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Daikon Radish

Daikon History

The word Daikon comes from two Japanese words: “Dai” which means “large”, and “kon” which means “root”. Daikon is a root vegetable native to the Mediterranean and brought to China for cultivation around 500 B.C.  The roots are usually oblong or cylindrical in shape, and have been grown up to 40-50lb large. In Japan, more daikon is produced than any other vegetable. Daikon is a member of the Brassicaceae or mustard family, which explains the slight kick you get you indulge in some.

Cultural info and Health/Nutritive Value:

Daikon has been used for centuries as a natural diuretic and “cleansing” agent. In China, the Daikon root is boiled into a tea to help with digestion. Chinese herbalists boiled Daikon with seaweed to purge the body of dairy build-up (makes sense something would be needed for this since most Asians are lactose intolerant)  and toxins.

Daikon radish is low in calories and high in enzymes that help to digest fat and starch, while also providing high amounts of vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, and phosphorus. It’s commonly used by those who have GI/digestive problems like constipation, bloating, or diarrhea. It is not surprising then that the Japanese traditionally conclude a meal with two thin slices of sun dried or pickled daikon, to aid in digestion and to cleanse the palate.

If eaten regularly, daikon roots are believed to ameliorate symptoms of fatigue and hangover, prevent migraines, control blood pressure.  I cannot say I had a lot of luck finding peer reviewed articles supporting these health benefits, but then again, it’s not so hard to just try eating these guys regularly and seeing for yourself. I wouldn’t rely on just this if you had something more acute like you were in the middle of a migraine. But you can try if you have no other medication to help you and happen on a radish.

Flavor Principles and uses: 

Daikons are tangy and spicy but far milder than their European cousins, and in fact can be sweet like turnips, especially if roasted or cooked in dashi.This makes them perfect for salads, as well as soups and stews. They’re also ideal for pickling, whether by lacto-fermentation or the quick method.

They taste best when newly harvested but also store quite well, though the roots take on a stronger earthier taste- you may want to blanch roots in boiling water if they’ve been stored for a month or more before using them in salads or quick pickles. Daikon also goes well in sandwiches or paired with some sashimi or cooked fish.

Some people juice them, but consider balancing out the mild spice, tanginess, and earthiness with something a bit sweeter, like carrots and/or beets.

Recipes (Click on the photo) 

Avocado Daikon Salad

Avocado Daikon Salad

Turnip Cake with Daikon radish, tapioca flour base, fried onions, scalions, served with fig oyster dipping sauce

Turnip Cake (which is a misnomer, since usually it’s made with Daikon radish)

Pickled daikon and carrot

Pickled Daikon and Carrots (for Bahn Mi, salads, or sandwiches) (photo credit to: J. Kenji López-Alt, Serious eats)

More daikon recipes made by yours truly on their way, but in the meantime, you can enjoy some of my favorites I’ve come across:

Mark Bittman’s Gingery Chicken Daikon stew

Photo: Melina Hammer for The New York Times


Daikon with White Miso Sauce 

Photo: Christopher Hirsheimer

Roasted Daikon, Carrot and Pepper

New Purpose, New Approach

Hi all. It’s been a while. Been busy lately working on some projects and running my Food as Medicine course at my medical school, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. But even so, I think about food and this blog constantly. After considerable thought and experience with my course(and some insightful advice from my girlfriend), I’ve discovered what the purpose of this blog is and will be beyond what I initially set out to accomplish.

Aside from offering healthy and healthful recipes, which can be found all throughout the interwebs, with most posts I make I want to put the spotlight on individual ingredients, the protagonists and supporting cast members of every comestible that so pleases your palette. I will choose a food, spice, herb, etc, whether familiar or wholly foreign to me, and begin by exploring its storied history, sharing a personal or historical anecdote. Then I’ll discuss it’s “flavor profile”, along with what other ingredients go well with this one, and what foods this ingredient can really shine in. Here I will link to the recipe portion of my blog with some of my favorite recipes incorporating the ingredient of the day.

