Travel Eats

Entries in Asian (11)


The River Ran Through It

 Pom Diggity rocking the custom raincoat.

You can find anything on Google, including "small dog raincoat pattern."  PEPCO set the bar high during Hurricane Sandy, and we only lost power from 2130-0330.  I got rid of two frozen pizzas for dinner, and none of our food went bad.  We didn't even need to dig into the emergency food supplies (AKA Halloween candy).  I am sincerely sorry for our NYC friends and hope they can bounce back in time for the NYC Marathon this coming weekend.  When I was in elementary school we lived on Guam and weathered Supertyphoon Pamela in 1976.  We lived on the Naval base in a cinderblock house with metal jalousie windows.  We "sheltered in place" in the 150 mph winds, and some friends who lived on their sailboat stayed with us.  When they went to check on the boat during the eye, it had already sunk.  We were without power for two weeks, no phone for a month, and ate most of our meals at the mess hall.  The typhoon hit in the middle of May, but we never went back to school that year.  Since my sister and I were 8 and 10 years old at the time, we remember it as being a lot of fun.  We didn't rely on electronic entertainment like the kids these days, and ran around in packs playing kick the can and hide and seek.  We didn't worry about  the 6 lb. of frozen shrimp in the freezer or that the sump pump needs electricity to keep your basement dry.  We didn't lose friends or loved ones to falling trees or a small business to flooding.  I am grateful that we dodged another bullet this week.  Sophie is glad that Halloween wasn't ruined.

 Bent, but not broken, the persimmon tree clings stubbornly to its unripe fruit, not pictured is the small stream that ran through the backyard.

I am going to stop hoarding the shrimp.  Here is some of it in a bowl of khao soi, I modified from a recipe I found in "Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet".

2 cans coconut milk (scoop 1/2 cup of the thicker milk off the top of the first can, stir the rest)

1.5 TBS red curry paste

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp turmeric

1 TBS sugar (I used turbinado)

3 TBS fish sauce

2 TBS lime juice

kosher salt

canola oil

1 lb. chinese egg noodles

1 lb cooked shrimp

cabbage (recipe follows)

Mix garlic/curry paste/turmeric and a big pinch of salt in a small bowl.  Heat ~1 TBS oil in a wok over med-high heat, stir fry curry paste mixture for ~1-2 min til fragrant, then add the 1/2 cup of thick coconut milk and cook until the oil is released and the mixture thickens slightly.  Add the remainder of the coconut milk, 1 cup water, sugar and fish sauce.  Simmer vigorously for ~10 min.  You could cook your shrimp in the mixture if you like.  I didn't only because they were frozen with shell on.  In the meantime, cook and drain the noodles.  Remove curry soup from heat and add lime juice.  Put noodles in bowl and top with soup mixture/shrimp and cabbage.


1 head Savoy cabbage, cored and cut into ~1 inch chunks

canola oil


rice wine vinegar

Stir fry cabbage over med-high heat in a wok, salt to taste as you cook.  The cabbage should be wilted slightly with browning.  Splash a few tablespoons of rice wine vinegar into the cabbage to deglaze pan and cover to keep warm while soup is being prepped.


Summertime, time for a snack and a drink

                      Mise en place: French for "get your sh!t together"

Once you have your ingredients ready, you are minutes away from eating fresh summer rolls. Sophie was truly fascinated by the rice paper wrappers as they changed from a "plasticky" disc into a translucent, soft wrapper.  Not fascinated enough to allow me to put shrimp in them unfortunately.

This stack of summer rolls took us less than 30 minutes to make.  Keep wrapped tightly and you can bring some for lunch the next day.

See through!  Bibb lettuce, sliced scallions, cilantro, cucumber, bell pepper, carrots--you can also use some cooked rice noodles as filling.  We skipped them because we were saving room for a giant slab of grapefruit tiramisu. 

Serve with sweet chili dipping sauce.  If you are wondering what that beautiful pink drink in the background is, here is the recipe:

Grapefruit Campari Sparkler

1-2oz grapefruit syrup (find recipe in grapefruit tiramisu post)--adjust for how sweet you want your drink

1 oz Campari

Soda water

Fill tall glass with ice and pour syrup and Campari over.  Top with soda water, stir.


A Multicultural Week

                                                    The whole enchilada

After a fun day at Siclovia, Sophie's choice for dinner this past Sunday was enchiladas.  I must admit to purchasing the enchilada sauce and not making it myself.  Luckily when you live in Texas, store bought sauce doesn't mean Old El Paso.  We had some leftover butternut squash so I threw that in--basically you can roll whatever you want up into a tortilla, cover with sauce and cheese and call it a day.

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken/turkey/what have you

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 large bell pepper

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

Fresh herbs--you could use cilantro, but I used Mexican oregano because a certain coworker hates cilantro

1 can enchilada sauce (I used La Victoria--you know when the label is in Spanish it's got to be good)

corn tortillas, and no, you cannot substitute flour tortillas because we are not making burritos

2 cups cubed butternut or other winter squash, roasted and cooled

2 cups queso fresco, crumbled

olive oil

Cut pepper and onion into 1/2" dice and saute until onion is translucent and the pepper is softened but not mushy.  Add minced garlic and saute briefly until garlic is aromatic but not burnt.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I made these very mild in deference to my audience, but you could always add a poblano or jalepeno to the vegetable saute to increase the heat.  Remove from heat and place in large bowl.  Add chicken/squash/2 TBS chopped fresh herbs/beans/and 1/2 of the cheese.  Mix well.  In a saute pan heat enchilada sauce until hot but not boiling.

