HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.
Showing posts with label Asian Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Asian Food. Show all posts

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Direct from St Barth via Vietnam: The Banh Mi Sandwich


        
We’ve brought you a post featuring the Banh Mi, the signature sandwich of Vietnam, once before.  We’ve shown you how to make one with ground pork http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2012/09/our-325th-post-melissa-clarks-quick.html .  But just before we left New York for our annual stay in St.
Epicerie Boulud's Banh Mi 
Barthelemy in the French West Indies, we tucked into one at our favorite neighborhood Banh Mi provider, Epicerie Boulud on Broadway and 64th Street.  I realized this particular version would be a snap to put together in St. Barth, land of pate, smoked ham and Merquez sausages.  All I had to do was to pickle some carrots and shallots, load up on Dijon Mayonnaise and I’d have it made.  Banh Mi is a very forgiving sandwich.  This is because the actual translation from the Vietnamese for Banh Mi is ‘Bread’—all kinds of bread.  More specifically, it refers to the Baguette, introduced by the French when Vietnam was a French colony, a part of Indochine.  In Vietnam, the baguette is a single serve item, a far shorter loaf than we’re accustomed to in the States or even in St. Barths.  But the character of the baguette here closely mimics the Vietnamese ideal—a thinner crust and an airier crumb.  So we had the perfect ingredients for the perfect Banh Mi.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Adobo Chicken with Bacon and Bay Leaves from Chef Paul Qui. And an Asian-inflected Tomato and Burrata Salad




        
I’ve been wanting to make this classic Filipino chicken dish forever.  Especially after I went to Kalystyans (www.kalustyans.com123 Lexington Avenue NY NY 10016 Tel 212-685 3451) and spent an unspeakable amount of money for a jar of Adobo seasoning.  Once I got home, I realized that Goya makes a superb version for about ¼ the price I paid for at Kalustyan’s .  Ah well.  That only made me more anxious to use my hyper-priced version. Fortunately, Food and Wine magazine arrived and in it was my longed-for recipe. Better yet, it was from Chef Paul Qui, winner of Top Chef Season 9.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mu Shu in Moments from Gourmet Magazine


Ready to be folded, Mu Shu in a Moment!


        
Restaurant General Tso's Chicken
the good, the bad and the ugly.
In our bid to eat healthy, Chinese food has taken quite a hit. We never order it for takeout.  And our visits to Chinese restaurants are few and far between.  But take heart.  We have discovered how easy it is to make Chinese food at home.  Not only does this keep the exotic flavors on our table from time to time, it also solves a lot of the issues we’ve had with the food to begin with.  Despite last week's news that salt might not be all that bad for you, Chinese cooking packs extraordinary levels of the stuff.  The current recommended daily intake of sodium is 2300 mgs. Or about a teaspoon.  A restaurant serving of General Tso’s chicken comes in at 3200 mgs. And, at 1300, more than half the calories that an adult is supposed to consume all day (2000).  That’s before you added an egg roll, which will send the sodium count up another 400 mgs. and the calorie count up another 200.  So much for the General's chicken. But surely Chinese vegetables are healthy?  Not so fast.  A plate of stir-fried greens comes in at 900 calories, eggplant in garlic sauce, 1000.  Then there’s MSG, monosodium glutamate, which has had a bad rap since the 60s when it was associated with “headaches, flushing, sweating, numbness, chest pain, nausea, heart palpitations, and weakness” according to Yale Scientific (www.YaleScientific.org). It was even called “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”.  However, according to YS, “researchers have not found any conclusive evidence that links MSG to any of these symptoms, though it is acknowledged that a small minority of people may have mild, short-term reactions to MSG.”  So there!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Stir-Fried Chili Scallops with Baby Bok Choy Adapted from Fine Cooking



