Som Tam with Vermicelli

If you have never had som tam, or commonly referred to as Thai papaya salad, then you are missing out in my opinion. It is probably one of my most, let’s say top 25 foods, favorite of all time. You never really see it on many menus, at least in my area, so it’s often best to gather up a handful of great Asian ingredients and attempt at making it your own. My wife probably thinks I’m a nut at times as I have a lot of Asian ingredients in my pantry and refrigerator, but when it ever comes time to whip up a great ethnic meal, I’m stocked and ready. Som tam is essentially a salad made from unripened papaya. You peel the exterior skin of the papaya, then shred the interior into thin strips, of which get lightly pounded with chilies, lime, garlic, shrimp, tomatoes and fish sauce. It’s the perfect balance of Thai flavors which result in spicy, sweet, sour, and savory. To me, this dish is so addicting, and delicious that it has you craving it like no other.

Som Tam with Vermicelli

With that said, the addition of rice vermicelli elevates this sam tam like no other. I don’t know why I’ve never used the vermicelli in this som tam before, but I don’t think I am going to look back. The noodles make this dish even better, and when you are not using sticky rice, then this is a perfect pairing.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 unripe green papaya, peeled, and shredded
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 4 Thai bird chilies, stems removed (add more/less for heat)
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste, or dried shrimp
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 whole lime, quartered
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 roma tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 lb rice vermicelli, cooked
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, optional

Start by cooking your rice vermicelli. You can find this at your local Asian market. Cook until al dente, then drain, and rinse with cold water. Once cooled and drained, set aside into a bowl.

Som tam is typically made with an Asian mortar and pestle, and you can also pick this up at any local Asian market. It’s a standard in my house, not only for making som tam, but also fresh salsas on occasion.

Add the garlic, and chilies to the to bottom of the mortar. With the pestle, start mashing up the garlic and chilies, almost into a paste. Add the half of the lime, and continue to mash. Add the tomatoes, and lightly smash those as well. Use a spoon as you are mashing with the pestle, mixing along the way. Add the palm sugar, and shrimp paste, and continue to mix and mash. Add the shredded papaya, along with the fish sauce, and continue to lightly bruise the papaya, mixing along the way.

How to make som tam with noodles

When you are ready to serve, add a handful of the rice vermicelli to the bottom of a serving bowl, and top with the som tam mixture. Top with roasted peanuts. Use a fork and spoon to mix everything together, and then dig in.

Everything screams Thai with this recipe. Again, it’s spicy, sour, sweet, and overall, addicting. You want to talk about a great side dish, or heck, even main dish for that matter, then this is it. I remember turning my coworkers onto this som tam (without the vermicelli) a couple of years ago, and they have still talked about it to this day. Simple ingredients. Huge impact. Add the vermicelli next time you make som tam, and let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy!

Som Tam with Vermicelli
Author: 
Recipe type: Salads
Cuisine: Thai
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 unripe green papaya, peeled, and shredded
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 4 Thai bird chilies, stems removed (add more/less for heat)
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste, or dried shrimp
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 whole lime, quartered
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 roma tomato, sliced
  • ½ lb rice vermicelli, cooked
  • ¼ cup roasted peanuts, optional
Instructions
  1. Start by cooking your rice vermicelli. You can find this at your local Asian market. Cook until al dente, then drain, and rinse with cold water. Once cooled and drained, set aside into a bowl.
  2. Som tam is typically made with an Asian mortar and pestle, and you can also pick this up at any local Asian market. It’s a standard in my house, not only for making som tam, but also fresh salsas on occasion.
  3. Add the garlic, and chilies to the to bottom of the mortar. With the pestle, start mashing up the garlic and chilies, almost into a paste. Add the half of the lime, and continue to mash. Add the tomatoes, and lightly smash those as well. Use a spoon as you are mashing with the pestle, mixing along the way. Add the palm sugar, and shrimp paste, and continue to mix and mash. Add the shredded papaya, along with the fish sauce, and continue to lightly bruise the papaya, mixing along the way.
  4. When you are ready to serve, add a handful of the rice vermicelli to the bottom of a serving bowl, and top with the som tam mixture. Top with roasted peanuts. Use a fork and spoon to mix everything together, and then dig in.

 

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Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes, and Beans

There are many times throughout the week that I want something hearty, but without meat. I want a main course, or heck even a side dish that would go well with things like roasted chicken, and this is one of those dishes. You have to love a dish that is really simple to put together, yet one that is complex in flavor, and texture. I knew that my wife, and one of my kids (maybe two), would really love this pasta dish. What ended up happening is that I really, really was the one who loved this pasta with pest, potatoes, and green beans.

Pasta Salad with Pesto, Potatoes, and Beans

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of fresh basil, packed
  • 1/3 cup dry roasted almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
  • 3 red potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 pound gemini pasta, cooked al dente
  • 2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

Start by adding the cubed potatoes to a pot of cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. During this time, make a simple pesto.

To a food processor, add the basil, and lightly toasted almonds. You can go traditional by adding garlic, and pine nuts, but I wanted to go simple here and the basil and almonds were really, really good. Pulse the basil and almonds, then slowly add in the olive oil, and salt, until you have a nice pesto consistency.

