Vietnamese Hoi An Pancakes with Wild Shrimp, Squash Blossoms, Maitake + Nuoc Cham

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These Vietnamese pancakes are perfect for the grill. You gather the ingredients you need, bring them outside, and with such a hot grill the pancakes get crispy, and the inside ingredients stay hot. You could sub out the shrimp and just use vegetables, or add something like pastured pork belly. These were filling, but light, easy and satisfying. The nuoc cham sauce is pretty much essential as it offsets and balances the savory pancakes.

Hoi An Pancakes with Wild Shrimp, Maitake, Squash Blossoms, Green Onion + Nuoc Cham
(Adapted from Bon Appetit)
Pancakes
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups water
1 egg

Filling
1 lb wild shrimp, peeled
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 big handful maitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
10-15 squash blossoms
2 cups or so mung bean sprouts
2 cups snap peas, chopped
salt & pepper

Nuoc Cham (vietnamese dipping sauce)
1 thai pepper, or red jalapeno, finely diced
2 garlic cloved, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, minced
Juice from 3 limes
1/4 cup fish sauce (Red Boat)
2 tsp coconut palm sugar

Fresh Herbs: Mint, basil, cilantro

Method: Mix the ingredients for the pancakes, except for the egg, and let it sit for 1 hour so the rice rehydrates. During this time combine all of the ingredients for the nuoc cham and set aside.
After an hour, whisk an egg into the pancake batter and turn on the grill.
In a medium size cast iron, season the shrimp with salt, pepper & oil. In another cast iron, add the mushrooms and peas, again seasoning with salt, pepper & oil.
Cook the shrimp & veggies covered on the grill over high heat for 5-8 minutes. Add the squash blossoms to the veggie mix and cook until wilted. Transfer the shrimp to the veggie cast iron and add a bit more oil to the already hot skillet. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the batter into the skillet, and, using an oven mit, move the skillet in a circle so the batter spreads out and covers the pan. Close the lid of the grill and cook the batter in the pan until crisp-about 5 minutes or so.
Add a few shrimp, a big spoonful of the veggies and handful of green onion & mung beans on one side of the pancake. Cover again, cook until hot and extra crisp, then use a spatula to fold over one half of the pancake.
Serve with the nuoc cham & fresh herbs.

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Korean Stir Fry with Sirloin, Eggplant, Soba + Chile Sauce

IMG_2376 IMG_2372 IMG_2393 IMG_2389During these last sweetest days of summer/fall I’ve primarily cooked on the barbecue on my favorite skillet. Its a giant cast iron griddle that gets super hot and when I cook outside the house stays cleaner and free of cooking odors. I just don’t like noodle dishes when the noodles aren’t boiled then charred over fire, its such a better texture and flavor. Cooking over the grill for the charring is second only to over fire. This dish by the way is simple and pretty quick and fulfilling. It’s a bit sweet and spicy and each bite is a different kind of happy surprise.

Korean Stir Fry with Sirloin, Eggplant, Soba + Chile Sauce

Sauce:
3/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
2 tbsp chile sauce (recipe below)
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 inches fresh ginger, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp sesame oil

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Chile Sauce (adapted from Bon Appetit)
6 jalapeno peppers
3 peeled garlic cloves
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
sea salt

Cook the jalapeno peppers and garlic in a boiling salted saucepan for about 2 minutes. Blend chiles, garlic and red wine vinegar, season with salt and let cool. You will have extra to use on other meals and as a topping. By the way, this sauce is HOT.

Stir Fry
1 lb grass fed top sirloin, cut into very thin strips
2 medium Japanese eggplants, chopped
2 carrots, julienned
1 bell pepper, julienned
1 cup mushrooms, I used chanterelle, shitakes work great too, sliced
Bunch of cilantro
3 tbsp sesame seeds
Soba noodles-2 of the small bunches within the packages

First, make the chile sauce, then make the stir fry sauce, you can make this in advance. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the sauce over the sirloin and marinate as the steak comes to room temperature.
Next, get the vegetables chopped. Its easier to have these all ready to go.
Cook the soba noodles in boiling water for four minutes, then rinse in cold water.
While the water boils turn the grill to high and place a large skillet on the grill-you can also do this on stove top in a wok.
Add the eggplant to the grill skillet, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Cook until softened and starting to get some color, about 10 minutes, then add the carrot, pepper and mushrooms. Pour 1/4 cup or so of the sauce on the veggies and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
Next, add the noodles to the wok/skillet. Mix in with the vegetables, again adding more of the stir fry sauce. Cover and allow to cook until the noodles start to crisp.
After crisping and stirring the noodles a few times, clear a space on your pan and add the meat. Cook it over high heat so it sears and if you need to, cook it in batches. It should take very little time, maybe a minute or two on each side to cook, when its done, stir everything together.
To finish, spread a nice big handful of cilantro leaves on top, sprinkle the sesame seeds on and a drizzle of sesame oil. Serve with the hot chile sauce, and extra cilantro.

Lemongrass Vietnamese Pork Chops with Spicy Maple-Ginger Roasted Acorn Squash, Leek, Beets + Thyme

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Welcome to the quintessential fall meal. Roasted squash, beautiful beets, rich and savory pork chops, fresh rain outside, snow up high, boots and sweaters and fires and hot tea. This time of year is so special. We visited the farmers market in Nevada City yesterday and found the market full of goodies, including peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, tons of strawberries. It was so lovely, sunny and warm, and then on the way back home the temperature dropped 30 degrees and snow fell. We cleaned up the garden today too, dug up many pounds of potatoes, hung herbs to dry, gave the turkeys and chickens tomatoes and lettuce the frost ruined. It feels good to bundle up and enjoy the act of roasting falls best vegetables.

Lemongrass Vietnamese Pork Chops with Spicy Maple-Ginger Roasted Acorn Squash, Leek, Beets + Thyme

2 pork chops (or more)

Marinade:
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small white onion or shallot
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 inches lemongrass stalk, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp pomegranate jelly

Process all ingredients together in a food processor until sauce reaches a smooth texture. Coat the pork chops on both sides and allow to marinate for at least an hour in the fridge.

Roasted Vegetables
1 acorn squash, sliced vertical with seeds removed
1 chioga beet, cut in half, then sliced
1 red beet, cut in half, then sliced
1/2 leek, cut in half, sliced
1/2 lb green beans
1/2 white onion/shallot sliced
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 inches ginger, peeled and chopped
1 handful fresh thyme
Arugula for serving
Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate for serving

Heat oven to 425.
In a small saucepan, combine butter, olive oil, maple syrup, cayenne, salt, and ginger and mix on medium heat just until the butter is melted. Pour the mix over the acorn squash, or dip the squash in the mix, then spread on a baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minute, flipping once or twice until browned.
Place the beets, green beans, onion, and leeks on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in the oven after the squash have been roasting for about 20 minutes.
During the last 8 or so minutes of browning, add half of the fresh thyme to the beet vegetable mix, and roast until everything is fragrant and caramelized.

Cook the pork chops during the last 10 minutes of vegetable roasting. Heat a skillet to high. Add 1 tbsp of butter, then add the pork chops. Cook and blacken on each side for about three minutes. When both sides are done, add the remaining marinade and reduce it with the pork chops for another 5-8 minutes.

Serve the acorn squash, roasted vegetables, and pork chops on a bed of arugula, drizzle everything with the reduced marinade, sprinkle on pomegranate seeds and add the remaining fresh thyme.