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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Asian Stock & Simple Soup

So it was too good to be true (the incredibly warm weather we just experienced, that is). Like a touch of summer to be relished amidst the transition from winter to spring, the heat came and went, and we are now back to the reality of chilly springtime weather in New England. Which isn't so bad if you have the right supplies on hand.

For me, getting through the cooler, typically-soggier days of March, April, and early May in anticipation of warmer weather means making soup. Meat or vegetable-based, hearty and chunky or light and brothy, I try to do a little bit of everything. With some Napa left over from making kimchi and a bunch of cilantro and Thai basil needing to be used, I set out to create a Asian-inspired stock and a simple, light soup of cabbage, mushrooms, scallions, and noodles. Consider adding little shrimps, cubes of tofu, or shelled edamame for a protein-boost.

Asian Stock
Makes (a little over) 2 quarts

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 3 medium onions, unpeeled and quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and crushed
  • 6 stalks of celery, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 10 oz mushrooms
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, leaves & stems
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 peppercorns
  • salt to taste
Throw all of the ingredients into a large pot, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, for about 3 hours; stir occasionally and add more water if necessary. Turn off the heat, allow it to cool for 15 minutes, and then strain out solids using a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth-lined colander. Transfer the stock into airtight containers; store it in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to three months.

Simple Soup
Makes about 2 servings

  • 1 tbsp oil (I used walnut)
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups Asian cabbage, thinly sliced (can substitute cooking greens like kale, tatsoi, or mustard greens)
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced (I used a blend of shiitake & oyster)
  • 1 quart Asian stock
  • 1 cup al dente soba or cellophane noodles (cooked with whole Thai basil leaves for extra flavor)
  • 4 scallions, chopped (can substitute spring onions)
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • soy sauce/salt and pepper to taste
Heat a pot with oil and garlic over medium-low heat until fragrant. Turn up the heat and add the cabbage; saute for a minute, then add the mushrooms and saute one more minute. Add the stock, noodles, and the white part of the scallions to the pot and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro and green parts of the scallions. Serve with fresh Thai basil, sliced lime, sriracha, and fish sauce on the side. Just like the stock, store it in airtight containers in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to three months.


Image by Rebekah Carter (2012).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Green Vegetable Green Curry

I feel like I'm a day late and a buck short on this post. The idea to cook up a green vegetable green curry dish coincidentally came to mind just prior to March 17. And though I did prepare the meal on Friday and have been enjoying it all weekend long, here I am, telling you about it post-Paddy's Day. But all is not lost, my friends. This entree is quite versatile as far as veggie additions go, and is sure to be a staple in this house when all those summer tenders start to appear at the CSA stand. Though I did not, you can easily incorporate more protein, perhaps in the form of sliced chicken, beef, tofu, or shelled edamame, into this dish; just decrease some of the vegetable amounts to make room in the pan. I recommend serving the curry with brown rice.

Green Vegetable Green Curry

Makes about 4-6 servings

  • 3 tbsp oil (I used walnut)
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2-4 tbsp green curry paste (use judgement; flavor/sodium depend on brand)
  • 2 scant cups asparagus or green beans, chopped
  • 2 scant cups Asian (opo, fuzzy melon) or summer squash (zucchini, yellow), sliced
  • 2 scant cups Thai eggplant, quartered (can substitute other dense variety)
  • 1 cup bamboo shoots
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2-1 hot pepper, sliced (I used a whole jalapeno- pretty SPICY!)
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • touch of finely grated lemon and lime zest
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt or soy sauce to taste
  • 1/4 scant cup Thai or sweet basil, chopped
  • 1/4 scant cup cilantro, chopped
In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-high flame. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for a minute or so, and then add the curry, cooking another thirty seconds. Add your vegetables and saute for a few minutes; add the lime juice to deglaze the pan. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, lime and lemon zest; add to the pan along with the bay leaf and turn the heat down to medium-low; allow the curry to simmer for about 15 minutes. Garnish with basil and cilantro.


Images by Rebekah Carter (2012).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Kimchi is a classic Korean dish of fermented vegetables such as cabbage, radish, cucumber, and alliums (garlic, onion, scallions). Though pickled foods were once heavily relied upon as a major source of vitamins and minerals during the winter months in cooler climates, the increased availability of fresh produce year-round has transformed the practice into more of a tradition than an outright need in many parts of the world. Even so, the distinctly-flavored dish, which is high in fiber, vitamins C, K, and B9 (folate), and lactic acid bacteria while low in calories, has become evermore popular around the globe and can be easily prepared at home.


Makes about 2 quarts

  • 1 large head of cabbage (Napa, Chinese, or Savoy)
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 gallon cool water
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated (I used a microplane grater)
  • 1/2 cup chili powder (Korean recommended; I used New Mexican)
  • 1 cup daikon radish, peeled and thinly sliced (Can also use spring/summer radishes)
  • 1 cup carrot, peeled and julienne cut
  • 1 apple or pear, peeled and finely chopped or 1 tsp sugar
  • cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce or water


Wash the cabbage leaves, drain, and chop them into one-inch pieces. Fill a large bowl with the salt and water, stirring to dissolve the salt. Add the cabbage to the brine, covering with a large plate to keep it submerged. Allow it to sit for two hours.

While you are waiting on the cabbage, you can prepare the chili paste. The really quick and easy way is to throw your garlic, ginger, fruit or sugar, fish sauce or water, and chili powder into a food processor and buzz it into a puree. However, I do not own such luxurious equipment! So I had to put in a little more time and elbow grease. I grated the ginger (you could also grate the garlic if you want) and whisked it with the chili powder, a few shakes of cayenne pepper to up the heat, and fish sauce (or water) to get a paste-like consistency. I thinly sliced the garlic and finely chopped the fruit but kept these items to the side. While waiting on your cabbage, you can also julienne cut carrots and thinly slice your radish(es).

After letting the cabbage soak, drain and rinse it. Then using your hands (I advise wearing gloves if you have any small cuts), gently squeeze as much moisture out of the cabbage as you can, placing it into another large bowl as you go. Add the carrots, radish, garlic, fruit (or sugar), and chili paste and toss so that all pieces are thoroughly coated with the paste. Pack the kimchi into 2 glass quart jars, tightly seal, and place in a cool, dark place. Allow the kimchi to sit for one or two days until it begins to ferment; you'll know it's "working" when it gets a little bubbly. The kimchi should then be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within a month.

Enjoy as a snack, appetizer, or condiment.


Images by Rebekah Carter (2012). Recipe adapted from
David Lebovitz.