Tag Archives: asian

Chili-Soy Noodles with Bok Choy and Peanuts

These noodles are an addictive combination of salty, spicy and sweet. For best results, use thick Asian wheat noodles, such as udon or lo mein, that cook up with chewy resilience. We try to include vegetarian dishes into our repertoire of meals, and this recipe is anything but ho-hum. Plus the ease of prep and limited ingredients let you serve dinner in under a half hour.

Chili crisp, a Chinese condiment sold in jars, is chili oil amped up with with red pepper flakes and additional spices. If you can find it, it’s a more flavorful alternative to standard chili oil. We used a chili-garlic paste, including the full two tablespoons. In fact, The Hubs added even more to his portion before tasting it–which probably wasn’t that wise 😉

If you want to amp up the veggies, one reviewer suggested including mushrooms, which we both agreed would be a good addition. Our Udon noodles weighed in at only eight ounces as opposed to the ten ounces the recipe called for. Luckily we didn’t have another mouth to feed because we polished off the entire skillet’s worth!

Chili-Soy Noodles with Bok Choy and Peanuts

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 10 oz. dried Asian wheat noodles
  • 1 Tbsp. neutral oil
  • 1 lb. baby bok choy, trimmed and sliced crosswise into ½-inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp. chili oil OR chili crisp, plus more to serve
  • ¾ cup unsalted roasted peanuts, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender. Drain, rinse and drain again.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the neutral oil until shimmering. Add the bok choy and cook, stirring, until the stems are tender; transfer to a plate.
  3. In the same skillet, mix the soy, sugar, chili oil and half the peanuts. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.
  4. Add the bok choy and noodles, then toss until warmed. Serve sprinkled with the remaining peanuts and drizzled with additional chili oil.

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Adapted from a recipe by Milk Street

Ginger-Curry Pork and Green Beans

Identity crisis? This quick meat and vegetable curry starts as a stir-fry then finishes as a braise—but a quick braise. Usually pork shoulder takes hours to braise in the oven, but since the meat is cut into thin strips, the time dwindles considerably. Boneless pork shoulder has a rich, full flavor; plus slicing it thin before cooking counters its chewiness.

Green beans cook alongside, absorbing the spiced broth and providing a fresh, vegetal contrast. Curry powder is used as a flavor base, and whole spices amp up the intensity. Just remember to remove the cardamom pods before serving (if you can see them). The Hubs got quite a jolt when he accidentally bit into one!

In some cases you have choices on which spice to use. We incorporated as much of them as possible, i.e. both onion and garlic. And in the case of the noodles, you can always substitute steamed rice instead.

Ginger-Curry Pork and Green Beans

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. neutral oil
  • 1 lb. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed, cut into 2-inch strips and sliced ¼ to ⅛ inch thick
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped OR 8 medium garlic cloves, chopped OR both
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 3 cardamom pods, crushed OR 1 cinnamon stick OR 8 curry leaves OR a combination
  • 8 oz. green beans, trimmed and halved on the diagonal
  • 1 1⁄2 cups water
  • Rice OR cellophane noodles, cooked according to package directions

Directions

  1. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the pork, curry powder, 1½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the pork is well browned, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, ginger and cardamom; cook, stirring, until the onion is browned, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the beans and 1½ cups water; bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and the sauce clings to the meat, about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare your rice or cellophane noodles according to package directions.
  5. Remove and discard the cardamom from the sir-fry, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Optional garnish: Chopped fresh cilantro OR toasted sesame seeds OR chopped chilies OR a combination

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Adapted from a recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Stir-Fried Pork and Sweet Peppers with Peanuts

Yes indeed, the flavors in this colorful stir-fry from Milk Street are a fantastic combination of savory, sweet, tangy, garlicky, spicy and nutty. The chili-garlic sauce can be moderated depending on your tolerance for spicy, and those peanuts add just the right amount of crunch.

