Fried Mexican-style Cheesy Rice Balls

1556848_10151858226907055_823020771_oRice is a staple in our household. But, what do you do with leftover rice. Most of the time, I prepare fried rice, But there are times when I want to make something a little different. Fried rice balls is that something different. The thing with fried rice balls, just like fried rice, there are several ways you can prepare. I usually make whatever is on hand. This time, it was ground beef, cheese and diced chiles. Thus, Mexican-style rice balls. They are a bit labor intensive, but worth the fuss. I eat them almost immediately, while the rice balls are still warm. That way, you get the crunchy from bread crumbs, softness and flavor from the rice and the extra bite from melted cheese. Definitely an appetizer dish, but eat enough of them, you’ll be too full for the main course.

4 cups cooked rice
5 eggs
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon chipolte powder
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup diced green chiles
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
24 1/2 inch cubes of cheddar cheese
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Canola oil
salsa or hot sauce

In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, grated cheese, 2 eggs and seasonings. Set aside. In a frying pan, brown ground beef. Add onions and diced chiles. Add garlic and ground cumin. Drain excess oil from mixture and add to rice. Stir well to combine and chill for 1 to 2 hours. Set up breading station: Flour in a bowl, whisk the remaining 3 eggs in a separate bowl. Bread crumbs in another bowl. Preheat canola oil in a small pot, so it comes up at least 3 inches on the side. Heat to medium/high heat. While the oil is getting hot prepare the rice balls. Take about 1/4 cup of rice mixture in the palm of your hand and make an indentation with your thumb. Take a 1-inch piece of cheese and place it in hole. Form the rice around the cheese, pressing in place. Form the rest of the rice balls and transfer onto plate. When ready, line a clean plate with paper towels, set near frying station. Dip the rice ball into flour, then egg, then carefully roll in bread crumbs. Using a metal, slotted spoon, carefully drop into hot oil. Fry for 2 to 5 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. When adding the rice balls to the oil, try to shake off excess bread crumbs from spoon. Transfer fried rice balls to plate lined with paper towels. Serve with salsa or hot sauce.


Yum Woon Sen

1604150_10151860343717055_2090701003_oIn many Thai restaurants, you’ll find Yum Woon Sen listed as a salad or an appetizer. I prefer to eat this sweet and sour noodle dish as a main course. When I used to order or make Thai food, I stuck to what I know: Pad Thai or Pad See Eu — or my favorite curry dish. My sister-in-law helped broaden my knowledge about more savory Thai cuisine. My sister-in-law first introduced me to this dish. Yum Woon See is made with glass noodles and chili and lime dressing. Simple ingredients, yet so savory mixed together. Born and raised in Thailand, my sister-in-law immigrated to the United States when she married my brother. At first, she thought she would not find the many scrumpious food dishes that are native to Thailand. Then, she found markets that sold the many spices and ingredients to cook Thai cuisine. Every time she would travel back to Thailand, my sister-in-law would have her grandmother show her how to prepare more Thai dishes. My sister-in-law uses basic ingredients such as limes, cilantro, onions and sugar to turn dishes into savory sweet, tangy and spicy meals. I always look forward to discovering and learning to prepare more wonderful Thai dishes.

1 2 oz. bundle glass noodles
2 tablespoons oil
1 boneless chicken breast, sliced
1 cup shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/4 lb. squid, cleaned and cut in 1″ strips
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1-2 limes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 Thai chili pepper, chopped or 1-3 teaspoons dried chili peppers (to taste)
1 tablespoon fried chopped garlic
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
5-6 sprigs cilantro, chopped
1 cup chinese broccoli, sliced thin

Prepare glass noodles by placing the noodles in a heat-resistant bowl and pouring boiling hot water over the noodles. Let soak for 6 to 10 minutes. Move the noodles around to make sure that all the strands are submerged. Strain the noodles. Pour the noodles into a large mixing bowl and cut them with scissors randomly to make the strands easier to serve and eat. In a wok or frying pan, heat oil. Add chicken and cook until browned. Add shrimp and squid. Cook until shrimp turns pink, careful to not overcook squid. When the chicken, shrimp and squid are cooked, remove from heat and set aside. Prepare dressing. The dressing is all about personal tastes. This dressing can be made as mild as you want or as hot as you want — depending on your chili pepper usage — and as sour as you want depending on how much lime juice you use. Begin by squeezing limes to get lime juice. For one lime, I get about 3 tablespoons of juice. For every tablespoon of fish sauce, I use about 5 tablespoons of lime juice. Mix the fish sauce, lime juice, chili peppers and sugar together well. Adjust ingredients for taste. Add fried garlic to the noodles and mix them. Add dressing to the noodles and mix well. Add the peanuts, shrimp, chicken, squid, onion, Chinese broccoli and cilantro to the noodles. Toss well and taste. You may need more dressing depending on water content of the noodles and the concentrations of your seasonings. The noodles should be soft (not mushy) and full of flavors (spicy and sour). Serve as an appetizer or main course.

Cajun-style Fried Fish

1482893_10151796155947055_750933663_oFish has always been a staple at our house. My mother prepared fish all sorts of ways: baked, steamed, in soups, grilled and even broiled. I liked it best when my mom would deep fry the fish. Most of the time, my mother would take and deep fry the whole fish. Sometimes, she would cuts the fish into steaks and fry them up. Very rarely did she fillet the fish and fry them up like “fish and chips.” It wasn’t until my brother started fishing and filleting the fish. By then, it was my brother who was doing the frying. He liked to coat the fish cajun or “louisiana” style. The fish always came out tender — and with a kick. Here’s my version. If I’m using fish fillets that I bought at the market or fillets that have been frozen, I like to start out by soaking the fish fillets in milk. It gets rid of the fishy odor that you may get when you fry. I also use Panko to make the fillets crispy.

2 pounds fish fillets, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground mustard
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1/2 cup Panko
2 cups oil for frying or as needed

Soak the fish pieces in milk for at least 20 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and hot pepper sauce. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, pepper, mustard and Cajun seasoning. Dip fish pieces into the dry mixture, then into the egg, then back into the Panko. Set aside. When all the fish is coated, place fish in the refrigerator and chill for about 15 minutes. Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Fry fish pieces for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Drain the fish on paper towels and serve with hot sauce or tartar sauce.