Friday Foodblogging: Hot Salad

Grilled hot salad

Salad isn’t always the most exciting thing to eat. It’s healthy, to be sure, but not always as savory or rich as we’d like – at least not without losing all the health benefits.

A hot salad is one way to deliver a bit more punch to the dish without overloading on high calorie dressings. It delivers a nice grilled flavor while still being healthy.

You’ll need a barbecue and a frying/sauté pan, as well as a large metal bowl.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, thickly sliced
  • 1 head of broccoli, thickly sliced
  • 1 bag or 4 cups of uncooked spinach, dry
  • Garlic salt
  • Non-stick Cooking spray
  • Optional: peeled uncooked shrimp

Directions

Spray broccoli and cauliflower with cooking spray on both sides of each slice.

Lightly salt with garlic salt.

Put the thick slices of broccoli and cauliflower on the grill over very high heat. Cook them like burgers, turning every 3 minutes or so until the stem is softened and a few fringes are blackened. I find this takes about 12 minutes total. Place in the metal bowl.

Once blackened on the edges, spray, salt, and put the onions and bell peppers on. Cook those similarly; I find they take only 6 minutes (3 minutes per side). Place in the metal bowl.

Spray the frying pan with cooking spray and add the spinach. Toss over high heat until the spinach is wilted but not cooked thoroughly; you still want a vibrant green leaf. Once done, put in the metal bowl. This takes less than a minute usually. If you’ve got shrimp, repeat this step with shrimp.

Place the metal bowl on the grill over low heat and toss vigorously to reheat all contents to roughly the same temperature. Mix, add additional garlic salt or other non-fat dressings (balsamic vinegar or lemon juice are both quite nice) and serve while hot.


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Friday Foodblogging: Grilled Rice

Grilled rice

My friend Chris Brogan enjoys making the joke, “It’d be like grilling rice”, a way of suggesting that an effort is futile or highly impractical. Conceptually, grilling rice does seem absurd.

Why would you ever attempt something like grilling rice? If you’ve ever been to a hibachi grill, you’ve likely had the fried rice made on the grill. If you’ve ever been to a Korean restaurant and ordered a stone pot bibimbap, you’ve had the same type of rice. Rice fried at very high temperatures develops a wonderful crispy exterior and amazing flavor as the starches and sugars undergo the Maillard reaction.

Creating the same kind of food on the stovetop takes a long time and often yields underwhelming results because stovetops just don’t get hot enough. Unlike your stovetop, a good grill – gas or charcoal – can reach very high temperatures, sometimes in excess of 800 degrees. That’s hot enough to create the Maillard reaction quickly, so that the rice doesn’t dry out and become tough.

Thus, we should grill our rice! Of course, the logical question is, how do you prevent it from falling through the grill grating? The answer is: don’t put it on the grill grating. Put it on a baking sheet.

Here’s the recipe for an amazing fried rice at home, on the grill.

Ingredients

  • Japanese short grain sushi rice or any other sticky rice, 8 cups cooked
  • Sesame oil, 1 tsp
  • Soy sauce, 4 tbsp
  • Sugar, 1 tbsp
  • Butter, unsalted, 1 tbsp
  • Peanut or other high-heat tolerant vegetable oil, 1 tbsp
  • Sesame seeds

Procedure

  1. Cook the rice in a rice cooker according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Let the rice cool until you can comfortably handle it, about 120F/49C.
  3. Pre-heat your grill to high.
  4. While the rice cools, melt the butter.
  5. Combine melted butter, sesame oil, and vegetable oil together.
  6. Brush a large baking sheet with 2/3 of the mixed oil. Reserve 1/3.
  7. Mix soy sauce and sugar together in a small cup until the sugar is dissolved.
  8. Fold sesame seeds into the cooled rice.
  9. Spread the rice over the baking sheet in a thin, compact layer. Press down to ensure it’s compacted.
  10. Using a brush, lightly spread the remaining oil over the surface of the rice after it’s spread over the baking sheet.
  11. Place the baking sheet on the grill and grill for 3-5 minutes until the bottom of the rice turns a light brown. Do not let it burn!
  12. Once the first side is lightly browned, use a spatula and flip portions of the rice like burgers to the other side.
  13. Cook the second side until lightly browned.
  14. Lightly drizzle the soy sauce on the cooked rice while it is still on the grill.
  15. Remove rice from grill immediately and serve.

The key to this recipe is the rice. If you use a long grain, non-sticky rice, you’re going to have a really bad time. Sticky rices form patties, essentially, making the rice much easier to cook on the grill.

Enjoy this recipe!


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Friday foodblogging: savory oatmeal

I’ve never been a fan of sweet flavors for breakfast. It’s just not my thing. I’ve especially never been a fan of sweetening hot cereals like oatmeal and farina. No matter what my mother or grandmother did, adding more sugar or honey didn’t make the experience less unpleasant.

As I got older, I realized that I preferred more savory tastes. I’d take a plate of bacon and eggs over a box of doughnuts any day, because I prefer the savory, saltier flavors to start the day.

Once you hit a certain age, your doctor recommends foods like oatmeal more vigorously. Oatmeal is good for you: tons of dietary fiber, beta-glucan polysaccharides that can reduce blood cholesterol, relatively low caloric density as is. So it’s good for you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it tastes good.

So how do you make something that’s good taste good to someone like me without ruining its health benefits? The answer turned out to be adding completely different flavoring. Instead of using sugar, I now make my oatmeal with savory ingredients. Here’s my recipe:

Savory Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic or onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, feel free to substitute Sriracha if you want to turn up the heat
  • 1/4 cup quick rolled oats
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of water, depending on how you like your oatmeal

Savory Oatmeal

Directions

  1. Put everything in a bowl or pot.
  2. Stir.
  3. Microwave or heat to boiling.
  4. Stir.
  5. Let rest for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Stir. Add water if needed to achieve desired consistency, then stir again.

Nutrition

  • 1/4 cup oats: 75 calories
  • Chicken bouillon, 1 tsp: 2.5 calories, 400mg sodium
  • Garlic, onion, black pepper: no nutritional value or calories

If you have the space and appropriate storage, you can use liquid chicken stock instead of bouillon; I use the powder only because it’s much easier to store at the office and doesn’t spoil. You can, of course, use any other soup base as well, such as aji-memmu, miso, curry, etc. You’ll note that this recipe is also super-low-calorie. The oatmeal is the only substantial contributor of calories.

If you’re not a fan of sweet-flavored oatmeals, try this instead! It might just get you eating oatmeal again.


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