Pumpkins at every stall at the farmers’ market, in piles outside the grocery store, and even in wagons at the end of long, gravel driveways throughout the Minnesota countryside. That’s where we had stopped unexpectedly last week on our drive home. Colored flags and a little sign drew our attention to a trailer full of pumpkins, and one wooden box in the corner to slip your dollar into. Yep, only $1 for a pumpkin.
When that first gust of cool, autumn air rushes through my nose, it freezes my brain with only one thought on my mind – Miso Soup.
Miso soup is my staple soup this time of year when I need a delicious, nourishing dish that will warm me right up. The umami combination of miso paste (fermented soybeans) dissolved in vegetable stock – or dashi* – is rich in enzymes, amino acids, minerals, and many other nutrients.
In this recipe, I used red miso paste which has a deep flavor because of its long fermentation process. I recommend red miso paste for this soup, but feel free to use whatever type you have ready in your kitchen.
Even after preparing and cooking this Zucchini Noodle Stir-Fry, I still look down at the plate convinced that I’m about to eat a normal noodle dish. It’s fun to play a trick on your eyes, if it means moving a healthy, hearty, all-vegetable salad from being an appetizer to the main course.
If you have a spiral slicer, or at least a julienne peeler, it’s easy to create some “noodles” out of your farmer’s market zucchini and yellow squash.
Once the vegetable noodles are ready, the rest of this Zucchini Noodle Stir-Fry is really up to you, and what’s in season in your area. We’re having a very warm September here in Minnesota, so I’m still getting lots of fresh bell peppers, tomatoes, and basil from our local farmer’s market. To mix it up, you can also try adding in sliced carrots, spaghetti squash, and cabbage.
“Hi, I’ll have a yin yang.”
The kopitiam (coffee shop) worker behind the register responds with an apology for not understanding.
“One...ying yong. Sorry, yawn-yang.”
This time she turns to her coworker who’s taking a dab of butter from the base of a butter mountain, and spreading it heavily on a slice of thick toast. She whispers to her, and then they both shrug their shoulders.
I hear a sigh behind me and notice a vigorously tapping foot inching closer. I give into the pressure and point to the menu board, “I’ll just have that coffee-tea mix drink. Less sweet. Ice.”
She smiles, and nudges her coworker. “Ahhh, yuanyang!”
Every late afternoon in Singapore, when the post-lunch drowsiness settled in and the heat became too much, I would stop by a kopitiam and order an Iced Yuanyang for a much needed kick of caffeine. Each time, determinedly pronouncing my way into embarrassment before relenting with an explanation to finally get my favorite drink.
Favorite because it is one of the few things in life where you can drink down your indecision with utter satisfaction. Coffee or tea? I’ll take both!
Sweet & Sour, Spicy & Citrusy, Savory & Smoky. Thai food is all about the combination of flavors that play tricks on your taste buds, to give every bite or slurp that moment of uncertainty and excitement.
That was the inspiration behind our new Thai blend – Sriracha-Lime Seasoning. A pairing of the hot & sweet flavor of Sriracha with the quintessential Thai flavor of Kaffir Lime. It tingles your tongue as you taste the addictingly, citrusy, spicy, garlicky kick of the seasoning.
From miso glazed eggplant, to spicy Sichuan-style eggplant, to my mom’s special eggplant curry, it’s been easy this past month to cut back on meat and cook up hearty vegetarian dishes with delicious, in-season vegetables like eggplant.
Before the pumpkins and squash of the fall season take over my kitchen, here’s another simple, tasty eggplant recipe I love to cook up for a weeknight dinner - Korean Stir-Fried Eggplant (gaji bokkeum 볶음).
Pick up a few Asian eggplants from your local co-op or farmer’s market. You really want the freshest possible eggplants for this recipe since the vegetable is the star of the dish.
Lightly coat the chopped eggplant with olive oil, and then roast in the oven until just tender and nicely charred. Once the eggplant is roasted, toss them into a skillet to quickly stir-fry along with garlic and colorful bell peppers.
Your appetizer for dinner tonight is ready! It’s a Japanese Crab Salad (Kani Salad). I know, it sounds elaborate or complicated, but all the ingredients for this simple salad are probably in your kitchen right now.
Crab sticks, carrot, cucumber, lettuce, mayo, rice vinegar or lemon juice, sesame oil, and a crunchy topping like rice crackers (crumbled up), panko flakes, or our Japanese Sesame Seasoning (gomashio).