Vermicelli Salad with Green Coconut Dressing

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Today was wonderful. I cooked and ate all day. I found Burrata (!) at my farmer’s market, which was definitely a highlight. I ate some home-grown white asparagus, from my cleaning lady’s garden, baked a pie, and ate this fabulous salad for dinner. The whole of May up until a few days ago have been so stressful. I had so much work, which doesn’t get easier even if you have one or two free day(s) a week, and if you commute half the time to a city that is 100km away. Anyways, the weather finally turned warm this week, and I was home all day today, planned to do absolutely nothing. The farmer’s market in Leipzig was bursting with strawberries, white asparagus, cherries, and other early summer goodies. I bought a bunch of mint, coriander, and thai basil a few days ago. I have… ehem… thrown out more than a few shares of leftover herbs in my life. I would buy these three herbs mentioned above for a vietnamese or thai feast, then forget about them, and find them in inedible state a week later in my crisper box. Yeah… It’s not something I’m proud of. So today, I have decided to use up all the leftover herbs for a scrumptious bowl of summer salad. A very large handful of these herbs went in a small food processor with coconut milk, lime juice, green chili, ginger, spring onion and etc. You can use any kind of vegetables to you liking, and thin rice noodles would also work in place of vermicelli.

Vermicelli Salad with Green Coconut Dressing

Serves two

For the dressing,

1 large spring onion, sliced finely

1 thumbnail sized ginger, chopped finely

2 cloves garlic

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

A very large handful mixture of coriander, thai basil, and mint leaves

Juice of 1/2 lime

3.5 Tbsp coconut milk

2-3 dashes fish sauce

1-2 tsp soy sauce

1/2-1 medium hot green chili

1. To make the dressing, sautee sliced spring onion, ginger, and garlic with oil over medium-high heat. Once they start to soften, transfer to a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth. Adjust the acidity and seasoning to your likings.

For the salad, (like I said, this is only an example. Add anything you like to the salad bowl)

50g vermicelli, soaked according to package instruction

Lettuce leaves

Handful radishes and greens, sliced and chopped finely

Cucumber, finely sliced

Zucchini, julienned

Avocado, broken into small chunks

Enoki mushrooms

Creamy Amaranth Porridge with Asparagus, Herbs, and Poached Egg

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Spring is finally here!

Today, I bought my first bunch of green asparagus of the year. For me, this marks the beginning of a new season. Some might tell me I have been “germanized”, but I quite like the enthusiastic welcoming of some seasonal vegetables here. I love to eat oatmeal, or porridge in the morning, flecked with some fresh or dried fruit, and a drizzle of maple syrup. But, this one I just made is a whole different game. The main grain used is amaranth, with some oats in the back ground. I used some typical south-east Asian ingredients, such fragrant lemongrass, keffir lime leaves, and a good amount of coconut milk to give this savory porridge a creamy consistency.

Amaranth is a nutritional powerhouse. It is high in protein, calcium, magnesium, fiber and potassium, and has been grown since the Aztec era, although sadly the Spaniards have eliminated it when they invaded the new world. It is luckily making a come back. It has similar nutritional values as quinoa, but at half the cost.

Make this delicious porridge for lazy brunch on a sunny spring weekend. You will really spoil yourself and your loved ones. Cheers!

Creamy Amaranth Porridge with Asparagus, herbs, and Poached Egg

*Note: Kefir lime leaves can be found in frozen section at any asian supermarkets. Lemongrass can be found either fresh, or frozen. If you can’t find edamame, use frozen peas instead. If using peas, add them to the porridge with the asparagus.

Serves 2-3

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 thumbnail sized ginger, peeled, and finely chopped
1 lemongrass, tender inner part, finely chopped
4 keffir lime leaves
5 coriander stalks, finely chopped
100g amaranth, washed and drained
40g rolled oats
440ml coconut milk
200ml water or vegetable stock
A handful edamame, shelled (substitute with peas, if unavailable. See recipe note*)
8 green asparagus, trimmed, and cut into bite sized pieces
5-6 ramp (wild garlic or bärlauch) leaves, finely chopped
Salt&pepper

To serve,
Coriander leaves
Lime wedges
Poached eggs
Sriracha hot sauce

1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander stalks, and lime leaves, and cook until soft.
2. Add the amaranth, oats, edamame, coconut milk, a good pinch of salt and water. Bring to a boil, put the lid on, and turn down the heat to medium-low.
3. After about 15 mins, add the asparagus and ramp leaves. Turn up the heat to medium. Stir constantly for about 5 until the asparagus and amaranth are tender, and has reached a porridge consistency. Remove the lime leaves. Check for seasoning. Add some freshly ground pepper.
4. Serve with coriander leaves, lime wedges, hot sauce, and poached eggs on top.

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