curry-flavor shrimp with sesame rice

Curried Shrimp wth Sesame Rice

It’s been so cold that I decided to cook something hearty but quick and easy. I found this recipe for Sesame Rice Salad in the South Beach Diet cookbook, the blue cover. Since then, I’ve adapted it in some form or another depending on the vegetables I have on hand. One thing I won’t swap is the asparagus. It must have asparagus! Bright green, cooked asparagus is such a pretty contrast in this dish. Though the rice and shrimp are spicy, the crisp-tender asparagus cools the mouth.

Curry-Flavor Shrimp with Sesame Rice

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

20 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, washed and patted dry with paper towels
2 teaspoons curry powder (I recommend Montego, the Jamaican curry powder)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3 cups cooked brown rice, room temperature
8 stalks asparagus, cut in thirds
1/2 cup frozen edamame
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
cooking spray
2 scallions sliced thin on the diagonal
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced fine
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Red pepper flakes, to taste, optional
salt and pepper

Season the shrimp with curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Set aside.

Boil a saucepan of water, lightly salted. Add the asparagus and cook until bright green. Remove from the heat at once, drain, and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.

Spray cooking spray in a large skillet. Heat the skillet until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Add the shrimp and cook on one side until no longer pink, 1 minute. Turn and cook on the other side, 1 minute.

Add the frozen edamame and peas to the hot skillet and cook until they are heated through, scraping up the browned bits or fond on the bottom. Add the rice and the cooked asparagus. Toss to combine. In a small bowl, mix the canola oil, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Whisk until the mixture emulsifies. Pour over the rice and toss lightly. Add the scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds. Toss lightly. Add red pepper flakes, if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve warm or at room temperature.

soy ginger rice with tofu, edamame, and mixed vegetables

Soy Ginger Rice with Tofu, Edamame, and Mixed Vegetables (adapted from Shape.com)
Tonight is Election Night and it’s a nail-biter, so naturally, I am cooking something vegan! This is a tasty and hearty dish–even my meat lover allows  “it’s all right.” You can use just about any frozen mixed vegetables that you have in the freezer. I had peas and carrots so I used that. And since the ancestor of this dish is fried rice, that’s a sign to use up leftover vegetables too! Don’t be tempted to cook the ginger-garlic-onions in sesame oil. Sesame oil is delicate and is mainly used for flavoring in Chinese cooking, so a little bit goes a long way. 

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

2 cups dry brown basmati rice (rice cup measure)
4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth (rice cup measure)
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 square inch of ginger, minced (or more if you love ginger!)
1⁄2 yellow onion, chopped
12-oz package of firm tofu, chopped
10-oz package frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1⁄2 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 cup chopped peppers (red or green for color)
4 tablespoons organic soy sauce (can substitute tamari)
1⁄4 cup of chopped cilantro
1/4 cup scallion, sliced fine
1 small head of kale, deveined and chopped
1⁄4 cup sunflower seeds, optional
1-2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

Preparation:

Cook brown basmati rice in a rice cooker, using vegetable broth instead of water. When it has finished cooking, it can be left on the stay-warm setting.

Cook’s Note: I’ve always cooked rice the way my mother taught me and it works for rice cookers too. I simply put the rice in the rice cooker liner and fill it with liquid until it comes up to the level of my first finger joint (about 1 inch).

In a large Dutch oven,  heat the canola oil on medium-high heat. Then  add the garlic, ginger, and onion. Sauté for 2 minutes, and then add the tofu, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula so as not to break up the tofu, until browned, about 15-20 minutes. Next, add mixed vegetables, edamame, peppers, soy sauce,  and stir.

Cook’s Note: If you forgot to thaw the frozen vegetables, as I did, just put a small saucepan of water on the stove to boil. Add the frozen vegetable until heated through. Drain and add to the pot!

Once the rice is cooked, add it to the vegetable mixture, turn the heat to low, add salt, pepper, and extra soy sauce or tamari if desired. Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil and toss gently. Turn off the heat but do not cover, since the heat will cook the vegetables.

Meanwhile, steam the kale and then toss with sunflower seeds, if desired. Divide into four or six portions. Serve the rice with the kale on the side, and scallions and cilantro for garnish.

