Lindsay's Favorites

English Popovers

Yorkshire Pudding

As Josephine Morris, from York, England, taught Lindsay Sterling in New Gloucester, ME.

Note: Josephine served these as part of her Sunday dinner, with roast beef, leeks in cheddar sauce, potatoes and gravy. They're also great by themselves for breakfast or brunch with jam and butter. In the U.S., these are called "popovers" because they puff up and pop over the edge of the container when they're cooking.
Makes: 24
Cooking time:  45 min

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 small eggs (or 4 large)
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Equipment

  • blender
  • muffin pan(s) for 24 muffins
  • hot pads
  • teaspoon

Instructions

1. Take milk and eggs out of the fridge so they become room temperature.

2. Turn the oven temp up to 425 degrees F.

3. Pour a teaspoon of oil in each hole of the muffin pan and stick the muffin pan in the oven to preheat.

4. In a blender, combine 5 eggs, 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 2 cups milk. Blend until smooth. When blender is stopped, look to see if there are air bubbles showing on the top of the batter. If not, blend a bit more.

5. Remove the hot muffin tin from the oven and pour batter to fill 1/3 of each mold. Put in over.

6. After fifteen minutes and give the pan a turn for even cooking. After five minutes (or when popovers are puffed up and a little golden, turn off oven and open oven door to let popovers cool down gradually (this helps them keep their shape).

Chinese Spicy Peanut Chicken

Gong Bao Ji Ding (Also known as Sichuan Chicken, Szechwan Chicken, Kung Pao, or Kung Po)

As Lily Perilla, from Guilin, China, (Guang Xi Province) and her friend, Peng Qiao, from Chong Qiang, China, (Sichuan Province) taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine. 

Note: The layers of different kinds of spice make this dish really fun to eat. You have an overall warming feeling from the Sichuan peppercorns, zippy slices of ginger, and the fried dried chili peppers, all working their magic. People love the texture of the dish, studded with crunchy fried peanuts. Find the Chinese cooking wine, rice vinegar, Sichuan peppercorns, dried peppers, red-skinned peanuts, and Chinese chili-bean paste at an Asian market or online. Pictures of the ingredients she used are above.
Cooking time: 1 hour active plus marinating time (2-12 hours)
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups short or medium grain white rice

For marinating:

  • 2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp Chinese white rice wine, called Mishiu
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce if desired)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For stir frying:

  • 1 cup + 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 1 cup red-skinned peanuts
  • 2 Tbsp whole Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup 2-inch long dried red chili peppers, broken and deseeded
  • 1/2 inch ginger, peeled and sliced into thin cross sections
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Chinese or Taiwanese chili-bean paste 
  • marinated chicken (see above)
  • 1/2 green pepper, cut into 1/2-inch squares
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1-inch segments

For finishing sauce:

  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tsp Chinese white rice wine, called Mishiu
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp corn starch
  • 5 tsp Chinese black vinegar (for gluten free, substitute cider or balsamic vinegar)
  • 5 tsp soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce if desired)

Equipment

  • rice cooker or medium pot with lid
  • small pot
  • large wok or skillet at least 12 inches in diameter
  • cutting board
  • chef knife
  • small strainer basket (for submerging Sichuan pepper corns in oil in wok then removing them)
  • slotted metal spoon
  • paper towels
  • strainer or plate
  • medium bowl
  • small bowl

Instructions

1. Prep the chicken. Slice chicken into 1/2-inch cubes and mix in 2 Tbps Chinese cooking wine (Mishiu). Then mix in the rest of the marinating ingredients: 1/4 cup corn starch, 1 egg white, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, and 1/2 tsp salt. Wash the counter and utensils that touched the raw chicken. Let the chicken marinate 2-12 hours if you can.

2. Prep the rice. Rinse the rice in a strainer so that the water runs clear. Cook rice in a rice cooker or medium pot with 4 cups water. Bring water and rice to a boil, then turn the heat to low and cook with the lid on for twenty minutes. 

3. Prep the stir-fry ingredients. Peel and roughly chop the garlic; wash and slice the scallions into 1 inch segments; halve the dried chilis (shake out and discard the seeds or leave 1 tsp of the seeds in if you like really spicy food); peel and slice the ginger into thin cross sections. 

4. Prep the finishing sauce. In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the finishing sauce.

5. Fry the peanuts. Fill a small pot with 1 cup oil and turn heat on high to get it shimmering. While oil is heating, line a strainer or plate with paper towels and keep it near the stove. When the oil is shimmering, add the red skinned peanuts and turn the heat to medium. Stir the peanuts so they fry evenly in the oil. Do not take your eyes off them - they can quite quickly transition from golden to burned. When the peanuts are golden, turn off the heat. Remove the peanuts from the oil with a slotted spoon, placing them on the paper-towel-lined strainer or plate to dry. Pour some of the oil into a jar for some other use, keeping about 1/2 cup in the pot. 

6. Prepare to stir fry. Put the Sichuan peppercorns in a small strainer basket near the stove. Bring the garlic, ginger, chili peppers, ginger-garlic paste, marinated chicken, green pepper, scallions, and finishing sauce next to the stove.

7. Flavor the stir-fry oil with Sichuan peppercorns. Heat the oil in the pot until shimmers and then turn the heat to medium low. Dip the strainer filled with pepper corns under the oil. Let the peppercorns sizzle and flavor the oil for as long as you can without letting them burn, about a couple minutes. Remove and discard the peppercorns.

8. Perform the stir fry in the correct sequence. Transfer the Sichuan pepper-flavored oil into a wok or skillet. Turn the heat to high. Once the pan and oil are hot, add the dried chili peppers, tossing in the oil until they turn a shade darker in color, about 20 seconds. Once they do, with about ten seconds between each item, stirring constantly, add the following: ginger slices, garlic, chili-black-bean paste, and then the marinated chicken. Keep stirring and cooking the chicken until all the pieces are cooked through (opaque through the middle of each piece). Once chicken is cooked, add the chopped green peppers, scallions, and fried peanuts, stirring for two minutes. 

9. Add the finishing sauce. Add the finishing sauce and continue heating and stirring until it thickens. Serve with white rice.

