No-rice Sushi with Reduced Cabohydrate

Rice replaced by thin pickled daikon strips


Kicked-up French-style Niçoise Salads with Pan-fried Salmon


2 eggs
4 ounces green beans
3 ounces red-skinned new potatoes
1 (8-ounce) salmon fillet, skin removed, cut in 2 pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to season
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
3 radishes, quartered
1 tablespoon capers
l0 kalamata olives

Dijon Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon creamy Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. For vinaigrette, in small bowl combine all ingredients and whisk to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made up to 3 days in advance.
  2. To hard boil eggs, place eggs in small pot, cover with cold water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and run under cold water until cold. Crack shells and remove. Can be made up to 2 days in advance.
  3. To cook green beans, in large pot of boiling salted water cook for 3 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat and run under cold water until cool. Can be made up to 1 day in advance.
  4. To cook baby potatoes, place potatoes in small pot, cover with water, bring to boil and cook for 8-12 minutes (depending on size). Test for doneness by piercing potatoes with small knife. Remove from heat and run under cold water until cool. Can be made up to 1 day in advance.
  5. To cook salmon, heat small nonstick pan with olive oil over high heat. Season salmon generously with salt and pepper. Place pieces in pan, cook for 3 minutes per side for medium-well. Remove from heat and cool.
  6. To assemble salad, arrange cooked and raw vegetables in resealable containers or on plates if serving immediately. Top with hard-boiled egg cut in half and one piece salmon, garnish with capers and olives. Package dressing in small container and pour over when ready to serve, or if serving immediately, drizzle over salad.

Makes 2 servings.

Source: Anna magazine

In Pictures: Character Bento

Charaben キャラ弁

Food History: Chinese Stir–fried Dishes

The invention of Chinese stir-fried dishes greatly influenced Chinese cooking. Stir-fried dishes use a wide range of ingredients and are cooked quickly so they retain the nutrients of the meats and vegetables. stir-fried dishes can be meat dishes, vegetable dishes, or meat and vegetable mixtures. Popular dishes found in the north include fried bean curd with minced meats, fried pork with shredded ginger, and quick – fried mutton with onion. These popular dishes are known throughout China.

Those Chinese families who eat cereals as their staple food often serve stir-fried mixtures of meat and vegetables. stir-fried dishes first appeared after the Han Dynasty and were common even in the palace and in officials’ residences. In the Han and pre-Han dynasties, most dishes were thick soups and uninspired boiled, deep – fried, or roasted dishes without seasonings.

The character “chao” for the word “stir-fry” does not appear in the book Explanatory Notes for the Ancient Classics, which was completed in the 12th year of Yongyuan’s reign in the Eastern Han Dynasty (100 A.D.). In a rhyming dictionary compiled in the 6th century, the ancient form of “chao” was first seen, but it meant to stir cereal in a pot without oil to dry it. In cooking dishes, “chao” means to stir – fry meat or vegetables with seasonings in a small amount of oil or fat at the proper temperature until they are done.

When stir–frying Chinese dishes, the Chinese wok must be used. If a flat–bottom pan was used, the taste would be different. The temperature of the oil in the pan is very important. For example, when stir–frying hot pepper powder, a skilled chef can make it as red as blood. In Sichuan, stir-fried bean curd with minced meat is a dish of white bean curd in red oil, which is very appealing to the eye. If the temperature of the oil is not well controlled, the fried hot pepper power turns burnt ochre and loses its appeal.

Ingredients for stir-fried dishes are mostly meats and vegetables cut into small sizes by mincing, dicing, slicing, shredding, slivering, and forming into balls. Even though the cooking time is short, the flavors of the seasonings permeate the dishes.

The term “stir-fry” includes stir–fry without soy sauce, stew–fry, half–fry, grab–fry, stir–fry for a shorter or longer time, stir–fry with raw meat, stir–fry with boiled meat, fry without water, soft fry, hard fry, and quick–fry. Broiling, stewing, braising, and boiling in a covered pot are all cooking methods developed based on stir – frying.

The stir-fried dish was invented at the latest during the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420 – 581). Jia Sixie, an outstanding agronomist in the late years of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386 – 534), wrote the Essential Points for the Common People in 544. It is the earliest and most complete agricultural encyclopedia still in existence in China. In it he described a “duck frying method” that was done this way: “Use a fatted duck, as big as a pheasant, with its head cut off and its internal organs and tail gland removed. Wash it clean and chop it up like minced meat. Cut green onion bulbs into thin shreds. Add salt, fermented soybean sauce, and stir – fry it until it is well done. Add minced ginger and Chinese prickly ash.”

The process exactly describes the stir–frying method used today. Jia Sixie does not say whether oil is used, but his smooth writing style and the words “duck frying” indicate that oil should be used, otherwise the chopped green onions would burn. It could not be called “frying” if no oil was used; therefore, the “duck frying method” he describes exactly duplicates the method now used to stir – fry minced meat.

Another cooking method, the “pickled Chinese cabbage cooking method,” is also similar to the stir–frying method used today. It is done this way: Choose fatty pork (or mutton and venison) and cut it into thin shreds. Put the meat in a wok together with fermented soybean juice and salt and stir them, then add pickled Chinese cabbage with its juice. This dish is similar to fried pickled Chinese cabbage with shredded pork.

The menus of the Tang and Song Dynasties included stir–frying, but they often called the method “stewing.” The “five animal dish” eaten in early spring during the Tang Dynasty was a dish in which slices of mutton beef, rabbit, bear’s meat, and venison were stir-fried without soy sauce until they were well done, then cut into thin slivers and mixed with dressings.

The Forest of Recorded Affairs from the Song Dynasty describes “Dongpo fish” like this: “Cut the fish meat into long slivers. Preserve them with salt and vinegar for a short while, then dry them with paper. Mix spices and starch. Coat the fish slivers with the mixture, spread the slivers and rub them with sesame seed oil, then stir them in the frying pot.” This is the same dish we eat today. Many stir-fried dishes were popular in the Northern Song Dynasty, but they became even more common in the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Stir–frying can be used for all kings of ingredients, such as vegetables, including egg-plant, cucumber, cabbage, spinach, potato, taro, celery, and bamboo shoots; wild game; seafood; domestic animals; poultry; gluten; bean curd; cooked rice; and rice cakes.

Tender meat should be grab–fried (coat the shredded or sliced meat with a thin paste of flour, fry it in oil slightly, then remove it. Heat the oil in the wok, add cornstarch mixed with water and flavorings, and boil the mixture. Then return the fried meat and stir it quickly). Tender meat can also be quick–fried (fried quickly over a hot fire) or stir-fried (sauté with thickened, starchy gravy slightly burned in deep oil, and stir–fry with thin starchy gravy boiled instantly in water).

Tough meat or large pieces of meat can be stewed or braised until they are well done after they have been stir-fried with flavorings. Some materials can be dry-fried before stewing, such as pea sprouts and beef, some are fried after they are cooked, such as twice – cooked pork with chili sauce, or fried together with a fixed amount of juices. Some dishes are fried with mixtures of raw and cooked materials (the peanuts used in the diced chicken with peanuts and chili sauce are fried in advance). Mixtures of meats and vegetables fried together are common.

In most cases flavorings are added in the course of stir-frying, but in some cases, the major ingredients are preserved and their flavors fixed before they are stir-fried. Many flavorings are mixtures, such as sweet and sour sauce, sweet and chili sauce, spicy and chili sauce, five-flavored sauce, and fish and chili sauce.

In stir-fried dishes, ingredients of different flavors are blended so that the flavors mix together in the course of heating to produce a new, delicious taste. This is true for stir-fried pork shreds with ginger, fried garlic shoots with pork, shredded pork stir-fried in soy sauce of Beijing flavor, and shredded pork stir-fried with fish and chili sauce. Cooks add garlic, ginger, and onion in the course of heating the ingredients so that they permeate each other to produce a new taste that stimulates the diner’s appetite.

More attention was paid to naming dishes, blending colors, and cutting skills after literati became involved in Chinese cooking. Su Shi, a famous man of letters in the Song Dynasty, Ni Zan (1301 – 1374), a famous painter in the Yuan Dynasty, Xu Wei (1521 – 1593), a famous painter and literati in the Ming Dynasty, and Yuan Mei (1716 – 1798), a famous man of letters, were all gourmets and good cooks. Through their influence, Chinese stir-fried dishes were made more artistic and colorful. For example, “five–willow twig fish” is a dish of fish stir-fried with shredded onion, ginger, winter bamboo shoots, red pepper, and winter mushrooms. stir-fried chicken with chestnuts and shredded chicken stir–fried with winter bamboo shoots are also delicious.

There are many ways of cutting the ingredients, such as shredding, dicing, lumping, and slicing. The knife should follow the grain of the meat while cutting. Pattern cutting is a very artistic cutting method. For example, stir-fried kidney is a common dish, but the meat can be cut into many different shapes such as wheat ears, litchi shapes, or the Chinese character for longevity. The differing shapes not only give the dish a pleasing appearance, they also help the dish coo evenly, remove bad odors, and absorb flavors.

Temperature should be strictly controlled when stir–frying, because the taste of a dish will differ ass a result of the duration and degree of heating. Temperature is more easily adjusted with deep–fried foods because there is more oil in the pot. stir-fried dishes depend entirely on the heat of the oil and the wok surface because the ingredients are cut in small pieces, little oil is used, and the cooking time is short. This is a crucial test of the chef’s cooking ability.

In his book The Story of Chef Wang Xiaoyu, Yuan Mei of the Qing Dynasty described a scene of Wang’s cooking like this:

He stood by the cooking range on one leg, the other leg raised. He kept his eyes on the cooking range to observe the temperature. He heard nothing when others called him. He shouted “Big fire!” one moment, and the stoker instantly made the fire blaze like the red sun. The next moment, he shouted: “Small fire!” and the stoker immediately took away some of the burning firewood to reduce the heat. Another moment, he shouted: “Stop for the moment!” and the stoker instantly took away all firewood to stop the burning. He commanded with perfect ease like a general commanding his army.

In Sui Garden Menu, under the title “Instructions on Temperature,” Yuan Mei wrote: “The most important point in cooking food is temperature. A hot fire is preferred when stir-fried a dish. If the fire is too low the dish will become tasteless. A low fire is used when stewing or simmering foods. If the fire is too hot, the food burns. When a hot fire is used before a low fire, it reduces the juice of the food.” Controlling the temperature accurately requires much cooking experience in using different temperatures for different dishes. One can only gain this knowledge by sense; it is very difficult to explain in words.

This book includes an appendix with instructions on how to prepare and cook imperial dishes. However, when you cook the dishes using the recipes in this book, you will find the dishes differ from the orthodox dishes served in the Fangshan Restaurant in terms of color, flavor, and taste because of the temperatures you use and other factors.

Source: China Internet Information Center

Diet Study Suggests It’s Carbs, Not Fats, That Are Bad for You

Dennis Thompson wrote

A large, 18-country study may turn current nutritional thinking on its head.

The new research suggests that it’s not the fat in your diet that’s raising your risk of premature death, it’s too many carbohydrates — especially the refined, processed kinds of carbs — that may be the real killer.

The research also found that eating fruits, vegetables and legumes can lower your risk of dying prematurely. But three or four servings a day seemed to be plenty. Any additional servings didn’t appear to provide more benefit.

What does all this mean to you? Well, a cheeseburger may be OK to eat, and adding lettuce and tomato to the burger is still good for you, but an excess of white flour burger buns may boost your risk of dying early.

People with a high fat intake — about 35 percent of their daily diet — had a 23 percent lower risk of early death and 18 percent lower risk of stroke compared to people who ate less fat, said lead author Mahshid Dehghan. She’s an investigator with the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University in Ontario.

The researchers also noted that a very low intake of saturated fats (below 3 percent of daily diet) was associated with a higher risk of death in the study, compared to diets containing up to 13 percent daily.

At the same time, high-carb diets — containing an average 77 percent carbohydrates — were associated with a 28 percent increased risk of death versus low-carb diets, Dehghan said.

“The study showed that contrary to popular belief, increased consumption of dietary fats is associated with a lower risk of death,” Dehghan said.

“We found no evidence that below 10 percent of energy by saturated fat is beneficial, and going below 7 percent may even be harmful. Moderate amounts, particularly when accompanied with lower carbohydrate intake, are probably optimal,” she said.

These results suggest that leading health organizations might need to reconsider their dietary guidelines, Dehghan noted.

But not everyone is ready to throw out current dietary guidelines.

Dr. Christopher Ramsden is a clinical investigator with the U.S. National Institute on Aging. “There’s a lot more information that’s needed. They did a great job and they’re going to have a lot more coming out of it for years to come, but it’s hard to get it down to recommendations regarding food at this point,” he said.

“It really highlights the need for well-designed randomized controlled trials to answer some of these questions,” Ramsden added.

The researchers noted that their study did not look at the specific types of food from which nutrients were derived. And, that, said Bethany O’Dea, constitutes a “major flaw from a nutrition standpoint.” O’Dea is a cardiothoracic dietitian with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“For example, eating a healthy carb like an apple is more nutrient dense and better for you than eating a bag of processed potato chips,” O’Dea said.

“Furthermore, the study did not take trans fats into account, which hold heavy evidence of being unhealthy and contributing to cardiovascular disease,” she pointed out.

Current global guidelines recommend that 50 percent to 65 percent of a person’s daily calories come from carbohydrates, and less than 10 percent from saturated fats, the researchers said.

Dehghan suggested that “the best diets will include a balance of carbohydrates and fats, approximately 50 to 55 percent carbohydrates and around 35 percent total fat, including both saturated and unsaturated fats.”

All foods contain three major macronutrients essential for life — fat, carbohydrate and protein. The optimum amounts a person should eat has been the focus of debate for decades, with the pendulum swinging from low-fat to low-carb diets over time.

For this study, Dehghan and her colleagues tracked the diet and health of more than 135,000 people, aged 35 to 70, from 18 countries around the world, to gain a global perspective on the health effects of diet.

Participants provided detailed information on their social and economic status, lifestyle, medical history and current health. They also completed a questionnaire on their regular diet, which researchers used to calculate their average daily calories from fats, carbohydrates and proteins.

The research team then tracked the participants’ health for about seven years on average, with follow-up visits at least every three years.

The investigators found that high-carbohydrate diets are common, with more than half of the people deriving 70 percent of their daily calories from carbs.

High-carbohydrate diets have been linked with increases in both blood cholesterol and in the chemical building blocks of cholesterol, Dehghan said.

While the experts continue debating what’s the best diet, what should you be eating?

O’Dea said, “Your diet should consist of healthy carbs, lean protein, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Remember to avoid processed snacks that contain trans and saturated fats, and opt for a healthy carb source.”

The study was scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the European Society of Cardiology annual meeting in Barcelona, Spain. The research was being published online as two studies in The Lancet.

Source: HealthDay

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