Briefly marinating the sliced tenderloin means that the meat browns beautifully in the skillet and also adds flavor and moisture to an otherwise lean and mild cut. Balsamic vinegar may seem like an odd ingredient in a stir-fry, but it mimics the subtle sweetness, moderate acidity and maltiness of Chinese black vinegar and probably already is in your pantry. Serve with steamed white rice.

Instead of a nonstick skillet, we used a well-seasoned wok. The Hubs swears you get a hotter heat with the added benefit of pushing ingredients up the sides.

Warning: Don’t use a conventional (that is not nonstick) skillet. The pork will char and stick to the skillet instead of nicely browning.

Stir-Fried Pork and Sweet Peppers with Peanuts

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin and sliced crosswise ⅛ to ¼ inch thick
  • 3 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. dry sherry, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, 1 minced, 2 thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2-3 Tbsp. chili-garlic sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 medium red, yellow or orange bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1- to 1½-inch pieces
  • 1 bunch scallions, whites thinly sliced, greens cut into 1½-inch lengths, reserved separately
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the pork, 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1 tablespoon of the sherry, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, the minced garlic and the cornstarch. Let stand for about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons sherry, remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce and vinegar.
  3. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat another 1 tablespoon oil until barely smoking. Add the pork in an even layer and cook, stirring once or twice, until well browned, 4 to 5 minutes; transfer to a plate.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender-crisp, 6 to 7 minutes.
  5. Add the scallion whites and sliced garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.
  6. Add the pork and accumulated juices, sauce mixture and scallion greens; cook, stirring, until the sauce is lightly thickened, 30 to 60 seconds.
  7. Off heat, stir in half the peanuts. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining peanuts.

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Adapted from a recipe by Calvin Cox for Milk Street

Braised Asian-Style Pork Shanks

These braised pork shanks could become an ultimate comfort food for us, with the hybridizing of favorite Asian flavors and techniques. It was hard to fathom how they could have gotten any better than when served, but after a rest overnight in the fridge, just WOW!

Paired with fresh green beans from our garden (that were flash frozen until ready to use), and the decadent Garlic-Miso Butter Mashed Potatoes, we were on Cloud Nine! It is a LOT of ingredients, and will take a large chunk of time, so a slow Sunday afternoon during the chilly months is ideal.

While I tended to spud duty, The Hubs started working his magic on the meat. But first, as he analyzed the recipe, he realized there was WAY too much liquid (mirin, soy, sake, vegetable oil, and chicken stock) and brown sugar for the amount of meat, so all got cut in half. When everything was said and done, we still had a cup of reduced sauce leftover, which we decided would be great for a future stir-fry.

Braised Asian-Style Pork Shanks

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 4 lbs. pork shanks
  • 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup Spanish onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 4 oz. ginger root, minced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 2 cloves star anise
  • 1 cup sake
  • 2 oz. vegetable oil, for searing shanks

Directions

  1. Dredge shanks in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven and sear pork shanks on all sides, working in batches if necessary.
  2. Discard oil from pan and add onion, celery, carrots and ginger. Caramelize on medium high heat, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté briefly, about 2 minutes.
  3. Deglaze pan with sake, then add soy sauce and mirin. Bring to a simmer, then stir in brown sugar. Add red pepper flakes, star anise and chicken stock. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Return shanks to the pot. Cover and cook in a 300 degree oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning once halfway through cooking. When shanks are completely tender, remove to platter and tent with foil. Strain liquid into a saucepan pressing on solids to get all of the juices; discard the solids. Return pot to a burner and bring to a boil.
  5. Lower heat to a simmer and reduce until desired thickness. Can thicken broth with a cornstarch slurry if desired. Serve shanks and pass sauce separately.

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Loosely adapted from a recipe by Yardley Inn

Soy-Glazed Flank Steak with Blistered Green Beans

This Asian steak entrée gets loads of complexity from just a spoonful or two of flavor powerhouses like fresh ginger, peanut oil, and Asian chili paste, like sambal oelek—an Indonesian chile that adds a nice level of heat and a hint of sweetness to the quick stir-fry.

