I love Asian flavors. Our absolute favorite Chinese take-out restaurant in Atlanta is Chin Chin 2. There’s really nothing else like it. When we moved into our house about a year ago, we had a period of mourning, because we are no longer within Chin Chin’s delivery zone. Sad times. So, we are wok-ing it out at home these days, thanks to a great stove top wok we were given by our friend, Mary.
Just like cooking Mexican or Italian, there are certain “must-have” ingredients when I’m cooking Asian dishes. Soy sauce gives you salt- no need to use table salt at all. Lime provides your citrus. For a heat component, I most often use chili paste. A little bit goes a long way. Ginger also gives some bite and a unique flavor that is commonly found in Asian cuisine. Cilantro is my herb of choice, though I didn’t have any in the house last night. Sesame oil is intense, and only a few drops are required to infuse its presence into the dish. Rice wine vinegar and fish sauce are two components I like to use in my sauces, and although the fish sauce smells up my house something fierce, it adds backbone to the sauce.
In serving my heart-healthy clients, I am always on the lookout for foods that are high in protein, low in fat and starch. I am definitely not opposed to using brown rice. I’m actually a big fan. But lately, I’ve been turning to quinoa as a side dish substitute for starchier options. Quinoa is a seed that is super high in complete protein and magnesium. It’s actually been cited as a food that can help relieve migraines and lower blood pressure. I encourage you to read up on it, and try it out in your kitchen.
For cooking, the ratio is like rice: twice the liquid to dry quinoa. I bring it to a boil and then reduce and let it simmer. As soon as that liquid is absorbed, it’s ready to go. If you take it too far, it’ll be mushy…believe me, I’ve gone there. Not my fave.
Wild striped bass was our fish of choice. Oh, fresh fish is so easy to cook. Literally it takes 2 – 3 minutes per side. Squeeze of fresh lime juice over the top. Done and done.
As the fish was cooking, we got the veggies wok-in’. This time, we incorprated cashews, sugar snap peas, carrots, and the magical water chestnuts. You want your wok to be super hot when you start, so you want to use an oil with a high cooking temperature. Olive oil doesn’t work here, because it will smoke and burn. In the end, I tossed the veggies with my sauce and poured some over the quinoa as well.
And while I won’t claim that it even came close to Chin Chin’s level of expertise, my craving for Asian flavors was quelled. For now. This dish was quick to make, healthy to eat, and easy to share with clients.
I hope that you’ll wok it out in your kitchen sometime soon. You’ll definitely save a bunch of money and calories by creating your own Asian masterpiece.