Tag Archives: fish sauce

Paleo Meatballs, Asian-Style

Paleo Meatballs, Asian-Style | stupideasypaleo.comPaleo meatballs, Asian-style! These are super easy, have just five ingredients and are Whole30-friendly. Feel free to dress these up with your favorite dipping sauce or serve alongside a salad—like my Green Papaya Salad—for a complete meal. To feed a really hungry crowd or for leftovers throughout the week, double or triple the batch.

Ingredients for Paleo Meatballs, Asian-Style

Directions for Paleo Meatballs, Asian-Style

  1. Combine the pork, green onions, coconut aminos, sesame oil and fish sauce in a medium bowl. Mix until everything is combined but not over-mixed because that will make the meat tough.
  2. Rolls the meat into balls. I used roughly a heaping Tablespoon of meat per ball. Before cooking all the meat, I like to heat a tiny amount and check for flavor. If it needs more salt, add sea salt to suit your tastes before you proceed.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil. Add the meatballs in a single layer, being careful not to crowd them. Brown on all sides. Repeat with the remainder of the batch. Hint: If your balls are bigger (no jokes please!), you may want to quickly brown the outsides, then place them on a foil-lined baking sheet in a 350°F (175°C) oven for approximately 10 minutes to cook the insides through.
  4. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce!

Change It Up

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Umami Mayo

DSC_0808 Umami basically describes the savory taste present in foods like soy sauce (ick), mushrooms and even some veggies. This recipe is very simple to make: start with a batch of fresh olive oil mayo and then season it with coconut aminos and fish sauce to give it that umami flavor. Nice!

I follow Melissa Joulwan’s basic olive oil mayo recipe because well, she rules and so does her mayo recipe. You can find it here: The Secret to Homemade Mayo? Patience.

Prep time: 5 min     Wait time:  30-60 min    Makes: 1/4 cup

Ingredients for 1/4 cup of Umami Mayo:

Directions:

  1. Stir the plain olive oil mayo, coconut aminos and fish sauce together in a small bowl. Will keep in the fridge until the expiration date of the egg you used to make your mayo.
  2. Goes well with burgers, my Paleo Banh Mi Sliders or Paleo Fresh Spring Rolls.

Crock Pot Caribbean Oxtails

IMG_4063What the heck is oxtail? Most of what we – and by we I mean Americans – call oxtail is actually tail sections from a cow. It contains a center bone and can be a bit fatty, but when cooked low and slow, the meat becomes super tender. Sounds like a perfect job for the crock pot though you could certainly braise these on the stove top instead.

Have I told you how much crock pots rule? Yes, I have, but it bears repeating: if you are strapped for time and think you don’t have the chance to cook,  a slow cooker is probably the single best use of $30-40 that I can think of. It’s the ultimate in lazy smart cooking because once the food goes in, you literally have to do nothing but wait. Win!

When I researched Caribbean recipes for oxtail, most of them had Paleo-unfriendly ingredients like flour or sugar. Ick. Instead, I’ve given you all the amazing flavor without any unsavory additions. This would be super tasty served over cauliflower rice. For an even *faster* version, eliminate steps 2-4 and just throw everything into the crock pot together. I think the extra couple minutes it takes to brown the meat is well worth it though.

If you can’t find oxtail, you could substitute stew meat instead.

Prep time: 15 min     Cook time: 6 hours    Makes: 2 lb of meat plus veggies

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb (1 kg) beef oxtails
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced (optional)
  • 2 cups beef stock, homemade or organic is best
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon allspice berries (or 1 teaspoon ground allspice)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (I like Red Boat Fish Sauce)
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • Coconut oil or fat of choice
  • Sea salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Prepare all the veggies: dice the onions and carrots. Mince the garlic and ginger. If using jalapeño pepper, you can remove some or all of the seeds and mince. If you like it spicy, you can keep the seeds or even add a hotter pepper such as habanero (Scotch bonnet).
  2. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add a spoonful of coconut oil. Sprinkle the oxtails with salt and pepper. Brown them on all sides, and place them in the crock pot. 
  3. In the same skillet, add the onion, carrot, garlic, ginger and jalapeño. Cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add the beef stock, tomato paste, allspice berries, fish sauce and thyme. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up all the browned bits from the oxtail. If you want to get fancy, this is called deglazing the pan and the bits are called fond. Fun with cooking!
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the contents into the crockpot to cover the oxtail.
  6. Cook on high for 6 hours.

Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha)

Thai Coconut Soup - Tom Kha | stupideasypaleo.comThai Coconut Soup is one of my favorite Asian dishes.

Usually I have recipe writer’s block. The harder I try to think of something to make, the more I can’t. It’s those times when I buy random ingredients and get home to my pantry and fridge that inspiration strikes. What the heck?! My local market had wild-caught shrimp on sale, which I couldn’t resist, and when I got home I suddenly thought: tom kha! This is a common Thai soup that is really easy to make but has so many layers of complex flavor. Wha-bam! That’s the flavor hitting your tongue.

The only problem is that I didn’t have lemongrass or Thai chili paste that most of the recipes I looked at called for, so I thought…I’m going to solutionize (yes, that’s a made up word) this scenario. I omitted the lemongrass but doubled the lime juice and used sriracha instead of red chili paste. In 5 minutes – plus the time it took me to peel and devein the shrimp – I had a hot, yummy bowl of tom kha in my hands! It might not be 100% authentic but it is 1) easy, 2) fast and 3) a damn good recreation.

Prep time: 5 min     Cook time: 10 min    Makes: ~4 cups

Ingredients for Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha):

  • 14 ounces (420 ml) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups (475 ml) chicken stock
  • 1 pound (500 grams) shrimp or chicken breast
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha (or to make homemade, check this out)
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

Directions for Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha):

  1. Prepare the shrimp by peeling and deveining if not already done prior to purchase. If using chicken, clean the chicken of any connective tissue and cut into small chunks.
  2. In a pot over medium heat, combine the coconut milk, chicken stock and ginger. Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. Add the shrimp or chicken, mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce and sriracha. Simmer until the shrimp (less than 5 min) or the chicken (5-10 minutes) is cooked through.
  4. Top with fresh chopped cilantro for garnish.

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Paleo Banh Mi Sliders

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Banh Mi is basically a Vietnamese sandwich made with French bread and layers of amazing flavors: sweet, salty, tangy, umami (savory) and spicy. [Side note: “Whaaaat?! A Vietnamese sandwich with French bread?” Yes. A quick Google search of French Indochina will give you all the historical details]. Vegetables, meat and spices combine in harmony and sing on your palate. There are as many variations and ways to make banh mi as you can possibly imagine, even breakfast versions and those with more traditional fillings like Vietnamese cold cuts and (gasp!) head cheese. This recipe is a take on Banh Mi flavors.

Of course, as all good Paleophiles do, you’ve tossed all offending grains and grain products out of your life for good. Sandwiches in the traditional sense are long gone, unless you resort to making or buying Paleo bread – which is usually pretty disappointing, am I right? These Banh Mi Sliders are going to punch you in the face with so much flavor that you won’t even miss the bready platforms of yesteryear.

One of the key ingredients in these sliders is the homemade umami mayo. If you’ve never made it, I highly recommend you check out Melissa Joulwan’s recipe for mayo from her awesome book, Well Fed or her website (linked below). You can make the mayo and the pickled carrot and daikon ahead of time if you’re busy during the week; heck, make a big batch of sliders in advance – the recipe doubles nicely as well – and just assemble these tasty wee bites on demand.

Prep Time: 30 min     Cook Time: 10 min     Makes: ~15 sliders

For the pickled carrot and daikon:

  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • ½ cup julienned carrot
  • ½ cup julienned daikon radish
  • Salt
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the water, vinegar and honey. Heat on medium-high until boiling.
  2. Pour the hot liquid over the carrot and daikon radish in a heatproof bowl. Add salt to taste.
  3. Let the vegetables pickle for at least 30 minutes. You can make this the day ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator.

For the umami mayo:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp mustard powder
  • 1.25 cups light tasting olive oil
  • Coconut aminos (you’ll use 1.5 tsp for every ¼ cup mayo)
  1. Check out the directions for making homemade mayo here or watch the video here.
  2. Mix ¼ cup of the mayo with 1.5 tsp coconut aminos in a small bowl.

For the sliders:

  • 1 pound of lean ground pork
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger (or ⅛ tsp dried ginger)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (I like Red Boat)
  • ½ a jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and shape into sliders (mini-burgers).
  2. Pan fry or grill until completely cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.

