Peruvian Aji Amarillo Sauce & Rocoto Sauce (Chili sauces)

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Aji amarillo which means yellow chili (even though it is actually orange) and rocoto (a red chili that kind of resembles a bell pepper) are the most popular chili peppers from Peru.

These two are my all-time favorite sauces for pretty much everything. They are great with fries, rotisserie or fried chicken, burgers, you name it! If you go to any restaurant or fast food place in Peru, you will most likely find these. Of course the level of heat depends on the chilies, so it sometimes varies. But most often they are not very spicy, especially the one with aji amarillo. Rocoto sauce tends to be more spicy, but the lime juice balances the heat very well. Whenever I make them, they are gone within the same day. Pieter also goes crazy for them.

You can usually find the aji amarillo and rocoto paste at any store that sells products from South America or online.

This time I served the sauces with buttermilk fried chicken and fried cassava. You can find the buttermilk fried chicken recipe here.

Ingredients:

For the aji amarillo sauce:

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

85grs of aji amarillo paste

2 tablespoons of chopped coriander

½ cup of mayonnaise

Juice of ½ a lime

Pinch of celery salt

Pinch of salt

For the rocoto sauce:

85grs of rocoto paste

2 spring onions, finely chopped

Juice of 2 limes

Pinch of Salt

Pepper to taste

1 tablespoon of olive oil

 

To make the aji amarillo sauce, place the vegetable oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook it until it becomes translucent (don’t brown it). Then add the minced garlic and cook it for an extra minute while stirring.

Blend the onion and garlic mixture with the remaining ingredients. Adjust the salt to your liking. Transfer it to a bowl and store it covered in the fridge until ready to serve.

To make the rocoto sauce, just mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Store it covered in the fridge until ready to use.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

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Restaurant Arles

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Last Saturday we tried out Arles for dinner. A new néo-bistrot very close to the Albert Cuyp market. The kitchen is run by French chef Numa Muller who was born in Arles, hence the name of the restaurant. I have a love from French cuisine, so I was very excited to pay them a visit. It is a charming restaurant, which is bigger than it appears when you see it from the street. It has a closed patio in the back and an open part covered in grape vines.

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Their menu consists of what the market has to offer. We went for the 3 course menu. We started with a dish with leeks, beets, Dijon and a 62 degree eggs. A super simple but delicious dish. We couldn’t help dipping some bread into the runny yolk.

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The second starter was the mackerel with cauliflower, lemon and olive oil. Very light and fresh.

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Our mains were the cod with salsify, coffee and almond. It was a lovely combination of flavors.

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And the chuck steak in red wine served with roasted and pickled carrots. No need for a knife to cut the beef. It was very tender and you could just tear it off with your fork.

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For dessert, we went for the chocolate with mint, hazelnut and olives. You would think the olives would have been a bit weird but it worked. And we also chose the lemon cream with strawberries and basil. A delicious palate cleanser and great ending of our meal.

You can’t really beat their 3 course menu for 34 euros. It is quite a bargain, especially if you think of Amsterdam prices. A little French gem in De Pijp.

Restaurant Arles

Govert Flinckstraat 251, Amsterdam

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

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Butternut Squash & Spelt Yeasted Waffles

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Fall has arrived and as much as I prefer summer, I got to embrace all the good things it brings. And of course butternut squash is one of those things. These waffles are crispy and have a tangy taste because of the yeast. They freeze well, so you can make them in advance and reheat them in an oven at 180C/350F for about 8-10 minutes. They will become super crispy afterwards. So they are perfect if you are hosting a brunch.

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This recipe makes about 10 small waffles. You can always double the batch.

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cup of spelt flour

1 cup of lukewarm milk

3.5grs of dried yeast

1 egg

2 tablespoons of melted butter

1/3 of a cup of butternut squash puree (you can also use pumpkin)

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon of sugar beet syrup (you can also use maple syrup or honey)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

¾ teaspoon of cinnamon powder

¼ teaspoon of cardamom powder

1 tablespoon of sugar

 

Place the lukewarm milk, yeast, sugar beet syrup and sugar in a large bowl. Let it stand for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.

Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until everything is well combined. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat your waffle iron. Brush it with a bit of vegetable oil or spray it with non-sticking cooking spray.

Pour some of the waffle batter into the preheated waffle iron and cook till golden-brown.

You can serve them with honey, maple syrup or jam. I also topped them with fresh figs and edible flowers.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

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Oven Fries with Feta, Preserved Lemon & Oregano

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I am a sucker for fries. I wanted to try a new method for making them crispy. So the other night, I tried the Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for oven fries. The result was super crispy fries with a bit less guilt since they are baked. Her trick is to boil the potatoes first and then roast them at a high temperature. Easy, peasy!

But I wanted to make something a bit different to top the fries. So, I sautéed fresh oregano, finely chopped preserved lemon, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne. Just for a bit until the oregano became aromatic. Then I mixed it with the crumbled feta. This turned out to be delicious! Not only on fries, but also on toast or crackers. So please give it a try!

This recipe serves 2.

For the fries:

½ kilo of potatoes (that will hold its shape like Russet), scrubbed and thinly sliced.

About ¼ cup of olive oil

Salt to taste

For the feta topping:

200gr of crumbled feta

1 preserved lemon, very finely chopped

Leaves of 4 fresh oregano stems, very finely chopped

2 tablespoons of olive oil

½ teaspoon of onion powder

½ teaspoon of garlic powder

Cayenne to taste

A pinch of salt (optional, but not too much because the feta is already salty)

3 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley

 

Thinly slice the scrubbed potatoes, and boil about 2 litters of water.

Preheat your oven to 230C/450F.

Place the sliced potatoes in a large pot and add the boiling water. Let the potatoes boil for 7 minutes.

In the meanwhile, line your baking tray with aluminum foil and pour the ¼ cup of olive oil into the tray. Swirl it around so that all of the surface of the tray is coated with olive oil.

Place the tray in the oven to heat up.

Drain the potatoes. Then place them in a single layer on the hot baking tray. It is important that they are in a single layer. Don’t over-crowd them, otherwise they won’t get crispy. Sprinkle a bit of salt. Roast them for 20 minutes. Then toss them, and finish roasting them for an extra 10 minutes.

To make the feta topping, place two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the oregano, preserved lemon, onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne. Cook for 1 minute while stirring. Then remove it from the heat and add it to the crumbled feta. Mix well. Taste for salt.

To serve, just top the fries with the flavored feta. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley and enjoy!

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

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Picking your own bouquet of flowers

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It’s the simple things in life that make me happy. I love going to the market and getting flowers every week. My flower lady knows to give me some time, no rush while I browse through all the different kinds she has to offer. Two weeks ago we grabbed our bikes, hopped into a train and went to Hillegom. It is a town not far from Amsterdam, known for its tulip fields. We love going there in spring when the flower fields are in full bloom and the scent surrounding the area is deliciously intoxicating.

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But what I recently found out is that there are also fields where you can go and pick your own bouquet yourself. We arrived at Annemieke’s Pluktuin, we were given a bucket and scissors, and we were off to the fields. Such a simple yet fun experience. I felt like Charlie at the chocolate factory.

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When we got to the dahlia garden, I was going nuts at the different varieties and the size of some of them. They were the size of a small watermelon. The weather could have also not been better. Sunny and warm, it was perfect to spend some time outside. When you are done, you just go to the register and pay depending on how big your bouquet is. We definitely want to return again!

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For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

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About last week

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I often get asked where do I get my props. I often get them online, at little shops or sometimes at flee markets. I recently found a nice online shop from the States called Eating Tools that sells cooking and eating utensils. They are all handcrafted by different artisans all around the world, so each piece is quite unique. I got the copper bowl and titanium chopsticks in the picture above from that shop. You can find the recipe for the cucumber noodles with miso roasted salmon here.

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SNCKBR, the healthy all day cafe, now has a new location at the Kinkerstraat in Amsterdam West. I was invited to a dinner tasting, while they were still doing the final touches on the new location, hence all the tools in the background. The food they serve is really good and they have a good variety of vegetarian and some vegan options too. So it is definitely worth a stop if you are in the neighborhood. It was too dark to take a decent picture of everything that we ate, but if you follow my Instagram stories, you’ve probably already seen it.

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Last week I also went to a beauty event organized by Elle magazine and Yves Saint Laurent. It was to celebrate the launch of their new lipstick Vernis a Lèvres Vinyl Cream. So we got some tips from make up artists and got to try on some of their products. It was a fun girly afternoon with my friend Rosanna. And of course, no event is complete without a goody bag. I’m a big fan of the lipstick, it is very easy to apply and doesn’t dry my lips.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

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Chocolate & Blueberry Spelt Muffins + Electrolux Ideas Lab

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I am very excited to be part of Electrolux Ideas Lab. They have a new project where they are looking for revolutionary ideas that inspire people around the world to enjoy tastier, healthier and more sustainable home cooking in the future. And they are offering a pretty good incentive if your idea wins. Keep reading to find out more.

They asked me why home cooked meals are important to me. My answer is very simple. Basic cooking is such an essential skill in life. From then on, you can experiment as you wish. When you cook your meals yourself, you know what you are putting into your body. It is better for your wallet and most often healthier for you too.

And healthy home cooked meals don’t have to be complicated or take long to cook. The only thing it takes is some planning. What I find easiest is to prepare a menu for the week, leaving 2 days free for impromptu dinners, going out with friends or to do clean-up the fridge/freezer meals. Proper planning will not only save you time spent going to the stores too often, but it will also minimize waste and in the end save you money. Just make sure to check your pantry/fridge/freezer while making your grocery list.

Another way to ensure that I always have healthy ingredients/food at home is having a well-stocked freezer. My freezer is not very big but I use it to the fullest. I have one compartment full of frozen fruit for smoothies, quick compotes to add to porridge or for baking. Another compartment filled with veggies, like spinach cubes which are great for smoothies, soups or pasta sauces. And the last compartment I have is for leftover food or anything that I cooked extra to eat on very busy days.

Most food will keep for months in the freezer, if you have packed them well. If you freeze fruits or veggies, make sure that they are dry (or pat them dry). Use freezer bags to pack them and make sure to let all the air out of the bag. Label them with the dates you froze them. Another thing that helps prevent waste (and this also applies to your fridge/pantry) is using the FIFO method. It is something I learned in school and simply means First In, First Out. So it basically means to store your food in a way that you use the oldest product that you bought first. It is the same way supermarkets organize their products on the shelves. If you’ve ever checked the milk isle for example, you will find the milk cartons in the front are the ones that expire the soonest (oldest). And the ones in the back will have a later expiration date.

Here are some ideas:

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When you make a smoothie, you can also make a larger batch and freeze some of it into popsicle molds to have as a healthy snack. The picture above is a smoothie I made with frozen mango, Greek yogurt, a bit of honey and a pinch of turmeric. I topped it with frozen blueberries, fresh figs slices and popped quinoa. The picture below shows the popsicles I made with the leftover smoothie.

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For the carrot & butternut squash soup below, I used frozen butternut squash and fresh carrots. Since both veggies already have great consistency, there is no need to add any cream to the soup. I bought the carrots with the tops and instead of discarding them; I used the tops to make a pesto to add it as a topping to the soup. For the pesto, I used one bunch of carrot tops, half a bunch of basil, about ¼ of a bunch of chives, 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, a pinch of garlic powder, a pinch of celery salt, a few drops of lime juice, extra virgin olive oil (just enough so you can blend it) and salt to taste.

Besides a good spoonful of this pesto, I also topped the soup with roasted pumpkin seeds and a few slices of Parmesan. You can freeze the leftover pesto in small portions for another meal. Besides adding it to any pasta, you can use the pesto as part of the dressing for a quinoa caprese salad. Or add it to avocado toast for a quick breakfast.

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Muffins also freeze pretty well and are great to take on the go or for packed lunches.

And here is where you come in. Do you have a revolutionary idea? A smartphone app, a life hack, a food sharing program or a complete business idea? Anything that will inspire or help others to enjoy more sustainable and healthy home cooked meals? Electrolux will award the winning idea with a €10,000 cash prize and a week in Stockholm filled great culinary experiences. And you will also be able to meet mentors who can help you further develop your idea. A pretty good incentive if you ask me! You can submit your idea via www.electroluxideaslab.com . Happy thinking!

Going back to the muffins, they don’t have to be on the guilty side. I made these chocolate-blueberry muffins with a mixture of spelt and all-purpose flour. They are sweetened with apple sauce and honey, and they only have 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per batch. The recipe is as follows:

Chocolate & Blueberry Spelt Muffins

This recipe makes 8 small muffins.

Ingredients:

¾ cup of spelt flour

½ cup of all-purpose flour

¼ cup of honey

1/3 cup of unsweetened apple sauce

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Pinch of salt

½ cup of milk

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

2 teaspoons of baking powder

Zest of 2 mandarins

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of cacao powder

2 eggs

1 ½ cups of frozen blueberries

Extras:

8 muffin liners

2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil for greasing the muffin liners

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

In a large bowl whisk the flours, salt, baking powder, mandarin zest and cacao powder until well combined.

In another bowl, add the eggs, honey, apple sauce, olive oil, milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until everything is combined.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until everything is combined (don’t over mix). Finally add the frozen blueberries and fold them in.

Line the muffin pan with the muffin liners. Brush the liners with melted coconut oil. Fill the muffin liners, leaving only 1cm of space (these muffins rise a bit, but not too much). Bake them for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let them cool down completely before eating (it’s easier to remove the liners then). Once they are cold, you can place them in freezer bags (make sure to remove all the air). They will keep for about 2 months. You can let them thaw at room temperature.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

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Char Siu Cauliflower Tacos with Cabbage, Carrot & Green Papaya Slaw

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I love Char siu bao and the Char Siu sauce that you can find at any Asian store. My mom would use it often for chicken wings on the bbq while I was growing up. We would dip them in a mixture of lime juice, salt and Chinese five spice. It was great to balance out the sweetness of the sauce. So I thought why not make a veggie version? I love cauliflower and the result is crunchy caramelized goodness. For the slaw, I kept the Asian vibes going but with a more Thai-style slaw.

This recipe makes 12 small tacos. You’ll have enough slaw to eat on the side or you can also make a second batch of cauliflower.

Ingredients:

For the Cabbage, Carrot & Green Papaya Slaw:

3 cups of finely shredded purple cabbage

1 ½ cups of shredded carrot

3 cups of shredded green papaya

1 bunch of coriander, chopped

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon of minced ginger

Juice of 1 lime

1/3 cup of olive oil

1/3 cup of white vinegar

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

1 teaspoon of fish sauce

2 tablespoons of honey

Pinch of garlic powder

1 small red eye chili, finely chopped

1 teaspoon of brown sugar

1 tablespoon of ginger syrup (if you can’t find it just add an extra tablespoon of honey)

For the cauliflower:

1 medium cauliflower chopped into small florets (about 6 cups)

1/2 cups of Chinese BBQ sauce (Char siu sauce)

1 tablespoon of chili bean sauce

¼ cup of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

1 tablespoon of honey

Extra:

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil for the pan

1 tablespoon of sesame seeds

1 tablespoon of chopped chives

12 small tortillas

 

To make the slaw, just shred the green papaya, carrot and purple cabbage. Place them in a large bowl along with the chopped coriander.

To make the dressing for the slaw, just place all of the ingredients in a jar with a lid. And shake it till it emulsifies. Pour the dressing over the slaw and mix well. Keep it in the fridge until ready to serve.

To make the char siu cauliflower, first mix the Chinese BBQ sauce, chili bean sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and honey in a large bowl. Then add the cauliflower florets and mix until they are evenly coated.

Place one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the cauliflower and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes till it caramelizes. Toss it or stir from time to time so it doesn’t burn.

Warm up the tortillas in a pan. To assemble the tacos, just place some of the slaw and then the char siu cauliflower. Finish it by sprinkling some sesame seeds and chopped chives. Enjoy!

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

 

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Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I (Barcelona)

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Pieter and I went to Barcelona for a long weekend and stayed at the Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I. City trips can be very exhausting. At least for us, they always are. We always pack our schedule with lots to do and see, and by the time we come back home we feel like we need a week to recover. This time we wanted to chill a bit more. And that’s why we chose this hotel. It’s like a resort in the city. We spent a whole day just lounging and swimming in the pool, enjoying the Spanish heat.

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The hotel is located at the Av. Diagonal. It is just a few blocks from public transportation, and the metro has a direct connection to the airport. There are two shopping centers (with supermarkets) just a few tram stops away.

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The architectural design of the hotel is stunning. The marble tables at the lobby give it a chic feel. They are still refurbishing the rooms (will be finished by July 2017). We booked a refurbished deluxe room. A nice size room, spacious enough for 2 people and with a beautiful view of the city.

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We had dinner at the Terrace on our first night there.

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It is located in the hotel gardens next to one of the swimming pools. Their menu consists of local tapas and dishes cooked on a wood-fired grill. It was the first time we ever tried salmorejo, a cold puree made from tomatoes and bread. Super simple but so delicious!

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After some tapas, we ordered some meats on the grill while drinking some beers. Our mini holiday had begun!

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The main pool has a bar and restaurant. They also have a Veuve Clicquot Lounge, so you can enjoy some bubbly poolside.

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Overall we had a lovely experience at the Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I. The facilities were great and service was amazing, especially from the people at the Terrace who were super attentive and quick to bring our order.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

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Salmon Poke Sushi Tacos

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Gimme sushi any day and I am a happy woman! Okay, so this is not really a taco, but it’s a fun way to serve sushi. If your rolling skills are not very good or you don’t have the patience for it, this is an easier way to serve it. You will just need a 9 cm mold to make the round nori sheets. To the salmon poke, I added a bit of chili oil and a sprinkle of togarashi for some heat.

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This recipe makes 16 small tacos.

Ingredients:

For the sushi rice:

2 cups of sushi rice

2 cups of water

¼ cup to ½ cup of sushi vinegar depending on your taste

For the salmon poke:

460grs of salmon, sliced into small cubes

¼ cup of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

1 teaspoon of chili oil

1 ½ tablespoons of minced ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons of white sesame seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons of black sesame seeds

Extras:

16 nori sheets

Togarashi, to taste

3 tablespoons of chopped chives

300gr of Wakame salad

 

Start by making the sushi rice. Place the sushi rice in a strainer and rinse it under cold water until the water comes out clear.

Place the rice and 2 cups of cold water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, cover the pan and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Then remove it from the heat and let it sit covered for 10 minutes.

Then transfer the sushi rice to a large bowl, add ¼ of a cup of sushi vinegar and mix. Taste it and add a bit more sushi vinegar if you want. Keep stirring until all the sushi vinegar is absorbed. Allow it to cool down to room temperature before making the tacos.

Once the sushi rice has cooled down, start making the salmon poke. Just mix the salmon with the rest of the ingredients and keep it in the fridge until ready to serve.

Place a nori sheet (or 3 stacked on top of each other) on a cutting board. Place a 9cm round mold on top of the nori sheet. With a sharp knife, cut the nori into a round shape. Repeat until you have 16 round nori sheets. Don’t discard the remaining nori pieces, you can keep them in a Ziploc bag and use them later for a stir-fry, or to add it to soup.

To assemble the tacos, place one round nori sheet underneath the round mold. Then add a thin layer of sushi rice, pressing with the back of a spoon so it sticks to the nori. Repeat for all 16 nori sheets.

Then add a bit of the wakame salad and then the salmon poke (don’t over fill them, otherwise you won’t be able to fold them into tacos). Sprinkle some togarashi and chopped chives. Serve right away. Enjoy!

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

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