 

 

Mexican Stuffed Poblanos

Chiles en Nogada

As Yazmin Saraya from Mexico City, Mexico, taught Lindsay Sterling in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Photography by Cindy Giovagnoli.

Makes: 20 stuffed poblano chiles, serves 6-8 as a full meal
Cooking time: 1.5-2 hours
Note: This dish can be deep fried or simply roasted. Pick your pleasure. Also, if you have an apron, this would be a great occasion to wear it. 

Ingredients

For the stuffed peppers:

  • 20 poblano chili peppers
  • 1.5 pound ground pork
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 apple
  • 3 teaspoons oil
  • 1 sweet plantain (yellow with black spots)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tomatoes

For deep-frying (omit this part if doing gluten-free):

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 8 eggs
  • 3 cups frying oil 

For the walnut cream sauce:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sherry (optional) 
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt or 1 chicken bouillon cube

Garnishes:

  • 2 pomegranates
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley

Equipment

  • tongs
  • cutting board
  • chef knife
  • large metal bowl
  • 2 sheet pans/cookie sheets
  • paper towels
  • paring knife
  • 1 medium bowl
  • plastic wrap
  • large saute pan
  • blender
  • 2 small plates
  • 2 cereal bowls
  • toothpicks
  • slotted spoon
  • slotted spatula
  • electric mixer with whip 
  • soup spoon for stuffing filling into peppers
     

Instructions

1. Broil the poblanos on a sheet pan on the top rack in the oven and broil. Keep on eye on them. Once the flesh is blistering (and colored brown or black) turn the peppers. Repeat until all sides of peppers are blistered. Put the peppers immediately in a bowl and seal with plastic wrap to steam for fifteen minutes.

2. Prepare your other ingredients. Dice the onion, apple, plantain and keep in separate dishes. Pull the thyme leaves off the stems, discard the stems, and finely chop the leaves. Remove the skins from the garlic cloves and finely dice. Slice through the equator of the pomegranate. Hold the side that is revealing the seeds facing down into a bowl and whack she skin-side all over with the back of a soup spoon until all the seeds fall into the bowl. Repeat with the other half of the pomegranate. Remove any of the fruit lining that fell into the bowl. 

3. Make the walnut cream sauce by simply blend all the ingredients for sauce in a blender until creamy and smooth.

4. De-skin and de-seed the peppers. Line a sheet pan with paper towels and put it next to the sink. Over the garbage disposal or a bowl in the sink, peel the skin off a pepper with a paring knife or your fingers. Make a slit down the length of the pepper body and gently remove the seeds without breaking the pepper. If you do, just pretend it's not broken and move on. It'll still be great! Rinse the cavity of the pepper under the faucet to remove any stray seeds. Put the cleaned pepper on the paper towel to dry. Continue with the rest of the peppers. Increase your speed and efficiency as you practice on the next 19 peppers. I got my time down to about one minute per pepper. Pat all peppers dry with a paper towel.

5. Make the filling. In a large saute pan on medium heat add a teaspoon of oil and saute the onion, thyme and garlic with a little salt, which helps them cook faster and enhances their flavor. Once onions are soft, add pork, cinnamon, oregano, and almond slices. Blend tomatoes in a blender. Once pork is cooked, add blended tomato and turn off heat.

6. In a small saute pan, add a teaspoon of oil and saute the plantains for about three minutes until they soften and turn gold. Put them on a plate to cool. In the same pan, add another teaspoon oil and saute the apples briefly. When they are warm but still crunchy transfer them to a plate to cool. When the pork has cooled, mix the apples and plantains into it. This is your filling.

7. Fill the peppers. Spoon the filling into each pepper cavity so that the pepper is full but still closes. If you are not deep frying your peppers, skip to #11.

(Yazmin stitched each pepper closed with 1-2 toothpicks, however, when I tested the recipe at home I found that I didn't like guests having to hunt through their meal to find toothpicks hidden under the fried batter and sauce. The next time I made the dish, I discovered that you don't need to use toothpicks. If you believe the peppers will stay closed once they are sealed with batter, they do! Up to you - use toothpicks or faith.)  

8. Batter the peppers. Put the white flour on a dinner plate. Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Whip the egg whites in a mixer until the peaks are almost stiff but not totally, then mix in the yolks. Pour oil about 3/4 inches deep into a large saute pan and heat on high. Transfer the whipped eggs to deep plate or wide bowl. Line a sheet pan with paper towels and place on the counter near the heating pan of oil.  

9. Deep fry the peppers. When the oil is shimmering hot (but not yet smoking), press the stuffed pepper onto the floured plate until all sides turn white and then dip the non-seam side of the pepper into the whipped egg. Lay the battered side gently in the oil. Spoon egg mixture on the top of the pepper, encasing the whole pepper except the stem in whipped egg.

2016_Rellenos_Mar29-128.jpg

10. Gently lap hot oil against the sides of the battered pepper to help it solidify its shape. When the bottom is golden, carefully roll the pepper with a slotted spoon and a slotted spatula onto its raw side. When the egg batter looks cooked and golden all around, remove the pepper from the oil and onto the sheet pan. Continue with other peppers. If you fry more than one pepper at once make sure to leave at least an inch between peppers in the pan.

11. Serve three peppers to a plate for a full meal. (Peppers should be served warm -- they might need a moment in the oven if they have cooled off). Top peppers generously with walnut sauce, chopped parsley, and pomegranate seeds.

 



 


 

Armenian Baklava

As Maggie Saab, whose family was from Kilis, Armenia (now part of Turkey), taught Lindsay Sterling in Falmouth, MA.

Cooking time: 1 hr (plus the phyllo needs at least 3 hours to thaw beforehand)

Serves: about 40 pieces

Note: you may have to order the asterisk-ed ingredients online or find them a a Middle Eastern market near you. Phyllo dough is in the freezer in a rectangular box.

Ingredient

  • 1 box phyllo dough
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp rose water* (optional)
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 12 oz. walnuts
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • unsalted pistachios, chopped finely (optional)*

Equipment 

  • Pastry brush
  • parchment paper
  • sheet pan or cookie sheet
  • small bowl 
  • food processor
  • large mixing bowl
  • small pot
  • mixing spoon

Instructions

Ahead of time:

1. Thaw the phyllo dough one of two ways. You can either put the box of phyllo in the fridge one or two days before cooking and then put it on the counter an hour before you want to work with it (so that it becomes room temp.) Or you can take the frozen phyllo out of the freezer 3 hours before you want to work with it, take it out of the box (leaving the phyllo sealed in plastic), and thaw it on the counter for 3 hours. 

2. Make the syrup. In a small sauce pan, bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring a little bit so that the sugar melts into the water. Let boil, add lemon juice, and turn heat down to medium-low for about ten minutes. Turn off heat. Once cooled, add rose water, and cool further in the fridge.  

When you want to cook:

3. Preheat the oven to 375. 

4. Make the filling. Pulse walnuts in a food processor so that you have a crumbly mixture of nuts, with most pieces about 1/4 inch or less. Put into a medium sized bowl. Stir in cinnamon and just enough of the syrup so that the mixture kind of holds together but not all the way. You may also choose to use honey for this part.

5. Prepare and layer the phyllo dough. Melt the butter in the microwave or on the stove. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Open the phyllo dough and unroll it so that the stack of rectangular sheets lays flat. Clear a workspace in front of you. Have the butter, phyllo and cookie sheet handy. Take two sheets of the phyllo dough off the stack and lay them in front of you on the counter with the the longest edge facing you. (Cover the stack of phyllo dough with a clean towel so the rest of the phyllo doesn't dry out and break while you're working). Brush a thin layer of butter on the top sheets that you just placed in front of you. Take another two pieces of phyllo dough from the stack and lay them right on top of the ones in front of you. Brush the top layer with butter.

6. Make an inch-thick row of the nut mixture on the phyllo along the edge closest to you.  Roll the phyllo layers over the filling as tightly as you can, squeezing the nuts once they're enclosed, to get them into the cylinder shape. Continue rolling away from you through the rest of the phyllo dough so that you end up with a long cylinder that's about an inch in diameter. Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

 Maggie Saab (right) shares her favorite dish from Armenia.

7. Brush the top of the roll with butter, and use a paring knife to cut across the roll at a diagonal making pieces that are about an inch wide. Make more rolls just like the first until you run out of filling. Bake the baklava until golden, 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately spoon the cool syrup slowly over each roll. Listen to it sizzle. The syrup will pool a little below each row by about a half of an inch, but don't worry. Over time the hot pastry will suck up all the syrup. Sprinkle the tops of the pastry with crushed unsalted pistachios if you like. Present the pieces in a pretty shape like a spiral or concentric circles on a platter. 

Taiwanese Chicken with Bok Choy

San Bei Ji [Translation: Three Cup Chicken]

As Ling-wen Tsai, from Tianan, Taiwan, and her partner, Nathan Kolosko, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine.

Note: This recipe requires you using a cleaver. This is worth the effort - the bones give the sauce body and flavor that meat alone will never do. Plus, using a cleaver is great therapy. If you don't have a cleaver, use chicken wings.

Makes: 4-5 Servings
Cooking Time: 1 night (marinating) + 1 hour active

Ingredients

  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1-2 lb bok choy
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce (for gluten free, use gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp + 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp + 1 tsp Taiwanese rice cooking wine Mishiu (find this at an Asian market)
  • 2 cups short grain rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 6 green onions
  • 4 inches fresh ginger root
  • 2 tsp Taiwanese chili-bean paste (find this at an Asian market)
  • 2 bunches fresh Thai basil (find this at an Asian market)
  • salt to taste 
  • 1/8 tsp pepper, tri-colored or black

Equipment

  • 2 large mixing bowls
  • 2 small prep dishes
  • 2 cereal bowls
  • measuring spoons (or you can eyeball it)
  • Cleaver
  • large cutting board
  • wok with lid or large deep saute pan with lid
  • mandolin
  • chef knife
  • small pot with lid
  • three serving bowls

Instructions

1. Cut bok choy stems into 1-inch segments and leaves into two-inch segments and store them in separate bowls. Peel and slice garlic and put it into a small dish. Pick basil leaves and put them into a bowl. 

2. Use a cleaver to cut chicken thighs into 1-inch bone-in, skin-on chunks. If you have never used a cleaver before, just really wack through the bones confidently perpendicular to the bone, skin-side down. Saying "high ya!" as you chop down helps you give a strong, clean, powerful whack, which is required for a clean cut. Use the pads of your fingers to feel the cut bone ends and remove any loose bone fragments. Marinate the chicken pieces ideally over night with 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp sesame oil, and 1 tsp rice cooking wine. 

3. Cook short grain rice with water according to package directions.

4. Scrape the skin off the ginger root with the tip of a spoon or the back of a knife. Slice ginger into paper thin rounds on a mandolin, or do your best to slice thin cross sections with a chef knife. Slice the green onions into thirds crosswise and then into quarters lengthwise so you have thin segments. Pick Thai basil leaves off the stems. 

5. Heat wok with 1 Tbsp sesame oil on high. When hot, add the marinated chicken. Cook without stirring until the moisture leaves and the chicken pieces begin to caramelize (turn deep golden brown) (about 4 minutes). Stir. Add green onions and ginger slices, and turn heat to low and cover.

6. After 3 or 4 minutes, stir in 2 tsp Taiwanese chili-bean paste (remove the beans), 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp cooking wine, and 1 tsp sesame oil. Let cook 3 more minutes or as long as needed until chicken is completely cooked. Mix in fresh Thai basil leaves. Transfer chicken and sauce into a serving bowl.

7. Rinse wok and heat on high heat. Saute garlic in sesame oil for 2 minutes. Add the bok choy stems and saute about 3 minutes before adding bok choy leaves. Cook for another two minutes. Add salt and pepper.

8. Serve chicken, rice, and sauteed bok choy family style in separate serving dishes at the table.

Indian Creamy Spinach with Cheese Cubes

Palak Paneer

As Shweta Galway from Umreth, Gujarat State, India, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine.

Notes: Palak paneer is a spinach dish cooked with paneer cheese and spices. She served it with a kind of flatbread called roti. This is her quick weeknight recipe. For a more involved recipe, I enjoyed this one: www.vegrecipesofindia.com/palak-paneer. 

