Remember our cookbook club (fun NY Times story here / tips on how to start your own here)? Our last meeting, a couple of months ago now, was focused on Small Victories by Julia Turshen. We read, cooked, and ate from Julia’s new release and I’ve been meaning to share some of her words of wisdom with you as well as the recipe that I made that night – Kimchi Fried Rice with Scallion Salad.
Take it away Julia….
“There’s a theory out there in the ether that even the best cooks stuggle with cooking rice. I’m afraid I’ve suffered from poor rice cooking for a long time. The fail-proof method I’ve grown to love, especially for long-grain rice, with grains that are best when kept separate (as opposed to cozy short-grain rice, where the grains hug their neighbors), is to cook rice just as you would pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the rice, and boil until the grains are tender (10 to 15 minutes for most types of white rice, 35 to 40 for more types of brown rice). When the rice is done, drain it in a fine-mesh sieve and serve immediately with butter and salt, or let it cool and use it the next day for one of the best foods in the world: fried rice.
Leftover rice is best for making fried rice because the grains become very dry and then act as sponges for whatever flavors you combine them with. My favorite is cabbage kimchi, the fermented condiment that’s eaten with every meal in Korea. I came to love it when I worked on Kimchi Chronicles, the companion cookbook to the PBS program of the same name. Served with a simple scallion salad (a popular accompaniment to Korean barbecue), this is one of my favorite side dishes, and it makes for a wonderful, savory meal on its own if you top it with a fried or poached egg.”
PS. Next month our cookbook club is throwing it back and reading, cooking, and eating from The Silver Palate Cookbook. Chicken Marbella 4-EVA.
Kimchi Fried Rice with Scallion Salad from Small Victories
4 scallions, roots and dark green tops trimmed off
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
One 16-ounce jar cabbage kimchi, including juice
3 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil, plus more as needed
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups day-old cooked brown or white rice
1 Tbsp soy sauce, plus more as needed
To make the scallion salad: Cut the scallions thinly on the diagonal or into small matchsticks. The best way to do this is to cut each scallion into three even pieces and then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Put each piece flat-side down on your cutting board and cut into thin strips. Put the scallions, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and sesame seeds in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and set aside.
To make the fried rice: Put a sieve or colander over a bowl and drain the kimchi. Reserve the juice. Finely chop the kimchi and set it aside.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm the canola oil. Add the onion and garlic and sprinkle with a large pinch of salt. Cook, stirring now and then, until the onion just begins to turn translucent, about 5-minutes. Turn the heat to high, add the chopped kimchi, and cook, stirring now and then, until the edges of the kimchi become ever so slightly crisp and stick to the pan, about 5 minutes.
Crumble the rice into the skillet and stir throughly to combine. Add the reserved kimchi juice and cook, stirring, until the rice is warm and red through and through from the kimchi juice, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, drizzle over the soy sauce, and taste for seasoning, adding a bit more salt and/or soy sauce if needed.
Transfer the fried rice to a serving bowl (or portion straight from the skillet) and top with the scallion salad. Serve immediately.
I wrote The Beginner’s Guide to Juice Making for Food52. Check it out!
Whether you received a juicer over the holidays, are in the midst of a New Year’s resolution kick, or simply want to get more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet (who doesn’t?), you may be curious about juicing…click here to read the full article and get the recipes.
Photography by Elizabeth Cecil
We are just hanging out this week – no camp or any big plans so I am going to make this short and sweet (can you hear the eager kids under my feet?!). Today I am sharing a favorite warm weather dinner, Noodles with Baked Tofu & Raw Veggies. I have made a million versions of this dinner (tweaking the sauce, noodle type, variety of veggies, adding a fried egg) but it always hits the spot. The leftovers are great, stored separately, for lunch the next day too. And really, what doesn’t taste good with roasted and salted peanuts sprinkled on top?! I’ve even been known to chop up a handful of salted peanuts to top vanilla ice cream. Try it, you’ll thank me. But, we digress, back to the noodles…
Noodles with Baked Tofu & Raw Veggies
1 tablespoon canola oil (for greasing the pan)
1 16-oz block extra firm tofu
3 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons soy sauce
1 garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 pound fresh Asian noodles (I used ramen noodles)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon toastes sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon chili flakes (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage
1 1/2 cups thinly peeled carrot
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
First, make the baked tofu. Place whole block of tofu on baking sheet and press with a heavy pan (I used our big cast iron) for at 30-60 minutes to release excess liquid. When ready, pre-heat the oven to 350F. Slice the pressed tofu into rectangles. Mix the honey, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and rice vinegar together. Gently toss tofu squares in the marinade and let them sit as long as you can (at least 30 minutes but you can do this ahead and store in the fridge), then lay the tofu on a greased baking sheet, brushing on any leftover marinade. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes then flip, baking for another 15 minutes. When slightly cool, slice into strips.
