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turkey meatballs – with an Asian twist

turkey meatballsThis dish transports my foodie mind back to Thailand.  One of the first things introduced to us was a welcome snack called Miang kham.  The base is a betel nut leaf and piled onto the leaf are fried shallots, ginger, toasted coconut flakes, garlic, lime, peanuts, chopped chili peppers, and topped with a drizzle of palm syrup.  Then carefully wrapped up and popped into your mouth.  Talk about an explosion of tastes!  I can easily scoff down 6 they’re that good.  Continue Reading →

Glass Noodle Salad

glass noodle salad by The Culinary ChaseGlass noodle, you ask? Well, it’s a noodle made from mung bean flour and when water is added to reconstitute it, the noodle looks transparent, glass-like. And, because they’re made from mung bean flour, it’s gluten-free (make sure to read the ingredient list as cheaper varieties can be made from wheat). The dressing is the crowning glory to this recipe and it’s one I use as a dipping sauce for spring rolls – just add minced cucumber.

Serves 4
80g (2.5oz) bean thread noodle (cellophane noodle), soaked in hot water until soft (5 minutes), drain
3/4 cup chicken breast, steamed and shredded
10 shrimp, peeled, steamed and sliced in half
4 spring onions, chopped
1/2 cup coriander, roughly chopped
3/4 cup bean sprouts (or red pepper thinly sliced)
firm tofu, cubed and fried (optional)

Dressing –

2 green chillies, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 cup water

glass noodle salad_by The Culinary ChasePlace all salad ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. For the sauce, combine all ingredients and simmer in a saucepan for 5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes. Pour over salad and mix well. Chill in the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
You can make this salad early in the day allowing all the flavors to develop. I couldn’t find bean thread noodles and used rice vermicelli noodle. If you plan to leave in the fridge longer than 30 minutes before serving, remember to give it a toss. Enjoy!

Pad Thai

Pad Thai by The Culinary ChaseLiving overseas provided us with an opportunity for our palates to mature and enjoy food we never would have tried back home either because it wasn’t being offered or the ingredients weren’t available (that was 15 years ago). I was never a big fan of spicy foods but that changed over time and I now seek out foods with heat, not over-the-top fiery heat, but ones that generate a bit of sweat.  Our first real Pad Thai experience was in Singapore in a hawker center.  These centers are typically outdoor food places where you can experience Singapore’s rich heritage of food dishes consisting of Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian and Thai influences.   Pad Thai originated with street vendors in open air markets.  Thai food has four fundamental taste senses in each dish: sour, sweet, salty, and bitter.  Thai dishes are served with a spoon and fork.  The use of fork and spoon were introduced by King Chulalongorn after his return from a tour of Europe in 1897.  The fork, held in the left hand, is used to push food into the spoon. The spoon is then brought to the mouth.  Traditionally Thai people ate with their right hand just like the people of India and therefore chopsticks were never used and still aren’t.  I’ve incorporated spaghetti squash in lieu of rice noodles and this dish is about as close to the real deal as you’ll get.

Serves 2
inspired from Bon Appétit

1 small spaghetti squash, cut in half (seeds removed)
vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
8 medium shrimp, peeled (optional)
small container of pressed or firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 to 2 cups mung bean sprouts
5 tablespoons tamarind water, or tamarind paste mixed with 3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1  tablespoons simple syrup (palm sugar or brown sugar)
4 chives, chopped
crushed red chili peppers
chopped roasted cashews (or peanuts)
lime wedges
Pad Thai ingredients by The Culinary Chase

  1. Cook squash in a covered microwavable dish 5 to 8 minutes. Fluff and easily remove the strands with a fork; set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, until they turn pink. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Add tofu and cook until slightly browned – remove from wok and set aside. Add another tablespoon of oil if wok is dry and stir in egg.  Cook until it is the consistency of a wet scrambled egg. Add spaghetti squash strands and cook until heated through. Add sprouts, tamarind water, fish sauce, and simple syrup and stir-fry until sauce is coats the spaghetti squash. Toss in chopped chives, pinch of crushed chili peppers and 1 tablespoon cashews and toss well.
  3. To plate, garnish with crushed red chili peppers, cashews, and lime wedges (squeeze this over the top).  *The traditional way to serve Pad Thai is with all the seasonings ON THE SIDE, together with more fresh bean sprouts and chives.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Use traditional rice noodles (8 oz.) if you’re not a fan of spaghetti squash.   If you can’t find tamarind paste, use lime juice mixed with an equal quantity of brown sugar (omit simple syrup).  Omit the shrimp and it becomes a delicious vegetarian option.  Enjoy!