Posted by fourclankitchen on January 29, 2017
The cafeteria at work sells Vietnamese Spring rolls for a ransom. I thought it was time to switch to home-made ones and really, they are so easy to make and so versatile that they should be in your lunch rotation. You can use whatever you have in the fridge and scale up to any number of people you want to feed. Plus throw a couple of dipping sauces in. My favorites are peanut sauce and nuoc cham, the Vietnamese sweet chilli garlic sauce. For the Spring Roles, I am providing a list of what I consider to be essential ingredients, plus a list of other ingredients that you can pick from. I am providing no quantities, you can scale up and down as you wish. You can buy the peanut sauce and nuoc cham and you can easily find vegetarian versions of each. I am providing a version of nuoc cham that I obtained from the blog Cafe Sucre Farine and will post a recipe for peanut sauce another time.
Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham):
2/3 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs lime juice
1 tsp sambal olek (chilli sauce)
1-2 tsp cilantro stems, chopped fine
Spring Rolls (Essential Ingredients):
- Spring Roll Wraps (any size), available at almost all supermarkets
- Cilantro, finely chopped
- Fresh Basil Leaves, finely chopped
- Mint, Finely Chopped
- Firm Tofu, or substitute cooked shrimp/ left-over noodles, or simply add more avocados and bean sprouts. Anything that provides body will do.
- Roasted, unsalted peanuts, crushed
- Lettuce, finely slivered
- Bean Sprouts
- Carrots, shredded
- Radish, shredded
- Raw Mango, shredded
- Scallions, green parts, finely minced
- Serrano peppers, finely minced
- Teriyaki Sauce, Soy Sauce, Salt
- Purchase or prepare dipping sauce(s). For home-made Nuoc cham, mix all listed ingredients and you are good to go.
- Prepare the Tofu:
Cut the Tofu slab into 5 horizontal sheets. Heat oil in a frying pan and add the sheets. Cook on high heat for a few minutes till both sides are browned (see image). If you like, you can flavor the tofu with some teriyaki sauce as I did, or soy sauce or salt. Cool and cut into match-sticks (see image).
3. Prep all other ingredients and have them available.
4.Place warm water in a large pan large enough to submerge the Spring Roll wraps. A 9×13 baking pan works well.
5. Assemble the Spring Rolls:
- Submerge the Spring Roll wraps in the warm water till they soften and lose shape. This takes seconds
- Place the wrap flat on a cutting board.
- Place ingredients on the wrap leaving a 1.5″ border on three sides. Include the essential ingredients and any other ingredients of your choice from the optional list. Do not overstuff.
- Fold in the top and bottom and then the short side.
- Roll the wrap and gently press the edges. The edges will seal easily.
- Continue, till you are out of ingredients.
- Serve with dipping sauces.
Posted in Asian, baked, Breads, Breakfast, Brunch, Uncategorized | Tagged: Asian Dipping sauces, do it yourself lunh parties, entree salads, lunches to feed a crowd, Thai peanut sauce, Vietnamese food | Leave a Comment »
Posted by fourclankitchen on October 26, 2016
My mom made the best Indian pickles in the world. Before she died, I transcribed some of her recipes (minimal as they were) onto my iPhone Notes. Unfortunately, when I bought a new phone, these files did not survive and now these recipes are nothing but a memory on my tongue. So I was delighted to come across some recipes on the website called Indian Simmer. I adapted and annotated the simplest one and used the last of my garden’s serranos to make a pickle you can prepare in just a few minutes and eat within a few hours.
- 250 gm chili peppers, any combination. I used a mix of red fresno and serrano peppers, but Thai bird peppers are traditional and much, much hotter.
- 4 tbs. brown mustard seeds, coarsely ground in a coffee grinder.
- Generous pinch of Asafoetida (Hing). Skip if you cannot find it, but this is like fish sauce and adds a lot of umami, although it would taste awful if you placed a pinch on your tongue.
- 5-6 tablespoon oil, preferably mustard oil (this oil really lends the distinct Indian pickle flavor, but swap with other unflavored oils if you have to). There should be enough oil to fully coat the peppers. This is the second preservative.
- Salt to taste (1 used 3 tsp- this acts as a preservative, so don’t skimp.
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- 1/2 tbs. Lemon juice
- 1 tsp. Turmeric powder
- Stem the chillies and pulse them in a food processor to get smallish pieces (this will only take a few pulses) . You can also cut these by hand which is traditional.
