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Suggestions for sides, veggie or starch, with Asian main dishes?

Any ideas besides broccoli and asparagus for sides for Asian or Asian-influenced main dishes would be much appreciated. Some of the dishes I'd like some interesting new sides for are Thai-style crab cakes, Thai fried chicken, Braised shortribs, Ginger-soy glazed duck, Fish steamed or baked with Asian spices. I always fall back on asparagus, broccoli, or green beans and some kind of rice. What do other CHs serve with these foods and flavors?

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  1. Greens with garlic would be the obvious. Bok choi, gailan, spinach, kale...Maybe eggplant, though I personally prefer these in curry. Maybe soybeans. I guess I think more traditionally Asian vegetables would go well.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jadec

      Second greens - asian leafy greens with a bit of garlic, or oyster sauce, or ?? I also love spinach with a bit of peanut sauce, ponzu or garlic. I also make zuccinni and mushrooms (and napa cabbage) with Thai spice (steam and sprinkle spice with a bit of butter, or saute with butter and spices if feeling decadent).

      1. re: akq

        i like assertive greens with asian greens too, like spinach, watercress and chinese broccoli (which is more like cabbage) stirfried with garlic and red chili.

        snap peas
        baby bok choy with black bean sauce
        charred roasted scallions
        braised leeks with orange zest
        dry fried green beans
        edamame -- cold, hot, or mashed with cream & butter
        celery & radish salad
        green papaya salad
        green salad with tom yam dressing
        cukes with miso/ginger dressing
        chilled spinach with sesame dressing (ohitashi)
        fresh veggie spring rolls

        soba noodles--alone or as a salad with cukes & carrots, sesame or peanut sauce
        sticky rice fried into cakes with fresh herbs like shiso added

      2. re: jadec

        Absolutely. Shanghai bok choys steamed and simmered in a good quality Chinese or Thai soy sauce with some chicken broth and a lot of garlic is heavenly. The small bok choys also look wonderful upon completion.

        Snow peas or sugar snap peas also lend themselves well to couplings with Asian entrees.

      3. cucumber salad
        seaweed salad
        some kind of dumpling?
        Trader Joe's mini cilantro/chicken won tons
        Trader joes lemon grass or coconut curry chicken stix

        1. I love chinese long beans or spicy eggplant. Instead of broccoli, maybe broccoli rabe. Although not particullarly asian, a simple sautee of colorful bell peppers might be nice.

          1. You mention starch...how about Robert Lauriston's Cilantro Rice...really delicious with either Asian or Mexican fare. Have you tried it? Will post the link if you need it, not sure if you want it.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Val

              I love cilantro rice! Also Sam Choy's Ginger Scallion Fried rice...can be made w/basmati or jasmine - Yum!

              As for a veggie, my husband likes to really thinly slice a red and a green pepper (as we almost always have these in our kitchen) and then toss them in a sesame, ginger soy dressing that he makes and then sprinkles black sesame seeds on top, it looks pretty and super simple.

              1. re: Val

                Would love to try it, so would really appreciate the post. Thanks.

                  1. re: sparkareno

                    Here's the Cilantro Rice recipe from RL's original post...oh, so grand! And a beautiful dish to behold, also:

                    1. re: Val

                      oh thank you!--just in time for dinner (I'm doing Thai Fried Chicken again, as DH loved it so much when I tried it a few weeks ago), and I have everything on hand for this rice dish.

                      1. re: Val

                        sounds wonderful---thank you for the link. I think I will add garlic because that's just how I roll.

                        1. re: Val

                          I made it last night--so good. Don't know that I've ever described rice as "refreshing," but that's just what it was. Such a nice foil to the fried chicken.

                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                            It really has fresh, bright flavors .... and color!

                    2. Take a trip to your local Asian Market for inspiration!

                      Simply stir fry common Asian vegetables with a splash of soy, toasted sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, hoisin sauce, bean paste, etc

                      Veggies like:
                      Daikon sliced thin
                      Bok Choy, large or small
                      Onion large or small
                      Snow Pea pods
                      Lemoingrass - for Thai dishes
                      Bell Peppers of any color
                      Spicy Peppers
                      Mushrooms of many kinds
                      Mung Bean Sprouts
                      Ginger cut into coins
                      Water chestnut
                      Bamboo Shoots
                      Small eggplant slices (best if brined first)

                      For starches look at Udon Noodles, Saifun/Maifun/Glass noodles, and a zillion other kinds. Mango-Coconut rice (cooked in coconut water not tap water)

                      1. With the Thai food I would do green papaya or cucumber salad. The acid will help cut through the fat and the sweetness and heat will match the mains. For starch you could do coconut rice or a basmati pilaf with dried fruits, but I would rather stick to plain jasmine. With the chicken I could also see a peanut noodle working.

                        Shortribs will want plain jasmine to absorb the sauce. To balance the fat and sweetness, I would vote for a bitter vegetable, such as bittermelon in blackbean sauce or gai lan, otherwise something acidic like tomato and eggs, salad with ginger dressing or daikon slaw in rice vinegar.

                        With the duck, I vote for eggplant and long beans in red curry miso sauce. You can gild the lily with fried rice. Simple sauteed vegetables like snow peas in lobster sauce, bean sprouts in sesame oil, or black vinegar potatoes might good as well.

                        My preference with steamed fish is, again, white rice. On the side I usually have a spicy soup like Tom Yum with mushrooms and bitter greens simply prepared by wilting with sesame oil.

                        1. I tried to link to hannaone's post on this thread...

                          Also very good

                          One more thread with good ideas (not all asian though

                          1. I like to make a really simple cold noodle salad. Just make a sauce of: 3 parts soy sauce, 1 part sesame oil, 2 parts chili flakes, 2 parts sliced green onions, 1 part toasted sesame seeds and pour over some cold thin noodles.

                            1. There are some unusual and interesting Asian noodles: sweet potato noodles and green bean noodles, or not so unusual: soba (buckwheat). Quinoa (Peruvian) or millet substitutes nicely for rice. Zucchini, red bell peppers, mushrooms, and garlic, with pineapple or pickled ginger, cashews, and tamari makes a good stir-fry.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: lgss

                                Are you talking about japchae and cellophane noodles? Both are pretty standard for me; it's quinoa and millet that I consider unusual. I think the only time I've even had millet in the house is when it came with my parakeet's feed.

                                1. re: JungMann

                                  I grew up in small town midwest US. My mother majored in Home Ec in the 1950s....I didn't see, hear of, or taste any of these foods until I was on my own. I ate millet regularly for a year and my husband and I now eat quinoa frequently. We tend to have more of those because I have celiac so can eat them or grind them for millet flour or quinoa flour for use in baked goods. We get millet and quinoa at WFM which is within walking distance. For the noodles we go to an Asian market, which involves a subway ride.

                              2. While I've never tried it, there is a recipe called "di san xian" that is apparently very popular in China. It's made with potatoes, green peppers and eggplant. http://www.beijingmadeeasy.com/chines...

                                I *have* tried Barbara Fisher's scallion pancakes, and they are delicious. Be sure to make the dipping sauce that goes with them. http://www.tigersandstrawberries.com/...

                                1. Forgot to mention the Korean chap chae / jap chae, which consists of noodles made from sweet potato starch. The texture is quite unique and fabulous and every version I've had is utterly delicious. Here's one recipe that I've been using for awhile that's quite flexible (you can use pretty much any vegetables you like in place of what's suggested) and produces excellent results. Sorry for the poor format, but this is how it was posted.

                                  Fill a pot with hot water straight from the tap and soak a 340-gram package of thick cellophane noodles for 15 minutes. Drain and cut noodles in 4-inch lengths and set aside. In a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 teaspoon of peanut or canola oil and stir-fry 1/2 bunch of spinach (stems removed), 12 sliced fresh mushrooms, 2 julienned carrots and a chopped onion for 5 to 7 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, 1/4 cup Japanese soy sauce, 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 cloves minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Add noodles. Reduce heat to medium and cook for another 2 minutes, mixing well. Serve hot or cooled to room temperature, or refrigerate and serve cold the next day. Carnivores can add 1/2 pound thinly sliced beef, pork or chicken at the beginning of the cooking process.

                                  1. Amaranth greens are wonderful...