Kung Hei Fat Choi! – Radish Cakes with Kimchi

kung-heiEvery year lunar new year is a wonderful opportunity to gather friends, make lots of food and celebrate together.  In true Cantonese spirit we had a rowdy time.  Some glimpses of traditional practices that I remember from my childhood growing up in Hong Kong –  Late night flower markets with strings of naked tungsten lights strung overhead.  Spring so fully embodied by pink peach buds poking out from a tangle of bare branches and glossy bulbs of narcissus bursting white and gold from sleek green leaves.  Huge round tables filled with food and five separate conversations juggled with skill by fast talking aunties, hands waving and voices rising in a merry mashup of indignation, mirth and scandal.  Daylong preparations in the kitchen where clever hands and patient steps work steadfastly towards the glory of consumption. New clothes, lucky packets filled with money, trays of candy, dried fruits and watermelon seeds. Bright red paper with fresh black calligraphy inviting prospects with a few well placed words, joss sticks and fire crackers and visits to spruced up grannies who ply you with ancient candy and squeeze your arms. In true South China style I remember a cacophony of good will and a tumultuous amount of good food. 🙂

turnip Ozuke_chopping_vegatables_mushroomsIMG_1071 IMG_1065 IMG_1063

I started my preparations the week before curing pork belly from a friend’s farm. This method “laap yuk” works wonderfully well in Colorado’s dry and temperate climate.  I keep my house cooler than most (around 67 degrees) which also worked out perfectly.  The technique was simple first I submerged 2×4 inch strips of pork belly in a half and half mix of tamari and rose scented rice wine (mui gwai lo), pressed the meaty pieces under the liquid for 24 hours (room temperature).  I then used butcher’s twine to hang the bacon in my kitchen with a steel bowl under on the counter to catch any dripping fat etc.  It then hung and cured for 5-7 days.  As it cured you could see the outer skin dry out, a sweet rice wine smell emanate and a matte sheen from the fat curing on the surface.  I still have two pieces of this precious cured pork in my fridge it is so simple and really is a marvel.

This year I decided to make Radish Cake a traditional new year dish and also a favorite dim sum dish.  (You know the cart with the griddle top that goes around… in Cantonese “Lor Bak Go”).  I got the recipe from my best friend Des who lives on Cheung Chau Island in Hong Kong.  He got the recipe from asking his Aunties.  He said it was very difficult to decipher because they were all talking at once and arguing.  I am allergic to shellfish so I substituted the shrimp and scallop with shitake mushrooms, my home made bacon and some finely chopped kimchi.  Next year I think I might use dehydrated kimchi for better textural contrast…  however the kimchi worked out fantastically giving the Radish Cake a great spicy flavor.

 robert cake8 pounds of Daikon Radish (grated – traditionally done by child labor)
600g of sharp rice flour (plain rice flour NOT glutenous or sweet rice flour)
1tblspn salt
a small lump of rock sugar
1 cup of small diced cooked pork belly (crispy is good!)
1 cup of squeezed dry finely chopped kimchi (next year I will dehydrate!)
1 cup of diced shitake mushrooms
black and white pepper
dried shrimp dried scallop dried fish – (if you’re not allergic to it it’s great! soak in water first then dry fry to prepare)

In a massive wok..fry up the radish with salt/sugar/seasoning

cover wok allow to soften and release juice

once radish is soft drain out the radish juice and mix it with rice flour to make a solution

prep other ingredients. (fry bacon, squeeze and chop kimchi etc.)

mix rice paste solution with soft radish and mix in other ingredients.

at this stage do a taste test by making a small pancake in a frying pan.

make your final adjustments. (we like lots of white pepper!)

Steam for 1 hour (small tin) 1hour 30 min for a big one.  Cool completely before cutting.  Cut in slices and fry up on a griddle til outside is crispy.

Serve with cut spring onions, srirracha and hoisin sauce.

Ume Ceasar Salad Dressing

A million years ago, I was a chef in New York. Sometimes when I say that, I feel like it must be an exaggeration, it was so far away and long ago, was it real? Then I look at the scars on my hands from accidents in the kitchen ( blowing up a Viking range with a batch of roux for instance) and I think, “Oh, right, I did do that.”

Much of what I cook now, I learned first in a restaurant and then adapted for family life. This recipe stuck with me for years. It came out of my favorite job, working under Myra Kornfeld at Angelica Kitchen in the East Village. Myra is an absolute genius about food. Myra taught me to make this in a huge industrial blender, and since, I have messed with it and scaled it down to family-sized amounts. It makes a great Caesar Salad dressing but it also tastes awesome over greens, as a dipping sauce for anything, or as the dressing for a veggie bowl. This dressing has a fondness for crumbled nori, too, as a topping.

