Archive for the MUST KNOW TIPS & TECHNIQUES! Category

Tip of the Day: Make an Exotic Fruit Salad!

Posted in APPETIZER, Cooking, DESSERT, PA NHIA'S COOKING DICTIONARY, RECIPES on May 8, 2010 by Meals of Asia

This healthy and exotic Thai fruit salad will be the hit of your party – especially when served in a pineapple “boat” (a carved out pineapple). Create your own assortment of tropical and local fruit – whatever is fresh and in season. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or on its own for a fresh fruit feast. Makes a terrific addition to a potluck, BBQ, or dinner party!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 fresh, ripe pineapple (for more on buying and preparing fresh pineapple, see below)
  • An assortment of fruit, such as pineapple, papaya, lychee, star fruit, watermelon, dragon fruit, mango, etc…
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • Optional: a few leaves of fresh basil as a garnish

Preparation:

If you wish to serve this fruit salad in a carved-out pineapple, go to: How to Create a Pineapple “Boat”

For great tips on how to buy and prepare exotic tropical fruits such as pineapple, dragon fruit, star fruit, mango, etc., see: Thai Tropical Fruit How-to Guide.

  1. To make the fruit salad, peel and cut up the fruit you have chosen into bite-size pieces. (If you have carved a pineapple, add chunks of the carved out fruit to the mix.) Place fruit together in a mixing bowl.
  2. In a cup, mix together the coconut milk, sugar, and lime juice. Stir well to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Pour this mixture over the fruit and gently mix the salad. Do a taste-test, adding a little more sugar if not sweet enough for your taste. Tip: the brown sugar may be a little granular at first, but the natural acids of the fruit will soon break it down.
  4. If serving in a carved-out pineapple, spoon or scoop the fruit into the pineapple (reserve as much of the liquid as possible, since the extra may leak through the bottom of the pineapple. When serving the fruit salad, you can spoon the reserved liquid over each portion). Garnish with a few leaves of fresh basil, if desired. Tip: be sure to place a plate or bowl under the carved-out pineapple, as it may leak.
  5. Serve this fruit salad on its own, or with yogurt, ice cream or whipped cream, and enjoy!
  6. Leftovers will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. This salad is perfect for breakfast (with yogurt and a little granola sprinkled over), for a snack, or for dessert.

Thank you for sharing, Darlene!

Tip of the Day: How to cut a Pineapple!

Posted in ASIAN COOKING 101, Fruit & Veggie Selections, Peeling on May 7, 2010 by Meals of Asia

  • Start with a ripe pineapple. When purchasing, look for nice color both in the leaves and the skin. Check for ripeness by lifting the pineapple by a single leaf (choose a leaf toward the top). If the leaf comes out, it’s ripe.
  • Try this test several times on the same pineapple. Avoid buying pineapples whose skin is easily indented, which may mean they are overripe. Also, the pineapple should have only a very light scent. A heavy scent is also a sign of overripeness.
  • Now lay your pineapple on a counter or table. If you are planning to carve the pineapple into a “boat”, turn it to find the most attractive and stable way for it to lay (will it lays flat, without tumbling over?). Also, choose the side with the best looking leaves.
  • Rotate the pineapple slightly. Using a serrated knife, begin to make a slice (no more than 1/4 of the pineapple) down along the side to remove the skin. Note: Do not cut the leaves.

Thank for sharing, Darlene!

Tip of the Day: How to cook Sticky Rice in 6 minutes!

Posted in Cooking, MUST KNOW TIPS & TECHNIQUES! on May 6, 2010 by Meals of Asia

  1. Wash and rinse sticky rice 2-3 times or until water runs clearer.
  2.  Soak sticky rice for at least 10 minutes in warm water in a bowl. Soaking the rice is very important because it allows the rice to absorb enough water to cook properly later on. If you don’t soak the rice long enough, it will be undercooked. The water level should be just above the rice, which comes out to be 1 cup of rice and one cup of water.
  3. Use a non-plastic bowl to microwave the rice in (Corelle bowls are great) because you may melt the plastic in the microwave. Cover the bowl with a dish (a Corelle plate or a microwaveable lid) and cook in microwave on high power for 3 minutes. Stir the rice around to move the rice from the top to the bottom. You will notice that some of the rice is translucent or cooked while some still have white center or an uncooked portion. 
  4. Heat rice up again for another 3 minutes. Check and see if it is done. When cooked, all the rice should be translucent.  

