Osso Buco Style in the Slow Cooker — but with a Fresh Pork Hock

I don’t think I’ve ever eaten Osso Buco.  It probably didn’t run in my circles or something, besides it is usually veal and it is extremely hard to justify how those supermarket calves are raised.  But even back in the days decades ago when we ate veal Parmesan, Osso Buco was just something we heard about, but apparently never tried, as far as I can recollect.

Nowadays you can occasionally find humanely raised veal, not reared up in a crate separated from mama, and I’ve tried some, but I’ve never ended up with a shank of veal.

But I do have an un-smoked pork hock. The hock is the piggy equivalent of the shank.

osso buco, pork hock, pork shank, fresh, recipe

Ready to eat, excuse that overlarge segment of zest to the left!

With a smoked hock, I’d probably wait until I could scare up some collard greens at a farmer’s market (ie, wait another year) and create my fave southern dish.  Or at least my fave southern dish with its soul somewhere north and east of New Orleans.

I bought the hock on a whim through my meat CSA.  Odd cuts are cheap, for one.  And flavorful, despite usually needing a long cook time.  It remained in my freezer until a couple days ago.  And then I wondered?  What would I like to do with it?  Pork and beans?  Naw, not for a good pasture-raised porker!  Well, at least not this time!  Soup?  Porcine bone broth?  I have some pig’s feet in my freezer for just that occurrence, so not this time.  Fresh pork hock and cabbage?  I have cabbage available, but I have other plans for that. Not this time… Besides cabbage almost cries out piteously for the pork to be smoked.

Osso buco!

Yes, osso buco is a Milanese Italian dish associated with veal, or at the very least, beef.  But “Osso Buco” doesn’t mean “Veal”, although the dish is intrinsically associated with veal  — the phrase means “Bone with a Hole”, according to Wikipedia.

Being porcine, the flavors will definitely be different, I’m certain.  But that doesn’t matter.  It may still be an honorable way to treat the pig.  However, let it be noted I will have no way to compare it to the veal version, since as noted I doubt I’ve ever eaten that.

Note:  For the same approximate size veal shank to pork hock, there’s more of a bone to meat ratio in the pork hock.  I noted this by looking at the veal shanks in my local supermarket a couple days ago.

Prep time:  40 minutes including browning
Cook time: slow cooker 6-7 hours on low
Rest time: 15 minutes
Serves 2-3 including some soup

Pork Hock-Inspired “Osso Buco”

* 1.33 pounds pork hock, bone in.  (Hey, you can always sub in veal!)
* 1/2 medium/large onion, nicely diced.
* 1 stalk celery, nicely diced.
* 1 regular-sized parsnip (or carrot), peeled and sliced thin.
* 1/4 cup (or less) coconut flour.  PS, the coconut flour didn’t add any coconut flavorings.)
* 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced.
* 2-3 large plum tomatoes, diced.
* 1 cup boxed low sodium veggie broth (or homemade).
* 1/2 cup dry white wine – Pinot Grigio might be appropriate.  Nothing fancy or expensive.
* 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
* 4 good sprigs of fresh thyme.
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano.
* Salt and Pepper to taste.

And then there is the traditional gremolata, which you can use to top the dish off, or not:

* 1-2 anchovies packed in olive oil, and finely chopped up..
* Zest from one lemon, in small pieces
* 2 large cloves garlic, minced.
* a small handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped.

Gremolata recipe

Gremolata can be chopped more finely than depicted but it still tasted great. Contains garlic, parsley, anchovy, and lemon zest.

Making your osso buco:

Pat dry and then season your pork shank / hock with salt and pepper all around.  Roll it in the flour until all surfaces are covered.  (If you do use a veal shank, it seems you may need to tie it together before doing anything else, with twine.  That’s what all the recipes say.  The pork hock doesn’t need such help.)

Using a pat of butter in your skillet, heat it to mid-high.  Add the hock, browning it on all sides, about 3-5 minutes a side depending on your heat level.

