Thursday, June 20, 2019

Thai Scallop Tostadas

Back in 2010, the food truck trend was in full swing here in Austin, and it hasn’t stopped. That’s the year The Peached Tortilla truck appeared on the scene. I believe the first time I visited it was at a craft beer festival, and I remember the Asian flavors meet American and Tex-Mex street food vibe. Since then, some food trucks have transitioned into restaurants, others continue as trucks, and several have come and gone. The Peached Tortilla has evolved to include a restaurant right in my neighborhood as well as a location at the airport, a catering business, and an event space. And now, there’s a cookbook of which I received a review copy. The book includes classic and current dishes from the business as well as some of author and founder Eric Silverstein’s childhood favorites and some dishes inspired by his mother’s cooking. Silverstein had the unique experience of being born in Tokyo to his Chinese-American mother and Jewish-American father before the family moved to Atlanta, Georgia when he was 11. There’s a lot of varied inspiration for the recipes here. I’m always drawn to Laksa recipes, and the one here looks delicious with the homemade paste of chiles, herbs, and spices and the mix of shrimp stock, coconut milk, and fish sauce. Another favorite of mine is shrimp toast, and I’ll be turning back to the page with Mom’s Shrimp Toast served with Thai Chili Dipping Sauce. There are burgers with sauces and toppings, a hot dog, and even a tempura fish burger. But, the Asian Street Tacos chapter really grabbed my attention. The Banh Mi Taco and Pad Thai Taco make appearances as well as the Kimchi Queso and Roasted Cauliflower Taco. But, it was the Thai Shrimp Tostadas that called out to me first. 

Although in the book it is shrimp tostadas, the day I planned to make them scallops happened to be on sale and I couldn’t resist. I’ve made kimchi tacos before, but I hadn’t extended Asian flavors into tostada making. And, I love making tostadas. This one is built on a base of Thai slaw made with purple and green cabbage, julienned carrots, green onions, cilantro, and Thai Peanut Dressing. The scallops were tossed with more of the Thai Peanut Dressing before being sauteed, and I cut them into pieces after they were cooked. My preferred method for crisping tortillas for tostadas is to toast them under the broiler with just a brushing of oil and flipping them once browned on top. It’s quicker, easier, and uses a lot less oil than frying. The tostadas were built with a layer of slaw topped with chunks of scallops and garnished with cilantro leaves, chopped peanuts, and Sriracha. 

This immediately became my summer tostada of choice. Sometimes I make vegan tostadas with refried beans, avocado, chiles, and lettuce, and other times I top them with shrimp or fish. This was a delightfully different approach. It was light and lively with the slaw and all those delicious flavors in the peanut sauce. And, any shellfish, fish, chicken, or tofu would be great here. This just guarantees I’ll be bringing home even more tortillas than usual. 

Thai Shrimp (or Scallop) Tostadas 
Reprinted with permission from The Peached Tortilla: Modern Asian Comfort Food from Tokyo to Texas © 2019 Eric Silverstein. Published by Sterling Epicure. Photography © Carli Rene/InkedFingers.  

Serves 4 

2 cups purple cabbage, shredded thinly on a mandoline 
1⁄2 cup green cabbage, shredded thinly on a mandoline 
3⁄4 cup carrots, peeled and julienned 
1⁄4 cup green onions, sliced on a 1⁄4-inch-wide bias 
1⁄4 cup fresh cilantro leaves 
3 tablespoons Thai Peanut Dressing (recipe to follow) 
Kosher salt 
Freshly ground black pepper 

TO MAKE THE THAI SLAW In a medium-size mixing bowl, toss together the purple and green cabbage, carrots, green onions, cilantro, and Thai Peanut Dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set the mixture aside. 

2 quarts + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
8 (5-inch) corn tortillas 
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 cup (approximately 1 1⁄4 pounds) shrimp, shelled, deveined, and chopped into 1⁄2-inch pieces 
1⁄4 cup Thai Peanut Dressing 
Asian Slaw 
1⁄4 cup cilantro, chopped 
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts 
1⁄4 cup Sriracha Sauce 
1⁄2 lime, cut into wedges 

1. Place the 2 quarts of oil in a Dutch oven or deep cast iron pan. Bring the oil to 350°F. 
2. When the oil is at temperature, fry the tortillas for 2–3 minutes or until they are a light golden brown. Remove the tortillas from the hot oil with a pair of tongs and set them to dry on a plate covered with a paper towel. Immediately season the tortillas with the kosher salt. 
3. In a medium-size bowl, mix the chopped shrimp with the Thai Peanut Dressing. 
4. Place the 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the shrimp to the skillet and cook for 3–4 minutes. Since the shrimp is already chopped, it should cook relatively quickly. 
5. Layer two fried tortillas on a plate, so that one covers a third of the other. Spread a portion of the Thai Slaw on top of the tortilla, then layer 1⁄4 cup of the cooked shrimp on top of the Thai Slaw, making sure to cover it evenly. 
6. Garnish the Thai Shrimp Tostada with the Thai Peanut Dressing, cilantro, roasted peanuts, and a little bit of Sriracha. Serve the tostadas with a lime wedge. 

