An Eastern-Asian Soup

I haven’t driven since December 13th (recovering from surgery), and my pantry in my new home is not yet installed, so some of my foodstuffs are not readily find-able.  But I was in the mood for a nice winter-body warming soup.  Asian.  Pho?  Hot pot? Ramen?  Tom Yum?  Something else?  It’s cold out there!  Winter Is Coming?  Nope, I’m afraid it’s here!

Recipe, Asian soup, noodles, pork belly, egg, Paleo, low carb, Whole 30, brassica

An eastern Asian inspired hearty soup. And, seriously, the Chinese soup spoon is one of the best utensil inventions around.  Much more efficient than the western world’s soup spoon.  

I also had half a pack of spaghetti-shaped white yam noodles to use up.  Grain and legume-free, these would go Paleo nicely.

Recipe, Asian soup, noodles, pork belly, egg, Paleo, low carb, Whole 30, brassica

Prepping station.

And, over New Years, I’d made a crock pot full of stock – this time containing just about anything in my freezer:  chicken, beef, lamb.  I was surprised I hadn’t run into pork bones.  Anyhow, I had made that up then, adding onion and a splash of vinegar (the latter to draw out nutrients from the bones and collagen, not enough to give it flavor.  Home made stock, unless you know what you plan to do with it, should be mild and innocuous, allowing for any culinary direction you want, later.  So I don’t salt or pepper it, or add seasonings when I make it.  Onions are about it!  I cook it down to condense it, then aliquot it out and freeze it.

There was a small amount I hadn’t frozen, and that became the basis for this body-warming soup.

Recipe, Asian soup, noodles, pork belly, egg, Paleo, low carb, Whole 30, brassica

Everything up through the Brussels sprouts (or other Brassica such as cabbage) has been added.

So… let’s begin!

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time:  15 minutes
Rest Time:  Not needed
Serves:  1 as the only course.  2 if followed by a main or a salad
Leftovers?  Yes, just re-heat (veggies will be less crisp, of course)

An Eastern Asian Soup

  • 0.5 quarts (450 mL) of stock (chicken, beef, pork, or combo)
  • A little onion from that stock (or, pan fry in a little oil about a quarter of a medium onion, roughly chopped to bite size.  Pan fry until translucent and soft.
  • 1 bacon-sized strip of pork belly, not smoked.  Cut into 3 or 4 pieces.
  • 5-7 regular sized Brussels sprouts (I used two of my monster sprouts), coarsely chopped.  On the other hand, you could use several slices of cabbage (green, Napa…) as Brussels sprouts are effectively simply mini-cabbage…
  • 1 large clove of garlic, chopped
  • 3 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 ounces (120 mL) white yam noodles, rinsed.   Optionally, cut the strands for ease of eating.  I won’t tell… The brand I used was Pasta Zero (as in zero carbs).
  • 1 green onion/scallion, chopped
  • 1 medium-cooked egg (mine ended up a little softer than I wanted, but go from that stage all the way to hard-cooked, your preferences at work!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon, more or less, of sesame oil.
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium gluten free tamari (or coconut aminos)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ponzu citrus marinate (the clear yellow stuff), or lacking that, another 1.5 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce.  Since this is salty, you can dial back this to 1.5 tablespoons.
  • 1/4 teaspoon Thai green curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
  • fresh-ground pepper to taste (I used about 1/8 teaspoon, for which I didn’t measure)
  • Optional Korean red pepper powder or similar (I used 1/4 teaspoon which yielded a mild heat, depending on how you define mild.)

Rehydrate your stock to your preferred level of stock for making soup.

Add to saucepan along with:  onion, pork belly,  tamari/coconut aminos, vinegar, ponzu marinate if using, fish sauce, Thai green curry powder, Chinese 5-spice powder, ground pepper, and optional red pepper powder.  (If you used the red pepper, just add the minimal, you can adjust at the end.)

Bring to a boil, then drop down to a light simmer.  Cook about 7-8 minutes, so that the pork belly cooks through.

Add the Brussels sprouts or cabbage, and the garlic.  Cook another couple minutes at that simmer, stirring once or twice.

