Miso Soup with Pork Belly and Tofu

I can’t seem to stay away from the Just One Cookbook blog.  I so wanted to make this recipe Miso Soup with Yuzu Kosho that I made and refrigerated dashi stock to have on hand when I was ready.  I didn’t have the yuzu kosho seasoning (on order) but I was pretty confident that this soup would be fine without it.  I made one substitution and a minor adjustment but Namiko is an excellent cook and her recipes can just be “followed.”  I was hoping that she had published a big flashy cookbook with awesome pictures but, unfortunately, not yet.  Still, the blog is great!

If you have dashi stock on hand, this recipe comes together fairly quickly.  I substituted in bok choy for the cabbage because I had bok choy and didn’t have cabbage 🙂

I chopped and prepped everything before beginning to cook and that always makes for an enjoyable, stress free experience.

I remember being so unhappy and whining because I couldn’t find a whole or half pork belly, only slices.   Pork belly slices are ubiquitous in this region.  Now I know what the slices of pork belly are used for.  I can only think that there must be some closet Asian chefs around, secretly feasting on non-American cuisine with the shades pulled down 🙂

Dashi stock is very easy to make and needs only two ingredients.  However if you are hungry, in a hurry or just can’t be bothered, you can make the stock with dashi powder that you add to water.  I’ve used it, and though I think the homemade stock is best, the powder is not terrible.

Miso Soup with Pork Belly and Tofu

1 tbsp sesame oil

3-4 slices pork belly, large dice

1 leek, halved vertically and thinly sliced

1 tbsp sake

2 bok choy, halved vertically and thinly sliced

1 carrot, thinly sliced

3 scallions, sliced

4 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

6 cups dashi stock

4 tbsp white miso

1 block silken firm tofu, cut into cubes

Heat the sesame oil in a donabe or a large deep skillet or wok.  Add the pork belly and saute until almost all the pink is gone.  Add the leek and continue to saute until the leek is just wilted.  Stir in the bok choy, carrot, scallions and mushrooms for about a minute.  Add the dashi stock, bring to a boil then turn off the flame.  Melt the miso into the stock, turn on the flame and add the tofu.  Just cook until the tofu is warm, about 4 minutes.








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Balsamic Marinated Duck Breast with Asparagus

The breed of duck most consumed in the U.S. is the Pekin, originally imported from China.  The flavor and texture differs from the Muscovy (canard de barbarie) found in France because it’s a different bird and probably because of breeding practices.  I got these breasts just across the Delaware river in New York.


I made a simple overnight marinade with balsamic vinegar, wine, olive oil, lemon, a little honey, garlic and rosemary.

These asparagus, that seem to know no season, were roasted with olive oil and grated parmessan cheese.

Balsamic Marinated Duck Breast (Inspired by Alla Madonna del Piatto Bed & Breakfast) 

2 duck breast, fat scored

2 tbsp lemon juice

3 tbsp  balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp red wine

1 tbsp honey

3 tbsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tbsp dried rosemary

Mix lemon, vinegar, wine, honey, oil, garlic and rosemary together.  Pour over the duck breasts in a zip lock bag, squish around and refrigerate overnight.

Sear the breasts, fat side down, over high heat for about 4 minutes, pour off the accumulated fat, flip over and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes, slice and serve.

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Going Ronin Rogue with Japanese Oden

A couple of weeks ago I saw/read somewhere (I’ve forgotten where) about some suggestions for Japanese programs on Netflix involving cuisine.  I think there were four or 5 that I previewed but became fascinated by Samurai Gourmet, a series about a diffident, newly retired 60 year old man who, having devoted his life to his job, retires with no hobbies or interests and feels understandably lost in a world that he’s never really seen or experienced as an adult.  Accompanied by an imaginary ronin samurai he starts to explore the wonders of food and beer or sake at noon in traditional restaurants.  The food is drool worthy and each episode leaves me starving.  Really.

In one episode he and his wife go to a restaurant that specializes in Oden,  a variety of slow simmered vegetables and some seafood in a seasoned dashi broth.  Well, I wanted to eat everything feature in each of the episodes, but I NEEDED to eat Oden.  No Japanese in Honesdale,  it was up to me.  I was able to order some supplies from Amazon but couldn’t find everything.  Craving oden, I went ronin rogue with determination, using one of the blogs I follow, Just One Cookbook, as my hand holder.  This is a wonderful blog and I thank Nami for her inspiration and wonderful recipes.  If you can, get all the correct ingredients and make it her way.

Dashi stock is fairly simple to make and I was able to get the Kombu (dried kelp) and Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) from Amazon.  After preparing the dashi, I flavored it with Usukuchi soy sauce (light color), tamari soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar and salt.

I poured the seasoned dashi into my grudgingly seasoned donabe clay pot cooker.

Ready now to prepare the vegetables, I began with the daikon that was available at the local supermarket.  Following Nami’s advice, I boiled the daikon in rice water left over from washing rice.

I also boiled and peeled 6 eggs and set them aside with the cooled daikon.

Next on the list was nishime kombu (dried seaweed) that I couldn’t find for love nor money.  Unwilling to totally eliminate seaweed from the pot, I substituted broken pieces of nori seaweed.  Not the same thing at all but it was okay.  While searching for the seaweed, I optimistically peeked into the refrigerator units, wishing for frozen nishime kombu.  Of course it wasn’t there but I did discover some frozen, uncooked octopus.  I had decided that the octopus sashimi would necessarily have to be eliminated but, going rogue, I convinced myself that this octopus wouldn’t be that bad as both are raw.

Guys, there were rounded objects attached to the tentacles that I assume were heads.  Well I cut those off and garbaged them PDQ!  We’ll have none of that 😀  I threaded the tentacles onto wooden picks.

I couldn’t find konnyaku (konjac) except in the noodle form (shirataki) and that wouldn’t do at all, so I did without.  A real and important loss but I’m planning a trip to the Asian food store in New Jersey soon and will stock up on these staples.

I placed the boiled eggs, daikon, a sliced leek, the skewered octopus and nori pieces into the broth along with 1/2 bag of dried shrimp for extra umami and to get rid of them 😀

In the meantime, with the vegetables on a slow simmer for 2 hours, I prepared the fish cakes and the mochi stuffed aburaage.  I always have fish cakes and aburaage because I like them for bento boxes.

My mistake was in not cutting the mochi (rice cake) small enough to fit into the aburaage (fried tofu pouches) allowing them to be closed with a tooth pick.  I could have taken the mochi out again and cut it smaller but I was in ronin rogue mode and couldn’t be bothered.  After 2 hours, I placed the fish cakes and stuffed aburaage into the donabe with sliced carrots, recovered it and simmered for another 30 minutes.  The rice cake, predictably bubbled over but this was so delicious!  I still want to go to a Japanese restaurant for this dish but this did satisfy my craving.

Follow the link above to the recipe at Just One Cookbook.



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Mao’s Red Braised Pork

I love the Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook so much that I bought a copy for Pennsylvania, instead of hauling my French copy back and forth.  It features food from the Hunan province of China and has been inspirational in many of my attempts at Chinese cuisine.  Simple, filling and delicious, I’ve made this braised pork recipe several times.

I’m almost embarrassed by the extremely fatty, old piece of pork belly I found in the freezer and used.  How could I have bought this?!  Anyway, do get a meaty pork belly for this recipe.  The caramel flavoring with cinnamon, star anise,  ginger and chillies made even this excuse for a pork belly edible, if eaten sparingly with rice.  I won’t show the photo I took of the raw pork.  Seriously gross.

Every time I make this, I’m uncomfortable that there’s no garlic 🙂

Mao’s Red Braised Pork

2 lbs lean pork belly

3 tbsp peanut oil

4 tbsp white sugar

2 tbsp Shaoxing wine

Water to cover

1 inch fresh ginger, sliced

2 red hot chillies

1 cinnamon stick, halved

2 star anise

Plunge the pork belly into boiling water and simmer for 5-7 minutes.  Remove, cool a bit and cut into bite sized pieces.  Set aside.

