We are looking forward to festive times with our friends and family while giving thanks for our blessings. If you’re like me, you are thinking about shaking up the menu a bit with some international flavors. These delicious recipes are from a wonderful group of my friends whose daughters and nieces were swimming together on a synchronized swimming team. Their friendships grew as their swimming skills did. After several swam through college years, they have graduated and moved on but still enjoy getting together whenever they can.
In case you’re wondering, “Where’s the turkey?” – we’ve got a plan for that! Since most families know how to roast a turkey (call the Butterball hotline) and make cranberry sauce (or purchase Ocean Spray), we wanted to provide some wonderful meal accompaniments. The first recipe is Cecilia’s Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage is an incredibly delicious stuffing for your Thanksgiving turkey (or you can make it ahead to heat and serve as a side!).
My friends’ favorite recipes also include Ragini’s Indian Curry Puffs appetizer, and a scrumptious brunch recipe to serve your household guests — Peiling and Kathy’s Taiwanese Scrambled Eggs and Tomatoes and also Shredded Potato Stir Fry, an Asian spin on home fries (and better than “diner-style” eggs and potatoes) and a steaming bowl of 1-2-3 Chicken.
Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage
- 4 flat scoops of short-grain sticky (sweet) rice if using a rice cooker, or 3 cups if cooking in a pot on the stove. Brown or white rice depending on your preference.
- 5 oz. tray of fresh shitake mushrooms (Destemmed, wiped clean and sliced)
- 6-8 Chinese sausages
- 1 Tb. minced, peeled fresh ginger
- ½ cup thinly sliced scallion (white & pale green parts only)
- ¼ cup Chinese rice wine
- 2 Tb. soy sauce
- 1½ Tb. oyster sauce (omit oyster sauce and sausage for vegetarian version)
- 1½ tsp. sesame oil
Cook sticky rice in rice cooker (or in a pot according to package directions) the night before. Separate rice grains after cooking. Wash and chop mushrooms into coarse pieces. Quarter the sausages lengthwise and cut into ¼ inch pieces.
Heat a wok over medium heat, add the sausages, stir for one minute, add fresh ginger, sliced scallions, and mushrooms, stir-fry for another minute. Add cooked rice. Mix well. Add the mixture of rice wine, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil. Coat the rice and stir-fry to taste (may add more sauces as needed).
Scrambled Eggs and Tomatoes
(A national dish of China; simple to make.)
- 2 Tb. oil (canola or other vegetable oil)
- 3 ripe tomatoes, preferably peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks. (To peel the tomatoes, cut an “x” in the bottom and dip into boiling water for one minute)
- 6 eggs, with 2 Tb. water, whipped with a whisk
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 cloves garlic (optional)
- 1 Tb. ketchup (optional)
- chopped scallion, cilantro or Thai basil to garnish (optional)
Heat 2 Tb. oil and, when hot, add in the eggs. Cook over medium heat stirring with a spatula until there is no more liquid, but do not overcook.
Remove the eggs from the pan and the add 1 tsp. of oil to the same pan and cook the tomato and garlic on medium heat until a little soft. Add the cooked egg, breaking up the egg with the spatula. Sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper to taste and add spring onion and other garnishes as you’d like.
Note: Some families with children add a Tb. ketchup into the tomato mixture or add a pinch of sugar.
Shredded Potato Stir Fry
This is a super-fast way to cook and enjoy potatoes with a new texture that will surely surprise you! And it’s vegan and gluten-free.
- 1 lb. russet potatoes (approx. 2 potatoes)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
- 1 large red bell pepper
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 4 dried red chiles (such as chile de arbol, stems discarded, or red bell pepper)
- 4 tsp. rice vinegar)
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp. salt
Fill a medium-sized bowl with cold water. Peel the potatoes and carrot and give them a quick rinse under running water. Shred them with a mandolin or julienne along the length. The shreds should be long, thin matchsticks. Submerge the potatoes immediately in water to rinse off the excess surface starch. Usually 30 minutes is a good amount of time to soak them or overnight in the refrigerator if you want to prepare ingredients ahead of time.
