Thursday, March 14, 2019

Asian Beef Stew

I look at the Asian pear in the fruit basket. It is almost opportune as I have just perused through a galbijim recipe. Korean food is somewhat comforting and confounding, a plethora of juxtaposed flavors. Conflicting ingredients that meld into the background. Short ribs Korean style call for Asian pears in the marinade. Intrigued by the addition of fruit to meat, I endeavor. Galbijim is all about short ribs. I walk another path with boneless beef. Usually stew beef is seasoned, floured and browned in oil and then added to the wet ingredients. This recipe calls for the meat to be roasted in the oven along with vegetables. The roasted meat turned dark brown and develops a wonderful sear. But you could easily saute the meat in a skillet till it is evenly brown. Veggies could be sauteed the same way as well. Oven versus pan fried... the first results in crustier meat. The pan fried meat allows for a softer surface. Both ways work. I go with the oven method, something I haven't tried before.

The stew past begins with onions, chopped pears, ginger and garlic sauteed till brown. The gravy is part chicken stock, part soy sauce and part Coca Cola. A surprise! An odd addition, so let's see how this turns out.Korean influences come into play with gochugaru, a spicy chile flake powder The browned meat goes into the stew till fork tender. Meat is fished out and the gravy is pureed smooth. Back into the pan it goes along with the meat, roasted potatoes and carrots. Finished with scallions, sesame seeds and sesame oil, the stew accompanies white rice. Braising stew fills the house with heavenly aroma, synonymous with that feel-good atmosphere.

Serves 4-6

1 pound boneless Beef Chuck, cut into chunks
6 Yukon Gold Potatoes
5 Carrots
Kosher Salt
Ground Black Pepper
1+ 2 tablespoon Canola Oil
1 large Red Onion
1 Asian Pear
8 Garlic cloves
5 Ginger slices
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 7oz can Coca Cola
2 tablespoons Honey
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon toasted Sesame Seeds
2 tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar
2 teaspoons Gochugaru (Korean Chile Flakes)
4 Scallions
1/2 teaspoon Toasted Sesame Seeds
1/2 teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil
Cooked White Rice

Heat oven to 400F.

Cut potatoes in half. Place in a bowl.

Cut carrots into inch pieces and add to potatoes.

Season with salt and pepper. 

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to potatoes and toss well.

Line a baking tray with foil.

Arrange veggies on one side of tray.

Add beef to bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix. Residual oil from the veggies coats the meat.

Arrange on other half of tray.

Bake for 30 minutes. Both meat and veggies should have browned well.

While meat browns start the stew by peeling and chopping onions and pear.

Roughly chop garlic.

Heat remaining canola oil in a deep saucepan.

Add chopped onions, pear, garlic and ginger to oil. Saute for 15 minutes till light brown.

Add chicken stock, cola, honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and gochugaru. Bring stew to steady boil and cook for 15-20 minutes till pears are soft.

Take meat out of the oven and add to stew. Keep veggies aside.

Cover and cook meat for 1 hour or till soft when pierced with a fork.

Remove meat from stew. 

Puree the stew on a blender. Pour the blend back into the saucepan. 

Place over a low flame.

Add potatoes and carrots to the stew. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Cut scallions thinly.

Serve the stew garnished with scallions, toasted sesame seeds and oil. White rice make a good accompaniment.

The stew emanates a beguiling fragrance. A forkful of rice and stew is biting, spicy, sweetish, salty...a different kind of stew. Sweet from the pear, onion and honey. Salty from the soy sauce, Spicy from the gochugaru. And the Coke? I cant really tell. Its there in the background, unassertive. Comfort from the East..with western influences.  

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Mayak Eggs or Korean Marinated Eggs

My sister boils and marinates  spectacular eggs. If you a fan of boiled eggs, read on with much appreciation. If you are not, know you should make the effort as these eggs are truly delicious. Her recipe come from Sikandalous, a Facebook group for food lovers.

The original recipe calls for soft boiled eggs, with runny yolks. Though I do like runny yolks on occasion, the hard boiled variety is more to my liking. So eggs are boiled for 6 minutes and left to steep for another ten in the warm water. A short soak in cold water allows the shells to peel effortlessly. 

Both dark and light soy sauces are poured into a glass bowl. Glass so the sauce doesn't react with metal.  Lots of finely chopped garlic, green and red chiles and scallions are added to the sauces. Green chiles give the sauce a spicy kick. A drizzle of honey and a whopping tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds add flavor. Whole eggs go into the marinade. Allow the eggs to sit for five to six hours before you use them. Better still is an overnight bath, resulting in a deeper flavor. The eggs can last up to a week in the fridge. The longer the eggs marinate, the darker the white parts. Today's eggs are a week old.