Gently heat the sugar and oil together until the sugar has melted.  Turn up the heat and cook until the syrup is caramel brown.  Stir in the pork, frying for 2 minutes, then stir in the wine. Add enough water to cover the pork and add the ginger, chillies, cinnamon and star anise.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 50-60 minutes.

Serve with rice.



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Poulet a la Russe (Géorgie)

I’ve made this chicken dish from Georgia (Europe) before for a lunch invitation and it really is delicious.  If you haven’t as yet checked out Georgia About, it’s a wonderful cultural site with scrumptious recipes.  I’ve posted it this time with a French title to lure in my French followers 🙂

This is a picture of our backyard today with 10-18 inches on the way and a threat of a blizzard.  We’re so excited 🙂  My husband is standing next to the dog run line enrobed in snow.  Good day for staying inside, cooking, eating and having a glass or two.

I only had 2 capsules of saffron threads left.  I like the capsule “doses” because unlike the loose threads, they seldom spill.  I haven’t seen the capsules so I’ll just order the loose threads from Amazon 😦

The 2 capsules were not quite enough for 4 whole chicken legs.  I prefer to make this recipe with thighs but the Kosher people didn’t have any but said they could get them if I submitted a special order.  I separated the thighs from the drumsticks to make eight pieces.

These mushrooms look like cremini, I guess they are called baby bellas as in portobello?

Lovely!  Savory vegetables, aromatics and chicken.  Comfort food for a cold day.  My husband hovered impatiently as I took the pictures.

Georgian Chicken Tajine

4 whole chicken legs, cut into drumstick and thigh

Salt and pepper

3-4 capsules saffron

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp butter

4 garlic cloves, slivered

2 medium leeks, white and green, sliced

2 onions, halved and sliced

1 tsp red peppercorns

3/4 lb mushrooms, sliced

1 red bell pepper, coarsely diced

2 bay leaves

3 tbsp white vinegar

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the saffron, then, in an Emile Henry tajine or stove top to oven casserole, brown them in the olive oil and tablespoons of the butter.  Remove and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp of butter to the tajine and the garlic, leeks, onions and peppercorns.  Cook with cover on for 15 minutes on a low flame.  Cover off, add the mushrooms and bell pepper, stir frying until the mushrooms release their water.

Stir in the bay leaves and vinegar.  Stir in the chicken pieces then turn the pieces skin side up and roast in an 400 F oven for 20 minutes with top on.  Take off the top and continue to roast an additional 10 minutes.

Serve with steamed rice or mashed potatoes.








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Asian Cod Fillets

Alaskan wild caught cod was available in the fish section at Weiss Supermarket.  Not daring to inquire if they had been shipped frozen, I purchased 2 lbs refusing to think further.  Unlike the thick cuts of “dos de cabillaud” cod that I get in France, these were fillets with a thickish piece on only one side, tapering to thin on the other side.  Whatever.   

I had intended to make my cod in a vegetable broth which is delicious but was mind snatched by an attractive photo from Epicurious magazine of cod in an Asian flavored sauce with a hoisin and chilli coating.

Many times when I make Asian inspired dishes I fiddle with them, carelessly increasing/decreasing and adding other ingredients.  This is what I call Blackenese 😀  I hope this doesn’t offend my ex-Facebook friend who unfriended me because she thought my antique “Negro” salt and pepper shakers were a demonstration of my “reverse racism”.  As I explained, I am blameless, I didn’t make them,  I just bought them because I collect salt and pepper shakers and these made me laugh out loud 😀  Also they were made of porcelain instead of plastic and therefore rare.  Anyway 🙂

I love the chilli and hoisin glaze that is smeared on the top side of the fillets before briefly baking.

Asian Cod Fillets

1/3 cup hoisin sauce

3 tbsp garlic chilli sauce (rooster)

2 lbs cod fillets, cut into serving pieces

1 1/2 tbsp peanut oil

1 tsp sesame oil


1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

4 pieces fresh ginger, thinly sliced, skin on

3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 scallions, sliced

1 tbsp honey

Mix the hoisin sauce and chilli sauce together and set aside.  Brown the fillets on one side in the oils in a stove top, oven proof tajine or an ovenproof skillet for about 2 minutes.

Smear the fillets with the hoisin chilli mixture, then bake in a 450F oven for about 5 minutes.

Warm the soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic, scallions and honey in a sauce pan and serve with the fillets and steamed rice.






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Banh Mi

There is actually a pretty good place in Honesdale to get a banh mi Vietnamese sandwich.  A little pricey for what you get but it’s good and the taste is “correct”.  I believe they offer the sandwich with chicken or roasted pork.

I decided to make my own banh mi with char sui oven barbecued pork because I knew it would be extraordinary and I love to “S” hook.

I began by making a simple mayonnaise with lime and garlic chilli.  I’ve used this also with fried oysters.  Very nice!

Inspired by the New York Times food section, I made a quick and easy pickle with shredded carrots, daikon, thinly sliced cucumber and some scallions.  The pickle is ready in 30 minutes.

Drudgery over, it was then time to “S” hook!  I used a rolled pork butt with a reasonable amount of fat, about 2 1/2 lbs, cut into about 6 pieces and marinated overnight in char sui sauce.

One end of the hook goes into the meat and the other onto the oven rack, placed at it’s highest position.  I place a foil wrapped pan underneath to catch drippings, thereby avoiding the necessity of cleaning neither the pan nor the oven.

The pork should be basted half-way through and it’s kind of tricky.  I’ve burned my hands many times until I taught myself this method:  When it’s time to baste, take a long cooking fork, removing the hook from the rack with the tines and letting the meat fall into the pan.  Then you just remove the pan from the oven, baste freely, then return the pork to the oven, re-hooking to the rack (sometimes the hooks are cool, if not use a kitchen towel or something) and continue cooking.

When we first got married, my husband was very upset because I wanted to buy a basting brush from, maybe Macy’s.  He thought it was ridiculously expensive and averred that an inexpensive paint brush could do the same job.  No dog in that fight and not caring, I agreed and have been using paint brushes for over 41 years.  It makes him happy 😀

If you have not yet “S” hooked char sui pork in the oven, just do it.  It’s so worth it and can also be used in salads, Asian noodle soups, as a meat course or whatever you think of.  It can be stored in the refrigerator un-sliced and still maintain it’s moisture and texture.

When assembling the sandwich, add cilantro, basil, mint leaves, a squeeze of lime and sliced jalapenos or your favorite fresh chilli.

If you can, I couldn’t, find a real French baguette.  I used a gigantic hoagie type bread that disappointed me, although my husband didn’t mind.

Quick Pickle

3/4 cup carrot, shredded

3/4 cup daikon, shredded

1/2 winter cucumber, seeds removed and thinly sliced

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 – 2 tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together and allow to pickle at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Stir and use immediately or cover and refrigerate.

Chilli Lime Mayonnaise

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp chilli garlic sauce

Juice from 1 small lime

Mix all ingredients together, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Char Sui Pork

2 1/2- 3lb pork butt, cut into about 6 pieces

1 jar Lee Kum Kee char sui sauce

Place the pork pieces in a ziplock, pour in the sauce, massage and refrigerate overnight.  Remove the pork from the bag, reserving the marinade and “S” hook each pork piece.

Preheat the oven to 425 F and “S” hook the pork pieces onto the top oven rack with a pan underneath on one of the lower racks.  Roast for 20 minutes.

Remove the hooks from the rack with kitchen fork tines and allow the pork to fall into the drippings pan.  Baste and rehook the pork to the oven rack, continuing to cook for 20 minutes.  Remove the pork to a cutting board.

Char Sui Banh Mi Sandwich

1 French baguette, sliced in half vertically

Chili Lime Mayonnaise

Quick pickle

Roasted char sui pork, sliced

Cilantro, basil, mint leaves

Jalapeno chilli, sliced

Lime wedges

Spread the mayonnaise on both sides of the bread.  Add the pickle to one side and layer with the pork, herb leaves and chilli.  Cover filling with the other bread half, press down, slice into halves and serve with the lime wedges.


Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Recipes, Sandwich, Vietnamese | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments