Tag Archives: Asian

Cambodian Spiced Eggplant

7 Mar

I like to go to dinners organized by a group called Dining for Women. It’s a deceptively simple concept: invite a bunch of women to a potluck and contribute the money you would have spent on a restaurant meal to a nonprofit that helps women and girls in a third-world country.

Well, a dozen or so women in the suburbs or Detroit aren’t going to donate more than a few hundred dollars, but when the dinners are repeated in dozens of locations all over the country, some serious moolah  can be raised. The national organization chooses the recipient nonprofit, and provides a DVD for the dinner hostess showing the work the nonprofit does.

Last month’s dinner featured an organization in Cambodia that helps street children by giving them a place to live and teaching them useful skills so they can earn a living.

I looked for a simple Cambodian vegetarian recipe and found this one. Now the problem with eggplant — I admit it! — is it’s so visually unappealing, at least to me. If that’s your impression of eggplant too, get over it! It’s a delicious vegetable, and this combination of spices is very complementary.

I couldn’t find Asian eggplants so I used a large regular eggplant. And I didn’t have the fresh herbs for sprinkling on top, but the dish was still delectable. It’s also very easy to make, and leftovers reheat nicely.

Ingredients

6 Asian eggplants (small skinny ones) or two small or one large regular eggplant
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
½ tsp. ground coriander
Fresh coriander and mint to serve

Directions:

Chop the eggplant into pieces about a half-inch square.

Heat the oil in a wok and add the eggplant. Fry over a medium heat for about 4 minutes.

Combine all the other ingredients except the fresh coriander and mint in a small bowl and mix well.

Add the seasonings to the frying eggplant and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened.

Sprinkle with the chopped fresh herbs.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

Serves 4 – 5

Chicken Stir Fry

21 May Chicken Stir-Fry

Chicken Stir-FryWe had a lot of chicken left over after I made roast chicken Friday for just the two of us. Even after making chicken salad for lunch, I still had leftover cooked chicken. A stir fry for supper was the ideal way to use it up.

I don’t usually follow a recipe when I make a stir fry. I wing it, following a few basic principles. I use a lot of veggies, but the exact mixture depends on what I have on hand or what’s available inexpensively at the store. I like to use garlic and ginger for flavor. For a sauce, I concoct something from soy sauce, honey or sherry, and chicken or vegetable stock, thickened with a little cornstarch. If I want a little heat, I mix in some chili paste (available in the Asian section of the grocery store or Asian food stores.) Sometimes I just use a bottled sauce like Soy Vay or Trader Joe’s Soyaki.

If you want to make a vegetarian stir fry, use cubed firm tofu instead of chicken — or just use an additional 2 cups of vegetables.

Sometimes I use a little sesame oil in place of some of the vegetable oil. (Sometimes I don’t, because I forget I have sesame oil available before Iput the vegetable oil in the wok!) You don’t want to use all sesame oil because it’s very strongly flavored and also very expensive, compared to plain old cooking oil.

The essence of stir frying is to use just a little bit of oil. Make it very hot before you add the other ingredients, and cook them quickly over high heat, constantly stirring as the ingredients cook. Vegetables should retain their crunch.

I know this is all very vague, so I wrote down what I did last night, because it was yummy. You can easily substitute other vegetables, including broccoli (cut it into small flowerets and blanch in boiling water for about a minute before stir frying), sliced bok choy, julienned carrots, julienned zucchini, asparagus broken into 1-inch pieces, sliced or diced water chestnuts, or bean sprouts. Use about 3 cups vegetables total for two servings, and about 2 cups of cooked chicken (or thinly sliced rare beef).

Ingredients:

3 Tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. bottled ginger (or use fresh grated)
1 tsp. honey
½ tsp. chili paste with garlic
½ cup vegetable or chicken stock
2 Tbs. vegetable or peanut oil
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
½ cup thickly sliced mushrooms
¼ cup diced red pepper
1 cup snow peas, strings removed
½ cup bamboo shoots
2 scallions, sliced
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed

Directions:

Mix the soy sauce and cornstarch until smooth. Add the ginger, honey, chili paste and vegetable or chicken stock and set aside. Heat the oil in a wok or a large, heavy skillet. Fry the garlic for a few seconds, then add the mushrooms and red pepper and stir fry. When they start to soften, after a minute or two, add the snow peas and bamboo shoots and stir fry for a another minute or two until the peas are tender. Add the scallions and stir fry for another 30 seconds. Add the sauce, and stir constantly until all the vegetables are coated and the sauce thickens a bit. Finally, add the chicken and stir to coat it with the sauce and mix it with the vegetables. Cook just another minute or so until the chicken is hot. Serve over rice.

Serves 2