Sichuanese Wontons in Chilli Oil Sauce (Hong You Chao Shou)

Wontons are the simplest Chinese dumplings to make if you buy the ready-made wrappers. I always do as there is a limit to how far I will take “homemade”. There are 100’s of versions which can be wrapped or stuffed and then steamed, baked, deep-fried, pan fried or boiled.

This is the first time I have boiled my wontons (that I can remember) as I usually bake or deep fry them. This is a simple recipe and perfect for the beginner or one who has never boiled wontons before. They are delicious and I really enjoyed the texture of boiled wontons especially with the chilli oil and aromatic soy sauce.


There are also many ways to form the dough; whether a simple triangle, flower bud, nurse’s cap, envelope and other shapes. Not being an expert in wrap forms I stayed simple with triangles and envelopes. Maybe some time I will take the time to spruce up my skills. Presentation is important of course!

Whatever the form make sure that each wonton is sealed completely so you do not lose any of the yummy mixture. You also need to remove the air bubbles especially in the triangles.

Below are some baked wontons using the flower bud and nurse’s cap forms.

You can also use a number of fillings to suit your taste should you be a vegetarian or have special diet needs. You could use beef, chicken, lamb or all veggies in these wontons. Just make them with the ingredients you like – remember you only need about 1 tsp. mixture per wonton.

I feel the most important ingredients are the homemade chili oil and aromatic soy sauce (see recipes below). This was absolutely the highlight of these wontons – spicy that made my lips tingle – just how I like it ūüôā


I have adapted this recipe from “Every Grain of Rice” by Fuchsia Dunlop.

For this recipe I do recommend gathering up a team of friends or family to help make these delightful treats. There are about 20 wontons that can be served as appetizers or even a main meal.

Sichuanese Wontons in Chilli Oil Sauce, Adapted

  • 1/2 oz. piece of ginger, unpeeled
  • 5 oz. ground pork (beef, chicken or lamb, even all veggies)
  • 1/2 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. Shaoxing wine
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • salt and ground white pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp. chicken stock
  • green onions, finely sliced plus more to garnish
  • wonton wrappers (you will need about 20)
  • flour, to dust
  • 4 tbsp. sweet aromatic soy sauce (see recipe below) or use light soy sauce with 1-1/2-2 tsp. sugar
  • 5-1/2 tbsp. chilli oil (see recipe below)
  • 4 small crushed garlic cloves (in the pictures below I did chop up the garlic but crushed garlic would be fine)

Crush the ginger and put it in a bowl with just enough cold water to cover for about 15 minutes. Place the pork, egg, Shaoxing wine and sesame oil in a bowl with 1-1/2 tsp. of the ginger water. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Mix in the stock 1 tbsp. at a time, then add the green onions.

Fill a small bowl with water. With a wonton in your hand press around 1 tsp. of the pork mixture into the center. Dip a finger in the water and run it around all four edges of the wrapper and fold diagonally in half. Press the edges together and fold into desired shape; you do not want any leakage. Place on a lightly floured plate as you continue to make more.

While you bring a large pot of water to boil prepare your serving bowls. In each bowl (4), place 1 tbsp. sweet aromatic soy sauce, 1-1/2 tbsp. chilli oil and 1 small  crushed garlic.

Drop the wontons in the boiling water and stir to make sure they do not stick together. When the water returns to a rolling boil, pour in a small cup of cold water to calm it down. This does keep the wontons intact instead of falling apart. Repeat this a few times for about 5 minutes of cooking time. Remove, drain well and divide between the prepared serving bowls. Garnish with some sliced green onions.

Recipe by

Sweet Aromatic Soy Sauce, Adapted

  • 1/2 cup light or tamari soy sauce
  • 1/3 cinnamon stick or a piece of cassia bark
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp. Sichuan pepper
  • 1/3 oz. piece of ginger, unpeeled and crushed slightly
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar

I toasted the fennel seeds, star anise and Sichuan pepper until aromatic. Put the soy sauce in a pan with 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Add the spices and ginger, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. You should have about 1/2 cup.

