Category Archives: ASIAN INSPIRED DISHES

ASIAN VEGETABLE SALAD

 

 I have been making this delicious salad now for many years. I have no idea where I found this recipe, or if I just cobbled it together. I know I didn’t find it (if I found it) on the internet because I didn’t really start surfing the net for recipes when this fabulous recipe came into my life. So if you happen to be the inventor of this salad, please let me know. I will immediately update this post to include that fact.

In the meantime, let’s just assume I am responsible for this recipe and get on with our lives!

Like I said, I first made this salad many moons ago. And I still love it, mainly because it is easy to prepare, crunchy, contains almonds, and the dressing is just plain delicious. That about says it all. Therefore I don’t need to bore you any further with expansive rhetoric about this amazing salad. Just make it – you’ll thank me!

(Sorry – no picture. The salad was eaten so quickly I didn’t have time to get my camera out of the case!)

  • 2 T. rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 T. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 c. chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 c. thinly sliced red cabbage
  • ½ c. sliced green onions
  • 1 lg. carrot, grated
  • 2 T. sesame seeds
  • ¼ c. sliced or slivered almonds

Whisk or shake together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, vegetable oil, salt, and pepper. (Can be made ahead and refrigerated, but bring to room temperature before using.) 

Combine the romaine, cabbage, green onions, carrot, sesame seeds, and almonds in a salad bowl. Pour on enough salad dressing to moisten. Avoid adding too much dressing or the salad will taste heavy or over-dressed. (It is meant to be a light and refreshing salad, lovely with BBQ’d meats and perfect for a warm summer evening.)

 

ASIAN FLAVORED GROUND BEEF PATTIES WITH WILTED GREENS

Ever on a quest for ground beef recipes, I decided an Asian spin on ground beef would be nice for our dinner last evening. I had some left-over fried rice and an English cucumber lying recumbent in my refrigerator, so why not make an Asian influenced night of it? So on to the wonderful world of internet I proceeded to do some research on the subject.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “You get lots of your recipes from other people, don’t you Mrs. Carr?” And to a certain extent, that is absolutely true. But in my defense, I usually have the main idea of what I am after already in my head. But being the lazy resourceful cook that I am, I often start with someone else’s recipe, or a combination of several people’s recipes. Then of course, I mess with it or them until I have a recipe that appears adequate to the task of pleasing my discerning palate. And, of course, I always try to reconstruct the recipe(s) to reduce the fat and salt content, as well as changing the cooking instructions in ways that allow the recipe to be more accessible to cooks who may still have limited culinary experience. (Lofty goals, right??) Then I present the recipe to you.

So, that’s exactly what I did yesterday when I changed a recipe from the Eating Well magazine site. The recipe provided me with the “bones” of this dish. But through judicious application of my experience with food, I added a few ingredients that I felt would make the dish even healthier. I added garlic, an egg (binder), and Tamari. I substituted kale and other dark greens for watercress*, and cooking spray for canola oil.

And again, I know what you’re thinking. “So Patti, if you change everyone else’s recipes, why shouldn’t I change yours?” My answer – you should, you should! All I am offering is an idea for a healthy and delicious dish to serve to your family and friends. A dish that is good for you, fairly inexpensive, easy and fast to prepare, and above all free of all the unnecessary, unpronounceable ingredients found in processed food. In other words – homemade! And even if your dish ends up nothing like mine, who the heck cares!?!? You will have served a dish to your family that is not only fun to eat, but a little different and therefore more fun for you to prepare. (The reason I never wanted to work in a restaurant kitchen is because I would have had to prepare the same dish night after night after night ad nauseam!! I get bored too easy for that. And I know a lot of really outstanding home cooks who feel the same way! They love to cook, but bring on the adventure of new and exciting food challenges. Thank you.)

So treat your family some evening to a fun and delicious Asian inspired meal. These ground beef patties are perfect served with brown or fried rice and Sunomono (Japanese Cucumber Salad). Sunomono recipe on site.