Add the mushrooms.  Cook another 2 or three minutes, with a stir or two.

Add the noodles, and cook for another couple, again stirring once or twice.

Pour into a bowl (this serves one as a complete dinner), or into two bowls (if this is intended as the soup course to some main food item).   Splash on about 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil into the bowl (or each bowl, as the case may be).  Carefully slice the egg in half, and add to the bowl/s accordingly.  Scatter the scallion pieces as appropriate.

If you have these, it would be ideal to add to the serving bowls:  fresh cilantro (coriander leaves) and/or Thai basil, both slightly chopped.


Note, do play around with the veggies and meats you add.  Bean sprouts would have been lovely here!  Likewise subbing oyster or shiitake mushrooms for the white buttons would add an entirely new dimension.  Seafood, such as shrimp or squid (added near the end) would be tasty.   Chinese broccoli (very different than Western broccoli as far as flavor profile goes) would be welcome.  Water chestnuts?  (I know I have some of those in the house, in some box or another…)  Want to change the noodles?  Simply go have fun — you only need a few Asian basics to make a go of this sort of heart-warming winter soup!  

Recipe, Asian soup, noodles, pork belly, egg, Paleo, low carb, Whole 30, brassica

Everything added except what gets added when the soup gets plated…. (OR, would that be “bowled”??? Hmm, didn’t think so.)

This would be a good dish for a Whole 30, should one use coconut aminos instead of the soy-based tamari.  (I plan to do a Whole 30 later this year, sometime after I can drive myself again.)

This recipe blog post is linked up over at Fiesta Friday.  Your cohosts this week are Shinta @ Caramel Tinted Life and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens  Ah, yes, the second co-host is me.  Great fun, I get to read lots and lots of tasty items!

This recipe is also shared over at What’s For Dinner?   Come drop on by and find your dinner…


Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Mushrooms, Soups & Stews | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Cookbook Season: Some Good Basics, Part IV

This is the last post in this series discussing some good basic cookbooks.  I may at some point post recommendations and reviews of more specific cookbooks, but nothing is planned at the moment in that direction.

flavor bible-

THE FLAVOR BIBLE.  This is a really awesome compendium of what foods go with which other foods, sort of the gardener’s Carrots Love Tomatoes written for the kitchen.  Only VERY extensive.  The authors (Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg) rely on chefs from major (and some minor) restaurants around the world (although mostly Western) for analysis.  They don’t give you recipes, they simply state that (I am opening a page at random) morel mushrooms go extremely well with asparagus, butter, and/or heavy cream, but also complement bacon, goat and Fontina cheese, caraway seeds, basil, and fava beans.  This doesn’t mean you throw everything mentioned here into a pot with each other, but it gives the creative home cook ingredients to consider.  For each food mentioned, there may be recommended techniques or tips:  in the case of morels, always cook them (no raw morels), and they are best boiled or stewed.  The authors also mention something general about taste profiles, and the seasons items are best obtained.  Morels:  May through June, and their “volume” in a dish is “quiet to moderate”.  In other words, they’re not inclined to overpower a dish.

For many of the ingredients, especially ones that are often consider “mains” (but there are exceptions both ways to this), they come up with flavor affinities.  There are also listings of what ingredients are appropriate for various cuisines (Mexican, Thai…), which tend to focus on those ingredients that may be more readily available in the USA/Canada.

Examples of flavor affinities:

Halibut + anchovies + black olives.
Halibut + coriander/cilantro + fennel + lemon. 
Hallibut + scallions + white wine.

Rosemary + garlic + lamb.
Rosemary + onions + potatoes.

There’s a short section on pairing pastas with sauces, and various other tidbits one can learn from as they read this book.  They also break down general items such as rice into Arborio, Basmati, and Wild; and items such as bourbon and Riesling wine are also considered (because you can also cook with them).  The idea of all this is to jump start your own personal kitchen creativities, plus it’s handy if you have things in your fridge you’d love to use up, in a flavorful way.

The authors have now published a more recent book, specifically for vegetarians, but vegetarians can certainly make great use of this book.

I can’t begin to count how many ingredients are covered herein.  There are some photos, but not extensive.  The book is huge already.  It won’t be that useful of a book for the dedicated baker, however.  Otherwise, highly recommended!  I do note you need some of the other books (or of similar style, or just plain experience) than this one, in order so you can walk before you fly.

This blog post is linked up over at Fiesta Friday.  Your co-hosts this week are Shinta @ Caramel Tinted Life as well as yours truly, Diann @ Of Goats and Greens  

Posted in Commentary, Cooking | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Galbi: Korean LA-Cut Short Ribs

You’ll see the name spelled Galbi, and you’ll see it spelled Kalbi.

Due to the fact that I’m still not driving after surgery, I didn’t follow the following recipe exactly.  My inspiration recipe is from Maangchi’s “Real Korean Cooking” book,page 226.  It is a little bit different than the one I ran into that she posted online a few years before the cookbook came out.

Galbi, Kalbi, Korean, Short Ribs, recipe, gluten-free

Galbi for wraps. You could also use daikon sticks in addition to cucumber. I had more lettuce waiting in the wings, for wrapping.

I used apple instead of pear in the marinate – I’d recommend pear, but I still have a collection of apples that I obtained from farmer’s markets late last fall.  And while I do have honey, using the coconut palm sugar was more efficient for me.  While Maangchi uses a soybean paste dipping sauce for which she also provides a recipe, I eliminated that this time, since I don’t have the ingredients to hand.

Galbi, Kalbi, Korean, Short Ribs, recipe, gluten-free

Making the marinate, ingredients diced up.

I did decide to add in red Korean pepper (since I didn’t have the spicy soybean paste dipping sauce), and I think I’d double the amount next time.

I used a little less sugar than called for.  But I am a noted un-sweet individual!

Galbi, Kalbi, Korean, Short Ribs, recipe, gluten-free

Marinating the short ribs

Prior to surgery, I had gone to H-Mart near White Plains, New York, and had picked up a variety of items, although it was more of a rush job buying things that struck my fancy than following any detailed list.  I saw the LA-cut beef short ribs, and decided to take them home, where I froze them until I wanted them.  (I don’t tend to buy pork or beef this way; I’d rather get those meats from farmer’s markets, but I don’t know any local butcher who cuts them to the Korean specification.)  Anyhow, I know LA stands for Los Angeles, as in the city, but I don’t know the background as to how the name got associated with this cut.  (But speculations can be fun!)

Galbi, Kalbi, Korean, Short Ribs, recipe, gluten-free

So, anyhow, let’s get cookin’!!!

Galbi, Kalbi, Korean, Short Ribs, recipe, gluten-free

And, its a wrap!!!

Prep Time:  20-30 minutes + 1 to 24 hour marination time.
Cook Time:  No more than 12 minutes.
Rest Time: Not essential. 
Serves: 4
Serve with:  Rice, various banchan (Korean small sides), and/or kimchi.
Leftovers?: Yes. I opted to cook only what I planned to eat, and let the rest marinate for the next day, but you can cook them all and then reheat leftovers.


Galbi:  Korean LA-Cut Beef Short Ribs

  • 1.5 – 2 pounds of LA-cut (flanken) Beef Short Ribs.  Ideally these should be very thin, about 1/4th inch thick.  
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari.  I used San-J low sodium and gluten-free.
  • 5-6 teaspoons coconut palm sugar (or use honey).  
  • 1 large apple, or preferentially, 1 medium Asian pear, or 2 Anjou pears – peal, core  and chop.  
  • 1/2 medium onion.  
  • Technically, 6 normal-sized garlic cloves.  Mine were huge (again, farmer’s market produce) so I used three.
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced.
  • 1/4 teaspoon Korean red pepper powder (I’d up this to 1/2 teaspoon or perhaps more, depending on your tastes).  
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
  • 2 teaspoons toasted (preferentially) sesame oil.  
  • Lettuce leaves for serving.
  • Cucumber sticks for serving.  (Peel the cuke, make approximately 2-inch sticks discarding the seedy centers.  English cukes are the best for this, but you can make do with regular cukes.)