Recipe by


Chili Oil, Adapted

  • 2 cups plus 2 tbsp. cooking oil – peanut or canola
  • 4 oz. Sichuanese ground chilies (see comment below)
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds
  • small piece of ginger, unpeeled and crushed

Heat the oil to about 400¬įF, then allow to cool for for 10 minutes until the oil reaches 275¬įF.

Add the ground chilies, sesame seeds and ginger to a heatproof bowl. When the oil reaches 275¬įF pour a little oil over the chilies. When the oil has cooled place in a container and store in a dark place. It will keep indefinitely. I chose not to include the sediment but please do if you would like a little more heat and texture to your oil.

Comment: I use Tien Tsin Chili peppers to make my chili oil. Cut the chilies in halves or sections and discard the seeds if desired. Stir-fry them in a dry skillet/wok until they are fragrant and crisp. Be careful as they can burn quickly. Add a small amount of oil and continue to stir until they are glossy and slightly darker.

Allow to cool. I always grind them in a electric grinder and don’t use a mortar and pestle.

Recipe by

Ingredients for the filling – oops – I forgot to include the pork!



What? I am so excited but sad at the same time. I thought the swallowtail butterfly had only TWO generations but lo and behold, I have a THIRD. This late in the year – he/she will not have enough time to go from a very tiny caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. I wish I could bring it indoors – they do sell “houses” to hatch your own butterflies.

I’m sharing this beautiful young caterpillar who has plenty of parsley to grow bigger and maybe??? This is September 18, 2017 – unheard of at least by me. Do they overwinter???

Heck, I am an Advanced Organic Smart Master Gardener so I should be able to figure this out!!!

Since I have shared other posts about my swallowtail adventures – here is the final one for the year. Linking to Fiesta Friday

Today is September 20th and my friend has a buddy – there are two of them:)

July 23rd…

August 8th…

My female swallowtail butterfly on August 16th

Beer Biscuits With Provolone and Beemster Paradiso

Did “Beemster Paradiso” get your attention? I do enjoy shopping for food, especially for certain ingredients like cheese. There are so many varieties that it is sometimes overwhelming – you need to take the time to read about them and select the best one(s) for your recipe. Cheese is a big factor in how these biscuits look and taste, not only with the flavor but whether you grate or add pieces of cheese.

This one small store I frequently shop at features new cheeses and they provide a detailed description on what the cheese is. Beemster Paradiso is a premium Dutch cheese that is creamy and smooth. It has tangy, savory and zesty notes similar to Parmesan. Well, that description sold me – a perfect match for the provolone and my beer biscuits.

The second batch with a few changes and most of them rose perfectly…

Only a few of the biscuits in the first batch rose nicely and I should have brushed on an egg wash

Choices: what cheeses to use, what beer to use and whether to add a jalapeno…

My choice for the first batch of biscuits I used the ale and 1/2 a jalapeno. The second batch I used the same cheeses, Miller Lite (instead of the ale) and no jalapeno.¬†The first batch of biscuits did not rise quite like I wanted; see Breakfast Biscuits, Ina’s Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits, White Lily Southern Style Biscuits, Caramelized Onion Sourdough Biscuits for other biscuits I have made.

This recipe was inspired by another blogger, Antonia. For her recipe with detailed directions and pictures please go to


Only a few biscuits rose nicely as many of them were on the flatter side. Pretty though and I loved the jalapeno (I added this) – an egg wash brushed on top of the biscuits prior to baking would have been nice.


So I decided to make them again with a few differences in the ingredients. Instead of 2-1/2 tsp. baking powder I used 1 tbsp. (sometimes it’s just better to use self-rising flour) and instead of 8 oz. of beer I used 6 oz. I also cut the temperature back to 425¬įF and brushed on an egg wash prior to baking them. I did not have another jalapeno so I did not add this but I sure missed it.

