Friday, July 13, 2012

Grilled Ginger Scallion Halibut with Bacon Dashi, Pea Vines, Roasted Mushrooms and Pickled Fennel

It does get tedious trying to think of what to have for dinner every night.  And then sometimes there are other hurdles as well.  Due to a little work being done inside our house, I've not been able to make my early morning trips to food shop alone.  I've had to wait until mid-day and drag the kids along with me not wanting to leave them at home alone with various workmen.  Apparently, as much as my gals love a good meal, they hate to food shop.  "Why do we have to do this all the time?" they ask.  My answer that if everyone wasn't eating every day, I wouldn't have to food shop all the time, was not well received.  The truth is I food shop all the time because I like to.  It's usually my time and it's fun.  And my resistance to plan ahead for meals often calls for a daily, or every other day, stop at the store. 

I did not get to the store today, so a little freezer dive occurred instead.  I had some shrink-wrapped, flash frozen halibut still swimming around in the freezer downstairs and a jar of frozen bacon dashi.  Away we go.
1 1/2 pounds halibut fillet
1 Tablespoon finely chopped ginger
3 Scallions, finely sliced
2 Tablespoon light soy
2 Tablespoon mirin
1 Tablespoon grape seed oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
Cut halibut into approximately 6 inch pieces in place into a large dish.  Combine marinade ingredients and pour over halibut.  Cover and let marinade in refrigerator for an hour or so.
Make sure your grill is clean.  Heat grill to high.  Brush the grill with a little oil or spray with non stick spray before putting fish on.
Sear the first side for about 4 minutes to get a hard sear, and then flip over to finish, another 2 minutes or so.

For the bacon dashi:
1 piece of konbu, approximately 3" x 6"
1/4 pound smoky bacon, I used Nueskes

Combine konbu with 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan.  Simmer over medium heat, then turn off the stove and let sit for 10 minutes.
Remove the konbu and add the bacon.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then turn down to simmer.  Simmer the bacon for 30 minutes.
Remove the bacon and chill the dashi until the fat separates and hardens on top.  Remove the fat.  You can store the dashi for several days in the refrigerator or separate into a couple of portions and freeze one like I did.
Reheat 2 cups of the dashi and bring to a boil.  Reduce by 1/4.  

For the pea vines:
Saute pea vines simply in a little oil and salt.  Be sure to use only the tender tips of the pea vines and sauté over high heat only until the vines are just wilted.

For the roasted mushrooms:
I used Bunashimeji (Beech Mushrooms)
Toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven under the broiler on high for just a few minutes.

For the pickled fennel:
Wash and trim fennel bulb.  Slice lengthwise once and then thinly slice crosswise both halves.  Discard the core.  In a jar, combine 1/2 cup hot water, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 3 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp kosher salt.  Place fennel into the liquid, cover and refrigerate.  If using the same day, let the fennel sit out on the counter until ready to use and then refrigerate what's left.

Good fish!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Food Processor Griddle Burger

My friend Lorie and I had been discussing making burgers the other day.  She was contemplating a grinder attachment for a standing mixer and we talked about how successful she'd been using a food processor instead.  We both agreed the key was a larger chop of beef and a loosely packed burger.  So, when Maggie asked for burgers for dinner tonight, I decided to go with the food processor instead of my grinder.

2 1/2 pounds beef chuck or boneless short ribs
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Cut the beef into small cubes about 1" or so square.  Working in small batches, process the beef until it is roughly chopped.  You don't want it is large chunks, but you also don't want it over processed and become mealy.  This is why I like to grind/chop my own burger.  The supermarket stuff is too finely ground and becomes too much of a packed chunk of burger.  I prefer this method which results in a more tender burger that does not shrink as much when cooked.  And, as it turns out, I found the food processor route was easier than using my grinder.  A surprise to me.
Once the burger is chopped, add a healthy pinch of kosher salt and some freshly ground pepper.  Form the burgers as loosely as you can.  This made six, roughly 6oz, burgers.
Chris has largely maintained that frying the burger is the way to go.  I like the taste of a burger cooked on the grill.  But Chris says a hard, crispy sear on the outside is better.  So, tonight, I fried the burgers on our stove top griddle.  
2 minutes at medium high 
add cheese of your choice on top, if you choose, then 2 minutes at medium low using a large lid or sauté pan to cover the burgers so the cheese will melt

For the bun, I like to go with a medium dense, but soft bun.  Tonight, it was a Maui onion sesame bun, but a favorite is also a brioche bun.  

The verdict?  I had mine with Beecher's Flagship Cheddar, sugar plum tomatoes, romaine lettuce, Mama Lil's peppers, crispy shallots, mayo and ketchup.  One of the best says Chris, and I have to agree.  Excellent flavor and texture.  Cheeseburger in paradise.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hamachi Crudo with Scallion Oil, Soy Vinaigrette and Crispy Shallots

Here's a quick summertime first course or appetizer.  Simply dressed, the hamachi is the star it should be.  I could eat a plateful and with a little rice, and maybe a little salad with sesame dressing, it becomes a light summertime meal.

1/3 pound hamachi filet
crispy fried shallots

1 Tablespoon grape seed oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons light soy sauce
pinch of fine sugar
mix all together

Scallion Oil:
1 Tablespoon sliced scallion
1/4 Cup grape seed oil
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Puree in a blender until scallions are just incorporated.  Do not over blend or oil will thicken.

Thinly slice the hamachi and fan out on a large plate.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  
To serve, drizzle a little of the vinaigrette, followed by the scallion oil,  and top with a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper and crispy shallots.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Yakitori - A Go-To Meal

For our grilling pleasure, Yakitori is simple and delicious.  It has become a go-to meal for us.  We have it with simple white rice, Katsui Fumi Furikake rice seasoning, and some green vegetables.  

In addition to skin-on chicken thighs, I tried out both duck and calamari steak tonight.  Soak bamboo skewers in cold water for an hour or so to help keep them from burning when you grill.  I bought a whole duck today and decided to use part of it for tonight and the rest for tomorrow's dinner.  For the yakitori, I used the duck legs, which have slightly less fat.  It would be difficult to cook the fat off the duck breast on the grill with the high heat we'll be using.  Debone the duck legs and cut into small bite-sized pieces.  
Score the calamari steak and cut into bite sized pieces.
Skewer the calamari and duck separately.   Alternate each piece with a piece of green onion in between.

For the teriyaki sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
4 tablespoons superfine sugar

Combine in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer and cook the sauce over very low heat for about 15 minutes.  Set aside until ready to use.

Heat your grill to high heat.  Brush the duck and calamari with a little canola oil, and then brush with the teriyaki sauce.  Continue to baste while grilling.  With the high heat, the calamari should only take a minute or two while the duck a little longer.
The calamari had the slight edge over the duck.  A surprise.  It was just different enough to win my favor over the duck.