Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Simple Lettuce & Tomato Salad with Balsamic Dressing

Balsamico di Modena
The last time our grandson, Mayz, had dinner with us we had salad and I asked him if he'd like ranch dressing in his salad and he said he really liked balsamic dressing. So I made a very simple balsamic dressing today that was inspired by him. It tasted much better than store-bought dressing and took less than 5 minutes to prepare. It was a hit at dinner tonight!

Ingredients: (serves 3)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tsp. sugar (or to taste)
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
pinch of salt
Romaine lettuce, torn in bite-sized pieces
1 beefsteak tomato, cut in bite-sized pieces

  1. Dissolve sugar in balsamic vinegar.
  2. Beat with EVOO and salt.
  3. Drizzle over lettuce and tomatoes & toss to dress.
Serve chilled.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Fresh Spring Rolls Stuffed with Chicken Salad

Fresh Rolls with Chicken Salad
These fresh rolls are so versatile, quick and easy that, for right now, I'm hooked on them! The chicken salad was actually made for sandwiches. However, the rice paper was begging to be used and we had 3 heads of romaine lettuce in the refrigerator, and this was much quicker than toasting bread, etc.

Chilled Chicken Salad
I had made the chicken salad and refrigerated it right after breakfast, so when the rolls were made, they were nice and chilled because the lettuce also came straight out of the refrigerator. The best part of this recipe is that there is no cooking involved, whatsoever!

1 (16 oz.) pkg. deli rotisserie chicken slices, cut in long strips and diced
4 Tbsp. Hellman's real mayonnaise, mixed with
   1 Tbsp. rooster brand sriracha sauce
1 white onion, minced
2 stalks celery, sliced lengthwise several times and diced crosswise
1 large tomato, minced
1 Thai red chili, diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
salt to taste

4 rice papers, run under the tap to soften and blotted on paper towels
4 romaine lettuce leaves, split down the middle

sweet chili sauce for dipping

  1. Line a plate with 2 paper towels.
  2. Mix first 8 ingredients together and set aside
  3. Soften each rice paper by making several passes under running water.
  4. Blot rice paper on each side on paper towels. 
  5. Lay lettuce on lower half of rice paper and top with 2 Tbsp. chicken salad.
  6. Start rolling tightly from bottom of rice paper, covering lettuce and stuffing completely.
  7. Roll once, tuck in both sides and keep rolling all the way up.
  8. Repeat steps 3 to 7 for remaining 3 rice papers.
  9. Slice in half for presentation and serve with sweet chili sauce.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Laksa Soup with Minced Chicken Stir-Fried With Hoisin Sauce

Chicken Laksa Soup & Fresh Spring Rolls
My last post described how I made the fresh spring rolls. The two bowls of chicken laksa soup, pictured above, were made with ramen noodles the same way as Shrimp Laksa Noodle Soup. This tasted better than my Ohno Khaukswe, according to my husband. 

Ingredients: (serves 2)

Noodle Soup
1 pkg. Dollee Creamy Curry Laksa Noodles
1 cup carrots, peeled & julienned
1 medium tomato, diced
1 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp sesame oil
4 cups chicken broth
1 Thai red chili, diced (optional)

Stir-Fried Chicken
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) ground chicken
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
1 can water chestnuts, minced
1 tsp. garlic paste
2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 tsp. oyster sauce
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
2 stalks green onions

Garnishes: served separately in ramekins 

deep-fried onions
deep-fried garlic
slivers of white onions
grated fresh coconut
chili-garlic oil
minced cilantro
minced green onions
dried red chili flakes
diced hard-boiled eggs
wedges of lime

  1. Stir-fry minced chicken & onions in hot vegetable oil until chicken is no longer pink.
  2. Add garlic paste, hoisin and oyster sauces, and water chestnuts, and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in sesame oil and sprinkle green onions over the chicken.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Bring noodle soup ingredients to a boil and cook noodles until soft for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Divide soup between 2 bowls, top with stir-fried chicken and choice of garnishes.

