Come on, you missed us didn’t you? Well fear not! We’re back! Amanda and I each had fairly active summers, which made Skype and planning our next meal a little difficult. So, we took little break this summer but are back in the kitchens now that autumn is upon us.
For this DistanceDishes dinner, we wanted to make a meal that summed up our food experience of the summer. While Amanda had her own epic adventures (we’re talking international y’all), that I’ll let her sum up later, I had my own fair share of trips to the airport. For work, I was back and forth to Washington DC a few times this summer which allowed me to escape the usual food haunts at home. I’ve been back and forth to DC a few times this year and I’ve begun to make it a tradition to treat myself to delicious Thai food. I was also lucky enough to meet up with some great DC friends at a Jose Andres restaurant and gorge myself of delicious tacos (and margaritas). I wanted to combine these two great memories into my “summer dish” with some Thai themed tacos.
Two other, slightly lazy but also semi-appropriate reasons I went with this dish. With all the travel, I have become terrible at getting to the grocery store regularly. Also, as I was gone, my Thai Basil plant grew too large for itself and fell over. Since I only had a few days to use it up, these Thai Basil tacos were the perfect meal. Believe me though, my laziness is your benefit. This makes for a very flavorful, quick and easy meal any night whether you’ve developed a DC Thai food addiction or not.
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 2 green onions, diced with greens and white separates
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup diced bell pepper (I used a combination of red and green)
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped Thai basil
- 1 lb ground beef
- Lettuce for topping
Avocado Lime Topping:
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- salt to taste (1/4 tsp to start)
- In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, mirin, ginger, garlic, the whites of your green onions, fish sauce and cornstarch. Set aside.
- Over medium heat, add the ground beef to a medium skillet or saucepan. Break up the beef and cook until meat is browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the beef from the pan and transfer to a small bowl (or whatever holding area you prefer–paper plate for easy cleanup? Sure!) and drain excess fat (for responsible discarding).
- Return your pan to medium heat and add your diced yellow onion and bell peppers. Cook until onions become slightly translucent and bell peppers start to become soft, about 3-5 minutes.
- Return the cooked ground beef to your pan with the onions/peppers and pour your soy sauce mixture over ingredients in pan. Stir to ensure all ingredients are fully incorporated. Soy sauce mixture should begin bubbling and stir for an extra 1-2 minutes until sauce begins to thicken. Stir in your Thai basil and continue stirring until basil is just wilting.
- Remove from heat, garnish with greens of the green onions and prepare your tacos to serve.
For the avocado lime topping:
- Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Place a dollop on top of a hefty scoop of your basil beef on top of a flour tortilla. Enjoy!
Wine Pairing: There are a lot of (delicious) flavors going on here, but a classic like a Cabernet Sauvignon probably wouldn’t be a bad choice. Cheers!
After my Korean-themed dish for the Olympics was a flop (and may have broken my pressure cooker?), I knew this pizza weekend was my opportunity for redemption! This recipe turned out really well, and made for some good leftovers later in the week.The bulgogi marinade is shamelessly stolen from Merideth’s Bulgogi Sub with Gochujang Mayonnaise.
Bulgogi Marinated Pork Belly
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 2tbs soy sauce
- 2tsp brown sugar
- 2tbs mirin or rice wine
- 1 apple pear or ya pear, thinly sliced
- 1 red and green bell pepper each, diced
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1in ginger, grated
Bulgogi Marinated Pork Belly
- Marinate pork belly overnight, or for at least one hour.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Pat pork belly strips dry and score fat side with diagonal cuts. Lay fat side up on metal baking pan.
- Roast pork belly for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 degrees. Cook for another hour, checking every 5 minutes after 45 minutes have passed.
- Remove from oven and let cool. Dice meat portion and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix together tomato sauce ingredients and spread on prepared pizza crust. For our recipe, we made 4 smaller pizzas.
- Top pizza with pork belly and other toppings. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until edges of pizza crust is a golden brown.
Wine Pairing: I had my first taste of plum wine with this recipe! It’s sweetness was a great aperitif while I waited on the oven. For the rest of the meal, a fruity merlot helped balance the saltiness of the pork belly and marinade.
The winter sick season is real this year. Right after the New Year, both Amanda and I got hit with maladies and were both craving something that would bring some kind of comfort. As we each huddled under a blanket of tissues in our pjs on our respective couches, we both craved a dish that would warm our bellies and bring a bunch off flavor. You must know by now how we both feel about curry and Amanda made herself a wonderful curry meal. I wish I could have gone the same route, but since my nose was hopelessly stuffed up, I couldn’t taste a thing. I knew that the nuances of a delicious curry would be lost on me and better saved for a healthier day. The one thing I both craved and knew I could taste was a nice, brothy soup.
This Miso-Ginger noodle soup hits all the criteria I was looking for in a sicky meal. The saltiness and punch of the miso, I knew could fight past my currently restricted senses. Broth and fluids are always a good choice when sick, and ginger helps to settle the stomach. Plus, I just wanted to slurp something–enter soba noodles. This soup made me feel all warm and fuzzy, an impressive feat while sick, but is also good enough to enjoy when you’re feeling 100% as well.
- 1 tsp oil
- 6 cups broth (I used homemade chicken broth Amanda’s recipe but vegetable broth could easily be used to make this dish vegan. I would definitely recommend low-sodium though)
- 1/4 cup miso paste (I used half and half red and white, but any combo would work)
- 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 carrot, sliced into half moons, about 1/4-1/2 in wide
- 3 green onions, sliced with greens and whites separated
- 1 inch knob of ginger, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 1 cup shredded cabbage
- Cooked Soba noodles, amount of your preference.
- Soy Sauce to taste
- Sriracha to taste
- In at least a 2 quart pot, drizzle the oil into the pot over medium heat. Add the whites of the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the broth, miso, mushrooms, carrot, ginger and garlic. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Once the carrots are fork tender, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the spinach and cabbage. Once they are wilted to your liking, taste the soup and add soy sauce and sriracha to your preferred taste.
- Add some cooked soba noodles to the bottom of your soup bowl (however much you want) and pour the miso soup over the noodles. You are ready to serve and enjoy!
Wine Pairing: Well, if you’re up for a glass with this soup and not currently getting over an illness (or if you still are, you do you), a full-bodied Chardonnay would probably be able to stand up with the heavy flavors of the miso. Plus, a nice chilled glass of wine with a hot bowl of soup might be a nice mix. Enjoy!
Well, it’s the middle of summer and it…is…HOT! As if the outside temperature weren’t enough, my giant kitchen windows face west. While having the setting sun’s rays streaming across my prep areas is aesthetically pleasing, it certainly raises the temperature of the kitchen noticeably. This, combined with the fact that the oven loves to radiate heat in any way it can makes for a sweaty dinner preparation. After a long day, any recipe that allows me to keep my cool is welcome in my house in the peak of summer for sure.
While my spring rolls are also a great choice, I do like to look towards sushi in times of serious heat. While it does involve cooking the rice, those of us lucky enough to automatic rice cookers (you’ll have to pry that appliance from my fingers–I’m never living without one) means that we can push the button and run away.
Since my palette has not quite graduated to raw fish, and living in a landlocked state hardly places confidence in any fish available, I love to make this fruit sushi as inspired from DK Sushi in Austin. About once every few months I get a craving for these flavors that can only be quenched by bringing out the sushi mat. For a more savory version, I have also made a cucumber and turkey roll that showcases the regional favorite, provel cheese.
If this post has ignited a need for sushi but you’re still craving that fish, I’d suggest checking out Amanda’s too-hot-to-cook post, the Poke Bowl with Avocado Rice, for some fish marinade suggestions that can easily be incorporated into a roll of your choice. For now though, enjoy these alternative options!
Yogurt Drizzle Ingredients:
- 1/4 cup of strawberry yogurt
- 2 tbsp pineapple juice
- 1 tsp sugar
- Stir together the yogurt, pineapple juice and sugar until you have a smooth consistency and sugar is dissolved. Chill until ready to serve.
Sushi Rice Ingredients:
- 2 cups of uncooked, short grain white rice
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp salt
- Rinse the uncooked rice in cold water until the water is clear (this is very important!). I usually like to add rice and water to the pot in which I’ll be cooking and then use my hand as a claw to agitate the starches. Then drain the starchy water and repeat until the water is clear.
- Add 2 cups of fresh water to the rice pot and either cook using a rice cooker or the traditional method (bring to boil over stove, cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes and fluff).
- Add the sugar, rice wine vinegar and salt to the rice and stir until well incorporated. Traditionally these are heated together to form a syrup but we’re trying to use heat as little as possible here and I find the residual rice heat can help dissolve the granules.
- Allow rice to cool for 15-20 minutes. It can still be slightly warm when you are ready to assemble.
Sushi Assembly Ingredients:
- Fresh Pineapple, thinly sliced
- Apple, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
- Avocado, sliced
- Fresh Mango
- Strawberries, sliced
- Nori Sheets
- Black sesame seeds
- Sprinkle the black sesame seeds over your sushi mat and then spread 1/3 of your rice evenly onto the mat it in a square, about 1/4″ shorter than the nori height. Then add the nori, shiny side down.
- Place the slices of avocado, apple and pineapple about 2/3 of the way down the nori sheet trying to fill in as many gaps as possible. However, try not to overfill.
- Roll your mat over the filling ingredients and continue to roll. s you complete a rotation, press to make sure the roll is coming together. Pull the mat away from the roll as you keep going.
- Slice the roll into 8 equal portions.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel slices of mango so you have a small 1 inch sheet of mango.
- With a pastry brush or your finger, brush a little bit of your yogurt drizzle onto the mango sheet and lay it over the top of one of your sushi pieces. Place a slice of strawberry on top.
- Once all pieces are assembled, drizzle the yogurt over top and enjoy!
Quick Cucumber and Turkey Sushi
- Sushi Rice
- Nori Sheets
- Cucumber, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
- Provel cheese (can also use cream cheese)
- Sliced turkey, deli meat.
- Place the nori sheet, shiny side down on your sushi mat. Spread a thin, even layer of your sushi rice over the nori sheet and leave about 1/4″ of the nori visible at the top.
- Place the cucumber, turkey and cheese about 2/3 down the nori sheet avoiding gaps.
- Roll your sushi; when you get to the top, brush some water onto the nori to help it seal itself.
- Slice into 8 equal portions and enjoy.
Wine Pairing: Obviously, we’re going for refreshing here so a chilled white or rose wine sounds fitting. Something like a riesling is an excellent choice!
Real talk – I totally messed up this recipe the first time. Putting together a few recipes, I finally found one that works for these Chinese custard buns (lai wong bao, or egg yolk buns). The trial and errors were totally worth it though to relive my favorite snack from my time in Boston! I worked on the outskirts of Chinatown, and picked up one of these custard buns every day on my walk back to the bus. Yum!
There was one special ingredient and special piece of equipment that I had to get for this recipe: custard powder and a bamboo steamer. Custard powder, an uncommon ingredient in American recipes, is a starchy vanilla powder cooked with milk to create a custard. The bamboo steamer, while helpful, could probably be improvised with a colander and wire rack.
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup cornstarch or wheat starch
- 3 tbs cream
- 1/4 cup custard powder
- 2 tbs butter
- 1 tsp yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 3 tbs powdered sugar
- 6 tbs milk, divided
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Heat several inches of water to simmer in a large pot to be used as a double boiler.
- In metal or otherwise heatproof bowl, beat together eggs and powdered sugar.
- Add milk and heavy cream and combine.
