VIETNAMESE “PIZZA”: BANH TRANG NUONG

I am super excited to share this recipe with you! I had never heard of this concoction, which is essentially a street food in Vietnam. But during our trip to California last month I had the chance to try it in a restaurant in Los Gatos and could not wait to make it at home. Rice paper instead of pizza dough. Scrambled egg instead of tomato sauce. Seafood almost always the topping, although the one I had used pork belly instead.

VIETNAMESE “PIZZA”
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for each individual pizza:
2 rice paper round sheets
2 tablespoons olive oil
fresh herbs of your choice (I used basil and oregano)
1 egg, scrambled (it is easier to scramble 2)
salt and pepper to taste
cooked shrimp, 4 to 5 per serving
Thai sweet red chili sauce (store-bought is fine)
roasted salted peanuts

Make a flavored olive oil sauteeing the chopped herbs with the oil until fragrant. Reserve. Cook the shrimp by any method you like. I just used a little butter, salt, pepper and a squirt of lemon juice. Reserve. Scramble the egg with salt and pepper, and if you have a plastic squirt bottle, pour the egg mixture inside. Reserve.

Heat a griddle pan on medium heat. Grab two sheets of rice paper and spray water all over the surface of one of them, add the other on top. Quickly add the double paper to the pan, and carefully using a couple of spatulas or wooden spoons, make the heat stick them together. Once they start to join and the bottom is getting opaque, flip the papers and start heating the other side, always working on the surface to make them glue well. Once the paper starts getting white, brush a bit of the flavored oil on the surface, then pour the scrambled egg, a small amount will do. Push it to the edge with the back of a spoon, but don’t let it fall off on the pan. Cook until the egg starts to set, then quickly add the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp is warmed through. Sprinkle a good amount of sweet chili sauce all over, then the crushed peanuts, and serve. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Best way to serve it is to cut in wedges with scissors!

ENJOY!

PDF coming soon, stay tuned

Comments: This was such a delicious meal, I think I still need to practice the preparation, particularly handling the double rice paper, but overall I am super happy with the outcome. It is quite unusual, I know we’ll be enjoying it often with different toppings. If you’ve never heard of BANH TRANG NUONG, give this concoction a try, chances are you will fall in love with it also.

You can see a video of the preparation here, but I should warn you things did not go as smoothly for yours truly. Maybe different brands of rice paper behave differently. At any rate, it is worth any trepidation to get to the finish line…

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SMOKED SHRIMP TACOS WITH ROASTED JALAPENO SALSA

To make this simple recipe, you’ll need a smoker. If you don’t have one, use the same rub on the shrimp and grill it. I am not too wild about liquid smoke, and would rather omit that component than include it in the rub, but if you have a brand you are fond of and know how much to use, go for it. The Roasted Jalapeno Salsa was published last week on Mimi’s blog, and I made it on the same day I read it. I just knew we would love it. Beware, it is spicy!

SMOKED SHRIMP TACOS WITH ROASTED JALAPENO SALSA
(from The Bewitching Kitchen and Mimi’s blog)

for the dry rub:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp hot chili powder
2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed

Heat the smoker to 200F with mesquite, oak, or pecan wood.

In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the dry rub. Pour the rub over the shrimp and make sure everything is well coated. Add the shrimp to the smoker and smoke for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with the salsa, and your favorite toppings.

ROASTED JALAPENO SALSA
(slightly modified from Chef Mimi)

6 large jalapeños
4 Roma tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 generous bunch cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Start by preparing the jalapeños. Remove the stems, then slice them vertically around the core of seeds. Discard the seeds and stems. Roughly chop the jalapeño slices and place them in a medium-sized bowl. Chop the tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds, then place them in with the jalapeños. Toss the mixture with the oil and salt, then place it in a baking/roasting dish. Roast until vegetables are caramelized, about 30 minutes.Place the roasted jalapeno-tomato mixture with the cilantro and other ingredients in a food processor and pulse, until the desired texture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipes, click here

Comments: I made the salsa around lunch time, kept it in the fridge and brought to room temperature as I prepared the shrimp. Everything was ready then in less than 30 minutes, perfect weeknight meal. The shrimp turned out juicy and tender, with a nice flavor from the dry rub. And the roasted jalapeno salsa went perfectly with it. But if you are not into spicy food, this is definitely not for you. My Dad, the pepper-addict, would be proud of me! The shrimp is actually quite mildly flavored, so consider just serving it with a store-bough mild salsa if you prefer.

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BAGHRIR: MOROCCAN SEMOLINA PANCAKES

If you don’t know Tara’s Multicultural Table, you are missing on a must-follow food blog. I am quite fond of bloggers who open my horizons, and Tara does that on a regular basis, with unusual recipes from all over the world. Indeed, a multicultural virtual experience. I have not hit these pancakes perfectly, but they were so delicious I could not wait to share. The batter needed to be slightly thinner, so that they would form a nicer looking circle as they fried. But I am calling them rustic semolina pancakes, and I hope Tara will forgive me.

BAGHRIR
(slightly modified from Tara’s Multicultural Table)

2 cups (470 milliliters) lukewarm water 105-115˚F
2 + 1/4 teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast
1 + 1/4 cups (210 grams) fine semolina flour
1/2 cup (65 grams) all purpose flour
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons (7 grams) baking powder

Vegetable oil for greasing the pan

Pour the warm water into a blender and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let sit for a minute before stirring to dissolve. Allow to rest about 10 minutes, until frothy.

