Friday, February 17, 2012
I love Marx Foods Challenge. Why? It’s because I can guaranteed the results are always scrumptious, fun, and exotic. Don’t we all love a little excitements in life? The theme of the Marx Food Challenge this month was “East Meets Delicious”.
What is it all about? Marx Foods sent me (and a few other bloggers) some samples of (see descriptions and picture below):
1) Organic Millet—was first domesticated in China over 7000 year ago. This ancient cereal is very nutritious and gluten free.
2) Dried Star Fruit—a.k.a. carambola or blimbi. Fresh star fruit is tart, tangy and refreshing. The dried version concentrate the sugar content and it’s a wonderful snack and/or trail mix ingredient.
3) Mochi Rice— also known as glutinous rice or mochigome. It doesn’t contain any actual gluten and is perfectly safe for people on gluten-free diets. Instead, it is extremely high in the starch amylopectin, which makes it exceptionally sticky when cooked.
4) Hijiki—a.k.a. Hiziki. It’s a brown sea vegetable high in calcium. It has a crisp, mild and nutty flavor.
5) Dried Maitake Mushrooms—a.k.a. Hen of the Woods or Kumotake. They have a rich, woodsy flavor and the firm base helps these mushrooms hold together during the cooking process.
6) Adzuki Beans—a.k.a. red oriental beans. They are small reddish-brown beans with a single distinctive white stripe.
My task was to create an appetizer and an entrée using at least four of the ingredients mentioned above. There will be two winners chosen for this contest, one through the public vote and the other through an internal poll of the Marx Foods staff and the participating bloggers. The stakes are high for this challenge because each winner will receive their choice of either 4 Kobe Tomahawk Steaks or 5lbs of sushi grade Yellowfin Tuna. (drooling…) Click here for official rules.
With these wonderful ingredients, I created the Hijiki and Star Fruit Salad as appetizer and Mochi Rice and Adzuki Beans Sushi Balls as entrée. Boy, both were so simple to prepare and fun to eat. I’m going to get down to the details with you in just a minute.
Before we go into the recipe, here is a list of the additional main ingredients used in these two dishes besides those from Marx Foods’ (as shown in pictures below).
1) Powdered Sushi Flavoring—Simply mix it with steamed rice and you get sushi rice
2) Rice wine vinegar—I used it to flavor my salad. Also, if you can’t find the powdered sushi flavoring, simply mix the rice vinegar, sugar and salt and you’ll get sushi rice as well.
3) Sake—I used it to rehydrate the dried star fruit in my salad. Of course, I can’t help it but to pour myself a shot to enjoy along with my creations.
4) Rehydrated Hijiki—Simply beautiful!
5) Sesame Oil—It adds so much flavor to the salad
6) Dried Seaweed—Another ingredient I added into the salad
7) Nori—Seaweed in sheets form that I cut it into stripes to decorate the rice balls
8) A closer look on the dried seaweed used in the salad
9) Rehydrated Seaweed—crispy, mild in taste and perfectly matched with the Hijiki
10) Shiso leaves—a.k.a. Perilla. I love the slightly minty flavor and aroma from this herb. Goes perfectly with my sashimi squid balls.
First off, the Hijiki and Star Fruit Salad. I finely diced the dried star fruit and rehydrated them in some sake. The dried star fruit absorbed so much flavor from the sake. Then, I rehydrated the Hijiki and seaweed in water, drained, toss them together with some rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt, red chili pepper and sesame oil along with the sake-rehydrated star fruit. The natural sweetness from the star fruit was wonderful and balanced well with the tartness from the rice vinegar and spiciness from the chili. The texture of the Hijiki was tender crisp and contrast well with the slightly chewy star fruit. This Hijiki and Star Fruit Salad will definitely boost your appetite as it’s so light and refreshing. Below is a close up of the salad.
Isn’t it a beautiful salad? I love the color and flavor combination. You’ve got to give this salad a try. It’s light, yet flavorful. Packed with tons nutrients as well.
Next, the Mochi Rice & Adzuki Bean Sushi Balls. Traditionally, sushi are made with sushi rice or short grain rice. But the slightly chewiness and stickiness from the Mochi Rice gives these sushi rice balls it’s wonderful texture. The adzuki beans adds a hint of sweetness to the rice.
To make these mochi rice and adzuki bean rice balls. I soak the adzuki beans over night, cook them on the stove for about 45 minutes until they are tender, then drain. I cook my Mochi Rice in the rice cooker with the sushi rice setting (assuming that you have such an option from your rice cooker). Otherwise, cook them in regular white rice/short grain rice setting. When they are done, remove them from the rice cooker to a large plate and mix with seasonings. Let them cool to room temperature. Then, gently fold in the adzuki beans.
To form the sushi balls, refer to picture above: 1) Line a kitchen scale with a small piece to plastic wrap. Place 2 tablespoons of seasoned rice on top. Mine measured at 30 gram (1.1 ounce) each. 2) Wrap it tight and form a ball. 3) Place a piece of squid on the plastic wrap, top with half of a shiso leave and the rice ball and wrap again. 4) Or, place a piece of fish on the plastic wrap and a rice ball on top. Wrap them up to form the shape. The fish is very delicate. So, I like to form the rice ball ahead of time before wrapping them together. That way, I don’t have to handle the fish as much.
Your choice of sushi topping is endless and only up to your imagination. I love Uni (sea urchin), salmon, tuna, salmon roe and squid and that’s what I used. You can make them vegetarian by topping them with a thin slice of cucumber, avocado, or blanched carrot slices, etc.
I love the vibrant colors from different seafood that make these rice balls so pretty. They are perfect compliment to the white and red rice balls. Simply serve these sushi rice ball with a little bit of wasabi and soy sauce and you’re all set. Hope you like these recipes and will try them out in your own kitchen as well.
Hijiki & Star Fruit Salad: (Printable Recipe)
1/2 cup dried Hijiki
1/2 cup dried seaweed
1/2 cup dried star fruit, finely diced
1/2 cup sake
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 red chilies, seeded and finely diced
In a medium mixing bowl, cover Hijiki with water and let it soak for 10 minutes or until soften. Drain and set aside.
In a separate medium bowl, cover dried seaweed with water and let it soak for 10 minutes or until soften. Drain and set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix diced star fruit with sake, let it soak for 15 to 20 minutes or until soften. Drain and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, add rehydrated Hijiki, rehydrated seaweed and rehydrated star fruit, rice vinegar, sugar, salt, sesame oil and chilies. Gentle toss until ingredients are evenly coated with seasonings. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavor develop. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Mochi Rice and Adzuki Bean Sushi Balls:
2 cups raw mochi rice (will yield 4 cups when cooked)
1/2 cup cooked adzuki beans (preparation followed*)
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoon of sugar
2 teaspoon salt
Cook mochi rice in rice cooker according to manufacturer’s instructions. When rice is cooked, transfer to a large plate and fold in vinegar, sugar, and salt (if you’re using Powdered Sushi Flavoring, follow instruction on package). When rice is cooled, gently gold in cooked adzuki beans.
Line a kitchen scale with a small piece to plastic wrap. Place 2 tablespoons of seasoned rice on top. Mine measured at 30 gram (1.1 ounce) each. Then, wrap it tight and form a ball.
(Please refer to pictures from the post above)
1) Line a kitchen scale with a small piece to plastic wrap. Place 2 tablespoons of seasoned rice on top. Mine measured at 30 gram (1.1 ounce) each.
2) Wrap it tight and form a ball.
3) Place a piece of squid on the plastic wrap, top with half of a shiso leave and the rice ball and wrap again.
4) Or, place a piece of fish on the plastic wrap and a rice ball and wrap them up to form the shape. The fish is very delicate. So, I like to form the rice ball ahead of time before wrapping them together. That way, I don’t have to handle the fish as much.
Seafood/topping options for sushi balls:
Sashimi grade salmon, thinly sliced
Sashimi grade tuna, thinly sliced
Sashimi grade squid, thinly sliced
Uni (sea urchin)
Cucumber, thinly sliced
Carrot, thinly sliced and blanched
*Basic Adzuki Beans Cooking Technique:
Soak adzuki beans in water overnight. Rinse and cover with fresh water. In a medium saucepan, boil beans for three minutes, then cover & reduce to a simmer for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until tender. Drain off any excess water.
Note: One cup dried azuki beans yields approximately 3 cooked cups.