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Posts Tagged ‘yellow pepper’

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Last night we dined on some pulled pork shoulder that I made. I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to serve it, but when Yuki was on her way home from work she stopped to grab some tortillas and oiala, lemongrass carnitas were born…and devoured…and still getting devoured as there is a ton of it in our fridge.

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I started this dish off the day before since flavors develop over time on braised dishes. I picked up a 4.5 lb bone-in pork shoulder, diced a tomato and half onion (shown in my little mini food processor container), three stalks of lemongrass outer leaves removed and tender middle chopped up (I reserved the tougher top portions for the braising liquid), a 2 inch piece of ginger chopped, 10 cloves of garlic chopped, the juice of 1 lime, three good pinches of sugar, about 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, and 15 or so cracks of black pepper. Everything except for the pork went into my little food processor and I turned it into a wet rub.

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I covered the pork shoulder with my marinade and let it sit in my large pot with the reserved lemongrass stalks for about an hour to let the juice start to penetrate the meat.

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Then I poured in about 1/3 cup of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of cooking sake, and then filled it with water till the liquid covered about 3/4’s of the shoulder. I brought it up to a boil then covered the pot and turned the heat to low. I let it simmer for about 6 hours. After it was done simmering I let it cool down a bit and then put it in my fridge to sit overnight.

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Yesterday afternoon I took it out of the fridge, scooped up the thin layer of fat that hardened on the surface, and took the shoulder out.

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I pulled the pork apart. Best way to do that is to just get your hands dirty. Let’s be honest here, is there anything wrong with having your hands smell like lemongrass pork? I think not. Speaking of lemongrass, I discarded the tough parts that were in the braise.

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I put the pulled pork back into the pot with the braising liquid and brought it back up to a boil.

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I let it boil down for about an hour to let a majority of the liquid evaporate. What you’re left with is a rich, flavorful heaping pile of swinealicious meat that drips down your hands as you slap it on a tortilla. Again, there’s nothing wrong with hands that smell like lemongrass pork.

I served these carnitas with cilantro, white rice, steamed bok choy, and sautéed chinese eggplant, green onion, and yellow bell pepper. Avocado would’ve been pretty good with them too. Topping them with diced tomato and onion wouldn’t be bad either.

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Friday night we went out to Sun Wah B.B.Q. with a bunch of Yuki’s co-workers. We had a big group of 12 adults (I still have trouble thinking of myself as an adult) including spouses and then there were 3 babies. For Chinese food, I think it’s best to go with a big crowd so you can order a variety of food.

The first thing I noticed about Sun Wah was that they had duck hanging in the window. You don’t see that often in Chicago which is a shame. Any restaurant that serves Peking Duck (Sun Wah is considered the best Peking Duck in Chicago, from what I’ve eaten here, I would have to agree) needs to display it in the window to dry the skin and show the customers what’s in store.

They have a huge dining room. I guess that’s a good thing because as the night went on they got packed! I think the wait was about 30-45 minutes when we left. Good thing we got there relatively early, although, we did have a reservation. Service was pretty typical of a Chinese restaurant. Not refined, but not sloppy. As for the food…

…the first thing that rolled out was the Peking Duck. Since we had two big round tables we ordered two of each dish so that we didn’t have to pass things from one table to the other.

Classic tableside duck carving. Slice off that crispy skin first and then chop up the meat. Really good duck. If you’re a fan of Peking Duck, and the only people I know who aren’t are veggies, you have to try Sun Wah’s. I wouldn’t say it’s really anything special, but it is the best in town, very good duck.

Lobster with ginger and scallions, what more do you need? My only gripe with this dish, and it’s not unique to Sun Wah, is that the lobster was all hacked up and very hard to get the meat from the shell. Why do Chinese restaurants hack up lobster like this? Surely there has to be a better way to stir-fry all of that flavor into the meat and keep it easy to eat.

Peking Pork Ribs. Thin slices of rib meat cooked in a thickened sweet sauce. There were slices of carrot, green pepper, and yellow pepper in it as well. If you like sweet Chinese ribs, this is the dish for you!