Move the pesto into a small bowl, and set to the side.

Boil your pasta until al dente, drain, and place into a mixing bowl.

A couple of more steps and you are about ready to serve.

To a sauté pan, add about 1 cup of water, and the green beans. Bring to simmer, and cook the beans for about 3-4 minutes. I love the snap of the green bean for this pasta.

Next, add the canola oil to a large skillet, and bring it to a medium-high heat.

How to make pasta with pesto, potatoes, and green beans

Add the cooked potatoes, and cook until they are golden brown. Season with a pinch of salt.

Drain the beans and add them to the pasta.

Add the pesto, then top with the hot, and slightly crisp potatoes. Give everything a good stir, taste, and season with any additional salt.

The great thing about this pasta salad is that you can serve it cold, at room temperature, or warm. Who doesn’t love that?

When my daughter got home for school, she always asks two questions; what’s for dinner and can I have a snack? Then she saw the pasta salad as the centerpiece of the dinner table. She asked if she could try it (I never turn down that interest), and she totally fell in love. My boys on the other hand were not as excited. I mean pasta with green pesto flecks on it, seriously? What they did not know is they totally missed out on an awesome pasta salad that was not only simple, but super packed with awesome flavor and texture.

Give this one a try if you are going meatless during the week, and are looking for a dish that is not only hearty, but perfect to eat as leftovers. Hope you enjoy!

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Shrimp Larb – ‘Larb Goong’

I will tell you that one of my favorite flavor combinations has to be that of the flavors of any Thai larb, or what some refer to as laap. Someone from Thailand, or from the Thai culture please chime in and let me know which it is, larb or laap. Please. I typically make pork or chicken larb as my kids totally love picking up the minced meat mixture with sticky rice, or placing it in lettuce wraps, but you can definitely go way beyond pork or chicken, and recently I decided to go with shrimp.

Shrimp Larb Recipe

I’ve had larb with raw, minced beef (which was a bit of a shock but delicious), as well as cooked beef, and I will admit, however you want your larb, trust me, they are all freaking delicious. I say this because the fresh herbs and dressing that mixes into the larb is really the star of the show. I could just eat that stuff by the spoonful, or simply drizzle onto some rice, and I would be happy.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

 

  • 8-10 medium sized shrimp, peeled, and deveined
  • 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves, torn
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar, or honey
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce, (I like Red Boat, or 3 Crabs brand)
  • 2 tbsp roasted rice powder
  • 1/2 cup of shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 Thai bird chilies, diced, stems removed
  • Small wedge of green cabbage
  • 8-10 fresh green beans, trimmed
  • Roasted Peanuts
  • Sticky rice, optional
  • Water

Start by adding your shrimp to a skillet. Add in water, enough to come half way up to the shrimp. Bring the heat to a medium, and simmer the shrimp, only cooking until slightly firm, and cooked through. This should only take a few minutes. Once cooked, strain and set the shrimp to a mixing bowl.

To another bowl, make the sauce.

How to make shrimp larb

Add the lime juice, shallot, Thai chilies, palm sugar, and fish sauce. Mix well until the sugar gets dissolved. Once dissolved, taste, and adjust any seasoning if you prefer. You might want a bit more fish sauce, sugar, or lime. The goal is a sweet, sour, spicy. Once you have achieved this, add in the mint, cilantro, and toasted rice powder. Give this a good stir.

Toss in the shrimp, and get ready to plate.

To your serving dish, add the peanuts, cabbage, and green beans. Add the shrimp larb to the other side, and eat by adding a bit to your green cabbage leaves, topping with some green beans for a slight bitter flavor, and eat with the peanuts.

The end result is nothing short of amazing in flavor. It packs the perfect punch in texture, spice, and overall balance, plus it is super fresh and healthy to boot. This is a perfect dish for any party or any day of the week. Hope you enjoy!

 

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Vietnamese Spring Rolls

One of my wife’s favorite Asian appetizers, besides Filipino lumpia is probably shrimp spring rolls. They are always a big hit at family gatherings, and they are pretty awesome as they are essentially a salad roll. What is also great about these, is that you can pretty much make them however you want, and I love that about them. Vietnamese spring rolls are typically served with a dipping sauce, either a peanut based sauce or nuoc cham which is the sauce that I prefer to eat with the spring rolls.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

The spring rolls do take a bit of preparation as you have to slice carrots, and rinse and dry your fresh herbs and lettuce, but trust me, it’s worth the time.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of spring roll rice paper
  • 4 bundles of Asian vermicelli noodles, cooked in hot water for 3 minutes, placed in cool water, drained
  • 1/2 head of red leaf lettuce
  • fresh mint leaves
  • fresh basil leaves
  • fresh cilantro
  • bean sprouts
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, julienne sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, julienne sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled, julienne sliced
  • 1 pound of shrimp, tails removed, deveined
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large bowl warm water
  • Lightly moistened paper towels

Again, the prep takes a bit of time, however if you have any helpers, you can always reward them in a short period of time.