You definitely want to blister those beans, so keep stirring for 5-plus minutes over a very hot burner. Then when it’s time to cook the meat, it’s best to do so in two batches so as to sear the steak instead of steaming it.

Soy-Glazed Flank Steak with Blistered Green Beans

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans
  • 1 lb. beef flank steak
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 4 green onions (white parts only), sliced diagonally
  • 2 Tbsp. sweet rice wine (mirin)
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce 
  • 1 tsp. packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. Asian chili paste (sambal oelek)
  • Sesame seeds, toasted; hot cooked rice; snipped fresh herbs; chopped green onion (optional)
  • Steamed rice according to package directions

Directions

  1. If desired, trim and cut green beans in half diagonally.
  2. Trim fat from meat. Thinly slice meat across the grain into bite-size strips.
  3. In a small bowl combine garlic and ginger.
  4. In an extra-large skillet or wok heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil over medium-high heat. Add green beans; cook and stir 7 to 8 minutes or until blistered and brown in spots. Remove beans and drain on paper towels.
  5. If necessary, add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to hot skillet. Add garlic mixture; cook and stir 30 seconds.
  6. Add meat, half at a time; cook and stir 3 minutes or until slightly pink in center. Return all of the meat to skillet. Add the next five ingredients (through chili paste); cook and stir 1 minute.
  7. Return beans; cook and stir 2 minutes more or until heated through.
  8. If desired, sprinkle meat mixture with sesame seeds and/or serve with rice sprinkled with herbs, chopped green onion, and/or coarse salt.
  9. Serve over steamed rice.

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Adapted from a recipe for Fine Cooking Magazine

Beef and Potato Curry with Lemongrass and Coconut

Southeast Asian curries combine Indian influences with regional ingredients such as lemon grass and star anise. For this one, Milk Street took inspiration from a recipe in “Best of Malaysian Cooking” by Betty Saw. Instead of calling for a long list of spices, this uses Indian curry powder as an easy flavor base; and sambal oelek, an Indonesian-style chili paste which adds bright heat to the meal.

The dish was delish, BUT, it took way longer than indicated. First, since we couldn’t locate boneless short ribs, we bought a chuck roast that was sliced in half lengthwise and popped into the freezer for 30 minutes. This allowed us to easily cut the beef into thin, 1⁄8-inch slices. And there was quite a bit of prep—at least 20 minutes worth—so there was no way this meal was going to be done in a half hour!

Then, the potato halves, which were supposed to be tender after 30 minutes, were still too firm after 45. I fished them out of the curry, and microwaved for several minutes before reuniting them with the other ingredients. For a pop of color, chopped cilantro was added as a final garnish.

It is suggested you serve over hot jasmine rice, yet we are not typically fans of both potatoes and rice in the same dish. Although it would be lovely over rice to help sop up the wonderful sauce, we would substitute sweet bell red and/or green peppers in place of the potatoes, cooking them first before the onions to reduce incorporating any more liquid into the curry.

Tips: Don’t forget to trim off any silver skin from the short ribs before slicing. The silver skin is stringy and fibrous unless the meat is cooking for a long time, and if left in place, it will cause the slices of beef to curl during simmering. Look for sambal in well-stocked supermarkets and Asian grocery stores; if it’s not available, chili-garlic paste is a good substitute.

