasonings nearby, as you will have only seconds to season before the skins’ surface dries. Salt is a must, but you can use other seasoning as well, like smoked paprika or lemon pepper.

Drop a couple skins into the hot oil and watch the magic: They will puff up immediately in an amazingly miraculous way. They will be ready in less than a minute. Watch for the sizzling to die down dramatically. Move them to paper towels with a slotted spoon and season immediately with salt. Once fried, they will stay crispy for about a day.

Grilled Teriyaki Salmon Collars
Salmon collars are full of fat and make a crunchy treat when marinated in teriyaki sauce and grilled as an appetizer, or as a main course. If you can't find collars, then this recipe will work with salmon steaks, but the collars actually taste better if you can get them.

3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine, used for cooking)
6 tablespoons sake
1/4 cup sugar
24 oz. salmon collar (2-4 depending on size of salmon and cut of collar) or six 4 oz. fillets
2 green onions, sliced
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Place the soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Put the salmon and marinade in a ziploc bag. Seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Remove the salmon from the marinade to a plate. Pour the marinade into the saucepan and boil over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until the teriyaki sauce has reduced its volume by half. This should take about 15 minutes. Get your grill ready on medium-low heat. Grill the salmon for about 4-5 minutes a side, basting with the teriyaki sauce, until done. Serve with more teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds, and green onions. Makes 4 servings.

Feb 11, 2014

"Li'i Le'a"... Hawaiian for "Little Orgasm"

Hiyayakko with Ponzu Sauce
Click on photos to view larger
I took first year French in high school... twice. I love the language, but I wasn't very good at learning it, it was the only class I ever failed, so I took it again and passed.

When I went to cooking school and studied French cooking, I ran into the French words "amuse-bouche" (pronounced ah-myuz boosh). Basically it means "mouth amuser". It's a FREE tidbit, a bite-sized hors d'oeuvre, served before your meal is served, and is not to be confused with appetizers, tapas, or pupus.

An amuse-bouche can be almost anything, as long as it shows off the artistry and showmanship of the chef. The amuse-bouche has actually become a competition between celebrity chefs with restaurants around the world.

The concept is a good one, a way for the chef to "wet your appetite" and show off his kitchen skills at the same time. The problem for me is that amuse-bouche is a French word which just doesn't sound right here in Hawaii, even though the French own 118 tropical islands called French Polynesia, where the ancient Hawaiians came from. 

So I have decided to take it upon myself to rename amuse-bouche to "Li'i Le'a", Hawaiian words for 'little orgasm'. You can read about the word le'a on this site... kind of an interesting read. I just think that 'little orgasm' sounds better than 'mouth amuser', and it's hopefully more descriptive of what you are about to have. So do me a favor and pass the Hawaiian words around the next time you serve an amuse-bouche, but remember who coined the phrase "li'i le'a" (little orgasm).

I have put together a few of my own bite sized li'i le'a that might be served in restaurants here in Hawaii, or they may inspire you for your next dinner party. All of these recipes use tropical ingredients found right here in Hawaii, and if I may say so, they are orgasmic.

Hiyayakko with Ponzu Sauce
This is a beautiful one-bite starter (Li'i Le'a) for any Japanese meal (see photo above). Traditionally two Hiyayakko, pronounced "hee - yah -yak - koh", are served in a small saucer. This ancient Samurai tofu recipe relies on its sauce and toppings for flavor, and like the proverb "revenge is a dish best served cold", this dish must also always be served cold.

1 block (14 ounces) chilled silken tofu
4 tablespoons Katsuo Mirin Furikake (a combination of roasted sesame seeds and dried shaved bonito)
2 tablespoon grated fresh or pickled red ginger (Kizami Shoga)
4 small scallions, thinly sliced into 1/16 inch circles (green part only)

Ingredients for Ponzu Sauce:
4 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Carefully remove cold tofu from container and drain on paper towels. Slice into small squares/rectangles. Keep chilled in fridge if not serving immediately. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the ponzu sauce. Put each serving of 2 blocks of tofu in a small saucer and drizzle with the ponzu sauce mixture. Top each block with grated ginger, then scallions, then top with bonito flakes or other crunchier toppings just before serving. Serve immediately. Makes 4 li'i le'a servings.

