Mouthwatering Asian meals


February 28, 2007|By Sumathi Reddy | Sumathi Reddy,Sun reporter

Into the Vietnamese Kitchen

By Andrea Nguyen

Curry Cuisine

Fragrant Dishes From India, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia

By Corinne Trang

DK Publishing / 2006 / $25

I gew up in a household of Indian immigrants, so I'm a born and bred curry aficionado. So the red chili peppers and the bold pink "Curry Cuisine" lettering on this cookbook were an immediate draw.

The book includes 180 recipes from more than a dozen regions of the world, including India, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. If you're not a fan of the traditional soupy, fiery curries of South Asia, don't worry. The book offers curry basically any way you like it.

The green shrimp curry with fresh dill was easy to make, especially if you use store-bought Thai curry paste, which I did. A less-traditional curry that took less than 10 minutes was stir-fried water spinach, popular in Southeast Asia. In English, the green is morning glory. I'm not sure I got the right leafy green at Asia Food. There were three options, and the owner looked at me quizzically when I asked for morning glory. No matter: With just garlic and fish sauce, the sizzling result was bursting with flavor.

Cha Ca

Serves 4

2 pounds catfish fillets


1/3 cup sour cream

1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 tablespoon fresh galangal juice or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried powder

1 1/2 tablespoons fine shrimp sauce


1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, feathery tops only

3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)

1/4 cup canola or other neutral oil

2/3 pound small dried round rice noodles, cooked in boiling water, drained and flushed with cold water

To prepare the fish: Rinse the fillets and pat dry. Cut each fillet into index-finger-sized pieces, about 3 inches long and 3/4 inch thick.

Mix the marinade ingredients well in a shallow bowl that can accommodate the catfish. To extract galangal juice, take a 1 1/2 -inch chunk and reduce to a fine texture by slicing or grating, then pound into a mush in a mortar. Press the solids through a fine-mesh sieve to obtain a milky liquid. Coat the catfish in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to overnight.

Remove catfish from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Position a rack 3 inches from the heat source and preheat the broiler for 20 minutes. Arrange catfish pieces on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Broil for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the broiler and make a spout in one corner of the foil, pouring off the accumulated liquid. Flip the fish over and broil for another 5 to 8 minutes. Move to large serving bowl.

Garnish the fish with dill and scallions. In a small saucepan, heat the oil until faint wisps of smoke start rising. Pour the hot oil over the scallion and dill to wilt them. To eat, each diner combines fish and noodles into a small bowl. Garnish with herbs and lettuce and mix well.

From "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen"

Per serving (without garnishes and accompaniments): 374 calories, 46 grams protein, 18 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 1 gram carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 139 milligrams cholesterol, 374 milligrams sodium

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