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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
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Archive for International Foods

[OLD] NEWS: The 10 Greatest Japanese Inventions Of The 20th Century

ramen noodles raised on chopsticks

Ramen: voted the greatest Japanese
invention of the 20th century. Photo ©
Olga Nayashkova | Fotolia.

 

It may be old news, but we just came across an old Japanese survey that names instant ramen as “the greatest invention of the 20th century.”

We would have passed it by, but for the the fact that Nation’s Restaurant News recently published an article about how ramen was trending among chefs in U.S. restaurants—albet the original ramen, not the instant noodles (see “The History Of Ramen,” below).

In 2000, Fuji Research Institute, a financial research firm in Tokyo, asked 2,000 adults in the region to rate the greatest Japanese inventions of the 20th century.

They were given three categories: manufactured goods, culture and technology.

Japan is known for its technological innovation. So most people were surprised that ramen, instant noodles, was voted the best invention of the 20th century.

Created in 1958, instant ramen went into commercial production in 1971. Worldwide, almost 50 billion cups are now consumed each year.

 
THE TOP 10 JAPANESE INVENTIONS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

  • No. 1: Instant ramen
  • No. 2: Karaoke
  • No. 3: Headphone stereo sets
  • No. 4: TV video games
  • No. 5: CDs
  • No. 6: Cameras (which were not invented in Japan—see footnote*)
  • No. 7: Filmmaker Akira Kurosawa (editor’s protest: a person is not an invention)
  • No. 8: Pokemon
  • No. 9: Automobile-related technology
  • No. 10: Sushi (however, it should be noted that sushi was actually invented in the 19th century)
  •  
    While the Fuji Institute’s survey may not have been the most scientific, it does show one thing: Even in a country famous for its technology, food rules.
     

    *The first camera, called the camera obscura, dates back to the ancient Chinese and Greeks. It projected an image on to a surface but did not create a permanent image. The first photographed camera image was made around 1816 in France by Nicéphore Niépce. In 1837 his partner, Louis Daguerre, created the first practical photographic process, the daguerreotype, using silver-plated copper plates. Commercially introduced in 1839, the date considered as the birth year of practical photography. It was replaced by easier processes in 1860, including paper-based negatives and much shorter exposure times. The use of photographic film was pioneered by George Eastman, who started manufacturing paper film in 1885 before switching to celluloid in 1889. His first camera, the Kodak, was first offered for sale in 1888.

     

    THE HISTORY OF RAMEN

    Ramen are Japanese wheat noodles. While they are known to Americans largely as salty, inexpensive packaged noodle soup mixes, in Japan there are as many varieties of noodle and recipes as there are prefectures, ramen dishes are fine cuisine and innovation is the name of the game, where recipes are closely-guarded secrets.

    The concept of a dish of noodles in meat broth—chicken or pork—originated in China. It differs from native Japanese noodle soup dishes, in that until ramen appeared, Japanese broth was based on either made from vegetables or seafood.

    The type of noodles and toppings used in ramen also came from China. It is believed that “ramen” is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word “lamian,” meaning “hand-pulled noodles” (as opposed to noodles that are sliced with a knife).

    While some ramen dishes began to appear in Japan in the late 1600s, they didn’t become widespread until the Meiji Era (1868 through 1912), when Japan moved from being an isolated feudal society to a modern nation.

     

    top-ramen-pkg-nissinfoods-230

    Top Ramen, the brand invented by Momufuku Ando of Nissin Foods. Photo courtesy Nissin Foods.

     
    Foreign relations and the introduction of meat-based American and European cuisines led to increased production of meat, and played a large role in the growing popularity of ramen. Almost every locality or prefecture in Japan created its own variation of the dish, served at restaurants.

    The growth of ramen dishes continued after World War II, but was still a special occasion that required going out.
     
    Soup recipes and methods of preparation are closely-guarded secrets in many restaurants. Beyond regional variations, innovative Japanese chefs continue to push the boundaries of ramen cuisine. Curry ramen, invented in the Hokkaido region, became a national favorite, as has ramen based on the Chinese dish of shrimp in chili sauce. Non-Japanese ingredients such as black pepper and butter have found their way into recipes.

    Here’s a recipe for homemade pork ramen soup.

    Check out this article, which details the different type of ramen by region.
     
