Global Cuisine

bokchoysaladRecently I learned that bok choy is the number one vegetable in China. It seems to be the number one vegetable in my CSA box lately. It's a very healthy vegetable with a ton of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K plus and is even a good source of calcium and iron, but I have to admit, after serving it steamed or sautéed again and again, I was looking for a new way to prepare it.

As luck would have it, at a Chinese New Year's dinner I stumbled upon a terrific dish at Fang restaurant. It was served raw, as a salad with a soy and sesame vinaigrette alongside some chunks of short rib. Bok choy is very mild flavored but it has great texture. The leaves are tender and somewhat herbal without being bitter, and the stems are very juicy and crisp. I had never considered using bok choy in salad but after trying that dish, I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Looking around online I found plenty of Asian inspired recipes for bok choy salad, and a few takes on coleslaw and even a chopped salad. My idea was to make a more Italian style salad using extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and Parmigiano Reggiano. The result is a salad at once familiar and yet fresh. It's a great choice for a potluck or dinner party, because it is very sturdy and won't easily wilt. You could mix in other greens, add cherry tomatoes or even fresh fava beans when in season.

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japeggplant2.jpgEggplants are some of the most unique and interesting vegetables. Many of us in the States are only familiar with the large and bulbous globe variety. But there are many more to be found elsewhere in the world. Eggplants, also called aubergines, are native to Asia with many different varieties found throughout the continent. Asian eggplants come in many different shapes, colors, and sizes. Some berries—as they are botanically referred to—are thin and long, others short and spherical. Colors range from white and green to purple and almost black with some even striped. A thinner skin and milder flesh make the Asian varieties much more prized than the oftentimes bitter globe.

You don't have to go all the way to Asia to find some amazing specimens. Many are available in Asian markets, farmers' markets, and even as plants in garden nurseries. I've found many in my local international market, such as the small Indian variety, which I used in this green curry. For this stir-fry recipe I use the long Japanese variety. I quickly toss chunks of eggplant in a hot wok and add a sweet-tart sauce, chile pepper, and Thai basil. The dish makes a wonderful appetizer or vegetarian main course when served with rice. A fast meal with fresh vegetables is the best way to enjoy the bounties of summer.

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spicychicken.jpgI am always searching for a new way to make chicken.  It's one of those blank canvas foods...just waiting for inspiration to hit and turned into something wonderful.

While flipping through one of my Ina Garten cookbooks, I came across this recipe. There wasn't a picture, which often deters me from making something. I want to see it done. Anyway, it just sounded good, not to mention I had few hunks of ginger in the refrigerator I needed to use. Ina mentioned this was served in her New York store and was excellent both warm and cold.

The mixture of the honey, ginger, garlic and soy sauce sounded like the perfect flavor combination. So out came the chickens from the freezer to thaw completely and then the marinating process began.

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