Rainbow Trout with Wild Mushroom Risotto and Brussels Sprouts

“Sprouts, trouts, and wild mushrooms, oh my!”

This date night dinner was inspired by my dinner guest, my significant other. This dish came about for several reasons.

  1. The so-called Seafood Philosopher had yet to cook any fish
  2. My date really wanted to try brussels sprouts AND like them
  3. My date had never tried risotto, and loves mushrooms.

This was a good excuse to cook with mushrooms, which I have been more and more starting to enjoy. It was also a good excuse to show off my favorite fish to cook, the humble rainbow trout. (sorry if I cooked your friend, little buddy, please forgive me!)

(He was delicious though…)

There are two really good ways to prepare Brussels sprouts. And boiling them sure as hell isn’t one of them. This is the main reason that they have gotten a bad rap over the years. Parents mindlessly boiling Brussels sprouts and torturing their kids with them; well of course they aren’t going to like them. Maybe if you roasted them or caramelized them, or heck even did both, they might like them. These Brussels sprouts are caramelized and roasted. They are also mighty fine, I might add.

This risotto was creamy, yet firm, with a nice salty, earthy flavor. It may have been the best risotto I’ve ever had, and certainly the best I’ve ever made. I do have a horror story about arguably the worst thing I’ve ever made, which was a beet risotto.

I grew an extra pair of hands to watch over the risotto while I prepared everything else (thanks boo! <3)

Did I mention the wine? I haven’t had a real penchant for wine until lately. Riesling is my new favorite. I used it to cook the risotto and sprouts, and then we gladly drank the rest. And by drank, I mean we dominated the wine with the fervor of a thousand rainbow trout armies. (I don’t do winetastings.)

Oh and guess what else? I’m actually going to provide a recipe! Keep in mind that chef Adam recipes are generally ballparked, and I take no responsibility for the outcome of the dish if it doesn’t work out so well. If it’s great, well then, I’ll take responsibility. ^_^;;

1 large rainbow trout filet

1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts

parmesan cheese

wild mushrooms, such as porcini, morels, and chanterelles (these usually come dried in a variety mix)

5 cups chicken or vegetable stock

freshly pasted garlic, to taste

1 onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

sweet white wine such as Riesling, or a dry wine if you prefer

1 lemon

olive oil


flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Dried mushrooms need to soak in warm water for at least an hour, and you need to remove the stems before slicing them thin.

The risotto is the most difficult and labor-intensive component, so I would suggest cooking the fish and sprouts first and keeping them warm in a low oven.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet lined with foil, season the rainbow trout filet with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, lemon juice, and olive oil. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high and add Brussels sprouts. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic. Cook for about 7 minutes without  tossing or moving them around so that they can develop a nice golden brown color. Deglaze with some white wine, and then put it on the lower rack in the oven. Put the rainbow trout on the upper rack. Cook for about 12 minutes or until fishy is pink and flaky, and sprouts are tender. 

Meanwhile bring the chicken stock to a boil, and keep on a simmer. Heat oil in a saute pan. Cook mushrooms for about 5 minutes with some of the garlic. Then remove the mushrooms and keep aside. Add some butter, and the onions. After the onions have softened and become more translucent, reduce the heat, and add the arborio rice.

Cook, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes or until the grains become more translucent. Add about 1/4 cup of the white wine, continue stirring until reduced.

The technique for cooking risotto is to add a ladle full of hot stock and stir the rice until the stock is absorbed, and then add another ladle full and continue until all the stock is absorbed. This process takes about 20 minutes and requires vigilance, so an extra set of hands can be really appreciated when cooking risotto. This will give the risotto a natural creaminess. My tip for knowing when to add more stock is to spread the rice and expose the bottom of the pot; if liquid doesn’t pool in this spot and quickly fill back up, then you are ready to add more stock.

When this is done, add the mushrooms back in, add about 3/4 cups parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and add the chopped parsley. Garnish with more cheese and parsley.

