Kimchi Fried Rice with Shiitake Mushrooms

When I think of my time in South Korea, the aroma of kimchi, perilla, sesame oil and steamed rice come to mind. I taught cooking to elementary level students there for six years, which brought so much joy and so much growth on a personal level. This recipe wouldn’t normally be called kimchi fried rice or “kimchi bokkeum bap”, instead the kids would playfully call it something like it “sseulegi bap” - Roughly translated to “mixed rice” or more bluntly, “trash rice.” Basically, rice fried with whatever you have on hand. It’s great because you cook everything in one pan and if you have leftover rice which is essential, it’s a breeze to throw together. I often serve it to friends and family who have never tried Korean flavors but are curious about it. They are more accepting of a dish like this as opposed to hitting them with heavily fermented dishes off the bat.

 Top it with an egg to make it extra special.

Top it with an egg to make it extra special.

Ingredients:
Serves 2

1 shallot, finely minced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon ginger paste
4 rashers uncured bacon, chopped (Use turkey bacon or omit completely if you prefer)
1 cup kimchi
1/2 cup kimchi juice (from the jar)
2 cups sliced golden oak shiitake mushrooms
4 cups day-old rice
1 cup lacinato kale or spinach, chopped
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Optional to serve: Dried and salted laver & olive oil fried eggs.

Guidelines:

Bring a large wok or skillet to medium heat. Add shallot, garlic, ginger, bacon and kimchi all at once and sauté for 5 minutes until bacon fat has rendered and shallots are translucent. The kimchi would’ve crisped up a little around the edges because of the bacon fat - Wait until this stage for maximum flavor.

Deglaze the pan with kimchi juice, scraping off any crispy bits stuck at the bottom of of pan. Adjust heat to medium-high then add rice and mushrooms. Cook for 5-8 minutes until rice takes on some color and dries up a little. Then add kale or spinach (any greens will do), sesame seeds and finish with sesame oil. Season to taste and serve.

Easy Scallops with Haricots Verts & Prosciutto

Can you believe, I've never cooked with scallops before today! Years of living in South Korea where they are abundant, and I never had the desire to pick them up from market. Even so I found them extremely easy to prepare today and chose to serve them with seasonal haricots verts (fancy name for French thin green beans), crispy proscuitto (Green beans and prosciutto - You just gotta have them together) and a simple brown butter pan sauce with capers and lemon. 

I had gotten a box of fresh fish from a seafood subscription company a week ago, and thought why not give it a go! They are a sustainable seafood choice and best of all, take a very short time to cook. Hope you enjoy this easy and keto friendly recipe for one :) Double and adjust as you see fit!

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Ingredients:

4 large sea scallops, side muscles removed and patted dry.
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons grass-fed butter, divided
1 cup haricots verts (about 4 oz)
1 slice prosciutto
1 tablespoon capers, packed in brine, drained
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Method:

Bring a small pot with salted water to a low boil. Place a steaming rack on top and add haricots verts. Steam for 5 minutes or until desired doneness - I like mine still crunchy.

While the haricots verts cook, bring skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter to medium-high heat. Season the scallops on both sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder and them place them in your skillet. They should sizzle as they hit the pan. Cook without moving them for 2-3 minutes and flip to sear the other side for the exact same time. Remove scallops from the pan and add the prosciutto to crisp it up. This should only take 2 minutes. Once it's crispy remove it and set aside. Add remaining tablespoon of butter and capers plus lemon juice to the same skillet. Simmer and stir then turn the heat off. 

The steamed haricots verts should be done by now. Plate them, place the crispy proscuitto on top followed by the scallops. Pour pan sauce over everything and enjoy! I did add some chopped chives to mine which added a lovely bit of extra freshness. 

Dale
 

 

Instant Pot Hawaij Spiced Chicken with Zhug

This recipe is sponsored by Pompeian. Their range of extra virgin olive oils and organic vinegars are staples in my kitchen and I am thrilled to bring you this easy weeknight dish in partnership with them.

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I am a big fan of chicken and those of you who follow me on Instagram are probably aware of that but let's face it...sometimes it gets a little how can I say? Boring?
Lately, there has been an influx of amazing products that make it easy to transform a humble bird with the flavors and fragrances of faraway places. Deep, savory Middle Eastern flavors are so popular right now and for good reason. Amazing spices and blends like hawaij, ras el hanout, berbere, sumac and sauces like zhug liven the palate and make people at the table go "Wow!"
I can get behind that. If we are going to eat chicken AGAIN let it be bold in flavor and even better, let it be quick to prepare. If you can prep the bird a day ahead of time and let it soak in that marinade, this recipe will only take about 45 minutes start to finish in your Instant Pot. That includes coming to pressure (5-10 minutes) and releasing pressure naturally (10 minutes). This is a more realistic time than recipes that promise a 15 minute start to finish process. Thankfully you can walk away from an Instant Pot and prepare sides, pour yourself a glass of wine, fold laundry (maybe not) or set the table while you take in the intoxicating aroma of Hawaij Chicken cooking. 

 Hawaij - A Yemenite Spice Blend mostly used for soups and stews, but don't let that limit your experiments! 

Hawaij - A Yemenite Spice Blend mostly used for soups and stews, but don't let that limit your experiments! 

What is Hawaij? A Middle Eastern spice blend that often includes a mix of turmeric, cardamom, black pepper, cumin, coriander and sometimes clove. You can purchase it online or make your own, I'll include an easy basic recipe below that you can customize to suit your taste. I love combining it with Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil, especially when going the non-traditional route of using it as a marinade. Bold flavor needs a stronger oil.

Easy Hawaij Blend:

Spice a dish with love and it pleases every palate.
— Plautus

3 tablespoons ground black pepper
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
3 tablespoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons kosher salt

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Instant Pot Hawaij Spiced Chicken

Ingredients:
1 2.5lb (small) whole chicken OR chicken pieces
1/4 cup Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 tablespoons Hawaij spice blend
2 tablespoons kosher salt (fine grain works well)
1 large onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Optional to serve:  Parsley, Red Onion & Tomato Salad
2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 teaspoon sumac powder
1 tablespoon Pompeian Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Method:
Combine Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Hawaij spice and salt in a small bowl.  With your hands, rub the marinade onto the chicken to season every inch, inside and outside. Ideally, this step should be done a day ahead of time to ensure an evenly seasoned bird. 

Turn the Instant Pot on, making sure that pressure is set to HIGH. Place sliced onion and garlic in the inner pot and cover with stock. Place chicken on top of the onions, breast side up, then close the lid and set the valve to "sealing." Set the timer for 18 minutes. The Instant Pot will come to steam a little and then seal, starting the timer.
Prepare the salad by combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator.

Once the timer on your Instant Pot beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally - Do not manually release the pressure valve. When the pressure gauge drops, remove chicken and serve whole or cut into pieces. I like to place the chicken on a baking sheet or tray and crisp it up in a 450F oven set to "broil" for 5-8 minutes.  The gravy created in the Instant Pot while cooking the chicken is delicious poured over the bird, especially when served with rice. 
Sprinkle chicken with toasted almonds and optional salad.

Try it with my version of  Zhug, a Yemenite green hot sauce that delivers another punch thanks to serrano peppers. Find the easy recipe below:

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