When I wrote about our culinary adventures in St. Barthelemy, FWI in March, one of our readers, “Mike”, got into a spirited discussion about how the scallops I’d waxed poetic over, were not local.  In fact, he was pretty irate about seafood in general and posted as a comment:  “Why the lack of eating local seafood?  Scallops multiple times mentioned (frozen and cryovaced from America)...so really as a foodie...how good can it be?" Now “Mike” is a Massachusetts native and his knowledge of seafood is impressive.  In a subsequent comment, he explained: “ Scallops do not freeze well…they shrivel and such...and because of that the frozen ones are not "dry" scallops, they are the ones that have that phosphate solution added to them to plump them up and make them hold water and look better after they defrost.” All that being said, I still loved my St. Barth’s scallops.  And when we got home and I came across a recipe for a Stir Fry with scallops, I couldn't wait to get my hands on some fresh scallops.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vietnamese Shrimp Sliders adapted from Melissa Clark in The New York Times


         

I don't know when sliders took over the world but they're everywhere. And while they may have started out as mini-hamburgers, now you can find them on all kinds of menus, stuffed with everything from Turkey to Texas barbecue.  Let's face it, their size is ideal.  In one or two bites, you get the full-on slider experience.  They're just the right size for children, for whom a full-sized burger is a challenge.  In today's post, they're made with crispy fried shrimp dipped into a salty lime sauce and then tucked into tiny brioche buns that have been slathered with an Asian inflected mayonaise. They're a gift from the inventive Melissa Clark whose Wednesday food column in the New York Times is eagerly awaited in our house. This time, Melissa has gone East for her flavors.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sichuan Stir-Fried Pork in Garlic Sauce from Cook's Illustrated Magazine



Sichuan Province, Land of Plenty
         In one of their masterpieces of science and cooking combined, Cook’s Illustrated chose to take on one of my favorite Chinese Restaurant dishes: Sichuan Stir-Fried Pork in Garlic Sauce.  Sichuan cooking is immediately associated with hot and spicy flavors. The odd thing is that these flavors are relatively new. And initially at least, they were only popular among the poorer segments of Sichuan society.  There was so much else available. Sichuan Province is known as a land of plenty. While landlocked and therefore without seafood, it has an abundance of pigs, poultry, beef cattle, freshwater fish and crayfish.  And it’s been known for its masterful cuisine for hundreds of years.  The first Sichuan restaurant opened in what is now called Hangzhou, its capital city, over 800 years ago. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

What to serve for Chinese New Year? David Chang’s Bo Ssam, slow-roasted Pork with Ginger-Scallion Sauce, Ssam Sauce, Kimchi and Rice


Center this dish on your dining table and stand back.
        Chinese New Year is upon us.  This Sunday, February 10th is the start of the Year of the Snake. Despite all the negative connotations of snakes and snake-like behavior,  according to Chinese Horoscopes the year 2013 symbolizes action, energy, leadership and vitality. This year, the snake is obligated to do its best for the good of others.  All in all 2013 is seen as a good year.  So there's something to celebrate.  And I can't think of a better way than to serve this phenomenal dish. Not only will it bring Asia to your table for a New Year's celebration, the leftovers can be turned into a decidedly American dish--pulled pork and an Italian one--pasta sauce.  I'll save those recipes for a future post.  Today belongs to Bo Ssam, the brain child of David Chang, everyone’s favorite renegade chef.  
         Chef Chang's tiny Momofuku Ssam Bar, on a decidedly unfashionable strip of lower Second Avenue (207 2nd avenue new york, NY 10003), is perpetually packed.  David is a particular favorite of ours and not only because he loves one of our absolute favorite Montreal restaurants --Joe Beef-- so much (http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2011/10/next-stop-in-montreal-homage-to-joe.html), that he wrote the introduction to its cookbook.  David Chang is inventive, highly skilled and most of all, magnanimous.  If you need proof of that last characteristic, consider his sharing this particular recipe: He has included it in his Momofuku cookbook (Clarkson Potter 2009) even though it is such a hit at his eponymous restaurant that, even at $200, a 6 to 10 person Bo SSam has to be ordered well in advance.  But here’s the incredible thing:  You can make this amazing dish at home for well under $40.00!  Now if that sounds like some kind carnival barker talking, it’s because I was astonished at how good it is and, quite frankly, while I am not a complete skinflint, nothing makes me happier than a great food bargain.  Particularly one that tastes this good.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Asian Sloppy Joe Sliders, a recipe from Chef Ming Tsai



The Tastee Inn in Sioux City, Iowa
where you can get a Sloppy Joe or
Loose Meat Sandwich for $2.00
            The Sloppy Joe is hardly anyone’s idea of gourmet food. This may lie in the fact that making one requires virtually no culinary skills of any kind.  The original Sloppy Joe recipe calls for ground beef and celery to be cooked up with a ketchup sauce and then served on squishy white bun.  There may be dozens of secret family recipes for this classic but none stray too far from this basic formula.  And if, by any chance, it still sounds like there’s any degree of difficulty in making one, there are plenty of commercial products to turn to.  You can just open a can and you’re pretty well done.  Now if you are slightly turned off by the name “Sloppy Joe” which I confess I was, it’s precursor had an even worse moniker.  In Iowa, which lays claim to the invention of the Sloppy Joe, it was called a ‘loose-meat’ sandwich.  That was until the owners of a restaurant in Sioux City, famous for its loose-meat sandwiches, renamed it the Sloppy Joe in honor of their chef, a man named Joe.  It wasn’t really until the 60s that the name took hold. But it certainly never took hold in our house and quite honestly, I may never eaten one until I came across a recipe in this month’s Food and Wine Magazine.  Apparently, the Sloppy Joe is officially part of one of the great food trends of 2013.  Really!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sticky Chinese Pork Stir-Fry and it's Low Fat too!



         At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the stir-fry is the savior of every harried home cook.  When you have to get dinner on the table in as short a time as possible, a stir-fry’s hard to beat.  It’s all a matter of getting everything prepped and ready to go in this super fast cooking method.   And there’s no need for a wok to do so.  Any large fry pan will do.  There’s endless variety of things you can stir-fry.  This one is my latest discovery and it’s very good.  It’s loaded with vegetables and the most tender pork all bound together in an Asian accented sauce flavored with ginger and garlic. The sauce is the ‘sticky’ part with its hint of honey.  And what’s really impressive is that it’s extremely low fat.  How can you resist?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Crystal Shrimp with Ginger, Sweet Peas and Scallions



         No matter how gray a day it’s been, coming home to a dinner of beautifully pink and gold shrimp paired with sweet peas, fresh scallions and ginger medallions is a visual treat.  The simple salting and rinsing of the raw shrimp gives them a firm texture.  This recipe, which first appeared in Bon Appetit five years ago, gives credit for the name of the dish to the crystal-like texture of the shrimp. I would also have to say that there is a crystal look to the shrimp as well.  There’s not a lot of prep time involved in this recipe however it does require a 1 to 3 hour rest period for the shrimp once they’ve been battered with cornstarch and egg white.  While that was going on, I took a look at the history of the Shrimp and another look at where mine come from, that marvel of food shopping, Costco.

Marco Polo 
         In a kind of believe it or not, the shrimp’s name is derived from a Middle English word ‘shrimpe’ which meant ‘pygmy’.  This of course could lead to an entire discussion on the dichotomy of the words “Jumbo Shrimp” and doesn’t really give a satisfying answer to why someone would pick up a shrimp and think “Pygmy!”   Putting that aside, shrimp has been around for a very long time.  The Chinese were eating shrimp in the 7th century.  And when Marco Polo arrived in China in 1280, he commented on their abundance in food markets.  This country, however, has long held the record for shrimp eating.  In the 17th  century, Louisiana’s bayou residents were hauling in shrimp in giant seines that were up to 600 feet in circumference!  And there were no mechanical devices involved at all – just human labor.  It wasn’t until 1917 that mechanized shrimping arrived.  And with it came some unfortunate side effects.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Asian Pork in Lettuce Wraps from Chef Ryan Lowder



         Alright, I cheated little on this one.  The actual recipe is for something called “Pork Larb” but, when I first said that I was going to make a dish by that name, Andrew made a face and suggested that, for appetite appeal alone, I should change it.  Because there are so many things to recommend it, I am doing just that.  This sweet and salty, sour and spicy warm meat salad is the national dish of Laos.   There’s also a variation of the dish made in Northern Thailand.  This version seems to straddle the border.  It comes together in all of 25 minutes.  And the ease with which it’s made is matched by the fun of eating it.  You put the bowl containing the pork in the center of the table.  Next to it goes the refreshing dipping sauce and a platter of vivid green Boston or Butter Lettuce leaves.  Then everyone around the table just digs in.  And where did this recipe come from?  Salt Lake City, of course.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Asian Noodles with Roast Pork



Sandra Lee with another plate of
SemiHomemade food 
         My friend Barbara gets practically apoplectic when she hears the name “Sandra Lee”.   Whether this has anything to do with the “Semi Homemade” hostess’ debacle over something Ms. Lee called her “Kwanzaa Cake”, I am not sure.  But given that Anthony Bourdain referred to the recipe as “an edible hate crime”, it very might well be.  Ms. Lee’s confection consisted of an angel food cake with chocolate and cinnamon flavored vanilla icing, corn nuts, popcorn, pumpkin seeds and apple pie filling.  One reviewer told the tale of taking the cake to a party only to have her fellow guests gag and spit it out.  And Mr. Bourdain of the ‘edible hate crime’ label said “The most terrifying thing I’ve seen is her making a Kwanzaa cake. Watch (the video clip) and tell me your eyeballs don’t burst into flames. It’s a war crime on television.  You’ll scream”.  Apparently, it still makes Barbara scream every time she hears the woman’s name. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Moo Goo Gai Pan


         The other day, when I opened a post from Bee at www.rasamalaysia.com, along with Bee's recipe for Moo Goo Gai Pan came a flood of memories.  It instantly took me back to my childhood in Montreal.  Not that I ever ate Moo Goo Gai Pan. I don’t think Chinese food in any form ever crossed the Mathews’ family doorstep.  However, my parents had one friend in particular whose entire diet seemed to consist of Chinese take-out.  At least that’s the way it looked to me at aged 10. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Stir-Fry of Asparagus, Sugar Snap Peas and Pork Tenderloin


  
Sugar Snaps have joined the Asparagus
at The Farmer's Market 
         You may wonder how much more asparagus I can possibly eat this asparagus season.  The answer is I’ll eat as much as I can.  I love the fresh flavor and texture that asparagus brings to the dinner plate. And the season is all too short for asparagus fans like me.  Now another Spring favorite has arrived.  Sugar Snap Peas are in! This Asian inspired dish uses them both in a crunchy dish that cooks in all of 15 minutes.  You could make this dish with boneless breasts of chicken or, for a meatless meal, use tofu.  I chose pork tenderloin for a weeknight dinner recently.  Because this recipe is for 4, we ended up with enough for Andrew to enjoy a second helping a couple of nights later.  One note: While there are red pepper flakes in the recipe, when Andrew re-heated the dish, he gave it a shot of Sriracha Chile Sauce and loved the spicy result.  If you’ve got children, proceed with caution if you decide you want more heat.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sotanghon with Chicken and Wood Ear Mushrooms



         One of the great joys of cooking has to be the amazing things you learn when you use an ingredient that is new to you.  In this case, our dear friend Richard arrived from Hong Kong recently and presented us with a sealed plastic bag of Wood Ear or Tree Ear dried mushrooms.  He brought us so many, he could have used the bag as a neck pillow on his long flight from China.  They were intriguing--almost white on one side and then practically black on the other.   While I marveled at the sight of them, I couldn’t help wonder why Richard had appeared with this very bulky gift.  Turns out, Richard, an avid Chewing the Fat reader, remembered something I wrote in November 2010 in a post about Shun Lee West, our neighborhood Chinese restaurant.  http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2010/11/long-ago-visit-to-shun-lee-and-my-take.html is where you’ll find the post.  But what was missing from the recipe for Shun Lee’s Sichuan Shrimp were, you guessed it, Wood Ear or Tree Tea mushrooms.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thai Red Curry Chicken with Sokolin Perfect Pairings




As some of you may know, I am now writing a blog with www.Sokolin.com, a superb wine e-tailer which is located on the East End of Long Island.  From their 30,000 square foot 'wine cooler', they ship fine wine to collectors all over the world.  Their sommelier, Christopher Keigel does all the heavy lifting selecting wines to go with our recipes every week.  Here's our first shared post.  You can read our past efforts at www.Sokolin.com.  But first, enjoy this one. 


       Once you’ve made your first Thai Curry, you’ll be pretty set for life.  The cooking method is so adaptable that you can create your own variations using beef instead of chicken, pork in lieu of fish.  You can go meatless, instead relying on a host of beautiful seasonal vegetables. You can make your curry mild or hot.  And you don’t need a wok to do so.  You can use a large sauté pan and achieve dazzling results.  And as exotic as your results may be, Thai Curry is extremely quick to make—15 minutes tops after you’ve sliced and diced.  Then you can pull yourself up to the table and get out your spoon and fork and dive into your bowl of heavenly curry and rice.

       Yes, I said spoon and fork.  The Thais are not chopstick users except when they eat noodle soups.  They settled on the spoon and, more often, the fork when King Mongkut, who with his brother, Vice King Pinkloa, westernized the country in the mid 1800s.  King Mongkut is well known in this country for something else entirely.  He was first portrayed in “Anna and the King of Siam and immortalized in “The King and I”.  Some years later, his Number One son ascended to the throne of Siam and came to Canada on a State Visit.  My grandparents accompanied the King and his Queen across the country by train.  But that’s a story for another day.
The All-Essential Coconut Milk

       The key to Thai Curries is to start with 3 ingredients and build on from there.  The three essentials are Coconut Milk, Curry paste and broth – either chicken or vegetable will do.   When buying the Coconut Milk, I would suggest the low fat or light versions.  Full Fat Coconut Milk, while not hugely high in calories, has staggering amounts of saturated fat.  You won’t taste the difference in the lower fat versions so it only makes sense to choose the healthier of the two.   

Photo Courtesy of Fine Cooking Magazine

The adaptability of this recipe begins with your choice of one of 4 Curry Pastes. The most commonly used in Thailand is Red Curry paste which is what I used.   It is colored with dried hot red chiles but in this recipe its fire is somewhat limited.   But if you have a fear of heat, choose Yellow Curry Paste which is the mildest.  Next to it is Panang Curry paste, which is similar to the Red but includes ground peanuts.  Finally, the hottest of all is   Green Curry Paste which is colored with fresh, green chiles. Choose one and then move on to the aromatics which will season your Coconut and Curry sauce.  Fresh lime leaves may be hard to come by but ginger and fresh lemon grass are now quite supermarket-friendly. Choose one two or all three.
 
You can make a totally vegetarian Thai curry. But if you’re a carnivore there’s an amazing array of proteins that you can choose from.  The key here is the cooking times:  Boneless chicken thighs and pork shoulder, leg or tenderloin cut into bite size pieces need to simmer for 5 minutes.  Beef Flank, strip or sirloin, large shrimp and extra Tofu require less time—just three minutes.  At the two minute level are scallops and firm white fish.  And finally, squid in half inch rings, needs only a minute.


For the vegetables, it’s smart to remember that since we eat with our eyes first, color is everything.  You can’t really go wrong with any fresh vegetable you choose.  You should have 3 cups of veggies.  Carrots, Onions, Japanese eggplant, green beans, kabocha squash are all candidates for a five minute simmer in the sauce.  Asparagus, Bell Peppers, Sugar Snap Peas, Cabbage and Cremini, Oyster, Button or Shitake mushrooms are great choices to simmer for 3 minutes.  And for one minute, you can add Cherry Tomatoes, Bamboo Shoots, Snow Peas or Bok Choy.  Then for your final act, stir in basil, cilantro or fresh lime leaves, garnish your glorious creation with more cilantro, fresh red chiles, basil, cucumber, lime wedges or more coconut milk.  

One word of caution:  Thai Curry is so flexible, so deliciously complex yet so incredibly quick and easy to make, it may become habit-forming.  Or as an old friend of mine once said: It’ll be wok around the clock…with or without the wok.
Here’s the Recipe:
For the Curry Base
1 13.5-14 oz. can of light Coconut Milk  
¼ cup of Curry Paste
1 cup Reduced Sodium chicken or vegetable broth

Shake the can of coconut milk or stir well as the fat may have solidified at the top of the can.
In a 3-4 quart saucepan or work over medium heat, simmer ½ cup of the coconut milk until it is reduced by half, in 3 to 5 minutes time. 

Add your choice of curry paste and whisk well for one minute.  Whisk in your choice of broth and the remaining coconut milk.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

For the Simmer
1 lb of chicken, meat, or tofu
3 cups of Vegetables cut into bite sized pieces
2 tbsp. Light Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Fish Sauce

Add your choice of aromatics—6 fresh lime leaves or 1 tsp of finely grated lime zest, three slices of ginger 1/8 thick and/or three stalks of fresh lemon grass cut into 3 to 4 inch pieces that you have trimmed and bruised.
Simmer for another 5 minutes.

Next add your protein along with the brown sugar and the fish sauce.  Use the timings in the earlier part of this post.  Next add your vegetables in stages based on their cooking times.  Adjust the heat if necessary and simmer until the meat, chicken or seafood is cooked through and the vegetables are crisp tender.  Remove the curry from the heat, adjust the seasonings to taste by adding more brown sugar and fish sauce. Remove the aromatics before serving.  Add the finish, garnish and serve.
Basmati Rice is a perfect accompaniment.  Serves 4.

        For the finish:
        1 cup of whole basil leaves
        OR
        1 tbsp. Fresh Wild Lime Leaves
        OR
        ¼ cup roughly chopped Cilantro leaves and stems




And now, Sokolin Sommelier Chris Kiegiel’s Perfect Pairings:  You can order these and any other fine wines you fancy by going to http://www.sokolin.com/Blog.aspx?sectionid=5

Thai food tends to be quite complex and pairing wine with the many flavors in specific dishes can be difficult as well. As with Asian cuisine and wine pairings, the key to success lies with balancing the sweet, salty, sour, and pungent flavors with those same characteristics in the wine. Rieslings and lighter muscats pair well with chicken or seafood red curry as their high acidity levels help to cut the spiciness of the dish (good rule of thumb). Wines with tropical notes like pineapple, mango, peaches, apricots, lemongrass, and those with floral notes should pair well with the exotic flavors of Thailand, but stay away from wines with strong tannins. If you do prefer red wine, try Pinot Noir, Beaujolais or Rioja. Dry roses are also an excellent choice for Thai food because of their versatility, right along with sparkling wines like Prosecco and Champagne or course. Here are a few suggestions. Cheers!

Adami's NV Prosecco Superiore Bosco di Gica  $15.99
“Emerges from the glass with mineral-infused white fruit, smoke and crushed rocks in an intense, serious style of Prosecco I find appealing.” 91 RP

2009 Zilliken Riesling Kabinett Saarburger Rausch   $22.99
“Tropical notes of grapefruit and mango join the cherry and peach here. Subtle smokiness and salinity thought by many observers (including this one) to be somehow related to the presence of diabase and quartzite respectively offer intriguing counterpoint for the fruit on a subtly creamy, irresistibly juicy, and delicately buoyant palate, while inner-mouth perfume of honeysuckle and iris waft through to the wine's long, luscious, lip licking finish. This will dazzle for two decades, and what an amazing value it represents.”  92 RP

2006 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Evenstad Reserve  $49.95
“Smooth and round, with a lovely polished feel to the dark berry, cherry, licorice and spice flavors, flowing easily over finely tuned tannins, persisting expressively. Drink now through 2016.” 92 WS

2010 D’Esclans Whispering Angel  $17.99
“A blend of Grenache and Rolle. Very light pink, truly vin gris in color. An aromatic nose with herbaceous plants and flowers. Strawberries, lavender, minerals on the palate with a dry, clean finish. Provence in a bottle – and a text book expression of rosé. Beautiful, elegant and seductive.”  93 DS

From both of us to all of you, Salut!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Filipino Fried Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables courtesy of “The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook” by Patricia Tanumihardja



        I have some good friends whose families are Filipino. And although for some time, my friend Ethel has threatened to kidnap me and take me to Queens for some Filipino restaurant food, we haven’t made it yet.   Come to think of it, there are far more Korean and Thai and Vietnamese restaurants all over the place than there are Filipino. And until this dish came along, I’d never cooked anything from there.  But this stir fry is well worth making for its subtle fresh flavors.  It’s absolutely not hard to make at all. There’s just some dicing and chopping and you’re good to go.  And you certainly don’t need a wok; You can easily use a big non-stick frying pan like I did.   For those of you averse to heat or feeding young children, this is a really wonderfully mild dish that no one’s going to find too spicy.   
        Filipino cooking is all about combinations of sweet, sour and salty generally combining all three in one dish.  However, it is not heavily spiced. I even had to send the recipe to my friend Ethel to see whether there was any chance I'd left something out or that the recipe had been spiced down for the American palate.  No, she said.  It was very much on the lines of what her grandmother prepared on her last trip to the Philippines.  I found this quite amazing given that Hispanic, Chinese and other Asian cultures have all influenced Filipino food.  The earliest Filipinos came from Southern China and Taiwan.  Trading with other Asian countries led to a lot more blending of cuisines.  It was the Spanish who brought chili peppers and tomatoes into the Phillipines.   But even then, the peppers were frequently used just for their leaves and not for their punch. After the Spanish established themselves, there was an even greater influx of ethnic Chinese.  In fact, Chinese food became the staple of the panciterias or noodle shops that burst onto the scene in the 19th century.   The recipe I am sharing with you today could have come right from a panciteria. It even gets its Filipino name from there: Pancit.
        Pancit is probably one of the best known Filipino dishes. But Pancit has about as many recipes as there are Filipino cooks.  This one, from a marvelously instructive cookbook called  “The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook” by PatriciaTanumihardja (Sasquatch Books, 2009) uses both Rice noodles and and Chinese wheat noodles. But if those aren’t readily available you can use flat egg noodles and cellophane noodles which are relatively easy to find if your supermarket has an Asian aisle. Here’s the recipe:


Recipe for Pancit, Filipino Fried Noodles
Rice Noodles
8 oz dried vermicelli (rice noodles) (1/2 package)









Chinese Wheat Noodles
8 oz pancit canton noodles (you can also use Chinese egg noodles)








2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I like canola)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped finely (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 pound chicken breast or thigh, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup toyomansi (if you don’t have toyomansi, use 1/2 cup soy sauce and squeeze in 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice to taste)
1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 head small cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
2 large carrots, peeled and shredded (about 1-1/2-2 cups)
2 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped
2 stalks green onions, cut into ‘O’s (optional for garnish)
Soak rice noodles in warm water for 10-15 minutes until soft, then cut into 4-inch lengths. Place the egg noodles in a large heat-proof bowl. Pour boiling water to cover. Let stand 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
In a wok or large skillet, stir fry garlic and onions in oil until fragrant and onions are translucent, about 2 minutes, over medium-high heat. Add chicken and fry until no longer pink. Add toyomansi and soy sauce. Toss to coat chicken. Add vegetables and stir fry until cabbage wilts. 



Add noodles and keep stir frying until well coated and heated through. I know it looks very unprofessional but I recommend using the two-handed method to evenly toss the noodles like below.
Add water or stock a few tablespoons at a time if noodles are looking too dry. Test rice noodles for doneness. Scatter green onions for garnish and serve.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Singapore Lamb Curry with Stir-Fried Noodles





Before you read today’s post, please take a look at the New York Times
Dining and Wine section published yesterday. It will give you some idea of what Monte’s Ham is all about.  And don’t forget our Friends and Family discount which will automatically take 10 percent off your total order. Just enter promotional code FNF10.  But hurry, Christmas is 16 days away!
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/08/dining/08charity.html?ref=dining




        I remember a friend telling me that once she gave her husband a Wok for Christmas, it was pretty much Wok-around-the-clock from that point on. As I remember, he was one of the first men I knew who’d taken over the kitchen and cooked almost everything his family of 5 ate.  Since he worked full time, I am sure he was as time-pressured as the rest of us and the Wok must have been a gift from heaven via his wife.  Stir-fries really can save the day.  Aside from much chopping, slicing, dicing and peeling, no cooking technique is as quick to yield delicious meals in very little time.  In fact, you have to really organize your ingredients since they are used at lightning quick speeds.  And what I really like is that you don’t need a wok to make these dishes.  Any large skillet can work on a stir fry.  And this particular recipe really gives you a curry in a hurry, a one-dish wonder that we paired with some kale.  Next time, we’ll likely go with spinach as the kale was not a success around our table.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A long ago visit to Shun Lee, and my take on their recipe for Sichuan Shrimp



        Ten years ago, I got a call from a friend named Ethel, who, at the last minute, couldn’t use her tickets to a big bash given by The Film Society of Lincoln Center.  My work partner, Cathy, and I promptly called our respective spouses to ask them to join us at Shun Lee West (43 West 65th St., Tel: 212-595-8895), then and now one of the city’s top Chinese restaurants.  “What’s the deal?” Andrew wanted to know.  “Well they’re going to show a martial arts film after the dinner” I answered.  I could have gone on to tell him we were going to see “Wo Hu Cang Long” but I am sure I would have gotten the same answer; “Are you kidding? A martial arts movie?” (Our interest in sports of any kind is next to nothing and our interest in martial arts is even lower than that.)  So in answer to Andrew I said  “No and yes...but let’s go to the dinner, get seats right on the aisle at Lincoln Center so we can leave whenever we want.”  Dinner at Shun Lee was worth a few minutes of Kung Foo fighting.  So we went.
        Shun Lee’s interior design is completely over the top.  With its black lacquer and gold dragon décor, it looks like it was flown in from Las Vegas for the night.  It’s quite possibly the darkest restaurant I’ve ever eaten in. One visit I remember literally bumping into Woody Allen in the dark. Stumbling back to the table, I had to be told by my dinner companions who he was.  But the food at Shun Lee is simply excellent.  Along with Mr. Chow in Los Angeles and in New York, it elevates Chinese cuisine and pretty well ruins Chinese food forever from anywhere else outside of Hong Kong.  Since we lived in the delivery area, it became our take-out place despite prices that made it quite an extravagance.