Turkey Larb

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You know about my trifecta for a perfect recipe, right? If its (a) delicious, (b) healthy, and (c), easy to make, then it enters the gilded hall of Recipes To Be Cherished Forever Because The Nom Factor Is V High. This turkey larb makes the cut, especially since I’m trying to eat less grains these days. Hot, sour, salty, and a tiny bit sweet, you can larb anything, but this is poultry version is classic and never gets old.

turkey larb

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried chiles, roasted and ground to the texture of red chili flakes
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion or shallots
1 thinly sliced green onion
15-20 mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons rice, toasted and finely ground in a spice grinder
Butter lettuce, sliced cucumber, and sticky rice, to serve

1. Put the turkey in a medium saucepan and cover with water, stirring over medium heat until the turkey is opaque but still soft. Use a spatula to break up the meat into small pieces. Drain off the water, then stir in the fish sauce and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Once the turkey has cooled, add the seasonings and mix thoroughly: the chile powder, red onion, green onions, mint, cilantro, and lime juice. Once you’re ready to serve, add the rice powder at the last moment, then mix again. Serve with butter lettuce, sliced cucumber, and sticky rice on the side.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

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Crispy, salty, and savory, these Vietnamese-style spring rolls are fried to perfection and make a delicious appetizer. I’ve adapted these from the traditional version: I use ground turkey instead of pork, and I shallow-fry instead of deep-fry. And you know what? Even though they’re labor-intensive, I prefer them to the restaurant version.

Make sure to make enough nuoc cham dipping sauce to go with these spring rolls: the bright, tart sauce cuts through the spring rolls perfectly.

Vietnamese spring rolls

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1 ounce bean thread noodles, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes, drained, and cut into 1-inch lengths with scissors (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fish sauce
40 round rice papers
Vegetable oil for frying
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons rice or apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Thai bird chile, minced

1. Combine 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/4 cup fish sauce, lime juice, water, vinegar, sugar, and chile in a bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.

2. Place the turkey in a mixing bowl and add the shallots, remaining garlic, carrot, bean thread noodles, black pepper, and remaining fish sauce and mix well. Set aside.

3. Set out two large plates. Fill a wide bowl or basin with 2 inches of warm water. Wet 1 paper until softened, then place on one of the plates. Place 2 tablespoons filling in a line about 5 inches long across the wrapper, leaving a 3/4-inch border at either end of the line. Fold the edge nearest you over the filling, fold over the sides of the rice paper, and roll up tightly. Place on the other plate, cover with a damp cloth, and repeat with the remaining papers and filling.

4. When ready to fry, set out another large plate lined with paper towels. Place a stable wok or heavy skillet over medium high heat and add oil to a depth of about 1 inch and heat until hot. Add the rolls one at a time to the pan, being careful not to splash yourself with oil, without crowding, and make sure the rolls aren’t touching. After you add the rolls to the oil, they’ll bubble and the rice paper will change texture. Use a spatula or heat-proof tongs to gently turn the rolls so they cook evenly. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden all over, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining rolls.

5. Cut each cooked spring roll in half on the diagonal and arrange on a platter alongside the nuoc cham dipping sauce and serve warm or at room temperature.

Lao-style Turkey Lettuce Cups

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I’m trying to eat grain-free as much as possible these days, and while I haven’t completely cut out grains, I have reduced them by about 75%. I feel good about that: I’m eating more greens and more sources of lean protein.

I’m always trying to come up with creative and delicious ways to put together a grain-free meal, and these turkey lettuce cups are one of my favorites. They’re not traditional, though: I’ve replaced pork with turkey and omitted some of the toppings (*cough* cilanto, my nemesis *cough*).

These are kind of like larb, but without the toasted rice powder and herbs. (But don’t fret, there is always a time and place for larb.) The best part? You probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry.

Thai-style turkey lettuce cups

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon tamarind pulp, dissolved in 1/3 cup warm water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and minced
1 head butter or bibb lettuce, cleaned and leaves separated

1. Place a sieve over a bowl and press the dissolved tamarind through the sieve; discard the pulp. Set the tamarind juice aside.

2. Heat a wok over high heat. Add the oil and when it is hot, add the shallots, garlic, and lemongrass. Stir-fry until golden, then add the turkey and stir-fry until it has all changed color and is almost cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, the tamarind juice, the fish sauce, and salt and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and peanuts and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Remove from the wok and let cool.

3. To serve, put a lettuce leaf in the palm of your hand, then scoop up a tablespoon of filling and place it on the leaf. Fold the leaf over to make a bundle, or leave it open, and place on a platter. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Singaporean-Style Chicken Congee

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Congee, jook, bubur, porridge — whatever you call it, it’s the ultimate comfort food in a bowl, and an endlessly adaptable one at that. Topped with fried shallots, drizzled with sweet and salty soy sauce, served alongside Chinese doughnuts or a soft-boiled egg — the possibilities are endless.

Whenever I travel to Asia, I eat a lot of congee, especially for breakfast. One of my favorite ways to prepare congee is Singaporean-style. This version uses sticky rice as well as short-grain rice for a creamier version, but you can use simply regular short-grain rice for equally delicious results.

Singapore-style chicken congee

Ingredients:

1/2 cup short-grain rice
1/2 cup glutinous white rice
4 cups water
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound boneless chicken, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons shredded ginger
2 teaspoons crisp-fried shallots
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Pepper

1. Wash both types of rice, drain, and place in a large saucepan. Add the water and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer with the saucepan partially covered for about 1 hour, until the rice is very thick and soft, stirring from time to time to keep the rice from sticking. (If the congee is looking too thick, add some water or stock to thin it out.)

2. When the rice has been cooking for 30 minutes, put the chicken in a bowl, sprinkle with cornstarch and toss to coat. Add the soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, sugar, and ginger. Mix and set aside.

3. When the rice is porridge-like, add the chicken and its marinade. Stir well and simmer until the chicken is cooked, 7-10 minutes.

4. Transfer the porridge to serving bowls and top with the crisp-fried shallots, green onion, and pepper to taste. Serve accompanied with more soy sauce for adding to taste.

Thai-Style Chicken Fried Rice

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Looking for something easy and delicious to hit the spot mid-week? Something to brighten your drab Monday, perhaps? Look no further. This fried rice couldn’t be easier to pull together and well, fried rice is the ultimate comfort food. Weeknight eating isn’t so bad after all.

Thai-style chicken fried rice

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 pound chicken thigh
1 teaspoon lemongrass, minced
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 eggs
4 cups steamed jasmine rice, cooked and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon Thai seasoning sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 green onions, cut into 2-inch lengths
salt
pepper
1/2 cup fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon minced bird’s eye chilis

1. Place the chicken in a bowl, add half the garlic, all of the minced lemongrass, a pinch of salt and pepper, and enough cold water to just cover the chicken. Mix and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove from brine and cut into bite-size pieces.

2. Make the prik nam pla serving sauce: in a small bowl, mix together the fish sauce, lime juice, chilies, and remaining teaspoon garlic. Set aside.

2. Heat a wok over high heat and then add the oil. Add the onion and stir-fry until softened, then add the chicken and stir-fry until almost cooked, about 4 minutes.

3. Crack in the eggs and mix with the chicken and onion. Once the egg resembles a soft scramble, add the rice, sugar, Thai seasoning sauce, and oyster sauce, stirring the rice to distribute the sauce evenly and break up the egg. Continue to stir-fry until rice has taken on a slightly toasted color, about 2 or 3 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat, add the green onion and a pinch of pepper, and toss. Serve with the prik nam pla sauce.