Monday, August 14, 2017

Thai Pork and Tomato Dip - Nam Prik Ong




I am a snacker and I like my snacks to be savory and often, I like them to include some protein. And the other day, I was in the mood for something new and different. I decided to make something I once tried in Thailand and loved - Nam Prik Ong or Thai Pork and Tomato Dip. I had it at a little restaurant in Bangkok and it was served with Cabbage and fried Pork Skins, usually called Chicarrones in the US or Pork Rinds You can buy them in most grocery stores and is the authentic accompaniment to this dish. In Thailand, this dip is very hot and so I had to eat it with Cabbage leaves to cool down the heat!  Making it myself, I could make it milder and it turned out so well that I am sharing it with you. It's so good - wonderfully exotic and delicious!  So, I am going to serve it at a dinner party soon.

Thai Pork and Tomato Dip - Nam Prik Ong

2 - 4 dried Thai Bird’s Eye Chiles (or 2 fresh Red JalapeƱos, trimmed and deseeded)
3 large Garlic Cloves, chopped
3 medium Shallots, chopped
1 teaspoon Fish Sauce
¼ teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Vegetable Oil
4 ounces minced or ground Pork
3/4 cup chopped Cherry Tomatoes
Juice of 1/2 of a Lime 
Optional: Sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons Cilantro leaves

Soak Chiles in a small amount of boiling water for 20 minutes.  Remove from water, cut off stem end and cut open, scraping out the seeds. Put into a mortar and add in the Garlic, Shallots, Fish Sauce and Salt.  Pound the mixture with the Pestle until a paste forms or place in a food processor and make into a paste, scraping down the sides frequently.

Heat the Oil in a frying pan and add the Chili Paste. Cook for a few minutes or until you can smell the fragrance.  Add in the Pork and cook until it is no longer pink.  Add in the Tomatoes and cook until the Tomato has broken down to become part of the sauce. 


Pour into a serving bowl and sprinkle with Cilantro to serve with Cabbage Slices, Chiccarones and/or Rice Crackers.

Five Element Analysis

Pork belongs to the Water Element and the Fish Sauce adds a bit more. The Lime Juice contributes the Wood Elmenent and the Thai Chiles and Cherry Tomatoes make sure that the Fire Element is present and the Metal Element is represented but the Garlic and Shallot. The Cabbage brings in the much needed Earth Element to create a balanced Snack!


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fried Green Tomatoes



Fried Green Tomatoes are a delicious summer treat that is crispy, tart and juicy! It's very popular in the Southern part of the US and is a pretty well known dish to anyone who grows Tomatoes.  I usually make this at the end of summer when the Tomato plants that I grow are struggling to ripen the last of the Tomatoes on the vine. But, this year I didn't plant any Tomatoes as I've moved to a new place and haven't figured out where to put a little garden yet. But, I was at the Farmer's Market and I saw some big, beautiful Green Tomatoes and just had to make some!

This is a simple recipe that just happens to be Gluten Free. You cut the Green Tomatoes into slices, dip them in beaten Egg and then in a seasoned Cornmeal. I like to add Paul Prudhomme's Vegetable Magic, but you can get creative and add any Seasoned Salt or make your own combination, but be sure you add in some Paprika for color. You pan fry the slices in oil and that's it!  I like to serve them drizzled with homemade Ranch Dressing (previous post) but this should be done just before serving so they don't get soggy. Fried Green Tomatoes is a dish that's worth making anytime you have some Green Tomatoes available!

Fried Green Tomatoes

3 Large Green Tomatoes (or 4 Medium)
2 Eggs
1 cup Cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon Seasoned Salt (or mix together Salt and Paprika with a pinch of Onion Powder)
Oil

Mix together the Cornmeal and the Seasoned Salt in a bowl and then pour onto a plate. Then beat the eggs in the bowl and set aside.

Cut off a small thin slice on both ends of each Green Tomato and then cut them into 1/2 slices.  

Then dredge them on both sides in the Cornmeal Mixture and place on another plate. 

Put Oil into a frying pan up to about 1/2 inch and heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add as many Green Tomatoes as you can without crowding and cook until brown on one side. Turn over carefully and brown the other side. Place on a paper towel covered plate and repeat until all the Green Tomatoes are fried. Put on a serving plate and serve with a drizzle of Ranch Dressing over the top of them.

Five Element Analysis

Tomatoes are considered a Fire Element food, but because these are green and a bit tart, they also cross over into the Wood Element. The Cornmeal adds the Earth Element and the Eggs bring in some of the Water Element. So this is a good dish to serve with a Metal Sauce, which is why I serve it with Ranch Dressing - a sauce made with Milk and Mayonnaise - both Metal foods to create balanced dish!


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Simplest Summer Squash Salad


I bought some little Zucchinis and Summer Squash at the Farmer's Market today and when I get little ones. I especially like them little because the seeds haven't developed very much so they are much crisper and less mushy. Then I make the Simplest Summer  Squash Salad. It's so easy that I hesitated to post it and actually I have a backlog of recipes to post, but this one won because I made it today and it was just so pretty and delicious too!  

All you do is take the Squash and slice it as thin as you can. I like to cut them in half and then slice because I like the shape better and it's easier than having them roll around the cutting board. Then I drizzle them with a high quality extra virgin Olive Oil - it really makes a difference to use a good one. Then squeeze on a bit of lemon and sprinkle them with Maldon Sea Salt or Fleur de Sel. Finally a sprinkling of fresh ground Pepper and you have an amazing summer salad that even Zucchini haters will love - I've seen it over and over again.  So you might want to add this to your recipe file when those first little Zucchinis and Squashes come to market or grow in your backyard because at some point, you'll be needing to make Zucchini Pancakes and Bread with the big ones coming later this summer.

Simplest Summer Squash Salad

2 small Zucchini
2 small Yellow Summer Squash
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice from 1/2 or all of a small Lemon
1 teaspoon Maldon Sea Salt or Fleur de Sel
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground Pepper

Wash the Zucchini and Summer Squash and cut off the ends. Then cut in half and place cut side down on the cutting board. Slice them as thin as you can. Place all the cut Squash in a serving bowl.  Drizzle on the Olive Oil, Squeeze on the Lemon Juice, Sprinkle with Salt and fresh ground Pepper. Toss right before serving.


Five Element Analysis

Zucchini and Summer Squash are both Earth Element foods. The Olive Oil and Lemon contribute the Wood Element and the Salt brings in a little of the Water Element. The Fire Element is only represented by a tiny bit of Pepper. So, serve this Salad with a meal where the main dish is either a Water food, like Fish or Pork and I like to serve it with fresh sliced Tomatoes which adds more of the Fire Element to make a perfect al fresco Summer meal!