Mix everything together except the beef, the sesame oil, lettuce, and cuke sticks.  Use a hand stick or a food processor on pulse to blend these items coarsely together.

Add the sesame oil, and mix with a spoon.

Wash the short ribs… because of all the bone-cutting, there may be small shards of bone to rinse away.  Pat them dry, then combine them with the marinate you’ve made in a suitable bowl.  With your hands, coat all parts of the ribs, and then cover the bowl and place in the fridge to marinate.

Allow to marinate for 1 hour, up to 24 hours.

You can grill these on a hot grill, but in this case, I used the broil feature on my oven.  Set the oven to broil and allow to come to temperature.

Prep the lettuce for wrapping – a good leaf lettuce, or perhaps Romaine, will work.  Prep the cucumber.

Lay the ribs out flat in one layer in the broiling pan.  Add a little extra sauce to them.  If you can broil/grill them all at once, go ahead and add most of the rest of the sauce.  Reserve some for when you flip them.

Broil 4-6 minutes, then flip.  Add the rest of the sauce, or as desired.  Broil another 4-5 minutes.

Remove from oven, and place with the lettuce and cucumbers on a serving platter.  (Since I was just serving myself, I put all that I cooked on my dinner plate.)  You can cut off, or remove the bones with your fingers.  Wrap into portions of lettuce, along with a few cucumber slices, and eat as you make each one.  This seems to be a dish that your family or your guests would make their own lettuce wraps for themselves.

If you do have a dipping sauce, use it.  I found it good enough to use the marinate sauce left in the pan for this purpose – it’s been cooked, and it is tasty.

Galbi, Kalbi, Korean, Short Ribs, recipe, gluten-free

The Korean red pepper. I can’t read Korean, but I wonder if the words say “Red Pepper Nice Tasty”, the English words below??? Just curious.

Since the 1.6 lbs of short ribs I prepared in marinate was more than I could eat at a time, I only cooked up what I wanted to eat for dinner.  The next morning (today, actually), I decided I wanted to get my blog written up, so I had some for breakfast.  Marinated longer (and with a little extra red pepper), I cooked up some as previously described.  But instead, this time, I shredded up some lettuce, and placed the finished meat upon the lettuce, along with whatever pan dripping marinate, and then dotted it with cucumbers.  I used more cuke than depicted, but hey.

Very tasty this way, too!

Galbi, Kalbi, Korean, Short Ribs, recipe, gluten-free

Breakfast can be unique in these here parts…

Galbi, Kalbi, Korean, Short Ribs, recipe, gluten-free

Couldn’t decide which photo I like better, maybe this one?

For Paleo:  Use coconut aminos instead of the soy/tamari.   I find coconut aminos to be sweet, so you may want to cut back on the honey that you’ll probably prefer to use over the coconut palm sugar in the recipe.

We’re sharing this post over at Fiesta Friday.  Our cohosts this week are Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Petra @ Food Eat Love

Also linked at What’s For Dinner, another great link party locale.  







Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Meats | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Happy New Year, 2018!

Welcome to 2018.   Oh, and Happy Hogamany!  (It’s a Scottish thing…)

No, I didn’t stay up to see in the New Year; I did do that last year, and spent the night sleeping on a cot at a friend’s place, because I didn’t want to drive over an hour home at that hour, with roadways full of revelers and the like.

Most years, I’d rather just see the New Year standing there, when I waken.

I also rather not do resolutions, but plans.

kitchen prior-

My new kitchen. Before I had a kitchen here. It’s located at the edge of that rise ahead, and faces south, just like this photo.

Because my Massachusetts home is now essentially built, I plan to move into it more extensively, and to get the Connecticut one up to snuff for selling, and to get it on the market by March.  I plan to get my chickens started.  I plan to take a vacation or two (something I didn’t do in 2017, other than a three-night getaway on the spur of the moment to the northern Berkshires).

I want to settle in, and settle down.  I want to expand my horizons.  These are not contradictory goals.