Stir-fried water spinach. We wanted green beans, but they didn’t have any. No worries, water spinach has a nice subtle bitterness to it. It’s also extremely healthy. A good vegetable to help cut through all of the animal fat we were mauling down.

Fried rice with BBQ pork, shrimp, scallions, carrots, and scrambled eggs. Another classic, but one you must have with a Chinese feast.

Shanton soup with chunks of pork. It’s the pork bone that gives this soup its flavor. This is to the Chinese kitchen what chicken soup is to the Jewish kitchen.

Fried noodles. For this dish they used the duck breast from the Peking duck (for Peking you only eat the skin and some of the dark meat), pea pods, baby corn, carrots, mushrooms, and onions. Personally, I would have used shiitake instead of white button mushrooms, but hey, it’s not my restaurant. Still a tasty dish.

Our last dish was silken tofu steamed with shrimp. It was topped with cilantro and swimming in a soy and broth soup. It was really good.

Overall, I have to say, Sun Wah B.B.Q. is quite possibly the best Chinese food in Chicago. While I am a true believer that Chicago does not have the best Chinese food in the world, this place is definitely worth passing through your entrails. Every dish was fresh and well prepared. Nothing was over the top, but everything was extremely solid. The best part was that all of that food, along with Tsing Dao and tip, only came to $25 per person. Well worth the weakened US Dollar.

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Last night I used up ingredients that were already in my fridge. Fresh vegetables don’t last forever, so I use them up within a couple of days after purchasing them. I decided to make a nice soup and get some salmon to grill alongside it.

For the soup, I started by sweating down half an onion, a carrot, and a rib of celery (all chopped) in some olive oil. After about 7 minutes I tossed in 2 crushed garlic cloves. A couple of minutes later I added a half of a yellow bell pepper chopped. I let that all sweat out for a few more minutes.

Then I dumped in one 14oz can of diced tomatoes (no salt added), one cup of chicken stock, and 1.5 cups of water. I stirred that all around and seasoned with some salt. There was a Parmigiano Reggiano rind in my cheese drawer, I try not to through them away once the grateable part of the cheese is used for reasons like this, so I dropped that in as well. By doing so a subtle sharpness is added to both the taste and aroma, you can tell there’s Parmigiano in there. Once that started to boil I covered the pot and simmered over a med-low heat for about 20 minutes.

I had a zucchini in my fridge from the day before, so I chopped that up and added it along with a half cup of Israeli couscous that was sitting in my cabinet. Then I let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes.

All I did to the salmon was rub some olive oil over the flesh, then salt and pepper. I grilled it to get the skin crisp.

To serve, I drizzled a little balsamic vinegar on the salmon and garnished with some fresh basil. I also sliced up a handful of basil and added it to the soup along with some black pepper just before serving. White rice was also on the menu.

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Last night I joined a couple of buddies for a happy hour drink. With that in mind I put together a dinner that I could cook and assemble quickly once I got home. Broiled chicken and vegetables seemed perfect.

Before I headed out to the bar I got all my veggies cut. Asparagus, red pepper, yellow pepper, and a half onion. I set them aside and covered so that they wouldn’t dry out. I also trimmed up some skin-on bone-in chicken thighs and kept them covered in the fridge.

After getting the ingredients prepared I ground a tablespoon of fennel seeds with my pestle and mortar. I mixed them into a quarter cup of olive oil and let that sit. Then I made the mustard sauce. 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves, 1 tablespoon of rinsed capers, 2 tablespoons of mustard (I use Boetje’s, use whatever is on hand), the juice from a half lemon, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and some black pepper. That all got stirred up and left in the fridge. Then I rinsed some rice, put it in the rice cooker, and set the timer so it’d be ready once I got home.

Off to go drink.

When I got home I put the rack in the upper third of the oven and turned on the broiler. I laid the chicken thighs and all of the veggies on a baking sheet and brushed the fennel seed olive oil over everything. I salted and peppered and then put everything under the broiler for about 15 minutes. At that point the veggies were carmelized and the chicken a little crispy and fully cooked and juicy.

