Tasting Asia in Raw Veggies

When last we spoke, I mentioned that I had gotten in a bit of a food rut – cooking the same things over and over.  Even if you like those dishes, few dishes can stand up to top 10 airplay for very long.  I tried to goose up my creativity and inspiration by checking out a few cookbooks from the library.

Last week I introduced you to The Cleaner Plate Club: Raising Healthy Eaters One Meal at a Time, a great book for those making the transition away from processed food, and for anyone who’s trying to cook for and convince others (especially those of the junior sized variety) to do the same.  Today, I want to re-introduce you to Ani Phyo, raw chef. This is admittedly my third time checking out Ms. Phyo’s book from the library; I have now reached the buy it for sure phase of our relationship. This visit with her book Ani’s Raw Food Asia: Easy East-West Fusion Recipes the Raw Food Way has sealed the deal.

We absolutely love Asian food profiles around here. Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, it’s all good as far as we’re concerned.  Since this category of food tends to be a winner for us, it’s a good place to experiment more, to find a little joy just outside the edges of the familiar by using raw vegetables rather than stir frying them for an Asian inspired meal. Ani Phyo’s book provided fabulous guidance, and is packed with absolutely luscious food photography, if that kind of thing works for you (which it does for me).

IMG_0187I quickly assembled some ingredients and put some brown jasmine rice into the rice cooker and got to chopping. Lovely thing about marinated raw veggies? Once you’re done chopping, you’re really quite nearly done. And so with about 10 minutes of effort and then a wait (during which I did all manner of other stuff) on my part, we had a lovely and extremely nutritious delish Asian feast that I would happily make over and over and over again.

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What did we have? We had a couple of namuls. A namul is essentially a marinated raw vegetable dish that, in Korea, is traditionally served along with rice.  We chose a spinach namul, a mushroom namul, and I topped them off with some quick pickled carrots and green beans. Namuls usually contain copious raw veggies and sesame oil, some form of soy sauce, and some seasonings. The key with a namul is to let it sit long enough to let the veggies get tender. Specific measurements for a spinach namul are here.

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I wouldn’t necessarily have expected to be so happy with a less than piping hot meal during these days of unrelenting cold, but truthfully there was something kind of hopeful about eating all those great slightly crisp and flavorful veggies. Spring will come again. For now, let’s have some great and tasty raw veg.

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