I also changed the directions – Antonia left some pieces of cheese in the dough and they looked so yummy and cheesy. I decided to finely grate all of the cheese and was able to eliminate a few of her steps in preparing the dough. You could barely tell there was cheese in my biscuits but once you took a bite it was obvious. Next time I will shred the cheese. I also made the dough closer to 1/2-inch thick not 1/4-inch and thus made fewer biscuits.

I’m sharing these beautiful and tasty biscuits with Fiesta Friday #189.

Beer Biscuits With Provolone and Beemster Paradiso

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
  • 6-7 oz. beer of your choice – I did use an Amber Ale in the first recipe and Miller Lite when I made these biscuits the second time (it does seem to affect the color as the ale is darker)
  • 2 oz. provolone cheese, grated (shredded is better)
  • 3 oz. Beemster Paradiso, grated (shredded is better)
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, minced (optional as some in my family would not care for this addition)
  • an herb or two would be a good addition
  • egg wash – 1 egg plus 1 tbsp. milk or water whisked – this does make your biscuits look good

Preheat the oven to 425¬įF.

Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together. Cut the butter into tiny pieces and add to the flour mixture with a pastry blender.

Add the room temperature beer and allow it to foam before stirring until the liquid is absorbed. As with any baked product it is important not to overmix the dough.

Add all of the grated cheese and minced jalapeno (optional) and mix until incorporated.

Drop the dough out onto a well floured surface; sprinkle with flour and work it gently until it is no longer sticky. Flatten to about 1/2-inch thickness.

Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out your biscuits. You should have around 16. Bake for 12-14  minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe by


Three Cheese Twice Baked Cauliflower Casserole

This is really “twice-baked cauliflower” – like in twice baked potatoes with all the goodies. This is a healthier version of a summer favorite. You can substitute lower fat cheeses and even the sour cream without affecting the taste. If you want to use turkey bacon you will not get the fat needed to roast the cauliflower, but of course you can use oil instead.

Served with a filet, lots of fresh tomatoes¬† and a glass of Merlot – you can’t ask for a better Saturday night meal as summer is winding down.

This idea comes from the Food Network and I have adapted their recipe; you can do that too…

Three Cheese Twice Baked Cauliflower Casserole

  • bacon fried, drained and torn into pieces; reserve 2 tbsp. of the drippings (to taste 6-8 slices)
  • 1 large cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste (salt is not needed because of the bacon and cheese)
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (I added this)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • chives (I had lots growing so added this)

Preheat the oven to 425¬įF. Spray a 3-quart casserole dish with nonstick spray, add the cauliflower and toss with the 2 tbsp. bacon drippings and pepper. Roast until the florets are soft and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes.

Mix the cream cheese, 1 cup of the cheddar, Parmesan and sour cream with a mixer in a bowl until combined. Spread this mixture over the cauliflower, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup Cheddar and bake until the cheese is melted, about 5-7 minutes more.

Scatter bacon bits, green onions and chives over the cauliflower casserole and serve.

Recipe by

Sharing this cheesy cauliflower dish with Fiesta Friday #188.

Mafaldine Pasta With Potatoes, Green Beans and Pesto

Does this recipe say summer, or what! This is a favorite Italian pasta dish loved by many and Marcella Hazan said no single dish is more delicious in the entire Italian pasta repertory. I certainly can see why and you will too if you make it.

This recipe uses a method of preparing pasta with cubes of potato and pieces of green beans, all cooked together in one pot. After this has cooked and drained, the pesto is added which finishes the dish off beautifully. Make your pesto fresh and do not use bottled pesto – there is a big difference in the quality of this recipe.

I discovered a new pasta called Mafaldine,¬† Mafalde or Reginette (Italian for little queens). It is a type of ribbon-shaped pasta that is flat, about 1/2-inch wide, with the smallest wavy edges on both sides. It reminds me of “baby lasagna”. It was perfect to soak up the pesto sauce.

