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Posts Tagged ‘umami’

The other night I knew I wanted to make some spaghetti of some sort, but I wasnt sure what to do with it until I came across these beautiful little scallops. We haven’t had scallops in a while so I figured I’d just make a very simple tomato sauce with them and some vegetables.

Besides about 2/3 pound of scallops I chopped up 8 asparagus, 3 shiitake, 1/2 onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 yellow bell pepper, opened up 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes, and got out 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce and sake just to add a little umami.

This is about is simple as cooking gets. While I was boiling some salt water for the noodles, I used half angel hair and half wheat noodles, I heated up my pan and poured in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I sautéed the onion for about 5 minutes before adding the garlic, I let that go for another minute. After that I added the shiitake, pepper, and asparagus and let them go for another 5 minutes. I added the soy sauce and sake, let them boil off for about 1 minute, and then dumped in the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes were at a low boil I turned the heat down to medium and added the scallops. Scallops can be a little tricky here because if you overcook them they’ll become a bit rubbery. On the other hand, they do give off a lot of liquid so you need to boil some of that excess off. I let them go at a very low simmer for about 10 minutes and it worked out perfectly, but each stove top is different so you have to keep a close eye on it. At the very end of cooking I decided to add a little dried basil along with some salt and pepper.

Once I drained the noodles I just ladled the sauce on top. I had some wheat dinner rolls to eat with it.

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I love grilling dead animals on a stick. It’s my most sadistic past time, but I love it so. The other night I picked up a 3/4 pound cod filet and did just that.

I mixed together 2 tablespoons of shiro miso, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon of pure cane sugar, and both the zest and juice of 1 lime. While mixing that together into a smooth paste I decided to pour in about 1-2 tablespoons of sesame oil to add a bit of nuttiness. I cut up the cod into bite-sized morsels and tossed them in the marinade.

While the cod was taking a miso bath I made a tomato and bread soup. I used the leftover roasted cherry tomatoes with their juice from the night before, the crusty bread left from the night before, a 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes, a handful of basil from my back porch, and 3 garlic cloves diced.

In a hot pan I poured in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and then added the garlic and the stems from the basil. Once that garlic started to color a bit, about 1 minute or so, I poured in the can of tomatoes. You need to be careful with that because the tomato juice will splatter. Then I filled the empty can with water and poured that in. I let it come to a boil and then simmer down for about 15 minutes. At that point it’s pretty easy to break down the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. After the tomatoes were completely broken down I poured in the roasted cherry tomatoes, bread, and basil and then seasoned with salt and pepper. I let that simmer together for about 10 minutes or so. Before serving I mixed in another little glug of olive oil.

To skewer with the cod I chopped up a red bell pepper, half an onion, and the last handful of brussel sprouts from my fridge (I’ve never skewered brussel sprouts before, they’re quite nice as long as they’re cooked enough). I also picked up 5 little red creamer potatoes to grill alongside.

I skewered it all up and threw it all on the grill. I let the skewers go for about 4-5 minutes on each side. The potatoes needed about 7 or 8 minutes on each side as my grill was about medium-high.

After I rinsed the rice and put it in the rice cooker I decided to throw a tablespoon of dried hijiki seaweed in with it. I just dropped it in and let it sit in the water with the rice for about a half hour before turning on the rice cooker. It’s hard to describe the flavor of hijiki on its own. It’s kind of earthy and mushroomy which is weird because I struggle to call anything from the sea “earthy”. It’s really just umami. Damn delicious!

My only mistake was not reserving some of the marinade. The potatoes weren’t as sweet as I had hoped and I would have been much better off smashing them after grilling and topping with some of the miso. Other than that I did well.

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I’ve long been a believer that the only way to truly understand a different culture is to head straight over to the local markets. So, our first morning in Merida, Mexico, a few weeks ago with my mom and step-dad (they live in Merida) we stopped at the San Benito Market.

What I love about the San Benito Market is that it’s not a food market, it’s not a textiles market, it’s not an appliance market….it’s all of the above! Whatever you need to buy you can get at San Benito. Need some produce? They’ve got everything from hundreds of different chilis to pineapples to freshly butchered meats. Need clothes and footwear? Take your pick! How about kitchen knives and other little chochkies? Sure. You can even buy a pet bird there. However, to me, the absolute best part of the market are the food stalls. With so much to choose from, various tacos, tamales, empanadas, sopas, etc., we decided that it’s best to just sample as many different tacos as our bellies could stomach.

The first stop was this stall that served up some outstanding carnitas.

Fresh slices of pork fried up on his hot slate to tasty perfection! Garnish with some onions, cilantro, carved up radishes, and salsa verde and you’re ready for all sorts of goodness. I really could have just ordered more of these, but there were more items on my menu to digest. So,…..

…it was off to this stand for a choice of more carnitas or…

…these achiote turkey tacos. I had to go for the turkey since I just downed a couple of carnitas. These were served with pico de gallo and lime wedges. Wow! I have never had pulled turkey so good. Screw Thanksgiving with its roasted bird, I want these little morsels instead. 

After walking around a bit more something caught my eye.

How on Earth could I walk past something like this without giving it a try? Influenced by Lebanese immigrants from three hundred years ago Tacos al Pastor are truly a thing of beauty. Juicy pieces of pork marinated in a red chili sauce, piled on top of each other, and roasted upright on a spit much like a gyro or schwarma. These are the kings of tacos.

I actually ate this guy’s pastor because the other one would have taken too long to cook. I had to have one and I had to have it quick!

Typically served with a slice of pineapple, instead, this guy served his with a creamy avocado salsa, chipotle salsa, and lime. MMMMMMM! That was it, the piece de resistance! Sorry La Pasadita, I love you, but you just don’t quite hold up to the genius of meat cooked on a spit and served in a tortilla.

Everything was washed down with some Jugo de Mango. The juice carts serve their juices with a plastic bag on top. This serves two purposed. First, the bag keeps the flies out of the sweet nectar. Second, it somehow keeps the drink cold so that the ice doesn’t melt, even though it’s 90 degrees outside. Genius!

Surprisingly, I was not met by old Montezuma himself. Either he took the day off or my stomach is stronger than it used to be. Just goes to show that street food in markets like San Benito are every bit as sanitary as a regular restaurant. Plus, you get the added bonus of auto emissions to help give the food that indefinable taste. The Japanese call it umami, I call it delicious!

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