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July 18, 2010

Ponzu sauce (Recipe: grilled flank steak with ponzu and honey glaze)

Grilled flank steak with ponzu glaze

The first time I bought ponzu sauce was a happy accident.

I pulled down what I thought was a bottle of Japanese soy sauce from a high shelf at the Asian grocery. I tossed it into my shopping cart, and not until I reached the checkout line, with my cart full and my wallet in hand, did I realize I had ponzu instead of soy sauce.

I checked the ingredient list on the bottle. Well, I thought, why not give it a try?

Thus began my love affair with ponzu. Think of it "soy sauce plus", as soy is the main ingredient, but it's the combination of sweet and fruit that makes ponzu sauce a perfect base for building a glaze, or a stir-fry or barbecue sauce.

It's easy to make your own from ingredients you probably already have in the pantry, but it's easier to keep a bottle of store-bought ponzu in the refrigerator.

Continue reading "Ponzu sauce (Recipe: grilled flank steak with ponzu and honey glaze)" »

June 13, 2010

Chili paste with garlic (Recipe: spicy Asian grilled chicken and pasta salad)

Asian grilled chicken and pasta salad

My love affair with chili paste with garlic continues, going on thirty years now, with no loss of affection.

It was my first -- first authentic Chinese condiment in the pantry, that is -- and it's still my favorite, the one that makes my heart sing (and, occasionally, burn), the one I can't live without.

My husband Ted, who is not the least bit jealous of this relationship, will tell you that I get twitchy when I pull the last jar off the pantry shelf. I'm happier with a little stash of three or four jars of my favorite Lan Chi brand with their bright-green-and-white labels in Chinese and English.

Nothing, not even chocolate or lemon or Fresca, excites my taste buds in quite the same way.

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November 24, 2009

Spike seasoning (Recipe: Spiked Cornish game hens)

Not Quite Turkey Week, Day Two: An updated post from the archives, with new photos, links, and printer-friendly recipe.

Cornish game hen, a perfect meal for one or two.

Helmut Eugen Benjamin Gellert Hauser must have had the world's most perfect pantry.

How else could he have concocted his famous Spike seasoning, which combines 39 ingredients (Really. 39. Can you count them in the photograph?):

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July 10, 2008

Ground cardamom (Recipe: spice rub for chicken)


How do you say cardamom?

Nobody's entirely sure of the etymology of the word, though it originated in ancient Greek (kardamomom), but the names for this popular spice from the ginger family are varied: shooshmir (Armenian); sugmel (Tibetan); trúc sa (Vietnamese); phalazee (Burmese); elaichi (Hindi); habbahan (Arabic); karudamon (Japanese); cardamomo (Italian); kardamonas (Lithuanian); kardemon (Estonian); kardemomme (Danish).

My favorite is kardemumma (Swedish) perhaps because I can imagine my Swedish brother-in-law Nils pronouncing each lilting syllable -- kar de MUM a -- his blue eyes twinkling, a glass of cardamom-laced akvavit raised for a toast.

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August 9, 2007

Flavored sea salt (Recipe: Grilled sirloin tips with asparagus)


In the beginning, everything was pink.

Not just pink. Barbie pink.

My first big-girl bedroom.

My first and only prom gown.

My first contact lenses. (I was 14 years old, and when the doctor asked what color I wanted, I said, "Ooooh, I always wanted blue eyes." He pointed out that the lenses wouldn't change my brown eye color, so the sassy teenager in me replied, "Well, then, might as well make them pink." He did.)

My first sea salt was pink, too, a lovely, faintly volcanic, not-at-all-Barbie, reddish-pink salt from Hawaii.

Until a couple of years ago, I didn't really "get" salt. I don't mean that I didn't have salt in The Perfect Pantry; I had plenty. Iodized table salt (for baking) and kosher salt (for everyday). That Hawaiian pink salt. Black salt. French fleur de sel and Portuguese flor de sal.

I pinched here and there, and used my salts sparingly for baking and on matzoh brei. Then, just when I'd gotten the hang of colored salts, I discovered flavored sea salt.

Continue reading "Flavored sea salt (Recipe: Grilled sirloin tips with asparagus)" »

Welcome to The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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