The ume plums from Ozuké are sweeter and less salty than the store-bought ume paste we used at the restaurant, so you can add more than this recipe calls for if you want more ume love in your dressing.

Ume Caesar Dressing


2 cloves garlic

2 tsp. dijon mustard

3 Ozuké ume plums, pitted (make sure on this or you will kill your blender)

3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

3 Tbs. lemon juice

1 Tbs. white miso

4 oz. silken tofu

1/3 cup grapeseed or other mellow oil

2/3 cu. olive oil

salt to taste – or add more ume


Put everything in the blender and blend till it’s dressing.


If you have a less vigorous blender, one that leaves chunks, you can blend the ume, garlic, mustard, and a ¼ cup of the oil first, till it’s a paste, then add everything else.

Quick 30 Second Salad Dressing

I keep a bottle of olive oil at work in order to have a quick, easy dressing option for my greens or veggies._101613_JAR_PHOTO_PRINT_KIMCHI_BEETS_DULSE

Quick salad dressing substitute = 1/2 cup of your favorite ozuke ( i like them all but kimchi or beets make a killer salad) plus a drizzle of olive oil.  Salty sour perfection on your bowl of happy greens for lunch.

No blender, no fuss, no mess, no bottles with crappy ingredients and preservatives.  Happy salad and I can keep rolling with the productivity flow when I’m feeling it. 😀

My First Lime Pickle and Green Cabbage Kraut Recipe

Ozuké played host yesterday to an Indian ladies group.  Chani, a member of the group runs an amazing in home Montessori preschool – Radiance Montessori, my three year old Desmond goes to her school.  She has been following my pickle factory progress for the last year and asked me to host a fermentation class for her ladies group.  Her group, the Ekta Ladies are a broad background of working moms from different age, ethnic backgrounds (Sri Lankan, Indian etc.) and occupational backgrounds.  One thing in common, they were a spicy, chatty group with plenty of jolly laughter, jokes and jibes.  Most of my classes I teach a basic sauerkraut.  Kraut is really the gateway ferment, simple with a high success rate.  I went in to this class knowing that a handful of my students came from culinary backgrounds, personal chefs and restaurant owners.  And from my own experience I find that most people from a South Asian background have very sound understanding and sophisticated application in the world of spices.  Usually I have some seasonal approach to my basic kraut however this class I showed up with just green cabbage and a pantry full of spices and I put the blending of the spices up to the group.  They came up with a brown mustard seed, serrano chile and fenugreek kraut. IMG_20140323_151737 We also put together my first ever lime pickle, inspired by a recipe from my brand new and much coveted _Permaculture Book of Ferment and Human Nutrition_ by Bill Mollison which has a most impressive collection of South Asian and South East Asian fermentation techniques and recipes as well as a bevy of sound science and fascinating traditional approaches.  We topped our class off with a mango juice water kefir and all our ladies went home with three new “friends” to tend on their countertops for the next few weeks. Please sign up for our Newsletter to find out more about classes planned for this season.

Ekta Ladies Kraut Green Cabbage

3 heads Sea Salt to taste Ground Fenugreek

1 tablespoon Serrano Chiles

about 5 diced Brown Mustard Seed

2 tablespoons

Instructions: cut cabbage into thin slices, mix in large container with salt and spices.  Then pound cabbage for about 5 minutes until it starts to release lots of juice.  Pack in to jar and push down under its own liquid.  Keep in a bright, warm spot in your kitchen.  Open every two days to release gas and to push down under its own liquid again.  It should be ready in a week or two, wait til it is good and sour and smells delicious.  Then refrigerate and enjoy. IMG_20140323_152235

My First Lime Pickle adapted from Bill Mollison’s Punjab Stuffed Lime Pickle

20 Limes

2 heads of ginger diced small

5-10 serrano or thai bird chiles diced

12x 8 oz ball jars

1oz chile powder 1oz turmeric

2.5oz fenugreek powder 2.5oz salt

Lots of cold pressed sesame oil (I used far more than the recipe)

