Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wood Ear Mushroom and Enoki Miso Soup with Sprouts and Wakame Salad

     Healthy Miso Soup!
     Wood Ear Mushrooms are also called Cows Ear Fungus, Jelly Ear, Judas Ear, Jews Ear and a few other descriptive name.  Wood Ear Mushrooms usually grow in deciduous forests in the Northern Hemisphere and they flourish on Elder Trees.   
     This mushroom species offers good health benefits that include improving respiratory function, cancer fighting properties and they contain chemicals that slow the aging process.  Wood Ear Mushrooms also reduce cholesterol levels, they have anti coagulant properties and the help to control diabetes related hypoglycemia.  Sore eyes and throat irritations are a couple more things that Wood Ear Mushrooms help to cure. 
     Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms can be found in grocery stores and fresh Wood Ear Mushrooms are usually stocked in Asian food markets.  Wood Ear Mushrooms are often referred to as "meat" by vegetarians in Asia.  The flavor of this mushroom is very mild and the texture is as firm as cooked cabbage.  These mushrooms are usually featured in soups and saucy stir fry entrées.  Chinese Hot Sour Soup usually has Wood Ear Mushrooms in the list of ingredients, so most people that dine in Chinese American restaurants have tried these mushroom at some point in time, whether they know it or not.            
     Enoki Mushrooms have a delicate flavor and they have health benefits that include anti aging properties as well as improving immune system capability.  Wild harvested Enoki offer more potent health benefits and they have a stronger flavor.  Wild Enoki are usually sold dried as Golden Mushrooms.  Cultivated farm fresh Enoki can be found fresh at Asian food markets and grocery stores.  
     Collecting Enoki and Wood Ear Mushrooms in the wild is an option, but a word of advice is best given.  I spent more than 10 years studying and collecting edible wild mushrooms in the sub tropics.  I read volumes of mushroom identification books, before I collected my first edible wild mushroom.  The Audubon mushroom identification books have clear photographs and descriptions, but like all mushroom identification books, there are a few errors.  Some mushrooms in every mushroom identification guide seem to be misidentified or mislabeled, so it is best to cross reference when doing research.  
     An understanding of the Latin language makes mushroom identification much easier.  Most scientific mushroom names are written in Latin and the names are descriptive.  If you are not sure about the identity of a wild mushroom, then never assume that it is edible!  Many wild mushrooms contain deadly toxins, so never take risks!        
     Dried Wood Ear Mushroom Preparation: 
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Place 4 Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms in a container.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
     Soak the wood ear mushrooms in a refrigerator overnight.
     Step 2:  Drain off the soaking liquid.
     Julienne slice the reconstituted Wood Ear Mushrooms.  (1/8" wide strips)
     Set the mushroom strips aside or chill them for later use.
     Iriko Wakame Dashi:
     This recipe yields about 2 cups.
     Iriko Dashi is made with Sun Dried Anchovies.  Asian style Sun Dried Anchovies have a nice savory umami flavor that is much milder tasting than Mediterranean anchovy products.  An Iriko Dashi is usually boiled for 10 minutes.  
     Wakame adds a bold savory seaweed flavor.  Salt Packed Dried Wakame is only partially dried and a little bit will dramatically increase in size when reconstituted.
     Step 1:  Place 2 3/4 cups of water in a small sauce pot.
     Bring the water to a gentle boil over medium heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of small sun dried anchovies.  (1" length anchovies)    
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of small chopped rinsed Salt Packed Dried Wakame Seaweed.
     Step 2:  Gently boil for 10 minutes.  Allow the volume of broth to reduce to about 2 cups.
     *Only add water if the broth reduces too much.
     Step 3:  Pour the Dashi Broth through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.
     *The anchovies and wakame can be eaten as a snack, saved for other recipes or discarded.
     Wood Ear Mushroom and Enoki Miso Soup with Sprouts and Wakame Salad:
     This recipe yields about 2 cups.  (1 portion)
     Packages of Pickled Wakame Seaweed Salad (Chuka Kuki Wakame) are available at Asian food markets and some grocery stores.  
