Category Archives: Asian

Cambodian Noodle Soup

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With the exception of my travels through the Balkans, I have yet to visit any metropolitan area where I didn’t stumble upon a pho shop.  With their steaming bowls of noodles, broth, and an endless variety of add-ins, these Thai noodle soup shops have a cult like following that make them both universal and hard not to like.  In grad school my favorite lunch was a steaming bowl of pho from the student union.  The options were endless so I could eat there every day without repeating the same bowl of soup twice.

I had never made pho before but decided to give it a try when my craving for the hot broth covered noodles got the best of me.  In browsing through recipe options I came across one in The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, The Splendid Table is my favorite radio program on NPR.  I can even stream their broadcasts online meaning I can get my Lynn Rossetto Kasper fix while living overseas).  I was set to give the pho recipe a try then I turned the page and saw the Cambodian twist on the soup which sounded even more intriguing.  Unable to decide which version to make, I combined the best elements of both recipes to form what I present here.  You can also add or substitute ingredients as your palate or pantry dictates.

The verdict?  This soup is delicious but a lot more work than popping into your local pho shop. But if you don’t have one in close proximity to you, make this soup.  You won’t be disappointed.

CAMBODIAN NOODLE SOUP

For the broth:

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 two inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

6 whole cloves

1 star anise

Freshly ground black pepper

7 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce

For the soup:

8 ounces linguine-style rice noodles

6 ounces thinly sliced top round steak

1 1/2 cups winter squash, diced

1 cup unsweetened pineapple chunks

1 medium tomato, diced

For the table salad:

10 sprigs fresh cilantro

8 sprigs Thai or other fresh basil

8 mint sprigs

Generous handful bean sprouts

2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced

1 large lime, cut into wedges

Add-in sauces:

Asian hot sauce

Hoisin sauce

  • Place a rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler and then pre-heat the oven.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and evenly distribute the onion, garlic, ginger, cloves, star anise, and five grinds of black pepper over the baking sheet.
  • Broil for 5-6 minutes until the spices are fragrant and the onions begin to brown.  Scrape the mixture into a large soup pot.
  • Add the broth, sugar, fish sauce, and squash to the pot.  Cover the pot tightly and bring the entire mixture to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  • Meanwhile, place the noodles in a large pan and cover with very hot tap water.  Allow to soak for 20 minutes or until the noodles are tender.  Drain, rinse with cold water, then divide evenly between two large soup bowls.
  • Thinly slice the steak into bite sized pieces.  (Hint:  For easier slicing, place the steak in the freezer before you begin making the soup.  Allow it to sit for 20 minutes then remove it from the freezer and slice).  Evenly divide the meat between the two soup bowls.  The hot broth will cook it to a medium-rare
  • Arrange the table salad ingredients on a medium-sized platter and place on the table.
  • When the squash is tender, add the pineapple and tomatoes to the broth and stir well to combine.  Cook for 1 minute to allow the broth to return to a simmer.
  • Ladle the broth over the noodles and meat and serve immediately topped with the table salad and sauces of your choice.

Serves 2

Coconut Red Curried Cod

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

If you like curry this dish is for you. First, it cooks up fast. Start a pot of rice before you begin chopping your scallions and garlic and in less than half an hour you’ll have dinner on the table. I used cod since its mild firm white flesh cooks up fast and holds together well but you could easily substitute another white fish or even shrimp. Add some crusty bread to sop up the tasty coconut milk sauce and a crisp white wine and your Friday night dinner is complete. Enjoy!

COCONUT RED CURREID COD

1 tablespoon canola oil

8 scallions, whites and greens separated, chopped

2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

4 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch of salt

1 lb cod or other firm white fish, cut into bite sized pieces

1 8-ounce can coconut milk

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1 lime

  • In a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering.
  • Add the scallion whites and red curry paste then sauté one minute.
  • Add the garlic and salt and cook about 2-3 minutes.
  • Gently stir in the cod and stir to coat.
  • Add the coconut milk and fish sauce and mix well.
  • Simmer about 4-5 minutes, until the cod is cooked through.
  • Remove from heat, stir in the lime juice, cilantro, and scallion greens.
  • Serve over rice.

