Monday, June 15, 2009

Experimenting in the kitchen

Jonathan likes to try out new Asian recipes whenever we have company over. After spending two years in the Philippines, he's developed a taste for all kinds of Asian dishes. Last week he made a very tasty Thai beef salad, after trying it from a local restaurant. San Antonio has a surprising number of fantastic Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. It's not all tex-mex here. Sadly there are not any great places to get Filipino food, just one place that is only OK. This Sunday he tried his hand at lemon grass chicken, which was a huge hit. Delicious!

The recipe comes from "New Asian Cooking" bought from Borders on clearance.

Stir-Fried Chicken with Lemon Grass, Ginger and Chili

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Total cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Serves 4

2 tablespoons oil
2 brown onions, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 in piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 stems lemon grass, very finely sliced (you can use frozen chopped lemon grass instead of fresh we found, but do not use dried out lemon grass stems)
2-3 teaspoons chopped green chilies
1 lb chicken thigh fillets, thinly sliced (chicken breast works ok too)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce

extra green chilies, fresh cilantro, and Vietnamese mint leaves (we didn't have mint leaves and it worked fine)

1. Heat the oil in a wok and add onion, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, chilies. Stir for 3-5 minutes over medium heat, until the mixture is lightly golden. Take care not to burn the mixture or it will taste bitter.

2. Increase the heat, add the chicken slices and toss well. Be sure to cook this stir fry quickly in a very hot wok, or the chicken will stew in its own juices. Sprinkle the sugar over the chicken and cook for approximately 5 minutes, tossing regularly until just cooked.

3. Add the fish sauce, cook for another 2 minutes and serve garnished with sliced green chilies, fresh cilantro, and mint. Serve with steamed rice.

Speaking of rice, I dropped the lid to our old rice cooker a week ago and just shattered it. Jonathan has had this cooker for 9? 10? years and it's worked well, so I felt a little bad about it. Jon's old roommate and best friend from college, Ellis, bought it for him because Jonathan kept scorching the rice when he used a pot. Jon would start the rice, get distracted, and before you know it the rice was burning. If you've ever burned rice you know how terrible that smell is! Ellis, tired of smelling scorched rice, gave him the rice cooker.

Anyway after I broke the lid, Jonathan said not to worry, he could just use the pot method. Well, just like his college days, he burned it. So I immediately ordered him a new one. I bought a low end Zojirushi after reading the reviews, and we put it to the test yesterday. So far, so good.

Our kids are much less adventurous when it comes to food, so for them we made chicken skewers. My hat's off to my friend Kim for this easy, kid friendly recipe. Thanks Kim!

Chicken Skewers

3 chicken breasts
1 cup soy sauce
2 cups brown sugar

Soak your wooden skewers in water ahead of time for a few hours so they don't burn in the broiler. Combine the soy sauce and brown sugar. Cut the chicken into long strips, about 1/4 inch thick. Put them in the soy sauce mixture for a couple of hours. Thread the chicken on the skewers and place in the broiler for about 10 minutes.

Easy, easy, and the kids loved them.

Matthew, Melissa, and I went to an Asian grocery store Saturday night to collect the harder to find items like lemon grass. Unfortunately there isn't one nearby, so it was a good half hour drive. The one we found had a pretty good selection though and we walked away with more than we had on our list! Matthew spotted the pearl tapioca and just had to have it. I also found lumpia wrappers, various rice noodles, curry pastes, fat straws (for the pearl tea- which can be made as a fruit drink or a tea), cans of coconut milk, seasame oil, and more.

Today Matthew begged me to make bubble tea (minus the tea). We first tried it at a place called Pearlberry here in San Antonio and it's really a fun drink. At the bottom of a clear glass are large pearls of tapioca, and the drink is made of a milk based fruit smoothie. You use a large straw and the tapioca comes up through the straw, which you chew. The pearls are kind of like a soft gummy candy. Sounds weird, but it's very tasty.

Matthew decided to call it "bubble fruit" since we don't use tea.

Bubble Fruit

Cook tapioca according to directions and make the syrup. I found a good site here at Bubble Tea Supply with good directions.

Sugar syrup:

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups water

1. Mix sugar and water in a pot.
2. Cook on high heat
3. Once the mixture starts to boil remove from heat

After you've cooked the tapioca and the syrup, cover the tapioca with the syrup, reserving some for the drink. Let sit for a few minutes while you make the drink.

Strawberry/Mango Fruit drink (Rachel's concotion)

2 cups ice
2 fresh mangos (or frozen)
1-2 cups frozen strawberries
1 tbsp powdered milk
1/4- 1/2 cup sugar syrup
milk to cover the mixture in the blender

blend until smooth

Now put it all together!

Use four clear glasses. With a slotted spoon scoop out the tapioca pearls and place roughly 1/4 cup in each glass. Pour the strawberry mango drink on top and place an extra wide straw in each glass. Enjoy!

It's really a beautiful drink and I wished I'd remembered to take pictures. Oh well, next time.


Family of 5 said...

yummmmm... I will have to try it!

Andrea said...

I used to have the Lychee flavor bubble tea all the time in Hawaii, it was my favorite. :) I found a few Asian stores here in Utah and made strawberry bubble tea for Jeremy and his roomies for our Asian night in honor of his former roomie Lee's birthday. It was a hit!

When you come to visit we'll have to make it for the kids.

Oh, try barbequing the chicken skewers with that recipe it is soooo good that way!