An old idea, finally put into practice!

13 07 2008

A long time ago, I was thinking to myself, “I never make anything that really tastes new and different!” and then I thought, “Hey, I’ve never had food that combines Latin American and Asian flavors,” and then I forgot about it. Or I got busy, or lazy, or something.

 

And then, this Friday, Sam’s and my friends Rich and Liz came over for dinner (rather than the usual routine of going elsewhere for dinner and drinks) and I had to figure out what to make. I wanted to blog about it – it had been a few days since I’d posted anything – and thus I didn’t want to just cook off a recipe. The night of Asian-Latin-American fusion cuisine was born. 

The menu? Shiitake mushroom and daikon radish empanadas with a vegetarian adzuki bean mole, and a green salad with mango nectarines and daikon dressed with a sesame avocado salsa. Liz (check out her blog, “Things I Love About Austin,” in my blogroll) brought a tasty sesame tomato salad as well, which went perfectly with my menu!

The verdict from Rich? “Best yet!” Also, “This is a very square table!” (All my dishes, and my table, and the bowl in which Liz brought her salad were square. Things were unusually square at this quintessentially Keep-Austin-Weird table!)

If I were to do this again, I’d have made the empanadas larger (thus with a larger filling-to-pastry ratio) and added more sriracha to the mole sauce. We just squirted it all over the empanadas anyway, so really you might as well spice up that sauce ahead of time. Then again, I live in Texas, which (if you didn’t know) is the world’s greatest place to get Tex-Mex. Hence the name, I know, but the point is this: we Texans, and transplant Texans too, love our spicy food. If you are cooking for a wuss, I’d leave the sriracha where it is!

Also, don’t be scared of the mole sauce. Its ingredient list is lo-o-ong, but it’s both easy to make and well worth the grocery trip you’ll probably have to make.

 

And now! The recipes. I made the empanadas first, because they’re definitely the most time-consuming, and you can make the mole while the dough chills and the salad while they bake.

 

Shiitake-Daikon Empanadas

  • 1 recipe Empanada dough (I used this one from Epicurious and substituted brown rice vinegar for the white vinegar, in keeping with my fusion theme). You’ll have some extra filling, so a double recipe will feed you the next day if you want leftovers! The recipe assumes a single batch, however.

For Filling:

  • About 10 shiitakes, sliced
  • 1/2 of a large yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • About 1 lb daikon radish, boiled until soft and mashed roughly with a pastry blender
  • 1 block tempeh, diced to roughly 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/3 c light coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp Black sesame seeds
  • Bragg’s amino acids or soy sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Saute onions in butter and sesame oil until translucent. Add shiitake mushrooms and simmer together until the onions are caramelized and the mushrooms have cooked down.
  2. Add mushrooms and onions to mashed daikon, mix in tempeh cubes, coconut milk, sesame seeds and Bragg’s to taste; toss well and set aside.
  3. Separate dough into 15 pieces for small empanadas or 7 for large; roll into balls in the palm of your hand. Roll out one dough ball into a circle on a lightly floured surface. Place a mound of filling on one side, and fold dough over filling in half. This part is kind of rough and decently tedious, as you want the dough to be really thin (about 1/4 or 1/8 of an inch) but still not breaking when you fold it over the filling.
  4. Crimp edge (as you would a pie crust) to close and place on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough balls.
  5. Brush tops with beaten egg.
  6. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden. Serve hot!
Crusty, flaky savory pastries!

Crusty, flaky savory pastries!

Spicy Vegetarian Adzuki Bean Mole Sauce
(I used this recipe from The Perfect Pantry and modified it to fit my needs. Wants. Desires. Whatever. I used it. Stop arguing with me and eat.)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 1.5 tsp ancho chile powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • Dash garam masala
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 1/3 c roasted unsalted cashews
  • 1/3 c bread crumbs
  • ¼ c black sesame seeds
  • ¾ c adzuki beans (canned)
  • 1 3”x 1/2” piece dark chocolate (I used a single-origin Colombian chocolate that was 70% cacao. Yum.)
  • About 2 c mushroom broth
  • 1 tbsp sriracha (or more. I vote more.)
  • ¼ c tomato sauce
  1. In a large saucepan, sauté onion in butter and oil until translucent.
  2. Add in spices, raisins, nuts, sesame seeds, and bread crumbs and simmer over medium-low heat until it forms a thick paste.
  3. Add to food processor with adzuki beans and a few tbsp broth; process until smooth.
  4. Add back to pan; add tomato sauce, chocolate, sriracha and enough broth to make a smooth sauce.
  5. Simmer for about 20 minutes, adding broth as needed to keep it thick but still a bit runny.
  6. Let cool for ten minutes or so, put in disposable pastry bag, snip tip and pipe in a zigzag over empanadas.
Finished & garnished!

Finished & garnished!

A shot of the delicious, tender filling!

A shot of the delicious, tender filling!

Sorry about the semi-shoddy focus there. I’m having some real problems with my camera batteries, and everything I photograph becomes a RACE AGAINST TIME because they die in approximately .05 seconds flat. It’s very convenient.
Let me make a note here: I love pastry bags. They are the secret to all things neat and tidy in my kitchen. Seriously. If you want it to look neater, stick that puppy in a pastry bag. My dad always calls things “that puppy,” and it cracks me up. More on Texan things my family says later, I’m sure.

Green Salad with Avocado Sesame Salsa
For Salad:
  • 1 bag mixed spring greens
  • 2 mango nectarines, sliced (you can use mangoes if you can’t find these. It was my original intent, but these were too good and too exciting to pass up!)
  • About 1 c daikon cut into manageable bits (note that I used my trusty flower-shaped vegetable cutters from J-list to make it especially precious. Aww. I love those things, however overly precious they may be.)
  • Black sesame seeds for garnish
For Avocado-Sesame Salsa:
  • 2 large avocados, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper (or yellow, or red, anything but green! The other colors are so much nicer in this already-green salsa… and anyway, they taste sweeter. Do it!)
  • 1 hot pepper, minced (seed it if you’re afraid. I accidentally used a pepper Central Market thought was hot, but I think maybe they are also wusses as it was quite sweet. It was good, but I wanted it to be more spicy. Hmm, a trend, perhaps?)
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 tsp sesame oil (On this one, I’m a little iffy – I’m not sure how much I used, and my initial notation seems like way too much; put this much in, give it a taste and add more if you want more sesame flavor)
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds (Yeah, I’ve only used the black ones, they’re prettier and taste just as great! If not better)
  • Bragg’s amino acids or soy sauce to taste
  1. Mix up all the salsa ingredients except the avocado in a bowl.
  2. Add the avocado and toss well.
  3. Taste it! Add more stuff if you want more stuff! Yum.
  4. Arrange salad in salad bowls and put a generous scoop of salsa on top. It serves as a salad dressing. You won’t regret it, or need anything else on your salad.
  5. Garnish with black sesame seeds. Can’t have too many! Okay, that’s a lie. But put some more on there.
Look at that gorgeous salad. Eat it! Eat it right now!
Look at that gorgeous salad. Eat it! Eat it right now!
I’ll try to remember to take more process pictures next time. Here’s the end of the process, though, with which I’m sure you’re all familiar:
Everything is demolished, the table's empty, and all bellies are full!

Everything is demolished, the table's empty, and all bellies are full!

Hope you enjoyed the post! Forthcoming: matcha green tea cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and candied sesame seed garnish, and lychee cupcakes with lychee liquor frosting! Yum. Possible crafting post as well. If I can ever get my camera to work.

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