Coquilles St. Jacques

lb bay scallops
1/2 – 3/4 cup dry French vermouth (or any good dry white wine)
A generous tablespoon of minced scallion (white part)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 generous tablespoon cornstarch blended with enough cold water to make a smooth paste (for thickening)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Grated Swiss cheese – a small sprinkling for each serving

Line a baking sheet with crumpled foil, and arrange 6 clean scallop shells on top (see NOTES below). Then put the bay scallops, vermouth, scallion, and salt in a non-stick, 10-inch diamete skillet. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat, then immediately lower the heat, and let simmer until the scallops are just springy to the touch – about 2 minutes.

Pour the scallops and all of their cooking juices into a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium-size bowl. Return the cooking juices to the skillet, and tip the scallops into the (now empty) bowl. Add the cream to the cooking juices, and bring them to a boil. Then add the cornstarch mixture, and whisk until thickened – about 15 seconds. Off heat, whisk in the paprika.

Tip the sauce over the scallops, and stir gently to combine. Divide the scallop mixture between the shells, and top them off with a light sprinkling of the grated cheese. (If you are not planning to broil the scallops right away, cover and refrigerate them for several hours. Remove the cover before broiling.) Broil until the cream sauce thickens, and the cheese colors attractively – 2-3 minutes. Serve at once.

NOTES: For the best presentation, be sure to serve Coquille St. Jacques in scallop shells. The shells are available at most kitchen-supply stores. Otherwise, use a baking or gratin dish that is just large enough to hold the scallop mixture.

Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

2 cups / 14 oz / 400g yellow split peas
7 cups / 1.6 liters water
1 medium yellow carrot or parsnip, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons ghee, or coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 tablespoons yellow curry paste
10 yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered (optional)
1 cup full fat coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt, or to taste

to serve: micro greens, toasted seeds, chives or chive oil, creme fraiche or yogurt.

Give the split peas a good rinse – until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.

In the meantime, in a small skillet or saucepan over low heat, heat the ghee, and saute the onion until translucent. Stir in the curry paste, and cook, stirring constantly, until the until it is quite fragrant – just a minute or two.

Add the remaining ginger, and tomatoes. Saute for a few minutes, until the tomatoes collapse a bit. Add this mixture to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like. Then re-season.

Ladle into bowls and top with any of the suggested toppings. Or serve over rice or quinoa.

Plum Torte (with variations)

3/4 to 1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt (optional)
2 eggs
24 halves pitted purple plums

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.

Spoon the batter into a springform pan of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.

Bake 1 hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream. (To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.)

Variations:

Replace the plums with almost any seasonal fruit: apricots, halved and pitted; cranberries or any summer berry; sliced apples, nectarines, peaches and pears. Canned and frozen fruit can stand in for fresh.

Experiment with spices, herbs and extracts: vanilla extract, almond extract, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, rosemary, orange or lemon zest.

Play with the flours. You can add almond or cornmeal flour to the all-purpose flour, or swap in whole wheat flour or gluten-free flour blends, with excellent results.

Double, triple, even quadruple it. The batter scales up like a dream, and the baked cake freezes well.

Hunan Pork and Tofu

For the pork and marinade:
10 ounces pork, sliced ?-inch thick
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch

For the rest of the dish:
6 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
1 block firm tofu, drained and cut into 2-inch squares, ½-inch thick
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons spicy doubanjiang chili bean sauce
3 scallions, cut on an angle into 2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
3 tablespoons fermented black beans
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1×2-inch pieces (about 1½ cups)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup hot water or chicken stock
Cornstarch slurry (1 tablespoon water mixed with 1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional)

In a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of water to the pork slices and massage until the pork absorbs all of the water. Next, add the oil and cornstarch, mix thoroughly until the pork is coated, and set aside.
Heat your wok over high heat, and spread 2 tablespoons of oil around the wok to evenly coat the surface. Add the tofu slices to the wok in one layer, and let them sear. Don’t move them for a least 1 minute! Tilt your wok so the oil reaches the tofu on all sides. Add more oil if needed.
After another 1 to 2 minutes, the tofu should be browned, and it should not stick to the wok. You may have use a metal spatula to loosen the pieces slightly. Turn down the heat, and carefully flip all of the tofu slices. After the tofu is golden brown on both sides, transfer to a plate. They should be much easier to handle now.
Over high heat, add another 2 tablespoons of oil to your wok. When the wok just starts to smoke a bit, immediately add the pork. Spread the pork around the wok using your metal spatula, and let the meat sear for 20 seconds on one side. Stir fry for another 15 seconds, and scoop out the meat into your marinade bowl. It should be about 80% cooked.
Using the same wok, turn the heat to low, and immediately add 2 tablespoons oil, the minced ginger, the spicy chili bean paste (dou ban jiang), and the white parts of the scallions. Stir this mixture into the oil and let it fry at low heat for 15 seconds to infuse the oil and bring out a rich red color.
Next, add the garlic, black beans, red bell peppers, and the rest of the scallions. Turn the heat to high, and give everything a good stir-frying for 45 seconds. The red pepper will sear and add more natural red color to this dish!
Add the pork and juices from your marinade bowl and the tofu back to the wok. Next, spread 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine around the perimeter of the wok, add the sugar, and continue to stir-fry for 15 seconds. Be gentle so you don’t break up the tofu.
After another 15 seconds of stir-frying, spread the hot chicken stock or water around the perimeter of the wok to deglaze it. Continue to stir fry for another 30 seconds, being sure to spread the liquid to the sides of the wok to further deglaze it. (Notice we did not add salt or soy sauce, since the combination of the spicy bean paste and the fermented soybeans is quite salty.)
At this point, you can continue to stir-fry the dish until most of the liquid is reduced, or add the water and cornstarch to thicken any standing liquid. Plate this Hunan Pork and Tofu and enjoy with rice!

Braised Brisket with Tamarind and Palm Sugar

1/2 cup packed grated palm sugar
1/2 cup tamarind pulp (Prepare it yourself or use a Thai brand only. Do not use an Indian brand of tamarind like Tamicon or Swad; they’re great for Indian food, but they’ll ruin this—or any Thai—recipe.)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 1/2 pounds beef brisket
1 tablespoon cornstarch
As many fresh red bird’s eye chilies as you’d like, stemmed and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
1 tablespoon finely sliced chives or green onions

Position an oven rack in the middle. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Meanwhile, combine the sugar, tamarind, and fish sauce in a small saucepan; set over medium heat and heat, stirring constantly, just until the sugar has melted (no need to bring it to a boil). Take off the heat. Taste to see if you like it and adjust seasoning as needed. Aim for sweet and sour with salty trailing behind. Once the sauce tastes good to you, set it aside.

Place a ceramic baking dish (that is only slightly larger than the brisket—don’t use a pan that’s too small which will cause the liquid to overflow or too large which cause the liquid to spread out too much and be too shallow to braise the meat) on a baking sheet.

Spread half of the prepared sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Place the brisket, fat side down, in the dish and pour the remaining sauce all over the brisket.

Cover tightly with foil and put the baking sheet (with the baking dish on it) on the prepared rack in the oven.
Bake undisturbed 4 to 4½ hours just until the brisket is fork tender but still has some bite to it and holds it shape. The cooking time is determined by the dimensions of the brisket and not so much the total weight, so you will have to play it by ear.

Remove the foil and turn it over so the dry side is down and the side that touches the brisket is up. Shake off the liquid that clings to the brisket back into the dish and transfer the brisket to the foil. Wrap the brisket with the foil and leave to cool to slightly warmer than room temperature.

Pour the liquid that remains in the dish into a heatproof glass measurement cup. Leave it undisturbed for a few minutes to allow the fat to rise to the top. Skim off the fat. Hopefully, you’ll have 1 cup of braising liquid left after the fat has been skimmed off. If not, add more water to the liquid to get 1 cup.

Place the liquid in a small saucepan. Whisk in the cornstarch, making sure there are no lumps. Put the pan on medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, until the liquid thickens into a silky gravy—a bit on the runny side.

Slice the brisket against the grain into ½-inch slices. Arrange the meat on a serving platter. Pour the sauce over it. Scatter the sliced chilies and chives on top. Serve with warm jasmine rice and a vegetable dish of your choice.