    THE INVENTION OF INSTANT RAMEN

    In 1958, instant noodles were invented by Momofuku Ando, founder and chairman of Nissin Foods. Named the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th century in a Japanese poll, instant ramen allowed anyone to make this dish simply by adding boiling water. Exported, these ramen soup packages soon became a pop culture sensation across the globe.

      

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    PRODUCT: Tandoor Chef

    chicken-masala-box-tandoor-chef-230

    Look for the bright orange-red boxes in your
    grocer’s freezer case. Photo courtesy
    Tandoor Chef.

     

    Our neighborhood has two good Indian restaurants and there are many more around town; but we were more than satisfied with the frozen foods from Tandoor Chef.

    The family-run company produces authentic, restaurant quality, all natural frozen Indian cuisine. All the traditional favorites are available, as well as modern creations like naan pizza and vegetarian masala burgers.

    The choices include meat plus vegetarian and certified vegan options, along with a line that is gluten free.

    If you haven’t been exposed to Indian food (or good Indian food), here’s a chance to get to know it, in a most convenient way.

    Depending on what your retailer carries, you can feast on:

  • Appetizers: Palak Paneer Samosa, Tandoori Chicken Samosa and Tandoori Chicken Wings
  • Entrées: 16 choices including Channa Masala, Chicken Biryani, Chicken Curry, Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Vindaloo, Masala Dosa, Malai Kofta and Palak Paneer
  •  

  • Breads: Garlic Naan and Tandoori Naan
  • Pizzas: Cilantro Pesto Naan Pizza, Eggplant Naan Pizza, Jalapeño Naan Pizza, Margherita Naan Pizza and Spinach and Paneer Cheese Pizza
  •  

    We didn’t get to try the pizzas, but everything we did try was impeccably spiced for American palates. We’ll certainly keep a supply in our freezer, for when we crave crunchy samosas or palak paneer, one of our favorite spinach dishes.

    Learn more at TandoorChef.com.

     

    WHAT IS “TANDOORI”

    While not all Tandoor Chef products are cooked tandoori-style, here’s an overview of this famous Indian cooking technique.

    A tandoor is a cylindrical clay or metal oven (it can be as simple as a large pot) used in cooking and baking—not only in India but elsewhere in central, southern and western Asia. It is typically dug into the ground or built into an enclosure to keep anyone from coming into contact with the extremely hot surface.

    The tandoor ia used to cook meats or vegetables (and sometimes breads) over an intense charcoal fire, which is built inside the oven. The meats or vegetables are marinated and lowered into the oven on long metal skewers. Cooking in a smoky and extremely hot environment (often 500°F), they take on a special flavor.

    Tandoori-style foods are first marinated in yogurt, a medium with natural acidity (required in a marinade) and a thickness that helps to adhere the herbs and spices to the food.

    .

     

    chana-masala-tastybite-hkaminsky-230r

    Channa Masala, a delicious chickpea dish. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky.

     
    Traditional spices include cayenne pepper, coriander, garam masala, garlic and ginger. Garam masala itself is a combination of roasted and ground black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin and nutmeg

    If you’ve ever had tandoori chicken and wondered why it is bright red or yellow, the answer is spice. The red color is provided by ground annatto seeds; the yellow comes from saffron (pricey!) or turmeric.

      

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    EASTER: Bunny Sushi

    Kudos to the chef at Sushi Lounge (three locations in New Jersey) who created this Easter treat. (Based on their Facebook photos, there’s more than one creative chef behind the bar.)

    You can recreate it at home, with

  • A strip of nori (dried seaweed)
  • Sushi rice* or regular rice
  • Hard-boiled eggs for the head and arm
  • Tamago (omelet) for the pillow and blanket
  • Carrot flowers† for the blanket design and the nose
  • Celery or fennel for the ears
  • Bits of black olive for the eyes and mouth
  •  
    Whatever you’re eating on Easter, we wish you a joyous holiday.

     

    easter-bunny-sushi-sushiloungeNJ-230

    The Easter Bunny, tucking in after a long day. Photo courtesy Sushi Lounge | NJ.

     
     
     
    *Sushi rice is seasoned with rice vinegar. Here’s how to make it.

    †Make them with stainless steel vegetable cutters, that can also be used to cut vegetables, cake, bread croutons, etc.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Sashimi Cubes, 21st Century Sashimi Art

    sashimi-cubes-RASushi-230

    A sushi chef interprets sashimi for the 21st
    century. Photo courtesy RA Sushi | Orlando.

