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Kirk's Traveling Kitchen News and Blog


It's 2007, Eat Healthy

I'm not one for resolutions, especially when it comes to eating. So I'm not going to lecture about all the great things you can do with white meat chicken and brown rice now that the holidays are over and you want to try and shed the pounds brought on by Aunt Nancy's fruit cake. But if eating healthier without having to resort to chemical-laden "fat free" cheese recipes is your aim, I can point out a couple of cuisines you should get to know better: Vietnamese and Thai.

Both offer assertively flavored dishes that focus on contrast (think: sweet/spicy, crisp/soft, tangy/smooth, etc.). And they derive their flavor primarily from fermented seafood (fish sauce, shrimp paste, etc.), citrus and chiles. Not from tons of oil, butter or other high-fat, high-calorie components. And both Vietnamese and Thai food offer delicious, healthy choices for this time of year, the calendar period formerly known as winter (I'm writing this in St. Louis and it's sixty degrees). A lot of brothy soups and stews full of vegetables and finished with fresh herbs. Here's a recipe for my version of a classic Thai soup Tom Yum Gai.

Thai-Style Hot & Sour Broth with Shrimp Dumplings
Serves 8

Chicken Stock, Homemade 2 Quarts
Lemongrass, Minced 2 Stalks, Inner Leaves Only
Fish Sauce ¼ Cup
Chile Oil 1 Tablespoon
Lime Zest 1 Lime
Lime Juice 1 Lime
Lemon Juice 1 Lemon
Kaffir Lime Leaf (optional) 1 Leaf

Shrimp Dumplings
Shrimp, Peeled & Deveined 1#
Shallot, Diced 1 Small
Garlic, Minced 2 Cloves
Oyster Sauce 1/2 Cup
Edamame, Peeled (Soy Beans) 1 Cup
Fresh Basil, Julienned (optional) 1/2 Cup
Gyoza Potsticker Wrappers as needed
Egg, Beaten 1

Bean Sprouts 4 Cups
Favorite Vegetables (Broccoli,
Carrot, Snow Peas, Etc.) as needed
Cilantro 1 bunch
Lime, Cut in 8 wedges 1
Preparation Procedure-

First make the dumplings. Combine shrimp, shallot, garlic, oyster sauce, edamame, and basil in food processor. Blend until comes together, but not so much that it looses all texture (you don't want a paste). Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 30 min. or so. Meanwhile, lay out gyoza wrappers on clean surface and brush with egg wash. Top each wrapper with a spoonful of shrimp mixture (about 2 Tablespoons worth), press down so the mixture spreads over wrapper and bring together in the palm of your hand (it should look like a jelly fish without tentacles). Set aside on parchment lined sheetpan and finish remaining dumplings. Bring water to a boil in a wok or large skillet, place dumplings in a bamboo steamer lined with lettuce or some other green so the pasta doesn't stick. Steam dumplings for 5-8 minutes or until cooked through. Turn off heat and keep warm.

For the hot and sour broth, combine all the broth ingredients, bring to a rapid boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and steep 20 minutes longer. Strain, ladle over warm dumplings, bean sprouts and favorite vegetables. Garnish with cilantro, lime wedge and serve.