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Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Everyone loves pad thai.  Even the pickiest of eaters, who won’t dare anything more exotic than sweet and sour chicken (I know Chinese versus Thai, I’m making a point here), love pad thai.  Unfortunately like most Asian foods, no store bought mix, frozen entree, or other concoction measures up to the real deal.  This is due to the unique nature of the “sauce” that makes pad thai what it is.  This characteristic pad thai sauce is really not a sauce at all, but very heavily seasoned scrambled eggs that you fold the other ingredients into before they solidify, leaving the dish impossible to be made well, if not made fresh. This recipe is one of my girlfriend’s absolute favorites, and I decided to make it last night in celebration of me finding some work! As I have been trying to be healthy lately (and doing well I might add!  Eight lbs down, and the last five posts have all been “healthy”) I thought I would run the numbers on this recipe.  The final results, assuming the recipe makes four servings, come out to almost exactly 500 calories per serving (though we dare you to only eat one serving!) So, with no further blabber, here is the recipe:

My mise for the meal (essential for this dish)

Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai

3 tbs peanut oil

6 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tbs white sugar

2 tbs soy sauce

1/2 tbs oyster sauce

1/2 tbs golden mountain seasoning sauce (Tuong Gai Vi, if you have been trying to make Thai food, and it doesn’t taste right, this is what you are missing.

1 1/2 tbs Ketchup (yes thats right, tomato ketchup, like Heinz, I promise)

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 lb raw shrimp (whatever size is cheapest that day works)

1 1/2 c. cooked chicken breast meat, chopped to bite size pieces

1/2 lb dry rice vermicelli

1 c. bean sprouts (I forgot these at the grocery store, so they aren’t in the pictures)

3 tbs dry, unsalted, roasted peanuts, crushed a little (I throw em in a plastic baggy and beat them with either my meat pounder or a rolling pin a couple of times so they are busted up but not ground

1 tsp red chili flakes

2 green onions sliced thinly

1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

First I would like to say that due to the extremely fast cooking time of this recipe, it is essential that you make a mise, as has been discussed in previous posts.  If you do not do this, your dish will not come out.

So in the interest of preparing this dish, you must first cook your vermicelli.  Follow the directions on the packaging for the cooking time, and once the noodles are cooked completely strain and thoroughly rinse the noodles in ice cold water, while pulling and separating the noodles with you hands.  Vermicelli is notoriously bad at sticking to itself, and thoroughly rinsing the noodles while working them will prevent this.  After the noodles are ice cold, and strained, pour a tablespoon of oil on them and toss to coat, again to prevent sticking.  Cover the noodles with a sheet of plastic wrap until you are ready to use them.

Next, defrost the shrimp in cold water and peel them completely, including the tails. Next you are going to precook the shrimp, and I have a trick for this that will keep the shrimp from being overcooked (as they will be cooked again gently while assembling the dish, and no one likes tough overcooked shrimp).  To perfectly cook shrimp that will later be cooked again in stir-frys, pasta sauces, etc. bring a medium pot of water to a boil for 1/2 lb cold uncooked shrimp.  Dump the shrimp into the water and stir gently from time to time to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot, the instant the pot returns to a boil the shrimp are ready to be removed.  At this point they will still look slightly undercooked, and thats ok, thats what we want, so they can finish later, but not end up overcooked. If the shrimp are 40 count or larger, cut them into bite sized pieces and set aside for later.

Finally, combine the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, golden mountain seasoning and ketchup in a ramekin or bowl and set aside.  Now if you have cut everything else up, and measured all your ingredients you are ready to cook!

Pad thai in serving dish, garnished and ready to be dished out

Most recipes for Asian dishes are very unhealthy because they call for ungodly amounts of oil.  I have found that this is completely unnecessary, and have learned a trick that keeps food from sticking to the wok without all the oil.  The trick is that if at any point your food starts sticking to the wok, pour in a scant 1-2 tbs of very cold water and toss your ingredients.  If you have a well seasoned wok, this will unstick your food without altering the taste of the dish.  Be sure you only use small amounts of water at a time or it wont vaporize on hitting the wok, and will water down your dish.

For the Actual Dish:

(This cooking time is extremely short, like 5 minutes, and thus no pictures of the process were taken)

Heat a wok over very high heat, and add oil.  Once the oil “dances” add in the garlic and cook quickly, stirring constantly until it is just starting to take on a little color (just a little, no one likes burnt garlic).  Now add in the chicken and shrimp and cook, tossing constantly, to heat through.  Add in the sauce, mix with meats and garlic then add in the two beaten eggs.  Stir quickly to combine the eggs and sauce and let sit for about 2 minutes, until the eggs just start to set.  At this point add in the vermicelli and toss to coat in the egg-sauce mixture.  Add in all but a pinch or two of bean sprouts and cook, tossing constantly until bean sprouts are starting to limp, and the noodles are heated through.  Turn out the pad thai to a serving dish and garnish in this order: peanuts, red pepper flakes, reserved bean sprouts, green onions, and cilantro.  Thats all there is to it, you are now ready to eat!

