Tag Archives: sugar

Thai Chicken Satay

13 Feb

thai chicken satay

The combination of flavors in the marinade here seemed strange to me at first (coconut, turmeric, sugar, and coriander?), but I decided to roll with it because I really trust the recipe source (the great She Simmers which not only has fantastic authentic Thai recipes but also appeals to the linguistics nerd in me with the lovely accompanying information on Thai pronunciation and etymology). I’m glad I did because this chicken satay was very easy to make, and the result was delicious on its own and completely addictive when served with peanut sauce and ajat. This would be great food for a party, especially if you get the grill going to cook the chicken on skewers (the traditional way). But since I couldn’t find skewers and don’t have a grill (and wasn’t feeding a crowd, besides), I pan-fried the chicken and found that worked just fine. Using high heat and cooking in batches was crucial to getting a nice char. I suspect you could also bake these, if you wanted, with a couple minutes of broiling at the end. And for those who don’t like chicken, this marinade can also be used on shrimp (shorten the marinating time to 5 – 10 minutes) or tofu (you might want to extend the marinating time).

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Thai Peanut Sauce

8 Feb

thai peanut sauce

I’ve long been enamored of Thai food, and that’s probably no surprise since it’s right up my alley in many ways – strong, bold flavors with no fear of spice, often filled with fresh vegetables and herbs, and, of course, delicious salty-sweet combinations. This sauce is a perfect example. It’s packed with flavor from a generous helping of Thai red curry paste, and the savory richness of peanut butter is well-balanced by sugar. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s also ridiculously simple to make and addictively tasty. The sauce can be thinned out with extra vinegar for a salad dressing, or used as is for dipping raw veggies. But, of course, it’s most amazing in its traditional use, alongside Thai satay (I’ll be posting a recipe for Thai chicken satay next week). The recipe makes quite a lot – enough for you to try it in a variety of applications, so long as you can resist eating up spoonfuls plain.

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Nam Pla Prik

28 Jan

nam pla prik

I’ve heard nam pla prik (also sometimes called prik nam pla) referred to as the “salt and pepper” of Thai food. Only instead of salt, it’s fermented fish, and instead of black peppercorns, it’s extra spicy Thai bird’s eye chiles. For garlic-lovers like myself, some slices of raw garlic are added to the mix. And a little sugar helps balance the fish sauce (although it can be safely left out, too). Something so simple really shouldn’t be as addictive as the resulting sauce is. The key is, of course, the main ingredient – fish sauce (the “nam pla” in nam pla prik). I know, I know, it sounds weird and smells weirder, but I’ve come to love this pungent sauce made from fermented, salted fish that’s crucially important to Thai cuisine (and other Southeast Asian cuisines as well). Like salt, it brings out the flavor of whatever it’s added to, but it also adds complex umami (savory) notes. The bird’s eye chiles (which can be replaced with jalapenos for a milder version) give the sauce a kick – and (like all hot peppers) have great health benefits, including the ability to speed up your metabolism and high levels of vitamin C. Along with being a natural pairing to Thai dishes, nam pla prik is amazing over rice (or quinoa), eggs, or even just fresh vegetables.

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Pickled Red Onions

2 Jan

pickled red onions

The hardest part of moving, for me, is adapting to a new kitchen. Here, I only have a two-burner electric stove and a tiny sink (far too small for the amount of dirty dishes I produce), alongside a small square of counter space. I’m doing my best to adjust my habits, planning ahead to make sure I’ll have a burner free and being extra strict about cleaning dishes as I go. But, unlike my last place, there’s a full-sized refrigerator, so I have room again to stock up on little goodies like these pickled red onions. The onions still have a crunch to them and retain some of their characteristically strong taste, but the bite is mellowed by vinegar and sugar, with hot peppers tossed in to add a lingering kick of spiciness. They’re surprisingly addictive, and I find myself reaching for them over and over, an amazing addition to salads and sandwiches and great complement to all sorts of beans and meats. I like how versatile their simple flavor is, fitting in with a variety of cuisines – anything from Mexican (perch them atop tacos) to Indian (use as a side to balance rich curries) to Greek (sprinkle on a salad with feta). Although my favorite might just be snacking on them plain, something I can’t resist doing any time I open the refrigerator and spy them.

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Roasted Cabbage with Soy-Glazed Shiitake Mushrooms

21 Dec

roasted cabbage with soy-glazed mushrooms

The past three months in Buenos Aires have been an exciting time for me – getting adjusted to a new city, learning Spanish, and settling into a new food routine (an amazing verduleria down the street for fresh, great quality vegetables when I feel like cooking and a cheap empanada place for when I don’t). But I’m taking a little break now from Argentina to check out Montevideo for a month. As I was preparing to leave, one of the main things I focused on was cleaning out my kitchen, and this recipe was great for the half head of cabbage rolling around in my refrigerator and the dried shiitake mushrooms sitting in the back of my cabinet. I’m already a big cabbage fan, but roasting cabbage just might be my new favorite preparation. As with most vegetables, roasting draws out the natural sweetness of cabbage and makes it easy to eat a lot of without even thinking about how healthy it is. I brushed the cabbage with sesame oil to pair with the Asian flavors of the shiitake mushrooms which are cooked in their soaking water along with soy sauce and sugar, boiling down to a flavor-packed glaze. Not a bad way to use up the last of some basics on my kitchen – now it’s time for me to start stocking up my new place.

