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.


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.


Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein

Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein

I had a couple of spaghetti squash from my CSA box and decided to use one to make a recipe for Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein that I had found on Pinterest. I can’t believe how well it turned out! It was amazing! And I love that spaghetti squash only has about 42 calories per cup. How can something so delicious have so few calories? I got two more spaghetti squash in this week’s CSA box and I will definitely be using them for Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein in the coming weeks.

Here is where I found the recipe for Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein.

I pretty much followed her recipe except that I didn’t use a coleslaw mix. I thinly sliced a quarter of a head of cabbage and julienned two carrots instead. I also slivered the onion instead of dicing it.


Chiang Mai Curry Noodle Soup with Vegetables

Vegetarian Chiang Mai Curry Noodle Soup 2

Earlier this year, I revamped one of my favorite Thai soups to make it vegetarian, as well as acceptable for the low iodine diet I was on at the time. I was super happy with the way the soup turned out. It was delicious! So flavorful.

I replaced the traditional fish sauce with a Umami Sauce I made. I typically use my favorite Madras curry powder in this recipe, but I included a recipe for a Madras-style curry powder at the bottom of the recipe anyway. I have a big collection of spices, but I realize not everyone does, so feel free to replace the Madras curry powder with any store-bought Indian curry powder. For the noodles you can use linguine (or spaghetti) or rice noodles.

Vegetarian Chiang Mai Curry Noodle Soup

I contacted Thai Kitchen via their Facebook page and asked about the type of salt they use in their products. Turns out they do not use iodized salt. This opens a world of possibilities for those on a low iodine diet. The Thai Kitchen red curry paste should not be hard to find. Look in the ethnic section of your grocery store. I actually bought a jar at Target.

TK Red Curry Paste

Chiang Mai Curry Noodle Soup with Vegetables

1/2 lb. linguine, cooked
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 – 3 tsp. Thai Kitchen red curry paste (to taste)
1 T. Madras curry powder (recipe follows)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 can (13.5 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
4 cups  vegetable or chicken stock (unsalted or homemade for LID)
3 tablespoons Umami Sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 head green cabbage, cored and shredded
4 ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed and halved (you can use snow peas instead)
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (or use the mushrooms left over from making the Umami Sauce)
1/2 to 1 12 ounce (approximately) can baby corn, drained
1 cup fresh spinach, torn
Kosher salt, to taste
fresh cilantro leaves
unsalted peanuts, crushed
limes, cut into wedges

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add shredded cabbage and cook until just tender. Add the red curry paste, curry powder, and cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant (about 40 seconds).  Whisk in coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, add Umami Sauce and sugar, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Stir in sugar snap peas, mushrooms, and baby corn and simmer until all the veggies are tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with kosher salt. Stir in torn spinach and take off the heat.

Divide noodles in soup bowls, ladle soup into bowls, and top with fresh cilantro leaves and crushed unsalted peanuts.  Serve with a wedge of lime.

Curry Powder

Quick and Easy Salt-Free Madras Curry Powder

3 tablespoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all of the spices and store in a glass Mason jar.


Pad Thai (LID)

Pad Thai (LID) 2

I am about to go on a low iodine diet (LID) again to prepare my body for radioactive iodine and a nuclear whole body scan to check for a possible persistence/recurrence of thyroid cancer.  The thought of having to go on LID again is almost as bad as the thought of not being cancer free. I’m hoping that being better prepared for LID this time around will help it be more tolerable.

I’m really excited about this recipe. I love Pad Thai. I feel that if I can make LID versions of my favorite dishes, then being on that soul sucking diet will be a little less painful. This LID version of Pad Thai is yummy. Having this recipe in my repertoire will definitely make LID easier.

I adapted/simplified this version from a recipe for Thai Noodles in Victor Sodsook’s True Thai. It’s good, a little on the sweet side, but good. So good that I have made it twice this week (and I’m not even on LID yet). The ingredients are fairly easy to find, although I’m not sure how authentic of an ingredient ketchup is. Once the ingredients for this dish are prepared and assembled, it comes together quickly.

Pad Thai (LID)

Pad Thai (LID)

8 ounces dried flat rice noodles (bahn pho) – look for one that only has rice and water as ingredients
1/4 pound chicken breast, sliced
6 tablespoons Umami Sauce (recipe here)
5 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt-free ketchup (Hunt’s and Heinz make salt-free ketchup)
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
egg whites, equivalent to 3 eggs, lightly beaten
fresh cilantro, chopped

crushed unsalted peanuts
chile pepper flakes
fresh bean sprouts
fresh cilantro, chopped
lime wedges

Soak the rice noodles in very hot water until they are soft, about 15 minutes. When they are ready, drain in a colander and set aside until ready for use.

