Nov 5, 2013

Miso Udon Noodle Soup with Spicy Korean Chili Dressing

With snow possible today in Minnesota, we are definitely in the mood for soup as well. One that’s a little spicy and salty, but healthy & hearty too.  So we used our new Spicy Korean Chili Seasoning in this Japanese-inspired Miso Udon Noodle Soup.

Miso – the beloved and versatile Japanese ingredient, generally made from fermented soy beans – makes a sensational, vegetarian soup broth that matches well with udon noodles, silken tofu, mushrooms, and a handful of greens. To give this Miso Udon Noodle Soup a final Japanese touch, top with scallions and nori. 

This base soup makes a nourishing meal on a chilly day, but to really warm up, try it with our Spicy Korean Chili Seasoning. Mix the seasoning with toasted sesame oil and add it into the soup. Or use it as a dipping sauce for the tofu and mushrooms.

2 servings of udon noodles
3 1/2 cups of water
4-5 shiitake or baby bella mushrooms – thinly sliced
silken tofu – cubed
3 1/2 tbsp of miso paste
1 bunch of spinach or bok choy
Nori sheet – cut into strips
4 scallions – thinly sliced

1 tbsp of Season with Spice’s Spicy Korean Chili Seasoning
Toasted sesame oil - to form seasoning into a paste (you can add more for additional flavor)

1. In a soup pot, bring water to a boil and cook udon according to package instructions. Drain and divide into your serving bowls.

2. While the noodles are cooking, whisk together our Spicy Korean Chili Seasoning with toasted sesame oil in a small bowl.

3. Using the same soup pot, add 3 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Add in the tofu and cook for another minute.

4. Divide the mushrooms & tofu between the two serving bowls (but leave the water in the pot)
5. Keep the soup at a steady rolling boil. Place spinach or bok choy onto a slotted spoon and blanch quickly, just until the vegetables begin to wilt. Then divide the greens into the two serving bowls.

6. Turn heat off, then gently add in the miso paste. Stir well until completely dissolved. Taste and add in a bit more miso paste or water to your liking.

7. Lastly, ladle the hot soup into each bowl. Top with nori sheets and scallions. Serve together with the Spicy Korean Chili Dressing.

1. You can definitely add in some other vegetables as well. Try carrots, wakame seaweed, napa cabbage or pickled bamboo shoots.

2. You can either serve the dressing separately in a sauce dish for dipping, or add the dressing directly into the soup after dissolving the miso paste.

3. To preserve the health benefits and flavor of miso, it's important not to boil it. Make sure to turn the fire off before adding in the miso paste.

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Grilled Corn with Sichuan Pepper Sea Salt & Smoked Serrano Chili Pepper

With a spicy, salty, citrusy, smoky and numbing flavor, the mix of these two spices will liven up any veggie dish from steamed broccoli, to stir-fried Brussels sprouts, to baked potatoes. And planning ahead, you can even surprise everyone at the Thanksgiving table this year by adding a few dashes of each spice into the pot of corn.

Sweet corn
Olive oil
Sichuan Pepper Sea Salt  
Smoked Serrano Chili Powder

1. Peel back the husks of the sweet corn, so they point in the opposite direction. Then remove the silky inner strands with a brush.

2. Preheat the grill on high. Lightly brush each cob with olive oil, and place on the grill with the cobs over the fire and the husks over the front edge to prevent burning. Turn fire down to medium.

3. Using the husks as handles, turn the corn every two minutes (and switch their places), in order to grill evenly. Once lightly charred – about 12-15 minutes – serve immediately with butter, Sichuan pepper sea salt, and smoked serrano chili powder.

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Nov 3, 2013

Grilled Calamari with Cumin

I slathered calamari (squid) with cumin, chopped garlic, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Slid the pan on the top rack of the oven, turned on the broiler, watched the edges of the squid rings curl, and smelled the wonderful aroma of the nutty cumin and the bite of garlic. When the rings slightly charred, with a perfect crisp and tenderness, I quickly removed the pan. Knowing they were too hot to eat didn't stop me from popping one into my mouth. The flavor was worth burning my tongue.

What you’ll need:
10 medium size squid, cleaned and sliced into rings
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Fresh cilantro or basil or parsley
Lemon wedge
1. Wash each squid thoroughly and pat them dry with paper towels. Cut squid body into rings, approximately 2cm wide.
2. In a bowl, mix olive oil, garlic, cumin, onion powder, cayenne pepper, lemon zest, salt and pepper.
3. Add squid rings (and tentacles) to bowl; tossing well to coat with the spice seasoning. Cover and let marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
4. Place squid on grill rack and broil in oven for 2-3 minutes on each side. The edges should curl up and char.
5. Squeeze lemon over squid and garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with a light salsa or any green salad. 

1. What's the difference between squid and calamari?  They're the same. Calamari is just the culinary term used for cooked squid.
2. Most people prefer to remove the purplish skin on the squid for a cleaner look, but the skin is edible, and I usually leave it on for grilling.
3. The grilled calamari should be lightly browned, firm and chewy, not rubbery. Be sure to keep a close eye on it to avoid overcooking.
4. Don’t have an oven or grill? You can also pan fry the calamari with the same seasoning.

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Jan 6, 2013

Masak Lemak Ketam

This gravy is rich and savoury with a spicy edge, an absolute perfect mate for a crab's sweet meat.

3 flower crabs
2 red onions
3 cloves of garlic
2 cm fresh turmeric
½ inch fresh galangal
20 bird's eye chillies
1 stalk of lemongrass
1 turmeric leaf
3 pieces assam gelugur (dried tamarind)
200ml coconut cream
1½ Tbs brown sugar (optional)
2 Tbs oil
Blend onions, garlic, chillies, fresh turmeric and fresh galangal with some water until you get a pale yellow paste.
Heat oil and fry paste until fragrant (pecah minyak). Put in lemongrass (that has been bruised), dried tamarind and turmeric leaf and stir it in.
Add brown sugar and after that is well mixed, pour in the coconut cream. Let it simmer for 5 minutes then put in the crabs, add salt to taste.

Close the lid so that the sweetness of the crabs will infuse the gravy.

Let it steam and simmer for 10 minutes.

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Laksa Jitra Mai

In KL, a good laksa utara is hard to find. Although this laksa is freely available in pasar malam's, most of them fails in two main parts. One, the laksa broth is too runny and does not have enough fish taste. Two, the laksa comes from a packet and is too hard. And yes, you want your laksa to be al dente. It's not just for spaghetti. But, we found Laksa Jitra Mai that can simply be said as one of the best in KL, on a mobile motorcycle, underneath a big tree in Kota Damansara.

Jitra Mai simply serves it the original way. Laksa noodle, sliced cucumbers, sliced raw onions, cut spring onions, daun kesum, half cut lime and the hallmark of laksa kedah, a half cut boiled egg. That's it.

The laksa broth is simply magical. Thick and chockful of fish. They say that they use sardines but I suspect that they throw in other types of fish as well to give the broth a much richer taste. Laksa Kedah normally uses ikan termenung (a variant of lkan kembung) and I can taste a hint of this in the broth.
The broth is left to simmer in the laksa cauldron from noon to about six pm so if you come just before closing time, you will have a much thicker yummy fishy broth because the broth has gone through a slow reduction process.
The laksa noodle here is al-dente most times. It has slightly irregular shapes as opposed to the perfectly tubular machined shaped noodle. This may mean that their laksa noodle is handmade although they claim otherwise. It's just too irregular to be machine made.
At RM3.50, this is happiness in a bowl. Rice noodle served with a thick fishy broth, with boiled eggs and condiments on the side. However, the whole thing comes in a styrofoam bowl with tinny plasticky spoons which is actually quite disappointing. Stuff this good should at least merit the typical plastic bowl. Pretty good stuff by our standards. 
We've had people who previously only preferred the Chinese assam laksa finishing a bowl or two of Jitra Mai's Malay laksa. Now, Chinese version laksa have a completely different taste profile compared to Malay laksa. Broth is clearer, cooked using sardines with the addition of pineapples. Laksa Kedah has a thick broth, Laksa Perlis uses eels, and Malay Laksa Penang uses a mixture of fish.
Jitra Mai does not sell any water with their laksa. They have something even better. Cendol. This is a special cendol that compliments their laksa extremely well. Ice is thinly shaved, then cendol and kidney beans are added, before gula melaka and coconut milk are poured in. A simple cooling drink that we highly recommend. They also serve a pulut version here.
This is a simple mobile 2 man unit. One serves the food, the other picks up plates and co-assists when it gets busy. This is street food at its best. Eating beside the street and underneath a tree. If it rains, everybody just have to cower and eat under the one umbrella shack.

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Dec 16, 2012

Mee Bandung

A popular Johorean dish, Mi Bandung is made by cooking noodles in a thick broth and then garnishing it with beef strips, prawns and veg. The addition of poached egg makes it even more tastier. So flavourful that you'll want more than one bowl!

To be blended :
7-8 Shallots
4 Cloves Garlic
15 Dried Chilies
½ Cup Dried Shrimp
1 Cup Water

Noodles and Ingredients for the broth :
4 Tbs Oil
1 Tbs Oyster Sauce
6 Cup of Beef Stock
A Handful of Sawi ( Chinese Mustard Leaves ), roughly chopped
A Handful of Chinese Cabbage, roughly chopped
15 Fresh Prawns
200 gm Beef ( Boil the beef until tender for about 20 minutes then slice into strips)
2 Eggs
600 gm Egg Noodles
A pinch of Salt
1 tsp Sugar

1. Blend the shallots, garlic, dried chillies, dried shrimp and water into a fine paste. Heat up oil in wok, sauté blended ingredients until fragrant.

2. Stir in oyster sauce and beef stock.

3. Mix in sawi, chinese cabbage, prawns and beef strips. Leave to simmer.

4. Then, bring to boil and crack eggs into wok. Do not stir.

5. Season with salt and sugar.

6. Lastly, add the egg noodles and let it cook for about a minute.
 Mix in sawi, chinese cabbage, prawns and beef strips.

Add egg into the wok. 
 Make sure to season with salt and sugar before you add the noodles.
 Add in the noodles.
 Let the noodles cook for a minute.
 Once the noodles are cooked, ladle some into a plate.
Mee Bandung Ready!!!!....Nyum..Nyum

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Mirrors George Town by Ernest Zacharevic

Mirrors George Town is a street art project by international artist Ernest Zacharevic, commissioned  for George Town Festival 2012. 

The project consists of several large-scale wall paintings, all located within the core heritage zone of George Town, Penang.

The idea behind the project was to turn the streets of Penang into an open-air gallery that can be admired and experienced as one takes a walk while exploring the heritage enclave. The murals – figure drawings and portraits – celebrates the multiculturalism and diversity of the city’s inhabitants, the living heritage of George Town.

George Town Festival (GTF), as described on the official website “is a month-long celebration of art, music, theatre, dance opera and film to commemorate George Town’s inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage listing on July 7, 2008. Each year since 2009, GTF transforms George Town into an exciting and unique platform for the arts, heritage and culture.”

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