Family Recipes: My Mom’s Creamed Mackerel with Vegetables

Not sure how widespread it was in the Soviet era and what variations existed out there. We discussed it in LCL Group on Facebook and, apparently, the recipe with tomatoes was more popular. In other regions, pink salmon (aka Gorbusha) was more available than mackerel and was cooked similarly. The recipe below is how my Mom made it. I loved eating creamed mackerel with vegetables as a cold appetizer after school. My favorite part of this dish was the vegetables — naturally sweet, slightly flavored with sea salt and umami, and rounded with silky cream. They had to be soft and barely crunchy.

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Lazy Rabbit

Lazy Rabbit

…I closed my French cookbook and made a lazy version, the one that requires the least amount of work and time in the kitchen. It was served with a glass of good brut only (lazy!), but of course, there are many choices for side dishes including spaetzle, pasta, vegetables, etc.

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Dumplings: Har Gow | Shrimp Bonnet

Dumplings: Har Gow

They are fascinating for many reasons. First of all, they attract everybody’s attention because of their semi-transparency, which is stunning with colorful filling. Secondly, they are gluten-free by nature. The wrappers are made of starches that do not contain any gluten. Finally, they are totally delicious with incredible texture.

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Ramen: Creamy Chicken Stock | Tori Paitan | 鶏ガラパイタン

Tori Paitan Ramen

Creamy chicken stock for ramen is now my number two favorite after tonkotsu. Torikotsu uses the same technique but requires less time and efforts to make it than tonkotsu — it is much easier to gelatinise chicken cartilage and connective tissues and extract flavors from less dense chicken bones. Most of the myoglobin is neutralized during the fist step of soaking chicken in cold water. To make it efficient, chop chicken wings and legs to smaller, 1-2″ pieces to expose bones marrow. As a result, there is significantly less scum to skim during the second step. Just like for tonkotsu, it is essential to remove the foam that appears, but keep the chicken fat and emulsify it into the creamy stock later, during the rapid boiling. Pressure cookers are very helpful and streamline the last stage of making chicken paitan even more if you are working on just a few portions. For the recipe below, use a 10-quart stock pot.

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Dumplings: Dargin Khinkal

Dargin Khinkal

If you are with me for a long time, you already know about my roots and my fascination with layered dough. They come together in this recipe. I’ve seen dargin khinkal on pictures and videos only and know about its taste and texture from somebody else’s descriptions. The combination of boiled beef and garlicky tsahdon (sauce) is the treat from my childhood, one of the dishes my grandma used to make for me.

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Dumplings: The One With 13 Holes

Steamed Dumplings with Scallops

My version only looks like De Fa Chang restaurant lotus dumplings. The dough recipe belongs to Andrea Nguyen, and so far it’s the best I tried for steamed dumplings. It has a balanced chewy texture — not too soft and mushy, not too rubbery. Cooked dumplings keep their shape well. If brushed with some oil or melted butter right after steaming, the skins do not overdry and look appetizing. The stuffing is not traditional either. To practice shaping I used round slices of fresh peach dusted with dry mix of sugar and corn starch. I also changed Andrea’s recipe by replacing boiling water + oil with scalded milk + clarified butter. Peach dumplings were served with cream and peach syrup. Then I found another “lazy” stuffing for savory dumplings — large scallops, and another “lazy” sauce to serve them — Gulf Brown shrimp compound butter.

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Summer Vegetables Soup

Summer Soup with Ramps Puree

The beginning is always the same — sauté some diced onions and grated carrots in melted butter and cream for color. Because beta-carotene in a carrot is fat soluble, this step is important for the final color of the soup and for making the best use of the nutrient. The rest in this recipe is variable — adjust it to your taste and diet!

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My Borsch

Borsch

Rich, thick and dense, bright red, piping hot, always served with a dollop of a sour cream on top. My father and brother would say: “There is a borsch and there is red soup with beetroots and tomatoes. These are two very different things.”

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