Archive for the 'Side Dish' Category

Chinese Wood Ear Mushroom Salad

Mu'er Maodou Shala (Wood Ear Mushroom Salad with Edamame)

The Astronomer and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary this past weekend. As is tradition around here, festivities included reliving our wedding banquet at Five Star Seafood Restaurant in San Gabriel (the food was as delicious as ever) and cooking up a little something inspired by old school anniversary gifts. Thus far in our marriage, The Astronomer has been gifted Paper, Cotton, Leather, and Fruit.

Since it is customary to bestow wood upon one’s beloved in recognition of the fifth anniversary, I prepared a Chinese wood ear mushroom salad with edamame (mu’er maodou shala) using a recipe from Issue #140 of Saveur magazine.

This vibrant salad brightens snappy wood ear mushrooms with chilies and vinegar. It works great as a cold appetizer or as a side dish, depending on what your spread calls for. Really though, it’s impossible to go wrong, because nothing says “I love you” like prepared reconstituted fungus. Trust me.

  • 1 ounce dried mushrooms, preferably wood ear
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen edamame
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Mu'er Maodou Shala (Wood Ear Mushroom Salad with Edamame)

Place mushrooms in a bowl and pour over 8 cups boiling water; let sit until soft, about 45 minutes.

Mu'er Maodou Shala (Wood Ear Mushroom Salad with Edamame)

Drain mushrooms; tear into large bite-size pieces. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with edamame; set aside.

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Bắp Xào Tôm Bơ – Vietnamese Sauteed Corn with Dried Shrimp, Scallions, and Butter

Bap Xao Tom Bo (Vietnamese Sauteed Corn with Dried Shrimp, Scallions, and Butter)

When the sun sets in Saigon, the street food vendors specializing in lunchtime rice plates and noodle bowls make way for evening offerings like roasted quail, grilled cuttlefish, and my personal favorite, sauteed corn. It’s impossible to resist the funky, savory, and buttery allure of bắp xào tôm bơ, especially when its enticing aroma cuts through the thick cloud of motorbike exhaust. Only in Saigon does pollution and temptation coexist so harmoniously.

As much as I adored this street side staple, I hadn’t thought much of it recently until I saw corn on sale while grocery shopping this past weekend. I picked up six ears for just over a buck and got to thinking about how to best prepare my loot. With dried shrimp, scallions, and butter ready to go in my pantry, I was all set to recreate my beloved Vietnamese sauteed corn at home.

While the red pepper flakes, fish sauce, and scallions each play an essential part in flavoring the buttery kernels, it’s the minced dried shrimp that take this dish to the next level. These pungent and salty little morsels punctuate each bite, transforming the corn from a very nice side dish to one that is intriguing and completely addicting.

Bắp xào tôm bơ is traditionally garnished with a florescent squiggle of red chili sauce, but I generally prefer mine without in order to fully take in each caramelized and blistered bite. Now that this dish has come back into my life, it’s definitely going to be a summertime mainstay. Hello, corn season!

  • 6 cobs of fresh corn
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 scallion stalks, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons dried shrimp
  • 2/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon monosodium glutamate (optional)

Bap Xao Tom Bo (Vietnamese Sauteed Corn with Dried Shrimp, Scallions, and Butter)

Remove the corn kernels from the cobs using a very sharp paring knife and set aside.

Bap Xao Tom Bo (Vietnamese Sauteed Corn with Dried Shrimp, Scallions, and Butter)

Chop the scallions, white and green parts, and mince the dried shrimp. Set aside.

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Momofuku’s Spicy Brussels Sprouts with Mint

Momofuku Brussels Sprouts | Spicy Brussels Sprouts with a Vietnamese Twist

When The Astronomer challenged me to a Brussels sprouts throwdown this past weekend, I knew that these spicy sprouts with a Vietnamese kick from Chef David Chang would bring home a victory. Compared to my competitor’s lemon, honey, and thyme dressed specimens, these were bolder and brighter—an all around more daring addition to the dinner table.