Click here to find Indian markets in your area. In Maine, I go to Masala Mahal, 798 Main St., South Portland, ME, 207-699-5555. 

Makes: 6 servings
Cooking time: 30 minutes (it's helpful to thaw the frozen spinach the night before) 

Ingredients

  • 8-10 oz. store bought or homemade paneer
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, medium dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 boxes frozen creamed spinach, thawed
  • 2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • 2 pounds frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 tomato (optional)
  • 1 inch ginger (optional), peeled
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • flatbread (for gluten-free meal, serve with rice)

Instructions

1. Cut paneer cheese into 1/2-inch cubes. Fry paneer pieces in 1 Tbsp oil on medium heat in a saute pan. Turn cubes every so often. You want them to turn golden brown on many sides of the cubes. Dry the fried cheese on paper towels.

2. Add another Tbsp oil to pan and fry onions and garlic until soft. Mix in creamed spinach and chopped spinach. Mix in garam masala, chili powder, and salt. If you like you can blend a tomato and the ginger in a blender and mix that into the spinach. Mix in the fried paneer pieces to the spinach and simmer for 10-20 minutes. 

3. Eat palak paneer by breaking off a piece of flatbread and scooping up a bite of spinach and cheese with it. Repeat.

Vietnamese Noodle Soup

Pho

As Hieu Nguyen from Dalat, Vietnam, taught Lindsay Sterling, in Falmouth, ME July 2013

Note: Hieu gets the fresh herbs, bean sprouts, fresh ginger, fish sauce, spices, chilis, limes, rice noodles, packets of pre-mixed pho seasonings, and even Pho serving dishes (super large bowls) at Veranda Asian Market in Portland, Maine, 695 Forest Avenue, Portland, ME, 207-874-8001, (open daily 9am-9pm). Look for an Asian market near you and go - it's a great experience. 

Makes: 8 servings
Cooking Time: 3-4 hours, with a lot of inactive time

Ingredients

 For the marinade:

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2" ginger
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce (he prefers Viet Huong brand)

For the broth:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2" ginger (okay to leave skin on)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 2-4 Tbsp fish sauce (he prefers Viet Huong brand)
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (3" inches each)
  • 10 whole cardamon pods
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 6 whole star anise
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/3rds
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled
  • 16 oz. chicken broth

For the soup:

  • 24 oz. rice noodles (1/4" wide)
  • 1 bag (about 4 cups) fresh mung bean sprouts*
  • 1 bunch Thai basil
  • 1 bunch culantro
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 6-12 red Thai chilis
  • 1 lime
  • 4 scallions
  • Hoisin sauce (if you are gluten free, please check the label or avoid)
  • Sriracha sauce

Equipment:

  • stainless steal spice ball (for infusing herbs in broth) or cheese cloth and string*
  • sharp boning knife
  • large cutting board
  • 2 medium bowls
  • 1 large soup pot or stock pot
  • small handheld mesh strainer and small bowl
  • large colander for noodles
  • 8 larger-than-normal, pho-style bowls with base plates*
  • 8 large, flat-bottomed spoons*
  • 8 pairs chopsticks*

Instructions

1. Marinate the meat.

Rough chop garlic and 2" of the ginger. Put in a medium bowl. Take skin off whole chicken using a boning knife. Carve meat off the bones (breasts, legs, thighs and back muscles), trimming all fat off as you see it, and place meat in the bowl with the ginger and garlic, and the bones in a stock pot. Mix 1/2 Tbsp sugar, 1/4 Tbsp salt, and 1 Tbsp fish sauce into chicken meat with hands. Wash hands. Discard all chicken fat and skin. Wash cutting board and anything that touched the raw chicken. Cover chicken and let marinate.

2. Make the stock.

Place bones in a large soup pot or stock pot.  Cover chicken bones with cold water by 2-3 inches and turn on medium. Add 16 oz. chicken stock, 2 Tbsp sugar, 1/2 Tbsp salt, and 4 Tbsp fish sauce. Enclose black pepper, cumin, clove, cardamom, star anise and cinnamon in a cheese cloth or a stainless steel spice ball. Roast whole onion and ginger over bare stove flame until ginger skin is black and onion is steaming and put both broth. Once broth begins to steam, turn heat to low. Don't let the broth boil or simmer at all. Once the broth has been steaming for about 20 minutes, swipe a handheld mesh strainer through the top three inches of broth, removing particulate matter and any oil. Discard the contents of the strainer and run it upside down under water as necessary to clean. The goal in the end is to have a clear broth, which is achieved by getting rid of floating particles and oil, and never boiling the broth. Repeat this process about every ten minutes over the course of an hour and a half to achieve clear broth. If you have oil on the top, skim off with large flat spoon.

3. Prep the fresh toppings.

Wash the bean sprouts, all the fresh herbs, lime and chilis. Dry with paper towels and place each on separate plates. Slice the lime into 8 wedges and then slice the wedges across into half wedges so you have 16 pieces.

4. Cook the chicken.

After the stock has been cooking for about an hour and a half, remove the ginger, onion, carrot, spices and bones. Slowly submerge the marinating chicken into the hot broth. Cook for 13 minutes, remove chicken and place in a clean bowl to drain and cool. Send the hand held strainer through the broth 4 or 5 times to get the ginger and garlic chunks out. Slice the chicken into 1/4 inch slices and put on serving plate(s).

5. Make the noodles. 

Bring a full large pot of water to a boil (for cooking rice noodles). Add rice noodles to boiling water and cook for 8 minutes. Strain and run cold water over them so they don't stick together as much when they're cool.

6. Assemble the bowls. First put rice noodles in the bowl, then 4-5 pieces of chicken, sprinkle on sliced scallions. Ladle on broth so the noodles and chicken are surrounded. Pick leaves off Thai basil and cilantro leaves from stems. Add about 4 of each to each bowl. Break culantro leaf into 1 inch long pieces, and add to soup. Add a mountain of bean sprouts on top. Squeeze lime over top. Serve with fresh whole Thai chili on the side.

