Sunday Supper: Stir-Fried Beef with Onions and Ginger

Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Stir-Fried Beef with Onions and Ginger

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes, plus time to freeze the beef

Onions, beef, and ginger are an almost holy combination; the synthesis is simply delicious. Other cuts and meats you can use: pork, preferably from the shoulder or leg (fresh ham); lamb, preferably from the shoulder or leg; boneless chicken; shrimp.

3 /4to 1 pound flank or sirloin steak or other tender beef cut

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

2 large or 3 medium onions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced or grated

fresh ginger

1 /2cup beef or chicken stock, or water

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce or soy sauce

1. Slice the beef as thinly as you can, across the grain. It’s easier if you freeze it for 15 to 30 minutes first. Cut the slices into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Heat a large skillet over high heat until it smokes, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and the onions. Stir immediately, then stir every 30 seconds or so until the onions soften and begin to char slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the onions with salt and pepper, then remove them; keep the heat high.

3. Add the remaining oil to the pan, then the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the ginger; stir and immediately add the beef. Stir immediately, then stir every 20 seconds or so until it loses its color, just a minute or two longer; stir in the onions. Add the stock, hoisin, and remaining teaspoon of ginger; let some of the liquid bubble away and serve immediately, over rice.

 

Posted in Chinese, Recipes

Sunday Supper: Braised Tofu with Eggplant and Shitakes

A different kind of braising for a lazy Sunday evening. Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Braised Tofu with Eggplant and Shiitakes

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

A more-or-less traditional Sichuan preparation, creamy and delicious with soft-cooked eggplant, made crisp by the addition of sautéed shiitakes. Substitute green beans for the eggplant if you like.

1 /4cup peanut oil or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

1 cup sliced shiitake caps (reserve stems for stock or discard)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger (optional)

11/2 pounds eggplant, trimmed, cut into 11/2-inch chunks

1 tablespoon Chile Paste (optional)

1 /2 cup vegetable stock or water

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 pound tofu, blotted dry and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil for garnish (optional)

Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

2 tablespoons minced scallion for garnish (optional)

1. Put half the oil in a deep skillet or shallow saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shiitakes and some salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. Add the remaining oil and, a few seconds later, the garlic and the ginger if you’re using it. As soon as it sizzles, add the eggplant. Cook, stirring every minute or so, until the eggplant browns, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the chile paste if you’re using it, along with the stock. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan if necessary to release any stuck bits of eggplant. Cook until the eggplant is really tender, 10 to 15 minutes more, adding a little more liquid if necessary (unlikely, but not impossible).

3. Stir in the soy sauce and tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is heated through, about 5 minutes; stir in the reserved shiitakes and turn off the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then garnish as you like and serve.

 

Posted in Chinese, Produce

Food Matters Cookbook: Sneak Preview Recipe

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Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook. Pre-order the book today or pick up a copy when it’s released on September 21st.

Crisp Noodle Cake with Stir-Fried Greens and Shrimp

Makes: 4 servings                                                                                                       

Time: 45 minutes                                                                                                        

A noodle cake makes a fantastic side dish, snack, or base for a stir-fry, where it soaks up all of the savory juices. You don’t need much else to call this a meal, though a beer alongside wouldn’t hurt.

11/2 pounds bok choy, gai lan (Chinese broccoli), tatsoi, or other Asian green

Salt

8 ounces any rice, buckwheat (soba), or wheat noodle, preferably whole grain

3 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons sesame oil

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 fresh hot chile (like jalapeño or Thai), seeded and minced, or to taste

Black pepper

8 ounces shrimp, peeled

1/2 cup chopped scallions

1/2 cup chopped peanuts, optional

1. Cut the leaves from the stems of the bok choy. Trim the stems and cut them into 1-inch pieces; cut the leaves into bite-size pieces or ribbons. Rinse everything well.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Cook the noodles until tender but not mushy. Check them frequently: The time will vary from a minute or 2 for thin rice noodles, to 5 minutes for soba, or up to 12 minutes for wide brown rice noodles. Drain them and rinse with cold water. Toss the noodles with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil.

3. Put 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the noodles and press down a bit. Cook, pressing down occasionally, until brown and crisp on the bottom (adjust the heat so the noodles brown but do not burn). Carefully put a large dish over the skillet and flip it to turn out the cake. Add a little more oil to the pan, swirl it around, and gently slide the cake off the plate and back into the skillet, uncooked side down, all in one piece. Brown the other side, then slide it onto a platter. (At this point you can cut the cake into 4 wedges, or wait and roughly break it apart after topping.)

4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add the ginger, garlic, and chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bok choy stems, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the stems just lose their crunch, about 3 minutes.

5. Add the shrimp to the pan along with the bok choy leaves, scallions, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, and 1/2 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates and the stems are very tender, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more soy sauce if necessary. Serve the stir-fry over the noodle cake, topped with pea- nuts if you like.

 

Posted in Chinese, Recipes

Sunday Supper: Squid with Chiles and Greens

A lot of people only eat squid if it’s deep-fried. Here it’s stir-fried, which means that it’s quick, it’s easy, and it won’t make your kitchen too hot for too long. Adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Squid with Chiles and Greens

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes

Squid cooks so fast and freezes so well that this dish can easily become a pantry staple for weeknights. As with most stir-fries, just about all the ingredients can be varied. Serve with sticky rice.

