Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stir-fried shrimp with lemongrass and an early announcement

Hello everyone! How are you doing there? I hope you all are well hydrated and having nutritious food to combat the heat.
On my side, I`m in the middle of my 5-day summer holiday, which will end tomorrow and I`ve been attending driving lessons right from the beginning of the holiday. I`ve always been happy and contented with my little scooter, but it seems like I have to get a car-driving license this year because..here comes the announcement:

My husband got a job in Shizuoka prefecture and we are going to move there next spring!

After all the years we`ve been spending in our beloved Sendai, we finally have to move to other city and Shizuoka now becomes the next stop in our journey. We`ve been checking out about  life in Shizuoka and looking for possible areas to live in. Although currently I`m still trying to land a job there, living in Shizuoka seems to require us to commute on a car regardless of where I will end up working. So, here I am, dealing with my fear and confusion in car driving and hoping to get the license as soon as I can. 

Now on the kitchen side, I just made this very aromatic shrimp dish, which was really quick to make, and I hope you`ll give it a try and enjoy it as much as I do.

Heat oil on a pan and add finely (or roughly) chopped lemongrass stalk (I left some of the stalk as is for visual purpose) and garlic, chili, and coriander.
I used to throw away the lemongrass stalk after finishing the dish, which was a shame as it`s actually edible especially for the inner white-color flesh at the bottom. Now I see it as a fibrous food and I usually finely chop it up and eat the whole part.

And by all means, add kaffir lime leaves too because they marry beautifully with the lemongrass.

Cook until the warm lemony fragrance filling up your whole kitchen.

Now stir in deveined shrimps (I like them with the shells on) and cook until they start turning color.

Season with soy sauce, honey, salt, and pepper.

Adding honey works very well in giving the balance to the savoriness as well as adding nice glossy touch.

And that`s it!
Now you have a plate full of plump and juicy shrimps coated with the aromatic lemongrass and garlic bits, which are finger-licking good and perfect for the scorching hot days.
Serves 2

10 medium-large shrimps, deveined
1 lemongrass stalk
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp coriander
3 chili
4 kaffir lime leaves
3 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs honey

1.  Heat oil on a pan and add finely chopped lemongrass stalk and garlic, kaffir lime leaves, chili, and coriander.
2.  Stir in deveined shrimps and cook until they start turning color.
3.  Season with soy sauce, honey, salt, and pepper.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Vegetable rolls

It has been incredibly hot these days and I even have lost my appetite and gotten sick because of it during last week. I used to (shamelessly) boast to everyone here about my tropical nature that makes me almost heat-resistant and prevents me from getting the commonly known "natsu bate" in Japanese, or in my understanding, "summer sickness". And boy, this time, I was wrong. Very very wrong. It all started with me loosing appetite and not eating enough, continued with frequent dizziness, stomach aches, and fatigue, and ended with laying on my bed for two days realizing that after all these years, the heat finally beat  me. What healed me? A bowl of super fiery spicy hot chicken curry. I don`t know if that was because I finally got hungry at that point or the soup really brought back my appetite, but the bottom line is I got well very soon after the soup treatment. I really don`t know what I will do without chili and ginger in my kitchen.
Now, with my appetite fully functioning, I finally have something fun and colorful to share with you. This is actually only my second time making Thai-style vegetable rolls, or third time if preparing the make-yourself rolls at a Thai buffet restaurant counts, but I think I really should make them more often. 

Start with making the sauce. For this kind of rolls, I want the sauce to be light, sweet, savory, slightly spicy, and tangy. You can use your favorite sauces or condiments, but I used my leftover tsuyu or light soy sauce infused with dashi. Tsuyu is usually served with cold noodles like soba or somen, but I think it has a light sweet savory taste that should go well with the rolls. For the heat, I add Sichuan-style chili sauce or tobanjan.  I also add lime juice to give some refreshing tartness.
Stir everything well and keep the sauce in the refrigerator.

I chose the all-plant option for the filling, so I used julienne bell peppers, carrots, and cucumbers. It is common to include shrimps for the rolls, but I think meat should be great too.
My baby veggies. Look at these colors. 

And these.

And these too.
What you don`t need to julienne are lettuce leaves and cilantro. I really love the lemony note from the cilantro. If you haven`t tried using it for making the rolls, then you should. Really.

After all the vegetables are prepared, immerse a sheet of rice paper in lukewarm water for a minute or until it has slightly softened (or follow the instruction on the pack). Overdoing this will make the paper too soft and very easy to get torn. But really, this is not about perfection (obviously, this is me talking), so a few holes here and there should not be problems as long as you can use it to wrap the veggies.

Spread the softened sheet on a chopping board or counter and arrange vegetables on it. I placed them on the middle, but slightly closer toward me. Also, I arranged some part of the veggies so that they came out from both ends.

Start rolling away while carefully wrapping the veggies as tight as possible and secure the edge by sealing the sheet with water.

Wet the blade of your knife with water and cut the roll to your preferred size. 

Arrange the rolls on a plate and serve with the chilled sauce.
What I have here is a plate of the successfully made rolls (or at least I think so) and another one of random-looking rolls. Both looks clearly didn`t bother me and my husband (thank you, sweetie) because we just kept eating and eating. 
Now, my friends, dip the rolls in the sauce and enjoy the crunch and yum moments!

Serves 2-3 people 

1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
3 carrots
2 cucumbers
5-7 lettuce leaves

For the sauce:
100 ml tsuyu (light soy sauce with dashi for cold soba or somen)
1 tsp chili paste
1 tsp lime juice

1. Prepare the sauce by combining the tsuyu, chili paste, and lime juice. Keep in refrigerator until serving.
2. Julienne all vegetables, except the lettuce leaves and cilantro, and set them aside.
3. Wet the rice paper in lukewarm water until slightly softened and carefully spread it on a chopping board or clean counter.
4. Arrange the vegetables horizontally on the paper with some parts of the vegetables coming out from both ends.
5. Start rolling away and seal the edge with water.
6. Cut the rolls to the desired size and serve with the chilled sauce.