grilled mirin teriyaki salmon

grilled mirin teriyaki salmon

We’ve been exploring Chinatown in Flushing, New York. We take the 7 train from 42nd Street Times Square all the way to the end of the line, Main Street-Flushing, where we found a dimsum restaurant called Asian Jewels Seafood that serves it Hong Kong style, that is, from steam pushcarts. This is our second Sunday in Flushing, and what we’ve seen so far of this Chinatown includes blocks of restaurants, Chinese apothecaries, little snack shops, bakeries, cafes, and supermarkets. There are no souvenir shops selling I [heart] New York t-shirts or fake watches, purses, and pirated DVDs. It is not as touristy as Chinatown, Manhattan. Today we discovered the huge J-Mart on Roosevelt Avenue in the New World Mall. As you walk in, fresh fruit and vegetables line the aisles to welcome you,  and against the long wall, a row of fresh seafood to tempt you. We splurged on fresh fish, like this salmon @$6.99 a pound. We bought three pounds. I like to be around people who take their food seriously.

Grilled Mirin Teriyaki Salmon

Prep time: 15 minutes
Marinating time: 2 hours
Grill time: 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup scallions, finely chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons ginger, grated
2-3 tablespoons garlic, pressed in a garlic press (about 4 large cloves)
1/2 -1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets


In a small bowl, mix all marinade ingredients. Set aside.

Prepare the salmon. Rinse and scrape the skin to be sure no scales remain. Cut into four equal portions and place in an 8-inch pan. Pour the marinade all over and turn the pieces several times. Leave it skin-side up in the marinade and refrigerate 2 hours.

Remove from the marinade and grill at once. If you wish,  reserve the marinade and heat it on the stove until it is simmering. Keep it hot for pouring over the grilled salmon. It is not too salty as some marinades tend to be. In fact, it is salty, sour, and sweet, not spicy at all, and I had added a teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

I grilled these fillets in the George Foreman indoor grill. Depending on the thickness, it takes 3-5 minutes per piece or until each fillet reaches an internal temperature of 145˚F. The skin came out crisp and charred. Delicious. Pour a little bit of the hot sauce on the salmon.

Serving suggestions: mashed cauliflower, Tennessee-style mustard cole slaw, and sautéed spinach with pepper and sea salt.

banana avocado smoothie

banana avocado smoothie
Banana Avocado Smoothie
Is an avocado a vegetable or a fruit? According to Wiki.Answers, it’s got a large seed so it’s a fruit. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to fruits and vegetables in a meal, like avocados belong in a salad or a sandwich. But I’ve learned that I’ve been restricting how I use an avocado in my cooking. It is quite a versatile fruit, adding fat to cakes, for example in this avocado-polenta pound cake and this avocado marble cake. Now I’m trying it in this banana avocado smoothie for breakfast.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: none
Servings: 2

6 cubes ice
1 frozen ripe banana
1 small Haas avocado
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk (can use any flavor nut milk)
honey or agave nectar, to taste (can use stevia)

In a blender, crush the ice. Slice the frozen banana and add it to the blender. Scoop out the avocado flesh and discard the seed. Add the flesh to the blender along with the milk. Blend until smooth. Taste. If more sweetness is desired, add honey to taste.

Cook’s Note: Before freezing the banana, peel it and wrap it in waxed paper then put it in a zipper lock bag in the freezer.

sesame noodles, take-out style

Chinese barbecued spare ribs with string beans in ginger and garlic on a bed of sesame noodles

I borrowed The Essential New York Times Cook Book (2010) from the NYPL. While it doesn’t claim to be the bible of cook books, it is comprehensive and has lots of interesting recipes, like this one. I like it because Amanda Hesser, who compiled this collection, also includes serving suggestions. Since the guys wanted a carb blowout for dinner, that is, Chinese barbecued spare ribs, I decided to try Hesser’s suggestion and serve them with sesame noodles. This is an interesting noodle dish, similar to Japanese somen because it’s served cold.  It’s been hours since dinner and the apartment is still redolent of hoisin sauce and sesame oil!

Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles (The Essential NYTimes Cookbook)
I could not find lo mein noodles uptown so I made do with linguine. I will try spaghettini next time. Linguine were too starchy and tended to be gummy when cold. I cooked them for six minutes, one minute over the recommended time. I needed to cook them less, then chill them right away in ice water to stop the cooking. I ran the coldest water from the tap over them. Another thing, if you don’t have rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar will do. And I made the cucumber and peanuts optional. Read my serving suggestion below.

1 pound lo mein egg noodles (1/8 inch thick) frozen or fresh (can substitute linguine but try spaghettini)
2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil, plus more for a splash
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar (can use balsamic vinegar)
2 tablespoons sesame paste or tahini
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons chile-garlic paste or to taste (available in the supermarket Asian section)
1/2 cucumber peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 2 inch long sticks, optional
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts, optional

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes. They should be al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again, and toss with a “splash of sesame oil.”

Whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame paste, peanut butter, sugar, ginger, garlic, and chile-garlic paste in a medium bowl.

Pour half the sauce over the noodles and toss. Add more sauce as desired. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the cucumber and peanuts. I recommend serving it with chopped scallion, cilantro, and the skinniest slivers of ginger–the trinity of Chinese cooking. Like revenge, this is a dish best eaten cold.

Cook’s Note: Don’t be shy! Use all the sauce. Believe me, it’s worth it.

grilled cheese sandwich night


The guys are hanging out in front of the TV tonight. It’s the NBA Finals, Heat vs. Spurs. So I made a light quick dinner around two kinds of grilled cheese sandwiches. I call this one

Grilled Cheddar Jalapeno Tomato Sandwich

Prep time: 5 minutes
Grill time: 4 minutes per sandwich
Servings: 2 sandwiches

4 slices whole wheat bread
4 slices cheddar cheese
4 slices tomato
8 slivers jalapeno pepper

Butter or cooking spray, optional


On one slice of bread place a slice of cheddar cheese. Top with 2 slices tomato and 4 slivers of jalapeno pepper. Cover with another slice of cheddar cheese. Put the second slice of bread on top.

Cook’s Note: If you wish, butter the bread before toasting. You can use cooking spray instead of butter.

Toast in a griddle pan over medium-high heat, pressing down lightly once or twice before flipping, about 2 minutes. Repeat on the second side. Make the second sandwich just like the first!


Grilled sandwich #2. This one is sweet and salty, and is called

Grilled Ham Swiss Cheese and Pear Sandwich

Prep time: 5 minutes
Grill time: 4 minutes per sandwich
Servings: 2 sandwiches

4 slices whole wheat bread
4 slices Swiss Cheese (can use another white cheese such as Emmentaler or Mozzarella)
4 slices pear
2 thin slices ham
Butter or cooking spray, optional

On top of a slice of bread, place 1 slice cheese, 2 slices pear and 1 slice ham. Top with another slice cheese and the second slice of bread. Repeat steps to make another sandwich.

Cook’s Note: Slice the whole pear thinly. No need to peel it. Just trim the top and bottom so that the pear is flat. Now, cut the pear in half from pole to pole then use a mandoline to slice one half pear into thin uniform slices.

In a griddle pan, toast the sandwiches over medium-high heat for 2 minutes on each side. If you wish you can butter the sides of the bread before toasting. Or use cooking spray. Slice and eat!

Port Tenderloin with Cucumber-Mango Salad


pork tenderloin with cucumber-mango salad

Pork Tenderloin with Cucumber-Mango Salad (from Better Homes and Gardens)
Flavorful and delicate, this tender juicy pork tenderloin makes a light supper with a salad and vegetables and some jasmine brown rice.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Roasting time: 425°F 20 mins
Standing time: 5 mins
Servings: 4


2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and silver
4 green onions
1 mango, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 small English cucumber, sliced and/or chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced (optional)


Preheat oven to 425˚F.

Make the rub. In a small bowl combine brown sugar, five-spice powder, and salt.  Set aside 1 teaspoon brown sugar mixture. Rub remaining brown sugar mixture into pork tenderloin. Place tenderloin in a foil-lined baking pan.

Roast the tenderloin. Roast, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 155 degrees F. Cover with foil and let stand for 5 minutes (meat temperature will rise to 160 degrees F).

Make the salad. Meanwhile, slice the green portion of green onions into thin strips; chop the white portion. In a medium bowl combine green onions, mango, cucumber, jalapeno pepper (if using), and the reserved brown sugar mixture.

Serve. Slice pork and serve with mango salad.


stuffed chicken breasts with orange-mustard sauce


Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Orange-Mustard Sauce

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 3-6

3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 cup frozen spinach, slightly thawed
1/2 cup chopped bacon
Salt and pepper
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon Dijon grain mustard
4 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven 350˚F.

Prepare the chicken. Trim the chicken breasts of excess fat. Split each breast in half horizontally so that you get two thin steaks about 1/4 -1/2 inch thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook the bacon. Fry the bacon in a small skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from rendered fat and let bacon drain on a sheet of paper towel. Don’t discard the bacon fat.

Fill the chicken rolls. In the middle of each steak, put about 1 tablespoon bacon and 2 tablespoons frozen spinach. Fasten with toothpicks.

Sear the chicken rolls. On medium high heat, lightly brown the chicken rolls in the bacon fat. Don’t discard the fat and brown bits in the pan. In fact, don’t wash it!

Bake the rolls. Put the rolls in an 8-inch baking pan and bake for 20 minutes or until the rolls are cooked through. If some rolls are small, test them with an instant read thermometer after 10 minutes. Test the larger rolls after 15 minutes. Cook for 4-5 minutes more until the temperature reaches 160˚F. Remove the toothpicks.

