Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gutsy Cooks Club - Menu 25 - An Asian Inspired Dinner

The Gutsy Cook's Club is at week 25, hence menu #25, and an Asian theme. Cooking out of Victoria Blashford-Snell's cookbook, The Illustrated Kitchen Bible, each of the Gutsy group members take turns assembling menus for each week from the recipes presented in a 544 page collection of recipes from around the world.

This weeks Menu:

Sesame Shrimp Toasts found on page 50;

Thai Noodle Stir-fry found on page 200; and

Sweet and Sour Chicken found on page 303. With permission retrieved by Monica of the blog SweetBites (creator of the Gutsy Cook's Club), I will be posting the recipes below.

Before I continue with posting the recipes, I would like to add that I actually followed each recipe down to the tablespoons and only altered ingredients when adding more soy sauce and fish sauce. I am notorious for playing with recipes and changing them to my own tastes but this time I wanted to see if the recipes chosen pulled their own weight in flavor. To my surprise, we enjoyed each one immensely. My intent is not to sound negative about Victoria's cookbook but some recipes in the past seem to be bashful in the seasoning/flavor department.

Our menu starts with an Appetizer, the Sesame Shrimp Toasts.

9 oz. medium shrimp, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 scallions, roughly chopped
one 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and shredded (I used fresh ginger puree)
1 t. soy sauce (I used 1 T.)
1/2 t. sugar
1/2 t. Asian sesame oil (I used 1 1/2 t.)
1 large egg white, beaten
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper (I was pepper happy and used about 1 t.)
3 large slices firm white sandwich bread, crusts trimmed (I used 4 slices)
2 T. sesame seeds (I used toasted sesame seeds)
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
fresh cilantro, to garnish

Prepare ahead: The toasts can be prepared to the end of step 2 up to 4 hours in advance, ready to be fried just before serving.

1) Combine the shrimp and scallions, white and green parts in a food processor and process until they form a paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the ginger, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil. and enough egg white to bind the mixture together. Season with the pepper.

2) Spread the bread thickly with the shrimp paste. Cut each slice into four triangles. Sprinkle the sesame seeds evenly over the top.

3) Pour enough oil into a deep-fryer or skillet to come halfway up the sides, and heat to 350 degrees F (180 C). In batches, add the toasts, shrimp sides down, and deep-fry for 2 minutes, until the shrimp paste is puffed. Carefully turn them over and deep-fry until the toasts are crisp and golden brown.

4) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the toasts to paper towels and drain briefly. Serve hot, garnished with coriander.

Note: Good with sweet chili sauce and chilled sake or a cold beer.

Next, Thai Noodle Stir-fry:

6 oz. cellophane (mung bean) noodles
3 T. peanut or vegetable oil
3 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 onion, sliced
4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 lemongrass stalk, peeled and bottom part minced (I used ground, dried lemon stalk)
1 t. peeled and finely grated fresh ginger (I used pureed ginger)
1 fresh hot Thai red chile, seeded and minced
1 head of bok choy, shredded
2 T. soy sauce (I used 3 T.)
1 T. Asian fish sauce (I used 1 1/2 T.)
1 t. sweet chili sauce (I used 1 T.)

1) Soak the noodles in a bowl of very hot water about 10 minutes, until softened. Drain well and rinse under cold running water. Cut into manageable lengths with kitchen scissors.

2) Heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil in a wok over high heat. Add the chicken and stir-fry about 3 minutes. or until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate.

3) Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 Tablespoon oil. Add the onion and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, lemongrass, ginger, and chili, and stir-fry about 2 minutes, or until the bell pepper softens.

4) Add the bok choy and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, or until wilted. Return the chicken to the pan and add the noodles. Pour in the soy sauce, fish sauce, and sweet chili sauce, and toss everything together over the heat for 2-3 minutes, or until piping hot. Serve hot.

Last, Sweet and Sour Chicken:
For the Batter:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 t. baking powder
1/8 t. salt
1 cup lager beer

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 T. soy sauce
3 T. rice vinegar
2 T. ketchup
1 T. honey
one 3/4" piece fresh ginger, peeled and shredded (I used fresh ginger puree)
1 t. cornstarch dissolved in 1 T. cold water (I used 2 t. cornstarch in 2 T. cold water)

4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 T. unsalted cashew nuts or whole blanched almonds
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
8 scallions, cut into 1 inch lengths
1/2 cup cubed fresh or drained canned pineapple

Prepare ahead: Steps 1 and 2 can be completed several hours in advance.

1) To make the batter, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center, add 1/2 cup of the beer, and whisk, gradually adding the remaining beer. Let stand for 30 minutes.

2) To make the sauce, stir the stock, soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, honey, and ginger in a small saucepan over low heat until the honey is melted. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until just thickened. Set aside.

3) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F (95 C). Fill a wok halfway with oil. Heat to 350 degrees F. (180 C.). Place the flour in a bowl. In batches, toss the chicken in the flour, then coat in the batter and add to the hot oil. Deep-fry about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with paper towels and keep warm in the oven.

4) Pour all but 2 T. oil from the wok and return to high heat. Add the cashews and sit-fry for 30 seconds. Transfer to the baking sheet. Add the red pepper to the oil and stir-fry 2 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Add scallions and pineapple and stir-fry for 1 minute.

5) Pour the sauce into the wok, add the chicken and stir until coated. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with cashews, and serve hot.

Check out the rest of the Gutsy Cook's Club members dishes by clicking here.


Marie said...

Wow, this looks terrific. How long did it take you to make the whole shebang?

Vicki said...


Jennifurla said...

Wow, a dinner I would love to attend! ha, love those toasts

Monica said...

Shandy... wow o wow... I only made one dish! But, I going to try my hand at the Thai dish this week. Like Vicki said.. Impressive! Looks like an Asian table full of yummy options!

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

All look so delicious, well done Shandy

Flourchild said...

Shandy, Everything looks so healthy and good! You are an amazing cook! I wish we had access to some good seafood like you do! I love Asian food and Im sure your homemade Asian food is better then any restraunt!
I hope your having a good spring..well I guess spring in some places! It's been cold and rainy here!