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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Smoky and Garlicky Marinated Roasted Chicken with Cabbage Apple Slaw

Hi everyone

So, I already posted about my newly-found love for Nicaraguan food. Well, for the little time left in Miami, I will mostly be trying new Nicaraguan recipes and taking advantage of the easy access to the ingredients as well as taste-testing other people's versions of a given dish. Well, there are a number of Nicaraguan meats that come in this deliciously flavorful red, adobo-based marinade--chancho con yuca (pork rind (with the meat still attached, not just fat)with cassava), costillas asadas (grilled ribs), and pollo asado (grilled chicken). I have loved every dish I've had with this marinade, but I couldn't figure out what on earth was in it or how it was made. The problem was, I had no idea if the marinade had a set name, so I couldn't Google a recipe as I usually would.

Well, today I just searched "pollo asado." I was thinking I wouldn't really get anything because Nicaraguans don't seem too crazy about chicken unless it's in soups. They prefer to make braised and grilled meats with pork and beef, and at the fritangas, everyone wants carne asada (grilled steak, flank, I think) or cerdo asado (roast pork). In fact, he quintessential fritanga meal is carne asada with gallo pinto (mixed rice and beans),  plantains and a side of ensalada (pickled cabbage slaw). So anywho, I did find a recipe and a dang good one. The lady included a recipe for a good stock of that magic marinade I'd been trying to figure out for so long.  For those who have never had this marinade, it is smoky, garlicky, and that nice tang that all Nicaraguan food has.  It really is delicious!  This marinade is called achiote, which is also the name of the red powder that is part of its ingredients.  So, confusion resolved--there is a homemade achiote seasoning blend and an achiote powder from annatto seed.  Some of those times I saw achiote in a Nicaraguan recipe, they were talking about this marinade, not the regular spice in powder or seed form.  Traditionally, meats with this marinade are char-grilled, but I used a Foreman.  It was yummy and juicy, but, man, it would've been super delish with the flavor from a charcoal grill.  Mmmm, mmm!

I was just trying for something simple and fast today since I've been super busy and I really wasn't expecting much. As simple as it was, my dinner was delicious! I would even say it was "wow!". What made it wow was that instead of accompanying my dish with the traditional ensalada that I had, I had been itching to try my own recipe using apples, so I had that instead. As incredibly simple as it is, my pickled cabbage and apple slaw was divine! When the flavors of the cabbage, apple, and lime juice mixed, the result was a totally different flavor. It had a slightly sweet tang that was just what I wanted. The radish gave a little zip to it all and, oh my, deliciousness!

Here's the recipe! Enjoy!


*This recipe was adapted from Cocina del Mundo

1 head of garlic
4 oz achiote (annatto powder)
1 oz cumin
1/2 oz black pepper
white vinegar (add until you get a smooth paste)

Smash the garlic in a mortar and pestle until you achieve a homogeneous paste.  Once you have a paste, smash in the cumin achiote, and black pepper and blend.  Once  you have a homogeneous mixture again, add in white vinegar and smash in, blending and adding enough vinegar to achieve a uniform, creamy paste.

*Just as a fair warning, be very careful with achiote.  It does stain--countertops, clothing, floors, whatever.  If it gets on something, try cleaning it immediately with baking soda and vinegar.

Chicken Preparation:
Rinse the chicken well.  Wash it with bitter orange juice (rub the meat with bitter orange) and let it sit.  After maybe 10 minutes, pour off the excess bitter orange, but do not rinse it.

Salt the meat and rub with the seasoning paste you made.  Let the meat marinade for at least an hour, but I would recommend 4 hours - overnight.  The flavor is much more intense if you marinate longer.  Go ahead and prepare this in the morning before work or school.  It takes no time to salt some meat and coat it with a pre-made marinade.

Cabbage Apple Slaw
1/4 large cabbage (finely shredded ?? (cut into shreds with a knife)
1 radish (very thinly sliced)
1/2 fuji apple
juice of one lime
a splash of some sort of vegetable oil (preferably one that has a little  flavor, such as corn or olive oil)
Splash of vinegar (you don't want a ton of liquid, just the minimum to soften the vegetables)
a very small pinch of oregano (optional)
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Chop the veggies and put them into a container with a top.  Mix tall of he liquids together with the spices and season to taste.  Pour over the veggies and let sit for at an hour before serving.  This salad is best the same day, but it's still preserved and tastes fine afterwards, too; it just loses a bit of its zip.

**Tip: Be sure to squeeze the lime juice first and set it aside so that you can pour it over the shredded apple immediately or while in the process so that it does not oxidize and turn a yucky brown.

Serve everything with either gallo pinto or the Nicaraguan white rice recipe from my original Nicaraguan food post.

Breadmaking and Baking with Yeast 101--Tips, Tricks, and Explanations

Although I haven't been using yeast for long, only about a month, I have played with it enough, watched enough videos, and read enough recipes to learn a few things here and there.  I am still by no means an expert, but I've learned how to avoid some commonly-made mistakes as well as some tricks for manipulating the texture of breads and other yeasted doughs.  I'll share with you the ones I've found to be most critical.  Please feel free to share with me any tips that you may have.  If you have any questions, go for it and I'll try my best to answer them.

#1 Dry yeast is inactive.
Activating dry yeast requires mixing it with warm water.  If you make your water a little warmer, it expedites the rising process.  However, never make your water hot hot.  It should just be warm to the touch, never hot enough to burn or cook anything.  Hot water kills yeast, which is a living organism, much like the active cultures in yogurt.

Because yeast is inactive, yeast should be allowed to proof, which essentially means to activate.  This is done by mixing the yeast in 1 cup of warm water until it is dissolved then placing this mixture in a warm place (no need to cover at this stage) until it forms a froth.  Typically, if you leave the mixture for 10 minutes, you are good to go.  Depending on the environment, less time may get the job done but, when in doubt, stick to 10 minutes as a rule-of-thumb.  Some yeast proofing is done prior to adding flour and some is done once the dough is formed.

#2 Salt Counteracts Yeast
Almost all recipes with yeast also contain at least a minimal amount of salt.  How do these recipes work if salt counteracts yeast?  Salt does counteract yeast, however, this issue is resolved fairly easily.  The key is to never let salt come into direct contact with yeast.  What that means is that when you are allowing your yeast to proof, although it is perfectly fine to add in things like oil and sugar into your yeast liquid, do not add the salt at this point.  Any salt should be added once you have moistened the dough with any liquid until there is no more loose liquid present.  At this point, the salt-yeast contact is no longer direct, so the yeast is able to do its thing with no problem.