I want to learn how to make a variety of foods I’ve yet to make:  Japanese, Korean, Indian, Moroccan.  Head cheese (yes, you read that right).  Soup dumplings.  Vegan or vegetarian lentil burgers.

I have four apple saplings; I want to plant more stonefruit saplings, and tend properly to those i already have.  A greenhouse should go up this next year.  Four citrus saplings should be joined by two more (I have ordered them:  a grapefruit and a lemon, to arrive mid-April).  They’d overwinter next winter in the greenhouse, instead of in my house.  With these I’d bring in the fig and olive I already have.  (Assuming that the olive hasn’t died…)  I now have a herb bed next to my house; I’ll plant annual as well as perennial herbs.  Kale did well last year; I’ll be putting in raised beds for veggies.

I plan to start my chickens this year, too.  Some layers, some meat birds.   They’ll have chicken tractors and loads of ways to keep predators hopefully away.

Food highlights of this past year:

A dessert:

recipe gluten-free flourless chocolate cake

Flourless chocolate cake

The only dessert I made all year:   Flourless Chocolate Cake.  Okay, I did make it twice, for a second group of people.  Still a success.

New food experiences:

Finger Lime, Scallop, Recipe

Home grown Australian finger lime, just prior to plucking.

New restaurant dish experience:

My favorite blogged recipes of 2017:

vietnamese summer roll, recipe, shrimp, gluten-free

Vietnamese Summer Roll, with shrimp

For this next year, as I fully settle into my new home, I plan a good variety of recipes I want to learn to cook.  Those soup dumplings, of course!  I will have to try them with wheat first (yes, gluten), but if all goes well, I’ll see about developing a gluten-free version, too.  Katsudon (a Japanese recipe for boneless pork chops).  Takoyaki (octopus balls, also Japanese).  Palak (Saag) Paneer, that wonderful Indian recipe with spinach.  Head cheese – I partook of a pork meat share last year, and one thing I came home with was three halves of pork heads.  Apparently, it’s not a popular item.  I’m really looking forward to making this head cheese!  Also, it has come to my attention I’ve not posted my Rhode Island clear clam chowder recipe here.  About time!

sushi enjoy-

Sushi at a local restaurant.

Beyond those, who knows?   Food is wonderful in so many of its manifestations!

May all my readers have a wonderful and hopeful New Year!


Posted in Commentary, Cooking | 3 Comments

Cookbook Season: Some Good Basics, Part III

Don’t worry, there’s only one more post to come regarding this theme!  Alas, it has to wait until 2018…

Today I’ll review the other two James Peterson books in my collection, FISH AND SHELLFISH, and SAUCES.

Sooooo… let’s hit up the fishy book, first.

cookbook g-g fish-

As long as you severely limit the mercury accumulators in the fish department, eating seafood once or twice a week is extremely healthy.  You also want to pay attention to the Monteray Bay Aquarium guide – they’ll point you towards sustainable fish, and towards which are best farmed, and which are best wild-caught, and where.  Essentially, the smaller the fish, the more sustainable.  The farming of Arctic char is more sustainable, as it is done in cold-water lakes, than is farmed salmon.  There are places to find sustainable tilapia, but this is rare, so I’ve eliminated that fish.  Fresh sardines are surprisingly wonderful.  They are small, wild-caught, and have a lot of northern sea water healthy oils.

About ten or twelve  years ago, I still ate bluefin tuna at sushi restaurants in the form of toro.  I don’t eat toro or bluefin any more.  I consider it sort of the level of eating endangered tiger or something.  Nope.

Anyhow, on to the book review…

FISH AND SHELLFISH.  The book is divided into three main sections, 1) Finfish (vertebrate seafood, for us biologists; 2) Shellfish (which also covers the non-shelled invertebrates, think squid), and 3) Seafood in Other Guises, which doesn’t mean there’s a third category of fish, but that many are readily combined in salads, soups, stews and other preparation methods.  At any rate, the shellfish section is further divided into types of shellfish, while the finfish category is divided into basic prep methods:  baking, braising, grilling, curing, serving raw, and so forth.

