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Easy Asian Coleslaw

9 May

Asian Slaw 015

I have written a few times that Asian food is like a new frontier for me.  I wasn’t raised eating much of it, and in the 70’s and 80’s, most of the Orange County, California, food scene did not have a wide array of Asian restaurants. Thankfully, an influx of Vietnamese, Lao, and Korean families started populating the area, so it has since exploded into an Asian food wonderland of sorts.  While I will often berate the ubiquitous fake tits and humvees that festoon much of O.C. and which, consequently, led my wife and I to bid it adieu, I will say that now it has some balance by the soul brought in from different cultures and their cuisines.

But in my Carter and Reagan era childhood, Chinese food consisted of magenta-colored sweet and sour chicken from the only local Chinese place, The Golden Something.  Funnily enough, bean sprouts and duck scared me as a kid, but the unnaturally infrared gelatinous mess of carrots, pineapple, and chicken welcomed me with open arms.  I think my teeth looked like a photo negative by the time I left the restaurant, actually.

I have since learned to cook a variety of Asian main dishes, but I am sorely lacking in the side dish category.  Yesterday, I had an extra bag o’ coleslaw mix from a party we had on Sunday.  I knew I was making chicken satay (https://dinnerwithjonny.com/2013/01/24/ww-chicken-satay-with-peanut-sauce/), so I started googling.  I found quite a few Weight Watchers recipes calling for crushed raw ramen noodles for the crunch effect.  As I am not in the habit of having ramen around, this wasn’t going to work.  Instead, I found a recipe here: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe-Tools/Print/Recipe.aspx?recipeID=14297&origin=detail&servings=10&metric=false.

It goes perfectly with satay, as you will see, it is easy to make, and it is altogether wonderful.  I did make some changes, though…

I had no fresh ginger on hand last night.  But what I did have was some crystallized ginger left over from the holidays, which stays good for a decade or something.  It worked marvelously.

Easy Asian Coleslaw

Serves 6, I would think

Ingredients:

5 tbsp. rice vinegar, or white vinegar in a pinch

5 tbsp. oil

5 tbsp. creamy peanut butter

3 tbsp. soy sauce

3 tbsp. brown sugar (how come you taste so good?)

2 tbsp. minced crystallized ginger or fresh ginger

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 bag (about 8 to 10 cups worth or so) coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)

2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks

one bunch green onions, chopped

1 chopped bell pepper (optional)

chopped cilantro (optional)

Makin’ It:

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic.  Whisk it well so it’s all combined as a happy family.

In a large bowl for tossing, add the veggies and pour the dressing over it.  Toss this baby like you mean it and so everything is coated well.  Cover this and put it in the fridge to chill if you still need to make the main course, or serve right there. It’s kick ass both ways.

Asian Slaw 007

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino

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Sesame Chicken Soba Noodle Salad

13 Apr

Chicken Soba Noodle Salad

I have mentioned many times that joining Weight Watchers yields some exemplary recipes and materials.  What’s interesting, though, is that a lot of their published recipes do not seem to be made by people who cook a lot.  Timing and portion sizes, particularly, are often off a bit, which is fine if you know how to adjust accordingly…or if you read Dinner with Jonny, which seeks to ameliorate those deficiencies.

This recipe a goddamn keeper because of it’s versatility.  It can be a main dish served warm or, served cold, an easy crowd pleaser for a pot luck or a side in an Asian feast.  It’s best if you put it together and let it get happy in the fridge for a while so the flavors mingle and intensify. I love doubling the recipe, portioning it out, and eating it for lunch during the week.  It’s light, filling, and packs wonderful flavors.

The booklet from which I gleaned this recipe gives each portion a 5 on the old WW points system (Points Plus and 360° can fuck off) if you use 2 oz. of noodles.  The noodles are the best part, so I double the noodles and add 2 points, making it on or about a 7. Serve it with a green veggie of some sort to round it all out. Easy as a porn star with a car payment due.

Sesame Chicken Soba Noodle Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients:

5 oz. buckwheat soba noodles (any thin noodle will do, even spaghetti, but adjust the points accordingly for WW)

1 tbsp. rice vinegar

1 tbsp. honey

3 tsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

1 tsp. sriracha (optional)

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 grilled or roasted boneless chicken breast, sliced

1 bunch green onions, sliced

2 carrots, peeled and sliced into very thin coins

2 tbsp. chopped cilantro (optional)

1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Makin’ It:

Boil the noodles according to the package.