Add the onions, celery and parsnips (carrots if using) to the slow cooker, then place the hock in, on top of the veggies.

Use some of the wine to de-glaze your skillet, and with your spatula transfer these contents to the crock pot.

Add everything else except the gremolata ingredients to the slow cooker pot.

Cover and cook in the slow cooker for about 6-7 hours on low.

When close to being ready, prepare the gremolata by mixing the ingredients together.  For a finer topping than I made, use a mini food processor, or better yet, chop more finely.  (It was now a little later at night than I’d planned, and I was impatient to dine!)

Remove the hock, and place on a platter, discarding the thyme sprigs.  Add a few scoops of the veggies and sauce over it.

Then top with some of the gremolata.

Osso buco, pork shank, fresh pork hock, recipe

Osso Buco styled fresh pork shank

Serve with a tasty side salad dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Pork hocks as previously mentioned are mostly bone — this recipe serves one or two depending on sides with enough sauce left over for a small soup on a subsequent day.   (So, use more than one hock and double or triple the recipe!)  You can also find a larger pork shank than I had to hand – I remember one Octoberfest at a local German restaurant where they came out with the intensely-sized roasted pig hock!

I did turn this particular dish into two servings with a judicious use of sides.  And some of the juices and remaining veggies in the crock pot made a nice small serving of soup, too.

It is traditional to serve veal osso buco with risotto — but frankly, I don’t like soggy rice; I like my rice Indian, Japanese or Thai-styled.  Perhaps a different tradition with pork?   (Maybe pan-fried unsweetened apple slices with some nutmeg or allspice???)  At any rate, I passed, and went with salad.

I surfed down several recipes to develop this; this one probably had the most impact on the above dish, but I wanted to use non-canned plum tomatoes, and when I discovered gremolata traditionally contains anchovies, I decided to incorporate those, too.  Slow Cooker Osso Buco.




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Pomegranate Spritzer

I totally loathe this Wake Up One Hour Earlier Nonsense, aka Daylight “Savings” Time, here in most of the US.  Back in the years when it fell on a weekend near April Fool’s, I considered it an April Fool’s Joke in very bad taste.  (I also remembered the October switch-over back then as a very bad prank on Halloween-trick-or-treaters, who now had to go out in the dark.  Though the dates have changed, this is how I remember this stuff.  Spring Forward?  Nope, I really feeling like I’m springing backwards, which is not a way for remembering anything.  I’ve lost an hour that I probably never will ever regain…)

Pomegranate, spritzer, seltzer, anti-oxidant, beverage, recipe

Pomegranate Spritzer

Pick a time.  STICK WITH IT!  Don’t mess with my bio-rhythms!

Before I get to the Pomegranate Spritzer, I want to put in a plug for Russ Crandall’s upcoming book, Paleo Take Out:  Restaurant Favorites Without the Guilt.  I’ve volunteered to test drive one of the recipes this week — no, I can’t post the recipe (it’s for a real live BOOK), but if I get good photos, I can certainly post those here.  Today I’ve picked up all but two ingredients — but I simply refuse to walk into three grocery stores in one day!  And I know the third store has the best quality for price for these ingredients than the other two.   I’ll be testing Russ’ Hot and Sour Soup, my litmus test for a good Chinese restaurant.  (Honestly, most of the ingredients were already to hand — it was just a few things.)

If you are not familiar with Russ Crandall, he runs the blog, The Domestic Man, and has already published cookbooks.  The first is out there in print and in electronic form:  The Ancestral Table.  The second is strictly an e-book, obtainable from his website, The Safe Starch Cookbook, (which unfortunately got downloaded to my old computer shortly before it died (the computer, not the book, but I will be able to retrieve wanted files soon…)  The reason I seriously like his recipes, his blog, and The Ancestral Table — is he’s not afraid to make recipes from around the world, and create them in healthy formats.  He posts a new recipe every Tuesday.

And I also picked up ingredients for an Indian riata that will appear soon on my blog here, too.  Been wanting to blog about riata for ages, but somehow thought I already had!)  You can also expect a few other recipes here very soon: an Indian-inspired goat curry recipe; a roasted lamb shoulder recipe, and a scalloped potato/cabbage/cheese vegetarian recipe.

