Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chirashizushi - Confetti Rice

This popular Japanese rice salad is served during most holiday celebrations. I remember eating this during New Year's gatherings. Chirashizushi translates into "scattered sushi" because the ingredients are scattered through the sushi rice instead of rolled. Colorful and flavorful, it would look festive on your camp table. This Labor Day weekend, add this side-dish to your table after a long day of whitewater rafting. The sushi lovers will make this dish disappear in a flash.

4-cups cooked small grain Japanese pearl rice
prepared vegetables in mirin and soysauce
(shitaki mushrooms, carrot, gourd, fried tofu, potato, daikon)
sushi rice flavoring; mirin
OR (1) 7.58 oz Chirashizushi no Moto (prepared vegetables)
1/4 cup sweet peas
1 Tblsp sliced red pickled ginger
sliced/shaved dry seaweed (decorative and taste)
sweet egg (optional)

Sweet egg: crack 2 eggs into a bowl and wisk until smooth. Add 4 T white sugar and 2 T of water and mix well. In a large skillet, pour a thin layer and cook slowly until top looks firm. Place into oven at 300 degrees until surface of egg mixture is shiny (approx 2 min). Place onto paper towel and let cool. Cut julienne strips and add to your favorite dish or salad.

Flake rice into a large decorative bowl. Slice vegetables thinly and add to bowl or just add one can of the prepared vegetables. Add ginger & mirin (omit mirin if you are using a canned prepared vegetables). Toss thoroughly. Add peas, seaweed, egg and toss lightly. Serve at cool room temperature. Note: if you refrigerate, bring to room temperature; toss before serving.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tomato, tomahto... as long as its Fresh!

I had the pleasure of meeting a professional chef recently. One thing that he told me about grilling and cooking is that you always try to cook with fresh regional ingredients. Optimum flavors in its prime. A tomato is best coming from California's valley at the peak of freshness. Just adding that single tomato to greens will turn the simplest salad into a gourmet experience. Try to bring regional fresh produce into your rafting camping menu. Tomatoes, basil, peaches are all in peak freshness. Add them to your next recipe.

10 large fresh tomatoes (heirlooms are recommended)
1 bunch fresh basil (picked fresh if possible)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
cracked fresh pepper to taste
1 large peach (optional)

Rinse tomatoes in fresh water. Set aside. Wash basil. Pick leaves off of stem and set aside to dry in small colander. Take care not to bruise the delicate leaves. Slice tomatoes. If large, cut in half and then slice. Arrange on a platter. Stack leaves of basil; one on top of the other. Roll the stack until it forms a tubular cylindar. Slice thinly cross-wise. This will form strings of basil when you unroll them. Sprinkle the thin basil chiffonade over the tomatoes liberally. Splash on the balsalmic vinegar and olive oil. Pepper to taste. Decorate with thin slices of peaches (optional). This is a perfect salad for a vegan.

Variation: add slices of fresh mozzarella or bufalo cheese. Talk about an awesome meal after rafting all day. Just add a crusty sour dough baguette and it's dinner. In the winter, add a minestrone soup to cap off this meal.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Oyster Sauce

Oh yuck, said the kids.... when I mention Oyster Sauce. Oyster sauce is a common ingredient in many Asian dishes. It is a wonderful condiment to add to stir fries and grilled meats. I especially like it on fresh greens such as spinach, bok choy or even just cabbage. It's almost equivalent to ketchup; an all purpose condiment and cooking ingredient! Pack this bottle of flavor on your next camping trip on the river. Believe me, you will find more ways to cook with this or marinate with than any other sauce out of bottle.

10 baby bok choy (do not separate leaves; keep whole)
2 T olive oil
2-4 cloves of garlic; peeled and sliced
2 tsp sesame oil (optional)
dried chili flakes (to taste)
2 T oyster sauce

Wash baby boy choy heads in cold water and drain upside down. Do not separate leaves. Only peel off older or bruised leaves. Heat pan to medium high. Add olive oil & garlic. Add drained bok choy to oil. Careful as water will cause the oil to spatter. Stir fry quickly and add sesame oil and a pinch of chili flakes. Add oyster sauce to taste. Serve immediately when you see the bok choy translucent and bright green.

Variations: use other greens such as spinach, chard, brussel sprouts, etc. You can also slather a steak with this and grill it. I like to slice a steak into thin strips, stir fry it with veggies and then slather it with a dose of oyster sauce... ok, people, get over the word "oyster." Maybe we can just call it an Azun ketchup...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Daikon - Japanese Radish

Daikon is a Japanese white radish. Long and pointed, its white flesh is beautifully designed to go with many dishes including decorative ones. The daikon is a spicy radish that can be prepared in many ways. Take this radish on your next camping and rafting trip. My favorite is very plain; just cut and serve. This small bright and tasty salad goes well with grilled meats or as a topping for another green salad. When served, this bright white radish will impress the whitewater rafting paddlers for its exotic crunch.

Daikon Salad
(1) Large Daikon (Japanese white radish)
slice into matchsticks
glass bowl
fresh cold water (or ice)

Take the back of the knife and scrape the daikon clean or just peel with a potato peeler. Cut the top (greenery) and tip off. Cut in half crosswise. Slice lengthwise into 1/16th slices and stack. Slice across into matchsticks. Place into a clean glass bowl. Rinse with cold water. Add ice cubes and cover with fresh cold water. Cover and place into the cooler. Serve when icy cold.

A good accompaniment with grilled steak, pork chops or fish. Tangy, spicy flavor with a clean after taste helps to brighten any grilled meat on a river trip. Top another green salad for a spicy radish kick.