I have mentioned that I recently moved to a “foodies paradise” where just about any food item is at my fingertips. This Italian market I go to has rows and rows of different kinds of pasta. I had so much fun looking at all the different shapes and wondering what I could make with each. I never dreamed there was so much to choose from! For me, this is part of what makes cooking so exciting¬† – shopping for ingredients.

Mafaldine Pasta With Potatoes, Green Beans and Pesto

  • 1 lb. pasta such as mafaldine (also called mafalde or Reginette), trenette or you can use linguine
  • your favorite pesto recipe (see below) my recipe makes a lot but what you don’t use place in a ice cube tray and freeze for later use
  • 8 oz. peeled, small potatoes, cut into 3/4 to 1-inch cubes
  • 4 oz. haricots verts green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths on a bias
  • Parmesan, grated for serving

Bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add 1-2 tbsp. salt and the potatoes.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until they are starting to soften a bit. Add the green beans and cook another 5 minutes.

Add your choice of pasta and stir. I make my pesto while the pasta is cooking  for about 7-9 minutes. I gradually add some of the pasta water to the pesto to get a thinner sauce.  I like to do this to avoid adding too much oil.

Drain the pasta mixture (save 1 cup of pasta water just in case) and place in a heated bowl if possible. Add the pesto to taste and to coat the ingredients. Serve with additional Parmesan.

Recipe by


  • 4 to 5 cups fresh basil leaves, firmly packed
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (use the good stuff)
  • 4 large cloves of garlic or to taste, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup pine nuts or walnuts or a combination of the two, toasted ¬†(see comment below)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. parsley, minced (optional)¬† because basil often darkens in pesto you can brighten its color by adding a little parsley – If you are interested see Cooking Tidbits – Keeping Pesto Green
  • olive oil (add slowly to get a nice consistency for the recipe you are making) for this recipe I only used about 7 tbsp. of oil and then added hot pasta water to get the thickness I wanted

Combine the first six ingredients; slowly add enough olive oil to get the consistency you want. I often like to add some hot pasta water to it so I don’t use so much oil as I did with this pasta recipe.

I like to toast my pine nuts in a dry skillet until they become fragrant. Combine all of the ingredients except for the oil in a food processor and process until finely chopped.  I have an 11 cup food processor and it is perfect for this recipe.  Drizzle in the olive oil with the machine running.  If you want a thicker pesto, do not add so much oil; thinner pesto add more oil.

Recipe by

I’m sharing this must try end-of-season pasta with Fiesta Friday #188.

Toasted pine nuts and most of the ingredients…

Making the pesto…

Growing basil in containers…

Shrubs and Drinking Vinegars

These beverages are popping up all over since I had my first shrub back in July at a restaurant in Philadelphia.¬† I’m hearing about them on the news, in magazines and¬† saw them offered at a local restaurant. Shrubs appear to be very popular right now as mixologists add liquor to their own versions of this classic American drink.

In 2011 American restaurants and bars started to serve these vinegar-based shrub drinks. The acidity of the shrub makes it well suited as an aperitif or used as an alternative to bitters. They are also a fresh alternative to sodas.


Then there are the drinking vinegars Рbeverages to benefit your digestive system.  Recently on GMA (Good Morning America) they talked about apple cider vinegar and if it is good for you. In moderation, yes but due to its acidity it would not be good to consume too much Рa tsp. in a glass of water.

I don’t recommend “drinking vinegars” that I found at Whole Foods. As soon as I put my mouth to the glass I was immediately turned off and barely sipped it.¬† The ingredients were extremely strong and not very appealing at all.

For example the strawberry balsamic contains water, strawberry, apple cider vinegar, lime, balsamic vinegar, coconut nectar, vegan probiotics and stevia. I don’t care how good it is for my gut and that it contains 4 billion CFUs of Vegan Probiotics per 13.5 oz. bottle!¬†Needless to say these drinking vinegars are not for me. Just thought I would give them a try…

I know, the first thing that may come to your mind when you hear the word “shrubs” are small to medium sized bushes that have multiple woody stems above the ground and are shorter than trees. However, there is another definition of this word and that is it was a popular beverage first during Colonial times.

So, I am mainly referring to the shrubs which were consumed in early American history. Originally, a raspberry shrub was a syrup of citrus and sugar blended with either brandy or rum and served aboard trading ships and naval vessels to help prevent scurvy. Vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices.

A raspberry vinegar is a fruited, non-alcoholic vinegar beverage that was used to quench one’s thirst.

By the mid-1800’s the word shrub was used to describe both beverages.

Raspberry vinegar is made differently than raspberry shrub syrups. I followed the cold process to make one syrup where you first add the sugar to the raspberries.

The second recipe I tried from 1900 (see recipe below) is made by adding the vinegar first to the raspberries, strain  and add sugar. Then it is cooked for about 15 minutes Рthis is delicious!!!

I had my first shrub at The City Tavern in Philadelphia during an evening reunion with 19 family members. It was a very refreshing and non-alcoholic drink that was served with “first plates” or what we call¬† appetizers today.¬† Shrubs are known to stimulate the appetite which was evident as we devoured a number of these delicious offerings. This beverage can also cure a “tummy ache” which some of us felt after eating so much good food

This was my first attempt at making a shrub to use in a vinaigrette. See Raspberry Shrub Vinaigrette 

I also used the shrub syrup to make a refreshing cocktail.

The possible ingredients:

sweetener: superfine, demeeara, granulated or brown sugar, maple syrup, honey

vinegar: white, red wine, apple cider, balsamic, rice, champagne or any number of flavored vinegar

fruit/vegetables: just about anything can be used – overripe fruits are the best as the concentration of sugar is the highest – get the best quality

alcohol: rum, brandy, Prosecco

How to Make Superfine Sugar:

This type of sugar is often hard to find but there is a quick and easy way to make your own using granulated sugar.  Add the sugar you need in a recipe plus a couple of tablespoons more just in case to a food processor. Process for 1 to 2 minutes until the sugar feels like sand. You can barely see the difference in the picture below.


The more I started to research shrubs and vinegars the more information I found. I am not an expert on the subject by any means. There are a number of great resources; cookbooks, magazines and of course the internet if you want to pursue the history of this beverage and even make your own. There are lots of recipes to choose from and I highly recommend making your own!


This very simple recipe appeared in The Times in an article titled “Women Here and There – Their Frills and Fancies.” It was posted by reporter Amanda Hesser (founder of Food 52) on July 28, 2010. It also appears in The New York Times Cookbook by Amanda. I have slightly adapted the 1900 raspberry vinegar recipe. Regardless, the following is the recipe to make a very refreshing base for a delicious beverage that is definitely a thirst quencher.

Raspberry Vinegar

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 quarts raspberries (about 6 cups)
  • I made a superfine sugar (for every cup of juice add 1-1/4 cups plus 1 tbsp. sugar)
  • fresh raspberries and fresh mint sprigs to garnish (I added)

Combine the vinegar and raspberries. Cover and let macerate for 3 days.

Mash the raspberries, then strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. Add 1-1/4 cups plus 1 tbsp. sugar to every cup of juice.

Combine the juice and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool; then refrigerate for up to 3 months. It becomes thick and syrupy and smells wonderful! I have also seen recipes that say 6 months – just taste and look at the syrup and decide.

Add the shrub syrup depending on the size of your glass and to your taste. Below is a 12 oz. tumbler and I added 3-4 tsp. of this thick syrup on top of lots of ice and finished with club soda; stir well. You could also add water, sparkling water, Prosecco, rum or brandy.

This beverage is indeed refreshing and I can see why Amanda enjoyed this drink so much.

Recipe by

Linking to Fiesta Friday #187.

The superfine sugar, juice and vinegar boiling down to make a delicious shrub syrup! This recipe is a keeper.


The syrup is thick after cooking…

Mujadara with Crispy Onions

I do love my cookbooks and I especially enjoy ones by authors who live in the state of Michigan. Just like I support the local farmers and buy their produce at the market I also support other “made in Michigan” products¬† from my Great Lake State.