The other thing is — I’m now creating a Recipe Index page here, which will appear at top along side Home and About, at the top of this blog.  Going through the recipes here make me realize how many good standbys I’ve left out, assuming, I think, that I’ve already posted them.  This should appear in two or three days.  Maybe sooner.  Do Enjoy!

Back to the Pomegranate Spritzer:  

This is entirely too simple, but I love it two or three times a week.

Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a high anti-oxidant, as shown by the deep red-purple color of its fruit.  It is native to a region extending from current-day Iran to northern India, and was widely cultivated in the Mediterranean from antiquity.  It is a pain to open up these fruits, and you certainly don’t want to be wearing white!

However, fruit juices concentrate down a LOT of fruit.  It’s said that a regular glass of OJ provides the sugar levels of 6 oranges in several quick gulps.  Plus, most OJ is consumed with all the pulp removed.

Growing up, Mom provided hand-juiced orange juice with all the pulp, using a manual juicer.  To this day, the only way I like OJ is straight up, with pulp, and undiluted (mimosas non-withstanding).  Okay, I have put blood oranges in “blends” I’ve created that have focused on veggies rather than fruits.

I’ve decided orange juice is really not part of my healthy life, per se.  But pomegranate…

Pomegranate is sweet and tart, very tart.  I find I like diluting it vastly.  I can get the anti-oxidants and far less sugar, and to me it tastes very good this way – much more accessible than full strength, and less likely to make a mess so long as I watch how I put that glass down!

The brands of pomegranate juice that I’ve noticed which are good are Pom Wonderful, and Bolthouse Farms.  There may be more, but these I can find in my supermarket, and they both seem pretty pure.  As always, read labels!

Regards sugar, I don’t need to add it — if you personally do, stay with more wholesome sources.  If you like sweet but aren’t supposed to do added sugars, you can try stevia.  To me, stevia tastes like what I’d imagine old dirty socks might taste like — perhaps my reaction is something genetic like how some folks think cilantro tastes like soap?  But if you think it tastes sweet, Do It!

Prep Time:  Assuming the ingredients are chilled — seconds.
Cook Time:  Zilch.
Rest Time:  Zilch.
Serves one per tumbler.

Pomegranate Spritzer

1 part chilled pomegranate juice (find the stuff that’s pure juice).
3 parts chilled seltzer water (I make my own using a SodaStream, but any source works).
Optional:  Sweetener (start with 1/8 teaspoon of either honey or coconut palm sugar, or the equivalent sweetening amount of stevia, if making in a water glass tumbler.  Work up, if needed.  Since I don’t tolerate the “taste” of stevia, see the link below for a conversion table…)
Optional:  Ice.

Make enough to fill one water tumbler per person.  Or, make enough to fill a one-liter seltzer bottle — just drink up the one-quarter volume you use, first.

Add any sweetener to the juice, and mix, prior to combining with any seltzer.  Personally, I’m fine without adding any, but I’ve come to realize a lot of people might want some.

Stevia to sugar conversion table.  I have not tested this as I detest the taste of stevia, but if your genetic heritage or whatever tastes this as sweet, use it.

By the way, if you use the SodaStream, don’t ever spritz up a beverage with your flavor or juice already included — spritz just the water and pour it over your flavor or juice.  Real Bad Carbon Dioxide Juju, especially if your juice is something as purple as pomegranate!

Or, as noted, pour off one-quarter of the seltzer (already made, or bought) from the bottle, and add your juice (with or without sweetener) gently.

You know what to do with the ice.

pomegranate, seltzer, spritzer, recipe

Pomegranate Spritzer – ready and waiting




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Pan Fried Monkfish with Simmered Greens and Mushrooms

Monkfish, Greens, Mushrooms, Cilantro, recipe

Monkfish dish with the nearly forgotten cilantro!