- Place the chillies in a medium sized bowl and add salt. Dry brine the chillies for 1/2 hour (or longer).
- You can drain the water from the chilies if you want to reduce the heat after the brining.
- In a small bowl, combine the ground mustard, asafetida, oil, salt, sugar, lemon juice and turmeric powder. Mix thoroughly.
- Toss the spice mix with the chillies.
- Taste and adjust the salt and lemon to taste.
- Transfer the pickles to a glass jar. You should probably sterilize the jar or run it through the dishwasher.
- Let the pickles sit on the counter for a day and then store in the fridge. These should keep for a long time.
- The pickles will taste better after a few days, although they can be used right away if you cannot wait.
- The pickles will also lose some of their heat over time.
- These pickles can be used as an accompaniment to any Indian meal, but are also great on buttered toast, on eggs, you name it!
Posted in Asian, condiments, Indian Food, Uncategorized, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: achar, chilli pickles, condiments, mirch ka achaar, Pepper pickles, quick Indian pickles | 1 Comment »
Posted by fourclankitchen on November 28, 2015
Naan as anyone who has made a trip to an Indian restaurant knows is an Indian leavened flat bread (most Indian breads are unleavened). Given their high cost at the grocery store, I decided that I would try my hand at making these at home. I found a recipe that uses Indian whole wheat (atta) flour at a website called Monsoon Spice. While atta is technically a whole wheat flour, this variety of wheat has been bred over millennia to have very little bran and thus a relatively high glycemic index. Regular whole wheat is not a great option for naans either since it is tough-tasting and not at all delicate like a naan, typically made with all-purpose flour, is supposed to be. I had read some place that whole wheat pastry flour, which is whole wheat flour ground superfine, was a very good whole-wheat flour to use in breads, pizzas and even pastries (!) so I decided to give it a shot. I was very pleased with the naans this produced, very supple and delicate. So here is the recipe with a small number of adaptations from the original.
2½ cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour (I am guessing that this can also be substituted by whole what pastry flour)
¼ cup warm milk
¾ – 1 cup Yogurt (I used 1 cup)
1 packet Yeast
½ tbsp Sugar
¼ tsp Baking Powder
1-1½ tsp Salt
2 tbsp Oil
Warm water for kneading
Flour for dusting and rolling the naan.
Ghee/butter for frying and for brushing on top.
Toppings: anything you like. I used: Nigella seeds (kalonji), garlic & chopped cilantro.
1. Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm milk (110˚F).
2. Mix flours, baking powder and salt. Using a stand mixer with a dough hook, slowly add yogurt, oil and yeast. Add little warm water as needed. Continue to knead till you get a soft pliable dough, about 7-10 min. You can also make your dough in a high-end blender or food processor or you can knead by hand.
3. Make a smooth round dough ball and coat with a thin film of oil. Cover the dough with a cheese cloth or plastic wrap and keep it in a warm place for 1½ to 2 hours till the dough doubles in size. I turn my oven on at the lowest setting for 5 min and then turn it off and let the dough rise in the oven.
4. Punch down the dough to release air and divide it into 8-12 equal sized balls.
Cooking the Naan:
There are several ways to cook the naan: in the oven, on a grill and on a griddle on a stove top. The recipes for all of these are available on various websites. I used a Lodge cast-iron griddle on the stove as follows:
1. Heat the tawa/griddle till quite hot.
2. While the griddle is heating, roll or stretch the dough into a round or tear-drop shaped flat bread about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle your toppings and gently press them into the dough using a rolling pin. I pressed a few Nigella seeds on both sides.
3. Flip the naan and sprinkle a little water and place the water side down on the heated griddle. Cook for a minute or so until you see a few bubbles form and then flip. The naan should have brown blisters/spots on the side that was down.
4. Cook the second side for a minute or so as well. If desired, smear some ghee/butter to the top of the naan before serving.
Serve with curries, pickles or any Indian meal. Naans also make a great pizza base.
Flavoring/Tempering the ghee (tadka): Optional
As an alternative to smearing ghee alone on your cooked naan, you can temper the ghee with nigella seeds, minced garlic and cilantro and smear this concoction on the naan right before serving. Simply heat 2 tbs of ghee in a small sauce pan, add the nigella seeds, minced garlic and chopped cilantro till the ghee turns aromatic, a matter of few seconds. Take the ghee off the fire and your schmear is ready.
