Miso Salmon

miso salmon

Salmon is both a quick and easy meal, whether for lunch or a full meal. And this miso salmon is definitely at the top of that list. The only tough part is getting a good salmon, and while that’s generally easier than it once was, getting a really good salmon from Alaska or the northwest coast still can be a problem sometimes. Generally, I try to stay away from farmed salmon, in part because they often use color enhancements to make the fish look better in the case. I get why they do it, but well, it doesn’t sit right with me. 

So when I can get good salmon, the miso salmon is one of those “go to” recipes I often use, because it requires only a little marinade and a bit of time in the oven. At that point, your pretty much done. It’s really fast and gives you plenty of time to focus on a great side dish if you’ve got something special or just want to get a quick meal on the table and be done with it. The marinade does have only one ingredient — the miso — that can be difficult to find, but honestly, with online shopping, it’s really not hard. And the miso can last a long time if kept pretty well in the fridge or the freezer.

Give this a try the next time you need something in a hurry.

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Cashew Chicken

Cashew Chicken

Cashew chicken.  There are a handful of recipes you can find on almost any Chinese restaurant menu you can think of, yet most of them are very Americanized to say the least. But I spent a great deal of time in China, and yes, I’ve had cashew chicken there, and I can tell you that with a couple of changes in ingredients, you can have the “real” dish on your own menu, in a flash.

Here are the things you’ll want to have before you start the dish: Shao Xing cooking wine, dark (mushroom flavored) soy sauce, and Zhenjiang vinegar. If you have a local Chinese grocery available, these are things that are easy to find. If not, all of them can be found online. You might have to wait a few days, but trust me, it’s worth it. Generally, this would be one of several dishes at a Chinese banquet, but you can either serve with other things or simply serve it itself.

It will be darker, and have a few hints of flavor you might not otherwise expect, and yet it will be the same in most respects. The main thing is it will have nothing but actual Chinese ingredients in it, which is a good thing. How much different is it from Americanized cashew chicken? Well, a great deal of it has to do with how sophisticated your palate might be, but in general it’s richer and a lot more filling than the kind of thing you might find in any but the very best Chinese restaurants. 

For a lot of reasons, I used a wok to make my version. You can use a large skillet, but like a lot of things in Chinese cooking, a decent wok does make a difference (though probably small) in the final recipe. If you’ve got one, use it. If not, don’t worry much about it.

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Huli Huli Chicken, from Hawaii

huli huli chicken

Huli huli chicken? It’s one of those special dishes that somehow manage to come straight from Hawaii, even though they don’t really require any special ingredients or exotic know-how. But done right, huli huli chicken is quite a treat. Apparently, if you know something about trademarks and the literal translation that huli huli means turn, turn, you’ve got the whole idea about the chicken dish underway.

The trademark notion came from Ernie Morgado, the early 50s chef who is thought to have made the first huli huli and a few years later, decided to trademark the name. That meant that every chef or would-be chef in the area had to call his chicken dish something else, even though it was in fact huli huli. As far as I know, that still holds true there. And the key to huli huli, it’s literally to turn the chicken often, to cook it evenly and to even out the browning all around.

The marinade for the chicken is basically pretty simple, and then there’s the little extras that make’s each cook’s recipe a delight, and a great way to tool around the islands, try one huli huli here and another somewhere else. You could almost spend several days trying them all out.

In any case, here’s my huli huli.

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Brussels Sprouts with Leeks, Lemon and Pasta

brussels sprouts with leeks, lemon and pasta

One of the great troubles I find in cooking is getting good side dishes to go with whatever else I’m serving. With few fresh vegetables available from local sources, you really don’t have a lot to choose from. But this one, you can serve either as a light main serving or as a side, depending on the situation, and the Brussels sprouts with leeks and pasta are very good in both cases.

I saw the first such recipe on a Bon Appetite site and after researching it, found several others that were similar, and decided to make my own version, with a little bit more pasta and a lot more lemon and garlic. You can play with this recipe a good bit without ruining it, and come up with your own version, if you like. It’s really that easy. And I love the nice brownness that really makes the Brussels sprouts come alive.

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Swedish Meatballs, Perfect for Christmas

swedish meatballs

Meatballs are one of those things I really love (as you can see by the many posts I’ve pout here) and these Swedish meatballs are one of my favorites. They’ve got an interesting texture, unlike meatballs of any other kind I’ve had. The sauce, however, is the winner here. There are a couple of ways you can make it, assuming you have some really good mushroom soup handy, but you can also make it with just good old mushroom soup from the can. 

If you have good creamy mushroom sauce, skip the milk in the recipe below and just add some sour cream to give it that nice body. If you have mushroom soup, add the milk and you’re fine. You can also add pre-cooked shredded mushrooms to the mix, if you like.

I’m guessing the soft texture that comes with the meatballs is from 3/4 cup of milk that’s added to the meatball mix, because there doesn’t seem to be anything else different. In fact, as far as I know, I don’t remember seeing milk in any other meatball mix, come to think of it. Whatever the cause, the meatballs come out fresh and will definitely win your heart. Promise.

The Swedish meatballs are great for Christmas and also can make a delicious appetizer, if you wish.

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Lemon Garlic Shrimp Alfredo

lemon garlic shrimp alfredo

This lemon and garlic shrimp Alfredo is, believe it or not, a great Christmas dish around our house, in part because you can still get some very good shrimp this late in the year. And there really isn’t any reason I can think of to have a nice lemon garlic and cheesy Alfredo sauce just about any time of the year. Period.

The dish starts with a garlic lemony Alfredo sauce, which is nothing but butter, garlic, cream, a little lemon juice and zest, and cheese. And apart from waiting for the cream to reduce a good bit, there really isn’t much to make it. The shrimp I like to fry in some pancetta and (a little more) garlic, which takes only a little time, as well. (You can serve the pancetta with the shrimp or not — your call.)

Add a little fettuccine and your done. It’s a very nice, quick fix dinner or as a small plate for lunch.

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More Asian Meatball Recipes

more Asian meatball

I know. This is really a strange time to be bringing up a new Asian meatball recipe. But the truth is, I just really wanted to have them and in the end, it’s not really Thanksgiving yet, so why not?

I doubt very much you would likely find these meatballs anywhere in Asia, but they have all the amazing flavors you might expect from an Asian cuisine. Yes, they do use turkey as the meat (yeah, there is Thanksgiving of sorts here), but with water chestnuts, spring onions, cilantro, garlic, ginger and a lime-juice marinade that brings it all up to where it should be.

And, like most meatballs, these can be served as a nice dinner, but also as an appetizer and even as a small lunch plate, if that’s your choice. The flavors are definitely Asian in nature, reminding me a lot of Vietnamese or maybe Singaporean kind of fare. They could be served over rice noodles or even with zucchini noodles, perhaps with a little peanut butter sauce.

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