The East Side
Recipes with Asian flair

From mom-and-pop restaurants to swanky, gourmet hot spots, Asian influences are adding spice to the Triangle.

Even in your own kitchen, fresh ginger longs to be grated and soy sauce hopes to make a splash.

Five recent cookbooks give you great reasons to explore the nearby Asian market, drag out your old wok or learn how to conjure simple rice into an exotic masterpiece:

Red Curry Shrimp With Pineapple
Paht Thai Noodles Web Extra!
Summer Udon Salad
Swordfish With Basil-Miso Sauce Web Extra!
The Five-Lentil Delight
Fiery Pork Web Extra!
Buddhist Vegetables
Chicken and Cashews Shantung Style Web Extra!
Soothing Tea Rice
Simple Dal Web Extra!

“Quick & Easy Thai”
By Nancie McDermott
Published by Chronicle Books

Red Curry Shrimp With Pineapple


1-1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons gaeng kua curry paste or red curry paste
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup drained, canned pineapple chunks or crushed
pineapple or bite-sized chunks fresh pineapple
6 wild lime leaves, quartered (optional)
3/4 pound large shrimp
1/3 cup fresh Asian or Italian basil leaves, plus basil sprigs for garnish


In a medium skillet or saucepan, heat 1/2 cup coconut milk over medium-high heat, stirring often, until thickened and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the curry paste and cook a minute or 2, pressing and stirring to dissolve it.

Stir in remaining cup coconut milk, water, fish sauce, sugar, pineapple and lime leaves. Bring to a gentle boil.

Add the shrimp and basil leaves and cook another minute or 2, just until shrimp are pink and cooked through.

Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with fresh basil sprigs and serve hot or warm.

Makes 4 servings.

Paht Thai Noodles


1/4 pound dried rice noodles, linguine or fettuccine width
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
8 to 10 medium shrimp (about 1/4 pound), peeled and de-veined
1/4 pound boneless chicken or pork, cut in bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes or chili powder
About 1/4 cup water or chicken broth, to prevent noodles from sticking
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 green onions, coarsely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
1/4 cup coarsely chopped, dry-roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 lime wedges


To prepare the dried rice noodles, bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil, add the noodles and remove from heat.

Let the noodles steep 5 minutes and drain and rinse well in cold water.

Transfer the drained rice noodles to a medium bowl and place by the stove, along with a serving platter, a pair of long-handled tongs or a spatula and a slotted spoon for tossing the noodles. Have all the remaining ingredients ready and handy.

In a large, deep skillet or a wok, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat until a bit of garlic sizzles at once.

Add the garlic, toss well, and then add the shrimp and chicken. Cook about 2 minutes, tossing now and then, until shrimp and meat are cooked through.

Add the noodles and toss as they begin to soften, whiten and curl in the hot pan.

Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and chili flakes and cook 1 to 2 minutes, tossing now and then. Add a splash or two of the water to prevent sticking.

When the noodles are tender, push them to one side and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the egg, and once it is almost set, scramble it and push it aside.

Add the green onions and 1 cup of the bean sprouts and cook about 1 minute, tossing once or twice, until shiny and beginning to wilt.

Sprinkle the peanuts and lime juice over the noodles and then toss to mix everything well.

Mound the noodles on a serving platter, arrange the remaining cup of bean sprouts and the lime wedges on the side and serve hot.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.


“The Miso Book: The Art of Cooking With Miso”
By John and Jan Belleme
Published by SquareOne

Summer Udon Salad


8 ounces udon noodles
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 small cucumber, peeled (if waxed), seeded and sliced
1 scallion, finely minced
1/3 cup sweet or mellow miso
3 tablespoons brown-rice vinegar
1/4 cup water


In a 4-quart pot, bring 2 quarts water to a rolling boil.
Add the noodles and cook until al dente. Immediately drain the noodles and rinse under cold, running water, or submerge in a bowl of cold water, 30 seconds or until cool. Drain and set aside.

In a pot of lightly salted water, parboil the broccoli and cauliflower about 3 minutes, or until just tender-crisp.

Transfer to a bowl of cold water to set the color and prevent further cooking. Drain and set aside.

Chop the noodles into 2-inch lengths and place in a medium-sized bowl along with the broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber and scallion.

Whisk together the miso, vinegar and water, and add to the noodle mixture. Toss gently and serve.

Makes 2 main-course or 4 side-dish servings.

Swordfish With Basil-Miso Sauce


2/3 cup julienned carrots
1-1/3 cups water
2 level tablespoons red, brown-rice or barley miso
1/2 teaspoon shoyu or tamari
4 swordfish or salmon steaks, 3/4-inch thick
5 tablespoons safflower oil
2-1/2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil leaves
2-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal


In a small pot of boiling water, add the carrots and cook 2 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and place in a small bowl.

In the same pot, bring 1-1/3 cups water to a simmer. Remove from the heat, add the miso and shoyu, and stir until the miso is dissolved. Set aside.

Rinse the swordfish or salmon steaks and pat dry.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the steaks and cook 3 minutes. Turn over and cook another 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer the steaks to a heatproof platter and keep warm in a 225-degree oven.

The fish will be rare but will finish cooking in the oven.

Stirring constantly, add the flour to the pan drippings and cook 2 minutes over medium-low heat.

While continuing to stir, add the shallots and garlic, and sauté 1 minute before adding the wine-and-miso mixture. Simmer while stirring frequently until the sauce is smooth.

Reduce the heat to low, add the basil and lemon juice and simmer 5 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and the floury taste is gone.

Stir in the scallions and carrots, cook 1 minute more, and remove from the heat.

Spoon the sauce over the fish and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.


“The Everything Indian Cookbook”
By Monica Bhide
Published by Adams Media

The Five-Lentil Delight


4 tablespoons chana dal or yellow split peas, rinsed
4 tablespoons red split lentils (masoor dal), rinsed
4 tablespoons split black gram or black lentils (safeed urad dal), rinsed
4 tablespoons pigeon peas (toor dal), rinsed
4 tablespoons green split mung beans (green moong dal), rinsed
Water, as needed
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons table salt
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon Ginger-Garlic Paste (see recipe below)
1 medium-sized red onion, minced
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon Warm Spice Mix (see recipe below)


Soak all the dals together in a deep pot with enough water to cover them well. Soak about 2 hours. Drain and set aside.

In a deep pot, combine 6 cups water, the turmeric powder, salt and 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Bring to a boil.

Add all the drained dals and mix well. Bring to a full boil.

Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, about 40 minutes, or until the lentils are soft.

If the water begins to dry out, add up to 1 cup more. (The consistency should be like that of a creamy soup.) Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium-sized skillet, heat the remaining vegetable oil. Add the cumin seeds; when they begin to sizzle, add the Ginger-Garlic Paste.

Saute 30 seconds and add the onions. Saute 7 to 8 minutes, or until the onions are well browned.

Add the red chili powder, cumin powder and spice mix. Mix well.

Add the onion mixture to the dals and mix well. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Ginger-Garlic Paste


2 serrano green chilies (optional)
1/2 cup fresh gingerroot, peeled
1/2 cup garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon cold water


Remove the stems from the green chilies.

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and puree to form a smooth paste.

Add no more than 1 tablespoon of water to help form a smooth consistency.

Store the paste in an airtight jar in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Makes 1 cup.

Warm Spice Mix


8 cloves
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
3 green cardamom pods (whole)
2 black cardamom pods (whole)
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Pinch of grated nutmeg (optional)


Heat a small skillet on medium.

Add all the spices, except the nutmeg, and dry roast them, stirring constantly.

After about 5 minutes, the spices will darken and begin to release a unique aroma.

Remove the skillet from the heat, then add the nutmeg.

Transfer the spice mix to a bowl and allow to cool about 5 minutes.

Using a spice grinder, grind the spices to a fine powder. Store in an airtight jar.

The mixture will keep up to 3 months.

Makes 2 tablespoons.

Fiery Pork


1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
5 cloves
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 dried red chilies
1 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste (see recipe above)
1/2 cup malt vinegar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound lean pork, cut into chunks
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 small tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
Table salt, to taste


In a spice grinder, grind the black peppercorns, cloves, cumin and red chilies.

Put the spice mixture into a food processor or blender and add the Ginger-Garlic Paste and malt vinegar; process until smooth. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the pork, and sear it until brown on all sides.

Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.

Do not discard the oil from the skillet.

Reheat the oil and add the onions. Saute about 7 to 8 minutes, or until the onions are well browned.

Add the tomatoes and fry, stirring constantly, until the oil starts to separate from the mixture.

Add the pork and mix well. Stirring constantly, fry about 6 minutes.

Add the sugar and salt; mix well.

Fry about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

“Potsticker Chronicles: America’s Favorite Chinese Recipes”
By Stuart Chang Berman
Published by John Wiley & Sons

Buddhist Vegetables


2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup snow peas or snap peas, tips and strings removed
1 cup carrots, sliced on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
1 cup quartered white mushrooms
2 celery stalks, sliced on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons dry sherry
4 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water


Place the vegetables in a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water.

Combine the broth, sherry, garlic, ginger, salt, sesame oil and white pepper in a small saucepan and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok until smoking. Add all the vegetables and stir-fry until the vegetables are bright in color, approximately 5 minutes.

Add the sauce to the wok and bring to a boil.

Stir the cornstarch mixture back into the solution and add it to the sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring, until thickened.

Serve immediately.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

(Variation: For Sichuan Buddhist Vegetables, add 1 teaspoon chili paste, or to taste and tolerance, to the sauce when it is simmering.)

Chicken and Cashews Shantung Style


1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 egg white
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cucumbers, peeled
1 cup cashews (preferably deep-fried cocktail variety, not freeze-dried)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon black or mushroom soy sauce
2 tablespoons bean sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil


Cut the chicken into 3/4-inch cubes. Mix the egg white, cornstarch and 3 tablespoons water with the chicken cubes, coating well.

Heat 2 cups of the vegetable oil to 280 degrees; or place a cube of chicken in the oil and, when the bubbles from the chicken rise like bubbles in champagne, add the chicken.

Turn the chicken gently in the poaching oil. Cook until the chicken cubes are white, approximately 7 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Cut the cucumbers lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices. Cut again lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices.

Keeping the cucumber intact, slice across it, creating ½-inch cubes.

Heat the remaining tablespoon vegetable oil in a wok until smoking. Stir-fry the cucumber cubes 15 seconds.

Add the cashews, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, bean sauce, if using, and sherry. Toss 3 times.

Add the chicken and stir-fry 30 seconds.

Place the sesame oil in a Chinese ladle or kitchen spoon. Holding on to the wok firmly with one hand, with the other hand, invert the ladle or spoon quickly and smack the stem of the spoon or ladle on the side of the wok, spraying the sesame oil across the chicken and cucumbers. Toss once and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.


“Seductions of Rice”
By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Published by Artisan

Soothing Tea Rice


1 cup Japanese green tea per person
1 to 1-1/2 cups freshly cooked or leftover Japanese rice per person
Scant 1/4 cup strong-tasting prepared fish, such as smoked salmon, smoked eel, or drained and chopped smoked oysters

Optional Garnish

Sliced scallion greens or torn mitsuba leaves (also known as trefoil or Japanese parsley), flat-leaf parsley sprigs or shreds of toasted nori (flat sheets of dried seaweed)


Japanese pickles, chopped small


Make the green tea.

Warm rice bowls by rinsing with hot water and drying. Place the rice in the bowls, top with the fish, and pour the green tea over.

Top with the optional garnish and serve with wasabi and pickles.

Note: You can buy packages of chazuke (tea rice) mix. Simply place the rice in a bowl, sprinkle on a package of the mix and pour hot water over it.

Serving size can be varied easily.


Simple Dal


1 cup masur (red) dal
4 cups water
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 to 2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
Seasoning blend
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seed
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 heaped tablespoon dried curry leaf
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup finely chopped onions (about 2 medium)
Pinch of asafetida powder (available in South Asian groceries)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves


Place the dal, water, cinnamon and bay leaf in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, 25 minutes, or until tender; the dal will be thick but still soupy. Stir in the salt, then remove from the heat.

Place a heavy skillet over high heat. Add the oil or ghee and when it is hot, add the mustard seed.

Stir constantly until the seeds begin to pop, then add the cumin seed and curry leaf.

Continue to stir about 30 seconds, then add the garlic and onions. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the asafetida and cayenne. Continue to cook another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion is thoroughly softened and beginning to brown. Remove from the heat.

Reheat the dal until very hot, then stir in the seasoning blend. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the coriander. Serve with rice and a salad or plain yogurt.

Makes 4 servings with rice.