To prepare the salad, mix the vinegar, honey, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and chili flakes in a bowl until the honey dissolves. Prepare all vegetables and cook noodles according to package instructions. Toss warm noodles with half the dressing. Combine vegetables, cilantro, and tofu with the remaining sauce (dump in any leftover tofu marinade as well). Pile noodles onto individual plates, top with slaw, and finally with chopped peanuts.
A few weeks ago I read this article, Is It Sexist to Judge a Cookbook by its Pictures?, and besides spending an odd amount of time thinking about the writer’s points (what do you guys think!?), I quickly checked Thug Kitchen out of the library. I wanted to read and cook from this book not only because of the article but because its point of view is so opposite of mine. F*ck is not just included on every page but practically every sentence. The aggressive language feels really unnatural to me, making it almost painful to read, but I am clearly not living the thug kitchen life. That said, I love the food in this book. All the recipe appeal to me and the ones we’ve tried have been delicious. This Baked Citrus Tofu with Creamy Peanut Slaw is the first recipe we picked out. It made a perfect light dinner and even better lunch leftovers.
PS. If you are feeding little ones adjust or omit the hot sauce (Nick and I just added Sriracha to our own bowls). The baked tofu needs to be first weighted down to remove excess water then marinated for 2 to 8 hours so plan accordingly.
Baked Citrus Tofu with Creamy Peanut Slaw
From Thug Kitchen
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons warm water
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha or your favorite Asian-style hot sauce (optional)
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
3 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1 carrot, cut into thin matchsticks (we made ribbons w. a vegetable peeler)
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 tablespoon raw sesame seeds
1 block extra-firm tofu
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons Sriracha or similar hot sauce (optional)
2 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
First, place the block of tofu on a rimmed baking sheet and weight it down with a heavy pan to draw out the excess water. Let it sit weighted for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, slice the tofu into 1/4-inch rectangles.
While the tofu is weighted down, make the citrus marinade. In a shallow baking dish, mix together the orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, olive oil, hot sauce, and garlic. When ready, put the sliced tofu in the marinade and let sit for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours. To bake, preheat the oven to 450 F and grease a rimmed baking sheet. Bake tofu for 15 minutes, flip, and spoon a little more marinade on each piece. Bake for 10 more minutes, flip, and sauce again. Bake for a final 5.
To make the slaw, first prepare the peanut dressing. To do this, mix the peanut butter and warm water together in a medium glass until it’s creamy. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients to the sauce and mix well. In a large bowl, combine all the slaw veggies. Pour the dressing over them and toss it all around until everything is coated. Serve the day it’s made topped with baked tofu and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
One of our refrigerator drawers has turned into a carrot science experiment – like a wacky one. Some carrots have sprouted roots, buds, and other unrecognizable growths. I have been stock piling root vegetables all winter and it is pretty obvious they have to be eaten fast. I can’t bear another carrot stick so I decided to try something new – Japanese Vegetable Pancakes. Happily, they turned out delicious and are something I will make again. The batter is eggy and light, almost like a tempura, and the vegetables hold a slight crunch.
We also spontaneously planted a few pots of vegetables this year (not carrots) and are having fun watching them sprout flowers and tiny vegetables. If you have children at home who are interested in food and gardening I highly recommend How Did That Get In My Lunchbox?:The Story of Food (thanks Leah!). It’s a cute and approachable story about where food comes from.
Japanese Vegetable Pancakes
makes about a dozen
from Smitten Kitchen
For the Pancakes:
1/2 small head cabbage, very thinly sliced (1 pound or 5 to 6 cups shreds) which will be easiest on a mandoline if you have one
4 medium carrots, peeled into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
5 lacinato kale leaves, ribs removed, leaves cut into thin ribbons
4 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
Canola oil for frying
For the Sauce:
1/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (note: this is not vegetarian)
1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon rice cooking wine or sake
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey (use 2 if you like a sweeter sauce)
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
To Make the Pancakes: Toss cabbage, carrot, kale, scallions and salt together in a large bowl. Toss mixture with flour so it coats all of the vegetables. Stir in the eggs. Heat a large heavy skillet on medium-high heat. Coat the bottom with oil and heat that too.
Add 1/4 of the vegetable mixture to the skillet, pressing it out into a 1/2- to 3/4-inch pancake. Gently press the pancake down flat. Cook until the edges beging to brown, about 3 minutes. 30 seconds to 1 minute later, flip the pancake with a large spatula. Cook on the other side until the edges brown, and then again up to a minute more. You can keep them warm on a tray in the oven at 200 to 250 degrees until needed.
To Make the Okonomiyaki Sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and let simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, until smooth and thick.
Serve pancakes with sauce and any other fixings from scallions to toasted sesame seeds.