Saturday, June 25, 2016

Pollo Bulgogi y Ensalada de Repollo Tacos

     KoMex Cuisine!  Korean Mexican Fusion!
     The classic definition of street food is; "Quickly prepared snack food that can be eaten while standing up or strolling about."  Chicken Bulgogi Tacos definitely are KoMex style street food.  These small soft corn tortilla tacos are gone after only a few bites.  Tacos are the ultimate street vendor food!
     Today's Chicken Bulgogi Tacos do not take much time to make, but it does take time to marinate the chicken.  The cabbage salad (Ensalada de Repollo) also takes time to marinate.  The marinated ingredients can be prepared well ahead of time, so the meal can be easily prepared at a moment's notice.  
     A wide variety of hand crafted Kimchi is available in Korean markets.  Kimchi is a nice accompaniment for chicken bulgogi tacos.  Yulmoo Gat Kimchi is made with radish tops.

     Pollo Bulgogi Marinade:
     This recipe yields enough for 4 tacos.
     Step 1:  Debone 2 large chicken thighs.  (About 6 to 7 ounces of chicken thigh meat is needed.)
     Remove the skin and remove any excess fat before slicing.
     Cut the chicken thigh meat into thin slices.
     Step 2:  Place the thin sliced chicken thigh meat in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/3 cup of julienne sliced onion strips.  (1/8" wide strips)
     Add 1/2 of a chopped green onion.
     Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Step 3:  Add 1 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Korean style Coarse Ground Red Serrano Chile Pepper Paste (sambal).
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of raw sugar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of ground toasted sesame seed.  (Use a spice grinder or a food processor.)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil.
     Add 2 pinches of white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Step 4:  Toss the ingredients together.
     Place the ingredients in a container.
     Marinate for at least 4 hours in a refrigerator.

     Ensalada de Repollo:
     This recipe yields enough to garnish 4 tacos.  
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2 cups of very thin sliced Savoy Cabbage in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of finely chopped green bell pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped cilantro.
     Step 2:  Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of mild New Mexico Chile Powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of water.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sugar.
     Step 3:  Toss the ingredients together.
     Place the Ensalada de Repollo in a container.
     Chill and marinate the cabbage salad for at least 1 hour.  Toss the ingredients together occasionally.

     Pollo Bulgogi y Ensalada de Repollo Tacos:
     This recipe yields 4 KoMex style tacos!
     Step 1:  Heat a large cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Lightly brush the pan with vegetable oil.
     Briefly grill 4 small corn tortillas on both sides, till they are warm.
     *Do not toast the tortillas till they become crisp!  Just gently warm the tortillas.  The small corn tortillas should be about 4 1/2" to 5" wide.
     Keep the tortillas covered on a stove top, so they stay warm and do not dry out.
     Step 2:  Raise the temperature of the griddle to medium/medium high heat.
     Pour 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil on the griddle.
     Place the marinated chicken pieces on the griddle.  Reserve the marinade.
     Grill and toss the thin slices of chicken till they are fully cooked and few brown highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Add the rest of the marinade and the marinated onions.
     Grill till the onions are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.
     Turn off the heat.
     Step 4:  Place the 4 warm small tortillas on a counter top.
     Place a small portion of the pickled cabbage salad on each tortilla.
     Place equal size portions of the chicken bulgogi on each tortilla.
     Step 5:  Place the tacos on a plate, so they are folded next each other.
     Place a portion of Yulmoo Gat Kimchi (or a Kimchi of your choice) on the plate.
     Garnish the plate with a cilantro sprig.
     Garnish the tacos with thin bias sliced green onion top.

     KoMex style Pollo Bulgogi y Ensalada de Repollo Tacos con Yulmoo Gat Kimchi platter is a great tasting light meal or appetizer.  Korean Bulgogi is rated as one of the top ten best tasting food items in the world.  Chicken Bulgogi makes a great Mexican taco!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thai Spicy Cabbage Salad

