Laksa Singapura (Spicy Singapore Noodle Soup)

Recipe courtesy of Nancy Josland Dalsin

from "Green Mangoes and Lemon Grass" by Wendy Hutton

12-16 fish balls
1 1/2 lb fresh round rice flour (laksa) noodles, blanched in boiling water 30 seconds
2 cups bean sprouts
13 oz cooked prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact
12 canned or fresh quail eggs, hard boiled and peeled if fresh, hard boil for 3 minutes in salted water for easier peeling
4 large pieces deep fried dried bean curd, blanched in boiling water 1 minute, sliced
sprigs of polygonum (long-stemmed mint) to garnish (you can use cilantro)

Laksa Gravy

10-12 dried chilies, cut in 3/4 in lengths, soaked in hot water to soften
2-3 large red chilies, sliced
16 shallots, minced
2 in galangal, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 in ginger, minced
3 stems lemon grass, tender inner part of bottom 4 in only, sliced
3/4 in fresh turmeric or 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried shrimp paste, toasted
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons coriander, lightly toasted and ground to a powder
1/2 cup dried prawns, soaked to soften them, ground to a powder
3 cups water
4 tablespoons finely minced polygonum leaves (long stemmed mint)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, or more to taste (I used brown sugar)
3 cups coconut milk

To make the Laksa Gravy, process both lots of chilies, shallots, galangal, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, turmeric and shrimp paste to a smooth paste, adding a little oil if needed to keep the mixture turning.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the chili paste and stir fry over low moderate heat until fragrant and the oil starts to separate, about 10 minutes. Add the coriander powder and stir fry 1 minute. Add the dried prawns and stir fry 1 minute. Stir in the water, polygonum leaves, salt, and sugar. Bring to the boil, lower heat, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add fish balls and simmer another 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and bring almost to the boil then remove from heat.
To serve, divide the noodles and bean sprouts between four large bowls. Fill each with hot gravy, then top with prawns, fish balls, quail eggs and bean curd slices.

Murghi Elaichi (Cardamom Scented Chicken With Ginger and Garlic) and Spinach

Recipe courtesy of Nancy Josland Dalsin

2 tablespoons Ginger Paste
1 tablespoon Garlic Paste
2 teaspoons cardamom seeds from green or white pods, ground
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
8 chicken drumsticks, skin removed
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium size red onion, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
4 fresh or dried bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks (each 3 inches long)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems

1. Combine the Ginger Paste, Garlic Paste, cardamom, cayenne, salt and turmeric in a small bowl and mix well to form a wet paste. Smear each drumstick with the paste and refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight.
(I added all to a zip lock bag, mushed it all together and left it overnight).

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the paste-smeared drumsticks and the onion, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks. Allow the chicken to sear all over and the onion to soften and brown lightly, stirring occasionally, until the bottom of the pan acquires a thin brown layer of spice and onion and the mixture smells menthol-like, 18 to 20 minutes.

3. Pour 1 cup water into the pan and scrape the bottom to deglaze it, releasing the thin layer of browned spices, chicken and onion. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and braise the chicken, spooning the juicy, saucy onion slices over the drumsticks frequently, until the meat is fall-apart tender, 25-30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter.

4. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook the sauce, uncovered stirring occasionally, until it has thickened, about 5 minutes.

5. Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Stir in the cilantro, spoon the sauce over the drumsticks, and serve.

You can substitute other bone-in chicken pieces. If you wish, stir in 8 ounces well-rinsed fresh baby spinach leaves in Step 4.

Nancy's Singapore Chili Crab

Recipe courtesy of Nancy Josland Dalsin

from Green Mangoes and Lemon Grass by Wendy Hutton

3-4 lb live mud crabs (or what is available to you)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 shallots, minced
6-8 large cloves garlic, crushed and minced
2-3 tablespoons minced ginger
3-4 red bird's-eye chilies, minced
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons hot bean paste, or 3 tablespoons salted soybean past plus 2 extra bird's-eye chilies
1/4 cup bottled chili sauce
1/2 cup bottled tomato sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons cornflour, mixed with 3 tablespoons water

Chili-Ginger Sauce
6 large red chilies, minced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon water

(I cut back on the chilies)

Put the crabs in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to immobilize them. Cut in half lengthways with a cleaver and remove the back and spongy grey matter. Remove the claws and crack in several places with a cleaver. Cut each body half into two to three pieces, leaving the legs attached.

Mack Chili-Ginger Sauce by blending all ingredients in a spice grinder and set aside.
Heat the oil in a wok and add shallots, garlic, ginger, and bird's-eye chilies. Stir-fry over low-medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes, then add the Chili-Ginger Sauce, Chicken stock, hot bean paste, chili sauce, tomato sauce, sugar, rice wine, salt, and pepper. Bring to the boil, then lower heat and simmer 2 minutes. Add the crab pieces and simmer uncovered, turning several times, until the shells are bright red and the crabs are cooked, about 10 minutes.
Add the cornflour mixture and stir until the sauce thickens and clears. Add the eggs and stir until set, then transfer the chili crab to a serving dish and serve with crusty French bread.

Maa Di Dal (Slow-Cooked Creamy Black Lentils With Whole Spices)

Recipe courtesy of Nancy Josland Dalsin

Makes 6 cups

1 cup whole black lentils (sabud urad), picked over for stones
1/2 cup yellow split peas (chana dal), picked over for stones
8 medium size cloves of garlic
2 lengthwise slices fresh ginger (each 2 inches long, 1 inch wide and 1/8 inch thick)
2 to 4 fresh green Thai, cayenne, or serrano chiles, to taste, stems removed
4 green, white, or black cardamom pods
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks (each 3 inches long)
4 tablespoons Ghee or unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1 cup crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
2 teaspoons coarse kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream (I used plain yogurt)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems

1. Place the lentils and split peas in a large saucepan. Fill the pan halfway with water and rinse the legumes by rubbing them between your fingertips. The water will become cloudy. Drain this water. Repeat three or four times, until the water remains relatively clear; drain. Now add 6 cups water and bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium heat. Skim off and discard any foam that forms on the surface.

2. While the water is coming to a boil, combine the garlic, ginger, and chiles in a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are minced.

3. As soon as the water is boiling and you have discarded the foam, add the minced blend and the cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pan, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils swell up and soften and the split peas are fall-apart tender, about 1 hour.

4. While the legumes are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a medium-size skillet over medium high heat. Sprinkle in the cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle, turn reddish brown, and smell nutty, 5 to 10 seconds. Add the onion and stir-fry until it is a light brown around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes.

5. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the tomatoes, salt and cayenne. simmer the sauce, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until some of the ghee starts to separate on the surface, 6 to 10 minutes. Set the skillet aside until the legumes are ready.

6. Once the legumes are tender, stir in the sauce, the kidney beans, and the cream. Pour 1 cup water into the skillet and scrape the bottom to deglaze it, releasing any sauce and spices. Add this to the legumes and stir once or twice.

7. Cover the pan and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the flavors mingle, 5 to 10 minutes.

8. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons ghee and the cilantro, and serve. (with Naan, or rice)

Double-Steamed Duck Soup with Pickled Limes (Bpet Dtun Manao Dong)

Recipe courtesy of Nancy Josland Dalsin

This recipe is from "Thai Food by David Thompson" a book on the people, culture and cuisuine of Thailand that was 10 years in the making.
A paragraph in the introduction:
"Thai cooking is at odds with the modern world, where speed and simplicity are paramount. Thai is not an instant cuisine, prepared with the flick of a knife and finished with the toss of a pan. It needs the cook's attention, it expects time and effort to be spent and it requires honed skills, but it rewards with sensational tastes."

Double-Steamed Duck Soup with Pickled Limes (Bpet Dtun Manao Dong)

2 duck legs or 1 whole duck
3-4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
1 star anise, ground
oil for deep-frying (I use peanut oil)
1-2 cabbage leaves
1 small green gourd, peeled, de-seeded and chopped into 2 in pieces
1 pickled lime, with 1/2 cup of pickling liquid (in Asian grocery store)
2 in piece cassia bark, roasted (cinnamon bark) found in Asian or East Indian stores)
1 piece dried orange peel
6 cups boiling chicken stock
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
small piece yellow rock sugar, crushed
pinch of ground white pepper
1 tablespoon coriander leaves

Chop each of the duck legs into three pieces. If using a whole duck, remove the legs and do the same then cut down the bottom of the rib cage and remove the back bone. Chop the breast in half lengthwise and then cut diagonally into three. Marinate duck in the kecap manis and ground star anise for about 5 minutes.

Deep fry duck until dark brown, to enrich the soup; don't worry if it looks burnt - it's just the kecap manis caramelizing. Drain. (The deep frying is optional, but it helps to prevent the duck looking too anaemic in the finished soup.) Line a large, deep bowl with cabbage leaves and add the duck, gourd, whole pickled lime, cassia and orange peel. Cover with boiling stock and season with soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Cover tightly with foil and steam for 2-3 hours, checking the water level in the steamer at regular intervals. Serve sprinkled with pepper and coriander.

Artichoke, Leek, and Taleggio Frittata

Recipe courtesy of Jenn Marshall

Serves four as a main, eight as an appetizer.

5 baby artichokes, trimmed
5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium leeks (white and light green parts only), trimmed, washed, and thinly sliced (1-1/2 cups)
6 large eggs
3 oz. Taleggio cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

Dry the artichokes, cut in half lengthwise, and slice lengthwise about 1/2 inch thick.

Heat 2 Tbs. of the olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the artichokes, a pinch of salt, and a couple of grinds of pepper. Cook the artichokes until lightly browned on one side, about 4 minutes. With a wide spatula, turn them over and cook until lightly browned on the other side, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 4 minutes. Remove the cover and cook until any remaining liquid is evaporated. Transfer to a small bowl.

Add 2 Tbs. of the oil and the leeks to the pan with a pinch of salt. Increase the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the artichokes.

Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl. Add the artichokes, leeks, Taleggio, parsley, thyme, and 1/2 tsp. salt.

Position an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high. Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining 1 Tbs. oil over medium-low heat. Pour in the egg mixture and cook until the bottom is light golden (use a spatula to peek), about 4 minutes. Slide the spatula under the bottom to keep it from sticking. Put the pan under the broiler and cook until the eggs are set and the top is golden-brown, about 3 minutes more. Slide onto a serving platter and serve warm or at room temperature.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 190; Fat (g): 15; Fat Calories (kcal): 130; Saturated Fat (g): 4; Protein (g): 8; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8; Carbohydrates (g): 6; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): 280; Cholesterol (mg): 165; Fiber (g): 2;

Chicken Oreganato

Recipe courtesy of Peter Battaglia

Boneless breast dusted with flour,olive oil, oregano, garlic, black pepper..sauteed then sprinkled w/grated pecorino romano, oregano, and breadcrumbs...heat through until the breadcrumbs just being to toast...garnished with fresh lemon..served with oven roasted garlic thyme potatoes.