Mr. Lee’s Lemongrass Braised Long Beans, tofu with shallots, garlic & sweet soy

I picked up some long beans at H-Mart last weekend, and I knew that I needed to use them soon. They certainly aren’t in season, and can get slimy fast. So I trimmed the ends and cut them into 1.5 inches pieces, and pulled out my trusty “Cradle of Flavor” by James Oseland – a great cookbook and general information source about the cooking of the spice islands. I had some new lemongrass, too, so I made Mr. Lee’s longbeans. Like almost all Indonesian cooking, this recipe starts with a samble – a sauce made from shallots, chilis, sugar, and other ingredients based on the recipe. The samble is fried first, to release its flavor, and then the beans are added. I tend to make my sambals “rustic” and don’t worry too much about how smooth they are, which results in a “chunkier” appearance after cooking.

The tofu was a bit of a disaster, maybe because I picked up the firm tofu instead of the extra-firm, or because I initially had the heat too high, but I kind of destroyed it, visually. But fried with garlic, shallots, sweet soy sauce and a dash of salt, the flavor was just fine.


Indonesian Fried Rice Breakfast

Indonesian Fried Rice Breakfast
Indonesian Fried Rice Breakfast

When I lived on the island of Java in Indonesia, I ate this basic fried rice for breakfast many mornings a week. My Ibu (or mother) would heat the wok on her on of the two burners powered by a large blue propane tank, swirl a glug of peanut oil into the pan, and toss in large spoonful of the sambal she had hand ground that morning from chillis, shallots, and garlic. The sambal fried in the oil, releasing a thick cloud of spice that wafted over to me, sitting at the table in our open courtyard. Once the sambal and fried, she toss on spoons of yesterdays rice – cold and perfect for frying. A swift toss of the wok, and rice was crisping. Meanwhile, on the other burner, a shallow wok of oil bubbled away. Ibu broke eggs directly into the oil, and pulled them out barely a minute later, fried crispy. A bowl of fried rice, topped with an egg, sprinkled with fried shallots, and some lightly salted cucumber on the side, and it was the perfect breakfast. Still is. After indulging in some Sunday evening take-out, I used the leftover white rice Tuesday morning and made myself a bowl of Indonesian fried rice breakfast. I didn’t grind my own sambal in a mortar and pestle, but a shopped shallot and a healthy tablespoon of sambal olek (gold label, with both crushed chillis and garlic) worked just fine. And I didn’t deep fry my egg, so the edges could never be as crispy and perfect, but I loved my little breakfast, and wasn’t hungry until lunch.

One Local Summer: Whiskey marinated tempeh, greens and sweet potatoes

Local Summer: Tempeh, Greens, and sweet potatoes
Local Summer: Tempeh, Greens, and sweet potatoes

I’m participating in Farm to Philly’s One Local Summer Challenge. Every week, I’ve agreed to make a meal consisting entirely of local ingredients (excluding herbs and spices). I’m hoping that this will be an exciting challenge, and also help me make better use of my abundant CSA and lovely Co-Op.

I hadn’t seen my friends Beth and Josh for weeks, so I invited them over for an easy weekday dinner. What you see above it soyboy tempeh, marinated in a my soy-whiskey marinade and panfried/glazed in a iron skillet. Alongside, wilted dandelion greens and baby kale with garlic and shallots, and sweet potatoes, boiled and then tossed with just a bit of local butter and demera sugar, and heated until the sugar glazed. Rounding out the meal, multi-grain bread from Metropolitan Bakery and some more delicious, local salted butter. Yum! Below is my recipe for the tempeh marinade (I guess I’m counting whiskey as a “spice”!)

Whiskey Marinade
for 4 oz. tempeh

2 Tbs. soy sauce + 1 tsp. sugar
2 Tbs. sweet soy sauce

1 Tbs. spicy homemade BBQ sauce (or your favorite brand)
generous splash of whiskey (about 3 Tbs.)
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp. crushed hot red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a medium, shallow dish, stirring until the sugar (if you’ve added it) is dissolved. Add the tempeh* pieces and toss gently to coat. Marinate 1 hour to overnight, turning the tempeh a few times to ensure that all side marinate. Lightly oil a skillet and fry the tempeh pieces over medium heat, gently turning them to brown both sides. In the last few minutes of cooking, spoon the remaining marinade over the tempeh and raise the heat to medium-high. The marinade will quickly reduce and lightly caramelize tempeh. Serve immediately.

* When cooking tempeh, it is best to cut the block into serving-sized pieces and boil them for about 5 minutes. Drain the pieces and then add to the marinade. Pre-boiling softens the tempeh, allowing it to absorb more marinade, and alleviates the slight bitter flavor of some tempeh brands.

Sauce Gribiche

Sauce Gribrice
Sauce Gribice

When I discovered that there was a sauce made of eggs and olive oil and cornichon pickles (some of my favorite things) I knew I had to have it. Luckily, I had some cornichon’s hanging around (but you can get them at DiBruno’s). I ate this sauce on an amazing salad of grilled asparagus on a bed of lettuce. The recipe is adapted from one from the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook, but with WAY less oil, and extra pickles and capers.

Sauce Gribiche
serves 2, generously

1 large egg
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. lemon juice, or to taste
2 Tbsp. finely chopped herbs (parsley, dill, chives, etc.)
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
1.5 Tbsp. capers, rinsed and finely chopped
4 cornichons, finely chopped
3 Tbs. olive oil
Salt, to taste

Soft boil the egg (so the yolk is just set) – about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the shallot and the lemon juice in a small bowl, and let macerate. Combine the herbs, lemon zest, capers, cornichons, olive oil and salt in a small bowl, whisking well. Peel the boiled egg, dicing finely, and add to the sauce. Add the lemon juice and shallots, quickly whisking to combine. Taste, and add lemon juice or salt, as needed.

Baked Sweet Potato with Carmelized Leeks

Baked Sweet Potato with Carmelized Leeks
Baked Sweet Potato with Carmelized Leeks

I originally bought leeks thinking about leeks and eggs for brunch, but on a late Tuesday night with no eggs in the fridge, I decided to just carmalize the leeks in a little Earth Balance with shallots. I served the leaks of a baked sweet potato (just 5 minutes in the microwave) with a sprinkly of white pepper and a side of delicoius plain yogurt.