I served the chicken on top of a bed of arugula and laid everything else out on the plate. Then I drizzled some mustard sauce over the chicken. That’s it, time to eat.

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Last night’s Meatless Monday was quite possibly the most simple one yet. Not feeling up to doing too much in the kitchen for some reason, I decided to keep the cooking minimal and quick. The answer? Stir-fry!

I first pressed the water out of a block of tofu. Lay some paper towels on a plate, set the tofu on top, cover with more paper towels, put a cutting board on top of that, and lay a weight of some sort on top of the cutting board. I kept that in the fridge while I cut up the rest of the vegetables.

I cut a bunch of asparagus, green onions, a yellow pepper, a red pepper, and about a half pound of fresh shiitake mushrooms. I let the shiitake sit in a sunny window for about an hour before cutting them up. Sunlight helps the mushrooms produce higher levels of vitamin B.

To start, I fried an inch of minced ginger and two chopped garlic cloves for about 3 minutes. Then I added the green onions, followed by the peppers, and then the asparagus. After a few minutes I added the shiitake sliced in quarter inch strips. I let that all stir fry up for a few minutes then added about 4 tablespoons each of soy sauce and sake along with some black pepper.

While the liquid was reducing a little I cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces then threw them into the stir-fry. I let the tofu absorb the flavor, then took off the heat and drizzled some sesame oil in it, and then served with it white rice.

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Grilling season is here people! Nothing could make me happier. Well, I guess that’s not entirely true, but it does bring a smile to my belly. To kick off the year’s grilling I picked up a beautiful 1.5 pound skirt steak, easily one of the best cuts of any carcass.

To start off I marinated the skirt in a mix of 5 tablespoons of soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of sake, 2 tablespoons of mirin, 5 chopped garlic cloves, an inch of chopped ginger, 1 teaspoon of cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, black pepper, and some whole sprigs of rosemary. The steak was too long for my biggest dish, so I cut it in half and marinated covered in the fridge for about 4 hours, turning every hour or so.

I skewered some cherry tomatoes, cut the yellow pepper that I had left in my fridge, and cleaned some green onions. Stanley’s had real thick green onions that were just screaming to be grilled. when you leave the thicker outer layer on and then grill them as is, the inside becomes real soft and sweet. You can just put the whole thing in your mouth and squeeze out the innards with your teeth as you pull the onion out. So delicious!

While everything was on the grill I sautéed some cannellini beans with garlic and spinach. I started with some olive oil and chopped garlic. A few minutes later I added the left-over marinade from the steak and let that boil for a couple of minutes. Then I tossed in a drained can of beans. Once they were heated through I added a bunch of spinach. I stirred it all around until the spinach had just wilted and most of the liquid had evaporated. Then I took it off the heat and covered it until the grill was ready.

Once the grill was ready I let the steak rest for about 8 minutes while I plated everything else. Then I sliced the steak with the grains, put them on the plates, and we ate. I also served some white rice.

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I’m on the tail end of a bad cold and Yuki is in the midst of battling one too. In light of that, last night’s Meatless Monday was all about getting healthy. There isn’t much more healthy than quinoa, except for maybe the hemp seed. I also wanted to keep it really simple.

I first sautéed a bunch of chopped green onions in some vegetable oil for a few minutes, then added three chopped garlic cloves. A couple minutes later I tossed in a diced carrot and a diced yellow pepper. I didn’t want the veggies to get soft, just slightly cooked so shortly after they were sweating I added a cup of rinsed red quinoa. When you saute quinoa for a few minutes it brings out some of the nuttiness in its flavor. After that I poured in a cup of vegetable stock, a drained can of chickpeas, a drained can of sweet corn (I can’t wait for corn season!), about a half cup of peas, salt, pepper, garam masala, and a dash of turmeric. I brought that to a simmer and covered over low heat for about 10-15 minutes.

Once everything was cooked and most of the liquid had evaporated I took it off the heat and let it sit for a few more minutes. Then I fluffed the quinoa and served. A salad of green leaf lettuce and tomatoes with a shiitake vinaigrette on the side along with some toasted pita. Our immune systems got a nice boost last night.

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