jeudi 10 décembre 2009

Stir Fry Ravioli

We have our first guest blogger! My friend Tim Peters writes from Argentina on an unusual combination: cheese pasta and stir fry flavors.

Can cheese go with an east-Asian stir-fry?

I’m living in Argentina. One day I made a broccoli and beef stir-fry with rice. One of my roommates took a hunk of cheese out of the refrigerator and started grating it over his plate.

My culinary senses tingled. Grated cheese with rice? And with a soy/peanut/orange juice sauce?
My roommate grates a lot of cheese. His dad worked for a dairy company so there was always a lot of cheese in his house.

He offered to grate some on my stir-fry. I passed.

After I got used to him doing this, I thought…could it be so wrong? The reason there’s so little cheese in Chinese cuisine, for example, was the lack of space in which to raise dairy cows. That geographical necessity doesn’t imply a culinary necessity. And just because a regional cuisine starts off without an ingredient doesn’t mean it can’t mix it in and make it essential. Just look at that staple of Italian cooking, the tomato, which wasn’t even brought to Europe until the conquest of America.

So I thought…well, rice is a pretty neutral-flavored, starchy carb…just like potatoes or pasta, onto which we don’t hesitate to grate cheese.

As such, here’s a recipe I came up with that combines an east-Asian stir-fry sauce (along with some fried veggies) with Italian (Argentine, really) cheese raviolis:

Ricotta ravioli with a Thai stir-fry sauce


Here in Paraná, Argentina, I can go to the grocery store and buy pastas made that morning or the day before by a local company. A 500g box of raviolis costs four pesos, or about 1 USD! 500g of raviolis serves three people.

I use ricotta-stuffed raviolis. The other options, for us here, are vegetable or chicken. With ricotta the dish is vegetarian and fills you up pretty well. The ricotta’s got a very mild flavor and is a good base for the rich sauce.

2-3 tbsp soy sauce – Sad irony of Argentina: despite being one of the world’s largest soy producers, soy sauce and especially tofu are very hard to come by and expensive, and have no place in the local cuisine.

1 tbsp crushed peanuts

½ of an orange

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 large carrot

1 medium onion

1 medium red bell pepper

1 clove garlic

1-3 tbsp crushed red pepper (optional)

2-3 tbsp vegetable oil (or whatever oil you like to stir-fry with)

some smooth cheese for grating

I make the sauce while the water for the raviolis is heating up.

I chop up the onions, throw them into a couple tablespoons oil on medium/high heat, and throw some salt onto them. Next I chop up the garlic, finely, and throw that in. Next the carrots, which I slice into coins. Last comes the bell pepper. If you want some spice, throw in 1-3 tbsp of crushed red chili peppers.

I keep the heat the same and make sure to keep stirring. If you want the veggies crispier, don’t cook them so long. Don’t let them get limp and translucent.

For the sauce: put 2-3 tbsp soy sauce into a mixing bowl. Wash your hands and dip your finger in and get a feel for the flavor. Next I squeeze in some juice from the orange, tasting the sauce until it has a citrus flavor. Next, I mix in some of the crushed peanuts, stirring them in and tasting the sauce until I notice the peanut flavor. Next, mix in the 1 tbsp of corn starch, which when the sauce gets heated, while make it thick and sticky.

The raviolis cook in 2-3 minutes. Once they float to the top of the water, they’re ready. So, once I throw the raviolis in the water, then I mix the sauce into the stir-fry and stir it in. It thickens quickly. If the sauce starts bubbling I turn down the heat so it simmers until the raviolis are ready.

I strain the raviolis and then mix them into the stir-fry.

I grate some extra cheese on top before eating

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