Friday, May 29, 2015

Pad Prik Khing Moo / Thai Spicy Stir-fry Pork and Green Beans

I haven’t mentioned about my three weeks vacation to my homeland, Thailand, have I?   Well, there were so many things and so much to talk about my trip.  But if I start talking about it, there would never be an end of the story.  Not that I don’t want to share, but I can tell you this.  I ate a lot!  I also gained a few pounds! And I just don’t care!   Would you worry about gaining weight on your vacation?  Nah. I don’t think so!   Anyway, I had an AMAZING and MEMORABLE time with my family that will last forever.

Back to LA, I’m trying to settle down with my normal life without my family around except the hubby and my two dogs. It feels good to be home though I’m still missing the real authentic Thai food especially from the street vendors.  They are the BEST!

Whenever I feel a little homesick, I usually cook something that will remind me of “home.”  Pad Prik Khing is one of many Thai dishes I make more often.   This dish is quite well-known and popular among Thai people.  It absolutely contains some heat from the chili paste but not too overly spicy as you might think when you see the picture.  

The prik khing chili paste can be made from scratch but why bother when it can be purchased conveniently at Asian supermarkets.  I usually use the same Thai brand – MaeSri that comes in a small four ounces container, and it can be used twice if making for s few people.  However, the chili paste can be added more or less depending on your liking of spicy. The dish has the balance flavors of saltiness and sweetness, and the unique scent and taste from the kaffir lime leaves.  And this dish is needed to be served with steamed jasmine rice.  Pad prik khing takes little times to cook as long as all the ingredients are prepared and ready to go.  However, there is nothing much to prepare since it has only few main ingredients, and it can be made with any meat of your choice including seafood.   I had made this dish before with shrimp – Pad prik khing goong and posted earlier on my blog. This time I pad (stir-fry) prik khing with moo (pork).  If you are not Thai and trying to make this dish, you may find it a little bit annoying when you try to look for fish sauce and kaffir lime leaves.   The fish sauce might be easier to find at any Asian supermarket, but to look for a package of fresh kaffir lime leaves might be a little difficult since not every Asian supermarket has it.   I get a little irritate sometimes when I can’t find it when I really need it, and I have to go to a certain store that has it far away from my house just to get it.  And when I find it, I will buy a few packages (it comes in a little package) and put them in the freezer for later use.  However, if I leave them too long in the freezer, the bright green color of its leaf will turn brown from the frost bite and diminish the aroma of the kaffir lime leaves.  I usually forget to use them on time before they are completely become useless.

Anyway, I plan to plant my own kaffir lime tree in my backyard in the near future.   By all means, if it’s too hard to find, just use sweet basil leaves or Thai holy basil, but not the Thai basil because the distinctive flavor of the Thai basil is completely different and might change flavor of the whole dish.   Oh, one thing that is missing from my photos is the thinly slices of red chili pepper just for garnishing, otherwise, you won’t miss a thing. 

 What you need:  can be served up to 4 servings
8 oz. pork meat, thinly sliced in bite size
8 oz. green beans, cut into 1 1/2 inches long
2 tbsp. Thai Prik Khing chili paste 
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp. thinly julienned kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp. cooking oil
*steamed white/brown rice to be served with

1. Blanch the green beans and set them aside.  To do this, bring water to a full rolling boil in a medium pot, add the green beans and let them cook for about 3-4 minute. Then quickly remove, strain, and transfer to the prepared ice-water bowl to stop them from cooking and to preserve the green color.  ***you can skip this step by adding the green beans directly into the pan at the same time of seasoning on step 3.
2. Heat the cooking oil in the sauté pan over medium heat.  After the oil get hot, add Prik Khing chili paste and stir-fry until it’s fragrant and the oil turns a little red.

3. Add the pork meat, turn the heat up to high, and cook the meat about 3 minutes. Then seasoning with fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar and stir to combine.  At this point, the pan will quickly get too dry, add 1/4 cup of water, stir, and cook for another minute or until the pork meat is cook.  There should be some water left as a sauce.  *Add more water if it’s too dry.