There’s a very helpful finfish dictionary, where Peterson lists many types of fish (divided further into salt water and into fresh water species), and provides a quick overview of best cooking techniques.  He also indicates where you might find the best representatives of various species.

To lead things off, Peterson has a short section entitled, “From Market to Table:  How to Buy, Store, Prepare, and Serve Seafood”.  I know some seafood lovers who only order it out in good restaurants, because they’re not sure what to look for at the supermarket.  I’m lucky enough to live close to a coast, so I will see more fresh seafood than, say, someone from Ohio or Kansas.  Still, there are groceries near me where I won’t even look at the fish, whereas others serve up the freshest, and have knowledgeable fish mongers behind the counter.

Like the other books I am reviewing in this series, it’s a hefty tome.  There is a section with photos of various recipes, but it would be nice if there could be more – I suspect they just don’t fit!  Peterson provides photos showing one how to shuck many of the shell fish, as well as how to clean squid and section octopus.  Towards the back of the book there are pen and ink diagrams laying out the anatomy of round fish (most of the finned ones) and flat fish (flounder and the like).

I’m not really able to count how many types of fish Peterson covers, but this book is quite exhaustive.  Highly recommended.

cookbook g-g fish bw-

SAUCES, by James Peterson, is even heavier than the Fish & Shellfish book.

About a quarter way into the book, there are color photos of sauces, in series to demonstrate techniques.  Here we can visualize the making of  Bechamel, a cream based Veloute, an egg-based Veloute, Beurre blanc, Remoulade, Bearnaise, clarified butter, sauce Americaine, and a few others.

The book itself is divided into several sections:

A Short History of Sauce Making:  Discusses cooking and sauces from the ancient Greeks and Romans, into the Middle Ages, and up to the 20th century.

Equipment:  Implements, tools and serving utensils.

Ingredients:  An overview from Asia through the rest of the world, this touches on spices, mushrooms, spirits, and other oft-found ingredients.

Stocks, Glaces, and Essences:  As many sauces are based on broths and stocks, there’s material on making meat, seafood and veggie stocks and the like.

Liaisons, an Overview:  Essentially, this is how to thicken a sauce, and the ingredients that may be used are more numerous than I would have thought.

White Sauces for Meat and Vegetables:  Some of the major white (cream-based) sauces, as well as information on improv.

Brown Sauces:  With or without wine; modern methods, how to improvise.

Fish Sauces:  As it says, both classic French and contemporary.

Integral Meat Sauces, and Integral Fish Sauces.  Which are sauces initiated with the liquids obtained from braising, poaching, etc.

Crustacean Sauces:  As it says…  And, other sections are:  Jellied Sauces, Hot emulsified egg-yolk sauces, Mayo-based sauces, Butter-based sauces, Salad sauces and dressings, Purees, Pasta sauces, Asian sauces (by no means exhaustive on this), and Dessert sauces.

cookbook g-g sauces-.jpg

This is an excellent book.  If you are vegetarian or Paleo, there are books you can add in to drill down to the ingredients you prefer to eat, but owning this one provides all the principles you’ll need.  Recommended!

This post is being shared over at Fiesta Friday.   This week cohosted by Sandhya @ 




Posted in Commentary, Cookbooks, Cooking, Seafood | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Vegetarian Cauliflower and Onion Pakora

Several months back, I stopped at an Indian restaurant, the Aroma Bar and Grill, on my way home, and ordered a meal.  My meal came with pakoras (among other things) on the side.  Seriously, those things ranked 10 out of 5, and I’ve been wanting to make these ever since.

pakora drain-

Draining some pakora

Pakoras are made with besan (chickpea flour), and typically contain cauliflower and onion.  You can also take a variety of veggies and shred them up, and add them to the flour.  Seasonings can vary, and can contain fenugreek (methi) leaves, cilantro, cumin, garam masala, curry leaves.  I absolutely love the earthy tastes of methi and of curry leaves!  Unfortunately these last two aren’t found in regular supermarkets, but in Connecticut I have a nearby Indian grocery, and I’ve noted you can find both items online these days.

vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, pakora, Indian, caulifower, besan, chickpea flour, onion

Mixing everything together in a glass bowl.   Note, I only had red onion available.  With the cilantro, could this be… Christmas pakora??? 😉

Here is a basic link to what pakoras are, or can be, over at Quora.  They are indigenous to northern India, Pakistan, and Nepal.  There are different varieties, and using buckwheat flour is also acceptable.  It appears they are generally eaten essentially as a snack, with tea, during the monsoon season of winter.

