Shrimp Laksa

Shrimp Laksa

Laksa is a spicy noodle soup that is popular in Singapore and Malaysia.  There are a gabillion different variations of it.  Some have a curry-coconut broth while others have a sour fish broth or tamarind-based broth.  Laksa can be made with seafood, chicken, beef, and/or tofu. This particular Laksa recipe is one I came up with after scanning about 20 other Laksa recipes online.  It’s not all that authentic, but it is quick, tasty, easy to prepare, and the ingredients can be found in most American grocery stores.

Shrimp Laksa

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced (or about 1 tablespoon of ginger paste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon (or to taste) sambal olek (sriracha can be substituted)
4 cups broth (vegetable, chicken, shrimp, etc…)
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 package rice vermicelli, cooked according to package directions
fish sauce, to taste
fresh cilantro
fresh lime wedges
chopped fresh chiles (optional)

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat and sauté the onion softened.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.  Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and sambal olek (or sriracha).  Add the broth and bring to a boil.
As soon as the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat and add the shrimp and coconut milk.  Let cook until shrimp is pink and cooked through, about 3 – 4 minutes.  Season to taste with the fish sauce, about 1 tablespoon.

Divide the cooked rice noodles in bowls and ladle the soup over the noodles.  Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve with lime wedges and chiles (optional).

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Tortilla Soup with Shrimp and Avocado

Tortilla Soup with Shrimp and Avocado

This soup is incredibly good!  Plus, it’s fast to make. Perfect for a weeknight dinner. If you are in a rush, you can just skip baking the tortilla strips and just crumble some purchased tortilla chips over the top.

Tortilla Soup with Shrimp and Avocado

Tortilla Soup with Shrimp and Avocado

corn tortillas, about 12
cooking spray

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, chipped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes (with juices)
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

avocado, diced
fresh cilantro, chopped
lime, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Stack the fresh corn tortillas and cut in half. Re-stack and then cut into then strips. Arrange the corn tortilla strips on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray, and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake in the oven until golden (about 8 – 10 minutes), stirring occasionally to ensure even browning. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a soup pot, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic and jalapeno and continue to cook for another minute or two. Stir in the ground cumin. Next, add the petite diced tomatoes and juices, broth, cayenne, Mexican oregano, and tomato paste. Stir well and bring to a boil. Once the soup has come to a boil, add the peeled and deveined shrimp and cook until the shrimp is done, about 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup into a bowl. Top with diced avocado, fresh cilantro, and a handful of the baked tortilla strips. Serve with a wedge of lime to squeeze over the soup before eating.


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.


Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Cheesy Poblano Grits

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Cheesy Poblano Grits

I made this for dinner last night. It was easy and very flavorful.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Cheesy Poblano Grits 2

Despite having been in South Carolina for 5 years, I’m still not completely gaga for grits. They taste boring. The addition of cheese and roasted poblanos definitely make grits more exciting for the taste buds.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Cheesy Poblano Grits 3

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Cheesy Poblano Grits
Makes 4 servings

For the grits:
2 poblanos chiles/peppers
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup grits (not the quick cooking kind)
4 ounces Monterrey jack (or pepper jack) cheese, shredded

For the shrimp:
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime

To roast the poblano chiles:
Preheat broiler to high. Place the poblano chiles on a baking sheet and broil, turning every 5 minutes until each side is blackened and charred. Alternatively, if you have a gas stove, you can char the peppers over a flame, using tongs to turn them. Place the roasted poblanos in a large bowl and cover with foil. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel the skin off the chiles, cut in half lengthwise, discard seeds and membranes, and chop.

For the grits:
Bring the water, milk, salt, and butter to a boil. Gradually whisk in the grits. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring often, for 15 – 20 minutes, or until desired consistency. Stir in the chopped roasted poblanos and shredded cheese and take off the heat.

For the shrimp:
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook 2 – 3 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the garlic and cook another minute, or until the shrimp are completely cooked through. Add the cilantro and lime juice and serve over the grits.


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.


Pad Thai II

Pad Thai II

I love Pad Thai. When I go to a new (to me) Thai restaurant, I will usually order Pad Thai. It’s kind of a boring order, but I feel that if a restaurant can do Pad Thai well, then other dishes will be good too. We actually don’t go out to eat very often, so when I’m craving Pad Thai, I usually make it myself. This has been my go-to Pad Thai recipe for years. It’s fine, but it just doesn’t taste like any Pad Thai I get at a restaurant. I can do better. I have decided that I am going to master Pad Thai this summer. A girl has got to have goals. : )

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 month. 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 II

8 ounces dried flat rice noodles (bahn pho)
1/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 pound chicken breast, sliced
5 tablespoons fish sauce
6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
fresh cilantro, chopped

crushed 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 fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, 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 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 2 more tablespoons of oil in the wok. Add the minced garlic and cook briefly, about 30 seconds. Add lightly beaten eggs. Cook the eggs, 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 shrimp 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).

 


Won Ton Egg Drop Soup (includes a recipe for Filled Won Tons)

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This soup is so good. Making the filled won tons is a bit time consuming, but they are well worth the effort. Once the won tons are made, this soup is super fast to prepare.

Won Ton Egg Drop Soup

6 cups broth of your choice (vegetable, chicken, etc…)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 ounces snow peas (sugar snap peas are fine if you can’t find snow peas)
2 eggs, beaten
12 – 18 filled won tons, uncooked (recipe below)

Cook filled won tons in simmering water for 5 minutes.

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Drain and discard the water. Set won tons aside. In a soup pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the snow peas and soy sauce. Pour the beaten egg into the soup and stir. Remove soup from heat. Place 3 or 4 cooked won tons in soup bowls. Ladle soup over the won tons and serve. You can sprinkle sliced green onion over each serving of soup.

Filled Won Tons

The filling for the won tons is easy to make if you have a food processor. I toss the garlic cloves and veggies in the work bowl and pulse until everything if finely chopped. I empty the contents into a mixing bowl and repeat the process with the protein source.

I like making these with shrimp and veggies like cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, and water chestnuts. You can use almost any vegetables you want for the filling. You can easily make these won tons completely vegetarian by omitting the meat and doubling the vegetables for the filling. I usually have a little bit of the filling left over after filling all of the won tons. I stir fry the leftover filling in a tiny bit of oil over high heat and then spoon the cooked filling into lettuce leaves.

Filled Won Tons

1 cup finely chopped vegetables (cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, water chestnuts, etc…)
1 cup finely minced meat (shrimp, chicken, or pork)
2 cloves garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 package won ton wrappers
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons water

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Combine the finely chopped vegetables, garlic, and meat in a bowl.

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Add enough soy sauce to just moisten the mixture. Cover and refrigerate filling for at least 15 minutes.

Mix the flour and water together in a small bowl. Set aside. This is the sealer.

To fill the won tons, place the won ton wrapper with one corner facing you. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of the filling into the center.

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Moisten the top edges of the won ton with the sealer and fold the won ton in half to form a triangle.

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Press the edges together and try to keep the filling from oozing out. Now put some sealer on the bottom side of the left corner and on the top side of the right corner. Fold the left corner up towards you and fold the right corner over the left. Seal together.

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Repeat with remaining won tons.

The won tons are now ready to be used in your recipe for Won Ton Egg Drop Soup. Uncooked won tons can be frozen for future use.

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The won tons can also be fried for an appetizer. Fry the won tons in hot oil until they are deep golden brown. Drain the fried won tons on paper towels and serve with a sweet chili dipping sauce. I have had a little problem getting the filling to cook all the way through without burning the won ton wrapper. It may help to precook the filling before filling the won tons so that everything is cooked.