"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: edamame

macro-bowl supper redux . . .

macro-bowl-2-tempuraOur first macro-bowl dinner was such a hit the other night that I thought I’d make another one today. I defrosted 6 extra-large shrimp from the freezer, shelled them and placed them back in the fridge ready to go when it’s time to make shrimp tempura tonight.

Found some fresh small Chinese cabbages in the pantry too – will cut up the leafy parts and saute with garlic and a little lemon juice.

If the avocado ripening in the kitchen window isn’t ready yet, I’ll briefly heat up a few fresh edamame beans and season with a little soy.

So tonight’s macro(biotic) bowl will contain:

fresh-cooked brown and sweet rice (in a little dashi and soy sauce)

sauteed Chinese cabbage leaves with garlic and lemon

warmed edamame beans

tempura shrimp in panko crumbs

Tempura shrimp: The shrimp takes a few steps to prepare: a) defrost, shell and devein the shrimp; b) dry them off; c) cut tiny slits in the curved end of the shrimp and devein as well (the shrimp will now lie flat on the cutting board; d) insert a bamboo skewer or toothpick in the shrimp to keep it straight while frying. Make some tempura batter (boxed or with a little flour and ice water); Dip the dry prepared shrimp into the tempura batter, shake off excess and roll immediately in plain, dry panko crumbs. Deep-fry in a small skillet or small saucepan to conserve how much oil is used for the 6 shrimp. Cook and turn until golden brown – drain on paper towels and remove toothpicks.

Serve with a some hoisin sauce mixed with a drop of soy, sesame oil and a little sweetener (I use stevia.) I just put a small dish of this on the table.

The process change for making macro bowl dinners is that once I’ve settled on what will go into the macro bowls, I scale down the amount of vegetable and protein sides to the size of the servings that will go on top of the brown rice melange. This reduces the amount of food prepared and cooked. And there’s no leftovers either! YAY!

Some other macro bowl side dishes that might be appealing are:

  1. teriyaki broiled chicken thigh pieces (yakitori)
  2. pan grilled salmon in teriyaki
  3. cucumber and wakame salad
  4. instead of rice, cooked cellophane noodles with ground pork & green onions, e.g., “ants crawling up a tree” – a yummy Chinese classic
  5. soba noodles in soy-ginger sauce
  6. teriyaki flank steak slices
  7. beets, sliced and dressed with a little vinegar/lemon juice
  8. broccoli florets

etc. etc. etc. . . .




bento box lunch prep ideas . . .

found on google bento box photos. . .

found on google bento box photos. . .

So here we are on Labor Day, the Monday before a full week of school for a lot of folks. One of the ideas I had for my daughter’s lunches (she teaches high school French) was to give her an insulated bento box that I found on Amazon (where else?) Along with it was a very cute recipe book to make rice cakes (onigiri) wrapped in nori and such. Very appealing but might be too much effort for busy people getting ready for school!

Today, I woke up thinking about (really) quick and easy ways to do a master prep to provide lunch food ahead of time, drawing from ready made dishes from Whole Foods or one’s local Chinese take-out or Trader Joe’s. So, here’s some ideas to simplify as well as to expand one’s way of thinking about making bento box lunches to take to work or school. The secret is that you don’t have to do everything yourself! YAY!

The idea is to make or buy a batch of something and divide it into serving sizes on your work table. Then, package a lunch up in a heavy duty Glad freezer bag and freeze them. Take them out in the morning, pop them into your bento box and by the time you’re ready to eat lunch (unless it’s at 10:30 in the morning because school starts so early,) it should be ready to go. Might have to nuke it a little to bring to room temp though I’m not sure about that. So here goes my imaginary lunch sous chef prep ideas:

  1. BUY from Whole Foods in small portions for the week: 1. salad bar yummy fare: edamame salad, pickled beets, cherry tomato salad, chick peas, etc. 2. barbecued chicken wings; 3. piece of cooked salmon; 4. avocado to ripen, cherry tomatoes, eggs
  2. BUY from your favorite Chinese carryout: fried rice, veggie lo mien, moo shu without the pancakes
  3. COOK: 1. boil up some frozen shrimp (16-25 size) or skillet cook with a little teriyaki sauce; 2. Trader Joe’s Thai shrimp dumplings; 3. hard boiled eggs; 4. cucumber/wakame salad (dress with Japanese vinegar, soy, sesame oil

With these ready-made, carry-out and home-cooked ingredients, then apportion combinations that will be appetizing and also avoid monotony. Pack up in freezer sandwich bags. Seal and you’re good to go. At least for a couple of weeks – then you can get pad thai from the Thai restaurant, chicken nuggets, and slaw or other veggies from Whole Foods.

And maybe somewhere along the line, try your hand at making rice balls. It seems labor intensive to me because the secret to delicious rice balls is the filling or condiments you add to it. There’s a little Japanese tea sandwich place in Brookline that makes a delicious rice ball. I have no idea what’s in it but the tastes are so subtle, I don’t think you just get it out of a jar.

In the meantime, here is a photoarray of bento box photos that might inspire you with new combinations – I find it useful to see visuals for ideas. And adding a couple of cherry tomatoes, some hard-boiled egg, avocado slices and a little fresh fruit goes a long way.

Hope these ideas are convenient enough to pull off.  The idea of bento box lunches is to provide a concept for healthy and fun lunches – not to slave over how to prepare food for them all week, right?


bento box post 2

Footnote: Here are directions from the Food Network for boiling eggs:

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, then add your eggs and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, cool in ice water and peel.
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, then add your eggs and cook 7 to 8 minutes. Drain, cool in ice water and peel.
Place your eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover, remove from the heat and set aside 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, cool in ice water and peel.



buddha’s delight . . .

. . . soaking daylily buds, wood ear and shitake mushroom

. . . soaking daylily buds, wood ear and shitake mushroom

On Sunday, I spent all afternoon cleaning out the pantry. It was hot and the task was frustrating, having to temporarily lump disparate things in grocery bags in order to make enough space to reorganize things; then looking for where to store leftover hodge-podge goods. For once, I put food basics (rice, flour, salt, sugar) together and most often used equipment (oval gratin and baking equipment) together (DUH!) For someone slightly OCD, you might have expected I would have figured this out long ago! Better now than never.

It was also embarrassing or humorous, however you want to look at it to find out how consistent I am in my preferences; e.g., duplicates or similar ruffled pastry pans, some with removable bottoms; two extra-large cooling racks; twin muffin pans and so on.

When I consolidated the Asian foodstuffs into a white plastic three drawer storage unit on wheels (for only $11.99 at Target) there were numerous packets of dried tiger lily root ( a key component for making buddha’s delight) and wood ear (which gives texture to that same dish.) In fact, I calculated that I must have enough of these two ingredients to make buddha’s delight every week for a very long time.

Actually, that’s not really a bad idea. It was one of my cousin Pei-Fen’s favorite Chinese vegetarian dishes to cook. We shared it one last time together five years ago in her kitchen before she died this Spring. I’ve made it at home since but have as yet to come up with what made hers so definitively Buddha-ish. I think that it’s due to the fineness with which she sliced the cabbage, daylily root, tree ear and soaked mushroom pieces. The ingredients were mere slivers, resulting in a cooked melange of cabbage, aromatic with a little soy sauce and sesame oil added at the end. This dish, to me at least, is all about TEXTURE. The slightly bland flavor of the vegetables is married to their texture. It’s somehow aromatic and chaste at the same time: an ascetic aesthetic!

If you find recipes for Buddha’s Delight online, you’ll see an incredible diversity of ingredients that people use in this dish. My nirvana dish is purist and classic: no meat or shellfish of any kind; no eggs, no carrots, no broccoli florets, no snow peas, no bamboo shoots, no water chestnuts, no bean sprouts, no apple. . . nothing but a head of cabbage (not coleslaw, bok choy or napa) sliced by hand with a handful of the daylily buds, tree ear and shitake mushrooms. Graced with a little seasoning (soy sauce, mirin, oyster sauce and sesame oil) and a bit of water to steam the vegetables to a tender bite if needed. That’s it.

