I grew up on white bread toasted with Kraft cheese singles and a dollop of ketchup for sweetness. I would eagerly wait for the cheese to bubble up in the toaster oven and puff into a bronzed dome. Brie brulee is my gourmet take on this childhood favorite. The blow torch further caramelizes the melted cheese to add a smoky flavor. Fig jam adds sweetness in this very classic pairing.
- 2-3 half inch slices of brie, enough to cover a piece of toast
- 1 tsp fig jam
- 1 slice whole grain bread
- Spread fig jam on sliced bread
- Lay brie over bread
- Toast for 5 mins until cheese has melted but bread not burnt
- Using a blow torch run flame quickly over cheese to caramelize
- Serve immediately
Living in southern California, we are spoiled by our great weather and abundant organic produce. Making a crappy salad is actually hard. On weekends, ladies would descend upon our farmer’s markets in their Lululemons and grab their fill of antioxidants packed greens. I would head to my favorite strawberry vendor from Oxnard and whip up a batch of strawberry sauce. I love making berry sauces because I can add alcohol. Blueberries pairs beautifully with gin and strawberries with grand marnier. Drizzle it over vanilla ice cream, layer it with custard in a trifle or spoon it over scones, the options are endless.
- 2 pints of strawberries
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- Pinch of salt
- Combine all ingredients in a sauce pot and cook over medium heat.
- Use a potato masher to crush strawberries and release juices.
- Cook until mixture is thick and bubbling.
- Turn off flame and add 1 Tbsp of favorite liqueur.
Brussel sprouts have stormed the menus of America. Never have kale and brussel sprouts been this popular. I am not the biggest fan of brussel sprouts because the return on effort (“ROE”) is only average. None drools over roasted brussel sprouts as one does roasted pork belly with a crispy crackling. It is a pain to prepare because I have to cut them into halves, bust out the roasting pan, preheat the oven, etc. It has a high utensil requirement (“UR”) which translates into more dishwashing. But this recipe is worth it because the flavor profile is unusual yet delicious. The hazelnut oil adds an earthly note to the salty sweet miso paste brightened with lemon juice and shiso.
- 2 lbs brussel sprouts
- 1/2 toasted hazelnuts
- 4 Shiso leaves, sliced into long thin strips “chiffonard”
- 1/4 cup white miso
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup hazelnut oil
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Wash brussel sprouts, cut off ends and cut into halves.
- Lightly coat brussel sprouts with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Do not use too much salt because the miso paste is salty.
- Place brussel sprouts in sheet pan and roast in oven for 20-30 mins. Stir or shake pan mid-way to ensure even browning. Cook until leaves are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
- Combine miso, water and sugar in small sauce pan. Mix with a whisk and reduce sauce over medium heat until it turns brown and syrupy.
- Whisk reduced miso sauce, lemon juice and hazelnut oil together in glass bowl.
- Toast hazelnuts in toaster oven and remove skin. Rough chop.
- In a large class bowl, combine roasted brussel sprouts, chopped hazelnuts, shiso chiffonard and miso dressing.
- Serve immediately.
People in Los Angeles do not diet, they cleanse. In West LA, we are either caught massaging our kale or juicing some vegetation sprouted from ionized water. Monsanto is the devil and white rice arsenic. Everyone has at least one to two high protein/high fiber salad tucked solidly under their belt. Fearing for my woefully clogged chakras, I came up with this recipe last summer when fresh sweet corn was in season. I love corn thus may be biased with my oversized corn ration.
- 3 cups fresh corn
- 1 1/2 cup cooked spelt berries
- 1 1/2 cup diced japanese cucumbers
- 1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped italian parsley
- 1 Tbsp ground toasted coriander seeds
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- Toast pumpkin seeds till golden brown in a small skillet over medium heat. Swirl continuously to prevent burning.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 Tbsp butter. When butter foams, add fresh corn and season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 black pepper. Stir frequently for 2 mins. Cool.
- Toast coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium heat. Swirl continuously to prevent burning. Grind to powder in coffee grinder.
- Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl and mix thoroughly.
Whenever I browse through the produce section of an American grocery store I always wonder why they do not carry Manila mangoes. Instead preferring the Hayden or Turpentine varieties which are more fibrous and sour. Manila mangoes are oh-so sweet and the national fruit of the Philippines for this good reason. Continuing on the salmon sashimi theme I have thrown together a salmon tartare. Lemon juice is used liberally to enhance the sweetness of the mango and balance out the fattiness of the salmon sashimi.
- Salmon sashimi, cubed
- Manila Mangoes, cubed
- Shiso leaves, sliced into thin long strips known as “chiffonard”
- Toasted white sesame seeds
- Soy sauce
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Touch of Sesame seed oil (very strong)
- Optional: Jalapeno peppers
- Mix soy sauce, olive oil and lemon juice using a 1:2:3 ratio. Taste and adjust to your liking. Add a touch of sesame seed oil.
- Combine mangoes, salmon sashimi and shiso leaves in a glass bowl and fold in dressing.
- Garnish with toasted white sesame seeds.
I am not specifying specific measurements in this recipe because the salmon to mango ratio can be adjusted to your liking. I tend to use a 1:1 ratio. Shisho is a very bright and citrusy herb so use sparingly. For the dressing use a 1:2:3 ratio for soy sauce, olive oil and lemon juice respectively. Be generous with the lemon juice!
My blow torch makes me feel like an iron chef. Armed I am ready to caramelize anything especially fat. Quickly searing sashimi grade salmon belly caramelizes the fat without cooking the fish. My rule of thumb is do not mess around with good ingredients. When you encounter wild white king salmon just bow! This is a recipe where the less steps and ingredients the better.