To assemble the sliders:

  • 1 head of Boston (Bibb) or Romaine lettuce (Boston gives you a better cup to make the  sliders in)
  • Thinly sliced English cucumber
  • Thinly sliced jalapeno (optional)
  • Chili oil (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Umami mayo
  • Pickled carrot and daikon

In each lettuce leaf, place one slider and top with sliced cucumber, jalapeno, chili oil, cilantro, mayo and pickled carrot and daikon.

Paleo Noodle Bowl

noodles After a brief hiatus – traveling back to the States and returning to reality – I’m back with a tasty new recipe. This meal was inspired by 1) Patton Oswalt’s stand up comedy routine on KFC’s “eating my lunch in a single bowl”  and 2) every noodle dish that you miss when you eat Paleo. Zucchini noodles form the base of the bowl…wait, what’s that? No julienne peeler? Try kelp noodles, use a spiralizer or test your patience at julienne by hand instead (or honestly, just make the veggie / shrimp combo and eat that because it’s TASTY).

Almond butter, coconut aminos and fish sauce combine to make the creamy, umami-powered sauce in this comfort dish. For my friends living abroad: I just spent 3 weeks in the UK and realize that ingredients like coconut aminos are harder to find than Nessie or a prancing unicorn. You could substitute something like gluten-free tamari instead. Also, if shrimp isn’t your thing, substitute any cooked protein. The quantities listed below made about 6 cups of veggies + shrimp and another 2-3 cups of zucchini noodles.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium-sized zucchini
  • Sea salt
  • 1 lb (500 g) raw shrimp
  • 1/2 of a small green cabbage
  • 1/2 of a white onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 green onions
  • 4 oz. mushrooms (I used shiitake)
  • 1/2 cup snow peas, optional if you are strict Paleo…to me, they are almost entirely pod so I eat them
  • 1/4 cup smooth almond butter
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • Coconut oil
  • Cilantro for garnish, optional

Directions:

1. Make the zucchini noodles by using a julienne peeler or spiralizer. Put noodles into a strainer and sprinkle generously with salt. Let the noodles sit for at least 20 minutes until they soften and water drains out. [Science nerd alert: you've created a hypertonic environment with the salt which pulls water out of the plant cells via osmosis.] Rinse the noodles well and squeeze gently to remove the excess moisture. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, peel and devein the shrimp if needed.

3. Prep the veggies: slice all the veggies into pieces of roughly the same thickness.

4. In a large skillet over medium-high heat: add the coconut oil and when it’s hot, sauté all the veggies until softened but still a bit crisp, about 5 minutes.

5. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 2 minutes.

6. Add the almond butter, coconut aminos and fish sauce to the pan. Stir until the almond butter is well incorporated.

7. Plate the zucchini noodles on the bottom (I like them uncooked but you could heat them through) and the shrimp / veggies on top. Garnish with cilantro.

8. Delight in the fact that you’re eating your lunch from a single bowl. Yeah!

Easy Chicken Stir Fry

chicken stirfry Some of my favorite meals are things I just throw together with the ingredients I have on hand. This recipe’s inspiration came from Nom Nom Paleo: a quick stir fry with lots of veggies and big bold flavors. The secret to winning big in the kitchen is to have some key items on hand at all times: aromatics like garlic, ginger and onions; flavorings such as vinegars, coconut aminos and fish sauce; canned pantry items like coconut milk, sardines, salmon and crushed tomatoes. With basics like this in your pantry plus a good selection of herbs and spices, it’s easy to make something tasty and not boring. Can we stop doing boring food? Agreed? Agreed.

Ingredients:

  • Coconut oil or fat of choice
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 6 oz. (170 g) bok choy, chopped
  • 4 oz. (120 g) shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (120mL) chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • Leftover chicken, pulled from the bone (any protein would work)

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Directions:

1. Prepare veggies (slice onions and mushrooms, chop bok choy and finely chop ginger and garlic).

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-low and add a spoonful of your fat of choice. Sweat onions until translucent and soft, about 10 minutes. Adding a sprinkle of salt will help in this process (draws out the moisture because of hypertonicity…it’s science, yo).

3. Turn up the heat to medium-high. Add garlic and ginger and cook for about 30 seconds. It should start to smell amazing in your kitchen.

4. Add the mushrooms and sautee until softened, about 4-5 minutes.

5. Then, add the bok choy, broth, vinegar, coconut aminos and fish sauce. Heat until the bok choy softens and cooks down, just a few minutes.

6. Add the chicken and heat through.

7. Devour.

Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad | stupideasypaleo.com

I fell in love with Green Papaya Salad on my trip to Bali in 2011. We took a side trip to Nusa Lembongan, a tiny island off the coast of Bali and spent a couple days snorkeling and enjoying maximum relaxation time. While there, we dined outside at a Thai restaurant and I had my first taste of this dish…flavors of savory, spicy, sour and a little sweet all duked it out on my tongue.

Ever since then, I’ve wanted to make Green Papaya Salad (or som tam as it’s called in Thai) myself and make it Paleo-friendly. I’ll admit, this recipe may fit under the “special” category because you may have to do a little searching outside a conventional grocery store to find some of the ingredients, but any Asian food market should have these basic ingredients. Our local health food market actually has everything you’d need except the fish sauce and dried shrimp!

Most of the recipes I searched on-line use peanuts, bean sprouts and sugar to develop the complex flavor profile of som tam. With a few swaps, I figured out a couple ingredients that did the trick. I substituted cucumber for the bean sprouts (similar in color and texture) and roasted unsalted cashews for the peanuts.

Ingredients for the Green Papaya Salad:

  • 1 medium-sized green papaya, about 4 cups shredded
  • 1/2 a cucumber
  • 2 generous handfuls of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 green onions
  • 12 green beans
  • 1 or 2 Thai red chili peppers*
  • 1/2 cup Thai basil leaves, washed and packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 2 Tablespoons dried shrimp, optional
  • Cashews and cilantro for garnish

Directions for the Green Papaya Salad:

1. Peel the papaya with a sharp knife. Julienne the flesh using a julienne peeler (as I did) or use a box grater to achieve a similar effect.

2. Prep the remaining veggies:

  • Peel and slice the cucumber lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and slice flesh into match-stick sized pieces.
  • Quarter the cherry tomatoes.
  • Slice the green onion into match-stick sized pieces (discard upper dark green parts).
  • Slice the green beans on the bias (diagonal) into long pieces.
  • *Mince the Thai chilis. CAUTION: Thai chili peppers, though tiny is size, pack a whallop of heat. Take care not to touch your eyes, etc when prepping them. I scooped out all the seeds prior to mincing and it was still a medium-spicy. I recommend starting with ONE and upping to two or three if it’s not hot enough for you.
  • Roughly chop the basil leaves. Add all veggies and papaya to a large mixing bowl.

3. Juice the limes and pour over the veggies. Hint: Roll your limes on the counter prior to squeezing to help release the juice.

4. Add fish sauce, coconut aminos and (optional) a drizzle of honey.

5. If you prefer, add the dried shrimp and then let sit for 30 min for all the flavors to meld. Garnish with chopped cashews and cilantro prior to serving. Serve straight up or as a delicious side dish to grilled chicken or fish.

Enjoy the taste-circus that’s about to happen in your mouth!

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Green Papaya Salad | stupideasypaleo.com

Homemade Sriracha

Sometimes the CSA box is full of, well, random veggies in such quantities that it’s hard to know what to do with them. Last week, the box came with a half-pound of hot peppers. I remembered a few weeks ago that Suzie’s Farm had posted up a recipe for sriracha on their blog and decided to give it a try.

In essence, the sriracha (or rooster sauce if you prefer that more PG moniker) is nothing more than hot chilies cooked with a few spices and blended. Although Suzie’s recipe was pretty good, it wasn’t paleo (fish sauce has sugar and rice vinegar is questionable for people going strict…honestly though, use whatever fish sauce and vinegar you’d like). This version reflects a few changes I made. I halved the recipe based on the number of peppers I received, but I’ll give you the full-size version here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound hot pepper mix (the box had mostly red, purple and green…as for specific varieties, I recognized some red jalapeños)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar or rice vinegar
  • Water, as needed

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Directions:

1. Cut the tops off the chilies and chop them coarsely. The more of the seeds and white membranes you remove, the less spicy it will be.

2. Combine chilies, garlic, salt, fish sauce, white vinegar and approx. 1/4 cup water in a saucepan.

3. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

4. Add the mixture to the food pro or Vitamix, blending and adding water if necessary to thin the mixture a bit. Total processing time will be a couple minutes.

5. If a smooth consistency is desired, put puree through a sieve and discard seeds.

6. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes about 1.5 cups.