Khmer-Style Rice Soup

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Adapted from a recipe in my weathered copy of Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet, this rice porridge is the perfect antidote to the winter blues. Similar to Singaporean congee or Cantonese jook, it’s got that same stick-to-your-ribs heartiness as any good rice soup should. The garnishes are endlessly adaptable — feel free to adjust to your liking.

Ingredients:

For the soup:

1/2 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
6 1/2 cups water
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and smashed flat with the side of a heavy blade
1 teaspoon anchovies in oil, drained and minced
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and smashed flat
1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed in cold water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic

For the garnishes:

1/4 cup fish sauce
1 Thai bird chile, minced
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 small bunch Thai or American basil, coarsely torn
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Black pepper
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

1. In a medium bowl, combine the turkey with the fish sauce and sugar, mix well, and set aside.

2. Place the water in a large heavy pot over high heat, add the lemongrass, anchovies, and ginger, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes, then add the rice and stir until the water returns to a boil. Maintain a gentle boil until the rice is tender (adding more water if necessary to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot), about 20 minutes, then turn off the heat. Remove the lemongrass and ginger.

3. In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the turkey and stir-fry, using your cooking spoon to break up any large pieces. Cook, stirring frequently, until the turkey has cooked through, about 7 minutes. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the soup and stir in.

4. Make the garnishes: Combine the fish sauce and chile in a condiment bowl and set aside.

5. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 3-5 minutes. Remove the shallots to a small bowl and set aside.

6. Just before serving, reheat the soup. Ladle into individual serving bowls and top with the basil, green onions, some shallots, black pepper, peanuts, and drizzle with the fish sauce-chile mixture. Serve hot.

Thai-Style Broccolini

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What makes this broccolini Thai-influenced? The addition of fermented soybeans, which became one of my favorite seasonings when I visited Bangkok and Chiang Mai a couple of years ago. Salty and savory, you can swap out the broccolini for any leafy vegetable with equally tasty results.

Thai-Style Broccolini

Ingredients:

1 pound broccolini, cleaned and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fermented soybeans (dao jiao)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 cup water

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the salt. Add the broccolini and blanch for 1 minute, then drain and set aside.

2. Heat a wok over high heat and add the oil. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the broccolini. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add the fermented soybeans and fish sauce. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the water, bring to a boil, and cover. Lower the heat to a low boil, cook for about 2 minutes, then remove the lid. You want the greens to be tender and still bright green. Serve warm.

Green Beans in Sesame-Miso Sauce

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Thanksgiving is over, Christmas is over, and you have a ton of green beans leftover. You know, that 500-pound bag you bought at Costco thinking, I’ll use these before they start to wilt! Except it’s December 31 and you have approximately 499 pounds left. What to do?

Make these simple-yet-delicious green beans in sesame miso sauce. Make as little or as much as you want. They’re crunchy, salty, savory, and super addictive. And healthy! Which is an attractive proposition considering how much cheese and pecan pie and who-knows-what you’ve (read: I’ve) been eating this week.

Green beans in sesame-miso sauce

Ingredients:

1 pound green beans, cleaned and trimmed
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
1 1/2 tablespoons light, sweet miso
2 tablespoons dashi stock
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, add the beans, and blanch for 2 minutes, or until tender-crisp. Drain the beans and set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a bowl, mix the tahini with the miso. Stir to blend completely and thin the mixture with some of the dashi stock.

3. Cut the green beans into 1-inch lengths and toss with the sesame-miso sauce in a bowl. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.

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.