shrimp with spicy green rice

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A Southeast Asian-flavored dish inspired by Venetian risi e bisi, an Italian rice with peas. To me, this dish is reminiscent of  khao tom, a Thai rice soup with meat or seafood, served with steamed rice in a broth. In Thai cooking, condiments are served on the side so you can make it as salty, sour, sweet or spicy as you like. Although this recipe recommends seasoning the dish in the kitchen, I have reserved some of the herb sauce for seasoning at the table. 

Shrimp with Spicy Green Rice (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 21 minutes

2-4 large cloves garlic
1-2 green Thai chilies, sliced with or without seeds, depending on your preference for heat
1 cup packed fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons fresh ginger (4-inch piece), minced
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/4 cup veg oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 small leek, thinly sliced (2 cups)
3 cups chicken broth/stock preferably home made and low sodium
4 oz sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup long-grain white rice (recommend: Thai jasmine rice)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
Salt

For serving:
Herb sauce
Cilantro, chopped
Basil, chopped
Lime wedges

Special equipment: a medium-sized Dutch pot with a lid

Prepare all ingredients.

In a food processor, pulse garlic until finely chopped. Add 2 tablespoons ginger, chili, basil, cilantro, fish sauce, and sugar. Process until finely chopped. Add 1 tablespoon oil and 3 tablespoons water and process finely. You should have about 2/3 cup of sauce. Set aside

In the pot without the lid, heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil on medium-high heat. Add leeks and remaining 1 tablespoon ginger. Cook until leek is translucent, 3-4 minutes. Stir in rice and broth along with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover pot and simmer rice until it is very soft, 17-18 minutes. The texture will be soupy.

Add shrimp, simmer, stirring once or twice, until shrimp just turns pink, 1-2 minutes. Stir in peas and 2 tablespoons of the herb sauce. Taste for seasoning and heat. If you wish, add more sauce—it’s quite salty and you won’t need any additional salt. It’s better to be cautious and not add all the sauce to the pot, but reserve the remainder for spicing up individual plates at the table. Remove from heat and serve with more cilantro, basil, and lime wedges, as well as the remaining sauce. I found that the dish didn’t need any additional cilantro, basil, or lime so I left them out, and just served it with the remaining herb sauce.

brown rice thai curry chicken lettuce wraps

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This was originally a vegan recipe but because Andy likes meat, I made the wraps with chicken instead. It’s actually a rice salad that’s eaten with lettuce.

Brown Rice Thai Curry Chicken Lettuce Wraps (adapted from Vegan8)

For the Golden Curry Rice
1/2 cup (106 g) brown jasmine rice
1 1/4 cup (300 g) water
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 tablespoon (4 g) yellow curry powder
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

For the Thai Curry Chicken
1 packed cup (140 g) finely chopped white onion
2 long medium carrots (154 g) diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus another 1/4 teaspoon later
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons yellow curry powder
2 tablespoons red curry paste (I recommend a Thai brand such as Lobo)
1/2-1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (depending on how strong you like it)
2 cups chopped chicken tenders seasoned with salt and pepper and 2 teaspoons cornstarch, mixed together
3 teaspoons brown sugar, optional
1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
large romaine lettuce leaves

Thai Curry Lime Dipping Sauce
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons brown sugar, more or less to taste
2 tablespoons red curry paste
2 teaspoons grated onion
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions
1. Add all the ingredients for the curry rice to a rice cooker. If the rice isn’t tender, add a bit more water to the rice cooker and cook again until the grains are cooked but still firm. Set aside.

2. Cook the chicken in a little oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat until no longer pink. Remove from heat and set aside. Add the onions, carrots, just the 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup water to the empty pan over medium heat. Stir the veggies well and as soon as it comes to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. If the water dries out, add a bit more.

2. Remove from the heat and add the cooked chicken, curry powder, red curry paste, lime juice, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, sugar, if using. Stir and turn the heat to low. Cook for just a couple of minutes until heated through. Taste and add any more salt if needed. It should be spicy.

3. For the Thai Curry Lime Sauce, mix all of the ingredients in a small pot with a whisk. Turn to medium heat and cook for just a couple of minutes to heat through and dissolve the sugar. It should be spicy and slightly sweet.

4. Combine rice and chicken mixture. Spoon onto a lettuce leaf, then drizzle on Curry Lime Sauce and garnish with cilantro. Eat!

vietnamese summer rolls

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This is another recipe from the cookbook I got recently. Summer rolls are an appetizer made with rice paper, a brittle opaque circle of rice flour dough that must be softened until it turns transparent. It’s then filled with cooked shrimp, Chinese roast pork, and rice vermicelli.I bought the rice paper but I made my own roast pork. Roast pork can be bought at shops in Chinatown. I had bean threads on hand so I used that instead of the vermicelli.  After trial and error, I found that the rice paper shouldn’t be completely softened or they become too difficult to handle, but the vermicelli/bean threads can be left to soak as long as possible until they become soft; the softer the better. Unlike spring rolls that are always deep fried, summer rolls are eaten fresh. As you can see from the progression in the picture, I got better at rolling once I found the secret about the rice paper.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls (adapted from Chinese Cooking and More)
Makes 12 rolls
Prep time: 45 minutes

Vietnamese dipping sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 1/2 ounces rice vermicelli (can substitute bean threads)
12 rice paper wrappers, about 6 inches in diameter
36 whole fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 pound Chinese roast pork, sliced 1/8 inch thick (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon chopped peanuts
lime peel, optional

1.You can buy red roast pork or make your own. To make your own, marinate the pork tenderloin one night before then bake it the next day. Remove from oven to cool.
2.Prepare the Vietnamese dipping sauce and set aside.
3.Bring large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add shrimp. Simmer 1-2 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and opaque. Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon to a small bowl. When cool, slice shrimp in half lengthwise.
4.Soften vermicelli or bean threads in a medium bowl of hot water 20-30 minutes. Drain, and cut noodles into 3 inch lengths.
5.Soften rice paper wrappers one at a time in a large bowl of warm water 30-40 seconds or until just pliable. Drain wrappers one at a time on a kitchen towel then transfer to a work surface.

Cook’s Note: If the wrapper is too soft, it will curl over on itself and it will be very hard to straighten out. So soak each wrapper until it just softens; it’s okay if the edges are slightly stiff. My work surface was a kitchen towel because I found the wrapper stuck to the paper towel. I also found that the wrapper continued to soften while it was stretched out on the kitchen towel.

6.Arrange 3 cilantro leaves in the center of the wrapper, layer with 2 shrimp halves, 2 pork slices and about 4 tablespoons the rice vermicelli/bean threads.

7.Fold bottom of wrapper up over filling. Fold in each side then roll up. Repeat steps #5 and #6.
8.Just before serving sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Garnish with lime peel if desired. Serve with Vietnamese dipping sauce.

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce: Combine 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup fish sauce, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 clove minced garlic and 1/4 teaspoon chili oil in a small bowl and mix well. Makes 1 cup.

Homemade Chinese Roast Pork (CBT Lee)
I’ve been making this recipe for years; it’s very good Chinese restaurant quality. It can be made a day before assembling the rolls then refrigerated until ready to use.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Resting time: 3-6 hours, preferably overnight
Cooking time: 35-40 minutes

2 lb pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons brown bean sauce
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon 5 spice powder
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring

Mash brown bean sauce with a fork. Combine mashed beans and remaining ingredients in a small pot. Heat just to dissolve sugar. Pour marinade over pork. Let stand 3-6 hours in the refrigerator, turning occasionally. Bake at 350˚F/175˚C 35-40 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F on an instant read thermometer. Slice and serve.

last night in bangkok

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For our last feast in Bangkok Andy took us to Seacon Square to Chiseng Lamian, a Chinese noodle shop where they make their own noodles and dumplings. Without a pasta machine too. We had the soup dumplings, though I must say they were nothing like the ones we had  at the Pacificana in Brooklyn. One bite, and a burst of soup spurted into the mouth, perfectly warm without being scalding hot. However, the Chiseng noodles in the pork noodle soup  were perfectly al dente, the baby mustard greens just crisp tender, and the pork was perfection: it held up to the chopstick until placed in the mouth then it was tender without being dry or chewy. We all ordered the Thai iced lemongrass-ginger spiced tea.  Without the ubiquitous condensed milk. It was definitely home-made, with frozen tea-ice cubes. I thought I tasted cloves in it.  For dessert, I ate the frozen ice cubes. By the end of the meal they had turned into the consistency of tea-flavored shaved ice.

casuyon chicken menudo pie

Casuyon Chicken Menudo Pie (adapted from a recipe by Claire Casuyon’s Mom)
If you subtract the pie crust, bacon and leeks you have Menudo, Filipino style. Either one is a great dish, very easy to make for a Sunday supper with an accompaniment of a simple salad of fresh greens and grape tomatoes.

2 slices smoked bacon, chopped
3 cups leeks, sliced thin (about 2 leeks)
1 smashed garlic clove
1 tablespoon canola oil, optional
4 inch ginger root, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
4 boneless skinless thighs, trimmed of visible fat and chopped into 2 inch chunks
2 boneless skinless breasts, halved into 1 inch thick fillets and sliced into 2 inch chunks
1 1/2 cups red potato, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 cups baby carrots (1/2 bag of baby carrots), sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
2 cans of tomato sauce (preferably Hunts)
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Menudo Seasoning, or to taste

Menudo Seasoning (from The Cook’s Thesaurus)
Combine two parts oregano, two parts onion flakes or powder, one part crushed coriander seed, one part cumin, and one part crushed red chili pepper. Store in a jar.

Pie
1/2 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator
1 tablespoon fat free milk
1 large egg white

  1. In a dutch oven, cook bacon over medium high heat until brown and crisp. Then sauté leeks and garlic with the bacon and fat until slightly soft; if necessary add more oil. Add ginger and sauté for 2 more minutes.
    Add chicken thighs and stirfry. Reduce heat to medium. Let the meat cook until the outside turns white, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper for taste.
  2. Stir in two cans of tomato sauce and the bay leaf. Add water if the sauce seems too thick, then let sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Add menudo seasoning. If a stronger, thicker tomato sauce is desired, add the tomato paste.
    Preheat oven to 450˚F.
  3. Add chicken breasts, carrots, potatoes and bay leaf. Cover and let simmer until chicken is cooked and veggies are soft, about 20-25 minutes. Stir every 2-3 minutes. Add the peas. Adjust seasoning.
    Pour meat and vegetables into a 9.5 inch pie plate.
  4. Roll out pie crust onto a well-floured board so that there is an inch overhang. Loosely roll up the pie crust onto the rolling pin and roll it out on top of the meat and vegetables. Tuck the edges under on the rim of the pie plate. Either pinch the edges between thumb and forefinger or crimp with a fork. Mix water and egg white together and brush the top with the mixture. Poke the top with a knife to make slits or use the tines of a  fork to make vents. Bake 20-30 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove the pie from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
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coconut kale with filipino garlic fried rice

Taranee pointed out this recipe to me because it’s quick and easy to make for a weeknight supper. I jazzed it up by adding her coconut kale to it, not that it needed it, but I’m not cooking as much and I need to move some of those vegetables before they spoil! The kale added just the right color to complement the eggs, and were satisfyingly chewy, coconut-flavored, and spicy. I also used up some leftover rice. Fried rice is good for that. This recipe was lightly garlicky, chewy;  a nice contrast between the slightly bitter kale, the bland eggs, crunchy green onions,  and al dente rice.

Coconut Kale with Filipino Garlic Fried Rice (adapted from The Kitchn)

Serves 4

2 teaspoons butter (optional; can also use vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 large eggs
Salt and pepper
12 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 whole head of garlic, depending on the size)
4 cups cooked long­ grain brown-and-white rice (ratio 2:1)
4 cups kale, trimmed and chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon coconut oil
red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon soy sauce or fish sauce, to taste
2 green onions, chopped

Heat 2 teaspoons of butter or oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Beat the eggs with a dash of salt and pepper. Pour them into the pan and cook until the center is set. Roll up the omelet with a spatula. Turn the omelet out onto a plate and set aside. When it is cool enough to handle, cut it into strips about 1/4­inch wide x 2­ or 3­inches long.

Using the same pan or a separate wok, if you prefer, heat a tablespoon of oil over moderate heat and add the minced garlic. Fry the garlic, stirring constantly to prevent it from burning. When the garlic is crispy and golden, remove it from the pan (leaving the garlicky oil in the pan) and set aside.

In the same wok or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil until it just becomes fragrant. Add the kale and stir fry until it becomes wilted and turns a bright green. Sprinkle a little red pepper flakes all over and toss.

Stir in the rice. Make sure all the rice is coated with oil and then spread it across the pan in an even layer. Cook for a couple of minutes, then stir and repeat this process until the rice is heated through.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of soy sauce or fish sauce into the rice, toss and taste, adding more if needed. Remove from heat. Serve the rice garnished with egg strips, scallions, a little more red pepper flakes, if desired, and the fried garlic.

gai yang roulade with corn grits

Sometimes food gets boring. Every night it becomes the same old, same old. So I tried spicing up a chicken fillet by rolling it. So revolutionary. Here’s a chicken breast fillet rolled up in a gai yang marinade adapted from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe.

First  brine 3 boneless skinless chicken breast fillets in 2 tablespoons salt and 2 tablespoons sugar dissolved in 4 cups water 30-60 minutes. Slice each breast in half horizontally and pat dry. Place each fillet between two sheets of plastic and pound each one to 1/4 inch thickness. In a large bowl combine

  • 12 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (1/4 cup)
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches), minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce, optional
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat the oven 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Marinate the fillets in the garlic-ginger mixture for at least 30 minutes. Scrape most of the marinade from one side and paste in the center. Roll up around the garlic-ginger paste and place seam side down on prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until the inside of each roulade measures 160˚F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from oven and slice into pinwheels.

Serve with yellow corn grits. So simple! This recipe is from Zea Rotisserie and Brewery.

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup yellow corn grits
  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1/2-1  tablespoon salt or to taste (use more or less salt depending on whether the butter was salted)
  • 1 ear grilled corn, kernels removed

Strip off most of the husk and silk. Soak in water to cover 15 minutes. If you don’t have a grill, broil the corn in the broiler for 15 minutes or until the kernels turn brown. Set aside to cool

Bring liquids to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the grits. Add butter and salt. Cook at simmer until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Cut the corn off the cooled cob, and crumble in your fingers. At the end of cooking, stir in the corn.

thai beef soup with buckwheat noodles

I was walking through the courtyard earlier this week, taking a shortcut through the basement, when I smelled star anise and cinnamon. I thought instantly of Thai beef soup or kao lao. I knew I had to make it this week, even though it’s been years since I last tried. From my years living in Thailand, I know that when it is served with noodles then it’s called kway tieow. I decided to cook it, kway tieow style with Japanese soba or buckwheat noodles, which are higher in fiber and protein, iron and calcium than the traditional rice noodles. Soba like rice noodles is gluten free.  There is  a nutrition comparison of soba and rice noodles on skipthepie.org. If you’re simply watching the calories, as I am, then it’s important to consider that a half cup soba has twice as many calories as rice noodles.

Thai Beef Soup (Kao Lao) with Buckwheat Noodles (Soba)

Makes 4 servings

For Cooking

7 cups water
1 lb stewing beef, boneless, trimmed of visible fat, and cut into chunks
1 whole star anise or 4 cloves star anise
2 whole sticks cinnamon
3-4 whole peeled large garlic cloves
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons molasses or thick dark soy sauce

For Serving

1 cup fresh bean sprouts, rinsed and picked over
2 cups buckwheat noodles, cooked al dente
Fish sauce
Sugar
Sambal or chili paste
1 lime, quartered
2 scallions, finely sliced on the diagonal
1/3-1/2 cup cilantro, minced

Combine the beef, star anise, cinnamon, and garlic in 7 cups water. Cover loosely. Put two wooden chopsticks across the top of the pot and rest the lid on top of the chopsticks. Bring to a simmer on the stove. After 1 hour, stir the soup and skim the broth of large floating particles. You want a clear broth with tiny particles suspended in the soup when it is stirred. Remove the chopsticks and cover the pot. Once covered, the pot will boil vigorously and some water will boil out. Continue cooking on low heat for 1/2 hour.

Add the fish sauce, salt, sugar, soy sauce, and molasses. Taste. It should be slightly salty and sweet. Adjust seasonings, if you wish. Continue cooking on low heat to develop the flavors, until beef is tender and falls apart easily with a fork, about 2 hours. Discard the cinnamon sticks, garlic, and star anise.  Serve.

To serve, divide bean sprouts and noodles among 4 large bowls. Ladle beef soup over. Serve with little saucers of fish sauce, sugar, sambal, lime, scallions, and cilantro at the table, to season each individual bowl according to taste.