Cooked in soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil, and loaded with heaps of whole garlic cloves, slices of ginger, and fresh Thai basil, this classic Taiwanese chicken dish is a perfect reminder of just how good an over-abundance of flavor can be.
Here in the last throes of summer, lunch is sometimes no more than a mound of somen noodles served atop a bed of ice. Somen noodles are thin wheat noodles, as thin as vermicelli, more delicate than buckwheat. Twirled around chopsticks and dipped in a sauce made with soy sauce and dashi, the noodles slide down the throat. They are icy, firm, and rich.
Most onigiri is not grilled. Sticky, short-grain rice compressed around fillings of fish, pickled vegetables or umeboshi (pickled plums) is the norm. A common home-style treat, onigiri is also sold in Japanese convenience stores and grocery stores where sheets of nori (seaweed) wrappers are covered in plastic to remain crispy.
It's that time of year again. My annual plug for durian, the oft-maligned, odoriferous fruit beloved in Southeast Asia and beyond. Usually, my advice to durian novices is to select a fruit with the least-pungent smelling odor you can find since different kinds of durian will range from mildly cheesy-smelling to gym-locker-stench-evoking. Durian smoothies are a treat on a hot summer's day. You might even get a few durian converts if you serve the fruit in smoothie form, which offers a milder kick of that distinctive cheesy taste.
If you live in an area with a big Asian community then you've probably seen little old Asian ladies hawking produce on the side of the road. They stand out in the hot sun selling produce at very cheap prices, and they are there day after day. Right now the Korean ladies are selling stacks of perilla leaves, though if you go to any Korean grocery store, you'll see them being sold as sesame leaves. I don't understand why they refer to perilla leaves as sesame leaves, but they do.
Like curing meats, the practice of salting duck eggs may have started as a method of preservation, but now salted duck eggs are a delicacy. Salting makes the egg whites dense and almost rubber-eraser-like in appearance, but it's the yolks that are especially prized. There's nothing quite like a good salted duck egg yolk. If properly salted, the duck egg yolks are creamy, granular, and oily all at once—an intriguing textural composition that tastes especially rich and salty.
Imagine biting into a freshly fried spring roll, its shell breaking off in crispy, golden-brown shards to a piping-hot center of natto beans. The taste is still distinctly natto-esque, but with a kind of maturity and softness that is really pleasant.
Cellophane noodles—known in various guises as Chinese vermicelli, bean threads, bean thread noodles, crystal noodles, or glass noodles—should be one of those items you keep in your pantry to use in a pinch. Made from mung beans, yam, or potato starch, the gluten-free noodles are quite versatile. They are equally good tepid as they are warm, and they can be served in soups and hotpots, used in stir-fries in place of wheat noodles, or served cold in salads.
Green papaya, which can also be pickled or added to soups, is commonly used for salads in Vietnam and Thailand. Dressed in fish sauce, lime, and chilies, the shreds of papaya are sweet and refreshing. The salad can be as simple or complex as you choose—for a vegetarian salad, stick with other vegetables that also benefit from being dressed in lime and fish sauce, such as carrots, daikon, and cucumbers. Parboiled shrimp and squid are fine additions. Another Vietnamese favorite uses shreds of Asian beef jerky, which softens as it soaks up some of the lime and chili dressing.
[Photograph: Chichi Wang]...
Adapted from The Bacon Cookbook by James Villas...
Adapted from Land of Plenty by Fuschia Dunlop...
[Photograph: Chichi Wang]...