Instructions: Put limes whole into just boiled water and let sit for 20 minutes.  You will see the limes change color from bright green to olive. Mix the spices, ginger, chiles and salt.   Dry the limes and cut each lime into 8 pieces. (chunks). Toss limes, ginger, chile in spices and pack gently into jars.  Cover with sesame oil so that when you press the spiced limes down the oil comes up over the top.  Stand in the sun for 10 days.  Mollison says this will keep for about 6 months under oil.  I personally would refrigerate this and it will keep for longer and keep the sesame oil fresh from oxidation. (note to self – i might change this recipe next round and experiment with less oil…  Mollison’s recipe only calls for 2.5 oz of oil total…  I used a LOT more.  However the spiced oil is already DELICIOUS only one day later I ate it for lunch drizzled over leftover samosas, but traditionally there is a lot less oil in this pickle, I went for more oil because I felt this would give us a more reliable result keeping our pickle from oxidizing or molding from exposure to air).

Pad Thai w/Kale & Collards Kimchi

I’ve heard that Pad Thai (stir-fried rice noodles Thai-style), the sweet and savory dish many Americans think of as a Thai staple, is not easily found in restaurants in Thailand. It is commonly prepared by street vendors (video), and is apparently rather ubiquitous in touristy areas. Well, I hope some day to be able to find out for myself. In the meantime, I prepare it at home, and can make a pretty good version thanks to Robert Danhi.  Robert is a talented American chef who specializes in southeast Asian cooking. His book, ‘Southeast Asian Flavors‘ has won several awards. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to watch Robert prepare Pad Thai, and was careful to take lots of notes.

Pad Thai Ingredients:
1/2 lb Dried flat Thai noodles
1/4 Cup Red Boat fish sauce
2 TBS Tamarind pulp
1/4 Cup palm sugar
2-3 Dried roasted chilies, ground
2 TBS vegetable oil
1 TBS shallots, minced
1 TBS garlic, diced
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1 TBS dried shrimp, chopped
3/4 Cup pressed tofu or chicken or protein, sliced into strips
1 TBS Pickled radish (daikon), chopped
1 Cup scallions (greens only), sliced diagonally
2 Cups mung bean sprouts
1/2 Cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
Ozuké Kale & Collards Kimchi
Water as needed
Instruction #1
– Purchase excellent ingredients
Each ingredient is essential, and most important are those in the special sauce! They create the tasty balance between sweet and sour, and are the foundation of Pad Thai. Where does the sour flavor come from? It comes from the tamarind fruit.  I was able to find pure tamarind pulp (nothing added), and “seedless”. When I opened the bag, I found delicious pulp AND a gazillion seeds. Because of those seeds, preparing the tamarind pulp for the recipe took a bit more time than I had thought it would, but it was well worth it!

Where does the sweet come from? It comes from thick, rich palm sugar. Palm sugar is available in different forms. Because the paste dissolves more easily than discs, I prefer the paste.

Instruction #2 – Prepare all your ingredients before cooking
Begin by making tamarind paste for special sauce. Pad Thai1-001To prepare the paste, break off a piece of the gooey tamarind, and mix with water. Use fingers to massage the pulp, removing seeds and any other plant material. Add more water if needed. Place tamarind pulp through a fine mesh strainer. Using a spoon, push through strainer, and scrape the bottom to collect the tamarind paste.
Pad Thai2Add the palm sugar to the prepared tamarind paste, blend thoroughly. Then add fish sauce and chili flakes, whisk. Set sauce aside, and prepare other ingredients for deliciousness! making tamarind tamarind chiliNoodles next – soak noodles in room temp water for 25 minutes. Drain noodles, and set aside. DSC_0124While noodles are soaking prepare other ingredients – pan roasted peanuts (chopped), lightly roasted Thai chilies (ground), scallions (sliced), radish (chopped), shrimp (chopped), tofu (sliced), eggs (lightly beaten). Set up your cooking station – mise en place. prepped ingredientsInstruction #3 – Cook Pad Thai
Heat pan on medium-high, once hot, add oil & garlic. Cook until edges are lightly brown. Push garlic to side of pan, add beaten eggs, and scramble. Keep garlic off to side. Add tofu, shrimp and radish. Mix it all together.   Pad Thaieggs ingredientsOnce mixed, add noodles, 2/3 of the special sauce, and some water. Toss well. Noodles mixedpouring sauceContinue tossing until noodles are soft, but not mushy. Add water (for cooking) and more sauce (for flavor) as needed. Be sure to add water in small amounts to prevent noodles from getting soggy. Continue tossing.  Once noodles are cooked, chewy NOT soggy, add most of the scallions, peanuts, and bean sprouts, reserving some for garnish. Mix well.  above pad thai-001Instruction #4 – Eat
Serve and garnish with more peanuts, bean sprouts, scallions, and Ozuké Kale & Collards Kimchi – Voilậ! Pad Thai that is great tasting and good for your gut, too! And perhaps the best part, you too can watch Robert prepare this recipe in his Thai Cooking Essentials class available at Craftsy.com.

gin hâi à-ròi (Enjoy your meal)!

Blinking Beets & Cauliflower

Time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it? It was just a minute ago when Mara led a fermenting workshop. Then I blinked and it was Halloween. I blinked again and it’s almost Thanksgiving!tanner in leaves

As falls hits, the energy at my house begins to burst at the seams in anticipation of the holidays. It starts on Halloween, my boys get excited about running from house to house in costumes and collecting more candy than they will ever consume. Each year they try to finesse their trick or treating strategy by improving their running times. They start out sprinting, and by the end of the night they are dragging. The goal, of course, is to FILL their pillowcase with as much high fructose corn syrup as possible. When they were little, going to a handful of houses was adequate. Now, they can go for longer than an hour or two at full speed. It’s still not quite long enough to fill their pillowcases, but it’s plenty long enough to collect gobs of their favorite treats. They return home to sort, trade, and make plans for how each piece will be eaten and in what order. I wonder what is more fun? Trick or treating, or sorting and planning?Beets Cauliflower picklesWhen the weather is warmer, like during an Indian summer, Halloween is just that much more fun. It’s nice to be outside in the evening smelling and feeling fall. Is it the leaves turning shades of yellow, orange, red and brown that make the air smell like fall? Or is it the cooler night time temperatures? It’s probably both, and shorter daylight hours too. Either way, fall is a welcome respite from the long full days of summer. This pickled recipe of Mara’s feels like fall. She combines beautiful golden beets and creamy white cauliflower for a seasonal probiotic rich side dish.  It is fall!beets3As temperatures drop, heartier plants such as crucifers (cabbage, broccoli & cauliflower) and root vegetables begin to play a larger role in our daily diets.  They take on richer, sweeter flavors because the sugars are more concentrated in the plants. This phenomenon has also been referred to as ‘Frost Kissed’. Plus the nutritional benefit of eating these brassica vegetables is enormous.  As a group, these plants are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and cholineFolate is an essential mineral that supports healthy brain function and is important in the construction of cell membranes. Choline helps to reduce chronic inflammation and protects the liver. Eat your golds, and creamy whites! Here is Mara’s Golden pickled beets recipe.DSC_0067

Golden Pickled Beets, Cauliflower & Peppers:
1/2 Gallon spring/filtered water
2 TBSP sea salt
3 Medium golden beets, slice 1/8″ thin by hand or with mandolin
1 Head cauliflower,  larger than bite size pieces
Peppers, sliced in half (few or many, depending on desired zing)
1 tsp Coriander seed
2 tsp Fennel seed
2 tsp Cumin seed
1/2 tsp TumericRecently Updated2Directions:
Dissolve sea salt in water using a glass jar or fermenting crock.  The brine should be salty, but not overpowering. Be sure to use non-iodized salt. Trim and peel golden beets. Then slice them approximately 1/8″ thick. Break apart or cut cauliflower into florets. Slice peppers down the middle. Pack vegetables into jar or crock alternating among colors. Continue until full. Be sure all of your vegetables are fully immersed in brine. This will ensure an anaerobic environment which is necessary for fermenting.  If needed, add brine to cover vegetable mixture completely. Allow 2-3 weeks to ferment on counter top at approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit.wet handTry these pickled treats with Tandoori chicken or other Indian spiced dishes. Of course, golden pickled beets & cauliflower would be great on a holiday antipasto platter. We hope you find the time to truly enjoy the upcoming holiday season.


Pickle this, Pickle that

This post brought to you by our beloved Peter Piper

It’s pickle time! Cucumbers are growing like mad.
I’ve been making cucumber salad, sandwiches, and cucumber water!prickly cukeI walk out into the garden one day and find a small prickly cute baby cuke, then the next day — WHAM! It’s a huge green giant!

A pickler has got to do something with all those cucumbers, right? Well, that’s what’s been keeping Mara busy these past few weeks. She has created juicy, naturally fermented Green Tea Sour Pickles, aka Hapa Sours. They are crunchy, zesty, and delicious! The largest pickles will be available this weekend at the Boulder Farmers Market.

Stop by for a pickle on stick!

Pickles can be served in many different ways. My family likes ozuké Green Tea Sour Pickles in tuna salad. Here’s how we make ours:

Tuna Salad Ingredients:
2 Cans tuna
1 Stalk celery, chopped
1 ozuké Green Tea Sour Pickle (or more), chopped
1/2 Cup mayonnaise (or more)
Salt & Pepper to tasteingredients 1Directions:
Drain tuna. In mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Blend together well. Taste, add more of whatever ingredient you desire. Pile high on a green salad, a piece of your favorite bread, or just eat it straight out of the bowl. Serve pickles alongside sandwich or salad. sandwichLooking forward to seeing you all at the Boulder Farmers Market this weekend!

Remember this Saturday get a Pickle on a stick!pickle stick-120130905-071202.jpg

FEED Fermentation Evening

FEED Fermentation Evening

Lovely evening with the Catamounts at 63rd Street Farm.

Very cool concept of five course meal punctuated by performances, all on a common theme. Mara was a guest chef for this event and she made some seriously steller fermented goods. Cider sun fermented mustard, juniper pickled mackerel, saffron kombucha with Cava aka the SCOBY crocus, and anchovy pear kim chi roses atop each dinner plate. Such a treat.

For more on upcoming FEED events: http://www.thecatamounts.org/

Next dinner theme: Preservation. Yum.


Green pozole topped with kim chi

I just returned from a great trip to New Mexico and as always I vowed to eat green chile on everything and wear more big hats and cowboys boots. So far, none of those have been happening- but I was inspired to make some posole for dinner and top it with our zuké kim chi.

I adapted this recipe from Rancho Gordo:

Pozole Verde

1/4 pound Rancho Gordo posole (whole dried hominy)

1 1/2 onions, white or red, peeled and halved


4 garlic cloves, peeled

15 to 20 tomatillos, paper skins removed ( I used some canned ones from this summer)

2 poblano chiles

1 serrano chile

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano

1 1/2 quarts vegetable or chicken broth

Freshly ground black pepper


Soak posole overnight in water to cover generously. Drain.

Place it in a saucepan with fresh water to cover generously.

Add 1/2 onion, bring to a simmer, cover partially and cook at a gentle simmer until the corn kernels are tender, 2 to 3 hours; many will split open. Season with salt and cool in the liquid.

On a hot, dry griddle or skillet, roast the remaining halved onions, garlic, tomatillos and chiles, turning occasionally, until they are charred and slightly softened, 15 to 20 minutes. Work in batches if necessary.

Put the roasted poblano chiles in a paper bag to steam until cool.

Transfer the other vegetables to a bowl and let cool, collecting their juices.

Skin the poblanos, discarding seeds and stems. Discard the serrano chile stem but don’t skin or seed.

Put all the roasted vegetables in a blender, in batches if necessary, and puree until smooth.

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over moderate heat.

Add the vegetable puree and adjust heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

In the blender, puree the cilantro, oregano and 1 cup of the broth. Add to the vegetable mixture along with 4 cups additional broth.

Drain the posole and add it to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and return to a simmer. Thin with additional broth if necessary. Serve in warm bowls.

Top with kim chi.


Serves 6

Pickled Beets Et Al Sushi

Woo Hoo: Another guest blog from Michelle Auerbach photo by Zoe Auerbach

There is nothing like not cooking.  When it’s 90 degrees in the kitchen at ten a.m. on a Saturday morning, turning on the oven or even the stove can seem like diving into lava.  But, even in the winter, a meal using no pots and no pans is a gift to whoever cleans your kitchen after you cook.  Sushi should be one of those meals, but never is.  However, this recipe allows sushi lovers to get creamy, salty, crunchy, and tangy – along with seaweedy – without making rice or messing up more than a bowl, plate, and cutting board.

Pickled Beets Et Al Sushi

1 Tablespoon white miso

1 teaspoon raw honey

3 Tablespoons tahini




Romaine lettuce

Zuke Beets, Hijiki, and Kale

Sushi Nori

Mix the miso, honey, and tahini in a bowl.  If it is not smoothing out to a nice paste add a teaspoon of hot water.Slice the avocado into strips.  Use a vegetable grater to make long strips of the carrot and cucumber.  Wash the romaine lettuce and break into sushi nori length strips.Take one sheet of nori, spread a little it of the mixed miso paste on the edge of it.  Then, line up the vegetables in palate pleasing proportions.  Finish with a couple dollops of the Beets, Hijiki, and Kale.  Roll up into a long nori roll and place on a plate seam side down. You can either make a few at once, or just bring all the ingredients to the table and let people roll their own to taste.