- Sashimi grade salmon preferably the belly cut
- 1 Tbsp Yuzu
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Shiso leaves, finely sliced into long thin strips known as “chiffonard”
- Maldon sea salt
- Slice salmon and lay pieces over a porcelain plate
- Using a blow torch sear the salmon. DO NOT COOK
- Mix Yuzu and olive oil to make vinaigrette, drizzle over seared salmon
- Garnish with sea salt and shiso leaves
- Serve immediately
If you have truffle salt, this dish will go from awesome to divine.
When I first served this at a party I had to lie and call it tuna. I kept my ears peeled for the first crunch followed by gasps of delight. Only then did I quickly confess to my little white lie. Sardines, unjustly known as bait fish, are much misunderstood. These small oily fishes belonging to the herring family are not only delicious but are also high in omega-3 acids and iron. Canned sardines are eaten throughout Southeast Asia. This recipe is my open faced take on the sardine puff, a favorite among Singaporeans.
- 1 can of sardines in tomate sauce (Ayam Brand is recommended)
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 whole onion thinly sliced
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- 2 tps curry power
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste (if unavailable substitute with ketchup)
- 1 Tbsp Lingham’s sweet chili sauce
- 2 Tbsp calamansi lime juice (if unavailable use regular lime juice)
- 1 Tbsp of finely chopped cilantro
- 2 sheets of puff pastry
- 1 egg
- Empty sardines from can and reserve tomato sauce.
- Saute onions in butter for 5 mins. Add 1 tsp salt to sweat onions.
- Add curry powder and garlic. Saute garlic till fragrant.
- Add reserved tomato sauce, tomato paste, Lingham sweet chili sauce and calamansi lime juice.
- Reduce mixture to a jam like texture.
- Fold sardines and chopped cilantro into the mixture. Expect sardines to fall apart which is fine.
- Cut puff pastry into squares.
- Beat 1 egg and apply egg wash to puff pastry squares. Bake according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Spoon sardine mixture onto each square and garnish with cilantro leaves.
There is no better way to learn a culture then through its stomach. This is why I love browsing through the isles of supermarkets especially ethnic ones. Whenever I go to a Filipino supermarket I see carts of cane vinegar proudly displayed in the center. The dipping sauce for lechon uses cane vinegar. Since it was cheap I thought I would buy one and try it. It is basically white vinegar but provides a good tang without being too sharp. I use this in making Chili Ginger Sauce. It should make a great bbq sauce too….we shall see.
Fish sauce is made from the fermentation of anchovies in salt and water. Does not sound too appetizing, huh? Fish sauce stinks like toe fungus from the bottle but a few drops can turn a so-so broth into a wow-what-is-this. It is packed with “umami” due to its glutamate content and is used as a staple ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking. Other variations of the same theme are Indonesia’s terasi, Cambodia’s prahok and Malaysia’s belachan. The Italians use salt packed anchovies for the same purpose of delivering extra ooophm to a dish! Some say that fish sauce can increase one’s risk of esophagael or gastric cancer. But bacon ups one risk of being fat so pick your vice. It is important to check the labels and avoid any brands that contain sodium benzoate. My favorite is Viet Huong 3 crab brand and that can be easily found in most Asian grocery stores. The ingredients include anchovy extract, salt, water, frutose, & hydrolysed vegetable protein. The last may mean wheat protein so for gluten-free folks stay clear. The luxury brand is Red Boat fish sauce but it comes at the premium price of $8-24 dollars a bottle. Red boat promises premium quality anchovies aged in wooden barrels without added water, preservatives, msg, wheat protein. Alas the Bentley of fish sauces has arrived! And I just found out that it is Whole Foods approved.
Indonesia has the biggest muslim population in the world. The Koran forbids the consumption of pork. Yet ironically some of the most delicious pork dishes come from Indonesian Chinese restaurants and pork satays, “sate babi”, are definitely one of them. The key to this dish is using freshly ground toasted coriander seeds. Beware! This recipe is for the patient.
- 1 1/2 lb of pork butt, cut into thumb size cubes
- 1 1/2 Tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1/2 cup kecap manis
- 1 thumb of ginger
- 1 thumb of galangal root
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- Toast coriander seeds in pan over medium flame. Swirl the seeds while toasting to prevent burning. Grind to powder in a coffee grinder or use a pestle and mortar.
- Repeat step 1 for cumin seeds.
- Place ginger, lemongrass, galangal root, a bit of water in food processor and blend until completely smooth and fibers cannot be seen.
- Combine all ingredients with pork in glass bowl and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge to marinate overnight.
- Soak bamboo skewers in water overnight to prevent them from burning on the grill.
- Piece together 4-5 cubes of pork using bamboo skewers. Do not cram but space pieces evenly apart to ensure pork gets cooked thoroughly.
- Grill over BBQ
- If BBQ grill is unavailable, use the oven broil function and cook for about 7 mins each side.
- 4-5 gloves of minced garlic
- 2-3 chopped fresh chili padi
- 2 Tbsp of chopped cilantro root
- 1 Tbsp of butter
- 4-5 Tbsp of kecap manis
- 3 Tbsp of water
- Heat butter in sauce pan.
- Stir fry minced garlic, chili padi and chopped cilantro root till fragrant.
- Lower heat, add kecap manis and water.
- Cook till sauce bubbles, careful not to burn the sugars in the sauce. Turn off heat and drizzle over satays.
I have tried unsuccessfully to use pork butt from Whole Foods that is hormone and antibiotic free but the resulting pork was so gamey tasting that I had to switch back. This is an instance where the less we know the better. Do not use fresh garlic or onions as it may burn over the grill and turn bitter. Use garlic and onion powder instead.