7. Finish each bowl at the table. Diners squirt generous squiggles of Sriracha and Hoisin sauces on top of his or her bowl of pho. Before eating, toss the contents of the bowl with the chopsticks in one hand and flat-bottomed spoon in the other as you would a salad. Use chopsticks to help load up the flat-bottomed spoon, and go ahead and slurp the contents of the spoon and juice into your mouth. Take a nibble of the Thai chili (one of the hotter chilis in the world). When all you have is broth left, it's okay to lift your bowl to your mouth to sip the rest.

Dominican Rice and Beans

As Angel Ferreras from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine.

Note: Along with meat and fried green plantains, these rice and beans make up the classic Dominican lunch called La bandera (the flag). It's named after the flag, Angel explained, because the meal is as Dominican as the flag and it's served everywhere in the country. These rice and beans are so easy to make and delicious, my family has this dish probably every other week. 

Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients

For the beans:

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp Adobo seasoning (main ingredients: salt, turmeric, garlic powder)
  • 1/4 green pepper, cut into 1/2" chunks
  • 1/8 red onion, sliced into small segments
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 can Roman beans, drained and rinsed (pinto, kidney, red, or black would work as well) 
  • 4 oz. tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves

For the rice:

  • 2 cups white rice (Goya Canilla brand long grain enriched white rice recommended)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil 
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups water

Instructions

1. Put all the ingredients for the beans in a medium sauce pot. Bring up to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes. 

2. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil with 2 Tbsp vegetable oil and 2 tsp salt in a large, heavy-bottomed pot with lid.

3. Add rice to the boiling water, stirring with a wooden spoon. After five minutes or so, when spoon stays standing up in the cooking rice, or no water is standing above the rice, turn heat to low, and cover the pot with a lid.

4. After ten minutes, turn the rice so that the rice that was on top is on the bottom. Recover. Cook another ten minutes. When rice is cooked, increase the heat to medium-high for two minutes so that the rice on the bottom fries and gets crunchy/toasted but doesn't burn. 

5. Spoon the fluffy rice into one serving bowl and the concon - the crispy rice at the bottom of the pot - onto a separate serving plate. (If you run cold water on the bottom of the rice pot, it makes the rice release much more easily. Also, you can slice through the concon in the pot to make chunks that are easier to pry/lift out of the pan with a spatula. 

6. Serve beans, rice, and concon in separate bowls family style on the table. Serve with Dominican tostones and meat for the popular lunch: la bandera

 

Albanian/Greek Chicken Pie

Kotopita

As Bill Dilios, from Politsani, Albania (formerly part of Greece), taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, ME.

Serves: 10 for dinner, 20 as an appetizer or side
Cooking Time: 2 hours plus thawing overnight

Ingredients

  • 1 box phyllo dough
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large yellow or sweet onions, medium dice
  • 1 stick butter, cut into 1/2" chunks + 1 stick butter
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" cubs
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 boullion cube, 1 tsp boullion paste, or 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs

Equipment

  • cutting board
  • chef knife
  • mixing spoon
  • large soup pot 
  • large mixing bowl
  • medium bowl
  • pastry brush
  • Bill's special kotopita pan [link to store]:
  • or 3 pie plates
  • or 2 9x12, 2-inch deep baking dishes 

Instructions

1. Thaw phyllo dough. The day before you want to make kotopita, transfer the phyllo dough box from the freezer to the fridge to thaw it. Then an hour before you want to start cooking, take the phyllo box out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature on the counter. If you forget to take the phyllo out of the freezer the night before, you can thaw it on the counter in 2-3 hours. 

2. Make the filling. Saute onions with 2 Tbsp oil and 1 stick butter (cut into chunks) until onions are soft, 5-10 minutes. Cut the chicken pieces into 1/2 inch cubes and add to the onions. Wash all surfaces that raw chicken touched.  When chicken is half-cooked (opaque on the outside but still translucent in the center), add rice and saute for 2 minutes without browning anything. Add chicken stock so that the rice is just floating in liquid, about 3 cups. Add crushed bouillon cube, bouillon paste, or salt as desired and incorporate. Saute, stirring frequently, until the liquid disappears and you have a thick mass of chicken and rice with no runny liquid. Remove from stove and let cool. Mix in three eggs.

3. Preheat oven to 395. 

4. Assemble the pie. See how he did it in this video. You melt a stick of butter in cereal bowl and get a pastry brush out. Bill made one awesome, giant pie in a what looked like an extra-large, deep-dish pizza pan. Alternatively you can use three pie dishes or 2 9x12 baking dishes. Brush the bottom and sides of the baking dish with olive oil. Layer whole phyllo sheets over the bottom of baking dish, overlapping the edges of the pan by roughly 2 inches. (No folding, cutting or fussing!). 

Now be like Jackson Pollock with the butter brush dripping melted butter on the phyllo. You don't need to brush the butter around - just drip enough butter so that it looks like it's starting to rain on a sidewalk. Make another layer of phyllo overlapping the edges again. Drizzle butter again. Layer phyllo again. Drizzle butter again. When you have about five layers of phyllo, make a layer of chicken filling about 1/2" inch deep. Cover with two more layers of phyllo/butter drips. Add another layer of filling about 1/2" deep. Do five more layers of phyllo. Fold all the draped edges of phyllo on top of the pie. Brush butter over the dry edges of phyllo, folding them down onto the pie. 

If you are using multiple pies, when you complete one pie, just follow the same process and make another one in another dish. 

5. Bake for about 40 minutes, turning the temp down to 385 after ten minutes. When the entire pie is golden brown, remove from oven and let the pie cool for 10-20 minutes. 

 Bill Dilios teaches how to cook his favorite dish from Politsani, Albania.

6. Serve. A cool trick for cutting the pie: place a large cutting board (one that is bigger than the pie itself) over the top of the pie. Holding the pan and the cutting board together, flip them over so that the pan ends up upside down on top of the cutting board. Now just lift the pan off the pie. Use a serrated bread knife to pie into squares or wedges, depending on what look you want.

Once pie is cool, store leftover pie in tinfoil in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 350 degree oven or toaster oven.

 

 

Iraqi Chicken and Rice

As Mona Galee, from Iraq taught Lindsay Sterling, in Westbrook, Maine, July 2011

Serves: 6-8

Cooking Time: 2 hours

Note: Mona served the chicken and rice as part of a full feast, including dolmas, fresh salad, watermelon cubes, tomato-chili flake soup and lemon-mint savory yogurt drink. I'll add links to those recipes once I post them. I have tended to make just the chicken and rice part often. I find myself using country-style bone-in pieces of chicken instead of a whole chicken to make serving easier.

Ingredients

For the chicken:

  • 1 whole chicken, washed and split down the breast bone
  • 3 cloves garlic, rough chopped
  • 1/4 onion, medium dice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp Madras curry powder
  • generous sprinkle turmeric
  • 1 dried Persian lime, also called  loomi* 
  • 1 4-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tbsp lemon pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 1-2 cups water

For the rice:

  • 2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Short Vermicelli egg noodles (omit for gluten-free version)
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1/2 tsp of the bar timon spice mixture**
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 cup reserved seasoned chicken broth
  • 3 cups water

*loomis, also known as noomi basra and limoo amani, are small persian limes that have been soaked in salt water and then baked in the sun. They are hard, light in weight (like a whiffle ball) and range from tan to black in color. You use one whole in this recipe. It also comes ground into flakes. It imparts a tangy, lime flavor. Tasted alone, dried lime is similar to the sourness of a Sourpatch Kid candy but without the sugar coating. In Portland, ME, you can get these at Al Sindabad Market, 710 Forest Avenue. 

For the bar timon pice mixture:

  • 2 1/4 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 full handfuls green cardamom pods
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp black pepper

For the Raisin and onion topping:

  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 onion, medium dice
  • 3 shakes cinnamon
  • 1 shake turmeric
  • 2 shakes salt

Equipment

  • chef knife
  • cutting board
  • 2 soup pots with lids
  • large frying pan
  • strainer and pan for underneath it or a cooling rack nextled in a pan that can catch liquid
  • small frying pan
  • large platter or cookie sheet 
  • large serving platter for rice and chicken
  • tongs
  • cereal bowl

Instructions

1. Get the chicken started. Split whole chicken down the breast bone to open up the cavity. Rinse splayed chicken with cold water. Put the whole bird in a large soup pot with lid on medium high (she used a special pot she called a gidduh, but my soup pot worked fine). Add to the pot, 1/4 cup oil, and onto the chicken: 1/4 chopped yellow onion, 1 tsp madras curry powder, generous sprinkle of turmeric, 1 toasted lime, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 Tbsp lemon pepper, 2 Tbsp Kosher salt, and 6 green cardamom pods. Let chicken cook with oil in spices with lid on for ten minutes, then add water until it’s 1 inch below the top of the chicken. Cook covered until chicken is cooked through (about 40 minutes).

2. Do some prep work while chicken is cooking, make the spice mixture for the rice, called bar timon. Blend in spice grinder: 1/4 cup cardamom pods, 2 1/4 tsp cloves, 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon, 1 Tbsp cumin, and 1/2 Tbsp black pepper. Cover rice with water and strain three times so the water stops turning cloudy. Let it drip dry in the strainer for 20 minutes. In a small dish, cover the golden raisins with water to plump.

3. Get the rice started. Once the chicken has cooked through in the broth, remove the chicken from the broth and put it on rack nestled in a shallow pan to drip dry. Put 2 Tbsp vegetable oil back in the bottom of the emptied pot on medium high. Once hot, add vermicelli noodles if using and toast until they turn reddish brown. Add the rice, 1/2 tsp of the bar timon spice mixture (store what’s left for when you make this again), 1/2 tsp turmeric, and 1 tsp salt, stir and let the rice soak in the oils for a couple minutes, stirring. Then add 1 cup of the reserved seasoned chicken broth and enough water (about 3 cups) so that the rice is covered by 1/2 inch of liquid. Cook on high. Once the water has disappeared from the rice (ten minutes), then put the lid on tightly (she put a plastic bag over the opening to seal in moisture but I don't like cooking with plastic so I left this off). Turn to low heat for another ten minutes.

4. Shallow-fry the chicken. When the rest of the meal is almost finished, shallow-fry the chicken which has drained and drip-dried. She used a wok with oil 1/4 inch deep on medium-high heat. I've used a large iron skillet with oil 1/4 inch deep. Wear long sleeves because any drips from the chicken will pop and splatter in the hot oil. Make sure the oil is hot but not smoking before you put the chicken in. When the chicken turns golden on one side, flip it so that both sides become nicely colored. The combination of soft, boiled chicken with fried exterior pieces is divine.

5. Final touches. Make the onion and raisin topping. Drain water out of raisins. In a the smallest sauté pan you have, saute 1/4 onion (medium dice) in a little oil. Once soft, add raisins, three shakes of cinnamon, one shake turmeric, and two shakes salt. When all this soft and hot and the turmeric has colored the oil yellow, turn the heat off. Make a plateau of rice on a serving platter. Put the whole fried chicken (or chicken pieces, if they’ve fallen apart) on the top in the center of rice. Sprinkle raisins and onions in a ring around the chicken.

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Afghani Lamb

Kourmet

(Pronounced like "gourmet" with a "K")

As a woman from Haret, Afghanistan, taught Lindsay Sterling in Maine. 

Serves: 6-8
Cooking time: 30min-1 hr
Active time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 yellow onions sliced into crescent moons
  • 3 pounds deboned lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 3" chunks
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp Doordooah spice mixture (equal parts black cardamon, turmeric, cloves, and cinnamon, blended in a spice grinder) 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • enough flexible flatbread, such as naan, chapati, or pita for everyone eating

Equipment

  • Pressure cooker or soup pot
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • coffee grinder dedicated to grinding spices  
  • can opener
  • small empty jar with lid to hold extra spice mixture 
  • measuring cups and spoons (or just eyeball it)
  • serving dish for stew
  • serving platter for bread
  • serving spoon

Instructions

Blend all Doordooah spices in a spice blender (a.k.a. a coffee grinder dedicated to grinding spices). You'll make more than you need for this dish. Store the extra in spice jar and this recipe will be even easier next time. 

