Tag Archives: Southeast Asia

Thai Noodles with Bok Choy

Today started off horrid and rainy, as usual.  Bummer.

But it ended up being a great day!  I treated probably the most adorable child you have ever seen (he had cerebral palsy) with a few of my friends for my case studies week, and it was such a great experience.  He was so motivated, and we got to watch him feed himself yogurt at home for the first time (and show his mom!).  Even though it would have been incredibly frustrating to probably any other seven-year-old (he only managed to eat about a tablespoon of it, with the rest all over his face, arms, leg, chair, floor…etc), he was able to push through his physical limitations and be super excited anytime a drop of it actually made it inside his mouth.

It was very inspiring, to say the least.  A nice reminder that I probably should not get so annoyed just because it’s been raining nonstop for the past few weeks.  At least I can not only feed myself dinner, but plan it, go shopping for it, and make it all by myself.

So here’s a lovely dinner for all of you people to make.  Just remember to be grateful for every bite you take on your own, okay?

It’s a deal.

Thai Noodles with Bok Choy (adapted from Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast
Asia)

  • 1 lb wide dried rice noodles
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 lb bok choy, rinsed and sliced lengthwise into thin spears
  • 1 T miso paste
  • 1 1/2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T Thai fish sauce
  • 2 T cider or rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 C mild broth (I used 1/2 C chicken broth with 1 C added water)
  • 1 T cornstarch, dissolved in 3 T water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

This is a great dish, and despite the rather long ingredient list, it’s very quick and easy to make.  Because the cooking moves fast, have the ingredients all prepared and ready to be tossed into the pot at a moment’s notice.  Start by soaking the dried noodles in warm water for 15 minutes, then drain them.

Heat a wok (I use a flat-bottomed GreenPan wok, which I love) and add 1 T of the vegetable oil.  When it is hot, add half the rice noodles and fry for 2 minutes, pressing them against the hot sides of the wok.  Once finished, divide them among the plates (this recipe serves four).  Add a second T of olive oil, and fry the second batch of noodles, dividing them on to the plates when finished.

Toss in the last T of vegetable oil, and when hot, add the minced garlic and saute for a few seconds, then add the chicken.  Cook until the meat has all changed color.

Add the bok choy, pressing the leaves against the sides of the hot pan until they turn bright green and wilt.  Admire.

Lastly, add the miso, vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, and broth.  Stir it around until the sauce begins to combine, then add the cornstarch and water mixture.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for a few minutes until the sauce is thickened and the bok choy is tender–it should only take about five minutes.

Divide the bok choy and chicken among the plates, and ladle extra gravy over the top.

Serious yum.  This can be served with a hot chile-vinegar on the side to heat things up a bit, if you like (which I obviously do).

This dinner is really satisfying, and for once, not too fishy.  Actually, not fishy at all–just “deliciously Asian”, as Fritz says.  Definitely an Southeast Asian comfort food that I am certain we will be making again.

And for those of you scared of Thai food, Fritz isn’t a huge fan of strong Thai flavors, but he really loved this dinner.  He ate a giant bowl of leftovers in the car while driving on the way to see Thor the day after.  Which is kind of scary, if you think about it.  Noodles aren’t really the most portable of foods for those of us planning on eating while driving (which you should never do, of course).

I don’t have class until eleven tomorrow!  Is that something to be grateful for, or what?

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Filed under Entrees

Vietnamese Spring (Is Near!) Rolls

Wow.  If 54 degrees and sunny isn’t enough to remind me that spring is almost here, than I don’t know what is.  Days like today make it possible for me to trudge through those last few gray, rainy, slushy months without despairing.  Plus, I love being able to crack the windows just a bit so I can breathe in some fresh air throughout the day.

And my recipe for today is spring rolls!  Is that perfect or what?  Fritz and I made these little gems together as part of our Valentine’s day dinner, and I’m so excited to share the recipe.  It’s not nearly as complex as I thought, and by baking them instead of deep-frying, they are good for you as well as delicious.  Perfection.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls (from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid) 

  •  1/2 lb ground pork
  • 4 oz peeled shrimp, finely chopped (about 3/4 C)
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 C shredded carrot
  • 1 oz cellophane noodles (a little over 1/2 C)
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T Vietnamese fish sauce
  • spring roll wrappers (we used about 20)

Before starting, take out 1 oz of the cellophane noodles and soak them in warm water for about 20 minutes.  When they’re ready, drain them and cut into 1″ lengths with scissors.

Fritz and I ran out to the grocery store to get all the ingredients, and when we looked at the meat prices, there was a sale on pork chops and not on ground pork.  So what’s a girl to do?

Luckily, this particular girl has parents who recently bought her the meat grinder attachment for her KitchenAid for no reason other than that they love her (I probably would have bought pork chops to grind even if they were more expensive just to try the thing out)!  It’s just an added benefit that it was cheaper and I got to cut off the extra fat and have truly lean ground pork.

Fritz made me promise not to post a picture of the meat grinder in action, because it looks really gross (think: the demon barber of Fleet Street).  It literally took three minutes to set up, grind the meat, and take it back apart.

Anyway, back to the recipe.  Combine the ground pork, shrimp, onion, garlic, shallots, carrot, noodles, pepper, and fish sauce into a bowl and mix.

Now it’s time to set up your rolling station.

You need a dish that can fit the spring roll wrappers, filled with an inch or two of warm water.  Lay a damp dish towel flat on the table, and cover a baking sheet with another damp towel.  You’ll roll the wrappers on the first towel.  The wrappers are very fragile when wet, so you have to move carefully and cover the finished rolls with the second towel while you make more.

With dry hands (you don’t want the others to start sticking together), pick up a spring roll wrapper and hold it under the water until it softens, a few seconds.  Gently lay the wrapper on the damp towel, and spoon a generous tablespoonful of filling in a 2″ line on the side closest you.  Fold the closest edge over the filling, then the right and left sides, and roll it up tightly.

Place seam-side down on a baking sheet and cover with the damp towel.  Repeat until you run out of filling.

Preheat the oven to 350, and bake on the middle rack for 30 minutes, until browned.  Flip over about halfway through.

Arrange these beauties on a plate, and try not to dive in immediately.  If you have some leftover sauces from the last time you had Chinese take-out. this might be a good time to use ’em.

I love cooking on the weekend, because you get beautiful daylight-colored photos…not to mention there’s no rush to get dinner on the table because you just had school and now you have to get to the gym or go grocery shopping or–yes.  Weekend cooking is the best.

Have a beautiful day!  I hope this warm air inspires you as much as it does me.

As a side note, my lovely friend Breanna is running NYC’s Half-Marathon on a Team for Kids fighting childhood obesity.  It’s coming up soon, and if you have any spare cash lying around, she could use the fundraising help.  I am very passionate about this cause myself and whole-heartedly encourage you to donate if you can.  Every dollar helps! Click here to donate on her page.

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Filed under Appetizers