And lastly, I will often attempt to write about the fabled, rumored, or evidence based health impact of consuming said ingredient (and will make sure to note whether it seems more tale or truth, reporting how good the evidence for a health benefit or harm is). I hope i might help clarify points of confusion or misunderstanding regarding health impacts of said ingredient, and highlight controversies where they exist.

I hope this new way of engaging with this blog will help you and I both find more meaning in food. Let me know what you think! I welcome feedback and suggestions for a new direction or improvements.



Soup For You: Butternut Squash Curry

This soup is rich and heartwarming, ideal for when Winter storms, with names like “Thor,” interrupt our high hopes for thawing weather in the coming weeks. I’ve been told it has a lot of complex “layers” of flavor.  This soup’s veritable heat will will certainly get you hot and bothered. Make it this weekend and decide for yourself.
Butternut Squash Curry. Since the soup itself is blended, I like to add various things for nice textural elements that also elevate the flavor. Here, I topped soup with crushed peanuts, flax seeds, toasted cumin seeds, and a few flakes of cyprus black lava salt. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Curry. Since the soup itself is blended, I like to add various things for nice textural elements that also elevate the flavor. Here, I topped soup with crushed peanuts, flax seeds, toasted cumin seeds, and a few flakes of cyprus black lava salt. Enjoy!

2- medium to large butternut squashes, cut lengthwise into 1 cm thick slices
2 tbsp- ginger, minced
5-7- garlic cloves, minced
2-3- shallots, diced
2 inch piece- lemongrass (optional, but adds nice flavor if available)
2-3 oz/80-100g diced up S&B Japanese Golden Curry mix or make your own with curry powder, brown sugar, salt
1 tbsp- fish sauce (or soy if making vegan)
2 cans- coconut milk, normal or light
2-3 cubes- chicken or beef stock (or 2 tsp vegetable stock powder)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce or Asian black vinegar
Sea Salt- to taste
1-2 tsp- crushed black pepper
1-2 tsp paprika, smoked if available
1 tsp- ground cumin
1 tsp- cayenne, chipotle pepper or aji amarillo, ground
3 quarts- water
1-2 tbsp canola  or other high heat point oil
1 tsp- crushed peanut (for garnish)
1. Caramelize the squash slices in the oven– lightly brush slices with oil and roast in baking sheet (probably will need two sheets or bake in batches) at 425°F, 20-30 minute per side.
2. Sautee aromatics- sweat the shallots in an oiled nonstick stockpot or skillet, 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
3. Mix and melt the curry mix– stir in the curry  mix and allow 2 minutes for it to blend into the aromatics.
4. Scoop out the cooked squash. 
5. Add squash and all other ingredients, cover, and bring mixture to high-medium simmer, avoid boiling. 15-20 minutes
6. Blend with immersion blender. Food processor, regular blender, or electric mixer may also work.
7. Serve with crusty bread, jasmine rice, or rice noodles. Enjoy!

Pass the Salt Please

“Pass the salt, please.” Instantly I’m handed way more salt than my body could possibly handle, and I shake some on my dinner to my palette’s delight. My passionate salting makes me especially clumsy, and I drop the salt shaker onto the table, freeing a collection of brilliant white grains.  “Quickly over the shoulder,” my grandma blurts out in concerned Russian. She’s referring to the superstition that spilling salt is bad luck and welcomes lies, treachery, darkness. This superstition, originates from the Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper, in which Judas, the original traitor, is seen knocking over the salt cellar with his elbow. It is believed, for inexplicable reasons, that when one spills salt, a flick of salt over the left shoulder is supposed to blind the devil lurking behind you. And so I oblige, after all why tempt forces I cannot reason with, as in my grandma’s anxiety regarding this matter? In any case, it’s just a little salt. not like it’s valuable. Salt is cheap and widely available. We often take for granted salt’s availability and low monetary value today, but only a century ago, it was a highly sought after commodity, used commonly as currency and believed to be a limited resource. It once determined trade routes, led societies into war, incited people (i.e. Indians led by Ghandi) to revolt against an empire (Britain) that imposed a tax on salt.  In many parts of the world where refrigeration is not available, it continues to be used as a preservative of highly perishable foods, meats and fish being the most notable. (If you find all of this interesting, check out Salt: A  World History by Mark Kurlansky).