I love the versatility of these eggs. White rice is just one base. They've gone into grain bowls sitting alongside roasted veggies over farro. They make a very different egg salad. Munch on them for a healthy protein breakfast. Do what you will with them! It's all good.

Serves 4-6

6 Eggs
2 tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce
1/3 cup Light Soy Sauce
3-4 Green Chiles
2 Dried Red Chiles
2 tablespoons minced Garlic
3 Scallions
1 teaspoon Honey
1 heaped tablespoon toasted Sesame Seeds
1/4 cup Water

Sesame Oil
Cooked White Rice

Boil eggs for six minutes in plenty of water. Turn flame off, cover eggs and leave for 10 minutes. Drain eggs and soak in cold water for 15 minutes. Peel and leave eggs whole.

Prepare marinade by mixing soy sauces in a glass bowl. 

Slice green chiles and scallions thinly. Add to soy sauces.

Crumble red chiles into small bits. Add to soy sauces.

Add minced garlic, honey, sesame seeds and water to bowl. Mix well. 

Drop whole eggs in to the bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 5-6 hours. Overnight is best. 

Mound some warm rice on a plate. 

Drizzle a little of the marinade over rice. Be sure to spoon chiles and scallions over rice.

Cut the eggs in half and nestle over rice.

Drizzle a little sesame oil over eggs and rice.

Top with fresh cilantro and enjoy.

We love them with rice. We love them plain.... we love them any which way!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Roasted Marrow Bones with Toast and Parsley Salad

My kitchen is once again my domain. The excitement that this endeavor brings is quite indescribable. Those who return to their knives, pots and pans after an extended absence will empathize with my inherent joy. Circumstances out of my control left me unable to cook and blog seriously, so this return to basics is rewarding and rejuvenating. 

Marrow bones are rarely found in the average grocery stores. So when I spot them, I know what's for lunch. Granted, marrow is not everyone's favorite. But those who love the gelatinous filling appreciate their clean simple taste. 

The butcher halves them lengthwise for me. All they need is seasonings and a hot oven. Grilled sourdough to pile the marrow onto. And a light parsley salad. Marrow is fatty, so parsley freshens your palate. 

We usually fight over tiny lamb or mutton marrow bones, so having a whole bone to myself is going to be gratifying! 

Serves 2

2 Beef Marrow Bones, cut lengthwise in half
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Sourdough Bread

Parsley Salad

1/2 cup Parsley leaves and tender stems
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Lemon
Kosher Salt
Ground Pepper

Heat the oven to 400F. 

Line a baking tray with aluminum foil.

Lay the marrow bones cut side up on tray.

Season with salt and pepper.

Bake marrow for 15 minutes.

Place a stove top grill over a high flame.

Grill a few slices of sourdough bread till you have golden brown char marks, turning often. Cut bread into fingers.

Make the salad by tossing parsley, olive oil, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice in a bowl. 

Take the bones out of the oven. The marrow should have a jelly-like consistency. 

Arrange cooked marrow on a platter. 

Place some toast points and salad onto the plate.

Scoop the marrow and enjoy this simple repast!

One big bone oozing marrow, is scooped onto toast points, jiggling it's way into my mouth. Lemon draped parsley adds necessary tang. These roasted marrow bones walk me through my satisfied palate...and my kitchen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Fruit Chaat

Fruit chaat in India means using ripe guavas, soft chickoos and sweet limes. For those of you unfamiliar with these fruits, the above named are common as apples and bananas. So when in India, do as they do. Use local fruit and you have a zesty salad or side.

Cut the guavas carefully. You dont want to use the knobbly hard seeds. Keep the skin on and use as much seedless pulp as you can. Chickoos can be peeled, divested of the large seed and chopped into chunks. Sweet limes are like naval oranges. Cut them into skinless segments. Other fruit could be added. Apples, oranges, bananas are part of the mix. and of course you need chaat masala. And a squeeze of lime.

Serves 4-5 as a side

1 large ripe Guava
2 Sweet Limes or Mosumbis
1 Chickoo or Sapodilla
1 Orange
1 Banana
1 teaspoon Chaat masala
A pinch of Kosher Salt
1/2 Lime

Wash guava well. Pat dry. Do not peel the guava. Cut carefully around  the hard inner seeds. Cut guava into 1/2 inch pieces. Place pieces in a bowl.

Peel sweet limes. Cut the flesh into skinless segments. Add pieces to bowl.

Do the same for the orange.

Peel chickoo. Remove black seed. Cut chickoo into small pieces. Add to the bowl.

Slice the banana and add to the other fruit.

Sprinkle chaat masala over fruit.

Add salt and a squeeze of lime. 

Cover bowl and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

Mix fruit before serving.

Serve cold. 

