Zoodles with Peanut Sauce

I bought a spiralizer at a school fundraiser yard sale for $1 and now that it is summer and zucchini is pleniful, it’s a perfect time to use it to make zoodles (zucchini noodles).

I haven’t had much luck with growing zucchini in my garden. This year, I planted some zucchini in a bucket on my deck and so far have only gotten 2 zucchini from it. They were kind of funky-looking, but tasted great as zoodles.

I have worked on perfecting my Peanut Sauce for years and I think I have finally nailed it. This stuff is great on all kinds of noodles (rice noodles, spaghetti, zoodles, etc…) and as a sauce for grilled chicken (think Satay) and Summer Rolls.

The Peanut Sauce recipe includes a paste made from a clove of garlic. This is an excellent tutorial on how to make garlic paste with a knife. This is how I do it:

Zoodles with Peanut Sauce

Special tool needed:  spiralizer

1 tablespoon (or less) of mild-tasting oil (I used canola)
4 medium-sized zucchini, ends trimmed, spiralized
1 carrot, peeled and grated
prepared Peanut Sauce (recipe below)

fresh cilantro
crushed peanuts

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spiralized zucchini and shredded carrots and cook, tossing often with tongs, until tender (but not mushy). Turn off the heat and add the peanut sauce to the zoodles. Toss to coat. Serve topped with fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts. Can be eaten warm or cold.

Peanut Sauce

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced and made into a paste with the side of the knife’s blade (see tutorial video above)
1 – 2 teaspoons sriracha
juice of 1/2 lime
warm water (about 1/2 cup)

Combine the peanut butter, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, garlic past, sriracha, and lime juice. Add water, a little at a time, until you reach a somewhat thick, but pourable consistency. You want it just so that it coasts the noodles but isn’t too thick or too thin. Refrigerate any leftover sauce.


Chicken Chop Suey

chicken-chop-suey

I don’t get take-out from Chinese restaurants often, but when I do, Chop Suey is one of my favorite menu items to order. Chop Suey usually consists of shredded veggies and a protein in a lighter sauce. It’s actually easy enough to make at home.

Chicken Chop Suey

2 handfuls of dried shiitake mushrooms (about 6 large or 12 small)

Sauce ingredients:
1/2 cup chicken broth
6 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins, sliced
1 small sweet onion, halved and thinly slivered
1/4 head green cabbage (Napa is great too), thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 8 oz can bamboo shoots, drained and julienned

Hot rice, to serve

Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water until rehydrated, about 20 minutes. Remove stems and thinly slice. Throw out the soaking liquid.

Mix together sauce ingredients and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok (or large skillet) over high heat. Add the sliced chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink. Empty into a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the wok with a paper towel. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok place back over high heat. Add the onion, cabbage, carrots, and celery and stir fry until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the bamboo shoots, reserved sliced shiitake mushrooms, and reserved chicken. Cook a few minutes longer. Add the sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened and the chop suey is heated through.

Serve with hot rice.


Kimchi and Chicken Stew

kimchi-and-chicken-stew

I like making Kimchi, but I usually make too much. Making a stew with the remaining Kimchi is a great way to ensure it doesn’t go to waste. I have made a Kimchi Stew using tofu, but I like this one made with chicken more. It’s even better the next day.

You will have to go to an Asian market (or Korean market) to find the Gochujang and Gochugaru. I’ve never seen these items in a regular grocery store. If you don’t want to make your own Kimchi, you can get it at the Asian market too. Get the fish sauce (I like Three Crabs brand) and the Chinese cooking wine there as well. These ingredients are essentials for many Korean or Asian recipes. Buy them and challenge yourself to use them.

Kimchi and Chicken Stew

5 dehydrated shiitake mushrooms
1 small onion, thinly slivered
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 cups your favorite kimchi
1 tablespoon Gochujang (Korean fermented hot pepper paste)
1 tablespoon Gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese cooking wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
salt and black pepper, to taste

Cooked rice, hot

Place the shiitake mushrooms in a bowl. Add enough hot water to cover. Soak until the mushrooms are soft, about 20 – 30 minutes. Remove the stems from the rehydrated mushrooms and slice thinly.

Heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and cook a couple more minutes, until fragrant.  Add the kimchi, Gochujang, Gochugaru, fish sauce, Chinese cooking wine, chicken broth, raw chicken, and the sliced rehydrated shiitake mushrooms. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the stew to a slight boil. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Taste, and season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with hot rice.


