Category: Asian

Sesame-Shrimp Noodles with Fresh Vegetable Toppings or Lilacs in the Rain

Sesame-Shrimp Noodles with Fresh Vegetable Toppings or Lilacs in the Rain

A cool and rainy spring in Saint Paul keeps me cooking indoors.  Typically I’d be raking together a salad while Dave grilled chicken or salmon.  Instead, just back from our happy daughter Emily’s graduation from seminary at Princeton, I’m slaving over a hot stove.  Well,  not really.

Here is Emily with her proud parents.  We sang in the choir! Go, Emily!

I will say that once I decided to make and blog some Asian noodles, they were everywhere I looked online.  Like this version from FOOD AND WINE.   I ignored all that and forged ahead.  Hmph; great minds think alike, etc.

If you’re looking for something luscious, filling, and healthy for dinner with plenty leftover for a cold lunch or tomorrow’s dinner, this is your meal.   The short story is that you cook up some noodles with snow peas, asparagus, and shrimp.  You stir in all kinds of things to make it taste good, and let your family or guests choose their toppings — a variety of chopped vegetables, sesame seeds, lime and nuts– at the table.

OR:  Add just the vegetables and “sauce” ingredients (skip the shrimp), along with the peanut topping, and you have a great side for meats you might be grilling for Memorial Day.  I picture this with  salmon, pork chops, or chicken, perhaps those that have been lolling around in an Asian marinade before grilling.

Try this photo recipe:  (Ingredients are in bold type.)

 
sesame-shrimp noodles with fresh vegetable toppings

4 servings
8 Weight Watcher’s Plus Points per serving

Place 2 tablespoons sesame seeds in a small skillet over low heat and toast, stirring occasionally, for several minutes until light brown.  Remove from heat; pour into a small bowl and place on table.  Chop 1/4 cup plain peanuts, scoop into another small bowl, and place on table.

Pour 2 tablespoons canola oil into the skillet over low heat and add 1 tablespoon each minced ginger and garlic.  Cook a minute or two or just until garlic begins to color.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring 5-6 quarts of salted and peppered water to boil for the pasta.  While it heats, chop 1/2 cup each bok choy, fresh cilantro, scallions (green onions), and cucumber.  Chop all of one red bell pepper.  Cut a lime into wedges.   Place the vegetables and the lime wedges side by side in a large bowl or in separate small bowls and put them on the table by the sesame seeds and peanuts.

 
To the by now boiling water, add one pound whole wheat linguine (I like Whole Foods 365 brand best) and cook for about 7 minutes.   Stir in 3/4 pound (12 ounces) fresh peeled and deveined shrimp, a cup each of stringed+ fresh snow peas and chopped fresh asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes until shrimp is firm and pink and noodles are nearly tender.

 
  Drain pasta, shrimp, asparagus and peas.  Pour back into the pot and, while hot, stir in garlic-ginger oil,  a generous pinch of crushed red pepper, 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, 1/4 cup  soy sauce and 1  tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of Sriracha,  and the juice of one lime.   Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more Sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil, or lime, if needed. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold in shallow pasta bowls; pass fresh vegetables, extra lime slices, soy sauce, and chopped peanuts so that guests can add what they’d like at the table.

Cook’s Notes: 

+Destringing snow peas  If you don’t destring your snow peas, you’ll be flossing (without meaning to) during dinner. 

If you have a vegan or vegetarian in your group, cook the shrimp separately and place it in a separate bowl on the table.  You could add sauteed tofu, if desired, or 2 -3 tablespoons peanut butter to the soy sauce mixture.

If you have leftover cooked chicken, you can add sliced chicken with the garlic-ginger oil instead of cooking shrimp with the noodles.

Vegetables are very interchangeable; please add what you have or you like.  For instance, julienned carrots could be used instead of asparagus or sliced celery in place of the snow peas.  

My lilac are in bloom–finally.  But it’s too cold and rainy to go enjoy them.  Hopefully tomorrow!

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Chinese New Year Stir Fry with a Minnesota-Thai Accent

Chinese New Year Stir Fry with a Minnesota-Thai Accent

Dave likes to say, “You don’t like Asian food.”  It’s not true and he actually knows it.  What I don’t like is food from a greasy “Chinese” take-out place.  What I don’t like are limp vegetables and high-fried protein mixed in a shiny, gelatinous sauce full of sweetness and calories I neither need nor want.  I adore the real deal anywhere and, if I’m at home,  pull out the Barbara Tropp when I need inspiration, instigation, or education. What he doesn’t say out loud is that he’s the better Asian cook; he’s just too often too busy to make dinner.  I do love to see him in the kitchen.  Yep.