Fresh Spring Rolls with Minced Chicken Cooked in Hoisin Sauce

Fresh Spring Rolls
My big sister, Rene, taught me to make these fresh spring rolls.  They are easy to make if you place a lettuce leaf on the softened rice paper because the lettuce helps the roll keep its shape. 

Fresh Spring Roll Ingredients
These are made with minced chicken stir-fried with hoisin and oyster sauce. Note that no salt is added to the chicken because the oyster sauce is salty enough. They make a great, quick & easy lunch especially served with a soup such as my Minced Chicken Laksa Soup.

Ingredients: (makes 4 rolls)
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) ground chicken
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
1 can water chestnuts, minced
1 tsp. garlic paste
2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 tsp. oyster sauce
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
2 stalks green onions
4 sheets dried rice paper
1 cup cold water
4 Romaine lettuce leaves, trimmed to smaller than size of rice paper
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce for dipping

  1. Stir-fry the minced chicken & onions in hot vegetable oil until chicken is no longer pink.
  2. Add garlic paste, hoisin and oyster sauces, and water chestnuts, and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in sesame oil and sprinkle green onions over the chicken.
  4. Remove from heat and bring to room temperature.
  5. Pour cold water into a flat dish and line a plate with a paper towel.
  6. Slide a rice paper into the water, wetting both sides of the rice paper.
  7. Blot each side of the rice paper on the paper towel, making sure to handle the rice paper gently so it doesn't tear.
  8. Lay a lettuce leaf on the softened rice paper along with 1 Tbsp. chicken.
  9. Roll two opposite sides of rice paper (left & right sides) over the filling and begin rolling tightly from bottom to top.
  10. Repeat steps 6 to 9 with other three sheets of rice paper.
  11. Serve with sweet chili sauce.
For a visual tutorial on how to make fresh spring rolls, watch this video posted on YouTube by Sav Le of EatNowCryLater.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Shrimp Laksa Noodle Bowl

Shrimp Laksa Noodle Soup
A new discovery at the Asian market produced the most fiery and delicious shrimp Laksa noodle bowl for lunch this afternoon. Curry Laksa is a Malaysian coconut curry soup with noodles which reminded me of the Burmese Oh Noh Khao Swe which is a coconut noodle soup made with chicken. I added shrimp to this Laksa.

Dollee Creamy Curry Laska Noodles
The package of noodles came with the noodle cake, along with 3 small packets containing laksa sauce, coconut powder and seasoning.

Product of Malaysia
It's a Malaysian product that was as easy to prepare as any Ramen noodle soup but ten times more flavourful. Laksa sauce is available in a bottle at the Asian market, so if this noodle packet is difficult to find, you could substitute your own ingredients to mimic this flavour. Here is a great step-by-step recipe.

In the Bowl
I added already peeled and deveined shrimp, chicken broth, julienned carrots, minced shallot, Thai red chili and diced tomatoes. A couple of hours after having a bowl of this soup, my ears are still burning pleasantly. Hubby said to warn you that even though it's delicious, it's fiery hot!

Ingredients: (serves 2)
1 pkg. Dollee Creamy Curry Laksa Noodles
12 large (31-40 count) shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 cup carrots, peeled & julienned
1 medium tomato, diced
1 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp sesame oil
4 cups chicken broth
1 Thai red chili, diced (optional)

  1. Marinate the shrimp in half the laksa sauce, shallots, sesame oil and tomatoes for 10 minutes.
  2. Bring remaining ingredients to a boil and cook noodles until soft for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp to noodles, stir well and simmer for another 2 minutes until shrimp turn pink.
  4. Divide between 2 soup bowls and serve immediately.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Burmese Kyazan Thohk - Bean Thread Vermicelli Noodle Salad

Burmese Noodle Salad
Similar to Htamin Let Thohk (Hand-Mixed Rice Salad), this salad is made with bean thread vermicelli noodles and is also mixed by hand.

Bean Thread Vermicelli Noodles
When these noodles are soaked in hot water and allowed to cool, they soften, turn from opaque to transparent and develop a crunchy bite. On their own, the noodles are tasteless which is why, after softening, I soak them again in a mixture of sauces so that the taste of the ingredients are distributed throughout the salad.

