Sri Lankan Coconut Sambol (Pol Sambol)

Posted on

Few Sri Lankan meals are complete without pol sambol, the ubiquitous condiment that accompanies rice and curry. Spicy, citrusy, and salty, this coconut sambol brings a cooling element to otherwise fiery food. There are countless variations on pol sambol, but this one is my favorite.

I prefer pol sambol with rice and curry, but it’s also standard alongside roti or buttered bread. And uh, please forgive the poor quality photo. Sometimes you just can’t wait to dig into the pol sambol. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Pol Sambol

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped onion
2 serrano chiles, seeded
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
1 sprig curry leaves
2 teaspoons Maldive fish
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded coconut (fresh or previously frozen, not dried)
Juice of 1/2 lime

1. Place onion, serrano chile, garlic, cayenne pepper, curry leaves, and Maldive fish in a food processor and blend. Add the salt, pepper, and coconut and blend until mixture is bound.

2. Remove from food processor and put in a bowl, mix in lime juice, and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour, covered, for flavors to blend, before serving.

Thai-Style Mixed Vegetable Stir-Fry

Posted on

This easy, healthy stir-fry is a welcome addition to any meat-heavy (or vegetarian) meal and best of all, it’s easily adaptable so you can use whatever vegetables are in season.

The dao jiao, or Thai fermented soybean paste, is necessary to achieve the characteristic salty-savory flavor. When I traveled through Thailand last year, it was in lots of the vegetable stir-fries I ate, especially in the north near Chiang Mai. I’ve been hooked ever since.

I couldn’t find dao jiao even at large Asian grocery stores like 99 Ranch, but the local Southeast Asian market in my hometown had it. Shout out to Phnom-Penh Grocery in Santa Rosa for holding it down since childhood.

Thai-Style Mixed Vegetable Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 pound napa cabbage, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
1/4 pound snow peas
1/4 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon fermented soybean paste (dao jiao)
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Heat a wok over high heat. Add the oil and toss in the garlic and stir-fry until beginning to turn golden. Add all the vegetables and stir-fry until starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the fish sauce, cover, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the soybean paste and mix well. Remove from heat, season with pepper, and serve.

Vietnamese-Style Braised and Caramelized Catfish

Posted on

This is the way so many great meals in my life have been enjoyed: sitting in the street, eating something out of a bowl that I’m not exactly sure what it is, scooters going by. – the late, great Anthony Bourdain

When I went to Vietnam in 2011 I was besieged in the best of ways by the colors, flavors, smells, and sounds that permeated every street and alleyway. To this day, my favorite memories from this trip are of me and my sister enjoying a casual street-side meal: a slow-slung stool, a pair of plastic chopsticks, and mouthwatering meal after meal in a bowl.

One of the best things I ate in Hanoi was the fish: always soaking up that Vietnamese balance of hot, sour, salty, and sweet. This recipe takes me back to those memories — at home, the scene is not quite the same, but the meal is still delicious.

Try to use a heavy cast-iron skillet for this dish, and source the freshest fish you can find. Serve with plenty of warm rice to soak up the juices.

Vietnamese Braised and Caramelized Catfish

Ingredients:

1 pound catfish fillets
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
1/3 cup warm water
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced lemongrass
3 green onions, trimmed, smashed flat with the side of a cleaver, sliced lengthwise into 3 pieces
1 tablespoon fried garlic or fried shallots

1. Place the fish on a plate, sprinkle both sides with the pepper, and set aside. In a medium bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warm water, then stir in the fish sauce, and set aside.

2. Place a heavy medium skillet over high heat. When it is hot, add the oil. Toss in the lemongrass, then place the fillets in the hot oil and sear for 1 minute, then turn over a repeat. Add the liquid ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and add the green onions. Cook for 10 minutes, uncovered, turning the fish over after 5 minutes. As the liquid cooks down, lower the heat little by little, enough to prevent the sauce from burning. It will reduce gradually to a texture similar to a heavy syrup.

3. Serve hot, topped with the fried garlic or fried shallots.

Green Corn Soup

Posted on

Move over gazpacho. I have a new favorite cold soup celebrating summertime in all its glory.

Adapted from a Food & Wine recipe, this chilled dish is full of spinach, jalapenos, limes, and of course, corn. It’s all of summer’s bounty in vibrant, showstopping form. Make this a couple hours ahead of time to let the flavors develop. It’s perfect on a sweltering day.

Green corn soup

Ingredients:

8 ears of corn, shucked

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, sliced

salt
pepper
2 cups packed baby spinach leaves 

3 jalapenos; 2 stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped; 1 stemmed
 and thinly sliced

juice of 1 lime

1. Cut the kernels from the cobs; you should have 6 cups. Working over a bowl, scrape the cobs with the back of a knife to release the corn milk; discard the cobs. 


2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over moderately high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, 
stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add 4 1/2 cups of the corn kernels and the corn milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is crisp-tender, about 
6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a blender and let cool slightly. Wipe out the skillet.


3. Add 1 1/2 cups of water to the blender with the corn and puree at high speed until very smooth, about 5 minutes. Strain the puree through a fine sieve set over a large bowl, pressing on the solids. Discard the solids. Return the corn puree to the blender and add the spinach, chopped jalapeños and half of the lime juice and puree until the spinach is finely chopped and the soup is green. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in 1 1/2 cups of water. Cover and refrigerate the soup until cold, at least 2 hours.

4. Meanwhile, in the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of corn kernels and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 1 minute. Transfer the corn to a small bowl and refrigerate until cold.


Step 5
Add the sliced jalapeños 
and the remaining half of the lime juice to the chilled corn kernels and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the soup to bowls and top with the corn to serve.

Hot and Spicy Numbing Chicken

Posted on

If you don’t like spicy food, please keep scrolling. The warning is in the name of the dish here: it is hot and it is spicy and thanks to a generous sprinkling of Sichuan peppercorns, it is numbing. But in an oh-so-good way.

Adapted from a Fuchsia Dunlop recipe, this Sichuan-style appetizer is perfect for making ahead of time since you start with already cooked chicken and the final dish is served at room temperature. Make sure you use good quality chili oil here, preferably homemade. It makes all the difference.

Hot and spicy numbing chicken

Ingredients:

1 pound cooked chicken breast
2 green onions
2 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons chili oil with chili flakes
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground roasted Sichuan pepper

1. Cut the chicken evenly into slices and set aside. Thinly slice the green onions diagonally, 1 1/2 inches long.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, soy sauce, chili oil, and sesame oil.

3. Place the green onions on a serving platter and then add the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken with the ground Sichuan pepper and drizzle with the sauce. Serve at room temperature.