Beef and Potato Curry with Lemongrass and Coconut

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1½ lbs. boneless beef short ribs (or chuck roast), trimmed and cut to ⅛-inch thick slices against the grain
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 1 medium red onion, halved thinly sliced
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1½ Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 stalks fresh lemon grass, trimmed to the bottom 6 inches, dry outer layers discarded, bruised
  • 2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 lb. small Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1½ inches in diameter), unpeeled, halved
  • 14 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. sambal oelek or chili-garlic paste, plus more as needed
  • Cilantro, roughly chopped for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Season the beef with salt and pepper; set aside. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, curry powder, star anise and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften and the mixture is fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the beef, potatoes, coconut milk and sambal, then bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot. Reduce to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the largest potatoes meets no resistance, about 30 minutes (or longer).
  3. Off heat, taste and season with salt, pepper and additional sambal. Remove and discard the star anise and lemon grass. Garnish with chopped cilantro, if using.

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Adapted from a recipe by Rebecca Richmond for Milk Street

Szechuan Dan Dan

This riff from Better Homes and Gardens on the popular Chinese Sichuan recipe features a spicy sauce, fresh vegetables, and ground pork. Black vinegar has a hint of fruitiness and gives this street food favorite a touch of umami richness.

As is typical, we did make some changes. The first included using broccoli rabe instead of Chinese broccoli. In doing so, we tossed it in the pot with the carrots and shallots due to a longer cooking time. The amounts of ground pork and lo mien noodles were about 25% more than called for, and an extra carrot was added. For even more depth of flavor, we used our home made chicken stock.

*Shopping Notes: Buy Szechuan peppercorns at Asian markets or spice stores. An Asian market is best for salty, garlicky black bean paste and leafy Chinese broccoli (aka gai lan). Black vinegar is occasionally at large supermarkets. A good sub for it is 1 Tbsp. each rice vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.

Szechuan Dan Dan

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Tsp. canola oil
  • 2 tsp. Szechuan peppercorns* or 4 dried Thai chile peppers
  • 1 lb. ground pork 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into thin, bite-size strips
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 8 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 2 Tbsp. black bean paste*
  • 6 oz. dried lo mein noodles
  • 2 cups trimmed and thinly sliced Chinese broccoli*, broccolini or broccoli rabe
  • 1 cup fresh snow pea pods, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 Tbsp. black vinegar*
  • ½ cup chopped, lightly salted cocktail peanuts
  • lime wedges for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. In a 5- to 6-qt. Dutch oven heat oil and peppercorns over medium 1 to 2 minutes or until peppercorns are fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let stand 2 minutes. Remove and discard peppercorns, reserving oil.
  2. Add ground pork, garlic, and five-spice powder to oil in Dutch oven. Cook over medium-high heat until meat is browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove meat.
  3. Add carrot and shallots to drippings. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add broth and bean paste to Dutch oven. Bring to boiling. Add noodles; return to boiling. Cook according to noodle package directions until tender, stirring occasionally and adding broccoli the last 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in cooked meat and pea pods; cook 2 minutes more. Stir in vinegar. Top servings with peanuts.

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Korean Barbecue Ribs with Asian Slaw

As you may have surmised over the years through posts on this blog, The Hubs loves baby back ribs. You’ll find numerous recipes for different approaches to seasoning and cooking them—both adaptations and our own creations—but this one we hadn’t yet tried. If, like us, you embrace bold flavors, then these ribs are speaking to you.

Korean dwaeji kalbi are pork ribs seasoned with gochujang (a fermented chili paste), garlic, sugar and a few other high-impact ingredients. The ribs typically are grilled for only enough time to cook the pork through, not for hours on end to render the meat American-barbecue tender. However, this version from Milk Street, is a riff on Sohui Kim’s recipe from “Korean Home Cooking,” where they use the oven for convenience and cook the ribs to that ultra-tender state.

Our ribs were served with a side of Asian Slaw and roasted acorn squash rings.

As luck would have it, we had one package of baby backs in the freezer, which would suffice in feeding just the two of us, so we cut the recipe in half. To accompany the ribs, we paired them with roasted acorn squash slices and an adaptation of an Asian Slaw recipe found in Men’s Health, details below.

Look for gochujang in the international aisle of the supermarket or in Asian grocery stores. When shopping for baby back ribs, try to select meaty racks of equal size so they cook at the same rate.

Tip: Don’t use regular foil, as it’s too thin and narrow to securely wrap the racks of ribs. Be sure to use extra-wide (18-inch) heavy-duty foil. When wrapping the ribs in foil, be sure to position the racks meaty side down and keep them that way when placing them on the rack before baking. This allows the meat to braise in the pork juices that collect in the foil.

Korean Barbecue Ribs

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ¾ cup gochujang
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 3- to 3½-pound racks baby back ribs, patted dry
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 300°F with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with extra-wide, heavy-duty foil, then set a wire rack in the baking sheet. In a medium bowl, whisk together the gochujang, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Measure out ¾ cup of the mixture, cover and refrigerate to use for glazing. Cut two 20-inch lengths of foil; set aside.
  2. Turn each rack of ribs meaty side down. Using a paring knife, cut a slit about 1 inch long in the membrane between the bones without cutting through meat. Lay one foil sheet on the countertop and set one rib rack on top. Coat the ribs on all sides with half of the remaining gochujang mixture, rubbing it into the meat and into the cuts in the membrane. Turn the ribs meaty side down on the foil. Draw the long sides of the foil together to cover the ribs and fold to seal tightly, then fold up and seal the short sides, creating a well-sealed packet. Repeat with the remaining foil sheet, rib rack and gochujang mixture. Place the packets seam side up on the prepared rack and bake until a skewer inserted into the meaty area between the bones meets no resistance, 2½ to 2¾ hours.
  3. Remove the ribs from the oven and let rest, still wrapped, for about 10 minutes. One packet at a time, carefully open one end of one of the foil and pour the liquid inside the packet into a 1-quart liquid measuring cup or medium bowl; you should have at least 2 cups. Unwrap the ribs and set them meaty side up directly on the rack; set aside while you prepare the glaze.
  4. Heat the broiler. Using a spoon, skim off and discard the fat from the liquid, then pour the liquid into a 12-inch skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high, reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced to about 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Whisk in the reserved ¾ cup gochujang mixture, return to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick enough that a spatula drawn through it leaves a trail, 5 to 7 minutes. Brush the surface and sides of the ribs with about half of the glaze.
  5. Broil the ribs until the glaze begins to char, about 2 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush on the remaining glaze, then continue to broil until lightly charred, another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the sesame seeds (if using). Let rest for about 15 minutes. Transfer the rib racks to a cutting board. Separate the ribs by cutting between the bones, then transfer to a platter.

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Adapted by Diane Unger for Milk Street

Asian Slaw

Asian Slaw

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1⁄4 cup peanut or canola oil
  • Juice of 2 limes + zest of 1⁄2 lime
  • 1 Tbsp. sriracha
  • 1⁄2 head Napa cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1⁄4 cup toasted peanuts
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1⁄4 cup cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. Whisk together the oil, lime juice, zest and sriracha.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss with the dressing to coat.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before serving. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.

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Indonesian-Style Ham Stir-fry Revisited

It was finally the last of our 8-pound ham which was earmarked to be used in this Indonesian-Style Ham Stir-fry recipe. Nearly seven years had passed since we resurrected it from when I first started this blog. Why did we wait so long? Who knows, but it’s not often that we have a large ham with plenty of leftovers.

Once we practically licked our plates clean, we decided the next time we make this we’ll double the sauce (we are saucy people!) And as with most stir-fries, make sure to prep all of the ingredients ahead of time because the actual on-hands cooking portion takes just minutes.

Spicy and sweet, this quick stir-fry dinner needed only short-grain sticky rice to complete it. In lieu of waiting to have leftover ham, you could always buy 1 1/2 pounds of ham steak and cube that up.