While the noodles are a-boiling, in a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, honey, soy sauce, ginger, and sriracha (if using). Set it aside.

Drain the noodles and quickly toss them with the sesame oil.  Add in the vinegar mixture, the chicken breast slices, the carrots, and the green onions. Toss with well and make sure you get the veggies mixed in there thoroughly (it’s a bit tough to do, as you’ll see). Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and cilantro (if using).

Chicken Soba Noodle Salad 4

This is a perfect spring or summer dish, and it’s virtually guilt free.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Chicken Satay Stir Fry with Orange Rice

31 Jan

Chicken Satay Stir Fry with Orange Rice 009

I want to hate Rachael Ray, I really do.  But I have to admit that I have yet to make a recipe of hers that isn’t good.  For many of the “celebrity” chefs and hosts, it follows that they have to have something that makes them popular or “TV worthy.”  And with few exceptions, when I make one of their recipes, I am usually pretty happy with it, whether or not I dilly and dally with it on a fit of whimsy.   As I get older, I am down with taking a tour bus, just like I am down with listening to someone who has an excellent idea or angle or dish.  In essence, I have no loss of pride or penis size in following a celebrity’s recipe, and neither should you.  So, while Rachael Ray’s scratchy voice might make me run to a cab if I had to engage in pillow talk with it, I welcome her recipes with gusto.

Such is the case with this Chicken Satay recipe (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/chicken-satay-stir-fry-with-orange-scented-jasmine-rice-recipe/index.html).  I took liberties with it, to be sure, and it’s pretty damn good.  I harvested some of my oranges the other day, and I am always down with Thai food with a peanut sauce, so this recipe came out in a search, and it’s a keeper.

I tried to find the nutritional value of it and found little, really.  One website said that 1/2 of my recipe would be an old Weight Watchers 4, but just the stir fry (Points Plus can fuck off).  So, does that mean the sauce too, or just the stir fry?  The bastards, they weren’t specific.  But I would guess that 1/3 of my recipe below would be an old Weight Watchers 8, with rice and sauce.  The reason I say this is because there really isn’t much fat in it; the peanuts and peanut butter, and maybe some of the honey, are the only ingredients that make the calories go up. When all is said and done (and I’m a guy, so I can get away with it on Weight Watchers), give it a 9 or a 10 on old Weight Watchers.

I also learned that this is another great way to cook rice, and I will experiment with it in the future.  I have always been an oil-in-the-pan-and-then-the-rice-and-the-water sort of guy.  But her way works well here.  I did try to forget the scratchy voice telling me what to do, and I thank the local wine industry for helping with that.

The prep work is fun with this.  Just get all of the veggies ready to go, and get the rice cooked, and the rest is easy as pie.  You don’t even have to use EVOO, thank god.

Chicken Satay Stir Fry with Orange Rice

Serves 3 to 4

Orange Rice Ingredients:

2 cups rice, rinsed

the zest of 2 oranges

3 3/4 cups water

Makin’ the Rice:

In a saucepan, heat the water with the orange zest until boiling.  Add the rice and return to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 18 minutes.  Uncover it and fluff it with a fork.  It’s ready to serve at this point.

Chicken Stir Fry Ingredients:

2 tbsp. oil, canola or vegetable or peanut, dude

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces, and doused with a few squirts o’ soy sauce for good measure

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, smashed well with the flat side of a knife

1 bell pepper, sliced into strips (take out the seeds and the membranes, wise guy)

2 carrots, peeled, and cut into 2″ matchsticks (totally fun to do)

1 bunch of green onions, ends removed and cut into 2″ pieces on an angle

1 cup green beans (partially cooked) or snow peas (note: I hate snow peas, so partially cooked green beans are a great substitute for them in a stir fry for me)

Makin’ the Stir Fry:

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over high heat until hot.  Add the chicken, onions, and garlic.  Saute this for about 5 minutes until the chicken is browned and the onions are wilting a bit.

Add the rest o’ the veggies and saute this for about 6 to 9 minutes.  I actually covered the skillet for a few minutes because I’m anal about the chicken being cooked, but that’s me.  After about 8 minutes, it should be ready to go.  Meanwhile, get the sauce done.

