Friday, December 21, 2007

Steamed Crabs


live crabs
wok + steamer stand
seasoned vinegar (Chekiang or sushi variety)


1. Keep the live crabs lively in a bucket or sink full of cold water. This is to let them excrete before being cooked. (My mom's alternative method: stick a wooden chopstick up their butts and leave them hanging out in the sink until cooking time).

2. Bring water to a boil in the wok. Put the steamer stand and a large dish (Pyrex, for instance) in it. Place the crabs in the dish and cover. Steam for 25 minutes, until the crabs are completely red.

3. Thinly cut strips of ginger, and put into a dipping bowl with the vinegar. This is the sauce for the meat and crab brains (a.k.a. crab cholesterol, as Winston once corrected me) that are found in the shell.

**N.B.: Never cook dead crabs! They must be kept alive until you steam them.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Brown Rice with Burdock and Mushrooms

(I served the following dish with the stir-fried burdock dish. It takes care of the problem of what to do with the left-over burdock, once you've made the stir-fry. Also this dish is made much easier in the rice-cooker. Just add all the ingredients and hit "COOK". I also tried using a different kind of rice--short grained brown rice mixed with short-grained white rice-- and this substitution worked out well.)

4 medium shiitake (or other robust mushrooms such as dried porcini)
2 c hot water
1 Tb vegetable oil
1 medium burdock root (about 1/4 pound)
2 cups cold water mixed with 1 tsp salt
1 c long grain brown rice
1 small carrot and/or parsnip, sliced
1/2 tsp salt

1. Cut shiitake caps into thin strips or re-hydrate porcini in warm water.

2. Scrub burdock and whittle it off in slivers, placing them in cold salted water as you proceed. Soak 5 minutes. Drain burdock and place in a heavy oven-proof pot with water, mushrooms, rice, carrot and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove from the stove and cover and bake in a 350 oven 45 minutes. Let stand 15-30 minutes. Uncover, fluff, and serve.

From Terra Brockman's Farming notes.

Stir-fried Burdock and Carrots with Sesame and Soy

Hiroko’s Kimpira Gobo

(From Terra Brockman's Farming Notes)

2 cups prepared burdock
2 cups prepared carrots
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tb sesame seeds
1 Tb soy sauce
2 tsp dashi (optional. I used beef stock instead)
1 Tb water, as needed

1. Prepare the burdock and carrots in the same way, by washing and scraping the outer skin (they don’t have to be peeled). Then cut into matchstick-sized pieces. As you’re cutting the burdock, throw the pieces into a bowl of cold water to prevent them from turning brown in the air.

2. In a large pan, heat the vegetable oil and sesame oil. When it’s hot, sprinkle in the sesame seeds and cook, stirring, for about a minute.

3. Drain the burdock and add it and the carrots to the pan. Cook and stir over medium high heat for about 5-7 minutes.

4. Add soy sauce and continue stir-frying. If you wish, add the dashi (available in Japanese and other Asian markets) and water and continue stir-frying until liquid has evaporated. The total cooking time is about 10 minutes. The burdock will change color from milky white to shiny gray/brown. It will be crisp and crunchy, earthy and delicious.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Grapefruit, Beet, Avocado and Blue Cheese Salad on a Bed of Watercress and Arugula

Adapted from several recipes found on, this salad is
colorful to the eyes and the palate. It's especially good if you
have some sort of pink-red-purple theme to your dinner ... which of
course everyone should have.


3 small pink-red grapefruits
2 avocados
1/2 red onion
1-2 scallions/spring onions
6 cloves garlic
4 small red beets (cooked)
salt & pepper
balsamic vinegar (preferably aged)
1 TBS honey
other similarly small sprouty green things that have a slight bitterness
blue cheese


1. Cut the grapefruit into segments and remove the pith, skin in
between, and seeds.
2. Cut up the avocado and red beets into small chunks.
3. Thinly slice red onion and chop up the scallions.
4. Put items in 1-4 in a large salad bowl.
5. Mince the garlic. In a small pan, fry the garlic in 2-3 TBS
olive oil. Set aside to cool.
6. Whisk the garlic & olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and
pepper in a bowl. Pour over the ingredients in the salad bowl and
7. Place a bed of a mix of watercress, arugula and whatever other
green thing you feel like on a serving place. Spoon some of the
salad mix onto it. Top with some blue cheese crumbles.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Butternut Squash Farfalle with Sage Butter Sauce

OK, so this is not exactly "Asian," but didn't someone say that Marco
Polo brought pasta to the Italians from China? Anyway, this is
delicious; I'm storing it here in case I ever forget how to make it. Courtesy of Lily Woodruff.

1 cup butternut squash, in very small cubes
1 cup mushrooms, finely sliced
1/2 zucchini, finely sliced then chopped into smaller pieces
1 handful of walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4-1/2 stick butter
fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
sea salt
large handfuls of grated Parmesan or Emmenthal
2 servings of farfalle


1. Cook the farfalle in salted boiling water.
2. Meanwhile, cook the butternut squash, mushrooms and zucchini in a
frying pan with some olive oil and pinches of sea salt. Add walnuts towards the end.
3. Divide the pasta and put onto serving plates. Put the cooked
squash/mushroom/zucchini on top of the pasta.
4. In the pan, melt the butter and add the sage. Stir, pressing the
leaves against the pan. When sufficiently aromatic (approx. 3-4
minutes), pour onto the pasta.
5. Top with large handfuls of grated Parmesan or Emmenthal cheese.
6. Finally, sprinkle some nutmeg on top.