Corn Cream with Crab Soup

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corn cream soup w crab_6152The winter sun-light, reflected by new white snow, makes harsh shadows on our grey and brown landscape. This amplification of the brightness is false. It’s neither warmer nor cheerier, a vision without substance.

I want the pleasant consolation of color! This pale yellow Japanese soup, with bright red and green accents and the tang of a summer sea, is a perfect recipe for this season.

Chorizo and Shrimp Rice

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Japanese Shrimp and Sausage Rice
This one-dish recipe with shrimp, sausage, peas, saffron, and ginger provides a hearty meal with remarkable complexity of flavor and fragrance. The result is like a cross between Paella and a delicate Stir Fry. The flavors permeate the rice, but because the pot has not been stirred, there are gradations of taste and fragrance from top to bottom. Does it taste Japanese? Well, I think the Japanese should claim it before someone else does!

Sugar Snap Peas, Shrimp, Somen

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peas-and-nasturtium_2675Spring in the garden begins with hope; planting seeds is an act of faith, anticipating a bountiful harvest to share. In May, I planted a short row of sugar snap peas in the window box outside the dining room window. The picture in my mind was of green vines shading the meals we’d share together from the hot summer sun.
I also planted some nasturtiums at the front edge of the window box because they have brilliant peppery edible flowers and leaves. I anticipated that they would provide color once the spring/early crop of peas needed to be removed.

These fruits of my labor inspired this very seasonal meal.

Shioyaki Trout with Shoyu-Beurre Noisette Beans


Nothing looked prettier on ice at the fish counter than some pale pink and silver trout fillets to accompany the new potatoes and really ripe tomato from the farmers’ market. The green beans were so fresh they really did snap!

This post outlines how to “salt-grill” fish, and how to prepare green vegetables so they retain their bright color. Both are valuable techniques to add you your cooking repertoire.

Steamy Shrimp and Bay Scallops


Mr. Tess worked out of town several weeks this summer. Cooking for one: white grape juice, directly from the bottle. Tuna and mayo on macaroni. Thin spaghetti with butter and pepper. Vanilla ice cream in front of the freezer. What do you eat when no one is looking?
Here is a “cooking for one” meal which had some healthy green things to supplement the essentially white starch and carbohydrates I was over consuming.

Spicy Sesame Noodles for Lunch


I thought sesame noodles would be a great lunch for my friend and her daughter.

 
Ever since they cat-sat for us last summer, the young lady has been eager for us to leave town again so she could play with the kitties. Spring break was a good time to invite them for a visit. Gracie, Mikey, and Sula were happy to wake up for the special attention, petting, and playing with strings.

 
All went well until, as my daughter once said, “My mom doesn’t have any children so she doesn’t know what kids like!”

Ebi Chili, Ebi Chirri, Shrimp in Chili Sauce


What’s better than chilli in winter? Japanese-style Szechuan Shrimp in Chili sauce!
Ahhhh…
Though the winter here has not been especially chilly, a nice spicy dinner is most welcome!

This recipe can be made quickly, and with only a little planning, it’s a pantry meal. We often have shrimp in the freezer, and the main seasonings are ginger, garlic, and toban jan.

Crabby Eggs and Ham

The first time I made this Japanese crab meat omelette, Mr. Tess said it tasted just like egg foo young! Wikipedia notes that creative Chinese cooks in the U.S. invented egg foo young in the 1930′s. (see this note.) Eggs are beaten together with minced ham, crab, or chicken, then fried and served with a chicken stock-soy sauce gravy thickened with cornstarch. Since the 1950′s kanitama-don is a popular dish in Chinese restaurants in Japan. It’s a fine example of a well-traveled yoshoku (multi-cultural!) recipe: a recipe sort-of-from China, to the U.S. and then to Japan.

Salmon with Chestnuts and Ginkgo Nuts

I’m rich! If only I could take my treasure, laughing, all the way to the bank: I have collected and cleaned several hundred ginkgo nuts.
What will I do with them? They certainly are on many future menus here in The Ginkgo House: I don’t think we will get tired of them. Ginkgo nuts are valued for their flavor and fortune. They are used in good luck dishes served at New Years and weddings. They are cooked in soups, stir-fries, desserts, and eaten with beer for good health.
The Chinese (later also Japanese [ginnan]) word ginkyo means “silver apricot” (gin=silver, kyo=apricot). Coincidentally, this recipe has a silver sauce (gin-an). It is a gentle dashi-based sauce thickened with cornstarch or kuzu starch (arrowroot).