Tag Archives: Ponzu

Ramping and porgy-ing into spring

28 May

My company moved recently, and although I groaned and complained about the perceived increase in commuting time, I soon realized, I was now in the midst of prime food foraging – both for lunch options, as well as for shopping!!

Where else could one ask to be relocated to an office where one can find a Fairway in close proximity to a Trader Joe’s, and option upon option of dining choices?

Nonetheless, on one food foraging lunch expedition, I was besides myself at the beautiful box of organic ramps beckoning from the produce section.

I grabbed those by the fistful, curbing my frenzy only by the fact it was two days until payday, and my household CFO’s voice of reason echoed in the back of my mind.

These ramps were cleaned, grilled, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, and served with grilled whole porgy – aka “fish sleeping” per the girls.






Alas – the skin stuck to the grill, but the fish was incredibly moist, and delicate, complimenting the fragrant, tender, sweet ramps.

We ate the grilled porgy with a light ponzu dipping sauce. A bowl of steamed multigrain rice completed our meal.

The girls and baba enjoyed every bit of dinner – and I can’t wait for another lunch foray for interesting eats.


Asparagus Monday!

23 May

The weekend’s left over dinner is lunch in this Monday!

Grilled chicken drumette and wings, first marinated in (guess what?) soy sauce-lemon juice-olive oil-poultry herbs, and grilled over distant heat until the skin is crispy. Fresh squeezed lemon juice while the chicken is still hot

Blanched asparagus, ponzu dressing

Grape tomatoes


Onigiri with turkey soboro filling, nori wrap

The locally grown asparagus are tender, and full of flavor. I blanch quickly to retain snap and taste. They sell them at Makinajian’s Poultry Farm in delicate bunches, pencil-thin, and a beautiful green with purplish hues that turn brilliantly as they blanch.

The girls love the tender spears – a harbinger of springtime.

Gyoza is what I want!

3 Jan

Dear Reader –
My apologies that my entry does not include a photo of the final, cooked, gyoza (dumpling) platter… 

However, I managed shots leading up to the final product….

At the request of my older daughter, we had gyozas for their birthday dinner.  Of course, they circled the kitchen table with me, and made gyozas, scooping up spoonfuls of the meat mixture, and carefully pressing them into the gyoza skins whose edges they had carefully wet with their fingertips dipped in water.


1 packet gyoza skins – I like the circle shaped skins from Nanka Seimen.  I pick these up at the Japanese food store – either at Nara, in Port Washington, NY or Shin Nippon Do in Roslyn, NY.

1 lbs ground turkey – from Makinajian Poultry Farm

2 carrots, 2 scallions, 1/2 inch piece of peeled ginger, 3 cloves of garlic, 5 button mushrooms finely minced (through food processor)

Small dish of water – to dip your fingertips to seal the gyoza

I mix the turkey and minced vegetables together in a bowl, well, by hand.  Once the mixture is well incorporated, I set aside.  My suggestion is to have several flat plates onto which you can lay the finished dumplings.  There are about 50 skins, so it is important to try to gauge the perfect amount of meat : skin ratio. 

Take a gyoza skin (if they were in the freezer section, please let them defrost in the refrigerator for a day) in your left hand, and lay it flat.  Add a heaping teaspoon of the meat mixture into the center of the skin.  Take your index finger of your right hand, dip in the water dish, and trace the edge of the gyoza skin.  Fold the gyoza skin in half, carefully and gently pushing the two edges of the skin at the very top, together.  Make pleats along the edges of the gyoza on one side only – I make the pleats on the side facing AWAY from me.  The water serves as sealant, but too little or too much will not seal the edges.

Once you have pleated and sealed (again, pleat only ONE side of the gyoza), place them on your platter keeping each one apart.  Also, the bottoms should be completely dry – otherwise, you run the risk of the skin sticking to the platter when you go to cook them.

A photo of half of the batch – I have to cook them in batches to ensure they are able to eat freshly cooked gyozas.