     Refreshing, Delicious and Spicy! 
     I have had both Thai style Cabbage Salad and Green Papaya Salad a few times in Las Vegas.  Both of these salads are made nearly the same way.  Unripe green papaya is easy to find in Asian food markets, but it is not stocked at the average grocery store.  Therefore the cabbage salad version won the toss of the coin for today's recipe.
     Cabbage Salad is usually described as spicy on every Thai restaurant menu.  The waitress usually asks "You know this salad is spicy, right? ... "How spicy would you like the salad on a scale of 1 through 10?"
     I usually answered the spicy heat preference question with "As spicy as the chef can make the salad!"  By answering this way, the Cabbage Salad will be guaranteed to be extra spicy hot, but within tasteful bounds.  Cabbage and lime amplify the spicy flavor of hot chile peppers, so ordering "spicy heat level #8" is more than enough!"
      Apparently, Thai Cabbage Salad is a recipe that many people like because it is very spicy.  Those who prefer milder flavors can make this refreshing salad taste mild too.  Just use less hot chile pepper or select a milder chile pepper.  Thai Peppers are good for extra spicy hot and coarse ground red serrano pepper paste is best for those who prefer mild tasting chiles.
     The cabbage for today's salad is always cut into very thin strips.  This makes it easy to eat this salad with chopsticks!

     *This entire recipe yields 1 large salad portion!

     Toasted Peanuts:
     Heat a dry saute pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add about 2 tablespoons of shelled roasted peanuts.
     Shake the pan so the peanuts do not scorch.
     Toast the peanuts in the pan till they are aromatic and golden color.
     Place the peanuts in a container and set them aside.
     Thai Spicy Cabbage Salad: 
     Step 1:  Select 6 to 8 large Napa Cabbage leaves.
     Trim the thick stalk end off of each leaf.  (The stalks can be saved for another recipe.)
     Cut the cabbage leaves lengthwise into very thin strips.  (About 2 cups are needed.)
     Step 2:  Place the shredded Napa Cabbage in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 cup of julienne sliced onion.  (1/8" wide strips)
     Add 1 thin bias sliced green onion.
     Add 1/4 cup of julienne sliced green bell pepper.
     Add a few julienne carrot strips for color.
     Step 3:  Chill the cabbage mixture till it is needed..

     Salad Dressing:  
     This dressing is best if served within 20 minutes.  
     Step 1:  Squeeze the juice of 1 fresh lime into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 teaspoon of fish sauce.
     Add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of water.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Thai Peanut Sauce.  (Bottled Thai Peanut Sauce is fine for this recipe.)
     Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of granulated sugar.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of coarse Korean style Coarse Ground Red Serrano Pepper Paste.  (Sambal)
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese Ground Hot Chile Pepper.  (Optional)
     Add 1 chopped Thai Pepper.  (Optional!  Only add this if you want the salad to be extra spicy hot!)
     Step 3:  Add 1 pinch of ground coriander.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced cilantro leaves.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin chiffonade sliced Thai Basil leaves.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Place the dressing in a container and chill till it is needed.

     Thai Spicy Cabbage Salad:
     Step 1:  Pour the spicy lime salad dressing over the cabbage mixture in the mixing bowl.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Place a few Boston Lettuce leaves on a plate as a bed for the cabbage salad.
     Drain the excess salad dressing off of the cabbage mixture.
     Mound the Thai Spicy Cabbage Salad on the lettuce leaves.
     Step 3:  Sprinkle the toasted peanuts over the salad.
     Garnish with lime slices.
     Garnish with a small sprig of Thai Basil.

     This is a great summer salad!          

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Vegetable Rice Paper Roll

     A Light Vegetable Summer Roll!
     Vegetable rice paper roll is a nice summer season appetizer, snack or light lunch.  Vietnamese style vegetable rice paper rolls (summer rolls) are light on the tummy and they are refreshing.    
     Some street food shops sell rice paper rolls plane on a paper plate with some dipping sauce.  Casual restaurants usually present rice paper rolls on a platter with a few garnishes and sauces.  A fully garnished summer roll platter can be shared by 2 guests.          
     Vegetable Rice Paper Roll:
     This recipe yields 1 large rice paper roll.  
     Step 1:  Place these vegetables in a steamer basket:
     - 3/4 cup of thin sliced Napa Cabbage
     - 1/4 cup of very thin sliced green pepper strips
     - 1 green onion that is cut into long thin strips
     - 1/4 cup of julienne carrot strips
     - 1 thin sliced button cave mushroom.
     Step 2:  Place the steamer basket in a steamer.
     Steam the vegetables for about 1 minute, so they are still crisp to the bite (al dente)
     Step 3:  Place the steamed vegetables into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/3 cup of mung bean sprouts.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Toss the ingredients together and set the bowl aside.
     Step 4:  Select a shallow pan that is more than 12" wide.
     Add enough hot tap water, so the water is about 1/2" deep.
     Step 5:  Place a 12" wide round rice paper roll sheet in the hot water.
     Soak the rice paper till it becomes soft.
     Step 6:  Dampen a counter top with a sprinkle of water, so the rice paper does not stick.
     Place the soft rice paper sheet flat on the wet countertop.
     Step 7:  Mound the vegetables across the middle of the rice paper.
     Fold the side edges over the ends of the vegetable mound and roll the vegetable roll into a sealed cylinder shape.  (Try to keep the ends of the finished rice paper roll flat, so the rice paper roll can be stood vertically after it is cut in half.)
     Set the Vegetable Rice Paper Roll aside.
     A street food style summer roll is usually only served with Fish Sauce.  A platter presentation can be garnished to the hilt.  
     The choice of garnishes are up to the chef!  Throwing in some Korean and Japanese style items is acceptable.  This recipe describes the garnishes on the plate in the photos.  Some of the garnishes can be purchased at an Asian food market. 
     Step 1:  Bias slice the rice paper roll in half.  (Bias slice = cutting on a 45º angle.)
     Set Both halves upright on a plate.
     Step 2:  Pour about 1 1/2 tablespoons of Thai Peanut Sauce on the plate next to the rice paper roll.  (Store bought Thai Peanut Sauce is fine for this recipe.)
     Step 3:  Garnish the plate with:
     - Chili Oil Marinated Lotus Root Slices.
     - Pickled Seaweed Salad
     - Daikon Radish Kimchi.
     - Sliced cucumber that is flavored with sesame oil, a splash of rice vinegar, sea salt and white pepper.
     - Slice Carrots and scallions that are marinated with soy sauce and sugar.
     - Snow Peas and Sprouts marinated with sesame oil, minced ginger and lime juice.
     - Sun dried anchovies that are coated with hoisin sauce.
     This is healthy summer food! 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Garlic Shrimp and Sesame Spinach

     Outrageously Tasty!
     Garlic Shrimp are popular in Las Vegas.  Chinese restaurants and buffets almost always offer Garlic Shrimp.  Garlic Shrimp are messy, fun, finger licking good food!
     Whole shrimp with the heads and shells attached are best for this recipe.  The rich orange shrimp fat behind the head is considered to be a delicacy.  Sesame Spinach is a nice accompaniment that can be used as a bed for the shrimp.
     Sesame oil is a product that requires reading the label carefully.  Sesame Oil that is used for stir fry is usually a blended sesame oil.  Blended sesame oil has a higher smoking point.  Pure sesame oil has a low smoking point and it is often added late in a recipe.  A few drops of pure sesame oil creates the same flavor as about a tablespoon of blended sesame oil.
     Chinese recipes usually call for tiny amounts of sesame oil.  Korean recipes can require much larger amounts of sesame oil.  Either way, it is when the sesame oil is added that counts.

     Sesame Spinach:
     This recipe yields 1 large portion.  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Briefly sauté for a few seconds till the garlic and ginger become aromatic.
     Step 2:  Add 3 1/2 to 4 cups of baby spinach leaves.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lightly toasted sesame seeds.
     Stir and toss the spinach, till it starts to wilt.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of pure sesame oil.
     Continue to toss the spinach in the hot pan till it is tender.
     Step 4:  Spread the spinach across a plate as a bed for the shrimp.
     Keep the plate warm on a stove top, while the shrimp are cooked.

     Garlic Shrimp:
     This recipe yields 1 large portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a wok or sauté pan over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 12 to 14 whole large shrimp that have the heads attached.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of chopped garlic.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of crushed red pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of Chinese Five Spice Powder.
     Step 2:  Quickly stir fry and toss the shrimp in the hot oil.
     Stir fry till the shrimp are fully cooked and the shells are crisp.  The garlic will cook to a brown color.
     Step 3:  Place the garlic shrimp on the bed of wilted sesame spinach on the plate, before the garlic starts to scorch in the hot pan.
     Serve with steamed sticky rice on the side.

     The aroma of garlic will fill the house!  This is a fun garlicky finger food at its best!