Spanish-Japanese Eggs

Today for brunch, I created a mash-up of two of my favorite egg dishes: Spanish tortilla, a thick omelet with potatoes, and Japanese tamagoyaki, a rolled omelet infused with a slightly sweet soy and dashi broth.

In place of regular potatoes, I use satsumaimo, a kind of Japanese sweet potato that is whiter and a bit firmer than American sweet potatoes. Of course, you can use whatever sweet potato you can find. I pre-cook the satsumaimo with a kind of delicate simmering technique called nimono before incorporating it into the omelet.

The recipe takes a bit of time to make from scratch, but the techniques are simple. I think it’s worth the effort and the perfect way to impress your family and friends with a fresh take on the usual weekend brunch fare.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 piece of kombu
  • 3 thin slices of fresh ginger
  • 4-5 dried shiitake (mushrooms)
  • 1 handful of katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • 1 satsumaimo (Japanese sweet potato), substitute the American kind if you can’t find the Japanese kind
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • sesame oil
  • 8 medium organic eggs
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • yuzukoshō (a kind of Japanese fermented green chili and citrus peel paste)
  • soy sauce
  • mirin (sweet rice wine) and sake
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sesame seeds
  • red chili flakes/cayenne pepper
  • pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
  • brown sugar, salt and pepper

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1. Make Broth

  • Rinse the shiitake, kombu, and ginger and place in a medium saucepan with about a liter of cold water.
  • Bring to a simmer, and cook gently for 30 minutes, uncovered.
  • Pick out the kombu and mushrooms and reserve. Leave in the ginger.
  • Bring to a boil and toss in the katsuobushi. Turn off heat, let cool for 10 minutes and strain. Discard katsuobushi and ginger.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and sugar, 1 tablespoon each of mirin and sake. Add salt to taste. It should be salty and a bit sweet but not too overwhelming.

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2. Prepare Satsumaimo

  • While the broth is simmering, cut the satsumaimo into 1/4 inch-thick half moons. Leave the skin on, but trim off any dried-out or dark bits.
  • Soak the satsumaimo slices in cold water until ready to use. This removes some of the extra starch and prevents oxidation, which turns the sweet potato brown.
  • Drain the satsumaimo slices from the cold water and simmer in the broth from the previous step for 15-20 minutes until soft but not falling apart. Remove satsumaimo from cooking liquid, reserving some of the broth.

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3. Make Topping

  • While the satsumaimo is simmering in the broth, prepare the crunchy mushroom and kombu topping.
  • Thinly slice the kombu and shiitake reserved from the broth making.
  • Heat about a teaspoon of the sesame oil in a small saucepan. Add in the sliced kombu and shiitake along with the sliced garlic.
  • Season with a few pinches of red chili powder and/or cayenne, freshly grated black pepper and sugar. Add a small splash each of sake, mirin, and soy sauce.
  • Cook until liquid is absorbed and mixture looks dark and crunchy. Sprinkle on white sesame seeds.

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4. Final Assembly

  • Whisk 1/4 teaspoon of yuzukoshō and the scallion in about 1/4 cup of the reserved simmering liquid. Beat in the eggs.
  • Heat a well-seasoned cast iron pan on a medium flame and coat with a thin layer of olive oil. Add the egg mixture, then add a layer of the satsumaimo slices. I had some extra sweet potato that I saved for another use. Then add the kombu and mushroom mixture on top.
  • Continue cooking on low heat until edges look slightly solid. Finish in the broiler (1-2 minutes). The eggs should still be a little runny in the center. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with pimentón, and serve. Enjoy!

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Scallops, Swiss Chard, Shiitake, Macadamia Yuzukosho Dressing

scallops with warm chard shiitake salad

I improvised this Japanese-inspired scallop recipe for a weekend lunch last week with some super fresh local scallops I got from Fresh Direct. My mom sent me a huge box of oranges from Arizona, so you will see that I will be sneaking orange into my recipes this month. The recipe below serves two.

Ingredients
6 large dry sea scallops
Juice and zest of 2 oranges
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons of miso (use white miso or a mild brown miso)
1 handful of roasted macadamia nuts (I got these in Hawai’i when I was there last month)
1/2 teaspoon of yuzukoshō
1 scallion, chopped
1 dash of turmeric powder (optional, it gives the dressing a nice color and it’s good for you)
Olive Oil
1 bunch of rainbow Swiss chard, sliced into ribbons
1 handful of fresh shiitake, sliced
Butter
Salt & Pepper

Method
1. Wash the scallops, pat dry, and generously salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
2. Prepare the dressing in a blender using the following ingredients: citrus juice and zest, miso, macadamia nuts, yuzukoshō, scallion, and a glug of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat a pan and add a bit of olive oil. Sauté the shiitake until they start to take on some color. Then add the chard and stir until it starts to wilt. Turn off heat and set aside.
4. Sear the scallops in plenty of butter.
5. Divide the chard the shiitake mixture onto two plates. Top with 3 scallops each. Drizzle some of the dressing on top. Serve immediately.

Soft Shell Crab Salad with Curry Aioli

With my ITP thesis ready to go, I finally got a chance to do some creative cooking again.  Tonight I made a fried soft shell crab salad with a curry aïoli dressing.  I improvised through this one (like most things I cook), so no exact measurements.  I got the soft shell crabs (which are currently in season) from FreshDirect, and they were already cleaned, which saved me the scary task of cutting off the eyes of live crabs as demonstrated here by Mark Bittman of the NY Times.

Start with the aïoli dressing.  Put in a blender:
1 raw egg (without the shell, silly!)
1 clove of garlic
2 chopped up cornichons
1 generous spoonful of Dijon mustard
1 shake of curry powder
1 dash of soy sauce
1 dash of Tabasco
1 heaping teaspoon of apricot jam (the sweetness offsets the intensity of the other flavors)
2-3 teaspoons of vinegar (I used a combo apple cider and rice wine vinegar that has been infused with jalapeños. I like to live a little on the wild side, so I chucked in a couple slices of the pickled jalapeños too
2-3 generous glugs (I know, this is hardly scientific) of grapeseed or other neutral oil

Blend everything together and season to taste. It should come out more like a thick salad dressing and less like a mayonnaise. If it’s too thick, add some water or more vinegar to taste.  This makes a lot of dressing, so these measurements would be enough for 4-6 servings.

Now for the crab. Clean the crab if it didn’t come cleaned already. Rinse in some cold water and pat dry with some paper towels. Make a tempura-style batter by mixing flour, ice cold water, freshly ground black pepper, Tabasco, and fish sauce (plain old salt would work here too). The batter should be really cold and rather thin. Don’t over mix.  Dip the crab in the batter and deep fry.  It takes 2-3 minutes per side. When done, drain on some paper towels.

Tonight I served the crab on some heirloom tomatoes and Boston lettuce with the dressing drizzled on top.  I had a glass of vinho verde to go with my delicious dinner, but an off-dry Riesling or Gewurztraminer would also probably work well with the curry flavor.

Making Taiwanese Tamales 包粽子

I was visiting family in Arizona for Thanksgiving weekend. I spent the Friday after Thanksgiving with my mom, aunt, and uncle making zongzi or Taiwanese tamales, a fitting description that reflects my Pacific Islander/Southwestern identity. 😉 The zongzi are based on my Taiwanese grandmother’s recipe, and includes sticky rice, peanuts, pork, fried shallots, dried shrimp, dried daikon, shiitake, and salty duck egg yolks wrapped in bamboo leaves. The bamboo-wrapped packages are then boiled and steamed. Yum!

Making "Taiwanese Tamales" (包粽子)

Making "Taiwanese Tamales" (包粽子)

Making "Taiwanese Tamales" (包粽子)

Making "Taiwanese Tamales" (包粽子)

My Thanksgiving photos on Flickr