Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ramen Noodles with Kohlrabi, Perilla, Periwinkles and Chat Masala Bacon







     
     Gourmet Ramen Noodles!  
     The gourmet Ramen Noodle food trend is still going strong.  Many noodle house restaurants only offer traditional Ramen Noodle entrées, but there are modern Ramen restaurants that are well known for trendy new creations.  Home cooks like experimenting with Ramen Noodle creations too.  College students and those who are on a tight budget have always found ways to dress up Ramen Noodles for an interesting economical meal.  Ramen Noodles are a great medium for creativity!    
     The combination of flavors in today's ramen noodle recipe are exotic and tasty.  Bacon and seafood is a classic American flavor combination.  Smoked Bacon or Standard Sugar Cured Bacon is usually the only choice at a common grocery store.  If an exotic bacon flavor is desired, then one must make their own bacon!
     Pork Belly is easy to find at Asian food markets and pork belly can be prepared as a gourmet flavored bacon in a home kitchen.  Dry spices and curing salt or straight Kosher Salt can be used to make a custom flavored bacon.  Curing salt mixtures that are safe for amateur cooks to use are available at butcher shops.  Curing Salt Mixtures will preserve the color of the meat.  Kosher Salt can be used to naturally cure pork belly, but the color of the meat will not be preserved.  Kosher Salt Cured Pork Belly will also have a shorter shelf life, so it is best to just use Kosher Salt to cure pork belly that will be consumed within a short time span.   
     Periwinkles taste like mild clams or clean escargot.  Periwinkles are a breed of sea snail that is very popular in England and Asia.  Frozen vacuum sealed packages of Periwinkles can be found at Asian food markets.  Kohlrabi and Vietnamese Perilla can also be found at Asian food stores.    
     Vietnamese Perilla Leaves are green on top and purple underneath.  Perilla is in the mint family of plants, just like basil.  Perilla has a complex herb flavor.
     Kohlrabi is in the cabbage family of plants and it has a pleasant mild broccoli flavor.  Kohlrabi adds a nice light flavor to this gourmet ramen noodle entrée.
     
     Chat Masala Kosher Salt Cured Pork Belly Bacon:
     This recipe yields 1 1/3 pounds.  
     Sugar and Kosher Salt is the curing mixture for this recipe.  This is a natural curing mixture that will not preserve the color of the meat, because no preservatives are in the mix.  The meat will turn a dark color.  Kosher Salt Cured Bacon has a short shelf life, so it should be consumed within a short time after curing.        
     Himalayan Black Salt can be found at Indian food markets.  Himalayan Black Salt adds an interesting flavor that goes well with Chat Masala Spice Mix.  
     Chat Masala is an Indian 14 spice mix and it is used to flavor many desserts.  Chat masala contains cardamom, ginger, sour mango powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, coriander, black pepper, white pepper and a few other warm dessert spices that are perfect for a gourmet bacon flavor.  Ground dried mango powder (Amchoor) and Chat Masala can be found at Indian food markets.
     It is not necessary to cure a whole side of pork belly when making bacon.  A small amount of bacon can be made for a few recipes with a small piece of pork belly.   I salt cured a 5" wide slab of pork belly that weighed about 1 1/3 pounds.  Butchers will cut pork belly to any requested size.  
     Step 1:  Select a fresh slab of pork belly that is about 5" wide and weighs about 21 ounces.  
     Use a boning knife to remove the skin.  (The skin can be saved for making cracklins or fried pork rind snacks.)  
     Use an ice pick or metal skewer to poke several holes in the pork belly, so the curing salt mixture easily penetrates.  (The holes should be spaced about 1" apart.)
     Place the prepared pork belly slab on a shallow roasting pan.
     Step 2:  Place 2/3 cup of granulated sugar in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/3 cup of Kosher Salt.  
     Add 1 tablespoon Himalayan Black Salt. 
     Add 2 tablespoons of Powdered Dried Sour Mango (Amchoor).  
     Add 2 tablespoons of Chat Masala.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Pour the curing salt mixture on the pork belly slab.
     Press as much of the mixture onto the pork belly slab as possible.  (The roasting pan will catch whatever falls off.)  
     Step 4:  Place the curing salt coated pork belly slab into a large zip lock bag.
     Place the extra curing salt mixture from the pan into the zip-lock bag with the pork belly slab.   
     Press the excess air out of the zip lock bag and seal the bag.
     Place the bag in a container, in case it leaks.
     Place the container in a refrigerator.
     Step 5:  Write the curing start time and date on a paper label.
     Write the finish time and date on the label.  (Add 7 days to the start date.)
     Keep the date/time label in sight.
     Step 6:  Once every 12 hours, pick the bag up and shake it, so the brine evenly coats the meat.  
     Flip the bag over, so the same side is not always facing down.
     Cure the pork belly slab for 7 days.  
     *Open the bag once a day and check the aroma.  There should be no hint of decay or contamination in the odor.  If the meat becomes badly discolored or if there is a foul odor, then discard the meat.
     Step 7:  After the 7 day curing process finishes, remove the container from the refrigerator.
     Remove the bacon slab from the bag.
     Discard the curing salt liquid. 
     Pat the cured bacon dry with a clean dry pastry towel.
     Step 8:  Place the cured bacon slab on roasting rack over a drip pan.
     Place the pan in a refrigerator.
     Chill uncovered till the surface of the bacon is dry.  (A few hours.) 
     Step 9:  Wrap the finished Chat Masala Cured Pork Belly Bacon with plastic wrap.
     Chill till the bacon is needed.
     *Use the Kosher Salt cured bacon within a few days or freeze portions for later use.  Kosher Salt curing is not as effective as nitrite curing, so the bacon will have a short shelf life. 
     
