Pineapple Chicken Fried Rice

IMG_2139For some reason, fried rice has always sounded complicated. It’s not. The trick is to cook the rice the day before and refrigerate it overnight. It is much easier to stir-fry cold, day old rice. Trust me on this, and dive into this delicious, Thai inspired treat!

IMG_2138Ingredients (Serves 4 with leftovers)

1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided

2 cups Jasmine rice, cooked to package instructions and refrigerated overnight

1 cup diced, fresh pineapple Continue reading

Chicken Noodle Spring Rolls

IMG_2131During the height of summer, fresh spring rolls are a refreshing afternoon lunch. Spring roll wrappers used to be tricky to find, but as Asian cuisines have increased in popularity throughout the US, these wrappers have become readily available in supermarkets and online. This recipe uses other easy to find ingredients as well. For the cooked chicken, either a can of chicken or part of a supermarket rotisserie chicken will work. For the noodles, feel free to experiment! I really enjoy Japanese sweet potato noodles, but a cooked package of instant ramen noodles will work just fine.  Have fun!

Ingredients (Makes 12 Spring Rolls)

IMG_212712 round spring roll wrappers (rice paper)

1 cup cooked chicken cut into small cubes

3 ounces cooked noodles cut into 2 inch pieces

1 cup shredded cabbage

1 large carrot, grated

1/2 cup crushed peanuts

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons chili vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1 inch piece of ginger, finely grated

Directions

IMG_2126Step 1) In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the five sauce ingredients. Fold in chicken, noodles, cabbage, carrot, and peanuts.

Step 2) Place about 1 inch of water in a 12 inch skillet and bring to a simmer (not a boil) over medium heat.

Step 3) When water is hot but not boiling, place ONE spring roll wrapper in the water for 2 SECONDS (really… just two seconds). Use a spatula to gently remove the spring roll wrapper from the water and place it on a wood cutting board. Gently smooth out the wrapper; a few wrinkles are fine. If parts of the wrapper are still hard, you can dip the wrapper in water again for an extra second.

Step 4) Place 1/4 cup of filling in a small rectangle near the center of the wrapper.

WIN_20160502_170716Step 5) Fold the sides of the spring roll wrapper over the short sides of the rectangle of filling, as shown. Then, gently roll the spring roll from top to bottom, sealing the filling inside of the spring roll. The wrapper will stick to itself and form a nice seal.

Step 6) That’s it! Repeat steps 3 – 5 until you run out of filling.

Spring rolls are a FRESH food and are best enjoyed within a few hours of rolling (store in the refrigerator if not enjoying immediately). Try dipping your spring rolls in soy sauce, plum sauce, or peanut satay sauce – delicious! Spring rolls are inherently low in fat and are gluten free. You could also omit the chicken and add some shredded greens for your vegan friends. Have fun!

Hot and Sour Bac Ha Soup

WIN_20150527_134738Today’s soup is light and refreshing, low calorie, and chock full of fresh vegetables. In other words, it’s a perfect summertime soup! We’re cooking with Bac Ha today… a new ingredient in Crowded Earth Kitchen. I found this at my local Asian grocery store, and was intrigued by it’s appearance. It looks like fat celery on the outside, but looks like a sponge on the inside – how fun!WIN_20150527_130507

Bac Ha contains calcium oxalate, and MUST be boiled before eating. Don’t worry, once you boil it, Bac Ha is perfectly safe. Without boiling, Bac Ha is said to cause “intestinal irritation.” I’m, er, not real curious about what that exactly means, and boiled my Bac Ha as instructed! It’s really a delightful vegetable, light tasting and airy, and will surely find it’s way into future soup recipes. The spongy center of this veggie is perfect for soaking up delicious soup broths. Yum!

WIN_20150527_132401Ingredients (Serves 6)

6 cups chicken stock

1 lime leaf

4 inch piece of lemongrass

1 teaspoon chili paste, such as Nam Prik Pao

WIN_20150527_1313042 stalks Bac Ha, peeled and sliced like celery (about 2 cups)

2 baby Bok Choi, sliced like celery (stalks AND leaves)

1 cup snow pea pods, sliced lengthwise

1 cup mushrooms, any variety, sliced

WIN_20150527_1324561 lime

Directions

Step 1) Add Bac Ha to a pot of boiling (not salted) water. Boil gently for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Step 2) In a separate pot combine chicken stock, lime leaf, lemongrass, and chili paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.

Step 3) Add bok choi and mushrooms; simmer for 5 minutes.

Step 4) Add previously boiled Bac Ha and snow pea pods; simmer for 2 more minutes.

Step 5) Ladle soup into serving bowls. Squeeze juice from 1/2 lime into each bowl. Slice up the squeezed lime half and add to bowl as a garnish. Serve immediately.