by Kate Heyhoe
The Vietnamese have a knack for bringing out the natural flavors of foods by combining them with fresh herbs, greens and vegetables. They make a popular condiment known as Spring Onion Oil (spring onions being green onions or scallions in the western world), made by flash-frying the chopped onions, deeply infusing the frying oil with toasty, aromatic fresh flavors and irresistible browned bits.
I have devised a zillion applications for this intriguing condiment—from salads to soups to seafood. Being so simple, it fits into just about any menu plan, heightening flavors of other foods without obscuring them.
For this week's Portable Thanksgiving Side Dish, I've prepared an Asian Vegetable Medley with Spring Onion Oil, an easy dish that fits in perfectly with the traditional Thanksgiving spread. It tastes best served at room temperature, so there's no need to reheat it and can go directly to table—something your host will appreciate.
Rinse and dry the green onions well. Cutting across, trim away the root ends, then chop the green onions from the tip to the end of the green stalks.
Heat the oil in a small saucepan on high until very hot. Very carefully, add the green onions and salt. Caution: the oil will splatter vigorously as soon as the green onions hit; a splatter guard or lid quickly placed on top will help reduce splattering, which stops in the first few seconds. Fry the onions until they become crisp and the edges brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the green onions continue to cook in the hot oil so that they become golden to dark brown. Use in Vegetable Melange or as a condiment for salads, pastas, sandwiches and cooked meats and vegetables. Note: You can make this recipe in larger quantities to keep on hand. Store refrigerated in a glass jar.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place several spoonfuls of the Spring Onion Oil (with the browned onion bits) in a mixing bowl or casserole large enough to hold the vegetable mixture.
While the water boils, cut the vegetables into large to bite-size pieces, starting with the potatoes. You'll be cooking each vegetable separately in the same water, so you want to start with the mildest vegetables and leave the broccoli and strong tasting ones for last. To save time, cut one vegetable as another cooks. Cut red potatoes in half (or quarters if large), carrots into 1-inch lengths, broccoli and cauliflower into florets, and bell pepper into 1 to 1-1/2 inch chunks.
When the water boils, dissolve 2 teaspoons salt in it. Cook the potatoes until tender and able to be pierced by a fork (about 15 to 20 minutes). Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, lift the potatoes from the water, drain over the pot briefly, then place in the bowl with the Spring Onion Oil. Toss the hot potatoes to coat.
Repeat the process with the other vegetables but unlike the potatoes, you want to barely blanch the other vegetables, so they are tender but pleasantly crisp and crunchy. Make sure the water is boiling when adding them in separate batches. Carrots take 5-8 minutes to cook, bell peppers take about 30 seconds, broccoli and cauliflower about 1 minute, depending on the size of the pieces. Toss each vegetable in the bowl with the Spring Onion Oil while still hot. If the mixture seems dry, add more oil and browned green onions as desired.
Serve the mixture at room temperature, adding salt and pepper to taste before serving.
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Copyright © 1998, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created 1998. Modified November 2006.
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