This is the part of the site where I give away some tricks of the cooking trade…
Please follow me on Instagram for photos of all my latest creations! I will be updating this part of the website this summer. @freelancevida
First off, make the Jasmine Rice. Roughly 2 cups of water for 1 cup of Jasmine Rice. Make at least 4 cups of dry rice for a group of 15 (8 cups of water). That should help you with ratios…
Ingredients for the sauce (this recipe is for 4-6 people):
2 cans Coconut milk
1 package medium-firm tofu (you can also use any protein–chicken, shrimp, beef–just be sure to cook it first separately and drain it)
Mai Ploy (or any brand) Red Curry paste, about 2-6 Tablespoons depending
3 bunches of baby bok choy (rinsed and chopped, watch for dirt in base)
1 red bell pepper (chop however you like, i like slivers)
at least 5-6 big leaves of fresh basil
1 juicy lime
Take Tofu out of package and drain it…Then leave it out for as long as you can prior to needing it for the curry! This helps to take the water out…so leave it on a paper towel or cloth napkin.
Optional step: you can fry the tofu in canola oil (pre-season it with salt and pepper). Not necessary but helps to hold the texture of the tofu together in the sauce.
Combine coconut milk with red curry paste. Think about color, but think about spice. If it ends up being too spicy, you can always cut it later with the lime juice. Whisk curry paste into coconut milk. For 2 cans of coconut milk and a medium-hot spicy curry, I usually add about 3 T of Mai Ploy red curry paste.
Once coconut milk is hot but DO NOT BOIL, add all your rinsed and chopped veggies to the curry.
Just before you are about to serve, add fish sauce until it brings out the flavor of the curry. Fish sauce is super important, and so is the tasting part of the process!
Finish with fresh lime to cut the spice of the curry and bring out the rest of the flavors. Pour over the rice and really blow the socks off of everyone with a bit of shredded (chiffonade) basil to the top of the dish! Bon Appetit!
THYME SHALLOT DRESSING
Shallots (You need about 1 cup per one box of Thyme)
Fresh Thyme (at least one box)
2 T Dijon Mustard
3 T (? See below) Red Wine Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Chop about a cup of shallots as tiny as you can make them, and then make them even smaller. Pick a butt-load of fresh thyme. You want about equal parts of thyme to shallots. Add those to a jar (make sure you have a lid that fits). Add about 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard and fill 1/4 of the jar with red wine vinegar. Add a ton of Salt & Pepper (kosher salt is the best). Grind the pepper until your wrist hurts!
SHAKE IT!!!!! This is the emulsification process. Very important. Smell it after you’ve shaken it, decide what you need more/less of . Oh wait, if you need less of something in there good luck! I usually play around with the mustard/red wine vinegar ratio. A general rule is to have 1:3 red wine vinegar to olive oil ratio.
After it smells yummy (and it will), add a bunch of olive oil. About 3x as much red wine vinegar as you used.
To use this salad dressing effectively, pour into the bottom of your salad bowl before you put any lettuce or other goodies in there. Throw in tomatoes/avocado/beets/green beans/cucumber (any of your salad fixins’) in the bottom and add a bit more salt and pepper. Toss those around before you toss your greens in there!
This is the best salad dressing in the world! Just letting you know!
When you see “Spring Rolls” on a menu or picture them in your mind, what do you envision? Are you imagining some crispy, indulgent explosion of flavor? Or a fresh, revitalizing, and energizing snack? For me, I like a combination of the two, with the indulgent part coming as a complimentary dip to the “spring” flavor of super fresh vegetables.
Here is how I make my spring rolls!
You will need:
1 large mixing bowl
1 package of rice papers (I like the “OK” brand)
1 red bell pepper, slivered (see technique below)
A couple of carrots, peeled into strips
Romaine (1 head), finely shredded
1 cup fresh basil (whole leaves)
1 cup fresh mint (whole leaves)
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Avocado (see trick, below)
Slivering your red pepper: to get the most flavor, the least amount of water, and incredible burst of color, cut the inner membrane of the red pepper off with a thin slice of your knife. From there, you can dice or sliver the red pepper for the spring rolls!
Avocado Trick: You have an avocado. You want the avocado. You do not, however, want the skin. And don’t you hate it when the spoon ruins that killer texture? How to slice? How to dice? Never fear. This trick is here to save your avocado!
Cut the very tips of either end of the avocado off. Cut avocado down the middle…Use the knife to karate-chop the pit and extract it from one of the sides it came off with…Then you are free to PEEL the skin off and you are left with two perfect avocado halves! Genius! Thank you BOB for teaching me that!
Toss all your ingredients (except, um, rice papers) in a giant salad bowl, like this one.
Meanwhile, get a skillet with about 1 1/2 inches of water steaming hot. This part, my friends, is all about technique, and chances are you will need some practice! While the water is heating up, clean a space on your counter right next to the skillet (if possible) really well. Clear out all stuff from the counter and this will be your spring rollin’ spot! Wipe down with a wet paper towel rag to leave a small amount of moisture.
You have your space all cleared out, the spring roll ingredients are mixed and in your mixing bowl. It’s time to ROLL!
These rice papers are about a dime a dozen, or maybe like $1.50 for 50 papers, so don’t be afraid to mess up on a bunch of them. Here’s what you do!
Take one rice paper and hold it just on the very end. Slowly dip in the skillet with the water and count to 3. Spin the paper around (you will probably feel some heat on your fingers here) and make sure your original hand-holding spot gets wet too. You want the rice paper to get warm enough to become pliable, but not so soaked that it rips apart. You’ll see what I mean!
Next, lay the rice paper flat on the counter top and put a medium sized handful of the spring roll mix in the middle of the rice paper. Fold each end (the tips) of the rice paper in towards the middle. Carefully pull the side closest to you up from the counter top (it might be sticky) and fold it away from you. You want to get the tightest roll possible, and the rice papers can handle some stretching. It might take you a few tries!
When you’re all done, it’s nice to cut them on a bias (angle) to serve. They look cool on the plate that way!
And the dipping sauces…Next post will be the recipe for peanut sauce! I serve with a trio: fish sauce with jalapeño and lime, thai sweet chili sauce, and peanut sauce. Enjoy!
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