In 2009, husband Dave, daughter Emily –for a couple of weeks anyway– and I spent the summer in St. Paul, Minnesota so I could take a few graduate music courses at University of St. Thomas. While there, we lived in a 3rd-floor walkup apartment on Grand Avenue above a Thai restaurant named — you guessed it — Pad Thai. (See below)Continue reading
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:
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:
Sing a new song,
Once I read something about lo mein being standard college fare. Nope; not for us. Standard college fare was pizza with the occasional delivered salad… and the salad was also full of cheese. I know this for a very real fact. Because I worked in the restaurant (actually there were two) that made this stuff.
But when I read about someone’s college goto being lo mein, I was jealous. I should have gone to college THEN. I adore lo mein and can even make a pretty darned good imitation. Well, since then, I’ve moved over to adoring Thai and because I’m so late-trendy, I like Basil Chicken. I seem to always miss it when things are “in.”
And I like it when Bhan Thai makes it, not me. Mine is ok. Still, knowing how much Emily also likes Thai, I started looking for easy Thai recipes with videos and I came up with Thai Food Tonight…a series of lessons and videos, etc. by Dim Geefay. Dim brings along her American-born daughter Cathy to help translate and, between the two of them, we figure it out. The videos were, I think, originally on tv, but are now free online.
Dave has always been our wokman, though I occasionally use it, too. For the Basil Chicken Fried Rice, I did the planning, research, shopping, part of the prep, table set and so on. Dave cut the chicken (he’s much better at that) and then just continued on cooking. I stood and kibitzed while drinking a lovely halb-trocken German Riesling, which suited the Thai dish to a T.
Did I say this was YUMMY TO THE MAX? And, unlike a lot of Asian food, it was nearly as good the next day. Yes!
|Set the table before you begin to cook.|
|I made the rice in the afternoon and spread it out to dry on a baking sheet.|
|Hates cooking alone.|
|Very quick, this man is.|
|Not sure we had the heat up high enough.|
|Turn off as soon as you add the basil.|
|Garnish with cilantro and lime.|
|Add pieces of cucumber for crunch and coolness.|
Basil Chicken Fried Rice by Dim Geefay Watch her video about how to make this dish.
- 4 cups already cooked rice
- 6 big cloves of garlic, crushed (together w/ peppers w/ mortar and pestle or lrg knife)
- 2-4 Thai (bird) red and green chili peppers or 1-2 Serrano peppers, crushed (I used 1/2 jalapeno*)
- 1/4 c cooking oil ( I used canola; you could also use peanut.)
- 1 to 1 1/2 lbs chicken meat (I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs.)
- 3T Oyster sauce
- 2T Fish Sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 medium-sized red bell pepper, julienned
- 2 c fresh sweet basil leaves, whole
- 1 cucumber, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1/2 c cilantro leaves
- 1 lime, cut into quarters
- Heat oil in deep pan or wok over high heat.
- Wait until oil starts to smoke.
- Add crushed garlic and peppers.
- Stir quickly; don’t let them burn
- Immediately add chicken, stiring.
- Add oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar.
- Stir until chicken is cooked through. (no pink)
- Add already cooked rice.
- Stir quickly until sauces are blended with rice. (a couple of minutes)
*1/2 jalapeno made the dish tasty, but quite mild. Use a whole if you like some spice.
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
–I’m busy packing. I hate it. Who likes it? Enough said.
-Had a perfect Valentine’s Day..God was good; my husband was home and he made reservations at Pizzeria Rustica in Old Colorado City, one of my favorite places. They had a food and wine pairing deal–lovely.
-Dogs got groomed and are hot to trot. It was almost 70 F.
If only we could just get dropped off somewhere where they threw us in first a cage, then a tub, trimmed us all up, blew us dry, tied bandanas around our necks, gave us treats, and threw us back in a cage again. (Somehow it’s just not the same when I go to the hair dresser’s, though it’s slightly reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz. I guess I’d skip the cage.)
If you’re keeping up with some of the responses to the “Deathly Letter” from within a segment of the Presbyterian Church, USA, here is another one I found intriguing:
Very well done indeed. If you are a Presbyterian in this country and wonder how we came to be likely to split, check this out–it’s the chart of which Presbyterians came when and did what:
Perhaps today isn’t so unusual after all. Pray for this church. Pray for our seminarians. I have to admit I’m a bit abashed about worshiping at the UCC (along with quite a few other Colorado Springs Presbyterians)… But it’s been a life-changing experience. Not enough words available.
Sing a new song,