Simple Raita

Four to Six Servings
1 ½ cups low-fat Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon chili flakes (optional)

  1. Mix together the yogurt, cumin, and chile flakes (if using) in a bowl and serve with the curry and rice.

© Copyright Nina Simonds 2008

Ginger Honey Marinade

A Master Marinade

This simple master marinade is excellent for six to eight servings of salmon and other fish fillets and seafood including halibut, cod, haddock, and scallops. I sometimes like to substitute maple syrup for the honey which gives it an appealing alternate flavor.

1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and simmer 5 minutes. Use as directed in the recipe below or for other foods.

© Copyright Nina Simonds 2008

Vegetable Sticks With Peanut Dip

A Tray Of Prosperity

six servings

On Chinese New Year, many families prepare a Tray of Prosperity, a special six-sided platter with connecting containers filled with candied fruits, melon and lotus seeds. These foods symbolize riches, longevity, or the blessing of more children. I like to replace the traditional foods with cut vegetables, a more colorful, healthful version of the traditional prosperity tray.

2 red peppers, rinsed and drained
1 yellow pepper, rinsed and drained
1 package baby carrots, weighing about 1 pound

For the Peanut Dip
1 cup smooth peanut butter, or more as needed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon mined fresh ginger
7 tablespoons water, or more as needed

  1. Using a paring knife, cut off the top and bottom of the peppers. Remove the seeds and cut each pepper in half along the length. Then cut each half along the length into 3 to 4 strips, removing any white membrane. Cut each strip on the diagonal into pieces about 1 1/2 inches long. Arrange the peppers and carrots in separate piles in a decorative basket, leaving a small space in the middle for the dip.
  2. Put the peanut butter in a blender or a food processor fitted with a steel blade, then add the soy sauce, rice wine, black vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, minced garlic, and ginger, blending until smooth after each addition. Add the water and continue blending. The dip should be stiff, but still creamy. If the dip seems too thick, add a little more water; if it seems too thin, add more peanut butter. Scoop into a small bowl and place in the basket of vegetables. Serve.

Chili Chicken With Cashews

1 1/2 pounds boned chicken breast, skin removed

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cornstarch
4 1/2 tablespoons canola or corn oil

1 1/2 tablespoons minced scallions, white part only
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon hot chile paste or dried chile flakes (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced canned water chestnuts,
blanched for 10 seconds, then refreshed in cold water and drained

Sauce (mixed together)
3/4 cup classic chicken broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cups dry-roasted cashews

  1. Trim the chicken of any fat or gristle. Cut it into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a bowl. Add the premixed Marinade ingredients, and toss the chicken cubes to coat them. Cover with plastic wrap, and let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a large wok or large skillet, add 2 1/2 tablespoons of the oil, heat until very hot, and add the chicken. Cook over high heat until the chicken cubes become opaque and are cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. Wipe out the pan.
  3. Reheat the pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, heat, and add the Seasonings. Stir-fry briefly, about 15 seconds, then add the water chestnuts, and stir-fry over high heat for about 1 1/2 minutes to heat them through. Add the premixed Sauce, and cook, stirring continuously to prevent lumps, until thickened. Return the cooked chicken and add the cashews. Toss lightly to coat and heat through. Scoop everything onto a platter. Serve with a vegetable and steamed rice.

© Copyright Nina Simonds Spices of Life 2008

Chili Oil Dressing

Making A Flavored Dressing

3 to 4 small, dried red Thai chilies (if dried, reconstitute in hot water for 15 minutes.) or ½ teaspoon crushed, dried chili flakes
4 cloves garlic, skins removed and minced
¼ cup virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil
½ cup clear rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce

  1. To prepare the Chile Dressing, trim the ends and stems from the chilies, remove the seeds, and coarsely chop by hand.
  2. Mix together the olive oil and the toasted sesame oil in a saucepan and heat until very hot, about 400 degrees. Carefully add in the hot chilies, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Uncover and drop in the minced garlic, cover and let sit until warm. Pour in the rice vinegar, soy sauce, stir, and taste for seasoning, adjusting if necessary.

© Copyright Nina Simonds Spices of Life 2008

Disclaimer: Herbs, foods, and other natural remedies are not substitutes for professional medical care.
For a specific health problem, consult a qualified health-care giver for guidance.