So today, starting little by little to use up this surfeit (glut) of ingredients, I soaked the makings in order to try my hand again at duplicating Pei-Fen’s dish. I had also cooked some brown rice the other day that I’ll use tonight to make something to eat along with the buddha’s delight: fried brown rice with edamame (soybeans), toasted nori (seaweed) and sliced scallions. The Buddha’s Delight dish will be more than enough and should last for a couple of days. Tomorrow, we’ll have it again along with buckwheat soba noodles in ginger broth.

Here are some tips for making my version of buddha’s delight:

1. Soak a half-handful of dried daylily buds, dried wood er and dried shitake mushrooms (3) in warm water until all are softened (this takes awhile to soak so just start it earlier in the day)
2. Rinse pieces and drain well to rid of any grit.
3. Trim daylilies of hard stem ends and slice into thirds
4. Trim wood ear and slice up, removing any hard or rigid pieces in the center
5. Remove stems from softened shitake mushrooms and slice into small slivers
6. Squeeze and drain all of water.

cleaned, sliced, rinsed

cleaned, sliced, rinsed

7. Heat a medium size skillet and pour in grapeseed oil to make a thin film
8. When hot, saute three scallions, trimmed, split and sliced into 1 inch pieces.
9. Add the daylily, wood ear and mushrooms; saute over medium high heat and mix together.
10. Add 1 tablespoon organic soy sauce (Ohsawa); 1 tablespoon mirin or cooking sherry, 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 2 teaspoons of xylitol (sugar substitute) and mix together–the mixture will be aromatic and smell wonderful. This is a brief braising step that helps these ingredients to soak up flavor ahead of adding them to the plain cabbage.
11. Add a scant 1/4 cup of spring water, stir and mix everything together, letting the water steam and soften the mixture. Let sit on very low heat for about 20 minutes until ready to cook the cabbage.
braised daylily, wood ear and shitake mushrooms

braised daylily, wood ear and shitake mushrooms

Last steps:
1. Rinse head of cabbage clean. Slice large wedges and then cut each wedge into tiny slivers, using a cleaver or sharp kitchen knife. For the ingredients above, I used a little more than half a head of cabbage

half a thinly sliced head of cabbage

half a thinly sliced head of cabbage

2. Use a large skillet and heat up grapeseed oil to cover the bottom. When hot, put the cabbage slivers in and saute, coating the cabbage and sprinkling with some sea salt
3. Stir the cabbage which will soften with the salt; make sure the cabbage is cooked dry
cabbage cooking in the pan

cabbage cooking in the pan

4. Add the skillet of braised mushroom, daylily and wood ear mixture to the cabbage
5. Stir it all together until well mixed
6. Remove to a serving dish
7. Add a tiny bit of sesame oil on top of the vegetables and stir to mix in the flavors
. . . Buddha's Delight

. . . Buddha’s Delight

1. Defrost half a bag of frozen shelled edamame (soybeans) in warm water and drain well
2. Have on hand a cup of previously cooked brown rice
3. Finely cut up three scallions at sharply angled diagonal slices
4. Heat up a clean skillet with grapeseed oil
5. Saute the green onions in the skillet, add brown rice and stir fry
6. Add edamame to rice mixture
7. Have a little dashi broth & a squirt of organic soy on hand to moisten and add a little flavor to the dish
8. Stir in nori, sesame rice condiment and mix gently.

. . . brown rice with edamame and nori

. . . brown rice with edamame and nori

Note: To enlarge photos, click once; to magnify, click twice on the image.

Postscript: We finished all but a small dab of rice and there’s half a handful of Buddha’s Delight left over. Maybe I’ll make it again next Tuesday.