Posts made in February, 2013

Final Frugal February Dinner – Asian slaw with peanuts and edamame

So here we are at the end of the month. Belatedly, I thought about making something particularly fancy to mark the occasion but decided that in the spirit of frugality I would use ingredients I already had on hand.

We last had a version of this slaw early in the month, and at that time, I used tofu instead of peanuts for a bit of protein. Either way, it is quite delicious, and I expect we’ll be eating this dish from time to time from now on. It’s perfect for any time of year – there’s no cooking involved so it’s a great light summer meal but it’s also full of color and flavor and brightens the winter table as well.

Rachael seemed happy about it – or maybe it was just the fact that Frugal February is almost over!

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Sichuan-style eggplant-tofu stir fry

Simple and tasty dish that requires just a couple of particular ingredients – black vinegar and Sichuan fermented chile-bean paste. The latter, properly called doubanjiang, is a bit of a holy grail item among food obsessives. It is an umami-rich mix of fermented broad beans, chiles, salt and wheat flour, and the best is said to come from Pixian. I’m just getting familiar with the stuff – I brought back a couple of different types from New York awhile ago – and I’ll put up a post later on after I make some of the signature dishes – ma po tofu and dan dan noodles.

But given how delicious this eggplant-tofu dish was, it will certainly be added to the repertoire here. Steaming the eggplant and dry frying the pressed tofu allows everything to come together quickly without any concern about the eggplant being too mushy or the final dish being too oily – definitely recommend.

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Saturday Dinner

We spent the final Saturday evening of our month of self-imposed sobriety over at the Harrisons’, where in addition to good conversation, we enjoyed a tasty dish of Thai red curry with eggplant and tofu.

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Thai green mango salad

I finally found some green mangos and decided to make a salad. The recipe I was using called for some toasted coconut, and I thought it would be fun to start with an actual coconut.

A couple of sharp raps with the back of a chef’s knife cracked the nut, and it was soon in two pieces.

 

 

The green mangos were nice and firm – easy to peel and grate

This is a long way from Kraft’s Italian Dressing – fish sauce, lime, brown sugar and chile sauce:

But together with the mango, coconut, bean sprouts, scallions, chile pepper, cilantro, basil and peanuts, it makes for a delightfully zesty (mostly) vegetarian lunch!

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Pho (faux?)

Whether a vegetarian pho is a proper pho is a question for another time, but this tofu-rich noodle soup was delicious. Your pho is only as good as your broth, and I made a great one with kombu and mushrooms to give it some depth and all-around umami goodness. Charred onion and ginger and cinnamon, star anise and cloves gave it that characteristic aroma and flavor. Unfortunately the rice noodles were the weak point; still haven’t found a good source for pho noodles. In addition to the dry fried tofu, I added some sauteed mushrooms and bok choy, and as always, the finishing touches are key:

 

 

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About Me

Born in Baltimore and raised in Cincinnati, I have lived on both coasts and driven back and forth across the country a number of times. I now have the "midlife opportunity" to do so on two wheels.