Monkfish is a rather homely (to us — they probably look just fine to each other) denizen of the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean.  It allegedly tastes like,  and has the texture of, lobster tail.  I can see the resemblance, but it’s not a fully convincing substitute.  And, actually, most of the fish doesn’t end up available for human consumption — it’s just the tail.  I assume the rest of it gets ground up for feeding at fish farms, or maybe for your pet’s dinner.  I suspect without proof that the rest of the fish may be rather bony.  It’s not something I will buy very often, but the fact that this particular fish was caught locally bent the scales (as it were) here.

Monkfish, recipe

0.8 lb uncooked monkfish tail in an 8 inch skillet

Usually when I do make this, I bake it in the oven.  I decided to try pan-frying it.  It wasn’t going to cook completely through in a skillet, so I cut pieces to thicknesses of one inch or less.  The tip of the tail, and then monkfish “steaks”.

Monkfish, recipe

These actually all fit in that skillet!

 Prep Time: 15 minutes.
Cook Time:  20 minutes.
Rest Time:  None.
Serves 2it generates a lot of water upon cooking.

Pan Fried Monkfish with Mushrooms and Greens

Recipe:  (The fish makes two servings – it generates a lot of liquid upon cooking.)

* 0.75 – 0.85 pounds monkfish, sliced or cut into sections no larger than 1/2 inch thick.
* 1/4 lemon or 1/2 lime, with a slice of either reserved for later
* 1 teaspoon cooking oil (butter, ghee, avocado oil, olive oil, or coconut oil)
* Cracked ground pepper to taste
* Optional small pinch of red pepper flakes
* 2-4 ounces sliced button mushrooms per person (4-8 ounces for two)
* 2-5 ounces cooking greens per person (4-10 ounces for two).  Remove any thick stems from things like Swiss chard or kale.

* For garnish:  fresh cilantro; juice from the reserved slice of lemon or lime mentioned above.


Marinate the fish in the black pepper and lemon/lime juice for about 10-15 minutes.

Get your oil to sizzling hot in your skillet — then add the fish, layer it around the skillet so that all pieces are cooking, and add the red pepper flakes if you are so inclined.

Reduce heat to medium low, and cook on each side for 4-5 minutes a side.

Flip back to first side for approximately another 30 seconds, and then remove fish but not liquid.   Tent the fish under foil, and let it rest.

Add the mushrooms to the skillet, and some more cracked ground pepper.  There will be a lot of water from the monkfish when you cook; this is where the simmer part comes in.  When they begin to get that shiny “cooking” look on their outsides, add in the greens.  (If you are using older cooking greens — ie, mature Swiss chard or the stems from bok choy, add those in when you first add the mushrooms.)  For the baby greens I used, 3 minutes of skillet time was sufficient.  Otherwise this may take 5-8 minutes.

When the greens are wilted, plate the greens and mushrooms without the excess liquid.  Add the monkfish.

Garnish with a squeeze of lemon (or lime) and with the optional cilantro.

Monkfish, recipe, greens, mushrooms

If you use a lot of greens, do use a larger skillet! (These were the only greens I had left in the fridge on this occasion due to long and involved reasons — personally I’d have preferred more.)  Notice all the juices from the monkfish!

An optional variation for an Asian flavor:  use sesame oil (toasted or untoasted), and add in about a teaspoon of freshly shaved ginger root and upon serving, a splash of tamari sauce (I am partial to San-J’s gluten-free low-sodium tamari/soy sauce, as it is delicate enough for seafood), or a Thai fish sauce.  In such a case, bok choy would be an excellent green to cook with the fish.

Monkfish, recipe, mushrooms, greens

Just about ready to eat!  (Two bites in, I remembered I’d left out the cilantro.  Can’t do that!  Added it – check top photo!!)

PS, the other serving of fish I made was eaten cold, later, on the road.  This really saves on having to decide between Drunken Donuts and Mac’s Steak House, especially since I do NOT like trail mix, and the nuts in trail mix don’t particularly like me.  Nor do I like the “food” at either of those two establishments.

