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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for International Foods

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Dobladas

Today is National Empanada Day, and were celebrating with dobladas: folded, stuffed tortillas from Guatemala (the name means “folded”*) that can also be made in the form of a classic empanada. They can be served as an appetizer (cut into wedges), lunch, light supper or snack.

Like tortillas, dobladas are made from nixtamalized masa (maize dough). They are then filled, folded over themselves and cooked, usually fried. In Guatemala, Mexico and other Latin countries, a clay griddle is used, as with tortillas.

The cooked dobladas are topped with repollo (a shredded cabbage salad) or shredded lettuce, tomato sauce† and/or hot sauce.

You can use a variety of stuffings, including beans, cheese—cottage cheese, farmer cheese, Monterey Jack, queso fresco or queso de capas)—chorizo, ground meat, mashed potatoes and pork rinds.

The recipe was winner of the U.S. Potato Board’s “Ultimate Potato Recipe” Contest, in partnership with Better Homes and Gardens magazine. A team of recipe tasters picked this winning entry out of 334 total entries!

 
*Pupusas, are a similar food, but they are not folded over.

 

dobladas-potatogoodness-230-b

Dobladas with potatoes and chorizo. The recipe is below. Photo courtesy PotatoGoodness.com.

†Tomato sauce in Latin recipes refers to a homemade sauce, as opposed to Italian-style pasta sauce.Tomatoes are boiled with, celery, chiles, cilantro garlic, onion and sometimes red bell pepper, and cilantro roots. The result is puréed with water or chicken stock, with salt and pepper to taste.
 
RECIPE: POTATO & CHORIZON DOBLADAS

Ingredients For 10

  • 2 medium (5- to 6-ounce) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 15-ounce package uncooked Mexican chorizo sausage
  • 10 6-inch corn or flour tortillas, warmed
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Garnishes: chopped cilantro, shredded lettuce or cabbage slaw, sour cream, salsa, crumbled cotija or other cheese, hot sauce
  •  

    klondike-rose-230

    Use leftover mashed potatoes or make them from scratch. Photo courtesy U.S. Potato Commission.

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with lightly salted water by 1 inch and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes; drain. Mash with a potato masher.

    2. COOK chorizo thoroughly in a large skillet cook and drain well. Stir cooked chorizo into mashed potatoes.

    3. ADD 1/4 cup of the filling to a warm tortilla and fold in half. Repeat with remaining filling and tortillas.

    4. HEAT oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 to 3 dobladas to the skillet; cook 3 minutes for flour tortillas, 6 minutes for corn tortillas, or until crisp and golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining dobladas, adding additional oil as needed.

    5. SERVE warm and top with shredded lettuce or cabbage slaw, sour cream, salsa, and crumbled cheese as desired.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pxali, Georgian Spinach Dip With Walnuts

    Americans love creamy spinach dip, sometimes made with added artichoke hearts (here’s a rich and lovely spinach and mascarpone dip recipe).

    But there are other types of spinach dip, some even better for you. Here’s a Georgian-style dip—actually more of a spread, which is chock-full of walnuts for protein and made with no cholesterol or added fat.

    That’s Georgia, the country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia, and part of the former Soviet Union.
    This recipe was created by California-based chef Boris Portnoy for the California Walnut Board. Chef Portnoy, of Georgian ancestry, notes that this dish originated in Georgia but has been adopted in other parts of the Caucasus.

    The name for the spread is pxali, a general term denoting a spread or dip that can be made from a variety of vegetables. Spinach is traditional. The dip is green if spinach is used, red if beet leaves are used or white if young cabbage leaves are chosen.

    Whatever the vegetable, the dip/spread is always bound with a rich walnut paste into a thick mass, which can be used as a side dish at dinner or a main dish for lunch served with bread or lavash.
    It is best made a day ahead, so the flavors can develop more fully.

