June 15, 2013

at home in the curious city


Cool Vermicelli Salad 凉拌粉丝
My dad visits us twice a year which I've come to realize are the only opportunities for me to inherit some Chang family recipes. He is number four in a family of eight children and although two of his brothers are professional chefs, my dad claims he is the best cook in the family (which is probably a middle child attention thing). So here is a recipe I grew up not eating due to the spicy and tangy flavors that were too shocking to my baby taste buds, but that I really love now as an adult.
Ingredients (4 servings):
6 oz vermicelli
2 carrots thinly sliced
2.5 cups chopped cilantro and mint
1 tbs crushed peppercorn
1 tbs crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbs sesame oil
First step is to make the hot and spicy oil. Heat oil in a pan until it is hot. Add the peppercorn, red pepper flakes, and salt to the hot oil in the pan. Be careful when you do this because the oil might splatter. My dad took the heated oil outside to do this otherwise the whole house would smell like spicy oil. Transfer to a glass container and set aside to cool. 

Next is the dressing. Mix the white vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. Set aside.

Boil a pot of water and cook the vermicelli for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Immediately transfer to a cold water bath. Cut into 1/3 sections or about 6 inches in length. 

Add carrots, cilantro, and mint to the vermicelli. Combine 5 tbs of the spicy oil with the dressing. Pour over the vermicelli and toss evenly. Depending on how spicy you want the dish, add more or less of the spicy oil as desired. 


Lychee Ice Cream
To complement Monica's asian summer dish, I thought of the perfect ending - lychee ice cream. I love that at Chinese restaurants, you are always given a mini dessert, whether it be oranges, fortune cookies, or lychee. You can finish off your cool vermicelli salad with this recipe I adapted from Scoop. The lychee ice cream is not too sweet and the chunks of fruit in it are a yummy surprise in each bite.

Ingredients (1 quart):
2 15-ounce cans of lychee
1.25 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cupe corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/4 pure vanilla extract

1. Open the cans of lychee and drain the syrup into a medium pot. Put the lychee fruit into a food processor (or magic bullet) to puree later.

2. Put the pot over medium high heat until the syrup comes to a boil. When it is boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer until about only half of the lychee syrup remains.

3. While the syrup is simmering away, mix the milk, cornstarch, lemon juice, and vanilla extract in a bowl. Stir until the cornstarch is dissolved.

4. Add whipping cream, corn syrup and salt to the pot and increase the heat to medium. Stir so the whole mixture does not get lumpy. When it begins to heat up, it will steam. Do not let it boil.

5. Once it steams, add the mixture you made in step 3. Reduce the fire to low. When it begins to boil, stir until there are no lumps and it becomes thicker. This is now considered custard! Turn off the flame.

6. Puree the lychee fruit with as much of the custard as you can fit into your container. In my case, I had to use two large containers from my fake magic bullet. Once you finish blending everything, put the fruit puree back into the pot and stir it all up.

7. Pour the hot custard and puree combination into a large bowl and cover with saran wrap. Make sure to press the wrap directly onto the surface of the liquid in order to prevent a skin from forming. Stick this in the fridge overnight.

8. Pour the whole mixture into your ice cream maker for about twenty minutes. I prefer to do this with the lights off because in my mind, it keeps the kitchen cooler and allows the ice cream maker to do its magic without fighting the heat. Enjoy and add the rest (if there's any left) to a freezer safe container.

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