*Analysis of the vitamin content difference between kale, spinach, and watercress as found on the www.healthyeatingsfgate.com site. “Kale has the highest vitamin content of these three greens, with a cup serving providing 684 percent of the daily value, or DV, for vitamin K, 206 percent of vitamin A and 133 percent for vitamin C. Spinach contains the most folate, with 15 percent of the DV, compared to 5 percent for kale and 1 percent in watercress. While watercress has the least vitamins overall, a cup serving still provides 106 percent of DV for vitamin K, 22 percent for vitamin A and 24 percent for vitamin C. Your body needs Vitamin K for blood clotting, vitamin A for immune function and vision, vitamin C for healing wounds and forming collagen and folate for creating new cells and, in pregnant women, preventing neural tube birth defects.”

  • 6-8 c. chopped and massaged curly kale
  • 6-8 c. thinly sliced greens*
  • 2 tsp. Tamari or soy sauce   
  • ½ c. Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 4 T. hoisin sauce, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced, divided
  • ½ red bell pepper, finely diced   
  • 8-9 finely chopped scallions
  • ¼ c. plain dry breadcrumbs or Panko
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • cooking spray

Combine the kale and greens in a bowl. Set aside. Whisk together the Tamari, rice wine, 1 tablespoon of the hoisin sauce, and ½ of the minced garlic in another bowl. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the bell pepper, scallions, breadcrumbs, egg, remaining 3 tablespoons of the hoisin sauce, ginger, and remaining ½ of the minced garlic.  Gently mix in the ground beef. Form the mixture into 4 patties. (The less you mess with the ground beef, the more tender the finished product.)

Lightly coat a large non-stick fry pan with cooking spray. Heat the pan and fry the patties until done to your liking. (Flip only once as the patties have a tendency to fall apart.) When done, remove from pan and cover with aluminum foil.

Add kale and greens of choice to the pan; stir-fry for about 4 minutes or until wilted. Divide the cooked greens among 4 plates. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the Tamari mixture. Whisk until smooth, bubbling, and slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Top the greens with the ground beef patties and drizzle with the pan sauce.

*use any greens, i.e. napa cabbage, bok choy, spinach, chard, watercress, etc.

 

 

 

 

EASY CHINESE DUMPLINGS/POTSTICKERS ANYONE?

I love good Chinese food. (I know, I’ve said it before!) But in all honesty, what I enjoy the most is Dim Sum (點心). According to Wikipedia, dim sum is described as “a style of Chinese cuisine (particularly Cantonese but also other varieties) prepared as small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Dim sum dishes are usually served with tea, and together form a full tea brunch. Dim sum traditionally are served as fully cooked, ready-to-serve dishes. In Cantonese teahouses, carts with dim sum will be served around the restaurant for diners to order from without leaving their seats.”

When we lived in Bellevue, going to a Chinese restaurant that served dim sum was easy. Just a short 20 minute ride from our house to the International District and we were in dim sum heaven. But now that we live (on a good traffic day) 75 minutes away from the district, we are not so prone to jump in the car for a lunch time excursion.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still love dim sum. It just means that if I want dim sum, I pretty much have to make it myself. And believe it or not, as frightening as that sounds, it’s doable! All you need is a little time, confidence, and a few readily available ingredients. (Well, at least in the 3 recipes I’m sharing with you today!)

So go ahead. Be brave. Put on your big kid pants and get out to your kitchen and prepare a treat that everyone will love. Just make enough while you’re at it. They freeze beautifully. Just don’t cook them before you freeze them. Simply lay them out on a lightly greased baking sheet. Allow them to freeze solid individually, then bag them up. Then any time you want dim sum for lunch or have a yen for appetizers before dinner, take a few out, steam as directed below, and enjoy. (No need to defrost before placing in the steamer.)

And please know that if you live close by, I am always available as a taste tester. I take great pride in being considered approachable and I’m always more than eager to assist in the quest for fine cuisine.

