Thursday, July 22, 2010

Do Not Be Afraid of the Pungency

Have you ever seen a large spiky fruit in asian marketplaces? Sầu riêng in my mother tongue also known as Durian fruit. I'll be honest, I think you have be exposed to this from birth to really love the taste because after all, to taste food you must smell it. Durian, smells like fermenting garbage but it tastes very sweet.. Quite exciting actually, every time you watch the thick spiky outer layer be removed, you are fascinated by how many little yellow sections you can find inside. They're all hiding. The flesh itself is very delicate, the section is enclosed in a soft skin which you eat, once you bite into it the texture is very creamy and fibrous. Those fibres are attached to a tim bit sized seed. It is easy to confuse Durian and Jackfruit known as Mít in Vietnamese. Jackfruit also looks like a chestnut on steroids but it's fruit is much different. Jackfruit flesh also yellow but rubbery and smells quite sweet. It amazes me how both durian and jackfruit are grown from trees.. and there are brave people out there who pick them.

Shrimp Wontons

For me, at the very least, there is no better comfort food than a bowl of home made soup. With the help of a few packaged store bought items that is. Still, soup is the food of all warm and loving people.

The packaging says it expires 30 Dec 2009, this picture was taken back in Sept. 09, it's just taken me awhile to post this!

Very easy:
1/2 lb peeled shrimp
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp wonton soup mix
30 or so wonton wrappers (they come in pack of 50's)
optional : bok choy, mushrooms, spinach, I put frozen veggies in my soup.

Very easy.
Chop into small pieces
In a bowl, mix shrimp with black pepper and corn starch

Take a wonton wrapper and scoop a teaspoonful onto the wrapper.

Like so.. maybe situate the filling to one half of the wrapper if it is easier to work with.

Have a little bowl of water handy. Dip your finger into the bowl and run your finger along the edges of half of the wrapper.

Carefully fold in the edges making a few pleats. You want the dumplings to be tight but try not to rip the pastry. It is delicate. Boil 4 cups of water and stir in the wonton soup mix. This way your soup will be ready when your wontons are done.

When you've completed your wontons. Slide them into the boiling soup. Shrimps do not take a long time, a minute and a half I think. I added a cup of frozen veggies into the hot soup for a more nutritious soup. Enjoy!

Use What You Got! (Spicy Pasta)

Ever have just one celery stalk leftover? Or tomatoes too ripe? And in your pantry you find about a cup of pasta noodle? In my home we always have noodles and we always have some sort of canned sauce around...Well here is it, easy fancy meals made using whatever you have, believe me it is healthy and delicious! I just started out with whatever I found, do the same for yours!

Tina's Favorite Pasta
-whatever you have! ... not joking
-handful of spaghetti, 1 1/2 cup of bow tie pasta
-2X ripe tomatoes, carrots, celery
-1/2 medium white onion
-1 large can of tomato sauce (I had spicy red pepper)
-salt & pepper to season
-OPTIONAL: shrimp, chicken, seasoning salt, garlic salt, cilantro to garnish

How To:
 Wash your vegetables. Chop the celery about 1 cm thick, peel and chop your carrots the same size. Do the same for your onion. Put your saucepan on the stove and turn the heat to medium high. Give a good splash of oil, I used EVOO (extra virgin olive oil).

Throw in your trio medley stirring a bit and then cover, turn heat down to just medium. Let it sweat and release juices. You can add 1/4 cup of water if the pot is drying out. Cover with lid. I use this time to do other things like dance around the kitchen =)

Chop your ripe tomatoes preserving as much juice as you can, so don't put too much pressure on them. I like to use fresh tomatoes in my pasta sauces because it gives a little more body and fresh flavor. You can rough puree your tomatoes if you don't like biting into one. With fresh tomatoes requires a little more salt to adjust to your own taste.
After a couple mins of sweating vegetables, take the lid off to see if they've soften or if something burnt! Put in your tomatoes and stir!

Hopefully after a minute or so the tomato looks completely blended with the rest of the vegetables. You can put the sauce in! Stir well and make sure the heat is not too high or the sauce will bubble and hit you in the face. You just want to warm it up.
Turn the heat off once hot and season with garlic salt if handy, pepper. Stir in some chopped flat leaf parsley. (I secretly added some chili powder)

The reason I do sauce before noodles is because the noodles will take the shape of the colander and become sticky if they were done first and waiting for sauce to accompany! Make the sauce first because you can easily warm if back up but you can't detangle spaghetti.

Boil a large pot of water, salt it generously. Throw your pasta in when it bubbles big. I did some bow tie pasta first, that took less than 10 minutes, then i scooped it out and threw in my spaghetti. Cook until al dente (nearly done, but not too soft, it is not hard or under-cooked).

I had some shrimp handy, maybe only 8. Defrost, peel, butterfly it to remove the vein.

I also defrosted some chicken breast, I eat a lot of chicken and shrimp because I don't eat meat.

I gave those 3ounce chicken breasts a very generous seasoning of seasoning salt.
On to the mini grill it goes!
They'll be ready once the juices run clear. 

Let the chicken sit for awhile so the juices don't just run while cutting. Then cut the breasts up in nice little slices.

As for the shrimp, turn the sauce back onto high and stir them suckers in! The sauce will be hot and ready for the pasta which should be done soon.... right?

Drain the noodles, plate and scoop some sauce over. Top with some chicken slices.

MMM... Tina had 3 servings of this! There was enough for 6 GERNEROUS servings to be honest, interestingly enough I had company when this was done! My friend and sister in law enjoyed it!