Archive for July, 2012

July 15, 2012

Dan Dan Noodles (擔擔麵)

A Sichuan favorite! Sichuan peppercorns are necessary in this dish and give it the characteristic “ma la” flavor. If you get the whole peppercorns, toast them slightly in a dry wok or frying pan before grinding them in a spice grinder. Ya cai or Sichuan preserved greens, which can be found in Chinatown markets, is also an important component of this dish, but they can be omitted if you can’t find them. The dish will still taste amazing!

Adapted from Red Cook

Total time: 40 minutes

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: 10 minutes

1 lb. fresh Shanghai style noodles (if you can’t find fresh noodles, boxed spaghetti/noodles will suffice)

4 tablespoons light soy sauce (生抽)

4 teaspoons Chinkiang black vinegar

Chopped cilantro and scallion for garnish

Pork Topping

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 oz. ground pork

2 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine

a pinch of salt

4 oz. Sichuan preserved greens (芽菜 ya cai) or pickled mustard (optional, only if you can find them)

Sesame Sauce

4 tablespoons sesame paste

3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon sugar

Chili Oil

5 tablespoons chili oil

1 tablespoon dried chili flakes

2 teaspoons ground Sichuan peppercorns (花椒)

1. Mix all the ingredients for the sesame sauce and set aside.

2. Mix all the ingredients for the chili oil and set aside.

3. In a wok, heat the vegetable oil until just beginning to smoke then add the ground pork. Stir-fry the pork until just cooked then add the rest of the topping ingredients and continue to stir-fry until the liquid completely evaporate. Set the topping aside.

4. Divide the sauce by putting one quarter of the sesame sauce mixture and chili oil into each of four bowls. Add one tablespoon of soy sauce and one teaspoon of Chinkiang black vinegar to each bowl.

5. In a large 8-quart stockpot bring four quarts of water to boil. Cook the noodles in the boiling water for about three minutes or until the noodles are just al dente. Divide the noodles into four portions and put them in each of the bowls. Top the noodles with one quarter of the pork and Sichuan preserved greens topping, and garnish with chopped cilantro and scallion. Serve immediately.

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July 15, 2012

Poached Eggs with Rosemary Tomato Sauce

This is a great brunch recipe and very versatile. Other herbs and seasonings can be substituted for rosemary. Instead of tomato sauce, you can put poached eggs over toast, a salad, beans, pasta, rice, etc. Once you get the hang of poaching eggs, you’ll want to do it again and again! It’s a simple process and the result is beautiful. If you want to poach more than 2 eggs at once, use a bigger pan to avoid crowding or have 2 pots/pans going on at once.

Total Time: 30 minutes

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Serves 4

Rosemary Tomato Sauce

2 tbsp of olive oil

4 large tomatoes, chopped

½ onion, diced

2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

Poached Eggs

8 eggs (2 for each person)

2 tbsp white vinegar

1 tsp salt

1. Heat up a large sauté pan to medium heat.

2. Add the olive oil and heat. Add the onions and stir occasionally until they become translucent, 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes. When the tomatoes have cooked down, add the rosemary. Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer.

4. Make the poached eggs: Bring about an inch of water to a boil in a small deep skillet or a pot. Add the salt and vinegar, and lower the heat to the point where it barely bubbles. One at a time, break the eggs into a shallow bowl or cup and slip them into the water.

5. Cook for 3-5 minutes, just until the white is set and the yolk has filmed over. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow the water to drain off for a couple seconds.

6. Season the rosemary tomato sauce with salt and pepper. When it’s the way you like it, spoon ¼ of it on a plate. Add 2 poached eggs on top. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with crusty bread.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

July 11, 2012

West African Sweet Potato Soup with Peanut Butter and Black Beans

This soup is amazing: hearty, comforting, and DELICIOUS. It also happens to be both vegetarian and vegan, although you could certainly add meat to this dish (chicken and beef would go well here). This soup honors fall flavors while paying homage to both Thai and African culinary traditions. I would say the addition of the Thai curry paste, lime, and brown sugar makes this soup Thai-African fusion.

