Thursday, May 26, 2011

Apple Wood Grilled Hamachi Kama with Yuzu Ponzu

Hamachi (Yellowtail) Kama (Collar) is amazing. I'm having trouble even coming up with more to say. It's usually grilled and served with ponzu and is a delicious bit of fish. Kama is often unavailable because the kitchen staff eats it before it ever makes it on a menu. Like the oysters that whoever is carving your Thanksgiving turkey ate long before anyone noticed them (See? You might not even know what the hell the "oysters" are! some a-hole in your family has been hiding them from you) Kama is the ultimate ChefSnack! The collar is the cheek of the fish, and is some of the most succulent and delicate meat you will ever have. You may also see salmon collar available at some Japanese restaurants and even tuna collar very rarely. I got this one at Nijiya Market for under $4. I see it served in restaurants for around $14. Score!

Ponzu is a simple sauce or dressing made from just a few ingredients, but one is the juice of yuzu, a Japanese lemon. If you don't have one (I sure as hell don't) you can buy bottled juice from a Japanese market or substitute in your favorite citrus. I really dig orange ponzu too. For this recipe, I used the bottled yuzu juice.

Apple Wood Grilled Hamachi Kama with Yuzu Ponzu

Preheat your grill to 400 degrees, and if you have any mild smoking wood chips handy, toss some in after a 30 minute soak. I had apple, so I used apple. It ROCKED.

Make your ponzu sauce:
3 parts soy sauce
2 parts rice wine vinegar
1 part yuzu juice
dash of sesame oil

Prepare Yellowtail Collar(s):
Sprinkle the fish all over with sea salt.
Lightly brush with peanut or vegetable oil.
Throw on the grill skin side down, and close the lid. Cook for 3 minutes.
Flip the fish, and spoon a couple tablespoons of ponzu sauce on the skin side of the fish (now facing up). Close the lid again, and cook another 2 or 3 minutes.
Start to grill skin side down. I used my trusty Big Green Egg which has also been called the Aguacate from time to time. 

Flip the fish one last time so that you can spoon on some more sauce and as soon as the sauce is on, remove the fish to a serving plate. Serve with chopsticks a dish of ponzu.
Just eat it! Don't be afraid to just jump in with your chopsticks and fingers to get all the meat.

Friday, May 20, 2011


This recipe is my favorite crepe recipe because it produces the absolute thinnest crepes AND the batter doesn't need to rest because it doesn't use flour and so mixing it doesn't produce gluten. It's adapted from The Cake Bible and I've used it for years with great success. (Please pardon my bed-head, it was Sunday morning and I'd just rolled out of bed into the kitchen.)
Strawberry jam filled crepe getting dressed with whipped cream; Lemon sugar crepe; Nutella impostor crepe
3 eggs
1 c milk
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3/4 c cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt

For Sweet Crepes:
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier

For Savory Crepes:
handful of rough chopped fresh herbs
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

Clarified butter for cooking the crepes (just nuke butter until melted and scrape off/fish out the white bits, leaving clear yellow goodness)

Place the ingredients (except clarified butter), in the order given, in a blender and blend at high speed for 30 seconds.

Heat a crepe pan on medium-high heat until hot enough to sizzle a drop of water. Brush the pan lightly with clarified butter and pour 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of the pan. Immediately tilt the pan to the left and then down and around to the right so that the batter moves in a counterclockwise direction, swirling to cover the entire pan.

For the thinnest possible crepes, pour excess batter immediately back into the blender with the rest of the batter. So, to recap: Pour in batter, swirl around fast, quickly dump extra back where it came from and return to heat. This should all happen quickly- otherwise, adjust the thing you're using to pour in your batter so you're pouring in exactly the right amount. 1/4 cup measure giving you too much batter in your pan? Try another scooper that's smaller.
Cook until the top loses it's shine and starts to dull and the edges begin to look dry and lacey, about 20 seconds. Use a small metal spatula to lift the edge, check to see if the crepe is speckled with brown underneath, then flip the crepe with your fingers and cook for about another 15 seconds.
I have a blue steel crepe pan. No Really. I use my offset icing spatula for crepes, it's thin and easy to handle.
You can fill them however you like but I like mine brushed with melted butter, sprinkled with sugar and a squeeze of lemon.
Breakfast of Champions!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guajillo Chile Black Bean Street Tacos

I've recently gotten back from a Caribbean cruise where I ate waaaaay too much "cruise food" and needed to detox. To me, this generally means cutting down the drinking a whole lot and only eating minimally processed fruits and veggies (no refined flour, no dairy, no eggs, no meat). Today marks the start of my third week eating what is essentially a vegan diet with some extra restrictions on processed food/complex carbohydrates. I've been eating well; don't cry for me, Argentina! 