     

    The sashimi tradition dates back to Japan’s Muromachi period, approximately 1337 to 1573 C.E. In the 1500s, when someone thought to cut up raw fish and dip the pieces into soy sauce, sashimi was born.

    The marriage with pads of rice (nigiri sushi) and in seaweed-wrapped rolls, both known as sushi, came later. Modern sushi was created by Hanaya Yohei (1799–1858) at the end of the Edo period (1603 and 1868). He invented it in Edo, the city that is now Tokyo. It was an early form of fast food.

    Today, sushi chefs train for years to achieve a level 1 certification, and prepare both sushi and sashimi (see the differences below). But back to sashimi:

    In this beautiful evolution from RA Sushi (see photo), the fish is cut into cubes. If you think you don’t have the knife skills to make sashimi at home, think again.

     

    This is much easier for a home cook to do than cutting the thin slivers of fish in a way that sushi chefs take years to master.

    A Japanese saying, “kasshu hojo,” means that cutting is the most important; cooking skill comes second. But fear not: All you need to can serve this beautiful plate at home is a sharp knife and an eye for straight lines. (Don’t have an eye? Use a washed ruler or other straight edge.)

    Then, enjoy this “special occasion” dish that is so easy to make, you can enjoy it anytime.

     
    RECIPE: SASHIMI CUBES

    Ingredients

  • Fillets of salmon, tuna and yellowtail
  • 2 shrimp per person
  • Soy sauce
  • Wasabi
  • Optional: grated ginger
  • Optional: grated lemon or lime zest
  • Optional garnish: microgreens
  • Optional: lemon or lime wedges
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STEAM or use other technique to lightly cook the shrimp (or for contrast, you can grill them). To get the elongated shape shown in the photo, cook the shrimp on skewers.

    2. CUT the fish into bite-size cubes, about one inch square.

    3. PLATE, ideally in a square grid on a square plate, as shown in the photo. But large round plates work, too. Garnish with the shrimp some pretty microgreens.

    4. SERVE with soy sauce and wasabi. To make the soy sauce more interesting, mix it with fresh grated ginger (lots!) and a bit of lemon or lime zest. We always serve sushi and sashimi with lemon or lime wedges, and squeeze the fresh juice over the fish before dipping the pieces in soy sauce.

     

    SQUARE PLATES

    You can buy square plates with angled rims or without rims.
     

    Or, if you don’t want to make an investment, pick up some very inexpensive yet attractive white plastic square plates, in 8-inch or 10-3/4-inch sizes.
     
    SUSHI & SASHMI: THE DIFFERENCE

    What Is Sushi?

    Sushi is a dish made of vinegared rice (it also has a bit of sugar to counter the vinegar) that can be variously combined with thin slices of seafood, vegetables, egg and, in the world of nouvelle cuisine, other items from beef to barbecue chicken to fresh fruit.

     

    sashimi-bamboosushi-portland-230

    A traditional deluxe sashimi plate. Photo courtesy Bamboo Sushi | Portland, Oregon.

     
    Sushi does not mean “raw fish,” but “vinegar[ed] rice.” While much of the fish used to make sushi is raw, some of the items are blanched, boiled, broiled, marinated or sautéed, either for a tender consistency or to kill any microscopic parasites.

    Sushi was originally developed as a snack food—as the story goes, to serve at gambling parlors so the gamblers could take quick bites without stopping the action. There are different styles of sushi:

  • Chirashi-sushi, fish and other items served on top of a bowl of vinegared sushi rice (chirashi means to scatter).
  • Maki-sushi, rolled sushi (including hand rolls, temaki—maki means roll).
  • Nigiri-sushi, slices of fish or other foods on pads of rice (nigiri means hand-formed).
  • Oshi-sushi, squares or rectangles of pressed rice topped with vinegared or cooked fish, made in a wooden mold (oshi means pushed or pressed).
  • Stuffed sushi, including chakin-zushi or fukusa-sushi, ingredients wrapped in a thin egg crêpe; and inari-sushi, with ingredients stuffed into a small pouch of fried bean curd (tofu).
     
    What Is Sashimi?

    Sashimi is sliced fish that is served with a bowl of regular boiled rice (no vinegar) on the side. The word sashimi means “pierced body”: sashi means pierced or stuck, and mi means body or meat. It may derive from the culinary practice of keeping the fish’s tail and fin with the cut slices to identify the fish being eaten.