Total Time: 45 minutes, largely unattended

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Serves 4-5, adapted from Gluten-Free Goddess

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 medium red onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced very finely
1/2 lb dried black beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender
1 quart vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter (or sunbutter for those allergic!)
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime
3 tsp brown sugar
salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot.  Add the curry paste and cinnamon.  Stir for a minute so that the olive oil gets infused with spice.  Add the onion, garlic, sweet potato, bell pepper, and jalapeno.  Stir and cook the veggies for 5-7 minutes, until softened.

2. Add the beans and broth.   Add the peanut butter to the mix.  Add the red pepper flakes.

3. Bring the soup to a boil, then cover and simmer.  Cook until veggies are tender, about 25 minutes.

4. Stir in the lime juice and brown sugar.  Season with salt and black pepper, if needed. Top with chopped cilantro.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

July 11, 2012

Colorful Roasted Beets

Beets are in season and they’re so easy to make! Beets come in gorgeous vibrant colors; I found these lovely beets at the Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market. The hardest part about this recipe is peeling and cutting them. Once that’s done, just pop them in the oven for a half hour to an hour (depending on how soft you like them) and go do other stuff. This recipe is one of the simplest ways to make beets, but you can add other seasonings depending on what you like: rosemary, garlic, and balsamic vinegar go very well together, so does ginger, cinnamon, and butter. Beets and feta is also a classic. Experiment! You can also make a big batch of this and it will keep in the fridge for about 5 days, perfect as a side dish or snack.

Total Time: 45-65 minutes, largely unattended

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 30-50 minutes

Serves 4

1 pint of beets, washed, peeled, and diced into roughly 1/2-inch pieces

Olive oil or canola oil

Salt (optional) and pepper to taste

1.Preheat oven to 400° F.

2. Toss the beets with oil, salt (if desired), and pepper to coat evenly.

3. Place the beets in a baking dish lined with foil and roast for 30-50 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

4. Remove the beets from the oven.

Happy eating!

Love,

Yang

July 11, 2012

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Time: 1 hr 5 minutes, largely unattended

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 1 hr

Serves 4

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, unpeeled
  • Olive oil

Heat oven to 400° F. Wash each sweet potato and then rub each sweet potato with a little olive oil. Pierce each sweet potato several times with a fork. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking tray. Bake until tender, about 1 hour. Make a slit in the top of each sweet potato. Top with 1 tablespoon of butter and season with salt and pepper, cinnamon, maple syrup, however you like!

Happy Eating!
Love,
Yang
July 11, 2012

Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple Butter and Brown Sugar

Time: 1 hr 30 minutes, largely unattended

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 1 hr, 15 minutes

Serves 2-4

  • 1 Acorn squash
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
  • Dash of Salt

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Cut the acorn squash in half, lengthwise, from stem to end. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the center of each half. Score the insides of each half several times with a sharp knife. Place each half in a baking pan, cut side up. Add about a 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the baking pan so that the skins don’t burn and the squash doesn’t get dried out.

3. Coat the inside of each half with 1/2 a Tbsp of butter. Add a dash of salt if you are using unsalted butter. Add a Tbsp of brown sugar to the cavity of each half. Dribble on a teaspoon of maple syrup to each half.

4. Bake in the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the squash is very soft and the tops are browned. Do not undercook. When finished, remove from oven and let cool a little before serving. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas.

Happy eating!

Love,

Yang

July 11, 2012

Honey Roasted Vanilla Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes

I LOVE sweet potatoes: highly nutritious and highly delicious! The following recipe is simple and can be easily tailored to your tastes. If you love cinnamon (I do), add more! You can swap the brown sugar and honey for maple syrup, agave syrup, molasses, whatever you like! You can also make a large batch of this and eat it throughout the week by reheating it. A batch of roasted sweet potatoes will last for 3-4 days in the fridge.

