Tag Archives: asian

Thai Stir-Fried Pork with Basil, Chilies and Garlic

The Thai name for this dish is Pad Krapao meaning “fried holy basil”. It is a fragrant, flavor-packed Thai stir-fry. Despite the dishes name, the basil isn’t actually fried, but wilted into the mix at the very end of cooking.

Our holy basil—which has a peppery, menthol-like bite—was done for the season, so we opted to use our fresh Thai basil, still going strong in the raised herb bed. Sweet Italian basil is a third choice; but if using either of the last two, you’ll need to use 50% more.

To top it all off, a fried egg with a runny yolk is used, adding creaminess while the crisp edges provide crunch. Not typically a fan of runny yolks, I decided to go with it for this recipe. Glad I did because it did add not only to the flavor but also the contrasting textures.

As with most stir-fries, don’t start cooking until all of the ingredients are prepped and near the stove. And don’t cook those eggs in advance because they should still be warm when added to the dish. If you prefer a more fiery kick, don’t discard the chili seeds.

Thai Stir-Fried Pork with Basil, Chilies and Garlic

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 7 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 4 or 5 Fresno chilies. stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. grapeseed oil, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 2 cups (1oz.) lightly packed holy basil OR 3 cups lightly packed Thai or Italian basil, torn
  • Steamed jasmine rice to serve

Directions

  1. In a food processor, combine the garlic and chilies. Pulse until finely chopped, with some slightly larger pieces remaining, 8 to 10 pulses.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the oyster sauce, sou sauce, fish sauce, sugar and a 1⁄2 cup water. Set both the garlic-chili mixture and the sauce mixture near the stove.
  3. In a 12- or 14-inch wok over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until barely smoking. Reduce to medium, the crack 2 eggs into the center of the wok, each in a different spot. Use a silicone spatula to gently push edges of the egg whites toward the yolk to keep the eggs separate.
  4. Cook, occasionally spooning some of the hot oil over the eggs until the whites are crisp and brown on the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a thin metal spatula, transfer the eggs to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining to 2 eggs. Wipe out wok.
  5. Return the wok to medium-high and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oiluntil barely smoking. Add the garic-chili mixture and cook, stirring until fragrant and lightly browned.
  6. Add the pork and cook, stirring, until the meat is broken up into mostly small bits, 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until pork is no longer pink and the liquid thickens slightly but remains saucy, about 3 minutes.
  8. Off heat add the basil and stir until just wilted. Divide the rice and the stir-fry among serving plates and top each with an egg.

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Adapted from a recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Chinese Stir-Fry with Black Bean Sauce

This tasty Asian sauce is quite adaptable to any stir-fry. Go ahead and double it if desired so that you have enough for an additional stir-fry in the future. The choice of vegetables is also a personal preference, but try to keep the total amounts about the same.

Prep all ingredients before you start the stir-fry. We substituted hatch chile peppers for the green bell because it was a new item that we had never tried before. They look very similar to long hots, which are quite spicy. The package indicated they had a medium heat level—we thought they were milder than that. They also take a bit longer than the red bell pepper to soften in the wok.

Chinese Stir-Fry with Black Bean Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Bean Sauce

  • 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dry sherry or Shaoxing
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. Chinese black bean and garlic sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. Asian chile paste
  • 1/2 tsp. minced fresh ginger

In a measuring cup, combine the cornstarch with the sherry, whisking to blend. Then whisk in the remaining ingredients. Set aside. Can be easily doubled.

Staples

  • 3 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 1 lb. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed caps cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 6-8 scallions, trimmed with whites cut into 1″ lengths, greens sliced thin for garnish
  • 4 garlic scape stems cut into 1/2″lengths; or 3 garlic cloves sliced thin
  • 1 each red and green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1″ pieces
  • I lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup white rice, cooked according to package directions

Directions

  • Heat a large wok on high. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil. When smoking, add scallions and garlic stirring constantly for 2 minutes, then place into a large bowl.
  • Add 1 more tablespoon to wok and toss in bell pepper pieces, stir continuously for 2-3 minutes until they start to soften. Put in bowl with scallions.
  • Put final tablespoon peanut oil into wok and then add chicken. Let chicken sit in hot wok for one full minute before you start to flip; then stir until the pink disappears. Add chicken to bowl with vegetables.
  • Pour reserved black bean sauce into wok, when hot dump all of the bowl ingredients into wok and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  • Serve steamed rice on each dinner plate topped with stir-fry. Garnish with chopped basil and scallion greens.

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Coconut Chicken Curry

Curry powder is stirred into this braise only during the last minute of cooking, delivering a bright hit of spice on top of the paprika and turmeric mellowed into the slow-simmered chicken.