Add the semolina, flour, sugar, and salt to the blender with the water and yeast. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.Add the baking powder and blend again briefly until incorporated. Either leave in the blender or transfer to a large bowl and cover with a cloth. Allow to rest for 30-45 minutes. Bubbles should begin to form on the surface.

Place a nonstick pan over medium low heat. Grease with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Once heated, pour about 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) of the puffed batter into the center of the pan in a circle. Cook just until no moisture remains on the top and little holes have developed throughout the pancake. Do not flip the baghrir. Adjust the heat higher or lower as needed to prevent the bottom from burning. Remove to a serving plate and repeat with remaining batter. If you feel the batter is too thick when you fry the first one, dilute with a little water.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Tara’s version is sweet. You enjoy it with honey and almonds, as a little dessert or breakfast item. I opted for a savory version to pair with a turkey chili that is always a regular appearance in our kitchen. In the first photo above you can see how bubbly things got in that measuring cup… try not to walk away and forget all about it, or better yet, use a bigger container… As I mentioned, the batter could have been thinned out a bit so that the pancakes would end up as delicate and lacy as the ones Tara showed in her site.

Before I forget, I made half the recipe, since it was just for the two of us. I am however publishing the full version, as most people cook for larger families. Don’t forget to stop by Tara’s site and be amazed at the diversity of recipes she shared over her many years of blogging.

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ROCKING THE ZUCCHINI BOAT

This recipe is perfect to put those very large zucchini to use. Maybe they grew a couple of days too long in your backyard, or they were sitting neglected at the grocery store (size-shaming is a cruel thing in the Cucurbitaceae world). For this recipe, a delicate, small creature just won’t be as good.


MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE ZUCCHINI BOATS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Foodie Crush)

3 large zucchini (yes, LARGE)
3 fresh sausage links of your choice (I used chicken/apple)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, to taste (probably 1/3 cup or so)
kalamata olives, pitted, coarsely chopped, to taste (another 1/3 cup or so)
1 to 2 tablespoons capers
fresh basil, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 cup almond flour
1 egg
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

Heat the oven to 375°F.

Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp, coarsely chop, and reserve.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and the sausages (remove them from the casing, and crumble) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring and breaking it up into smaller pieces.  Add the reserved chopped zucchini pulp and cook until the meat is cooked and the zucchini tender. Season with salt and pepper.

At this point, you have two options, keep it coarse the way it is, or run it BRIEFLY in a food processor. I decided to do this extra step  because I wanted a smoother texture to fill the zucchini, but I admit it is a bit of a hassle. Skip this step if you are in a hurry, the dish will be a little more rustic, but nothing wrong with it.

Whatever you decide to do, stir in the mixture the egg, almond flour, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, basil and almost all the cheese. Reserve some to sprinkle on top. Spoon the stuffing into the zucchini boats and place in a suitable baking dish. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 more minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you do the food processor step, it will be a two to three pulses kind of thing. You will be asking yourself… did I really dirty my food processor for just these three little pulses? Yes, you did. But that brief encounter with the blades makes the texture super nice, and in my opinion, worth the trouble.

Quite often when you see recipes for stuffed vegetables, they involve a dense blanket of melted cheese covering everything. Not the case here. The cheese is a minor component in the mixture and a sprinkle on top. I imagine that a vegetarian version could depart from this one, using mushroom ragu in place of the sausage, but we really liked it exactly this way. A serving of couscous, a little salad, and we called it dinner… 

Leftovers keep very well, and also heat without issues in the microwave.

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UTTAPAM, WHITE LENTIL AND RICE FLATBREAD


I am back with another recipe using ivory lentils (in case you’ve missed the first one, click here). I had never heard of uttapam, but learned about it in the website of the very company I got the lentils from. They are described as flatbreads, but I suppose little pancakes (or fritters) could work equally well if not better. After all, it is more a batter than a dough, that is poured instead of rolled, and cooked over a griddle, not an oven. In my mind, that gravitates to pancake territory. But flatbread, pancake, fritters… it’s irrelevant. They are delicious. Dangerously so, I should add.

UTTAPAM
(slightly modified from Woodland Foods)

(makes 8 little pancakes)

1 cup Basmati rice
1/2 cup Ivory lentils
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
1 Jalapeno pepper, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
vegetable oil (I used grape seed)

Thoroughly rinse rice and lentils separately. Place each in large bowl of fresh water and soak for 2 hours.

Drain rice and lentils, and place in blender. Add salt, sugar and baking soda and grind mixture into paste. Add about 1/2 cup water, and continue blending to create thick batter. Transfer mixture to bowl, and set aside to ferment at room temperature for at least 4 to 12 hours.

Combine peas, Jalapenos and cilantro in a small bowl. Heat griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat and brush with oil. Pour in 2 to 3 tablespoons batter and spread out with back of spoon to create circle 4 inches in diameter. Sprinkle some of pea mixture evenly on top. Cook until small bubbles appear on surface, then flip and cook other side until crisp and golden.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I always feel a bit insecure making ethnic recipes I have zero experience with, but I must say this one turned out excellent, no problems, every step seemed to happen exactly as expected. Plus we both loved the texture and the taste of the little pancakes, that were served with a turkey chili. Sally again takes a ton of liberties with her dinner preparations. Chili made with turkey. Served with little flatbreads from India.  All enjoyed with no remorse whatsoever!

 

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