Malaysian Rice Salad

August 12, 2013 § 3 Comments

I’ve been always interested in Southeast Asian foods, but never took the time to learn how to make anything.  I think the food is very sophisticated the way certain herbs are used with very French-like sauces and still be considered deeply-rooted Asian food.  I find the combination of Asian and European-influenced foods quite fascinating.  I should point out here that I am NOT one of those that likes exotic food, though—sashimi is about as exotic as it gets for me as long as it is not moving on the plate!

I made this DE-licious Grilled Vegetable and Rice Salad with Fish-Sauce Vinaigrette from bon appétit magazine.  I deviated from the recipe:

  1. I couldn’t find the red chilies, so everything ended up being green for me instead of green with specks of red.
  2. I also didn’t have any eggplant, which was a huge bummer, because we ended up using it for another dish the previous night.
  3. Fresh okra was substituted for frozen okra because there weren’t any good fresh ones at the time I went grocery shopping.
  4. The last thing is that I didn’t grill the corn on an open fire.  Instead, I baked the corn in the husk in the oven at 350 °F, directly on the oven rack, for 30 min.

Probably change #3 and 4 were fine, but the next time I make this, I will definitely get those red chilies and get extra eggplant.

I was a little hesitant to buy the fish sauce, but read the ingredient list and hoped that it was true.  The fish-sauce vinaigrette sounds pretty disgusting, and seemed like it would be once I opened that bottle of fish sauce!  Luckily my preconceptions were completely wrong—the sauce was SO delicious and even more so when the dish all came together.

(UPDATE—I MADE IT AGAIN AND IT WAS STILL REALLY TASTY!  HERE ARE THE PHOTOS FROM MY 2ND TRY.)

In hindsight, I think adding fresh tomatoes will make this dish even more lively and tastier (I am on a tomato kick right now—peak season for sweet tomatoes!  Post about this to come soon!).

Request: “something good with eggplant”

March 11, 2012 § 1 Comment

Although I love eggplant, I never cook with it because it can be a little tricky to bring out the flavor without it tasting like one big pile of mush (which is what I did once about 6 years ago!).  This one seemed to turn out pretty good, though.  My official taste tester gave it a thumbs up, but even better, said he would eat it again if I made it!

Here’s my eggplant side dish {I used medium heat to cook this}.

1.  To heated canola oil, I added garlic and shallots to perfume the oil.  Cooked until starting to get translucent.

2.  Then added eggplant and salted right away to draw out some moisture.  A few splashes of soy sauce (the Korean kind, which is used for soups, so the flavor is much more concentrated and saltier than the Kikkoman variety).  Some red pepper powder was also added.

3.  When eggplant is tender, bias-sliced green onions were added to finish the dish.

Extra tip:  To soy sauce or not to soy sauce?  I would NOT substitute any other kind of soy sauce for this dish.  However, you can add some seafood dashida instead.

Dashida is a powder mix, similar to chicken or beef boullion.  So it is very salty and a little goes a long way.  You can get a seafood or beef-flavored dashida.   The one pictured below is a seafood-based dashida that is “all natural” with no preservatives.  Sometimes I use this to flavor soup even if the soup is not seafood-based (e.g. Korean-style egg drop soup).  It is simply to provide an extra layer of flavor.  This doesn’t mean you should use it until you can actually taste it—it is only supposed to enhance the flavors that are already present in the dish.

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