Serves 4

Chicken Fried Rice

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I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who doesn’t love Chinese food. And when it comes to Chinese the first dish I think of is fried rice. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever ordered it without including a side of this famous rice. Some versions are better than others but the best is really the dish you make at home. Yes, at home; it is that easy. And while the rice is usually a side dish that accompanies your entree, this fried rice could easily be served as a satisfying dinner by itself.
I think of the rice as a blank slate onto which a meal is created. Jasmine or another version of white rice is the grain that is traditionally used but for added nutrition and taste I’ve used brown rice in my dish. Chicken is my protein of choice but you could substitute beef, pork, or even shrimp. The same goes for the vegetables; use whatever you prefer or have on hand. Just be sure you don’t over cook them since the crisp vegetables add an interesting textural contrast to the dish. As an added bonus, if you already have cooked rice and pre-cooked chicken in the refrigerator, you can have dinner on the table in minutes.
CHICKEN FRIED RICE
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 red onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds cooked white meat chicken, cubed
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, divided
2 large carrots, diced into coins
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup fresh sugar snap peas
1 cup canned or frozen corn
2 cups Mung bean sprouts
6 cups cooked brown rice
2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Place the oil in a large stainless steel wok place it over high heat.
  • Once the oil shimmers reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and saute until soft, 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the chicken and 3 tablespoons of the soy sauce and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the carrots, celery, red bell pepper, pea pods and corn and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the rice and stir thoroughly to combine.
  • Stir in the eggs, Mung bean sprouts and remaining 1/3 cup of soy sauce.
  • Toss and stir until the rice is heated through.
  • Serve immediately.
Serves 4-6

 

Asian Sloppy Joes

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Here is a new twist on a childhood classic and these sandwiches certainly aren’t the Manwiches you grew up with. The recipe comes from Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger Restaurant and combines the best of Asian flavors in a fun form. Sambal Oelek is a spicy chile sauce which adds zip to any dish. If you aren’t familiar with it, try a bit before adding it to your meat mixture. I love it but it is spicy so a little goes a long way. Three tablespoons might add too much spice for your family so add less (or more) if you prefer.

The recipe calls for using a mixture of ground pork and ground chicken but feel free to substitute ground turkey or lean beef if you prefer. You can serve these sandwiches as bite sized sliders or as full-sized sandwiches for a quick dinner.  Like their namesake, these sandwiches are messy so put plenty of napkins on the table, use a fork and knife if you prefer, and dig in. These are a new family favorite in our house.

ASIAN SLOPPY JOES

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 medium red onions, finely chopped

1 cup celery, finely chopped

3 tablespoons Sambal Oelek

3 tablespoons garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound ground pork

1 pound lean ground chicken

1 cup Hoisin sauce

1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

8 large or 20 small rolls, split

  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until it shimmers.
  • Add the onions, celery, Sambal Oelek, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper. Combine all of the ingredients then cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the ground pork and chicken and cook for 5 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat.
  • Stir in the Hoisin sauce, tomatoes, and lime juice and bring to a boil.
  • Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.
  • Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Serve on top of the rolls.

Yields: 8 large or 20 small sandwiches.

Happy Trio Pad Thai

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I love Thai food and one of the easiest dishes to make is pad Thai.  Tender noodles and a bit of sauce are combined with a protein of your choice to make this mouthwatering dish.  You can use meat, chicken, shrimp, tofu or a combination of all of them.  Rice noodles are traditional but if you can’t find them feel free to substitute linguine or another long noodle.  And this dish really cooks quickly so be sure to have all of your ingredients, including your serving dish and utensils, handy before starting to cook.

HAPPY TRIO PAD THAI

1/4 pound dried rice noodles

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic

1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 pound boneless chicken, cut into bite sized pieces

1/4 pound firm tofu, cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup carrots, julienned

4 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes

1/4 cup chicken broth

1 egg, slightly beaten

3 green onions, coarsely chopped

2 cups fresh bean sprouts

1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Lime wedges for garnish

  • Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a rolling boil.  Add the noodles and remove the pan from the heat.
  • Let the noodles soak for 5 minutes them drain and rinse with cold water.  Transfer the noodles to a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large wok until it shimmers.  Add the garlic and toss well.
  • Add the shrimp, chicken, tofu, and carrots.  Cook for 2 minutes, tossing now and then, until the shrimp and chicken is cooked through.
  • Add the noodles and toss until they begin to soften and begin to curl in the hot pan.
  • Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and chili flakes and cook for 2 minutes, tossing occasionally.  Add enough of the chicken broth to prevent the noodles from sticking.
  • When the noodles are tender, push them to the side of the wok and add the remaining oil.  Add the egg, and once it is almost set, scramble it and set aside.
  • Add the onions and 1 cup of the bean sprouts, cooking 1 minutes or until the sprouts are shiny and begin to wilt.
  • Sprinkle the peanuts and lime juice over the top of the noodles and toss everything together.
  • Transfer to a serving platter, top with the remaining bean sprouts and garnish with lime wedges.

Serves 3-4

Cambodian Noodle Soup

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With the exception of my travels through the Balkans, I have yet to visit any metropolitan area where I didn’t stumble upon a pho shop.  With their steaming bowls of noodles, broth, and an endless variety of add-ins, these Thai noodle soup shops have a cult like following that make them both universal and hard not to like.  In grad school my favorite lunch was a steaming bowl of pho from the student union.  The options were endless so I could eat there every day without repeating the same bowl of soup twice.

I had never made pho before but decided to give it a try when my craving for the hot broth covered noodles got the best of me.  In browsing through recipe options I came across one in The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, The Splendid Table is my favorite radio program on NPR.  I can even stream their broadcasts online meaning I can get my Lynn Rossetto Kasper fix while living overseas).  I was set to give the pho recipe a try then I turned the page and saw the Cambodian twist on the soup which sounded even more intriguing.  Unable to decide which version to make, I combined the best elements of both recipes to form what I present here.  You can also add or substitute ingredients as your palate or pantry dictates.

The verdict?  This soup is delicious but a lot more work than popping into your local pho shop. But if you don’t have one in close proximity to you, make this soup.  You won’t be disappointed.

CAMBODIAN NOODLE SOUP

For the broth:

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 two inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

6 whole cloves

1 star anise

Freshly ground black pepper

7 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce

For the soup:

8 ounces linguine-style rice noodles

6 ounces thinly sliced top round steak

1 1/2 cups winter squash, diced

1 cup unsweetened pineapple chunks

1 medium tomato, diced

For the table salad:

10 sprigs fresh cilantro

8 sprigs Thai or other fresh basil

8 mint sprigs

Generous handful bean sprouts

2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced

1 large lime, cut into wedges

Add-in sauces:

Asian hot sauce

Hoisin sauce

  • Place a rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler and then pre-heat the oven.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and evenly distribute the onion, garlic, ginger, cloves, star anise, and five grinds of black pepper over the baking sheet.
  • Broil for 5-6 minutes until the spices are fragrant and the onions begin to brown.  Scrape the mixture into a large soup pot.
  • Add the broth, sugar, fish sauce, and squash to the pot.  Cover the pot tightly and bring the entire mixture to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  • Meanwhile, place the noodles in a large pan and cover with very hot tap water.  Allow to soak for 20 minutes or until the noodles are tender.  Drain, rinse with cold water, then divide evenly between two large soup bowls.
  • Thinly slice the steak into bite sized pieces.  (Hint:  For easier slicing, place the steak in the freezer before you begin making the soup.  Allow it to sit for 20 minutes then remove it from the freezer and slice).  Evenly divide the meat between the two soup bowls.  The hot broth will cook it to a medium-rare
  • Arrange the table salad ingredients on a medium-sized platter and place on the table.
  • When the squash is tender, add the pineapple and tomatoes to the broth and stir well to combine.  Cook for 1 minute to allow the broth to return to a simmer.
  • Ladle the broth over the noodles and meat and serve immediately topped with the table salad and sauces of your choice.

Serves 2

Gingered Beef & Broccoli

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This gingery take on traditional beef and broccoli is adapted from a Cuisine at Home recipe.  The ginger and garlic are prominent flavors in this recipe.  If you think they are too strong you can reduce the amounts used but don’t eliminate them all together since they are essential ingredients.  This dish cooks up in a matter of minutes so be sure to have all of your ingredients ready before you begin.  I like to serve the dish over jasmine rice so if you are going this route, have it cooked and kept warm before you begin.

GINGERED BEEF & BROCCOLI

1/4 cup beef broth

2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 tablespoon chile sauce

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1 pound sirloin steak, cubed

4 cups fresh broccoli florets

4 tablespoons fresh minced ginger

3 tablespoons minced garlic

Salt & pepper to taste

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

  • In a small bowl whisk together the broth, rice wine, oyster sauce, soy sauce, corn starch, chile sauce, brown sugar, and oil.  Set aside.
  • Heat the peanut oil in a wok set over high heat.
  • Generously season the beef cubes with salt and pepper.
  • When the oil shimmers, add the minced ginger and garlic and saute for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  • Add the beef and cook for two minutes, tossing occasionally to make sure all sides are browned.
  • Add the broccoli and cook for 1 minute.
  • Push the beef and broccoli up the sides of the wok and pour the reserved sauce into the center of the pan.
  • Return the beef and broccoli to the bottom of the pan and toss everything to coat.
  • Cook an additional minute or two until everything is coated in sauce, the broccoli is tender crisp and the beef is cooked to your liking.
  • Serve immediately over a bed of rice.

Serves 4

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