The Black Pepper Tofu in this packet (which uses a lot of scallions) comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. I’ve varied it a bit, mostly cutting down the almost insane quantity of black pepper (the original calls for 5 tablespoons) and hot chilies. We rarely eat tofu but even if you never have and have no interest I can’t recommend this dish enough—if you like strong flavors and quite a bit of heat that is. It’s intense to say the least. The other recipe that has to be highlighted is the cabbage pancakes. They may not sound exciting but I’ve taught this dish half-a-dozen times both with Napa cabbage and regular green cabbage, to rave reviews and my five-year-old asks to have them for dinner weekly. And they’re very fast to make. Oh and the potato salad is a winner too. . ..
Finally, the mizuna this week is a little bigger and you can cook it if you like, as in the dish with radishes below. Finely sliced, it is a nice addition to salad with strong dressings too–see the quinoa dish.
Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancakes)
Spring Quinoa Radish and Scallion Salad with Mustardy Vinaigrette
Black Pepper Tofu (with Scallions)
Potato Salad with Creamy Salsa Verde
Cumin Lime Coleslaw
Pan-roasted Radishes with Mizuna, Mint, Soy Sauce and Lemon
Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancakes)
These traditionally include finely chopped shrimp so by all means add this if you’d like. I love them like this. They are great party food and just as good for a simple supper with a salad on the side. Makes about 12 pancakes.
Scant ½ cup mayonnaise
Scant 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha (or a bit less if you don’t like it too spicy)
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 – 11/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup all purpose flour
3-4 cups cabbage, sliced as thinly as possible (you can also grate or chop it in a food processor—I prefer the texture of the hand cut and if you have a good, sharp chef’s knife it’s quick work)
6-8 scallions (green onions), trimmed and chopped
Sunflower, coconut or peanut oil for frying
1-2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Whisk the first set of ingredients together for your sauce. Set aside while you make the pancakes.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs with the soy sauce, sesame oil, and salt. Gradually add the flour and whisk until smooth. Fold in cabbage and scallions.
Warm a tablespoon or two of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until glistening. Spoon the batter into the skillet as you would for regular pancakes. I usually make them about the size of saucer. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Keep pancakes covered in a warm oven as you make the rest. Scatter sesame seeds on top of pancakes and serve with dipping sauce.
Spring Quinoa Salad with Radishes and Scallions
–inspired by Tea and Cookies (blog)
This is a pretty loose recipe so taste and adjust as you go and feel free to vary to suit your taste. This makes a lot of salad so feel free to cut the recipe in half. You might try adding a cup or so of finely chopped mizuna to this salad. I think it would be good though I haven’t tried it.
2 cups regular yellow quinoa cooked in 2 1/2 cups water until tender and fluffy
One large bunch radishes, chopped (2 cups, about 10 radishes)
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
4 scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
4-5 oz feta cheese, crumbled or cut in small cubes
½ cup or more chopped capers
Grated zest of a lemon
1 tbs each fresh oregano, thyme, and parsley, or according to taste
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup Dijon-style mustard
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
scant 2/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook quinoa and allow to cool. In a separate bowl, mix chopped vegetables, herbs, cheese.
In a small bowl whisk mustard and vinegar until smooth. Slowly add oil while whisking until the mixture is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Toss with cooked quinoa and drizzle on the dressing (taste while adding dressing and stop when you’ve reached the desired level of saturation).
Salt and pepper to taste.
Black Pepper Tofu
–adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
This dish takes some work but if you like strongly flavored spicy food it’s definitely worth it. Ottolenghi calls for three different kinds of soy sauce. I’ve made it with just plain old sauce and it was just fine. I now have the sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) and it does add something but don’t worry about purchasing all three kinds.
