Monthly Archives: January 2012

Ginger Garlic Thai Stir-Fry

While on my most recent 3h trip to the Asian market, after getting distracted by the variety of produce, the whole aisle of noodles and cooking spices and sauces, I made it to the frozen section. Already laden down with supplies of ingredients that I sort-of-remembered reading about and therefore had to experiment with and supplementing my stash of curry leaves, rampe, Thai basil, and kaffir lime leaves I found the “veggie meat”. As always when in an Asian market, I am suspicious of the English on the package, especially when the package looks exactly like shrimp. And is beside the real shrimp. A quick scan of the ingredients promised “glutinous” something, which I took to mean that this mysterious shrimp-looking like thing was indeed “veggie shrimp” and into the basket it went. How could I resist? I’d have to save the jackfruit for another day – but in the meanwhile my busy brain was trying to figure out how to honour this theme ingredient.

 

I don’t cook with mock meat usually – I prefer to call a spade a spade and use tofu, tempeh, or if I’m really ambitious some homemade seitan. But “veggie shrimp”? It was begging to be tried. I decided that I wanted something Thai, and something ‘clean’, so I could taste the shrimp. No use experimenting with an ingredient if you are just going to disguise the taste with a spicy red curry sauce! I was thinking the heady combination of ginger and garlic, and wanted some zip to come from the lime leaves and lemongrass … and with the necessary addition of Thai chillies, this dish was born.

 

For the first time (ever) I made a concentrated effort at writing down what I was throwing into the saucepan. Turns out my efforts are not wasted – this dish was crisp, clean, and simple. Refreshing and easy to make, it had some nice heat from the Thai chillies I used but wasn’t too spicy. The veggie shrimp was interesting for a novelty item, but I cannot say it replaces tofu in my heart. I dry-sautéed the chillies, lemongrass, lime leaves, garlic, ginger, and peanuts. This made the kitchen smell amazing, and really highlighted the lemongrass. I served it with vermicelli, but rice would soak up the sauce and be lovely as well.

 

Ginger Garlic Thai Stir-Fry

Serves 2-4

Time: 20min (ish)

Ingredients

1T. lemongrass, minced
1T. fresh ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 kaffir lime leaves
3 red Thai chillies, chopped
0.25c. peanuts, unsalted
1 package (180g) “veggie shrimp” (or extra-firm tofu, cut into whatever fun shape you want!)

 
1.5T. soy sauce, divided
1.5T. rice wine vinegar, divided
3c. bok choy, chopped (or 2 heads baby bok choy)
1 medium carrot, sliced on the bias
~0.3c. asparagus, cut into 5cm pieces (Tip: separate the stalks from the tops. You will be adding them at different times!)
3 green onions, roughly chopped

 
lime juice
fresh cilantro

 
1 bundle vermicelli

 
Other stir fry additions that would be excellent:
– mung bean sprouts, (chinese) broccoli, napa cabbage (instead of bok choy), bell peppers …

 

Directions:

1) Prepare the vermicelli as per package directions
2) Preheat a large pan (or wok, if you have it) on medium heat
3) Add the lemongrass and chillies to pan. Stir frequently so as not to burn. Sauté until fragrant
4) Add the ginger, garlic, and peanuts. Stir frequently. Sauté until peanuts lightly roasted
5) Add veggie shrimp, and sear each side of the shrimp.
6) Add 1T. soy sauce and 1T. rice wine vinegar to mixture. Stir and cover. Stir fry until veggie shrimp warmed through
7) Time to add the stir fry veg! If throughout the stir fry the pan is looking dry, add splashes of water. This also helps deglaze the pan.
8) Add the carrots and asparagus stalks. Stir and cook until stalks bright green and carrots almost to the crunchiness of your liking
9) Add the green onions, asparagus tops, and bok choy. Sauté until bok choy is bright green and wilted
10) Splash remaining 0.5T. of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar into mixture. Stir.
11) Turn off heat, add lime juice (to taste). Taste for seasonings. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve over vermicelli.


Cashew Korma

My love for Indian food cannot be overstated. It was a magical day when I went to my first Indian restaurant and learned that there is more to Indian food than the butter chicken cooked in the CrockPot that I grew up with. I love everything about it (except the butter chicken in the CrockPot). I even like that your whole house will smell of curry for 1 week after! I love that with a few tweaks in spice mix you can have a completely different dish. Change up the legume, vegetables, base, and the combinations are virtually endless. Curries are my go-to when I need comfort food, feel like celebrating, or have the desire to clean out the fridge. All that being said, korma was never my favourite. I have boiled/steamed vegetable issues from my childhood, and I don’t like cream sauces (sorry, Alfredo.) And then one day I stumbled upon this Cashew Korma recipe over at the Post Punk Kitchen. And my life was changed.

This recipe is ridiculously easy to put together, and best of all only requires one (huge ass) pot! Pulverized soaked cashews make the sauce nice and creamy. A food processor gets the job done, but a blender or immersion blender would make it even creamier. The vegetables allow for flexibility, and with my addition of green beans  and broccoli, the korma isn’t too monochromatic (my other previous issue with korma). The curry is spiced nicely – no extra dashes of anything (save for Sriracha) required. It is lovely over some basmati rice, but I have been known to eat it straight up! It feeds a small army, which is okay – load up on some Tupperware containers and freeze single portions. It freezes exceptionally well, and when you pull out the korma for those hard to motivate yourself to cook on Monday dinners, it will be heaven in a bowl.

The recipe is here: Cashew Vegetable Korma. If you haven’t checked out The PPK yet or any of Isa’s cookbooks, this is the perfect opportunity to do so! Full of humour, anecdotes that are sort of relevant (and therefore the best kind) and peppered with kitchen tips, Isa is a genius. Try the korma – it will challenge all previous conceptions about korma you have ever had, and you won’t look back!


Ethiopian Feast

The complete feast!

For Christmas I gave myself one of the best present’s ever – Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food, by Kittee Berns.

I could barely wait to try out the recipes – Papa Tofu lived on my nightstand for a week, and every night my dream menu changed. Finally, I made some tough decisions and cooked 6 dishes. The result? AMAZING. One review was “just as good as any Ethiopian you will get in a restaurant”. I take that as high praise indeed, and so should Kittee Berns!

The menu was as follows:

Selata (the necessary green salad with the stray jalapeno seed), Ye’Abesha Gomen (Collard Greens, made with spinach – it is difficult to find collared greens in Canada in January!), Ingudai T’ibs (Sauteed Mushrooms), Ye’Takelt Allecha (Gingery Roasted Vegetables), Ye’kik Allecha (Mild Split Peas), and Ye’Meiser W’et (Spicy Red Lentils).

Platter 1: Ye'Miser W'et (top), Ingudai T'ibs (right), Ye'Takelt Allecha (left), salad piled on top

Platter 2: Ye'Kik Allecha (top), Ye'Abesha Gomen (left), more Ye'Takelt Allecha (bottom), and more salad on top

Everything was fantastic! And since I made enough food to feed a small army, I have enough leftovers to last me through the week.W’et sandwiches with injera bread? Yes please!

I highly recommend this zine to anybody – from Ethiopian food lover to those who don’t know where Ethiopia is. The zine is clearly a labour of love, with hand-drawn titles and cute pictures sprinkled throughout. Included are instructions on how to make all those mystery ‘extra’ ingredients like niter kibbeh and berber. It’s the extras that make the difference! Humourous and educational, this is a zine that you can tweak to your taste buds!


Injera Adventures

Stack of injera!

For my Ethiopian Feast I went all out – including making my own Injera. Google quickly told me that injera should be fermented, and is traditionally made with teff flour. Apparently in North America the starter is often a mixture of teff and wheat flour, which is not the classic method. More Google searches quickly eliminated many of the injera recipes that didn’t involve fermenting the starter or used wheat flour. Finally, I stumbled upon this recipe: http://chefinyou.com/2010/02/ethiopian-injera-recipe/.

I followed the directions almost exactly, and the injera turned out fantastic! I find it amusing that you have to ‘feed’ the starter and if everybody knew that fermenting starters made your apartment smell like a brewery everybody would be doing it! I made some minor adjustments at the end, because I ran out of teff flour. My Cole’s Notes method is below:

Day 0 – In a bowl, mix 3/4c. water, 1/2c. teff flour, 1/8t. active yeast

The injera adventure begins!

Day 3 – Stir and feed the starter 1/2c. water, 1/3c. teff flour. The kitchen should start to smell like a brewery!

Pre-feeding

Post-feeding

Day 5 (right before bed) – Stir and feed the starter 1/2c. water, 1/3c. teff flour. Almost done waiting!

Pre-feeding

Post-feeding

Day 6 (VERY early in the morning) – Using 1c. of the starter (I had 2.5c. total), feed the starter:

Pre-feeding

7c. water

4.5c. teff flour

1.5c. chickpea flour (besan)

1c. buckwheat flour

1t. salt

Post-feeding ... almost there!

Day 6 (6h ish after feeding) – Cook the injera! I used my biggest fry pan (~20cm diameter) and 1/3c. of batter for each injera, for a total of 33 injeras. The cooking instructions in the recipe are fantastic!

After final ferment - ready to cook!

I thought these injeras were better than those in restaurants. The ones in restaurants are good only as a scooping tool, and don’t taste great by themselves. Not only are these injeras fantastic scooping tools and compliment the dishes, but they also taste great by themselves! They also freeze great, making future Ethiopian feasts easier!


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