Fried Cauliflower with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette

Another recipe from David Chang’s Momofuku.
It is amazingly good. There are so many little touches that make this dish special: homemade fish vinaigrette, fried cilantro leaves, and the puffed rice tossed with shichimi togarashi. Also cauliflower is fantastic fried.
We recently served it as a vegetable course after soup for an Asian influenced dinner. This did entail standing over the stove for a few minutes, but the end result makes it all worth it.
For the fish sauce vinaigrette you need to know your fish sauces; they come in varying degrees of saltiness and funkiness. I can take a fair bit of funk (we frequently use Chinese fermented shrimp paste), but some of the Thai fish sauces are so funky they will overwhelm all the other flavors. Vietnamese brands work best for this recipe.

Serves 4

Fish Sauce Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons very thinly sliced cilantro stems, plus 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons chopped mint
Grapeseed or other neutral oil, as needed
4 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 head)
1/2 cup puffed rice tossed with 1/2 teaspoon grapeseed oil and 1/2 teaspoon shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice powder)

Combine vinaigrette, cilantro stems, and mint in a bowl.

In a wide skillet fry cauliflower in 1 1/2 inches of oil heated to 375F over medium high heat, about 4-5 minutes, until golden and spotted with bits of brown. Drain on paper towels.
Fry the cilantro leaves, making sure they are dry before dropping them in oil. Make sure they don’t clump together. After 5-10 seconds remove and drain on paper towels.
To toast the puffed rice heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add puffed rice. Toast for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat.
Divide cauliflower into four, top with dressing, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with fried cilantro and puffed rice. Serve.

Asian Inspired Frittata

So I was really craving one of those spectacular Asian style omelets with mussels or crab, but alas there was a dearth of seafood in the fridge. However, there were some quick cook egg noodles which in turn brought to mind leftover spaghetti frittatas (delicious), and then there was some fish sauce vinaigrette already on hand so this recipe sprang up. Pretty tasty and the fresh herbs on top add a nice refreshing touch.

Asian Frittata
Asian Frittata

Serves 4

1 cup quick cook egg noodles
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 red chili pepper
1 bird’s eye chili pepper
1 1/2 cups bok choy, sliced, stems and greens separated
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
A few sprigs cilantro, mint and Thai basil
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 teaspoon ginger
3 green onions thinly sliced
6 tablespoons fish sauce vinaigrette
2 tablespoons roasted salted peanuts, chopped
Hot sauce to taste

Cook egg noodles according to directions. Drain. Put in large bowl.
In small frying pan heat all but 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add 1 shallot and fry until crisp. Drain on paper towel.
Heat remaining tablespoon vegetable oil in 10″ nonstick frying pan over medium high heat. Add remaining shallot, garlic, mushrooms, chilies, and stems of bok choy. When mushrooms and bok choy have softened, about 7 minutes, add greens of bok choy. Cook 2 more minutes. Add to egg noodles.
Beat eggs and add to noodles and vegetables. Add soy sauce. Mix well.
Wipe frying pan clean and place back over medium heat. Add egg mixture and cook until lightly browned on bottom, about 5 minutes.
Place under broiler until browned on top, about 3 minutes. Invert onto large plate.
Combine bean sprouts, ginger, and fish sauce viniagrette.
Top frittata with bean sprouts, mint, basil, cilantro, green onions, fried shallots, peanuts and hot sauce and serve.

Tamarind Water

This recipe from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey is useful instruction if you’ve never made tamarind water before. After you learn the technique it’s easy to make a small quantity as needed for recipes unless you find yourself going through lots of it.

Take 60 g tamarind pulp (about the size of a tangerine) and put it in a bowl with 150ml hand-hot water. Work the paste with your fingers until it has broken down and the seeds have been released. Strain the slightly syrupy mixture through a fine sieve into another bowl and discard the fibrous material left behind. The water is ready to use and will keep in the fridge for 24 hours.