Zomppin’ with Z: Ponzu Squid and the Bestest Corn

| September 18, 2009

For those of you who recall my interlude with Carolina royalty and the Great MJ, you may recall that I’ve been Zomppin’ with Chef Z. Learning quickly what a horrible cook I am. I always thought I was a decent cook, basing on my audience’s reactions. Now I’m beginning to wonder if they were all just too nice… I have three excuses for messing up and wasting so many of Chef Z’s ingredients with one botched job after another: 1) it’s not my kitchen, 2) I didn’t grow up with a lot of these flavor profiles, and 3) I did not grow up in a house where cooking happened all day or where baking from scratch occurred (my mother doesn’t know how to cook at all…another story for another time).


So Chef Z has been amazingly patient, and I’m jotting down as many techniques that I can! Speaking of techniques, let me offer a Zacki’s Tip of the Day: baking powder rises, baking soda spreads.

Two other recent techniques are two dishes that are full in flavor but so easy to make. These are great to fancy a weeknight dinner or impress a potluck crowd – just don’t tell them how easy they are to make!

The first dish jazzes up calamari (squid) with the simplest Ponzu sauce. Ponzu is a Japanese vinaigrette-like (but not to me) dipping sauce. Some versions add mirin and ginger, but hers was simple, to the point, and delicious.


Ponzu Calamari
1 part lime juice
1 part daikon, chopped
1 part soy sauce

1. Wash calamari thoroughly and cut into pieces (I like longer strips)
2. Place lime juice, daikon, and soy sauce together and blend well. Daikon should be barely visible. Use a food processor immersion blender.
3. Place ponzu in Ziploc baggie and marinate calamari for at least 10 minutes. Longer is fine – even overnight in the refrigerator
4. Heat grill or skillet on high heat
5. Cook calamari about 2 minutes on each side. You don’t want to overcook or it becomes rubbery. Calamari needs to be cooked for a very short time or a very, very long time.

You can do this with shrimp as well. So good and easy!

The second dish is so simple, but packed with goodness. The corn’s carmelized deliciousness adds a wonderful nuttiness and richness that is mmmmmmm-mmmm!


Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad
1 bag of sweetened organic corn
½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
½ red onion, chopped
Olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green onion, chopped
½ lime

1. In large skillet, add olive oil until hot
2. Add the corn and over medium high heat, let it roast, occasionally stirring. Don’t rush this process. Eventually, the corn will start to get a nice brown coating (don’t forget to stir so you don’t have burnt corn!). This coating indicates that the corn’s natural sugars are starting to carmelize.
3. Once the corn begins to carmelize, add red onions, shallots, and garlic cloves. Cook until they are translucent, adding a little more olive oil if necessary.
4. Season with salt and pepper
5. Add juice from half a lime
6. When the lime juice is well integrated, add the cherry tomatoes and green onions and cook for 1-2 minutes. Do not overcook the tomatoes because you want them to still have a lovely crunch
7. Take off heat

Seriously, these are so good and so easy that even a cook with zero technique like me can do it!

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Category: Asia Pacific, Communities, Featured Articles: Travel & Culture, Main Dish - Land and Sea, Main Dish - Vegetarian, Piedmont NC, Recipe Vault, Sides, Sauces, and Breads, Travel & Culture, US & Canada

About the Author (Author Profile)

With a flair for spontaneity, pizzazz, creative excellence and her own unique sense of aesthetic grace and perspective, we have our very dear friend, Belinda (or B, to some of us). Although an incredibly accomplished professional and career woman, B’s down-to-earth approach and demeanor transcends all scenarios, communities and people. She manifests, in her day-to-day, the essence of the word “Zomppa” as demonstrated by her extraordinary commitment to creating sustainable and positive change for us and future generations to come. She’s asked for a dog every year since she was five. Check out Belinda’s work on global education research and coaching: www.hummingbirdrcc.com or more about her portfolio www.belindachiu.com.

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  1. Photo of the Day: Eat Your Colors | Zomppa - Food, Meet People | November 14, 2010
  1. Patty says:

    I’m an amateur baker and ALWAYS use baking powder and baking soda. I understood the powder’s purpose, but never bothered to find out what the bicarbonate is for! Thanks very much for the tip! Very helpful….keep them coming!

  2. TY says:

    Never was a baker,and the times I attempted to bake it never turned out right…duh! I did not use baking soda for baking. Thanks B! However, I did use the baking soda in my fridge as it absorbs the odours.

    The roasted corn salad looks delicious!

  3. Carlo Arreglo says:

    Yum. Have you read Stealing Buddha’s Dinner?

  4. Belinda says:

    No, but it looks good – I’d love to expand my reading list if you have any other ideas!