Dinner · Indian · Vegetables

Amy’s Napa Cabbage Curry

napa cabbage.jpgThis is a favourite dish in our household at basically at any occasion if we want something nourishing yet aromatic and fragrant. Paired with fluffy steamed jasmine rice, this dish is truly divine. The coconut curry truly blends with the rice and spices in a marriage of flavours ordained by the priests of food alchemy. The cabbage and tiny meat pieces add variety and texture, the roasted lemongrass saturates your mouth in a buttery dance, and the chilis are just enough to give you a kick without making you cry (except perhaps with tears of joy).

I usually use chicken cut into tiny pieces for this recipe and I always marinate the chicken beforehand with fish sauce, white pepper, salt, a little rice wine and a touch of soy sauce. Sometimes, I also add lime juice and oyster sauce, although I feel it is not so necessary. If you choose to use prawns, I recommend leaving the shells and heads on to add an amazing flavour to the curry. I personally love eating prawn heads, but trust me when I say prawn heads (often used to make prawn stock) is where all the flavour comes from!

Amy’s Napa Cabbage Curry

P1060298Ingredients

  • Chicken / prawns /meat substitute (marinated with rice wine, fish sauce, salt, pepper and dash of soy sauce)
  • Napa cabbage (cut side ways and chop into strips)
  • Lemongrass (cut into little bits)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • Lots of ginger
  • Lots of garlic
  • Cumin
  • Coriander seeds
  • Oil of choice
  • ½ cup coconut milk + ½ cup chicken stock (adjust depending on how much curry you want)
    Note: Please buy a Thai brand of coconut milk! I usually use Aroy-D. Tried Western ‘health’ brands and the taste is just not the same. 
  • Lime
  • Coriander (for garnishing)
  • Curry powder + touch of tumeric if you have it
  • 2 freshly cut bird’s eye chilli

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  1. Marinate the meat with the marinade sauce for a few hours / overnight.
  2. Dry-roast the cumin and coriander seeds till they pop.
  3. Put the onion and stir-fry till a bit limp with oil of choice (1-2 minutes)
  4. Put lemongrass and ginger, stir-fry till slightly brown- this releases the flavour in the lemongrass so it turns almost buttery to taste in the curry!
  5. Put chilli and garlic and stir-fry on medium heat 1-2 minutes till lightly brown.
  6. Put chicken and stir-fry lightly but not too much (about 50% seared is enough).
  7. Gradually put cabbage bit by bit and toss about till slightly wilted.
  8. Put coconut milk/ chicken stock mixture in gradually and let simmer gently; put curry powder and cayenne pepper if using.
  9. Garnish with coriander and squeeze lime juice on top.
  10. Serve with jasmine rice and slice of lime!

    napa cabbage curry.jpg


BONUS! Tips for cooking rice on the stove top!
I usually cook my rice in a small pot. I used to cook rice in a rice cooker but I find that unless you have an expensive, reputable one (ie. Tiger or Zojiroshi), the rice tends to come out dry and sad (yes, rice can be sad! and failed rice is something that makes me cry). I always double the water to rice, and I add in some chicken stock and Himalayan pink salt.

First, put to boil and when water is boiling, decrease heat to half. Just when all the water is almost evaporated, cover with lid, turn off heat and let the rice sit and cook gently from the heat of the pot. This additional step is what I found helps to not only prevent burning, but also makes rice soft, yet not too soft!

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Dinner · Seafood · Vegetables

Vietnamese Shrimp Rolls: The Spring Edition

vietnamese rolls alone.pngHi! So here is my version of the Vietnamese Shrimp Roll a.k.a the Asian taco in our household. I changed things up a little to suit my tastes and the springtime weather. My version leaves a refreshing, herby taste in the month. Coupled with fresh shrimps, marinated garlic and fresh herbs, this dish is going to blow your mind in its simplicity and magic! It is really the combination of ingredients here built into a simple rice roll that makes for magical food alchemic goodness.

