Side Dish Recipes

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Com Ga Hai Nam (Hainanese Chicken Rice) Recipe

Whenever I have chicken broth leftover from making bún măng gà, literally "bamboo and chicken rice noodle soup", I make chicken rice with it. The dish is called cơm gà Hải Nam; the yellow hue comes from the aromatic chicken broth (in place of water) made from Vietnamese chicken. What is a Vietnamese chicken, you ask? In Vietnam, the gà đi bộ chicken are considered "free-range"; the chickens are "trained" to run and as a result the meat has a totally different texture from the chicken found in American grocery stores. If you want to make a very authentic broth, the choice of chicken is crucial. You can find it at Asian markets; ask for a gà đi bộ, literally a walking chicken.

Traditionally, cơm gà Hải Nam is served with pieces of the boiled gà đi bộ chicken and rau thơm, which translates to fragrant herbs. The herb mixture is usually composed of rau răm (Vietnamese coriander), Vietnamese mint, Thai Basil, ngò (cilantro) and thinly sliced cabbage. Of course, the dish is seasoned with nước mắm (Vietnamese fish sauce), fresh red Thai chiles, pickled shallots and thinly shredded fresh ginger. The overall dish is light and absolutely delicious!


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Ratatouille Recipe

Ratatouille

01.21.10 by Jackie

For most, the name of this dish evokes dreams of animated rodents scurrying around a Parisian restaurant kitchen. In reality though, ratatouille is a French stewed vegetable dish from the seaside city of Nice. I make my version with zucchini (courgette in French), eggplant (aubergine), olives, capers, bell peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes.  With the exception of the tomatoes, everything is fresh. I prefer canned tomatoes in this dish because they tend to be sweeter (especially during the winter season).

Given the abundance of fresh vegetables, this dish would be perfect for the summer. In fact, I make it often when the vegetables in my garden ripen. I also like it in the winter though, because it's excellent comfort food. The flavor of the veggies marries wonderfully with the herbs and spices. My family always ends up fighting over the "broth" at the bottom of the bowl.

Ratatouille can be eaten with just about anything. Crusty bread and rice are common options, but my personal favorite delivery device is a savory crêpe. However it makes it to your mouth though, you'll be happy it did!


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Caramelized Fuyu Persimmons Recipe

Caramelized Fuyu Persimmons

12.13.09 by Jackie

Fuyu persimmons are a nice substitute for Granny Smith apples in side dishes. I love caramelizing persimmons and pairing them with roasted duck breast. I don't think a holiday dinner menu can get much more fancy or decadent. We've just had our first crop of Fuyu persimmons this season in our garden, and I decided to take full advantage.

In case you were wondering, there are 2 main varieties of persimmons, Fuyu and Hachiya. The difference is the texture. For this recipe make sure you use Fuyu persimmons, which have are hard, almost carrot-like texture.


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Saffron Cauliflower Gratin (Gratin de Chou Fleur au Safran) Recipe

Saffron is not a standard addition to cauliflower gratin, but I've seen it used at several upscale restaurants in Paris. Gratin de chou-fleur is a very common French dish, so the addition of saffron creates a new dimension of color and aroma.

As a child, I remember being served this side dish quite frequently during the winter. Cauliflower may not be considered by some as a comfort food, but when it's cooked in a béchamel sauce and smothered in mozzarella cheese, it will make even the most die-hard cauliflower haters reconsider their position.


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Fluffy Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes Recipe

When Lulu and I first got married, we invited Lulu's uncle and his family over for dinner. I made grilled steaks and pommes mousseline (mashed potatoes in French). Five years later they still talk about the meal, so here is the recipe for my garlic mashed potatoes just in time for Thanksgiving.

The secret to incredibly fluffy mashed potatoes is to use a combination of heavy cream, crème fraîche and butter. I know, it's not the healthiest mashed potato recipe, but once you try it, you'll never want to go back. For added flavor, I roasted a head of garlic and squeezed the contents into the dish, along with chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Try to resist. I dare you!


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