Sunday, March 7, 2010

Menu 12: An Asian-Influenced Dinner

Cauliflower, Caper and Pumpkin Seed Spread

For the Asian theme, this dip is great served with crispy rice crackers.

8 ounces cauliflower, broken or cut into florets
¼ cup shelled raw pumpkin seeds
1 clove of garlic, coarsely chopped
2 green onions
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon capers in brine + a little of the brine for seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring two cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the cauliflower and cook until tender. Scoop out the cauliflower leaving the water boiling. Rinse the cauliflower in cold water to stop it cooking. Drain and set aside to cool.
2. Dunk one of the green onions into the boiling water for 15 seconds. Remove, drain and coarsely chop along with the uncooked green onion.
3. In a food processor purée the pumpkin seeds until they become a fine meal. Add the garlic and whirl until it mixes well with the pumpkin seeds.
4. Add the green onions and drained cauliflower to the food processor. Process while slowly adding the olive oil, capers, brine, salt, and pepper. When the mixture is thick and well combined, it’s ready.
Served with rice crackers, rye toast, toasted pita, herb slab, ciabatta or cucumber slices.

6 servings as a pre-eating dip
Adapted from Marlena Spieler’s column in The San Francisco Chronicle.

Spicy Soba with Tofu

Linda, my Berkeley next-door neighbor who now lives in NYC, requested a tofu dish.  This one is excellent.

1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 small fresh hot red chili, seeded, deveined, and minced (green is fine too)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoon tahini
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons chili oil, optional
Salt to taste

8 ounces dried soba noodles
½ bunch scallions, thinly sliced
12 ounces firm tofu
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small fresh hot red chili, seeded, deveined, and minced, optional (green is fine too)
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon aleppo pepper or other mildly hot pepper or paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

1. To make the sauce, heat the soy sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar, chili, ginger and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the molasses, and heat until warm. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the sesame oil, tahini, vinegar and chili oil, if desired, to combine. Season to taste with salt. Set aside to cool.
2. To make the noodles: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles, return to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes or until they are cooked, but still a bit firm. Drain the noodles. Set aside in a large bowl, if you want to serve them warm. Place them in a bowl of ice water if you want to serve them cold.
3. Combine the drained noodles with the dressing and scallions. Toss well. Place on a serving platter or low-sided bowl.
4. Drain the tofu. Pat dry and crumble. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the optional chili and garlic. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Increase the heat to medium high and add the crumbled tofu. Stir fry for a few minutes to sear the tofu. Remove from the heat and add the parsley and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Distribute the tofu over the prepared noodles and serve warm or cover and chill to serve cold. Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper or other semi-hot pepper or paprika just before serving.

4 servings
Adapted from The Junior League of Honolulu, Inc.’s Aloha Days, Hula Nights

Cucumber Salad

Refreshing and so easy.

1 large cucumber
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cider or other vinegar

1. Peel the cucumber and cut it in half length-wise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Cut the hollowed out halves into about ¼-inch or narrower slices.
2. Mix together the remaining ingredients and stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the cucumber slices and mix well. Serve cold or at room temperature.

4 modest servings
Adapted from Wonona W. and Irving B. Chang and Helene W. and Austin H. Kutscher’s An Encyclopedia of Chinese Food and Cooking

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi K,
Interested in trying at least the tofu/soba. Are the red chilis fresh or dried?
Ruth S.