This dish needs time on the stove but not much attention, and gets even better after resting in the fridge, making it an ideal weeknight meal that can last days. There’s plenty of coconut milk broth to spoon over rice or noodles; or even platha, a buttery, flaky Burmese flatbread, for dipping.

Based on reader reviews claiming the curry was too soupy, we omitted adding any water. Other changes included altering the amounts of the spices including adding Thai red curry paste and fresh ginger to the mixture. These changes are noted in the list below.

In order to make the most of the ingredients, it is important to let the curry sit for 20 minutes at the end. This allows the chicken to soak in more flavors as the curry cools.

Coconut Chicken Curry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 Tbsp. ground paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 2 yellow onions, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 13-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce, plus more as needed
  • 1 ½ tsp. Madras curry powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp. ground cayenne
  • 2 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste
  •  Cooked rice or noodles, for serving
  • 1 cup cilantro sprigs, for serving
  • 1 lime or lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

Directions

  1. Trim the chicken thighs of excess fat and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces; transfer to a bowl. Add the paprika, turmeric and salt, and use your hands to mix well. Let the chicken marinate at room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients, or cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high. Stir in the onions, lower the heat to medium-low and cook gently, stirring often to prevent scorching, until tender and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook, stirring often, until most of the water from the onions has been cooked out and a glossy layer of oil has risen to the surface, about 5 minutes more.
  3. Add the marinated chicken and stir to release the spices into the onion. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a near boil. Let the coconut milk simmer briskly for about 4 minutes to thicken a bit. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the fish sauce. The broth will thin out as the chicken starts to release its juices.
  4. Lower to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Droplets of paprika-red oil will rise to the surface. Stir in the curry powder, cayenne and Thai red curry paste and simmer briefly and remove from the heat.
  5. Let the curry sit for at least 20 minutes before serving. This allows the chicken to soak in more flavors as the curry cools. Bring to a simmer again right before serving and taste, adding more salt or fish sauce if desired.
  6. Serve over rice or noodles, with bowls of cilantro and lime wedges.

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Adapted from recipe by Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy for NYT Cooking

Spicy Chinese Beef Skewers

Spice it twice—the mantra for this flavorful beef skewer. After skewering but before going on the grill, the meat is dusted generously with the spices. Those spices toast, their flavors deepening during cooking. Once the meat comes off the heat, it’s seasoned a second time with the same spice blend, creating multiple layers of nuanced flavors from the same few ingredients.

What did we do different? In place of flat iron steak, we substituted flap meat because it was already in our freezer and it’s easier to source than the aforementioned flat iron cut. In keeping with the Asian theme, we also grilled bok choy right along with the meat skewers. They benefited from a chili oil sauce that complimented the meat rub.

Don’t trim the fat from the beef before cooking. The fat adds flavor and helps keep the meat succulent. If you’re using a gas grill, make sure to give it at least 10 to 15 minutes to heat before cooking the skewers. This ensures the meat gets a nice surface char without overcooking the interior.

Spicy Chinese Beef Skewers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1½ lbs. beef flat iron steak, sliced against the grain into ¼-inch-thick strips
  • 1 Tbsp. dry sherry or Shaoxing wine
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil, plus more for grill grate
  • 2½ Tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 2½ tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1½ tsp. sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • chili oil, to serve (optional)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the beef, sherry, soy sauce and oil. Let stand at room temperature while preparing the spice mix and the grill.
  2. In a small skillet over medium-low, toast the cumin, fennel and Sichuan peppercorns until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and add the pepper flakes. Process until coarsely ground, about 10 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 1¾ teaspoons salt. Measure out 1 tablespoon of the mix and set aside to use as garnish.
  3. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct, high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals and let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute the coals evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents and the lid vent. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.
  4. While the grill heats, thread the beef onto ten 8- to 10-inch metal skewers, evenly dividing the meat and pushing the pieces together. Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture evenly over both sides of the meat, patting gently to adhere.
  5. Grill until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and grill until the second sides are lightly charred, another 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkling both sides of the skewers with the reserved spice mix, then drizzle with chili oil (if using).

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Adapted from a recipe by Laura Russell for Milk Street

Sizzling Pork and Eggplant Hiyayakko

According to Bon Appétit where we sourced this recipe, Hiyayakko is a Japanese warm-weather starter or side dish made of a small square of chilled silken tofu, a sprinkling of toppings, and saucy drizzles (think a heap of bonito flakes and puddle of soy sauce, or fresh tomatoes with ponzu).

In this version, the simple template goes family-style, with sliced silken tofu carefully shingled on a platter, topped with a savory ground pork and eggplant stir-fry. The combination of cold, custardy tofu and hot, saucy pork was a bit odd in our opinion. We think next time we’d use firm tofu and flash-fry slabs of it in a hot skillet, then shingle it on a platter.

