Moros y Cristianos – Refried Black Beans and Rice

Moros

 

I grew up in Miami, and one of our Saturday night staples was going to Habana Vieja Restaurant on Coral Way.  This “upscale” Cuban restaurant was (and I say was because it sadly no longer exists) where we would go eat dishes that I thought had the funniest names; Vaca Frita (Fried Cow), Ropa Vieja (Old Clothes), Fufu con Masitas (Mashed plantain with pork chunks, and last but not least, Moros, or Moros y Cristianos.  As a kid, I obviously was not aware of the deep historic meaning, and racial undertones, of the name of the dish.  It literally translates to Arabs (moros) and Christians (cristianos).  This has its roots in old Spain, which once, and still now to a degree, is a mixture of both cultures, as does most of the Cuban food we eat today.

All things aside, this is one of my favorite things to eat!  Here in Spain there is a lot of white bean and lentil consuption….but only in cuban or other latin restaurants will you find the black or red pinto varieties.  I miss my latin roots so much, and so does my daughter, that at least once a month I make beans and rice, and of course, the next day we mix them up and fry them up to serve alongside whatever we are eating….fish, chicken, beef, pork, you name it.  Most of the time, we eat it on its own, since its so delicious and it really doesn’t need to be an accompaniment.  I am sure you can find a million different recipes, but I hope you try mine, with a touch of roast red peppers and some sherry.  Also, I think my mom’s white rice is pretty spectacular!  To make a vegetarian version of these beans, just swap the beef bouillon cube for a vegetable one, and you have a perfectly well-balanced meal!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4-6

For the beans:

2 cups black beans, soaked in water and salt overnight

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 large onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 large green pepper, minced

1 tsp dried oregano

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 small can of roast red peppers, minced

1/4 cup sherry

1 beef or vegetable bouillon cube

For the Rice:

1 1/2 cups long grain white rice

1 tbsp onion, minced

1 small garlic clove, minced

1 tbsp green pepper, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt to taste

3 cups water

 

To make the beans:

In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, green pepper, garlic and oregano, sauté for 5-6 minutes, or until translucent.  Add the red pepper, sherry and bullion cube, and cook until the sherry has almost evaporated.  Add the pre soaked beans, salt and enough water to cover them about 3 inches.  Raise heat to high, cover leaving just a crack open so the steam can come out.  When it boils, lower the heat to medium low, and let cook until the beans are tender and it has thickened into a stew consistency.  About 2 hours.  If you find that the water has evaporated and the beans aren’t tender enough, boil another cup of water and add it to the beans.  Never add cold water because it will “stunt” the cooking of the beans.

In the mean time, prepare the rice.  Wash the rice with cold water, and strain.  In a medium stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and green pepper.  Saute for about 5 minutes, and add the rice, give it a good stir to coat the rice with the oil and veggies.  Add the salt to the water, and stir it up, then add to your rice.  Raise the heat to high, bring to a boil and then lower to medium low, with the stock pot half covered like the beans.  When the water is halfway evaporated, (about 10 minutes, you will see the top part of the rice to be dry-ish and hear water bubbling in the bottom) with a large wooden spoon, “turn” the rice so that the wetter rice is on top, and the dryer rice goes on the bottom.  Cook for another 10 minutes, or until the rice is dry.  It will be kind of sticky, but don’t worry.  Take off the heat, cover it and let it rest another 10 minutes, and before serving fluff it up with a fork.

When the beans are ready, you can either serve them with the rice on the side, or grab a cup of the rice, and add a spoonful of the beans, mix well.  That is now Moros!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Bobotie Spiced Pork, Apple and Carrot Chutney with Turmeric Rice; A South African Inspired Dish- An Amazing Holiday

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I’m back!  Yes, it has been a long, long time.  Since I last wrote, I basically packed up my whole house in Barcelona, spent 12 marvelous days in Cape Town, South Africa and it’s surroundings, then flew back to Spain, but to my new city, Madrid, and set up house here.  It has been sad, exhilarating, and frustrating at its best and worst!

Since moving in to our new house, which is gorgeous, I haven’t been able to post because we had to wait for our internet to be set up.  But finally, they came yesterday and I am up to date with the world again!  Our new house is amazing, and my favorite part is obviously the kitchen.  We have a pantry……and a large double door fridge (which here in Spain they call a ‘American Fridge’), and we’re able to fit a table to seat six in the kitchen.  So excited to begin to create so many goodies in this amount of space.  This is true luxury for me!  The only catch is that the oven doesn’t work.  But they are coming to install a new one tomorrow!  Wooo hooo!  Gone are the days of over/under cooking from my previous and ancient oven!