CHINESE PORK AND SHRIMP SHU MAI (DUMPLINGS) WITH GINGER-SOY DIPPING SAUCE 

  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • ½ lb. chopped fresh shrimp
  • 4 diced water chestnuts
  • 2 green onions, very finely minced
  • 3 fresh shiitaki mushrooms, minced
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, then drained and minced
  • 1 T. rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1½ T. cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. low sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (not too much)
  • 24-30 round won ton wrappers 

Combine pork, shrimp, water chestnuts, green onions, and mushrooms together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the rice wine, cornstarch, sugar, tamari, sesame oil, salt, and pepper. Add to the pork mixture. Place a tablespoon of the mixture in the center of each won ton wrapper. Gather the sides up around the filling so that it looks like a tiny purse. Allow some of the filling to show at the top. If you have trouble, dab a little water on the skin so that it sticks together better.

Place onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Repeat until all the filling and wrappers have been used. Place shu mai in the refrigerator or freezer for 1 hour. Lightly coat your steamer rack(s) with cooking spray. Place the cold shu mai onto the prepared steamer racks, 1-inch apart. Cover steamer, and cook dumplings for 15-20 minutes or until the wrapper is tender and the filling is cooked completely. Serve with Ginger-Soy Dipping Sauce.  (See recipe below)

VEGETABLE POTSTICKERS WITH GINGER-SOY DIPPING SAUCE (Vegetarian)  

  • 3 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. minced ginger
  • ½ lg. onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lg. garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 c. shiitake mushrooms, chopped (you can use part re-hydrated dried mushrooms)
  • ¾ c. finely shredded green cabbage
  • ¼ c. finely shredded carrot
  • 2 green onions, finely minced
  • ¼ tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 5 tsp. Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 T. GF tamari or soy sauce
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • 1 pkg. round won ton wrappers

In a wok or large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and ginger. Cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the onions and stir-fry until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the chopped mushrooms and stir-fry for another 3-5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender and any liquid released by the mushrooms has cooked off.

Add the cabbage and carrot and stir-fry for another 2 minutes, or until the veggies are tender and all the liquid released has been cooked off. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

When cool add the minced green onion, white pepper, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, tamari, and sugar. Taste and adjust seasoning.

To assemble, scoop 1 scant tablespoon of filling onto the center of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half to form a half circle. Using a fork, crimp the edges together. (Make sure to seal as tightly as possible.)

Place onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Repeat until all the filling and wrappers have been used. Place potstickers in the refrigerator or freezer for 1 hour.

Lightly coat your steamer rack(s) with cooking spray. Place the cold potstickers onto the prepared steamer racks, 1-inch apart. Cover steamer, and cook dumplings for 12-14 minutes. Serve with Ginger-Soy Dipping Sauce. (See recipe below)

Thanks to the Woks of Life website for the main gist of this recipe.

SHRIMP SHU MAI (CHINESE SHRIMP DUMPLINGS) WITH GINGER-SOY DIPPING SAUCE

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • ¼ tsp. lime zest
  • ½ lb. lg. uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp. low sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • ½ tsp. rice wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp. sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 green onion, very finely minced
  • 20-24 round wonton wrappers

Place garlic, ginger, and zest in a food processor and pulse 6 to 8 times or until finely ground and well combined. Scrape down sides of bowl.


Add half of the shrimp, Tamari, vinegar, sesame oil, salt, and pepper to the food processor and process until a smooth paste just comes together. Pour mixture into a mixing bowl and fold in the minced green onion and remaining shrimp.


Place scant tablespoon of the mixture into the center of a wonton wrapper. Gather the sides of the wonton skin up around the filling so that it looks like a tiny purse. Allow some of the filling to show at the top. If you have trouble, dab a little water on the skin so that it sticks together better.

Place onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Repeat until all the filling and wrappers have been used. Place shu mai in the refrigerator or freezer for 1 hour. Lightly coat your steamer rack(s) with cooking spray. Place the cold shu mai onto the prepared steamer racks, 1-inch apart. Cover steamer, and cook dumplings for about 20 minutes. Serve with Ginger-Soy Dipping Sauce. (Recipe below.)

GINGER-SOY DIPPING SAUCE

  • ½ c. low sodium tamari or soy sauce (use GF tamari or soy sauce for vegetarian)
  • 2 T. rice vinegar
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 finely minced green onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 T. finely minced fresh ginger

Combine all ingredients.

