Friday, October 26, 2012

Minty Fresh

Well, not just minty, there's a whole lot of other flavors in this recipe. But while I used up all the cilantro and basil in preparing the dish, I have a colander full of mint left and the kitchen smells great.

I'm not sure what I was looking for when I found this week's recipe, but this caught my eye. I've never made Thai food before, though the ingredient list had something suspicious. Let's take a look.

  • 2 Thai chiles, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free fish sauce (such as Thai Kitchen brand)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 garlic clove, chopped
  • 12 ounces rice stick noodles (maifun)
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) vegetable oil
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemongrass from peeled bottom 4" of stalk
  • 2 cups (loosely packed) cilantro, coarsely chopped, divided
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) mint leaves, coarsely chopped, divided
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) basil leaves, coarsely chopped, divided
  • Large butter lettuce leaves

  • If you guessed the sugar seems a bit high, you're thinking the way I was. You might recall from the coffee jelly and the ginger beef  entries that my local Asian authenticity monitor (hi Sweetie!) that American interpretations of Asian recipes seem to contain a hell of a lot more sweetener than needed.

    So I cut the sugar down to a teaspoon.

    I strongly recommend you draft a sous chef or a medium-sized child who thinks helping in the kitchen is fun. There's a whole lot of chopping to do.

    Chop the peppers and the ginger and juice about three limes before you do anything else. This way you can put the dressing together and let the flavors blend. Then do your herb chopping.
     . . . . 

    Whisk first 4 ingredients, 2 teaspoons ginger, and garlic in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Set dressing aside.

    Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, 2–4 minutes. Drain; put in a large bowl.

    Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. Add chicken; stir 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoons ginger, shallot, and lemongrass. Stir until chicken is cooked through, 3–4 minutes. Add to noodles. Add half of all herbs and half of dressing; toss to coat.

    Line bowls with lettuce leaves. Divide noodle mixture among bowls. Top with remaining herbs and dressing.

     . . . .

    One thing I will ding the nice people at Epicurious is not mentioning that when you drain rice noodles, immediately rinse them with cold water. I run my fingers through them to make sure they're all cold and not sticking together. 

    This worked out very well. While I love a creamy rich Thai curry (especially one with lots of basil), this is deliciously light, but not lacking in flavor in the slightest. The only flavor changes I'd make is up the ginger with the chicken to a full tablespoon.

    There were no leftovers. They were eaten by the authenticity monitor.

    If you try this, let me know if you like it, or if you made any variations of your won. Thanks for reading!

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Rub the duckie

    I've been tossing this idea around in my head for a while. Duck takes very well to fruit, but I live with a man who does not like cooked fruit, though some exceptions can be made for citrus.

    I kept forgetting to buy the Chinese five-spice powder I wanted to use, but I did get some orange peel recently. While the traditional duck l'orange is too sweet for my sweetie, I thought maybe I could spice it up a bit. I put together the following:

    3 T dried orange peel
    2 T dried lemon peel
    1.5 t salt
    1 T ground ginger
    1 T crushed red pepper
    1 T garlic powder

    Blend your spices together well--ground ginger, even of the best quality can sometimes clump up.

    I'm still using the method I found from Emeril, bless his heart. With this pan-roasting method, it's easy enough to do on a weeknight. Not that there's anything wrong with saving a bird for a nice Sunday dinner.

    I really liked this one. The ginger dominated, but the citrus added a touch of both light and bitterness that gave the whole combination a lot of depth. The sweetie had two helpings. I promised him I'd eat the rest for lunch tomorrow, because he doesn't want me to it in front of him, since tomorrow is leftover night.

    I still intend to try a variation with five-spice powder, though maybe I will use sesame oil instead of olive. Watch this space!