You will need:
- ½ kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
- 5 small tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup fresh corn
- 350 ml dashi
- 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons mirin
Start by scooping out the seeds from ½ a kabocha and cutting into bite-sized pieces.
In a heavy pot on medium heat, add a couple tablespoons of oil and add a roughly chopped onion. Cook for about 6 minutes til translucent. When the onions are done, add 2 diced carrots, 1 diced red bell pepper and the kabocha and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
Next, add 5 roughly chopped tomatoes and 350 ml of dashi, turn up the heat until everything comes to a boil, then back down to medium. Cover and simmer until the kabocha is fork tender.
When that’s done, add 1 ½ tablespoons each of mirin and soy sauce and a tablespoon of brown sugar and continue to cook uncovered on medium high to reduce slightly.
Lastly, add 1 cup of fresh corn and get ready to serve.
You can serve this dish on rice or whatever pasta you have, but If you wanna try something really good, cut up some mochi and roast it under the broiler til crispy. When they’re done, add them to the bottom of the bowl, spoon the vegetables over them, then add more mochi on the top. You can thank me later…
Pico de Gallo Pasta and Seared Scallops
For the Pico de Gallo pasta sauce, you will need (for 2):
- 3 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large shallot, finely diced
- 1 red chili pepper, diced
- the juice of 1 lime
- a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
- 250 ml heavy cream
- salt and pepper
- your favourite pasta (fettuccini or linguini is great for this)
Start with a deep skillet with some oil on medium heat. To that, add a couple cloves of minced garlic and cook til fragrant. Next, add ¼ cup of diced shallots and continue to cook for a couple minutes. Once your shallots have had a head start, it’s time to add 2 seeded and diced vine-ripened tomatoes. Continue to cook and stir until the tomatoes start to break down.
When the tomatoes are breaking down and starting to look like sauce, add 1 diced red chili, the juice of 1 lime and a handful of chopped cilantro. Now you can season with salt and pepper and call this your sauce, or continue by adding 1 cup of heavy cream. Once the cream is in, turn up to heat to a steady simmer and reduce by 50%, stirring frequently.
When the sauce has reduced by 50%, add the remaining diced tomato for colour and texture. Now grab a large mixing bowl and put in your freshly cooked pasta. (Here’s a tip: use tongs, never strain or rinse pasta!) In this case, we’re using fettuccini noodles. You also want to save a little of the pasta water, as the starch will help the sauce adhere to the noodles.
Add the finished sauce to the noodles and lightly toss until combined. Finish by adding more fresh cilantro leaves and freshly ground black pepper.
For the scallops, it’s very easy to do, but very easy to screw up. A couple of tips here as we go, first of all, use the freshest scallops you can get your hands on that are dry packed. Sometimes, scallops are shipped in water with sodium tripolyphosphate added to make them appear whiter and plumper. When you sear them, the moisture leaches out and you get steamed, rubbery scallops. Not something you want to pay good money for. It’s important that you have one ingredient: scallops.
So with a hot skillet with a couple tablespoons of oil, add the scallops in small batches. If you add too many at once, you’ll lower the temperature of the pan and steam the scallops again. The moment you place them on the hot surface, you’ll hear the sizzle and they will stick. That’s ok. Avoid temptation to move them around and leave them be.
From here, the cooking time will be very fast. You want to look at the meat as it cooks. Just like prawns, they will begin to turn opaque and the bottom will start to form a brown crust. When that happens, the scallop will be easier to lift off the pan. Gently lift the scallop from the pan and turn over. Once on the other side, add a dollop of butter to the pan and use a spoon to baste them til they’re done. Should only take a minute or 2. When they’re done, take out of the pan and set aside.
To plate everything up, simply place the scallops on a bed of the finished pasta and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.
J’s Fusion Grilled Chicken
For the marinade, you will need:
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Thai chilies, minced
- 2 red chilies, minced
- a couple stalks lemongrass (tender end), minced
- 1 lime, juice and zest
- a pinch of kosher salt
All you need to do is put all the ingredients into a container and shake it til well combined. Set aside for at least 30 min to overnight to let the flavours mingle.
You will also need:
- 1 whole chicken, or chicken pieces (2 ½ lbs)
Just take the chicken and score it all over both sides with a sharp knife. Season both sides with salt, then liberally massage the marinade all over the meat, making sure you get it into the cuts you made. Place the chicken on a hot grill on medium heat and cook, turning every 5 minutes or so. Baste with the extra marinade and continue to cook until the juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches at least 165F.
Since you have the grill on, you can grill up some nice asparagus or carrots tossed in olive oil and seasoned with kosher salt. Carrots are incredible on the grill. Just grill them until they have a little charring on the edges, then serve.
You can adjust the spiciness factor of this dish according to your taste. The amount I used in this recipe seems like a lot, but it’s not. Of course, the type of chilies you use will have a great influence on how it will turn out. Just remember, the smaller the chili, the hotter it will be. If you don’t have fresh chilies, you can use cayenne, chili flake or sambal oelek.
Enjoy these recipes, make them yours and have fun in the kitchen!