     Ramen Noodles with Kohlrabi, Perilla, Periwinkles and Chat Masala Bacon:
     This recipe yields 1 noodle bowl entrée.
     Shelled poached periwinkles are sold as a frozen product in Asian food markets.  Live periwinkles will need to be cleaned and poached ahead of time.
     Step 1:  Place 1 portion of ramen noodles in a pot of boiling water over medium high heat.
     Boil till the noodles are tender.
     Drain the water off of the noodles.
     Place the noodles in a container of ice water.
     Stir till the noodles gain a firm texture.
     Drain the ice water off of the noodles.
     Set the prepared ramen noodles aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil.
     Cut 5 large bite size pieces of the Chat Masala Cured Bacon that are about 1/4" thick.  (About 3 1/2 ounces.)
     Place the bite size bacon pieces in the hot pan.
     Sauté till the bacon is lightly browned.
     Set the cooked bacon pieces aside on a platter.
     Keep the platter warm on a stove top.
     Step 3:  Leave the pan with the bacon grease and coconut oil over medium/medium low heat.
     *There should be less than 1 tablespoon of grease in the pan.  Drain off any extra grease.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/6 cup of peeled kohlrabi strips that are about 1/4" thick.
     Add 1 tablespoons of thin sliced green jalapeño pepper.
     Add 3 tablespoons of bias sliced green onion pieces.
     Add 3 ounces of sliced poached periwinkles.
     Sauté till the vegetables start to become tender.
     Step 4:  Add 3/4 cup of shrimp broth.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of blended sesame oil.
     Add 2 pinches of sour mango powder (Amchoor).
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Add the prepared ramen noodles
     Toss the ingredients together, till the noodles become hot.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Mound the ramen mixture in a noodle bowl.
     Try to expose a few of the featured ingredients on the surface.
     Place the reserved Chat Masala Bacon pieces on top of the noodles.
     Place about 6 large Vietnamese Perilla Leaves in the bowl around the noodles.

     The periwinkles and Chat Masala Bacon really gives this bowl of Ramen Noodles a nice flavor!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Garden Vegetable and Shrimp Rice Paper Roll




     A Healthy Light Lunch or Snack!
     Vietnamese style Rice Paper Rolls are fairly easy to make.  They can be made ahead of time and kept chilled, so they are a nice convenience for people that are on the go.  
     There are traditional Vietnamese Rice Paper Roll recipes, but most chefs just use their own combination of ingredients when making these tasty snacks.  In keeping with the tropical Vietnamese cuisine theme, it is best to select light healthy ingredients for the filling.  Leafy greens, julienne vegetables, poultry, seafood and fresh herbs are the best choice.  
     Vietnamese cuisine makes use of a wide variety of fresh herbs that are not available in common grocery stores.  Doing some shopping at the produce section of an Asian food market is the best choice for creating tasty Rice Paper Rolls that will impress guests.     