BE CAREFUL, DON’T BURN YOURSELF WHEN REMOVING LID TO CHECK RICE!

Sticky rice is frequently eaten with any type of Thai laab or papaya salad

Tip of the Day: Mango Facts!

Posted in Fruit & Veggie Selections, MUST KNOW TIPS & TECHNIQUES!, PA NHIA'S COOKING DICTIONARY on May 5, 2010 by Meals of Asia

There more than 1,000 different varieties of mangos throughout the world. Mangos are grown in tropical and subtropical lowlands throughout the world. In Florida, mangos are grown commercially in Dade, Lee, and Palm Beach Counties. Mangoes are also grown as yard trees in warm locations along the southeastern and southwestern coastal areas.

The most popular variety of mango grown in the United States is the Hayden. The Hayden mango is produced in Florida.

Mango Nutrition

One medium sized mango provides about:

Storing Mangos

Mangos can be stored at room temperature to ripen. If the mango is unripe and is stored at room temperature, it takes about a week to ripen.

When fully ripened, mangoes will give easily to gentle pressure. Store ripe mangoes in the refrigerator. Ripe mangos will keep well keep well in the refrigerator for up to three days. If a mango feels too spongy to the touch, it is definitely overripe and very possibly spoiled. Color is not necessarily an indication of ripeness in a mango. Some varieties remain green even when they are ripe, while others turn golden or bright red or a combination.

If you need to speed up the ripening process, place the mango in a paper bag at room temperature for a few days. Test daily for ripeness.

Thank you for sharing, Mama’s Health!

Tip of the Day: How to Pick a Good Watermelon!

Posted in Fruit & Veggie Selections, MUST KNOW TIPS & TECHNIQUES! on May 4, 2010 by Meals of Asia

There’s nothing better than a sweet, juicy, perfectly ripe watermelon. However, all watermelons aren’t created equal. I’ve been disappointed with many watermelons that I’ve brought home from the supermarket or produce stand. After bringing home one too many disappointing watermelons, I decided to learn how to pick a good watermelon once and for all.

When choosing a watermelon, there are a number of characteristics that indicate how good the fruit is likely to be.

Characteristics of Good Watermelons

The first thing you need to check is the shape of the melon. A good watermelon has a symmetrical shape. It doesn’t matter if the fruit is round or oval in shape, as long as it is symmetrical.

It is also a good idea to press the skin of the watermelon in many different spots to test for firmness. Good watermelons will not have soft spots.

While looking at the exterior color of a melon isn’t sufficient to determine if a melon will be good, dark green melons tend to be sweeter than those that are lighter in color.

When you pick up the melon, pay attention to how heavy it is. Watermelons are more than 90 percent water, so the juiciest melons are going to be the ones that seem very heavy for their size.

How to Check For Ripeness

There are several different ways to tell if a watermelon is ripe.

  1. Look on the bottom of the melon. You will find a discolored spot where the melon was in contact with the ground while it was growing. If this spot is light green, the melon is not yet ripe. If the spot is a yellowish-white color, the melon is probably ripe.
  2. You can also test for ripeness by scratching the surface of a watermelon with your fingernail. A greenish-white color beneath the outermost layer of the rind indicates a ripe watermelon.
  3. You can also tell if a watermelon is ripe by thumping it, if you know what you are listening for. When you thump the side of a ripe watermelon, it will sound as if the fruit is hollow. If you hear a thud or a tone that is high in pitch, you’re dealing with a fruit that isn’t ripe.

Interesting Fact about Watermelons: Don’t buy a watermelon that you know isn’t yet ripe thinking it will be ripe by the time you eat it. Watermelons do not continue to ripen once they have been picked.

Thank you for sharing!

Tip of the Day: Sesame Seeds

Posted in ASIAN COOKING 101, Cooking on April 23, 2010 by Meals of Asia

White sesame seeds have a sweet, nutty flavor. Black sesame seeds are a bit more bitter. Toasting intensifies their taste and aroma.

Tip of the Day: Sesame Oil

Posted in ASIAN COOKING 101, Cooking on April 22, 2010 by Meals of Asia

Sesame oil is pressed from toasted white sesame seeds. Use in small amounts to add a nutty flavor accent to marinades, dressings and stir-fries.

Yeo’s sesame oil, one of my favorites, can be purchased online at veryasia.com!