#3 Sugar Helps Yeast Grow
In most cases, when using yeast in baking, your recipe for call for you to add a teaspoon or so of sugar to the yeast and water liquid.  The sugar aids the yeast in proofing.  You will taste the sugar's sweetness in the final product even though it is part of a chemical reaction.  The sweetness does not go away once the reaction is completed and your dough is cooked.  So what that means is, don't call yourself being a super genius by trying to double the sugar in hopes of doubling the proofing time.

#4 The Key to Crunchy Bread is Water
If you want a nice, crusty bread, such as a ciabatta, a traditional focaccia or a similar rustic/artisan bread, water is essential.  I don't mean that you need to make the dough really runny.  What I mean here is that the strategic use of water during the cooking process after the dough has been formed is what creates the perfect crunch.  The steam delays the formation of crust so that once the crust forms it is thinner and crispier.

There are a variety of ways to achieve this.  You can put a pan full of water on the rack beneath the baking bread or you can spray the top of the bread with water before baking.  I have even seen someone spray the sides of the oven.  I haven't used this method yet, but I can tell you that my preferred method would be to just spray the top of the dough with water.  By the way, if you opt for the pan of water, don't be a silly little mess maker!  Put the empty pan in the oven first, then add the water to it using a bowl that you have filled with water.  Such a small step can avoid a huge mess.  Just a few drops of spilled water is all it takes to make a total mess of your floor.

#5 Chewy, Pliable  Baked Goods Start with Soft, Sticky Dough
So, remember when I told you that baking with yeast was easy?  Well, it is, but but the worst of it comes when you are making what you want to be an especially chewy, pliable final product.  What I am talking about here are things like hodduk (Korean sweet filled pancake), really soft and fluffy naan, and the like.  Basically, anything that is either marked by a distinct chewiness or pliability is likely to require a sticky dough. The reason for this is that the chewiness comes from a high liquid-dry ingredient ratio.  When you think about it, it is similar to cakes.  When you make really moist cakes that are also really dense yet springy, your batter tends to be thicker and stronger, if you will.

You don't have to be afraid of making anything chewy now.  Just adjust your technique for handling the dough.  Keep your hands well-oiled at all times following the dough's first proofing (rising).  You may even need to drizzle a little oil or sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough prior to handling it.  I would suggest maybe even drizzling a TB of oil in a small boil to dip your hands into throughout the process. The key here is to resist the urge to add extra flour.  Kneading develops gluten which strengthens the dough and reduces the wet stickiness that you initially experience. 10-15 minutes of intensive kneading should do the trick for super sticky doughs.

Also, keep any surfaces the dough touches in the prep process very well-floured--that means the space you are working the dough on, the rolling pin, etc.  With all of these surfaces, flour and re-flour after each time you lift the dough and go to work with another portion of the dough in the same spot.  Once you fully develop the gluten, the stickiness will go away and the dough will form a ball, pulling away from the counter, rather than sticking, during kneading.

*Use a plastic dough cutter to scrape doughs off of the counter when they are still sticky.

#6 Tricks for Accelerating Proof Time
The part that most people fear with yeast baking is the proofing time...well, that and the kneading, of course.  For the proofing, I can tell you that I have seen some ridiculous time estimates reaching as high as six hours.  Let me tell you, six hours is just outrageous and definitely not necessary.  I have never spent more than an hour to allow dough to proof and with a few simple tricks, I generally get it done in 30 minutes.

The first trick is one that I have mentioned before.  This particular trick comes courtesy of my grandma.  Preheat your oven to 200 degrees for literally about a minute.  When you open the oven after turning it off, you shouldn't feel a burst of heat, rather just a mild warmth.  You should be able to touch the grills without being even slightly burnt.  The grills should just feel warm to touch, not hot enough to cook anything.  Once you get the oven to this point, you have achieved the oh-so-important warm place in which you can allow your dough to rise.

The second trick I have shared before as well.  Just cover the bowl with oiled plastic before placing it in the warmed oven that, remember, is turned off.  This traps the gases of the yeast, intensifying its action on the dough.  You remember chemistry class--it's like when you shake up soda and it explodes because the gas has so little room to work in.  A similar principle is at work here.

The third trick is one that you can use lieu of the oven trick.  You just take your bowl of yeast that you've covered with oiled plastic wrap and put it into a bowl of very warm, but not hot water. Again, we don't want to cook the dough and kill the yeast.  We just want to coax it into working a bit faster.  We have lives and things to do, so we need this thing to happen yesterday, lol.  This trick works like a charm just like the oven trick.  Be sure that the water does not go more than halfway up the side of the bowl with the yeast in it.  You don't want to risk any water seeping into your dough.

#7 Cleanup
If you're an at-home baker like me, you are probably rolling out your dough on your counters.  If so, you just  might have a brief freak-out moment when you see the sticky mess on your counters.  Never fear!  Just wipe off the excess flour and pour some little puddles here and there and then pour some baking soda into the puddles.  The baking soda and vinegar mix will bubble up and the effervescence will help remove the sticky crud.  No worries.  It always works like a charm!

Useful Vocabulary:
- proof - allow the yeast and water liquid to activate and froth or allow the dough to double in size

- strong flour - bread flour (there is a difference and it is very noticeable, so if your recipe calls for it, I
          recommend against substitutes.  I will discuss this in further detail in a later post).  Bread flour is higher
          in proteins and gluten and helps create the chewiness that you associate with things like bagels and
          other breads but not, say, cakes and cookies.  This type of flour absorbs more water, so you cannot substitute without making significant adjustments in the amount of liquid.

- knead - knock the air bubbles out of the dough by folding and rolling it with your hands until you feel the
          dough becomes stronger and denser.  Kneading is key for achieving the right texture in the final

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My First Homemade Bread

So I told you that I finally got over my fears and picked up some yeast at the grocery store.  Well, I made hodduk (Korean sweet filled pancake) so many times that I decided it no longer made sense to buy the yeast in the packet.  I went ahead and got a whole jar of yeast.  Whew!  Talk about moving fast!  I opted for the RapidRise bread machine yeast by Fleischman's because, well, it's fast, and it says it's perfect for regular oven use, too.  Thus far, it has worked like a charm.  A full doubling of the dough usually takes 20-30 minutes, when covered in plastic and placed in a warm oven as mentioned in my "Conquering Kitchen Fears" post.