Note: The toppings on the recipe above is the classic recipe, however many restaurants serve a variety of toppings, so you can experiment with what you like. If you are serving guests who aren't all that used to chopsticks, then try to get the firm tofu because it is easier to pick up.

Tobiko Tapenade

Tobiko Tapenade
Click on photos to view larger
Tapenade is a popular olive spread eaten in the South of France. The combination of flavors in my recipe, takes this dish out of France, and transports it to Hawaii.

1 1/2 cups pitted ripe olives (I use canned California ripe olives because they are sweeter than kalamata olives)
2 garlic cloves
4 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup tobiko (flying fish eggs)
2 tablespoons ground roasted sesame seeds
2 Japanese cucumbers


Combine the first 5 ingredients in a food processor. Pulse the food processor until the tapenade is thick but still has texture. Split cucumbers in half lengthwise. With a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon, remove seeds from cucumber halves. Turn cucumber halves over and with a potato peeler, remove one long slice of peeling on the bottom of each cucumber half so that when this appetizer is served, it sits up flat on a serving plate. Fill each cucumber half with the olive mixture, then sprinkle with ground roasted sesame seeds. Top with tobiko, then cut into 1" bit-size pieces and arrange on serving plate. Serve immediately. Makes 1 cup, or about 30 servings.

Black Snow Shrimp

"Black Snow Shrimp"
Cooked shrimp on bamboo skewers, with ocean salad
(marinated seaweed), and black sesame seeds (black snow), 

served with a tamari sauce mixed with wasabi
Click on photos to view larger
This makes a delicious li'i le'a (little orgasm). The black snow refers to the black sesame seeds that are sprinkled on the shrimp just before serving. 

White Shrimp, large, cleaned with tail left on
bamboo skewers, 6 inches long
Ocean salad (green marinated seaweed found in Asian markets)
black sesame seeds (black snow)
served with a tamari sauce mixed with wasabi

Select large “white” shrimp, and boil them in salted water, to cover, for 3 minutes. Remove and rinse in cold water. Refrigerate until ready to assemble. When ready to assemble, take a bamboo skewer and run it up the tail through the body of the shrimp. Drape a few strands of ocean salad over the top of each shrimp. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Serve 3 per person for an appetizer, either laying on a plate with the sauce in a small dipping bowl, or serve them standing up in a small glass with the dipping sauce on the side. For the dipping sauce, mix tamari sauce (found in the Asian section of your grocery store) with wasabi, to taste. Make as many servings as you want.

Oysters on the Half Shell with Passion Fruit Mignonette Sauce
Mignonette sauce is a condiment usually made with minced shallots, cracked pepper, and vinegar. It is traditionally served with raw oysters. This is my Hawaiian version.

1 lemon, juice only
1 lime, juice only
1/2 cup olive oil
2 passion fruit, cut in half, pulp scraped out with seeds
3 tablespoons cracked black pepper
1/4 cup finely minced shallots
small handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
36 oysters on the half shell
crushed ice for presentation
2 limes, cut into wedges, to serve

Place all the ingredients, except the oysters, lime wedges and ice, into a small bowl and mix well, cover and refrigerate. Carefully open the oysters using an oyster shucker by loosening the muscle from bottom shell, removing top shell. Arrange oysters on a large, deep serving plate filled with crushed ice. To serve, spoon a teaspoon of the passion fruit mignonette sauce over each oyster and garnish with lime wedges. Makes 6 servings of 6 oysters, or 36 li'i le'a.

