July 9, 2012 at 1:04 PM ET
Cooking just got a whole lot easier for those intimidated by Asian cuisine. Have no idea what half the ingredients are, let alone where to get them and how to use them? No problem. We tried out cookbook author Farina Wong Kingsley’s new iPad application, called Farina’s Asian Pantry, which takes you on a culinary trip through China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia, and plants a solid road map of techniques, shopping tips, market locators, instructional cooking videos, and a glossary of ingredients.
“The whole idea is to make this easy for someone to prepare Asian food at home,” Kingsley, a San Francisco native, told TODAY.com.
The app is incredibly self-explanatory. Click on one of 65 recipe options, including appetizers, entrees and desserts, featuring gorgeous, mouthwatering photos. For those of who aren’t well versed in the art of Asian cooking, the ingredient list comes with definitions for some of the more unusual fare like palm sugar and Fresno chili, as well as common western substitutes you can use -- like dark brown sugar instead of palm sugar, and red serrano chilies in lieu of the Fresno variety.
Plus, the application gives you easy access to purchase any of Kingsley’s three helpful pantry kits, themed Japanese and Korean, Chinese and Southeast Asian. Save for fresh produce and meat, each package includes everything you need to make those regional dishes. The components in the kits prove authentic, often without any English on the packaging, and were tested and approved by Kingsley. For example, the Southeast Asian kit comes in a heavy box including Tiparos fish sauce, Vietnamese spring roll wrappers, hearty chunks of compressed palm sugar, two types of rice noodle, shrimp paste, coconut milk and a variety of spices. That’s just a fraction of what the kit contains and since the bottled sauces and spices last a while, numerous dishes like Kingsley’s green papaya salad, Thai green coconut curry, Indonesian fried rice, and bahn xeo, a popular shrimp and vegetable crepe dish from Vietnam, can all be made.
For the market locator component Kingsley researched places that truly cater to Asian ingredients, showing you where you can shop within a 10-mile radius. We tested it out in Manhattan and two of the places that came up were Koreatown’s Han Ah Reum and Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, N.J.
Want to try a preview with one of Farina’s recipes? Make this grilled beef and mango salad, which is making us drool as we type.
Grilled beef and mango salad
Courtesy of Farina Kingsley
The combination of perfectly grilled beef with ripe mangoes makes my mouth water! This is an aromatic, sweet and savory salad that is wonderful as a light meal or served along with a curry such as Green Coconut Curry Shrimp & Vegetables.
Makes 4 servings
To marinate the beef, whisk together the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and place the meat and marinade in a sealable plastic bag and mix well. Refrigerate the steak at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.
To make the dressing, use a blender or a mini-food processor to grind the jalapeno, garlic, cilantro stem, mint and black pepper into a smooth paste. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and blend well. Refrigerate the dressing until ready to serve.
Preheat an oven to 400°F.
Right before serving, preheat a grill or grill pan over high heat. Remove the meat from the marinade, discard the marinade and pat the meat dry with paper towels. Once the grill or pan is hot, oil the grill grates or pan, and sear the steak until crisp and brown on one side, 5 to 6 minutes. Use tongs to flip the beef and sear on the other side until brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the steak to a baking sheet and place in the oven for 5 minutes for medium-rare and 10 minutes for medium. Remove the steak from the oven and let the meat rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes. Slice the meat across the grain into 1/8 inch thin strips.
To serve, transfer the meat and meat juices to a large bowl with the sliced mangoes, lemongrass, shallots, herbs and chili.Add the dressing and mix well. Mound the beef salad on to a serving plate. Garnish with chopped peanuts and serve.