Monday, September 21, 2009

Fresh Edamame

When sushi became mainstream and more people got exposed to Japanese food, edamame (soy beans) became the new chips and salsa at many restaurants. My mom and dad decided to grow soy beans for the past two years in their backyard, and just about the only thing that makes me happy at the end of summer (besides the start of Husky football season—especially when we upset the #3 team in the nation!) is picking the beans and boiling them up for an absolutely delicious and healthy appetizer. You can find edamame in the freezer aisle of most grocery stores, but there is nothing like a fresh batch picked from the garden! They are sweeter and need less salt to get that juicy, nutty flavor people love. It takes all summer and several plants to produce a crop worth the time/effort, but the results are divine.

Here are some tips for getting the best flavor out of edamame, even if you have to have the frozen kind!
1. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, do not salt the water. Unlike pasta, you do not want to start with salted water, this can make the beans harden and not get as plump as you want them.

2. Once boiling, throw in your beans and stir. You know the beans are done when one of the pods pops out a bean.

3. When the beans are cooked (about 3-5 minutes), toss in plenty of coarse salt to the boiling water so the water is well flavored. It will also infuse the beans with flavor.

4. Drain the beans and then quickly transfer the colander with beans back over the pot you boiled the beans in. Save the little bit of water that drips from the beans while you let them cool for about a minute.

5. Transfer beans to a bowl and sprinkle a couple of pinches of kosher or rock salt over the beans, toss, then add a couple more pinches over the top. Pour the bean water from step #4 over the top. Enjoy with a beer or green tea!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kyle’s Cookbook: Fresh Homemade Pesto

I love pesto and eat it regularly. Instant pesto is easy and convenient to make, however the cost of buying the instant packets can add up. Usually in the summer I make an effort to make my own fresh pesto to freeze for the remainder of the year.

A few weeks ago Emi and I visited my grandparents and during our visit they gave us a whole bag of fresh basil. With fresh, organic basil running about $3-5 for a small package this was a great deal for the price of free!

Emi and I love basil and have even grown a little of our own in our backyard, but we go through it so quickly that we never have enough to make pesto. We add basil to everything from fresh mozzarella, to pizza, and pastas. It’s really easy to grow and adds great flavor to anything you cook it with.

Nothing is better than fresh pesto especially when compared to the freeze dried, instant stuff and this is actually more economical as well.

Fresh basil before adding in the pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan

The finished product

What you will need:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed, and packed

½ C freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano or Romano cheese

½ C extra virgin olive oil

1/3 C pine nuts (you can buy them in bulk at Top Foods or in small packages at most grocery stores)

3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Combine the basil with the pine nuts in the food processor, pulse a few times. Add the garlic and pulse a few times more.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

This should make about 1 cup of pesto. I found this recipe on It was really easy to make, but a little messy. The website recommends that you do not add the cheese to the pesto if you plan on freezing it because the cheese does not freeze well. Instead add the Parmesan cheese once you've thawed out the pesto. The best way to store the pesto is by freezing it in an ice cube tray and then popping them out into a freezer Ziplock bag for storage.

Now what to do with the pesto? I posted two recipes in the comments section for anyone interested in trying out two of my favorites: Pesto Chicken Linguine and Pesto Oven Fried Chicken.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Grandma Miyo

On July 29 of this year, someone very special to me passed away: my surrogate grandmother, Miyo Shintaku. I met Miyo in 1999, when my parents and I moved to Seattle and started attending Blaine Memorial UMC. When my last grandparent passed away in 2005, Miyo told me she would be happy to be my surrogate grandma. Over the years we spent many Sundays after church eating dim sum, having her over to watch the Seahawks game, and my most cherished memory is having her be my “grandma” figure at our wedding last year.

Miyo’s life was honored at a beautiful service on August 18, and there were two consistent remarks made about Miyo: her love for others (she was a total social butterfly) and her love for food. She was a woman I could relate to!

She was best known for her work in the kitchen. In fact, one of my favorite memories was when she came to Hawaii with my family and me for Christmas in 2005. We had a large family reunion at my family farm in Oahu, and she spent the whole time slaving away in the kitchen to prepare the food for the special occasion. My father is usually the dictator of the kitchen, but Miyo kept shooing him away and taking over the dishes. The food turned out great, and I know that Miyo was happy to spend her vacation in her comfort zone: cooking in the kitchen.

This is a photo of Miyo saying "let me cook!" to my mom who is taking the pic!

One other memory I will always cherish is when she took Kyle, my parents and me out for a nice dinner at Ciao Bella, a small and delicious Italian restaurant in the U District. We had such a fun night and stuffed ourselves with the special of the night: wild boar, as well as my personal favorite dish, penne regatta. Kyle also wants me to note that their bolognese pasta is superb. After the service last Wednesday, we went back to Ciao Bella in honor of Miyo. I know she would have liked that.

After our delicious and memorable meal at Ciao Bella

I’m not sure if this was a secret recipe, but I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite recipes she would make: sesame green beans. I hope you might be able to try it sometime (it is great for picnics or potlucks), and will think of my Grandma Miyo.


1 lb Fresh Green Beans
3 tsp sugar
3 Tbs soy sauce
3 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Boil green beans in salted water until cooked, but still a bright green. Drain and chill. In a small pan, combine sugar, soy sauce and sesame seeds and cook until sugar dissolves. Let cool and then pour over green beans. This dish is good for several days, and actually gets better with time because the beans absorb the sauce—this is what makes it such a great picnic side dish or hiking snack.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Kyle's Kraves: Caspar's A Taste of the South

A couple weeks ago Emi’s Dad and I took the dogs for a hike up Little Mt Si in North Bend. After the 4.5 mile trek and a late start it was 3pm and we were starving. The whole last mile of the hike we talked about how we wanted to try Caspar’s BBQ. Caspar's is located just north of Lake City Way. I'll be honest, their food is decent, but not amazing; I would recommend Jones BBQ or Dixie BBQ over Caspar’s. However the reason I’m posting about Caspar's is because of their amazing beignets.

I was skeptical at first, but Emi's Dad said I had to try them. We ordered a dozen to bring back to share with Emi’s Mom who insisted we bring them back for her. I’m not necessarily a big dessert or sweets fan, but these were great! For anyone who hasn’t had beignets before the best way to describe them is fluffy, sweet, bite sized elephant ear that melts in your mouth. They are fried and coated in powdered sugar and cinnamon. When you bite into them they literally just melt into sweet goodness in your mouth. They are very light and not as rich as a funnel cake. If you ever want a nice treat or need to pick up a good dessert to bring to a party drop by Caspar’s and get some of their hot beignets. Also their sweet tea is really good too.