Summer Roll

I make 3 per person. Here I’m making 12. Sometimes the ingredients get a little tilted by the end. I usually run out of avocado first.

For this three person version, you’ll need:
1/4 of a 14oz package of rice stick noodles
36 shrimp peeled and deveined
1 carrot julienned
1 cucumber julienned
Rice vinegar
2 cups cabbage (Napa, Savoy, Green…) sliced thin
1 Avocado halved and finely sliced
24 sprigs of cilantro
24 basil leaves
12 25cm extra-thin spring roll wrappers (or 22cm look for Dynasty brand)
Sweet chili sauce for dipping
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Cooking equipment I used:
9×9 Pyrex baking dish
4 quart saucepan

2 cups boiling water in a 9×9 casserole dish or something close to that. Break up a quarter of a 14oz package of rice stick noodles and soak for about ten minutes then drain in colander. Cut up a bit with scissors.

36 shrimp. 3 for each roll. I buy frozen medium size wild-caught white shrimp and flash them in lightly salted boiling water for 3 minutes (turn burner off as soon as shrimp are in. Then drain in colander and remove tails.

On a big cutting board with prep bowls if needed:
1 carrot julienned (I have a hand-held Japanese julienne tool thing)
1 cucumber cut lengthwise and seeded. Julienne half. Thinly slice other half and put in bowl with some rice vinegar.
About 2 cups of cabbage finely sliced (Napa, Savoy, green, or whatever)
1 avocado cut in halves and sliced thin
Cilantro leaves and tender stalk
24 or so basil leaves

12 25cm extra-thin spring roll wrappers.

With enough space on cutting board to roll and a 9×9 casserole dish with hot water next to it, rotate wrapper through hot water, place on cutting board and begin to load about a third of the way down the wrapper: basil leaves and shrimp next to each other and then everything else on top. Tuck in sides and roll.

Serve cucumber slices in small dishes topped with toasted sesame seeds and sweet chili sauce for dipping. I usually make sushi rice as a side.

Copyright © 2018 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Thai Beef and Basil

I keep a few well-wrapped packages of ground beef in the freezer for quick recipes like this. You could use any ground meat or tofu. I’ve tried it with both Italian and Thai basil. I like them both; the Thai basil is a little stronger. I have also used brown, Basmati, and Jasmine rice and I think I like the Basmati best. Again, this would have been another good recipe for when I first lived in New York and had nothing but a two burner hot plate and a toaster oven.

3 cups basil total

For this four person version, you’ll need:
1 to 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 cups Basmati rice
6 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup beef broth or water
2 cups basil leaves
1 tablespoon of canola oil (if cooking rice in pot)
1/2 cup rice wine
Salt and pepper

For the sauce:
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of fish sauce or oyster sauce or hoisin
1 tablespoon of sugar (optional)

To finish:
1 cup basil leaves (torn if big)
2 or 3 carrots julienned or shredded (I use this Japanese julienne tool)
4 to 6 scallions
1 lime cut into four wedges
Chili garlic sauce

Cooking equipment I used:
10 inch frying pan for beef and basil
Pot for rice—I used a 3 quart saucepan, or use rice cooker

If using frozen beef, get that started in the pan, breaking it up as it browns. Then make the rice how you want. I usually heat the rice up in a tablespoon of canola oil, stirring to coat, and then add 1 1/2 cups of water for every cup of rice. Here, I used two cups of rice and three cups of water. Add salt to water if desired. Bring to a boil and cover for 17 minutes before fluffing. Put your bowls on the stove to warm up.

While the beef is browning, julienne the carrots, remove stems from basil, finelly slice the scallions, and take skins off garlic cloves. Stir the soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar together. When the beef is browned, add the garlic. You can slice, finely mince, or put the garlic through a press and add to the beef. Let this work together for a minute. Deglaze the pan with a half cup of rice wine and let that almost burn off. Then add the beef broth and two cups of basil. When the basil is wilted and the sauce is bubbling, it’s ready! Put some rice in the bowls, top with the beef and basil, then divide the the basil and carrots, then drizzle over the sauce, and finally, sprinkle the scallions. Serve with lime wedges and chili garlic sauce.

Copyright © 2016 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Insalata Caprese with Smoked Mozzarella and Basil

Tomatoes, about 1 large per person
Smoked mozzarella (package is usually around 1/2 pound enough for 3 or 4)
Olive oil
Balsamic vingar
Sea salt flakes
Fresh cracked pepper

This is almost too simple to put here, but I love this version with smoked mozzarella. All you need to do is slice or cut tomatoes however you want, sprinkle with sea salt flakes and let sit for a few minutes while you cut up the mozzarella and basil. In this recipe, the mozzarella is more of an accent than a equal player; sometimes I do little cubes, sometimes sticks. If I have enough basil florets, I’ll use those; if not, I’ll do a chiffonade. The trick here, for me— and maybe this is just my imagination— is pouring the balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes before putting the mozzarella on top because I think it makes the cheese go tough. Weird. Also, some folks think adding vinegar is a travesty, but I think a little works well here. So, to taste and depending how hungry you are, tomatoes, salt flakes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar (you need very little of this, probably around teaspoon for a cup and a half of tomatoes), fresh cracked pepper, smoked mozzarella, and basil. Pair it with garlic bread and corn on the cob and a big glass of ice water with lemon.

Copyright © 2016 MRStrauss • All rights reserved