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Ponzu-Marinated Seared Yellowfin Tuna

21 Aug

This seared tuna was a very special treat for us.  Though we often throw out tuna steaks as an option when we’re headed to the store to buy some fish, ahi or yellowfin tuna can be almost prohibitively expensive.  These tuna steaks were pricey, but they were so fresh looking and smelling that we couldn’t resist.  It is extremely important when you are searing tuna to choose fresh, high quality fish.  The center of the fish remains raw, so you have to be confident in your fishmonger to feel comfortable eating it.

Because the high quality fish was intended to be the star of this plate, I kept the marinade fairly simple – some ponzu, a bit of sesame oil, and a few aromatics.  All of the flavors are present in the finished dish, but the predominant flavor is that of ocean fresh tuna.  Served with some simple spinach and white rice, this was a delicious, healthy, and filing meal.

Ponzu-Marinated Seared Yellowfin Tuna

2 yellowfin tuna steaks (also known as ahi tuna), each weighing approximately 1/2 lb.

1/4 cup ponzu

3 tbs. sesame oil

2 scallions, white and dark green parts only

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. ginger, grated

Freshly cracked black pepper

2 tbs. canola oil

Whisk together ponzu, sesame oil, scallions, garlic, ginger, and black pepper.  Place tuna steaks in a large ziplock bag and pour marinade over.  Marinate at least an hour, turning often to ensure even marination.

Coat either a cast iron grill pan or cast iron skillet with canola oil.  Heat over high heat until oil is shimmering and a drop of water placed on the pan evaporates.

Place tuna on the grill.  Cook roughly one minute and fifteen seconds per side per 1/2 inch of thickness to ensure a seared outside and cool center.

Serve immediately.

Mushroom and Silken Tofu in Dashi-Miso Broth

27 Jul

I’ve made this soup a couple of times now, and each time we enjoy it more than the last.  It is excellent both with and without noodles – the long, springy enoki’s add enough of a “noodle-y” texture, but it’s definitely pumped up to a full meal with the addition of the ramen.  This soup is reminiscent of a simple miso soup, but the added fire-y heat of the sriracha and plethora of meaty mushrooms makes it more interesting and more substantial.

This soup is incredibly easy and the “hardest” part is separating all the mushrooms from one another.  Mostly, you just boil water and throw a bunch of ingredients in a stock pot.  Still, the deep umami of the dashi, miso, and mushrooms, spice of the sriracha, fresh crunch of the scallions, and wonderful textures of the mushrooms combine in a way that makes this soup taste like it should have been a lot more work than it was.  The unique combination of flavors and textures is addictive, leading to inevitably licked-clean bowls.

Mushroom and Silken Tofu in Dashi-Miso Broth

1 block silken tofu, cut into large chunks

8 cups water

8 tsp. dashi powder

2 1/2 tbs. white miso

1 tsp. canola oil

1 package enoki mushrooms, separated

1 package white beech mushrooms, separated

1/3 cup sweet onion, thinly sliced

3 tbs. soy sauce

2 tbs. sriracha

Freshly cracked black pepper

2-3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped, for garnish

Ramen noodles, cooked, for serving (optional)

In a medium sauce pan, bring water to a rolling boil.  Whisk in dashi and miso until no more clumps remain. Cover and reduce to a simmer.

In a large sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms, soy sauce, and sriracha.  Stir well to distribute the soy sauce and sriracha.  Cook 3-4 minutes until mushrooms and beginning to tender.

Carefully add chunks of silken tofu.  Pour miso-dashi broth over the tofu and mushrooms.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Serve immediately, placing cooked ramen noodles in the bowl first and ladeling soup over.  Garnish with scallions.

Steamed Silken Tofu in Mustard Seed and Coriander Broth

1 Jul

Do you ever wonder what to do with leftover pickle juice?  I’ve used it in potato salad and coleslaw, as a brine for chicken thighs, as seasoning in a vegetarian casserole, and in chicken salad.  But the brine leftover from the pickled red onions I made a few weeks back was unique, and I wanted to use it in a bit of a different way.  I thought about it for awhile, because it contained strong flavors that wouldn’t work with just anything.

And then I remembered the silken tofu in aromatic broth I made awhile back.  I remembered how the clean flavors of the tofu amplified those of the broth without competing with any other element in the dish.  And I thought – perfect!  By pairing the punchy flavors of coriander, pepper, mustard seed, black pepper, bay leaf, crushed red pepper flakes and garlic with the relatively blank canvas of silken tofu, I would ensure that the dish wasn’t too fatiguing on the palate.  The plan paid off, and this dish was an extremely flavorful, healthy, and delicious entrée.  It’s also quite pretty, as the red of the radishes and pinkish hue of the broth and onions contrasts nicely with the white tofu and mushrooms.  Substitute the homemade chicken stock for homemade vegetable stock if you want a vegetarian dish.