Rosewater and Orange Blossom cookbook certainly has a special attraction not just with the title but the author, Maureen Abood who grew up as a Lebanese -American in Michigan. Who doesn’t love rosewater or orange blossom in “sweets” especially!

When I get a new cookbook I sit down in my comfortable recliner and maybe listen to TV and read through it writing down all of the recipes I might like to try. This time the weather was beautiful and warm and I sat out on my deck leafing through all the interesting recipes.

I just happened to pick this vegetarian recipe with three favorite ingredients; lentils, rice and caramelized onions.  I knew it would become a favorite so how could I go wrong making this.

Mujadara with Crispy Onions

  • 1 cup green or brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 cups onions, diced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup long-grain rice or bulgur (I used rice)
  • few grinds of black pepper
  • drizzle with oil to serve
  • serve with labneh (thick yogurt) and flatbread

Fried Onion Garnish:

  • canola oil for frying
  • onion cut in very thin rings or pieces (shallots would work good too) – make lots of them!

Place the lentils in a small saucepan and add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are al dente, about 12 minutes. They will finish cooking in a later step. Remove from the heat and set them aside in the cooking liquid.

In a large saute pan (use 12-14-inch) heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until they are a dark brown, about 40 minutes or so. While they are cooking sprinkle with 1 tsp. of salt. You must stir frequently to keep the onions from burning, especially towards the last 15 minutes of the cooking time.   Adjust the heat if you need to.

Gradually add the remaining 2 cups of water; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.

Stir in  the rice and the lentils with their liquid. Bring back to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook until the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes; stir occasionally. Taste the rice and lentils and adjust the seasonings.

Serve warm or room temperature and  drizzle with oil (optional).

Fry thin slices of onions to use as a garnish. Make lots! Top with a dollop of labneh (thick yogurt) and some fried onions. Serve with flatbread and maybe a green salad.

Recipe by

Linking to Fiesta Friday #187.

The onions in the beginning and in the end…

Cooking Tidbits – Baking Soda Tips

Do you ever wonder if your baking soda is still fresh? I did as I knew I had this box for quite awhile and like most ingredients does not last forever. The expiration date is 10-20-17 so not too far off; I probably should buy a new one just to be sure.

Put on your white coat and goggles and get ready for a scientific experiment.

Add 1 tsp. baking soda to 1/4 cup of white vinegar and see the results. If it bubbles vigorously it should be still fresh. What do you think? It almost bubbled over the top…

Most of us know about baking soda’s leavening power and how it becomes active when mixed with liquids. This makes our doughs rise. It is also good for other reasons:

  1. place an open box in your refrigerator to help eliminate odors
  2. I add 1/2 tsp. to my Red Bell Pepper Sauce¬† (it’s especially good with salmon) to reduce the acidity of the peppers
  3. add a pinch to the shrimp in Shrimp Fra Diavolo to give it more of a snappy texture
  4. makes onions brown faster
  5. helps to make tomato based sauces less acidic

I’m sure there are other qualities of baking soda so it’s always important that it’s fresh!

Linking to Fiesta Friday #186.


Thai Beef With Onions, Peppers and Pad Thai Noodles

Often Asian cuisines, such as Thai versus Chinese,¬† have many of the same ingredients like ginger¬† or soy sauce. Also, there are some ingredients that set them apart. Like tamarind (it’s the secret ingredient of Pad Thai) or Thai long chiles.

In this recipe I have used a number of typical Thai ingredients such as tamarind, lime, soy sauce, red chili paste, ginger, palm sugar – even the noodles are Pad Thai. Sometimes it’s hard to find the exact ingredients such as birds eye chiles but there are substitutes you can use such as hatch or arbol. Or maybe you just want to use peppers you can eat and not use just for flavor.

I’ve used the velveting technique where I have coated the beef with a cornstarch/sherry (or rice wine)¬† slurry to keep the meat supple as it cooks on high heat in my wok. I’m not sure if this is done often in Thai cooking. The meat was so tender and with the sauce and starch from the creamy noodles and pasta water¬† the dish was absolutely delicious.