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Momofuku Pulled Pork

21 Nov

momofuku pulled pork

It’s not often that a recipe comes along that I can eat for multiple days straight. I get easily tired of eating the same thing and am always craving something new – that question about, if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, leaves me feeling panicked contemplating the possibility. But despite the large quantity of pulled pork made by this recipe, taken from the menu of the famous New York restaurant Momofuku, I found myself wanting even more when I ran out (after 48 hours straight of using it in every meal). The recipe is deceptively simple (though, admittedly, requires some patience), with the shoulder rubbed with salt and sugar, then cooked for hours in low heat, and finally glazed with brown sugar at the very end. The result is moist, tender pork with an addictive salty-sweet crust – I can never resist the salty-sweet combination. For my first few meals, I ate this with a Korean spread reminiscent of how its served in the restaurant, alongside homemade kimchi, a scallion ginger relish (recipe included at the bottom of the post), thinly sliced cucumber, and leaves of butter lettuce (there’s also rice served in the restaurant, but I didn’t find it necessary here). But because the pork itself is so simple, there’s no need to stick to serving it Asian-style – I also had this on a salad with black beans, apples, blue cheese, and a red wine vinaigrette, as well as in a sandwich on crusty French bread. No matter how you serve it, this version of pulled pork is worth cooking up

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Ginger Mint Simple Syrup

14 Nov

ginger mint simple syrup

I love basics like this recipe. An infused simple syrup is a great building block that’s great to have in your refrigerator because even though it’s trivial to throw together, it makes it easy to add a gourmet touch. Suddenly, it’s no problem to make ginger mint lemonade or ginger mint iced tea. Or you can pour a little bit over a fruit salad to take dessert to the next level. And, of course, it’s the perfect addition to mixed drinks, a great foil for whiskey, gin, rum, tequila, or whatever your favorite spirit might be.

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Korean Cold Noodles and Vegetables

18 Jul

korean cold noodles and vegetables

I haven’t even finished posting recipes for food I cooked during the last heatwave, and DC is already in the grip of a new one. Yesterday, it reached 100 degrees for the sixth time this year, and we may very well have the seventh time today. This, after only having five 100-degree days in 2011 and four in 2010 – and 17 total in the entirety of 1993 to 2009. Weather, like food, is something I feel passionately nerdy about. And they go all so well together. Even in this time of air conditioning, I find myself gravitating towards weather-appropriate recipes. Although this recipe does involve using (a single burner on) the stove for the noodles, these refreshing cold noodles and vegetables, tossed in an amazingly flavorful sauce is another perfect dish for hot days. And in addition to being delicious, this plate packs a powerful visual punch. The vegetables are easily adaptable to whatever you happen to have around, and you can even omit the noodles, if you want – I had a simple meal of broccoli in this sauce one night, and it was still delicious. The original recipe calls for the Korean herb perilla, but I wasn’t able to find any (and admittedly, in this heat, I didn’t feel like exerting myself much in searching), and it was just fine without it. If you can find it, feel free to add it in. Hopefully, this recipe can help you stay nice and cool, however you decide to adapt it.

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Spicy Stawberry Fruit Roll-Ups

15 Jun

spicy strawberry fruit roll-ups

Earlier this week, I mentioned my trip to Istanbul and my newfound appreciation for Turkish food. As someone who loves spice, my favorite acquisition from my trip was a large bag of Turkish red pepper. An immensely flavorful twist on the crushed red pepper you may be more familiar with (and can use to substitute here), I’ve been taking any excuse to use it. Turkish red pepper is great with eggs or to add a little extra kick to dips or stews. But I’ve done something a little more unusual here. When I got back in town, strawberries were coming in season, tempting me at every turn, and I was determined to make homemade fruit roll-ups (often called “fruit leather”). As the strawberries were cooking down, I couldn’t resist throwing in a hefty portion of my new favorite spice, and the result was fantastic. Turkish red pepper isn’t too spicy, so there’s just a mild hint of spiciness at the end, a great complement to the perfect sweetness of in-season strawberries. I actually made a double batch of this recipe and left half as a sauce – amazing for stirring into yogurt, pouring over ice cream, or even adding a hint of sweetness to a salad dressing.

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Pickled Sugar Snap Peas

4 Jun

pickled sugar snap peas

Every year, I eagerly await the opening of the farmers market near me. The winter can drag on around here, those seemingly endless days when eating locally and seasonally feels impossible, when beets and greens are the best you can do. The farmers market doesn’t open until late May, but that first Sunday when I can stroll down the street (I’m lucky enough to live just a block away) and see the vendors open for business, I feel a great sense of excitement and relief. Excitement, of course, about all the fresh food and the summer season ahead of me, but also relief, as though only this truly cements that the warm weather is here to stay (until fall, at least). Although this market has great meats, cheeses, and baked goods, I always beeline first for the produce. Without a plan in mind, I was seduced by a pint of sugar snap peas, fresh from the vine and extra sweet. I knew I wanted something simple (and almost just ate them plain), to focus on the flavor of the peas themselves, and this pickle recipe was perfect. The sugar snap peas are the star of the show, their crisp sweetness complemented by the acidity of vinegar and flavored with garlic and chiles. I tasted them 24 hours after pickling and immediately regretted not having bought more sugar snap peas (I highly recommend doing the full recipe posted here – my batch was only about half). They’re the perfect little springtime snack.

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