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Friday, March 27, 2009

A week of SE Asian cookery

Vietnamese Pork Spring Rolls - These are awesome. Everyone ought to try these, especially on a nice warm spring or summer day. They taste so fresh, and the dipping sauce just makes them fabulous. Personally, I like the dipping sauce enough to use it as an everyday salad dressing. In the interest of full disclosure, I did not add the vinegar to the dipping sauce, and I only used a very tiny serrano pepper instead of a Thai chili. The sauce wasn't spicy at all (next time I'll up the spice). We used peppermint from our garden, which was pretty cool. This summer, we'd like to get a plant or two of Thai basil to use in place of sweet basil + mint, but regardless we're going to be making these again. And doubling or tripling the recipe. Those of you without an Asian grocery store around might have some difficulty finding the wrappers, but I hope you can find them. It takes a bit to get the hang of wrapping them, but even if they're falling apart they still taste good.

Thai Red Curry - I'm just finishing up the last bowl of this today, and boy is it tasty. We used full fat coconut milk, because we're just a full fat kind of family, but I'm sure it would be fine to use a lower fat coconut milk - it just wouldn't taste as yummy. ;-) This was a very quick and easy recipe. Our regular grocery store carries tiny little jars of Thai curry paste (don't use curry powder!), but you can get a much better deal from an international or Asian market.

Pad Thai - We enjoyed this a lot. It didn't really look like the pad thai we're used to eating (do pad thai sauces have some sort of coloring in them usually?), but it was still yummy. One of your local American grocery stores should carry rice noodles. Here are the changes I made to the original: 1) I doubled the seasonings. This was a good idea, and you should do the same. 2) I used apple cider vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar. I don't like having more vinegar in the house than necessary, so I just used what we already had. ;-) 3) I used alfalfa sprouts instead of mung bean or soybean sprouts, which are more traditional. This was more a matter of what I could find in the stores. It didn't have the crunch of the larger sprouts, but it didn't detract from the dish at all. 4) I didn't use butter to saute the chicken.

Thai Coconut Soup for 2
From my favorite soup cookbook. I am proud to say that this tasted nearly exactly like the soup that I order every time I go to a Thai restaurant. I reduced the recipe to 1/4 of the original. Sure, it's not much, but it uses up my extra coconut milk, curry paste, cilantro, and chicken (there should also be a half stalk of lemongrass in this... but we can't get those at our local grocery stores and I didn't have the time or energy this week to make the trek to the Asian grocery - 30 minutes away!).

1/2 Tbs minced ginger (fresh)
1 small clove garlic, minced
generous 1/2 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 1/4 tsp fish sauce
3/4 tsp sugar
1/2 can (14-0z) coconut milk
1/4 boneless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
4 white mushrooms, quartered
2 1/4 tsp lime juice
2 Tbs fresh cilantro leaves
1 small scallion, greens only

1. Heat a bit of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the (lemongrass) ginger and garlic, and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Then add the curry paste and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

2. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and stir to dissolve the paste. Add the remaining stock, fish sauce, and sugar, and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce to low, mostly cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes.

3. Stir in the coconut milk, chicken, (mushrooms) and lime juice. Bring back to a simmer and cook until chicken is fully cooked. Season with salt, if needed. Serve immediately, garnishing bowls with cilantro and green onion.

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3 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Tessa

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Ruth

    http://muffinsnow.com

  • Alan

    Sometime you have to make some of that Thai coconut soup for me! It's my favorite thing to order at the Thai restaurant.

  • JunkMale

    Welcome Tessa/Ruth, we are glad to have you as a reader. Feel free to comment wherever and whenever.