Well, having bought all that yeast, I convinced myself that I would have to play with it every weekend.  My first venture was a basic poppy seed loaf bread.  It is a spin on your basic sandwich loaf.  It has a touch of sweetness, a nice crunch and slight nuttiness from the poppy seeds, and a really nice, delicate background flavor of almond and vanilla.  I know you are thinking what I was, but, no, this is not a dessert bread.  It is still perfect for any sandwich and it tastes nothing like cake or cookies; it's just a more flavorful loaf that what you find in stores.

In terms of process, I am telling you this is beyond easy!  You will be so shocked that you've never done it before because it's so easy.  Baking this bread from start to finish is much easier than baking a cake.  I know, I know, it takes time to let it rise and blah blah blah.  Well guess what, when it's rising, you can get on with your life--exercise, go pick up groceries, do your homework, wash clothes, clean the house.  The point is, life need not stop because your bread is rising.  This bread required two risings and, as mentioned above, generally 30 minutes was sufficient for me, but bear in mind that I live in a hot and humid climate, so rather than going by time, just visually check that your dough has doubled in size.

Well, here goes the recipe.  It's not a DF original.  Remember, I told you I am still a novice.  Just the same, it turned out perfectly, despite my oven, which has a mind of its own.  My oven is probably from 1960 and I usually end up setting it at 200-250 to get 375 : /.  That's not even the end of it...  For fast-cooking foods, sometimes I have to let it brown at 350 then drop the temperature by about 150 degrees or so.  If my weirdo oven can make this bread come out perfectly, you have no excuse but to try and see for yourself how wonderful your own homemade bread will be!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fresh and Tasty Chickpea Salad

Hi guys:

I love to put my creativity to use in the kitchen and I also try to make a habit of developing recipes based on my body's specific nutritional needs. With these goals in mind, last year I decided to put myself through a two month veggie challenge.

I was thinking and I realized that most traditional American cooking doesn't really lend itself to learning what vegetables actually taste like.  Think about Southern cooking--just about all vegetables are cooked in such a way that their natural flavor is overpowered by some form of meat or fat.  We cook cabbage and collard greens with ham hock or some other form of smoked meat.  We slather delicious, sweet corn with butter.  With sweeter vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and butternut squash, we douse them in sugar, butter, cinnamon, and sometimes even marshmallows.  If this is how we eat, that means many of us don't really know how vegetables actually taste on their own.  I can speak for myself and say that I could definitely stand a lesson in How to Eat Your Veggies and Love Them 101.

 After I thought about all of this, I set out on a mission to learn how veggies really taste and to capitalize upon their natural deliciousness in my kitchen.  For two months, all of my meals had veggies as their primary focus.  This does not mean that I became a complete vegetarian.  No offense to those who are vegetarians for moral reasons, but that is not what motivated me to start my challenge.  Animals eat animals, I eat animals, and I'm completely alright with that.  What motivated me was learning how to take better care of myself and, most of all, learning how to make veggies as delectable as everything else in my kitchen so that, in the future, my children and husband would enjoy eating well and understand the science behind our diet and its impact on our overall well-being.

Let me tell you, guys, during my challenge I came up with some seriously delicious recipes!  My fridge was always overflowing with yummy veggies of all kinds and I even learned how to play with some things I didn't normally buy.  As I mentioned, I didn't go fully vegetarian.  My philosophy for this challenge was to use meats as minimally as possible and primarily as flavoring agents, not as my principal source of food.  I often used beef bones to make stalk as a source of both flavor and calcium.  I even used other bony meats such as chicken necks, which I had never used before, as well.

Within the next month or so, I will share some of the deliciously healthy recipes that I came up with during my challenge.  Go ahead and put my recipes to the test.  Even the biggest carnivores are sure to love them!  The first recipe in my veggie series is a simple, fresh, and delicious garlic herb chickpea salad.  This recipe is light, fresh, and bursting with flavor, not to mention being incredibly easy to make.  I learned many different ways to play with chickpeas because they are very versatile and are a good source of protein at about 11 or 12 grams per cup.  Chickpeas are also a great source of fiber as well as minerals such as folate, B6, vitamin C and zinc.

For those who are interested in learning more about the properties of different veggies, here are some great places to start:

Chickpea Salad

Handful of fresh cilantro (leaves only)
Few sprigs of parley (leaves only)
Handful of black peppercorns  (abt 15)
Juice of two limes (choose the ones that feel heaviest since they have the most juice--persian recommended)
1 fresh garlic clove, sliced
1 tsp salt
1 TB olive oil (cold pressed extra virgin--the better the quality, the better the flavor)

1 mortar and pestle

Mash garlic, peppercorns, and salt in a mortar and pestle.  If you do not have one, use a food processor or smash the garlic and salt with the back of a knife before mincing it.  Add in freshly-ground or coarse-ground black pepper for a similar effect in terms of spiciness. 

Once you've created a smooth paste, add herbs and mash until they reach a chopped-like state.  You want to be sure that you still have some identifiable pieces, not all mush.

Mix lime juice and olive oil into occlusion.  Add mixture to herb mixture.   Blend. 

Pour the herb-garlic oil blend over two cans chickpeas or the equivalent of freshly-cooked chickpeas and combine. 

Cover and let marinate in fridge at least ½ hr so that the flavors have a chance to meld.

*This salad would also be good with cooked, chilled long grain rice mixed in as well

Friday, February 18, 2011

Buñuelos de Yuca--Cassava Donuts

Hi everyone!  I always feel so rude not saying hi.  I hope that you guys are having a great weekend.  I've been doing a two week no junk food challenge and, let me tell you, it has been very difficult!  I love to bake and when I don't have the time, there is a Cuban bakery (if not multiple) within a mile of most places in this city.  The Cuban bakeries are super affordable, so I wouldn't even feel bad if I went weekly.  I was struggling especially yesterday, the last day of the challenge, because I had the hugest craving for a chocolate señorita (Cuban napoleon topped with chocolate--my photo is from  As good as that looks, the real ones are even better.  More cream, an almost graham cracker colored flaky crust, and a thicker, more solid layer of chocolate.   ::sigh::.  

