Ever since I can remember, my mom has always prepared chopped ingredients, ready to be cooked at a moment's notice. She would call me from work and walk me through the step-by-step process: "How to Make a Delicious Lunch" by Mom. I've always been fascinated by my mom's cooking, and inspired by her process. We could eat anywhere, and if there was a dish I loved, she could replicate it down to the garnish for my scrawny 7-year-old self to eat again. Mom could make anything: any cuisine, any sauce, any flavor--you name it, she could make it. There were never measuring devices or special tools, just chopsticks, a wooden spoon, and a Chinese butcher knife.
This month's Food & Wine shows off my mother's talent and shares some of her fun summer recipes--now offered to more people than just my friends. Enjoy!
Salt-and-Pepper Squid with Chinese Five-Spice Powder
TOTAL: 35 MIN
½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 large eggs
Cornstarch for dusting
1 pound cleaned squid – bodies cut into ½-inch rings, tentacles halved
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 scallions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced red onion
½ red jalapeño, seeded and minced
Lime wedges, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Set a large rack over a large rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine the five-spice powder with 1 teaspoon of salt.
- In a large saucepan, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 350°. In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs. Spread cornstarch in another shallow bowl. Working in four batches, dip the squid in the egg; squeeze out any excess egg. Dredge the squid in the cornstarch, shaking off any excess. Add the squid to the hot oil and fry until golden and crisp, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the squid to the rack. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining squid.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the scallions, garlic, onion and jalapeño and stir-fry over high heat until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the squid and stir-fry until just heated through. Sprinkle with the five-spice mixture. Transfer to a platter or shallow bowl and serve right away with lime wedges.
WINE: Bright, berry-scented sparkling rosé: Riondo Pink Prosecco Raboso.
Vegetable Summer Rolls with Chile-Lime Dipping Sauce
TOTAL: 45 MIN
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 small red chile, minced
4 ounces rice vermicelli
Twelve 5-inch round rice paper wrappers, plus extra in case of breakage
½ red bell pepper, cut into 24 strips
½ yellow bell pepper, cut into 24 strips
½ Hass avocado, cut into 12 strips
Half of a 4-inch length of seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into 12 strips
2 cups alfalfa sprouts (1 ounce)
6 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
- In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce with the lime juice, sugar, water and chile, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Stir in the vermicelli and cook until al dente, about 1 minute; drain and transfer to a bowl and let cool, tossing occasionally.
- Fill a shallow bowl with water. Working with 2 rice papers at a time, dip the papers in the water, shake off any excess, transfer to a work surface and let stand until softened, 30 seconds. Place a small handful of the vermicelli on the lower third of each rice paper. Top with two strips each of the red and yellow bell peppers, one strip each of avocado and cucumber and a big pinch of alfalfa sprouts. Garnish with a few strips of basil. Press to flatten the ingredients, then roll them up in the rice papers, folding in the sides as you go. Press to seal. Repeat with the remaining rice papers and fillings. When all the rolls are made, cut them in half on the diagonal and serve with the dipping sauce.
MAKE AHEAD: The sauce and rolls can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 4 hours.
food & wine