Mu Shu Pork Wrap
1 small head napa or savoy cabbage
2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 (8-ounce) boneless pork loin, trimmed
1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots
4 mushroom caps, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3/4 cup sliced green onions, divided
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

Reserve 8 cabbage leaves. Shred remaining cabbage to measure 2 cups. Combine soy sauce and next 3 ingredients (through cornstarch). Cut pork crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Stack several slices vertically; slice pork into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Repeat procedure with remaining pork. Add pork, carrots, and mushrooms to soy sauce mixture; toss. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add 1/4 cup onions; sauté 30 seconds. Add shredded cabbage and water; sauté 2 minutes. Remove cabbage mixture from pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add remaining 1/2 cup onions and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add pork mixture; sauté 3 minutes or until done. Add cabbage mixture; toss. Place about 1/3 cup pork mixture into each of 8 reserved cabbage leaves. Makes 8 servings.

Lomi Lomi Salmon Lettuce Wraps
Lomi lomi in Hawaiian means to rub, massage, or kneed. In this case raw salmon is cured with salt, then the rest of the ingredients are added along with lettuce leaves for serving as a delicious li'i le'a.

1/4 cup coarse sea salt
8 ounces salmon fillet
1/2 cup finely diced white onion
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1 cup diced tomato
16 butter lettuce leaves

Place salt and fish in a large zip-top plastic bag; shake bag to coat fish evenly. Chill 8 hours or overnight. Remove fish from bag; rinse well. Soak fish in ice water 2 hours, changing water every 30 minutes. Drain well. Pat fish dry with paper towels. Dice fish; place in a large bowl. Set aside.

Soak white onion in ice water 15 minutes. Drain well. Add diced onion, green onions, and diced tomato to fish; toss gently to combine. Spoon about 3 tablespoons fish mixture into each lettuce leaf. Makes 4 li'i le'a servings.

Feb 6, 2014

Burdock Root

3 - 2 1/2 foot burdock roots grown in Hawaii,
cost $4.89 per pound. Weight 1.20 pounds
from Friendly Market here on Moloka'i.
Winter is considered the season for root vegetables like parsnips, turnips, ginger, celeriac and beets. I have always been intrigued by another exotic thin root vegetable called burdock, which is a member of the thistle family. You may have seen them in Asian grocery stores. They are long (up to 3 feet), and slender, woody and they usually look dirty, like the photo to the right.

The burdock plant has been around for a long time. It is native to Siberia and northern China. Burdock grows wild along roadsides and around field boundaries throughout Britain, Europe and North America. It was brought to America in the late 1800's where it was considered to simply be a flowering weed. Today, it is grown primarily in California and Hawaii, both states with a high Asian immigrant population.

Burdock root is very popular in cooking throughout Asia, especially in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. It has a deep, earthy flavor with a unique texture, crisp and chewy. Younger roots are preferred as mature roots become fibrous and woody. It is used in soups and stews, baked as bread and cakes, shredded and simmered to make a very popular side dish called kimpira gobō in Japan, pickled and wrapped into sushi rolls, or fried into chips or tempura. The leaves and nettles of the burdock plant are best used as a tea. Check out this interesting website called "Eat Weeds" that shows the harvesting of burdock root and cooking it. Click here.

Cooking with Burdock: When you buy fresh burdock root (in natural food stores, Oriental markets, and some supermarkets), look for firm, unbroken roots with taut skin. Slender roots tend to be more tender and less fibrous than thick ones. Avoid floppy roots or dry, brittle ones with wrinkled skins. 

To prepare, scrub the root thoroughly but lightly with a stiff vegetable brush and remove any rootlets. It is best not to peel burdock except for overly tough roots, since the skin contains much of the flavor and nutritional value. Burdock's whitish flesh quickly becomes dark after being sliced. To avoid discoloration and eliminate the slightly bitter taste, immediately immerse sliced burdock in cold water for about 15 minutes or until ready to use.

Since burdock combines well with oil, it is often sautéed alone or with other vegetables, or deep-fried as tempura. It is also good simmered in a seasoned broth. Burdock requires lengthy cooking. When combining it with other vegetables in sautéed or simmered dishes, be sure to add burdock first and cook until it starts to become tender before adding other ingredients.

To store burdock: Wrap burdock root in a wet paper towel and seal in a plastic bag. Refrigerate in the vegetable compartment. It will keep for several months. If the root becomes limp, soak in water until firm again.

Note: The stalks of the burdock plant can also be eaten, simply cut them before the flower is open and remove the rind. When boiled, it tastes similar in flavor to asparagus, and also make a pleasant salad, eaten raw with oil and vinegar.

Health benefits of burdock root: Chinese medicine practitioners combine burdock root with other herbs to treat measles, tonsillitis, colds and sore throat. burdock root provides plenty of health benefits, it is rich in nutrients such as proteins, vitamins (A, C, B1, E, K and folate), minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphoros) and dietary fiber. It aids peristalsis of the intestines, prevents constipation and abdominal flatulence. It also enhances blood circulation, prevents high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cerebrovascular disease and cancer. It’s also used to treat skin diseases (such as psoriasis and eczema) and burns. Burdock root oil is useful to strengthen and beautify hair by improving scalp circulation, combat hair loss and dandruff. All that and it tastes good too.
Burdock Nettles
Click on photo to view larger

Interesting note: After taking his dog for a walk one day in the early 1940s, George de Mestral, a Swiss inventor, became curious about the seeds of the burdock plant that had attached themselves to his clothes and to the dog's fur. Under a microscope, he looked closely at the hook system that the seeds use to hitchhike on passing animals aiding seed dispersal, and he realized that the same approach could be used to join other things together. The result of his studies was Velcro.

Rustic Burdock Root Stew
This healthy and economical stew is perfect for those cold winter days. Burdock root not only adds to the flavor of the stew, but adds a great texture.

Rustic Burdock Root Stew
2 tablespoons of canola oil
4 chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup of spicy Portuguese sausage sliced thin
1 onion cut into large chunks
3 cups chicken stock
3/4 pound burdock root, scrubbed and cut into 1/8 inch diagonal slices
1 large carrot, peeled and rough cut
4 small potatoes cut into large chunks, leaving the skins on
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon tamari sauce, or soy sauce
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons corn starch to thicken the broth
salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup frozen green peas

Heat oil in a large pot on medium high heat. Add chicken pieces and brown for about 5 minutes. Add the sausage slices and onions and continue to cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring often. Now add the chicken stock, and bring to a simmer. Add the burdock root and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, thyme, oregano, garlic, tamari sauce, and oyster sauce. Stir and simmer for 30 minutes. Now put the corn starch in a small bowl and add a tablespoon of cold water. Mix and add the slurry to the stew. Stir for a few minutes until thickened. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Finally add the frozen peas and bring back to a simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with crusty bread. Makes 4 servings.

Stir-fried Kinpira Gobō 
(Gobō is the Japanese word for burdock root)
Kinpira is a very popular Japanese stir-fry dish, either served as a side dish or served over rice as a meal in itself.

1 pound burdock root (gobō), peeled and julienned
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
canaoa oil for frying
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or shichimi-togarashi (Japanese seasoning)
1-1/2 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
salt and pepper
toasted white sesame seeds for garnish

Peel and cut the carrot and gobō into julienned size pieces. Soak them in a large non-reactive bowl of cold water for about 15 minutes. Drain well and wrap the carrot and gobo into a clean dish towel. Press out as much water as possible.

Heat pan or wok until hot. Add sesame oil, 1 tablespoon canola oil and pepper flakes to wok. Add burdock and carrots to pan and stir-fry for about 6 minutes stirring constantly. Add tamari, mirin and 3 tablespoons of water to wok. Toss. Lower heat and cook, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes longer depending on how crunchy you like your vegetables. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving over rice. Makes 4 servings.

(Japanese pork soup)
Tonjiru is usually made by stewing thinly sliced pieces of pork, alongside vegetables, in dashi stock, and flavored by dissolving miso. Common additional ingredients include burdock root, konjac, seaweed, spring onions, daikon radish, carrot, tofu, potatoes, taro or sweet potatoes, and mushrooms such as shitake and shimeji.

4 ounces boneless pork, sliced
1/2 carrot, sliced
2 teaspoon grated ginger root
1/4 cup miso
1 gobō root (burdock)
2 scallions, sliced
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Peel gobō root and slice into 1 inch strips. Heat chicken stock and when it comes to boil, add pork, gobō, carrot and grated ginger root. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add Miso and salt, stirring constantly until miso is dissolved. Add scallions just before serving. Makes 4 servings. 

Asian Beef Rouladen with Burdock Root
Beef rouladen is a German dish usually consisting of bacon, onions, mustard and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef which is then stewed in a savory sauce (click here for the recipe). I have been making this version for years, and love it. The recipe below is the same concept, however it uses burdock root, carrots and green beans, wrapped in thinly sliced beef, and cooked with an Asian flavored broth.

10 ounces of the tender part of lean beef, thinly sliced and cut into 2" wide strips
2 medium carrots, cut into 6" long & roughly 1/4" squares
4 ounces burdock root
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
4 ounces green beans
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sweet rice wine (Mirin)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
cornstarch for dusting meat
1 tablespoon canola oil for sauteing
4 sprigs watercress, as garnish

It is important the the beef be cut thin. The thin slices ensure the meat will be tender. I usually buy the beef already cut thin at Friendly Market here on Moloka'i.

Scrape the thin, brown skin off burdock root with the back of a knife, and cut into strips the same size as the carrots. Immediately after cutting each piece, soak in water containing 1 teaspoon vinegar for 5 minutes to prevent discoloring. Drain and rinse off vinegar.

Bring to boil 1/4 cup water containing 1 teaspoon each of sugar and soy sauce. Add carrot and burdock root, boil until done, about 5 minutes. Remove the carrots and burdock root to cool, and save the broth.

Cut tips from green beans and remove strings. Bring 2 cups water containing 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil and blanch beans in pot without lid until tender (about 3 minutes) and drain. Cool quickly under running water and drain.

Spread thin beef slices on a chopping board and sift cornstarch lightly over the upturned part only.

Put one group of vegetables (2 each of burdock root, carrots and green beans) on the dusted side of each slice of beef, wrap and pierce with toothpick to hold the roll together while cooking. Dust outside of each roll lightly with starch.

Heat pan with 1 tablespoon oil over high heat and saute beef rolls until slightly browned all over, turning occasionally.

Add the reserved broth. When it begins to simmer, reduce heat to low and continue to saute about 5 minutes, turning rolls continuously until well flavored and well coated with sauce. Serve with rice and garnish with watercress. Makes 4 servings.

Warm Burdock Winter Salad
1 burdock root (about 8 ounces), scrubbed and trimmed, but not peeled
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cut burdock crosswise into 1/8 inch thick slices; as you work, drop burdock slices into a bowl of water with a little lemon juice or vinegar to prevent discoloration. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 quart of water and 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar to a boil over high heat. Add burdock; return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes or until burdock is tender. Drain. In a medium nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant. Add drained burdock and cook one minute or until lightly coated. Add wine, thyme, salt, pepper, and remaining 1 tablespoon of vinegar and cook for two minutes to blend flavors. Makes 4 servings.

Fried Burdock Chips
Burdock root can be shaved into strips with a potato peeler, then fried and seasoned for a sweet and crunchy pupu (Hawaiian word for appetizer).

burdock root, thinly sliced with a potato peeler
2 parts flour
1 part corn starch or tapioca flour
canola oil
Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese seasoning)
salt and pepper

Make thin slices of the root using a vegetable peeler. Drop burdock slices into a bowl of water with a little lemon juice or vinegar to prevent discoloration for no more that 15 minutes. When ready to fry, dry slices, then dust with a mixture of flour and corn starch. fry them until crispy in oil heated to 325˚F. Remove from oil, drain and immediately sprinkle with seasonings. Use as a garnish, a side dish, or as a pupu (Hawaiian word for appetizer).