Fresh basil from the garden showered on top was the perfect garnish. If Thai basil is accessible, use that. Unable to source Chinese or Japanese eggplant, we substituted an Italian variety which is typically larger, and therefore had to slice it down differently.

The hubs thought it would be good over steamed rice. While I agree, it is no longer a low-carb or as high a protein meal. Your call…

Sizzling Pork and Eggplant Hiyayakko

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 16-oz. packages silken tofu
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 medium Chinese or Japanese eggplant (about 8 oz. total), cut into 3″-long pieces, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 2 red Thai chiles, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 2″ piece ginger, scrubbed, finely grated
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar, divided
  • Basil leaves (for serving)

Directions

  1. Wrap tofu in a few layers of paper towels to absorb moisture; place on a plate. Chill until ready to use.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook eggplant, stirring occasionally, until slightly tender, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in same skillet. Cook pork, breaking up meat, 1 minute. Add chiles, garlic, ginger, and sugar and cook, stirring and continuing to break up meat into small pieces, until pork is no longer pink and mixture is fragrant, about 4 minutes.
  4. Return eggplant to skillet; add fish sauce, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, and 2 Tbsp. vinegar. Cook, stirring often, until liquid is mostly absorbed and eggplant is browned and tender, about 3 minutes. Add remaining 2 Tbsp. soy sauce and remaining 1 Tbsp. vinegar and cook, stirring, until mixture is slightly saucy, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  5. Carefully unwrap tofu; slice crosswise ½”-thick. Shingle tofu on a platter. Spoon eggplant mixture over; top with basil.

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Adapted from a recipe by Kendra Vaculin for Bon Appétit

Stir-Fried Beef and Gai Lan

This riff on the ever-evolving Chinese American standard features gai lan (Chinese broccoli) and filet mignon: The luxurious cut is ideal for quick, high-heat cooking; is readily available in small portions; and just needed a brief chill in the freezer to firm up for easy slicing before being coated in a simple mixture of soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and cornstarch.

While the meat chills, slice the gai lan stalks thin on the bias and cut the tender leaves into wide ribbons. Start the stir-fry by cooking the stalks in oil in a hot wok. As they sizzle, the oil smolders, infusing the dish with a smoky aroma. Then set the stalks aside and stir-fry the leaves with garlic and toasted sesame oil, speeding their cooking with a small but flavorful addition of chicken broth before arranging them on a serving platter.

Finally, stir-fry the marinated beef; returned the stalks to the wok; and stir in a blend of chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, toasted sesame oil, and cornstarch. The sauce thickens in less than a minute. Arrange the beef mixture over the leaves, ensuring that each bite is perfectly sauced. If desired, serve with steamed rice.

If gai lan is unavailable, you can use broccolini, substituting the florets for the gai lan leaves. Do not use standard broccoli. In the end, we found it served 3 sufficiently, or 4 “small plates”.

Stir-Fried Beef and Gai Lan

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 (8-oz.) center-cut filet mignon, trimmed
  • 1 lb. gai lan, stalks trimmed
  • 5 tsp. Shaoxing wine or dry sherry, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch, divided
  • ¾ cup chicken broth, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1½ tsp. toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1½ tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, divided

Directions

  1. Prepare white rice as per package directions.
  2. Cut beef into 4 equal wedges. Transfer to plate and freeze until very firm, 20 to 25 minutes. While beef freezes, prepare gai lan. Remove leaves, small stems, and florets from stalks; slice leaves crosswise into 1½-inch strips (any florets and stems can go into pile with leaves); and cut stalks on bias into ¼-inch-thick pieces. Set aside.
  3. When beef is firm, stand 1 piece on its side and slice against grain ¼ inch thick. Repeat with remaining pieces. Transfer to bowl. Add 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch and toss until beef is evenly coated. Set aside.
  4. In second bowl, whisk together ½ cup broth, oyster sauce, ½ teaspoon sesame oil, remaining 4 teaspoons Shaoxing wine, remaining 2 teaspoons soy sauce, and remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch; set aside.
  5. In third bowl, combine 4 teaspoons vegetable oil, ginger, and ¼ teaspoon garlic.
  6. Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in wok over high heat until just smoking. Add stalks and cook, stirring slowly but constantly, until spotty brown and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
  7. Add remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil, remaining 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, and remaining ½ teaspoon garlic to wok and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add leaves and cook, stirring frequently, until vibrant green, about 1 minute. Add remaining ¼ cup broth and cook, stirring constantly, until broth evaporates, 2 to 3 minutes. Spread evenly on serving dish.
  8. Add ginger-garlic mixture to wok and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef and cook, stirring slowly but constantly, until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Return stalks to wok and add oyster sauce mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens, 30 to 60 seconds. Place mixture on top of leaves. Serve.

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Recipe by Lan Lam for Cook’s Illustrated

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