Serve with the rainbow trout and Brussels sprouts, and don’t forget the wine!

Looking at these pictures now, I really want to have this dinner again. *sigh* Everything was truly splendiferous.

Until next time,

May the fish be with you, young rainbow trout!

~Maki Zavelli, over and out <(^_^<)


Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant

“Love at first bite!”

My best friend and I have been talking about going to an Ethiopian restaurant for a few years now. I had often exclaimed about how it was one of the most amazing ethnic foods I had ever tried, and she really wanted to try it too. Problem is there isn’t one anywhere near us. As her graduation approached, I figured we should finally make the trek out to Ann Arbor, where the closest Ethiopian restaurant resides.

The restaurant is called Blue Nile. Not to be confused with the West Nile, of course.

If you’ve never had Ethiopian food, well, you should probably change that. It is one of the most delicious, healthy, and interesting cuisines around. It centers around injera, which is a light airy bread which could only really be compared to a crepe. Instead of utensils, you generally just use injera to grab the various stewed meats and vegetables and eat with your hands. Injera can also be fried, and served like pita chips.

Four of us went to the restaurant, and it was everyone’s (except me) first time with Ethiopian food.

We ordered two appetizers, and we all ordered Ethiopian iced tea which resembled chai tea. I learned on that day, that it is never necessary to order appetizers at an Ethiopian restaurant. I am known for having a large appetite, but I was full to the point of moaning for hours after devouring every last bite on my plate.

This was a trio of dips consisting of a hummus, azifa lentil salad, and timmatim salad. These were all super yummy served with both fried injera and soft injera.

We also ordered what was called a begolo cake.

I loved this appetizer and it was really interesting to see that African American cooking has roots in Ethiopian food. This was a corn cake served with stewed greens and a light cheese.  It was crunchy, sweet, and satisfying.

Each entree comes with a stewed meat of your choice, and two vegetable sides chosen from various options. These three stews come served on a plate covered in injera bread. There are also vegetarian options. I ordered lamb dish called yebeg alecha, Abe got a chicken dish called doro wat, Nicky and Amber both ordered the beef zizil wat. Everything was great, and although maybe not as amazing as the first time I had it years ago in Cleveland at Empress Taytu, I have to give Blue Nile two big makizavellian thumbs up.

I read on their site that there is an Ethiopian custom of feeding one’s partner as a sign of affection. I brought this up and everyone thought I was just making things up, so I asked for back-up from the server who just left me out to dry. So this direct link from their site goes out to all you haters:  “It is considered a gesture of affection, called gursha, to offer bites to your partner.”

Until next time,

May the fish be with you, young rainbow trout!

~Maki Zavelli, over and out <(^_^<)

Chopped Challenge: Reuben Style Chicken and Waffles

“Magically delicious!”

Have you ever made a guest list for a party and thought “hmm, I don’t know if these two people will get along…”? Sometimes they get along famously, and other times, well not so much. This often happens in fusion cuisine as well. Sometimes, ideas are just so crazy that they work, and other times they are as bad as they originally sounded.

Chicken and waffles is the quintessential example of when it works.

Salty and crispy meets sweet and fluffy

Who would’ve thought these opposites would attract and stay together for years to come?

In the April issue of Food Network Magazine, Ted Allen issued a Chopped challenge to the readers. You’re familiar with the show Chopped, right? It’s where four chefs compete against each other, the clock, and a mystery basket full of ingredients that are often downright bizarre.

The ingredients for the challenge were peanut butter, chicken breast, frozen cherries, and sauerkraut.


My first two thoughts were “ingredients that don’t belong together” and “reuben sandwich”.

That first thought made me think along the lines of chicken and waffles, because they seem like they don’t belong together but actually work. And so, after brainstorming a few ideas, I reluctantly decided to introduce the two vastly different dishes…

Chicken and waffles, I’d like you to meet my friend Reuben.

