Posts Tagged ‘asian cuisine’

It’s been how long?!

To tell you the truth, I have no idea how long it’s been since my last post.  I don’t even have a clue what it was about.  The format for creating a new post on WordPress has completely changed since I was last here. But I’m back, and have a new favorite recipe to share. A big reason I’ve been gone from the WordPress world for so long is because I’m pregnant (expecting a boy, due July 29) and haven’t been able to stay up much past 8 most days for quite a long while.  This has severely cut into my cherished knitting time, and most of the free time I have after work has been spent coming up with something appetizing to have for dinner, actually making dinner, then trying to stay awake long enough to watch some TV show and knitting while lying on the couch (and failing.)  It’s starting to get better, and with this being Presidents’ Weekend, I’ve had some time to catch up on getting some things done that had needed doing for a while.  I’ve become pretty active on Pinterest, which has really helped with my dinner dilemmas among other things.  I got most of my handmade fine silver jewelry listed on Etsy before my Ravelry ads go live on March 1.  I got my pre-plantable vegetable seeds started for eventual transplanting into the raised bed.  I did a lot of entertaining, and even got some knitting in.  Now it’s time for blogging.

Lately I’ve been craving Pho, the Vietnamese rice noodle soup made with beef broth (or, in the case of Pho Ga, chicken broth) and topped with various meats, mung bean sprouts, and basil that is known for being tedious to make yourself.  I went out to get some for the first time in about a year with my husband, and loved it.  (I did have to stick to Pho Ga though, as all the other soups on the menu had an asterisk indicating that the meats might be undercooked.)  I wanted more within a week, but he said that for him, Pho was something he only needed to eat once in a long while.  So I went out with another pregnant friend the next week, and a different friend the following week.  After that, a colleague posted on Facebook that she had made her own Pho and it was delicious.  After inquiring, I found out that Pho bouillon cubes could be purchased from Asian supermarkets to emulate the taste without all the work.  I went to my local Great Wall Supermarket, but they had no such cubes.  They did have a product packaged in a container that looked similar to  ones I had purchased containing chicken and beef stock paste / concentrate that was labeled as Beef Pho and Chicken Pho, respectively.  I bought both, and it turns out they’re more of a cake of dried ingredients than a paste.  The Beef Pho comes with filter bags full of the necessary spices, and are meant to be thrown into a pot with the whole Pho cake and 2 gallons of water.  Since I only make a couple of bowls at a time, I just scoop out what I think I’ll need and adjust it to taste.  Below is my “recipe.”

  • Water
  • Pho Flavoring (see picture above, or do some searching at your local Asian supermarket)
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Bok Choy
  • Beech Mushrooms
  • Basil
  • Sriracha
  • Meat of choice (or not)
  • Fresh Rice Noodles (in the refrigerated section near the tofu)

Add water for desired amount of soup, Pho seasoning to taste (and a sprinkle of included spices, if applicable) veggies, and Sriracha to pot.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until Bok Choy is softened and soup is heated to your liking.  Add meat, if using, and rice noodles (cut them up first to prevent messes while eating) and cook an additional 5 minutes or until noodles are desired softness.  Serve in big bowls with those Asian ladle-type spoons and chop sticks.

Note- I added all of my veggies at the beginning because I’m pregnant and not really supposed to eat sprouts.  If you would rather your sprouts stay crunchy, add them and basil just before serving.

“Asian” Summer Rolls

This recipe is based on one I found in a Williams-Sonoma Healthful Cooking cookbook, as well as one I found on http://www.chow.com, but I definitely added and subtracted a few things to suit my tastes and what I could find at Whole Foods.  (Hence the “Asian;” I’m sure what I’ve ended up with are not traditional to any Asian culture.)

Rolls:

Medium Shrimp, cooked and halved lengthwise (I used small salad shrimp, whole)

Cucumber, cut into thin strips

Cilantro, coarsely chopped

Carrot, coarsely chopped

Spring onions, chopped (one recipe called for scallions, but Whole Foods didn’t have any today)

Alfalfa Sprouts (recipe called for mung bean sprouts, but again, Whole Foods was uncharacteristically lame on the produce front)

Mint, chopped

Basil, chopped (I used some from my garden- “regular” and spicy globe varieties)

Serrano and/or Jalepeño Pepper, diced

Rice vermicelli

Boston / Butter Lettuce

Rice Paper Wrappers

(I also made this last time with Shiitake Mushrooms)

Prepare all ingredients, and put into small bowls for ease in assembling rolls.  (This is a relatively time- and counter space- consuming recipe!)  Cook rice vermicelli per package directions; add to array of ingredients for rolls.  Prepare rice paper wrappers.  My wrappers are only 8″ across, so I devised a way to get as much goodness into each roll without tearing and overstuffing the wrappers: lay one wrapper onto a lightly damp, clean dishtowel, then overlap another wrapper by about 1/3 on top of the first.  Add a 2″ x 4″ piece of the lettuce as the “bed” for a pinch of each ingredient, plus a few shrimp.  Fold the bottom of the wrapper over ingredients, then fold over the sides, and roll up remaining length of wrapper.  If not serving immediately, set aside on a large platter or in a pyrex container where the rolls do not touch. Serve with peanut sauce, below.

Sauce:

1/2 c Natural Peanut Butter (I used Whole Foods 365 Creamy PB… not creamy in actuality!)

1/2 c Hoisin Sauce (Asian section of Whole Foods)

Splash or two of Rice Vinegar

A couple of dollops of Cholula Hot Sauce

1 T Garlic (I used the pre-chopped kind, in oil) + 1/2 t Red Pepper Flakes + splash of water, made into paste with mortar and pestle

1/4 c Thai Fish Sauce

As much water as necessary for desired consistency

Mix all ingredients, put in microwave for 30 seconds.  Serve warm.  Above measurements for sauce are extremely approximate, as I just shook bottles and tossed stuff in until it looked and tasted good.

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