Monday, February 15, 2010

Asian Nachos

Adapted from the Grand Luxe Cafe on the Mag Mile in Chicago, courtesy of my brother.

I wasn't going to post this but Gwen talked me into it. It's just that I'm not following a recipe so much as using recipes I have on hand already and then using proper nacho preparation technique (courtesy of Cooks Illus.). And Asian nachos are exactly what they sound like: nachos with Asian flair. And had we actually been competing at this year's Super Bowl Top Chef party, I dare say I would have been a top contender with these. Take that Bobby Flay and your nacho dogs! Note that I've made these with tofu but they are commonly served with chicken or pork. Here's how it goes:

Ingredients:
1/2 pkg of square won ton skins, cut in half on the diagonal
1/2 medium red pepper, minced
1/2 medium yellow or orange pepper, minced
1/2 medium carrot, minced
3 scallions, finely sliced
1 T chopped cilantro
1/2 pkg extra firm tofu, cut in half lengthwise, pressed and marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin and sriracha (I did this the day before)
1.5 C fontina cheese, grated
1 C peanut sauce of your choice (I make my own using a little of this-a and little of that-a)
3 T toasted peanuts, chopped
wasabi cream (directions to follow)

Here's the thing: you must fry the won tons. I tried other methods of baking and pan frying with just a smidge of oil and they are just not the same. Besides, you aren't going to eat this sort of thing every day.

Heat a half gallon of a neutral-tasting oil or Crisco (my brother recommends peanut oil but I used Crisco since that's what I had) in a large dutch oven and bring to 360 degrees. Temperature is important in frying because if the temp is too low, the won tons will absorb lots of oil leaving you with greasy nachos. Prepare a baking sheet with paper towels or newspaper and lay a cooling rack on top; place next to stove top.

Place just enough won ton skins in the pot to permit turning of the skins--don't crowd the pot. Watch closely and do not allow to burn. Fry skins until lightly browned and then remove to waiting baking sheet. You'll end up with more than enough nachos which is good in case some of them break along the way.

In a saute pan over medium heat, pour in a tsp of sesame oil and add both halves of tofu. Brown on one side then turn over. When both sides are sufficiently browned, set aside on a cutting board until cool enough to handle. Once cooled, slice into strips or cut into small cubes. Prepare your peanut sauce at this time and toast and chop peanuts for garnish.

Once you're ready to serve, turn on your broiler. Arrange a layer of nachos on an oven-safe platter. Pour over some peanut sauce and sprinkle on some tofu. Sprinkle over some peppers, scallions and carrots and top with some cheese. Add a second layer of nachos and repeat layering of ingredients. Top with a final layer of cheese and pop under the broiler until cheese is melted and everything is warmed through.

Garnish with remaining vegetables, cilantro and chopped peanuts. Dollop on some wasabi cream, serve and enjoy.

*Wasabi cream is made by mixing 2 t wasabi paste, 1/3 cup sour cream, 1 T mayonnaise and 1 T fresh lime juice. Adjust flavor with further addition of wasabi paste or sour cream until desired heat level is reached.

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