Anywho, it's Friday and the challenge is over, so I decided (days ago, haha) that I would reward myself today by making buñuelos de yuca, Nicaraguan yuca donuts.  I know, guys, what on earth would anyone want with a yuca donut, right?  Let me tell you, honey, don't mess around with the yuca donuts.  They are delicious!!  I am a huge fan of flavor oppositions and I just love the very slightest salty bite that these donuts have from the addition of cheese, yes, cheese.  Don't start hurling "you're crazy!" insults at me yet.  Just hang tight.  So you've got the yuca and grated white cheese as the donut flavor then you've got this amazingly tasty homemade syrup topping.  The syrup is made of either turbinado sugar or, my personal favorite, piloncillo.  If you use turbinado sure, be sure it's a nice, dark one.  Those are the most flavorful.  I have no idea what piloncillo (aka panela/dulce de rapadura) translates to because I really don't think it exists in the traditional American culinary repertoire.  Just the same, I'm sure it's at any Latin market.  

Piloncillo is used throughout Latin America.  It is the result of evaporated sugar cane syrup that has not been processed.  That means that the rich, delicious molasses taste remains and the sugar is sold in block, not granulated form.  You don't even know what you're missing until you've at least smelled piloncillo.  It's the kind of thing you want to linger in your house, sort of like the smell of freshly-baked cookies.  Anyway, I the syrup is just a basic simple syrup made with equal parts water and one of the sugars I mentioned with three or four good quality cinnamon sticks added in.  I'm telling you guys, you can't even imagine how good this is until you've had it.  There's no need for vanilla or other essences because the sugar's natural, caramelized richness from the molasses is still in tact.  No there's no bitterness like molasses has, just smooth, rich goodness.  

So I'll take a moment to be honest with you guys.  These yuca donuts are traditionally made with Nicaraguan queso seco (what you see by that name in Richmond is not the Nicaraguan one, but it will do).  Well, I have never purchased queso seco for my home before, I've only had it out and I fell in love with it.  I decided that today I would buy it make the traditional version.  Well I decided to get fancy and go for the smoked version rather than the regular because it tastes so wonderful in the heavenly ripe plantains (maduros en gloria) that I get at the fritanga (Nicaraguan homestyle cafeteria).  Guys, talk about failure!!!  That stuff is wayyyyy too salty and wayy too smoky, and it totally ruined my buñuelos today : /.  I also used baking soda instead of powder in my haste; but that was minor. The smoked cheese, however, was a major failure.  :::sigh:::  Whatever...

I've made this recipe before and it is absolutely divine with a mild, white cheese and the piloncillo-based syrup.  As my dear host mom in the Dominican Republic used to tell me, don't expect anything you cook to turn out right if you don't have the time or energy to add the most important ingredient of all--love.  She was so very right.

Don't be like me.  Just get a mild white cheese, such as cuajada, queso fresco, and I would say even mozzarella or ricotta would do.  Just be sure that the cheese is not really salty.  You want a mild, white cheese.  Anyway, mmmmm, what heavenly results you shall obtain from following this recipe and not being a loca like me.  And let me not forget to say, this has to be THE easiest dessert you will ever make.  See the recipe below, and if you know something easier, do share!

This recipe was adapted from a combination of Oswaldo Chamorro's version from Cocinemos Juntos ( and Maria Esther's version on Nicaragua en mi Sazon (  A huge thank you to the both of them for sharing such wonderful Nicaraguan recipes!

*The photos above have been driving me nuts.  I've fixed them 5 times.  If they fail to load completely, click them and the enlarged version shows up just fine.

Buñelos de yuca
tips: yuca is normally cheaper at Latin markets.  Choose the more slender roots, as they are the most flavorful.

Simple syrup
1.5 cups sugar (if it's piloncillo, you can shave it, grate it, or chop it)
1.5 cups water
3-4 Cinnamon sticks
Bring to a boil then turn off
Lime juice, a few squirts up to the juice of one lime (optional--I usually skip it but some people like tangy-ness)

2 cups peeled and (finely, not the big side of the microplane) grated raw yucca
1 cup of shredded or crumbled white cheese --Nicaraguan queso seco (white, not smoked), cuajada or some similar milder, soft or semi-soft cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking powder (not soda) 

Oil for deep frying

With clean hands, mix all of the ingredients in the donut section and form into either small balls, cylinders, or disk-like pillows.  The shape is simply a matter of personal preference.  Some people even just drop the dough directly from the spoon into the oil.

Fry donuts in pre-heated oil over medium heat until golden brown.  You will know when the oil is ready if you drop a small piece of dough into it and it sizzles.  Place fried donuts on a paper-towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil.  

Meanwhile, add all ingredients in the syrup section besides the lime juice into a small sauce pot over medium heat.  Stir the mixture occasionally until the sugar dissolves.  Bring the sugar mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.  At this point, add in the lime.  Let the mixture boil for just a few minutes.  Do not overcook the sugar mixture or it will crystallize.  Just a two or three minutes will suffice.

Serve the donuts with a generous dousing of sugar syrup :).  Mmmm, yes, a dousing ;).  Hey, the donuts themselves don't have sugar, remember?  Enjoy!!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sopa de Albondigas and My Not-So-Secret Secret Love--A Delicious Cuisine You May be Missing Out On


Sopa de Gallina con Albondigas--Hen/Chicken Soup with Meatballs
shredded chicken meatballs, chicken wings, malanga/yautia, plantain, cabbage, herbs

Miami's easy access to authentic Caribbean food as well as Caribbean ingredients in supermarkets have allowed me to try my hand at learning a number of new foods.  Nicaraguan food is one that it never crossed my mind to try.  I am a very adventurous cook and often try recipes from countries I’ve never been to and end up with dishes I’ve never had in my life and probably never will have outside of my own kitchen.

Here in Miami, second to Cuban food, Nicaraguan food is probably the next most prevalent.  Before coming to this city, I’d never heard the slightest mention of Nica food.  I will say that it has to be among the most severely underappreciated cuisines I know of.  It is very versatile, very flavorful, and full of lots of vitamins that are vital to our diets.  In fact, Nicaraguan food has very much become my culinary love, if not obsession.  I love it's tangy flavorfulness, the comforting feeling it gives you, and it's almost playful culinary ingenuity.  You may not have had Nicaraguan food before, but don't be afraid.  Step out and try something new!  

Nicaraguan food is very much reflective of its continental Caribbean location.  The cuisine of Nicaragua has been heavily influenced both by the African-descended population on the Atlantic coast and its indigenous roots.  Its cuisine is best known for its grilled meats, especially churrasco, here in Miami, as well as its delicious and hearty soups and stews.  Unlike Cuban food, Nicaraguan food always comes with veggies, even if it's only the very Nicaraguan ensalada (salad).  Nicaraguan ensalada is shredded cabbage, carrots, and sometimes chopped tomatoes and onions that is quick-pickled in lime juice, salt, sugar, and sometimes a little white vinegar.  It is an accompaniment to anything that is grilled, baked, or fried.  I absolutely love Nicaraguan soups and stews.  They come with tons of root vegetables and other starches, such as yuca (Eng - cassave, Fre - manioc, Kre- kasav), yautia (Eng - cocoyam, Span2 - malanga), and plantain (Span - platano, Fre - banane) as well as other veggies such as auyama/calabaza (buttercup squash), corn (still on the cob and chopped into three or so rounds), chayote squash (Span2 - tallota), carrots, and often tomato.  The seasoning used in Nicaraguan cuisine is grounded by a heavy use of fresh mint, onion, green pepper (chiltoma in Nicaraguan Span.), garlic, lime juice, bitter orange juice, as well as the use of other herbs such as parsley and cilantro.

One of my favorite Nicaraguan dishes is sopa de gallina con albóndigas (hen or chicken soup with meatballs).  If you've never had sopa de gallina, it is made with a whole chicken or hen cut into pieces, yuca, yautia, plantain, carrots, cabbage, corn on the cob, buttercup squash, chayote squash, mint, onions, garlic, bell pepper, tomato, bitter orange, and sometimes lime, cilantro, and parsley.  It is a delicious soup that has a light tangy-ness, a light herb-y flavor, and it gives you that nice, warm, comforting sensation that all Nicaraguan food does.  If you're like me, and you're uneasy about the idea of mint in your savory foods, don't worry; the seasoning blend in Nicaraguan food works very well with mint.  It is not overpowering at all.  It's not too different from the flavor you get from adding similar herbs to pho (Vietnamese beef soup).  The overall flavor, of course, is very different from pho.  Sopa de albondigas, as it is also known, is very hearty and has lots of vitamins that are vital to a balanced diet.

Below is my recipe for a wonderful sopa de gallina con albondigas.  I've combined elements from the following recipes and made the dish my own.

You will need your large stock pot for this one.  It's a family-sized portion that will leave leftovers, but not a ridiculous amount.  Just invite a couple of friends and family members over.  Enjoy!

Sopa de Gallina con Albondigas Nicaraguense 
(Nicaraguan Hen/Chicken Soup with Meatballs)

14 cups of water
1 large whole chicken or hen (marinated at least an hour in lots of smashed fresh garlic (6 cloves?), salt (1/2 TB), paprika (1/2 tsp), 1/4 onion (chopped), and pepper), cut up (not bite sized, but into legs, breasts, etc)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
6 garlic cloves
2 tomatoes (peeled by blanching quickly in hot water then peeling), chopped
5 stalks of fresh mint (wash and leave whole)
2 stalks of flat leaf parsley (whole)
1 stalk of cilantro (whole)
1 tsp celery leaves, chopped (they come attached to celery but you are using leaves only)
1 onion, chopped finely (for the broth)
1/3 TB achiote (eng - annatto), dissolved in water (use the marinade from the smoky garlicky chicken post or approximate its ingredients.  That is the achiote I'm referring to here.)
1/4 cup bitter/sour orange juice (span - naranja agria - found in the Latin section of any supermarket or in any Latin market.  I recommend Goya or Badia brand)
juice of 1 lime (always choose your limes by feeling how heavy they are in your hand.  The heaviest ones have the most juice)
3 TB salt
pepper to taste (maybe 1/2 tsp)

***see other ingredients under the meatballs section***

1 small buttercup squash, cut into quarters 
(wash well with soap and water, rinse, then remove seeds and stringy fibers and leave on the peel)

1/2 small-medium  cabbage, cut into two wedges 
(leave the wedges whole to prevent falling apart during cooking)

2 stalks of corn (cut into 3 or 4 pieces each)

1 medium to large carrot (cut on a bias into 1/4" thick slices)

2 yellow but firm plantains (minimal black streaking), (cut into thirds or quarters)

1 chayote squash, sliced into lengthwise quarters then cubed into 1-1/2" blocks 
(peel then remove the white heart with a spoon) (optional) (it has no flavor, just a light broccoli-stem-like crunch and is used often in Nica food)

1 medium yuca root 
(choose the most narrow and slender one, these are the best in flavor.  Be sure there are no soft spots, avoid black spot, if possible) (cut into 2 - 2-1/2" thick rounds) (you do not peel yucca with a peeler, rather by breaking through the hard peel with a vertical blow with the blade of a knife, then lifting off the peel by sliding the knife under the pink under layer and pulling it upwards and back)

2 yautia/malanga/coco yam roots 
(found at SE Asian markets (see my market list) and  sometimes at Mi Pais Mart on Hull St near Walmsley, but call ahead--do not ask for  
coco yam; no one knows that word except West Africans and West Indians) ( **cut 
 these into 1" thick rounds**)

2 level cups of Maseca corn flour
All of the chicken breast from the chicken cooked in the soup above (finely shredded by 
1/2 stick of butter (not margarine)
1 egg, beaten
achiote (just enough dissolved achiote to give a reddish orange color)
broth from the soup once meat is cooked (used to moisten the flour and form a dough)
1 stalk of mint, finely chopped
2 stalks of cilantro
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TB naranja  agria
salt (at least 1 tsp, maybe two)
pinch of pepper

Bring the water with the salt, chopped garlic, onion, bell pepper, black pepper, and the achiote to a boil over medium heat (go ahead and cover at this point to reach boiling point faster).  

Once at boiling point, add in your marinated chicken that you've cut into pieces (legs, wings, etc).  I like to take the skin off of everything but the wings.  There is variation on this particular part as some people will take all of the skin off and others will leave it all on.  I've had it both way and, I must say, with all of the skin on, the amount of added flavor is amazing.  A happy medium for me is to follow my suggestion of skinning all but the wings.   Sometimes I even add in a little of the skin I cut off and remove it once its flavor gets into the broth.  As the chicken boils, a frothy foam will appear on the top.  Scoop this foam off and discard it as it appears throughout the cooking process.

Once the chicken breast is cooked (test by inserting a fork.  It is done if the fork goes in smoothly, without resistance), remove it and set it aside to cool.  You will use the breast to make meatballs.  

At this point, once you've removed the chicken, add in the plantain, carrots, buttercup squash, cabbage wedges, and yuca.  You will add the other faster-cooking veggies later.  Let these all cook for 10 minutes. 

After the ten minutes are up, add in tomato, bitter orange juice, lime juice, parsley, mint, celery leaf chayote, malanga, and corn.  After 15 minutes have passed, add in the raw meatballs.  Once they float, turn off the burner.  The soup is now ready to enjoy with white rice or tortilla!

Meatball preparation:
Mix all of the ingredients from the meatballs section above, adding in enough soup broth to form a dough.  Roll the dough into golf-ball-sized balls.  

When the chayote is done, it will still have a light crunch.  Do not cook it to the point that it has no crunch.  Malanga is the softest of the root vegetables we are using, so be careful not to overcook it.  If you see that it softens before everything else is done, take it out and add it again once everything is done.  The same goes for the buttercup squash.  If you see that it will get too soft and fall apart if you leave it in through the whole cooking process, remove it and re-add it once everything else has cooked.

Serve with white rice and a thick, warm homemade tortilla

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hodduk (Chewy, Sweet, Salty, and Crunchy Korean stuffed pancake) and Conquering Kitchen Fears

Remember when I said I'd been getting into some really exciting things that I never thought I'd make in my own kitchen? Well, I did! I'm so excited!! I finally conquered my fears and got myself some yeast! For some reason, just the sound of the word "yeast" can make some of the most seasoned and adventurous cooks tremble. I guess because our mothers (or fathers) were great cooks and we never saw them use yeast, so if they never taught us, then who are we to go jumping into such scary realms?

Well, the fear of the difficulty was a significant part of why I never ventured into bread-making or other yeasted treats, but I was also afraid that I'd develop a problem... I REALLY love bread. I've got my problem under control and now, luckily.  I don't really eat bread at home unless it's a tasty multigrain like Arnold's Health Nut or their 7 grain or something to make a healthy sandwich for lunch (heck no my sandwich ain't got no deli meat! How dare you!! lol). I've learned to take it easy on the dinner rolls when I eat out (as long as it isn't O' Charley's...those things have crack in them! Plus, the fact that I never order anything but their California Chicken Salad allows me to justify eating more bread since I will eat a healthful meal afterwards). Overall, I'm really not the bread fanatic I once was. Although, admittedly, bread has probably just been replaced by rice, bread and I are cool. We can walk side-by-side and hold hands and stuff without me fantasizing about biting off it's fingers (remember that scene with the lion biting the zebra's butt in Madagascar? :::born free song:::).

All in all, I felt like I had enough will power as well as enough thirst to up the ante on my culinary creativity that I went ahead and bought some yeast. The funny thing is, I bought it to make something that I had never even had nor seen before. In fact, it wasn't even bread, it was a dessert. I love maangchi, a Korean cook on YouTube and at, so when she made hodduk, I was just itching to have some of that deliciousness cooking up in my kitchen!  So on a weekend sleepover in VA (no, I am not too old for that :P), I convinced two of my good friends (who just happen to be Korean) to try and make hodduk, or Korean sweet pancake filled with chopped peanuts, cinnamon, and brown sugar. They first called me crazy for wanting to make that from scratch, but after seeing the recipe, they caved and we were whipping up some hodduk the next afternoon. Unfortunately, our yeast was bad, so the dough didn't rise and instead of nice, fluffy, plush pancakes, we got crispy ones :/. On top of that, since the dough wasn't fluffy and elastic, the filling kept coming through the holes and the sugar was burnt and bitter in spots.  We tried re-doing the dough twice and nothing.

As soon as I came back to Miami and got settled in, what was I making the next weekend? Hodduk!!! Guess worked! They were so yummy and fluffy that I made them three times in about two weeks after that!! Hodduk are very fluffy and soft and slightly chewy and the sugar inside becomes a a lightly sweet syrup. Imagine a mildly-flavored donut with the chewiness of a really good bagel that's filled with a warm, syrup-y but not overly-sweet filling that's balanced with the saltiness and crunch of chopped peanuts and a light spice from cinnamon!  Soooo yummy!

Here is the recipe I used Ignore the amount of salt she uses and just use 1/2 tsp instead, adding it once the yeast liquid has already moistened the flour and been somewhat blended in. Yeast should never come into direct contact with salt because it counteracts the yeast. I think she puts way too much cinnamon, too, so just do it to taste. Here is a video to help you out on technique (, but follow the recipe on flickr because it's best (and traditionally) done with glutinous/sticky rice flour (found at any E or SE Asian market). I used a slim design digital scale that I got for Christmas to measure. I got it from these guys It was a wonderful investment since I make lots of Asian recipes as well as Italian ones and now I can do reliable measurements.

Hodduk takes a little practice to get it perfect, but don't despair!  The key is to let it double in size completely and avoid overstretching the dough. To get the expedite the rising process, cover the bowl of dough in oiled plastic and put it in an oven that you have warmed up slightly but turned off.  Do this by turning your oven to 200 for a minute and turning if off and letting it cool so that it's not hot enough to cook and it's cool enough that you can touch the grills and they are not hot, just warm.  Let the dough rise in the warm over (it must be off).

The dough is incredibly sticky, as most chewy doughs are, so adjust your technique accordingly.  The best idea is to keep your hands generously oiled at all times when handling the dough after the first rising.  Keep a well-floured surface and flour the top of the dough before handing, then place the already floured side face-down in your palm and flour the other side before handling.

Having the right amount of filling is also key.  To get in the most filling, fold the back half together similar to how you see it in the video but instead of adding all the filling then sealing edges. Once you have a pocket, lean the pocket's sealed bottom downward and fill, fill, fill with stuffing, then lightly stretch the dough to fill. Do not overstuff as it will create holes or it will burst and the filling will burn and become bitter, making your hodduk crunchy, not fluffy and chewy. Do not understuff or else it will be bland. You will get better even as you work with your first batch. Try them! You will love them and so will any kids in your family. YUM!