     Step 1:  Place the sauce pot of Iriko Wakame Dashi Broth over medium low heat.
     Add the reserved reconstituted Wood Ear Mushroom Strips.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of a minced garlic. 
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of soy sauce.
     Add 2 drops of pure sesame oil.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 2:  Gently simmer the Wood Ear Mushrooms for 5 minutes.
     *Add a splash of water if the broth reduces to less than 2 cups in volume.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of Pale Yellow Color Miso Paste while stirring with a whisk.
     Simmer and stir for one minute, so the miso paste combines.
     Step 4:  Pour the miso soup into a shallow soup bowl.  (2 1/4 cup capacity bowl)
     Step 5:  Place 1 small bunch of trimmed raw Enoki Mushrooms on one side the soup, so the Enoki point out from center.  (About 20 Enoki)  
     Place 1 small bunch of Mung Bean Sprouts on the opposite side of the soup, so they point out from center.  (About 15 sprouts)
     *The small bunches of Enoki and sprouts will displace the Wood Ear Mushrooms in the soup and this will create an interesting visual effect! 
     Step 6:  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of thin bias sliced green onion on the center of the soup.
     Mound 2 to 3 tablespoons of Pickled Wakame Seaweed Salad on the center of the soup.

     This is a good tasting healthy miso soup that has nice eye appeal!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

King Mushroom and Baby Bok Choy with Banana Flower Sauce and Black Jasmine Rice

     A Tasty Vegetarian Entrée!
     Asian food items that may seem exotic in the western world are usually standard fare in the far east.  For example, Banana Blossoms and Banana Flowers are almost never used European or American cuisine, yet these are popular items in Southeast Asia.  King Trumpet Mushrooms are another item that is rarely used in western culture recipes.  Even though Banana Blossoms, Banana Flowers and King Mushrooms are widely available in America, these tasty items never seem to be featured in mainstream recipes.  
     The entire purple color budding banana flower is usually marketed as a Banana Blossom.  The purple color petals are cooked just like cabbage and they have a similar flavor.  The long pistils inside a Banana Blossom are usually marketed as Banana Flowers.  The Banana Flower Pistils have a bitter flavor and they are used extensively in Southeast Asian cuisine.  Bitter Banana Flowers often are used to flavor savory sweet sauces.  Dried Banana Flowers are available in Asian food markets.     
     King Mushrooms are the largest member of the Oyster Mushroom family and they have a very long shelf life.  King Mushrooms are easy to grow and they are very large, so they are modestly priced.  These mushrooms have a mild agreeable flavor, they have anti aging properties and they are very nutritious.
     Black Jasmine Rice is also called Forbidden Rice or Emperor's Rice.  Long ago, it was forbidden for regular people to eat the Black Jasmine Rice, because this special rice was reserved for only Emperors.  Black Jasmine Rice is an ancient super grain that contains about twice as much protein as regular white rice.  This black color rice also looks nice on a plate. 

     Forbidden Rice:  
     This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups.  (1 large portion)
     Black Jasmine Rice takes a little longer to cook than white rice.  A little bit more water is needed to boil or steam this rice and the cooking time is a few minutes longer.  Black Jasmine Rice never becomes sticky, because the hulls are attached to the grains of rice.  The flavor of Black Jasmine Rice is aromatic!
     Step 1:  Boil 1 1/3 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of Black Jasmine Rice.
     Bring the liquid back to a boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer and steam till the rice is tender.  (About 23 minutes)
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Keep the Black Jasmine Rice warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Toasted Sesame Seeds:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds.
     Shake the pan occasionally till the sesame seeds toast to a light golden color.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the toasted sesame seeds in a container and set it aside.
     King Mushroom and Baby Bok Choy with Banana Flower Sauce and Black Jasmine Rice:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.  
     Be sure to have all the ingredients ready before starting the stir fry!
     Dried Banana Flower Pistils are fairly soft and they do not take much time to reconstitute when making a sauce.  They are usually packed with salt and the salt should be rinsed off.  
     Step 1:  Place 3/4 cup of light vegetable broth in a container.  (The broth should be room temperature.)
     Add 1/4 cup of rice wine (sake).
     Add 2 teaspoons of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of granulated sugar.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.  (to taste)
     Add 8 Dried Banana Flower Pistils.
     Add 1 tablespoons of corn starch.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Set the sauce mixture aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a mini wok (or wide sauté pan) over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 4 whole garlic cloves.
     Briefly stir fry the garlic till golden highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of bite size sliced King Trumpet Mushroom.  (About 3/16" thick.)
     Add 1/4 cup of sliced onion strips.  (About 1/4" wide.)
     Add 1/4 cup red bell pepper strips.
     Add 1 small Green Serrano Chile Pepper that is thin sliced.
     Add 6 Baby Bok Choy that are cut in half lengthwise.
     Stir fry till the vegetables start to become tender.  (al dente)
     Step 4:  Add the reserved sauce mixture.  (Stir the mixture first!)
     Bring the sauce to a boil, while stirring the ingredients.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.     
     Briefly simmer till the sauce is translucent and it is thick enough to coat the vegetables with flavor.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 5:  Place about 1 1/3 cups to 1 1/2 cups of the Black Jasmine Rice on an oval plate.
     Use a spoon to form a ring of Black Jasmine Rice on the border of the plate, to make an empty well in the center.
     Step 6:  Mound the King Mushroom and Baby Bok Choy with Banana Flower Sauce on the center of the plate.  (If there is extra sauce, then place it in a sauce boat and serve it on the side!)
     Sprinkle the reserved Toasted Sesame Seeds over the vegetables.

     This healthy vegetarian entrée has an interesting savory bitter sweet flavor contrast!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sogogi Kimchi Jjigae

     Spicy Healthy Korean Kimchi Jjigae with Beef!
     There are many Korean soups and stews that are cooked in a hot earthenware Jjigae Pot and these items are usually called Jjigae on a restaurant menu.  It does not matter whether a Jjigae is called a soup or a stew on a menu, because Jjigae is somewhere between a soup and a stew!
     A spicy Jjigae is a traditional starter for a multi course meal.  In Korea, usually only one large meal is served each day and the big dinner is a social dining event for family members or guests.  The great flavor of a spicy Jjigae stew has a way of getting everybody in a festive mood.
     Korean restaurants usually offer 5 to 10 different kinds of Jjigae on the menu and they are served in individual size earthenware pots that are heated to an extremely high temperature.  In a restaurant, the Jjigae literally is still boiling when it is served and the broth is hot enough to poach a raw egg at the table.  Poached egg is a traditional garnish for Jjigae, but when Jjigae is described as a soup on a menu it may not have an egg garnish.  
     Some of the traditional Jjigae recipes require a specific list of ingredients, like Kimchi Jjigae (usually pork, but sometimes beef), Ge Jjigae (crab), Budae Jiggae (assorted meats) and Haemul Sundubu Jjigae (seafood and soft fresh tofu).  When a traditional broth is made with specific ingredients, the name the broth is usually mentioned in the Jjigae recipe title too.  For example, there is a name for a Jjigae broth that is flavored with pork, roasted pork stomach and tripe, so the name of this broth is mentioned because this kind of Jjigae only appeals to certain guests.    
     Sundubu Jjigae refers to a Jjigae made with soft fresh tofu and Dubu Jjigae refers to a Jjigae made with slices of firm tofu.  When tofu of any kind is featured in the recipe title, there will be plenty of tofu in the Jjigae.  When tofu of any kind is not mentioned in the recipe title, then only a small amount of tofu usually is added to the Jjigae as a garnish, just like with today's Sogogi Kimchi Jjigae.
     Kimchi Jjigae is usually made with pork, so the Korean word for pork (daeji) is not usually mentioned in the recipe title.  When Kimchi Jjigai is made with beef instead of pork, the Korean word for beef (sogogi) is mentioned in the Jjigae recipe title.    
     Just like with any Korean entrée, a Jjigae is usually served with a bowl of Sticky Rice and several small plates of Banchan.  Banchan refers to tiny portions of a wide variety of tasty Korean appetizers.  What kinds of Banchan are offered is up to the chef or a customer request.  Usually 4 to 8 tiny plates of Banchan accompany an entrée.    
     Not everybody has a Jjigae Earthenware Pot and this is okay.  The same cooking techniques that are used to make a recipe with a red hot earthenware pot can be applied to a hot sauce pot or soup pot.  When Jjigae is cooked in a metal pot, it is always transferred to a soup bowl before serving.  When serving Jjigae this way, the poached egg garnish is either cooked in the simmering broth or poached in water in a separate pot.  
     Sogogi Kimchi Jjigae:
     This recipe yields a little bit more than 3 cups.  (1 hearty portion that can be shared by 2 guests)
     The level of spicy heat is about 3 on a scale of 10.  
     Jjigae is cooked quickly at a high temperature, so all of the ingredients must be ready ahead of time.  To start the Jjigae, quick sauté and marination is done at the same time, so be sure to stir often to prevent excess browning.   
     This recipe is written for making Jjigae in a metal sauce pot instead of a red hot earthenware Jjigae Pot.  
     Step 1:  Heat a wide stainless steel sauce pot over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil.
     Immediately add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 4 ounces of thin sliced strips of lean beef.
     Sauté and stir till the beef is cooked rare.
     Step 2:  Add 1 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Sauté and stir till the soy sauce reduces enough to glaze the beef.
     Step 3:  Add 2 1/2 cups of beef broth.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Korean Red Chili Powder (or Chinese Hot Red Chile Powder).
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 2 tablespoons of Korean style Red Serrano Chile Pepper Paste (sambal).
     Add 1 tablespoon of Korean Red Bean Paste (or Japanese Red Miso Paste) while stirring.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Add 5 slices of Daikon Radish that are 1/4" thick.
     Add 2/3 cup of Korean Cabbage Kimchi.
     Boil till the Daikon Radish just starts to become tender.
     Step 5:  Add 1/4 cup of sliced carrot.
     Add 3 trimmed whole small baby bok choy.
     Add 1/4 cup of bite size pieces of mixed yellow squash and zucchini.  (Remove the seed pulp core from the squash first.)
     Add 1/4 cup of mixed green bell pepper and red bell pepper strips.
     Add 1/4 cup of onion strips.
     Add 1/2 of a whole shallot.
     Add 1 thick sliced green jalapeño pepper.
     Add 2 green onions that are cut into bite size pieces.
     Step 6:  Return the broth to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     *After boiling the total volume of the Jjigae will be a little bit more than 3 cups.
     Step 7:  Place enough lightly salted water in a small sauté pan to barely cover 1 raw egg.
     Place the pan over medium high heat.
     Bring the water to a boil.
     Poach 1 large egg in the boiling water till the egg white is fully cooked.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 8:  Pour the Sogogi Kimchi Jjigae into a large soup bowl.  (1 quart capacity)
     Arrange some of the ingredients on top of the Jjigae so it looks nice.
     Step 9:  Cut 1 thick slice of firm tofu.  (About 3/8" x 1 1/2" x 3")
     Place the slice of firm tofu on the surface of the Jjigae and partially submerge the tofu slice into the broth.
     Place the poached egg on the surface of the Jjigae.
     Place 1 small bunch of fresh cilantro sprigs on one side of the bowl.
     Step 10:  Serve with a small bowl of steamed sticky white rice on the side.
     Serve with a variety of Korean Banchan side dishes of your choice.
     The aroma and flavor of Kimchi Jjigae with Beef definitely wakes up the senses!  Kimchi Jjigae also helps to fight the common cold and flu.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Chicken Liver Pâté Bánh Mì

     A Classic French Vietnamese Fusion Bánh Mi Sandwich!
    Vietnamese Bánh Mì shops offer one of the best dining values in the restaurant industry.  The average price of a Bánh Mì Sandwich usually ranges between $2.50 to $3.75.  When considering that that these specialty sandwiches are made fresh to order, that is a good price.  Better still, most Vietnamese Bánh Mì shops offer a "Buy 5, Get 1 Free" special.  Nowhere else can a customer get 6 tasty sandwiches for less than $17.00! 
     Why are Bánh Mì so cheap?  The answer lies in the portion size.  The name Bánh Mì actually refers to the specialty French Vietnamese fusion bread, which can be made for pennies on the the dollar.  The bread for these sandwiches is a French Baguette that is made with half wheat flour and half rice flour.  The hybrid Baguette is cut about 8" to 10" long for a Bánh Mì Sandwich, so the bread portion size is good.  Traditional Bánh Mì are always garnished with a petite portion of Julienne Daikon Radish, Julienne Carrot, Thing Sliced Cabbage and optional thin sliced Jalapeño Peppers.  The portion size of the featured meat, seafood or vegetable on a Bánh Mì is a petite tasting portion that weighs only 2 to 4 ounces.  Often the sandwich has a small amount of mayonnaise (traditional), sweet vinegar or an Asian style house specialty sauce added to increase flavor.  When it is all added up, each Bánh Mì only has a total of 3 to 5 ounces of ingredients on a good size Bánh Mì Baguette, which means that these flavorful sandwiches are light on the tummy.  
     Because Bánh Mì are light on the tummy, a hungry customer usually will order several Bánh Mì for one meal.  The petite featured ingredient portion size is the beauty of the Bánh Mì dining experience, because a wide variety of different Bánh Mì flavors can be experienced in one sitting.  This is why the "Buy 5, Get 1 Free" deal at a Bánh Mì shop is so popular.  Business customers can feed an entire office full of employees some extra good tasting petite portion sandwiches for a low price.  Sports fans that plan to do nothing more than watch ball games on a day off can munch on a wide variety of cheap sandwiches all afternoon.  Bánh Mì are the ultimate bargain price munch! 
     Bánh Mì shops usually offer more than 25 varieties of Bánh Mì on the menu board.  The traditional House Special #1 Bánh Mì is always made with French style canned lunch meats.  Other traditional Bánh Mì include, Sardines Packed In Tomato Sauce, Select Canned Lunch Meats, Canned Saucy Pork Meatloaf, Char Siu BBQ Pork, Marinated Stir Fry Beef, Canned Asian Style Saucy Pork Meatballs, Fresh Vegetables and Canned Chicken Liver Paté.  
     As one can see, Vietnamese Bánh Mì Sandwich Shops value tradition, because all of the original Bánh Mì were made with French Army Canned Rations during the French occupation of Vietnam.  Refrigeration was scarce back in those days and canned lunch meat food or canned prepared food had a long shelf life in the hot humid tropical climate.  This is why canned meats are stilled used to make Bánh Mì in this modern age.  
     Pâté Bánh Mì is usually made with canned Chicken Liver Pâté.  The canned Pâté can be soft and spreadable or it can be a firm texture that is thin sliced.  Since the cost of canned food products have risen dramatically during the last decade, many Bánh Mì chefs have started making many of the prepared items from scratch.  When considering the very low price of fresh chicken livers, making any style of Chicken Liver Pâté will reduce food cost.  Besides, a good Pâté Foie de Volaille adds a signature touch!    
     Bánh Mì French Baguette Bread:
     This recipe is optional for those who prefer making their own bread.  A standard French Baguette from a bakery can be used to make a Bánh Mì Sandwich.  Authentic Bánh Mì Baguette Bread is made with half wheat flour and half rice flour and this recipe provides this option.      
     Rice flour is a very hard flour and it does require extra time to absorb moisture.  I tried to add rice flour to a baguette dough recipe, then make the bread like a regular baguette.  The result was an extra stiff bread texture and a crust that would not brown.  As can be seen in the photos above, this crude Bánh Mì Bread making method was a failure and the bread was not exactly a pleasure to eat.
     After talking to some bakers and doing some research, I found a better method for making Bánh Mì Bread.  The extra steps described below for a modified French Baguette Recipe will yield a good Bánh Mì Baguette.  
