Innovative Gourmet Flavor Combinations

Welcome! I've always enjoyed unusual flavor combinations. I am committed to continuing this pleasure, while eating healthy. I hope this blog will allow me to share ideas for eating healthy without losing the excitement of innovative recipes.

I am a follower of the diet plan of Dr. Eric Berg, which in my case means gluten-free, alkaline, low-fat; my health and figure have improved vastly with this. This also fits with raw-food, vegetarian, and Weston Price (nutrient-dense), D'Adamo's Eat Right For Your Type, the Perricone Weightloss Diet, and the proportions follow Barry Sears's 40-30-30 Zone Diet. Organic, ecologic, and local-eating are also guiding principles. (Interesting how they all overlap.)

But looking around the Net, and in books, a lot of what's offered for "gluten-free" eating is versions of baked goods, and imitations of wheat dishes like pizza and burritos. You won't find that here. This site will present a complete re-thinking of how to be "gluten-free".

And followers of chef Michael Roberts and khymos, as well as lovers of Japanese creativeness (as in Iron Chef) should also find gourmet ideas here. The recipes will not just echo American cooking, but present new combinations.

Some of the reasons for this way of eating are: autism, perhaps aspergers, "celiac disease", obesity, perhaps cancer and who knows what else. You won't find the word "disease" used here though. As D'Adamo explains, a large part of the world's population (mostly with "O-blood type") never got the genes to adapt to eating the new foods of wheat, etc that came into the diet during the Neolithic. So don't call it a disease! We are actually an older human type. We're not sick; we just don't have that new-fangled adaption that some folks have. And looking into traditional diets shows that much of the world did not have wheat until very recently, and got along just fine. I know I'm eating quite well. I don't miss gluten at all.

Enough! Welcome to my kitchen . . .

Monday, June 8, 2009

Burmese Ginger Salad

I recently ate at Tachibana Japanese Restaurant and Nan Yang Burmese Restaurant, and it reminded me again how interesting both types of cuisine are.

When Nan Yang became the first restaurant in the Bay area (and possibly the United States) to serve Burmese food, in 1986, it sent a shock wave through the gourmet community. Burmese specialties are normally not even available in Burma, since they are cooked during only in the home or during festival seasons, when temporary booths serving these dishes are set up along the roads.

The ingredient combinations are unusual to western tastes, and very interesting, and the ingredients are very healthy!

(I can't promise this is exactly how Nan Yang creates their wonderful salad, but it seems to be close.)

Burmese Ginger Salad (Gin Dok, or Jin Thoke)

Makes 6 first-course servings.

3/4 cup yellow or green split peas

3/4 cup blanched (skinned) raw peanuts

3/4 cup slivered fresh ginger 

3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

3/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

2 Tb sesame seed

1/3 cup salad oil

2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1-1/2 Tb fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc nam) or soy sauce

1-1/2 cups finely shredded red or green cabbage

1 or 2 fresh jalapeno chilies, stemmed and thinly sliced crosswise

1/3 cup slivered onion

3 Tb small dried shrimp; whirl in a blender until powdered

2 limes or 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Place peas and peanuts in separate small bowls and cover with warm water; let stand at least 3 hours or up to overnight. Drain well and pat dry. 

Also, place ginger and vinegar in a small bowl, then cover and chill at least 2 hours or up to 2 days; drain and discard vinegar.

In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium heat, stir coconut often until golden, about 8 minutes; pour out and set aside.

Repeat with sesame seed, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add oil to pan. When oil is hot, add split peas and stir often until deep golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with peanuts, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add garlic to oil in pan and cook, stirring often, until golden, 1 to 3 minutes. Lift from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Let oil cool. Stir fish sauce into oil; set aside. (At this point, you can cover coconut, sesame, peas, peanuts, garlic, and oil mixture separately; store at room temperature up to 1 week.)

On a platter, arrange ginger, coconut, sesame, peas, peanuts, garlic, cabbage, chilies, onion, and shrimp in separate piles. At Nan Yang, this is beautifully done, with the cabbage in the center, and all the ingredients in a circle around that.

Pour oil mixture over salad, squeeze limes on top, and mix ingredients. 

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