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*May 2009* COTM Cradle of Flavor: Vegetables

**May 2009 Cookbook of the Month is Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore by James Oseland.

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes here for vegetable dishes from Chapter 9, page 200 - 231. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating!

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  1. Stir-Fried Asaian Greens with Garlic and Chiles
    pg 205-207

    My first foray into Cradle was a simple dinner for one. The menu included Chicken Satay with peanut dipping sauce, stir-fry vegetables and steamed rice. I had planned to make the Javanese pickles as well, but misread the recipe and didn't start this early enough in the day.

    This dish was so simple and familiar that a recipe wasn't really required. I used baby bok choy as the green. Since I was cutting the recipe down for one serving, I used a 6" fry-pan instead of a wok. I was conservative with the chiles, and in the future I will be more generous. I don't think the Holland chiles that I purchased have enough flavor to be one of only 5 ingredients.

    Easy and quick recipe that I expect I will be using with different greens all month.

    10 Replies
    1. re: smtucker

      You were certainly ambitious with this meal, SMT! I read each of your reports with great interest since the stir-fried greens and the rice are on my list to try.

      Since today is Kentuky Derby day I thought I'd give a shot to a couple of BAY'A recipes but tomorrow I have Kevin's Chicken, coconut infused rice and a green beans dish on the menu. Your description of final results will help me decide how to proceed and how many chilies I might want to use.

      1. re: Gio

        Gio, I've got that green beans dish on my list, too, along with the stir-fried greens smtucker tried. I can't wait to read about how it goes!

        ~TDQ

      2. re: smtucker

        I also made the Stir-Fried Asian Greens with garlic and chiles, and also used baby bok choy! Agree with smtucker that it was so simple that after this a recipe won't really be needed. I'm *still* unable to fine Holland (or any red!) peppers, so I used serrano. I probably would use more next time, and maybe more garlic too. A very pleasant side dish; not killer, but nice and easy.

         
        1. re: LulusMom

          Nice photo. I need to find a safe spot in the kitchen for my camera. I am afraid that my dishes won't photograph well. Ah, I dream of new china some day!

          1. re: smtucker

            Thanks smtucker! To be honest, I usually feel like my photos are a bit of a catastrophe. We've got concrete counter tops and they reflect SO much light.
            PS - that "china" is from Target ...

            1. re: LulusMom

              Target or not.... it is white and modern looking. My dishes look very 1981.... when they were purchased. But darn, they are still going strong, and food seems to taste just fine on them, so hard to justify buying new just 'cause I want them. Darn Yankee frugality.

              1. re: smtucker

                If the food tastes good, that is all that *really* matters.

          2. re: LulusMom

            My turn for the Stir-Fried Asian Greens -

            Instead of Bok Choy, which I love, I used Shang Hai Choy which has a slightly peppery flavor - to my palate anyway. Instead of the Holland peppers I used 3 fresh Thai chilies which I had in the fridge and 4 cloves of garlic. When we went to the markets on Saturday the green beans looked pitiful so did an abrupt turn to the Choy. I'm glad I did because it was a fine accompaniment to the Spicy chicken I made for the main dish.

            1. re: Gio

              I made the Stir-Fried Greens too but mine were non-Asian greens! I needed to use up some spring greens from my veg box and they worked fine. I love any kind of greens and this was an easy and tasty side dish which I will definitely make again.

          3. re: smtucker

            Stir-Fried Asian Greens with Garlic and Chiles, p. 205

            I used kai/gai lan (Chinese broccoli). Since I didn't use baby kai lan as the recipe suggests, I first cut up (and split the thicker ones) and blanched the stems, then followed the recipe. I especially liked it drizzled with the spicy Soy, Chile and Lime Dipping Sauce (p. 126). This made a nice meal served with Javanese Grilled chicken and Javanese Fried Rice.

             
             
          4. Stir-Fried Bean Sprouts with Chinese Chives (tauge goreng - Indonesia, Java), p. 208

            I made a few changes - I love Chinese chives so I halved the bean sprouts to a 1/2 pound and increased the chives to a 1/2 pound. I didn't have shallots, so doubled the garlic. Also, I hadn't made any of the sambals or dipping sauces for condiments yet, so used red Thai red chiles for plenty of heat.

            Garlic, shallots, and red chili are stir-fried in a wok over MEDIUM heat (at first I had it on high a la Dunlop so burned the garlic a bit), add the bean sprouts and soy sauce, and then chives and s&p. A nice, fresh, tasty vegetable dish to go with the pan-seared kingfish and steamed jasmine rice I made for dinner tonight.

             
             
             
            4 Replies
            1. re: Rubee

              I'm so glad to read your report of the bean sprout dish, Rubee, and to see yor pictures... I have it down on my list to make in the next day or two. I still don't know which main I'm making but t'll probably figure it out when I get to the market. Several fishes are on sale and I have to see which recipe would be the best. I think from what I've read and seen photos of that I do have mung beans instead of soy. I hope so anyway!

