Archive for the 'Asian' Category


Grilled Chicken Bahn Mi

One of the most frustrating things about keeping a food blog is photographing everything (or most things) that you cook. No matter how many shots I took of this AMAZING bahn mi, the pics just are not pretty. The contents spill out in an awkward way. The plate is messy. It won’t win any beauty contests, but it’s insanely good.

A bahn mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that combines hot, sour, sweet and crunchy. It is a little like a salad between two pieces of toasted French bread. I won’t kid you. Making one can be time consuming. It involves pickling carrots and daikon radish. Then you must marinate, chop, grill and assemble. And finally, it’s time to take a bite. The combination of flavors and textures is incredible.

Jeff and I have been doing a lot of Vietnamese cooking this summer. Lime juice, cilantro, fish sauce and chiles have a cooling effect when its 90-degrees outside, and we’ve had too many of those so far this year. The marinade , which combines hot, salty, sour and sweet, makes killer chicken. Keep in mind that it has lime juice, so don’t let the chicken soak longer than three hours. Citrus can do funky things to protein if given more time.

I’m also including rough instructions for a Vietnamese chicken salad, which can be assembled in 15 minutes with leftover grilled chicken and the pickled veggies. No cooking required.

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Thai Chicken and Shrimp Noodle Salad

I hate goodbyes. Kim and Todd, and their 9-week-old baby, Zane, are moving to Minneapolis in a few weeks. Jeff and Kim have worked at three newspapers together, and he and Todd went to same high school in Houston. I met the two of them 10 years ago in Little Rock. Needless to say, we go way back.

We had them over for dinner last night. It was another brutally hot day in St. Louis, so I made this cold noodle salad as the main course. The last thing we needed in our house was a hot stove. The salad comes from one of my favorite issues of Bon Appetit, the one with the Sydney Opera House on the cover (see Linguini with Shrimp, Asparagus and Basil). There are still about a half dozen recipes that grab me each time I flip through its pages.

Prepping this salad takes a bit of time, more than it appears. However, you can do a lot ahead of time. I typically put the shredded chicken, sliced cucumber, basil, cilantro and mint leaves in a container and store in the fridge. About 20 minutes before Kim and Todd got here, I prepared the noodles, thawed the precooked shrimp, and tossed the rest of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. The dressing is quick and easy. I always add it before serving. I snapped the photo before adding the dressing.

The salad is awesome. It has all the key components of terrific Asian food — sweet, sour, spicy and salty.It’s light, but hearty. The cherry tomatoes and slivers of jalapeno make it even more beautiful. My favorite part — the fresh combination of mint, basil and cilantro leaves.

It won’t be the last time we’ll see Kim, Todd and Zane before they move. Jeff and I have decided that next summer we’ll be driving north for cooler weather and dinner at their house.

Continue reading ‘Thai Chicken and Shrimp Noodle Salad’


Pork Salad with Glass Noodles, Mint and Ginger

This recipe comes from Takeaway by Les Hunynh, and believe me, it’s a keeper. It took me about an hour to do all the chopping, slicing and  juicing. I’d hoped for 30 minutes, but oh well. The end result was worth it.

I said good night to Gabi, and then Jeff and I nearly scarfed down all of this salad. The combination of mint, cilantro, ginger, lime juice and fish sauce make it addictive. You won’t find anything better at a Vietnamese restaurant. Lime leaves can be found at international and Asian markets. I found them in the freezer section. If you can’t find them, by all means make this dish anyway. It will still be wonderful.

Cabbage is served to the side.

Pork Salad with Glass Noodles, Mint and Ginger
adapted from Takeaway

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 pound ground pork

5 1/2 ounces (150 grams) bean thread vermicelli (glass) noodles
1 handful mint leaves, torn in half if large
1 handful cilantro leaves
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons finely julienned fresh ginger
4 tablespoons roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
1 long red chile, seeded and julienned

2 small Thai chiles, sliced
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, preferably superfine sugar
4 tablespoons lime juice

To serve:
large wedges of cabbage

Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until smoking. Add the garlic and ork and stir-fry 3 to 4 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons water and simmer for about 2 minutes, or until the pork is cooked. Remove from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature.

To make the salad, soak the vermicelli noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain well, Cut the noodles into shorter lengths using scissors.

Combine all the dressing ingredients and stir until the sugar dissolves. Combine the pork and noodles with the remaining salad ingredients, add sufficient dressing to moisten and gently mix. To serve, transfer the pork salad to a large serving bowl and serve accompanied with wedges of cabbage.

Serves 4


Thai Shrimp and Spinach Curry

This meal illustrates why I love to cook. It was a new recipe. I hoped it would satisfy a craving. And it did.

On top of that, it was quick to make and required little effort. It filled the house with the smell of coconut milk and the warmth of red curry. The spinach, carrots and red pepper made it a beautiful meal. As far as taste? Delicious.

About 10 years ago, I began exploring ingredients and cooking techniques while living in Little Rock, Ark. The city has a fantastic farmers’ market, one of the best I’ve seen anywhere. But it sorely lacks when it comes to ethnic restaurants. When I wanted Indian food, many times I ended up cooking it myself. The same went for Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. If only I’d found this recipe then.

The quality of the curry paste you use could determine the degree of awesome-ness. I used red because I love it so. Red and green curry paste can be found in the international or Asian aisle of most supermarkets. If you live near an Asian or international market, see if they carry Mae Ploy. I highly recommend it.

Thai Shrimp and Spinach Curry
Gourmet Today

1 (13- to 14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk, chilled (do not stir or shake)
1 1/2 to 2  teaspoons Thai green or red curry paste
1 pound medium shrimp (31-35 per pound), peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
3/4 pound spinach (1 large bunch), tough stems discarded
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Accompaniment: jasmine or basmati rice

Spoon about 1/3 cup of thick coconut cream from top of coconut milk (set remaining coconut milk aside) into a large heavy skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add curry paste and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Add shrimp and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the begin to turn pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining coconut milk and fish sauce, bring to a summer, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are just cooked through, about 1 minute. Transfer shrimp with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add carrots and bell pepper to sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Add spinach tin batches, stirring until each batch is wilted. Return shrimp to skillet and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.

Sprinkle cilantro on the curry and serve with rice.


Bitter Greens with Tofu and Sesame

Surely I’m not alone when I say this, but I’d never had turnip greens. Until today.

I left our CSA pickup site this afternoon with a couple of bags filled with locally raised produce and meat. Among them:  grass-feed beef, bok choy,  strawberries and blueberry preserves. And turnip greens.

I learned to love greens 10 years ago while living in Little Rock. Collards, kale and mustard greens are prolific in the South. They’re sooooo amazingly nutritious. But delicious? Yes, they can be. This recipe isn’t pork-seasoned, like a traditional southern dish. It’s filled with Asian flavor. If you haven’t tried bitter greens, give this recipe a whirl. The combination of soy sauce, lime juice, ginger and garlic  eliminates the bitterness of the greens. The tofu is soaked with the flavor. The greens quickly cook down to almost nothing. Be sure to use a full two pounds of greens. Anything less will leave you wanting more.

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Stir-Fried Kohlrabi with Rice Noodles and Basil

Jeff’s grandmother used to grow kohlrabi in her garden. I wish she were still alive so she could tell me how she used it.

Somehow in the last two generations this odd-looking vegetable has gotten lost. After buying a few at the farmers market Saturday, I scoured my cookbooks and the internet looking for recipes. Have you ever seen these odd looking orbs at a grocery store? They’re just as hard to find online. It’s not that they taste bad. I sliced off a sliver and tasted it — sweet and mild, with a favor a bit like a broccoli stem, but crisp like an apple. Kohlrabi are members of the turnip family. They’re used mostly in salads. Some people steam them. Stir-fried, they were great.

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Stir-Fried Asparagus with Oyster Sauce

Gabriella and I were at the store today and came across thick asparagus. I used to only buy the slender spears, but the thick ones, when cooked right, have more flavor. They’re excellent in stir fries, for example.

With this in mind, I snatched some up. A recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks — Gourmet Today — had been calling me.

Continue reading ‘Stir-Fried Asparagus with Oyster Sauce’


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