Sunday, April 26, 2009

Easy Thai Red Curry

For this
Weekend Herb Blogging WHB#180 - April 20th to April 26th hosted by The Crispy Cook, I'm submitting one of my favorite curry recipes. I learned it from two Thai doctoral students (An and Arnuson) when I visited Hokkaido, Japan a couple of years ago. They made green curry (Taste of Thai brand) and served it with flat noodles. When in a pinch, they said it's fine to use red curry paste and serve it on steamed rice instead. Chaowana, another Thai friend receives a regular supply of curry paste and Tom Yum Soup mix (both Lobo Brand) from her mom in Thailand. The curry paste already contains lemon grass, red chillis, garlic, galangal ginger and kaffir lime). Super easy and it works!

Here's the recipe:
1 Tbsp red curry paste

1 tsp canola oil
1 can coconut milk

1/2 cup sliced yellow squash

1/2 cup sliced eggplant

1/4 cup red bell pepper, sliced thin

1 chicken breast, sliced thin across the grain

1 bunch Thai basil leaves
(optional-can sub with green onions)

In a small pot, heat canola oil and stir fry red curry paste for 1 minute. Stir in coconut milk and let the mixture simmer. Add yellow squash, eggplant and bell pepper. When the eggplant has cooked, increase heat so that the mixture boils. Add chicken slices and basil leaves. Let the chicken cook through, remove curry from heat and adjust seasoning (with fish paste/ salt) according to your taste before serving. Yum!


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hibachi Style/ Teppanyaki Dinner at Tokyo Garden

After church we decided to go out with friends to Tokyo Garden for a hibachi style (grilled)/ teppanyaki dinner. We go there at least once a year. This time there were 17 of us. Entertainment is part of the dinner so it's a fun experience specially if there are kids around. When we got settled, the waitress took our orders for drinks and entrees then passed around hot, steaming white towels
using a pair of tongs. We used this to clean and refresh our hands. In Japan, some guests would use the towels to refresh their faces as well after an exhausting day at work.

We were served a dark, rich onion soup along with cold lettuce salad topped with a ginger-mayo dressing. The soup was delicious, the salad was amazingly refreshing and the dressing was spot on! The dressing is supposed to be a secret recipe...maybe someone out there can show me how to make that dressing...

Our chef then rolled his cart full of sauces and ingredients for our dinner.
First, chef made sure he got all our entree orders right. He asked us to choose our dipping sauces--garlic butter, mustard or ginger. But of course, I asked for two portions of garlic butter!! The food performance began with chef displaying his juggling skills with cooking utensils. The fun part was about to come.... before each teppanyaki dinner ("teppan" refers to the griddle or hot plate; "yaki" means to grill), the chef would typically flame up the table-sized aluminum hotplate. Chef squirted clear liquid (probably vodka or some kind of alcohol) on the teppan/ hotplate and lit it...bursting into a spectacular flame! I believe the flame adds not only drama but also "wok hai" flavor to teppanyaki cooking. It was so hot, sometimes I wonder if chef's eyebrows sometimes get singed at least once each evening!!

"Japanese spaghetti" was the first thing chef prepared on the teppan. Butter was slathered on cooked spaghetti then "Japanese ketchup" (soy sauce) and "Japanese tinker bell" (pepper) were added. It was served to everyone with a liberal sprinkling of sesame seeds. Then, it was time for egg acrobatics-- egg was rolled on the teppan, flipped several times into the air with a metal spatula and finally a whack in midair to break it. Broken egg shells were pushed to the side and chef added butter to cook the egg for the Japanese fried rice.

For individual entrees, chef laid out meats on the teppan to cook - chicken, then salmon and steaks. Entertainment came in the form of an erupting onion volcano. Onion rings were stacked
in the middle of the teppan to resemble Mt. Fuji. After a generous squirt of alcohol, chef lit it and doused ketchup, teriyaki sauce and pepper for the bubbling lava and fireworks effect---very exciting and a hit even for us grown-up kids!! I strongly suspect one of the first criteria to become a teppanyaki chef is to be a pyromaniac! Our fire bug chef later cut up the onion volcano for the veggie stir-fry and served it with meat entrees.

Finally, I must say my salmon and steak combo was excellent-- succulent and perfectly cooked!!

Everyone was completely satisfied and enjoyed the dinner....that is.... until the bill came!!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tofu and Veggie Nabe

Growing green onions in my garden year-round provides me a consistent supply of fresh and organic green onion leaves anytime I need it. Snipping a couple of leaves is sufficient for most of my cooking and allows the onions to grow indefinitely even during the cold months. For this Grow Your Own # 27 Blogging, I’m making use of green onions from my garden. I’m submitting this easy one-pot dish, made by simmering tofu and veggies in a dashi broth* (made with kelp and bonito flakes) seasoned with sugar, soy sauce, mirin and sake. This dish is comforting and pretty simple to prepare. Here's the recipe:

Tofu and Veggie Nabe

2 cups dashi broth
3 Tbsp sugar
5 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp mirin
2 Tbsp sake or Chinese rice wine
2 shitake mushroom, sliced
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 bundle glass noodles, softened in warm water for 10 minutes
1 stalk green onion leaves
5 leaves Napa cabbage
1 bunch chrysanthemum leaves (or substitute with watercress)

Simmer dash broth, sugar, soy sauce, mirin and sake over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, carrots, softened glass noodles, green onions, tofu, Napa cabbage and chrysanthemum leaves and simmer 5-10 minutes over low heat till the carrots become tender, just don’t overcook the veggies. Adjust seasoning before serving, if needed.

*. I just buy dashi broth or you can prepare it yourself if you can find kombu kelp and bonito flakes in the Asian store. To make dashi: Soak 4 inch strip of kombu kelp in 3 ¼ water for 1 hour then simmer over low heat. Take out kelp just before water boils. Add ½ cup bonito flakes and turn heat to low. Simmer broth for 30 seconds, remove from heat and strain

Saturday, April 11, 2009

NTBMO dinner

I was doing some spring cleaning, going through the kitchen cabinets, fridge, etc that I have not been able to post at all. Finally got it all done on Monday then I got to baking pizzelles, whole wheat crackers and almond crisps. Due to the holy days, Hubby's on the road almost 6 hours a day this week so we decided to have a NTBMO dinner at our place. We invited our friend Ron who lives about 40 miles away to join us. Despite my full schedule, it was not really difficult as I decided to prepare entrees I can just bake in the oven overnight or leave in the crockpot till the morning. We had slow-roasted brisket, Hungarian goulash, chicken salad, mixed salad greens, buttered corn and green beans, fruits and ice cream for dessert. I planned on making a delicious mango cream pie I prepared two weeks ago but I did not find the fresh mangoes at the store so I just stopped by Braums and got Vanilla and Pistachio Almond Ice Cream. We had Steinberg Red Wine and Sparkling White Grape Juice we've been saving since October after a delightful wine tasting at Stone Hill Winery in Branson, MO. It was a no fuss dinner, surprisingly simple and easy to prepare. Maybe we'll host one again next year.

P.S. As I started posting pictures, I realized
I forgot to take a picture of the goulash! It's our new favorite beef dish and I will be making it again soon. Hubby got it from his colleagues at work during their cultural orientation. More on that later...