Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Football Party in the Year of the Rooster
What’s cooking? Asian Slaw

It’s that time of year again: Super Bowl Sunday. And Chinese New Year. What to do, what to do. Well, it may not surprise you to learn that the Kitchen Goddess has the perfect solution. A dish that’s not only Asian-inspired but is just the thing to serve to your football-obsessed friends.

At a group dinner the other night, one of the men was willing to bet that I didn’t know either of the teams that will be playing next Sunday. So it is not a secret as to my level of enthusiasm toward football, generally speaking. As it happens, though, I know exactly which teams will be playing and what their team colors are, because I’ve volunteered to make rollout cookies for the party. Any excuse to play with sprinkles. Here’s what the KG delivered last year, when the Panthers played the Broncos.

At the same time, the Kitchen Goddess posted an excellent list of noshes appropriate to a Super Bowl gathering, so if the salad below doesn’t do it for you, look HERE. And for your added enjoyment, there’s an excellent discussion on the origins of the phrase “Hut 1, hut 2...” We set the bar high for entertainment around here.

But I do enjoy the Super Bowl party – it’s always a potluck dinner, and I love sampling what other guests bring. A couple of years ago, a friend brought today’s salad, and it was absolutely inhaled by the crowd. So of course I wrangled the recipe. (In fact, being a kind and generous friend, she was happy to give it to me.) I couldn’t resist tweaking it a bit – adding the bell pepper and carrot for color – but the bright Asian flavor is unchanged.

This is a great recipe for a day like Super Bowl Sunday, when people are jumping up and down to get food, some eating early and some eating late, and some grazing throughout. This salad doesn’t wilt over the hours of the game. The ramen noodles won’t stay overly crisp the entire time – they work a bit like croutons in a green salad – but they taste great even after absorbing some of the dressing. And mine still crunched after a night in the fridge.

Because I know that you all share the Kitchen Goddess’s love of knowledge, here’s a little known fact to amuse your friends during any less-than-sparkling ads on Sunday: The first mention of “cole slaw” in a recipe book was in 1770, where it appeared in The Sensible Cook: Dutch Foodways in the Old and New World, and was attributed to the author’s Dutch landlady. The name derives from the Dutch word “koolsla,” for “cabbage salad.” Having a strong streak of Dutch ancestry herself, the KG is thrilled.

Kitchen Goddess note: The KG begs you to use fresh, uncut produce versus the pre-cut, bagged stuff. Not only are pre-cut veggies often almost twice as expensive, studies show they lose significant amounts of Vitamin C. Most of the time, they’ve been washed in a chlorine solution to kill harmful bacteria, then rinsed in water before being packaged. Appetizing? If you decide to go the pre-cut way, please note carefully the sell-by dates on the packages. According to The New York Times, processors allow 12-14 days from the time of packaging to their use-by dates. So that cabbage you buy might have been sliced up two weeks ago. Two weeks?!! The Goddess feels faint just at the thought.

The Times had 14 packages tested, and found relatively high levels of bacteria – admittedly harmless – in 12 of the 14. “The high levels of harmless bacteria mean the contents must be handled with great care. If, for example, some form of protein, like grilled chicken, is combined with pre-cut vegetables, the resulting mixture should not be kept at room temperature for more than 20 minutes. High bacteria levels are an indication that harmful bacteria may also be present at low levels, and the combination of warm temperatures and protein could encourage those harmful bacteria to grow and cause food poisoning.”

Now, if you have a wide-mouth food processor, you can slice that cabbage up in about a minute. But even by hand, it doesn’t take more than 5 minutes. The Kitchen Goddess sliced hers by hand, then used the slicing disk on her processor to handle the bell pepper, and the shredding disk with the carrots. 

Asian Slaw

Serves 10.

Salad ingredients:
Half of a 2-pound head of cabbage, thinly sliced (or a 16-ounce package of shredded cabbage)
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
2 packages ramen noodles (Oriental or Chicken flavor)
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup sunflower seeds
½ stick of butter
Optional: 1 cup shredded or chopped cooked chicken

Salad dressing:
⅓ cup rice vinegar
⅔ cup sugar
⅓ cup sunflower seed oil or other mild oil, like grapeseed or canola
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (can substitute sweet-and-spicy, if you prefer)

Make the dressing. In a small bowl or a 16-ounce jar, stir together the rice vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk together (or put the lid on the jar and shake) until well blended – about 1 minute.

Before opening the packages of ramen noodles, use your hands to break the noodles into small chunks. Open the packages and set aside the seasoning packets.

In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, ramen noodles, and one seasoning packet. Stir together and cook for about 12 minutes or until the nuts turn golden brown. (The noodles won’t change color much.) Be careful that the ingredients don’t burn. Once the mix has reached as deep a color as you’d like, remove them from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, stir together the raw ingredients and the toasted mixture. Add the chicken, if desired. Pour the dressing – sparingly! – over the salad and mix well. [Kitchen Goddess note: This will be more dressing than you need, so pour a bit and taste as you go. I used about ½ cup.] Cover the bowl with cellophane wrap and refrigerate. Serve chilled.