Monday, September 01, 2008

Asian Night Recipes

Last night was another Asian night (and I got so busy I totally forgot pics again...I swear, I need a second brain. I wonder if the Scarecrow has a spare).

First -- a HUGE thank you to Karen for telling me about Fresh Market. Finally a market that has neat, cool, unique ingredients. I found the butter lettuce that makes for good Asian wraps. I also found all kinds of cool organic things. Apple chips (yummy!), neat cheeses and ready-made meats for later meals. Also SO MANY COOL mushrooms and other things. My only wish was that the market was larger like a Whole Foods. Sigh. I just need to move to California or something ;-).

Here are my tips first for making this kind of meal easier:

1. Assemble all ingredients first (I lay the ones I need for each recipe on top of the specific recipe)
2. Serve family style. My family LOVES wraps, but likes to make their own, so I got a HUGE platter, and put a variety of wrap stuffings on the round platter:
a. julienned carrots
b. cilantro
c. rice noodles (these could NOT be easier to cook; immerse in hot water for two minutes, drain; these are available in the Asian section in most markets. I cut them into smaller pieces to make for easier handling)
d. green beans
e. lettuce
f. diced peanuts (I have a Braun hand chopper/blender. The best thing ever)
(you can put anything else you want on there: cucumbers, mint, water chestnuts, zucchini...we just added whatever we had)
3. Make individual dishes of dipping sauces. I picked up small dishes at a yard sale. I actually found real Asian ones from an Asian home (I'm not going to try to guess if she was Chinese or Burmese or what) that are just BEAUTIFUL. That way, everyone has their own and no one gets all sloppy.
4. Don't be afraid to use leftovers. My chicken was from last night's dinner (did that little pic, BTW, with the Snipping Tool from Windows Vista). I made a new steak recipe, but used up some of the leftover chicken.
5. Don't be daunted by unusual ingredients. I made Pad Thai, and that calls for Tamarind Paste. Go to an Asian market and bring your ingredient list. They are more than willing to help. (FYI, Tamarind Paste is AKA Thai Fruit Paste. :-)

Here's what I made, BTW: Pad Thai, from the Everything Thai Cookbook (VERY GOOD. This is a great cookbook). The beef from Emeril's Beef Lettuce Wraps ( have you watched Emeril Green? It's a really good show, and probably my favorite Emeril show ever.). And I made the sauce from PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps. I could eat that sauce on EVERYTHING. I added, as the reviewers suggested, hoisin sauce (I doubled the recipe, so I added two tablespoons of Hoisin).

We had chicken and the orange steak, then the bibb lettuce and all those fillings, and the PF Chang's sauce. Plus the Pad Thai. VERY yummy. VERY healthy. Considering we had gone to Cold Stone Creamery for lunch (ice cream there anything better?) then the movies in the afternoon and had fattening popcorn when we'd seen "The Longshots" (it was good; if you are looking for a feel-good family movie, with minimal cursing, and a nice message, this was nice. Sort of "Pursuit of Happyness"-ish. I teared up at the end. And it's a true story. Good on all points), that made our dinner that much better.

Okay that was A LONG sentence. I'm breathless. Anyway, the light dinner was a nice touch.

Today's a family barbecue. Back to the fattening food. I'm making balsamic vinaigrette wings and yesterday's eclair dessert. :-)

Have a great Labor Day!


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