 

CHINESE ALMOND COOKIES

When planning the menu for a dinner party featuring Chinese food, I was stumped when it came to the dessert portion of the meal. I could make my own fortune cookies, but then I would have to come up with clever fortunes to go in the cookies. Then there’s the ever present problem of how you get paper fortunes baked into the cookies without starting a fire in an open flame (propane) oven? Too much thought and skill involved. So I dropped that idea. And from my days working in the International District I remembered seeing egg tarts and a type of gelatinous almond concoction being delivered to other people’s tables. The gelatinous dish (Almond Float) especially looked just too scary for me. (I have an irrational dislike for all thing “Jello”, so of course I haven’t tried this Chinese delicacy. It must be delicious because I have witnessed people swooning over it, but like I said – gelatinous substances – eww!)

So I did what I always do when faced with a possible cuisine related disaster; I searched the web for inspiration. And what I found were several recipes for Chinese almond cookies. Perfect. Of course, I had to design the cookies to meet my specifications. I didn’t want to include an egg, which seemed to be in every recipe. I wanted a cookie closer to the flavor and crunch of shortbread. But I wanted to use granulated sugar rather than powdered sugar. I wanted a Chinese cookie, not a Scotch shortbread.

So the result was this cookie which incorporates the granulated sugar taste of a traditional Chinese almond cookie, but possesses the crunch of shortbread. Of course my version retains the almond flavor and look (whole almond on top) associated with the traditional version. It’s just that mine are crunchy, not soft like most sugar cookies, including traditional Chinese Almond Cookies.

So if you are planning a Chinese meal and want a dessert that is semi-traditional, easy to prepare, inexpensive, and sure to be loved by young and old – bake up a batch of these little darlings. They are light and absolutely perfect with a lovely cup of coffee or tea.

And even if you don’t like Chinese food, you are sure to love these almond flavored treats. Now if you don’t like Chinese food or almond flavoring, I can offer you no help. There are just some culinary circumstances that even this overly Pollyanna prone person can alleviate!

  • 1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ c. granulated sugar + more for sprinkling
  • pinch salt
  • 1½ tsp. almond extract
  • 2½ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • whole almonds

Beat butter, sugar, and salt together until light and fluffy. Add extract. Add flour and work just until combined. Place dough on a long piece of plastic wrap. Using your hands, wrap the dough into the plastic wrap gently shaping it into a round log with about a 1-inch diameter. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Cut into ½-inch thick rounds. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 1½-inches apart. Flatten each cookie slightly with the bottom of a glass. Sprinkle a small amount of sugar on each cookie. Place an almond in the center and gently press down to make sure the almond stays where it belongs!

Bake in a pre-heated 300 oven for 25-30 minutes or until the bottom of each cookie is a nice golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.

 

CHAR SIU PORK (CHINESE BBQ PORK)

When I worked in the International District of Seattle during the 70s, I used to treat myself periodically to a quarter pound of BBQ pork for lunch. It was absolutely delicious. And there was one particular shop I always patronized. And to this day I can still conjure up the wonderful smell that emanated from that shop. I can also visualize the shop itself, with its uneven floor, bathroom straight out of the 1600s, and the wizened old owner/chef who always smiled at me despite the fact that he was missing at least 2/3rds of his teeth. But he was so nice and boy howdy could this guy BBQ meat. If I could have afforded to buy from him all the time, I would have taken home BBQ duck and pork (叉燒) on a weekly basis. But 40 some years ago, these items were way outside my budget. Unfortunately!

But ever since those 10 years working in the International district, I have loved BBQ pork. So for a recent dinner party, I decided to try replacing the recipe I had been using for many years with one that would more accurately reflect the exquisite flavor of the BBQ pork of long ago. I knew the secret was in the combination of ingredients for the marinade. (No duh!) And I was pretty sure the ingredient list should include Chinese Five Spice. But I didn’t have any Chinese Five Spice on hand or star anise for that matter, so I used regular anise seed in my own Chinese Five Spice blend. I have no idea how this pork would taste with a Chinese Five Spice blend that included star anise, but I can’t imagine it could be any tastier. Thanks to the Recipe Tin Eats web site (great site BTW) for this wonderful recipe. And sorry I changed a few things here and there.

So if you love Chinese BBQ pork as much as I do, give this recipe a try. And if you happen to visit the International District in whatever large city is closest to your home, look for the seediest shop you can find with ducks and strips of BBQ pork hanging in the window. Then go inside and buy anything that is hanging from a hook. Because it is bound to be incredible. Tell them Patti sent you!  

  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 5 tsp. honey
  • 5 tsp. hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp. oyster sauce  
  • 2 T. low sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • ½ tsp. Chinese Five Spice powder, either purchased or my preference – homemade (recipe below)
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil  
  • 1 T. vegetable oil  
  • 1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and silver skin and cut in half lengthwise

Make the marinade by placing the sugar, honey, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, Chinese five spice, sesame oil, and vegetable oil in a small saucepan and bring to simmer for just 30 seconds, then set aside to cool.

Place the pork and cooled marinade in a Ziplock bag. Remove as much air as possible, then massage the pork so the marinade is all over the pork. Place in the fridge and marinate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight or up to 24 hours.

Take the pork out of the fridge and bring to room temperature. Line a baking tray with foil and place a rack on top. Remove pork from the marinade (save the marinade) and place on the rack. Tuck the thin end of the tenderloin halves underneath so the whole piece of meat is roughly the same thickness.

Roast in a pre-heated 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. After 20 minutes, baste generously with the reserved marinade. After another 20 minutes, baste with remaining marinade. Remove from oven and allow the pork to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Please note: For a more authentic BBQ taste, remove the pork from the oven when it reaches about 150 degrees. Then place on a low temperature BBQ grill to help caramelize the sugars in the marinade. Watch very carefully because you don’t want to burn the marinade. I have to admit I haven’t tried the grilling part myself, because when I fixed this recipe, I was preparing a full Chinese dinner, and neither Mr. C. or I had time to breath much less spend any time at the BBQ. But rest assured, the next time I make this recipe there will be some real grilling involved!  

 

 

CHINESE SALT AND PEPPER OVEN ROASTED BEANS

So OK, olive oil is not usually used in Chinese cooking.  But what the heck, it’s my kitchen, my olive oil, my family and friends who will be eating the beans, and no one but me to blame for this gross misconduct and offence against all foods Chinese.

But in my own defense, olive oil is better for us then many oils that could be used, plus it tastes good. So to those who might suggest that I haven’t the right to change things up so drastically I say – sorry, but all things are fair in striving to provide great taste sensations for my family and friends. And frankly, what olive oil does for beans is almost remarkable. And I adore remarkable food. And yes, I know that most Chinese green bean recipes are heavy on the soy sauce, chili sauce, sesame oil thing. (And God bless them for it.) But what I wanted was a veggie side dish that didn’t include the mirepoix of Chinese food – garlic, ginger, and green onions.

I wanted a dish that simply featured the flavor of the vegetable. Especially because the evening I first served these beans, I served other dishes that all had that “Chinese food” flavor thing going. And as wonderful as that is, a flavor change is always welcome.

So that’s my story about these beans. And the best part, aside of course from the marvelous flavor of the beans, is the versatility of this simple dish. These beans can be served with almost any type of meat or seafood. And talk about quick and easy – nothing could be simpler.

So next time green beans catch your eye at the grocery store, bring some home and give this recipe a try. You are going to thank me. And speaking of thanks, I would like to thank Stacey from There’s a cook in my kitchen website who posted this recipe just for me. (Well not just for me, but I was the only one in my den/office when I found this recipe on the internet!)  

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Spread the beans onto a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Pour on the olive oil and mix until all the beans are covered in oil. Sprinkle on a fair amount of salt and a generous amount of pepper.

Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the edges of the beans start to brown and the beans are not quite tender. Remove from oven and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately.

 

CHINESE SPICY ORANGE SHRIMP

I think I have previously mentioned that I love Cooking Light – the magazine that is! (I like cooking light too, but I don’t always succeed in that arena.) So for a dinner party I hosted recently, I decided to cook Chinese food. OK, American Chinese food. Although I know traditional ingredients like tripe, chicken feet, and bitter melon are available in Seattle’s International District, it’s too far to drive just to obtain a few authentic products. (Oh who am I trying to kid. I wouldn’t cook with tripe, chicken feet, or bitter melon if they were personally delivered to my front door by Ming Tsai himself!)

So what’s left – BBQ Pork, steamed dumplings, fried rice, etc. Basically the usual suspects found in every Chinese restaurant around the world. (Except China, of course.)

So call me plebian if you must, but I do dearly love American Chinese food. Well, maybe I better qualify that statement. I love good Chinese food. Defined by me as containing no MSG and just a modicum of oil, the exclusive use of low sodium tamari or soy sauce, super fresh veggies and meat, and a whole lot of restraint shown when adding salt.

So when I came across this recipe from the August 2007 issue of Cooking Light while setting my menu, I knew from just reading the ingredient list that this dish would be a winner. And it sure enough was! I changed/added a couple of ingredients, but basically it remains yet another example of the wonderful recipes that can be found in Cooking Light. (And no, I am not on the Cooking Light payroll, nor do I receive a free subscription. My words are unsolicited, which by definition make them 100% accurate. Right???) But back to the issue at hand.

As you know, citrus works very well with seafood. And something about the orange zest and juice along with the other ingredients work well to enhance the flavor of the shrimp rather than detract from it. And we’re talking only 2 teaspoons of oil in this recipe. Hurray for that!

So if you too love Chinese food, I suggest you try this delicious shrimp recipe. It is definitely a quick and easy dish to prepare, making it perfect for any night of the week. Served with Chinese Salt and Pepper Beans and steamed brown rice, you have a dinner that will please your entire family. Just remember to start your brown rice first. It will take longer to cook then both of the other recipes.

And if you haven’t learned to love brown rice yet, try using low sodium broth in place of the water when you cook the rice. Also, and I can’t believe I am going to put this in writing after railing above about too much salt, but a tiny pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper will also add to the overall flavor of the brown rice. (Sorry to go all pettifogging on you when it comes to the issue of salt, but rest easy. I’m working on the problem!) Enjoy the shrimp. Thanks again Cooking Light for this delightful recipe.

  • 1 lb. peeled and deveined uncooked large shrimp
  • 1 T. cornstarch, or more as needed to coat the shrimp
  • 1-2 tsp. orange zest
  • ½ c. orange juice
  • pinch kosher salt (unless using regular soy sauce)
  • 2 T. low sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 T. rice wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp. Sriracha or chili sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 T. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ c. chopped green onions

Place shrimp in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with cornstarch; toss well to coat. Set aside.

Whisk together the orange zest, juice, salt, tamari, honey, vinegar, and Sriracha. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced ginger and garlic to pan; stir-fry for 20 seconds or until fragrant. Add shrimp; stir-fry for 3 minutes or until almost done. Add juice mixture and green onions; cook 2 minutes or until sauce thickens and shrimp are done, stirring frequently. Serve immediately.

 

 

PORK AND GREENS WITH NOODLES

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This is one of those quick and easy recipes that is perfect for weeknights. (Of course you can also serve it on the weekend, but because of its ease of preparation, I tend to think of it as an “I’m too tired to really cook” kind of weeknight dish.) I mean really, when you analyze the ingredients, you have all the essential elements associated with dinner. You’ve got your meat, your starch, and your veggies. The only difference is that they are all combined in one neat little package. So while your family might feel slighted by only one item present on the dinner table, you can relax knowing you have covered all the bases. And truly, aren’t some nights just all about you! I mean – you’ve fed them right? And something really tasty too. So I say “get over it family and cut the poor cook some slack”!

Of course, if the gilt really becomes too much for you – throw a couple of cookies and a bowl of ice cream at them after dinner. (And no, they don’t have to be a home baked cookies. I am not the food Nazi, and I promise not to report you to Betty Crocker.)

So next time you get the urge to just go home and lock yourself in your room and to heck with feeding your hungry masses, stop at the store on your way home from work. (You know the little darlings have to be fed, so this is your way of feeding the troops, and still getting to bed early.) Pick up a couple thick, lean pork chops, a package of pre-washed greens, and any other ingredients for this dish that you don’t already have on hand. Then beat feet home, change your clothes, pour yourself a libation, and prepare my version of Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe for Stir-Fried Pork and Green with Noodles. Then relax and enjoy your meal. You’ve fulfilled your “food” obligation and in fine style too.  

One thing more – don’t forget the cookies and ice cream while you’re at the store.     

  • 2 T. vegetable oil, divided 
  • ½ lb. lean pork, cut in very thin strips
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 T. minced fresh ginger
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • about 1 lb. Swiss chard, beet greens, turnip greens, spinach, or kale stemmed and washed very well  
  • 2 T. low sodium Tamari or soy sauce
  • ¼ c. chicken stock or water  
  • 8 oz. Japanese somen noodles, wide rice vermicelli, or Chinese egg noodles cooked al dente
  • ¼ c. thinly sliced green onions, garnish

Heat a large, heavy skillet or wok over medium-high heat until hot enough to evaporate a drop of water on contact. Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and add the pork; stir fry for about 2 minutes or until the pork is just barely cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.  

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper flakes to the pan. Cook for about one minute or until the garlic releases its aroma. Stir in the greens and stir fry until mostly wilted. Add the Tamari and chicken stock. Cook for about a minute. Add the cooked noodles and reserved pork; stir together until heated through. Adjust seasoning, sprinkle with green onions, and serve immediately.

 

ASIAN GROUND BEEF OR GROUND CHICKEN SALAD (OR WRAPS)

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I love salads and am always looking for new ways to serve healthy salad ingredients in a more interesting and tasty fashion. So when I was also trying to think up exciting ways to use ground beef, I immediately thought of Asian wraps.  But there is something you should know about Mr. C and me. We are messy eaters. And trying to keep even an ingredient as ordinary as taco meat corralled in a crisp tortilla can be daunting for us. And don’t even get me started on what kind of a mess we can make when eating a really good and juicy hamburger!

So the thought of deliberately setting us up for another messy food experience just for the sake of presenting this set of ingredients in a trendy culinary manner, fairly screamed for an alternate solution. So last evening, when all the usual wrap suspects were assembled as a salad, we actually looked like two adults enjoying a wonderful meal, rather than two children left unsupervised to make as much of a mess as possible! After all, the same ingredients were in the salad as would have been presented in a wrap. So there really was no taste difference. The ingredients were simply presented in a much more dignified manner! (Plus we didn’t need to spend any time after dinner cleaning up after ourselves.)

So if you too are inept with hand held food, give this recipe a try as a salad. If you are able to walk and talk at the same time and eat wraps in a decorous fashion, by all means serve this delicious meat filling and veggie additives (inspiration from PF Chang’s recipe for Chicken Lettuce Wraps) in darling little lettuce leaf cups. Just please don’t tell me about it. I know I’m uncoordinated, but I hate to have that reality stuffed in my face. (Actually, if any stuffing is to be done, I want it to be another one of these wholesome and delightful SALADS, thank you very much! And in the near future too!)

  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef or chicken
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. grated ginger
  • ¼ c. hoisin sauce
  • 2 T. peanut butter
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 T. water
  • 1 tsp. Sriracha, or more to taste
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1½ lg. romaine hearts, cut into bite sized pieces or 1 head butter lettuce, washed and individual leaves removed at the root
  • 1/3 c. chopped salted peanuts
  • 1 small carrot, shredded
  • 1 c. very thinly sliced English cucumber, cut into half moons

Heat vegetable oil and sesame oil in a large frypan over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the meat as it cooks. Stir in the onion and cook until translucent. (Don’t let it get brown.) Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for one minute. In a small bowl combine the hoisin sauce, peanut butter, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, water, Sriracha, and 1/3rd of the sliced green onions. Pour over the meat just before you are ready to serve. Let simmer for about 1 minute.

To serve, place romaine on two good sized dinner plates. Spoon as much of the meat mixture (you will probably have extra) onto the lettuce as desired. Garnish with the remaining green onions, chopped peanuts, shredded carrot, and cucumber.

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Serve immediately. No dressing required.

To serve as wraps, spoon several tablespoons of the beef mixture into the center of lettuce leaves. Sprinkle on the peanuts, remaining sliced green onions, shredded carrot, and cucumber. Crump the leaves together at the top and eat like a messy taco. (The very reason I serve this as a salad.)

The meat mixture can also be served over rice if the whole healthy “lettuce and veggies” thing is unappealing. (No guilt trip intended!)

 

EAST INDIAN OR THAI CURRIED CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

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East Indian Curried Chicken Noodle Soup

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Thai Curried Chicken Noodle Soup

I first started making the East Indian version of this soup over 20 years ago using regular old fashioned, available in every grocery store curry powder.  So when Mr. C invited the other 2 members of the Tim-E3 Jazz trio to rehearse at our place on Sunday, I offered to make lunch for the guys since they would be here from 11:00 am till about 3:00 pm. I decided to use Tim and Todd, along with Mr. C of course, as my taste testers (aka Guinea Pigs) to see if using red curry paste would work to create a Thai variation of this soup. So I served the guys a bowl of each and had them decide which they liked better or even if they liked the soups at all? Well, all three of the guys decided both were keepers. So I decided to post both recipes and let you decide which version better suited your taste.

The base ingredients are exactly the same in both soups. But what makes the difference is the curry used. And for people like Mr. C and myself, who BTW are curry “nuts”, we probably like the East Indian curry better. Only because that’s the curry flavor we grew up with. OK, I didn’t actually experience curry until after I was out of my parent’s home. In fact, I doubt either of my parents even knew what curry was until the latter part of their lives. But I started making curry in my early 20s. And since I don’t really feel I achieved adulthood until I was about 28 (some would say I’m still not there!), I feel comfortable saying that I grew up loving curry. But enough about my latent development!

Both soups are very easy to prepare and don’t have to be simmered for hours to achieve a lovely blended flavor. And truly, both are really delicious! Both exotic and down home at the same time. Each would make a really delightful first coarse soup to either an Indian or Thai meal.

So is you too love soup and would like to prepare one, or in this case two, that are both different, easy, and fairly quick to prepare, give either one of these a try. Kripyā bhojan kā ānnaṅd lijīyai (please enjoy your meal) in Hindi and taan hâi a-ròi in Thai.

East Indian:

  • 2 tsp. coconut oil or canola oil
  • 2 c. bite-sized pieces of uncooked chicken
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 T. regular curry powder (like McCormick)
  • 2½ c. chicken stock
  • 1 can light (reduced fat) coconut milk
  • 4 T. fish sauce
  • 1 T. low sodium Tamari or soy sauce
  • juice of ½ lime or more to taste
  • 6-8 oz. cooked egg noodles (I use Rose brand Chinese Egg Noodles)
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced, garnish
  • 1 T. chopped fresh cilantro, garnish
  • lime wedges, garnish

Heat the coconut oil in a medium large covered soup pot. Add the chicken, salt, and pepper. Sauté the chicken just until cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and curry powder to pan; cook for about one minute. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, and Tamari. Bring to just under a boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the reserved chicken and cook for 1 minute or until the chicken pieces are hot. Remove the pot from heat and stir in the lime juice and cooked noodles. Adjust seasonings. Serve hot garnished with green onions, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Thai:

  • 2 tsp. coconut oil or canola oil
  • 2 c. bite-sized pieces of uncooked chicken
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 T. Red Curry Paste
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 2½ c. chicken stock
  • 1 can light (reduced fat) coconut milk
  • 2-3 T. fish sauce
  • 1 T. low sodium Tamari or soy sauce
  • juice of ½ lime or more to taste
  • 6-8 oz. cooked egg noodles (I use Rose brand Chinese Egg Noodles)
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced, garnish
  • 1 T. chopped fresh cilantro, garnish

Heat the coconut oil in a medium large covered soup pot. Add the chicken, salt, and pepper. Sauté the chicken just until cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, curry paste, and turmeric to pan; cook for about one minute. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of the fish sauce, and Tamari. Bring to just under a boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the reserved chicken and cook for 1 minute or until the chicken pieces are hot. Remove the pot from heat and stir in the lime juice and cooked noodles. Adjust seasonings. Serve hot garnished with green onions, cilantro, and lime wedges.