Monday, June 24, 2013

Combination Fried Rice

"Can I have an order of shrimp fried rice?"  Wow, real creative ordering!  Sit in any Asian restaurant across America and those words will be uttered.  Combinations of this dish exist all over the world from curry fried rice to Thai hot dog fried rice (yes, it exists) to Hawaiian fried rice (of course it includes spam). Arguably the most popular dish in Asian-American cuisine is fried rice, and sometimes it seems as though fried rice is more American than Asian, but have you ever tried to make it at home?

Sometimes nothing beats a nice warm bowl of fried rice, and the Vietnamese add Chinese sausage and fish sauce to theirs which gives it a wonderful sweet and salty flavor. 

Com Chien-Combination Fried Rice 
8 oz. Gulf shrimp peeled and deveined
8 oz. salt fish diced (see notes)
1 cup Chinese sausage sliced
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 carrot diced
1 medium onion diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
4 cups cooked Jasmine rice
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp black pepper
3 eggs scrambled
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup chopped cilantro

Notes- Salt fish can be purchased at an Asian market and must be rehydrated before using.  However, you can make your own solution by combining 1 quart of water with 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of salt.  Mix until dissolved, and pour the solution over clean fish filets and hold in a refrigerator for 4-5 hours or overnight if desired (depending on the salinity level you wish to incorporate).

Any number of vegetables can be added to fried rice including peas, celery, leafy greens such as chard or spinach, small cut green beans, etc.

In a hot wok or big skillet, add sesame oil and in small batches sear the shrimp.  When they are not quite cooked through, remove them to a plate and reserve for later.  Do the same thing to the fish.  Add the sausage and let the juices begin to release, then remove and hold.  In the same wok, add onions, carrots, and garlic and sweat while scraping any bits of the bottom of the pan.  

Once the vegetables are soft, add the eggs and lightly scramble, when they are still runny on top begin to fold in the rice and vigorously stir fry everything.  Add seasoning and both sauces and fold thoroughly.  Add shrimp, fish, and sausage and continue to stir fry until proteins are cooked and check for flavor.  If you need to add more sauce or pepper, feel free.  Fold in green onions and cilantro.

The rice should be free of clumps and thoroughly mixed with all ingredients.  Enjoy with a nice cold beer!!  

Musically, I was torn, so I chose Fugazi.  I put on Repeater which is arguably the greatest album of all time, and I feel if I were stranded on an island, this album could get me through.  From the opening song "Turnover", this album is filled with complex musical structures and lyrics.  It is hard to believe that it is 23 years old, and for all of you out there listening to bands such as the Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam, check this out.  Fugazi straight up kicks ass!  Although, they might not use this recipe since they are vegan.  At least the music is great!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Vietnamese Style Stir Fried Clams

Freshly steamed clams are among nature's great treasures!!  These amazing bivalves create a succulent broth with very little help.  The Vietnamese use clams and lemongrass to create wonderful street food, and this style of cooking has been used with mussels and snails also. Some crushed peanuts and herbs adds to a delightful snack!  This recipe has two steps.  A quick stir fry with the first round of seasoning, and then we will steam them in a sauce.  The clam broth combined with our soy based sauce will leave us no choice but to sop it up with some great bread.

Con Nghieu Hap- Vietnamese Steamed Clams
5 lbs. Littleneck Clams (about 50 each)
2 Thai Chilis minced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp ginger minced
2 tbsp canola oil

3 tbsp thick soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Vietnamese coriander

First, make sure the clams are clean.  Discard any open or broken clams.  Place them in cold water in the refrigerator and leave for about 20-30 minutes.  Then remove from the cold water allowing the dirt to remain on the bottom of the bowl.  Place them in a new bowl and cover with a damp towel.

While the clams soak, combine the ingredients for the stir fry sauce.  

In a hot wok or larger pan, add canola oil and stir fry garlic, ginger, and chilis.  When they become very fragrant, add the clams and toss to coat.  Pour in the sauce and gently shake clams to coat.  Cover and steam for about 10 minutes, or until all the clams have opened.  

Finished with a generous helping of the chopped herbs and some crusty bread!! 

In South Louisiana summer is upon us, and we tend to look for refreshing beverages.  Today's drink is a nice crisp gewurztraminer from Pacific Rim.  A grape that originates from Alsace,  gewurztraminer has a low acidity, and when trying to think of comparable flavors just imagine ginger and peach.  Pacific Rim is a winery from the Columbia Valley in Washington where this grape is now heavily marketed.  A rather sweet and summery wine, it paired up nicely with the clams.