     

    walnut-dip-pxali-walnutboard-230sq

    A different type of spinach dip. Photo courtesy California Walnut Board.

     

    RECIPE: PXALI, GREEK SPINACH DIP WITH WALNUTS

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 3 cups walnuts
  • 1 pound spinach leaves (bagged and pre-washed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/3 cup water, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons red wine or white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek*
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chili flakes or red pepper flakes (the more use, the spicier the dip will be)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt to taste
  • Garnish: pomegranate seeds and flat-leaf parsley sprigs, for garnish
  • Crisp flatbread or crackers, or a rustic country-style bread, thinly sliced
  •  
    *Ground mustard seed can be substituted. Fenugreek is in the spice section. If your supermarket doesn’t carry it, check international markets or buy it online.

     

    fenugreek-seeds-malaysiankitchen-230sq

    Fenugreek seeds. The spice is also sold
    ground. Photo courtesy Malaysian Kitchen.

     

    Preparation

    1. CHOP the walnuts finely in a food processor, until they are the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Transfer to a large bowl.

    2. PLACE the spinach in a large pot, cover tightly and cook over moderate heat, stirring once or twice, until the leaves are wilted. (Alternately, microwave the spinach in a covered bowl until wilted.) Rinse the spinach with cold water, which cools it and stops the cooking. Squeeze the moisture out of the spinach, a handful at a time.

    3. CHOP the spinach finely in the food processor as well, and add to the walnuts. Stir in the garlic and water. Add the vinegar, coriander, fenugreek, chili flakes, cilantro and parsley to the mixture and blend thoroughly. Season with salt to taste. If the spread seems too thick, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve the desired consistency.

    4. TRANSFER to a serving dish and garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley. Serve with flatbread, crackers or sliced rustic bread. Makes about 3 1/2 cups dip.

     

    WHAT IS FENUGREEK?

    Fenugreek is a plant that was likely first cultivated in the Near East. The oldest samples have been found at an Iraqi archeological site, carbon dated to 4000 B.C.E. Seeds were also found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen.

    The largest producer today is India, with Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Egypt, France, India, Iran, Nepal, Morocco, Pakistan, Spain and Turkey also major producers.

    In India, the seeds are used to make daals, pickles, spice mixes and vegetable dishes. They are often roasted to reduce bitterness and enhance flavor. Fresh fenugreek leaves are used in some Indian curries; sprouted seeds and microgreens are used in salads.

    The sweet-smelling plant produces an herb (dried or fresh leaves), a spice (the seeds, which are used whole or ground), and a vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts, and microgreens).

    A member of the Fabaceae family of agricultural and food plants, fenugreek’s relatives include alfalfa, beans, carob, chickpeas, licorice, peas, peanuts and soybean.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Dim Sum At Home

    We live in a city with a large Chinatown—lots of places to enjoy dim sum. But even if you’re many miles from the nearest restaurant, you can make delicious dim sum at home.

    Not frozen dim sum but your own homemade treats, but ones made with your own flour, ground meat, seafood and veggies. It may look complex, but most dishes are quite simple to make. Just check out this easy dim sum cookbook.

    There are also many recipes and videos online.

    Many Americans think of dim sum, a Cantonese tradition, as weekend brunch. But it can be enjoyed every day, for every meal.

    There are tempting options for every palate, from vegetarian and vegan to meat and seafood. Some of our favorites:

     

    dim-sum-mackenzieltd-230

    More, please! Photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com.

  • Bean curd dishes
  • Bread-based dishes like steamed barbecue pork buns
  • Dumplings of every allure—boiled, pan-fried, steamed and potstickers
  • Meat and fish dishes
  • Rice dishes
  • Sautéed vegetables
  • Scallion pancakes
  • Desserts, like almond pudding, mango pudding and egg custard tarts
  •  
    If you’re a fan of Cream of Wheat or Cream Of Rice porridges, make the savory Chinese version, congee (with a soft “g”).
     