     Garden Vegetable and Shrimp Rice Paper Roll:
     This recipe yields 1 Rice Paper Roll.  (2 to 4 Rice Paper Rolls on a plate are considered to be 1 full portion.  1 Rice Paper Roll served with a few accompaniments is a nice appetizer.)
     Step 1:  Poach 2 whole large shrimp in boiling water.
     Cool the shrimp in a container of ice water.
     Peel and devein the shrimp.
     Remove the tails.
     Cut the shrimp in half lengthwise.
     Chill the shrimp till they are needed.
     Step 2:  Place 2 tablespoons of julienne sliced yellow carrot in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin bias sliced celery. 
     Add 2 tablespoons of julienne sliced snow peas.
     Add 1 tablespoon of julienne sliced water chestnut.
     Add 2 tablespoons of thin red bell pepper strips. 
     Add 1 thin bias sliced green onion.
     Set the vegetables aside.
     Step 3:  Boil 2 cups of water in a sauce pot over high heat.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add the vegetable mixture.
     Blanch the vegetables for 15 to 20 seconds.
     Drain the water off of the vegetables.
     Cool the blanched vegetables in ice water.
     Drain the water off of the blanched vegetables.
     Step 4:  Place the blanched garden vegetables in a mixing bowl.
     Add 3/4 cup of ribbon sliced baby spinach leaves.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chiffonade sliced Thai Basil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chiffonade sliced Perilla leaves.    
     Sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon of pure sesame oil on the vegetables.
     Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice on the vegetables.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Chill the garden vegetable mixture till it is needed.
     Step 5:  Select a shallow pan that is wide enough for a 10" to 12" round rice paper wrapper to fit into.  The pan should be deep enough to hold 1/2" of water.
     Add 1/2" of boiling hot water to the shallow pan.
     Place a the dried rice paper wrapper in the hot water. 
     Wait for the rice paper wrapper to become soft.  (This only takes a few seconds.)
     Step 6:  Generously dampen a countertop or smooth cutting board with water.
     Carefully set the softened rice paper sheet on the wet counter top.
     Step 7:  Place the reserved poached shrimp across the center of the rice paper.
     Mound the garden vegetable mixture on the shrimp.  
     Fold the ends of the rice paper sheet over the ingredients.  
     Roll the rice paper roll in a cylinder shape with both ends sealed.  
     
     Appetizer Platter Presentation:
     This recipe yield 1 appetizer platter.
     Any kind of garnish can be used to dress up the plate.  Korean and Chinese garnishes add plenty of interesting flavors!
     Step 1:  Bias slice the Garden Vegetable and Shrimp Rice Paper Roll in half.  
     Set the rice paper roll halves on the center of a plate, so they lean against each other.
     Step 2:  Garnish the plate with petite portions of:
     - Tofu cubes marinated with 5 Spice Powder, sesame oil and thin sliced green onion.  
     - Daikon Radish Kimchi
     - Cabbage Kimchi  
     - 1 tablespoon of Hoisin Sauce

     A petite Rice Paper Roll Appetizer like this is perfect for a hot summer day!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Spicy Ruby Red Grapefruit Cabbage Salad with Crispy Mai Fun







     A Refreshing Healthy Summer Salad!
     One of the most refreshing summer coleslaw recipes is Grapefruit Honey Slaw.  This slaw is made with no mayonnaise or buttermilk.  The acidity of grapefruit balances the sweet honey and the cabbage mellows in the mix.  I published a recipe for Grapefruit Honey Slaw that I used to make at a French café in Florida a few years ago and this slaw was well suited for tropical heat.
     Light refreshing cabbage salads are popular worldwide and these refreshing salads provide relief from the summer heat.  Thai Cabbage Salad is a good example of how cabbage can be prepared in a way that revives guests that are fatigued from extreme heat.  Thai Green Papaya Salad is made in a similar way and this is a refreshing summer salad too.  Hot spicy Thai Finger Peppers are a key ingredient.  The level of spicy heat can be mild or extremely hot and the cool sweat from the capsicum oil provides instant relief from the blistering summer heat.      
     Today's Spicy Ruby Red Grapefruit Cabbage Salad with Crispy Mai Fun has a flavor balance of sweet palm sugar and mild bitter sweet Ruby Red Grapefruit.  The sour flavor of grapefruit can be described as bitter, no matter how mild or sweet the grapefruit tastes.  Bitter flavors are soothing during the summer season, especially when balanced with a sweetener.  Pink Grapefruit and Ruby Red Grapefruit are usually the least bitter tasting of all grapefruit, so a salad made with these grapefruit hybrids will appeal to more guests.   
     Mai Fun is a Chinese specialty noodle that can be boiled and shocked with cold water, then served like most traditional noodle entrées.  Mai Fun is made with sticky rice grain.  Those who are familiar with the Rice Crispy Breakfast Cereal know that moist cooked sticky rice puffs up and expands when it is fried crisp.  Dried Mai Fun noodles do the same thing.  The dried noodles instantly puff up and double in size when fried in very hot oil.  
     Standard deep frying temperatures are usually 350ºF to 375ºF.  A temperature of 360ºF offers a quicker heat recovery time for small batch frying and I suggest this temperature in most recipes that I write.  Dried Mai Fun Noodles require a frying temperature of 400ºF.  Anything less will result in greasy looking noodles that do not fully expand.  Because 400ºF is a high temperature for frying, it is best to select a good frying oil that has a high smoking point.    