    Sashimi fish is cut into thicker pieces, since it neither has to drape over a rice nor curve into a roll.

    Check out the different types of sushi and sashimi in our glossary.

      

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    RESTAURANT: Vermillion

    Last night, while others were enjoying corned beef and cabbage with green beer, we broke with tradition in a big way.

    We dined at Vermillion in midtown Manhattan. The soaring, bi-level space is the New York branch of the Chicago Vermillion established by Rohini Dey, a former international banker and McKinsey consultant.

    Serving a unique Indian-Latin fusion menu, the flavors and presentation are as stylish as Ms. Dey herself. First, the cuisine:

    In a complete relaunch of the menu, Ms. Dey’s concept to fuse the two colorful cuisines has been interpreted by co-executive chefs Anup Patwal and Aseema Mamaji from India, and sous chef Javier Alvarez from Latin America. The gifted young team brings verve, energy and an elegant touch to the food.

    Beyond the flavorful, there’s a “wow” experience in the presentation. Thought has been given to turning each dish into culinary art; whether it’s a specially crafted chrome rack from which four different types of kabobs hang in alluring fashion, or a slice of tree trunk used as a charger.

     

    caldeirada-de-peixe-vermillion-230

    Caldeirada de peixe, a traditional Brazalian seafood stew accented with Indian spices and a side of coconut rice. Photo courtesy Vermillion Restaurant.

     

    Absolutely everything demands to be consumed. Even garnishes of pickled red onion or green chile are exciting. We didn’t leave a scrap on the plate!

    The seasonings are spectacular. There’s just enough of the custom-blended spices and heat to blend perfectly, appropriately understated without providing a punch not wanted in fine dining. It’s not often that we encounter such finesse with spices. Kudos to the chefs!

    In addition to fusion dishes, there’s a menu of classic Indian entrées. There is nothing we don’t want to try, and we can’t wait to go back.

    While dinner can cost what you’d expect for such fine cuisine, lunch is quite affordable: two courses for $20 or three courses for $24.

    Wine tip: The Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling, made with grapes from Washington’s Columbia Valley, is perfect with the cuisine. Off-dry, with notes of sweet lime, peach and subtle minerality, it is a charming complement to the spice and heat.

    There’s a comfortable cocktail lounge downstairs and a private dining room upstairs, on the main dining floor. The restaurant is at 480 Lexington Avenue at 46th Street. Visit the company website or call for reservations: 212-871-6600.

      

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    TRENDS: What’s Hot in 2015

    banh-mi-vegetarian-melissasbook-230

    Bánh-mi, a Vietnamese submarine sandwich
    on a baguette. Photo courtesy The Great
    Pepper Cookbook
    by Melissa’s Produce.

     

    Nation’s Restaurant News, the major trade paper and website for those in the restaurant industry, reports that Americans are becoming more interested in trying new ethnic foods—especially (but not surprisingly) in restaurants.

    What “ethnic” means varies from person to person. The NRA commented that the three most popular ethnic cuisines in the U.S.—Mexican, Italian and Chinese—have become so mainstream that they hardly count as “ethnic” these days.

    Based on a survey of nearly 1,300 chefs, the NRA pinpointed five ethnic flavors and cuisines that it expects to see this year.

    If you live in a major city like Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco (among others), you probably don’t have to go too far to try these. But if you haven’t had them, plan an “eating safari” for your next big city visit.

    Here’s the full article by Bret Thorn.

     

    SOUTHEAST ASIAN CUISINE

    Southeast Asian cuisine was the fifth most frequently cited ethnic trend by chefs. While a full Vietnamese menu is a delightful alternative to Chinese cuisine, the trendiest item these days is the Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich.

    Bánh mì is a Vietnamese version of a submarine sandwich made on a Vietnamese-style baguette (made with both wheat and rice flour). It can be vegetarian—pickled carrots, daikon and onions, for example—or include tofu or meat. Here’s a recipe.

    PERUVIAN CUISINE

    Peruvian food was the ethnic cuisine chefs pointed to fourth most frequently. Chefs at independent restaurants frequently offer ceviche, a raw seafood dish cured in a marinade, as an appetizer. Here’s a template to make your own custom recipe at home.

     

    REGIONAL ETHNIC CUISINE

    As restaurant customers become increasingly interested in learning about their food, calling something simply “Italian” or “Mexican” is not enough. Pinpointing exactly where in a foreign country a specific dish was created can add to its appeal. The chefs surveyed pointed to regional ethnic cuisine as the third most frequently cited ethnic trend.

    Consider Hunam or Szechuan Chinese cuisine versus Cantonese; Venetian and Sicilian versus Tuscan Italian. Every country is divided into regions, each with its own delicious cuisine.
     
    AUTHENTIC ETHNIC CUISINE

    “Authentic” is a term that can mean as many things as “ethnic. The chefs surveyed pointed to the terms used together as the second most frequently cited ethnic trend. Unvarnished, unchanged dishes from foreign lands bring the true experience to the diner. Foodies don’t want their food dumbed down for “American palates.”
     
    ETHNIC FUSION CUISINE

     

    ceviche-scallop-shells-raymiNYC-230r

    A trio of different ceviche recipes. Photo courtesy Raymi | NYC.

    The number one trend has to do with the delight so many people take in mashups from different cultures. Recent hits include the cronut, the cheeseburger burrito and the ramen burger; although the concept applies to fine cuisine as well.

      

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    RECIPES: Vegan, Delicious Tempeh

    asian_noodle_bowl_with_seared_tempeh_lightlife-230

    Make this delicious Asian Noodle Bowl for lunch or dinner. Photo courtesy Lightlife.

     

    You may have read last week that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released its 2015 report. The Committee urges Americans to eat less processed meat and turn to plant-based diets for a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.

    Remember Meatless Mondays? If you’re not already observing them, here’s a nudge via a delicious recipe for net Monday. It uses tempeh, a meat substitute made from soybeans.

     
    TEMPEH VS. TOFU: THE DIFFERENCES

    Tempeh is a soy-based product that originated in Indonesia, where it is a staple protein. It is made by a natural culturing and a controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty.

    Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but it is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities. It has a higher content of protein, dietary fiber and vitamins.

    Tempeh has a firm texture and an earthy flavor, and is used worldwide as a meat substitute.

     

    TOFU VS. TEMPEH

  • Production: Tofu, also known as been curd, is made by curdling fresh, hot soy milk* with a coagulant. Tempeh is made by fermenting cooked soybeans with a mold. Because it is fermented, it is easier to digest than tofu among people with a sensitivity to beans.
  • Format: Tofu is sold in pillowy blocks packed in water, in five different degrees of softnes from silken to extra firm. Tempeh is sold in flat, rectangular pieces, about eight inches long, with a chewy consistency like meat.
  • Color: Tofu is white, smooth and moist. Tempeh is brownish, rough (you can see the whole soybeans ) and dry.
  • Consistency: Tofu is soft, smooth and spongy. Tempeh is firm and chewy.
  • Flavor: Tofu has hardly any flavor; it takes on the taste of other ingredients. Tempeh has a slight earthy/nutty, sweet flavor. You can find versions mixed with brown rice, flax or other grains.
  •  
    How Do they Differ From Seitan?

    Seitan is made from wheat gluten. Like tempeh, it is high in protein with a texture similar to meat,

     
    *Soy milk in turn is made from dried, ground, filtered and boiled soybeans.

     

    RECIPE: ASIAN NOODLE BOWL WITH SEARED TEMPEH

    This delicious recipe can be served as a main course or a first course. It makes two main courses or four first courses or wraps.

    The recipe is courtesy of Lightlife, which used its organic soy tempeh.

    Ingredients

    For The Sweet & Sour Sauce

  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
  •  
    For The Tempeh Noodles

  • 1 package (8 ounces) soy tempeh
  • 6 ounces thin rice noodles (vermicelli style)
  • 1/8 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  •  

    lightlife-organic-tempeh-230

    Look for tempeh in any natural foods market, including Whole Foods. Photo courtesy Lightlife.

  • 2/3 cup matchstick-cut red bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2 inch strips
  • 1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrot, cut into 1 1/2 inch strips
  • 1/2 cup snow peas, thin diagonally sliced
  • 2 large green onions, diagonally sliced
  • Optional garnish: fresh basil leaves chiffonade, cilantro sprig, 1-1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE sauce; set aside.

    2. PLACE the noodles in large bowl. Pour boiling water over the noodles to cover. Let stand about 10 minutes or until softened. Rinse with cold water; squeeze to drain well.

