Three Southeast Asian Favorites: Vietnamese Summer Rolls, Thai Green Chicken, Cambodian Mahogany Pork Ribs
Rice Paper Summer Rolls with Grilled Basa and Mango
Every time I make Southeast Asian cuisine, I always make a variation of these light and lovely rice paper rolls. For these, I grilled filets of basa (a Mekong Delta catfish) to add to the fillings of spring greens, fresh mint, grated carrot, and julienne cucumbers. And the flavors of Asian fish sauce, lime juice and rice vinegar in the dipping sauce complete the dish.
Spicy Lime Dipping Sauce: 1/4 cup rice vinegar 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce 1/4 cup lime juice 1/4 cup water 1 tablespoon sugar 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 1 small knob of gingerroot, peeled and finely shredded (about 1 tablespoon) 1 small red chili pepper, trimmed, seeded and minced 1/4 cup crushed peanuts
Mix all ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously and allow to stand for one hour, or overnight. Serve in a shallow dish for dipping Rice Paper Spring Rolls.
Spring Rolls: 1/2 pound basa filets, grilled and coarsely chopped 2 ripe mangos, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise 1 small bunch of mint leaves, finely chopped 2 cups spring greens 12 rice paper wrappers
Divide each of the fillings into 12 equal portions. Fill a large, shallow dish with warm water and soak a rice paper wrapper until softened. Carefully transfer the wrapper to a dinner plate. Place one portion of each summer roll filling in compact layers on the lower half of the wrapper, leaving the edges empty for tucking and rolling. Fold the lower edge of the wrapper up and gently snuggle it around the filling. Fold in the left and right sides of the wrapper toward the center and roll cigar-style toward the upper edge. Cut roll in half on a diagonal angle, and place on an attractive serving dish. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. Serve with Spicy Lime Dipping Sauce. Serves 4.
Thai Green Curry Chicken
Green Curry Paste: 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and thinly sliced 2 green jalapeno chilies, deseeded and coarsely chopped 1 small bunch cilantro (about 1 cup) 1 knob ginger root, peeled and chopped (about 2 tablespoons) 4 cloves garlic, peeled and trimmed 1 large shallot, peeled and coarsely chopped 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon coriander 1 tablespoon nam pla (Asian fish sauce) 2 limes, juice only 2 tablespoons peanut oil ¼ cup water (as needed) Combine all ingredients except water in the bowl of a food processor. Puree mixture to a fine paste, adding water a little at a time as needed for thorough blending and uniform consistency.
Curry: 1 tablespoon peanut oil 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1″ pieces 1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced Green Curry Paste 2 cups chicken stock 1 can coconut milk 2 jalapeno peppers, deseeded and thinly sliced 2 limes, cut into wedges
Heat oil in a large kettle or wok. Add chicken and onion and stir-fry until lightly browned. Add curry paste and stir thoroughly to mix. Stir in chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is tender and sauce is thickened. Add coconut milk and jalapenos and continue simmering for about 15 minutes, until peppers are just tender. Serve with steamed rice, garnished with fresh cilantro and lime wedges. Serves 4.
Cambodian Lettuce Wraps with Mahogany Pork Ribs
Curry Paste: 2 cloves garlic, finely minced 1 knob gingerroot, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 1 tablespoon) 2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons brown sugar 1 tablespoon sesame oil 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Curry Pork Ribs: 2 pounds boneless pork ribs, cut into chunks 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water 1 head red leaf lettuce, washed and trimmed into individual leaves
Combine marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add pork, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight. Wrap pork and marinade in aluminum foil. Preheat oven to 275. Roast foil-wrapped pork for 2 hours. When pork is done, drain marinade into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, add cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened. Preheat oven broiler. Transfer pork to a foil-lined baking sheet. Brush pork with thickened marinade and broil until browned and lightly charred. Repeat brushing and turning to evenly brown and char on all sides. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and serve with lettuce leaves.