Think ASIAN…..I recently was asked to teach a healthy meal that had all of these requirements. I chose these recipes because they really filled all those requests…..but most importantly, they are bursting with great flavor.
Considering the fact that South Louisiana has been experiencing a very cold and rainy month of January, I decided to start with a personal favorite of mine:
Hot and Sour Soup
Because you are making this soup at home, you have the opportunity to control the salt, the chili and the fat content. You can also add whatever vegetables you might like. For instance, Kale or Baby Spinach would be great additions.
What makes this soup even more of a well-rounded meal is the addition of firm Tofu. Tofu is literally tasteless but full of protein. It is wonderful in this soup because it takes on all the flavors that you put into the soup.
I also added Crispy Wonton Strips in this recipe….not because they are usually served with this soup, because they are NOT! I included it because I love them and so did my students!
Hot and Sour Soup
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 1/2 Cups finely shredded green Cabbage
1 large carrot, shredded
1/2 small Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 small green bell pepper, julienned
1” piece of fresh Ginger root, peeled and crushed
2 cloves finely minced Garlic
8 oz. Shitake Mushrooms or White Mushrooms, thinly sliced
1-2 Tablespoons Vinegar (rice wine vinegar or red wine vinegar)
5 cups Vegetable Stock or Chicken Broth
1-2 Tablespoon Low Salt Soy Sauce
1-2 Teaspoons of Hot Sauce (Siracha)
2 Tablespoons Sweet & Sour Sauce
1 teaspoon Sesame oil (optional)
1 Tablespoon Arrowroot or Cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
2 large eggs, beaten
3 green onions, thinly sliced
4 oz. Firm Tofu, cubed
Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add cabbage, carrot, red onion, bell pepper and crushed piece of ginger. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and white pepper to taste. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook one minute more.
Stir in Broth, vinegar, soy sauce, hot sauce, sweet & sour sauce, and sesame oil. (CHIQUI NOTE* I always have left over packets of Sweet & Sour sauce from take-out Chinese dinners. 6-8 packets would work here). Slowly stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook one minute. Fish out the piece of ginger and discard.
With the mixture simmering, slowly stir in the beaten eggs and allow to cook for a moment. Add the julienned tofu and the green onions.
For the Wonton Strips. Place wonton wrappers on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Turn wrappers over to lightly oil both sides. Stack the wrappers on top of each other and cut into thin 1/4” strips. Spread out onto the oiled baking sheet and bake at 350 for about 8-10 minutes, stirring after the first 10 minutes until crispy. Lightly salt as soon as you remove from the oven. Serve in a bowl alongside the soup.
Now for the Chicken Lettuce Wraps. This is a basic recipe….you can add other veggies if you desire. The original way to make this is by using coarsely ground chicken; I prefer to cut up the chicken into small cubes and I serve it as an entrée accompanied with Fried Rice.
Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Here’s a recipe for lettuce wraps similar to the ones at PF Chang’s. It is very good, very easy, light and quick to prepare.
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, cut in very small pieces
2-3 TBS bottled oyster sauce
6 TBS walnut pieces
6 teasp. sesame oil, divided
3 teasp. minced ginger
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 C shredded carrots
1 C diced mushrooms
1 C canned water chestnuts, chopped
2-3 TBS mirin or Chinese rice wine vinegar
1-2 TBS low sodium Soy Sauce
4 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
Hoisin sauce (Bottled)
Butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and drained on paper towels
Toast walnuts in a 350* oven for about 5 minutes. Chop coarsely Place chicken in a bowl with oyster sauce and let stand 10 minutes Heat wok over high heat. Add 3 tsps sesame oil. Add ginger and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add chicken and stir fry for 1 minute. Add garlic, carrots, mushrooms, green onions (save a few for garnish) and water chestnuts. Stir fry 2 minutes. Add remaining 4 tsps. sesame oil, soy sauce and Chinese rice wine vinegar. Cook to heat through a few seconds. Add walnuts and toss to coat. Remove from heat. To serve: Spread a spoon full of hoisin sauce on a lettuce cup, spoon in some of chicken mixture, wrap in lettuce cup and enjoy.
Garnish with wedges of lime if desired.
And finally, maybe my most favorite of all the recipes….Shrimp Fried Rice
4 cups rice, prepared (brown or long grain rice), CHILLED
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound peeled raw shrimp
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 small red onion, julienned
1 small bunch green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 clove garlic, minced
3 eggs, well beaten
1/4 cup soy sauce (low salt or regular) or more
1 cup snow peas
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
1. Prepare rice according to package instructions to yield 4 cups cooked rice. Chill. I prefer Uncle Ben’s converted rice NOT instant.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat.
3. Add onion, garlic, and carrots. Stir fry until tender.
4. Move mixture to one side of the pan and cook the beaten eggs until set. Chop up the cooked eggs and mix throughout the vegetables.
5. Add rice, shrimp, snow peas, bean sprouts and frozen peas to pan. Fold in gently and continue stirring until shrimp are cooked. Allow to come up to heat. Stir in soy sauce and remove from heat.
Serve as a side dish.
CHIQUI NOTE* You can substitute or add cooked, diced pork, ham or chicken breast for the shrimp OR add a little of each!
And finally, I went in a totally different direction for the dessert….I went Italian!!
Balsamic Glazed “Berries in the Snow”
1 Pound Fresh Strawberries, sliced
1 Carton Raspberries
1 Carton Blueberries
Balsamic Glaze (recipe follows)
Almond Mascarpone Cream (recipe follows)
Purchased Vanilla Meringue Cookies
Balsamic Glaze: Place 2 cups Balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring vinegar to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until reduced by 2/3. Cool completely.
Almond Mascarpone Cream: 8 oz Carton Mascarpone Cheese, room temperature mixed with 1 1/2 cups low fat sour cream, 1/4 cup milk or half and half cream, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Mix well until completely blended. Add 2-3 heaping tablespoons confectioner’s sugar or to taste. Blend well. Chill.
In a stemmed glass place some coarsely crushed meringue cookie crumbs. Top with a couple of tablespoons of the fruit, drizzle fruit with Balsamic Glaze and then a spoonful of almond mascarpone cream. You can repeat this if desired. Decorate with sliced almonds or bigger pieces of the crushed meringues. Serve immediately.
CHIQUI NOTE*A dear friend of mine pointed out that desserts served in a champagne flute are pretty, but hard to eat….I use long handled Iced Tea Spoons but serving this dessert in Sherbet cups or even a white wine glass would be lovely, too!
Happy New Year!!
Bon Appetit….until next time……..