(This recipe was made back in 2014.  Time Machine drifting back through old drafts on WordPress…)



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Quinoa in the Rice Cooker

I have to admit, when I first saw this word, I thought it would be pronounced Kin-Oh-Ah, and went by this misconception for some time.  After all, that’s what it looked like.  People started talking about Keen-Wah, and I hadn’t a clue as to what they meant.  Seriously.

Quinoa, rice cooker,  recipe, broth

Cilantro doesn’t taste like soap to me…

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is a “pseudo-cereal” or “pseudo-grain”, and is in the same family as amaranth.  It is native to Peru and was cultivated by pre-Columbian cultures in that region of the world.  It is high in iron and protein, and is considered by some to be a “superfood”, whatever that really means.  (The spell checker isn’t sure, either…)

I tried cooking the stuff a couple of times a few years back on the range, but epic FAIL.  I’m not sure what went wrong, and at this date there’s no point in trying to figure this out.  So until now, I’ve simply been eating it out, or taking it home from the salad bar at Whole Foods.

quinoa, rice cooker, recipe, broth

“QuinoaGrains” by User:Ben_pcc. – Bob’s Red Mill, organic product.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:QuinoaGrains.jpg#mediaviewer/File:QuinoaGrains.jpg

However:  Rice Cooker Quinoa, attempted for the first time tonight, is an Epic Success in this household!  (This is also the first time I’ve tried cooking anything other than sushi rice in the thing — I stumbled upon a whole world of rice cooker recipes that aren’t rice on YouTube the other day…  As the unfortunately-late Leonard Nimoy [Spock] would say:  “Fascinating.”)

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time: about 20-25 minutes, I wasn’t watching
Rest time:  with the added veggies, another 5-10 min.
Serves 2.

Rice Cooker Quinoa

* One rice cooker (if you don’t have, use a pot on your range, and watch constantly and perhaps you will have better luck than I did…)
* 1/2 cup quinoa
* 1 cup liquid, I went with nutritious, gelatinous homemade chicken stock.  You can also do boxed low sodium chicken broth, homemade vegetable broth, boxed low sodium veggie broth, or just plain old boring water.
* About ten cherry tomatoes, sliced in half.
* About an ounce of mung bean sprouts.
* Half teaspoon of ground chipotle chili powder.
* Salt and pepper to taste.
* Cilantro for garnish

(Actually, use whatever veggies you have to hand that sound appealing.  The cherry tomato glut was due to having a pot luck dinner cancelled on account of snow, and the mung beans due to an urge for making something Asian for the Lunar New Year, which I posted recently — although this dish was made earlier.  Didn’t want two starches posted in a row!)

Put the quinoa and the liquid into the rice cooker, and set to the ” Brown Rice” setting.  Since my stock is concentrated (and stored in the freezer in small containers), I added enough water to the stock to bring it to a one-cup volume.

Within a half hour or less, the quinoa will be done.

Add in the tomatoes, sprouts and seasonings, fluff with a fork, close lid back down for another ten minutes, then serve with a little (or  a lot) of cilantro.  Or save for workday lunches.

Optional:  If you prefer to sprout your grains or pseudo-grains prior to cooking, these quinoa things will sprout in about two hours of soaking in water.

Quinoa, rice cooker, recipe, broth

More than just rice!

I am thinking there might be a lot of other things to do with this techno-beast.  I bought it shortly before going very very  low-grain in my personal food plan, and this should be a venue for further experimentation!  (PS, I don’t consider myself standard “Paleo/Primal” since I find nutritious value in rice, quinoa, fermented soy, lentils and some other beans, especially if one regards real limits.  And the occasional potato, which is now okay there, it seems.  But I definitely approve of what the overall Paleo movement is trying to bring to the, ahem, table.)

I remain Low Starch!





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Brussels Sprouts and Chicken

Up until a few years ago, I despised Brussels sprouts.  Mind you, I liked the rest of the Brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, kale, broccolini….), but them sprout things were just nasty.

Growing up, we’d eat them boiled, and I don’t think we ever found them fresh in the market.  So when I moved out on my own, I never ever bought them.

