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Friday, July 1, 2022

Asian inspiration, with ingredients you can actually get here

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Maggie Cale
Maggie Cale
Maggie Cale was born in the United States and has lived most of her life in Pennsylvania. She has a social work degree from Penn State University and finished her career in Washington, D.C. working with families. She moved to Yucatán in 2017 and has worked part-time ghostwriting for bloggers. She lives in Itzimná with her two dogs.

Recently, Yucatán Magazine highlighted new places to get that Asian fix. But since I love to cook, I am finding recipes for the home kitchen. Here are some of my favorites, and yes, all the ingredients can be found in Yucatán.

Asian Slaw happens to be gluten-free. Photo: Courtesy

Asian Slaw  

Serves 4

Put the following in a bowl:

  • 3 C. cabbage
  • 1 large grated carrot
  • 1 medium red pepper cleaned and chopped into small pieces 
  • ⅓ C. cilantro chopped with no stems
  • ⅓ C. scallions chopped 
  • 2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger

In a small bowl, mix together:

  • 5 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar or sweeten to taste with honey
  • 1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

When ready to serve, combine ingredients and top with 1 Tbsp. toasted white sesame seeds.

  • Hint: All of the ingredients usually can be found at a regular Mérida grocery store. Sesame oil is the hardest to find, but the Asian Mart always carries it. 

Asian Cucumber Salad 

Serves 4

  • 2 large cucumbers, sliced 
  • ¾ tsp. salt 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. regular chili powder
  • 1 tsp. chili oil
  • ½ tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. toasted white sesame seeds for garnishing

Sprinkle salt over cucumbers, mix well, and place in the refrigerator. This helps pull extra moisture from the cucumbers.

While cucumbers are soaking in salt, mix your minced garlic, vinegar, sugar, chili oil, and sesame oil together in a small bowl. Drain salt water off of the cucumbers and pour dressing over top, mixing it well. Sprinkle chili powder and then toasted sesame seeds on top. It’s ready to serve. 

Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing 

Serves 4

Courtesy of Julia Frey, a tasty noodle salad that can be prepared ahead of time and is served cold.

For the salad: 

  • 6 oz. medium egg noodles (spaghetti noodles will work) 
  • 1 large carrot grated
  • 1 head of red cabbage, thinly sliced, into approximately 3 C
  • ¼ C. cilantro
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

For the peanut dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp. chunky peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar or any other plain vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1-2 tsp. Sriracha sauce or 1 tsp dried chili flakes (to taste)

While your noodles are cooking, make the dressing. When noodles are done and slightly cool, pour dressing over noodles and lightly cut in the dressing. Then add the other salad items and again cut in the dressing. Serve with sesame seeds sprinkled on top. 

Jalapeño Chicken. Photo courtesy Yummly

Jalapeño Chicken 

Serves 4

A spicy dish that heats up well for lunch.

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • ¼ C. cornstarch
  • ¼ C. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar 
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • ½ C. vegetable or peanut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 jalapenos, sliced thin

Lightly coat chicken strips in cornstarch and fry in the oil. Remove chicken from the pan when light brown and slightly crispy, keep warm with an aluminum foil cover. Use the same oil to cook the minced garlic and sliced jalapeños until they become fragrant. In a small bowl, blend soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and brown sugar. Return the chicken to the pan and pour the sauce over it. Allow it to all cook on low until the sauce begins to thicken. Chicken should be moist and flavorful. Serve over rice or noodles.

Cold Soba Noodle Salad. Photo: Maggie Cale

Cold Soba Noodle Salad 

Serves 4

  • 1 carrot, grated 
  • ¼  C. cilantro chopped 
  • ½ red and yellow pepper sliced thin 
  • 2  scallion, sliced 
  • ½ C. frozen peas 
  • 6 ounces buckwheat soba noodles, cooked and drained 

For the dressing 

  • ¼ C. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Cook noodles in boiling water until preferred consistency. While noodles are cooking, prepare veggies and place them in a bowl. In a small bowl mix dressing ingredients. Drain noodles and mix in with vegetables. When ready to eat pour dressing over vegetable/ noodle mixture and top with the toasted sesame seeds. 

Scallion Chicken in Brown Sauce. Photo: Courtesy

Scallion Chicken in Brown Sauce 

Serves 2

Easy meal and prep, but full of flavor.

Marinade for chicken: 

  • ¼ C. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • ½ Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ C. water

Main ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh ginger grated 
  • 2 C. button mushrooms (optional) 
  • 1½ tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • ½ C. almonds, toasted and sliced 
  • 3-4 scallions, sliced 
  • 2 drops of sesame oil 

Cut up 2 chicken breasts into bite-size pieces and marinate for 30 minutes.

Mix cornstarch in water for a paste to use as a thickening agent. Saute garlic and ginger in the oil. As these two items become fragrant add the chicken and marinade. Cook until chicken is about ½ done. Add chopped mushrooms and continue to cook. The sauce will start to thicken at this point. If you would like it thicker add some of the water and cornstarch mixture. When chicken is cooked add sesame oil and stir. Sprinkle toasted almonds and scallions over top. This dish may be served plain or with your favorite rice.

Indian Spiced Cauliflower Stew  

Serves 4

A crock pot delicacy courtesy of Lid Pocket 

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into pieces 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. garam masala (found at Asian Mart)
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¾ – 1½ tsp. cayenne pepper 
  • 3 C. low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¾ C. tomato purée
  • 2 sweet potatoes chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ C. heavy cream

Place all the above items into a crock pot except the heavy cream. Set on high for 4 hours and check the consistency of veggies. I like them tender but not mushy. Stir in heavy cream and cook for an additional 15 minutes. It is ready to serve. 

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