Did you know that “sal-” is Latin for salt, and that many of our modern words with this prefix have origins related to expressions or uses of salt in Ancient Rome? For example, “salary” derives from the Latin “salarium”, which describes the ration of salt Roman soldiers were paid for their labor. This also explains the expression “earning one’s salt.” 

Clearly this rock is to be honored, and in this post, I will do my best to discuss various culinary and health matters in the most salacious (sorry I had to) way I can muster.

Salt and Health

Salt gets a lot of bad press these days within the medical community, and from the health perspective it’s not hard to see why it might be a cause for concern. Americans are eating more salt than ever, a whopping 3.5grams a day- way more than the recommended amounts of 1.5-2.3 grams a day. This excessive salt intake is known to contribute to the development of hypertension, a serious risk factor for stroke, heart, and kidney disease. However the important takeaway from this is that 80% of the salt we eat in the U.S. is already present in the food we eat before we sprinkle some on it. Processed foods are loaded with salt, even when they do not taste particularly salty. Take white bread for example- one slice averages around 170 mg of sodium, so one sandwich later, the bread has already contributed to over 20% of your recommended intake. That’s before you even add the pastrami and cheese. My guess is that increased salt lengthens the shelf life of these foods, which any food company is very interested in doing.

The foods that contribute the most salt to Americans’ diet are:

  • Yeast breads
  • Chicken and mixed chicken dinners
  • Pizza
  • Pasta Dishes
  • Cold Cuts

-CDC data: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, June 24, 2010; vol 59: pp 746-749

Quick Tips for Skimming unnecessary sources of excess salt: Eat fresh or frozen produce, wash canned vegetables if you do eat them, cook more, look at the sodium content of the bread you eat.

My takeaway message from this section is just that if you stay away from super processed, packaged, canned, foods, and make more things from scratch, you’ll end up having an easier time maintaining a happy balance of enjoying the wonderful flavor that salt contributes to many dishes while not overloading your body with salt. You’ll totally get more bang for the buck.

But also, let’s not forget salt is an essential component of life. Dehydration typically represents bodily loss of salt and water, and both need to be replenished, especially when activity level or heat make us lose it more quickly. So drinking regular water when you’re dehydrated (including hungover) might not work if you haven’t consumed any salt (from a recent meal or snack) recently. It has to do with osmotic forces from low salt concentrations causing the water to leave the blood and enter cells instead. You need the salt to hold on to the water and keep it inside our blood vessels. Physiology 101. Now another catch to all of this is that salt water is not just unsavory to drink, it actually will not pass from your gut into the body. It requires sugar to help co-transport the sodium molecules across the gut wall. There-in lies the brilliance and magic of Gatorade. They figured this out before biology had an explanation for why this was so effective.

Salt Recipes and Cooking Strategies

Now that we’ve established that salt can be a curse and a blessing, lets shake it up.

1. The dry rub is an essential for cooking meat or poultry, in particular larger hunks. The kosher salt is the star here, since it’s flat flakes give it more contact with the meat and more salt gets dissolved into the meat, contributing to a superb flavor.  Next time you plan to cook meat, pat it dry with some paper towels and rub it all over with some of the mixture below:

  •  4 Tablespoons Kosher Salt (4 parts)
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar (granulated sugar should work fine too)(2 parts), more important for bigger cuts of meat
  •  2 Tablespoons black pepper, preferable freshly ground (2 parts)
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin (1 part)
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika (1 part)
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder (1 Part)
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder (1 part)
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano (1 Part)

If you don’t have all these ingredients, my simpler  3:2:1:1 version just has 3 parts brown sugar, 2 parts Kosher salt, 1 part black pepper, and 1 part garlic powder. Mix all of these and store in an airtight container.  Just use enough to cover the meat on all surfaces. Store meat in the fridge. Wait 3-24hours before cooking. For thin cuts of meat, or meat that will be dry roasted, wash off the rub and pat meat dry prior to cooking. Some favorite dry rub meat recipes are: Crockpot pulled PorkOven Baked RibsRoasted Brisket