Brussels sprouts, recipe, chicken

I’m re-uploading LightRoom onto the new computer this weekend. Need more eye-appeal, no?

For several of my late teen years (and early twenties), we would eat Christmas Dinner with our neighbors.  The head of household, Mrs. V., would make her same English-style meal for the occasion every single year.  What I remember adoring was the appetizer of brie heated in a pastry shell, but after that it went downhill fast.  The main was brisket cooked like tough shoe leather (I found out how to make brisket tender years later!) with a side of Brussels sprouts, boiled of course.  This was so bad that the year I had to go in for major surgery the day after Christmas, and was told to be on a “clear liquid” diet for two days previous, I enjoyed my bowl of clear chicken broth (and yes, a glass of clear white wine – of which I didn’t ask advice about, thank you… It WAS CLEAR!) without any pangs of longing while everyone else consumed tough brisket and boiled sprouts.  Yes, I missed the brie, but I knew what was coming… It was SOOooo worth missing it!

Brussels sprouts, it turns out, are best roasted or sautéed to a bit of golden brown.  I love that I can buy them “shaved” so I don’t have to chop them up.  If you buy them whole, do at least split them in half (and cook a little longer than delineated below).

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  15-20 minutes
Rest time: not needed
Serves:  1 main

Brussels Sprouts and Chicken Thigh

1 tablespoon oil (olive or avocado oil).  OR, 1 teaspoon butter plus 2 teaspoons oil.
4 ounces Brussels sprouts, preferably shaved into 1/4 inch slices, or at least halved.
1/2 medium onion, peeled and sliced, roughly diced
1 boneless skinless chicken thigh, fat removed, roughly chopped.
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground chili pepper (I’ve used the mild Ancho, but Chipotle would be good too)
Salt and pepper to taste.
The juice from 1/2 lime.

Due to the small size of the skillet I used, I cooked the sprouts separate from the chicken/onions.  Plus I wanted to guarantee thoroughly cooked chicken.

So:  On medium/medium-high heat, put in half your oil (or butter/oil) and cook the sprouts.  Add about half of the seasonings (except the lime juice).  This should take about five minutes, stirring frequently.  They will decrease in size as the water steams out.  You are ready when they begin to get brown patches.

Set aside into a bowl large enough for the final dish, then cook the chicken and onion together, with the rest of the oil and the rest of the seasonings (except the lime juice).  This will take about ten minutes — check a larger piece of chicken for doneness by cutting into it, and adjust your cooking accordingly.   Your onions should definitely be translucent.

Combine the chicken/onion mixture with the sprouts, and squeeze the lime juice over the dish, and either serve now or reserve for re-heating later.  This makes a great workday lunch if you have a microwave where you work.  (It’s probably not bad cold, either.)

Scale up for extra meals or more people!

Maybe someday I’ll grow to like carrots…  Ya think??






Posted in Cooking, Poultry | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Asian Steamed Fish with Cabbage and Mushrooms

In lieu of an Asian bamboo steamer, I used my large Caphalon pot that is oven-safe.

For those who’d like to know: this recipe is both gluten-free and soy-free.

Today in New York City (and presumably elsewhere), Chinatown is throwing its annual Lunar New Year’s parade.  I was going to go with my camera club for the photo and food op, but decided to save money for some larger-scale purchases.  Besides, it’s finally warm enough out there to dig my frozen trash can out of the snow bank, so that the garbage truck can get the “goodies” out of it this coming week!  And, seriously, if I’d gone down to NYC, especially Chinatown, I’d have dropped a few buckets of moolah, of which I’d really prefer not to drop right now.

fish, Asian, Striped bass, recipe, enoki, beach mushroom, ponzu, fish sauce

I ate the head end of the Mystery Fish (to right) for lunch. The bottom end will go to work with me this week. I don’t want to freak out anyone there right now…  Maybe later.