Cook’s Note: I love the fragrance of coconut oil. So instead of steaming, I stir-fried the kale in a tablespoon of coconut oil until it turned bright green–no more than 30 seconds. Then I seasoned the kale with Fleur de Sel (sea salt) and red chili flakes.

beef broccoli with sichuan pepper and japanese zucchini stir fry

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Sichuan pepper is actually not a pepper at all nor is it related to black pepper. If it smells and tastes familiar that’s because it is a common ingredient in Asian cooking, particularly  in Five-Spice Powder. To me it has a sweet smell, almost like cinnamon, and like cinnamon, it is somewhat bitter. Use it in small quantities because although it does not have the heat of the more familiar peppers, it does have a numbing effect on the tongue. To me, water tastes salty after eating too much Sichuan peppercorns!

Beef Broccoli with Sichuan Pepper

This is a variation on the popular dish in Chinese restaurant menus. The beef is tender and the broccoli is crisp tender, with a hint of sesame. In Chinese cooking, sesame oil is used to flavor food after it is cooked. It is too delicate to stand up to heat in cooking. A little bit, like a teaspoon, is  enough. I serve this beef broccoli with Sichuan pepper with brown-white rice mix because AJ thinks brown rice alone is too dry. The ratio is 2:1 brown rice to white rice.

3/4 pound lean boneless beef steak, sliced across the grain into thin strips
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon red Sichuan peppercorns, coarsely ground
3 tablespoons soy sauce or soy-ginger sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons ginger, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons garlic, peeled and minced
3 cups broccoli florets
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Blanch broccoli florets in a pot of boiling water until bright green, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and place under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, put the beef strips, peppercorns, soy sauce or soy-ginger sauce, add cornstarch. Mix well and set aside.

Put canola oil in a large wok or skillet, and turn up the heat to medium-high. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beef and stir-fry until it begins to brown, about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli and toss to heat through. The beef should have pink streaks. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sesame oil. Taste and adjust seasoning; adding a little soy sauce, if desired. Serve immediately with steamed brown rice and Japanese Zucchini Stir Fry.

Japanese Zucchini Stir Fry

I found this recipe in Real Food Real Easy (2010) by George Stella. The recipes in this book use just a few ingredients (not more than nine) and the method is simple and straightforward. I really needed this cookbook since I started a new job this week, and I haven’t had much time for anything complicated. So this marks a return to my roots–simple stir fries with fresh ingredients.

2 medium zucchini
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

  1. To toast sesame seeds, put them in a skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside. Slice ends off zucchini and discard. Cut each zucchini in half crosswise then split each half vertically in two. Slice each quarter into thick sticks. Cut quartered onion into 1/4 inch thick strips
  2. Heat oil in a large work or skillet over medium-high heat until sizzling. Add zucchini and onions and cook without stirring 2-4 minutes or until browned on the undersides. Stir once and continue cooking 2-3 minutes to continue browning.
  3. Add soy sauce and black pepper, tossing to combine. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil and sesame seeds.

white fish with rice wine sauce

Originally styled “Halibut in Rice Wine” on allrecipes.com, I think any white fish will do for this recipe. Perhaps even a good thick salmon steak. I made this dish by baking instead of grilling the fish and using basa instead of halibut. I’m a great believer in using whatever fish is available at the supermarket. The sauce, you could also say, isn’t even the expected color for a rice wine based sauce. That’s because there is black bean and soy sauce in it. It came out rather sweetish because of the mirin. I think if you prefer it more tart, then add more rice vinegar.

INGREDIENTS:
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon black bean sauce
1/2 cup mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
6 (4 ounce) fillets halibut, skin removed
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

DIRECTIONS:
1. Heat oil in a 10 inch non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Cook shallots and garlic gently until fragrant, but not brown. Stir in black bean sauce, rice wine, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half. Remove from heat, and stir in vinegar; taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside.

2. Pat fish dry. Brush with sesame oil and sprinkle with pepper. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil grate.

3. Grill fish for about 5 minutes per side, or just until cooked through.  Cook’s note: I baked the fish in a 350˚F oven for 10-15 minutes. Watch carefully so that they don’t get overdone. Thinner fillets like basa cook up faster than thicker fillets. The rule is that the fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.

4. To serve, spoon sauce on a fillet and sprinkle with cilantro.