Steamed Silken Tofu and Soft Boiled Egg in Mustard Seed and Coriander Broth

Adapted from, Elizabeth Chong

1 lb. package silken tofu, drained

3/4 lb. enoki mushrooms, cleaned (any mushroom would do)

1/4 cup pickled red onions

2-3 radishes, thinly sliced

1 cup brine from pickled red onions

1 cup homemade chicken stock

A few turns of freshly cracked black pepper

Bring brine and chicken stock to a simmer over medium-high heat.

Cut tofu into 2 even-sized squares.  Transfer each piece to a bowl for steaming.  Place an even amount of mushrooms on the bottom of each dish.  Pour about 1/2 cup of simmering brine/broth combination over each piece of tofu.  Top each piece of tofu with some radishes and a few red onions.

Add about 1/2″ – 1″ of water to a vessel large enough to fit the dishes and appropriate for steaming, such as a wok, stock pot, or sauce pan, and bring to a boil.

Add the bowls to the pot directly into the water and cover with a tight-fitting lid.  Steam about 13-15 minutes until heated through.

Season each piece of tofu with a turn or two of freshly cracked black pepper.

Cold Vermicelli Salad with Fried Mushrooms

17 Jun

It’s finally really and truly heated up around here, so I was looking for an entrée that didn’t require the oven or a whole lot of stove top simmering.  This meal came together in a matter of minutes and was deeply satisfying.  The mushrooms added a nice meaty bite to this meal.  The vermicelli noodles had a nice springy texture and were brightly flavored with ponzu, vinegar, and lime.  This meal also makes for  excellent leftovers.

Cold Vermicelli Salad with Fried Mushrooms

Cold Vermicelli Salad:

8.8 oz package vermicelli noodles (green bean thread)

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1/2 cup carrots, peeled and chopped

1 shallot, thinly sliced 1 scallion, thinly sliced

Lime and ponzu dressing, see below

Coriander and peppercorn mushrooms, see below

Soak vermicelli noodles in hot water for 3-5 minutes, or prepare according to package instructions.  Run under cold water until chilled.

Toss together all ingredients except the mushrooms.  Serve mushrooms over the noodles.

Lime and Ponzo Dressing:

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup ponzu (or use soy sauce and extra lime)

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

3-4 tbs. fish sauce

1 lime juiced

1 tsp. sugar

Whisk together, or put into a closed container and shake, until well combined.


1 package white shimeji mushrooms

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tbs. coriander seeds, whole

2-3 tsp. szechuan peppercorns, whole

In a cast iron pan, heat oil with seeds and peppercorns over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms and cook, turning frequently, until golden brown.  Drain for a few minutes on a paper towel and serve over noodles.

General Tso’s Tofu with Edamame

19 Apr

Americanized Chinese food is a guilty pleasure of mine.  Though I’m usually pretty adventurous and love ordering off the “secret menu” or going to Cleveland’s little Asia-town for an authentic bite, sometimes I want something that you could find in the average mall food court.  Because it’s tasty, gosh darn it.  And General Tso’s chicken is one of my favorites in that category – it’s sweet and spicy with some yummy fried breading to sop up the sauce.  I didn’t have chicken at the house but was inexplicably craving some General Tso’s, so I Googled around and came across the recipe below which substitutes tofu.

We were both very happy with how the dish came out, though in the future I might reduce the brown sugar to a couple of tablespoons, add a tablespoon or two of sriracha and/or bump up the chiles, and actually remember to slice scallions for a garnish and add some sesame seeds at the end.  As written, the recipe is sweet and slightly spicy with all of the classic flavors of a great General Tso’s chicken.  The tofu nicely sops up the sauce and the edamame provides a nice burst of color and texture.

General Tso’s Tofu with Edamame

Adapted from The Life and Times of Grumpy’s Honeybunch


15 oz. block firm tofu

3-4 tbs. cornstarch

1 tbs. vegetable oil


1/4 cup brown sugar

3 tbs. hoisin sauce

3 tbs. shaohsing rice wine

3 tbs. ketchup

2 tbs. soy sauce

1/2 cup water

1 tbs. Korean chile flakes (or crushed red pepper), or to taste

1 tbs. sesame oil

1/2 cup edamame, shelled

1/4 cup sliced mushrooms

Slice tofu into 1/2″ slices and then again into thirds.  Place in between two layers of paper towels and place a heavy pan or baking sheet weighed down with canned goods on top.  Let sit about an hour, changing paper towels once.

Whisk together brown sugar, hoisin sauce, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, water, and chile flakes.

Place cornstarch in a shallow dish.  Toss tofu slices with cornstarch to coat lightly.  Add vegetable oil to a large wok and heat over medium-high heat.  Add tofu, working in batches, and fry until golden brown and crispy.  Set aside on paper towels to drain.

Carefully wipe pan clean with a paper towel.  Add sesame oil and heat over medium heat.  Add edamame and mushrooms and sauté 3-5 minutes until tender.  Add sauce mixture.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for about 2 minutes.  Add the tofu back to the pan and toss to coat.  Cook a few minutes to warm through.

Serve over white rice.

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