- Add flour, cornstarch, and custard powder and whisk until there are no lumps. Add butter and combine.
- Place bowl over simmering water and stir continuously until custard has thickened to about the consistency of dense cake batter.
- Remove from heat and, once cooled, refridgerate until ready to use in an airtight container.
- Dissolve yeast in warm water. Let sit for 10 minutes until mixture becomes frothy.
- Stir in flour, sugar, 3 tbs of milk, and salt. Combine thoroughly.
- Add additional milk 1 tbs at a time until a dough is formed. Knead for 3-5 minutes until dough is smooth.
- Coat with oil and allow to rise for a little over an hour or until dough has tripled in size.
- Remove custard from fridge and spoon balls of the custard onto a sheet of parchment paper.
- Pinch a ball of dough onto cutting board and spread into a thin circle about 4 inches in diameter. Put a custard ball in the middle of the dough and wrap. Roll around to ensure that the bun is sealed.
- Heat bamboo steamer over simmering hot water. Place each bun on a square of parchment paper to prevent sticking. Cover and steam for 15 minutes.
Last week, I tripped while running….and broke my fall on my phone. I lost all my pictures from recent road trips, my cat and dog, and the pictures from this dinner date! Fortunately, I make this fried rice all the time for weeknight dinners, so the simple ingredients and time weren’t too hard to track down to remake the recipe for photoshoot (and Friday night dinner!) purposes.
I really only have two “go-to” starches for my easy week night dinners: potatoes roasted in a one-pan meal, and rice from an automatic rice cooker. Since I also have a lackadaisical attitude towards measuring ingredients (this blog has been a special challenge for my “pinch of this” attitude), I usually end up with more rice then I need. Luckily, that leftover rice can be turned into a delicious meal the next day! If you’re more disciplined with measuring ingredients than me, some cooked rice chilled for at least half an hour (sometimes I put it in the fridge) will dry the rice enough to be fried.
Like a lot of our other recipes, this one is versatile and can be used with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Different toppings that I have used in the past include peas, diced carrots or celery, ginger, and sriracha.
1/2 block of tofu – Use more if desired, though you may have to fry in batches
2 tbs sesame oil
2 cups cold, cooked rice
2 tbs sesame oil
3 cloves garlic
3-4 tbs rice vinegar
3-4 tbs soy sauce
1 1/2 tbs ginger
1 tbs powdered porcini mushrooms (or 80z sliced mushrooms)
1/2 tsp white pepper (or ground black pepper)
Chile pepper, cilantro, lemongrass to taste (optional)
1 tbs sesame seeds, optional
- Unpack tofu and “press”- I usually do this between two plates over my sink with a soda (or wine) bottle on top of the plate – something heavy! Press for about half an hour to remove excess liquid from tofu.
- Slice tofu into thin, bite-sized rectangles (about 1/2 in. thick).
- Heat sesame oil in wok or flat griddle over medium heat. Carefully arrange tofu on surface and use spatula to “squish” the pieces. It should make a shrill sound as the moisture is further removed (this is normal!). Repeat several times over 3-4 minutes, or until the shrill sound is less intense.
- Carefully flip tofu. It should be golden-brown. Squish with spatula for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan to a plate and set aside.
- Add second part of sesame oil to wok and heat over medium-high heat. Mince garlic and saute until golden.
- Add rice and separate with spatula to spread evenly throughout pan. Fry for about 2 minutes. If using fresh mushrooms, add these now as well.
- Add 3 tbs of soy sauce and rice vinegar to pan and stir to coat rice. If necessary, add a bit more of each to fully cover rice (but give it a minute to absorb to be sure!)
- Add spices and stir throughout.
- Finally, stir in baked tofu and any additional vegetables until heated through.
- Create a well in the middle of the fried rice and add both cracked eggs. Allow to heat until the whites begin to become translucent. Scramble eggs throughout rice until fully cooked.
- Serve with sesame seeds for garnish as desired.