These Asian spiced spare ribs will have you salivating. The smell of them roasting fills your home with the most divine aroma. And smells don’t lie, these are delicious. I use two different techniques to insure delectable results every time. First I marinate the read more
Quarantine has really changed how we cook and eat, hasn’t it? For one thing, we are just doing so much more of it. (Raise your hand if you made sourdough bread for the first time in your life?) People used to dining out several times a week, grabbing breakfast and lunch on the go, are suddenly becoming reacquainted with their kitchens. And not just for dinner, now we have to plan meals for the whole day. And if you have kids home with you all day, every day, it’s…..a lot. It can start to feel like you’re running a mini-restaurant.
You also want to avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store, so there is a new interest in maintaining a well stocked pantry, and planning easy meals around it. We are all desperately searching for fast, tasty, affordable meals that use what we already have on hand.
A Perfect Pantry Meal
My Lemongrass Tofu Rice Salad really fits the bill. I always have rice in my pantry, and if I’ve planned ahead I have leftover rice in the fridge. Likewise, I have my trusty tub of minced lemongrass in the freezer. Tofu is readily available, and has a very long shelf life. It also happens to be a great source of inexpensive protein. The only non pantry items the recipe calls for are fresh herbs and scallions, which I always stock up on during my weekly grocery shopping trip.
This lemongrass rice salad is just as good warm as it is cold. So you can enjoy it warm after cooking for dinner one night, and then eat it straight from the fridge the next day for lunch. You are now Quarantine Cooking Master. And because we are calling it salad, it automatically becomes a virtuous and healthy meal. At least I think that’s how that works.
For this recipe I use tofu cutlets, which have already been lightly fried. It’s a super convenient product available at Asian markets, but you can also use the extra firm tofu available at the grocery store and just cube it and fry it up in some oil yourself before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. (Or you can skip that step entirely but be sure to cook out some of the liquid in the tofu or the dish will taste a little watery).
If you are using leftover rice, first take a moment to congratulate yourself on being so smart and organized and thrifty. Then, gently reheat it in the microwave because refrigerated rice can be hard and clumpy. This salad works best with long or medium grain rice which is less sticky and starchy than short grain. But again, make do with what you have on hand. This salad won’t let you down.
A zesty sauce
The best part of this salad is the sauce. I love nuoc cham, the famous Vietnamese dipping sauce, so much that I don’t think it should be confined to just dipping. It enlivens and brightens everything it touches. This has the citrusy flavors of Nuoc Cham that really pairs well with the rice and makes it mouthwatering. If you want to make this salad vegan, you can substitute the fish sauce with either soy sauce, or a combination of soy sauce and coconut aminos.* (Cant get enough nuoc cham in your life? Try it here, here, and here!)
Get your ingredients ready
Because the actual cooking portion of this recipe is so quick, you want to have your ingredients prepped before you begin. So chop your scallions, herbs, and lemongrass if you are using fresh, and juice your limes. This is the perfect time to take out all those cute little prep bowls you bought but never used.
Heat up your pan
So when you’re ready, everything is at your finger tips. Once your pan is hot, add your scallions and lemongrass for a minute or so, add the tofu, and then pour in your sauce ingredients in a quick fashion, just like you are filming your own cooking show.
The tofu gets cooked for a minute, just to heat it up and bathe it in the delicious sauce, and then you mix it with your rice and fresh herbs, and you’re done!
And that’s it
A fresh meal, with lots of flavor and textures. The best part? It’s cooked in under 5 minutes with ingredients you already have on hand. I hope you make this tonight, and enjoy its bright and lively flavor as much as my family does.
If you make our Lemongrass Tofu Rice Salad, we want to know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag us in your photos, @funkyasiankitchen. Show us the goods!Print
A bright, citrusy rice salad made with pantry ingredients in no time!
2 Tablespoons oil
2 stalks lemongrass, hard outer leaves peeled and the top half cut off and discarded (or 3 Tablespoons of frozen minced lemongrass)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 scallions, sliced
4 cups cooked long grain rice (jasmine, basmati, or anything not short and sticky)
1 cup mint shredded
¾ cup cilantro leaves chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves (hard stem in the back removed)
4 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons fish sauce (substitute soy sauce or a combination of soy sauce and coconut aminos for vegetarians)
1–6.5 oz package fried tofu cutlet (you can substitute a half container of firm tofu and fry it first or use it the way it is)
- Open the package of tofu and rinse it off under running water. Cut it in half horizontally, then lengthwise, and then into thin ¼ inch strips from the short end of the block. Set aside.
- Trim the hard bottom ¼” of the lemongrass and whack it with the side of your knife to expose more of the inside. Mince it finely and set it aside.
- Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Add the oil, lemongrass, crushed red pepper, and scallion. Cook for 2-3 mins taking care not to burn the aromatics. Add the tofu and stir-fry for a minute.
- Add the lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce. Stir to coat the tofu with the sauce, cook for a minute, and turn off the heat.
- Pour the tofu into a large bowl, add the rice, mint, cilantro, and lime leaves. Use a fork or clean hands (if you can tolerate the heat) to gently toss the mixture to combine it.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning with a little more fish sauce, sugar, or lime juice as needed.
- Serve the salad warm or chill and serve cool.