Posted in Asian, Breads, Breakfast, Brunch, Indian Food, Vegetarian | Tagged: middle eastern flat bread, naan pizza, noon, quick flat bread, stove-top naan, vegetarian | Leave a Comment »
Posted by fourclankitchen on October 17, 2015
This hot and sour soup by Boston chef Joanne Chang is the best I have had It is super quick and a very good weeknight meal. I made some changes to it, mainly because of what I had on hand. The only major changes I made were to increase the garlic, add sautéed cabbage, reduce the vinegar and omit the salt.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 4 scallions, white and green parts, minced, plus more for garnish (I omitted because I did not have it on hand)
- 8 ounces ground pork (you can use ground chicken or omit entirely)
- 4-5 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth (I used Better than bullion).
- 1 pound firm tofu cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- Half a head of cabbage shredded finely (the original recipe calls for 4 or 5 medium button mushrooms, sliced thin
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (I omitted, seems unnecessary)
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar, or to taste (the original recipe calls for 2/3 cup)
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoon Sriracha sauce, or to taste
- 2 large eggs
- White or black pepper for garnish
- cilantro for garnish
- In a saucepan, heat 1 tbs of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and pork and cook, stirring occasionally till the pork is browned. Break up the pork as you stir.
- Remove the pork etc from the pan. Add the remaining vegetable oil to the sauce pan and heat up. Saute the cabbage with a bit of salt at high heat, 3-4 min. till cabbage wilts and browns. Do not add too much water into the pan along with the cabbage or the cabbage will steam and taste mushy.
- Add the stock to the cabbage, then add the tofu and pork along with the garlic, ginger and scallions.
- In a small bowl, mix sugar (if using), vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, and Sriracha sauce and add to the soup.
- Bring the soup back to a simmer over medium-high heat. Taste the soup and adjust the flavors.
- In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. With the soup at a steady simmer, slowly whisk in the eggs so they form strands. Bring the soup back to a simmer. Ladle into bowls and garnish with scallion and cilantro. For a more substantial meal, serve on rice.
- Instead of adding the cabbage to the soup, I think it would work really well as a garnish.
Posted in Asian, Chinese, Main Dishes | Tagged: chinese food, low calorie foods, low carb, quick dinners, soup for dinner, spicy and hot | Leave a Comment »
Posted by fourclankitchen on April 19, 2015
I love the Asian chili garlic sauce because it goes with everything from a samosa, to noodles, to empanadas to a marinade for chicken or fish. It can make your whole day if you have this around. I have looked at a lot of these recipes and wanted to make one that did not have dried shrimp (I am allergic) or fish sauce. A common complaint about the home-made versions is that using corn starch just not give it the gel-like constancy of the commercially available sauces. To sort this problem out, I liberally adapted this recipe from the hot pepper jam recipe on the Kraft Sure-Jell website. I use only hot peppers, I added salt and I drastically reduced the amount of sugar. With the pectin being boiled with the peppers, this is a one-pot deal and literally takes 5-10 min to be ready.
I always make jams in small batches so I don’t have to be bothered with canning. I freeze whatever I don’t use and the frozen stuff seems to be good for a year or so. But if you make a larger batch, please play it safe and learn how to can from any number of websites.
1 cup chopped red, hot peppers (I used cascabels, but fresnos, serranos or jalapeños are other choices; if you cannot tolerate heat, substitute some of these peppers for red bell peppers).
1/2 cup cider vinegar (This really is part of the flavor so try to stick with this vinegar. I would guess that if you needed to substitute this, the best option would be rice vinegar or some other mild vinegar).
1 pkg. powder Fruit Pectin (I used Sure-Jell)
Salt to taste
2 cups sugar (or a little bit less)
1. Coarsely pulse your peppers in the food processor and place them in a medium sized pan. Add vinegar and salt. Stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly.
2. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam.
3. Taste and adjust the salt.
3. Ladle into clean jars. Let the jars sit on the counter for several hours. You will get 2 jars out of this. Put one in the fridge and the other in the freezer.
Posted in Asian, condiments, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: asian chili sauce, chicli sauce, chili garlic sauce, hot pepper jam, hot pepper jelly, small batch hot pepper jam | Leave a Comment »