2. Curing is less often used in the home, but it’s really worth a try- you’ll be amazed by the flavor and texture transformations  some salt +sugar+time can produce. Since you are basically using salt and sugar to kill off the microbes in a raw meat or fish, it’s fairly safe but there is an inherent risk of bacteria surviving the curing process. As long as you buy from a trustworthy vendor and practice very good hygiene, you needn’t worry. So far my track record with this is perfect. For my home cured salmon (Gravlax), I got some wild salmon from Lobster Place in Chelsea Market. I also do not keep anything I cure longer than 3-4 days in the fridge. Pregnant women, small children and infants should avoid cured foods, since they are particularly susceptible to some of the bacteria (i.e. Listeria) that are sometimes present in cooked meats.

I really like Chow’s recipe for Cured Salmon, though I typically leave out parsley, and either leave out the white peppercorns or replace them with 2 tbsp crushed coriander seeds.

Using this salmon I’ve made XO Sauce Gravlax Fried Rice, Cured salmon onigiri, and the classic Bagel with Cured salmon, cream cheese, red onion, and capers. Give it a try and let me know what recipes you come up with!

Cured Salmon, red onion, capers, cream cheese atop a toasted bagel.

Cured Salmon, red onion, capers, cream cheese atop a toasted bagel.

Xo Sauce Cured Salmon Fried Rice, from my anniversary tasting menu (see link above)

Xo Sauce Cured Salmon Fried Rice, from my anniversary tasting menu (see link above)

3. No-vinegar Pickling is my latest big passion. There’s something marvelous about “good”  bacteria acting on fresh produce to create unique delightful flavors. Essentially, you are using salt to control the rate of growth of bacteria in the Lactobacillus genus, which are naturally present on most fruits and vegetables. This bacteria spews out lactic and acetic acids, and other compounds, which make the environment too acidic for any other bacteria to survive, and contributes to the tangy taste. Pickling is a very safe way to prepare fruits and vegetables. You need not worry about any “bad” bacteria growing in your pickles and making you sick. The steps are stupid simple:

1) Wash a glass mason jar with soap and water. Wash whatever you hope to pickle using regular tap water

2) Take a few cloves of garlic, split in half, throw in the jar. Throw in a teaspoon or 2 total of any of the following: crushed black pepper, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, all spice, cloves . Throw in some sprigs of washed dill.

3) To keep the pickling vegetables crunchy, you can supposedly add a few horseradish, oak, or grape leaves. I’m hoping to try this soon, but let me know if it works for you!

4) Make a brine of 2 tablespoons kosher salt to ever qt of tap water. Supposedly chlorine free is better, but I’ve never tried. You might need to warm up a smaller amount of water (i.e. 1 cup)  to dissolve the salt and then add more water once the salt has dissolved.

5) Put you washed vegetables into the jar, preferably whole. Cutting them might make them lose their crunch more quickly.

6) Fill the jar with brine until the water level is 1-2 inches above the vegetables. You may need to weigh down the vegetables with something. This is key because the pickling needs to happen in anaerobic conditions, that is, without any air. Otherwise, if the vegetable is in contact with air, undesirable fungus  or bacteria might grow. Even if this happens, it’s not a big deal- you can just scrape that layer off.

7) Close tightly with a cap, keep at room temperature for 4-5 days.

8) “Burp” the jar by loosening the cap to release the gas that has built up, and close it again. You can try the vegetable at this point to see what progress it has made, and continue to let it pickle for 5 more days, sampling it midway.

9) When your pickle has reached its desired taste, put it in the fridge to store long term. It can keep for weeks, probably even longer.

10) Great foods to pickle: Cucumber (duh!), beets, watermelon (or just the rind is great too), tomatoes, grapes (with cloves), parsnips, peppers (bell, cherry, or spicy), peaches (but not overripe), onions, fennel.

Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

Pickled Grapes

Pickled Grapes. Tangy, sweet, with a hit of clove at the back of the tongue. Really unique flavors.

I also would like to give a shout out to one of my favorite food blogs, “Not without Salt.” Definitely check it out, it’s a brilliant concept and execution.