Anyhow, our vacation to South Africa was amazing.  My best friend Miki is from South Africa, but her family is German/Japanese.  The reason of our visit was to attend her wedding.  And what a beautiful and fun wedding it was.  We reunited with old high school friends and new ones I have made along the way thanks to her.  Oh, and to totally make you even more jealous, her family owns vineyards in Stellenbosch.  Yes, we were more or less drunk everyday.

Stark-Code Vineyards, my friends' family farm where the wedding was held

Stark-Code Vineyards, my friends’ family farm where the wedding was held

Now, apart from the wedding, my family and I went on Safari, and also did a few tours in Cape Town.

Inverdoorn Game Reserve

Inverdoorn Game Reserve

 

3 year old White Rhino

3 year old White Rhino

 

A few of the Cheetas on the reserve

A few of the Cheetahs on the reserve

 

Mama Cape Buffalo checking us out

Mama Cape Buffalo checking us out

 

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One of two hippos on the reserve

One of two hippos on the reserve

 

I love Zebra Print!

I love Zebra Print!

 

Cape Barbary Lion

Cape Barbary Lion

 

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Sunset with the Cheetah's

Sunset with the Cheetah’s

We made it all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope, which was breathtaking, and also did a Township tour, which was heartbreaking.

View of Lion's Head from Table Mountain

View of Lion’s Head from Table Mountain

 

Food wise, South Africa is a very diverse country.  There are so many cultural influences, from Malaysian to Indian to German to Dutch….the list goes on.  Here are a few things I learned about eating in South Africa:

1.  They eat a lot of meat.  Beef, lamb, pork, Springbok, Ostrich, you name it.  It is on every menu.  My new favorite is Springbok, but I don’t think my butcher has any.

2.  They put bananas on pizzas.  Huh?

3.  They put butternut squash on EVERYTHING.  Each and every menu had something with butternut.  Salad, pizza, pasta, dessert.  You get the idea.

4.  They’re obsessed with avocados, or as they call them, avo.

5.  They make Buffalo mozzarella from Cape Buffalo.  Still damn good!

6.  They make kick ass wine.  (But I knew that already)

That said, one of my first meals in the house was a dish inspired from the flavors of South Africa, and Miki’s wedding menu.  I was so impressed with the different spices, their use of sweet and savoury, that I had to make something like this to alleviate my depression upon returning, and to try to eke out every last moment we had.  Served with a well chilled glass of Pepin Conde Sauvignon Blanc that we brought back, of course!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

For the pork-

4 slices of Pork Loin, 1 inch thick

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Salt, to taste

Olive oil for the pan

For the chutney-

1/2 onion, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp chopped fresh ginger

1 tsp chili pepper

2 apples, peeled and chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Juice of 1 Lemon

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup unsulphered molasses

1 tsp salt, more or less

Water to cover the ingredients

For the rice-

1 cup long white rice

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt

2 cups water

Fresh Spinach

In a small stock pot, add the olive oil and butter over medium low heat.  Add the onions, ginger, chili and sauté for about 5-7 minutes, or until softened.  Add the rest of the ingredients, with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium low, and let simmer for about an hour.  If it is getting too dry, add some more water.  Cook until it is thickened, keep warm.

In the mean time, make the rice.  Wash your rice, and in a bowl, mix the water with the turmeric and salt.  Place in a deep sided pan, add the rice, and bring to a boil, covered.  Let boil for 2 minutes, then lower the heat to medium low, and simmer until the water is evaporated.  Keep warm.

In another bowl, mix all the spices for the pork.  Coat the pork well on both sides with all your spices.  In a frying pan, heat up the olive oil over high heat.  Just before it starts to smoke, add the pork and cook, about 4 minutes on each side.

To plate, place a bit of the fresh spinach and top it with a pork slice.  Then add some chutney and rice.

Enjoy!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Zucchini and Jamon Iberico Risotto with Manchego Cheese

Risotto

 

I love risotto.  I love the variety of ingredients you can add  to the humble rice, and make it a truly gourmet meal.  Plain, with just saffron, or loaded with veggies, it really is a crowd pleaser.  I love also that you have to dedicate your time to risotto, it makes me feel like I am making something with a lot of love and patience.  Mind you, it isn’t the longest dish to prepare, but it is constant.

