Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pla Tod Saam-Rod / Fried Whole Fish with Three-Flavored Sauce

 It’s the whole shebang!

It’s the whole fish!

Growing up in Thailand having to eat the whole fish by myself was always a treat!

I love eating fish that still has bones attached. It’s always a challenge, fun, and enjoyable when picking through trying to get the most juicy and sweet meat off without the tiny bones get caught in my throat.
Have you ever done that before?    It’s not a good thing to brag about but I did that so many times! Have I learned a lesson?   Yes! I’ve learned to be more careful next time eating whole fish!

Fish including flesh and bones are edible when fried whole to its most crispiness. I usually leave nothing on a plate when eating fried fish, not even the fish head!   Well, that would be over exaggerated...there are surly some hard bones that should NOT be eaten. 

Whenever I’m having fried whole fish for dinner, the hubby would look at me with awe and says, “Poor fish!”     I just thought it’s hilarious!

***Please do not try this at home if you're not used to eat whole fish with bones

Anyhow, whole fish can be prepared in many ways in Thai cuisine and Pla Tod Sam-Rod is one of many whole fish dishes that Thai people love to eat. This dish might look intimidate to you just by looking at the picture, but the cooking method is as easy as making cupcakes from the cake mixed box. I swear!

If you don’t like fried fish, bake it. No big deal and it’s healthier, too. And if eating the whole fish is not your thing, fish fillets work just as wonderful as whole fish, if not better. I cooked this way just wanted to show you how it’s done in Thai cooking.

Cook the fish in whatever way you like which might take about 10-15 minutes depends on your method and the size of the fish. While the fish is cooking, make the sauce. It takes only 5 minutes max to have the sauce ready for the fish bath.

 And for the record, as wicked as I am, I ate the whole thing by myself!

 It was soooooo goooooood!

What you need: for 1 or 2 servings

 Step 1 – Fry the fish:
  • 1 medium (16 oz.) Red Snapper, cleaned - ( or use fish of your choice)
  • 1-2 cups vegetable oil to fry fish

  • Cut three angle on each side of the fish to the bone so the fish cook faster when fry
  •  Heat the oil in the frying pan or wok on low-heat
  •  Fry fish about 8-10 minutes (depends on the size of your fish) on each side or until it looks crispy. When the fish cooked through, put in the warn very low-heat oven to keep the fish warm while making the sauce.
** Instead of fry fish, it can be baked or steamed


Step 2 – make the sauce:

1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp palm or light brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp Asian chili garlic sauce, or fresh chopped Thai chili
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp finely minced garlic
1/4 cup finely minced shallots
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, finely sliced (option but recommended)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
A handful of cilantro leaves

How to:

  •  Whisk together tamarind paste, brown sugar, fish sauce, water, and chili garlic sauce. Set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil on the medium sauté pan over medium-heat.  When the oil gets hot, add garlic and shallots and cook until they fragrant, then add the sauce mixture. Let it cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add ginger and chopped bell pepper and cook until the sauce get thicken, with consistency of syrup-like, for about 4-5 minutes. It should have a taste of the combination of spicy, sweet, and sour. Adjust the taste for your liking
  • Pour the finished sauce over fried fish and top with cilantro leaves.
  • Serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice.



Sunday, February 17, 2013

Orange Yogurt and Poppy seed Mini Puffed-Cakes

 As I have mentioned from my last post that I’ve been so busy with many things going on around me including my research paper that is desperately waiting for me to finish for the dateline in the coming week. But getting up this morning to a very sunny Sunday makes me want to make something to welcome bright warm sun we have been longing for a while…and more importantly, to de-stress my stiffness a little bit. 
For me, cooking and eating are the best solution. What else? 

Making something with orange has just popped up in my mind...hmm…pancakes? or muffins? And then I ended up with these cutie mini puffed cakes with sweet orange glazed on top to pair with my morning coffee. Wow…nothing can be more perfectly sweet than these mini cakes for this warm sunny day in L.A.


I hope you all have a very awesome sweet day as well!

What you need: makes 22 mini cakes

Dry ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp poppy seed
Wet ingredients:

1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp canola oil
1 large egg
3 tbsp fresh squeeze orange juice

*Cooking spray or oil to grease the muffin pan

Orange Glaze:
1/2 cup confectioner sugar
4 tbsp fresh squeeze orange juice
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
: Stir all the ingredients together to make paste. Add more or less of confection sugar for the consistency of your liking. Set aside.

How to:

- Preheat the oven to 400’F and spray or brush mini muffin pan with oil, set aside.
- Mix the dry ingredients with fork and set aside.
- Mix wet ingredients and then whisk in the dry to blend well. The batter will be lumpy and thick.
- Fill the mini muffin pan with the batter to the top and bake for 15-18 minutes
- Let them cool down on rack before glazing with orange glaze, and serve.



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lemon Crème Brȗlѐe Tart with Strawberry and Kiwi and White Chocolate Hearts

Happy Valentine's Day

Lately, my times have been taken away by my busy schedules, which I don’t even think I will time to cook and put up the post.  But Valentine’s Day is around the corner and I just couldn’t help it and have to find some spare times to do what I love to do most, cooking.

And another good reason for me to do this is because the hubby keeps asking me…
 “What are you going to make for the Valentine’s?”

 “What do you like?”  I asked.

