Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pad Kra Pao Gai with Thai Fried Eggs

This dish is classic Thai street food at it's best. I've posted a variation of this recipe before, but after speaking to a Thai friend, I learned a new way to make it. And, more importantly, I learned how to make Thai Fried Eggs, which are absolutely delicious! What's different about them? Well, for one thing, they are poached in hot oil which makes them crispy and the yolks come out perfectly runny. Drizzled with a little Kecap Manis or in my case, Tamari and Sesame Oil, they are just delightful - so different than the usual American versions of fried or poached eggs. They would be great for breakfast anytime and the lacy, browned bits on the edges taste so good!

The difference between this version of Chicken with Holy Basil and the one I posted before is in the use of Oyster Sauce to flavor the Chicken. And, you can make this dish Gluten Free if you use the Lee Kum Kee's Gluten Free version.  I have to admit that I like the regular Oyster Sauce better, so if you are using the Gluten Free kind, add a bit of Fish Sauce to round out the flavor. This dish tastes best if you use Thai Holy Basil leaves, but in a pinch you can also use regular Basil leaves and it will still be good.  Serve this with some steamed Rice and you will have a wonderful Thai meal!

Pad Kra Pao Gai with Thai Fried Eggs

4 Eggs
1/3 cup neutral tasting Vegetable Oil
1 pound ground Chicken or finely chopped Chicken Breast or Thigh meat
2 Shallots, chopped
3 large cloves of Garlic, minced
Optional: 1 - 4 Thai Chilis sliced into rounds or 1 red Jalapeño sliced into thin rounds
2 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce (if using Gluten Free, add 1 teaspoon Fish Sauce)
4 Tablespoons Tamari
2 teaspoons Sugar
2 cups loosely packed Thai Holy Basil leaves

To Serve: 1 Tablespoon Kecap Manis (sweet Soy Sauce) or Tamari and 1 teaspoon of Sesame Oil

Break each egg in a small bowl, being careful not to break the yolk.  Heat a wok on high and then add in the oil and heat until the oil starts to shimmer and move.  Add in one egg in the center of the oil (be careful, it splashes) and cook until a metal spatula pushed underneath releases it from the bottom of the pan easily. Then using the spatula, quickly splash some of the hot oil over the top of the egg and cook until the egg looks cooked (this happens quickly).  Take out the egg and repeat with the remaining three eggs. Remove the wok from the heat. 

In a small bowl, mix together the Oyster Sauce, Tamari and Sugar.  

Then pour out all but 2 Tablespoons of the oil. Place the wok back on the heat.  Then add in the Shallots and Garlic and Chilis (if you are using them).  Cook until the Shallots wilt. Then add the ground Chicken and cook, stirring often unit it is no longer pink.  Then add in the Sauce and stir to combine.  Then add in the Basil and toss until the Basil wilts.

Plate the Pad Kra Pao Gai with Steamed Rice and an Egg, drizzling each Egg with 1/4 of either Kecap Manis or Tamari and Sesame Oil.

Five Element Analysis

Eggs belong to the Water Element and the Oyster Sauce and Tamari and Fish Sauce if you are using it add even more Water. The Chicken contributes the Wood Element and the Chilis bring in the Fire Element. The Metal Element is well represented by the Holy Basil and the Earth Element has only the tiny bit of Sugar to add. So, in order to have a balanced meal, it would be good to add another Earthy dish or even a dessert to make this a balanced meal. I served it with Coconut Ice Cream!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Simple Braised Fennel

Fennel is one of those funny vegetables that people tend to love or hate. I personally love it as I think the licorice flavor and crisp texture is very refreshing when Fennel Bulbs are shaved into a salad.  It's particularly good with an Orange Vinaigrette (previous post). I rarely cook it, but when I do, it changes into a completely different vegetable altogether. It becomes soft and creamy and the licorice flavor gets much more delicate and reminds me of the flavor of Tarragon.  It is particularly good with roast meats. And, the good news is that Braised Fennel is really simple to make. You just brown the cut up Fennel Bulb into quarters and sauté them in butter with a little oil (to keep it from burning) until they are lightly browned and then steam them with some Chicken Broth. Sprinkled with some fresh ground Pepper and a squeeze of Lemon, if desired, it is a delicious side dish!

Simple Braised Fennel

2 large Fennel Bulbs - ends, stems and fronds cut off and cut into quarters
2 Tablespoons Salted Butter
1 Tablespoon light flavored Vegetable OIl
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
Pinch of fresh Ground Pepper
Optional:  1 quarter of a large Lemon

In a large frying pan with a lid, melt the Butter and Oil over medium-high heat.  Add in the Fennel, one cut side down and cook until lightly browned. Turn the Fennel to cook the other cut side until browned. Then pour in the Chicken Broth and cover, reducing the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.  Test with a fork to see if tender - especially large fennel may need an additional 5 minutes. To serve, sprinkle with the Pepper and squeeze Lemon Juice over the top if desired.