I remember I didn’t particularly like risotto when I first tried it.  I thought it wasn’t cooked properly.  But, of course, I later realized that like pasta in Italy, the rice has to be al dente too.  Risotto is also a tricky dish, in so that you really have to practice a few times to get it to be perfect.  My first attempts were complete disasters.  One turned out to be a sticky mess, that you could plaster walls with, the next one, watery and runny.  Only with practice and the guide of my fantastic Zio Gianni did I learn how to really cook food, with mastery and patience.  Now, I can basically make it with my eyes closed, since it was a dish that I prepared daily at my restaurant.  I can tell by sight when I am going to add the last spoonful of stock, and if you pay attention, and practice, you will too.

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I decided to use some Spanish ingredients, to mix it up a bit.  I love that risotto is a blank canvas, where you as the artist can create your own masterpiece.

So, if you fancy trying this version of mine, here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 2

1 tbsp Olive oil

2 tbsp Butter

1/2 Onion, finely minced

1 glass Dry White Wine

120 g Carnaroli rice

6 cups Chicken Stock

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1/4 cup Jamon Iberico or Prosciutto, julienned, plus a tsp for garnish

1/4 Zucchini, julienned

1 cup Manchego Cheese, grated

1 tsp Chives, minced, for garnish

In a stock pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil.  Lower the heat to simmer.  Keep hot.  In a large and deep sauté pan, add the tbsp of olive oil and tbsp of butter, over low heat.  When melted, add the onion and sauté, until very soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.  Raise the heat to high, and add the rice, and salt; cook, stirring constantly, until the rice starts to become translucent, 2-3 minutes.  Add the white wine, and let it evaporate.  Add enough stock to fully cover the rice, about 3 ladles full.  Lower the heat to medium, and cook, stirring constantly.  (Until you get the hang of it, and so it won’t over cook, taste the rice after each addition until it is almost fully cooked, but has just a little bit of bite. )  When the stock has evaporated, but there is just a little bit of film on top, add another ladle full of stock, trying the rice, and continue stirring.  This should take between 10-12 minutes approx.  On your last ladle full of stock, add the zucchini and ham.  Cook, stirring until the stock is almost completely evaporated, but still creamy.  Turn off heat, and add the remaining tbsp of butter and the cheese, and mix.  Cover and let it sit for about 2-3 minutes.  This part is called mantecare.  Mix well again, add the pepper and more salt if needed, and serve with the ham and chives to garnish.  Buon Appetitto!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

 

Arroz Caldoso a “Seis Manos” – “Six Hand” Seafood Stew and Rice

Arroz Caldoso de Pescado

 

This is one of those feel good Sunday dishes.  All over Spain, you can find variations of this.  Truly one of the most comforting and homey dishes, it is also a main feature in many menus here, from small family run restaurants to Michelin starred dining rooms.

Rice is taken very seriously in Spain, with a plethora of incarnations, from Paella to Rice Pudding, Salads to Stews, it is almost national pride.  I have called this “Six Hand” because it was a collaboration between three people, our amazing hostess, Dolors, long time friend and extraordinary woman, my friend Fer, who hails from Zaragoza and is a killer in the kitchen, and myself.  Each one of us had a part in making this dish, and it was such a great experience, because that is what Sundays are all about.  Family, Friends, Food and Fun.  Oh, and spending an afternoon in our hostesses breathtaking Ramblas loft was a plus, too.

The key to arroz caldoso is in the stock.  This is an inexpensive way to make a dish for a large family, and because you are showcasing the stock, it has to be quite amazing.  It is the canvas to the rest of the ingredients, and you can let your imagination go wild.  We decided on monkfish, squid, shrimp and mussels.  Then, the finishing touch, is obviously the rice.  And bomba rice is the one that you need to splurge on, since I was informed that if you use regular short grain rice, there is a chemical reaction that occurs when paired with shellfish stock.  Apparently, the grain splits, and lets out too much of its starch, making this more of a cream than a stew.