Satay Peanut Sauce Ingredients:

4 tbsp. peanut butter (if you have chunky, great.  If not, add a few tablespoons of chopped peanuts)

3 tbsp. soy sauce

3 tbsp. honey

2 inch chunk of ginger root, peeled and minced

1 clove of garlic, either pressed or minced finely

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

the juice of 1 medium orange (use one of the ones you zested, wise guy)

Makin’ the Sauce:

Combine all of the ingredients and stir it over medium-low heat.  Use a whisk to really get this mixed and don’t let it burn.

To put it all together, take a scoop or two o’ rice and put it on the plate.  Put 1/4 to 1/3 of the stir fry on the plate next to it.  Take a few good spoonfuls o’ the sauce (1/4 to a 1/3 of it, duh) and drizzle it over everything, or just the stir fry, if you’re weird like that. You’ll get this:

Chicken Satay Stir Fry with Orange Rice 016

This tickled our taints.  It’s filling, flavorful, exotic, nutritious, and elegant.  No sriracha, soy, or any other condiment was needed.  So a big thank you to Rachael Ray, and may your scratchy voice remain at a bar and not in a cab ride home with me after gin and tonics.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

WW Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

24 Jan

Thai Chicken Satay 17

If I served this at my house to a guest, they would never know it’s a Weight Watchers recipe unless I told them.  I love when I find new WW recipes that are actually good.  It’s also funny how one ingredient can fuel a search for a recipe, and the result is a dish that I will make regularly from here on out.  Such is the case with this Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce.

I always love when my wife goes shopping because I open up the cabinets or fridge to surprises.  For this day, I had some chicken breasts thawed, so my mind was going through the normal rigmarole of figuring out what to make with them.  I opened the cabinets and, voila! a jar of peanuts there lurked.  Immediately, chicken satay with a peanut sauce came into my head (I sound like that show Chopped about now, which may mean I’m a jackass).

I have said before that I wasn’t raised exposed a ton of Asian food, so I jump at the chance to learn new Asian dishes.  I remembered this Thai restaurant on Bolsa Chica Road in Huntington Beach, California, to which some friends brought us years ago, and I had satay for the first time.  I fell in love with it, yet I have had it few times since then, my present hometown being bereft of most Asian culture to a distressing degree.  Gladly, I will now have it on a regular basis, and with not much guilt, either.

On a side note about the Weight Watchers recipes from their actual website, which this recipe is, I have to say that WW makes me giggle sometimes.  They have recipes that, had I followed them to a T, would totally suck.  For example, this recipe calls for veggies, like bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions, to be interspersed between the chicken chunks on the skewers.  This is stupid.  Everything has different grilling times, so the result would be probably a mess AND a pain in the ass to eat.  I made a skewer of onions and kept the chicken on their own skewers.

Weight Watchers says that each skewer with 3 tablespoons of the sauce AND 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds is a 6 on the Points Plus system, which I do not use and which can fuck off profoundly.  I would figure it’s a 5 on the old system.  Moreover, as always, I made some changes.  I did not use the sesame seeds, which I know doesn’t change the point value, really, but it has to help.  I served it with 1/2 cup of white rice, which is a 2, and I made some of my Asian green beans (https://dinnerwithjonny.com/2013/05/04/sesame-green-beans/), which adds another 1.  So, kids, it’s an 8 total with one skewer, but it was so good that I ate two of them, so a 13 for dinner ’twas, and I have no problem with that.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Serves 2 with 2 skewers each or 4 with one skewer each.

Satay Ingredients:

(get 4 bamboo skewers soaking in water for at least 30 minutes before you start threading the chicken on them)

2 uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes

3 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. cooking oil (I used canola, but it called for peanut oil, so whatever)

2 tbsp. chopped parsley or cilantro (I used 2 tsp. dried parsley because that’s what I had)

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 chunk of fresh ginger (about 2 inches worth), peeled and sliced, if you have it (if not, no biggie)

1/4. tsp freshly ground black pepper

a few sliced green onions for garnish

Makin’ the Skewers:

In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the chicken and mix well.  Add the chicken and mix it well, too.  Cover it and marinade it for at least 30 minutes but up to a day, stirring it every so often.  When ready, thread the chicken pieces on the skewers so that they’re fairly snug on there.  Discard the marinade.  Heat a grill or grill pan (I use medium high here), and grease it with cooking spray.  Grill the skewers for about 16 minutes total, turning them every few minutes so that they are cooked evenly and on each side.