At any rate, apparently they’re intrinsically gluten-free… I did note one recipe that said occasionally these are made with poultry or seafood ingredients, but I’m keeping my explorations of this food item on the vegan side of things, as I want to eat more tasty vegetarian things — and I’m of the firm belief that the tastiest and healthiest vegetarian foods are native to cultures with sizable vegetarian populations.

vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, pakora, Indian, caulifower, besan, chickpea flour, onion

I fried these in a small pan, with as little oil as possible (the quality oils are expensive). I flip them about halfway through..

The oil: Yes, you can use peanut oil, and I have no allergies to peanuts nor do I object to peanut oil when eating out.  But I’m not convinced that it is a particularly healthy oil, and so I don’t cook with it at home.  I know a few years ago I purchased safflower oil for deep frying — for a vegetarian recipe also in the Asian section of the world that I didn’t get to post at the time but is also in the list of things to make again to share.  Safflower oil works fine, too, but has come in for criticism.  I admit, I deep fry things so rarely it probably doesn’t matter, but for the sake of this blog, I’m not using either peanut oil or safflower oil here.  Avocado oil can be hard to find, but Costco and Bj’s both carry it.  Coconut oil is possible, but I don’t want the taste in this dish, and besides some of my friends are allergic.

At any rate, I tried one recipe and found the batter did not adhere the way it had in the aforementioned Indian restaurant, so I’ve checked out another.  Here is this one, in form of a You Tube video, but a written recipe is also in the description section for the video.

Vegetable Pakora Recipe, by Hari Ghotra

vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, pakora, Indian, caulifower, besan, chickpea flour, onion

A couple (hardly a serving) waiting for their photo op.

The restaurant (and the other recipe) used cauliflower.   Hari Ghotra uses potatoes and onion.  She notes that eggplants (aubergines) or cauliflower are also often used.  I really wanted to use cauliflower for this, as this is what I loved about the aforementioned Indian restaurant outing.  I’m not crazy about potato-based pakoras.  So, I used cauliflower and onion for my vegetable matter.

As mentioned, I used avocado oil for the above reasons.  I also unfortunately lacked  the chili peppers, but I did have Korean red pepper powder, which should get me in the one ball park.  Seasonings, as she notes, should be geared for personal taste buds anyway.

Oh, PS, I am now home from surgery and doing well.

Prep Time: 15 minutes 
Cook Time:  Each batch about 8-10 minutes.  The larger the pan, the larger the batch…
Rest Time:  5 minutes
Serves:  Enough for a mid-sized party as appetizers.  I got three meals out of this, as lunches.
Leftovers:  Yes.  Re-heat in oven.

Vegetarian Cauliflower and Onion Pakora Recipe

  • 50 grams (2 ounces) besan (chickpea flour), also sold as “gram”.
  • 150-200 grams (5.5-7 ounces) Cauliflower, broken up into small chunks.
  • 1/2 medium onion, preferably yellow or white, sliced.  
  • 1 teaspoon garam marsala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • Handful of cilantro (coriander leaves), coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried menthi (fenugreek leaves)
  • 3/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried chili powder (I used Korean, which may have more of a bang than most)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • water sufficient to make a paste.
  • Cooking oil.   (I prefer avocado or grape seed oil, but whatever, make it high temperature oil)

Mix everything but the water and oil, together.

Add water gradually, mix, add more as necessary, until you have a moderately thick paste.

Heat the oil in a pan on the cook top.  A good medium high is desired, but the oil should not smoke.

Test the temperature by adding a drop of batter to the oil.  If it rises to the surface and begins cooking, you are in the ball park.

