Tag Archives: sesame oil

Maple Soy Roasted Butternut

27 Nov

MmmmmMy friend GoldenOro once prepared roasted butternut by slicing it thin, leaving the skin on, and putting it in a high oven. It was gorgeous – caramelised from the butternut’s own sugars, sweet, soft, sticky, stunning. When making Thanksgiving dinner, I decided I wanted to prepare the butternut like that too – but of course, I wanted to put my own little spin on it.

I decided to marinated the sliced butternut for a few minutes in a lovely mixture of maple syrup, sesame oil and soy (and a few other things!), before roasting it in a hot oven. It turned out beautifully, and could easily be a component of an amazing salad – think sweet sticky butternut, crisp bitter arugula leaves, and salty creamy feta. A perfect lunch salad any time of the year! But of course, this butternut is gorgeous served as is – as a side dish it perfectly complements savoury dishes by adding a golden sweet counterpoint.

I also love this side dish because it can easily be prepared a day or two before hand – just cover it up, refrigerate, and bring to room temperature an hour or so before serving. It doesnt need to be hot – in fact, I think that room temperature brings out its complexities of flavour. If you want, pour a little olive oil over just before serving to bring out the orange glow of the butternut. Superb!

Serves between 8 – 10 as a side dish (or more depending on how many dishes you are serving!)

  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp roasted sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • Good grinding of pepper
  • 1 tbsp ginger powder
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 large butternut (about 1 1/2 kg – 3 lbs)

Preheat your oven to 400F (210C). Line a large baking tray with parchment/baking paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, roasted sesame oil, soy sauce, molasses, pepper, ginger powder, olive oil, balsamic and fresh sage. Whisk together, and taste. Adjust the flavours as you prefer – may be some more soy for a bit more saltiness? A touch more sesame oil for that rounded nutty taste? Its up to you – follow your own sense of taste and balance.

Prepare your butternut. Wash the skin exceedingly well, scrubbing off any dirt. Pat dry. Halve the butternut from top to tail and scoop out the seeds. Slice the butternut finely (about 1/4 inch) and place the slices into the bowl with the marinade. Once all the butternut has been prepared, use your hands to toss the butternut in the marinade and leave to soak for about ten minutes.

Take the butternut out of the marinade, and place in a single layer on your baking sheet. Use a brush, and coat the top of the butternut with the left over marinade. Reserve the rest of the marinade for later, and roast the butternut for about 15 – 20 minutes. It will start to smell absolutely delicious!

Remove the butternut from the oven, and flip over every piece. It should be pretty well cooked – the flesh will yield to a fork. Brush the now flipped butternut slices with more marinade, and reserve any additional marinade for later. Roast the butternut for a further 15 – 20 minutes or until darkly burnished, with crispy bits, and edible skin. Watch it closely because you dont want it to burn, just turn almost into a sticky candy caramelised butternut.

Remove from the oven, and let cool on the baking tray for at least 10 – 15 minutes. Serve at once, with the remainder of the marinade drizzled over, or place in a container, covered, with the remainder of the marinade drizzled over, and refrigerate for up to 2 days before serving at room temperature.

Rice + Greens + Omelette

16 Sep

Greens OmeletteWe went to the food mecca, Whole Foods, the other day and I saw some gorgeous broccoli rabe or rapini. Its kind of like kang kung, bok choi or kai lan back home, but it has these lovely little broccoli like florets hiding in the deep green leaves. Its also incredibly bitter, which can be a nicely astringent flavour, but it needs to be managed carefully, and juxtaposed against creamy, sweet and salty in order to truly shine.

Tonight, I was looking for a really simple Asian inspired meal, because we have been eating rather richly of late. I wanted something clean, and yet rather toothsome. I decided to saute the rapini with sesame seeds, and a sweet salty sauce. But in order to manage its bitterness, I simmered the rapini in water for a few minutes before draining it and running under cold water. This fixed its colour and flavour, and allowed the rest of the saute to happen in minutes. It also mitigated that deep bitterness that some people find too pungent.