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 1 hr

Total Time: 1 hr 15 minutes, largely unattended

Serves 6

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (or other neutral oil such as canola or safflower)
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced (about 4-5 medium sweet potatoes)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (or Apple Pie Spice or Pumpkin Pie Spice)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch pieces and put in a baking dish.

3. Pour the vegetable oil over the sweet potatoes, just enough to cover the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle the brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt, pepper, a dash or two of lemon or lime juice, and a drizzle of honey over the sweet potatoes.

4. Mix all of the ingredients together so that everything is well integrated with no major clumps.

5. Place the baking dish into the oven and set a timer for 1 hour.

6. Every 20 minutes, stir and flip the sweet potatoes as necessary to allow them to brown evenly.

7. After 1 hour, check to see if they are tender by tasting. If they’re not as tender as you’d like, roast for 10 more minutes.

8. When the sweet potatoes are tender, take them out of the oven and serve immediately.

Happy eating!

Love,

Yang

July 11, 2012

Panang Curry with Tofu, Eggplant, Potatoes, Sweet Red Bell Pepper, and Fresh Basil

I’m a fiend for curry and Thai curry is one of my favorites. There are many different Thai curries (Massaman, Panang, Red, Green, Yellow, Karee, Kaeng Kua, Khing, etc.), each with a unique flavor that stems from the different ingredients in their pastes. If I was an authentic Thai chef, I’d grind my spices in a pestle and mortar and crack a coconut and strain its milk. Let’s just say I’ve tried to make authentic curry before in just this manner and ended up with multiple bruises on my forehead and a chipped countertop. Since I’m a college a student with no time, the following recipe is one that I’ve made up over the years and is as convenient as can be without sacrificing taste. You can use any protein you want (chicken, pork, beef, seafood, duck, etc.) and any vegetables or fruits you want (sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, green beans, etc).

Again, this recipe is a simple concept where you can mix and match to find your favorite combination:

Concept: curry paste + coconut milk + protein + vegetables = delicious curry.

This is a great recipe for making a huge batch and reheating the leftovers throughout the week. Curry will taste even better the next day when all of the flavors have had time to mingle. A batch of curry will last for about a week in the fridge.

If you’re watching your fat and calorie intake, you could use light coconut milk (best deal is at Trader Joe’s, $0.99/can). However, this will make your curry runnier (since light coconut milk is essentially diluted coconut milk) and, in my opinion, less delicious. You could do 1 light can, 1 full-fat can to compromise, but from my own experience, just use the unadulterated coconut milk and eat less of it. Trust me, the taste and texture of your curry will be absolutely amazing and it will be worth it.

Chao Koh is the best authentic brand of canned coconut milk for foodies and Thai home cooks alike, and is available at Safeway. The next best brand is Thai Kitchen’s Coconut Milk, which is available at Whole Foods.

I always use Maesri brand curry paste, which I get from Asian grocery stores, but Thai Kitchen curry pastes are good, too. You can find those at Safeway and Whole Foods.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serves 4-6

2 tbsp of neutral oil such as canola, peanut, safflower, or vegetable

2 13 oz cans of coconut milk

1 can (4 oz, or 6 tbsp) of red curry paste (or any curry paste)

1 medium eggplant

3 medium-sized potatoes (or 6 small potatoes)

1 14 oz box of firm or extra firm tofu (spongy tofu, tofu gan, or any form of tofu will work, but firm will hold up better in the curry)

1 red bell pepper

1 small handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded

1. Heat up a medium to large pot to medium heat.

2. Stir fry 4 oz (or 6 tbsp) of red curry paste with 2 tbsp of oil.

3. Add 1 can of coconut milk and stir to integrate the curry paste with the coconut milk. While you’re waiting for the mixture to boil, chop the tofu into small 1/2 inch chunks.

