PB Cookies!!!

PB Cookies!!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sweet and Sour Shrimp and Pork Balls with Napa cabbage sauté

I have made these shrimp and pork balls before, but I have struggled with what to serve with them.  I thought about how well pork and cabbage go together (think sausage and sauerkraut) and was inspired to make a sauté with caramelized Napa cabbage and onions.  I echoed the flavors in the meatballs in the sauté as well.  I also modified the sauce to not just coat the meatballs but to work as an overall sauce for the whole meal.  I bought the fern root noodles on a curious whim at my local Asian supermarket, Hana World.  I have been looking at them every time I open my pantry and wondering what they go with.  I finally decided to take the plunge and made them for this meal.  They were pretty good…although not much different in flavor than regular egg noodles.  Their texture though made them fun to slurp!
Recipe modified from The Just Bento Cookbook by Makiko Itoh

Sweet and Sour Shrimp and Pork Balls
3 ½ oz peeled shrimps, roughly chopped
7 oz ground pork
3 Tbsp chopped onion
1 tsp ginger (powdered or fresh)
1 Tbsp Sake
1 Tbsp gluten free soy sauce
2 Tbsp cornstarch
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp steamed carrot (chopped)
1 Tbsp cooked peas
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Mix all the ingredients with your hands (except the vegetables and oil) until the mixture gets slightly sticky.  Add the vegetables and hand roll into quarter sized meatballs.  Drizzle the meatballs and coat with the oil.  Steam the meatballs for 8-10 min in a steamer lined with parchment paper.

Sweet and sour sauce
2 Tbsp cornstarch
4 Tbsp water
1 cup chicken stock
4 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp 5 spice powder
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp Sake

Combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil stirring constantly then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.  Take the sauce off the heat and add the shrimp and pork balls to the sauce and coat liberally.

Stir Fry
4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 white or yellow Onion (thin sliced)
2-4 Garlic bulbs (sliced)
1 lb Mushroom (sliced)
1 head Napa Cabbage (shredded)
Ginger powder and Salt to taste
¼ cup carrot (julienned)
¼ cup peas
3 ½ oz peeled Shrimp
Snap peas
8oz can sliced water chestnuts (drained and rinsed)

Place the shredded cabbage in a colander and work in 1 Tbsp salt using your fingers to coat as much cabbage as possible.  After about 15-20 minutes the cabbage will have let off some of its water and reduced in volume.  Squeeze out any excess water and pat the cabbage dry on a few paper towels.
Cook the onions on medium high heat until golden and caramelized.  Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown then add the cabbage.  Cook down.  When the cabbage starts to develop golden caramelized edges, add the rest of the ingredients and cook 9 more minutes stirring the shrimp to the bottom to allow it to cook thoroughly.

Serve with rice, udon noodles or Fern Root noodles

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Restaurant Review – Ruggles Green in Houston Tx

When on a recent trip to Houston, I tried a place suggested by one of our party and touted as having lots of gluten-free options.  We showed up at the jam-packed Ruggles Green in the Rice Village area.  The line to order was out the door…which caused a bit of anxiety due to the rainy weather.  When I got the menu, I immediately noticed the wealth of gluten free options…tacos…pizza…burgers.  I had a hard time deciding but settled on a fish taco, cream brulee and house shiraz.  After we ordered, we struggled to find a place to sit in the bustling restaurant.  We finally found a spot tucked onto the covered patio.  We were lucky as it started pouring rain not to soon afterwards.  The food was amazing.  My tacos had a lightly spicy chipotle sauce and radish sprouts complemented them nicely.  The shiraz was really good and the cream brulee was presented well.  This stop will defiantly be on my list next time I make it down to Houston.  Check out their website for more awesome options. 

Cooking the African way

One of my favorite things to do is to find different ethnic markets and explore them looking for interesting and new ingredients.  I was very excited to find that we had an African/Caribbean Grocery here in Austin!  I started wandering through this small market one Saturday and found such treasures as cans of akee and even bottles of Ting and Peanut Drink.  It was then that I spotted the box of Fufu.  I was so excited and curious to learn how to use this manioc and plantain mash.  I had eaten fufu years ago at an African restaurant in Austin.  It was served as the starch base for a tomato and beef stew.

I brought home the box of fufu and read the recipe on the back eager to make something similar to what I had all those years ago.  The box explained the philosophy of African cooking. “Traditionally, the African way of food preparation and cooking is based on the use of one’s’ imagination, creativity and flexibility, which cannot be subjected to any rigid ways of quantifying the ingredients involved.”  I found it interesting and sort of laughed at the vague recipe that followed.  At the same time I found it liberating.  It validated my own process of modifying and changing up recipes.  When I modify things, my family now jokes that I am just cooking the African way!  I then took the recipe from the back of the box and fixed it in a crock pot.  I added red bell pepper, lots of garlic and cardamom pods.  It was quite good.  I served it all with a chopped salad that closely resembles tabbouleh…but without the wheat or parsley.

Shrimp Coffee Rice with Parsley Shrimp Tomato Sauce

I was intrigued by this recipe when I saw the title.  It is so simple to make and so very good.  I only made one modification to the original recipe which was the addition of peanut butter.  Please make sure and stir it in well otherwise it can burn if it stays in a clump on the bottom of the pan.  If you are in a food rut or are curious about how the rest of the world eats, I encourage you to try this book.  There are a lot of great recipes and stories.  One important note: African cooking is about creativity and therefore many recipes are vague about quantities or cooking times.  I have added in the cooking times for the rice below.
Shrimp Coffee Rice

4 T vegetable oil
2 cups uncooked white rice
1 large white onion (thinly sliced)
2-4 Tbsp ginger
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 -2 tsp red pepper
4 Tbsp peanut butter*  (my modification…not in the original recipe)
Salt to taste
3 cups water
1 lb peeled shrimp

Put oil, rice onion and ginger in a 4 quart pot over medium heat.  Mix with a wooden spoon for about 6 minutes.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients except the shrimp.  When the mixture comes to an active boil, lower heat and put on a lid.  Cook until the rice absorbs about 2/3 of the liquid (approx 15 min).  Stir in the shrimp, cover and cook over reduced heat until the rice is done (approx 5-10 min).
Parsley Shrimp Tomato Sauce

1 lg can chopped tomatoes
½ cup fresh chopped parsley
1 chopped white onion
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1-2 tsp red pepper
1-2 Tbsp ginger
1 chopped bell pepper
Salt to taste
1 cup fresh chopped shrimp
4 chopped green onions

Put all ingredients except the shrimp and green onion in a skillet.  Stir frequently for 6 minutes.  Stir in the shrimp and green onions.  Cook for 6-9 more minutes until shrimp is cooked through.  Serve over the shrimp coffee rice.