Now folks, go off and do try this at home (as long as you don’t have high blood pressure or other conditions in which salt should be restricted).

Avocados, a worthy obsession?

Some months ago, it seemed I was on an avocado kick. I thought it was just a phase. But my fascination with this delicious fruit (yep, don’t be fooled by it’s cool green color, the pit makes this classification) has not lessened.For example, I was recently blown away when I learned that avocados are not just fruit but also berries, since they are fleshy fruits that come from a single flower with a single ovary. In this post I’ll be talking about why you should be eating more avocados, and tips for how to make the most of this superfood.

The Why:

  1. They’re DELICIOUS:  I have yet to meet a person who dislikes the taste of avocados. They’re buttery and rich, and play nice with other ingredients, whether savory, salty or sweet to create delectable snacks, meals, or desserts.
  2. They’re 70% mono- and polyunsaturated fats (good plant fats). The vast majority of these fats are monounsaturated fats, which tend to be the healthiest. These fats increase HDL (“good” cholesterol) and tend to remove LDL (“bad” cholesterol) from arterial walls and blood. The poly- fats include the well known omega-3 fatty acids.
  3. They have double the potassium of a banana: this is always surprising to a lot of people who swear that bananas are potassium bombs, but a single avocado has nearly 1 gram of potassium. So maybe to avoid getting hyperkalemia, don’t eat a lot of avocados after your next long run or bikram yoga sesh.
  4. They have a lot of protein for a fruit.  Avocados are some of the most protein dense fruit out there, packing 4 g protein per avocado, with 18 of the 20 amino acids represented.

The How:

  1. Ripen them in a brown paper bag with other avocados, bananas or apples. Avocados ripen in response to the gas and plant hormone ethylene, produced by many fruit, especially bananas, apples, and avocados.
  2. Save the pit to prevent the dreaded browning reaction.  Avocados have an enzyme that reacts with oxygen to produce a brown pigment, that is harmless, but begins to alter the texture and taste when it becomes severe. Reduce contact with air when possible, but also store avocados and avocado containing foods (i.e. guacamole) with the pit to prevent the browning. Some say that lime or lemon juice at the surface of the avocado works too, but I have not found it very effective.
  3. Use avocados in place of butter and other high fat ingredients. Since avocados are so high in the fats that are desirable, they make for great replacements for ingredients with less healthy fats. Just replace half of the amount of butter with mashed avocado (at a ratio of 3/4-1 avocado for one stick of butter), like in these recipes from popsugar
  4. According to The Flavor Bible (Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg), the key to pairing food with avocado is to balance out the richness with a contrasting flavor, like bitterness, acidity/sour, salty, or sweet. Foods that have flavor affinities with avocado include:
    1. Meats: bacon, chicken
    2. Seafood: smoked salmon, crab, smoked trout, shrimp
    3. Produce: arugula, garlic, jicama, grapefruit, onions, scallions, lime, tomatillos, corn, bell peppers, endive, spinach, mango
    4. legumes: black beans, walnuts
    5. dairy: yogurt, butter, cream, sour creme, Tabasco sauce, vinaigrette, soy sauce, vinegar
    6. condiments: mayo, salsa, olive oil (especially flavored with bacon or basil)
    7. Herbs and spices: cilantro, parsley, tarragon, basil, chervil, chives, cumin, salt, black pepper,

And to round off this post, I offer some of my go-to avocado recipes:

Spiced Avocado salad


Seems so easy it’s silly you’ve never tried it, but the taste is just incredible. At a minimum, I season with some sea- or kosher salt, fresh black pepper, cumin, and a drizzle of a sweeter vinegar, like balsamic or Chinese black vinegar. Recently I’ve started adding a sprinkle of smoked paprika to add another dimension of flavor. Sometimes I just eat this straight as a snack, or scoop it up with tortilla chips.

Avocado parfait


Want a rich yogurt without all the animal fat of a whole milk yogurt? Take a diced avocado, add it to a cup of low fat or fat free yogurt, drizzle some honey or agave, and mix in a food processor or blender. Sometimes I experiment with other flavors by adding in ingredients like coconut cream, almond extract, vanilla extract, or black sesame powder. I like to top this mix with nuts or seeds I have on hand. In the photo on the left, I used pecans and flax seeds. Bananas, chocolate chips, raspberries can also be excellent additions. Let me know if you discover some irresistible new combination.