Make the peanut sauce as you are grilling.

Peanut Sauce Ingredients:

1 tsp. olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tbsp. tomato paste

2 tbsp. water

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/8 cup chopped peanuts

(conversely, you can use chunky peanut butter and omit the peanuts)

3/4 cup low fat milk

Makin’ the Sauce:

Heat the oil a small nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions and cook them until they’re soft, about 4 minutes or so.  In a small bowl, combine the tomato paste, chili powder, and the water.  Mix it well so it looks like ketchup.  Add it to the onions in the pan and stir it for a minute so it gets happy.  Stir in the peanut butter, peanuts, and the milk.    Reduce the heat and cook it for about 4 minutes until the sauce thickens. Taste for salt.  Serve this as a dipping sauce in small bowls for the chicken skewers.

Thai Chicken Satay 1

As a garnish, I topped it with sliced green onions.  If you want spice, add some chopped jalapenos or cayenne to the peanut sauce.  I put some sriracha on the rice, but the peanut sauce and skewers were so damn good that they needed nothing else.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Easy Coconut Chicken Curry

15 Nov

Asian food has fascinated me since my twenties.  Before then, I had had hardly any because my mom just didn’t make it.  So through the years, I have gleaned and stolen and learned what I could to get a working knowledge of Asian food, particularly Thai food, because I love the kick-in-the-groin-with-passion-and-with-loud-exotic-noises spices that are used.  Yan Can Cook?  Goooooood.  Bourdain in Asia 15,000 times?  Goooooood.  Where I live in bible-thumping cowboy country?  Not so good.

This is a Weight Watchers recipe on the old points system.  It’s in one of the little booklets they gave me when I joined, the doughy and pastey bastard that I was…and still am when I don’t watch it.

I tried to find this recipe online, but the Weight Watcher brownshirts have forbidden it; they have even threatened to hunt me down and glaze me with gravy and Crisco, but that’s another story.

There are variations if you look hard enough, but you have this blog, and I love to write recipes, and you don’t even need the booklet, so what’s stopping you?  Nothing.

The old WW points value is a 5 without the rice.  Add a 1/2 cup of rice, which you should, and add 2 more points.  The serving is substantially filling, and incredibly flavorful, even for a WW dish.  If you want to say “Screw you, Weight Watchers!” use regular coconut milk instead of the light version.

Ingredients:

3/4 to 1 pound of boneless chicken (I use breast, but thighs work too), cut into 1-inch chunks

1/2 tsp. salt

Cooking spray (weight conscious cooking) or oil (I’m impervious cooking)

1 bell pepper, thinly sliced (if you don’t like bell pepper, substitute a thinly sliced onion for the effect)

1 bunch scallions, sliced

3 tsp. Red Thai Curry paste

2 tsp. sugar

1 can (14 oz.) light or reduced fat coconut milk (regular if you want)

1 head cauliflower, core removed and broken into florets

3 or 4 carrots, skinned, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces (half-moons, dude)

Black pepper to taste

Sliced fresh basil leaves

Makin’ It

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the salt…pepper is good too.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat, add the spray or oil, and cook the chicken pieces until brown, 6 or 7 minutes.

Remove this from the skillet and set aside for a bit.

Re-spray or re-oil the pan and add the bell pepper and scallions.  Cook this over medium high heat for about three minutes.

Add in the sugar and the curry paste; mix it up a bit so the paste is broken down and mixed with everything, somewhat.

Then add the coconut milk, mix well, and add the cauliflower florets and carrots.  Mix it all up, bring it to a simmer, cover it, lower the heat to medium low, and cook it for about 7 minutes.

Add in the reserved chicken, and let it cook another 5 minutes, or until the veggies are tender or to your liking.

To serve, divide it between 4 plates with 1/2 cup of rice on each one (alternatively, make two dinners and two lunches).

Top with torn fresh basil leaves and you’ll get this:

I put sriracha sauce on it, as you can see, because I’m ghetto like that.  With the rice, this is 7 points on old Weight Watchers.

If you like crunch, and I can’t believe I’m writing this, get some Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos.  For whatever reason, curry and these chips go together.  It also is one of the reasons I ended up in Weight Watchers, but once in a while, I have to reminisce about those bad romances.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.