It was an amazing lunch, and all of us, even the kids (all 10 and under) repeated three times.  Now that speaks for itself!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 6-7

3 liters good quality shellfish stock, preferably homemade (recipe below)

3 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

6 roma tomatoes, finely diced

1 nyora pepper, soaked and peeled

2 tsp spicy Pimenton powder (or hot smoked paprika)

400 g monkfish, cubed

1 large squid, cut in bite sized pieces

a few pinches of good quality saffron threads

400 g Bomba rice

400 g shrimp, peeled and deveined

200 g mussels, steamed and shelled

Fresh parsley, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and sauté until sauce has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add the nyora pepper, stir until mixed, and sauté another 5 minutes.  Salt and pepper the squid and monkfish, and add to the tomatoes along with the pimenton and saffron.  Cook for about 15 minutes or until tender.

Add your shellfish stock to the fish and squid, add the rice and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer, about 10 minutes.  In the last few minutes of cooking, add the shrimp, mussels, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

For the stock:

5 liters of water

shrimp shells and heads from the shrimp you will be using in your stew

monkfish heads and bones (ask your fish monger to give these to you when you buy the monkfish)

fennel, stalks and fronds

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 tomatoes chopped

1 bay leaf

some saffron, nyora peppers, pimenton and salt and pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients and boil for about 40 minutes.  Spoon the foam off the top as it cooks.  When done, leave on the stove and cover, and let it sit, so the flavors will meld, about 20 minutes.  Strain and reserve.

 

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

Arroz con Pollo – Colombian Chicken and Rice

 

 

Arroz con Pollo

The last time I made this dish, was 5 years ago.  5 YEARS AGO?!?  Why the heck has it taken me so long to make it again?  As a child, this was the staple dish for large gatherings with my mum’s side of the family.  Really, what can be simpler, a crowd pleasing dish, that is full of protein, veggies, and best of all, flavor.

There a many variations of Arroz con Pollo, every family has their own recipe, and many latin american cultures have their methods too.  For example, the cuban variety uses the chicken on the bone, and the rice is a little soupier, almost like an Arroz Caldoso,  or soupy rice.

My version is probably influenced by my Italian grandfather, with the addition of olives and capers.  Either way, it is awesome.  It’s a dish that has a few steps, but totally worth it, because it’s a whole meal on a plate.  My daughter loves it, and always has, it was a great way for me to sneak it some vegetables that she would never normally eat.  As I said, there are many, many variations.  I like to use annatto seed, or as some call it, achiote.  This is a small red seed, and it is used for food coloring, much like saffron but with a nuttier taste.  In some countries, like Mexico, they grind the outer layer into a paste, but in Colombia you boil the seeds in oil or water until it releases its natural color.  The longer you boil, the deeper the hue you get, so it can turn your oil from yellow to deep red.  Then you discard the seeds and use the oil in your food.

Annato Seeds

 

I also like to use cabbage, well, because I love cabbage.  Then I add some raisins, because I love having every other bite give you a surprise of sweetness amid the saltiness of the olives and capers.

Ingredients for Arroz con Pollo

This dish is very heartwarming, and tastes of home and family to me.  I hope you take the time and make it so you and your family and friends can savour the tastes of Colombia!

So here’s what you’re gonna need:

Serves 8

For your basic white rice:

1/4 onion, finely minced

1/4 green pepper, finely minced

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 cups long grain white rice

4 cups water

2 tsp salt

For the braised chicken:

1/4 cup annatto seeds

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 small green peppers, chopped

4 small tomatoes, chopped

4 scallions, sliced and set in a bowl of water to wash, then drained

1 heaping tbsp of cumin powder

2 tsp of salt, more to taste

1 packet of Sazon Tropical

2 carrots, chopped

1/2 chicken, cut in pieces, skinned

1 1/2 cups of cabbage, chopped, plus one large leaf to “cover the pot”

1 handful of green beans, chopped

2 tbsp of pimento stuffed green olives, sliced

3 tbsp raisins

1 tbsp capers, rinsed

1 cup water, or more to cover and braise the chicken

First, make your basic white rice.  In a medium heavy bottomed pot, add the vegetable oil, minced onion, green pepper and garlic over medium low heat.  Saute for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and fragrant.  Wash your rice, and strain.  Add the rice, and then the four cups of water and the salt, and raise the heat to medium high, and bring to a boil, covered.  When the rice boils, lower the heat to medium low again, and leave the rice partially covered.  When the water is almost all evaporated, about 15 minutes, with a large wooden spoon, “turn” your rice, which basically means to flip the rice with the spoon so the bottom layer goes to the top and vice versa, and let it dry out, another 10 minutes.  Switch off the heat, and leave to further dry out, partially covered.

