Adventures in homemade, budget aware cooking.

Posts tagged “Ethnic food

Thai Peanut Chicken

The first time I had curry, I was in the H-shaped airport in Taipei, Taiwan. The experience taught me one thing: Airport food is universally bad. Since then, I have avoided curry religiously. I was convinced I didn’t like it. You can imagine my trepidation as I ventured today’s recipe: Thai Peanut Chicken with a large helping of yellow curry powder. It turns out that I don’t hate curry after all. Here’s the recipe that changed my mind:

Thai Peanut Chicken (adapted from Mark Bittman’s “The Greatest Recipes in the World”)

– 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
– 1 tbsp curry powder
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
– 1 small onion, sliced
– 1 tbsp cooking oil
– 1/2 head of broccoli, cut
– 1 scallion, cut into 1 inch pieces
– 1/3 roasted peanuts, chopped
– 1 tbsp sugar
– 1 tbsp Nam Pla (Thai Fish Sauce)
– 3/4 cup coconut milk*

Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes. Marinate it with the curry, ginger and garlic. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the broccoli and scallion and cook for 3 minutes. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil. Cook the onion until it’s tender, 3-4 minutes. Strain the vegetables and run them under cold water for 30 seconds. Add the chicken to the skillet. Add the vegetables to the skillet. Cook on medium-high until the chicken is just browning, 5-10 minutes. Add the peanuts, coconut milk, Nam Pla, and sugar. Heat 5 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Season with salt. Serve over jasmine rice.

* To make your own coconut milk:
In a blender, combine 1 cup shredded coconut with 2 cups hot water. Pulse 3-4 times. Blend for 15 seconds. Strain the milk and discard the chucks. (makes 2 cups)


Potstickers

Yesterday, my husband and I had a friend over for Mexican food.  We got to talking about food.  What else do you talk about when you’re eating after all?  My husband attempted to explain about all the ethnic foods I am introducing him to, but he got stuck on “Tzatziki.”  I don’t really blame him.  Finally, he abandoned searching for the word and instead brought up the potstickers we enjoyed a few days prior.  But our friend was baffled at our considering potstickers ethnic, because to him, they are a “Utah thing!”  Potstickers, as it turns out, are a Chinese thing.  I am happy they are accessible here though!

Most people eat these at Chinese food restaurants (My mum, for one, loves them).  If people do attempt to make them at home, they generally use the store-bought wrappers.  I made mine from scratch, using a recipe from “Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch” and they are so easy (and CHEAP) that I will never buy them again.

Potsticker Wrappers:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup water

Combine flour and water in a medium bowl.  Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface.  Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes until it appears smooth.  Form the dough into a 9 inch cylinder with your palms.  Cut the dough in half lengthwise.  Dust both pieces with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let them rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile make the filling.

There are a million fillings that you can use for potstickers.  I used the traditional ginger pork filling adapted from “Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch”

  • 8 oz finely shredded napa cabbage (or regular cabbage)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 8 oz ground pork
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 scallion (green onion) finely sliced
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice wine (apple juice)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil (you NEED this to make it taste Chinese!)

Toss the cabbage with the salt in a large bowl and let it stand 30 minutes to remove excess water.  Rinse the cabbage, and squeeze out all the water you can.  Preheat the oven to 200F (this is so you can keep batches of cooked potstickers warm while you cook the rest).  Mix the pork, ginger, scallion, soy sauce, apple juice, sugar and sesame oil in a large bowl.  Mix in the cabbage.  Refrigerate anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours.

To assemble the dumplings, roll the cylinders out to 12 inches each (one at a time).  Cut out 3-3 1/4 inch circles.  Put a tsp of filling in the center of the dough.  Bring the top and bottom of the dough to the center of the filling and pinch shut forming a lip.  On one side of the dumpling, pinch 4 1/4 inch pleats in the dough along the lip.  When you have 10 or so ready, heat 1 tsp of oil in a skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is almost smoking, drop in the dumpling.  Fry for 2 minutes (only on one side).  Add 1/2 cup of water to the skillet.  Cover and let the dumplings cook for 5 minutes.  When the water is just about gone, remove the lid and let the potstickers cook until they are light brown and stuck.  Repeat until all the dumplings are cooked.  Serve hot with Soy Vinegar Dip.

Soy Vinegar Dip

  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar

Heat ingredients with 1 tbsp water over low heat for 1 1/2 minutes.  Remove from heat and spoon into small dishes.  Top with a scallion sliced paper-thin if desired.

ps. The Spring Rolls were mediocre so I will not give you the recipe here.  Do you have a delicious spring roll recipe?


Chicken Pad Thai

I love green, and red, and orange, and yellow.  Utah is a brown-blue kind of place.  It is dry and hot, or dry and cold.  It is drab.  Sometimes this depresses me.  I just want to see dark turquoise water, and tall evergreen trees stretching towards the sun.

I escape to my kitchen (which is also brown) and cook something colourful and ethnic, something that brings me back to a different place.

When I was in high school, I spend a summer visiting my well-traveled aunt in Cambodia.  Cambodia is one of the most colourful, most vibrant places I’ve ever been.  The food is similar to Thai food, though not as spicy and with distinctive French influences.  I ate coconut chicken served in a bowl made out of half a pineapple, noodles, fresh baguettes, frogs’ legs, and the most tropical fruit you can imagine.

Yesterday’s dinner of Chicken Pad Thai rescued me in my colourless stupor and brought me back to that place.

Chicken Pad Thai (adapted from Better Homes)

  • 8 oz rice noodles (or other Chinese noodles)
  • 1 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup salted peanuts, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp Asian garlic chili sauce
  • 41/2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • oil for cooking
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • green pepper, sliced
  • cilantro leaves to garnish

In a large bowl, cover the noodles with hot water and let sit for 15 minutes.  In a small bowl, combine peanuts and lime zest, set aside.  In another small bowl, combine the sauce by mixing the fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, chili sauce and vinegar.  Stir to combine, set aside.  In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil on medium-high heat.  Add chicken and garlic.  Cook until the chicken is no longer pink.  Remove chicken from skillet.  Cook the egg.  Remove it from the skillet and chop.  Add more oil to the skillet.  Heat on high heat.  Drain the noodles.  Add the noodles and the bean sprouts to the skillet and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.  Add the chicken and sauce.  Cook for another minute.  Garnish with egg, green onion, cilantro, and peanut topping.  Enjoy!


Arroz Con Leche

A few years ago, I spent a year and a half in Southern California serving a mission for my Church. I spend that time with the Hispanic population in the area, and came to love their culinary traditions (well, some of them).
I could never quite fall in love with Menudo (a traditional soup made from cow stomach) or anything that involved tongue – but this sweet rice and milk dessert gained a favourable place on my palate. I love the thick, hearty porridge-like consistency and the way the raisins soften as though they are slowly transforming back into grapes.

Rice is such a huge staple in Latin American cooking, but that doesn’t make it easy for us gringos to get right. Growing up, I remember joking about the fact that Mum’s rice was usually soupy. And perhaps to counteract that, my first endeavors to make rice resulted in hard, crunchy grains that my husband and I both pretended were fluffy and, well, cooked… Arroz con Leche scared me for a long time. My food cravings eventually overcame my food fears, and, I’m happy to report it turned out well!

Arroz Con Leche (rice with milk)
– 1/2 cup rice (short-medium grain)
– 4 cups milk
– 1 cinnamon stick
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 raisins
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 2 tbsp butter
– ground cinnamon to garnish

In a saucepan, combine rice, milk and cinnamon stick. Heat on medium-high just until milk starts to boil. Lower heat to low and let mixture simmer, stirring often (scraping sides and bottom of pot) for 45 min. Add the sugar and the raisins and continue cooking on low for another 15 min. Stir in the vanilla and the butter and cook another 5 min. Garnish with ground cinnamon. Serve hot or cold.

I like to eat some when it’s hot, refrigerate the rest and eat it cold the next morning for breakfast. Sabe muy rico!