Thai Peanut Dressing 
Makes about 2 cups 
1 cup plus 1 1⁄2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
2 cloves garlic, peeled 
2 Thai Chilies 
1⁄2 cup peanuts, roasted 
2 tablespoons Shrimp Paste 
1⁄4 cup lime juice 
2 1⁄2 tablespoons Fish Sauce 
3 tablespoons sugar 

1. Place a small skillet over low heat and add 1 1⁄2 tablespoons of the oil. Sauté the garlic for 2–3 minutes until it starts to brown and become aromatic. Add the Thai chilies and sauté them for another 45 seconds to 1 minute. 
2. Place the garlic and Thai chilies into a blender and add the peanuts, shrimp paste, lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar. Blend all the ingredients together. Add the remaining oil slowly and continue to puree the mixture. Be patient when adding the oil; otherwise the dressing will separate.

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Thursday, June 6, 2019

Aloo (Potato) Parathas with Cilantro Chutney

I had a little cookbook fling recently. I started cooking from Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family and couldn’t stop. I blame it on the cilantro chutney. I made a batch and got hooked on it. I wanted to pour it on everything at every meal. My only regret is that this happened just as my garden cilantro stopped producing in the heat of spring. This new book is from Priya Krishna, and I received a review copy. It’s a collection of her mother’s recipes that are mostly traditional Indian dishes recreated with other culinary influences here and there. There are roti pizzas, a tomato rice dish with cheddar cheese, and feta used in place of paneer. It’s Indian food the way the Krishna family came to make it in their home in Dallas, Texas. The dishes are mostly vegetarian with one short chapter that involves chicken and fish. And, let me just walk you through what I’ve already tried from the book. The Lima Bean and Basil Dip is a tasty and easy snack that’s perfect for cucumber slices or crackers or flatbread. Next, I had to try the Spinach and Feta Cooked like Saag Paneer. I used a mix of spinach and kale, and a mix of tofu and feta. The use of feta was inspired by a Krishna family trip to Greece, and it is a delicious twist. I’ll be returning to this recipe often. A few days later, I made the one and only chicken recipe in the book: Garlic-Ginger Chicken with Cilantro and Mint. The chicken was marinated in a lovely mix of garlic, ginger, mint, cilantro, oil, and lemon juice along with coriander, turmeric, red chile powder, and amchur. After cooking the chicken, I used it in roti tacos, as suggested in the book, with an avocado and tomato kachumber, or salad, and amazing cilantro chutney. This was how I became dependent on cilantro chutney. I even got inspired to make homemade roti although that recipe isn’t in the book. I just really enjoy making various flatbreads. The flavorful, marinated chicken with the fresh avocado salad and bright and spicy cilantro chutney became an ideal way to fill a roti taco. In fact, Kurt requested we have that meal every Sunday night. I should point out there are several Kachumber recipes in the book like Beet and Avocado Kachumber, Daikon Radish Kachumber, and Avocado Corn and Tomato Kachumber. I adapted the latter since I didn’t have corn on hand that day. The leftover roti I made became Roti Pizzas inspired by the book. I used different toppings than the ones listed, but loved the idea and the result. There are also several pages I’ve marked for more things I haven’t cooked just yet. Because I do so enjoy making flatbreads, the next recipe I tried was the Aloo (Potato) Parathas with, of course, more cilantro chutney. 

I was torn between making the Pesarattu (Lentil Pancakes) and the Aloo Parathas but decided on the Parathas since new potatoes had just come into season here. I brought some home from Boggy Creek Farm. The first step is to cook the potatoes and peel them once cooled. Next, the dough was made with whole wheat flour, water, a little oil, and salt. The dough was mixed and left to rest in the refrigerator. To make the filling, the peeled potatoes were mashed with red chile powder, crushed fennel seeds, clilantro, and salt, and I added cooked and chopped kale. There’s a tip in the head note about adding cheddar cheese, and that inspired me to make a different addition. I do add kale to everything. The filling was mixed until no lumps remained. The dough and filling were each divided into equal portions and rolled into balls. Working with one portion at a time, the dough was rolled into a round, and a potato filling ball was placed on top before pinching the dough up and around the ball of filling. The sealed dough pouch was turned over and then rolled out into a round. The formed parathas were cooked on a hot griddle with just a brushing of oil for a few minutes per side. 

The crispy edges gave way to tender centers, and I loaded so much cilantro chutney on each bite it spilled as I ate. It couldn’t be helped at that point of my addiction to the stuff. They were as fun to make as to eat, but I could say that about everything I’ve tried from the book. With these recipes and the suggestions for ways to combine and use them, this cookbook fling could go on a while. 

