This Dame Cooks A Collection of Recipes from Alaska to the South Pacific and Caribbean

Sumatran Yellow Rice

03.27.2009 · Posted in Side Dishes

yellow-riceThis Indonesian recipe is from my Sumatran friend living in Australia.   The first time I tasted this I fell in love.  It is so light with just a whisper of lemon and coconut that your taste buds come alive.  I’ve since made it myown and friends always ooh and ah.  Use your rice cooker for best results.  The lemon grass, fresh turmeric root, fresh coconut, and kaffir lime leaves can be found at Asian markets and some supermarkets.  The lemon grass leaves can be steeped in boiling water for a refreshing cup of tea.   Fresh turmeric stains everything so take care when handling this root.

2 cups basmati rice

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup  fresh coconut milk (or 1 cup of  unsweetened coconut milk in the can)

1 knob fresh turmeric (or 1 tsp ground turmeric)

1 lemon grass bulb, bruised

1 kaffir lime leaf (or zest of half a lime)

1 bay leaf

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped fine

Break coconut, shred meat, soak in 3 cups warm water, place in a fine sieve , and push solids to extract milk.  You need 1 cup of coconut milk.  Use the remaining coconut milk  in another recipe (see below). Crush fresh turmeric in a blender with 1/4 cup water, place in a fine sieve and push solids to extract juice.  You want 2 Tbsp of the extract.  Place everything in your rice cooker, give it a stir and push the switch to cook.  Remove lemon grass bulb, bay leaf and kaffir lime leaf.  Fluff with a fork.  Serve with your favorite curry dish, chicken, fish, or Thai dish.

Use leftover coconut milk in curries, baked chicken, mix with shaved watermelon for a fruit dessert, add it to your favorite ceviche, cook octopus with it, cook green bananas or plantains in coconut milk for a starch dish, cook ripe bananas with coconut and honey for a hot drink  like the Tongans do.  Dry the grated coconut and toast it for cakes.

Pickled Ginger (Gari or Beni Shoga)

sushi-with-gingerI’ve been using this recipe for the last 20 years and it never fails to impress my guests.  It’s from Jeff Smith’s book, The Fugal Gourmet – Our Immigrant Ancestors.  The only thing I’ve changed is to substitute the red food-coloring with a sliver of red beet.  Be sure to buy fresh young ginger root and wear plastic or rubber gloves when peeling and shaving the root.   Otherwise, your hands will be on fire for the rest of the day.  Use a potato peeler to shave strips from the root.  This is a Japanese condiment used to cleanse the pallet between sushi courses and is served along with wasabi, takuan pickles and the like.  Try it with pork roast, roasted chicken, or ham steaks.

1/4 lb. of fresh young ginger root, peeled and shaved paper thin

1/2 cup Rice wine vinegar

2 Tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 slice of raw red beet

In a stainless steel sauce pan, place the vinegar, sugar, salt, and beet slice, bring to a boil over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.   Add the ginger, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 minute.  Remove beet slice once the ginger is lightly pink in color.  Pack sterilized jars with the ginger, pour brine over and seal.  When cool, refrigerate up to one month.

Once you have your  ginger pickles and daikon pickles made, plan a sushi party and include tempura veggies, hijiki seaweed salad, pear and saki sorbet, and almond cookies.

Daikon (Salad & Pickles)

daikonDaikon radish is fairly common in supermarkets and Farmers Markets these days.  And it’s not just for Asian cuisine anymore either.  It tastes very much like our little red radishes, perhaps more mild.  If you haven’t tried daikon,  it could be an acquired taste, I urge you to buy a small one and experiment.  Here’s a couple of simple ideas :

Wash and peel daikon like a carrot.  Make long threads of daikon on a mandolin or with a zester.  Do the same thing with a carrot so you have  equal  parts daikon and carrot.  In a small bowl whisk together 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (or any vinegar you have on hand), 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp soy sauce.   Pour over the angel-hair daikon and carrot and toss lightly.  This can be added to a master-piece Chef salad or your favorite green salad.  It’s crunchy enough for a sub-sandwich and of-course it can be added to a sushi box or sashimi plate.

Daikon has amazing health benefits, such as digesting fats and as a diuretic, and you can get those facts on the web, just google daikon health benefits.

This Japanese pickled daikon (called Takuan) is good with fish and meats and very simple to make.   It’s usually yellow in color from the addition of yellow food coloring, however you can attain the same color with a small slice of fresh turmeric or 1/4 tsp of ground turmeric.  Fresh turmeric  is available at Asian markets and looks like ginger root.  Once pickled, Takuan will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks and makes a great gift for foodie friends…add it to a basket of your homemade pickles. 