    All dishes can be made ahead and many can be frozen.

     

    pork-shumai-ramarfoods-230sq

    A true pleasure: your own homemade
    shumai (pork dumplings, pronounced
    shoo-MY). Photo courtesy Ramar Foods.

     

    PARTY TIME

    Dim sum can be served for brunch/lunch and as cocktail party fare.

    If the idea of preparing dim sum is intimidating, plan a co-op party with friends who like to cook. Everyone can make one or two dishes.

  • You can do it “cookie swap style,” choosing to dine together or bring the food home to your family.
  • You can also have a “prep party,” rolling and dicing with friends.
  •  
    What to drink with dim sum? Tea, of course!

    A dim sum party is an opportunity to sample a few different teas as well. Take a look at chrysanthemum, dragon well, jasmine, gunpowder, keemum, lychee, oolong, pu-erh—brewed from whole leaf tea, of course! (Check out the different types of tea.)

     
    DIM SUM HISTORY

    Dim sum derives from an older tea house tradition, yum cha (tea tasting), in the Canton province southern China. Travelers would take refreshment at roadside teahouses; locals would stop by to relax after a day of tilling the fields or other labor.

    At some point teahouse owners began to add snacks: hence the development of dim sum. The translation of dim sum, “touches the heart,” shows that it was originally not a main meal but a snack.

    Over the centuries, dim sum evolved from an afternoon respite to a major meal, from breakfast through mid-afternoon. Some modern restaurants extend dim sum to dinner time; it is now a staple of Cantonese dining culture and served all over China.

    For a dim sum holiday head to Hong Kong, the dim sum capital of the world. If you’re in a major U.S. city, head to its Chinatown.

    In New York City, our favorite is Jing Fong, a huge restaurant with the largest selection we’ve ever seen. The food is wheeled around on carts by servers; you point to what you want. Food is priced by the dish, but you can gorge yourself for not much more than $15-$20 a person.

    To end the confusion of what’s what, you can get this dim sum pocket guide, in paperback or Kindle editions.

    Sihk faahn (that’s eat, the equivalent of bon appétit, in Cantonese)!

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Corned Beef & Cabbage Tacos

    Who thought that inspiration for St. Patrick’s Day would come from La Tortilla Factory?

    Corned beef and cabbage tacos!

    We love fusion food, but these tacos do present a challenge:

    Should we serve them with mustard, or with tomatillo salsa?
     
    EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT MAKING TACOS

    The answer to this question and others concerning nouvelle tacos can be found in the new book, The Taco Revolution by Brandon Schultz.

    The book covers both traditional and new recipes, with chapters for beef, chicken, fish, pork, vegetable, breakfast and specialty tacos, plus sides, sauces and taco party advice.

    On the nonconventional list, there are fusion tacos galore, including:

  • Avocado and tofu taco
  • BLT taco
  • California roll taco with wasabi sauce and soy sauce for dipping
  • Caprese taco with mozzarella, tomato and basil
  • Chicken salad taco and tuna salad taco, both with mayo
  • Chicken tikka taco (say that three times fast)
  • Falafel tahini taco
  • Hawaiian pizza taco
  • Korean taco of rice and kimchi
  • Orange chicken taco
  • Reuben tacos with sauerkraut and thousand island dressing
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese taco
  • Steamed broccoli taco
  • Thanksgiving taco with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce
  •  

    corned-beef-cabbage-tortillas-tortillafactory-230sq

    Tacos for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo courtesy La Tortilla Factory.

     

    Salivating or simply intrigued? Get your copy at Amazon.com in hardcover or Kindle editions.

      

    Comments

    TIP: Glamorous Edamame

    We enjoy both the flavor and the nutritional benefits of edamame. We always order a bowl at Japanese restaurants, and have bags of frozen, shelled edamame in the freezer at home.