Fruit chaat is a light addition to any meal. Make an effort to find these exotic fruits and your palate will be amply rewarded.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Cauliflower Steaks with Cheese

Cauliflower seems to be the new favorite. Riced, chopped, roasted... all these methods give us a new taste, an alternative flavor. So how do these steaks differ? Firstly, they are small. I use large florets instead of the whole cauliflower. Secondly, the herbaceous, cheesy topping blends and browns effortlessly with the meaty cauliflower. And thirdly, it is just so damn delicious.

Find a cauliflower with large outer florets. Slice off a few. Hold the florets stem side up. Cut of a little bit on the right side. This should give you a flat surface. Then cut the florets into half inch thick slices. Slice off a little bit of the last steak to give you a flat surface. Or else you will have a rocky beginning. You should get two or three slices from one large floret. Save the small bits of cauliflower for the topping. These steaks are oiled and seasoned and baked in a very very hot oven. They brown on both sides.

The topping is a mix of chopped onion, lots of parsley and thyme, lemon zest, chopped olives and capers and some panko breadcrumbs. Stir it together with seasoning and some olive oil. Add grated Gruyere and Swiss. Crispy cauliflower tidbits from the baking tray don't get wasted. They go into the topping as well. The topping is carefully mounded on browned cauliflower steaks, which are then baked till the topping browns. Cauliflower edges caramelize, the topping is cheesy, yet crisp. Et voila...a very delectable addition to any meal...or just the meal itself. You cannot got wrong!

Serves 4

4-5 large Cauliflower florets
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Kosher salt
Ground Black Pepper
1 white Onion
1 Lemon, zested
1/2 cup green Olives
1 tablespoon Capers, rinsed
1/2 cup Parsley leaves
2 tablespoons Thyme leaves
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 generous tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/4 cup grated Gruyere
1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese

Heat the oven to 400F.

Line a baking sheet with foil.

Place the floret stem side up on a cutting board. Slice off a little bit of the cauliflower on the right so you have a flat surface. Cut 1/2 inch thick slices and place on the foil lined tray. You should get 2-3 steaks from one large floret. Cut the remaining florets in the same fashion. 

Gather cauliflower crumbs and place on the tray as well. 

Cover florets with olive oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake florets for 15-20 minutes, flipping the steaks halfway so they brown on both sides.

Make the topping by chopping onion finely. 

Chop olives and capers roughly.

Cut parsley into small slivers.

Place onion, olives, capers, parsley, thyme leaves, lemon zest and panko in a bowl.

Add olive oil to moisten.

Add grated cheese to bowl and stir well.

Take cauliflower out of the oven.

Add small browned cauliflower bits to the topping.

Spoon heaping mounds of topping onto the steaks. Push the topping down with your fingers.

Bake for 10 minutes till cheese has melted and the tops of the steaks are light brown.

Serve as a light meal or as a side with a protein of your choice.

A testimonial to how good these are is the empty platter. A little effort makes a very happy belly.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Tomato Chutney

Cold breezes herald the end of the tomato season. Green and red ones still swing from semi dry branches. I don't want to freeze the last batch. Instead the need to make chutney arises. 

Washed and chopped, tomatoes go into a deep stainless steel saucepan. Garlic paste, sugar,  chile powder, red wine vinegar and sliced ginger are randomly scattered over the tomatoes. The saucepan is placed over high heat allowing the sugar to melt, the spices to blend and bubble. The chutney cooks over a medium flame for an hour. The flame is further lowered, letting the chutney thicken slowly. A fast boil will scorch the bottom of the pot, a lesson I've learnt repeatedly. So its slow and low! Remember, chutneys cannot be hastened along. A couple of hours will result in a dark red sauce, the tomatoes changing from vibrant red to a deep maroon, thickening to a jammy consistency. Slather some on a roast beef sandwich, spoon it over goat cheese on crostini or take dollops with our favorite chicken chops.

Makes about 3 cups

2 1/2 pounds Tomatoes
3/4 cup Sugar
3 heaped tablespoons Chile powder
3 tablespoons Garlic paste
2 inch piece Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/2  teaspoon Kosher Salt

Chop tomatoes into medium chunks. Put them into a large stainless steel pan with deep sides.

Add sugar, chile powder, garlic paste, ginger slices, vinegar and salt. Stir to mix.

Place saucepan over high heat till sugar has melted and tomatoes are bubbling vigorously.

Lower heat to medium and cook for 1 hour stirring every 10-15 minutes. This is essential or else the tomatoes will catch or scorch at the bottom of the pan. Stirring often prevents this from happening. 

Once the sauce starts changing color lower the flame further and cook the chutney till it turns dark red. The chutney should have a thick pouring consistency, quite like a preserve or jam.

Cool for 15 minutes. 

Spoon chutney into a glass container or jar. Cool completely, close the lid and refrigerate. 

The chutney lasts for up to year refrigerated.