     Crispy Mai Fun:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Dried Mai Fun instantly puff up when placed in hot frying oil.  The oil must be 400ºF, so use caution and wear protective clothing when frying at this high temperature!  
     Step 1:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 400ºF.
     Step 2:  Add 1 portion of Dried Mai Fun to the hot oil.  (1 portion = 1 bunch that can be grasped with the thumb and index finger.)  
     Allow the noodles to fry crisp and puff up.  (This only takes a few seconds.)
     *Carefully flip the noodles over in the hot oil, if all of the noodles on top did not get a chance to fry crisp. 
     Step 3:  Use a fryer net to place the puffy fried noodles on a wire screen rack over a drip pan, to drain off any excess oil.
     Set the noodles aside where they will not be broken.  

     Palm Sugar Grapefruit Salad Dressing:
     This recipe yields about 1/2 cup.  (Enough for 1 large cabbage salad portion.)
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 tablespoon of palm sugar in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of granulated sugar
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 1/3 cup of Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Set the mixture aside till the sugar dissolves.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 pinch of dried ground galangal.  
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese Five Spice Powder.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of Korean Style Course Ground Red Serrano Chile Pepper Sambal.  (to taste)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of finely minced white part of a green onion.
     Step 4:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of pure sesame oil.
     Slowly add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil while whisking.
     Step 5:  Place the Palm Sugar Grapefruit Salad Dressing in a container.
     Chill for 1 hour, so the flavors meld.
     Stir before serving. 

     Spicy Ruby Red Grapefruit Cabbage Salad Mixture:
     This recipe yields 1 large salad portion.
     This salad has a mild spicy chile pepper flavor.  If a medium or extra spicy hot flavor is preferred, add 1 or 2 thin sliced Thai Chile Peppers.
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/2 cups of thin sliced Napa Cabbage in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 cup of julienne carrot strips.
     Add 2 tablespoons of thin sliced Green Serrano Pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin roasted red bell pepper strips.
     Add 1/5 cup of julienne sliced sweet onion. 
     Add 3 thin sliced canned water chestnuts (or blanched peeled water chestnuts).
     Add 3/4 cup of Ruby Red Grapefruit supremes.  (Supreme = clean citrus fruit segments that have no pith, seeds or membrane attached.) 
     Add 10 to 12 small cilantro sprigs.
     Step 2:  Toss the ingredients together.  
     Chill the salad mixture till it is needed.
     
     Spicy Ruby Red Grapefruit Cabbage Salad with Crispy Mai Fun:
     This recipe yields 1 large salad that can be shared by 2 guests.
     Step 1:  Place the bowl of Spicy Ruby Red Grapefruit Cabbage Salad Mixture on a countertop.
     Add enough of the of the Palm Sugar Grapefruit Salad Dressing to coat the ingredients with flavor.   (About 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup.)
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Mound the Crispy Fried Mai Fun on one end of a large oval plate. 
     Mound and cascade the Spicy Ruby Red Grapefruit Cabbage Salad over the edge of the noodles on the other side of the plate.
     Garnish with cilantro sprigs.   

     The crispy crunchy noodles easily break and add an interesting texture to the salad.  This is a great summer salad that provides relief from the heat!  

Friday, June 9, 2017

Lucky Fuzhou Noodles with Fried Tofu, Vegetables and Egg Sauce







     Healthy, Savory and Delicious!
     Fuzhou Noodles are made with a special kind of flour from Fuzhou, China.  The water that is used to make Fuzhou noodles has a high lye content.  The lye adds an interesting flavor to the noodles and it creates an elastic texture.
     This recipe is not made in the style of Fuzhou cuisine, but this entrée does have gentle flavors.  Fuzhou is one of the 4 cuisines of the Fujian Cuisine category.  Fujian Cuisine is one of the 8 major Chinese Cuisines.  Overall, Fujian cuisine is known for light gentle flavors that feature umami taste sensations.  Light sweet sour flavors are also part of Fujian cuisine.  Egg sauces are not really in this cuisine category, but the gentle savory flavor does fit in with the theme.
     Today's tofu and Fuzhou noodle recipe features an egg sauce that has a light savory flavor.  Egg sauces have a high nutritional value and nutrients in the yolks help to improve eyesight.  The tofu is egg washed and pan fried then added to the entrée as a featured garnish.  Tofu can be pan fried with no batter coating, so skipping the batter coating step is an option for those that prefer traditional Chinese style fried tofu.
 
     Batter Fried Tofu:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Cut 2 thick rectangular slices of Firm Tofu that measure 2" x 4" x 3/8" thick.
     Cut the 2 rectangle tofu pieces into 4 triangle shapes.
     Step 2:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add enough vegetable oil, so the oil is about 1/4" deep.
     Adjust the temperature so the oil is 350ºF.
     Step 3:  Dredge the tofu triangles in flour.
     Dip the tofu in egg wash.
     Pan fry the egg dipped tofu triangles till they are a light golden brown color on both sides.
     Step 4:  Remove the fried tofu triangles from the pan and set them on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.
     Keep the Batter Fried Tofu warm on a stove top.
   
 
     Lucky Fuzhou Noodles with Fried Tofu, Vegetables and Egg Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 large entrée that can be shared by 2 guests.
     Step 1:  Keep a pot of water boiling on a back burner for cooking the Fuzhou Noodles later in the recipe.
     Step 2:  Place 1 1/2 cups of light chicken broth in a container.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese Five Spice Powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Set the sauce mixture aside and stir again before adding it later in the recipe.
     Step 3:  Heat a mini wok (or sauté pan) over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Briefly stir fry for a few seconds till the garlic and ginger become aromatic.
     Step 4:  Add 1/4 cup of thin sliced celery.
     Add 1/4 cup of sliced Button Cave Mushrooms.
     Add 1/4 cup of large diced red bell pepper.
     Add 1/4 cup of large diced green bell pepper
     Add 1/4 cup of large green onion pieces.
     Add 1/3 cup of sliced onion.
     Add 1/3 cup of small broccoli florets.
     Add 1/3 cup of asparagus tips.
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped cabbage.
     Step 5:  Stir fry the vegetables till they are a little more than halfway cooked and still crisp.  (al dente)
     Step 6:  Add the reserved sauce mixture.
     Bring the sauce to a boil while stirring.
     Stir till the sauce thickens.
     Step 7:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Push the vegetables to one side of the pan.
     Slowly stream 1 whisked large egg across the exposed sauce in the pan.  Try to create long thin ribbons of egg.
     Toss the egg sauce and vegetables together in the pan.
     Step 8:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Keep the sauce and vegetables warm.
     Step 9:  Place 1 portion of Fuzhou Noodles in the pot of boiling water.  (The thin Fuzhou Noodles will fully cook in just a few seconds!)
     Boil till the Fuzhou Noodles are tender.
     Step 10:  Use a fine mesh strainer to drain the water off of the noodles.
     Place the Fuzhou Noodles in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of blended sesame oil to the noodles while tossing.
     Keep the noodles warm on a stove top.
 
     Presentation:
     Mound the Fuzhou Noodles on the center of a plate.
     Spoon the vegetables and egg sauce on the plate around the noodles.
     Place the Batter Fried Tofu Triangles on top of the vegetables and Fuzhou Noodles.
     Pour any extra sauce in the pan over the tofu.
 
     Fuzhou Noodles bring good luck!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Thai Green Curry Wood Ear Mushrooms and Pork Belly









     Tasty Spicy Coconut Milk Curry!
     Boiling or simmering food in coconut milk is an old Thai and Malaysian cooking style.  This cooking technique is used for making many Thai Curry recipes.  The finished sauce can be simmered and reduced till it becomes thick or it can be served thin and soupy.  The coconut milk can also be simmered till it becomes coconut oil, so the ingredients can be gently stir fried.  As one can see, a variety of textures can be achieved when using coconut milk.    
     Thin broth coconut milk style Thai Curries tend to be delicate in flavor.  A coconut milk curry that is simmered till it is thick will have a richer flavor, which works well when pork is the featured ingredient.  The problem is that not all coconut milk products will thicken when simmered and reduced.  
     Depending on the brand name, canned coconut milk can vary in consistency.  Shelf stable cartons of coconut milk tend to be emulsified and they are much thicker than canned coconut milk.   Dried coconut milk powder is an option too and it is easy to adjust the consistency with the amount of powder added to water.  Overall, it is best to stick with a coconut milk product that you are familiar with, so no surprises occur when preparing a recipe.
     Fresh Galangal (Thai blue ginger) really makes a big difference, when making a Thai style coconut milk curry.  Dried Galangal Powder does not pack the same punch.  The flavor of today's Thai curry has an unforgettably good long lasting fresh Galangal flavor.  
     Making home-made Thai Green Curry Paste is not difficult to do, but purchasing this product is a nice convenience.  Many chefs prefer to use pre-packaged Thai Curry Pastes.  One container of Thai Curry Paste can flavor plenty of food, so it is a good deal.  
     It is not only green chile peppers that gives Thai Green Curry Paste its green color.  Small Thai Green Eggplant actually are the base of the recipe.  Some pre-made packaged Thai Green Curry Paste products have Green Eggplant in the list of ingredients and some do not.  For today's recipe, try to select a Green Curry Paste product that has eggplant in the list of ingredients.

     Wood Ear Mushrooms:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Wood ear mushrooms are sometimes call Cow's Ear Fungus.  Wood Ear Mushrooms have many health benefits.  
     Step 1:  Place about 6 to 8 dried wood ear mushrooms in a container of water.  
     Soak the mushrooms overnight in a refrigerator to reconstitute them.
     Step 2:  Drain the water off of the mushrooms.
     Cut the mushrooms into bite size pieces and set them aside.

     Sticky Rice:
     Boil or steam 1 portion of sticky rice and keep it warm on a stove top. 

     Thai Green Curry Wood Ear Mushrooms and Pork Belly:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée that can be shared by 2 guests. 
     Fresh Galangal does take a while to become tender when it is simmered, so it must be added early in the recipe. 
     For this recipe, select a Thai Green Curry Paste that has eggplant in the list of ingredients.  The volume of the container will be much larger than one that contains no eggplant.
     Step 1:  Select a 5 ounce to 6 ounce piece of meaty pork belly.  
     Remove the skin if it is attached.  (Save the skin for making cracklins!)
     Cut the pork belly into thin bite size slices.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 2 1/2 cups of water.
     Add 1 fresh lemongrass shoot that is tied in a simple knot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced fresh Galangal (Thai Blue Ginger)
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add the reserved pork belly pieces.
     Add the reserved wood ear mushroom pieces.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of Thai Green Curry Paste. 
     Add 1 minced green Thai Chile Pepper.  (Optional.  Only add the chile pepper if a spicy hot flavor is preferred.) 
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced shallot.
     Add 2 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1 fresh Kaffir Lime Leaf that is cut into thin strips.  (Optional.  Kaffir Lime Leaves are not always available.)
     Add 1 teaspoon of Palm Sugar.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste. 
     Return the liquid to a boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 cup of rich coconut milk.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 5:  Keep the curry warm over very low heat.
     Remove and discard the lemongrass knot before serving. 
     
     Presentation:
     Use a tall cup mold to place a portion of sticky rice in a shallow bowl.
     Ladle the Thai Green Curry Wood Ear Mushrooms and Pork Belly in the bowl around the rice. 
     Sprinkle 1 thin bias sliced green onion over the rice and curry.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of toasted shredded coconut over the rice and curry.

     The savory flavor and aroma of Thai Green Curry Wood Ear Mushrooms and Pork Belly is nice!  This spicy curry is a good summer entrée, because it helps to be the heat!  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Hunan BBQ Shrimp and Lap Cheong Sausage Skewers with Black Sesame Rice and Chile Garlic Bok Choy






     Hunan BBQ!
     Hunan Barbecue Sauce is a variation of Char Siu BBQ Sauce.  The spice flavors are a bit more pronounced in Hunan Barbecue Sauce and red food color is always added.  Hunan Barbecue Sauce is best for pork, chicken and seafood.  This traditional barbecue sauce glazes the meat with plenty of good flavor!
     Lap Cheong os a cured sweet pork sausage that is dried by the wind.  Lap Cheong is highly seasoned and it is flavored with aromatic items like soy sauce and rose water.  Lap Cheong is very firm and dense, so it is best to simmer this sausage till it starts to become soft, before using it for a barbecue skewer recipe.
     Modern BBQ entrées look best when presented with some stylish flair.  Leaning the skewers on a mound of fancy rice adds height to the presentation.  Placing a bed of vegetables on the plate adds interesting color.      
 
     Hunan BBQ Sauce: 
     This recipe yields a little more than 1 cup.
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of granulated sugar in a sauce pot.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Boil till the clear sugar syrup is a thin consistency that can lightly glaze a spoon.  (The finished volume will be about 2/3 cup.)
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of Hoisin Sauce.
     Add 2 tablespoons of honey.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of blended sesame oil.
     Step 3:  Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice Powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
     Add 1 or 2 pinches of Chinese Hot Red Chile Powder.  (to taste)
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.  (2 to 3 pinches)
     Step 4:  *Brands of Food Color vary in strength.  Only enough food color should be added to give the sauce a translucent red color!
     Add about 3 to 6 drops of red food color while stirring with a whisk.
     Step 5:  Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency that can easily glaze a spoon.
     Step 6:  Place the Hunan BBQ Sauce in a container.
     Set the sauce aside or chill it for later use.

     Black Sesame Rice:
     This recipe yields 3 to 4 portions.
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of water in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1 clove of chopped garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of blended sesame oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of black sesame seeds.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 2:  Place the sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of Dried Sticky White Rice.
     Bring the liquid back to a boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Gently simmer and steam till the rice is fully cooked.  (About 20 minutes,)
     Keep the Black Sesame Rice warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.
 
     Shrimp and Lap Cheong Sausage Skewers: 
     This recipe yields 2 skewers.  (1 portion)
     Chinese Lap Cheong is a very hard dry cure sausage.  Even after simmering, the sausage texture will be firm.
     Step 1:  Soak 2 bamboo skewers (10" length) in a container of water for 1 hour.
     Step 2:  Cut 6 slices of Chinese Lap Cheong Sausage that are about 3/8" thick.
     Place the sausage slices in a small sauce pot.
     Add enough water to cover the sausage.
     Place the pot over medium low heat.
     Simmer till the sausage slices start to become tender.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Set the sausage slices aside and let them cool to room temperature.
     Step 4:  Peel and devein 10 large shrimp.  (Leave the tails on.)
     Step 5:  Place equal amounts of the shrimp and sausage pieces on the 2 bamboo skewers.
     Step 6:  Place the 2 Shrimp and Lap Cheong Sausage Skewers on a roasting pan.
     Lightly brush the skewers with vegetable oil.
     Lightly season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Set the pan with the skewers aside or chill them for later use.
 
     Chile Garlic Bok Choy: 
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Adding some spicy hot chile powder to the Bok Choy creates a flavor that compliments the Hunan BBQ.
     Step 1:  Place 1 quart of water in a sauce pot.
     Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
     Step 2:  Cut 5 Baby Bok Choy in half lengthwise.
     Place the Bok Choy in the boiling water.
     Blanch for 1 minute, so the Bok Choy are cooked al dente.
     Step 3:  Remove the blanched Bok Choy from the hot water and set them aside.
     Step 4:  Heat a mini wok (or wide sauté pan) over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic.
     Sauté till the garlic turna a golden color.
     Step 5:  Add the blanched Baby Bok Choy halves.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Korean style Coarse Ground Red Serrano Chile Pepper Paste (sambal).
     Sauté and toss the ingredients together for one minute.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the Chile Garlic Bok Choy warm on a stove top.
     
     Hunan BBQ Shrimp and Lap Cheong Sausage Skewers with Black Sesame Rice and Chile Garlic Bok Choy: 
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Heat a broiler to a moderate temperature.
     Place the broiler pan with the skewers under the broiler.
     Broil till the shrimp are halfway cooked.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the broiler.
     Brush the Shrimp and Lap Cheong Sausage Skewers with the Hunan BBQ Sauce.
     Finish broiling the skewers till the shrimp are fully cooked.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the broiler.
     Brush the skewers with the Hunan BBQ Sauce one last time before serving.
     Step 4:  Use a 3" diameter ring mold to place a portion of the Black Sesame Rice on the back half of a plate.
     Place a bed of the Chile Garlic Bok Choy on the plate, so it fans out from the rice.
     Step 5:  Place the 2 Hunan BBQ Shrimp and Lap Cheong Sausage Skewers on the bed of Bok Choy and criss-cross the ends of the skewers on top of the rice mound.

     This is an exciting looking plate of Hunan BBQ that tastes great!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Lemon Ginger Asparagus and King Trumpet Mushroom with Tapioca Thread Glass Noodles








     Light and Delicious!
     Today's noodle entrée is not vegetarian because the sauce is made with chicken broth.  Lemon and chicken broth is a classic flavor combination that cannot be duplicated with vegetable broth.  Ginger makes the lemon chicken broth sauce taste even more appealing.
     King Trumpet Mushrooms are in the Oyster Mushroom family.  When eating most mushrooms in the Oyster Mushroom family, it is best to not consume alcohol or illness will likely occur.  King Trumpet Mushrooms contain only a trace of the chemical that reacts with alcohol, so having a fermented beverage with the meal will do no harm.
     King Trumpet Mushrooms have a very long shelf life when they are refrigerated.  I purchased 3 fresh large King Trumpet Mushrooms and immediately used two of them to make a couple of recipes.  The third King Mushroom sat in the refrigerator for more than one month and it still looked as fresh as the day it was purchased.  This is not a fluke occurrence, because King Mushrooms have a reputation for being durable.

     Lemon Ginger Asparagus and King Mushroom with Tapioca Thread Glass Noodles:
     This recipe yields 1 noodle entrée.
     The vegetables and sauce can be prepared while the noodles boil.  Be sure to have all the ingredients ready ahead of time.
     Step 1:  Place 1/4 cup of rice wine (Sake) in a container.
     Add 3/4 cup of chicken broth.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of pure sesame oil.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Set the sauce mixture aside.
     *Stir the sauce mixture again before adding it later in the recipe.
     Step 2:  Start cooking 1 portion of Tapioca Thread Glass Noodles in a pot of boiling water over high heat.
     Step 3:  Heat a mini wok (or sauté pan) over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/4 cup of julienne sliced onion.
     Add 3/4 cup of thin sliced King Trumpet Mushroom.
     Stir fry till the mushroom starts to become tender.
     Step 4:  Add 8 asparagus that are cut into spears and tender stalk pieces.  (Discard the tough fibrous stalk ends.)
     Add 1 bias sliced green onion white section.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.  
     Stir fry till the asparagus starts to become tender.
     Step 5:  Add the reserved sauce mixture.
     Bring the liquid to a boil and stir as the sauce thickens.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat till the noodles are ready.
     Step 7:  When the Tapioca Thread Noodles are tender, drain the water off of the noodles.
     Step 8:  Mound the Tapioca Thread Noodles on the center of an oval plate.
     Spoon the asparagus, King Mushroom and lemon ginger sauce on the border of the plate around the noodles.
     No garnish is necessary!
 
     This is a nice tasting entrée and the Glass Noodles create eye appeal!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Salmon, Vegetable and Thai Basil Rice Paper Roll





     A Healthy Light Lunch or Appetizer!
     Rice Paper Rolls are a nice snack that also can be served as a light lunch.  Rice Paper Rolls are usually filled with a high proportion of vegetables and herbs, so they highly nutritious.  When meat or seafood is added, only a small amount is needed.  An 8 ounce salmon filet can feed four people when it is used to make rice paper rolls.
     Vietnamese cuisine requires a wide variety of fresh herbs.  Just about any combination of Vietnamese herbs can be used to flavor a Seafood Rice Paper Roll.  Thai Basil has a gentle basil flavor and it adds a fresh garden herb flavor to today's Salmon Rice Paper Roll.  The vegetables for a Rice Paper Roll can be fresh or lightly cooked.  Briefly stir frying or steaming guarantees that the vegetables will still have a crisp bite.
     Sheet of Culinary Rice Paper come in all shapes and sizes.  Basically, the paper thin sheets are made with rice starch.  Rice Paper is very easy to work with and all it takes is soaking a sheet of rice paper in a shallow pan of hot water to reconstitute it.  The countertop surface should be dampened when assembling a Rice Paper Roll, because moist Rice Paper will stick to a dry surface like glue.    

     Salmon:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 Rice Paper Roll.
     Step 1:  Select a 3 ounce piece of salmon filet.
     Cut the filet into 2 long strips that are less than 1/2" wide.
     Lightly season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 2:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add the 2 salmon strips.
     Sauté till the salmon is fully cooked and golden highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the salmon strips warm on a stove top.
 
     Vegetables:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 Rice Paper Roll.
     Step 1:  Heat a mini wok (or sauté pan) over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 4 thin red bell pepper strips.  (3/16" wide)
     Add 4 Yellow Squash Strips.  (Remove the seed marrow.)
     Add 1/3 cup of Mung Bean Sprouts.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Briefly sauté till the vegetables just start to become tender.
     Step 2:  Add 1 1/2 cups of baby spinach leaves.
     Toss the ingredients together till the spinach leaves start to wilt.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the vegetables on a platter.
     Keep platter warm on a stove top.

     Salmon, Vegetable and Thai Basil Rice Paper Roll:
     This recipe yields 1 Rice Paper Roll.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot of water to about 150ºF.  
     Step 2:  Select a 12" diameter round rice paper sheet.
     Place a shallow pan that is wider than the rice paper sheet on a countertop.
     Place the rice paper sheet in the pan.
     Pour hot water over the rice paper sheet.
     Soak the rice paper till it becomes reconstituted and soft.
     Step 3:  Dampen a countertop with a sprinkle of water.
     Place the soft rice paper sheet on the wet countertop.
     Step 4:  Place the 2 salmon strips across center of the rice paper.
     Place 5 or 6 fresh Thai Basil Leaves over the salmon.
     Evenly mound the prepared vegetables over the salmon strips.  Arrange the vegetables so they point lengthwise, like the salmon.
     Step 5:  Fold the ends of the rice paper over the ends of the row of salmon and vegetables.
     Roll the rice paper up to make a sealed cylinder shape.  (Just like rolling an Egg Roll.)
     Let the rice paper roll dry for a few minutes, to the seal does not come apart.
   
     Presentation:
     Step 1:  Bias slice the rice paper roll in half.
     Set the rice paper roll halves against each other on a plate, so one half stands tall.
     Step 2:  Garnish the plate with accompaniments of your choice.
     *The plate in the photos was garnished with Steamed Asparagus Spears, Daikon Radish Kimchi, Cabbage Kimchi, Korean Style Red Serrano Chile Sauce and Hoisin Sauce.
     Garnish with a Thai Basil sprig.
  
     This is a tasty healthy Rice Paper Roll!