    The bright green color of the boiled soybeans adds perkiness to anything from scrambled eggs to salads to mashed potatoes. You can ready almost any savory dish for St. Patrick’s Day by mixing in, scattering or garnishing it with edamame.

    Hannah Kaminsky reports from a trip to Hawaii that the local restaurants serve a much more inspired dish of edamame than most of us know from Japanese restaurants on the mainland. She writes:

    “A popular pupu (appetizer) at dives and fine dining establishments alike, edamame seasonings start with the most basic sprinkle of sea salt. But these humble soy bean pods are rarely ordered in that plain state.

    “Garlic edamame, studded with plentiful chunks of coarsely minced garlic, guarantee you the most powerful but worthwhile dragon breath* you’ve ever experienced. (Editor’s Note: To counter the effects, sauté the garlic to take the edge off, and add fresh minced parsley.)

     

    edamame-sauce-hannahkaminsky-230

    Edamame and soybean poke. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     
    “Spicy edamame (or sweet-and-spicy, with added honey) adds either crushed red pepper flakes or a drizzle of sriracha into the mix. It’s a real treat when you can find edamame dressed up poke-style, in sesame oil, soy sauce, scallions, and sliced sweet onions.

    “The beans pictured here are a specialty from the newly opened Izakaya Torae Torae in Honolulu: Teriyaki truffle edamame. Just toss the edamame in truffle oil before drizzling with teriyaki sauce.”

    And while you’re at it, you can make homemade teriyaki sauce.

     
    *What causes garlic breath: The sulphuric compounds that give garlic their desirable taste and health benefits and also create that unpleasant odor. Here’s more information, including how to fight garlic breath.

     

    Teriyaki-Sauce-olivethis.com-230

    Homemade teriyaki sauce. Photo courtesy OliveThis.com. Check out their recipe for Grilled Chicken with Honey
    Ginger Balsamic Teriyaki Sauce.

     

    WHAT IS TERIYAKI SAUCE

    Teriyaki is actually a Japanese cooking technique, in which foods are broiled or grilled with a glaze of soy sauce, mirin (rice wine) and sugar. According to Wikipedia, in Japan the cooking style is mainly used for a variety of fish, while in America, salmon teriyaki and chicken teriyaki are typically found on menus.

    The word derives from the noun teri, which refers to a shine or luster given by the sugar content of the tare, a term for dipping sauces used in grilling; and yaki, the cooking method of grilling or broiling.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE TERIYAKI SAUCE

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sweet rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons brown sugar
    or honey
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic†
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced ginger†
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Preparation

    1. MIX all but last two ingredients in a sauce pan and heat over a medium flame.

    2. MIX cornstarch and cold water in a cup and dissolve. Add to pan. Heat until sauce thickens. If the sauce is too thick for you, you can thin it with water.
     
    †You can substitute garlic powder ground ginger, but fresh tastes better. Reduce the amounts of dried herbs, as they are more concentrated.

      

    Comments

    CHINESE NEW YEAR: Chinese Long Beans

    It’s Chinese New Year: The Year Of The Horse begins today (the actual year is 4712). Make a Chinese-inspired dish.

    Chef Daniel Boulud take Chinese long beans, steamed them and tied them into knots, topped with chicken (see the photo below).

    What a fun way to get people to eat more green beans!

    Our recipe, below, is much simpler, and the Chinese-style beans can be served with any dish that pair with green beans.

    You can find Chinese long beans in Asian markets, or plan ahead and grow your own yard-long string beans with these string bean seeds from Burpee.

    You can substitute regular green beans, which are just as tasty, if not as striking in appearance.

     

    Chinese long beans. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     

    RECIPE: CHINESE LONG BEANS

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon peanut or sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce*
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  •  
    *Available in the Asian products section of most supermarkets, in Asian specialty stores and online; Lee Kum Kee is a quality brand. See more about oyster sauce below. You can substitute Hoisin sauce, but it gives the dish a sweeter flavor than the pungent oyster sauce.

     

    Daniel Boulud’s long bean knots with
    chicken. Photo by Richard Patterson |
    RichardPattersonPhoto.com | Restaurant
    Daniel.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic, and cook until the edges begin to brown, about 20 seconds.

    2. ADD the beans; cook and stir until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

    3. STIR in the sugar, oyster sauce and soy sauce. Continue cooking/stirring for several minutes until the beans have attained the desired degree of tenderness.
     
    WHAT IS A CHINESE LONG BEAN?

    Its botanical name is Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis. It is best known as the long bean or Chinese yardlong bean, but also as the asparagus bean, bora, long-podded cowpea, pea bean, snake bean and yardlong bean. The pods are actually about half a yard long; the subspecies name sesquipedalis means “one and a half feet long” (half a yard).

     

    While its flavor is similar to the green bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), it is from a different genus. In fact, it is a member of the cowpea species, which includes blackeyed peas.

     
    WHAT IS OYSTER SAUCE?

    A popular condiment in Chinese and Filipino cuisines, oyster sauce is often used in stir fries and as a topping for steamed vegetables.

    The viscous sauce is prepared from oysters and brine. A true oyster sauce is aromatic with intense flavor, and is expensive. Most oyster sauces on the market are cheaper, diluted solutions of concentrated ones. There are also vegan versions made from mushrooms.

    Oyster sauce was invented in 1888 by Mr. Lee Kam-Sheung of Nam Shui Village in Guangdong Province, Chinas, an island where oysters were abundant.

    Originally born in another village, Lee was a farmer who had to leave town following threats from local gangsters. He opened a restaurant in his new village, using the local oysters to make stock. One day he forgot about a pot of stock on the stove, and when he returned to it the stock had boiled down to a thick, aromatic and delicious sauce: a happy accident!*

    His company, Lee Kum Kee, continues to produce oyster sauce along with a wide variety of fine Asian condiments.

    *Source: Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in Hong Kong: A Casebook, edited by Ali F. Farhoomand. Here’s the page reference.

      

    Comments

    SUPER BOWL RECIPE: Taco Sundae

    Wondering what to o with those banana split dishes? Make a taco sundae!

    This recipe is from Wholly Guacamole, which uses its Wholly Guacamole Classic Dip and Wholly Salsa. It takes just 20 minutes to prepare.

    RECIPE: TACO SUNDAE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 can (16 ounces) refried beans
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup salsa (your choice of mild, medium or hot)
  • 3 cups shredded lettuce
  • 14 ounces guacamole
  • 6 grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • Tortilla chips
  • ice cream scoop
  • Oval bowls
  •  

    Taco_Sundae-whollyguacamole-230sq

    There’s no ice cream in this sundae! Photo courtesy Wholly Guacamole.

     

    Preparation

    1. BROWN the ground meat; then add the taco seasoning, adding a little water as needed to distribute the seasoning evenly. Stir to mix well. Continue cooking another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup of the shredded cheese.

    2. HEAT the refried beans.

    3. COMBINE combine the sour cream with the Wholly Salsa dip in a small bowl.

    4. COVER the bottom of the dish with the shredded lettuce. Scoop the meat with the ice cream scoop, pack it with a spoon and place in the middle of the bed of lettuce.

    5. SQUEEZE the guacamole into the [cleaned] scoop, smooth with the back of a spoon or knife and place on one side of the meat. Place a scoop of beans on the other side of the meat.

    6. POUR a tablespoon of the salsa mixture over each scoop. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and place a cherry tomato on top. Serve with corn tortilla chips.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Thai Shrimp Appetizer

    Shrimp wrapped in pretty puff pastry. Photo
    and recipe courtesy Campbell’s.

     

    We’ve been playing around with puff pastry this week, and are making these Thai Shrimp Spirals to go with the Champagne tonight. Marinated shrimp wrapped in tender puff pastry and served on skewers with a dip, they’re a fun and tasty food.