    3. CUT the noodles in half or thirds; return noodles to the bowl. Add the sesame oil; toss until evenly coated. Set the noodles aside. Meanwhile…

    4. HEAT 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in medium-heavy skillet. Add half of the tempeh in a single layer. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until golden and crisp, turning the pieces over halfway during cooking. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with another tablespoon of the oil and the remaining tempeh. Pour half of the sauce over the tempeh; toss to coat and set the tempeh aside.

    5. ADD the remaining teaspoon of oil to the hot skillet, along with the bell pepper, carrot, green onions and snow peas. Cook and stir about 1 minute or until crisp-tender. Transfer to the bowl with the noodles. Add the tempeh mixture; gently toss until combined.

    6. SERVE: Spoon the noodle mixture into individual bowls and drizzle with the remaining sauce. Garnish with basil, cilantro or sesame seeds.
     
    Variation: Asian Noodle Wraps with Seared Tempeh

    Serve the tempeh in lettuce leaf wraps.

    1. PREPARE the noodle mixture as directed above.

    2. SPOON about 1/2 cup of the noodle mixture onto each of 12 large leaf or iceberg lettuce leaves; fold or roll up. Serve with remaining sauce for dipping. Makes about 12 wraps or 4 servings.

    For more delicious tempeh recipes, head to Lightlife.com.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: How Many Of These International Foods Have You Had?

    Grilled Halloumi cheese on rocket salad

    Grilled halloumi cheese, which doesn’t lose
    its shape when heated. Photo by Ina Peters |
    IST.

     

    No matter where it originated, you know a food is mainstream if you can find it in an English language dictionary. Burrito, sushi and quiche, for example, have been around for a while.

    But in 2014, other foodie favorites were added to our lexicons: You can read the full article here.

    Some of these foods have been available in the U.S. since we were in grade school, but familiar only to those who frequented say, bistros (Croque Monsieur, anyone) or Sicilian-style restaurants (arancini).

    The criterion for inclusion in the dictionaries, according to the article, is how widely the term is now used. That is, has it reached mainstream America via everyday cookbooks, or mentions in broadcast cooking segments, digital and print articles?

    Thanks to a proliferation of cooking shows, and of food media in general, the answer is often yes. (The article points out that few people had heard of ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice blend, before Top Chef. Thanks to its frequent use on the popular cooking show, it entered the American Heritage Dictionary in 2011.)

    So grab an imaginary fork and knife and dig in!

     

    New Food Terms In The American Heritage Dictionary

  • Bahn-mi, Vietnamese baguette made from wheat and rice flour, and also the sandwich served on it (more).
  • Halloumi, a brined Greek cheese that keeps its shape when fried (more).
  • Mochi, a doughy Japanese sweet treat made from rice of the same name (more).
  • Saison, a fruity Belgian farmhouse ale, typically made in the summer (more).
  •  

    New Food Terms In The Merriam-Webster Dictionary

  • Aji, a native word for chile, these days often refers to the aji amarillo, a yellow version popular in Peru (more).
  • Brat, a shortened term for bratwurst (more), the popular sausage brought over by German immigrants in the late 1800s.
  • Croque-Monsieur, a classic French grilled ham and cheese sandwich that is dipped into beaten egg then sautéed in butter. With a fried egg on top, it is called a Croque-Madame. “Croque” means crispy.
  • Crudo, an Italian preparation of sliced raw fish/shellfish (more).
  • Pepita, toasted pumpkin seed (more).
  • Pho, a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup based on oxtail broth (more).
  • Poutine,a Canadian dish of French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds (more).
  • Yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit, known best here via its bottled juice (more).
  •  

    arancini-rice-balls-230

    Arancini, fried rice balls. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    New Food Terms In The Oxford Dictionaries Online

  • Arancini, small balls of rice and mozzarella (and possibly other ingredients like peas or meat), breaded and fried; a popular Southern Italian appetizer.
  • Cavatelli, cappellaci and trofie, pasta shapes representing a miniature hot dog bun, a tortellini-like stuffed pasta and a thin twist, respectively (see more in our Pasta Glossary).
  • Queso-cheese, a shortened form of “Chile con Queso,” a melted cheese dip served with nachos.
  • Guanciale, an Italian cured meat made from pork jowl, not the cheek, as often reported (more)
  • Izakaya, the Japanese version of tapas, small plates served in a restaurant that specializes in them.
  •  
    It’s still January, and you’ve got time to make more new year’s resolutions. Resolve to try everything above that you haven’t yet had!
      

