Yearly Archives: 2011 - Page 2


Our American food series continues with meatballs. Meatballs can be eaten by themselves, or in other dishes like spaghetti. They are convenient lunch foods; they travel in plastic containers well and can even be eaten with fingers.

Simple Meatballs

Start with 1 lb 80% ground beef, 1/8 cup potato starch (1/4 cup for a tougher, sturdier meatball), 1 egg, and minced garlic:

Mix thoroughly with spices to taste – salt, pepper, and cilantro, dill, or other green herbs:

Roll the mixed ingredients into small balls. A pound of beef makes about 30 meatballs:

In a saucepan, place slices of ginger root in enough water to cover the meatballs, and bring it to a boil:

Add meatballs to the boiling water and cook until cooked through (typically 8 to 10 minutes):

Remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon and let them drip dry.

When the meatballs are done, you can cook vegetables in the leftover meatball water. Here is watercress:

Strain the water and add olive oil and spices:

Pearl meatballs

Pearl meatballs are popular in China, and often found in dim sum restaurants. The “pearls” are grains of rice.

Preparation methods are as before, but also begin with a half cup of uncooked sticky rice or Japanese short-grain rice:

Soak the rice in water for 10 minutes before using.

Also, add 1 teaspoon soy sauce to the ingredient list, and triple the amount of pepper.

Traditionally the meatballs are rolled in the rice so that rice is found on the surface of the uncooked meatball, but you can also mix rice into the body of the meatball:

Both ways work, and taste similar.

We steam the pearl meatballs on a bed of shredded cabbage for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes we turn the heat off but keep the lid on and let them continue steaming for another 5 minutes.

After cooking is done don’t quickly remove the lid; let them steam and drip-dry for another 5 minutes.

Then transfer them to a serving plate:


You can use meatballs in a host of recipes. You may have noticed we included meatballs in our Bi Bim Bap (Oct 16, 2011). It’s handy to keep some around in the refrigerator for an occasional beefy snack.

Bi Bim Bap

Our usual lunch is Bi Bim Bap – which is Korean for “leftovers.” (Literally, it means “mixed with rice.”)

Bi Bim Bap is a versatile dish which can be assembled out of almost any combination of ingredients. Like Cambridge Fried Rice, it is a classic Asian method for combining leftovers to create a meal in a bowl.

The Bi Bim Bap Recipe

The best place to look for a formula for Bi Bim Bap may be the Perfect Health Diet Food Plate:

The body of the apple contains our formula for a meal. Great meals combine four kinds of ingredients:

  1. A safe starch.
  2. Meat, fish, and eggs.
  3. Vegetables, herbs, and spices.
  4. A sauce made from fats and acids.

Our Version of Korean Bi Bim Bap

The classic Korean Bibimbap recipe uses barbecued beef and eggs as the meat, rice as the starch, mixed vegetables, and a Korean spicy sauce with sweet and sour flavors.

We assembled the following ingredients as an example. For meat we used meatballs and slices of leftover ribeye:

We also included eggs as a second kind of meat. As a base for the sauce we used Korean spicy sauce; here is a possible brand: Sunchang Gochujang 500g. Which is not perfect, as it contains soybean powderwheat, but as it’s quite spicy a little goes a long way. Chili flakes can substitute for the Korean sauce.

Koreans usually favor a mix of spicy, sweet, and sour flavors in the sauce. The sweet and sour can be provided by equal parts rice syrup and rice vinegar, plus a splash of sesame oil and salt and pepper:

The spicy sauce paste is mixed with this sweet and sour mixture to make the sauce. One tablespoon spicy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice syrup, and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or lemon juice will make a good sauce. For children, increase the sweet and sour flavors and decrease the spicy/chili flavors.

For acids, lemon juice or lime juice, or some other flavor of vinegar, can be substituted for the rice vinegar.

For more spiciness, bits of jalapeno can be added. Egg yolk can provide an additional source of fat.

Include vegetables of your choice. These are onions, peppers, green bean, and watercress:

Kimchi (fermented vegetables) can be substituted for the vegetables.

Everyone can make his own bowl. Since we’ve just been debating how much of the “safe starches” one should eat, here’s what we consider a full meal’s worth of rice:

This is 150 g of cooked white rice which works out to about 200 calories of carbs. We eat two meals a day so this works out to about 400 carb calories per day.

On top of the rice Paul has added meat, vegetables, egg, egg yolk, spicy sauce, and lemon juice:

A bit of rice syrup and a little more meat got the proportions to Paul’s liking.

Here was Shou-Ching’s bowl:

Just mix all the ingredients together and eat!

Bi Bim Bap at Lunch

We didn’t take pictures, but Paul’s typical lunch is assembled like this:

  1. Whatever leftover safe starch is available is put at the bottom of the bowl. If this is potato or taro, Paul dices it up into small pieces; if it is rice it looks rather like the picture above.
  2. Paul adds 3 egg yolks and the juice of half or quarter lemon.
  3. Paul adds leftover meat and vegetables.
  4. Paul adds spices to taste. These may include spices with medicinal value, such as turmeric, and then curry or other spicy flavors. Or they may include salt and pepper, or rice syrup for a sweet flavor.
  5. The Bi Bim Bap is microwaved for a minute, then mixed and microwaved again until it is uniformly warm.

At dinner we usually cook at least twice as much as we intend to eat that night, so there are plenty of leftovers. The leftovers provide lunch and usually a Bi Bim Bap, Cambridge Fried Rice, or Japanese sushi buffet dinner of leftovers once during the week.

Mussels in Thai Curry Sauce

We recommend eating shellfish, for their nutritional content and lack of omega-6 fats.

At least in New England, mussels are inexpensive and readily available. We pay around $3 per pound and they are in local supermarkets year-round.

Mussels make a good appetizer or main dish. We usually make them with one of three sauces: (1) A soy sauce based Asian sauce; (2) Pacific Sweet and Sour sauce; or (3) a Thai curry sauce. Today, it’ll be the Thai curry sauce.

Preparing the sauce

Our main ingredients were onions, peppers, shiitake mushrooms, coconut milk, and Thai Kitchen red curry paste:

Prepare the sauce in a wok – this is important because we’ll want to toss the mussels in the sauce later, and you’ll need the rounded sides.

Soften the onions in a bit of oil – we used rendered beef tallow:

Add the peppers and mushrooms and cook them a bit:

Then add the coconut milk, curry paste, salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste:

Steaming the mussels

The key to cooking mussels is to steam them separately, flash-cooking them so they don’t overcook and become dry and tough, but cooking long enough to kill any bad bacteria.

While the sauce is cooking, start heating a few inches of water in a steamer pot. When the water is boiling and making steam, and the sauce is done, add the mussels to the steamer.

They’ll need two to five minutes to cook. You’ll know they’re done when the mussels open. You can hear them opening, or, if you have a glass lid to your steamer as we do, can watch them. Let the opened mussels steam briefly before removing the lid. When you open the lid the mussels should all be open:

Discard any mussels that failed to open. Immediately remove the steamer basket and let any liquid drain out.


There’s no further cooking once the mussels have been steamed; all you have to do is transfer the mussels to the wok with the sauce, and mix them.

Once you’ve transferred the mussels to the work, toss the mussels in the wok until the mussels and sauce are thoroughly mixed:

Transfer to a serving bowl, pouring any residual sauce over the mussels:


Bone Broth Revisited; and Pumpkin Soup

We’d like to thank Shilpi and Amit Mehta for hosting the potluck dinner last night. My talk was on “Common Pitfalls of Paleo,” and it was a pleasure to meet so many Paleo enthusiasts, including people we knew from PaleoHacks, email, comments, and Facebook.

We brought pumpkin soup to the potluck, and that will be our food post this week. But we’ve had some questions about bone broths, so let’s revisit that first.

Making a Tasty Broth

Earlier, we discussed making a broth from ox feet (Ox Feet Broth, Miso Soup, and Other Soups, Jan 2, 2011). The advantage of feet (ox feet, chicken feet) or tails (ox tail) is that they have a lot of connective tissue, so they make a gelatinous broth full of nourishing collagen.

However, you can make a good broth from any bones, and it’s possible to find marrow bones that also have some connective tissue. With longer cooking, you can extract collagen and minerals from the bone itself, and get a good broth from these larger bones.

We’ve found, on limited data so far, that bones from grass-fed animals from local farms seem to produce a tastier broth than supermarket bones. I’d be curious to hear if others have had the same experience.

A few other tricks can help make a tasty broth. One tactic that seems to work is to discard and replace the cooking water at an early stage.

Here’s what we do. In this case, we started with a mix of beef and pork bones:

As you can see some blood comes out of the bones, especially the pork bones, almost immediately. This may be responsible for the poor taste some experience.

We put the heat on very low and let the water warm up gradually. Before it reaches a boil, after an hour or less, it looks like this:

At this point we drain and discard the liquid, adding new water. It now looks like:

You can see the marrow inside the pork bones, which will fall out before we’re done, and the ligaments and tendons in the joints, which will produce a nourishing gelatin. Bits of meat and fat will also be released.

After some hours of cooking, all the meat and fat and most of the marrow and connective tissue will have fallen off the bones. It will look something like this:

At this point you can pour out the broth into a container and use this fatty, meaty broth for rich soups. Seaweed, vegetables like tomatoes and onions, and thinly sliced beef, tendon, or pork bellies go well with this broth. We often use it for Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup) (Feb 27, 2011).

Add water and acid and continue cooking. This second round of broth will mainly contain minerals and some collagen, and will need longer cooking.

In the second and later rounds of cooking, we add an acid to help extract minerals from the bones and expose the collagen matrix. Lime juice, lemon juice, and vinegar all work well. We especially like the juice of a lime, and rice vinegar, which gives a slightly sweet taste; others seem to like apple cider vinegar, which is more acidic.

Here are our beef and pork bones early in the process:

And here they are later:

The bones will be obviously softening by this point, as you can tell by poking them with the tine of a fork.

If you wish, you can once again collect the broth, add new water and cook again. Every successive broth will be lighter. In the third round, with long enough cooking, the broth becomes white, like this:

I have heard that in earlier times, when food was costly but fuel cheap, that bones would get cooked until all the nutrients had been extracted – for as long as a month.

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkins are abundant in New England in October, and we love pumpkin soup.

Here are the ingredients – garlic, onion, and pumpkin:

On very low heat, gently cook the garlic and onion in 3 tbsp butter:

Then add the diced pumpkin and enough bone broth to cover:

Bring to a simmer but don’t boil. When the pumpkin is cooked, after about 20 minutes, use a hand blender to puree the pumpkin-onion-broth mixture in the pot. It will look like this:

Add salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg to taste, and 1 tbsp rice syrup for a touch of sweetness. Add curry, or other spices, if you like a more flavorful soup. Serve hot, adding a dollop of sour cream if you like a richer, fattier taste:

A delicious autumn appetizer! It can even serve as a meal by adding meat and vegetables to the soup.