"Cook" is for all things savory.

Next Photo »
Previous Photo «

Do-it-yourself Vietnamese prawn summer rolls


Now this is the kind of thirty-minute meal even foodies-like-us will love.  Fresh ingredients, nothing pre-cut or pre-cooked, but still you can put it together in less than 30 minutes, ok, 45 with not-so-fast  knife skills.  The ingredients are not all that exotic either: if you can find fish sauce and lemongrass at your local market you’re all set.

As we’re getting deeper into the summer season, I’m always craving something light and refreshing.  This Vietnamese wrap dinner I put together the other day fits the bill perfectly.  And no, Adam, you don’t need an outdoor grill to make this dish.  I grilled my prawn “kebobs” right there on a ridge pan on my kitchen range. It works just as well for this.  It’s also a pretty low-stress dish, you don’t even need to bother rolling each one before serving.  Just put
everything on a big platter and set out some dry rice paper with a bowl
of warm or tepid water.  Your guests can roll their own as they eat.
It’s more fun that way anyway.

Read more »

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print Friendly

cold noodle in sesame sauce


Summer has officially arrived, though no one has told the weather-god where I live yet.  It doesn't matter though, I can easily put myself in a summer-y mood by making this bowl of simple cold sesame noodle.

Besides my intent to defy the weather, I was also inspired to do this by a discussion about Japanese cooking in a food forum I frequent.  A dressing someone used in a bowl of cooked greens reminded me of a cold sesame noodle I've had in Japan, so I conveniently copied the idea to make myself a bowl.

My fridge was rather sparse, so I only found carrots and cucumbers.  You are, of course, free to use any crunchy veggies you love.  A bit of spicy shiso leafs or cool celery would do quite nicely too, I think.  The idea is to cut them into match sticks to go with the shape of the noodles.  The sesame sauce I made up for this is a simple mix of sesame paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and ginger.  I also used a little Japanese sweet cooking wine, Mirin, in it, but if you don't have Mirin on hand you can easily add just a drop of mild honey to give it the sweet edge it needs.

The cold noodles combined with the nutty and gingery dressing, with the added crunch from the vegetables, make a perfect summer lunch you can whip up in just a few minutes. 

Read more »

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print Friendly

Chicken porn (Thai grilled chicken, Gai Yang)

gai yang

Well, it’s actually just a Gai Yang, or Thai grilled chicken.  But it does look mildly obscene, don’t you agree?  The poor innocent chicken, stripped bare and spread out in a rather immodest position for all the world to see.  It’s also quite immoderately delicious, and inordinately easy to do.

There’s a term for this flatten out chicken, it’s called "spatchcock".  To spatchcock a chicken is to remove its backbone and flatten it out before cooking.  I doubt the folks grilling the chickens on the street in Bangkok know
the proper culinary term, but this is precisely how they do it over
there.  It makes things a whole lot easier to do a whole chicken on the grill.  I also think that it normalizes cooking time so that the breasts, legs, and thighs finish cooking at about the same time.  I’ve never had dried out breasts and undercooked thighs when grilled like this over low fire.

This chicken got a Thai seasoning rubbed all over and let marinated for a bit.  It doesn’t take that long, really, just prepare the chicken before you set your barbecue afire.  By the time the fire dies down enough to cook the chicken, the marinade will have done its job.

In Thailand, a grilled chicken like this is usually served with two sauces: one is often referred to as "grilled-chicken sauce", which is basically a sweetish chili sauce you can buy in a bottle, and the other is a Jaew sauce, which is basically this dressing I used in my Ugly Salad post last week.  You can use either, or both, or none at all. 

Read more »

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print Friendly

anatomy of an ugly salad


Once in a while you find there’s little you could do to save a plate of food from being ugly.  You composed it with pretty things: bright green butter lettuce, blushing watermelon radish, slivers of red chili, a beautiful piece of skirt steak–sometimes I can hardly think of anything prettier than a perfectly grilled steak.  You dressed it up in a gorgeous Celadon plate made by hand by a talented friend.  You tried pretty much anything but the upskirt shot and the pictures still came out looking positively ugly.  The homeliness of this plate of salad was rather confounding, especially considering how delightfully delicious it was, as evident by the five minutes flat it took for you know who to polished off his first serving.

Despite it all, this ugly salad is something I do quite often when I want something quick and light for supper.  It’s a vaguely Thai salad, with a dressing made with lime juice, fish sauce, chili powder, sliced shallots, mint, and cilantro, with an added (and indispensable) nuttiness from roasted rice ground into powder.  In Thailand, the grilled beef "salad" is a mostly protein affair, with grilled beef slices tossed with the super spicy dressing and served with fresh vegetables and steamed sticky rice on the side as respite from bites of the spicy salad.

Read more »

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print Friendly

Yogurt, lemon, and herb dip with baby carrots and radishes


A weekend of grazing on rich food and richer wine had us all craving very simple food when we got home.  We went to the garden and picked some fresh vegetables to fill the fridge.  When we got home, Julie, Alain Passard’s sous chef who’s having a short stay with us after the big event, whipped up a quick and delicious yogurt dip for the fresh radishes and baby carrots that we just pulled from the ground.  It’s so great I had to share the recipe with you.

It was so simple, and so wonderful with everything from the sweet carrots to even the zingy radishes.  The secret was a tiny pinch of Madras curry powder, just enough to be interesting but not to be overwhelming.

Read more »

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print Friendly