4. When the mixture boils, add the tofu and stir thoroughly.5. While the tofu is cooking, chop the eggplant and potatoes into small 1/2 inch chunks.

6. Add another can of coconut milk and add the chopped eggplant and potatoes. If the liquid doesn’t cover the newly added eggplant and potatoes, add some water, but not too much, since the eggplant and potatoes will reduce down as they cook.

7. While the eggplant and potatoes are cooking, remove the seeds from the red bell pepper and slice the pepper into strips.

8. After 20 minutes, check to see if the eggplant and potatoes are tender by sticking a fork or chopstick in it. The potatoes should not be too hard or too mushy. If they’re too hard, let them cook for 5-10 more minutes.

9. Once the potatoes are tender, add in the chopped red bell pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes, and then serve immediately over jasmine rice or by itself. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. If you like it spicy, you can also garnish with fresh red chilies.

Happy eating!

Love,

Yang

July 9, 2012

Eggs, Greens, and Tomatoes

This recipe is less of a recipe than it is a concept. That is, once you know the basics, you can go to town, or as I’ll mention below, places around the world!

The concept is this, and it is easier than you might expect:

Eggs + veggies + additional toppings/spices = a fast, delicious, and healthy meal with endless combinations!

You can internationalize this, too! Add some garam masala to Indianize this culinary concept.

OR, try adding some soy sauce, Shao Hsing rice wine, Asian sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and chopped cilantro to Sinicize the concept! Whisk yourself away to Greece by adding oregano and feta for some Greek flavor, or for an Italian twist, toss in some fresh basil leaves, thyme, oregano, crushed red pepper, and mozzarella. Mamma Mia, indeed!

Other ingredients that I would highly recommend: red curry paste (or any other curry paste), caramelized onions, roasted garlic, chili oil (or any other flavored oil), Chinese 5 spice (jerk seasoning, taco seasoning, or any other seasoning blends), sriracha, harissa, different kinds of cheeses, etc.

This concept is also a great way to use up your leftovers from last night.

Try to use canola, peanut, vegetable, sunflower or other oils that do not burn at medium to high heat. Most imported olive oil has high acidity, and because of this, burns at high temperatures. Depending on the type of olive oil you use, it can burn and not only impart a bitter taste to your food but also become carcinogenic.

 

Serves 1

Time: 15 minutes

2-3 eggs

Handful or more of chard or any other dark leafy green (spinach, kale, collard greens, beet greens, sweet potato leaves, etc.)

1 ripe tomato

2 tbsp of canola oil

1 small block of pepper jack cheese (or any other cheese. Feta is also a favorite of mine)

Seasonings (any kind you want, I like Mrs. Dash’s salt-free Extra Spicy Seasoning Blend)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

 

 1. To save time, heat up your skillet at medium-high heat.

2. In the meantime, dice your tomato, chop up your chard and separate the stems from the leaves, and cut your small block of cheese into small cubes.

3. Add around 1 tbsp of canola oil to the skillet. Throw in your tomato and chard stems and let them soften for a minute or two.

4. Throw in your chard leaves and let them wilt, which should take less than a minute.

5. Set aside your chard and tomato mixture in a separate bowl or on a plate.

6. In the same skillet (no need to wash), heat 2 tbsp of canola oil at medium heat.

7. Crack 3 eggs into the skillet and let them sit for about a minute. Once the whites are no longer translucent, break the yolk and swirl them around. Now move your egg mixture around constantly until they become scrambled eggs.

8. At this point, dump in your tomato and chard mixture and stir.

9. Once all of the ingredients are well integrated, add the small bits of cheese and other seasonings and stir to combine once again.

10. After about a minute, the cheese should have melted and the seasonings should have permeated your food nicely. At this point, you can add any fresh herbs or spices, add salt and pepper to taste, do a quick toss, and serve.

Happy eating!

Love,

Yang

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