Sauerkraut made me think of a reuben sandwich which is the only time I’ve ever enjoyed sauerkraut. If you’ve never had a reuben sandwich, it consists of rye bread, corned beef, sauerkraut, Russian dressing (thousand island), and usually swiss cheese. Because I had bought rye flour for this dish, i decided to try my hand at baking bread for the first time. I made a dark rye bread adapted from George’s recipe featured over at Simply Recipes. I was actually surprised that this turned out quite wonderful on the first try, especially since I am not typically a huge fan of rye bread.

For the Chopped Challenge dish, I decided it might be possible to make a reuben sandwich using waffles instead of bread, and fried chicken instead of corned beef. I thought maybe I could incorporate the  butter into the waffle batter, as well as rye flour and caraway seed so that the reubeness would come through. I had two ideas for how to use the cherries. One was to pickle the cherries and mince them up as part of a Russian dressing, which would really transform the ingredient in an unpredictable way. Russian dressing is made from mayonnaise, ketchup, and pickle relish. For this dressing I used mayo, hot sauce, and pickled cherry relish. The other was to make a cherry syrup which made sense with the waffles.

I fried the chicken according to my taste; brined the chicken breast, seasoned the flour with salt, pepper, and some cajun seasoning. I used buttermilk for both the chicken and the waffles. I borrowed my friend’s waffle maker, and I borrowed a peanut butter waffle recipe from Tracey over at her blog. The only major difference being that I added rye flour and ground, toasted caraway seeds, which are ingredients for rye bread.

Yes I am aware of just how odd this dish sounds…. Now the real question (besides “uh what the heck?”) is “will it taste good?”

Although I was doubtful all the way up to the first bite (well maybe the third), the answer is a resounding “yes!”

Surprisingly the component that really brought it together was the Russian cherry sauce.

I also had two friends try this, and our conclusion was “magically delicious”. None of us thought it would be good, but we all fully enjoyed a whole sandwich, which were really filling. I’m surprised that it worked, especially with the sauerkraut, but it really had a great contrast of flavors that was unexpected in a pleasant way.

I also served this wonderfully strange sandwich with sweet potato fries, which is something I have been making since before I knew how to cook. I ended up using the cherry syrup I experimented with to dip the fries in, which was pretty good, but if I had to choose just one of these cherry sauces to have I would have to go with the Russian dressing.

I don’t think I won the contest, not that I was expecting to. Although I thought the dish turned out really well, and maybe would’ve won if I was on the show, the contest was really looking for a solid recipe. I didn’t even get to share pictures, which I think could’ve helped. The problem was I didn’t really have a specific recipe, and there were too many components anyway. Recipe contests generally have accessibility as one of the judging factors. So for those reasons, and because I can’t see any probable reason why anyone would want to re-create this, I’m not sharing a specific recipe. I just wanted to share this fun experience. If not for the Chopped basket, there is absolutely no way I would’ve ever come up with this dish. Being fans of the show, my significant other has been inspired to go collect crazy ingredients and give me a mystery basket to work with. We think it will challenge me as a chef and push the limits of my comfort zone. I will post those crazy challenges on my blog as well!

Until next time,

May the fish be with you, young rainbow trout!

~Maki Zavelli, over and out <(^_^<)

Braised Pork Summer Rolls with Thai Basil Pesto

“Various cultures rolled into one — daring to be different; and daring to be dunked!”

I originally conceptualized this dish while I was writing my very first post, “Welcome to My World!”,  a somewhat poetic and metaphorical introduction to my blog and myself. After the initial idea, I knew I just had to make it, but I didn’t know what a delicious surprise I was in for.

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between spring rolls, summer rolls, and egg rolls … or is there even a difference?

To the best of my understanding, the confusion comes from a mistranslation into English, and indeed there are differences.

Summer rolls and spring rolls are both wrapped with rice paper, but in different ways. Summer rolls are fresh, soft, not-cooked, and often vegetarian. Spring rolls, on the other hand, are fried. The dry rice paper wrappers you can buy at the store are usually labeled as “spring roll wrappers”, however this is the type suited for summer rolls. Asian products have a tendency to be mislabeled (but I don’t know why they never get corrected either). The wrappers for spring rolls generally come frozen and don’t require soaking before use. If you try to fry a mislabeled “spring rolls wrapper/skin” to make a real spring roll, you will make a mess instead.

This summer roll helps define my brand because I love to fuse the flavors and ingredients used in other types of cuisine with Asian flavor and style. I also have this strange obsession for anything rolled, stuffed, layered, or otherwise filled and sealed in a cute edible package.

The first step for these appetizers is the braised pork.

I must admit I have a certain affinity for braised meats. They are melt-in-your-mouth tender, showcase bold flavors, and are a great value.  Braising usually refers to first searing meat or vegetables and then cooking it in liquid at a low temperature. This is an ideal way to cook tougher cuts of meat that have a lot of connective tissue, such as pork butt or beef chuckeye roast. For this braise, I am using pork butt, which actually comes from the pig’s shoulder. This is a one-pot, slow cooking method, which is wonderful for a few reasons. It is economical and can be done ahead of time. You can also start it in the morning, and come home to a house that smells absolutely amazing.

The braising liquid is really up to the cook. When I braise, I don’t usually follow any recipe, but there is a sort of guideline that I like to braise by. Start by cutting your meat into more reasonably sized pieces, usually two is good enough. Rub the meat with a variety of spices, and heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Sear meat on all sides until a brown crust forms, then add onions and cook until translucent. Then it is time to start building the liquid love. I generally use a stock, an acid, such as lime juice, and some sort of liquor, beer, or wine. This time I’m doing something a little different…

There is this beverage that I love called ginger beer, which is a non-alcoholic cross between ginger ale and root beer. I recently bought several varieties of ginger beer, and there was one that I found too spicy to drink, so I saved it in order to cook with it. This ginger brew will be rounding out my braising liquid.

Then I also add aromatics such as fresh herbs. For this braise, I used Thai aromatics: lime leaves, lemongrass, and ginger.

I wanted to include the flavors of various cultures in one convenient package. These summer rolls take a trip from Mexico to Thailand, with a stop-over in Italy.

The major Mexican component is not only the braised pork (aka carnitas), but also the tangy and crunchy jicama-mango slaw that it pairs with beautifully.


This slaw is made from julienned jicama and chopped mango dressed with lime juice, red chile flakes, and cilantro. A jicama (pronounced hick-uh-ma) is somewhere between a potato and a radish and is used frequently in Mexican cuisine. I really enjoy these raw with a little flavor added to them.

The Italian influence I mentioned comes in the form of a pesto, which is a typical Italian condiment made from basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. Now the flavors of this particular pesto are decidedly Asian, but the concept behind it is Italian.

Scallions, Thai basil, cilantro, and basil

I’ve used these beautiful fresh herbs along with garlic, cashews, lime juice, and a Thai oil infused with basil and lemongrass. Cashews are a great nut to use in pestos because they lend a bit of creaminess to the mix. The scallions add some extra body as well. For this reason, I didn’t use any cheese; I rarely use cheese in Asian dishes anyway.

To make the pesto, you add all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and slowly add the oil as it is blending. Pesto is easy to adjust and season along the way; I added some sea salt and white pepper, and got the herb ratios perfect the first time.


This pesto. My word, this pesto. This is possibly the best pesto I’ve ever had, let alone made. This fresh, vibrant, nutty, and citrus loveliness enhances the already bountiful bouquet of flavors in these summer rolls, thus achieving the highest form of well-deserved “MmMmmmmMmm…MmmmMmmmmm..Mmm….”

But I digress. (*ahem*)

Making the summer rolls is fairly easy but takes some getting used to. You have to dampen the dry rice paper in water and make sure all the excess gets drained off. Then you put the ingredients in the center, and roll it like a burrito. The bottom goes over the  filling, the sides come in, and then you roll to finish the seal.

Admittedly my rolling technique here could use a little work…

All the flavors and textures going on in this dish work very well together. The beauty of fusion cuisine is when an original idea ends up tasting so delicious such as this. A friend of mine said this has to end up on one of my menus, and I have to agree with him. If you want more specific recipe details, leave me a comment below, and I’ll be glad to elaborate.

May the fish be with you, young rainbow trout!

~Maki Zavelli, over and out <(^_^<)

Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern brings a small sack of surprises to Perrysburg, OH

“Food is good. Food that tells a story is better. Food that tells stories no one has heard is the best.”

I just had the very exciting opportunity to go to a lecture by Andrew Zimmern from Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods at a very unseemly local community college, and it was a fantastic experience.

Now I know what everyone is thinking so I’ll just come out with it right at the beginning…

Yes indeed I ate … duck testicles.

…And I liked it.

I didn’t know what to expect from this whole thing, and I certainly did not expect to try any bizarre foods myself, but I felt like I owed it to myself, my readers, and my community to try something unexpected. Now I did not necessarily love the duck nuts, but I loved the idea behind it. Andrew is a brilliant man with profound ideas regarding the food world, and a knack for story-telling. He talked a lot about “alternative proteins”, and how we as Americans could eat our way out of our overcentralized reliance on unsustainable, low-quality food sources. He shared stories with us about tribes so in harmony with nature that they would not kill an animal during the fruit-bearing period of a particular tree. They only take from nature what is absolutely necessary and only when is necessary, and use all parts of the animal. In America, we can barely go a day without a burger from a cow whose sacrifice was unappreciated as half of the animal ended up in the trash.

These stories were full of lessons, but also entertaining. Not only is he inspirational for the work he is doing, but he is also an inspiration because of where he comes from. He has recovered from a very low point in his life, and now he’s an internationally known figure who has great impact on the world. I left the auditorium thrilled that I came, and validated in what I’m doing in following my passions.

The lecture was absolutely fascinating and kept me fully interested for 3 hours, which is crazy considering I’m the guy who fell asleep at a Cavs game. Zimmern discussed how he weaves in important messages and stories into his show “Bizarre Foods”, which in fact is a much deeper show than just “the guy who eats weird things.” He does not eat “weird things” for weird sake; he seeks to explore untold stories from remote parts of the world using food as a lens. He never refuses offerings by locals because oftentimes it is a substantial part of their net worth. One of the most amazing things he talked about is how in over 100 shows in every part of the world, even those where he would expect to be least welcome, nobody ever expected anything in return. In fact, they would refuse reimbursement or payment and even be slightly insulted. He has to weave around delicate situations sometimes, and he told some truly remarkable stories, those of which I have not heard on the show.

When he started cooking the duck testicles, he let his pan pre-heat for too long and almost set off the fire alarms. He reacted in a very cool, calm way and pointed out a lesson that I try to teach other home cooks: when something goes wrong, fix it, don’t just go along with it. He started a new pan on the heat.

Goodness gracious, great balls of fire!

He browned the testicles in butter, added tarragon, salt, lemon juice, and finished it with white wine. The room smelled wonderful. Zimmern was very excited, as was I, that many people were chomping at the bits to try his “bizarre” creation. Amazingly the first person to try one was little Brad, who couldn’t have been older than 8 years of age. Completely unphased, he turned to face the audience and comment that it was good, and even had seconds. I think this was a proud moment for Zimmern, who is also a father of a boy about the same age. I managed to snag one of the last few, and I was also surprisingly unphased by it. You could taste all the flavors he used to prepare them, and it resembled sausage with the texture of a kidney bean. I probably wouldn’t have wanted a second one due to the bizarre factor, but it was in fact pretty good. Many ball jokes were also made. The audience was loving the whole ordeal, which was a beautiful thing to behold.

If brave little Brad can do it, so can I!

After the demonstration and a few more stories, he fielded a Q&A session. Unfortunately the questions were endless, and rarely worthwhile, so it came down to luck and I did not get selected. I also did not purchase the VIP meet and greet tickets which were overly pricey and even still there was a big line after the show to meet him. I was not interested in getting an autograph, or asking about where is the best place to get my grub on in Dubai; I had a question I wanted answered on behalf of my readers. I had been thinking about it ever since he first started talking about alternative protein sources, and although someone did ask a question regarding sustainability, it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

So Andrew Zimmern, I ask you now, If you are reading this…

What are the most interesting, unique, or uncommon alternative seafood choices that you have come across in your travels?  Have you found anything that could serve as an alternative to popular but unsustainable sushi choices such as unagi?

We would love to hear from you in the comments section below, and thank you for an unforgettable experience.

And to everyone else..

May the fish be with you, young rainbow trout!

~Maki Zavelli, over and out <(^_^<)

A Mother’s Day Twist on a Caterpillar Roll

“There is no maki like a mother’s love.”

While this is true, I have created one that draws inspiration from it. This post is dedicated to my mom.

My mother has an obsession for caterpillars and their life cycle. She is also the only person I know whose has an avocado obsession to match my own.  You know what they say… an avocado doesn’t fall far from the tree.  For this twist on the classic ‘caterpillar roll’ found in many a sushi bar, I have also added the cocoon and butterfly.

My mom has never been a big sushi person, so I made sure to fill this roll with ingredients she likes. This is an uramaki with avocado, cucumber, smoked salmon, and cooked shrimp. I actually took one roll and cut it in half. One half got covered in avocado to create the caterpillar, and the other was deep-fried to create the cocoon. Then they were topped with kabayaki sauce, a sauce similar to teriyaki, which she loves.

To create the layered avocado on top of the roll, first you slice one of the rounded edges off the avocado, about an inch thick. This next part takes practice, but can be done slowly with precision. The goal here is to slice the avocado very thin, about an 1/8th of an inch. Always tuck your fingers under your knuckles and rest the top of the blade against your knuckles. Tip your blade up and drag from top to bottom.

Repeat until avocado is all sliced, and then fan out and place on top of the maki roll. Then cover the roll with plastic wrap and press in gently with a rolling mat.

I’ve added even more avocado by creating an avocado puree instead of using wasabi paste. My mom wouldn’t like wasabi, and I don’t really either to be honest. I also used papaya dressed in lime juice instead of pickled ginger. I like to mimic these condiments in creative ways that I find more delicious than the originals which I am not a huge fan of.

Although I was unable to be with my mom this Mother’s Day, we very much enjoyed this mom-inspired caterpillar roll on her behalf here at Maki Zavelli Studios. (read:my kitchen and backyard)

To my mom, I hope your day is filled with the joy of a caterpillar’s dream. I will love you forever, and I will see you soon!

To everyone else,

May the fish be with you, young rainbow trout!

~Maki Zavelli, over and out <(^_^<)

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup and Curry Puffs

“Best meal I’ve ever had.” “Can I take some with me?” “What’s the recipe?”

All comments I’ve received on this dish. And that makes me a proud papa trout.

Today, I’m putting a Thai twist on a  American comfort classic. This is one of my signature dishes that I have been working on for a few years, and this most recent batch was the best it has been to date. Speaking of which, it also just so happened to be what I served for my first home cooking date with my significant other. To great success I might add.

Thai chicken noodle and curry puffs, a match made in heaven

I’m swapping out egg noodles for rice noodles; the same kind you would use for pad thai. The best way to use these is to pre-soak them in cold water and then add them at the end of cooking process as you turn off the heat. Otherwise they may break apart and become mushy. They should be firm, but easy to chew.

I’m using chicken thigh meat which is more commonly used in Asian cuisine than American (and it’s way tastier than chicken breast). I cook these half-way in a pan, and slice them after they’ve cooled. Then I add them to the soup at the end of the cooking.

I’ve also swapped out celery for fennel, which is similar in appearance and texture. For some reason, I have always intensely disliked celery; it’s just that one thing that my palette refuses to deem acceptable. Make sure you remove the core of the fennel bulb as it is too tough to eat; though you could steep it in the broth and remove it later. The anise notes added by the fennel really compliment the other flavors, so I’ve carried that flavor through in a few other places utilizing star anise, fennel seed, and fennel fronds.

This soup has an incredible depth of flavor. It is a great way to introduce people to Thai flavors in a modern-American sort of way.  I love to pair this soup with my green curry puffs, which are flaky savory pastries with a spicy kick. There is green curry in both the soup and the pastry filling, but the green curry does not overwhelm the other flavors of coconut, fennel, lime, and lemongrass.

I knew I had a keeper on my hands (both the dish and the date) when I received the comment “best meal I’ve ever had.” This obviously made me smile ear to ear. I also received high praise from friends and family who have gotten to try this.

Both dishes are fairly easy to make, but take a little finesse to perfectly balance the fundamental “s” tastes of Thailand: sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. The best way to do this is taste along the way and adjust the seasoning. If it’s too sweet, add more lime; If it’s too sour, add more sugar; If it’s too salty or spicy, dilute it with more broth or coconut milk. After making this soup many times over the last few years, I believe to have finally perfected the recipe. Although I’m much more of a dash of this, pinch of that, technique-driven cook… I will do my best to provide an accurate recipe.

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped, fronds reserved
  • sweet peppers, cut into rings
  • about 1 cup of peas
  • garlic, about 5 cloves, minced
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1 package of rice noodles
  • green curry paste, to taste (1 tbsp)
  • fish sauce, to taste (3 tbsp)
  • lime juice, to taste (3 tbsp)
  • sugar, to taste (3 tbsp)
  • 2-3 stalks of lemongrass
  • 2-3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1-2 pods star anise
  • chicken thighs, about 5

Season the chicken thighs with salt, white pepper, marjoram, and toasted ground fennel seed, and sear in a hot pan with oil. Don’t cook all the way, remove from heat, cut into strips, and set aside.

In a large heavy bottomed pot, sweat the onions and fennel. Add the curry paste and garlic, stir and cook a few minutes. Add the broth and coconut milk, reserving some coconut milk for garnish if desired. Add all seasonings: fish sauce, lime juice and zest, lime leaves, lemongrass, and star anise. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add the chicken, peppers, and peas. Simmer for 5 minutes, tasting to adjust seasoning, then remove from heat. Add pre-soaked rice noodles.  Garnish in a bowl with coconut milk, and fennel fronds.

I love to serve this soup with these vegetarian green curry pastries.  These can be made a variety of different ways. I have made them with wonton wrappers, baked or fried, as well as with puff pastry, baked or fried. I find my favorite version is the baked puff pastry. The fried wonton wrappers are really good too but seem very similar to Indian samosas.

Golden brown, baked curry puffs

Thai Green Curry Puffs

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/2 lb. cooked potatoes (really any kind works fine)
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • about 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • green curry paste, to taste (1/2 tbsp)
  • fish sauce, to taste (1 tbsp)
  • about 1 tbsp coconut milk

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Roll out puff pastry and cut into even squares with a pastry wheel or pizza cutter (about 9 squares). Place filling in the the center of each square, leaving enough space around the perimeter to fold. Fold one corner of the pastry to the opposite corner and crimp edges together. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Serve with Thai chicken noodle soup and enjoy! These taste extra amazing dunked in the soup, just sayin’.

Until next time,

May the fish be with you, young rainbow trout!

~Maki Zavelli, over and out <(^_^<)