This week, we'll offer a few exotic and not-too-hard-to-prepare Asian recipes. This one comes from the book "Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia" by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.
Condiments and accompaniments:
Vietnamese Must-Have Table Sauce (see below)
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1 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
European cucumber, thinly sliced
1 small head leaf lettuce
1 lime, cut into small wedges
2 oz. boneless pork, thinly sliced and cut into narrow strips
1 heaping tablespoon tamarind pulp, dissolved in 2 to 3 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
3 large eggs
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cube (2 to 3 oz.) pressed tofu, cut into narrow strips
1/2 lb. narrow dried rice noodles, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes and drained
1/2 lb. bean sprouts, rinsed and drained (divided use)
3 green onions, trimmed, smashed flat with the side of a cleaver and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (without stems)
Create a condiment plate that features cayenne pepper, sugar, peanuts, cilantro, bean sprouts and Vietnamese Must-Have Table Sauce.
Create a salad plate with lettuce leaves (washed, dried and separated) and decorate with cucumber (sliced and salted) and lime wedges.
Place pork in a small bowl, add sugar and mix.
In a medium bowl, mix tamarind water, soy sauce and fish sauce.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs with salt.
Place all ingredients by your stovetop.
Place a large wok on high heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and, once hot, add the garlic and stir fry.
Toss in pork and stir fry until it changes color. Add the shrimp and cook until it turns pink.
Add the tofu and press against the hot sides to scorch.
Pour in the egg mixture and let cook until it starts to set around the pork and tofu.
Break into pieces and transfer to a plate.
Place wok back on stove and add remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil. Add the drained noodles and stir fry vigorously, pressing against the wok to sear and heat them. Turn and press again. They will seem dry and unwieldy, but keep folding over and pressing, and they will become soft and warm.
Move the noodles up the sides of the wok and toss in the bean sprouts and green onions. Press them against the wok to wilt them.
Add the soy sauce mixture.
Add the reserved egg-meat mixture and toss gently. Add cilantro and toss.
Turn out onto a platter or into a bowl. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and serve.
Encourage diners to flavor their noodles with a sprinkling of cayenne and sugar, a squeeze of lime, and more chopped nuts, some bean sprouts and a drizzle of the Table Sauce.
The Table Sauce also can be used for the salad dish.
VIETNAMESE MUST-HAVE TABLE SAUCE (NUOC CHAM)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons rice or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 bird chili or jalapeno, minced
Several shreds of carrot (optional)
Combine ingredients in a bowl; stir to dissolve the sugar. Serve in one or more condiment bowls. Store in a tightly sealed glass container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Makes more than 3/4 cup sauce.