So, Friday night I went to the local Asian market, picked up two fresh fish (one is a striped bass, and I haven’t a clue as to what the other one was).  I also got a couple varieties of mushrooms, for a LOT cheaper than you’ll find them in regular supermarkets (not to begin to mention Whole Wallet), assuming you can even find them elsewhere.  One thing I no longer buy at the Asian market is the frozen seafood farmed under who-knows-what conditions in China or Thailand.  The fresh stuff though — it’s really FRESH!

I was reading up on traditional Lunar New Year foods — they’re actually regionally-dependent, of course.  One thing though is that serving the whole fish is considered lucky.  Don’t get freaked out by the head!  Seriously, we all have one…

The ponzu marinate sauce:  this is NOT the same as the old standby, Kikkoman’s Ponzu Sauce.  For one, there’s no soy at all in this — it’s a nice basic marinate I picked up at Whole Wallet a few months ago.  It’s very citrus-based.  I assume you can also find it online.  Marukan brand, “Ponzu premium sudachi citrus marinate”.  It’s a pale yellow in color.  Ingredients:  water, concentrated lemon juice, vinegar, citrus (sudachi) juice, citric acid, salt, “natural” flavor.”  Okay, I’ll deal with the “natural” flavor.

Asian, Fish, Striped bass, mushrooms, exotic mushrooms

Fish sauce, Ponzu marinate sauce.

The fish sauce:  I’ve run into a couple I like — some of those in Asian markets are really not geared to western tastes — last summer when I was in there, the cashier looked at my Caucasian features and ran back and got me a (presumably) much less fishy fish sauce than the one I’d picked out.   “You not like!”   Oh well.  (I probably should have bought both, to find out if I not like or not.  But I was making a Pad Thai for a potluck, so I went with her choice…)  At any rate, for this recipe I used Thai Kitchen’s premium fish sauce, which came from my regular supermarket.


Prep Time:  5 minutes or so, this does not count hunting around in the fridge for the beach mushrooms.
Cook Time:  15-20 minutes.
Rest Time:  Just enough to get in some photos.
Serves 4 with a salad, or a white yam noodle side.
Makes great leftovers.
Not for the fish-bone squeamish.

Asian Steamed Fish with Cabbage and Mushrooms

* Cabbage, about 5 ounces more or less, sliced coarsely.
* 2 whole fish, scaled and de-gutted, otherwise whole.  I’d use a white flaky fish or so.  This was striped bass and Mystery Fish.  (Readers are invited to tell me what it was.)
* 1.5 cups water, approximately.
* 1/4 cup fish sauce.
* 1/4 cup ponzu manrinate.  (See note above!)
* 3-4 ounces of mushrooms.  Use what you like or have.  (I was planning on using white button mushrooms until I ran into the enoki and the brown beach mushrooms that I used instead.)
* a couple ounces of mung bean sprouts.
* 1/2 teaspoon powdered galangal root — if you think to buy the fresh stuff, even better! Simply peel and grate up about half a teaspoon and use instead.
* Ground pepper to taste.

Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

Layer down the cabbage in the bottom of your pot.

Add the fish on top.  The goal is to keep the fish mostly raised above the water on top of the cabbage.  Yep, I had to break my “luck” by cutting the one fish in half in order for it to fit.  But hey, I had my striped bass to fall back on!

Add enough water to just reach the fish.  For me, this was 1.5 cups.

Add the fish sauce and the ponzu marinate — ADJUST RATIOS if your water amount differs from mine.  If you like your food a little less vinegary, add a little less ponzu marinate.  (I’m a sourpuss.  My absolute favorite soup on the planet is a good Chinese hot and sour soup!)

Add the galangal and the ground pepper.

Layer around the mushrooms, bean sprouts, and any other appropriate veggie you might have to hand — bok choy comes to mind, and I wish I’d bought some!  If you use button mushrooms, halve or quarter them first, depending on size.  With enoki and beach, cut off the rhizomes at the bottom (that’s their “roots”, in general parlance).   I try not to drown the veggies and mushrooms when setting them down.

Put the pot in that HOT oven.  Covered!

The meal is ready in 15-20 minutes (less if you use much smaller fish).