Usually street tacos are tiny things full of mostly meat, with few toppings, (carne asada tossed with spicy sauce and topped with onion and cilantro and a lime to squeeze on top is pretty classic) but I wanted to create something that wasn't too gringo but still lightened things up for a busy weeknight. 
Served family style, with individual plates of mexican-style corn on the cob and chile lime fruit cups
Taco Filling Ingredients
2 tsp oil
1/4 diced onion
2 garlic cloves (pressed through a garlic press)
2 Tbsp Guajillo chile paste
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 15 oz. can of no salt added black beans, undrained, unrinsed

1 finely diced small tomato
1/2 avocado, sliced 1/8th inch thick
1 large serrano chile sliced into long thin strips
2 Tbsp cilantro, rough chopped
1 green onion, thin bias sliced

12 4” Corn Tortillas (tiny street taco size)

Prepare Filling
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, then garlic and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. 
Add chile paste and chile powder and stir to combine and heat through. Stir in the whole can of beans (including liquid), and bring to a high simmer, stirring frequently. 
Reduce heat and let liquid reduce while you prepare the rest of your meal or prepare toppings. Beans should not be too soupy- you want them to stay put in your tacos.

Heat 4 tortillas at a time directly over the fire if you have a gas stove flipping frequently (no pan, put the tortillas where you’d put a pan). If you don’t have a gas stove, you can wrap small stacks of tortillas in a damp paper towel and nuke for 20 seconds until warmed. Don’t skip the tortilla heating or your tortillas may tear.

Hold the warmed tortilla in one hand, add a heaping tablespoon of beans, 1 slice of avocado, 1 slice of serrano chile, a sprinkle of tomatoes, and a pinch of cilantro and green onion.

Make a meal
Mango & Cucumber Spears with Lime, Chile & Sea Salt
Elotes (Mexican-Style Corn on the Cob)

Mango & Cucumber Spears with Lime, Chile & Sea Salt

Spicy, sweet, crunchy, tangy, AND salty!
Refreshing fruit salads like this are often available at farmer’s markets here and from street vendors in Mexico. They often are served sticking out of red solo party cups and can include watermelon, jicama, pineapple, melon, and papaya too!

1 cucumber, seeds and skin removed
1 large mango, seed and skin removed
1 lime
cayenne pepper to taste
sea salt to taste

Slice cucumber and mango into spears and lay out to receive seasoning evenly. Sprinkle with lime juice, then add cayenne, then salt.
Tip: Add salt and spices from high above the food to distribute it better.
Gather up your spears and serve sticking up in a cup like a bouquet of flowers.

Elotes (Mexican-Style Corn on the Cob)

Mexican street vendors sell corn boiled in their husks from carts stocked with toppings that you can dress your corn up with (kind of like a hot dog cart!). They're also available at most of the Farmer's Markets in San Diego, and indeed, I got my ears of corn from the Little Italy Mercato this week to dress up at home.
Generally the husk is just peeled back so you can use it as a handle to eat the corn, but unless I'm serving it in the backyard, I usually just remove it entirely. This recipe includes my favorite toppings and is vegan if you use the fakey mayo (I can't tell the difference in this recipe between the Vegenaise and commercial mayo, so why not?).

2 Ears of corn, still in the husk
Mayonnaise (I used Follow Your Heart Vegenaise)
Tapatio or Cholula hot sauce
1 tsp rough chopped cilantro

Microwave corn on high for 5 minutes (you will need to increase time for more than 2 ears of corn) and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Shuck the corn (Corn will still be very hot, so you may want to let it cool a little more if you are burning yourself)
Rub all over with lime halves, thinly spread on mayo, sprinkle with or roll in cilantro, and drizzle on hot sauce.
This is often served topped with Kraft parmesan that comes in the green cardboard can, but to veganize, you can sprinkle some nutritional yeast on. I just didn’t bother, it was delicious enough already.