1 3/4 lbs firm tofu
Vegetable oil for frying
Cornstarch to dust the tofu
4 tablespoons butter
12 small shallots (12 ounces in total) or as much regular onion or more green onions, thinly sliced
3 Serrano chiles (deseeded unless you want it REALLY hot), finely chopped
10 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
3 tbsp sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
3 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2-3 tbsp coarsely crushed black peppercorns (use a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder)
12 scallions (more or less), cut into 1 1/4-inch segments
Start with the tofu. Pour enough oil into a large frying pan or wok to come 1/4 inch up the sides and heat. Cut the tofu into large cubes, about 1 x 1 inch. Toss them in some cornstarch and shake off the excess, then add to the hot oil. (You’ll need to fry the tofu pieces in a few batches so they don’t stew in the pan.) Fry, turning them around as you go, until they are golden all over and have a thin crust. As they are cooked, transfer them onto paper towels.
Remove the oil and any sediment from the pan, then put the butter inside and melt it. Add the shallots (or onions), chilies, garlic and ginger. Sauté on low to medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients have turned shiny and are totally soft. Next, add the soy sauces and sugar and stir, then add the crushed black pepper.
Add the tofu to warm it up in the sauce for about a minute. Finally, stir in the green onions. Serve hot, with steamed rice.
Cumin Lime Cole Slaw
This is my go-to, quick slaw. I vary the ingredients based on the season and for this week’s share some, finely sliced mizuna or kale is very good addition. Quantities are approximations so please feel free to use what you have. You can add finely slivered radishes if you’d like. And it is a fairly light slaw.
½ a medium Napa cabbage (about 4 cups sliced, cabbage)
2 cups, very thinly sliced mizuna or kale
2 medium carrots (optional)
2-3 scallions, very thinly sliced
handful of cilantro (or mint or parsley), roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime (or lemon)
1-2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
3 tablespoons good-tasting olive oil
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt or sour cream)
1 – 2 teaspoons ground cumin
pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper
Thinly slice the cabbage and grate the carrots, if using, and put in large salad bowl. Add scallions or onions and cilantro and/or mint. Mix all dressing ingredients well in a small bowl and pour over veggies. Mix well. Let rest for 20- 1 hour to soften veggies and let flavors meld. Adjust seasoning.
Potato Salad with Creamy Salsa Verde
This is my current favorite potato salad and favorite dressing/dip/sauce. You can use the dressing on roasted polenta or any kind of grains or beans that you’re serving at room temperature. It’s great with roasted veggies or shrimp. Just make it and use it!
1 ½ lbs. Yukon gold potatoes (about 5-6 small-medium)
2 hardboiled eggs, roughly chopped (optional)
½ a bunch of parsley
2 tablespoons of capers, rinsed
½ cup Greek or plain whole milk yogurt
1 small garlic clove, minced or preferably mashed (or pressed)
Zest of half a lemon
Juice of half a lemon (or a bit more)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
Scrub the potatoes and boil them in their skins until tender. Drain and let cool. Peel if you’d like or skip this step (I usually skip it) and cut into bite-sized chunks. Mix all remaining ingredients (except the eggs) in a medium bowl. Taste the dressing to make sure it’s salt enough and has enough acidity. The capers add a bit of both and if you’ve mashed the garlic with some salt, go easy on the salt at first—though potatoes soak up a lot of salt. The dressing will be fairly thick. You can thin it out with a bit more olive oil or milk or cream or even a little water if you’d like.
Mix the dressing carefully into the potatoes and finally add the chopped egg if you’re using it.
Pan-Roasted Radishes with Mizuna, Mint and Soy
You can add thinly sliced, quickly broiled beef to this and serve it over rice. It would be lovely with most any grilled fish or tofu . . .. The mint and the lemon add a lot here. It’s a fairly plain but good dish without. You can use a little rice vinegar if you don’t have a lemon.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 bunch radishes, scrubbed and quartered
2-3 cups mizuna cut into 1-inch strips
1 garlic clove, minced
6-8 mint leaves, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
Good squeeze or two of lemon juice
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the radishes and a few pinches of salt and cook, stirring occasionally for about 3-4 minutes until the radishes begin to brown. Add mizuna and garlic and cook for another minute or so. When the radishes are tender to your liking add the mint and soy sauce and just keep on the heat for 30 second. Then remove from heat and add lemon juice and serve.