- Make ahead: you can make the tofu ahead of time and keep it separate from the rice and herbs until ready to serve. Refrigerated rice can be hard and chalky so make sure to reheat the rice gently in a microwave if using leftover rice.
Keywords: lemongrass rice tofu vegan bowls make-ahead
Sinigang is a traditional Filipino soup. It is characterized by its medley of sweet, tangy, and tart flavors. While it is typically made with pork, I love this shrimp version because it is so light and fresh tasting. It’s the kind of soup that is just as home when it’s a little chilly out as it is in our sweltering Miami heat. My husband is from the Phillipines so I make Sinigang Shrimp Soup when he’s feeling homesick. And while deeply flavorful, it comes together very quickly with the help of some streamlined techniques and ingredients that pack a punch. It’s also a great way to add some extra vegetables into your meal.
It’s all about the broth!
Making it flavorful
I start this soup by making a deeply flavored broth. I cheat a little by using store bought chicken broth; I prefer the low sodium kind so I can control both the amount of salt, and the quality of the salt in my finished dish. After sautéing my aromatics, fresh ginger and onion, I add the chicken stock and simmer to steep the flavors. If you have homemade chicken stock, feel free to use it here and your soup will be even more delicious.
Frozen shrimp is absolutely fine and delicious. In fact, almost all of the shrimp that is available to purchase is frozen. And unless you have a source for locally caught shrimp and can get it right off the boat, frozen is convenient and available year round. Frozen shrimp is flash frozen when caught, preserving its freshness. When you get “fresh” shrimp at most grocers, it has been previously frozen and is sitting in its thawed water for days, adversely affecting the texture.
So if you have a choice, ask them if they have frozen shrimp and defrost it yourself. I usually buy peeled, tail on shrimp, 21/25 size, meaning that there are 21-25 pieces of shrimp per pound. You can use larger shrimp, like 16/20, or smaller like 36/40, but you will have to adjust your cooking time accordingly. To thaw it, I put the shrimp into a bowl of cold water. They thaw in less than 10 minutes, and then I drain and pat them dry. If the recipe calls for a quick shrimp broth, I buy unpeeled shrimp so I can use the peels and tails for that purpose.
To give the Sinigang broth its characteristic tart flavor, I add tamarind concentrate. Tamarind is a fruit used throughout Asia and Latin America. It has a rich, sweet flavor combined with citrusy notes. It’s readily available in Miami since it is used in many Latin dishes, but any decent Asian grocer should have it, as well as being available online. There really isn’t a great substitution for it; pureed apricots may be used, but your soup will still be delicious without it. We also add vinegar, lemon juice, fish sauce, and some brown sugar which will give it lots of zing and authentic Filipino flavor. Fish sauce, a traditional ingredient across Southeast Asia, imparts a pungent blast of umami flavor. These days it is stocked in the Asian section of most grocery stores. While it smells very fishy in the bottle, it really adds a nice bit of salty funky flavor, and the pungent scent kind of dissipates in the dish (or maybe your nose just gets used to it!).
Once the broth has simmered, it’s time to add the veggies. I use Chinese eggplant, which is longer, thinner, and more tender than its Italian cousin. It also has fewer seeds, making it less bitter. Chinese eggplant can be found at Asian markets, but you can use Italian or Globe as well. Alternatively, feel free also to add or sub your favorite vegetables. For example, zucchini or summer squash would work well here, as would trimmed snow peas. If you have some mushrooms you need to use up, they would be great additions too. The vegetables only need to cook in the simmering broth for a few minutes: just until they are soft and tender!
Then we add the vinegar, tomato and the shrimp, which will cook very quickly, just 1-2 minutes. Once the shrimp starts to curl up and turn pink, we add the spinach and then remove from heat. Finally, taste the soup, and adjust the seasonings. If you want it with a saltier, funkier punch, add a little more fish sauce. If you want it tarter, add a little more tamarind or vinegar.
Your delicious, authentic Sinigang Shrimp Soup is ready to eat! A healthy flavorful dish made in under an hour!
If you like my Sinigang Shrimp Soup, we want to know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag us in your photos, @funkyasiankitchen. Show us the goods!Print
A light and bright fresh soup, with traditional sweet and sour Filipino flavors.
- 1 Tablespoon neutral oil
- ½ large onion cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger (about 1 oz.), peeled and lightly smashed
- 4 cloves large garlic lightly smashed
- 3 cups chicken broth (use low salt if store bought)
- 4 oz tamarind concentrate
- 2 Tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 1 chinese eggplant cut in half lengthwise and then thinly sliced
- 1 medium tomato cut in half, seeded, and diced into medium cubes
- 4 oz green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- ½ pound large shrimp (21/25 size), peeled and deveined
- 5 oz baby spinach
- Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic and cook until they soften and are aromatic, about 3 minutes. Take care to keep the aromatics from burning by lowering the heat if necessary.
- Add the chicken broth, tamarind concentrate, fish sauce and light brown sugar and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat so that the broth simmers gently for 15 minutes.
- Add the eggplant and green beans and simmer for 3-4 mins.
- Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for another 2 mins. and then add the vinegar and shrimp and simmer until the shrimp is just cooked through 1-2 mins.
- Add the spinach, taste the soup and adjust seasoning (add fish sauce or salt if needed).
- Serve the soup immediately with lemon wedges on the side for friends to add as they like. (Make sure to fish out the ginger before serving.)