    Prep time 30 minutes; total time 1 hour 40 minutes, which includes 40 minutes of thawing time. Suggested serving size: 2 pieces.

     
    RECIPE: THAI SHRIMP SKEWERS WITH
    HONEY SOY DIPPING SAUCE

    Ingredients For 20 Pieces

  • 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 two-inch piece ginger root, peeled and minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 20 fresh or thawed frozen large shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
  • 5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • All-purpose flour
  • 1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
  •  
    Plus

  • 20 six-inch wood or metal skewers (presoak wood skewers)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. GRATE 2 teaspoons zest and squeeze about 1/4 cup juice from the limes. Stir the zest, juice, cilantro, garlic and ginger in a small bowl.

    2. PLACE the shrimp into a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and half the lime mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Reserve the remaining lime mixture for the dipping sauce.

    3. HEAT the oven to 400°F. Beat the egg and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl with a fork.

    4. SPRINKLE the flour on the work surface. Unfold the pastry sheet on the work surface and roll into a 10-inch square. Cut into 20 strips, about 1/2-inch wide.

    5. SKEWER each shrimp with a wooden skewer. Starting at the top, wrap 1 pastry strip around each shrimp, slightly overlapping the pastry and ending just before the tail.

    6. PLACE the skewered pastries onto 2 baking sheets. Brush the pastries with the egg mixture. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Let the pastries cool on the baking sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes.

    7. BEAT the reserved lime mixture, remaining soy sauce and water, the honey and sesame oil in a small bowl with a fork or whisk. Serve with the pastries for dipping.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Spicy Peanut Sauce Marinade & Sauce

    If you like sesame noodles or satay with peanut sauce, here’s another delicious use for it: in a marinade.

    Marinating beef, chicken, lamb, pork or tofu in a peanut sauce-based marinade adds dimensions of flavor.

    Just create a marinade from chicken or other stock, peanut butter, soy sauce, oil, ginger, chili flakes and garlic (see the recipe below). You can also add sherry and honey.

    And certainly, serve a side of peanut sauce for dipping. See the recipe below.

    WHAT IS “SATAY SAUCE?”

    Satay is actually the grilled meat with which the spicy peanut sauce is served. The sauce is based on ground roasted peanuts; peanut butter can be substituted.

    Spicy peanut sauce is popular in the cuisines of some African countries, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The term for the sauce in Indonesia is bumbu kacang; elsewhere it is called pecel or sambal kacang.

     

    Grilled pork skewers, marinated in peanut
    sauce marinade and served with a side
    of peanut dipping sauce (not shown). Photo courtesy National Pork Board.

     

    Peanuts were introduced to Southeast Asia in the 16th century by Portuguese and Spanish merchants. The peanuts came from Mexico, and thrived in the tropical climate.

    They soon were turned into a sauce in Indonesian cuisine and other countries followed. Indonesian peanut sauces are considered to be the most sophisticated (layered with ingredients).

     

    Grilled chicken breasts marinated in peanut
    sauce and served with more sauce on the
    side. Photo courtesy Swanson’s.

     

    RECIPE: PEANUT MARINADE

    This recipe is courtesy Swanson, maker of both conventional and low-sodium broth and stock.

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons soy sauce†
  • 1/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or pepper flakes
  • 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 cup Swanson chicken broth or chicken stock†
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE marinade. Stir 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, the oil, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup lime juice, half the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chili flakes in a shallow, nonmetallic dish or a gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover the dish or seal the bag and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.

    2. LIGHTLY OIL the grill rack and heat the grill to medium. Grill the chicken for 15 minutes or until cooked through, turning the chicken over once halfway through the grilling time.

    3. MAKE the sauce. Stir together the remaining brown sugar, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, cayenne pepper, coconut milk and ginger root in a 3-quart saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat for 15 minutes or until the mixture is thickened. Stir in the broth and heavy cream.

