Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Dinner Week #18: Kim Chee Beef Stew with Namul

Hilo's such a rainy old town/ I listen to the rain falling down. . .

While the west side of Hawaii is dry, Hilo's been under some kind of gigantic rain cloud for days. We've been pummeled by water, so it's a perfect Sunday to stay in bed and sleep, except that it's been raining for so long that things feel damp in the house. Not so good when you want to be dry and toasty. Still, it's soup weather, so I called my mom to bring some of her kim chee beef stew. My mom is the queen of making soup for the masses and she usually has something in her freezer: luau stew, minestrone, kim chee stew, etc.
Mom was bringing stew so I challenged Ken to make Korean style vegetables, or namul for our sides. That gave me the afternoon to nap while Ken perfected his knife skills and immersed himself in vinegar and garlic.
Mililani's Kim Chee Beef Stew
Braise stew meat with chopped round onions and garlic.
Put in water to cover and let it simmer until the meat is tender and adjust flavoring before adding the other ingredients.
Add 1 small bottle of kim chee with the juice, 1 can sliced bamboo shoots, 1 daikon, cubed, 3 carrots, cubed, 3 potatoes, cubed, 2 heaping T. ko choo jang, kimchee base (kimuchi no moto) to taste, red pepper flakes, red pepper powder, let it simmer.

Half an hour before you serve, add in zucchini, chopped mustard cabbage and kabocha pumpkin, skin on. Simmer and serve. As with other stews, it tastes better the next day, so make large batches.

Wakame (seaweed)
Soak dried wakame in water. When it gets soft, drain water, then add vinegar, sugar, roasted sesame seeds and sesame oil to taste.

Bean sprouts
Pull little roots off. Blanch in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Drain and add garlic, sesame oil, sesame seeds and green onions. Saute for a couple of minutes.

Carrot and Daikon
Use Japanese grater to grate the carrots and daikon (white turnip). Sprinkle with salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. Rinse. Squeeze out the excess water. Toss with vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, and roasted sesame seeds (see the pattern emerging?).

Cucumber kim chee simplified
Cut up cucumbers, sprinkle with salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. Rinse. Squeeze out the moisture. Toss with garlic, ko choo jang, vinegar and sesame oil. For spicier cucumber, add more ko choo jang and red pepper flakes. 

So that no one accuses me of not making anything for Sunday dinner, I made dessert: Chocolate honey bun cake.
Chocolate honey bun cake with macadamia nuts
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 13x9" pan. I use a dark non-stick pan, so I put the oven on 325.
1 box of chocolate cake
1 8 oz. container sour cream
2/3 cup butter, melted
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
Mix the above ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix the following:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped mac nuts
1/3 cup chocolate chips
2 tsp. cinnamon
Pour half of the cake batter in pan, then sprinkle the sugar mixture and cover it with the rest of the cake mixture. Bake in the oven for 48 to 54 minutes. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then frost with your favorite chocolate frosting while it's still warm. I like to poke the cake with the fork so the frosting melts into the cake. If I have extra mac nuts, I like to sprinkle that on top of the cake too.

Have a great week!


Monday, November 9, 2009

KISS Dinners: Okara patties

Sometimes there's cooking to impress, cooking for special occasions, or cooking for saving money. On Monday nights, there's just cooking to accomplish the act of getting food on the table so that the day can finally be done. Mondays are perfect times for KISS dinners (keep it super simple). Okara patties are about as KISSable as they get. Okara is the waste from the process of making tofu. It's kind of like pieces of aburage that they mix with some sliced vegetables, and konyaku. If you're not used to it, the texture (mushy, a little bland, somewhat grainy) can be off putting, but I like it straight from the container with hot rice.
Okara Patties
1 block tofu, drained, mashed (my mom puts it in cheese cloth so that all the liquid is squeezed out)
3 containers of okara
water chestnuts, sliced
green onion
eggs for binder
green onions
bread crumbs (I used panko)
Mix, salt to taste and make patties. Fry it up until the tofu is a little koge (almost burnt), and serve immediately.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Dinner Week #17: Okonomiyaki

In 1976, my mother took a teacher exchange position in Wakayama, and we headed off to Japan for a year. What I learned from living in Japan was that the Japanese culture in Hawaii is very Americanized and the "Japanese" food that we enjoy is not always authentic. Sometimes, I feel nostalgic (hisashiburi) for the kinds of food that I remember eating in Japan, so this Sunday, we made okonomiyaki, a regional food that's sometimes referred to as "Japanese pizza."

Okonomiyaki is made in Osaka and Wakayama with cabbage, pork, eggs, green onions and okonomiyaki flour that has the consistency of pancake batter. It's put on the grill then topped with mayo, furikake, okonomiyaki sauce (similar to tonkatsu sauce, just a little sweeter), and bonito flakes on top.

Hiroshima style okonomiyaki is served with yakisoba noodles. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how to make this from scratch, so either get the okonomiyaki mix and add cabbage, egg, protein and green onions, or use the okonomiyaki flour.

We learned that if the protein is not cut thin enough (in this case, we used belly pork sliced by the butcher), then the meat has to be cooked on the side and added later. I like it without the pork. For me, the key is the bonito, mayo, sauce and furikake. Another thing, when frying the okonomiyaki, let it get crispy for a nice texture in your mouth. :-)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Dinner Week #16: Grandma's Ginormous Steaks

My grandma, Mary Uilani Kaumeheiwa Sodetani was always in the kitchen or in her garden. Even now, over 10 years after her death, my grandfather sits in this same kitchen in the mornings and he talks to his wife. Before she died, they had been married for 60 years. I think when I go into my kitchen, I carry her with me still. I think I always will.
I found this picture of her in the kitchen, but when I looked closer, I realized that each plate contains one ginormous steak. No wonder we are so big. Still, for grandma, we decided to celebrate the steak in all its glory. So here's our version, with mine and Ahi's practically raw. Rare is not even the word. It's the texture of soft, silky rare meat with the juices still intact that makes this huge slab of beef so delicious. Pono also likes baked potatoes, but I must admit I pretty much bite at anything potato. My family won't let me live down the whole grey glue dish that was supposed to be my contribution of mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. Did you know that the more you stir potatoes once they've totally broken down into gluten, the grayer it gets? It's true. I am the witness.
My husband said to prick the skin and wrap it in foil before I put it in the oven, but I decided to stop fooling around and go to my Joy of Cooking book (I don't have the original hard cover book with the green cover - but I wish I did). According to The Joy of Cooking, potatoes need to be scrubbed, dried, greased with butter, then put into a 425 degree oven WITHOUT foil. Foil will keep too much moisture in and the potato will be mushy. Prick the skin first and too much moisture escapes leaving the baked potato dry and burnt on the edges(that's how my baked potato usually comes out).

The unwrapped, unpoked potatoes go into the oven for 40-60 minutes. Halfway through,  poke a fork in it to release the steam.  Return to the oven. The cool thing is when you prick the skin on the hot potato you can hear the hisss of steam escaping. Serve immediately. I must say that true to The Joy of Cooking, our potatoes came out flaky and buttery even without the condiments.

Now if only mashed potatoes were this easy and foolproof. I need secret insider tips for mashed potatoes because I think there's a conspiracy by mashed potato recipe writers to keep me out of the loop.