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Chicken Donbori with Coriander and Pomegranate

chicken donbori

Donbori, in a nutshell, is a Japanese word for what amounts to a rice bowl — a steaming bowl of rice topped with whatever you happen to have on hand (within reason). And in most senses, this bowl from Chef Jordan Sclare is just that, but sometimes calling this a chicken donbori tends to disguise the amazing flavors and textures in this dish.

In this case, the rice is topped with zucchini flavored in a tangy miso and kim chi base, then sliced raw onions and pomegranate seeds, then lavished with chicken flavored in a cilantro (coriander) marinade that’s like, why didn’t I think of that before? I can sincerely promise you, you’ve never had anything quite like this dish, ever before in your life. 

I picked this recipe up somewhere. I don’t remember why or how, but dig in, guys. This one gives chicken a whole new flavor.

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Smoked Paprika Shrimp and Spanish Rice

Smoked Paprika Shrimp and Spanish Rice

This is a relatively new recipe that really only took a fairly small number of tries before we got it right. It’s a Spanish rice dish with some fantastic smoked paprika shrimp that really sends it over the top. Seriously, I’ve never thought about using that much smoked paprika on anything the shrimp with the rice is very, very good.

Like a lot of things with shrimp, you’re not going to do a lot with this recipe. Just marinate the shrimp for about 20-30 minutes in a sauce that has a little garlic powder and smoked paprika in a little oil, just enough to coat the shrimp. The rice is easy, using a nice little tomato and saffron broth. You can use chili peppers in the broth as well, although I chose not to because I want the shrimp to be the star here.

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Orzo and Rice Pilaf

orzo and rice pilaf

Here is a very good summer dish to help take care of those zucchini, which must now be about to take over your garden. It’s a simple orzo and rice pilaf, with lots of veggies and plenty of chicken broth (or vegetable broth), and with a finishing touch of zucchini at the end that just steams lightly and gives it a nice crunch.

I like the idea of using orzo with a rice pilaf, it make the whole dish a little more interesting and, I don’t know, adds a really nice pasta effect to the dish that smaller pasta just seems to miss. You can also make this a more or less vegetarian dish by using vegetable pasta. Personally, I use the chicken version because it adds a bit of (what I think is necessary) flavor, but if you had some really good vegetable sauce, by all means feel free to give it a try.

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Char Siu Fried Rice

Char Siu Fried Rice

So, a couple of days ago, I posted a recipe for Char Siu. If you haven’t read the Char Siu file, this would be a great opportunity to do that,  it calls for a BBQ-pork recipe, and while you can certainly use prepared Char Siu, it is so much better if you’re using your own. Char Siu Fried Rice is, of course, just fried rice with BBQ-pork added in — but that’s really just a starting point.

First, to place this entrĂ©e, it is pretty much a straight fried rice. Lots of peas, carrots, onions and garlic. Toss in a little fried egg and your done. On the other hand, what if you want to vary it a bit? Of course there are dozens of combinations: a little more onions, some green mung beans, a little water chestnuts, or a few edamame seeds.  It’s the extras that make it sing.

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Oyakodon (Japanese Chicken and Egg Rice Bowl)

oyakodon

Japanese cuisine is often very simple and at the same time subtle and complex. A Japanese dish can be humble in its origins and ingredients, amazingly sophisticated in the attention to detail in preparation, and intricate in the blending of layers of flavor. Oyakodon is like that.

At the level of simple, Oyakodon is cooked chicken in broth with beaten egg that’s cooked in the broth just before serving over steamed white rice. So why is it that in Tokyo, people will stand in line for hours to order this dish at some of the restaurants which specialize in making it? Because the way the chicken and the broth are prepared can make Oyakodon into a sublime experience that’s unique to each and every restaurant. Each recipe is a closely guarded secret, often handed down through the generations of family-owned establishments.

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Pepper Steak with a Kick

pepper steak

Along with Won Ton soup, I would be willing to bet that pepper steak is one of the first things most of us Americans tried when we first encountered Chinese food here. I’ve never encountered anything like pepper steak in China, though the flavor reminds me of a dish I had once at a hotel in Guilin made with pork. The version served in most inexpensive Chinese restaurants in the US is typically rather bland and seems more American than Chinese, probably for a good reason. This version has more authentic flavors and a bit of a bite. And while its not authentic by any means, it’s flavor profile is much more like what I remember from southern China and Hong Kong.

Some notes about the ingredients are in order. Xiaoxing wine is not easy to find, but dry sherry is a perfectly good substitute, one that I use most of the time, in fact. I found a market where I can sometimes find real Sichuan peppers. If you’re lucky enough to stumble upon them, stock up and freeze what you can’t immediately use. The small red Thai peppers that are more common make a pretty good substitute, but they’re not the same. 

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Red Beans And Rice

red beans and rice

I’ve traveled to New Orleans several times for business and pleasure, although it’s one place that’s always a pleasure. As far as I’m concerned, there is only one rule for visiting the Crescent City: You may not return home until you’ve had a plate of red beans and rice. But don’t worry about finding it. Whether you’re a guest at someone’s home or dining at the best restaurants, you’ll get your shot at a plate of red beans and rice. It’s part of life there.

Red Beans and Rice is Creole cooking, melding together the influences of France, Spain, the Caribbean, Africa and who knows where else. Creole is not the same thing as Cajun. In a nutshell, the difference is that Cajun food tends to use fewer ingredients and simpler preparation, while Creole food typically is more complex and uses more ingredients (often things that are more exotic and not growable in the more rural parts of Louisiana where the original Cajuns — refugees from French Canada — settled).

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