Making this chutney is a yearly venture. One bottle gives us enough pleasure with many meals, an old recipe, living in today's world.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Kofta Pullao

Sorry has been long time since I have touched a keyboard, or a knife for that matter. Travel will do that to you, which has been a rewarding break from the normal. So the time has come to once again record my culinary ventures. The simple kofta pullao I make is just amalgamation of two beloved recipes into one satisfying meal. 

Koftas could be made with your choice of ground meat. I use lamb for a strong flavor. Chicken, turkey and pork are just as suitable. Ginger and garlic paste, finely minced green chiles, chopped cilantro, turmeric, cumin and coriander powder make up the spices. I also add a fistful of crisp fried onions.They lend a deep caramelized back drop to the spices. And of course, an egg to bind the koftas. Gently smushed by hand, I let the meat sit for ten minutes allowing the spices to develop their flavors. Koftas are hand rolled into small lime sized balls. I shallow fry them in minimal oil till they are dark brown all over. It doesn't matter if they have not cooked all the way  as you can finish cooking them in the gravy.

Make the gravy by sauteing thinly sliced onions till golden brown. A dollop of ginger and garlic paste and sliced tomatoes should be sauteed over a high flame till you have a homogenous paste like texture. Spices like turmeric, chile powder, and garam masala add the requisite zestiness. A little whisked yogurt  thins the sauce out. Seasoned, the gravy bubbles for a few minutes before adding the koftas. They simmer, covered, for ten to fifteen minutes. Cook white rice while the koftas simmer.

Fluff the cooked rice onto a platter.  Squeeze lime juice over the koftas just before you ladle them over the rice. Ladle generous spoonfuls of kofta curry over the rice. Scatter fresh cilantro on the pullao. Make a quick salad with sliced onions, fresh tomatoes and cucumber.  Dig in!

Serves 4

1 pound ground Lamb, Beef, Pork, Chicken or Turkey
1 tablespoon Garlic paste
1 teaspoon Ginger paste
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon Coriander powder
2 green Chiles
1/2 cup Cilantro leaves
1/2 cup fried Onions (see Notes)
1 Egg
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

2 tablespoons Canola Oil or more if needed
2 medium sized Onions
1 teaspoon Garlic paste
1 teaspoon Ginger paste
1 large Tomato
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Chile powder
1/2 teaspoon Garam masala
3 heaping tablespoons Yogurt, whisked
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Lime

3/4 cup Basmati Rice
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Cilantro, chopped for a garnish

Make koftas by placing the ground meat in a bowl.

Mince green chiles and cilantro very finely. Add them to the meat.

Crush fried onions till you have small pieces and add them to the meat.

Add turmeric, cumin. coriander powders, garlic and ginger pastes, egg and salt to meat. 

Use your hands to massage the spices into the meat. Use gloves if you don't want your hands to get sticky.

Let the meat sit for 10 minutes.

Form koftas into small lime lized balls. 

Start by heating 1 tablespoon oil in a  large nonstick saucepan. You could use the same pan to make the gravy. 

Drop koftas into the pan. Make sure you have room to turn the turn the koftas. You might have to brown the koftas in two batches, adding more oil if needed. Fry them over a medium high flame till dark brown. Drain onto paper towels.

Slice onions into thin half moons.

Slice tomato as well thinly.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to the saucepan. You will have oil leftover from frying the koftas. This adds a lot of flavor to the gravy.

Saute onions till golden brown.

Add tomatoes, ginger and garlic pastes and saute over medium high heat. Stir often till the tomatoes break down and form a cohesive paste.  

Lower the heat and sprinkle turmeric, chile powder and garam masala onto onion paste.

Add yogurt to gravy, whisking as you do. 

Once the yogurt has blended in, add koftas.

Season with salt.

Cover and let koftas cook over a low flame for 10-15 minutes. Stir often. Add a little water if the koftas stick to the pan.

After its done squeeze the juice of half a lime over koftas. Mix well. Cover and keep warm.

Rinse the rice well. Place in deep saucepan that has a tight fitting lid.

Add 1 1/2 cups cold water to the rice. 

Season with salt. 

Bring the water to boil. Cover the pan.  Turn the flame to the lowest it will go. Cook rice for 14 minutes. Uncover rice and fluff with a fork.

Spoon the rice onto a platter.

Top rice with koftas and gravy. Use as much or as little as you want. Save the rest of the kofta curry for another meal. 

Garnish with cilantro and serve with a simple salad of onions, tomatoes and cucumber.


Make fried onions by sauteing thinly sliced onions in oil till they are crisp and dark brown. Or you could buy crisp fried onions at an Indian grocery store. Keep them in the fridge for best flavor.

The neighbor drops in. He is drooling at the door. I invite him in for dinner but he takes a rain check. More for us to enjoy!