I could definitely have used more cabbage!  And, Happy Lunar New Year, whether you celebrate or not.



Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Lowly Spud: Mashed Potatoes

Does anyone really need a recipe for mashed potatoes? Perhaps not, but I thought I’d put in a plug for my favorite home-cooked mashed potato recipe.  (I remember my early cooking days when I simply bought a box of Potato Buds and thought it good.  No, no, and NO!)

Yukon Gold, Mashed Potato

I like my potatoes gloriously Gold and in vast moderation.

For me, it starts with Gold potatoes. Yukon Gold or otherwise. I find that the other varieties I’ve tried (sorry, Russets) are too bland and require way too much salt to bring out any flavor, and personally I never cook with them. (Russets are fine for steak fries, which are not something I plan to cook at home.  Steak fries are strictly a 2-3 times a year outside indulgence…) But the method below should work with whatever potato you prefer, or can scare up.   Sometimes, after all, you can’t win the Gold!

There are two schools of thought out there about the skins. One side says potato skins are healthy, and another that they’re not. For me, the verdict is still pending, so I simply remove any bad parts – anything green, broken, or beginning to bud. I don’t eat potatoes often enough that the skins are going to do me any harm, if that’s actually the case. (These today were mostly removed because the potatoes were getting on the old side and beginning to show their age.) Do as you choose.

The nutmeg is an addition an old housemate brought to my table years ago. His grandmother in Germany used to cook these with a little nutmeg. You don’t really taste the nutmeg, but it seems to add some vibrancy of flavor.  Can’t go wrong with some Old World ambiance!

I use whole fat sour cream or whole fat yogurt from a good source. For yogurt, there’s a local purveyor I usually buy from, or I use goat yogurt. Stonyhill yogurt is also of good quality. (NOTE: whole milk is 3.5% fat – calling it “whole” milk doesn’t mean it is 100% fat. Calling the other stuff 1% milk doesn’t mean it’s one percent of 3.5%, it means it’s simply 1% and (at least with the milk) it has no inherent flavor without amendments and other “help”.) This particular batch of mashed potatoes was made with yogurt, since that’s what’s in the house now – but there’s no “yogurt-y” flavor to these potatoes!  The yogurt simply makes them more creamy and adds body.

If you don’t do diary: use canned coconut milk instead. (I cringe reading the ingredient list on those coconut milk cartons!  Go with a can — some claim to be bisphenol A free.  If you can’t find that, I’d still go with a can over the carton.)

AND, don’t forget that roasted garlic!

Prep Time: About ten minutes, including the mashing.
Cook Time:  30 minutes.
Rest Time:  Nada.
Serves: 3 servings as a side.
Reheats easy. 

Goats and Greens Mashed Potatoes
(with a nutmeg nod to Karl)

5 medium or small potatoes, cleaned up. Peeled or not is up to you.  Mine were a variation between small and medium — if they’re all small, you’ll not get three servings out of this!
1 small head of garlic
¼ or so teaspoon oil (olive or avocado)
2 heaping tablespoons of sour cream or plain yogurt. Or a quarter cup whole milk.  Or canned coconut milk if dairy is out for you.
¼ heaping teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and ground white pepper to taste
Optional pat of butter or teaspoon or so of ghee for garnish when serving

Cut the tip off of the cloves on a head of garlic, wrap in aluminum foil with the oil rubbed around it, and place in a 400 F oven for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep the potatoes, and chop them into thick chunks. I basically just quarter the small – mid-sized ones. Put in boiling water, and reduce heat to a simmer, for 25 minutes.

Drain and mash, along with the sour cream, yogurt or milk. Include all the spices. I use a potato masher. Easier to clean than a food processor, plus I prefer the semi-uneven texture. For the garlic, remove from the oven and when cool enough, you can squeeze or scrape the garlic from the peels and continue mashing into the mashed potatoes.

Serve immediately with a dollop of optional ghee/butter if desired, or save this dish, or portions, to re-heat later.

Posted in Cooking, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment