Southeast Asian Cabbage Salad

Southeast Asian Cabbage Salad

I love this salad! It’s something I make quite a bit. It’s fresh, crunchy, colorful, virtually fat-free, nutritious, and very flavorful. This salad keeps fairly well in the fridge for up to two days.

Southeast Asian Cabbage Salad

1 head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 to 2 carrots, grated
1/2 to 1 cucumber, seeded, peeled, and chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 (or more) fresh chiles (I usually use jalapenos or serranos), seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
chopped roasted peanuts

Combine cabbage, carrot, cucumber, cilantro and chiles in a large bowl. Mix vinegar, sugar, garlic, and fish sauce together in a small bowl. Pour vinegar mixture over cabbage mixture and toss well. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts right before serving.


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.


Spicy Thai Cucumber Salad

Spicy Thai Cucumber Salad (640x480)
The cucumbers in my garden are doing well this year. It makes me happy because I really love cucumbers. I especially love cucumber salads. This is my favorite one. It’s adapted from a recipe in one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, The Best of Vietnamese & Thai Cooking by Mai Pham (Prima Publishing, 1996).

I often make this salad using regular cucumbers found at the grocery store. Peel and then remove the seeds before slicing. Most of the time I make this salad only using cilantro since it’s an easy-to-find and inexpensive herb. In the summer months, I also use mint and Thai basil that I grow in my garden. I love the combination of cilantro, mint, and basil in Southeast Asian foods. Use any one of these herbs or a combination when you make this salad.

Spicy Thai Cucumber Salad

2 cucumbers (English cucumbers work well), cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 – 3 jalapenos or other hot chile (to taste), seeded, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced
fresh herb(s), to taste
….fresh cilantro, chopped
….fresh mint leaves, chopped
….fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the sliced cucumbers, onion, jalapenos, and herb(s) in a bowl. In another bowl (or measuring cup) combine the rice vinegar, sugar, water, and salt. Pour the mixture over the cucumber salad. Mix to combine. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving.


Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Refridgerator Dill Pickles

Making refrigerator pickles is incredibly easy. The key is using cucumbers specifically for pickling (or using cucumbers you grew yourself). Do not use those dark green things typically found at the grocery store. Their skin is thick and has wax on it. This recipe results in crunchy, tart dill pickles. If you like your pickles with a bit of kick, add a serrano pepper that has been cut in half or a teaspoon of hot chile flakes.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Makes 1 quart

2 kirby (pickling) cucumbers
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons Kosher salt (or pickling salt)
1/2 teaspoon dill seed
1/2 teaspoon dill weed

Bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat as soon as the solution comes to a boil. Let cool slightly. Meanwhile, wash the cucumbers, trim off ends, and cut vertically into spears. I cut the cucumber in half, cut the halves in half, and then cut the quarters in half for a total of 8 spears. Place the cut cucumber spears, garlic clove, dill seed, and dill weed into a clean quart-size Mason jar. Pour the pickling solution over the cucumbers and screw on the lid. Allow to cool on the counter and then refrigerate. For best results, let pickle for 1 to 2 weeks in the fridge before eating.


Korean Cucumber Salad

I’m teaching myself to cook some popular Korean dishes. This cucumber salad is a typical accompaniment to Korean meals. It is delicious.

Korean Cucumber Salad

1 English cucumber
1 tablespoon vinegar (I like to use rice vinegar, but white vinegar works well too)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Korean coarse red pepper powder
Kosher salt

Cut the ends off the cucumber and then cut in half horizontally. Slice and place in a bowl. Add the vinegar, sugar, and red pepper powder. Mix well. Season to taste with Kosher salt. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


Hot and Sour Cucumbers

I love cucumber salads.  They are a perfect accompaniment to hot and spicy foods (like Thai curries).  I like this particular recipe a lot.  By salting the cucumbers in the beginning, the excess moisture is removed. I also like the addition of the fish sauce.  It gives it that umami element.  Chill this salad a bit before serving.  It’s very good cold.  This recipe is easily doubled.

Hot and Sour Cucumbers

2 medium-sized cucumbers, peeled
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/8 cup fish sauce
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 large red chili, finely sliced on the diagonal
Black pepper and salt, to taste

Cut cucumbers in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds using a spoon. Slice on the diagonal into one inch pieces.  Combine in a bowl with sugar and salt, mix well and leave to stand for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine vinegar and 1/4 cup sugar in a small heavy-based saucepan and stir over heat until sugardissolves. Simmer, uncovered  for about 8 minutes, or until reduced by one-third and  slightly syrupy. Set aside to cool.

Drain away any excess liquid from cucumbers. Add cooled vinegar syrup and remaining ingredients to
pickled cucumbers.  Season with black pepper and salt and serve.

Note: This dish  is best served the day it’s made


Greek Salad

Greek Salad

This is a beautiful and yummy salad.  The recipe is basically a guide.  I don’t follow this recipe to a tee, ever.  I just start chopping and adding veggies.  The last time I made this, I didn’t have Kalamata olives, so I just added regular ol’ black olives.  I also added green bell pepper (diced).  I like to add some croutons to the salad for a little crunch.  The lemon-garlic dressing is a favorite of mine.

Greek Salad

romaine lettuce, cut into 1″ pieces
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and dicediced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/8 cup pepperocini peppers, stem removed, seeded, and chopped
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Combine lettuce, cucumber, tomato, onions, olives, pepperocinis, and feta cheese in large serving bowl.

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over the vegetable mixture; toss until coated. Serve immediately.