Pickled Burdock Root
Pickled Burdock Root
Click on photo to view larger
1 1/4 pounds burdock root
1/2 cup tamari sauce
3/4 cup cooking water
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sake
3 tablespoons sugar
3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 2-inch piece of ginger, minced

Burdock will brown easily when peeled, to prevent that, prepare a bowl of water with a couple of tablespoons of white distilled vinegar or the juice of half a lemon. Peel the burdock root to remove outside fiber skin, then cut it into 1 inch long pieces. As you peel and cut, place the burdock pieces in the acidic water. Then cut each piece in half lengthwise and julienne them into matchstick size strips, or you can slice the roots into thin rounds, about 1/8 inch thick, placing them back into the acidic water as you go.

Place your prepared burdock into a pan and just cover with water. Boil the burdock for 15-20 minutes in water to cover, or until tender with a soft and yielding texture, sort of like cooked artichoke, (save the burdock cooking water). Pack the burdock pieces tightly in a sanitized quart canning jar.

In another pot, add the tamari sauce, saved burdock cooking water, rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sake, sugar, garlic, chili flakes and ginger. Bring the brine up to a boil for 2 minutes.

Immediately pour the hot brine over the hot burdock pieces, to cover to 1/4" from the top of the quart canning jar. Screw the canning lid on the jar tightly and let sit at room temperature for one day before refrigerating. The pickles taste best after resting in the refrigerator for at least 3 days, and will keep indefinitely in the fridge once opened. Serve as a condiment with Asian food, or whatever you like. Makes 1 quart.

Feb 2, 2014

One "Ono" Hawaiian Pound Cake

Lilikoi-Lime Pound Cake
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Lilikoi-Lime Pound Cake
Hawaii purple and yellow lilikoi
Click on photo to view larger
Lilikoi is the Hawaiian word for passion fruit. If you haven't tasted lilikoi, do yourself a favor and find some. Fortunately for the people who live in Hawaii, lilikoi (when in season) and Tahitian limes are plentiful here. 

It's easy to extract the juice/pulp from lilikoi, simply cut them in half and spoon out the seeds, which have a pulpy sweet-sour coating on them. The seeds are crunchy, and can be eaten. If you just want the pulp, put the contents of several lilikoi in a blender and pulse once or twice, then strain the seeds out and use the pulp for this recipe. When lilikoi is in season, I freeze the pulp in ice trays, then put the frozen lilikoi cubes into a zip-loc freezer bag for later use. I don't use bottled lilikoi juice or bottled lime juice, they are not the same as fresh.

This beautiful Hawaiian lilikoi-lime pound cake is moist, dense, and has the perfect mix of tropical sweet and tart flavors. The glaze compliments the cake with a wonderful flavor and the surprise of the crunchy seeds. You might even want to double the glaze recipe because it's so "ono".

1 cup butter, softened, plus 2-3 tablespoons for greasing your pan
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime and lilikoi pulp mixed together

Lilikoi-Lime Glaze Ingredients:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh lilikoi pulp
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lilikoi seeds with the pulp left on (optional)

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with a heavy duty electric stand mixer until creamy.

Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, beating until just blended after each addition.

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until just blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla, lime zest, and a mixture of fresh lime juice and fresh lilikoi pulp.

Pour batter into a well greased and floured 10 inch (12 cup) Bundt pan*. Bake at 325˚F for about 1 1/2 hours* or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 20 minutes; carefully remove from pan to wire rack to cool completely, then transfer to a large cake plate to apply the glaze. Note: Make sure the cake is completely cool before putting on the glaze.

To make a lilikoi-lime Glaze, whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon fresh lilikoi pulp/juice, 1 teaspoon lime zest, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons lilikoi seeds with pulp left on, until smooth. Immediately drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip over the sides. Let sit for 1 hour. Makes one "ono" (Hawaiian slang for "delicious") Hawaiian pound cake, or 8 to 10 servings.

Note*: You make this recipe in a tube pan or Bundt pan, muffin tins, mini-muffin tins, or loaf pans. Baking time depends on the size of the pan you bake in. Mini muffin tins will take less time.