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My Neo-Asian Table Design

One of my favorite things to do is to host a dinner with a theme or at least a menu that seems to flow well with items that compliment one another. Over the last 5 years I have increasingly become a fan of the Asian kitchen. After taking several cooking courses while traveling through out Asia, I have become more confident in my attempt to try to recreate some of the dishes at home. And much to my surprise, with a good Asian market (or mail order from Amazon) I’ve been able to find the ingredients essential to recreating the subtle yet complex flavors of Asian foods.

I recently invited a friend for dinner and asked him his favorite cuisine or meal. He replied that he just loved a good Thai curry and in fact, if I could prepare one as good as his local curry house he would ask me to marry him…Game on! So I knew my main course would be a red Thai chicken curry, one of my favorites and so easy to prepare but the other items, the starters and the dessert required my full concentration to decide what to have before and after a spicy curry.  I decided on two starters for pre-dinner cocktails. Followed by a trio of appetizers, the main and a small, duo dessert. My next big task was figuring out the table setting. I quickly realized that I have very little Asian inspired pieces in my home and thus set about to design an Asian inspired table with various items in my home collection. Thus the “Neo-Asian” table setting.  The edamame dip and sauces can be prepared the day before, it saves time and also gives the flavors a chance to fully develop.  For dessert, I chose my all time favorite – Fortune Cookies, which are always great fun, and Pfysalis dipped in white chocolate (one of my all time favorites)! Recipes and accompanying photos are bellow for your consideration.

gin dee dee ~ Thai for “Eat Well!”

Wasabi Peas, Edamame Dip & Rice Crackers

Edamame Dip

Recipe by: Spoon Fork Bacon


  • 12 ounces steamed and shelled soy beans
  • 3 tablespoons red onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon red miso
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ bunch cilantro leaves
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons red chili sauce preferably Sambal * I used Sriracha
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • *I used store bought wasabi peas and rice crackers…

Place soy beans, red onion, miso, garlic, cilantro, sesame oil, and chili sauce into a food processor and pulse 10 times. With the motor running, add olive oil in a steady stream until fully incorporated and the dip is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Asian Meatballs with Hoisin-Blackberry Glaze & Spinach in Sesame Sauce

Asian Meatballs with Hoisin-Blackberry Glaze

Meatball Recipe by:Gimme Some Oven

Hoisin Glaze by:  Just a Taste

Ingredients – Meatballs

  • 2 lbs. ground pork or ground beef
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 cup Panko or breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced green onions
  • optional garnish: toasted sesame seeds, sliced scallions

Ingredients – Hoisin-Blackberry Glaze

  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup blackberry preserves
  • 1 cup sliced snowpeas, for garnish
  • * I added a little dark sesame oil

While the meatballs are baking, whisk together the Hoisin sauce and blackberry jam in a small sauce pan over medium heat.

Remove the meatballs from the oven and either transfer them in batches into the glaze, tossing to coat, or brush the meatballs with the glaze. Serve the meatballs atop a bed of sliced snow peas.
Spinach With Sesame Sauce (hourensou no gomaae)
Recipe by: Just Bento
  • 200 g (about 7-8 ounces) bag of baby spinach leaves
  • 1 Tbs. white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 Tbs. mirin
  • 1/2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce

Wash the spinach leaves just to be sure they are totally clean.

Bring a pot of water to the boil. (If you are in a hurry, boil the water in an electric water kettle, then pour the water into the pot.)

Put the spinach leaves in the pot all at once. If you have baby leaves (they are round and small and not crinkled), boil them for 30 seconds and not any longer. If you have fully grown leaves, boil them for about a minute.

Immediately drain the pot. Run cold water over the leaves to cool them off fast. Drain.

Take the spinach leaves in your hands and squeeze out the water as much as you can. You’ll end up with one or more ‘logs’ of spinach

If you don’t have pre-toasted sesame seeds (irigoma), toast the seeds briefly in a small dry frying pan. Crush in a small mortar and pestle or suribachi. Add the sugar and crush some more. Add the mirin and soy sauce and mix. Mix with the spinach
Wash the leaves just to be sure they are totally clean.Take the spinach leaves in your hands and squeeze out the water as much as you can. You’ll end up with one or more ‘logs’ of spinach.
Herb Salad Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
  • a 1.8- to 2-ounce package bean-thread (cellophane) noodles
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 large Boston lettuce leaves, washed well and spun dry
  • eight 8-inch rounds rice paper plus additional in case some tear
  • 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, crushed
  • 1 scallion, cut into 2-inch julienne strips
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded carrot
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced cabbage
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (preferably Thai basil), washed well and spun dry
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, washed well and spun dry
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves, washed well and spun dry
In a bowl soak noodles in very hot water to cover 15 minutes and drain well in a colander. Reserve half of noodles for another use. With scissors cut remaining noodles into 3- to 4-inch lengths and in a small bowl toss with vinegar and salt to taste.Cut out and discard ribs from lettuce leaves, halving each leaf.

In a shallow baking pan or cake pan soak 2 rounds rice paper in hot water to cover until very pliable, 45 seconds to 1 minute.

Carefully spread 1 soaked round on a paper towel, leaving remaining round in water, and blot with paper towels. Arrange 1 piece of lettuce leaf on bottom half of sheet, leaving a 1-inch border along edge. Top lettuce with about one fourth of peanuts and about one fourth of noodles, arranging them in a line across lettuce. Top noodles with one fourth each of scallion, carrot, cabbage, and herbs. Roll up filling tightly in rice paper, folding insides after first roll to completely enclose filling, and continue rolling.

Spread remaining soaked rice paper round on paper towel and blot with another paper towel. Wrap rice paper around spring roll in same manner. (Double wrapping covers any tears and makes roll more stable and easier to eat.) Wrap spring roll in rinsed and squeezed paper towel and put in a resealable plastic bag. Make 3 more rolls with remaining ingredients in same manner. Rolls may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, wrapped in wet paper towels in sealed plastic bag. Before serving, bring rolls to room temperature.

Discard paper towels. Halve rolls diagonally and serve with peanut sauce.

Spicy Peanut Sauce Ingredients:

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup water

In a small saucepan cook garlic and red pepper flakes in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until garlic is golden. Whisk in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, whisking. Simmer sauce, whisking, until thickened, about 1 minute. Sauce may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered.

Serve sauce warm or at room temperature.

Red Thai Curry with Chicken

Recipe by: Jannipa’s Asian Market in Gilching, Germany
  • 12 ounces/300 grams chicken breast
  • 1-2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (take the thick cream off the top to be used in the initial stir fry of spices)
  • 1 cup bamboo shoots
  • 1 cup thin, sliced red pepper
  • 1/2 cup Thai basil
  • 200 ml water
  • Palm sugar * added to taste, add a little and keep tasting
  • 2 tsp. Asian chicken or pork broth paste
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3  fresh red chilies, chopped

Cut chicken and pepper into pieces. Use medium heat and fry, chicken paste, curry paste and coconut cream until fragrant. Add chicken and stir until chicken is almost cooked. Add the rest of the coconut milk, water and palm sugar. Bring to a boil and then add red pepper, bamboo and basil, Turn off heat and add fish sauce, stir well and then serve over Jasmine rice.

Physalis Dipped in White Chocolate

Recipe by: Virginia Anne Newton
  • one small basket fresh Physalis (you could also use cherries)
  • good quality white chocolate
  • vanilla bean * Optional

Pull back the husks of the physalis and twist them slightly like a candy wrapper, exposing the round fruit. Place on baking sheet. Meanwhile, melt white chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water **Be certain the bowl does not touch the water! Melt chocolate while stirring constantly. If desired, scape the insides of half a vanilla bean and stir into chocolate mixture. Dip each piece of fruit in the chocolate, being certain to turn it and cover all sides but not the entire fruit. Place on baking sheet until cooled and set.