Here he is helping cook a gorgeous Chinese feast last year…with friend Jim.

or here…all by his handsome lonesome in our Colorado kitchen:
 WOKMAN

Sometimes, like everyone else, I just wing it or take a basic recipe and ad lib.  Nothing ventured, no dinner. This fine, quick meal is a sort of Szechuan-Thai-Minnesotan fusion as it combines the garlic, ginger, and peppers of a Szechuan meal with the fish sauce, fresh basil, and lime of Thai food tradition, and finishes off with the northern American (Minnesotan) winter staple, walnuts. 

The walnuts were awesome in this dish; don’t skip them.

I made jasmine rice because that’s what’s in the pantry and also because I adore its nutty, fragrant presence at the table. Set the table (plain mats, small bowls for rice, cups for tea, chop sticks), brew the tea, start the rice, and make the stir fry; it should come out fairly even.  Add a little Chinese music off the internet, if you like.  Here’s a youtube I enjoyed.

This is what I do for my Asian meals–just a simpler feel. Nothing fancy.  I include silverware as well as chopsticks.

 Try this; you’ll be happy you did. If you’ve been dissatisfied with your attempts at stir fry before, use my method and see what you think.  Don’t buy any pre-made sauces and, no, you don’t need soy sauce here.  Next time, switch it around with your favorite vegetables or use tofu or pork instead of chicken….

chicken-vegetable stir fry with walnuts
 serves 4 people generously

  • 1/2 cup chopped or halved walnuts, toasted in a pan on the stove on low for 5 minutes
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked jasmine rice
  • Fresh ground black pepper, kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon each grated fresh ginger and minced garlic
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1  – 1 1/2-inch pieces
  •  
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cabbage, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienned (matchsticks)
  • 3/4 pound haricots verts or regular green beans cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal*
  • 4 ounces sliced button mushrooms
  •  
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 lime (use 1 tablespoon juice while cooking and the rest for garnish at table)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •  
  • 1/2 cup basil, julienne (sliced in thin ribbons)
  • 2 tablespoons red or green onion, minced

1.  Before making stir fry:   Set table. Make tea or pour wine.  Set aside toasted walnuts.  Make rice:  combine 1 1/2 cups dry rice with 1 3/4 cups water with two good grinds of black pepper and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, cover and cook (a tiny plume of steam should be escaping) for 20 minutes.  Turn off heat. Fluff with fork.  Let sit until needed.
2.  In a medium bowl, stir together salted and peppered chicken pieces with 2 tablespoons of the fish sauce.  Heat the oil over high heat in a wok or a large, deep skillet and add the garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper.  Let cook a minute before adding chicken.  Let brown well, turn, and brown on the other side until cooked through.  Remove to a clean bowl.
3.  Add onions, cabbage, carrots, green beans, and mushrooms to the wok.  Cook, stirring, until vegetables have just begun to barely soften, about two minutes.  Remove vegetables from wok and add to the bowl with the chicken.
4.  Pour into the wok the chicken broth and 1 tablespoon lime juice, along with the cayenne, and simmer for a minute or two to reduce before adding back in the chicken and vegetables.
5.  Stir in the other tablespoon of fish sauce, let heat through; turn off heat.  Taste and adjust seasonings.   If too dry, add a little more chicken broth; you want some sauce here for your rice. Sprinkle with reserved walnuts, basil, and onions.  Serve hot with rice and lime wedges.

*If you have older or thicker regular green beans, slice them lengthwise in addition to cutting into 1-inch pieces.

Cook’s Note:  If you don’t like spicy food (and this isn’t terribly spicy), leave out the crushed red pepper and try just a tiny pinch of cayenne in the sauce to give the meal a little edge.

IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MIGHT LIKE TO LOOK AT ANOTHER ASIAN MEAL ON MORE TIME:

 

or..
 
  Basil Chicken Fried Rice

 or
 Ham Fried Rice

 or
Tofu Stir Fry

 Sing a new song,
Alyce

Friday Night Chinese in One More Snowstorm

Friday Night Chinese in One More Snowstorm

Green Onion Pancakes .. or you could call them Spring Onion Pancakes.

Last summer, before I went away to school for two months, I picked up a little book called QUICK & EASY CHINESE by Nancie McDermott; photography by Maren Caruso (San Francisco:  Chronicle Books, 182p., 2008, $19.95).  I had every good intention of using the summer, where I’m cooking away from my own kitchen (and need easy recipes),  to drum up some great Asian dishes.  I thought I’d increase my Asian cooking skills, which are nil, and also make great use of the St. Paul, Minnesota Farmer’s Market.  A little extra in the way of vegetables wouldn’t hurt us.

Well, the book came along for the ride, packed with my music books and one Ina Garten cookbook.  What I didn’t know was that the courses I had chosen would take over my whole life and I would be lucky to eat at all. Ha.  Of course, Dave and Emily pitched in when they saw me working night and day, but we didn’t get to the Chinese. More’s the pity.  Back home came the book in August.  Boohoo.  Dave loves Asian food and I am so stuck in French and Italian (or other Mediterranean) meals.

Occasionally, I’d grab the book off the shelf and start to whip something up only to find I had no Black Bean Sauce or fresh ginger.  You must make a commitment to Asian food in your pantry as well as in your cookware.  Though, truthfully, the cookware can be fudged. Ginger can’t.  A few months went by before recipes began to be chosen, the appropriate condiments purchased and  stored, and we finally began to cook from the sweet little book.  I should say that I shopped and Dave cooked.  He is, after all, great at chopping and using a wok.  Among many other things.

Meantime, this week we have taken a few days off for “spring” break.  Even went out to The Summit at the Broadmoor (another blog–how wonderful).  Snow just kept arriving every other day or so, despite plans for a trip to Denver, to the movies, etc.  So, we just stayed home and warm…cozy up on the mesa.  What a spring.  Obviously time to try another great Chinese meal.  All the time in the world as the snow flew and the wind and the dogs howled.

So here is the menu (this is the second or third one he’s tried) and then some pics from Dave’s  Friday night foray into QUICK AND EASY CHINESE… I’ll put in one recipe at the end, with appropriate credit to Nancie McDermott.  Thanks a lot….  Check out her book.

  I love Chinese in the snow.

menu:
Egg Flower Soup, page 38
Green Onion Pancakes, p 39-40
Broccoli with Ginger and Garlic, p 127
Almond Chicken, p 49 (Cook’s note:  We added a bunch more vegetables here because we had them.)
Rice

wine:  dry riesling (German)
dessert:  none

                                                                      (Two-Dog Ktichen Above!)

Green Onion Pancakes (Taiwan street-food flatbreads)

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c water
About 1 T vegetable oil, plus 3T for frying
1T salt
1/2 c thinly sliced green onion

*Med bowl:  combine flour and water. stir well to mix and turn into soft dough.
*Lightly flour work area and your hands, and then scrape the dough onto the floured work surface.  *Knead the dough for 5 minutes, turning and pressing to form it into a soft, smooth dough.  Cover the dough with the bowl and let rest 5 min.
*Divide the dough into 3 portions, cutting it apart with a butter knife or pastry scraper.  Leaving the other two portions covered while you work, place one portion on the floured work surface, and roll it out into a big, round pancake, 6-8 inches in diameter.
*Use about 1t of the oil to lightly and evely coat the surface of the pancake.  Sprinkle it with 1t of the salt, and then scatter about 1/3 of the green onion over the pancake.
*Starting with the far edge and pulling it toward you, carefully roll up the pancake into a plump log.  *The soft dough will need a little coaxing, and it won’t be perfectly even, but that is just fine.
*Shape the log into a fat spiral, turning the righ end toward you to make the center and curving the remaining log around it.  Tuck the loose end under and gently but firmly press to flatten it into a big, thick cake.  Using your rolling pin, roll it gently into a 7-in pancake.  The green onion will tear the dough and poke out here and there, but that’s not a problem.
*To cook, heat a heavy, medium skillet over medium-high heat until hot.  Add about 2 t of the oil and turn to coat the bottom of the pan evenly.  When a pinch of the dough and a bit of green onion sizzle at once, place the pancake in the hot pan and cook until handsomely browned and fairly evenly cooked on one side, 2-3 minutes.
*Turn and cook the other side for about 1 min., until it is nicely browned and the bread is cooked through.  Use the remaining dough to roll out, season, shape, and cook two more pancakes.  Use additional oil as needed.  Cut into quarters, and serve hot or warm. (QUICK AND EASY CHINESE, by Nancie McDermott.)

Cook’s note:  This is a bit salty in a good way…If you are watching your sodium intake, you should cut the salt accordingly.  Dave cooked these 1/3-1/2″ thick and they were done and chewy like fat flatbread.  If you’d like a tender, more quickly cooked pancake, roll them out thinner and cook quickly.  I thought they might have been good with a soy-ginger sauce for dipping…a la Asian dumplings.  These are a little time-consuming, but not much.  Might be fun to take somewhere as an appetizer…They are fine at room temp and could be transported all-ready-to-go cut in a cloth-lined basket.

Also, some people call green onions “scallions,” and some call them “spring onions.” 

Sing a new song; eat green onion pancakes,
Alyce
—————
In Memoriam—

Lois June Valentine
 
                 June 28, 1917-March 20, 2010

Ever ready for a new adventure, she’s now on the ultimate trip.