Indonesian-Style Ham Stir-fry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs. kecap manis*
  • 2 Tbs. plain rice vinegar
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. sambal oelek
  • 2 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 6 medium scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh lemongrass
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 3/4 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces (2-1/2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into medium dice
  • 3/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 1-1/2 lb. leftover ham, cut into medium dice (4 cups)
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth

*TIP: If you don’t have or can’t find keycap manis (and again we couldn’t), a syrupy Indonesian soy sauce, you can substitute 1-1/2 Tbs. soy sauce combined with 1-1/2 Tbs. unsulfured molasses.

Directions:

  1. Whisk the keycap manis (or your substitute), vinegar, and sambal oelek in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Heat a 14-inch wok or heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot, then swirl in the oil. Add the scallions, lemongrass, ginger, and garlic and stir-fry until softened, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the green beans, bell pepper, and peanuts and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the ham and stir-fry until warmed through, about 2 minutes.
  5. Pour in the broth, scrape up any browned bits, and bring to a boil.
  6. Pour in the kecap manis mixture and stir-fry until bubbling and the ingredients are thoroughly coated in the sauce, about 2 minutes.
  7. Serve over hot rice.

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Recipe adapted from By Mark Scarbrough, Bruce Weinstein for Fine Cooking

Kung Pao Chicken

In this Kung Pao Chicken recipe, the dark, rich sauce clings to the chicken and veggies, with just an undertone of heat and aromatic flavor from the chiles and Sichuan peppercorns. I’m typically a white meat fan, but here we used boneless, skinless dark thigh meat which imparts more flavor. Use whatever suits your preference.

Have you been confused before on the difference between Kung Pao and General Tso’s chicken recipes? The main difference between the two is how the meat is cooked. General Tso is fried in a crispy coating, however Kung Pao Chicken is seared in the wok. Both are coated in a similar sauce, but Kung Pao typically always has veggies and peanuts mixed in.

Plus, Kung Pao Chicken is a healthy choice for most people, containing a range of vitamins and minerals, as well as complete protein. It is also low in saturated fat and calories. To up the ante in nutrition, fiber and color, I added a yellow bell pepper and some snow peas.

Because of these extra ingredients, I altered the directions to accommodate them. Instead of adding the veggies with the chicken still in the wok, we moved the poultry to a bowl while we stir-fried the peppers and snow peas, then added the chicken back to the wok before stirring in the broth mixture.

As with most stir-fries, this process goes very quickly so make sure to prep everything BEFORE you start cooking. Keep in mind, rice typically takes about 20 minutes total, so it’s best you start that process first. And don’t omit those roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns. A half teaspoon may seem like a minor nuisance, but they add a necessary flavor component. Serve with steamed rice, preferably cooked in homemade chicken stock.

Kung Pao Chicken

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. Chinkiang or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 4 to 8 dried red chili peppers, snipped on one end
  • 1/2 tsp. roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 6 0z. snow peas, strings removed, cut in half on a diagonal if large
  • 3/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions
  • Steamed white or brown rice for serving
Add the peanuts and scallions.

Directions

  1. Before you begin prepping the stir-fry ingredients, start the rice according to package directions, preferably using homemade chicken stock as the liquid.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the chicken, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the rice wine, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1 teaspoon cold water. Stir to combine. In a small bowl combine the broth, vinegar, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and the remaining 1 tablespoon rice wine.
  3. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil, add the chillies and ground Sichuan peppercorns, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 15 seconds or until the chillies just begin to smoke.
  4. Push the chili mixture to the sides of the wok, carefully add the chicken, and spread it evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the chicken begin to sear. Then stir-fry 1 minute or until the chicken is lightly browned but not cooked through. Move to a bowl.
  5. Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil into the wok. Add the bell peppers and snow peas then stir-fry 1-2 minutes or until the peppers begin to soften. Add the chicken back to the wok. Swirl the broth mixture into the wok and stir-fry 1 minute or until the chicken is just cooked through.
  6. Add the peanuts and scallions, sprinkle on the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and stir-fry 30 seconds or until the scallions are bright green.
  7. Serve over white or brown steamed rice.

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Spiced Chicken with Corn, Mushrooms and Zucchini

Although summer produce season was nearing its end, we easily scored some fresh corn and zucchini to make this flavorful Spiced Chicken with Corn, Mushrooms and Zucchini. It’s a one pan meal that’s ready in a total of 45 minutes. Cooked in a skillet, the spiced chicken takes on a brick-red hue with a moderately spicy kick. (You can adjust the amount of heat by adding or eliminating the amount of cayenne.)

Here gochugaru—Korean red chile flakes—imbues this one-skillet chicken and vegetable supper with its deep, savory flavor, gentle heat and a hint of smokiness. But don’t fret if you can’t find gochugaru, just substitute ancho chile powder, regular chili powder or chipotle chile powder (or choice) for a delicious but different taste profile. Add more cayenne or eliminate it to adjust the level of heat, which is moderate as written. (Gochugaru can be found at Asian markets, well stocked supermarkets or online.)

I got carried away and pounded the chicken breasts down to a 1/4″ instead of the indicated 1/2″. Not a problem as long as the meat is not overcooked and dried out. Adjust the cooking time so that the poultry registers 160°, then move to a plate and cover with foil.

The amount of chicken we made was over 1 1/2 pounds, which when hammered down made 4 large cutlets, and therefore had to be cooked in 2 batches. Once the veggies are done, pour the accumulated chicken juices into the pan and stir to distribute.

Yes, you can make this meal with frozen corn, but you will suffer from a loss of flavor. This summer was THE BEST corn season we’ve experienced in a long time. And this last batch in particular was astoundingly sweet and juicy!

Spiced Chicken with Corn, Mushrooms and Zucchini

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tsp. gochugaru (Korean chile flakes; may substitute ancho chile powder, regular chili powder or chipotle chile powder)
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 1/4 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast, pounded to 1/2-inch thick
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil or another neutral oil, divided
  • 8 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms or a mix of mushrooms such as shiitake, oyster and/or cremini, sliced
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. water, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts, plus dark greens for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp. minced or finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 medium zucchini (8 ounces), trimmed, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 3-4 ears of corn, kernels sliced from cob

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the gochugaru, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the granulated garlic and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture onto both sides of the chicken, rubbing it in a little with your fingers.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the chicken to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, followed by the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the water if the pan seems dry, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the scallions and ginger and cook until they soften, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the zucchini, corn and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the vegetables are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. If the pan seems dry, add more water as needed, a couple of tablespoons at a time.
  6. Pour any accumulated juices from the chicken into the pan with the vegetables, and then slice the chicken into strips.
  7. Serve the vegetables with the sliced chicken on top or on the side.

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Loosely adapted from a recipe by Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post

Stir-Fried Pork, Green Beans and Red Bell Pepper with Gingery Oyster Sauce

Stir-frying is the name of the game when you want something quick and healthy. And making it yourself ensures you know exactly what’s in it, as compared to many Asian take-out places loaded with unwanted fat and calories. Cook’s Illustrated found that marinating pork tenderloin in a simple soy-sherry mixture and cooking it quickly (about two minutes) in batches over high heat kept the meat tender and beautifully seasoned. In place of the sherry, we substituted Shaoxing wine which is fermented from rice.

Because different vegetables cook at different rates, batch-cook the vegetables and add aromatics (like ginger and garlic) at the end so they are cooked long enough to develop their flavors but not long enough to burn. Chicken broth gives the sauce some backbone, and cornstarch slightly thickens it so that it lightly cloaks the meat and veggies.

We increased the amount of pork tenderloin from the original 12 ounces to one pound. And because of that, we doubled the soy sauce and sherry that gets mixed with the pork strips (which is all noted below). Keep in mind that pork tenderloin is easier to slice if it is partially frozen. *Freeze the tenderloin until firm but not frozen solid, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Then cut the tenderloin crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Cut the slices into 1/4-inch strips.