And he said, “Anything with L-E-M-O-N.”

“Not chocolate?”
“Well, anything is good if you make it!”

……..How could I say no to that, right?  …….Okay, that’s his trick to get me to make something. 

And here it is…the perfect Valentine’s Day’s dessert, easy, simple, and elegant… Lemon Crème Brȗlѐe Tart with fresh Strawberry and Kiwi.   And as fancy as I wanna be, I melt some white chocolate chips and pour it in the silicone heart mold to make white chocolate hearts, and they came out so pretty.  

I knowww….it just too fancy but the Valentine’s comes once a year, and I’m telling myself, why don’t have some fun!  
The tart has sweet tangy of lemon, and yet light and creamy with the crunchy of caramelized sugar and simple buttery crust in each bite….ohhhh- lala-licious… that’s all I can say! 

The fun part of making this dessert is using the hand blowtorch to brown the sugar on the top of the tart.  While I’m doing that, I feel like I am making something so elaborately special by turning it to an art form.   Well, that’s just what I think, but it just looks gorgeous, don’t you think?     

But don’t worry if the hand torch is not an option.  Just put it under the broiler and cover around the crust to prevent burn, then you will have a beautiful dessert in no time.

What you need:
For crust – 10-inch tart pan
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tbsp blanched slivered almonds
6 tbsp fine sugar
8 tbsp butter, cold and cubed

For the filling:
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated zest
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
2 tbsp raw sugar for the topping
Fresh strawberries and Kiwi
*White chocolate hearts for decoration - optional


How to:
- Add slivered almonds and 3 tablespoons of sugar into the food processor and pulse until the almonds turn finely ground
- Add flour and another 3 tablespoons of sugar and pulse to combine
- Add cold cubed butter and pulse until it comes together into crumbs when press with your fingers
- Transfer the flour mixture or dough into the tart pan and use your fingers to help spread the dough out evenly up to the side of the tart pan and use the bottom of the measuring cup to help in pressing down
- Bake the crust in the oven at 350’F for 22-25 minutes or until the crust turns slightly brown.  If the crust starts to bubble in the middle, prick it with fork.  Or you can use blind baking method
- While the crust is baking, make the filling by whisking together the eggs, yolks, sugar, cream, vanilla, lemon juice and zest, and salt until they are creamy, and set aside.
- When the tart crust finished baking, carefully remove it and place it on top of the baking sheet.
- Pour the filling through the strainer directly into the hot tart and return it to the oven and bake for another 35-40 minutes or until it puffed around the edge and set in the middle.  Let it cool for at least 1 hour
- When the tart cooled, sprinkle the raw sugar evenly over the top of the tart. Using the blowtorch flame by moving back and forth just above and avoiding the crust until sugar is caramelized and slightly browned but not burn.  Let it cool for another 30 minutes to allow the sugar to harden and crusty
- arrange fresh cut strawberry and kiwi around the tart or as you desired
- cut, serve, and enjoy!
Happy Valentine's Day!



Sunday, February 10, 2013

Barley and Kabocha Squash with Ham Soup

February has took off with my birthday at the beginning of the month, and I have been really busy ever since, mostly with school homework and many things (my apologies for the absence!)  And now is the Chinese New Year; and the Valentine’s is around the corner….OMG! 

With so many things in front of me waiting to be finished over the next few weeks, I think I might have to cut down my cooking and posting time for quite a bit!  I feel really sad right now.

The weather in L.A. has been so freezing cold lately, and I become so lazy when it’s cold.  However, the cold weather like this is so perfect for a big bowl of good-for-your-soul soup to warm up the body a little.  Since the weather has been this cold, I’ve been making and eating all kind of soups, not to mention that I can eat soup any time of the year, hot or cold.  And I’d like to share with you this Barley and Kabocha squash soup with Ham.  This soup is so easy to make. It’s hearty and healthy loaded with all of the goodness from barley and squash…and ham is a bonus – the part that will keep you warm.  However, if you like the soup just all the veggies goodness, skip the meat.

This soup has a little zing of fresh ginger and garlic for health purpose. But there’s not a secret about that if you’ve been following me, you’ll see that I've added ginger and garlic to almost every dish on my blog.  In fact, I never run out of ginger and garlic at my house because I’d freak out if I see them start to disappear.  Ginger and garlic are spices and they will definitely keep you warm.

I used dried pearl barley and added them directly into the boiling pot which it took longer to cook.  I’d suggest that you soak them in water for 30 minutes to soften them up a little so they can be cooked faster.  Notes to myself next time not to forget to do that!

What you need:   for 4 servings
1 cup dried pearl barley
2 cups Kabocha squash, cubed
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp ginger, finely grated
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
2 cups ham, cubed
2 handful baby spinach
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
1/2 tsp Sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
How to:

- Over medium heat, add olive oil in to a heavy bottom pan, add onion and garlic to cook for 1 minute, then add ham, carrot, and celery and continue to cook another 4-5 minutes.

- Add chicken broth and water into the pot and add barley, Kabocha squash, thyme and ginger and season with salt and pepper, then lower the heat to simmer.  Let them cook covered/uncovered for 30-45 minutes or until the barley get really plump up and soften.

- After the barley cooked through and soften, add baby spinach and cook another 1 minute, turn off the heat.
*Notes: use salt sparingly according to the saltiness from the ham you have, if used.


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