This little feast takes a very deep dive into the spicy umami world of Szechuan cuisine. One of the crucial ingredients of Szechuan home cooking is Szechuan peppers (pic included). Not really a pepper, it is a spice from bushes locally found in Southern China. It is lemony and savory, and it has the unique ability to cause the palate to momentarily tingle. Although few other American recipes call for them, it is very commonly used in Szechuan province. The tingling mesmerizing qualities of Szechuan Peppers is a sensation we associate with authentic meals from Szechuan, and this dish is far more compelling with it included. The Chinese characters for Szechuan Peppers translates to “numb hot”… which is a perfect description of what happens in your mouth when you eat them. First your mouth seems slightly numb, the stillness before the storm, and then the heat comes, full of flavor and sensations. It’s absolutely addictive. The other crucial ingredient for authentic Szechuan cuisine is fermented broad bean paste. I know, it doesn’t sound sexy. But it is. Very. It lies at the heart and soul of the intense umami flavors in authentic Szechuan feasts. All fermented foods are umami, but this stuff is just magical. It’s also easily available on Amazon, ( pic included). Please give broad bean paste a whirl when you cook a Szechuan meal, it’s a completely unique flavor, and packed with savory intensity. Soon we will posting more Szechuan dishes like Szechuan Orange Chicken and Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup. Also check out our post of Ma Po Tofu, another Szechuan feast we are crazy about. Ingredients in Total 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, lightly salted and cut into approximately 1 1/2 inch pieces 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, (not dry roasted) 1 […]
I’ve always thought of Yakitori as the Bad Boy cousin to Teriyaki. He rides a Harley and he isn’t sweet, except in a kind of dangerous complicated way. This feast is the bad boy of Japanese BBQ. These skewers of little umami bombs have a wonderful tension between deep soy flavors from the Dark Soy (we use the Chinese version of Dark Soy, less salt, more aging), the tasty fresh unique flavor of sake, the nutty sesame, and the complex layered sweetness of the mirin.
In India, on the western coast along the Arabian Sea, lies the city of Mangalore, with it’s ancient traditional cuisine of creamy spicy coconut sauces. I have very strong memories of watching cooks from that region, working as chefs in Los Angeles, throw whole mustard seeds into woks of smoking oils, seeing them pop and sizzle along with curry leaves tossed in and blackening, infusing the oil with powerful flavors. South of Mangalore is the state of Kerala, and all along the coast this Malabar Shrimp is a very popular street food and one of the local home cooks’ favorite meals. The proximity of the ocean with its fresh fish and seafood along with the spiciness from the pungent curry leaves and chilies highlight this traditional dish… and it’s beautiful to look at as well, because this little feast also has an amazing shimmering deep red color from the tamarind.
This is the best tofu meal I’ve ever tasted, hands down. The neutral flavors of the tofu soak up all the exotic spices, like the Chinese black vinegar, the thick dark soy, the mysterious Shoaxing wine and the umami bomb Szechuan fermented chili/broad bean paste… all of which makes the tofu glossy when stirred together with the deeply flavorful wok seared ground pork shoulder.
With all the startlingly fresh and evocative flavors of the best Thai street foods, this festive tasty feast will easily feed a crowd, who are likely hovering around the BBQ. Seared over flames, whether gas BBQ, charcoal or wood coals, these meatballs are literally packed with all the ingredients that make Thai food so irresistible… lemongrass, coconut, mint, fish sauce, lime, peanuts, cilantro, ginger and garlic… and rice noodles to soak up all that goodness. They are umami bombs wrapped in crunchy lettuce. Basically Bangkok in the back yard.
This little umami feast explodes with flavor because of the wildly contrasting tastes… the rich deep dark pink meat of the duck breast match perfectly with the spicy red curry, and the bright sweet taste of the pineapple and the tomatoes contrast wonderfully with the richness of the coconut cream and the umami fish sauce. It’s also addictive, like the best meals from Thailand, with the amazing fresh flavors of the lemongrass, Kiffir lime leaves, Thai basil, mint and cilantro.
The three species of tuna that Americans enjoy eating the most are Albacore, Yellowfin (the Hawaiian word is Ahi) and Bluefin (the Japanese word is Maguro). Albacore is the lightest in flavor and texture, with large meaty flakes. The ubiquitous canned version is called “white tuna” but doesn’t come close to the flavor of freshly caught, which is exquisite. The word Ahi has become popular among restaurants because of this feast, Seared Ahi. Seared but left pink in the middle of the filet, it is the best of both worlds, crispy and explosively tasty and umami on the outside, and lush and sashimi on the inside. Bluefin is wildly popular around the world as sushi, called Maguro on the menu, and is the richest, most dense, and most expensive.