About 1 1/2 pounds cleaned squid

8 to 12 ounces bitter greens, like collards, kale, arugula, or dandelion

3 tablespoons peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

1 chopped jalapeño or other fresh chile, or to taste, or several dried hot chiles

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

Salt

1. Separate the squids’ tentacles from their bodies if that has not been done; slice the bodies into rings; cut the tentacles in half if they’re large. Rinse well and drain while you prepare the other ingredients. Strip the greens’ leaves from the stems and discard any stems thicker than 1/8 inch. Chop, rinse, and dry; you want 2 to 3 cups.

2. Put the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When hot, add the chile and the garlic and stir for about 15 seconds. Add the greens and cook, stirring almost constantly, until they wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the squid and a large pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squid becomes opaque and its liquid moistens the greens, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve immediately.

 

Posted in Chinese

The New Vegetarian Sandwich?

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Staff lunch from No. 7 Sub in Manhattan: General Tso’s Tofu with seaweed and pickles, Eggplant Parm with fontina, yellow squash, pickled jalapenos and BBQ potato chips (on the sub), Zucchini Cubano with smoked gouda, peaches and pickled daikon, and an fBLT (the “f” stands for fake, presumably), with soy bacon, lettuce, green and red tomatoes. We love the innovative vegetarian sandwiches (they make meaty subs as well). Some are better than others: the seaweed on the fried General Tso’s Tofu is a knockout, the BBQ potato chips on the Eggplant Parm are a nice, crunchy touch, the soy bacon… not that good. Either way, we’re happy to get a break from mozzarella with roasted red peppers.

Posted in Chinese

Stir-Fried Squid (But Not That Much) and Basil

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The interesting thing about this squid stir-fry was how much squid I used: two of ‘em, for two people, and although they were big-ish, the total weight was about a quarter-pound, and the dish fed two of us more than satisfactorily.  

I cooked a big onion, a couple of stalks of celery, and some garlic and ginger in peanut oil until they were tender. I took ‘em out, threw in cut up squid, and cooked for about a minute. I put the vegies back in, along with the basil you see here and, a minute later, a couple of tablespoons  of peanuts, then a couple of tablespoons of water and soy sauce. Tiny bit of sesame oil. That was it, and over rice – we were happy.

Posted in Chinese, Seafood

Decent Food at 30,000 Feet, Seriously

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By Andrea Nguyen

[Andrea discovers decent airplane food, and converts it to an appealing recipe. – mb)

Airline food is rarely something that you want to replicate at home. On a recent press trip to Asia, though I was treated to business class flights. We kicked off our long-haul back to the States with a 2-hour leg from Hanoi to Hong Kong; it was late morning and I’d breakfasted on pho noodle soup and croissant, thinking that I wouldn’t eat until the afternoon when we reached Hong Kong.

But we were served a full lunch, and I suddenly felt hungry when I got a whiff of the meal that the flight staff was reheating. It smelled comforting — garlic, soy sauce, maybe fish sauce too. Continue reading

Posted in Chinese, Travel

It’s Party Time: Make Dumplings!

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By Cathy Erway

My brother recently celebrated his 30th birthday. And just like his 29th and 28th, he celebrated with a dumpling party in his apartment. Friends showed up, having been told to bring any type of dumpling filling of their own, and after folding lessons and several rounds of pan-frying the party enjoyed “lasagna dumplings,” kielbasa and sauerkraut dumplings, and cream cheese, salmon and scallion dumplings, among other less-traditional varieties. We don’t think this is very strange at all: We toss out the books and invite any and all kinds of food combinations and cuisines inside a typical Chinese potsticker (guotie or jiaozi).

For us, there are no boundaries of taste when we’re making one of our favorite foods. We certainly didn’t inherit this inclination for unheard-of dumpling fillings from our Chinese mom, whose response to the latest creations was that they sounded “weird.” But I distinctly remember her squeezing out thawed, frozen spinach to chop into her pork dumpling filling, when she didn’t have the chance to get Napa cabbage from the Asian store. Nice one, mom. Now that I know to substitute with what’s available, I’ll make available everything.

Continue reading

Posted in Chinese

Early Spring Vegetables Are Great on the Grill

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By Cathy Erway

[Cathy’s approach to early-season grilling. (I had to look up “appetant,” by the way.) – mb]

If your social calendar looks anything like mine, this weekend marks the debut of many appetent backyard owners’ barbecues. Seriously, don’t all shout at once! (Or do, but please stagger your times and locations conveniently, because I can’t wait to get to them all.)

So we all know and love to grill peppers, eggplant and corn on the cob, but since it’s still spring, our choices for local produce are more limited. Fear not, locavore: almost anything can be grilled. And better yet, slicked with a sweet-and-spicy sauce first. Just because spring and early summer vegetables don’t all have the vibrancy and flavor characteristic of those later on, with a little torching and some tweaking, they really shine. Here are some of my favorite, less-expected things to throw down.  Continue reading

Posted in Chinese, Produce