All the chili paste I could find had fish sauce/shrimp contaminant in it, so I couldn’t have it in my house due to allergy. However, my roommate/partner/spouse brilliantly bought Korean chili paste instead, a.k.a. gochujang. Even better. Specifically, Mother-in-Law’s Gochujang, with a reassuringly hipster-y label.
I used half a yellow onion and one quarter of a red onion on hand. Red onions made for beautiful contrast. We had lots of onion left. I am excited to make noodles or something else with the leftover sauces.
A super-processed food recipe! Special exceptions must be made for once-a-year-events. Happy lunar new year! Special thanks to my mama, and also to my co-conspirator Sarah, for providing her grandma-made childhood memories and decisive nature to help with quality assurance, with decision-making, and for even loaning me a steamer.
Other names for this dish:
Lo bak gao (phonetically in Cantonese dialect, often found via dim sum restaurant lingo)
Carrot cake (in Singapore)
蘿蔔糕 (Luo Bo Gao written, traditional Chinese)
萝卜糕 (Luo Bo Gao written, in Simplified Chinese)
Why no shrimp?I tried this labor-intensive recipe at home because lately when I go to some Chinese restaurants in the States, they’ve sprinkled their radish cake with bits of shrimp so I can’t eat it unless I want to risk anaphylactic shock (re: crustacean allergy, i.e. shellfish that has an exoskeleton). This is one of my favorite standard dishes for dim sum both in the U.S. and abroad, I especially love when they get the outside just-right crunchy, and a soft, squishy inside.
蘿蔔糕 (Luo Bo Gao)! Radish Cake!
Makes: 2 medium steamers and one rice cooker 4″ x 4″. Enough to serve a dozen ppl as a small side Overall Time: 60+ Minutes to Multi-Day
1.5 long daikon/Chinese radish (2lbs), skinned & shredded
2-3 chinese sausages, thinly minced into tiny pieces (for vegetarians: you’ll still get umami if you do the mushrooms and no sausage)
16 oz. rice flour
3-5 shiitake mushrooms, minced (you can also used dried, but fully rehydrate it before cutting, at least 1 hr or overnight)
1.5 teaspoons salt
The butternut squash planted late last spring is finally yielding ripened fruit. Due to the surprisingly longer processing time, i try to remember to only to roast butternut on a weekend, otherwise i end up eating around 10pm. With a solid sized squash like the one pictured, there’s always extra leftovers that can be frozen or portioned out for the week to put in salad, pasta or other meals.
Sunday Squash Roast
* 1 small (about 1.5 pounds) butternut squash, see below for cubing tip
* 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
* 6 medium red potatoes, cubed
* 1 red onion, quartered
* 1 carrot, chopped in chunks
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 475°F.
Shortcut: stab w/fork several times, microwave for 2-3 minutes, slice off outer shell, cube and de-seed. This also cuts the original recipe’s roasting time by about 10 minutes (to the 25-30 minute range).
In a large bowl, combine the squash, carrot, sweet potato, and red potatoes. Separate the red onion quarters into pieces and add them to the mixture.
Note: it is very important to mix this separately before combining with the vegetables, otherwise the oil and vinegar don’t distribute for an even caramelization: in a small bowl, stir together thyme, rosemary, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Toss with vegetables until they are coated. Spread evenly on a large roasting pan.
Roast for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring every 10 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through and browned.
A derivative of “roasted vegetables with fresh herbs” from a random King County employees recipe listing.
Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 1 of 5 stars.
I may have been making variations for four years, so it’s nothing new –but it has a pretty consistent and tasty result so I figured I’d post it here. Likelihood of Repeat: 100%
So convenient as a filler for new leftover combinations, you can put it on salad, or add it to soup for more oomph, or eat it atop rice with a protein.. Lesson Learned: Fighting to slice the butternut squash into cubes is always a little more tedious than you expect, even after you microwave it to tenderize a little. I made this on a Sunday, but didn’t even really get to eating it until the next day because the processing + baking time took so long it missed the other dinner items that were done earlier at a decent time. You also don’t get a crisp a caramelization factor if you microwave it before baking. This always makes much more than I expect out of one butternut squash, too. I had enough to eat all week, plus a few servings to freeze for later. Thus, the title of this post.
1/2 a jicama, julienned
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/6 red onion, sliced in thin strips
~1 Tbs orange juice
~1/4 tsp lime rind
~2 tsp lime juice 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
a dash of salt to taste 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Fresh cilantro sprigs (optional)
substituted: 2 sprigs mint, stems removed and leaves cut in ribbons
Combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl, and toss gently to coat. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in the mint just before serving. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.