Cut the bell pepper in half lengthwise and discard the stem, seeds, and ribs. Cut the pepper halves lengthwise into thin matchstick-like shreds. Ideally, they should be the same thickness as the potato shreds.
Lay out a clean cotton kitchen towel or several layers of paper towels on the counter, for drying the potatoes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and give them a quick rinse under cold running water. Give the colander a few shakes to get rid of excess water. Spread the shredded potatoes out on the towel and pat them completely dry.
Heat 2 Tb. oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil appears to shimmer, drop in 2 of the chiles and stir them until they blacken and smell smoky, 5 to 10 seconds. Add half of the potatoes and half of the bell peppers to the smoky oil. Stir-fry them vigorously, without stopping, to briefly cook the shreds approx. 2 to 3 minutes, but still make sure they maintain their toothsome texture (do not overcook). Scrape everything into a serving bowl. Wipe out the pan with paper towels and repeat with the remaining oil, chiles, potatoes, carrots and bell peppers.
Add them to the batch in the bowl, stir in the vinegar, sesame oil, and salt, and serve warm or room temperature. Remove the chilies before serving.
(It’s as easy as 1-2-3!)
- 2½ Tb. sesame oil
- 6 large cloves garlic, kept whole but smashed
- 1 large ginger root, sliced thinly
- 1½ lbs. boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and diced into 2-inch pieces
- ⅓ cup dark soy sauce (or regular if unable to get dark soy)
- ½ cup sake
- ¾ cup water
- 2 cups loosely packed Thai basil leaves
Place 2½ Tb. sesame oil in a large skillet and heat (medium high) until glistening. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until the edges of the ginger slices are slightly browned and golden; about 7 minutes. Keep tossing the garlic and ginger so they don’t burn. When done, remove to a small bowl.
Add the chicken thigh chunks to the skillet then add the soy sauce, cooking wine, water, and basil leaves. Gently toss to coat the chicken and then turn the heat to medium low and cover the skillet and cook for 10 minutes. Then turn the chicken so the other sides of the chicken pieces cook in the sauce. Keep turning the chicken every 10 minutes until the meat is dark brown (about 35-40 minutes). Serve over rice with stir-fried greens, such as bok choi, spinach or pea shoots.
Indian Curry Puffs
(12 appetizer-sized puffs)
- One package of puff pastry (frozen, store-bought is fine)
- 2-3 large red potatoes (boil until tender, remove peels and mash)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ tsp. cumin seeds
- 1½ tsp. fennel seeds (crushed or use fennel powder)
- 1 carrot shredded
- 1 onion, minced finely
- Bhaji Pav Masala (spice blend from an ethnic grocery or supermarket such as Whole Foods)
- 1 tsp. to 1 Tb. chile (your favorite jalapeno or if you like spicy, Thai chile peppers)
- Cilantro ¼ cup minced finely (with stems)
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tsp. salt (to taste)
- 1 tsp. sugar (to taste)
Warm the olive oil over medium heat and then add the seeds and toast for a few moments until fragrant. Add the shredded carrot and the onion and sauté for several minutes, then add the mashed potato and the spice blend. Add lemon juice and salt to taste. Refrigerate while you continue the next recipe step.
Meanwhile, unfold the puff pastry while frozen and shake off the excess flour. The pastry will break into three sheets; cut each piece in four. (a pizza cutter is perfect for this. Each full sheet makes 12 pieces. Put a scoop of filling into each rectangle. Fill generously, but not so much that the filling comes out of the sides when covered. Seal the edges well with your hands. Refrigerate at least several hours or overnight.
Bake on a cookie sheet in a preheated 350°F oven for 20-30 minutes until golden. You can freeze the uncooked puffs and bake later; just give them 10-15 more minutes of baking time. Serve hot from the oven.