Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tempura Pancakes

There are some things that can make you very excited when you have a wheat allergy.

Like The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen by Laura B. Russell.  It came out in August.

But doesn't all Asian food stay away from wheat?

No.  Wheat is usually an ingredient in soy sauce and although there is evidence that naturally-brewed soy sauce has no gluten by the time it reaches the end product (a lot of times, fermentation de-natures proteins like gluten), it may still depend on the brand of soy sauce. And when you know soy sauce may cause you problems, that makes a take-out Asian kitchen a pretty scary place.

I've had Chinese food three times since going wheat-free.  Once, they did not pay attention to my "no soy sauce" instruction on some take out (it was a place mid-way between my own home and where I eventually brought the food) and I had an allergic reaction either from that or something else (it was early on in this process).  Another time (the same place) they did listen to my order, and I either had an allergy attack or a panic attack of minor symptoms.  The last time, it was from a place in Wheeling, Illinois (halfway between my work and my home) called the Golden Chef where the wife of the chef is actually a nutritionist so they are pretty "up" on their stuff about food, and they actually have a gluten-free menu.  That experience was great.

It's not just the obvious "don't use soy sauce when making my dish".  Everything is fried in oil that is also used for wheat products, a lot of other sauces use wheat or soy sauce in some form, and a lot of places will have meats marinating in some form of soy-sauce-based marinade before it even makes it to a wok.  Too many possibilities for error for a lot of people to be comfortable with.

I was very, very excited when I heard this book was coming out.  And it has a picture of pot stickers on the cover.  Pot stickers are one of those things that I miss the most.

I do still cook Asian food in my own home.  A basic stir-fry with tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) is not hard to do.  Serve over plain steamed rice.  Ho hum.

This book has a few sections - Sauces, snacks, dumplings and pancakes, noodles, rice, veggies & tofu, seafood, poultry, meat, and drinks & sweets.  I made it as far as the pancakes before I was already changing around menu plans for the week to try the Shrimp Tempura Pancakes.

I love tempura.  But I will be the first to admit, it is a lot of work.  Gotta bring a few inches of oil to a boil, a lot of cleaning/chopping veg, dip, fry, drip, fry, and so on.

But apparently Thai people do it differently and treat it a bit more like a fritter.  In other words... mix up a batter, dump in your ingredients, and cook it more like pancakes.  I'm all for that.

The recipe in the book (yeah... you're going to have to buy it if you want it, sorry!) uses just shrimp and shredded sweet potato.  One of my favorites in tempura is broccoli, so I added about a half a head (and a leftover half stalk) of chopped broccoli in addition to some shrimp and the shredded sweet potato.  I did my shredding in a my Cuisinart - by all means, buy a bag of broccoli slaw if you are too lazy to grate all that and don't have a machine that does it for you.  Shredded carrot would also work well.

The batter is just rice flour, cornstarch, egg and soda water.  You mix that with the chopped shrimp and veggies.  I cooked mine in a skillet with a layer of oil at the bottom (I probably could have even used less oil than I did).  Flip carefully when they are golden on one side and continue to cook.  I served mine with some soy/rice vinegar/Sriracha dipping sauce.  And the only reason I stopped eating was to upload the photos and write this (one more pancake may disappear before the leftovers make it into the fridge).

That is shrimp, sweet potato, broccoli and green onion all in a tasty little cake.  And it is very, very tasty.

And also... being gluten-free... I do not feel bad eating something that is fried in my own home.  Fried food at most places (even french fries) is a no-no since they also cook wheat things in the same oil. I can't decide I want some french fries and pull into the nearest drive-thru.  I can't go "I feel like a doughnut this morning" and stop and pick one up. If I want something fried, I have to plan ahead an usually make it myself.

Next recipe for my to try in this book is the salt & pepper squid.  It has been one of those things I always wanted to try.... and now if I want to try it, I'll have to make it myself.  It may even get cooked for some "first afternoon of watching football" munchies this weekend.

1 comment:

Shu Han said...

try tamari, it's a wheat-free soy sauce. you can definitely do gluten-free on an asian diet quite easily, stay away from the obvious wheat noodles and try rice noodles instead, they're also so much more fun and come in many shapes! (: