A Taste of Asia to Celebrate the Lunar New Year

When I was planning our special meals to celebrate the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, I realized that the Lunar New Year was going to fall right in the middle of the festivities. China is probably the first country that comes to mind when you think of Lunar New Year celebrations, but Korea, Vietnam, and several other Asian countries also observe this holiday. I also discovered that while it no longer is, it also used to be on Japan’s calendar, too. With that information in mind, I decided to make not just a Korean meal, but a whole “Taste of Asia!”

I did most of the cooking from scratch. I made shrimp egg rolls (which I’ve done once before) and Japanese pork gyoza, as well as more of the Korean fried tofu we enjoyed last week, and some light Vietnamese shrimp spring rolls. We also bought a package of frozen pork buns from the Asian market, and I used my bamboo steamer for the first time to prepare those. And Ryan went out and bought some crab rangoon from our favorite Chinese restaurant…they make them so well, there was no way I was going to bother trying to replicate them at home!

It was a nice selection of foods, from a good variety of Asian countries!

I even tried some Japanese sake for the first time:

I confess…I didn’t make any of the dessert from scratch. But we found two varieties of mochi (red bean and green tea) at the Asian market, and I bought a bag of fortune cookies, as well:

This was another fun meal, and gave us all the opportunity to try some new things. I’m planning one more big Korean dinner before the end of the Olympics, so stay tuned!

My First Foray into Japanese Cooking

For Christmas, I bought Ryan a Japanese cookbook, with the promise I would cook the things he found interesting. My first chance came tonight, for his early birthday celebration.

Some of the ingredients were familiar to me, but there was also a whole lot of new stuff in the dinner prep!

For his birthday dinner, Ryan picked pork gyoza with a spicy dipping sauce plus pork tonkatsu sandwiches, served with shredded cabbage, Bulldog sauce, and Kewpie mayo. We also found Japanese Sapporo beer to go with the meal:

There is definitely a learning curve to both the cooking and the timing of the dishes (not to mention the clean-up, which was super fun with our dishwasher out of commission!), but everything tasted great, so I think it was a pretty successful first attempt!

Tasty Tuesday–Apples!

The apple dessert contest on Sunday had me thinking…how many apple recipes have I shared over the years? There are actually more than I remembered, and they’re not all desserts…I even have a main course on the list!

How do you like to use apples in your cooking and baking?

Tasty Tuesday–Salmon Tacos

I love tacos, and I love salmon, but for some reason, I’ve never thought of putting the two together! I happened to watch Ina Garten make salmon tacos on the Food Network earlier this summer, and I knew I’d have to try the recipe. I made some changes to the recipe after the first time we tried them, and I think they’re now one of my favorite dinners…and I finally found a way to prepare salmon that even Bunny and Ladybug enjoy!



Avocado Smash

  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

At least an hour before you plan to serve the tacos, prepare slaw. Toss the cabbage, cucumber, vinegar, dill, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper together in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate, allowing the cabbage to marinate.

When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush a baking dish with olive oil and place the salmon in it. Mix the chile powder, lime zest, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a small bowl. Brush the salmon with 1 tablespoon of the lime juice and sprinkle with the chipotle seasoning mixture. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until the salmon is just cooked through.

Wrap the tortillas in 2 foil packets and place them in the oven with the salmon.  While the salmon is baking, roughly mash the avocados with the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice, the Sriracha, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

To serve, place a dollop of the avocado smash on one side of each tortilla, then some large chunks of salmon, and finally, some of the slaw. Fold the tortillas in half over the filling (they will be messy!) and serve warm.

Tasty Tuesday–A Pioneer Inspired Dinner

Ma had sent them ginger-water. She had sweetened the cool well-water with sugar, flavored it with vinegar, and put in plenty of ginger to warm their stomachs so they could drink it till they were not thirsty. Ginger-water would not make them sick, as plain cold water would when they were so hot. Such a treat made that ordinary day into a special day, the first day that Laura helped in the haying. “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Whenever possible, I try to include a special meal as part of  our summer school. Some years, that’s easier than others. Coming up with a pioneer-themed meal wasn’t too difficult, but I can’t vouch for the authenticity of our dinner. I was more interested in having a meal of foods pioneers might have enjoyed, rather than cooking them the way pioneers would have needed to. So tonight’s dinner included bean soup and homemade cornbread, ginger-water (a last-minute addition!), and a pieplant (rhubarb) pie for dessert. It was a very delicious meal, and I think I’ve found some new things to add to the recipe file!

“‘That’s the way I like it,’ he said. ‘If there is no sugar in the pie, then every fellow can sweeten his own as much as he likes without hurting the cook’s feelings.'” “The First Four Years” by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Cinco de Mayo Feast

This year, I made our family’s favorite fish tacos for our Cinco de Mayo feast. I also made Horchata for the first time (which the children really liked, even though I was afraid they’d think it was too different), and a chocoflan for dessert. Of course, there were also margaritas for those of us old enough to drink!

Tasty Tuesday-Fish Tacos

This is probably our family’s favorite Mexican recipe…it is almost guaranteed to make an appearance for birthdays (especially Ryan’s and Ladybug’s), Cinco de Mayo, and other holidays/celebrations (like Father’s Day) throughout the year! We like it so much that I always double the recipe, and sometimes, I have to make a triple batch! The fish is great on its own, if tacos aren’t your thing, and the cabbage mixed with the sauce also makes a nice salad on its own…I love a versatile recipe!

For the tacos:

  • 1 cup flour, plus extra for lightly dusting the fish
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 lb. cod or tilapia fillets, cut into small chunks
  • oil for frying
  • tortillas
  • shredded purple cabbage

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 minced jalepeno
  • 2 tsp. minced capers
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregeno
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. dried dillweed
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

To make beer batter: In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Blend egg and beer, then quickly stir into the flour mixture (don’t worry about a few lumps).

To make white sauce: In a medium bowl, mix together yogurt and mayonnaise. Gradually stir in fresh lime juice until consistency is slightly runny. Season with jalapeno, capers, oregano, cumin, dill, and cayenne.

Heat oil in deep pan or deep-fryer to 375 degrees.

Dust fish pieces lightly with flour. Dip into beer batter, and fry until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve in tortillas and top with shredded cabbage and white sauce.