I’ve been always curious about differences and similarities of neighboring countries cuisines. Differences are interesting in particular. I also know how dangerous it is to make any assumptions after just a peek inside an unknown cuisine. Yet, I dare to say the use of mustard stands out for me in traditional Bangladeshi cuisine more than anything else. Shorsher tel (mustard oil) is one of the primary cooking mediums. Mustard pastes are often an essential part of food preparation. Mustard seeds are part of Bangladeshi 5-spice mix panch phoron (equal parts of whole seeds: fenugreek, nigella, cumin, black mustard, fennel), and most of dishes are started with tempering it in mustard oil or ghee. One of the most popular dishes in Bangladesh is Shorshe Ilish, Hilsa fish in mustard sauce. All that mustard affair got me thinking. Are those of us, who are not mustard fans, missing something?
Just reading the list of ingredients convinced me I have to make it: roasted hazelnuts and sunflower seeds, fennel and cumin seeds, dried green peppercorns, coriander seeds, sesame, nigella, sea salt, and sweet paprika. Ottolenghi suggests sprinkling this mix over leafy salads, roasted vegetables, bean pastes, and rice and legume dishes. “It adds an exotic charm,” — he says. And it’s true to the letter!
There is no Japanese cooking class I teach or tasting event I host without mentioning Asahi Imports store. Besides having the best selection of sake and Japanese beer in Austin, they now make really good fresh snacks in store. Every time I shop there, I treat myself with their onigiri, and they are always amazing. Last time I’ve got onigiri with miso-braised shishito — to die for! Today I’ve made my own at home using the recipe below.
Tare (垂れ?, “tar-eh”) is a general term in Japanese cuisine for basting sauces used for grilling. Mannen Tare (10,000 year old sauce) is and old school tare created by continuous use in traditional yakitori joints, where skewers are partially grilled, dipped into the tare, and then grilled to doneness. Every dipped skewer brings some drippings of dissolved proteins and fats into the sauce, which makes its flavor more complex and concentrated. At home, we can make a pseudo version of tare adjusted to our taste.
Freezing herbs is the easiest and fastest way to preserve them. When added at the end of cooking or right before serving, frozen herbs work almost the same as fresh. You can freeze whole, chopped, or pureed herbs. Freeze them in water to make flavored ice cubes for drinks and cocktails. Or freeze them mixed with vegetable oil, butter, or animal fat to use for cooking savory dishes. Frozen herbs retain their taste, smell, and nutritional benefits for up to one year. Since ramps season is so short, freezing is a great way to make this unique ingredient available for longer than a few weeks.
Edamame has a slightly sweet, mild, fresh herbal flavor and nutty texture, with only traces of beany taste. Three years ago edamame “hummus” has been served in every restaurant I visited on Big Island. Healthy and refreshing snack, it was a hit for a reason. Why hummus? Hawaiian chefs created their signature variations playing with additional ingredients and ways to serve it, but based them on the same culinary idea — cooked beans are ground into a thick paste and mixed with vegetable oil, lime juice, and seasoning. Sounds like “hummus,” but with different beans, doesn’t it?
every passionate cook insists on developing their own, perfect to their taste recipe. Where all these marinade variations come from? What was at the beginning? Now that we know about basic adobo, let’s compare ingredients, shall we?
In Mexican cuisine, adobo is a dark red, flavorful paste made from ground chiles. Some herbs, spices, and acidic ingredients (e.g., citrus juice or vinegar) are added. It can be used as a marinade and as cooking or serving sauce. The word adobado is an adjective to describe dishes where adobe is used as cooking sauce. Adobo heat level depends on chiles used for making it. Ancho Adobo is very mild. A combination of Ancho and Chipotle Meco is my favorite.
This year, I made mimosa confiture of fresh flowers harvested on February 11, during the sunrise somewhere between Sonoma and Napa. Mixed with sugar, they traveled with me to for 4 days I spent in California. I have some Californian sun with me here in Texas now.
This recipe makes a delicately sweet confiture with naturally preserved mimosa flower flavor. It’s incredible with soft creamy cheeses like triple cream camembert, ricotta, or chevre. One tbsp of of flowers form the bottom of the jar makes a nice cup of tea.