Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Summer Shrimp Salad

With Summertime in full swing now, I've been searching for creative and easy meals to make without having to turn on the stove. After reading up on some recipes in one of my favorite magazines, Real Simple, it looks like I hit the jackpot with this one. It's even better the second day, so if you have time, let it sit in the fridge overnight. The Recipe says it serves 6 but I'd say it serves about 4 hungry adults. Josh was not to fond of this recipe he mainly just ate the french bread that I served on the side. If you are planning to serve it next day, leave the cilantro on the side. It tends to wilt just like lettuce if it's left in salad with dressing too long. Also, if this is something you want immediately and won't be serving overnight, you may want to try a milder sweeter onion than red. This salad would be fantastic to serve at a BBQ or casual cocktail party. Beautiful colors and presentation all on it's own. Maybe with a side of crusty french bread mmmmm.........

1 lb. frozen pre-cooked shrimp thawed (time saver....not required)
1 medium red onion
4 cups watermelon roughly chopped
1-2 jalapenos depending on your taste
2 avocados roughly chopped
juice of one lime
1 teaspoon honey
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

In a large bowl, combine shrimp, onion, watermelon, jalapenos and avocados. In a small bowl combing lime juice, honey, oil, salt & pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over salad and toss. Sprinkle with cilantro and let sit for 10 minutes. (or overnight if you have time!)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Chicken and Leek Kebabs

In Japan, these tasty morsels are known as Yakitori. This pic of our president was just too silly to pass up! I guess that it just goes to show that EVERYONE loves Yakitori!

Below is a basic Yakitori recipe. Feel free to substitute anything on this dish. Shichimi-togarashi is a popular seasoning for japanese dishes. It literally means "seven-spice pepper" it consists of seven spices from a range of red pepper, black hemp seads or white poppy seeds, dried tangerine peel, nori or shiso (seaweed), sansho (Japanese peppercorns) and sesame seeds. If it doesn't come in a spice jar, store it in an air tight container for up to 1 year.

These are incredible alongside a bowl of rice and an ice cold crisp beer. (Like one of the imports here in Japan by the name of Budweiser! or, to feel more exotic and Asahi/Sapporo.) Now that Summer is coming, fire up that grill and cook up some Yakitori! Leeks look like giant green onions. They have a mild onion flavor. If you can't find mirin, use rice wine vinegar.

If you can, try to find shorter wooden skewers than the normal American size ones or, just cut about 2 inches off of the longer ones. Be sure to soak them in water so they don't scorch.

For the Kebabs:

1 lb. (450 g) boned chicken thighs
2 leeks

For the basting sauce:
1/2 cup mirin
1/4 cup shoyu
2 heaped tablespoons sugar
Shichimi-togarashi to taste

Mix the ingredients for the basting sauce in a small sauce pan and cook at medium heat for 4-5 minutes to reduce. Set aside. Cut the chicken into 1-1 1/2 (3 cm) inch cubes and the leeks into 1" (2.5 cm) lengths. Thread chicken and leeks onto the skewers (alternating). Place on a hot indoor/outdoor grill for 5 minutes, bast, grill 3 minutes, baste, grill 3 minutes. Place them on a platter and poor some more sauce over them. Top off with more shichimi-togarashi to taste.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Avocado with Mustard-Shoyu Dressing

I know it has been a great great while since I've put anything in my recipe blog. We had a hectic month traveling and having house guests. Now, I'm busy playing catch up and gettting settled once more in our daily routine. Lately, I've been experimenting with Japanese cooking. I just finished reading Japanese Women don't get Old or Fat last night and it has motivated me to pick up more of the traditional Japanese eating habits. I have bought several sushi cook books along with The Essentials of Japanese Cooking by Tokiko Suzuki. This is the book I got this recipe from.

Japanese cooking by Western standards may be considered bland or extremely mild. However, it is one of the healthiest forms of cooking in the world! Believe me, before coming here, I would have gagged by putting a sushi roll in my mouth. But, after watching how widely it was consumed here I decided to keep on trying and now I love raw salmon and tuna. In fact, I enjoy them more in raw form than I do in cooked form. Who would have thought of peer pressure being a good thing in this circumstance! This is an easy non-intimidating recipe to try on a week night. This recipe is called Abokado no karashi-joyu-ae in Japanese. This is a great alternative to guacamole. It's very mild and tends to bring out the sweetness in the Avacado. My son, who loves avacados, inhaled this dish!

Even though I couldn't find beni-tade at my local Seiyu (or atleast none of the clerks knew where to direct me) I substituted Daikon radish sprouts. Don't worry if you can't find them. For a substitute, try finely sliced radish or raddichio leaves. Or, just skip the shrubs altogether and solely use avacado! Make sure the avacados are ripe. Also, if you can't find shoyu, try using reduced sodium soy sauce or, "sushi & sashimi soy sauce" (I used Kikkoman brand). This can even be made a little ahead of time as the vinegar in the dressing and the alcochol keep the avocado from going brown.

1. 2 ripe avacados
2. 1/2 tablespoons mustard
3. 1 1/2 tablespoons shoyu
4. 1/2 tablespoon sake
5. 2-3 tablespoons beni-tade

Cut avacados lengthwise in half. Pull apart and remove stones. Peel the avocados and cut the flesh into 1" (3cm) cubes. Mix the dressing in a bowl. Add the avocado and mix roughly. Arrange in bowls and sprinkle with beni-tade.

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