Start by adding the soy sauce and lime juice to a bowl. Stir, then toss in the shrimp. Stir again, and let this marinate for about 20 minutes or so, covered in the refrigerator.

Next arrange all of your vegetables and herbs.

Strain the cooked vermicelli, and gently squeeze out any excess liquid.

Heat a large skillet on medium-low heat. Add in the canola oil, move it around, then add in the shrimp. Cook the shrimp until just orangish in color and opaque on both sides, about 4-6 minutes. Remove the cooked shrimp from the skillet, and set aside on a plate to cool.

Once cooked, slice each shrimp in half, lengthwise.

Now the fun part, wrapping.

How to make Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

Get a large bowl of warm water ready.

Get a wrapping buddy if you can as it will make this go by a lot quicker. I enlisted by son who had a blast.

Take a spring roll wrapper, and gently submerge it in the warm water for about 30 seconds.

Add the wrapper to a plate and let it sit for about 45 more seconds. The coating on the wrapper that was once hard, will soften and allow you to begin working with it. I like to keep an edge of the wrapper slightly off of the plate so that I can start the folding process a lot easier.

If you let the wrapper sit in the water too long, it will get too soft and not easy to work with.

To the wrapper, add a bit of the cooked noodles, a couple of carrots, a couple of bell peppers, a couple of cucumbers, some fresh herbs, the lettuce, and  bean sprouts. Fold over, then fold over the edges. Take two of the sliced shrimps and place in the center, then continue to fold.  You can also fold them this way should you prefer. After a couple of them, you will get the hang of it.

Place these onto a plate of platter lightly moistened paper towels. This prevents the wrappers from hardening up.

Next, repeat.  Once you have another layer, add the lightly moistened paper towels once again.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

Serve alongside nuoc cham, or if you want, make the peanut sauce. I like mine with a bit of that great garlic spice with fish sauce and vinegar, hence the nuoc cham.

If you want, go ahead and slice them in half, or serve them whole. Either way, spoon a bit of the sauce into the spring roll, and dig in. It truly is a perfect bite with the noodles, fresh herbs, vegetables, and shrimp, heck even my kid who is skeptical of vegetables, especially red bell peppers, was devouring them.

If you are looking for something to bring to your next party, give these a shot. They are a real crowd pleasure, and pretty to boot! Hope you enjoy!

Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Author: 
Recipe type: appetizers
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 25
 
Ingredients
  • 1 package of spring roll rice paper
  • 4 bundles of Asian vermicelli noodles, cooked in hot water for 3 minutes, placed in cool water, drained
  • ½ head of red leaf lettuce
  • fresh mint leaves
  • fresh basil leaves
  • fresh cilantro
  • bean sprouts
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, julienne sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, julienne sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled, julienne sliced
  • 1 pound of shrimp, tails removed, deveined
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large bowl warm water
  • Lightly moistened paper towels
Instructions
  1. Start by adding the soy sauce and lime juice to a bowl. Stir, then toss in the shrimp. Stir again, and let this marinate for about 20 minutes or so, covered in the refrigerator.
  2. Next arrange all of your vegetables and herbs.
  3. Strain the cooked vermicelli, and gently squeeze out any excess liquid.
  4. Heat a large skillet on medium-low heat. Add in the canola oil, move it around, then add in the shrimp. Cook the shrimp until just orangish in color and opaque on both sides, about 4-6 minutes. Remove the cooked shrimp from the skillet, and set aside on a plate to cool.
  5. Once cooked, slice each shrimp in half, lengthwise.
  6. Now the fun part, wrapping.
  7. Get a large bowl of warm water ready.
  8. Get a wrapping buddy if you can as it will make this go by a lot quicker. I enlisted by son who had a blast.
  9. Take a spring roll wrapper, and gently submerge it in the warm water for about 30 seconds.
  10. Add the wrapper to a plate and let it sit for about 45 more seconds. The coating on the wrapper that was once hard, will soften and allow you to begin working with it. I like to keep an edge of the wrapper slightly off of the plate so that I can start the folding process a lot easier.
  11. If you let the wrapper sit in the water too long, it will get too soft and not easy to work with.
  12. To the wrapper, add a bit of the cooked noodles, a couple of carrots, a couple of bell peppers, a couple of cucumbers, some fresh herbs, the lettuce, and bean sprouts. Fold over, then fold over the edges. Take two of the sliced shrimps and place in the center, then continue to fold. You can also fold them this way should you prefer. After a couple of them, you will get the hang of it.
  13. Place these onto a plate of platter lightly moistened paper towels. This prevents the wrappers from hardening up.
  14. Next, repeat. Once you have another layer, add the lightly moistened paper towels once again.
  15. Serve alongside nuoc cham, or if you want, make the peanut sauce. I like mine with a bit of that great garlic spice with fish sauce and vinegar, hence the nuoc cham.
  16. If you want, go ahead and slice them in half, or serve them whole. Either way, spoon a bit of the sauce into the spring roll, and dig in. It truly is a perfect bite with the noodles, fresh herbs, vegetables, and shrimp, heck even my kid who is skeptical of vegetables, especially red bell peppers, was devouring them.

 

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