Thai Beef With Onions, Peppers and Pad Thai Noodles

  • 12-16 oz. Pad Thai rice noodles or linguine
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. dry sherry or rice wine
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. palm sugar, packed or you can substitute brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp. roasted red chili paste or a few dashes red chili oil
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lime, halved or use 1 tbsp. tamarind paste
  • 1 lb. flank steak (freeze for 1 hour for easier slicing), sliced very thin against the grain
  • 2 tbsp. palm or canola oil (did you know Thai cuisine rarely uses peanut oil?)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • I used jalapeno, hot green Anaheim and sweet red Italian frying peppers, cut into strips/or pieces – use Thai long chiles or birds eye chiles for more of an authentic dish
  • garnish with Thai basil or lemon basil (I only had regular basil)

Cook the noodles according to the package directions; drain and save at least 1 cup of the pasta water.

Mix the soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, brown sugar, ginger, chili paste or oil, garlic and the juice of half of the lime. Pour a third of the marinade into a bowl with the sliced beef and toss to coat; marinate for a few hours. Reserve the rest of the marinade to use in the sauce.

Heat 1 tbsp. of the oil in a wok or large skillet. When hot, throw in the onions and cook for a few minutes. Add the peppers and  stir-fry for a minute tossing until the peppers are slightly cooked. Remove the veggies to a bowl.

Add the remaining tbsp. of oil to your wok. Add the meat and stir-fry for a minute or so, turning once.  Then add the onions and peppers back into the skillet and reduce the heat. Pour in the remaining marinade and  simmer for a few minutes, until slightly thickened.

Add half of the noodles to the stir-fry. Toss and add more noodles as desired. Stir in some of the pasta water if needed to thin the sauce.

Garnish with Thai basil and some fresh lime juice (optional).

Recipe from

Linking to Fiesta Friday #186.


Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Bucatini

This¬† shrimp recipe has been on my list (what shrimp recipe isn’t as I love, love this shellfish). Fra Diavolo is Italian for “Devil monk” or a spicy sauce for pasta or seafood. I’ve combined a few recipes I discovered in cookbooks and online and made this version my own. You can make this as spicy as you want – just play with the flavors to get the results you like.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Bucatini

  • 12 oz. bucatini, spaghetti or pasta of your choice
  • reserve 1 cup plus cooking water
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce, optional (see comment)
  • olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, sliced (I love garlic so I always use the higher amount)
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped plus some to garnish
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined (save shells)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • large pinch of baking soda (said to give the shrimp an extra snappy texture) see Cooking Tidbits – Baking Soda Tips
  • parmesan cheese to garnish

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and slightly undercook it as it will cook a little more in the tomato sauce. Drain and reserve at least 1 cup cooking water.

In a medium bowl combine the shrimp, 1/2 tsp. salt and the baking soda, set aside. This is optional but it is said that it gives the shrimp a snappier texture.

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat, add the garlic and cook until golden, 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 1 cup of the water, optional fish sauce, and the red pepper flakes; season if needed. Simmer for 15 minutes; stir in all of the basil except save some to garnish.

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet and add the shrimp shells, cooking about 4 minutes or until they have turned a reddish color. Remove with a slotted spoon leaving as much oil as possible. This just adds more shellfish flavor and is an optional step. Add the shrimp and cook stirring occasionally, until almost fully cooked about 3 minutes.

Add the pasta to the tomato sauce and toss, adding more cooking water as needed to loosen. Stir in the shrimp and toss.  Garnish with the remaining basil, some grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Comment: BLiS and Red Boat Fish Sauce collaborated to barrel age their premium fish sauce. There are only two ingredients – anchovies and salt. Fish sauce can be rather “fishy” but barrel aging the sauce mellows it. I¬† discovered this fish sauce through Food 52.

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Linking to Fiesta Friday #185.