     Follow these steps to make an authentic Bánh Mì Baguette:
     Step 1:  Follow this link to the French Baguette Recipe in my Comfort Food Website:  
     • French Baguette Bread
     Step 2:  Divide the amount of flour needed by 2.  (1/2 the total amount)   
     Use the half portion number to measure the rice flour.
     Place the portion of rice flour in a mixing bowl.
     Step 3:  Measure 1/2 of the water needed for the Baguette Recipe.
     Place the water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the water to a boil.
     Step 4:  Add the hot water to the rice flour while stirring.
     Stir till combined.
     Step 5:  Place the rice flour paste in a container.
     Chill the rice flour paste for 4 hours.
     Step 6:  Start the French Baguette recipe and use 1/2 of the water measurement.
     Measure 1/4 of the total water measurement in the recipe and add this amount to the 1/2 portion of water measurement.
     Follow the steps in the recipe for activating the yeast.
     Step 7:  Add the rice flour paste to the activated yeast and water solution in the mixer bowl.
     Measure 1/2 of the bread flour amount in the recipe.
     Add the 1/2 portion of bread flour.
     Step 8:  Follow the rest of the baguette recipe as normal. 

Chicken Liver Pâté
     Firm Beef Aspic:
     This recipe yields enough firm texture aspic for 3 petite chicken liver pâtés.
     Step 1:  Mix 1 1/2 ounces of rich beef consommé with 1 gram of powdered gelatin in a small sauce pot.  
     Heat the mixture over very low heat till, the gelatin dissolves.
     Step 2:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Keep the aspic warm on a stove top.
     *If the aspic cools and gels, reheat the aspic so it becomes a liquid state, before adding it to the pâté mixture later in the recipe.
     Chicken Liver Pâté Preparation:
     This recipe yields about 18 ounces of chicken liver påté mixture.  (Enough for 3 petite pâtés.)  
     This is not a smooth spreadable pâté.  It is a firm pâté that can be sliced. 
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1 ounce of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 tablespoon of smoked pork fat lardons.  (thick smoked bacon lardons)
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced onion.
     Add 3 tablespoons of minced portobello mushrooms.   
     Gently sauté and sweat the vegetables, till they become tender. 
     Step 2:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Add 4 ounces of trimmed chicken livers.
     Briefly sauté till the livers are only halfway cooked.
     Step 3:  Add 3 ounces of brandy.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Let the ingredients cool to room temperature.
     Step 5:  Remove the partially cooked chicken livers from the pan and place them in a container.
     Chill the half cooked chicken livers till later in the recipe.  
     Step 6:  Place the remaining ingredients of the pan, including the butter and lardon fats, into a food processor.
     Add 11 ounces of raw uncooked trimmed chicken livers.
     Add the reserved firm beef aspic.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 ounces of diced cured pork fat.  (Salt pork fat can be used, but it must be soaked in water, so some of the salt content is leached out.)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of fine ground mace.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 2 to 3 pinches of white pepper.
     Add about 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt.  (to taste)
     Puree the mixture till it is very smooth.
     Step 7:  Place the pâté puree mixture in a mixing bowl.
     Cut the reserved partially cooked whole chicken livers into small bite size pieces.
     Add the chicken liver pieces to the puree while stirring.
     Chill the pâté mixture till it is needed.

     Chicken Liver Pâté:
     This recipe yields 3 petite pâtés that weigh about 6 ounces apiece.  
     Step 1:  Select 3 mini terrine molds that have a 6 to 8 ounce capacity.  
     *Petite earthenware or enameled steel terrine molds work best.  Petite baking pans or silicone baking molds can also be used.  The molds can have any kind of shape.  A silicon caramel custard cup baking mold was used for the pâté in the pictures.  I used tiny rectangular mini meat loaf baking pans to make 2 more pates that are not pictured above.  
     Brush 3 petite terrine molds with melted lard or melted unsalted butter.
     Step 2:  Stir the chicken liver pâté mixture.
     Fill each terrine mold so it is almost completely full.  (About 1/4" from the top.)
