This is the latest little lunch salad or light dinner that I am crazy about. It has everything going for it—easy to make, delicious and lends itself well to variation—the type that has you using up leftover bits and pieces from last week’s farmer’s market trip. The secret is the addictively spicy-but-not- too- spicy and pungent dressing.
2 Tbsp. oil
2-4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp. Tahini or other nut butter- I’ve used both almond butter and peanut butter on occasion.
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. horseradish
1 Tbsp. Chinese style hot mustard (mix up your own by combining 1 Tbsp. dry mustard powder mixed with 1 tsp. water and 1 tsp white vinegar. Stir well before using.)
1 Tbsp. finely chopped hot pepper such as jalapeño or Serrano, more or less according to taste.
2 skeins mung bean noodles, about 2 oz. (you can also use angel hair pasta, soba noodles, or thin rice noodles.) cooked according to package instructions.
¼ cup cilantro leaves
2 scallions, white and green parts finely sliced
1 small to medium cucumber julienned
½ red or orange bell pepper, julienned
1 cup julienned napa cabbage, endive or radicchio or other salad green-y type stuff.
1 cup shredded protein- I most frequently have leftover grilled chicken, but have also used leftover pork and tofu.
To make the sauce:
- Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic until aromatic. Remove from the heat. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well to combine. Set aside.
- Place the noodles and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss well to combine.
Street food is magical, isn’t it? There is something about traveling and eating ‘what the locals eat’ that makes whatever you are eating extra-special. Of course, a day spent walking and seeing the sights can help sharpen the appetite too. When you return home it can be challenging to recreate the flavors of the foods that you have tasted. One of my favorite street foods is satay, otherwise known as kebabs or if you are a kid, food-on-a-stick. Recently Saveur magazine published a wonderful article (with recipes!) called ‘The World of Satay’. I immediately curled up with it and chose to make several of the recipes—this is hard core research friends! The favorite, the winner that I made for several of my private clients was the Malaysian Chicken Satay, Satay Ayam. My amazing assistant Justine is Malaysian and she vouched wholeheartedly for its authenticity. There were lots of murmurs and of mutterings of ‘this is really good’. This satay is slightly sweet, spicy and aromatic. It is a vibrant yellow color from the addition of turmeric in the marinade. (Turmeric is has long been used in both Chinese and Indian Medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties.) Justine and I adapted the recipe slightly. We left out the lemongrass completely (none to be found at the store!) and we both felt that a 5-inch piece of ginger was excessive for 3 pounds of chicken.
Here is our recipe for Malaysian Chicken Satay
Adapted from Cradle of Flavor by James Oseland
2 Tbsp. oil
¼ cup of dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Coriander
2 ½ tsp. Turmeric
1 ½ tsp. Fennel
1 tsp. salt
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
2 ½ Tbsp. chopped ginger
¼ tsp. dried chili powder or cayenne
2 ½# boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1 inch pieces.
6 long skewers or 12 short skewers
In the bowl of a food processor or blender combine all of the ingredients except the chicken and process until smooth. Transfer the paste to a bowl, add the chicken and toss to coat. Set aside and let marinate at room temperature for about an hour. (Alternatively marinate in the fridge for several hours.) Thread the chicken onto the skewers and grill or broil for a 4-5 minutes per side. Let the chicken char a bit- this will caramelize the sugar in the marinade. It should smell so scrumptious you won’t be able to stop yourself sneaking a bite!
Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser
I love Pad Thai. It was the very first Thai dish that I ever had—at Seng Thai in Portland Maine, back in the early 1990’s. I loved the sour-salty-sweet pungent goodness that is Pad Thai. Since then I have tried Pad Thai at any number of Thai restaurants across the United States. I finally learned how to make it myself from Kasma Loha-unchit in Oakland a couple of years ago. (Check out thaifoodandtravel.com for her current schedule of classes.) My one caveat with Pad Thai is that the leftovers are awful. Pad Thai is one of those few dishes that does not keep well at all. The noodles turn to glue and it is repulsively unattractive. Blech. It is meant to be cooked and eaten—don’t even think about saving some for lunch the next day. That is why I was so delighted to come across a recipe for a Pad Thai-style rice salad in the New York Times cookbook by Amanda Hesser. It was such a brilliantly simple idea I couldn’t believe that I had not thought of it myself.
For this recipe, you cook the rice in lots of boiling salted water until just tender—the same way that you would cook pasta. Drain the rice once it is tender (about 12-15 minutes) and set aside. Have all of your garnishes ready to toss with the room temperature rice. I had all of the classic Pad Thai ingredients. Diced cooked chicken, shrimp, bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro, Thai chilies (just ‘cause I like it spicy), chopped peanuts and egg. Combine the garnishes with the rice and set it aside while you make the Pad Thai vinaigrette. Toss the salad with the vinaigrette and enjoy! This was a dish that was great the next day for lunch!
Pad Thai Style Rice Salad
1 ½ cups long grain rice
Salted water to cook the rice in.
¼ cup or so of oil for sautéing
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
¼ pound of shrimp
¼ pound of raw chicken cut into bite sized pieces
2 scallions chopped and set aside.
1 cup of bean sprouts, set aside
2 Thai chilies, minced and set aside (optional)
¼ cup of chopped peanuts
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ tsp. cayenne or ground red chilies (optional)
2 Tbsp. fried shallot (not traditional but very good) set aside.
Lime wedges for garnish
1 ½ Tbsp. Tamarind paste
2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. fish sauce, or more to taste
2 Tbsp. neutral oil.
1. Cook the rice in rapidly boiling salted water until tender (start checking on it after 10 minutes has passed). Drain and set aside.
2. Combine the Vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.
3. Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a non stick pan and scramble the 2 eggs. Set aside.
4. Heat another tablespoon or two of oil in a pan or wok. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic. Add the diced chicken and sauté until cooked thru. Season with a little bit of fish sauce or salt during the cooking process. Set aside.
5. Heat a little bit more oil in the wok or pan and quickly sauté with shrimp. Again, season with fish sauce or salt and set aside.
6. Toss all of the garnished with the rice. This means everything. I like to reserve a little bit of cilantro to sprinkle on top of the finished dish.
7. Toss the rice dish with the vinaigrette. Taste, season with a bit more salt, sugar or fish sauce until you are happy with the confluence of flavors.