In a frying pan over medium heat, I add 1 tbs canola oil, and carefully add the gyozas, gently pressing down to ensure a “base” is created on the bottom.  I carefully cook them until the bottoms brown – I try not to move them much as I carefully lift the bottom edges with a spatula, lest I rip the bottom!  Once they are golden brown on the bottom, I add boiling water, up to 1/3 of the height of the gyoza, and cover the frying pan with a lid.  I happen to use a glass lid, which allows me to see the gyozas. 

The key is to allow the water to steam to top portion of the gyozas – and to NOT lift up the lid until you hear the gyoza pieces starting to sputter as all the water is cooked away. 

At this point, carefully lift up all the gyozas, and flip over, golden bellies on top, and serve immediately.  (With very hungry children anxious at dinner, it was hard for me to stop to photograph…)

I serve the gyozas with a ponzu sauce – you can either purchase pre-made ponzu sauce (I use Mizkan brand) or you can also make your own dipping sauce with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and if you prefer, a bit of la-yu or spicy chili oil.  I make my own with a tablespoon of Korean kochukaru (ground, dried, red chili powder) and equal amount sesame oil, stirred gently.

My daughters had great fun making the gyozas, and Mama had a fun time carefully re-constructing them to ensure I wasn’t left with too many gyoza skins at the end of the evening.  I carefully peeled apart the skins that didn’t have enough meat in them, and the ones oozing meat from their seams, I carefully adjusted the amounts, and re-sealed them.

The gyoza dinner was accompanied by freshly steamed multi-grain rice topped with natto, seasoned with finely chopped scallions, mekabu or thinly sliced seaweed with a slightly slimy texture (similar to okra) and soy sauce and miso soup with julienned daikon slices, simmered until soft and translucent.

We waved at Jiji and Baba over skype as we showed them our festive meal.  I believe they were quite impressed to know the girls helped make dinner.

My older one sighed, and said, “Mama, this was my favorite dinner!”

Last bento before summer break 2011 – Japanese School version

12 Jul

Okra season arrived, and I was excited to find the fresh, crisp, green vegetables in the bins at Makinajian Farm.  The girls love to eat them – and they are often anxiously waiting for the blanched pieces to be seasoned for dinner.

I bring a small pan of water to boil, sprinkle a little sea salt, and once it is boiling, I put the okra (top stem portion cut off) to quickly blanch.  The pieces become a brilliant green – and I quickly take them out of the boiling water with chopsticks.  I then plunge them into ice water.

Once chilled, the pieces are cut into 1/2 inch pieces – and I season with whatever’s on hand.  Soy sauce, rice vinegar and a little grated ginger are a great choice, as well as soy sauce and katsuobushi.  Lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt is also refreshing.

Either way, the girls can’t inhale them quickly enough, and I feel like the Mama Swallow who raised her six babies outside our garage – the birds’ heads popping over the edge of the nest, as they eagerly called for her around meal times… and just as quickly as they started peeping for her attention, they would quickly silence as soon as she flew away.  Papa Swallow would perch on my car antennae, a little avian decoy who sat still on the slender wire while Mama would swoop and feed.

The girls would ask for more okra after the teaser pieces I provided to them before dinner.  Once their meals were plated, a quick “Itadakimasu”  all the okra pieces seemed to rapidly disappear in quick swooping motions with their little spoons – each one laden with two, three, pieces they could balance and configure into their mouths.

Bento included:

TJ’s Armenian Cucumbers (conventional) – can’t wait for the ones from the garden to be ready!

Roasted beets, star shapes

Baby carrots – I try to avoid pre-cut carrots, but I had them handy, so they were included in the lunch

Onigiri with yukari seasoning – it’s shiso leaves that have been dried, mixed with salt – it’s an herbal, almost fruity, flowery taste that is refreshing.

Blanched okra pieces – I put the cut slices into a smaller container with a lid, seasoned with soy sauce, lemon juice and a little pepper, and shook everything together, gently.  I then shook the excess dressing off, so it didn’t “run” in her lunch.

The teacher commented how excited my older daughter was when she opened her bento box, and how she savored every bit of it.  Home-run lunch for the last bento until mid-August!!