     Step 3:  Place the terrines in a high sided roasting pan.
     Add enough water to the pan, so the level of water comes halfway up the sides of the terrine molds. (bain marie)
     Step 4:  Place the bain marie in a 275ºF oven.
     Bake till the pâtés are fully cooked.  (Add water to the bain marie if evaporation occurs.)  
     *The center temperature of each pâté should be at least 165ºF for 15 seconds, but no more than 180ºF or the fats will separate.  Different shapes and sizes of petite terrine molds may require separate baking times.
     Step 5:  Remove the bain marie pan from the oven.
     Let the pâtés gradually cool to room temperature in the main marie.
     Step 6:  Remove the pâtés from the bain marie.
     Cover each terrine mold with plastic wrap.
     Refrigerate the the pâtés to 41ºF.
     Step 7:  Place a flat weigh on each molded pâté or stack the terrine pans if they are the same size.  The weigh will press the pâté and cause it to become dense.
     Chill the pâtés for 24 to 48 hours.
     Step 8:  When a pâté is needed, gently warm the terrine mold in a sauté pan that is partially filled with water over very low heat.  After the terrine mold is warmed, the pâté should easily pop out when inverted and tapped on a cutting board.  

     Chicken Liver Pâté Bánh Mì:
     This recipe yields 1 Bánh Mì Sandwich.
     Step 1:  Cut an 8" to 10" long section of Bánh Mì Baguette Bread or French Baguette Bread.
     Cut the bread in half lengthwise.
     Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise or Dijon Mustard on each bread half.
     Step 2:  Garnish the bottom half of the bread with a small amount of each of these items:
     - Julienne Daikon Radish 
     - Thin sliced Napa Cabbage 
     - Julienne Carrot Strips
     - Thin sliced Green Jalapeño (optional)
     - Cilantro Sprigs    
     Step 3:  Cut 3 ounces to 3 1/2 ounces of thin sliced Chicken Liver Pâté.
     Place the thin Chicken Liver Pâté slices side by side on top of the vegetable garnish. 
     Step 4:  Place the top half of the bread on the sandwich.
     Place the Chicken Liver Bánh Mì on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with herb sprigs and a pickle of your choice.
     Traditionally, only a small amount of meat is placed on bánh mi.  The bánh mi in the pictures has a   

     Tasty Chicken Liver Pâté Bánh Mì! 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Lemon Grass Broth Shrimp, Tofu and Wakame with Ribbon Egg Noodles

     Time For A Healthy Noodle Bowl!
     When the body and mind seem out of sync, that is the best time to have a broth meal at a noodle house restaurant.  Cooking a nutritious noodle bowl at home is a good option too.  Broth allows immediate digestive uptake of micronutrients that the body may be lacking.  When the body lacks certain vitamins and minerals, the body and mind feel out of sync.  Certain vitamins and minerals are required for proper nervous system functions and cel production.  Muscular control and healing processes also depend upon micronutrient intake.
     I recently came down with a bad influenza that turned into the worst double pneumonia that my doctor had ever seen.  My doctor said that people died from this kind of pneumonia 50 years ago, but advanced modern medicine will cure this illness.  Fortunately the medicine worked and the two week recovery period after the pneumonia is nearly over.  In a few days, I will start a new job as a sous chef in a country club.
     Part of the problem that led to illness was a working environment that had inadequate ventilation combined with antiquated employee meal policies.  I was working in a so called "gastro pub" that really only served fried junk food and greasy burgers.  Basically, the employees were limited to just eating greasy burgers and hot dogs, because the company charged employees for food and the rest of the menu items were way overpriced.  After a few months of the unhealthy craft beer bar food work lifestyle, I definitely felt out of sync and it was easy for severe illness to enter the picture.
     When the flu was at its worst, I mustered up the will power to drive to a Japanese restaurant that also specialized in Chinese cuisine.  I got a big bowl of Fish Broth Miso Soup that had plenty of Wakame Seaweed garnish and a Buddha Delight Vegetarian lunch special to-go.  After drinking the nutritious broth and eating the Wakame, I immediately started feeling better.  After eating the Tofu Vegetables and Rice, I felt some strength returning that I needed to fight off the illness.  This goes to show how important micronutrients are for bodily functions that include maintaining a strong immune system.
    Broth Noodle Bowls are popular nearly everywhere in Asia and there is a good reason why.  Food like this maintains proper bodily functions that include strengthening immune system capability and healing on a cellular level.  Broth Noodle Bowls have a healthy immediate positive effect!
     Lemon Grass Broth Shrimp, Tofu and Wakame with Ribbon Egg Noodles:
     This recipe yields 1 large broth noodle bowl entrée that can be shared by 2 guests.  (About 3 1/2 cups)
     Salt Packed Dried Wakame actually is soft and it is still alive.  This style of Dried Wakame reconstitutes to full size quickly.  About 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped Salt Packed Dried Wakame will actually reconstitute to 1/3 cup.  Wakame is loaded with beneficial micronutrients and this savory seaweed tastes good!
     Pre-made Egg Roll Wrapper products are a nice convenience.  The Egg Roll Wrapper Dough is the same as Egg Noodle Dough.  Egg Roll Wrappers can be cut into ribbon noodle shapes and cooked like fresh noodles.  The boiled fresh Ribbon Egg Noodles have to be shocked in ice water after cooking, so they gain a chewy texture and the ice water shocking process prevents the soft noodles from becoming gummy.
     This noodle boil recipe is made quickly with boiling broth, so be sure to have all of the ingredients ready before starting!   
     Step 1:  Select a package of pre-made Egg Roll Wrappers that are about 6" x 6" size.
     Stack 4 sheets of the Egg Roll Wrappers on a cutting board.
     Cut the Egg Roll Wrapper Sheets into wide ribbon noodle shapes.
     Step 2:  Boil a sauce pot of water over medium high heat.
     Add the prepared Fresh Ribbon Egg Noodles.
     Gently stir occasionally, till the noodles are fully cooked and the float to the surface.
     *Fresh Ribbon Egg Noodles take less than 1 minute to cook!
     Step 3:  Use a pasta net to gather the Ribbon Egg Noodles from the pot.
     Immediately place the hot noodles in a container of ice water.
     Gently stir till the noodles gain a firm texture.
     Drain most of the water off of the Ribbon Egg Noodles and set them aside.
     Step 4:  Place 3 1/2 cups of light shrimp broth in wide sauce pot.
     Tie 1 lemon grass stalk into a knot.
     Add the lemon grass knot to the broth.
     Place the pot over medium/medium high heat.
     Gently boil the broth for 10 minutes.  Allow the broth volume to reduce to about 3 cups.
     Step 5:  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped rinsed Salt Packed Dried Wakame Seaweed.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1 pinch of crushed dried Thai Chile Pepper.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 6:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of pure sesame oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Fish Sauce.  (Thai or Vietnamese)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Step 7:  Add 8 peeled large shrimp.
     Add 1/4 cup of thin sliced onion.
     Add 4 baby bok choy that are cut in half lengthwise.
     Boil till the bok choy start to become tender.  (about 1 minute)
     Step 8:  Add 5 large bite size cube shaped Firm Tofu pieces.  (1"x 1"x 1" cubes)
     Add 6 whole Thai Basil leaves.
     Boil for about 15 seconds, so the tofu warms.
     Step 9:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Remove the lemon grass knot.
     Step 10:  Mound the reserved prepared Ribbon Egg Noodles in the center of a large deep soup bowl.  (About a 2 quart capacity bowl.)
     Step 11:  Ladle the broth and solid ingredients into the bowl and try to pour some of the broth over the noodles to reheat them.
     Try to arrange some of the tofu, bok choy and shrimp on the surface, so these ingredients can be seen.
     Use chopsticks to fluff up the Ribbon Egg Noodles in the center of the bowl, so they look nice.
     Garnish the noodle bowl with a sprig of Thai Basil.

     This nutritious broth noodle bowl has an inviting aromatic lemon grass flavor!