As a child, I remember whenever we would visit my grandparents and there would sometimes be a box of assorted Chinese bakery goods on the kitchen table. Most often, there would be BBQ pork buns, red bean buns, and egg tarts, but once in a while there would be cocktail buns (gei mei bao) and pineapple buns (bo lo bao). I always fancied the “special” buns such as the cream-filled cocktail buns and lightly sweetened pineapple buns. (more…)
With the summer heat, the last thing I want to do is to be stuck cooking over a hot stove in the kitchen. I try to opt for easy, healthy, and fast meals that require not too much stove or oven action.
Cold ramen noodle bowls are a great summer dinner. They’re light yet filling, and at the same time refreshing too. The best thing is you can customize the toppings to add whatever you like. Add corn, bean sprouts, green onions, leafy greens, bbq pork, or whatever you have in your fridge or freezer. Make it vegan by omitting the eggs and meat, and replace with tofu.
It’s best to prepare all of the toppings ahead of time and place them into the refrigerator so that they’re chilled. Then when it’s dinner time, it’s just a matter of assembling the bowls. Easy peasy.
My cold ramen noodle version has a citrusy ponzu sauce cuts through the noodles and gives it a nice vibrant punch. The shrimp, turkey, and egg add protein to the bowl, and the cucumber and tomato are cool and refreshing. Add carrots for a little crunch, and you’ve got the perfectly balanced summer bowl.
Cold Ramen Noodles (Hiyashi Chuka)
Yield: 2 Servings
1 package ramen noodles
3 eggs, scrambled
3 slices turkey or meat of your choice, chopped
1/4 cucumber, sliced
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 tomato, sliced
3 shrimp, sliced in half
Additional toppings (optional):
6 T organic ponzu*
4 T water
1 T sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
*If you can’t find ponzu, just substitute 4 T soy sauce, 1 T lime juice, 1 T water, and 1 T sugar
Crack the eggs into a glass bowl and beat until scrambled. Heat a large frying pan with a little oil over medium high heat and pour about half the mixture into the pan so it fries up like a thin omelette. Cook for about 2 minutes and flip. Repeat with the remaining egg. Remove from pan and let cool before rolling it and slicing into thin strips.
In a large pot filled with boiling water, cook the noodles for 1-2 minutes, until al dente. Rinse under cold water and drain in a colander. Set aside.
Combine the ponzu, water, and sesame oil. Stir well. Add the sesame seeds on top.
When ready to serve, portion the cold noodles into bowls and arrange the eggs, turkey/meat, cucumber, carrot, tomato, shrimp (and whatever toppings) over top the noodles. Pour the sauce over the noodles, mix well and enjoy immediately.
My favourite way of eating healthy in the summer is with these Vietnamese Salad Rolls (gỏi cuốn). It’s basically a salad within some rice paper. The best part is that it’s totally customizable — add whatever fillings you like or have on hand. I always add vermicelli noodles to mine, just to bulk them up, but you can omit them if you’re watching your carb intake.
These salad rolls are great in the summer because there’s virtually no cooking involved. If you do add noodles, it’s just a matter of boiling them and that’s it. The prep work does take a little bit of time, but if you have helping hands, it goes by pretty quick. I like to do the prep work ahead of time during the day, so that when it comes to dinner time, I just soak the rice paper, roll and eat.
Rice paper is a thin edible sheet made of rice starch. It is sold in dry form, and you prepare it by soaking the paper briefly in some hot water. No cooking! I personally love the texture of rice paper — it’s soft but chewy. Some brands are more chewier than others, and some are softer and tend to rip more easily.
I use the large round rice paper to roll my salad rolls, but I have seen square ones as well as smaller round ones in the supermarket.
I love serving these salad rolls with my peanut chili sauce. A little spice from the chili oil and richness from the peanut butter gives the rolls a little oomph. Or, you can just dip them in soy sauce, like my son does. Dinner can be easy and healthy with these fresh, vibrant salad rolls! Try making them and let me know what you would put in your rolls.
Vietnamese Salad Rolls (Gỏi Cuốn)
Yield: 10 Servings
For the rolls:
1/2 package rice vermicelli noodles
10 sheets large round rice paper
1 package cooked tofu, sliced
8 medium shrimp, cooked, de-veined and sliced in half
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 cucumber, sliced
sprigs of cilantro
1 T soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp peanut butter
1 T sugar
1-2 T hot water
1 tsp chili oil
sesame seeds (optional)
Cook the vermicelli noodles according to the package. Rinse and drain the noodles. Set aside.
Add the eggs to a large bowl and scramble with a fork or chopsticks. Heat a frying pan over medium high heat and add 1 T of oil. Pour enough egg into the pan to make a thin omelette. Cook for 1-2 minutes and flip. Cook for another minute. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the egg. Let cool. Roll the egg up and cut into thin strips. Set aside.
In a large pot, boil about 6 cups of water. Have a large heat-safe shallow dish ready. Carefully pour the boiling water into the shallow dish.
Take a sheet of rice paper and quickly dip it into the hot water. Be careful not to burn your hands.
Place the softened rice paper onto a clean plate.
Place the fillings of your choice on the bottom 3rd of the paper and fold up. Next, fold in the sides, and then roll it up. Repeat with the remaining.
Make the sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl and stirring well. If it’s too thick, add a little more hot water to loosen. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Serve immediately. Can be stored in the refrigerator, but prior to serving, take it out a little earlier so the rice paper won’t be too hard.