It's time for another Try The World review (see my first here)! In my Japan box, I had: Otafuku Foods okonomiyaki kit; Aoi Tea blueberry match tea; House Foods ginger paste; Takaokaya seaweed snack; Akagi soba noodles; Kasugai gummy candies; and Morinaga milk caramels. I thought that those butter coconut cookies came in the box, but I actually must have picked them up at the Asian grocery store. So, ignore those (but really don't, cuz they are super awesome and yummy).
The caramels are are firm and not super sweet, I like them a lot. I haven't tried the tea, gummies, or okonomiyaki kit yet; but I used the rest to make Zaru Soba.
Zaru Soba is a cold soba dish usually made in the summer (whatever, don't judge me). The noodles are cooked, then rinsed, chilled, and drained. Normally, you would serve them on a woven bamboo mat that lets the extra water drain out; but I don't have those! So I dried them on paper towels.
The noodles are topped with seaweed and sesame seeds just before serving, and dipped in a sauce made of dashi, soy, mirin, sake, sugar, and ginger paste. Wasabi and scallions are served on the side and mixed into the sauce to taste.
It's my first Secret Recipe Club post!!! I had been wanting to join the SRC for a while, but wasn't sure that I met the posting requirements, because I don't always post every week. I also didn't have a recipe index for a long time, so that is something that I have been working on. I finally felt like the time was right and asked to join, and here I am with my first post! Yay!
My assigned blog was Renee's Kitchen Adventures, and I had such a great time looking through it. Renee is a stay-at-home mom and former nurse (labor and delivery - what a special unit!), and her story reminded me a lot of my mother. She talks about trying to be healthy and lose weight, and posts healthy recipes based on Weight Watchers points. I, too, am trying to be healthy and lose weight, so I loved that about this blog. Even though our ideas of what constitute healthy food are a bit different (I think fat is healthy), I think this blog will be a great resource and inspiration for me. I also love how accessible and family friendly Renee's recipes are. I think I tend to only post about the really complicated stuff, which maybe isn't so great.
As I was reading through Renee's most recent recipes, I saw a lot that I wanted to try. I love that she has a lot of s'mores recipes, and especially that she made s'mores krispy treats - because I did the same thing! I also really liked the sound of this Almond Joy Poke Cake made with coconut oil, coconut oil is the best! She writes that she isn't ashamed to use boxed cake mix as a shortcut, and I feel the same way! I don't post about them much, but I love to make poke cakes or dress up cake mix in other ways (pro tip: use 1 extra egg, milk instead of water, melted butter instead of oil).
I've been baking way more than usual lately, though, and what jumped out at me the most was this Creamy Lemon and Fresh Basil Chicken Salad. It has been super hot and humid lately, so this is exactly the kind of thing I want to be eating right now.
This salad is so pretty! And yummy! And easy! And healthy! And did I mention how pretty it is? Light and fresh, and perfect for Spring or Summer. This would be great to bring to a potluck or picnic.
All you do is cook and cool quinoa (I really like the tri-color for this), which can be done in advance. Then top with cut watermelon, strawberries, and feta. Drizzle with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper. Then finish with basil and sliced almonds. That's it! I used some purple basil from my garden, isn't it pretty? It tastes just like regular Genovese basil.
You can serve it in a platter, or individual containers - up to you! I think it would travel pretty well, especially if you pack the dressing separately. It's also really satisfying - you have crunch from the watermelon, almonds, and even the quinoa (which is also very filling), and a salty-sweet combo that is just awesome.
Kanikama is the imitation crab meat you find in cheap sushi rolls. It is made from white fish (pollock usually) that is formed and colored to look like crab. Sounds gross, but is actually pretty tasty - and way cheaper than real crab. Kanikama salad is a pretty typical way to prepare imitation crab outside of sushi rolls. It usually involves kanikama, shredded vegetables, and mango in a light mayonnaise based dressing and is sometimes topped with tobiko.
My version is kanikama and mango over lettuce, served with avocado (I meant to get tobiko, too, but I forgot!) This is really light and refreshing, and a little bit sweet - perfect for summer. It's important to realize that Japanese mayo is different from American - it is lighter, thinner, and made with rice wine vinegar. For my dressing, I bought Yum Yum sauce thinking it would be good as is (it's a mayonnaise based sauce that they use at Hibachi grill restaurants). But when I tried it out, it was a bit too sweet and bland. So I added a splash each of rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, mirin, and toasted sesame oil (easy on that last one, it is very strong).
I don't really have a recipe - it's more of a play with seasonings til you like it kind of thing. You could add in julienned carrots, cucumber, even summer squash. You could dice the avocado and fold it in with the mango (which I did on subsequent days). You could toss the lettuce in the dressing as well, instead of setting the dressed kanikama on top. There are lots of ways that you can make this your own. Leave a comment telling me how you like your kanikama salad!
You know that Forrest Gump quote, "Jenny and me was like peas and carrots."? I could not stop saying that while making and eating this dinner. The classic duo of peas and carrots, back together again in the form of soup and risotto.
This pea soup has a base of English peas, sugar snap peas, and leeks. So much green!
But more importantly, it has bacon. You start by crisping the bacon and removing it. Then, in the same pan, you cook celery, onion, and leek in the bacon fat before adding chicken stock and rosemary. Meanwhile, blanch the peas.
It has gotten hot, hot, hot out here - plants and people alike are wilting in the heat. On days like these where you can't bear to be outside for more than 5 minutes, slaving over a stove is out of the question. These shrimp rolls are the perfect thing for oppressively hot days: fast, easy, cool, and refreshing.
All you have to do is mix together cold, cooked shrimp with celery, scallions, mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Put a piece of butter lettuce on a bun, top with the shrimp mixture, done! Dinner in less than 10 minutes.
Creamy Shrimp Rolls
adapted from Real Simple
Makes 4 rolls
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and pepper
1 1/2 lbs cooked medium shrimp, cut in half crosswise
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup sliced scallion greens
4 soft buns
1 small head butter lettuce, torn into pieces
In a medium bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Fold in the shrimp, celery, and scallions. Line the buns with the lettuce and fill with the shrimp mixture.
This is super, super easy to make and incredibly delicious. I made a huge bowl this week and it was gone in two days! It takes plain old chicken salad over the top and turns it into something great.