Sunday, February 20, 2011

Why go out for Asian, when you can cook it in?!

My cousin and I had been planning to go out for sushi, but in the end thought it might be more fun to cook Asian in! My dad had been asking me to make sushi again and I wanted to take a stab at Pad Thai again. So I took a look through my little Chinese cookbook, looked through my sushi notes to refresh my memory on making that, searched around online to find an improved Pad Thai recipe to try out and sent my dad to the grocery store in search of rice noodles, a lime, pea pods and a few other key ingredients. I even tried making up a batch of scorpion bowls so we could have the appropriate fun drinks with our dinner!

Sunday Asian Night: Salad with a Carrot Ginger Dressing, Shrimp Parcels with a Peanut Hoisin Sauce, Lobster and Shrimp Sushi Rolls, and Vegetable Pad Thai

Carrot Ginger Dressing
1 large carrot (I used 8 baby carrots) - peeled and roughly chopped
2 TB red onion, minced
1 heaping TB of chopped fresh ginger
2 TB miso paste
2 TB rice vinegar
2 TB sesame oil
1/4 cup oil (not sesame oil, more basic/plain)
2 TB hot water

This salad dressing is very similar to the dressing on the salad you get at a Japanese restaurant with your sushi, which I love! It's also very simple - all you have to do is put all of the ingredients (except the 1/4 cup of oil) in a food processor and blend together well. Then at the end, add the 1/4 cup oil through the hole on the top of the food processor and add gradually while the processor is running. The salad part consisted of romaine lettuce, thinly sliced red onion, mushrooms, cucumber and diced tomato!

Shrimp Parcels with a Peanut Hoisin Sauce
Pork Gyoza - January 2010
Last time we had Asian Night I made a pork gyoza with wonton wrappers that came out so delicious (seen to left). This time I thought I would try something similar - but with shrimp and spring roll wrappers. This dish was a lot of work and didn't make very many parcels - which was okay since it was just the 4 of us, though I liked the pork gyoza better (which is comparing apples to oranges really). I had made peanut sauce for fresh spring rolls a couple weeks ago and had some leftover, so I just mixed in a bit more hoisin sauce and that made the dipping sauce for these shrimp parcels tonight.

Shrimp Parcels
1 egg white
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp sherry
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp hoisin sauce
8 oz. peeled, large cooked shrimp (I used about 20 shrimp, chopped)
4 scallions, diced
1/3 cup bean sprouts, chopped
1 mushroom, chopped
8 rice paper wrappers
oil (for frying)

1. Lightly beat the egg white, then mix in the cornstarch, sherry, sugar and hoisin sauce. Add the chopped up shrimp (make sure you took the tails off), scallions, bean sprouts and mushroom. Mix well.
2. Soften the rice papers by dipping them in a bowl of warm water, one at at time. Spread the rice paper wrap out on a clean work surface. Spoon a little of the shrimp mixture into the center of the rice paper and wrap the paper around the filling to make a secure parcel - almost like wrapping a burrito! Bottom first, then each of the sides, then top.
3. Heat about a cup of oil in a wok or wide saute pan until almost smoking - be careful the oil isn't too hot. Reduce the heat slightly, add the parcels in batches - I did 3 at a time. Fry on the first side for a couple minutes then flip each parcel over and cook for a quick 1-2 minutes more. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
4. Serve the warm shrimp parcels with the peanut hoisin sauce!

Rolling the lobster sushi rolls
Lobster and Shrimp Sushi Rolls
I'll have to do a separate entry next time I make sushi - and I will admit that I made quite a few mistakes this time around. Most importantly, I way overcooked the rice or didn't add enough water or something because I completely burned the bottom of the pan and layer of rice. Oops. The top layer of rice still worked okay though! I also accidentally wrapped one of the rolls with 2 layers of seaweed wrap that were stuck together, which made that roll kind of chewy. Another oops. I don't like buying a giant piece of sushi grade fish from the seafood market near my parents in NH because I always have so much left over. I'm always trying to come up with other solutions - crab meat, vegetarian or shrimp rolls. It was my father's idea to buy a whole lobster, take out the meat and make lobster sushi rolls. It seemed like an awful lot of work to me though - and I'd rather use lobster for another dish I think.

Vegetable Pad Thai
2 cups of chopped vegetables: broccoli, pea pods, red pepper, carrot, mushroom (any mixture of these)
1/2 cup bean sprouts
Thai Rice Noodles
Fresh Lime Wedges
1/3 cup Ground Peanuts
2 Scallions, chopped
3/4 cup defrosted large cooked shrimp
2 eggs, beaten

1 oz. tamarind paste*
2 TB fish sauce
2 TB sugar
2 TB rice wine vinegar
3 tsp. sesame oil
Any leftover peanut hoisin sauce you have from the shrimp parcels
2 TB soy sauce

*I never have this on hand, so I pureed 2 dried apricots, some lemon juice and a TB of prune juice together - and it serves as my substitute.

1. I've read tips over time for making pad thai. One - use a wok, it concentrates the heat better than a stir fry pan. Two - Have your ingredients all measured out in advance so that things don't burn in the wok while you chop ingredients. Three - Make your sauce in advance for the same reason!
2. Prepare the noodles according to the directions on the package. You just want to soak the rice noodles in hot tap water for about 25 minutes to soften them. They can soak while you prepare your ingredients.
3. For the sauce, simply warm and stir ingredients together over low heat on the stove.
4. Heat a few TB of oil in a wok until hot. Add your chopped vegetables and bean sprouts first. After these have cooked and are almost tender, spread the vegetables towards the edge of the pan and add the beaten eggs to the center. Let sit for just 30 seconds and then scramble/add them in to the rest of the vegetables.
5. Next you'll drain and add the soaked noodles, as well as the sauce. Stir around a bit - the more you let the noodles sit, without stirring them, the more they'll fry up and get that fried hard texture, so the noodles shouldn't be in the pan very long.
6. Add the shrimp at the very end (if you'd like), leaving the noodle and vegetable mix in the pan for a short time because the shrimp are already cooked and just need to be warmed really.
7. Add the pad thai to a serving bowl and top with ground peanuts, chopped scallion and lime wedges to garnish! Suggest to your guests that they take one of the lime wedges and squeeze over their portion - it adds a nice citrusy flavor to the dish!

Overall a great night with my cousin and I hope that she'll make the trek down to the city to visit me once I'm all moved in down there and not living near her in NH anymore!

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