Vietnamese Cilantro-Chile Sauce (Nuoc Mam Ngo)

Nuoc Mam Ngo

This sauce is amazing! It’s sour, sweet, herbaceous, pungent, salty, and spicy. So flavorful. It is a perfect example of what I love about Vietnamese food.

Nuoc Mam Ngo

This sauce is versatile. It can be used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls as well as a sauce for grilled chicken, beef, pork, fish, or shrimp. I served it with grilled chicken atop rice vermicelli noodles and spring rolls. So good.

Bun

It’s a spicy-hot sauce, but you could control the heat by using mild jalapenos. I used one serrano and one jalapeno and it was hot, but not too hot.

If you do not have a mortar and pestle, you could surely make this sauce in a food processor or blender.

Vietnamese Cilantro-Chile Sauce (Nuoc Mam Ngo)

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 2 chiles, stems removed and chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 – 1/2 lime (rind and all), chopped (to taste)
1 tablespoon Vietnamese fish sauce

Add the chopped garlic and chiles to a mortar and use the pestle to pound them into a course paste. Add the sugar and cilantro and pound until smooth. Add the chopped lime and pound with the pestle until liquefied. There will be chunks of lime rind. Stir in the fish sauce and let sit for at least 10 minutes for flavors to develop.


Beef and Broccoli

Beef and Broccoli

We almost never get Chinese food from a restaurant, mainly because most in our area do not deliver. In the past Chinese delivery was what I could fall back on when I was too tired to cook. Now, if I’m too tired to cook, I’m also too tired to drive somewhere to pick up something and hence, no Chinese food. I do get cravings from time to time. I have learned to cook some dishes commonly found in American Chinese restaurants. Beef and Broccoli is one of those dishes. It’s actually not terribly hard to make at home.

The key to being able to cook Chinese-style dishes at home is to have a well-stocked pantry and fridge. I adore a variety of Asian foods, so I have a pretty good collection of Asian ingredients. Soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine (rice wine) are essentials that I keep on hand at all times. I usually also have hoisin and/or oyster sauce too. I don’t always have fresh ginger (and it can be left out of this recipe). When I do buy ginger, I try to clean and mince the whole piece and freeze what I don’t immediately use for use in future recipes. This works well for me.

Serve Beef and Broccoli with hot rice. It’s great with cooked rice noodles too. You can also substitute the beef with chicken. It tastes great in this recipe too.

Beef & Broccoli

Beef and Broccoli

1 pound beef (sirloin, round, flank, London broil, etc…), trimmed of fat and gristle and thinly sliced (about 1/8-inch thick) and slice cut into 1-inch pieces

Marinade:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
1 tablespoon minced garlic

4 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 pound (approximately) broccoli, separated into bite-size florets
1 onion, slivered
1 bell pepper, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into “coins”

Sauce:
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Place the sliced beef in a bowl. Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour over the beef.  Let marinate for 1 hour at room temperature (or for longer in the refrigerator).

Mix the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Heat a wok (or large skillet), add 2 tablespoons oil, and add beef.  Stir-fry over high heat until just cooked through.  Remove from the wok and set aside.  Clean out the wok.

Reheat the cleaned wok over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil.  Add the minced garlic and ginger.  Stir-fry for about 15 seconds and then add the broccoli, onion, bell pepper, and carrot.  Stir-fry about 3 minutes.  Add the cooked beef and the sauce.  Cook, mixing constantly, until beef is heated through and the sauce begins to thicken.  Serve immediately.


Crockpot Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

Crockpot Tom Kha Gai

This is one of my favorite soups. It’s so flavorful. Traditionally, it is not done in the crockpot, but there is no reason why it can’t be. Cooking it in the crockpot is not only easy, but it allows for the flavors to meld as it cooks over several hours. It turns out fantastic! To make it a little more substantial, sometimes we will eat this soup over some cooked rice vermicelli noodles.

This recipe contains several ingredients that may not be easy to find in a regular grocery store. Use this recipe as an excuse to visit an Asian market. I cook so much Thai food that I tend to keep these ingredients on hand.

Galangal: I have rarely been able to find fresh galangal, but I have been able to find it frozen or dried at Asian markets. If you use dried galangal, don’t mince it, instead throw a handful of slices into the soup. Remove the galangal slices (as you would a bay leaf) before serving. If you are unable to get galangal, you may substitute ginger instead.

Galangal

Lemongrass: I am able to find lemongrass at my local Asian market. I will buy a bunch and clean it up and freeze it to use later. I have also seen a lemongrass paste in the produce section of my Publix. I would think 1 tablespoon of the paste could be used instead of minced lemongrass. If you can’t find lemongrass, you can leave it out.

Kaffir Lime Leaves:  These are actually kind of hard to find in any store. This may seem strange, but I buy them on ebay, usually from someone in California that has a kaffir lime tree growing in their yard. They go out and pick the leaves and mail them. The leaves ship well and don’t need to be refrigerated right after picking. Once I get my kaffir lime leaves, I freeze them. They keep forever in the freezer. Lime zest can be substituted for kaffir lime leaves. The flavor isn’t exactly the same, but it is similar.

Sambal Olek:  They actually sell this at Target in the ethnic food section. It is usually right next to the sriracha.

Crockpot Tom Kha Gai

Crockpot Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 ounces mushrooms, washed and thickly sliced
5 cups chicken broth
1 13.5 (approximately) ounce can coconut milk
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1-inch piece galangal, minced (substitute ginger if you can’t find galangal)
1/2 stalk lemongrass, finely minced
3 kaffir lime leaves, rib removed and julienned (substitute zest of 1 lime)
1 teaspoon sambal olek (or sriracha)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon Thai basil, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine all the ingredients except the Thai basil and fresh cilantro in the crockpot. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. Right before serving, remove the chicken and shred with two forks. Return the shredded chicken to the crockpot along with the Thai basil and fresh cilantro. Serve with additional chopped fresh cilantro.


Fire Noodles with Shrimp

Fire Noodles with Shrimp

Did you know you can cook cucumbers? You can! They are especially great in stir-fries. In this particular spicy noodle dish, the addition of shredded cucumber helps cool the heat from the Red-Hot Chile Oil Dressing.

The Red-Hot Chile Oil Dressing is the key to this recipe. It’s essential. Make it first.

Prepare all the ingredients before you start cooking. This dish comes together very quickly.

Fire Noodles with Shrimp

Red-Hot Chile Oil Dressing (recipe follows)
4 ounces rice vermicelli
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded (or use 4 – 5 pickling cucumbers)
3 carrots, peeled
handful of black fungus (found in Asian markets)

Soak the rice vermicelli in a large bowl with enough hot water to cover for about 15 minutes or until they soften. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Soak the black fungus in a bowl with enough hot water to cover for about 15 minutes or until they are soft. Drain and slice very thinly. Set aside.

Shred the cucumbers. The food processor fitted with the shredding attachment is the quickest way to do it. Squeeze the liquid out of the shredded cucumbers. I place the shredded cucumbers in a clean dishtowel, gather all the edges, and squeeze out the liquid.

Shred the carrots.

Heat 1/4 cup of the Red-Hot Chile Oil Dressing in a wok over high heat. Add the drained rice vermicelli noodles and stir-fry until softened, about 3 minutes. Move the noodles to the side of the wok. Add 2 more tablespoons of the Red-Hot Chile Oil Dressing and add the shrimp. Stir-fry the shrimp until no longer pink, 2 – 3 minutes, and then mix into the noodles. Add the cucumbers, carrots, and black fungus and stir-fry until well-combined and heated through.

Serve the noodles with extra Red-Hot Chile Oil Dressing for drizzling.

Red-Hot Chile Oil Dressing

I got this recipe from Nina Simonds’ Asian Noodles: Delicious Simple Dishes to Twirl, Slurp, and Savor (Hearst Books, 1997), one of my all time favorite cookbook. This dressing is hot and downright addicting! I like to use it in stir fries and to dress Asian-style noodle dishes.

I get the super-hot crushed red pepper from Penzey’s. I like it hot.

1/4 cup safflower or corn oil (I use canola)
2 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or 4 to 6 small dried hot chile peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch rings
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
7 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or sake
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Combine both oils in a heavy saucepan and heat over high heat until almost smoking hot. Add the red pepper, cover, and remove from the heat. Let sit until cool, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to dissolve the sugar. Refrigerated, in a covered container, the dressing will keep for a week. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.