East-West Shrimp Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: East-West Shrimp Salad! Shrimp, on its own, is a star attraction for a special meal. That pretty much goes without saying. I like the idea that shrimp makes a main course look complex, or restaurant-worthy. By adding steamed mukimame, mandarin oranges, sesame seeds, and soy sauce, suddenly an everyday garden salad sings a different tune. The fusion of flavors becomes enlightening, like the eternal knowledge of an Eastern sunrise. Is it any wonder I heart shrimp?

EAST-WEST SHRIMP SALAD

Ingredients:

1 pound shrimp, shelled, deveined, and cooked

1/2 cup mukimame, steamed

1/2 cup mandarin orange segments

1/2 cup baby cucumber, skin on and sliced

1/4 red pepper, cut into strips

Lettuce greens

Ingredients for Dressing:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons garlic wine vinegar

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning mix

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Instructions:

Prepare the shrimp according to package directions. Set aside. Arrange lettuce greens on a salad plate. Add steamed mukimame, mandarin orange segments, sliced cucumbers, and red pepper strips. In a bowl, combine olive oil, garlic wine vinegar, agave nectar, mayonnaise, Italian seasoning mix, soy sauce, ground ginger, and toasted sesame seeds. Mix well. Pour dressing over salads and toss to coat. Arrange shrimp on top to spotlight. Serve immediately.

Zesty Citrus Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Zesty Citrus Salad! “If you build it, they will come.” That familiar quote may spark a flicker of remembrance from a popular movie years ago, Field of Dreams. Kevin Costner was the actor who had an idea and went with it. Cooking is like that, in my opinion. For example, build a better salad. It’s pretty simple, actually. Choose garden greens for the foundation, layer on fruits or vegetables for flavor, toss in some crunchy nuts, and slather on the sauce to dress it up. Of course, you can include cheese, meat, and eggs to bulk it up into a meal if you’d like. May as well go ahead and make your own salad dressings. There’s no comparison; being naturally better than bottled, they serve nicely as dips if you have any leftover. No promises on that note, because they’re that good.

ZESTY CITRUS SALAD

Ingredients:

2 cups lettuce, gently torn

1/4 cup celery leaves

1 naval orange, segments cut into thirds

6 strawberries, quartered

2 tablespoons red onion, sliced

2 tablespoons almonds, sliced

Ingredients for Dressing:

1/4 cup garlic wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons Tupelo honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Dash sriracha

Instructions:

Place torn lettuce into salad bowls. Divide celery leaves between them. Arrange the orange segments, quartered strawberries, and red onion slices. Scatter almonds over all. Set aside to chill in the refrigerator. To combine dressing, whisk together garlic wine vinegar, olive oil, Tupelo honey, Dijon mustard, toasted sesame seeds, and dash of sriracha sauce. Mix well. Drizzle over salad before serving.

Egg Roll in a Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Egg Roll in a Bowl! For once in my life I’m taking the easy route to an old favorite. Making eggs rolls, using store bought wrappers, can be quite a labor-intensive ordeal. There’s the cutting of vegetables, marinating of meat, separating the wrappers and covering them with a moist towel, then heating the oil for deep-fried results. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I just wasn’t up to the task when what I really wanted was more of the amazing filling to devour. Don’t get me wrong, I still drizzled on the duck sauce, probably more than was necessary. But it’s all a matter of individual taste. Lean in and I’ll tell you a secret. I’d do it again.

EGG ROLL IN A BOWL

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound shredded pork, precooked

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon sriracha sauce

14-ounce bag coleslaw mix

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Drizzle of sriracha

Green onions, for garnish

Duck Sauce, if desired

Instructions:

Warm the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Add the shredded pork, ginger, sea salt, black pepper, and sriracha sauce. Mix well. Cook until the pork is heated through. Add the coleslaw mix, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Sauté until the coleslaw is slightly tender. Divide into serving bowls. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, drizzle of sriracha, and chopped green onions. Spoon prepared Duck Sauce over top, if desired.

Ahi Poke Platter

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Ahi Poke Platter! Here’s a perfect example of choosing the foods you love. An ahi platter can offer many variations of side veggies to compliment the star attraction. Personally, I like the crunch of radish slices and mukimame. They balance quite nicely with the creaminess of a ripe avocado. Perhaps you may substitute these ingredients with cucumber slices and jicama sticks. I realize there are those who just don’t care for the taste of cilantro, no matter how often they try. That’s fine. Dill is a delightful change. I’m not here to be the food police. Are you getting the idea?

AHI POKE PLATTER

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons furikake seasoning

1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, toasted

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

2 ahi tuna steaks, skinless

1 cup sticky rice, prepared

1 avocado, pitted and cubed

1/2 cup mukimame

1/2 cup radishes, sliced thin

Fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 tablespoons sriracha

1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

Instructions:

Combine olive oil, vegetable oil, and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Add furikake seasoning, white sesame seeds, and black sesame seeds. Marinate ahi steaks ten minutes per side to coat evenly. Remove steaks from marinade and set aside. In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the marinade mixture. Cook ahi steaks 2-3 minutes per side. The outer skin will appear seared while the center remains pink. Remove from heat. Transfer ahi steaks to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Cut into 1/4” thick slices. Arrange on a platter over sticky rice, overlapping the slices. Arrange avocado chunks, mukimame, radish slices, and chopped cilantro on the platter. For dipping sauce, combine mayonnaise, sriracha, and soy sauce. Mix well. Pour into a small bowl and serve with the ahi poke platter.

Quick Teriyaki Pork Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Quick Teriyaki Pork Bowl! Say the word “teriyaki” and watch people start to salivate. It’s all about the sauce. Part sweet like honey, and part salty like soy sauce, only thicker. Some may use the word “gooey” to describe how teriyaki sauce sticks to the meat sealing in all those concentrated spices and juices. For today’s drool-inducing teriyaki you may substitute pork for chicken, depending on what you have on hand. Just remember, although it’s a quick meal, you still need to be patient and kind. You must allow time to cook the rice.

QUICK TERIYAKI PORK BOWL

Ingredients:

2 cups boneless pork, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Instructions:

Combine brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, minced garlic, and cornstarch in a bowl. Whisk together until the cornstarch is dissolved and no lumps remain. In a skillet over medium heat, add cooked pork and teriyaki sauce. Coat the meat well. Continue to warm, stirring constantly, until the pork is heated through and the sauce thickens into a shiny glaze. Keep warm while making the side dishes. Remove from heat and serve with steamed broccoli and rice.

Orange Sesame Asparagus

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Orange Sesame Asparagus! Produce can be a problem keeping fresh in the vegetable crisper. Especially if you buy it in season when it’s plentiful. Oftentimes that means serving the same thing several days in a row, so the trick is to jazz it up with sidekick options and seasoning. Color keeps food interesting the same way dressings and sauces do. You can either make an orange glaze sauce from scratch or open a bottle of Asian vinaigrette. You choose. I feel blessed to have sufficient ingredients in my kitchen that transform ordinary dishes into extraordinary cravings.

ORANGE SESAME ASPARAGUS

Ingredients:

1/2 bunch fresh asparagus, bottom ends trimmed

15-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained

2 tablespoons brown sugar

4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

Instructions:

Bring salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Place asparagus spears in water to blanch, about 3-4 minutes until tender. Remove asparagus with tongs; drain. Transfer asparagus to a platter. Arrange mandarin oranges around asparagus spears. In a skillet, combine brown sugar and cornstarch. Add orange juice and lemon juice. Stir to blend. Cook over medium heat, stirring until glaze boils, about 2 minutes. Pour orange glaze over asparagus spears. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Hummus in Hindsight (without tahini)

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Hummus in Hindsight (without tahini)! Let’s spread the news: rules are meant to be broken. I put off making hummus because I had no tahini, sesame seed paste, in my kitchen. The last time I needed it I became frustrated because I couldn’t find it in the grocery stores. So I made it myself. The trouble is homemade tahini can be pricey as well as wasteful if you don’t use it all before it becomes bitter. Not cool. Now you have an alternative. Lose the tahini without sacrificing the taste. By adding sesame oil and spices, you still end up with a smooth, creamy paste to smear onto pita bread. And isn’t that the point?

HUMMUS IN HINDSIGHT (without tahini)

Ingredients:

15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Drizzle of sesame oil, for topping

Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Red pepper bits, for garnish

Chives, for garnish

Instructions:

Using a food processor, pulse the chickpeas until coarse. With the machine running, add the olive oil, sesame oil, and lemon juice until smooth and creamy. Fold in the ground cumin, Himalayan pink salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Stir well to combine. Transfer to a shallow dish. Drizzle hummus with sesame oil. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Garnish with red pepper bits and sliced chives. Serve with celery sticks, red pepper strips, and pita bread.

X-Treme Everything Deviled Eggs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: X-treme Everything Deviled Eggs! When it comes to deviled eggs, you hear a plethora of descriptions ranging from “world’s best” to “million dollar” to “dangerously good” deviled eggs. But here’s the catch: Everyone has a different number of taste buds. They extend beyond your tongue to include the roof of your mouth as well as the inner cheeks and throat. What you find appealing may not interest me in the least. Here’s a good example. Everything But Bagel Seasoning contains garlic, onion, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds. While it may make your heart flutter sprinkled all over a freshly baked bagel, it may sound completely gross mixed in a deviled egg. On the other hand, when I topped the deviled egg with a clump of newly grown alfalfa sprouts, my taste buds did something similar to a TikTok dance. Just saying.

X-TREME EVERYTHING DEVILED EGGS

Ingredients:

6 hard-boiled eggs

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature

1 tablespoon Everything But Bagel Seasoning

Alfalfa sprouts, for garnish

Instructions:

Peel the prepared hard-boiled eggs. Slice in half horizontally. Carefully remove the solid yolks and transfer to a small bowl. Place the egg whites on a serving platter. Using a fork, mash the egg yolks into a fine crumble. Add mayonnaise and softened cream cheese. Mix until smooth and creamy. Fold in Everything But Bagel Seasoning. Spoon the yolk filling into the egg whites. Sprinkle more seasoning on top, if desired. Garnish deviled eggs with a crown of fresh alfalfa sprouts.

Kung Pao Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Kung Pao Chicken! When I promise savory, I deliver. Combine sweet and sour, garlic and spice, with the crunch of peanuts, to pull off this do-it-yourself version of a Chinese restaurant favorite. By making it at home, you may have it faster than takeout. One bite and you’ll love it, but remember to share. Add a few red chili peppers for a dynamic taste experience, if you dare.

KUNG PAO CHICKEN

Ingredients:

2 cups boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks

2 tablespoons sherry cooking wine

2 tablespoons soybean sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons chili paste

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 green onions, snipped

8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and chopped

1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

Instructions for Marinade:

Mix together 1 tablespoon sherry cooking wine, 1 tablespoon soybean sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon water. Stir until smooth. Place chicken chunks in a glass dish. Pour in marinade. Toss to coat. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Instructions for Sauce:

Combine in a glass bowl 1 tablespoon sherry cooking wine, 1 tablespoon soybean sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon water. Mix until smooth. Add chili paste, vinegar, honey, brown sugar, and garlic. Stir. Gradually fold in green onions, water chestnuts, and chopped peanuts. Transfer to a medium skillet. Cook on low/medium heat until aromatic, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, remove chicken from marinade. Discard marinade. Sauté chicken chunks in a large skillet until meat is white and juices run clear. As the sauce becomes aromatic, add in sautéed chicken chunks. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens. Serve over noodles or rice.