Five Element Analysis

Fennel is a Metal Vegetable and cooking it with Chicken Broth brings in the Wood Element. The Butter and the Lemon, if you use it, adds even more. The only Fire Element ingredient is the tiny bit of Black Pepper. So, this is a great dish to serve when you need some more Metal and Wood in the meal.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mushroom Chips

Sometimes I cook something that is so easy that I am not sure that I should post it. But, this recipe is so delicious that I simply have to share it.  Last night, I decided to make Mushroom Chips. I took a box of Cremini Mushrooms and Button Mushrooms and sliced them into 1/4 inch slices. I tossed them with Olive Oil, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder and Sea Salt and cooked them in the oven until they were a bit crispy, although some were a bit chewy too. Oh my, it was hard not to eat the whole batch by myself. Honestly, I don't know why I haven't made this before and I plan on making it again very soon!

Mushroom Chips

1 pound Mushrooms, Cremini, Button and Shitake
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon or more Sea Salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry Mushrooms. Slice into even 1/4" slices.  In a bowl, mix together the Olive Oil, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder and Salt.  Add Mushrooms and toss to coat.  Pour onto a large baking sheet and place in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring and tossing at least once.  Then turn the oven to Broil and place mushrooms on the lowest rack and cook for another 15 - 20 minutes, tossing frequently until the Mushrooms start getting crispy. Watch carefully so they don't burn and remove when most of the Mushrooms are browned. 

Five Element Analysis

Mushrooms belong to the Earth Element so this is a very Earthy Snack. The Garlic and Onion Powders contribute the Metal Element and the Olive Oil adds the Wood Element.  The Water Element is only found in the small amount of Salt and the Fire Element is missing, but it is only a snack so it's not expected to be a balanced dish. Serving it with a cup of tea and another snack of Red Peppers and Tomatoes as we did and you will find a Five Element food balance. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Cucumber Kimchi Salad

I was in the mood for some Cucumber Kimchi and didn't want to wait for several days to ferment some. And as you know from my previous posts, I hesitate to buy pre made Kimchi because it often contains dried shrimp. So, I took a shortcut yesterday and used Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar along with Korean Red Chili Powder, Garlic, Green Onions and a bit of Fish Sauce and to make the dressing for a Quick Cucumber Kimchi Salad. I salted the Cucumbers first to get some of the extra moisture out or the salad would be watery and I did let the Cucumbers marinate for several hours in the refrigerator. Oh my, it was delicious!  I have to admit that I may even like it better than the Cucumber Kimchi. And I will definitely be making this again!

Cucumber Kimchi Salad

2 Cucumbers, peeled, cut in half, seeds scraped out with a spoon and sliced into half moons
1 heaping teaspoon of Sea Salt
1 heaping Tablespoon Korean Red Chili
1/2 Tablespoon Tamari
2 teaspoons Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1 teaspoon Fish Sauce
2 large Garlic Cloves, minced
Green Tops of 2 - 3 Scallions or Green Onions

Place Cucumbers in a large bowl and sprinkle with the Sea Salt, mix well and let sit for about 20 minutes to get the moisture out.  Then drain, rinse with water and toss in the colander to remove all the excess water. Place in a serving bowl.

In a small bowl, mix together the Korean Red Chili, the Tamari, the Rice Vinegar, Fish Sauce, Garlic Cloves and Scallions. Mix well and pour over the Cucumber slices. Toss to mix. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. If desired, sprinkle with Sesame Seeds when serving.

Five Element Analysis

Cucumbers belong to the Earth Element so that element is fully covered. The Garlic and Scallions bring in the Metal Element. The Tamari along with the Sesame Seeds contribute the Water Element and the Vinegar makes sure the Wood Element is also present. Finally, the Red Chili Powder is very fiery so the Fire Element is represented too. This then is a balanced Five Element salad!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Korean Bulgogi Marinade

At our Asian dinner party the other night, we made Bulgogi with a more authentic recipe than the one that was previously posted, as we added Asian Pear to the recipe. It adds a lovely sweet note that makes the marinade more complex. Bulgogi is a great meat to serve at a party as it takes such a short time to cook as it is very thin slices of beef. So, when everything else is ready, you can cook these in just a few minutes and the meal is ready.  Be sure to marinate the meat for at least 30 minutes up to overnight. Longer is better I think to get the most flavorful meat! 

Korean Bulgogi

1 pound beef tenderloin, semi frozen and sliced thinly into about 2 inch long by 1/8 inch wide pieces. 
1 small Asian Pear (or 1/2 of a large one)
1 small Onion
3 Garlic Cloves
1 teaspoon minced Ginger
2 chopped Green Onion
3 Tablespoons Tamari
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
pinch of Black Pepper 
1 Tbsp toasted Sesame Oil
1/2 peeled Carrot, cut into slivers
Optional:  2 Tablespoons toasted white Sesame Seeds

Puree the Asian Pear and Onion together in a food processor or blender.  Then mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Add the sliced beef and mix well. Marinate for at a minimum of ½ hour, but overnight in the refrigerator is best for maximum flavor. To cook the Bulgogi, remove the meat from the marinade and grill on the BBQ, broil in the oven or pan sear the meat on a hot, greased cast iron skillet until the beef is no longer pink and the edges are browned. Sprinkle with Sesame Seeds and serve with rice or as lettuce wraps and Korean hot sauce - Ssamjang. 

Five Element Analysis

This is a sweet marinade made so you now that it has some Earth in it and the Beef, Carrot and Asian Pear make it even Earthier. The Onion, Garlic and Green Onion contribute the Metal Element. The Tamari, Sesame Oil and Sesame Seeds add the Water Element and the Black Pepper and Hot Sauce bring in the Fire Element. Only the Wood Element is missing, so be sure to serve it with some green vegetables, like Spinach to create balance. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Warm Eggplant Salad

I was making grilled sausages tonight and was thinking about a salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette but I didn't have enough greens to make the usual. So, I pulled out two Eggplants and made a salad with them instead that was also a bit like a relish or a chutney. I cut the Eggplant into little pieces and roasted it and combined it with lightly sautéed red onion pieces and garlic so that they wouldn't be too strongly flavored and added some halved Cherry Tomatoes that I also cooked for just a few minutes. I used Lemon Juice and Olive Oil as the base of the dressing and I also included chopped Parsley, Mint, Cilantro and Scallion Tops. It turned out so wonderfully!  The Eggplant was creamy and the onions were still crisp. The Tomatoes melded into the Vinaigrette and the herbs made it taste really fresh. This salad paired perfectly with the Sausages and it was so delicious. I loved it!

Warm Eggplant Salad 

2 large Eggplants, cut into rounds about 3/4 inch wide and then into small cubes (skin on)
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil for roasting + 1 Tablespoon for cooking Onions
1 small Red Onion, cut into small pieces
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
24 Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup fresh Lemon Juice (about 2 medium Lemons)
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 - 2 teaspoons Sugar (depending on how sour the Lemons are)
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Parsley, minced
2 Tablespoons Mint, minced
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, minced
2 Tablespoons Scallions minced (green part only)

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil on the pan and place the Eggplant pieces on top. Then drizzle with the remaining 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil on top of the Eggplant. Place in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes or until the Eggplant is just beginning to brown and is soft. Remove from oven and let cool slightly

In a small frying pan, add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil. Cook until the onion just becomes translucent and add in the garlic, stirring until you can smell the garlic fragrance. Add in the Cherry Tomato halves and cook for an additional 3 minutes or until the Tomatoes get a little soft and they start to form a little bit of sauce.  Remove and pour into a large serving bowl. 

Then add in the Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Salt, Sugar, Parsley, Mint, Cilantro and Scallions. Mix thoroughly to combine and add in the Eggplant. Stir to combine and let sit for at least 15 minutes to let the flavors meld before serving. 

Five Element Analysis

Eggplant belongs to the Water Element so that element is fully covered.  The Lemon Juice an Olive Oil contribute the Wood Element and the Tomatoes bring in the Fire Element. The fresh pungent herbs add the Metal Element. So, only the Earth Element is missing and that's easily fixed by making sure you serve a sweet dessert after the meal. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Spinach Gomae

My son Stephen made a wonderful Japanese Spinach dish the other night that I just have to share with you - Spinach Gomae.  It is a salad made of course with Spinach and a dressing of Sesame Seeds, Tamari and Mirin (Japanese Rice Wine).  It is really simple and oh so delicious!  We were having a dinner party and making various Asian dishes and this salad was a big hit.  

Spinach Gomae

2 packages (or two bunches) Spinach leaves, large stem pieces removed
Boiling Water for Blanching
1/4 cup White Sesame Seeds
2 - 3 Tablespoons Mirin
2 - 3 Tablespoons Tamari

Toast the Sesame Seeds in a small pan while heating water in a small pot to a boil. Toast the seeds until you can smell the toasted fragrance and they become golden brown.  Remove and put into a Mortar and Pestle and grind thoroughly.  

When the water is boiling, add in the spinach, stir and drain.  Place spinach in a strainer and drain the water thoroughly. Squeeze with your hands to remove the additional moisture.  Place spinach in a serving bowl.  

Next, mix together 2 Tablespoons of the Mirin and 2 Tablespoons of the Tamari in a small bowl until blended.  Stir in the Sesame Seeds. Taste and adjust adding more Mirin and Tamari if desired.  Pour mixture over spinach and toss to combine.  Serve immediately or refrigerate to serve later.

Five Element Analysis

Spinach as a leafy green vegetable is a Wood vegetable so that Element is covered.  The Sesame Seeds and Tamari contribute the Water Element and the Mirin brings in the Fire Element. The Fire and Earth Elements are missing so be sure to serve this salad with some other dishes that incorporate those elements to create a balanced meal.