The trick to this recipe is to get your hands on freshly cut coriander, mint leaves and Thai basil. Also, to dip your shrimp roll into the sweet and sour sauce that just adds the perfect refreshing aftertaste.

For the shrimps, you do not need to use fresh shrimp, but it does help. Blanche the shrimp by putting the shrimp in boiling water for just about a minute with their shells on. Take out immediately when they turn pink. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp! You do not want your shrimp to toughen up. You can also use already cooked shrimp (I usually hate cooked frozen shrimp, but I make an exception for this recipe because it preserves the shrimp’s appearance better).

When I first did this recipe, I stir-fried it with the marinate but this does make  the shrimp shrivel up so it’s not so pretty. But it can be tastier. So I’d stick with blanching + marinating, so it’s like a shrimp salad.

P1060282.JPGAfter your shrimps are cooked, it’s time to slice them in half and devein them. Try not to skip this step as it helps the marinade to penetrate the pasty white shrimp meat better later. You will thank me!

After cooking the shrimp, marinate for 3-4 hours.

Assemble rest of items below in bowls, together with rice rolls and dipping sauce! I’ve included instructions for wrapping at the end of the post. 🙂

17797936_10154291922760286_1241067384_o.jpgMarinade for approximately 1 bag of shrimps: 

  • 1 shallot chopped into tiny pieces
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic (my policy for garlic is the more the merrier, so adjust to your preferences), crushed and chopped
  • 1 small piece ginger, chopped
  • 2 bird’s eyed chilli, chopped and deseeded (unless you want to suffer death by Chilli, then feel free to leave the seeds in. Personally, I just deseed the main part and leave some seeds on my cutting board)
  • 2 tbs Fish sauce approximately
  • 1tbs rice wine vinegar

Assemble in bowls:

  • Lettuce shredded
  • Cilantro
  • Mint leaves
  • Basil (Thai basil has a slightly different taste that accompanies this dish well)
  • Beansprouts!
  • Rice vermicelli (soaked in water till limp then cut into roll length pieces).
  • Chopped nuts (I use cashews/walnuts, although traditionally peanuts are used)
    Optional:
  • Thinly sliced carrots
  • Thinly cut cucumbers

dipping sauce.jpgVietnamese dipping sauce (makes 500ml)

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Same amount of hot water as sugar
  • 4-6 Chopped garlic
  • 2 Chopped bird eyed chilli (green or red)
  • 1tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 125ml fish sauce
  • 60ml Lime juice
  • Green onions/ coriander chopped into little bits

Mix warm water with sugar till dissolved, add other ingredients! This lasts about one week. You can freeze the remaining or you can do what I did, half the recipe and eat it three times in a row under the pretence of ‘recipe testing’ (actually not really a pretence. It was that good!).

Preparing Rice Rolls: Prepare a salad bowl of water next to the assembled ingredients. You are going to soak each rice roll in water for about 30 seconds till it is slightly soft to touch. When it is slightly translucent when put on your plate, it is ready to be wrapped! Don’t worry if it is too soft… it will dry up and become slightly sticky.

How to Wrap a Shrimp Roll

how to wrap a shrimp roll.jpg
Some wrapping tips:

  1. It doesn’t matter how many ingredients you have, but it’s essential to leave the ‘chunky’ bits like the rice noodles and beansprouts under or inside the lettuce to make it more compact.
  2. If you need the ends to stick, wet fingers and fold.
  3. After rolling sides, roll bottom then roll top as well, like a box.
  4. I like putting the marinade in with the shrimp. Those scallions are nom!Note: I haven’t found a way to dip it without spilling it. if anyone has tips on that, tell me! I know some people also cut their rolls in half after wrapping. I’m not sure how they prevent stuff spilling out there! Haha, tell me if you have any wrapping tips. I’m infamous for being a bad shish taouk/ taco wrapper, so this is not my strong suite.

Enjoy! Some people also enjoy it with a peanut sauce, but I personally like the freshness of this version. 🙂

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Still failing to eat shrimp rolls without things falling apart. One day, I will be able to apply the same skills to shrimp rolls as I have with art.