4. Add the blanched green beans and kaffir lime leaves, stir to mix well, and then take off the heat immediately. 

5.  Serve pad prik khing with steamed rice and enjoy! 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mini Mango Cheesecakes

For the last few weeks, I had kept my mango puree in the freezer with the intention to make a mango cake.  But I was so busy + lazy + no motivation + low energy + many excuses, as a result, there was no cake!  Finally in the middle of the night I decided to make these mini cheesecakes.  These mini mango cheesecakes have the mango jelly on the top with the optional crowning of the maraschino cherries just for the fun of it.
See the color?  I just love the color contrast of the three – yellow, red, and green!  They are so pretty!  Don’t you think?    

The mango puree was from four small very ripe manila mangoes that I cut, pureed, and got two cups out from them.  I don’t usually like my dessert too overly sweet. These mini cheesecakes have the perfect amount of sweetness and the mango jelly on the top has no sugar added at all.  Again, it depends on how sweet the mangoes are and sugar should be adding accordingly. 
These mini cheesecakes make the perfect dessert, especially for the party where people can just grab it and walk away eating it without the need of utensils, except a piece of napkin to wipe of any remain crumbs on your lips.  The hubby loves these mini cheesecakes for that reason.  

So, what are you waiting for?  This Memorial Day weekend is the perfect reason to make mini cheesecakes to feed your family and friends.  They sure will be please and praise you for making them happy. 

Makes 12 servings
For the crust 
3/4 cup ground graham cracker
3 tbsp. melted butter, cooled

1. preheat the oven to 350’ F
2. line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liner cups
3. add melted butter into the ground graham cracker and mix well
4. fill each muffin cup with a 1 tablespoon of the crust mixture and firmly press down with the bottom of the glass that fit the muffin cup to compact the crust
5. bake the crust for 5 minutes, take them out, and leave the oven on but decrease the temperature down to 325’ F

For the filling
*everything should be in the room temperature before mixing
1 (8 oz.) Philadelphia cream cheese
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup mango puree

1. in the medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar with the handheld mixture at medium speed until smooth. Then add egg, egg yolk, sour cream, and vanilla extract into the bowl and continue beat until completely smooth.  Stir in mango puree and mix well.
2. fill each cup evenly with the batter
3. bake at 325’F about 20 minutes or until the center of the cheesecake is just set.
4. when they are cooked, take them out and let cool.  **Meanwhile, let make the mango jelly to go on top of the cheesecakes (see below).
5. when the cheesecakes and the mango jelly have cooled down completely, fill each cheesecake with the mango jelly evenly.  Chill the cheesecakes in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to one hour for the jelly to set before serving. 

***Garnish with maraschino cherries is optional! 

Mango jelly
1/2 cup mango puree
1 tsp. lemon or lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin powder
3 tbsp. water
1. in a small bowl, stir water into the gelatin powder and set aside to let it bloom for a few minutes.
2. heat mango puree and lime juice over low heat. When it gets bubbles, add the bloomed gelatin, stir quickly for a few seconds, take off the heat, and let it cool down completely before fill in on the top of the cooled cheesecakes.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Kale and Cabbage Slaw with Imitation Crab

What are you cooking for the Memorial Day weekend?  Most of us would be firing up the grill and barbecue some sausages, chicken, ribs, or anything that can be grilled, just for fun.  What’s about the side dish?   If you’re tired of the usual cabbage slaw with the creamy ranch dressing, I have another kind of slaw with a lighter version of the dressing for you to try and I promise that all of your guests would love it – Kale and Cabbage slaw with Imitation Crab and soy vinaigrette dressing.  This slaw can be made a few hours ahead before the grilling start so you won’t be sweating out trying to put everything together at the same time.   And don’t worry if someone doesn’t like kale, they would never know unless you say something.

By the way, the imitation crab can be omitted.  I put it in my slaw just because I had it in my refrigerator and was trying to use it up. It gave the slaw a refreshing taste actually. 

For the salad:  4-6 servings
2 cups imitation crab, shredded
2 cups kale, thinly sliced
2 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup carrot, shredded
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup roasted peanuts (salted or unsalted), or other nuts of your choice     
For the dressing:
1/4 cup Ponzu soy dressing
3 tbsp. Rice vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped
1. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved, and set it aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine all the veggies, except the roasted peanuts, pour the dressing over, and toss well.    Then sprinkle with roasted peanuts, serve and enjoy!

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