Make the sauce. Meanwhile in the pan in which the chicken was browned, add the chicken broth. I like to save time by using concentrated chicken broth paste. It’s very salty so there’s no need to add salt, but do use it sparingly. If it says a teaspoon, use half a teaspoon then add the water to the pan. Add the orange juice and the Dijon mustard and cook down until the liquid is thickened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

Remember you have almost a full bag of frozen spinach left over? Well, cook it with salt and pepper.

Spoon sauce over each chicken roll,  add a generous spoonful of cooked spinach on the side, and eat! I also recommend serving these stuffed chicken rolls with roasted vegetables.

thai grilled beef salad (yum neua)

DSC02049 Thai Grilled Beef Salad (America’s Test Kitchen) America’s Test Kitchen has come up with another adaptation of a Thai recipe that tastes authentic. Even my husband says so, and for a Thai, that is true praise indeed. I was aiming for the beef to be undercooked  because putting it in the sauce after grilling cooks it further. It’s a combination of resting plus the lime juice that completes the cooking, I think. This salad serving suggestion is with cucumber, which lessens the heat of the chile. You can also serve it with tomato slices. Another idea is to plate the salad on shredded lettuce or serve it with lettuce on the side to made steak “sandwiches.” The Test Kitchen folks say to pass the paprika-cayenne and roasted rice at table, but this is never done in Thailand. Yum Neua always arrives at table ready to eat, juicy tender meat in a sauce that’s a perfect balance of sour, salty, minty and spicy. Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 5 minutes Serves 4 to 6 Ingredients 1 teaspoon sweet paprika 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 tablespoon white rice (You’ll only use 1/2 tablespoon. I used roasted rice available in small jars at Asian groceries) 3 tablespoons lime juice (2 limes) 2 tablespoons fish sauce 2 tablespoons water 1/2 -1 teaspoon sugar 1 (1 1/2 pound) flank steak, trimmed (I couldn’t find flank steak so I bought London broil instead) Salt and white pepper, coarsely ground 4 shallots, sliced thin 1 1/2cups fresh mint leaves, sliced into slivers 1 1/2cups fresh cilantro leaves, minced 1 Thai chile, stemmed and sliced thin into rounds 1 seedless English cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch thick on bias Instructions

  1. Heat paprika and cayenne in 8-inch skillet over medium heat; cook, shaking pan, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to small bowl. You will only use 1/4 teaspoon of the paprika mixture. Put up the leftover for another day.
  2. [Cook’s Note: Skip this step if you have roasted rice in a jar] Return now-empty skillet to medium-high heat, add rice, and toast, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to second small bowl and cool for 5 minutes. Grind rice with spice grinder, mini food processor, or mortar and pestle until it resembles fine meal, 10 to 30 seconds (you should have about 1 tablespoon rice powder).
  3. Whisk lime juice, fish sauce, water, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon toasted paprika mixture in large bowl. Taste. If too sour, add another 1/2 teaspoon sugar and set aside. Lightly salt and pepper the steak.
  4. ATK’s directions FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes. Place steak over hot part of grill and cook until beginning to char and beads of moisture appear on outer edges of meat, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip steak and continue to cook on second side until charred and center registers 125 degrees, about 5 minutes longer.
  5. ATK’s directions FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s). Place steak over hot part of grill and cook until beginning to char and beads of moisture appear on outer edges of meat, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip steak and continue to cook on second side until charred and center registers 125 degrees, about 5 minutes longer.
  6. Foodie Joanie’s directions for an indoor grill: On my George Foreman grill, I found that 5 minutes was too long. The meat came out medium-well done and I wanted it medium rare. I recommend 2-3 minutes instead.
  7. Transfer to plate, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.
  8. Slice meat against the grain  into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer sliced steak to bowl with fish sauce mixture. Add shallots, mint, cilantro, chile, and 1/2 tablespoon rice powder; toss to combine. Transfer to platter lined with cucumber slices. Serve, passing remaining rice powder and toasted paprika mixture separately.  I forgot the cucumbers and served this dish with two old favorites–sesame rice and tom khaa or coconut milk soup— and one new favorite, Thai cabbage salad.

spicy apple bread

spicy apple bread

Spicy Apple Bread

Prep time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 60 minutes
Servings: 6-8 slices per loaf

3 small tart apples peeled, cored, and chopped (e.g. Granny Smith)
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 cup vegetable oil
1 2/3 cups superfine sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1/4 cup sliced raw almonds

Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Spray two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pans with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Whisk until blended.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oil and sugar. Beat on medium speed until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is yellow and glossy.

Add the flour mixture to the oil-sugar-egg mixture all at once. Beat on low speed until just combined, with streaks of flour remaining. Stir in the apples by hand.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly between the two pans. Make sure the batter gets into the corners. Tap the pans lightly on the countertop to settle the batter.

Between your thumb and forefingers, sprinkle half the turbinado sugar and half the almonds on top of the batter in one pan. Repeat with the second pan.

Bake the two loaves 50-60 minutes. Remove from the oven. Cool in the pans 15 minutes on wire racks, then remove the loaves from the pans. Let the loaves cool completely on the wire racks before serving, about 1 hour.