Archive | May, 2013

Asian Chicken Salad

27 May

I hesitate to label things “Asian” because I don’t know any Japanese or other Asian that actually eats this salad. Regardless, I like the Asian-inspired flavors and the crunchy and sweet components of this dish. The weather lately has demanded lots of cool, refreshing salads and this salad does just that.

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Ingredients List:

This salad makes two dinner and two lunches for the next day.

  • Salad greens (I prefer to use a leafy medley, since those greens are more nutrient dense than any romaine/iceberg combo)
  • Sugar snap peas, sliced
  • Bean sprouts
  • 2 cans mandarin oranges, drained and rinsed
  • Almonds
  • Wonton strips, cut into strips and fried
  • 4 chicken tenderloins

Salad dressing:

  • Rice vinegar
  • Sesame oil
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sesame seeds, toasted
  • Dash of sugar

Instructions:

1. Marinate the chicken in salt, pepper, sesame oil, and shoyu for about 15 minutes prior to cooking. Then, in a hot skillet, heat up some olive oil and cook chicken.

2. Combine all salad dressing ingredients. Before adding the sesame seeds, toast them in a pan. This will only take a few seconds, but truly adds great depth of flavor to the salad dressing.

3. Prepare the rest of your ingredients – mandarin oranges, bean sprouts, sliced baby snap peas, and salad greens. Combine in a bowl.

4. In a pan or wok with some vegetable oil, fry the wonton strips. I drizzled these with some sesame oil and shoyu also after frying to get an extra dash of flavor.

5. Add the chicken, almonds, fried wonton strips, and salad dressing to your salad and eat up!

The Boyfriend Rates It: 4.o

I have always loved “Asian” inspired salads. They are fresh, crunchy and citrus-y. The only thing that could make this salad any better would be fresh mandarins.

Nasu Dengaku

21 May

Nasu dengaku is a Japanese dish where eggplant is baked in a miso glaze and topped with green onion. Served with rice, it is ridiculously delish. I know a lot of people aren’t crazy about eggplants, but I always have been. Maybe its the glorious purple color. I think this is a fantastic component when eating a Japanese meal. I like to eat Japanese themed happy hours. Nasu dengaku is a perfect addition to this.

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Ingredient List:
– 2 Japanese eggplants, halved
– Green onion
– Miso paste
– Sake
– Shoyu
– Rice vinegar
– Sesame seeds

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso paste, sake, shoyu, and rice vinegar to taste.

3. Using a basting brush, spread the mixture on the flesh of the eggplant. Cook the eggplant in the oven for about 20 minutes. About half way through, pour/baste the rest of the dressing onto the eggplant.

3. When finished cooking, top with chopped green onion and sesame seeds. Serve with rice.

The Boyfriend Rates It: 4

I happen to be one of those people that loves eggplant. Add on the super delicious miso glaze and you’ve got the a great eggplant side dish.

Miso Soup

20 May

Miso soup is a staple in my life. I eat it for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner — whenever. It is warm, it is delicious, and it is good for you! It also takes about 5 minutes or less to prepare. Serve it as a main dish (toss in some rice to add substance) or as accompaniment to your favorite Nihonjin meal.

Ingredients:
– Miso paste
– Firm tofu, cubed
– Dashi

Optional:
– Green onion
– Egg
– Spinach or other greens, rinsed thoroughly
– Wakame (seaweed – you can buy this dried)
– Cooked rice

Directions:

1. Get a small pot and add water. Heat on high so it will start to boil by the time you add your ingredients.

2. In a small dish, whisk together the miso paste (maybe about 2 tbsp to start and then adjust the flavor as you taste the soup) and some water. Once this is well incorporated, add it to your almost-boiling water.

3. Prepare whatever ingredients you want to add to your miso soup. My favorites are: chopped tofu, lots and lots of spinach, green onion, and an egg.

4. Add your tofu first to the miso soup on the stove. Add about one spoonful of dashi. Continue to add miso paste, dashi, and even shoyu, as necessary to get the flavor right. Once the water starts to boil, turn off the heat. Words from my Obaachan: “don’t let your water boil more than once or you will ruin the flavor. As she says that to me, she always hits my arm to really reinforce the fact!

5. Once you turn off the heat, add the whisked egg and stir in the broth so it cooks. Add the spinach until it welts.

6. Serve in a bowl (I wish I had Japanese miso soup bowls! but I don’t. I have these Martha Stewart cereal bowls that I use instead) and top with chopped green onion.

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Delicious!

I wish I wasn’t out of miso paste, otherwise I would make this right now!

The Boyfriend Rates It: 4

This is another one of those dishes I didn’t grow up eating, but when I did have it it was of the restaurant variety, so it was usually bland. This, on the other hand, has tons of flavor and is extremely savory. The spinach and green onions give it good texture and a little bite and the egg and tofu give it a good amount of protein.

Black bean and corn salad

19 May

This black bean and corn salad is a great accompaniment to a chicken dish or as a topping for taco salad. If I eat it in the taco salad, I don’t add the avocado because I add slices of avocado to my salad. In all other cases, the avocado adds a bit of creaminess to it. With the avocado, you could even consider it like a chunky salsa and eat it with some chips. It is crisp, refreshing, healthy and holds a little kick of heat with the jalapenos/serranos – add as much for the heat level that you desire.

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Ingredient List:
– Black beans (cook your own!)
– Corn
– Cilantro, chopped
– Cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1-3 jalapeno or serrano pepper, chopped
– Avocado (optional)
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– Salt and pepper
– Juice of 1-2 limes
– Cumin (optional)

Directions:

1. To begin with, cook your own black beans. You need to add about 1 cup of black beans (washed, of course) to your crock pot. Boil water before you add it to the crock pot – this makes it cook much, much faster. Add in half an onion, 2-3 garlic cloves, a bay leaf, salt and pepper and let the beans cook. You need to fill your crock pot all the way up with boiling water and then the beans will cook in 2-3 hours. Once they are cooked, drain and rinse under cold water.

2. In a large bowl, combine your beans, corn, cherry tomatoes, chopped jalapeno, avocado, minced garlic, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper and lime juice. Depending on what I am using this for, I also add cumin for some warmth. It depends. Do what feels right to you.

3. Serve in a taco salad, as a side salad, or as a chunky salsa and enjoy!

The Boyfriend Rates It: 3.5

It’s a salsa that adds freshness to a variety of dishes. I personally like it in a taco salad with a spicy dressing but has many other creative uses.