Thai Glass Noodle Salad / Indonesian Coconut Veggies

Cellophane Noodles with minced lemongrass, ginger and sliced red onions

Sometimes called "glass noodles", pasta made from mung beans becomes translucent when soaked in warm water. The Recipe for our glass noodle salad: Start with 4 oz. of dried bean thread noodles, available at all Asian markets and most supermarkets. Place them in a large bowl and cover with boiling water; let soak for 5 minutes before draining well. Using scissors, cut the noodles into manageable pieces, i.e. bite-size. Have patience - these noodles are slippery and unwieldy! Transfer noodles from colander to a large serving bowl. Separately mix together in a small bowl; 2 T. lime juice, 2-3 T. Sriracha chili sauce, 2 T. fish sauce and 1 T. sugar or honey. Pour this over the noodles and toss. Now add 1/4 cup or so thinly sliced red onion, 1-2 T. grated ginger and 2 stalks of chopped lemongrass, using only the bottom third of each stalk, inner leaves. Frozen, pre-chopped lemongrass is widely available at Asian grocery stores if preferred. Toss everything really really well and marinate in fridge for at least 1 hour or until ready to eat. When serving, fold in equal parts chopped cilantro and mint leaves, about 1/4 cup each. Fire-breathers feel free to garnish insanely with sliced red and green chilies.

Thai Glass Noodle Salad with Indonesian Coconut Squash (Zucchini) and Cabbage Salad

Baby bok choy - or any leafy Chinese green -  prepared in this manner is easy and utterly delicious, sporting flavors greater and more complex than ever imagined: just rinse very well and then chop Chinese greens of choice into bite-sized pieces. Heat 1 T. vegetable oil in a wok or large non-stick skillet over a high flame. When the oil is shimmering hot toss in 2-4 whole dried red chilies and let them sizzle and darken for 30 seconds. Now throw in some thinly sliced onions and stir constantly for 30 more seconds. Add some minced garlic immediately followed by rinsed and chopped greens. Cook on high heat for a minute then reduce to medium-heat and cover the pan. The greens will cook quickly depending on variety used so check after a couple of minutes. When the veggies are done to your liking, remove from heat and season with equal parts soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. Leave covered for a couple of minutes then serve hot or warm. A final seasoning with white pepper adds a flourish of flavor without additional heat.

Our Indonesian Coconut Vegetables begin as simply as seen above. You can use anything you like in this dish - baby eggplant, string beans, carrots all work well. Make 'em tonight, like this: heat 1 T. of oil in a deep skillet until quite hot. Add 1-3 sliced green or red small hot chilies, 1 T. grated ginger (or 1 t. dried) and 2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 2" pieces. Cook for 1 minute and then add 1 lb. of zucchini, cut into large chunks. Stir for 2-3 minutes before adding 1 cup coconut milk (canned) and up to 1 t. salt. Toss in a few whole black peppercorns, bring to a boil, reduce flame to low and simmer gently until veggies are tender. Stir now and then and if needed, add a tablespoon or so of water to prevent sticking or burning. Check for seasoning and serve as a warm side dish.

Glorious Leftovers for lunch, garnished with sawtooth herb a/k/a/ culantro


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