NorthBest Represent!

Nobody puts Baby in the corner.  But I’ll go, the keg is over there….

I live way up in the left hand side of the country in a place called the Pacific Northwest.  I think we invented rain, flannel, and microbrews.  Oh and that coffee thing too.  We order coffee like it’s our ‘effing job, “Extra hot, soy, Maple Pecan latte, no foam, a stopper, and a sleeve.” No joke, my wife can tell just by feeling the cup if the barista has put foam in there or not.  I’ve seen it!  I feel so damn bougie.  The princess and her pea got nothing on a suburban soccer mom who didn’t want that quarter inch of foam on top of her soy latte.  My kids even know how to order at Starbucks.  But, the other cool thing about living here is we have many ports and being so close to the water allows for international trade which blesses us with a mix of people from different places around the world.  Within 30 minutes of my house I can visit grocery stores that stock Latino, Asian, Eastern European, African, Middle Eastern, and Indian goods.  There are even a small handful of places that have all of these under one roof.  There is a local fruit and veggie vendor called Imran’s Market that has an amazing selection.  I have gone in there and literally seen a good sized representation of the world’s population in a small fruit market.  Plus I can get all kinds of cool fruit I can’t find anywhere else.  Stuff like Lilikoi, Apple Banana, Cherimoya, some football shaped thing with spikes called Jackfruit and like 4 different kinds of mango.  You don’t need a passport, just your car to be in what feels like another world in the best possible way.  So with all that in mind, I feel like this week I want to make some Thai and Vietnamese food.  I opted for Tom Yum Noodle Soup and some fresh spring rolls.  I’ve also had this cool dessert in mind that I think I’ll try this time around too.    

Soup’d Up!

I didn’t grow up eating Thai food.  I discovered it in college and instantly added it to my list of foods I wanted to cook.  It can be intimidating to try something like this but to be honest, once you learn the techniques and basic concepts, it all kind of comes together.  Did anybody teach me this?  No.  I just kind of messed around and did a lot of research.  This is one of my favorites to make because it is fairly easy and tastes great. 

  • 5 cups of water
  • 3 tbsp Tom Yum Soup Mix
  • 1 can Coconut milk
  • Pho noodle (as much as you want to add)
  • 1 chicken thigh cut in strips
  • 8 Shrimp shelled and deveined
  • 1 handful of mushrooms
  • 1 green onion fine chopped
  • Cilantro fine chopped
  • Lime wedges

In a medium pot combine water and soup mix.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Once it’s boiling, lower heat to medium-high and add in the chicken and coconut milk.  Cook until the chicken is done, about 8 minutes.  Now, add in the noodles and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.  Lastly, add in the mushroom and shrimp and cook an additional 8 minutes.  Place in a large bowl and garnish with green onion and cilantro.

Rollin’ Fresh

I’ve been eating these since I was like 14 years old but it wasn’t until my 30’s that I dared to make them.  Once you master working with the rice paper it’s easy.  You just have to be patient and understand that you may tear a few part before you get into a groove.  It’s cool, it still happens to me too.  I just throw the rice paper aside and start again.

  • Rice paper
  • Shrimp shelled, deveined
  • Cucumber cut into thin strips
  • Medium vermicelli noodle
  • Cilantro
  • Red leaf lettuce ( I just add this in for more veggies)
  • Herbs (I used Tia To, but you can use basil if you like)
  • Carrot julienne

For peanut butter dipping sauce:

  • 1.5 tbsp Peanut butter
  • 1.5 cup Hoisin sauce
  • Small handful of Crushed peanuts

Boil the shrimp over high heat until cooked.  Place in strainer and run under cool water until the shrimp are cold enough to handle. Place them shrimps on a paper towel to dry and set aside.  Run a rice paper under warm water for about 15 seconds and place on a flat surface.  Fill (in this order) with shrimp, noodles, cucumber, carrot, cilantro, and herbs then roll.  One you have made all your spring rolls, in a small pot over low heat, add hoisin and peanut butter and cook until the sauce is smooth and warm.  Remove from heat, place in a small bowl and garnish with crushed peanuts.

Hey That’s my Pie!

If you don’t get the reference, then you need to brush up on your ‘80s movie quotes.  So!  When I first went to Hawai’i, we went to Leonard’s Malasadas and I fell in love with the Haupia Malasada.  The coconut flavored pudding was something I never had before and I knew then I had to make it.  I’m still perfecting my Malasada recipe but I have the Haupia down (or at least how I makes it), so I’m gonna work with that.

  • 1 can Coconut milk
  • One pack filo dough cups
  • 4 tsp coconut extract
  • 2.5 tbsp Sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp Corn starch
  • Small container of Heavy whipping cream
  • 1tbsp sugar (add more or less if you like)
  • 3 tsp Lime extract

In a small sauce pot, over low heat, add in coconut milk and coconut extract and blend until smooth.  Add in sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Next follow the directions on how to prepare the corn starch, then add to the sauce pot.  While stirring constantly, turn heat to medium and once it starts to boil, bring it back down to low.  Stir until thick.  When done, place in a bowl and let it sit covered in the fridge for about an hour.  After an hour, pour the pudding into the filo dough cups.  Bake in the oven at 350 for about 8 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool.  Next using a whisk or hand blender, place whipping cream, sugar, and lime extract and blend until the liquid turns into whipped cream.  If you use a whisk, be ready for a work out.  Cover tightly and place in the fridge for about 10 minutes to cool.  When that time has passed, remove small pies, place a small spoonful of whip cream on the pie, and serve.  You will have a lot of Haupia left over, so be ready to enjoy that for a while.

 What did I learn?  Well, I haven’t made that soup in over a year and I forget how much I love it.  If you want, you can leave the noodles out.  Some Thai restaurants will have it both, with or without noodles.  But for me I like to add them in for substance since I intended for it to be a main dish.  As we head into the cold fall season, I will probably break out more soup recipes with the occasional tropical dish thrown in.  To be honest, I can only take so much cold rain before I need to break into a sunny beach state of mind.  Ok well, have a great rest of the week, and if you go for this recipe, hope you have fun.  Give yourself time with the spring rolls, they take practice.  But on the good side, a lot of rice paper comes in a pack and they are cheap so you can mess up all you want for under $5.   Just be patient, it took me a few tries too.  Stay cool and I catch you later.  

This is where it all begins…

I just like seeing all that green.

At one point my wife took over the camera…

This is her shot…

Passion-Orange-Guava beer…yes it is that good…where is my beach?

Hey, get your own!

Oh Haupia, where have you been all my life?

Sweetie pie…stop staring me, my wife is looking!

I saw this at my work the other day and it made me laugh…PUMPKIN SQUIRREL!!

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