In the meantime, in a small saucepan, add the annatto seeds and the 1/4 cup oil and boil, for about 3-4 minutes or until the oil is a deep red hue.  Take off the heat and strain the oil into a large stock pot, discard the seeds.

Heat the oil over medium heat,  now you are going to make the Sofrito.

Sofrito, Ingredients

Add the onions, green pepper, tomatoes, scallions, cumin powder and salt.  Saute for about 15-20 minutes, until very soft, the vegetables have released their flavors and reduced, but not browned.  Add the carrot and cook another 5 minutes.  Now add your chicken and brown on all sides.  Add the water, sazon tropical, cabbage and bring to a boil.  When it is boiling, reduce the heat to medium and “cover” it with the large cabbage leaf.

Arroz con Pollo

Let the chicken braise for about 15 minutes, and check to see how the breast is doing.  We don’t want to over cook the breast, so check it to see if it is cooked through, and if it is, take it out and keep cooking the rest of the chicken parts.  Add the green beans.  After about 10 more minutes, check the legs, thighs, and wings to see if they are cooked through.  If they are, remove and let cool along with the breast.  Add the olives, raisins and capers at this point.

When the chicken is cool to the touch, shred it and discard the bones.  Check the vegetables and see how much water has reduced.  You want it to be a bit liquidy, but not so much so as when you mix it with the rice it will be soupy.  If the liquid has almost reduced, turn off the heat.  If not, wait another 5 minutes.  You want about 1/8 cup of liquid, approximately.  Add the chicken back to the braising liquids, and then add your white rice and stir, so everything mixes up together and it is all beautifully colored a vibrant yellow.  Turn the heat down to low, and let “dry” a few more minutes, now fluffing with a fork.

You can serve it immediately, but I prefer to let it sit over night in the fridge, that way all the flavors meld.  Serve with a wedge of avocado and and ice-cold beer!

Buen Provecho!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Sicilian Street Food: Arancini di Ragu

Ten years ago exactly we celebrated our 10 year high school reunion in Taormina, Sicily.  I fell so in love with the island; the smells of flowers and ocean air.  Its rocky cliffs dipping vertically into the clear, azure Ionic Sea.  The cobblestone streets with the outdoor cafes, bustling with ultra-cool Sicilians having Gelato con la Brioche, (incredible ice cream sandwiches) and Granita con la Panna, (italian ice with whipped cream).  The weather was perfect, mildly warm during the day, and cool and breezy at night.  I didn’t want to leave.

After this vacation, I moved to Barcelona.  And I decided that I wanted to bring back all of those glorious things I tasted on my trip.  So, I started traveling extensively throughout Sicily, took many cooking lessons, visited wineries, cheese producers, cured meat purveyors, all in hopes of soaking up what they do best in Sicily, cook and eat.

One of my favorite things I discovered, besides the gelato con la brioche, was Arancini.  The name means “small oranges”, obviously because of their color and shape.  But inside….it was a surprise that I was quite happy to discover.  Arancini are stuffed rice croquettes.  The ones that I like the best contain a ragu, or meat sauce, in the center.  But they can be as simple as plain mozzarella, or with spinach and cheese, or just vegetables.  The time I spent there, I met many Mamma’s, Nonna’s and chefs.  And each one of them imparted their unique technique’s from all over the island.  Here is my recipe for Arancini, mind you, it takes a bit of practice, and it definitely requires some patience since the process has quite a few steps.  But I wouldn’t hesitate to make them.  They are beyond delicious, and you will be very happy when your guests or family gobbles them up with huge smiles.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Makes about 8 arancini

For the rice:

3 cups water

1.5 cups arborio rice

2 tsp of salt

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

For the ragu:

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 large onion, finely minced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tbsp tomato paste

125g ground beef and pork

1/2 cup white wine

1 can of pureed tomatoes, 400g

1 cup beef stock

1/2 cup peas

Salt and Pepper to taste

Grated Nutmeg

1/4 cup mozzarella, diced

2 eggs, beaten

Lots of bread crumbs

Vegetable oil, for frying

In a saucepan, add the water, salt and bring to a boil.  When it is boiling, add the rice and turn the heat to low, cover and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes until it evaporates.

Let it cool a bit, and add your egg and parmesan cheese and mix well.  Spread out on a baking sheet and let cool in the fridge.

