Vietnamese noodle salad with shrimp and chicken

Posted September 17, 2021 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Salads

Tags: , , ,

This recipe uses bean threads, an unusual kind of noodle that are made from mung bean flour. They are gluten free, which will please some people, and don’t need cooking, requiring only soaking in hot water to soften them. The are available in any Asian market and some well-stocked supermarkets; they typically come in small (~2 oz) packages with 6-8 packages bundled in a mesh bag. They are sometimes labeled as vermicelli. This salad is really tasty and makes a cool, refreshing meal in hot weather. Serves 4, can be doubled.

Star anise is an important component of this dish, adding a subtle licorice/fennel flavor. It too can be found at Asian markets. It’s cheap and it keeps forever in the pantry. I suppose you could try subbing fennel seeds but I have not tried it.

  • 2 large or 3 small chicken thighs (about 12 oz)
  • 1/2 lb shell-on medium shrimp
  • 2″ piece of fresh ginger cut into 1/4 inch coins (no need to peel)
  • 6 star anise
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c fresh lime juice
  • 2 TB fish sauce
  • 2 scallions, whites and most of the greens, sliced thinly
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 4 packages bean threads
  • 1 English (Kirby) cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded if desired, and sliced into thin half-circles
  • 1/3 c each fresh mint, cilantro, and Thai basil, chopped (use regular basil if necessary)
  • To taste, fresh hot red peppers such as Thai peppers, seeded and sliced thinly (1-3 peppers, or omit)

Bring 6 c water, the ginger and anise, and 1 TB salt to a simmer. Add the chicken and simmer for about 20 min. Turn off heat and let sit for 15 min. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool.

Return the liquid to a simmer and add the shrimp. Simmer for a couple of moments, remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Remove the shrimp and set aside to cool.

Cut or shred the chicken into small pieces, discarding any skin/bones. Peel the shrimp and cut crossways into 2-3 pieces each.

Strain the cooking liquid, discarding solids, and return to pot. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and stir in bean threads. Check for texture after 5 minutes and let sit longer if needed. Drain and rinse under cold water. Cut thru the noodles a few times with shears to get more manageable lengths. The broth can be discarded or saved for another use.

Put the lime juice, oil, fish sauce, sugar, carrot, scallions, and a few grindings of pepper in a large bowl and whisk to dissolve the sugar. Add the noodles and toss well. Add the chicken, shrimp, cucumber, herbs, and peppers and toss again. Chill and toss again before serving.

Pizza with potatoes, goat cheese, bacon, and onions

Posted September 11, 2021 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic

Tags: , ,

This is a welcome change from the traditional pizza based on tomato sauce and mozzarella (good as that can be!). I got the idea for a potato-based pizza from the Radius Pizzeria in Hillsborough, NC, and worked up my own version. You’ll want a pizza stone and a peel for this recipe. This makes 2-12 inch pizzas.

  • 1/2 recipe pizza dough (or use store-bought)
  • 2 medium Yukon gold or similar potatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 8 oz soft goat cheese, plain or herbed
  • 6 slices bacon

Make the dough

This makes a double batch, enough for 4-12 inch pizzas I like to make a full recipe and freeze half for another day. Using the food process makes the task easy, and the overnight rising gives better texture. But you can make it the same day if you allow a few hours for the rise.

  • 4 c AP or bread flour
  • 1-3/4 c water at room temperature
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 tsp or 1 envelope instant yeast
  • 2 tsp kosher salt

Put the flour, salt, and yeast in the processor and pulse to combine. With the machine running add the oil then most of the water, holding back a couple of TB. Process for 30 seconds or so. If the dough seems dry add the remaining water; if too sticky, a couple of TB more flour. Process 15 sec longer then turn out onto a floured counter. Divide in half; put one piece in a zipper bag for freezing. Use your hands to form the remainder into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Stretch plastic wrap over the bowl and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the fridge the next morning and leave at room temp to finish rising.

Toppings

Peel the potatoes and slice very thin, perhaps 1/8 inch. Boil for about 3 minutes to partially cook, then drain and set aside.

Peel the onion and cut into thin half-rings. Sauté in a bit of olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, perhaps 10 minutes. Remove to a bowl.