Aloo (Potato) Parathas
Excerpted from Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family © 2019 by Priya Krishna with Ritu Krishna. Photography © 2019 by Mackenzie Kelley. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. 

Makes 4 parathas 

When I go back home to Dallas, my priorities are usually something like the following: Get eyebrows threaded, go to the Galleria mall with mom, and eat aloo parathas at my aunt Rachna’s house. I typically text Rachna, who is one of my mom’s sisters-in-law, the minute I land at DFW airport, and we set a date for me to come over and eat aloo parathas while we gossip about her son Ruchir’s love life. Aloo parathas are a simple dish—just bread filled with potatoes and spices. But the beauty of Rachna’s aloo parathas is the ratio. You know how people always complain that crab cakes have too much breading and not enough crab? This is also a common complaint about aloo parathas: too much dough, too little potato. Rachna’s version, however, is about 80 percent potato, 20 percent dough—the ideal proportions for ensuring a soft, satiny paratha. There are a lot of steps, but don’t be intimidated! If you can operate a rolling pin, you can make paratha. And when serving these, our family doesn’t abide by any kind of formalities—as soon as one is ready, someone claims it so it can be eaten while piping hot, with Cilantro Chutney or whatever condiment (achar, raita, etc.) happens to be around that day. 

TIP: Want to give your aloo paratha a little twist? Add 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese to the potatoes in step 2. 

For the dough 
1 cup whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting 
1/2 cup room-temperature water 
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil 
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
For the filling 
2 medium russet potatoes, boiled, cooled, and peeled 
1/4 teaspoon red chile powder 
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed into a powder (this is easiest in a mortar and pestle) 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (stems and leaves) 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/4 cup vegetable oil, for basting the paratha (set aside in a small bowl for easy access) 

1. MAKE THE DOUGH: In a medium bowl, mix all the dough ingredients together and knead the dough with your hands until it is smooth and well incorporated. The dough should be soft, slightly sticky, and not too wet. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes. 
2.WHILE THE DOUGH IS RESTING, MAKE THE FILLING: In another medium bowl, using your hands ora potato masher, mash the potatoes, then use a wooden spoon or spatula to fold in the red chile powder, fennel, cilantro, and salt. Aim for the consistency of smooth mashed potatoes. (If the potatoes aren’t smooth enough, the dough will be hard to roll.) Use a fork to get rid of any lumps. 
3.Divide the dough and mashed potatoes into 4 equal portions (as in, 4 portions of dough and 4 portions of potatoes) and roll each portion into a ball. 
4. Generously sprinkle a clean work surface with flour. Lightly coat each dough ball with flour, then use a rolling pin to roll out each ball into a 6-inch circle, rotating the dough as you roll to maintain the circular shape, and adding more flour to your work surface as needed to prevent sticking. 
5.Working one at a time, place a potato ball in the center of a dough circle, then pull the edges of the doughover the top of the ball, like you would enclose a parcel, and pinch together to seal. Make sure the potato filling is nicely sealed in or it will spill out during the next step. 
6. Flip the dough-potato ball over so the seal is on the bottom and use a rolling pin to roll it out into an 8-inch circle. Repeat filling and rolling until you have four 8-inch rounds. 
7.COOK THE PARATHA: Warm a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is thoroughly heated, carefully place a paratha in the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, until the underside starts to brown and blister, then flip. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil to the surface of the paratha and spread it around with a spoon. Cook for 2 minutes, until the other side is starting to brown and blister, then flip the paratha again. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil to the top of the paratha, spread it around, and cook until the underside is golden brown with dark brown spots, about 1 minute, then flip again. Cook the other side until golden brown with dark brown spots, no more than 1 minute. Transfer the paratha to a plate. Repeat to cook the remaining parathas. If there is residual flour in the pan, make sure to wipe it out before adding the next paratha. 

Cilantro Chutney 
Makes 1/2 cup (can easily be multiplied) 

Cilantro chutney is the king of chutneys. Why? Because it goes with any and all Indian food: samosas, dal roti, any kind of chaat (the Indian genre of snacks) name it. During the photo shoot for this book, my mom churned out literal buckets of the stuff every single day because (1) it’s delicious, (2) it’s photogenic, and (3) we drizzle it on everything. I love this simple, OG recipe from my mom because it retains the pleasant grassiness from the cilantro and has a creeping, lingering heat (though you can nix the chiles if creeping heat is not your thing). There are also many ways to customize it—add mint for fresher notes, or nuts for richness. Use it as a salsa, a sauce for grilled chicken, or a topping for Roti Pizza. 

1 bunch fresh cilantro, preferably organic, stems and leaves roughly chopped (about 4 cups) 
1 small Indian green chile or serrano chile, roughly chopped 
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 1 lime), plus more if needed 
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar 
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed 

1. In a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth. If the mixture is too thick to blend, add a few drops of water to get it going. Taste and adjust the salt and/or lime juice, if needed. This chutney keeps, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 2 days.

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