    4. SPRINKLE the chicken with cilantro and serve the sauce with the chicken.

    RECIPE: SPICY PEANUT SAUCE

    Here’s an alternative recipe for spicy peanut sauce. The sauce can be made a day ahead of time, and will keep 3 to 4 days in the fridge.

    Ingredients For 1-1/4 Cups

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth†
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce†
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon red curry paste*
  • 1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD all ingredients to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
     
    *You can use low-sodium ingredients because the other ingredients add more than enough flavor. But if you have full-sodium products on hand, feel free to use them.

    †Find red curry paste in the Asian products section of your market.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Tempura

    Ready-to-heat-and-eat shrimp tempura
    from CBCrabcakes.com.

     

    If you like tempura, there’s no need to head to a Japanese restaurant. Make it at home! It’s another way to get the family to eat more vegetables. Pack the tempura with a high ratio of veggies to proteins (3:1 or 4:1), and make it fun with as wide an assortment of vegetables as you can manage (aim for five).

    While we think of tempura as a quintessential Japanese food, it was introduced to Japan in the mid-16th century by Portuguese missionaries and traders. Prior to then, the concept of deep fat batter-frying was not part of Japanese cuisine.

    Culinary historians say that the word “tempura” most likely comes from the Latin word “tempora,” time period—a Portuguese reference to Lent, Fridays and other Catholic holy days when meat was avoided and fish and vegetables were consumed.

    The types of tempura that are popular today—fried seafood and vegetables—gained popularity in the mid 18th century and became firmly established in Japanese cuisine. Tempura continues to evolve in style, most recently into sushi “tempura rolls.“

     
    The Right Batter Makes Tempura Less Oily

    Tempura batter is traditionally made by with eggs, ice water and low-protein wheat flour. You can also buy tempura batter mix in the Asian products section of the supermarket or in Asian food stores.

    According to Nisshin Seifun, makers of a tempura batter mix used by fine restaurants, some brands do a greater job of limiting oil absorption (as does a cold batter, which is why ice water is used).

    In the absence of a package of tempura mix, made with low-protein wheat flour, try this recipe:

    TEMPURA BATTER RECIPE

    Ingredients For Batter

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted (use low-protein wheat flour, if you can get it)
  • Optional: salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
  •  
    Vegetables/Seafood

  • Proteins: boned fish, shrimp, scallop, squid, or almost any seafood; chicken or tofu strips or squares
  • Bell pepper strips, eggplant, carrots, green beans, mushrooms, onion, potato, sweet potato, summer squash (zucchini, yellow squash), winter squash (anything from acorn to pumpkin); Japanese ingredients such as renkon (lotus root) and shiso (beefsteak plant leaf)
  •  
    Plus

  • Cooking oil: grapeseed oil or other high-smoke-point oil such as canola, safflower or sunflower oil
     
    Preparation

    It is important that the batter is cold, so make it immediately before using. If frying is delayed, refrigerate it for up to 1 hour.

    1. CLEAN and slice vegetables. Clean shrimp; leave tails on.

    2. HEAT the oil as you whisk the batter ingredients together.

    3. MAKE batter: Beat the egg in a bowl. Add ice water and flour; mix lightly. Be careful not to overmix the batter or you’ll get tough, chewy dough. It is OK to leave lumps in the batter. Japanese chefs make the batter by swirling the ingredients a couple of times with chopsticks.

    4. HEAT oil to 340°F. If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, drop a small amount of batter into the oil. If it sinks halfway down and then comes to the surface, the oil is about 340°F. If it doesn’t sink, it’s about 360°F or more.

    5. FRY vegetables first so as not to impart a seafood flavor to the oil.

    TEMPURA DIPPING SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons finely grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoons chopped green onion or chive
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  •  

    Mix ingredients well. If you only have the soy sauce and vinegar, it will do in a pinch.
     

    Learn more about our favorite international foods, plus recipes.

      

    Comments

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