Today’s Recipe #1 Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
Never made this before, and it has quite a strong sweet flavor even without sugar. You really get to taste the jicama, which was a novelty to me. I only started buying (and identifying) jicama last year. Likelihood of Repeat: 80%
I think I have a strong bias for salads that don’t involve any leafy greens, bonus points for the use of multiple citrus items. I think I would like to re-try this with some orange slices thrown in too. Lesson Learned: 1/6 of a red onion may still be too much onion to rejoin humanity after eating this.
(2) Summer Rolls & Peanut Sauce
based on an altered recipe based on one from Chow.com
For the peanut sauce:
3/4 cup natural-style creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 1/2 medium limes)
4 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons chili-garlic paste
1 medium garlic clove, mashed to a paste –okay, I cheated with pre-chopped garlic from the jar, fresh garlic is too spicy sometimes..
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
For the summer rolls: 24 medium shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled and deveined fried or firm tofu, sliced
1 hank dried rice stick noodles or rice vermicelli
5 (8-1/2-inch) round rice paper wrappers
1/8 cup mung bean sprouts**
4 sprigs fresh mint leaves
32 fresh basil
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4-by-1/4-by-2-1/2-inch sticks
3 medium scallions, quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 2-1/2-inch pieces (white and light green parts only) -used chives because i had some
8 butter lettuce leaves cut in half
jicama, julienned (same portion as cukes)
a dash of rice vinegar
For the peanut sauce:
1. Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.
For the summer rolls:
1. Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain, try rinsing, then tossing with rice vinegar and salt; then separate in clumps for each roll lest the noodles get all stuck together during assembly.
2. Place all of the ingredients in separate piles and arrange them in the following order around a work surface: rice paper wrappers, tofu, rice noodles, bean sprouts, mint, basil, cucumber, scallions, and lettuce.
3. Place a clean, damp kitchen towel on a work surface, or lay out a damp wooden cutting board. Fill a medium frying pan or wide, shallow dish large enough to hold the rice paper wrappers with warm tap water. Working with one wrapper at a time, completely submerge the wrapper until it is soft and pliable, about 15 seconds. Remove the wrapper from the water and place it on the towel/board.
4. Working quickly, lay down ingredients sparsely atop rice wrapper (see picture), adding lettuce last, and mint and chive leaves near end of roll for aesthetics.
5. Fold the bottom half of the rice paper wrapper over the filling. Holding the whole thing firmly in place, fold the sides of the wrapper in. Then, pressing firmly down to hold the folds in place, roll the entire wrapper horizontally up from the bottom to the top.
6. Turn the roll so that the seam faces down and the row of tofu faces up. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and fillings. Leave 3/4 inch between each summer roll on the sheet so they don’t stick together, and replace the water in the pan or dish with hot tap water as needed.
**If not serving immediately, keep the summer rolls tightly covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 hours, OR wrap individually in plastic wrap, then in tightly-covered tupperware to keep overnight (see below for photo). Serve with the peanut sauce for dipping. If you are worried about it drying out, another precaution is to barely coat the outside of the rolls with sesame or olive oil, then wrap. The oil helps hold in the moisture.
Tip 1: Even when I scale down the amounts for the rolls, it’s been good to do the full or at least half portion of the sauce, since that is really the flavor that adds depth to the light crisp summer roll. Tip 2: I keep my coconut flakes in an empty spice container for easy sprinkling over this, yogurts, and desserts. Tip 3: I find my wrapping is more successful when I stretch the wrapper a smidge more than I think it will take. Definitely err on the side of less ingredients when you are first practicing the rolling.
Note: I first tried making these in the height of the Seattle summer (when I didn’t want to cook anything and add heat in a brief “80-degree heat wave”), and I am still using the same bag of rice wrappers, so yes, you will have more leftover, and you can stuff it with whatever leftovers you think will go well.
Today’s Recipe #2 Rating:
Novelty Rating: 2 of 5 stars.
I’ve made it before. I think it’s tasty, but definitely getting a little stale to eat in the winter when I crave potatoes and meat dishes. ..but it tastes so…healthy..
Likelihood of Repeat: 90%
As I mentioned before, I am still using the same packet of rice wrappers from the summer, and plan on continuing to put random ingredients together for a slapdash lunch. You will note the significant difference in length of steps between the two recipes above. That alone may indicate that #1 is going to win out in repeats.. Lesson Learned: I will always, always have leftover filling after I run out of those tasty rice noodles. This, in fact, was the original reason for recipe #1, as jicama only comes in certain sizes, so you’d have to make tons of summer rolls to actually use it up.
**Stay tuned for a future blog post on sprouting mung beans! I’ll do it so you don’t have to try it.