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    RECIPE: Crispy Fried Cauliflower (Lashooni Gobi)

    Junoon is one of the most popular Indian restaurants among gourmand New Yorkers. The name, which means passion, interprets Indian cuisine with a modern spin. The space is large and comfortable, unusual for New York City. And the food: Well, it inspires passion.

    While many American home cooks are wary of taking on Indian cuisine without the benefit of a class or an expert friend, here’s one of Junoon’s dishes that’s easy to make. The Indian name is Lahsooni Gobi, but Crispy Fried Cauliflower sounds so much more tempting.

    We love cauliflower in all its forms, plain and fancy. But here, lightly battered and tossed in a tomato garlic sauce, this hearty appetizer or side will make even those who don’t typically crave cauliflower want more.

    No eggs are used in the batter because in India, eggs are not part of a vegetarian diet (this recipe is actually vegan). This recipe is also gluten-free. Chef Vikas Khanna notes, “I use rice flour here, not just for its superior crisping quality but also for people who are gluten sensitive. It’s a warm and homey dish and can easily be adjusted in terms of heat and garlic to suit anyone’s palate.”

     

    crispy-fried-cauliflower-junoon-worleygig-ps-230

    Junoon’s delicious Crispy Fried Cauliflower. Photo courtesy Worleygig.

     

    RECIPE: LAHSOONI GOBI, CRISPY CAULIFLOWER

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 medium sized head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Vegetable oil for frying, plus 2 tablespoons to make the sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup tomato purée
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Two pinches salt
  • Two pinches sugar
  • Two pinches ketjiap spice (recipe below)
  • Garnish: 2 sprigs cilantro
  •  

    cauliflower-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Turn an everyday cauliflower into something special. Photo courtesy GoodEggs.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. SPRINKLE 2 teaspoons of sea salt evenly over the cauliflower and let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.

    2. PREHEAT the oil to 350°F: Heat two tablespoons of oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and ginger, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

    3. ADD the tomato purée, water, cayenne pepper, sugar, salt and ketjiap spice; mix well with a whisk until combined. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary just before serving.

    4. PREPARE the batter by quickly blending the rice flour and water together in a large bowl. Coat the florets in the batter by placing all of the florets in the bowl. Toss gently and then carefully drop the florets into the hot oil. Fry the cauliflower until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

    5. BRING the sauce to a simmer over medium heat and then add the cauliflower to the pan. Stir and toss gently to coat the cauliflower with the sauce until well combined. Serve the cauliflower in a bowl garnished with cilantro.

     

    KETJIAP SPICE MIX

    Ketijap is a traditional Indonesian spice mix used for the many different sauces that are loosely called cat-siop and ketjiap (and other spellings*). A pinch or two livens up soups and sauces. You can keep the spice tightly covered in a cool, dark place for up to two months.

  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon mace flakes†
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, preferably tellicherry
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY TOAST the whole spices in a small heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat for about one minute.

    2. COOL, then grind to a fine powder with the cinnamon in a spice grinder.
     
    *Yes, this is the origin of our word catsup/ketchup, although our familiar tomato ketchup was a New World invention. Here’s the history of ketchup.

    †It can be difficult to find mace flakes, also called mace blades, in consumer markets. Use ground mace instead.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Pork Ramen Soup

    ramen-soup-ws-230

    Get out your slow cooker and create this
    delicious Japanese comfort food. Photo
    courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    While many Americans think of ramen soup as one of the cheapest ways to feed oneself comfort food, in Japan the finest Japanese ramen soups take considerable culinary skill and many hours to create. Ramen is hearty enough to be a proper main course with some vegetable sides; but you can also use it as a soup course.

    The Williams Sonoma cookbook, “Quick Slow Cooking,” offers a simplified, yet still delicious, version that uses plenty of succulent braised pork. Another key to a glorious dish is high-quality, fresh ramen noodles, available at Asian markets. If you can’t find them, use fresh thin Chinese egg noodles or fresh linguine. If you can’t get any fresh pasta, you can default to packaged ramen noodles.

    Another point of differentiation from packaged ramen soups: yummy toppings. These can include baby corn, baby spinach, bean sprouts, boiled egg, kamaboko*, kimchi, nori (the dried seaweed used to make sushi rolls), sliced braised pork, sliced green onions or deep-fried green onions, soft-boiled eggs, toasted sesame seeds and wakame seaweed.

    When you make your own soup, you can customize the toppings as you wish, and offer other diners the option to customize their own bowls of soup. This recipe specifies green onions and soft boiled eggs, but you can switch them out or add other toppings.

     
    This recipe uses a slow cooker. For more inspiring slow cooker recipes, check out Quick Slow Cooking by Kim Laidlaw.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE PORK RAMEN SOUP

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 3 pounds (1.5 kg) boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3 equal pieces
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2-inch (5-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 8 cups/64 ounces (2 l) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 leek, white and green parts, halved lengthwise and coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces (125 g) cremini or button mushrooms, brushed clean and coarsely chopped
  • Low-sodium soy sauce for seasoning
  • Sesame or chile oil for seasoning
  • 1-1/2 pounds (750 g) fresh ramen noodles
  • Topping: 8 soft-boiled eggs
  • Topping: 4 green onions, white and pale green parts, finely chopped
  •  
    *Kamaboko is a type of surimi, a Japanese processed seafood product of which crab stick is another variety. To make surimi, white fish are pureed and mixed with flavor and color. Kamaboko is formed into a half moon-shaped loaf and the outside is colored pink over a white center.

     

    Preparation

    1. SEASON the pork with salt. Place a large sauté pan or the stove top–safe insert of a slow cooker on the stove top over medium-high heat. Add the oil and warm until hot. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, add the pork pieces and sear them on the first side without moving them until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the pieces and sear on the second side until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

    2. POUR off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the insert or sauté pan and return the insert to medium-high heat. Add the yellow onion and sear, without stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and 1 cup (250 ml) of the broth. Deglaze the sauté pan or insert, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the insert bottom; then let simmer for 1 minute. If using a sauté pan…

    3. TRANSFER the contents of the pan to the insert of a slow cooker. Add the leek, mushrooms and the remaining 7 cups (1.75 l) of broth; stir to combine. Cover and cook on the low setting for 8 hours. The pork should be very tender and the broth should be fragrant.

     

    quick-slow-cooking-ws-230

    Make complex-flavored dishes in your slow cooker. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    4. TRANSFER the pork to a cutting board. Using 2 forks, break the pork into bite-size chunks, removing and discarding any large pieces of fat. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard the solids. Using a large spoon, skim off and discard any fat from the surface of the broth. Return the pork and broth to the slow cooker and season to taste with soy sauce and sesame or chile oil. Cover and cook on the low heat setting for about 30 minutes to warm through.

    5. COOK the ramen noodles according to the package directions. Put the eggs into boiling water and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water, let cool until they can be handled and peel them. Cut each in half lengthwise.

    6. TO SERVE: Divide the noodles evenly among individual bowls. Ladle the broth and pork over the noodles, dividing them evenly, then sprinkle with the green onions. Top each bowl with two soft-boiled egg halves and serve immediately.
     
    THE HISTORY OF RAMEN

    Ramen is a dish of noodles in meat broth—chicken or pork—that originated in China. It differs from native Japanese noodle soup dishes, in that until ramen appeared, Japanese broth was based on either vegetables or seafood.

    The type of noodles and toppings used in ramen also came from China. It is believed that “ramen” is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word “lamian,” meaning “hand-pulled noodles” (as opposed to noodles that are sliced with a knife).

    While some ramen dishes began to appear in Japan in the late 1600s, they didn’t become widespread until the Meiji Era (1868 through 1912), when Japan moved from being an isolated feudal society to a modern nation. Foreign relations and the introduction of meat-based American and European cuisines led to increased production of meat, and played a large role in the growing popularity of ramen. Almost every locality or prefecture in Japan created its own variation of the dish, served at restaurants.

    The growth of ramen dishes continued after World War II, but was still a special occasion that required going out.

    In 1958, instant noodles were invented by Momofuku Ando, founder and chairman of Nissin Foods. Named the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th century in a Japanese poll, instant ramen allowed anyone to make this dish simply by adding boiling water. Exported, these ramen soup packages soon became a pop culture sensation across the globe.

    Soup recipes and methods of preparation are closely-guarded secrets in many restaurants. Beyond regional variations, innovative Japanese chefs continue to push the boundaries of ramen cuisine. Curry ramen, invented in the Hokkaido region, became a national favorite, as has ramen based on the Chinese dish of shrimp in chili sauce. Non-Japanese ingredients such as black pepper and butter have found their way into recipes.

    Check out this article, which details the different type of ramen by region.

      

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