Meanwhile, combine the Umami Sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt-free ketchup, and chili powder (if using). Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.

Have all the ingredient ready and within reach. This dish comes together quickly once the cooking begins.

Heat a wok over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, turning the wok to make sure the oil coats the bottom. Add the sliced chicken and cook until no longer pink. Transfer the chicken to the bowl or plate and set aside. Wipe out the wok with a paper towel.

Heat 2 more tablespoons of oil in the wok. Add the minced garlic and cook briefly, about 30 seconds. Add lightly beaten egg whites. Cook the egg whites, stirring to scramble them, until they are set. Pour the prepared sauce mixture into the wok. Add the reserved softened noodles, tossing gently in the sauce. Cook until the noodles are tender and have absorbed the sauce, about 3 – 5 minutes. Add the reserved cooked chicken and toss to combine. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve. Have the crushed peanuts, chile pepper flakes, bean sprouts, additional chopped cilantro, and lime wedges on the table so everyone can add their desired condiments.

Adapted from True Thai by Victor Sodsook (William Morrow and Company, 1995).


Kale and Mushroom Soba Noodle Bowl

Kale and Mushroom Soba Noodle Bowl

Noodle bowls are really popular right now. Do a search on Pinterest and a gabillion entries pop up. Even Panera Bread has jumped on the noodle bowl bandwagon.  Soba noodles are made with buckwheat and are a nice change from rice or wheat noodles. Feel free to experiment with the veggies you use in your soba noodle bowls. I think shredded cabbage would be a nice addition to this particular recipe. A soft boiled egg would be good too.

Have all your ingredients prepped before you start cooking. Once you start, this dish comes together quickly.

Kale and Mushroom Soba Noodle Bowl

8 ounces soba noodles
2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
4 cups kale, washed, stems removed, and chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sriracha (optional)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
sesame seeds

Cook the soba noodles according to the directions on the package or until done to the preferred tenderness. Drain.

Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, sriracha, and sesame oil. Set the sauce aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok (or large skillet) over high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for a few seconds. Add the kale, mushrooms, carrot, and zucchini and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add the drained noodles and the sauce and mix well. Cook until heated through and the noodles have had time to soak up the sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.


Singapore Noodles

Singapore Noodles

While I was in Texas a couple of weeks ago, I caught up with a dear friend one night and we had dinner at P.F. Chang’s in Arlington. I ordered the Singapore Street Noodles. It was a somewhat simple noodle dish and I knew right away I could re-create it. I think I hit the nail on the head. There are minor differences. P.F. Chang’s uses red cabbage in their Singapore Street Noodles, but I just used green cabbage since it was what I had. Napa or Savory cabbage would be really good too. Their dish contained halved grape tomatoes, but I left them out. I also left out the  green onions. Like most Asian dishes you cook in a wok, you want to have your ingredients prepared and ready to go. Once you start cooking, it comes together fast.

I’m partial to Sun Brand Madras Curry Powder. I used to be able to buy it locally when we lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia, but since moving to South Carolina I have not been able to find it. I ended up ordering it from Amazon.com. Here’s what that container looks like:

Sun Brand Madra Curry Powder

Singapore Noodles

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and roughly chopped
1 chicken breast, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, cored and sliced (use any color bell pepper you like)
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/4 large head red or green cabbage (or your favorite type of cabbage), cored and thinly sliced
1  1/2 – 2 tablespoons Madras curry powder (to taste)

lime wedges, for serving

Soak the rice noodles in very hot water until they are softened, about 15 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside until ready to use.

Meanwhile, combine the water, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar. Set aside.

Heat a wok over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, turning the wok to make sure the oil coats the bottom. Add the shrimp and cook until they just turn pink. Transfer to a clean bowl or plate. Wipe out the wok (It doesn’t have to be super clean, I just quickly wipe the wok out using a paper towel) Heat another 1 tablespoon of oil in the wok and then add the sliced chicken and cook until no longer pink. Transfer the chicken to the bowl or plate with the shrimp. Again, wipe out the wok.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok. add the garlic and cook briefly, a few seconds, before adding the onion, bell pepper, carrot, and cabbage. Stir-fry the vegetables until just tender, about 4 minutes. Add the reserved sauce and the Madras curry powder to the wok. Add the softened rice noodles and cooked shrimp and chicken, gently tossing them with the sauce and vegetables.  Cook, stirring often, until the noodles absorb the sauce, about 3 – 5 minutes. Serve with lime wedges.