Hand-Mixed Noodle Salad
Ingredients: (serves 2)
1 pkg. bean thread vermicelli noodles
2 cups boiling water
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. fish sauce
½ tsp. vinegar
4 Tbsp. chili-garlic oil
1 (8 oz.) cup tamarind juice
1 tsp. chili powder
salt to taste
¼ cabbage or 1 Romaine lettuce, shredded
2 eggs, boiled & chopped
4 Tbsp. chickpea flour (besan), toasted
2 Tbsp. dried shrimp powder
1/2 cup deep-fried onions
1/2 cup deep-fried garlic
2 limes, cut in eighths

  1. Boil 2 cups of water, remove from heat, add noodles and soak until cool. 
  2. Drain noodles and mix with soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, chili-garlic oil and tamarind juice and set aside to allow flavours to permeate.
  3. Combine all ingredients (except eggs) and mix thoroughly by hand.
  4. Garnish with chopped eggs and serve.

Chicken Salad Burritos

Chicken Salad Burritos
There was a package of rotisserie chicken breast slices from the deli in the fridge and it was close to lunch time, so the quickest thing to do was make chicken salad sandwiches. 

Diced Ingredients
Any kind of cooked chicken works well in a chicken salad, but the tastiest probably would be to poach a fresh boneless chicken breast and chop that up. To the chicken I added half a Fuji apple, a red shallot, half a beefsteak tomato, a red chili, mayonnaise and salt. Everything was diced and placed at the ready.

Combine in a Bowl
The ingredients were all dumped into a mixing bowl and thoroughly mixed together.

Transfer to a Serving Dish
The salad was transferred to a serving dish and two tortillas were toasted in the toaster oven.

Fill the Tortillas
Two tablespoons of the chicken salad were placed down the center of each tortilla. The larger whole wheat tortilla is Hubby's preference, while I like a white flour tortilla.

Roll & Slice
The tortillas were rolled, burrito style, sliced down the middle and served. This was a light lunch that came together in a jiffy.

Ingredients (all diced except tortillas):
2 tortillas, toasted
1 (9 oz.) package sliced deli chicken
1/2 beefsteak tomato
1/2 Fuji apple
1 Thai red chili pepper
1 red shallot, peeled
4 Tbsp. Hellman's Real Mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Toast 2 tortillas and fill with 2 Tbsp. each chicken salad.
  3. Roll up like a burrito, slice each tortilla in half and serve.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Singapore Vermicelli Noodles

Singapore Vermicelli Noodles
This is one of my favourite dishes to order in a Chinese restaurant. It's usually made with very thin rice noodles (Mei Fun) but I decided to use toasted, golden-brown vermicelli (Sevai/Semiya) instead.

Creamy Coconut Milk Vermicelli: Shemai - Frying
Toasted Vermicelli
Toasted vermicelli is available at Indian markets and I like using the toasted variety to save having to toast it at home. The untoasted variety tends to turn to mush when cooked in water.

Curry Powder
Oriental Curry Powder
The main ingredient in Singapore noodles is curry powder & I prefer S&B brand because it is high in taste, flavour and aroma, but low in spicy heat. To beat the overpowering raw taste of curry powder, it's a good idea to boil it in chicken broth or water and to soak the vermicelli in this liquid. That way, the taste of the curry powder permeates into the pasta.

This is a one-dish meal that can be made in under 15 minutes and is a great lunch idea.

1 cup toasted vermicelli
8 oz. cooked shelled shrimp, shredded chicken or tofu for vegetarians
2 cups chicken/vegetable broth or water
1 heaping tsp. curry powder
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 large onion, sliced
1 + 1 green chilies, diced
multi-coloured sweet peppers, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
1 carrot, julienned
1 beefsteak tomato, diced
1 cup mung bean sprouts, tails removed

  1. Simmer curry powder in broth for 3 minutes and remove from heat.
  2. Soak vermicelli in this liquid until water is absorbed doubles in volume. 
  3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and saute garlic and 1 green chili.
  4. Add onions, peppers, carrots and tomatoes.
  5. Toss with salt to taste and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add vermicelli, along with soaking liquid, shrimp and adjust salt to taste.
  7. Turn heat down to medium, stir, cover skillet and simmer until liquid evaporates and vermicelli is cooked.
  8. Add bean sprouts and toss.
  9. Garnish with remaining diced chilies and serve immediately.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tangy Stir-Fried Spinach & Mushrooms

Faux Chin Baung Ywet
Food is such a nostalgic experience; this stir-fried dish brought back strong memories of our carefree childhood in Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon.

The True Roselle
In Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, we often had a naturally tangy spinach called Chin Baung Ywet or roselle leaves. The buds of the roselle shrub are sour and make a lovely chutney and jam/jelly.

Sorrel Herb
The closest taste to roselle that's available where I live in North America is sorrel, an herb, which looks like spinach but has a tangy edge to it. We're just now emerging from a frosty winter and sorrel is not in season, so I decided to use plain spinach and finished it off with the juice of one lime just before taking it off the stove. 

Sliced Mushrooms - 16 oz.
Sliced Mushrooms
This dish using roselle or sorrel is usually prepared with shrimp and it tastes exquisite, but I used a 16 oz. tub of sliced mushrooms instead. We also had some left-over french fries from our lunch, so I threw that in, too.

Stir-Fry the Mushrooms
Heated some extra-light tasting olive oil to a skillet and toasted a teaspoon of fennel seeds before added the sliced mushrooms. I like to stir-fry the mushrooms first to prevent them from releasing all their juices. 

Added Minced Garlic
When the mushrooms softened and began to brown, minced garlic was added to them.

Added Minced Onions
Minced onions, diced green chilies and salt were added to the mushrooms and garlic and stir-fried until onions turned translucent.

Tossed French Fries In
Tossed in the french fries and gave it another good stir.

Topped Off With Frozen Spinach
Added a 16 oz. package of frozen and chopped spinach and salt to taste, covered the skillet and allowed the spinach to cook over medium heat.

Garnished With The Juice Of One Lime
Once the spinach was browned around the edges, the juice of a whole lime was squeezed and stirred into it. Tasted wonderful with hot, steamed Basmati rice. Can also be served with any variety of Indian breads.

1 lb. frozen chopped spinach (do not thaw)
4 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 green chilies, diced (optional or to taste)
1 (16 oz.) tub of sliced mushrooms
1 potato, peeled & cut in strips
1 lime, cut in half
salt to taste

  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat & toast fennel seeds until golden-brown.
  2. Add mushrooms & stir-fry until all moisture (if any) have been released.
  3. Add salt, garlic, onions and green chilies, & stir-fry until onions soften.
  4. Add potatoes, salt to taste and frozen spinach, cover and cook over medium heat until spinach thaws.
  5. Stir well after spinach thaws, cover & cook over medium heat until spinach cooks.
  6. Squeeze lime juice over contents of skillet and transfer to a serving dish.
Serve with hot Basmati rice or any Indian bread.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Stir-Fried Bitter Melon & Eggplant

Karola Begun Bhaja

My trip to the Asian market a couple of days ago proved fruitful because I found a tray of already sliced bitter melons.They were of the Chinese variety which have a smoother and lighter skin than their subcontinental counterparts.

Sour Food Examples Chinese bitter melon
Chinese Bitter Melons

Smooth Gourd Bitter gourd seed amar tara
Subcontinental Bitter Melons

Chinese bitter melons are also less bitter than the subcontinental variety. The long and slender Japanese eggplants go so well when they are stir-fried along with bitter melons.

This dish is a common side served as a first course of a Bengali meal. It's so simple to make and is considered to be beneficial in lowering blood sugar levels. It tastes perfect with any form of Indian bread or steamed Basmati rice.

3 bitter melons, cut in half, deseeded and sliced
2 Asian eggplants, cut in half and sliced
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. whole Bengali 5-spice or panch phoron (equal proportions of fennel, nigella, fenugreek, cumin and mustard seeds)
salt to taste

  1. Toss both vegetables with salt to taste.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat and sputter 5-spice.
  3. Stir-fry bitter melon and eggplant slices until golden brown.
  4. Adjust salt and transfer to a serving dish.
Serve with chapatis or Basmati rice.