Monday, July 11, 2016



A Tale of Two Dinners

Over a period of two days, I created two Asian inspired dinners. Sometimes I just get a craving and I enjoy the creative process.  Two of my favorites of Asian-Polynesian foods is my mother-in-law's fried rice and Korean BBQ ribs. In addition, I am obsessed with lumpia, which, while not too difficult to prep, is time consuming.  I keep threatening to make it, but the proper time needed keeps eluding me. Curses!  Some day!  In the meantime, this is the tale of two dinners.  To start with, the feast of lumpia, sweet mirin rice and Korean BBQ Ribs.

Let's get started!

1+ cups of white rice (depending on how many you are feeding) in a bowl or rice cooker.  I like to use the white sticky rice for this dish. Cover the rice with one inch of water and let sit for an hour.  Rinse the rice afterward and cover with water again with about one inch of water.  The actual ratio is one cup rice to two cups water.  Half an inch above the rice is about two cups water. 

Next, slice and marinate the Korean style ribs. The packages I purchase have strips with four bones, so I slice them in the middle, two bones per slice. The marinate is as follows:

1/4 cup grape seed oil
1/3 cup Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup shoyu (soy sauce)
2 tablespoons Ponzu (citrus or chili flavored soy sauce; I use citrus)
1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted cumin and coriander seed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or a teaspoon of chili sauce or sriracha
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 cloves garlic, grated or crushed
1 shallot, diced

I like to place the part of the marinade in a gallon-sized zip-lock bag, add the meat to it, pour the rest of the marinade atop that, zip the top tight and squish the bag so all of the meat gets coated as best as possible with the sauce.  After a couple of hours, I pour it all into a pan. 






Marinating the beef ribs. 


While the ribs are marinating, start the rice cooker or, bring the rice to a boil.  Stir thoroughly to prevent sticking and burning on the bottom and reduce the heat to low simmer, covered completely.  Most white rice takes about 20 minutes to cook, thirty for one cup, at the most. 

Next, fire up the grill or heat up a grill plate or grill pan, and using tongs, add rib strips onto the grill.  This only takes a few minutes to grill.  Three minutes per side, only.  Remove, place them on a slotted rack and place in the oven at 200-degrees until the rice is done.  This will keep the ribs warm but not overcook them. 

In the meantime, the rice should be about done.  When it is, remove the rice and spread it out on a freshly washed towel or in a clean baking pan.  Spinkle with mirin, a sweet rice wine vinegar.  It now comes in several different flavors. I used garlic flavored, but it is a feint flavor. Allow the rice to cool.  By-the-way, I did not season all of the rice with mirin.  I saved about a fourth of it

I served lumpia with this dish, too, along with the ribs and mirin rice, so I added about 1/3 cup of canola oil to a skillet and starting at low heat, I gently warmed up the oil with several pieces of sliced garlic and continued to raise the heat every couple of minutes to season the oil. I added some of the lumpia when the oil began to ripple, meaning it was hot and ready, and fried the rolls until golden brown.  You can find lumpia now, not just egg rolls or spring rolls, at most grocery stores these days.  For more traditional lumpia, check with Siri as to your local Filipino grocer or specialty store.  In the next town south of mine, there are several stores in downtown, but also a restaurant that serves them, but who also sells them freshly wrapped.  Mine were store bought. 



To plate, I took small bowl, rubbed the interior with canola oil, stuffed the bowl with the rice, placed the bowl open end down onto a decorative plate and carefully removed the bowl. I halved at an angle the lumpia and placed them decoratively half way around the rice and the ribs, once removed from the oven, on the other half of the plate. 



I garnished the dish with scallion greens and the rice with a mix of toasted sesame seeds and nori, flavored seaweed. (I love it!). 

Here are a few more photos.  Enjoy!



I also garnished the ribs with sliced garlic I had used in the marinade which I'd fried up. 

Now!  On to dinner two!  


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Since completing dinner one last evening, circumstances have changed, and I found myself in a rather heartbreaking situation today. For those who know me well, or who follow my Facebook account, I love animals and when a family animal meets their end, it rather tears me up inside.  That happened today.  I have been pretty melancholy this afternoon and I decided I needed to be productive rather than dwell on it.  I find joy in writing.  Therefore, I want to finish this Tale of Two Dinners and try to find some solace in this accomplishment. 

Once upon a time, I was married, I have two boys, well, two men, as they are both well into their adulthood.  Their grandmother is Japanese-American, whom I have mentioned before, particularly in my earliest blogs fro,m 2012-2013. I have enjoyed a lot of Japanese restaurant food in my time, but none outshines Grandma U's Japanese food.  One of my dishes I am most fondest of is her fried rice.  There was (and is) always rice on the table, and rice she could not use for one dish she used for another, if not fried rice.  Whatever veg or meats she had left over she used, always with an egg (of which I tend to go overboard on, making my rice more sticky than loose) and always scallions.  Using the leftover rice that I did not sweeten with mirin, I made fried rice with. I had a little pork belly left over from a previous burger dish in the freezer, and I had Korean bbq rib meet left over from the previous dish, so I diced up the meats, sliced two scallions, separating the greens from the whites.  I sauteed the meat in a tablespoon of shoyu (again, soy sauce) and a tablespoon of Hoisin sauce, black pepper and a little crushed red pepper flakes. I removed the meat to a bowl. 

In the meantime, I did a little prep work. I cracked and whisked three eggs with two tablespoons of shoyu in a bowl and set that aside.  I placed the scallions on a plate, separated, as I mentioned above, ready to use. 



I added three tablespoons of vegetable oil (canola or grape seed oil are my favorites to use) to the same non-stick skillet over medium-high heat I'd sauteed the meat bits in.  When the oil rippled, I added the rice and began breaking it up, absorbing all of that incredibly aromatic sauteed and saucy meat flavor.  Next, I added the meat and thoroughly incorporated the meat throughout the rice.  Afterward, I added the whites of the scallions and the egg, pouring it all round the skillet and over the rice. I allowed it to sit for a couple of minutes to allow the egg to set. I continued to break up the rice, turning it over and over to allow the egg to set, only to be broken up again.  But, as I use three eggs, it does not break up entirely like the fried rice you'd get at a Chinese restaurant. I also added half of the scallion greens to incorporate at the end of cooking.  I plated on a familiar plate to frequent viewers, a gift from a dear friend, made in Japan, garnished with scallion greens. 



As a salad, I shaved cucumber and red onion and marinated it for several hours in a mirin vinaigrette.  It paired very well with the fried rice.  I did not exactly do Grandma U's fried rice justice, but it was quite flavorful and filling in its own right.  


Tsukemono type of salad marinated in mirin and whole grain mustard vinaigrette.  



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