While both of our recipes called for gently roasted sprouts, they headed in markedly different directions from there. These Momofuku-masterminded ones are coated in a fish sauce-based vinaigrette with plenty of garlic, lime juice, chilies, and minced herbs. The dressing reaches every caramelized crevice, wrapping its sweet, sour, spicy, and salty way around each green head.

The dish is more or less good to go once the sprouts meet the dressing, but because this is a David Chang recipe, there is a fun and whimsical addition in the form of a toasted rice cereal topping. Imbued with cayenne pepper, these crispy grains were airy and positively spicy.

After all was roasted, marinated, and tasted, I’m proud to say that my Brussels sprouts came out on top. Although The Astronomer tried to argue that the chief ingredient was lost somehow in the pungency of the fish sauce, he eventually succumbed to their irresistible flavors and waved a white flag. Lemon, honey, and thyme are perfectly palatable, but going up against the triple threat of chilies, fish sauce, and “Spice Krispies,” they didn’t stand a chance.

For Brussels sprouts

  • 4 cups Brussels sprouts (about 2 pounds), trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For topping

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup Rice Krispies or other puffed rice cereal
  • 1/4 teaspoon togarashi or cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt

For vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small red chile, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint

Prepare Brussels sprouts

Momofuku Brussels Sprouts | Spicy Brussels Sprouts with a Vietnamese Twist

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix the Brussels sprouts in a bowl with the olive oil and salt. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly.

Prepare topping

Momofuku Brussels Sprouts | Spicy Brussels Sprouts with a Vietnamese Twist

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the Rice Krispies and togarashi or cayenne pepper and cook over high heat, stirring, until browned, about 30 seconds. Season with salt. Remove from heat and set aside.

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Sausage, Sage, and Thyme Bread Stuffing

Sausage, Sage, and Thyme Bread Stuffing

If I had my way, stuffing would be the centerpiece of Thanksgiving. An expertly roasted bird has its merits, as do silky potatoes dotted with butter and doused in gravy, but for as long as I can recall, my heart and stomach have belonged to stuffing. I grew up on the Stove Top variety that my aunt brilliantly doctored-up with onions, celery, and chicken gizzards. I later moved on to a gourmet version made with cornbread and dried fruit that my brother outsourced from his neighborhood Dean & Deluca. From low end to high end to everything in between, I’ve yet to encounter a stuffing that didn’t appeal to me.

While my soy sauce-brined turkey was roasting in the oven at 325 degrees, I got started on making the stuffing, which fortuitously called for similar temps. Preparing a turkey and stuffing all in one day was admittedly a lot of work for a first-timer, but it would’ve been a travesty eating a thirteen pound bird without some proper dressing on the side.

I chose a classic sausage, herbs, and French bread recipe from this month’s Cooking Light magazine. Its straightforward flavor profile and manageable ingredients list spoke to me, and I couldn’t have been happier with the results. The bread had an awesome custard-like consistency, while the trio of herbs perfumed each bite. The stuffing-specific sausage that I picked up from Trader Joe’s was too crumbly and mild for my taste, but it didn’t detract from the overall success of the dish. Next time, I’ll be sure to use my favorite spicy Italian sausage instead.

My mom’s already called dibs on stuffing for this year’s Thanksgiving feast, but hopefully next year I can share this gem with the fam. And for good ‘ol times’ sake, I’ll even add in some chicken gizzards.

  • 10 cups (1/2-inch) cubed French bread (about 1 pound)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 15 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray

Sausage, Sage, and Thyme Bread Stuffing

Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange bread in single layers on 2 jelly-roll pans. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden, rotating pans after 10 minutes. Turn oven off; leave pans in oven for 30 minutes or until bread is crisp.

Sausage, Sage, and Thyme Bread Stuffing

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery; cook 11 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Transfer vegetables to a large bowl. Add sausage to pan. Increase heat; sauté 8 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.

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