              1. re: Rubee

                Rubee, I thought the soy sauce ruined this dish - it tasted like my Dad's chow mein! what soy did you use?

                I would try it with fish sauce or fried dried fish next time - ive had wonderful SEA sauteed bean sprout dishes before, and this did not match up.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  mmmm..love fish sauce, good idea.

                  Though I liked it with the soy sauce too. I used Pearl River Bridge Superior Dark, one of my favorites. I also doubled the chives and halved the bean sprouts. Just bought some more Chinese chives and beans sprouts, so will be making this again this week (if so, I'll try it with fish sauce) or use them in another batch of stir-fried noodles.

                2. re: Rubee

                  Made this again for a vegetable dish for lunches this week. This time I used the full amount of bean sprouts (1 lb of regular bean sprouts) with the extra chives, two red jalapenos, and doubled the shallots and garlic.

                  (JenKalb - I mentioned above that I used the PRB Superior Dark soy the first time, but now realize it was the Light. I used Dark this time, and prefered the Pearl River Bridge Superior Light soy sauce with this stir-fry).

                  Leftovers made a nice lunch yesterday with Dunlop's ma po tofu -

                   
                   
                3. Sauteed Cabbage with Ginger and Indian Yellow Lentils (Muttakos Poriyal)
                  Page 209

                  this is essentially a tamil nadu dish that the tamils cook in singapore (it does have an unfamiliar twist (the ginger) as well as fried onions, which some hindus would not eat in this dish. I love all of the indian cabbage sautees and make them frequently, and this is a very tasty one.

                  Need to do prep - cutting up the cabbage, onions, shredding the ginger, preparing the coconut (I used frozen grated coconut, which needed to be chopped off the frozen block and sliced into small pieces to thaw - ahead of heating the pan. Also (not mentioned) I recommend washing and soaking the toovar dal a bit, then letting it dry before the frying step begins. It can be a little hard if you dont do this.

                  You heat the oil (I used so Indian sesame, rather than the specified peanut) in the pan, throw in the black mustard seeds - when they start to pop, add in order the toovar dal (yellow lentils) a small amount of cumin, two dried chiles, and a dozen or so curry leaves - when the dal starts to turn golden add the chopped onion, cook til that is soft but not golden, then add a tsp of turmeric, mix, then add the cabbage, shredded ginger and some salt. stir and fry until the dish is thoroughly mixed and the cabbage is coated with the spice mixture, then cover and simmer until the cabbage is cooked but still crunchy, add the grated coconut, mix throughly and take off the fire.

                  this dish is good hot, warm or even cold. Its just a delicious thing to eat with rice and a raita, say, as a simple meal. or as a sidedish.

                  Easy and recommended - was fine with my indonesian main dish..

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Thanks for the recommendation of soaking the toovar dal. I used that dal once in a similar dish and remember the dal being very hard.

                    My Keralite friend use to make a similar dish, and instead of toovar dal she use to use chana (not the dal, but precooked one. Sold in Indian stores ofcourse). Also her cabbage use to be shredded and not cut up. I use to love it and ask her to make it for me all the time.

                    1. re: cpw

                      These dishes are SO easy to make, the Cradle version is one of the most complicated I have seen. Is your friend using roasted chana dal? the south indians use several kinds of dal as part of the seasoning in this type of dish- it does impart a nice roasty flavor.

                      I usually shred my cabbage for these dishes - 1/4 in or 1/2 in dice gets you to the same place really - I dont think the exact size matters very much.It takes about the same amount of time to cut up the cabbage either way.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        Yes that's what it is, roasted chana dal. It is delicious to eat as is too.

                        You are right, size does not matter, it's just the memory of eating something a certain way.

                        I have been trying to think up the name of the dish in Malyalam since I read your post, and just now it came to me. It is called "torren". She use to make cabbage torren and grean beans torren, where french beans are cut up very small. Cabbage one was my favourite.

                        1. re: cpw

                          Yes! a thoran is very similar to a poriyal (I guess that is the tamil name for the dish) In her book Grains, Greens and Grated Coconumt Amini Ramachandran gives a version of this dish with shredded cabbage, green chiles, turmeric, mustard seeds, a tsp each of urad and chana dal, a dried red chile, turmeric, curry leaves and coconut.

                          The washed, shredded cabbage is mixed with thinly sliced green chiles, turmeric and salt. Then the mustard seeds are sputtered, the dal, red chile and curry leaves are added and fried until the dal is golden. the cabbage mixture is added, stirred and the heat is reduced to low and the pot covered. When done, the shredded fresh coconut is added.

                    2. re: jen kalb

                      Sauteéd Cabbage with Ginger and Crispy Indian Yellow Lentils, page 209

                      Don't know why I am so late to the party, but we loved this dish. I was searching for something to make as another element after a specific request for the Javanese Pickles. Served with grilled tuna, the pickles, and some rice.

                      Enjoyed reading this thread years later, and to learn how other regions prepare this dish. Gives me some freedom to consider variations.

                    3. Asiah's Eggplant Curry, Kari Terung, Pg., 229

                      Cook's Confession: Did not use the tamarind pulp. I did use a squeeze of fresh lime juice, as I had read that's a substitute. So I guess it's not technically Asiah's version.....however all other ingredients were used as directed.

                      We liked this dish, the flavor was subtle but noticeable. As Mr. Oseland mentions, the sauce is delicate. I thought flowery with a tantalizingly sweet aroma.

                      Four pale lavender Japanese eggplants are halved lengthwise and cut across into 3" segments. These are then massaged with ground turmeric. (Loved my yellow hands!) The pieces are fried in peanut oil till just golden but not cooked through. They are removed form the pan and drained on paper towels. 2 cloves of garlic and 3 shallots are thinly sliced and fried in 2T of the pan oil till just translucent. Add 4 fresh green Thai chilies sliced lengthwise (I used long thin green chilies from the Asian market but I have no idea if they were Thai or not), ground coriander, chile powder (I used cayenne), cumin seeds, fennel seeds, a cinnamon stick. Sauté gently for about 3 minutes. 3/4 cup of unsweetned coconut milk is added, brought to a gentle simmer then ( the tamarind), 1 t sugar and 1/2 t Kosher salt. All is simmered for about 15 minutes.

                      When the eggplant is added it is gently simmered till fork tender - but not "falling apart." Taste for salt and add if necessary then transfer to a bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes. I loved this even though it was missing the tamarind. Mr. Oseland suggests the Pineapple pickle as a side and I had bought one for just that purpose, but time ran out so it will have to wait a few days. The curry was served with Pan-Fried Mackerel and steamed rice. A wonderful Wednesday night meal!!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Gio

                        Asiah's Eggplant Curry (kari terung), p. 229

                        I really liked this too! One of my favorite recipes from the book with such wonderful flavor. I cut up two large Asian eggplants in chunks, rubbed with turmeric, fried in the oil I had left from the fried plantains last night, then simmered in the sauce. The seasonings in the curry are garlic, shallots, green Thai chilis (I used 5), ground coriander, chile powder (I used freshly ground arbol), cumin seeds, fennel seeds, a cinnamon stick, coconut milk, sugar and salt.

                        I garnished with fresh cilantro and served it with jasmine rice steamed with pandan leaves, and Javanese Sambal. The eggplant curry was delicious, especially with the sambal.

                         
                         
                      2. Braised cabbage with dried shrimp – Pow Choy Ha Mai (p. 212)

                        or, plain ol’ green cabbage steps into the saute pan and shows its glory!

                        This is super easy, and very tasty in a low-key way. You soak some dried shrimp in warm water for 10 mins and drain, reserving water for braising cabbage later. (I subbed bonita flakes since I neglected to purchase dried shrimp)

                        You peel off whole leaves of cabbage (I cut in half for ease, cutting out core), then rinse and cut into 1-1/2 inch squares, more or less. Saute some roughly chopped garlic in peanut oil, add cabbage, bit of sugar & salt, reserved softened shrimp, a few tablespoons of the reserved soaking water, and saute, then cover and braise for 5-7 minutes.

                        I used plain ol’ green cabbage per instructions. Though I usually saute/braise savoy cabbage, the plain ol’ cabbage worked very well with this technique and didn’t get the mushy texture or overboiled smell as in corn beef and cabbage.
                        Other option is savoy – napa is not recommended ‘cause it’s too watery – and the idea of this dish is the cabbage maintains some integrity and doesn’t turn to mush. It’s a nice complement to a spicy hot dish since it doesn’t compete.

                        I served w/ fish (pollock) that I simmered in reserved coconut chicken simmering sauce, brown Thai rice, and sweet soy dipping sauce.

                         
                         
                        3 Replies
                        1. re: NYchowcook

                          Thanks for the report! This is one of the vegetable dishes I had on my list to try, glad you liked it!

                          1. re: Rubee

                            One of the first malaysian dishes I ever had and loved (in London) was a stir fried shredded green cabbage dish with tiny whole fish, chiles, garlic . Similar dishes are made with bean sprouts - in both cases the veg stays crisp. Ive never been able to reproduce these accurately at home - a hot wok seems critical to the best flavor.

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              That sounds delicious!

                              I have to admit that my only foray into Malaysian cuisine has been at Boston's Penang (link to GalleyGirl's entertaining write-up of our first CH dinner there below). I'll have to do some research and see if Phoenix has any good Indonesian or Malaysian restaurants.....hmmmm.

                              The Chowhounds that ate Penang!
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/141682