Stir-frying isn’t rocket science, and that’s what’s so great about it. It doesn’t require lots of fancy equipment. Instructions indicate to cook in a skillet, however we feel most stir-fries benefit from being cooked in a flat-bottomed wok. It helps to have a stir-fry spatula which fits the contour of the wok and has a long handle (to keep distance from the intense heat).

Stir frying is advantageous over other methods of cooking as it requires very little oil, which is healthier than deep frying or pan frying, and it also retains the nutrients present in the food being stir fried. As the name indicates, the food is constantly stirred while you cook it. Make sure to use an oil with a high smoke point such as peanut, canola, safflower, soybean, etc.

Stir-Fried Pork, Green Beans and Red Bell Pepper with Gingery Oyster Sauce

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin, prepared as noted above*
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. dry sherry, or Shaoxing wine
  • 1 Tbsp. dry sherry, or Shaoxing wine
  • ⅓ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 12 oz. green beans, cut on bias into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 large red bell pepper (about 8 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch squares
  • 3 medium scallions, sliced thin on bias
  • Jasmine rice, cooked according to package directions (or brown rice if you prefer)

Directions

  1. Combine pork, soy sauce, and 1 Tbsp. + 1 teaspoon sherry in small bowl. Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon sherry, chicken broth, oyster sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, white pepper, and cornstarch in measuring cup.
  2. Combine garlic, ginger and 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in small bowl.
  3. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking; add half of pork to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up clumps, until well-browned, about 2 minutes.
  4. Transfer pork to medium bowl. Repeat with additional 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil and remaining pork.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to now-empty skillet; add green beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown and tender-crisp, about 5 minutes; transfer to bowl with pork.
  6. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to skillet; add bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until spotty brown, about 2 minutes.
  7. Clear center of skillet, then add garlic/ginger mixture to clearing; cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, about 45 seconds, then stir mixture into peppers.
  8. Add pork and green beans; toss to combine. Whisk sauce to recombine, then add to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and evenly distributed, about 30 seconds.
  9. Transfer to serving platter; sprinkle with scallions and serve over hot jasmine rice.

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Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated

Rotini with Ground Pork and Spicy Peanut Sauce

Chitalian Fusion is what we dubbed this pairing of satay like flavors with pasta and green herbs. Flavorful, but not too hot. You may not expect bright, Asian-inspired flavors to be paired with Italian rotini pasta, but it’s a great choice for holding onto the sauce. Like Pad Thai, although easier to eat than with the long noodles—yet where are the veggies?

My initial issue was the overall drab color of the dish. Cooked pork, with regular pasta, peanut butter and scallions—where’s the color? So I started with tri-colored rotini, and added snow peas and three small, different colored baby bell peppers. Now it was a fiesta on a plate, visually appealing enough to want to dive in.

Rotini with Ground Pork and Spicy Peanut Sauce

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 12 oz. tri-colored rotini
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 8 oz. snow peas, strings removed, cut in half on a diagonal
  • 3 baby bell peppers, stems removed, seeded, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced into 1/4″ strips
  • 6 medium scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 3 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. sambal oelek or other Asian chile paste; more to taste
  • 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter, preferably natural
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
  • 1 medium lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro as garnish

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rotini and cook according to package directions until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, when hot toss in the snow peas and bell pepper strips. Cook about 2 minutes and remove to another dish.
  3. Add the scallion whites to the hot pan. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds.
  5. Crumble in the pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses its pink color, about 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, sambal oelek, and sugar and cook until bubbling. Add the peanut butter and stir until incorporated.
  7. Pour in the broth, stir well, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta. Add the pasta and the snow pea mix to the pork and scallions.
  9. Thin the sauce with the pasta water, if necessary. Divide among plates or bowls, squeeze a lime wedge over each serving, and top with cilantro.

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Adapted from a recipe by Bruce Weinstein, Mark Scarbrough from Fine Cooking