Slice the bacon crossways into 1/4 inch pieces. Using the same pan, sauté until starting to crisp, then spread out on a paper towel to remove excess fat.

The Oven

At least 30 min before baking, put a pizza stone on the middle rack and set the oven to its highest temperature. This will be 500o in most home ovens, 550o if you are lucky.

Assembly

Divide the dough into halves and roll each into a ball. Working one at a time, place on a piece of parchment paper and use your hands or a rolling pin to form a 12″ circle, dusting the dough with flour as needed to prevent sticking. If the dough begins snapping back due to gluten formation, cover it and allow it to rest for 15 min, then proceed.

Layer the potato slices in a single layer over the dough, then spread the onions and bacon evenly. Follow with grape-size blobs of cheese evenly spaced all over, some ground pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Use your pizza peel to transfer one pizza, with parchment paper, to the pizza stone. Bake 8-12 minutes until the crust is nicely browned. Remove to a cooling rack and discard the parchment. Repeat with the second pizza and serve.

Real tartar sauce

Posted August 24, 2021 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Miscellaneous, Sides

Tartar sauce is a popular accompaniment to many kinds of seafood. I think it’s used way too much, to cover up the (non)taste of crummy seafood such as fishsticks or fillets that are not fresh. Be that as it may, it is tasty in certain situations. It’s easy to make so you might as well do it right rather than rely on the pre-made commercial stuff,.

Tartar is a mayonnaise-based sauce and there is no single “best” recipe. If you’re up for making your own mayo, all the better, but there are some commercial brands that are fine, such as Hellman’s/Best Foods (same product). The recipe is quite adaptable as you will see. But it should not be sweet so no sweet pickle relish PLEASE!

  • 1 c mayo
  • 1/4 c finely minced capers OR cornichon (those small really sour pickles)
  • 1 TB finely minced shallots OR scallion whites
  • 1 tsp grated horseradish OR Dijon mustard
  • Couple twists of the pepper mill
  • Squirt of lemon juice

Mix all together and allow the flavors to meld for a while. Serve at room temperature.

Pasta with summer squash

Posted August 20, 2021 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Vegetables/potatoes/rice, Vegetarian

Tags: ,

This is a marvelous dish during the height of summer when your garden or the farmers market is bursting with an abundance of squash. I like to use a mix of squash–zucchini, pattipan, and zephyr (the half yellow, half green ones) but you can mix and match as you see fit.

  • 1 lb short pasta fusilli, penne, etc.
  • 1 quart squash, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 c halved grape tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 handful basil leaves chopped
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • olive oil
  • Black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan or Romano for serving

In a collander, toss the squash with 1 TB kosher salt. Let sit for at least 1/2 hour. Rinse quickly and pat dry with paper towels.

Put the pasta on to cook.

Hear a few TB olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and red pepper and let it sizzle for a moment. Add the squash and cook, stirring now and then, until the squash is just starting to brown and is partially cooked. Add the tomatoes and basil, stir, and simmer for a few minutes. Season with pepper, mix with the drained pasta, and serve with cheese on the side.

Eggs Mexican style

Posted June 8, 2021 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Breakfast, Ethnic

Tags:

While scrounging thru the fridge one morning I came up with this. It has become a regular around here as it’s easy, adaptable, and filling.

For each diner:

  • 2-6 inch corn tortillas
  • 1 handful grated cheese such a cheddar or Colby-jack
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • Optional extras (see below)

The extras can be almost anything you like–shredded chicken, chopped onion, pickled jalapeños, chopped olives, etc. But this is fine without extras.

Sprinkle the cheese over one tortilla. Add extras, if using, and put the 2nd tortilla on top, pressing down firmly. Heat about 1 TB of vegetable oil or lard in a frypan and cook until slightly browned and a bit crispy–maybe 1 min. Flip and do the other side. Sprinkle with a little salt if desired and remove to a plate. Cook the egg(s) in the same pan and place on top. Serve with salsa and hot sauce.

Pickled onions

Posted May 27, 2021 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Miscellaneous, Sides, Vegetarian

Tags: , ,

I almost always have these in the fridge. They have a million uses–on burgers and hoagies, as part of a charcuterie platter, with bread and cheese, in salads, chopped in deviled eggs, tuna salad, and the like…you get the idea.

You can use almost any vinegar you like–white or red wine, cider, sherry, or rice. I would not use balsamic as the flavor seems inappropriate, nor would I use plain white vinegar because, well, no flavor! Red onions are preferred for the pretty appearance but you can use other types as well. This keeps almost forever refrigerated.

  • One large red onion
  • 1 jalapeño pepper or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1-1/2 c vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 3 TB sugar
  • 1-1/2 TB kosher salt

Peel the onion and halve lengthwise. Cut into thin half-rings and put in a heat-proof bowl. Cut the jalapeño (if using) in half lengthwise then remove stem and seeds. Slice thinly. Use all the pepper or just part to your taste. Add to the onion.

Combine all the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan, including the red pepper flakes if you are using them, and bring to a simmer for a few minutes. Pour over the onions and let sit for a bit, then pack, with liquid, into a jar. Let sit overnight before using.

Frijoles refritos (refried beans)

Posted March 14, 2021 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Sides, Vegetarian

Tags: ,

These are a staple at Mexican restaurants, but often disappointing. They are very easy to make at home, though, and have plenty of uses outside of Mexican cuisine.

  • 4 TB oil or fat (see below)
  • 2-15 oz cans pinto beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 tennis ball-sized onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers, stemmed, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
  • 1 TB ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Lard is traditionally used for this, but is not necessary. Bacon fat is good or use pretty much any vegetable oil–in which case the dish will be vegan.

Heat the oil in a 12 inch skillet. When hot, add the onion, garlic, and Jalapeño and cook over medium heat until starting to brown. Add the beans and a bit of their liquid. Stir and mash with the back of a wooden spoon. When about half mashed, add the cumin and pepper. Continue mashing, add more liquid as needed, until you get the desired consistency. Some people like their beans to be almost completely smooth while others, including me, like to leave a good bit of bean chunks intact (as in the photo). Correct salt if needed.

Chili with ground beef and beans

Posted January 16, 2021 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Uncategorized

Chili is great food for cold weather–it is January as I write this. There are jillions of recipes, with beans or not, with tomatoes or not, with ground or cubed meat. This has become our regular go-to chili and because it freezes well we make big batches and almost always have some in the freezer. Also it can be made a few days ahead and reheated.

While some chilis are made without beans, I think they are an important part of a good chili. Most important, they taste good, but also are nutritious and low cost. You can use canned but I prefer to cook my own. Pinto beans or red kidney beans are traditional.

The chili flavor is of course the center of the dish. While some recipes go to the trouble of toasting, cleaning, and grinding dried peppers, I have found you can get equally good if not better results with high quality chili powder. This is *not* the chili powder off the rack at the supermarket! I like to mail order it from the southwest, where the best chilis are grown. I can recommend the company Made in New Mexico for really good chili powder and other regional foods.

Cumin is a major spice here. While you can buy ground cumin, you’ll get much better results by toasting and grinding your own.

You’ll note the treatment of the ground beef with salt and baking soda. I learned this technique from a cooking magazine. The baking soda quickens the browning of the meat so you get a decent result before the meat overcooks.

How to serve this? Over plain rice is one idea. I also like to put a piece of cornbread in a bowl and top with the chili. Or cornbread on the side. Homemade tortilla chips are good too. You can top it with various things such as grated cheese, chopped radishes or red onion, chopped cilantro, sour cream, chopped scallions, avocado, etc.

  • 1 lb dry pinto beans or 3-15 oz cans
  • 2 lb ground beef, preferably 85% lean chuck
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 large or 6 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil or bacon drippings
  • 1 to 4 TB chili powder, to taste (mild to spicy!)
  • 2 TB ground cumin
  • 1 TB garlic powder
  • 1 TB paprika, preferably the Spanish smoked kind
  • 1 TB dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1-15 oz can diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 1/2 TB ground black pepper
  • 2 TB balsamic vinegar

For dry beans, wash and put in a large pan covered by about 2″ of water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and cover. After about an hour, drain and discard the liquid. Add fresh water to cover and bring to a simmer. Start checking after 40 minutes, it might take up to an hour. When they are “al dente” – still a bit firm – remove from heat and drain, reserving the liquid. Set aside.

For canned beans, drain, reserving the liquid, and set aside.

Mix the beef thoroughly with the baking soda and salt, adding 2 TB water. Hands are great for this! Set aside for at least 15 min.

Heat the oil (medium-high heat) in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 5 min. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring, until the beef is browned. This may take 10-15 min. Don’t break the beef into tiny pieces, leave it in 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks. It will give off some liquid. Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, and oregano. Stir for a few minutes.

Add the beans, tomatoes, sugar, and black pepper along with 1 c water and enough bean liquid to give the consistency of a really thick soup. Cover and bring to a slow simmer for 1-1/2 hours, stirring every now and then. Add water if needed.

Add vinegar. Taste for salt and add if needed. Stir well before serving.

Gochujang-glazed eggplant

Posted October 7, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Vegetables/potatoes/rice, Vegetarian

Gochujang is the national hot sauce of Korea. It is spicy, yes, but not super-spicy, and it has lots of flavor. It’s become so popular that you can often find it in the supermarket. It makes a great glaze for eggplant. You want the long, dark-skinned, Asian eggplant for this, although our common globe eggplant would work too.

3 large Asian eggplant, about 1 lb or a bit less
2 TB gochugang
1 TB soy sauce
2 tsp dark brown sugar, packed
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 small or 2 large garlic cloves
Vegetable oil, about 1/3 c
4-6 scallions

Rinse but do not peel the eggplant. Cut off the stem end and then crossways into 3 equal pieces. Cut each piece in half lengthwise and then in half again to give you 4 wedge-shaped pieces (12 total). Toss in a colander with 1 tsp salt and let sit for at least 30 min.

Put the garlic thru a press. Mix the garlic, gochujang, soy, and sugar in a small bowl.

Cut the scallions, whites and most of the greens, into 3-4 ” lengths. Cut each piece lengthwise once or twice to get slivers. Set a few lengths of green aside for garnish.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. It’s hot enough when a small shred of scallion starts sizzling in a few seconds. Add the scallion white and fry, stirring, for a minute or two. Add the green parts and continue frying, stirring, until all is browned. Remove to a paper towel on a plate (chopsticks are great for this task).

Pat the eggplant dry with paper towels–do not rinse. Heat oil again over medium-high and add the eggplant cut side down. Cook until starting to brown, then cook for a few more minutes until starting to soften. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the gochujang mixture. Cook while stirring and flipping the eggplant until the sauce is bubbling, reduced, and just starting to caramelize. Remove to a platter, scatter the fried scallions on top followed by the reserved garnish. Can be served warm, at room temp (my fave), or right out of the fridge.

Note: If your skillet is not large enough to hold all the eggplant in one layer, fry it in two batches then combine in the pan and proceed with the saucing.

Gamja salad (Korean potato salad)

Posted October 7, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Sides, Vegetarian

Tags:

You would never guess that this is Korean from the ingredients, but it is a regular part of banchan, the small snacks served with meals at Korean restaurants. Korean or not, it is a nice variation on potato salad that would not be out of place at a 4th of July picnic alongside ribs and burgers. It’s traditionally served in mounds created with an ice cream scoop, but that’s not necessary of course.

1 large russet potato
1 English (Kirby) cucumber
1/2 medium red onion
1 medium carrot
1 large egg
1/3 c mayonnaise
1 tsp white sugar
2 tsp rice vinegar
salt and black pepper

Halve the cucumber lengthwise and remove seeds. Cut into 1/4 inch cubes.

Finely chop the onion into pieces about the size of a raw lentil.

Cut the carrot into thin strips with a peeler.

Peel the potato and cut into 2 inch chunks.

Mix the cuke and onion with 1 tsp salt and set aside. Cook the potato in boiling water until soft. Hard boil the egg. Drain and cool the potato, cool and peel the egg.

Chop the egg roughly and put in a medium bowl. Add the potato. Mash together with a fork or, even better, a pastry blender. You do not want it perfectly smooth, some small lumps should remain.

A handful at a time, squeeze the cuke-onion mixture to remove excess water, then add to the bowl. Add the carrot shreds, mayo, sugar, vinegar, and a few grindings of pepper. Mix to blend and taste for salt, adding if needed.


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