In the meantime, make the sauce.  In a large sauté pan over low heat, add the onion and garlic,cook for about 10 minutes.  Add the tomato paste, and raise the heat to high, cook for about 2 minutes, stirring continuously so your onions and garlic won’t burn.  Add the beef/pork mixture, and sauté until cooked through, stirring the whole time.  When it is completely cooked, add the white wine and let it evaporate completely.

Add the tomato purée, and the vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil, and lower the heat to medium low.  Add the peas and let simmer for about 20 minutes, just enough so that you have more meat to sauce, but it is still quite moist.

When done, add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and mozzarella.  Mix well.  Let cool.

Now here comes the tricky part.  It is useful to have everything ready on your countertop before you begin to make the arancini.  In a deep, non stick frying pan, fill half full with the vegetable oil.  Place it over high heat.

Crack your eggs into a shallow bowl, and put the bread crumbs in another shallow bowl.  Place them side by side, and have your rice and ragu in a row so you can work easily.  It also helps to have a large bowl of water to rinse your hands with in between making the arancini, because it becomes a sticky mess, and of course, a kitchen towel over your shoulder to dry your hands with!

Now grab a bit of your rice, and place it in your other hand, and cup your hand.  Start molding the rice to your hand, creating a sort of pocket, like this:

Then place a generous tsp full of your sauce into the pocket.

Now, start closing your hand around the sauce, using your free hand to help you close up the hole.  Grab a little bit more rice and place it on top, pressing the rice to create a nice tight seam.  It takes a bit of artistry, but by the second or third one, you will get the hang of it.  Once the sauce is completely covered with the rice, mold into a ball shape.

Now roll in the beaten eggs, and then in the breadcrumbs, making sure that it is completely covered.  Then with a slotted spoon, place in the hot oil, and fry until the bottom half is golden brown, then flip it over and fry on the other side.  You can do a few at a time, just remember the order you put them in.

Strain on paper towels to take off the excess oil, and serve immediately.  You can also make them ahead, and before frying refrigerate for a few days.  Just bring them to room temperature before frying.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Tonkatsu with White Rice

I am a working chef, yes.  But by no means am I a Japanese chef.  The other night I had a class where I had to make Maki’s, Yakitori chicken wings, and Tonkatsu pork.  It was so much fun and incredibly tasty and simple.  My daughter is obsessed with everything Japanese, so I thought I would treat her to something that isn’t Ramen or Sushi, which she already gobbles like a true Japano-phile.

So, I made my way to our local Japanese market, and picked up the ingredients my friend Miki (who is Japanese) instructed that I needed to make the Tonkatsu.  And a few more things since I got excited!

In my class I made the sauce myself, so I will give you the recipe for it so you can make it at home if you don’t want to purchase it.  And I made it with chicken instead of pork, to be a little healthier……just a little.  It’s still fried you know.  By no stretch of the imagination is this a authentically perfect version of Tonkatsu, it is mine with a few tweaks of things that I love.  (You’ll notice leeks.)

So, here is what you are going to need:

Serves 4

4 thin cut chicken breast

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup flour

1 tbsp shichimi spice mix

2 eggs, beaten

1/8 cup milk

1/4 leeks, julienned

1/4 cup chinese cabbage, sliced

For the vinaigrette:

1/8 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 tsp shichimi

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup water

For the Tonkatsu sauce:

1 cup ketchup

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup sake

1/8 cup mirin

2 tbsp sugar

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp ginger, grated

For the white rice:

3/4 cup white jasmine rice

1.5 cups water

Julienne your leeks, and place in a bowl of water to let the dirt out.

Then you will need to slice the cabbage.  And let the dirt out too.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the panko, flour and shichimi.

Then beat the eggs with the milk in another bowl with a dash of shichimi.

Dredge your chicken cutlets in the egg mix, and then the panko mix.  Set on a baking sheet.

Now, combine your ingredients for the vinaigrette, and mix with the cabbage, set

aside.

In a large skillet or frying pan, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil.  When hot, but not smoking, add the chicken cutlets and fry until golden brown.

Place on a tray with paper towels to soak up the oil.  In the meantime, on a plate, place your cabbage salad on one side, your julienned leeks in the middle, and a dollop of the of the tonkatsu sauce.  Place your chicken on top of the leeks.  Enjoy!

To make the tonkatsu sauce:

Mix all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan, and heat until ingredients have melded and are slightly thickened.

For the rice:

In a saucepan, place your rice and water, cover and cook over medium low heat until the water has evaporated, about 20 minutes.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla