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Posts Tagged ‘carrots’

Another Donna (from Aqua Safari) recommendation. This place is called Parrilla Mission. The Mission group has two restaurants in Cozumel. One of them is in the heart of touristville, this other one is a 10 minute walk down the street. Same food, same high quality, half the price.

We started off with just their salsa and a beer. Pretty good salsa, not too spicy at all. All of the sudden, after one particular bite, my head started to throb, my mouth went up in smoke, and I instantaneously started to hiccup. I didn’t see anything in the salsa that would suggest caliente. Maybe some jalapeño was hidden among the cilantro? Would’ve been the hottest damn jalapeño ever! Before we took another bite I explored the rest of the salsa only to find this little bugger hiding within the tomatoes…habanero! That thing was intense! I’ve eaten raw habanero before, but I was always ready for the hurt. This one snuck up on me. A few minutes, a keg of beer, the flame eventually died down.

For my entrée I ordered the shrimp shish kabob. Nice juicy shrimp perfectly grilled with slices of green pepper, onion, and tomato. Half of a baked potato with crema drizzled on top, some Mexican rice, and steamed carrots and chayote rounded out the dish. The dish wasn’t outstanding by any means, but everything was fresh, properly seasoned, and properly cooked. It was very delicious.

Yuki ordered the garlic shrimp. Same accoutrements as my dish, but her shrimp were butterflied shell-on and sautéed in butter and garlic. Those were outstanding! Seriously though, how can fresh shrimp sautéed in butter and garlic not be outstanding?

No dessert that night as the entrees filled our bellies, along with the beer. It definitely pays off to head to restaurants away from tourist traps and cruise ship docks. You’ll find more authentic food usually with fresher ingredients at a fraction of the cost. You’ll also meet more of the local characters than you will at Senior Frogs, Coconuts, The Hard Rock, or Margaritaville. Best thing to do is ask people who work at the hotel you’re staying at where they eat when they go out. They’ll usually send you to some memorable meals.

Speaking of which, I have one more from Cozumel that’ll be up soon. Then we head to Merida. Or, I may throw another Japan joint up. Or, maybe I’ll get lazy and wait for the next Meatless Monday. At any rate, keep checking back.

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I have to apologize to the environment as well as my physical well-being. There was no Meatless Monday last night. Cafe Hoang is sending all proceeds from yesterday’s take, including tips, to Haiti in order to help feed those who need. For my part I figured the least I could do was to eat some tasty food for charity. From what their website states, they’re doing it again next Monday, the 8th. I encourage you all to take part and keep my boy Jason Tran busy as hell cooking his ass off.

So, instead of a Meatless Monday post I’m going to tell you about a dinner we had at Yuki’s sister’s condo in Tokyo with her family last November. As you can see, it was family-style with some authentic Japanese flavors and some not-so-Japanese.

We had some shrimp tempura. Pretty simple, just fresh juicy shrimp deep fried in panko. Yuki’s mom scattered some cherry tomatoes, parsley, and little pieces of lemon around the plate. A squeeze of citrus, a dip in soy, some herb….makes me a happy man.

There was some Kuri Gohan, chestnut rice. This is a common dish throughout Japan. A favorite as chestnuts add a great flavor as well as nutrition to rice. Simply add the chestnuts to the rice while it’s cooking and then sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.

This is a Raw Tuna Salad that Yuki’s brother-in-law Jun made. Chunks of fresh tuna, avocado, and thinly sliced onion that’s been soaked in cold water to remove the rawness tossed in a vinaigrette. I forget exactly what he put in the vinaigrette, but it was something like sesame oil, soy oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and pepper. He lined the serving dish with some lettuce leaves and dumped it on top.

This one is a classic Japanese home cooked dish. Not sure what it’s called, maybe Yuki will leave a comment and let us all know. Yuki’s mom simmered some lotus root, bamboo shoots, green beans, shiitake, konnyaku, carrots, and chicken. Again, I’m not completely sure what the simmering liquid was, I think it was a mix of soy sauce, sake, and mirin. Maybe some dashi. Always delicious (at least when Tamiko makes it)!

We drank it all down with some Prosecco and some fantastic sake that we picked up on the way to the condo. After we ate we took turns kicking each others asses in Wii.

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In light of my great respect for the fine art of Kaiseki, Yuki’s mom decided that she wanted to take me out for another style. That woman loves me! Frankly, I can’t blame her. At any rate, a friend of hers had recommended Ushiyama in the Meguro neighborhood of Tokyo, so we gave it a shot last night. And what a shot it was! Slam dunk!

It started off with a plate of carrots, shiitake, and mibuna with grated apple. Who would have thought of putting grated apple on mushrooms? Ushiyama, that’s who. I’m damn he did, it was amazing!

After that came a dish of four. I ate them clockwise from bottom left. Ama ebi (sweet shrimp), raw sardines with thinly sliced onion that’s been soaked in cold water to remove the sharpness, warm salted ginko nuts skewered on pine needles on top of seitan (wheat gluten) cakes on top of grilled sweet potato that was shaped like a ginko leaf, and uni in a lily blossom. No, I did not eat the maple leaf in the center of the plate nor the pine needles.

Next was the soup course. I heavily bonito flaked dashi broth that was nice and smokey with a rinkon (lotus root) and mochi dumpling and a bok choy leaf with some yuzu zest. It ranks right up there with the best soups I’ve ever eaten, next to the one I ate a few years ago at Iron Chef Michiba’s restaurant.

After the soup course was the sashimi course. It consisted of suzuki (sea bass), melt-in-your-mouth tuna, and ika (squid). It must be ika season because the ika I’ve eaten on this trip is by far the softest and sweetest I’ve ever had.

Then they served us home-made soba noodles in a light soy-dashi with some thinly sliced negi (green onions) on top. I’m telling you, there is absolutely nothing like top quality freshly made soba noodles. I don’t know if I can go back to store-bought dried soba when I get home. I mean, of course I can, but it just won’t be the same. So chewy and clean tasting.

Next up was the grilled course. Sawara (a cousin of the spanish mackerel) grilled with yuzu-miso and served with yuzu-miso konnyaku and daikon that was cut into a flower with a small slice of red pepper. I’ve never had yuzu-miso before, I’m a huge fan!

After that was the simmered course which was kinmedai (splendid alfonsino) in a ginger sauce. It was served with spinach and daikon radish with chawanmushi in the middle.

For the fried course we got a dish with some tempura. Shishito pepper and ebi imo (a kind of yam) served in a light dashi with momiji oroshi and chopped chives.

Then came the rice and miso course. The rice was a glutinous rice with chirimenjako (baby sardines simmered in saltwater, dried in the sun, and covered in a sweet soy marinade), sliced shiso, and served on top of a cherry leaf. The miso had mizuna greens in it. There was also some lightly pickled cucumber and daikon on the side (yes Nick, I even ate the pickles!).

Finally, for dessert we got sweet potato mousse. It was so soft and lightly sweet, it was really more like a light sweet potato cheesecake. Served with a sweet potato chip on top.

This Kaiseki was Kyoto-style which is considered to be the most sophisticated and delicate of all styles. Hard to argue as the food was simply magnificent! Plus, all of that food for only $50 per person! I challenge anyone to find a deal half that good for a meal of that quality prepared with that caliber anywhere in the states. Thanks so much for bringing me here Tamiko!!!

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So, we just started with an idea Yuki had a while back which is to not eat meat at least one day of the week. This is a very difficult concept for me to digest seeing as beef is my favorite vegetable followed closely by lamb. However, after going through the Food, Inc. the movie website I started to get on board with the Meatless Monday thing. Last night was the first installment.

Taking a cue from Indian cooking I decided to do a sort of vegetable curry type of thing. I got some cauliflower, chickpeas, carrots, onions, potatoes, and spinach and threw them together.

I first steamed the potatoes for a few minutes before cutting them into cubes so that the cooking time in the pan would be reduced. I threw some garlic and ginger in hot soy oil for a few minutes. The dumped in the onions and carrots. About 5 minutes or so later I added half of the head of cauliflower broken into small florets. A few minutes later went in the potatoes and some salt. Once everything was heated up I added the sauce I made.

The base of the sauce was a cup of plain yogurt. I added some garam masala and mixed it in. I have absolutely no idea how much. I dumped some in, stirred it around, tasted it, dumped in some more. Just add however much you like. Then I added some finely grated lime rind, a tablespoon or so of soy sauce, a pinch of salt, the juice of one lime, and some pepper.

Once the sauce fully coated all of the veggies I threw in some spinach and turned off the heat. I only wanted the spinach to wilt a little. Then I sprinkled on some sesame seeds.

I served it with some white rice and a hard boiled egg. Since an egg was never a living bird it’s fair game for Meatless Monday’s.

I think it will be hard to cook vegetarian, but I’m up for the task. Tonight I have to do something with the other half of cauliflower and the yogurt. I’ll let you know what I come up with.

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It’s starting to get cold here in Chicago, that means less grilling and more braising. My first braise of the season was a batch of beef short ribs. One of the most flavorful cuts. Nice and fatty, lots of bone marrow, what could be better?

First, I browned them in a big pot with some olive oil to get some nice color then set them aside. Then I added onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. After about 5 minutes, when the veggies were translucent, I dumped in two cups of red wine and let it boil for a few minutes. I added three cups of beef stock, a quarter cup of balsamic vinegar, two bay leaves, a tablespoon of coriander seeds, and a bunch of thyme. Let it come to a boil and added salt and pepper. Then I returned the short ribs, covered the pot tightly, and put into a preheated oven at 250 degrees.

After 5 hours in the oven to took the pot out and removed the short ribs. The meat was tender that the bones fell right off, it sent tingles down my spine. I put the meat in a dish and tented it with foil to keep it from losing moisture and strained the braising liquid into a bowl and let it cool to room temperature allowing the fat to rise to the top. I scraped off the fat and returned the liquid to a pot and boiled for about 45 minutes so it could reduce. Then I added a little corn starch slurry to thicken it up to a more velvety texture and added a bunch of chopped parsley. There was my gravy.

I made some creamy garlic mashed potatoes along with quickly stir-fryed carrots, onions, and haricots vert to serve alongside.

Once everything was ready I put the short ribs back into the oven at 400 for 10 minutes to reheat them and then plated everything up. It was one of the best short ribs I’ve ever eaten in my life! The perfect thing for a chilly night.

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Here’s my first attempt at making Gyu-don, Japanese simmered thinly sliced beef with onions on rice. It’s surprisingly simple to make, yet full of flavor and easy on the wallet.

The trick is to get the beef sliced as thin as deli meat. You can get it at Mitsuwa, but I’m not sure where else to get good quality meat in this fashion. I’m sure it’s available. I do know that it’s near impossible to get such even thin slices at home with a knife no matter how sharp it is.

So, take put a little oil in a medium-sized pot and cook some ginger and garlic for a minute or two. Then add an onion thinly sliced and sweat it for a few minutes. Add a couple cups of water, a quarter cup each of soy sauce and mirin, a few pinches of sugar and let it come to a simmer. Then add your beef and let it cook until the liquid is reduced by 3/4’s.

All you have to do then is put some white rice in a bowl and top it with some Gyu-don.

I served it with a simple corn soup garnished with Thai basil and a salad that Yuki made. She tossed some mixed greens, julienned carrots, celery, and cucumber (I left the cucumber out of mine, vile phalis!) in a homemade hijiki vinaigrette. All washed down with a cold beer.

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Spaghetti a la Yukiko

With all of this cold, wet weather we’ve had here in Chicago this summer I find less and less motivation to run to the markets as often as I like. With the need for a complete and satisfying dinner the other night and the lack of a market visit my wife told me she’d clean out the fridge and cupboards and cook up something delicious. I have to say, her spaghetti didn’t disappoint.

She found a can of tuna and always does something beautiful with it. So that was the protein. There were some pea pods, orange peppers, onions, mushrooms, and carrots in the fridge. She also found some heavy cream that we hadn’t used yet (she was going to make a quiche a couple of nights before, but cheesed out on it). We always have angel hair pasta on hand, so her dish was written.

She first cooked the tuna in a little oil to give it a little texture on the outside. After removing the tuna she cooked the veggies and then added the tuna back in along with the cream. Not sure if she added any alcohol or not, but whatever she did it worked. Toss it with the noodles and serve with cheesy garlic toast and a cold beer. Oh, and we had two little Juliette Tomatoes that were ripe from our porch garden, so we each ate one.

This dish was made using leftovers so it’s hard to figure what it cost. I would imagine that each plate probably cost us no more than $2.50.

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