Cut onions into crescent moons and put in a large soup pot or pressure cooker. 

Cut the lamb you have into 3" chunks (if the butcher hasn't done this already for you). Rinse lamb with cold water and put in pot. Wash cutting board, hands, and knife and anything else that touched raw meat with soapy water. 

Add oil, turmeric, Doordooah spice, salt, and one half cup water. Cover and cook on medium high until onions have disintegrated into a thick stew and the lamb is tender. If you are using a regular soup pot, add more water as necessary so that your lamb ends up tender with a sauce of disintegrated onions among it. This will take about an hour for lamb leg, longer for shoulder meat.  In a pressure cooker, this should take about 20 minutes under pressure. 

Shave tomato into thin wedges and add tomato pieces to pot. Stir in tomato paste, cover and cook another 5 minutes more. She said you can also add cooked chickpeas and potato chunks here if you like, but we both liked the dish just meat and sauce.

In Afghanistan the dish is served without silverware and guests use pieces of flatbread to scoop up bites. Flatbreads like Tandor, Nan and Iraqi bread would be closest to what's served in Afghanistan. If you'd rather use silverware, serve in a bowl as you would a stew with bread on the side.

 

 

 

Bolivian Beef, Rice, Potatoes and Salad

Silpancho

As Rommy Cornejo Holman, from Cochabamba, Bolivia, taught Lindsay Sterling in North Yarmouth, ME. Photos by David Holman.

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 1 hr

Ingredients

  • 1 c. white rice
  • 3 yukon gold potatoes
  • 3/4 c. breadcrumbs
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • 3/4 lb. ground beef
  • 1 small green pepper
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 3 tomatoes
  • about 1/2 cup + 2 tsp canola or sunflower oil
  • 1 jalapeño (in Bolivia she uses locoto peppers, similiar to habañero, w/o seeds)
  • small bunch cilantro (in Bolivia, she would use an herb called quilquina)
  • 4 eggs

Equipment

  • small to medium pot w/ lid for cooking rice
  • medium pot for boiling potatoes
  • mixing bowl
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • 2 cereal bowls
  • 2 spoons
  • rolling pin
  • 2 dinner plates
  • 2 large saute pans
  • spatula 
  • nonstick pan or egg poacher
  • large platter or sheet pan 
  • paper towels
  • food mill, blender, or food processor (or a bottle of hotsauce)

Instructions

1. Cook white rice. Put rice in a small to medium pot. Cover rice with 3/4 inch water, bring to a boil, cover, turn to simmer, and cook on low for 20 minutes. 

2. Par-cook the potatoes. In a medium pot cover potatoes with water, bring to a boil, and cook for 5-10 minutes until the potatoes are cooked half way through. The potatoes are soft on the outside but still hard on the inside. 

3. Make the salad topping. Cut one red pepper, one green pepper, one red onion, and one tomato into 1/4-inch cubes and put into a bowl. Make the dressing by mixing 2teaspoons cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons canola or sunflower oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper in a small bowl with a fork. Gently mix the dressing into the salad.

 Rommy Holman teaches how to cook her favorite dish.

4. Blend fresh hot sauce. Blend the chili peppers and 2 tomatoes (cut wedges) as briefly as possible to liquify for a fresh hot sauce (or skip this step and use your favorite bottled hot sauce). For hotter sauce, include the seeds of the peppers. For milder, just use the flesh of the peppers. Put the hot sauce in a small bowl with a spoon and put on the table as a condiment.

5. Roll the beef. In a mixing bowl, massage 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper into beef with hands. Separate ground beef into 4 balls. Put the breadcrumbs in a pile on cutting board. Flatten each ball and press both sides into ground beef. Roll with a rolling pin on top of breadcrumbs sprinkled with more fresh pepper. Flip over beef patty and roll again. Continue rolling and flipping until the beef is the thinness of a crepe. Make a stack of four of these on a dinner plate. Wash the cutting board, mixing bowl, your hands, and anything else the raw beef touched.

6. Fry the potatoes. Drain potatoes, cool enough to touch, then slice across the potatoes making 1/4-inch rounds. Heat two large saute pans or flat griddle on medium with 1 Tbsp oil on each. Cook potatoes in a single layer, three to five minutes on each side or as long as it takes to turn the potatoes golden brown. Once the potatoes are golden, cool them on paper towels.

7. Sear the beef. Turn the heat to medium high under the same pan(s) you used to cook the potatoes. Add 1 Tbsp oil to each pan. Once oil is hot, add one beef patty per pan. Flip the beef when the cooked brown color starts replaces about half of the raw pink. Stack cooked beef rolls on a fresh plate, and wash the plate that the raw beef was on. 

8. Fry four eggs, leaving yolks runny. 

9. Assemble the plates. Gather all the components (rice, potatoes, beef, eggs, and salad) near a stack of serving plates. On each plate, put a scoop of rice in the center. Decorate the rim with five potatoes spaced evenly. Put the beef on top of the rice (the potatoes should be poking out from underneath). Put egg on top of beef, and the the colorful salad on top of the egg. Garnish with quilquina or cilantro. Serve with fresh hot sauce on the table as a condiment.

Nicaraguan Beans and Rice

Gallo Pinto

As Jenny Sanchez, from Leon, Nicaragua, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine. Photo by Lindsay Sterling.

Note: "Gallo" means "rooster" in Spanish; "pinto" means "spotted." The rice and beans cooked this way look mottled like a rooster's feathers.
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Makes: 4-6 servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 can pinto beans, strained and rinsed
  • 1 cup medium or long grain white rice (preferably not parboiled)
  • 1/4 green pepper, medium dice
  • 1/4 red pepper, medium dice
  • ½ small yellow onion, medium dice
  • 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp salt
  • about 16 cilantro leaves
  • 4 ripe bananas or plantains (yellow with black spots)
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 8 oz. salsa
  • 1/2 small cabbage
  • 2 tomatoes, large dice
  • 1 1/3 limes
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, cut in ½ inch cubes (Jenny couldn’t find the Nicaraguan cheese in the States and found that cheddar tastes great here)

Instructions

1. In a small pot with a lid, bring 1 cup rice and 2 cups water to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover, and let cook for 20 minutes.