Spray a 9X13" pan with cooking spray.  Dredge your corn tortilla briefly in sauce, fill and roll.  Place seam side down in prepared pan.  Continue in this fashion, packing enchiladas close together.  Top with remaining sauce and cheese.  At this point you can wrap pan with foil and freeze.  If you are ready to eat immediately bake at 350F until lightly browned and bubbling.  You can also bake them directly from the freezer--Just bake x 45 min with foil on top, then remove foil and bake an additional 15-25 minutes. 

Sophie's second request was "some kind of noodle dish." We made japchae and pad Thai.

                                           Just like Thailand, minus the $5 foot massage

Sophie's first trip to Thailand involved her eating a lot of spaghetti Marinara.  She did try a coconut drink, and spent the last day of the trip close to a toilet.  Thank goodness for the corner pharmacy where you can buy some nice broad spectrum antibiotics over the counter.  This pad Thai, while possibly safer than the street food version, only begins to approach its deliciousness.  You will need some obscure ingredients which you can find at a good Asian food market

1/2 cup fish sauce--yes, it smells like fish, but don't worry it mellows out with the addition of other ingredients.  Do no substitute or you will be disappointed

1/2 cup palm sugar

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 cup tamarind concentrate

1 small Thai chili, sliced (if you want it hot)

3 cloves garlic, minced

Combine in a saucepan and cook until sugar dissolves.  This is your sauce.  You can put in a glass jar in refrigerator and use as needed.  This makes enough for about 4 oz. rice noodles.

3 scallions, sliced into 1" pieces, including green part

2 cloves garlic

3 large carrots cut into thin matchsticks,  I used a julienne peeler which was perfect

2 shallots, thinly sliced

oil for frying

cooked meat of your choice (I used leftover beef from jap chae)

one egg

4 oz. flat rice noodles

for garnish: sliced limes/cukes/cilantro; crushed peanuts

Boil noodles for ~5 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water and use scissors to cut into manageable lengths--you will be stir frying which will cook the noodles a bit more. 

In a wok or large frying pan heat oil over medium heat.  Stir fry shallots until translucent, then add carrots and garlic, cooking til carrots are softened but not mushy.  Add green onions and cook ~ 1 minute.  Add noodles and cook for ~ 1 minute--you may need to add a little oil at this point to prevent them from sticking.  Add 4 TBS sauce and cook til noodles are coated.  Add you meat and cook til heated through.  If you are using uncooked meat, begin by cooking meat in wok, then proceed to shallot step.  Push noodles to side and crack one egg into pan, scrambling with your spoon.  Mix well and add more sauce if necessary.  Garnish.  Squeeze lime over all and enjoy.

Photos and recipe for jap chae, we used baby bok choy instead of spinach and it was excellent.


Faux Pho

We are a family of noodle lovers.  We have stood in line outside many a ramen shop.  We have had noodles in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and Korea.  Seemingly simple, the humble bowl of noodles usually belies the care that went into producing it.  Tonkotsu ramen, our favorite kind, has a broth that requires hours and hours of cooking--distilling the porky/fatty goodness from the bones.  Kal-guksu, literally knife-cut noodles is the Korean version of grandmother's chicken noodle soup with handmade noodles.  Pho with its layered flavors of cinnamon, basil, anise has become another favorite, and more accessible than ramen here in Central Texas.  

On a Friday night after spending nearly an hour getting home, even the 20 minute drive to the local Vietnamese restaurant seemed painful.  So we improvised using some jarred Tom Kha paste, chicken broth and rice vermicelli.  Topped with cilantro, lime basil, scallions and just a touch of sambal olek.

Chopsticks optional but recommended. 


More Asian Adventures


 Chinese noodles, Thai soup base, bok choy and patty pan squash.  Literally a melting pot of goodness.  Finding the Thai basil plant at the farmer's market gave me sustainable Thai flavor for as long as I remember to water it.  Time to make soup!  

 The key ingredient--Tom Kha paste, turns mere water into a broth that would have required a list of unobtainable ingredients and Thai ancestry.  Directions are vague on Asian foodstuffs--put two spoonfuls into 3 cups of water.  Two tablespoons?  On the noodles....bring water to boil, add noodles and when it boils again add a cup of cold water, when it boils again they should be done, this should take 6-7 minutes.  I just boiled the damn things for 7 minutes and taste-tested.  The noodles should be boiled separately from the soup and added to the hot broth or your soup will be cloudy. 

 Chop up some bok choy and patty pan squash and add to the boiling soup base along with a branch of Thai basil.  Reduce heat to a simmer until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Place noodles in a bowl and ladle broth on top. 

Add a squeeze of lime and garnish with fresh Thai basil. 

Use chopsticks for authentic Asian experience.