Happy 19th birthday Aaron! About a week ago, Aaron left for Germany to serve a 2-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, so we celebrated his birthday a little early. Aaron’s dinner request was Japanese Sukiyaki and Coconut Cream Pie Bars (pictured below).
Sukiyaki is a Japanese hot pot, served in the pot over a portable gas burner at the dinner table. Diners use chop sticks to take items out of the pot onto a bed of rice. Dipping hot items from the broth in raw eggs is traditional, but we didn’t want to risk salmonella with Aaron taking an international flight the next day.
Sukiyaki broth is a slightly sweetened soy broth. Thinly sliced beef and various vegetables, noodles, and tofu simmer in the broth until cooked through.
Here’s a photo from another time when we used slightly different vegetables:
This shredded pork wrap filling can be made in an Instant Pot or slow cooker. The pork is seasoned with a soy peanut marinade and makes a flavorful meal everyone will love. Top with chopped peanuts and julienned cucumbers for a great crunch.
Serve in tortillas for wraps. For a low-carb meal, use Bibb or Butter lettuce leaves for lettuce wraps, or serve on a bed of chopped lettuce.
With colder weather this week, we have broken out a few comfort food dishes. Beef stroganoff is a great way to make 2 meals out of one roast. I like to do a traditional Roast Beef one day, and then use the leftovers to make this Beef Stroganoff. If you won’t be using the leftover roast beef right away, cut it into strips and freeze it for a quick start to a meal later.
As the weather warms, these fresh spring rolls make a perfect appetizer or light main dish.
Fresh spring rolls are made with a thin rice paper wrapper and a combination of thinly sliced vegetables, proteins, noodles, and herbs. The hardest part about making them is seeing the wrapper once you wet it. They are very thin and almost transparent when wet. And chopping-these do involve a lot of vegetable chopping.
To make the rolls:
Fill a large shallow bowl (or plate with a rimmed edge) with warm water. Dip one piece of rice paper into the water, just until the wrapper begins to soften (about 15 seconds); make sure to wet entire piece. Lay the wrapper on a separate plate, textured side up, with a small edge hanging off of the plate (this will make it easier to start rolling). Don’t wet more than one wrapper at a time; they will quickly stick together.
Place a combination of desired vegetables, protein/noodles, and herbs on the bottom part of the rice paper. Fold the bottom edge of the rice paper over the filling and roll tightly once or twice. Fold in the two sides and then continue rolling completely.
Fresh spring rolls should be served the same day as making then. If you do need to store leftovers, store rolls (not touching) in a single layer; the rice paper gets sticky as it starts to dry and they will stick together if stored in layers.
Below are ideas for vegetable, protein, noodle, and herb fillings that can be used, and recipes for various dipping sauces. Pictured above are Spicy Sesame, Creamy Peanut, and Sweet Chili Hoisin Dipping Sauces.
Chorizo sausage, fresh mozzarella pearls, spicy marinara: all stuffed into an eggplant shell and topped with melted Parmesan. Perfect on its own, or served with a side of pasta.
Be sure to use medium sized eggplant. The skin on large eggplant is too thick to eat unless cooked for much longer than this recipe.
I love chorizo sausage in this, but you could also use a mild or spicy Italian sausage. I also use a spicy marinara sauce (like Arrabiata), but you can use whatever your family prefers.
Chorizo Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan
3 medium eggplant (do NOT use large eggplant)
2 cups marinara sauce (I use a spicy variety, like Arrabiata)
Olive oil cooking spray
salt & pepper
1 lb chorizo sausage
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
8 oz fresh mini mozzarella pearls (or ½” cubes)
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Use a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon to hollow out centers of eggplant halves (don’t discard eggplant insides). Spread about 1 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×13” baking dish. Place eggplant halves in the baking pan. Spray the eggplant halves with olive oil cooking spray (or brush lightly with olive oil) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Coarsely chop eggplant insides and set aside.
In a large skillet, cook chorizo over medium-high heat until browned; drain grease (place chorizo in a paper towel lined bowl to remove excess grease). Return chorizo to the skillet with the chopped eggplant, onion, and garlic. Stir in Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook until eggplant is soft, about 5-7 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
Add the mozzarella pearls to the sausage mixture in the skillet and stir gently. Quickly (before the cheese melts) spoon mixture evenly into the 6 eggplant halves. Top the filled eggplant boats with remaining marinara sauce.
Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Fresh tuna steaks are a fast and delicious dinner that even fish-haters around here approve of. Fresh tuna steaks are coated in sesame seeds, quickly seared, and served with a spicy Asian dipping sauce. Tuna steaks are best served rare, so be sure you have all of your sides ready before starting to cook the fish.
The main ingredients in the dipping sauce are soy sauce, lime juice, and chili paste. The strong flavors pair well with the mild fish. You can adjust the spice level to the taste of your family.
Preparing the tuna steaks is super simple. Mix together some white and black toasted sesame seeds, and generously coat all sides of the tuna steaks. Cook for 2 minutes in a hot cast iron skillet, and you are done. Be sure and serve immediately, so that the tuna steaks don’t dry out.
The best place to buy sesame seeds is an Asian market. You can buy large bags of white or black seeds relatively inexpensively.
In addition to the dipping sauce, I served the tuna steaks with a Thai Cucumber Salad and Green Chili Cilantro Rice.
Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks
4 fresh ahi tuna steaks, about 1” thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup each black and white toasted sesame seeds
4 Tbs oil
¼ cup soy sauce
1 lime, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs sesame oil
10 drops liquid stevia (or 1 Tbs brown sugar)
2 tsp ground chili paste (adjust to taste)
2 Tbs chopped cilantro
Prepare dipping sauce: Stir together all of the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Pat tuna steaks dry. Season both sides of the tuna steaks with salt and pepper. Place sesame seeds in a wide bowl and dip tuna steaks in seeds, pressing seeds onto all sides of the tuna steaks.
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet until very hot. Add tuna steaks to hot pan. Do not crowd pan; cook in batches if necessary. Cook for 1 minute on each side. (Adjust cooking time if steaks are thicker, or if you want them cooked more than rare). Remove to serving platter. Cut tuna steaks diagonally into slices and serve immediately with dipping sauce.
Thai Cucumber Salad
4-6 small pickling cucumbers, sliced
½ of a small red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup rice vinegar, unsweetened
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs sesame oil
10 drops liquid stevia (or 1 Tbs sugar)
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
¼ tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes
Mix sliced cucumbers, onion and cilantro in a bowl. Stir together remaining ingredients. Pour over cucumbers.
Green Chili Cilantro Rice
1 can (1 ¾ cup) chicken broth
1 can (4 oz) diced mild green chilies, undrained
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
½ tsp salt
1 cup Basmati rice (or other long grain variety rice)
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Combine broth, green chilies, garlic, olive oil, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice, cover, and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until rice is cooked. Stir in chopped cilantro.
This can also be cooked in a rice cooker: combine all ingredients except cilantro in rice cooker and cook according to directions; stir in cilantro.