With it, I served plain jasmine rice, which to me is food of the heavens. I love rice, and I cook it how my mother taught my sister, and my sister taught me. That is, without measurements, but by eye and rule of thumb. And I made a very simplified omelette which I cut into strips and served on the side. If you are vegan, just saute some tofu instead. Its all good, and makes for a light, quick, easy meal… with enough leftovers, hopefully, to make fried rice the next day!

This recipe will feed 4 – 6 people depending on amounts, which are totally up to you, as you will see!

Jasmine rice

Everyone has a different way of making rice. Usually at home, I make it in a rice cooker, but my sister believes in old school.

Take 1 medium saucepan, and pour in some rice. I usually try and cover the bottom of the pan, up to about halfway up the pad of my thumb, may be an inch or so of rice… This should serve 4 people, but if you want leftovers, add more. Rinse the rice in the pot with cold water, draining the water out from the rice to get rid of a bit of starch. Do this at least three times, or until the water runs clear.

Make sure the rice is in an even layer at the bottom of the saucepan. Pour in enough water so that if your thumb is resting against the top of the rice layer, the water comes up to the first joint fold of your thumb. I swear this works for just about anyone….

Put in a pinch of salt, and bring the entire thing to the boil. Once it has boiled, reduce to simmer, and cover with a tight fitting lid. Allow to simmer until the rice is done, about 15 – 20 minutes. Once the rice is completely cooked, fluff with a fork and serve.

Its that simple, and that difficult … it is a matter of getting a feel of the rice, a feel for your own hands and measurements, and a feel for the timing of the thing. But it does work, and it is really easy once you get the hang of it!

Rapini with Sesame Seeds

  • 2 – 3 cups rapini (about 1 head)
  • Water
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp oil – olive, canola, vegetable or sesame, your choice

For the sauce:

  • 1 tsp honey or agave syrup if you are vegan
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 – 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp chili sauce (I used Lingam’s from home)

Prepare the rapini: cut off the bottom of the stems, and chop the rapini in small 1 inch chunks.

Fill a large frying pan with water, and bring it to the boil. Tip the rapini in and boil for about 2 – 3 minutes.

The rapini will turn a deep emerald green. This is good. Once it has boiled for a few minutes, tip it into a sieve and run cold water over to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Make the sauce. In a teacup or small bowl, combine all the ingredients, whisk with a fork, and taste. Adjust so it is sweet and nutty and salty and hot all at the same time. Add or subtract to your liking. Set aside.

In the same frying pan, toast the sesame seeds. Once they turn light brown, and give off that distinctive sesame scent, add the oil and chopped onion. Saute for a minute or two until the onion has become soft.

Add all the rapini, and cook for a few seconds, mixing in the sesame seeds and onion with the rapini.

Pour the sauce over, and allow to bubble a bit.

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve in a bowl, with a spoon to scoop up the sauce and pour over the rice.

Asian omelette

This serves 4 people – I always use 1 less egg than the number of people I am serving. Adjust accordingly. Also, I use a spice mixture I got at a Japanese grocery. It has seaweed, nuggets of wasabi and sesame seeds. If you cannot find this, add some crumbled dried seaweed strips (usually coated with soy or teriyaki) or just add some sesame seeds and may be half a teaspoon of mustard.

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Japanese spice mix or as in note
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp oil

Whisk together the eggs, sesame oil, spice mix and soy sauce in a small bowl, and set aside.

Heat the small amount of oil in the same frying pan as you cooked the rapini until it just shimmers.

Pour in the egg mixture and lower the heat to medium low. Allow the omelette to cook through, shaking the pan every so often, and using a spatula to encourage the uncooked egg to go to the bottom of the pan.

Once the omelette has cooked through, use your spatula to segment the omelette into quarters. Place on a cutting board or a plate and slice finely into thin strips.

Serve with rice and rapini for a beautiful juxtaposed light meal.