Thursday, March 13, 2014

5-0 Has Got Me Falling for Something Out of This World

Seriously when it comes to trying new cuisines of course the first thing to do is to to make plans with your friends to go out, maybe try some new restaurant, the next new thing.  Of course if maybe if you feel like playing the recluse you may pick-up the phone and try take-out or delivery, right?  

This is me we are talking about, does something really have to fall out of the sky and hit you to try something new at home?  Ok, so maybe I might be pushing it a little bit, I think you get the point.  Thought we might go out on a limb, just shy of giving up national secrets, but something worthy of serving up to your friends, or even date night with someone special.

I think it's exciting and fun to experiment with a new dish, even that of a new culture. It’s not like I thought they would be terrible, or I wouldn't have bothered. But I found a unique satisfaction in serving a risky dish and having it succeed. I know taking the safe route when having people over, make sure to cook something that you know is delicious and that you’ve made before. But seriously! Experimenting in the kitchen is fun, and it’s better with good company. So take the leap of faith, the worse that could happen, you can be a success! 

Chicken and Beef Satay with 
Peanut Sauce

1 1/2 lbs fillet of beef, or 4 whole chicken breasts
1 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 onion, cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp sambal (Indonesian chile paste), or 1 hot red chile
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

Peanut Sauce

1 cup smooth peanut butter

2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp sambal (Indonesian chile paste)
1 Tbsp sugar
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Coconut milk, or water, to thin
1 scallion, thinly sliced

  1. Trim fat from beef or chicken. Cut into strips about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. Refrigerate until needed.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in blender, and puree until smooth. Pour over meat, and mix to coat evenly. Marinate at least 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Preheat grill or grill pan until hot. Thread a piece of meat lengthwise on each skewer, and grill until done, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Baste occasionally with marinade during cooking. Serve immediately with peanut sauce.

Peanut Sauce :

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine peanut butter, oil, soy sauce, garlic, sambal, and sugar until smooth. Add lemon juice to taste.
  2. With machine running, add coconut milk or water until sauce reaches desired consistency. Garnish with scallion slices. Serve.

Thai Iced Tea

3/4 cup black tea leaves
6 cups boiling water
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk, whole milk, half and half, or coconut milk
Star anise, ground tamarind, and cardamom to taste

  1. Steep the tea leaves and spices in boiling water for 5 minutes. Pour the water into a pot through a strainer to remove the leaves.
  2. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Mix in the condensed milk, and then cover the pot and allow the tea to cool to room temperature.
  3. Top off the drink with evaporated milk, whole milk, half and half, or coconut milk. Serve immediately without stirring.

Restaurant-Style Thai Iced Tea

3 cups of water

3 Tbsp of Assam tea leaves

4 green cardamom pods

3-4 cloves
1 star anise
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp star anise powder
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk
3-4 Tbsp evaporated milk

  1. Bring water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Place the tea leaves, cardamom pods, cloves, and star anise in a tea bag or tea infuser.
  2. Once the water has boiled, reduce it to a simmer. Add the leaves and spices, making sure that they are fully submerged in the water.
  3. Allow to steep for 5 minutes. Then remove the tea bag/infuser and add in the star anise powder, vanilla extract, sugar, and sweetened condensed milk.
  4. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves, and then allow it to cool to room temperature.
  5. Serve in a tall glass with ice. Pour the tea over the ice, leaving some room at the top. Add the evaporated milk and serve immediately without stirring.

Pineapple Fried Jasmine Rice 
(Khao Phat Supparot)

1 pineapple
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast half, cut
  into 1/4-inch dice
2 eggs
2 Tbsp tomato ketchup
3 green onions, including 1 inch of the tender
  green portion, thinly sliced
4 cups cold cooked long-grain jasmine rice,
  crushed gently to break up any clumps
2 Tbsp fish sauce
Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
1 Tbsp fried shallots (see note)

  1. Preheat an oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise. Hollow out each half, leaving the shells intact and setting the pineapple pulp aside. Put the shells, hollow side up, on a baking sheet and bake until the excess moisture has dried out, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set the shells aside.
  3. Meanwhile, coarsely chop enough of the reserved pineapple pulp to measure 1 cup. Set aside. Reserve the remaining pulp for another use.
  4. Preheat a wok or deep-fry pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil, salt and garlic and stir-fry until the garlic is light golden brown, about 30 seconds. Increase the heat to high, add the shrimp and chicken, and stir-fry until the shrimp turn bright orange-pink and the chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes.
  5. Crack the eggs into the pan over the shrimp and chicken and break up the yolks with the tip of a spatula. Cook the eggs, without stirring, until set, about 30 seconds. When the whites turn opaque, add the crab paste and ketchup, stir once or twice, then toss in the green onions, cooked rice and fish sauce. Break up any remaining clumps of rice and stir-fry to mix and evenly season the rice and to heat it through, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved chopped pineapple pulp and toss and stir to heat through, about 1 minute.
  6. Transfer the rice mixture to the pineapple shells, heaping it attractively. Garnish with cilantro leaves and fried shallots. Serve immediately.

Pad Thai

8 oz. dried Pad Thai rice noodles, OR enough for 2 people (linguini-width)
1-2 eggs (vegans can substitute 1/2 cup soft tofu)
4 green onions, white parts sliced and kept separate from green
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated galangal OR ginger
1 fresh red or green chili, sliced
3-4 "heads" of baby bok choy, or other Chinese cabbage, roughly chopped
2-3 cups bean sprouts
1/3 cup fresh coriander/cilantro
1/4 cup chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts, OR substitute cashews


3/4 to 1.5 Tbsp tamarind paste, to taste (available at Asian/East Indian food stores)

1/4 cup vegetable stock (or faux-chicken)
3+1/2 Tbsp soy sauce or wheat-free soy sauce
1/2 to 1 tsp chili sauce (to taste), OR 1/3 to 3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp brown sugar, or more to taste
1/8 tsp. ground white pepper

3-4 Tbsp. oil for stir-frying
2-3 Tbsp. vegetable or faux chicken stock
lime wedges for serving

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and switch off heat. Soak noodles in the hot water for 4-6 minutes, or until limp but still too firm to eat. Drain and rinse with cold water. Tip: Noodles must be under-cooked at this stage in order to come out right (they will finish cooking later when they are stir-fried).
  2. Combine 'pad Thai sauce' ingredients in a cup, stirring well to dissolve the paste and sugar (note that if your tamarind paste is thick, only add 1 Tbsp. If thin/runny, add 1.5 Tbsp). Note that this sauce should have a very STRONG-tasting flavor that tastes sour-sweet first, followed by salty and spicy. Set aside.
  3. Warm a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 Tbsp. oil plus the white parts of the green onion (reserve the rest for serving), garlic, galangal/ginger, and chili. Stir-fry 1 minute to release the fragrance.
  4. Add the bok choy plus stock. Stir-fry 2 minutes, or until bok choy is bright green and slightly softened.
  5. Push ingredients aside and add 1/2 Tbsp. more oil to the center of the wok/pan. Add the egg (if using) and stir-fry briefly to scramble.
  6. If pan is dry, push ingredients aside and add a little more oil to the middle. Add the drained noodles and 1/3 of the sauce.  Keep adding sauce and continue stir-frying in this way 3-6 more minutes, or until sauce is gone and noodles are soft but still chewy and a little sticky.
  7. Switch off heat and add the bean sprouts, folding them into the hot noodles. Taste-test, adding more soy sauce for more salt/flavor. If too salty or sweet for your taste, add a good squeeze of lime juice. If too sour, sprinkle over a little more sugar.
  8. To serve, scoop noodles onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with reserved green onion, coriander, and ground nuts. Add wedges of fresh-cut lime on the side. Serve immediately and enjoy! 

Thai Sweet Sticky Rice With Mango (Khao Neeo Mamuang)

1 1/2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp tapioca starch
3 mangos, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

  1. Combine the rice and water in a saucepan; bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. While the rice cooks, mix together 1 1/2 cups coconut milk, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil; remove from heat and set aside. Stir the cooked rice into the coconut milk mixture; cover. Allow to cool for 1 hour.
  3. Make a sauce by mixing together 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the tapioca starch in a saucepan; bring to a boil.
  4. Place the sticky rice on a serving dish. Arrange the mangos on top of the rice. Pour the sauce over the mangoes and rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Now all that's left is to decide when and where to hang out and eat this meal..

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