Add several (the number depending on the surface area of your pan) heaping teaspoon sized dollops of batter to the pan.  Somewhere between 1 and 2 teaspoons in size.  They should brown slightly before turning them.  They’re good anywhere from a golden to a darker brown.  (You can indeed make them somewhat larger than I did.)

Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb excess oil.  With high frying temperatures, less oil will be absorbed, so keep this in mind.

Serve warm, with an Indian chutney if so desired.   They make a great appetizer or snack, and can be re-heated (oven is best, so they retain their moderate level of crispiness) later.

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Posted in Appetizers, Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Grilled Hangar Steak

As of today, I am closing down my charcoal grill, and it will be recycled into whatever scrap metal anyone interested is wanting to use it for.  I grilled a hangar steak, some chicken wings, and some leeks.

Hangar steak is something I only recently discovered, and it responds best to the simplest of treatments.

Hangar steak, grill, recipe

Hangar steak (wing at upper right background)

I go in for knee surgery next Thursday.  It’s a benign tumor that was considered “idiopathic” or “undetermined” etiology for a couple too many years.  No longer.  They have to cut in from both sides, and there are nearby things such as a major nerve and a major artery.

I’m also, as readers may recall, moving from Connecticut to Massachusetts shortly.  My Connecticut grill is a cheap Weber knock off, and is scheduled to be scrapped.  So, no more grilling ops this year.

I find the procedure bordering on scary, so I’m doing “comfort food” my style this week. I went out for sushi lunch recently, and ate steamed artichoke (leaves and heart dipped in a good tart dressing the night before; back in the day it was Catalina, and while I’ve since made a work-around, Annie’s Balsamic Vinaigrette  is quite good and still provides the desired tartness without any nauseating HFCS sweetness, or a list of faux-foodstuffs I’d prefer not to ingest.  It is also thick enough to adhere to the leaves properly.

At any rate, a good grilling was called for.  This particular steak came from Ox Hollow Farm, in northwestern Connecticut.  They have a farmstand along Route 7, which is now closed down for the season.  It was 0.8 ounces in size, and I cut it in half prior to grilling.

You’ll notice, while I think a little salt is essential, I’m not about to heavy-handed spritz the stuff on like Gordon Ramsey or many other big name chefs.  Tried that.  Once.  Bleah.  I want the salt to accentuate the meat, not take it over like an invasion.  The secret is:  don’t burn out your taste buds by using too much of the salt.  A PINCH will do it!  (Unless, perhaps, your taste buds are already burnt.)

Prep Time:  1 hour to bring to room temp.
Cook Time:  About 15 min, but will depend on grill, steak thickness, and done-ness preference.
Rest time:  About 10 min.
Leftovers:  Yes.  I prefer not to cook leftovers further, but to eat them cold.

Grilled Hangar Steak

  • 1 hangar steak, 0.75 – 1 lb, cut in half or thirds
  • about 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (about half per side)
  • a PINCH of salt per side
  • a sprinkle of garlic powder per side

That’s it!

Bring out your steak about an hour before you actuallycook it, to let it get close to room temperature.

Get your grill going – I use charcoal with a chimney starter, so I like to plan on that taking 25 minutes to get that ready.

I put on the seasonings about 15 minutes before I’m ready to grill.  Like chefs do, shake the seasonings on about a foot and a half above the steak.

Bank the coals on one side.

I put the meat in the in-between space between hot and cooler – the edges of the charcoal.

This was a thick steak, over an inch.  I cooked it 10-12 minutes one side, and flipped it for another eight for medium rare.  You can use a meat thermometer (mine was up in Massachusetts, but this is beef from a pastured farm, I’ll take my chances).  It did turn out medium rare.

Remove from grill, and allow to rest, about ten minutes.

Slice into, and enjoy.

(I ate the one half [0.4 pounds], and refrigerated the other half to serve cold with a salad  I also enjoyed the leeks, which I’d added to the grill at the same time, and flipped at the same time, but in a cooler corner.  The wings were marinated separately, and some were reserved to re-heat later in the oven.)

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Posted in Cooking, Meats | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments