Posts Tagged ‘Asian’

Crusty French bread, spicy/salty pork meatballs and tangy, crisp grated carrot and diakon — the essential ingredients for an incredible bánh mì, or popular type of Vietnamese sandwich.  This recipe caught my attention back in January, but I waited until this summer to give it a try so I could take advantage of all that my local farmers’ market has to offer.   Since so much Vietnamese cooking features natural herbs and root vegetables, fresh produce is essential. (e.g. the ground pork in this case came from a small, family-owned farm in Virginia that showed me a photo of the pig before I bought it!)

The meatballs are oven-roasted and incredibly tasty, defined by savory garlic, spicy hot chili paste and a dash of salty fish sauce.  And as a cool and crunchy counterpoint, the grated carrot, diakon and cucumber are lightly pickled in rice vinegar, sesame oil and sugar. Top it all off with a handful of fresh cilantro sprigs.


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Fire up the wok! This is a fabulous meal inspired by a mix of Asian flavors, from fresh ginger, tangy soy and miso, to sweet baby corn and sesame-toasted almonds.  The shrimp are tossed with vibrant and crunchy vegetables in a savory garlic, red pepper, miso sauce over high heat until tender — then served over cilantro brown rice.  On the side, a fresh baby spinach salad dressed with zesty rice vinegar-soy is kicked up with crispy toasted ramen noodles, almonds and sesame seeds.

Stir fry sauce: 3 tablespoons of canola oil, a drizzle of aromatic sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of brown miso, 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, 3 garlic cloves minced, 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes to taste

Salad dressing: 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, cracked black pepper, dash of salt

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If America is a melting pot, Momofuku is its kitchen.  This hot spot in New York’s Lower East Side (East 13th Street and 2nd Avenue) serves fusion cuisine with an Asian flair.  The menu, which features seasonal regional ingredients,  has categories like “raw bar” and “country hams” — stuff you’d never find at your average Chinese, Japanese or Korean restaurant.

Momofuku has an interesting assortment of dishes, representing the ethnic crossovers that characterize New York City; definitely no pure, “authentic” Asian cuisine here. The pickles plate, above, for example is a play on Japanese oshinko, using local vegetables like baby bok choy, tomatillos, potatoe slices, cucumber, and turnips. Korean kimchee is also on the side.


The restaurant itself is a sleek, hip hall of hardwood tables and communal seating that flow into an open kitchen in the rear. You can watch as the chefs meticulously prepare each dish. One I highly recommend: the steamed buns with pork belly, hoisin, cucumbers and scallion (below).  Unbelieveably good.


Other plates to try… believe it or not, the $8 “Bread & Butter” is worth it, featuring fresh, soft sea-salt butter from Vermont and whipped lardo (bacon fat) on the side for schmearing.  The plate of sliced Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Ham — from Madisonville, TN — is tasty and unique.  The Satur Farm’s Snap Peas with mint, egg and XO was a bit too salty, but a creative preparation with Korean inspiration. And, the Santa Barbara Uni are to die for!  Super fresh sea urchin topped with celery, nori and a lemon juice-based cool broth. Incredible.


By far my favorite dish was one of the specials: grilled yellowfin tuna collar. Moist, flavorful, tender with a soy-miso-scallion dipping sauce on the side.


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Stir-fry Wok

For Christmas, my mother sent me a cast iron wok. And I must admit, I was not enthusiastic at first. The metal cookware weighs 25 pounds, it doesn’t fit in a cabinet, and it seems like it would create a clean-up nightmare.

After one use, however, I was bought and sold on the value of a wok and a cast iron piece of cookware. No more stray veggies and pieces of meat flying out of the pan when I’m tossing a stir-fry! And, since cast iron radiates heat evenly and quickly, the entire pan (including the wide sides) cooks the ingredients, meaning a fast preparation.

Clean up has also been much easier than I anticipated. After the pan cools, I scrub it with a stiff brush and hot water. No soap is necessary (in fact, using soap can damage the pan). It’s way cool.

Recently, I improvised a stir-fry with fresh Georgia white corn off the cob, baby carrots, button mushrooms, green pepper and water chestnuts. The chicken was pan seared (in the wok) in olive oil, touch of sesame oil, and soy sauce. To bring everything together, I added a half cup of store-bought General Tso’s sauce, a sweet and tangy coating that went well with the corn, peppers and carrots.


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