Avocado Chicken


Chicken drumstick topped with avocado chicken sauce, queso fresco. Served with a salad of quinoa, corn, and sauteed red bell pepper.

I wish I had a less busy photo of this dish, but what can I say- it smelled too good to spend the time on a better shot. The basics principle here is to maximize the chicken flavor of this sauce by cooking drum sticks in the sauce for at least 20-30 minutes.

Start off with some drum sticks (3-4 should suffice, mainly to infuse chicken flavor into the sauce) and thighs (more of these, since these will end up tastier), season 4 hours prior (can season a few minutes before if you don’t plan ahead of time) with a mix of 50% kosher salt, 20% black pepper, 20% ground cumin, and 10% smoked paprika, making sure to get the rub under the skin. This ensures the flavor passes into the flesh of the meat. Toast some cumin seeds (1/2 -1 tsp), sautee a diced onion for about 5 minutes, add about 1 tablespoon minced garlic per 2 cups of stock (see next line) and 1 diced celery stick for another 2 minutes.

Heat about 2 cups water or chicken stock (no salt added and no msg preferable) per avocado per 3-4 pieces of chicken and add the onions with celery, garlic and cumin seeds.Meanwhile brown the meat on all sides using some high heat tolerant oil like canola or safflower. Add the drumsticks to the now boiling stock, adding 2 tsp kosher or sea salt, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp black pepper. Cover and cook at medium high heat for 30 minutes. Add diced avocado, juice from half a lime, and approximately 1/4-1/2 of a bunch of cilantro, diced. Turn off heat. Immediately use an immersion blender to liquify everything. Salt to taste. Consider adding a thickening agent like xanthum gum or corn starch.

Finish cooking the thighs in a cover skillet at medium-low heat until cooked, ~20 minutes. Serve with a grain like quinoa. Good by itself or topped with a light crumbly cheese, like queso fresco. Enjoy!

A Tasting Menu Anniversary Dinner and Blog Kickoff

Hello to anyone beginning to follow me on this new journey of culinary experimentation, dietary exploration and musings, photoblogging and ultimately, self-discovery. I’m all too thrilled to begin sharing some of my own personal insights about preparing delicious meals, enjoying food fully, making mealtime an opportunity to feel creative, healthy, connected. In the end, it’s about making food that is healing to your body and mind. That which might warm your spirit and invigorate your efforts in the world, whatever they may be.

My first post might give people a skewed idea about what my future posts will be like. I’m presenting a very ambitious meal I made several weeks ago for my girlfriend Melanie in celebration of our 1 year anniversary since we originally met at Sweet Revenge. I prepared an 8 course tasting menu inspired by some of our favorite meals from the last year together. This is by no means the “norm” for me, in that elaborate and multi-course meals are a rarity for me. But it brought me such intense pleasure planning and preparing the meal, and then I believe it brought Melanie and me great joy savoring every bite. The menu is in this post and the images of each course are below.

A note on recipes: it is a blessing and curse that I tend not to rely on  or remember recipes very well. I try to develop a feeling, an intuition about ingredients and how to combine them. Unfortunately I often do not write down how much of my ingredients I’ve put into a dish, as I cook in a very whimsical, chaotic manner, though with great passion and pleasure. However this poses problems for reproducibility on occasion. But for the purposes of the blog I shall make attempts to at least include the ingredients, and will try in the future to approximate ratios of ingredients to make it reproducible for my readers. And if any of these dishes appeal to you, I can offer plenty of tips, and my best effort at reconstructing a recipe for you.