Takuan (Daikon pickles Japanese Style) 

 6 medium Daikon radish – peeled, sliced 1/4 inch thick and halved

1/4 cup sea salt or pickling salt

1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1 sliver fresh turmeric root (or 1/4 tsp ground turmeric)

1 dried chili pepper – chopped

1 cup water

Pack sterilized canning jars with daikon.  Boil all the brine ingredients until sugar is dissolved.  Cool.  Remove turmeric root.  Pour over daikon in jars and cover.  Place in refrigerator.   Shake jars occasionally.  Pickle will be ready in about two days.

Swordfish & Zucchini Pie

03.24.2009 · Posted in Main Dishes

ist2_6222730-grilled-swordfishThere is nothing quite like reeling in one of these sport fish.  They put up a hero’s fight and are beautiful breaking the surface with their long lances flailing the air.  The flesh is much like halibut, dense and pink in the raw.  Swordfish grills beautifully, even without marinating, though the marinade helps retain moisture.  This recipe is from the classic cookbook by Dorothy Batchelder, The Fishmonger Cookbook.  Tuna or halibut also work well in this recipe.  It was so popular at my restaurant in Tonga that lunch customers would come early so they wouldn’t miss out on this Friday special.  It is a bit time consuming with many steps, but it is not a difficult recipe and is well worth the effort.  Serve this with pickled lemons or hot and spicy mango chutney, a Greek salad, and a glass of wine.


Orange Zest Crust:

2 Tbsp orange zest

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp sugar

1 cup cold butter, 4 egg yolks

Cut butter into dry ingredients and mix in egg yolks just till crust holds together.

Knead together 2 or 3 times.  Roll out 3 rounds of crust to fit a 9-inch spring form; use the bottom of the form for a pattern.  Transfer to a flat baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and chill until assembly.  Sprinkle 1 Tbsp bread crumbs in the bottom of the 9-inch spring-form pan.

Zucchini Filling:

4 pounds zucchini julienned

1/2 cup flour, 1 beaten egg

Olive oil for frying

Dip zucchini in beaten egg then dredge in flour. Fry little bundles of the zucchini in oil until golden brown. Drain on a rack.

Halibut Filling:

1 1/4 pound swordfish steaks- cut into chunks

1/4 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic minced

1/2 cup onion minced

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 celery rib, finely chopped

1/2 cup green olives chopped

1 Tbsp capers chopped

Sauté onion, garlic, and celery until translucent, add tomato paste, stir, and then add the fish.  Cook just until the fish is done, add the olives and capers.  Cool.


Place one crust on top of crumbs in spring form, top with bundles of fried zucchini, add another crust on top of zucchini, fill with swordfish, and top with last crust. Cut vents into top crust and egg wash.  Bake at 350° F. 45-60 min or until golden brown.  Let cool for 15 minutes before removing sides and slicing.

Salad Niçoise

03.18.2009 · Posted in Salads & Dressings

j04365891The term Niçoise refers to the region of Niçe in France.  Salad Niçoise and Niçoise olives are specialties of the region.  There are as many recipes for this salad as there are chefs.  Some prefer the classic ingredients with anchovies, green beans, new potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and olives.  Others prefer tuna and capers as anchovies are not too popular with most restaurant patrons.  At my restaurant in Tonga, we served marinated and grilled tuna on this salad with lots of veggies, olives, eggs, and a Caesar dressing, made with anchovy paste.  It’s a meal in itself with just a side of garlic toast.

The Marinade:

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tsp minced onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 anchovy fillet, mashed to a paste

Pinch of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped fine

2 dashes Tabasco sauce

2/3 cup olive oil

Salad for 2:

½ lb. tuna fillet, 3-4 oz per person

2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved

1 waxy potato, boiled, coarsely chopped and tossed with a little marinade

1 cup of fresh green beans (young tender skinny beans), steamed 5 minutes, tossed with a little marinade

4 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped (reserve a few large leaves for lining bowls or plates)

1 small fresh carrot, scraped and julienned

1 small daikon radish, scraped and julienned (may substitute jicama)

1 small cucumber, washed and sliced thin

 A few paper thin slices of red onion

12 Niçoise olives

6 green olives

12 cherry tomatoes

4 marinated artichoke bottoms

Whisk all the Marinade ingredients together in a small bowl or shake in a jar.  Pour about 2 Tbsp of marinade on a plate and dredge tuna fillet on both sides and set aside to marinate while preparing the eggs and veggies.  To assemble:  arrange large lettuce leaves on a plate, top with chopped lettuce, arrange the eggs, veggies, olives and artichokes around the circumference of the plate, leaving the center for the tuna.  Heat the grill or non-stick skillet over medium high heat and cook tuna until barely done… no more than 2 minutes per side.  Place in center of salad and sprinkle with capers and parsley if desired.  Remaining marinade may be served as dressing. Wedges of lemon are a nice touch and add color.