2. While the rice is cooking, in ¼ cup olive oil in large sauté pan, saute yellow onion, red and green peppers until soft. Mix in beans and let cook for 5 minutes on medium high so beans are sizzling in the oil and beginning to brown. Turn over sections of the beans gently with spatula to brown the other sides of the beans. Once beans are slightly browned, scoot the beans into a ring around the outer edge of the pan so the center of the pan is empty.

3. Pile the cooked rice into the center of the pan. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt onto the beans around the rice. Mix the beans and rice together so that the beans are evenly distributed in the rice. Add cilantro leaves, cover and turn off heat.

4. Peel bananas or plantains and slice each lengthwise, then across so that you have 2.5-inch long segments. In 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large sautee pan (preferably nonstick) on medium-low heat, saute bananas or plantains in a single layer until golden brown. (If not using non-stick pan you may use more oil). You may use two pans at once or fry the plantains batches. Because the fruit is so sweet, the natural sugars can burn easily, so keep an eye on your heat and if they’re getting too dark too fast, turn the heat down. Flip each piece so both sides become golden brown.

5. While the bananas are cooking, shave the cabbage on a large cutting board into lacy thin shavings with a paring knife. Cut limes in half and squeeze lime juice directly onto the cabbage. Sprinkle cabbage with ¼ tsp salt. Toss the cabbage so that the lime and salt are evenly distributed.  Sprinkle the diced tomato on top of the cabbage.

6. Get ready to assemble each person’s plate by putting all the components of the dish next to your stack of serving plates: the rice and beans, sour cream, salsa, fried plantains, and cabbage salad.

7. Now fill a cup-sized small bowl or measuring cup with rice and beans and press down as if packing sand into a mold for a sand castle. Flip over the cup of packed rice and beans onto the center of the first plate, releasing an unusually orderly mound of rice and beans. Now make an “X” out of two banana or plantain segments on one side of the beans and repeat with two more segments on the other side. Decorate the empty parts of the plate surrounding the beans and plantains with a generous dollop of sour cream, a couple spoonfuls of salsa, and the cabbage salad. Sprinkle cubes of cheese on top of the rice and beans. Continue assembling the rest of the plates. Enjoy this fine meal!

Fresh Spring Rolls

512px-Spring_rolls_with_peanut_sauce.jpg

As Panee Muncharoen and Rattana Sherman from Thailand, Quang Nguyen from Vietnam, and Makara Meng from Cambodia, taught Lindsay Sterling in Maine. Photo by T.Tseng through Wikimedia Commons.

Notes: For variety you can change the protein in these - my cooking teachers have used tiny shrimp, large shrimp (sliced across the middle in order to halve the thickness of the shrimp), slices of cooked pork chop, and wedges of hardboiled egg. Dipping sauces vary as well - two favorites are featured here. Thai basil is a different variety of basil than what's typically in supermarkets in the U.S. Thai basil has a purple stem, a distinct flavor (fabulous!), and heartier leaves. It is worth the trip to an Asian market to get this and other ingredients. 

Cooking time: 1-2 hours, depending on how good you get
Makes: 20 springrolls

Ingredients

For the Rolls:

  • 1/2 head lettuce: iceburg cut into 1/4 inch strips or another variety of your choice
  • small bunch fresh cilantro leaves
  • small bunch fresh mint, leaves picked from the stems 
  • small bunch Thai basil, leaves picked from the stems
  • 3 oz. thin rice noodles (Rattana likes Wai Wai brand)
  • package rice paper spring roll wrappers (Rattana likes Banh Trang 22cm)
  • optional protein: shrimp, hardboiled egg, slice of cooked pork

For the Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce (not pictured):

  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce (Rattana likes Mae Ploy brand “for chicken”)
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/8 cup distilled vinegar (Rattana likes Golden Mountain brand)
  • 2 tsp unsalted peanuts, ground in coffee grinder or chopped
  • 5 cilantro leaves

For the Chili-Garlic Dipping Sauce (not pictured):

  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 red Thai chilis 
  • juice of 4 limes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 shallot, finely minced

Equipment

  • mortal and pestle (for the chili-lime sauce)
  • large saute pan
  • trivet (or work surface that can stand a hot pan)
  • clean counter for a work surface
  • serving platter
  • small bowls for dipping sauce for each person - people will want to double dip!

Instructions

1. Put rice noodles into boiling water for two minutes. Drain and let cool. Gather all your roll ingredients into separate dishes or piles at the counter where you will assemble the spring rolls. Also have the platter for serving the finished spring rolls nearby.

2. Heat 2 inches of water in a large saute pan until steaming; turn off heat. Put the pan on a trivet near where all the spring roll fixins' are.

3. Put one piece of rice paper in hot water until it softens like a jellyfish (5 seconds). Use a spatula to remove it, or your fingers if you’re tough. Spread rice paper out directly onto counter.

4. Place an oblong mound of iceberg lettuce just below the center of the wrapper. Put half as much rice noodles on top of lettuce, and 2-3 leaves of Thai basil and whole cilantro leaves. Break apart mint leaf into pieces and sprinkle on top. About half way up the wrapper, make a row out of your protein item (shrimp, chicken, egg, or pork) keeping the edges of the wrapper free of filling items by a couple inches on each side.

5. Pull the bottom of the rice paper tightly over the mound of fillings, and roll up. When you have rolled about two-thirds of the circle, fold the edges into the center like you would close the ends of a burrito, and complete rolling.

6. Put the finished roll on the serving platter, wipe your work surface dry (if it's wet, the wrapper tends to not stick as well to itself when rolling), and continue making more rolls. If the rice paper stops softening, you need to reheat the saute pan of water.

7. Make the dipping sauce of your choice. For the chili-lime sauce, start with the sugar in the mortal and pestle. Mash the garlic into the sugar into a paste. If your mortar and pestle is small, transfer its contents into a larger bowl and then mix in the liquids. Finely sliced rounds of the Thai chilis and add to the sauce. Wash your hands - the spicy oils are on them and will hurt if they get on or near your eyes. Add minced shallots. Ideally guests each have their own for sauce so they can double dip.