Sorry, but I don't think I ever took pics, but I will do so if I make them again soon. The pic I have is from this website It is not my pic.  The second one is not mine either, it's from a user on

So what are your kitchen fears?  Share them with me below.  I look forward to seeing your responses :).  Whatever your culinary fears, no matter how big or small or how silly, conquer them and enjoy the tasty fruits of your labor!!  Anyone can cook!  It is just a matter of learning and practicing, and most importantly, trying!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

What You Probably Didn't Know about Food

Have you ever met someone who trusts in everything and everyone, even when they haven't earned their trust? What about the person who trusts even when their trust has been blatantly disrespected and taken for granted time and time again? Ugh, you can't stand people like that, right? But wait, are you that person when it comes to what you put into your body every day? I want to talk about a few commonly-ignored realities about everyday foods and I'll let you decide for yourself if maybe you're a lot more like that person I talked about than you realized.

Ok, so I am a huge cereal lover! When I say huge, I mean it! I sometimes have cereal for breakfast, snacks, and dinner and I have been known to eat it anywhere from 2 to as many as 6 times a day. Well, if I'm eating cereals that are high in whole grains and lower in sugar and I eat them with fresh fruit such as bananas and strawberries, that's good, right? Well, I would say so.

What if I told you that I don't drink soda, I almost never eat chips, and I buy chips for my house even less often than that? Well, I am avoiding a lot of unncessary intake of sugar and HF corn syrup since I don't drink soda and cutting out a lot of fat and sodium by avoiding chips. If you said that, you'd be only partially correct.

The fact about pre-packaged food is that it often has a fairly high sodium content, regardless of whether they taste salty or not. Sodium is used to extend shelf life but, as we know, certain health conditions, such as hypertension require a close watch on sodium intake. What would you say if I told you that the cereal I have in my cabinet right now, Kellogg's Roasted Nut and Honey Crunchy Nut Cereal (mmm, yummy! It's new:) has just as much sodium as the Tostitos Scoops I also have? Well, it's true. They both have 120 mg of sodium and those Scoops are dang salty, too much so for me, in fact. What would you say if I told you that my favorite cereal, Honey Nut Cheerios, has even more sodium than that at 160 mg per serving? Again, although a bit counterintuitive since you don't taste saltiness in your Cheerios, it's true.

I hear you already "DF, you're crazy! You chose all of the cereals with nuts. Of course they have more sodium." Nope, what about the fact that corn pops have 110 mg of sodium, Honey Bunches of Oats have 150 mg and HoneyComb has 215, yes 215 mg of sodium? This is just the way it is. If you don't read the labels on your food, you will never know. The labels are there for a reason.

So what am I trying to say here, that you should never ever eat cereal again? That I should also give up cereal (fat chance!) since I gave up chips and they have the same amount of sodium? Not at all. The point here is, don't allow yourself to be passive about what you put into your body. Read the labels and be informed. That doesn't mean that once you find out all of the stuff in your food that you should freak out, become a farmer, and never eat anything from a store again. Be smart and pick your battles. Balance your diet and don't eat anything in excess. I chose to give up chips, but I eat as much cereal as I please. I'm okay with that. You have to figure out what works best for you.

I started off with the cereal example because it is something that is a very commonly-ignored and somewhat counterintuitive example. However, there are many many more examples, and I'd like to point out a few of the main culprits.

One of the trendy diet changes for the health conscious is the incorporation of milk substitutes such as almond and soy milk. I went through my stages with both of these for health reasons and, I must admit, almond milk is actually pretty tasty. However, both of these are fairly high in sodium. Below are some stats for you to take a look at.

Silk Almond Milk - 150 mg of sodium
Unsweetended Blue Diamond Almond Milk - 180 mg of sodium
Silk Chocolate Soy Milk - 140 mg of sodium
Silk Vanilla Soy Milk - 95 mg of sodium

"Okay, DF, but I really don't care because I don't follow food trends, so I don't eat that crap anyway." I hear you... Well, now let's talk about some things that I bet you do eat. You know that Campbell's cream of blah blah blah that your mom or grandma puts in everything? How about the store-bought chicken broth she adds to everything else? Guess what? If it doesn't specifically say "no msg," there is above a 90% chance that it contains msg. I can tell you for a fact that when Campbell's says "lower in sodium" or "reduced sodium" it's often because everything else has msg. The same is true of shelf-ready chicken broth (can or carton). Swanson, however, is one commonly-sold brand that does not contain msg.

Continuing on the msg road, most spice blends contain msg if they do not say "no msg." So what that means is that your Asian spice blends, your Latin spice blends, and even your American stuff, such as accent often contain msg unless otherwise specified. In fact, I found a bottle of Accent in my mom's cabinet once and the sole ingredient was MSG :/. However, spice blends such as Goya's Adobo as well as most, if not all Lobo brand Asian seasoning do NOT contain MSG.

What about Chinese restaurants? Those who know about msg know that Chinese restaurants are famous for using it. So what do you do? You ask for them to prepare yours without msg, right? Wrong! Although they may mean well and say "ok, we can do that," cooks and restaurateurs at not only Chinese, but also other East Asian and SE Asian restaurants (THAI! You Thai-food-loving Richmonder, you!) cannot always have full control over this. Many commonly-used sauces such as soy sauce and oyster sauce often contain msg. If your local restaurant is using a brand that contains msg, which is a high possibility, guess what, your food still has msg. So, just be cognizant of this when you are making dietary decisions. Again, always read your labels (when they are there...occasionally some imports, especially some SE Asian ones, do not have them).

So who cares if my seasoning has MSG, right? Well, MSG is a man-made form of sodium that can affect different bodies in different ways. It is known to cause sudden and substantial spikes in blood pressure, mild headaches, and migraines. I can speak for myself that it gives me headaches and even migraines and who knows what is going on to cause that. The bottom line here is, be aware of what contains msg and avoid it when you can. If you occasionally use some spice blends or sauces that contain it, don't freak out, just use them in moderation.

Here's another one. Do you use soy sauce? Be careful because the last time I went to buy a bottle of soy sauce, I realized that some brands do NOT even contain soy : /. Not to mention, for those with gluten allergies, soy sauces almost always contain gluten.  Read the labels when you buy your soy sauce and make sure that soy is actually in the ingredients list. Otherwise...gross!!!

Lastly, this is especially for all of the vegetarians and vegans. If you love yogurt like I do, here's something you should know. Most American brands of yogurt, unfortunately, contain gelatin (as well as yucky-tasting artificial sweeteners). Gelatin comes from animals...I won't get into how or where, but if you can't eat meat, you can't eat gelatin. Just let it suffice to say that. A nice alternative is Indian yogurt, or dahi, which you can find at your local Indian supermarket. It is delicious, creamier, less sour, and contains neither gelatin nor artificial sweeteners, so it's a win win.

The point of all of this is that you cannot rely solely on the FDA. Do not expect the FDA to be some superhero defender of your well-being. Those people have their own interests, some wholesome and sincere, others more self-interested. At the end of the day, you are the one who puts the food in your mouth, not the FDA, so it is your responsibility to know what you are ingesting and how it affects your own body.

I know this may have been a bit much to take in, but I hope you found at least some of it useful. Let me know your thoughts :).


Saturday, February 12, 2011

I'm Back!!! And with a Delicious Recipe!!!

Hi guys!

I'm alive! So, I promised a certain someone in Richmond, RVAFoodie, that I would come back, even if I couldn't do so as often as I would like; so I will keep my word. I've been incredibly busy with work and grad school, but I have, of course, been cooking my way through it all to keep my sanity. If I've been cooking all this time, then why not share, right? Well, long story short, I've been wanting to revamp my blog and blah blah blah, but let's face it, if you want great, tried and true recipes, the pretty page is only a plus, it's good food that you really want, so here it is.

I haven't really told you guys, but I am a bit of a hippie at heart. I have sprinkling of tree hugger at my core and I really do believe that sometimes the best things are those that you grow or make yourself. I'm also a firm believer that if you want something done right, you should just do it yourself. That being said, I've been learning how to do some wonderful things at home that I never thought I'd do on my own. I will get into that soon, but trust me, it's very exciting and, yes, it is fairly easy as well :).

So today I want to invite you into my kitchen for a taste of something a little different. I may not have said it, but anyone who knows me knows that I go through spells in my kitchen...the Jamaican spell, the Nicaraguan spell, the Dominican spell, the Korean spell, the Cambodian spell, and so on. Every few weeks, my culinary mood changes and all of my recipes change with it. Lucky for you, my dear hippie and vegetarian friends, I am currently in my.....::wait for it::: VEGETARIAN SPELL!!!

"Oh boy...." said the carnivore (yes, I heard you). Fear not! This dish will be loved by grass eaters and meat lovers alike, I promise! So what on earth is it, you ask? Indian style vegetarian garlic pepper balls. "Ewww, Indian food? I don't like Indian food :/," said that whining little punk we all have in our lives who says they don't like anything yet they've also never tried anything either. Well, I don't like Indian food at restaurants, but when you make it at home, it is wonderful and this is no exception! Garlicky, warm, flavorful, spicy and with a touch of brightness from the herbs. This is a sure crowd pleaser, whether as an appetizer at your next party or for dinner tomorrow night.

This recipe is my version of the one from Chef Thumma at Please check him out on his website and as "vahchef" on YouTube. He is full of energy and has wonderful recipes.

Anywho, this recipe is spicy with a tinge of sourness and is incredibly flavorful! I thought I made flavorful vegetarian dishes all the time, but this one just brings flavorful to a totally different level!  Please, don't be intimidated by all of the unfamiliar spices.  They are all incredibly cheap (average $2.99)per 3.5 to 7 oz bag of spices and those are Miami prices) at your local Indian market and they are all versatile and great to play with in other cooking styles as well.

Here are the ingredients:
***squeeze excess liquid out of all veggies once grated***
2 green plantains (boiled inside the peel until cooked/tender), finely grated (no, silly, don't grate the peel ;))
1 zucchini, peeled and finely grated
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely grated
1/4 cup buttercup squash, finely grated
1 tsp or so of salt

1TB olive oil
1-1/2 tsp kala jeera (black coriander seed)
3/4 onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 heaping teaspoon of chili garlic paste (3 cloves of garlic and a 1" piece of ginger smashed in a mortar and pestle or in food processor to form smooth paste)

1 tsp turmeric
1/2-1 tsp chili powder (mine said "extra hot," so adjust accordingly if yours does not) (the kind from the Indian grocery store only*** Different chilies make different chili powder)
1-1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp amchur powder (green mango powder)

1/3 cup breadcrumbs (be sure they are plain, unseasoned)

1 egg

1/4 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
2.5 inch piece of Indian green chili, sliced into thin rings
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp amchur
small palmful (6-10 peppercorns) of black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar and pestle

1 green onion, chopped into thin rings
1-1/2 TB chopped cilantro

1 TB soy sauce (make sure that soy is in the ingredients list on the bottle...don't assume it is what it says...)

Squeeze all excess liquid out of the grated vegetables (not the plantain, silly), THEN season with 1 tsp of salt. Blend with your clean hands and set aside.

Add 1TB olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Once warm, add the kala jeera and stir. Add in the 3/4 of the chopped onion and 1 tsp salt. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add in ginger garlic paste and cook for one minute, stirring. Add in turmeric and cook until the mixture gets a little golden brown-ish. Don't go crazy about the color, just move on once it's transparent.

Add in all of your veggies, including the plantains and blend. Cook, continuing to stir and add in chili powder, coriander, and amchur powder. Remove from heat once blended and add in breadcrumbs and 1 egg and blend with your hands into a uniform dough, if you will.

Oil a pan well and set your oven to 350. Roll each ball in the oil and cook until golden brown on the bottom. I guess this takes 10 minutes or so, but my oven is crazy, so that is just a guess based on the usual adjustments I make. Once brown on one side, flip the balls to brown on the other side.

Meanwhile, put 1TB of butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the last 1/4 of onion, 3 garlic cloves, and the hot pepper, stirring while cooking. Add in the powdered seasoning at this point as well and continue stirring.

Once the garlic and onion have become transparent, add in green onion and cilantro. Continue stirring and add 1 TB soy sauce. Once incorporated, add in your balls and toss them in the sauce. Enjoy!!

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think ;).