Truffle Mushroom Chawanamushi

Truffle Chawanamushi: Inspired by En Japanese Brasserie’s dish by the same name, this dish combines 1 egg/ramekin with some dashi broth (kombu seaweed and bonito flakes boiled in water) with the addition of a 1-2tsp of canned black truffle-mushroom in heavy cream sold at Fairway and on Amazon/freshdirect for $10 a can. Real black truffles would obviously be better, but that’s way above my pay grade. In general chawanamushis are a wonderfully simple but heartwarming comfort food. Optional and tasty additions include shellfish like crabmeat, shredded cooked chicken, and mushrooms.  Just prepare the mix and steam for ~12 minutes until the custard is set. It can be a nice complement to rice.

Seabass sashimi wrapped around meyer lemon zest and shiso leaf, in dashi broth (Meant to also include a ball of grated daikon in the center): Inspired by a recipe in the first episode of Season 2 of Mind of the Chef on Netflix, except that they used Seabream, or Dorade, which was not available. Though my lack of experience making sashimi style dishes, especially in thinly slicing fish, really was quite apparent here, the end result was quite tasty. The seabass has a clean, mild, sweet flavor, not overly fatty either, and then was elevated by the wonderfully succulent meyer lemon zest combined with the shiso leaf.  This acidic, light, and sweet combination really contrasted beautifully with the umami flavor from the dashi broth. And the issue of finding good relatively affordable sashimi grade fish in NYC is something I might tackle in a different post, except to say one thing: Go to THE LOBSTER PLACE!

Shishito peppers, seasalt, bacon olive oil: These peppers have a wonderful flavor on their own, just pan fried them until their skin blisters and add a sprinkle of a coarse salt. They have a wonderful sweetness but beware…some of them have a serious bite.

Turnip Cake with Daikon radish, tapioca flour base, fried onions, scalions, served with fig oyster dipping sauce

Fried Turnip Cake: Daikon radish, tapioca flour base, fried onions, scallions, served with fig oyster dipping sauce. Turnip cake is a misnomer, since Daikon radish is what is used for their milder flavor, rather than turnips (though people occasionally sub in turnips). Rice flour provides the starch base typically, but I wanted to use starchy ingredients I had at home. These included tapioca starch and wheat flour. So I boiled the grated daikon (1 medium sized) in water, drained all but 1 cup of the liquid , then added chopped rehydrated dried porcini mushrooms (subbed in for shitakes) and salted shrimp paste (subbed in for rehydrated dried shrimp), then added tapioca starch (2/3c) and 1/3 cup wheat flour (since the tapioca by itself would make the texture too gummy), soy sauce to taste, pepper, olive or sesame oil. This is emptied into a loaf pan and steamed for an hour, then cooled first at room temp and then overnight in a fridge. This can then be sliced in 1/2” pieces and pan fried. I wanted to contrast the fatty fishy flavor of these guys with something sweet and tangy, so I mixed oyster sauce and a fig chutney I had on hand to make this wonderful fig oyster sauce combo for dipping. The original recipe I adapted from is: Fried Chinese Turnip Cake.



XO sauce fried fice with cured salmon, shiso leaf, roe

XO sauce fried rice with cured salmon, shiso leaf, roe: This dish was my way of interpreting and integrating two of my favorite rice dishes ever- The XO Sauce Fried Rice from The Bao in the East Village, and the Salmon Rice Claypot from En Japanese Brasserie in Greenwich Village. I cured salmon myself followed this recipe from to a T and chopped about .3lb for 2 cups of rice, then lightly pan fried the salmon in grapeseed oil, before adding 2 eggs and scrambling them in. To this I added diced onions and scallions, and 2 cups cooked white basmati rice. I mixed 1.5 tsp XO sauce with 1 table spoon soy sauce and 1 tsp hoisin sauce and 1 tsp rice vinegar, then added this into the rice and stirred vigorously on high heat for 5 minutes. I served this with some salmon roe and shiso leaf as they do at En.

Horseradish parsnip puree, edamame, sriracha-whiskey-cream soda sauce

Sriracha Whiskey Short-Ribs with horseradish parsnip puree, edamame, sriracha-whiskey-cream soda sauce

Japanese Yam Curry

Japanese Yam Curry

Black sesame dulce de leche icing, candied fried wonton strips

Taro cheese cake with black sesame dulce de leche icing, candied fried wonton strips


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Published on: Dec 7, 2014 @ 23:17EditEdit date and time
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