Tag Archives: ginger

Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul

8 Feb

IMG_2487My Facebook news feed is flooded with updates of plans and preparations for the potential historical blizzard – winter storm Nemo. Since you cannot really beat Mother Nature at her game, why not stay in and warm up with an effortless, delicious and hearty one-pot soup-based meal? And even if you are not caught in the eye of this storm this is the ideal flavorful and healthful one-pot meal for any chilly night.

This soup is a detour from a classic chicken noodle soup; it is in fact a Far East variation of it. Ginger, lemongrass, lime and Thai birds-eye chilies breathe new life into a classic chicken broth, while the bacon adds a layer of smokiness to it. The chicken, noodles, bok choy and mushrooms come together to create a well-balanced meal. There’s nothing wrong with a traditional chicken and egg-noodle soup, but this feisty and flamboyant cousin is sure to gratify your soul on a cold and dreary day.

Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul
Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats: Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup with Lime and Ginger Recipe
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth (Store bought or homemade)
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, cut into 2 inch pieces (see note)
2, 1 inch pieces of ginger, peeled
2 -3 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
2 Thai birds-eye chilies, seeded and diced
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast (or 2 small ones)
½ tablespoon of good olive oil
3 slices of center cut bacon, diced
½ cup scallions (whites and greens), minced
2-3 bunches of baby bok choy, roughly chopped
6-8 thinly sliced shitake mushrooms (see note)
1/3 cup thin Thai basil, shredded (see note)
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
4 ounces of rice noodles or ramen-style Japanese noodles, cooked al dente per package instructions
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon of cilantro
Optional condiment: Siracha sauce, to be added per taste at the time of serving

Notes:

  • Fresh lemongrass is available at all Asian grocery stores and several large grocery chains. If you cannot find fresh lemon grass then, substitute it with the bottled kind that can be found in the international aisles of most grocery stores.
  • Thai basil is available at all Asian grocery stores and several large grocery chains.
  • You can substitute the shitakes with crimini or white button mushrooms.
  • The fish sauce and broth are salty, so make sure before you add any additional salt you taste the soup to determine how much you need.

Method:
1) Pour the chicken broth into a large stock pot. To this add the lemongrass, ginger, garlic cloves and birds eye chilies. Bring these ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the broth reaches a roaring boil, reduce the heat to low and add the chicken breast. Cover and simmer until the chicken breast is fully cooked.
2) Turn-off the heat and remove the pot from heat. Remove the chicken breast and it set aside to cool. Remove the ginger pieces and garlic cloves from the broth and discard. At this point you can even discard the lemon grass, but I prefer to remove it right at the end as it keeps infusing the soup with flavor. Set the broth aside to use in the soup. Use a fork to shred the chicken once it has cooled and is easy to work with.
3) In a medium Dutch-Oven or soup-pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the diced bacon and cook it through. Now add the scallions and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
4) Add the broth to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil (uncovered). Once it reaches a rolling boil, reduce the heat to low and add the bok choy and mushrooms. Cook for a minute and then add the shredded basil, chicken, noodles, fish sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Give everything a good stir and then turn-off the heat.
5) Stir in the lime juice and garnish with cilantro. Serve with Siracha sauce for some extra heat!

Ginger-Garlic Fried Quinoa

9 Oct

One of my favorite restaurants in New York City is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s  Spice Market. It is a chic and sexy restaurant in the Meatpacking District that specializes in South East Asian street food. Over the years, my husband and I have worked our way through most of its food and cocktail menu and every taste is worth writing home about. Some of our all time favorites include the spicy Thai fried chicken wings, the Nonya seafood laksa, and the ginger fried rice. Spice Market’s ginger fried rice is possibly my favorite fried rice.

I recently came across an old New York Time’s post where Mark Bittman shared Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Ginger Fried Rice recipe with a few modifications to it. Bittman uses Jasmine rice but I decided to recreate this dish with quinoa. I have come to realize that quinoa works as a great rice substitute for bold Asian flavors as it absorbs the flavors very well.

The quinoa soaks in the flavors and aromas of the nutty sesame oil and savory soy sauce. It comes together with the crisped ginger-garlic and softened leeks to create a party of flavors and textures in the mouth. So go ahead and try this recipe with quinoa or use up leftover brown or white rice to make this. Either way you will be creating a scrumptious crowd pleaser.

Ginger-Garlic Fried Quinoa
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Ginger Fried Rice
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 3 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa (See note)
2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
3 tablespoons vegetable, canola or peanut oil, divided
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and green parts, rinsed and dried
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ tablespoon sesame oil
3 large eggs (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Notes:

  • You can use leftover rice – brown or white rice work great in place of the quinoa. Just make sure the rice is a day old, otherwise you will have mushy fried rice.

Method:
1) Place the quinoa and broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. When it has reached a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer and cover and cook till all the water is absorbed (10-15 minutes).  Quinoa appears soft and translucent when it is cooked and a ring is visible on the outer edges of the grain. Use a fork to fluff the cooked quinoa and set it aside.
2) In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook till it is crisp and brown. Keep stirring this so that it does not burn. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the fried garlic and ginger to a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
3) In the same skillet add the remaining oil and add the leeks. Cook the leeks until they are tender but not brown. Make sure you stir the leeks occasionally to ensure that they do not burn.  Season them lightly with salt once they are cooked.
4) Now add the quinoa to this skillet and stir it with the leeks. Season this with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and ½ tablespoon of sesame oil. Taste the quinoa and adjust the soy sauce and sesame oil as needed.
5) If using the eggs in a small skillet fry them to sunny-side up, till the edges are set but yolk is still runny. Season the eggs with some pepper and drizzle with a little soy sauce and sesame sauce.
6) Divide rice among 3 plates. Top each with the fried garlic and ginger, followed by an egg (if you are using eggs).

TANGY TILAPIA CURRY

25 Sep

“You are what you eat” – Nutritionist Victor Lindlahr

This commonly used phrase implies that to be fit and healthy you need to eat good food. Bearing this in mind, I ensure that we incorporate several of the “superfoods into our meals. “Superfood” is the marketing term often used to describe foods that are high in nutrients that bestow health benefits. Not only are these foods high in essential nutrients, but they are also very low in negative attributes such as saturated fats, contaminants and additives.

I choose to believe that eating “superfoods” which are lower in calories and high in rich and beneficial nutrients counteracts (at least to a certain extent) some of less healthy meals we devour.  It’s great to be a non-discriminating foodie, but it’s also essential to make healthful decisions along the way. This is why we eat fish for dinner at least once we week. Fish is often considered a “superfood” as it is a lean protein that is low in calories and high in Omega 3 fatty acids that are very beneficial for our bodies.

Since this is my first fish post, I want to share a fish recipe that reminds me of my childhood – one that’s made at my parents’ home on a regular basis. My mom uses Rawas (Indian Salmon fish) for this curry, but I use Tilapia as American salmon tastes quite different from the Indian kind.

Tilapia is a mild tasting fish and hence a great palette for the aromatic Indian spices and tangy tamarind. You can use any mild tasting white fish you like for this recipe. Traditionally, this fish curry is served with Basmati rice, but its bold flavors are delectable even when eaten by itself.

Tangy Tilapia Curry
Yields: 4 servings
Time: 45 minutes from start to finish

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
1 large red onion, diced
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
2 small tomatoes, grated (See note)
1 ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon red chili powder (See note)
1 teaspoon ground coriander powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin powder
1 teaspoon Garam Masala (See note)
4-5 curry leaves
2 seeded and finely chopped green chilies
2 cups of water
4 skinless tilapia fillets (or any mild white fish)
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate or paste
1-2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro for garnish

Notes:

  • To grate the tomatoes cut them in half across the width and remove the seeds with a paring knife. Use the larger side of a box grater to grate the meat side of the tomatoes. Discard the peels once done.
  • If you do not have red chili powder you can use cayenne.
  • Garam Masala is found in major chain grocery stores and Indian grocery stores. If you do not have a store-bought Garam Masala, you can easily make and bottle your own. Here is an easy Garam Masala recipe.

Method:

1) In a medium non-stick pan heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat
2) Once the oil is hot, add the onions and sauté until golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Stir the onions while sautéing them to ensure even cooking.
3) Once the onions are ready, add the ginger paste and garlic paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
4) Add the grated tomatoes with a ¼ teaspoon of salt to the onions, garlic and ginger. Adding salt to the tomatoes helps them cook faster. Cook the tomatoes, stirring occasionally, till the oil separates from them. About 6-7 minutes.
5) Add all the dried spices and cook them for 2 minutes.
6) Now turn off the heat and let the above mixture cool a little. Once it’s cooled puree this concoction in a food processor or blender and set aside.
7) In a medium non-stick pot heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the curry leaves and green chilies and cook them for 2-3 minutes. Don’t let the curry leaves burn.
8) Add the onion-tomato puree that was set aside to this pot and cook till the puree turns to a reddish-brown color. This takes about 8-10 minutes.
9) Once the puree is the desired color, add the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 cups of water and bring it to a rolling boil.
10) Once the water reaches a rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the tilapia fillets. Cover and let it simmer for 5-6 minutes or until the Tilapia fillets are fully cooked through and fork tender.
11) Turn off the heat and carefully stir in the tamarind paste.
12) Taste and adjust the salt, spice or tamarind paste. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately with a side of Basmati rice.

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