Healthy Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai

Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai, ready for scarfage!

And as always, Enjoy!

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I know I promised to keep my posts healthy, but sometimes you just need something rich and hearty.  Such was my desires the other day, so I modified, and tweaked a carbonara recipe.  I would like to say that this rustic, classic style carbonara is healthy, but seeing as the only real ingredients in the recipe are egg yolks, pancetta, cheese, and pasta, I think that would be a bit of a stretch. That being said, this recipe is low in calories. 🙂

This is likely to be unlike any carbonara you have ever had in an American-Italian restaurant; this recipe uses no cream.  I know, I can hear a collective gasp coming as you read that last sentence, but the truth is, this dish doesn’t need cream.  The perfect ratios and pairings of the ingredients, combined with the proper technique produce a delightfully rich, and flavorful carbonara without adding tons of oil and cream.  With these modifications, and the use of Dreamfields linguini (which only has 5 digestible carbs per serving), this dish (which serves 6) comes in at just under 400 calories per serving (if you choose to use real pasta, each serving is still only around 600 calories). So you want to hear the recipe?  All right, here we go…

Lo-Cal Chicken Linguini Carbonara

(adapted from Two Meatballs in the Italian Kitchen, Mark Strausman and Pino Luongo)

My mise for Chicken Linguini Carbonara

2 tbs salt

1/2 lb pancetta, cut to 1/4″ dice (Ghetto Chopper) does not have pancetta, so I substituted some really thick applewood smoked bacon, and it worked out fantastically)

1 medium red onion, very thinly sliced

2 c. chopped up roasted chicken breast

1 large egg

3 large egg yolks

1 package of Dreamfields Linguini

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesean

1 tbs ground black pepper

Bring enough water to cook a package of pasta to a boil, salt, reduce heat to low, and cover pot.

I can’t say this enough, but for this dish especially it is very important that you have all of your ingredients prepped before you begin.  This dish is all about timing, and execution, if you take too long during any number of steps you will ruin the dish.  So please, please, make a mise, and prep everything, have all the ingredients measured out and in bowls ready to go before you start.

That disclaimer being said, heat a large skillet over low heat and add the pancetta or bacon.  Cook stirring regularly to prevent sticking and scorching until the meat has given up all of its fat and is starting to take on color. At this point add in the onion and continue to cook until the onion is starting to take on some color and the bacon is almost crisp.  Add in the chicken and cook to heat through.

What your pancetta or bacon should look like when it has "released all of its fat" and is ready for the onion addition

Pancetta or bacon and onions ready for the chicken to be added

Meat and onion mixture ready to come off the heat

While you are cooking the meats and the onion crack your egg and 3 egg yolks into a stainless steel bowl, and get your arm ready, because you are gonna whisk those babies for 3-5 minutes or until the egg and yolks are pale and almost doubled in volume.

The egg and egg yolks sufficiently whipped to double the volume and achieve that pale yellow color

Now that your arm is likely dead, use the other arm to remove the meat and onions from the burner and crank up the heat under your water to bring it back to a rolling boil.  Add the pasta and cook to al dente.

Once the pasta is ready to be strained, scoop out 1/2 cup of the cooking water (in case your pasta looks dry later for a little juice), and strain pasta thoroughly but quickly (shake that colander up and down a few times with some force to get that water out in a hurry without the pasta setting up or cooling off).  Transfer the pasta to either a large stainless steel or a large glass mixing bowl (ceramic holds too much heat and will likely scramble your eggs instead of thickening them to that delicious saucy state), add in the meat and onion mixture, and the olive oil, and gently but thoroughly toss to distribute with tongs.

Gently but thoroughly, and with a sense of urgency, tossing the pasta...

Now here is where you have to work really fast… Add in the eggs and again, gently but thoroughly (and with a sense of urgency or you will get scrambled eggs) toss the pasta to coat.  If you pasta is looking too dry for you at this point add a little of that reserved cooking water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing between additions.  Stir in the parmesan and the black pepper and you are ready to serve!

Lo-Cal Chicken Linguini Carbonara plated with some broccolini and a hunk of good bread!

And as always… Enjoy!

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