Harra bi Isbaou

2 cups (400 grams) brown lentils
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
3 large onions, sliced (about 6 cups)
2 to 3 pita rounds, cut into ½-inch squares (about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped cilantro (from 1 large bunch)
6 large cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
1/2 cup (70 grams) of a small pasta (such as elbow macaroni)
4 1/2 ounces (125 grams) tamarind pulp (or use ¼ cup pomegranate syrup)
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Place the lentils in a large bowl and cover with several inches of water. Let soak 2 hours.

Meanwhile, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add onions in 1- or 2- cup batches (don’t overcrowd them in the pan) and deep- fry until golden to dark brown, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn the onions, or they’ll be bitter. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate covered in paper towels and let cool uncovered so that they don’t get soggy. Repeat with remaining onions.

Add the pieces of pita to the oil, 1 cup at a time, and deep-fry until dark golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon to their own plate covered in paper towels and let cool uncovered. Repeat with remaining pita.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cilantro, half the garlic and a dash of salt and cook, stirring constantly, until the cilantro becomes a deep green and the mixture is fragrant; remove from heat.

After the lentils have soaked for 2 hours they should be slightly tender. Drain them and transfer to a heavy-bottomed pot. Cover with 4 cups (960 milliliters) water and add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the pasta and cook until tender, 5 to 8 more minutes.

Meanwhile, put the tamarind pulp in a small bowl and add 6 ounces (177 milliliters) water. Massage the pulp with your hands to dissolve the tamarind in the liquid. Strain the mixture through a mesh sieve to remove any seeds, using a spoon to push it through. You should have ½ cup liquefied tamarind. Once the pasta and lentils are tender, add the tamarind and lemon juice and stir well. After about 5 minutes, stir in the remaining crushed garlic and half of the fried onions. Simmer until the mixture is a thick stew — not dry, but not watery either, about 5 more minutes. Season to taste with salt.

This dish can be served hot off the stove, at room temperature or cold. Distribute lentils to bowls and divide the garlic-cilantro mixture among them. Sprinkle with fried bread and top with crispy onions.

Note: If you don’t have two hours to soak the lentils, then cover 2 cups lentils in 8 cups water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and keep on stove until tender. It’ll take 45 to 60 minutes to cook the lentils this way, so you’ll still have time to prepare the garnishes while the lentils are on the stove.

Coconut Chicken Curry

2 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
2 cups water or chicken broth
2 plum tomatoes, diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
salt and white pepper (black pepper may be substituted)

Heat the oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over low heat, and immediately add the curry powder. Let it cook in the oil for 1-2 minutes, making sure not to burn it. In the meantime, dice the onion and smash the garlic. Add them to the pot, turn the heat up to medium, and give everything a stir.

Stir in the coconut milk and water (or chicken broth). Bring to a boil. While you’re waiting for that, dice the tomatoes and prep the potatoes. Add them both to the pot and season with salt, then add the sugar. Cover the lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through.

Cut the chicken thighs into chunks and season with salt and pepper. Once the potatoes are cooked through, add the chicken to the pot and give everything a stir. Cover the lid and cook for 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve with rice!

Big Plate Chicken with Noodles

For marinating the chicken:
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon cornstarch

For the rest of the dish:
3 tablespoons oil
4 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
5 bay leaves
6 slices fresh ginger
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
6 -10 whole dried red chilies (optional)
1½ teaspoons sugar
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 carrot, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1½ tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons shaoxing wine
3 – 5 cups water, start with 3 cups and add more as needed
8 oz. dried noodle of your choice, preferably a thicker-style flat noodle
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
Salt to taste
1 scallion, sliced

Start by marinating the chicken. Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a bowl with the marinade ingredients. Set aside for 20 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

When you’re ready to cook, heat the oil in a wok over low heat. Add the star anise, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, ginger, garlic, Sichuan peppercorns, chilies, and sugar. Cook this mixture for 2 minutes, making sure they don’t burn. Add the chicken and turn up the heat. Stir-fry until the chicken is seared.
Add the potatoes and carrots and stir-fry for a minute. Then add the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, shaoxing wine, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Cover the wok and cook for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

While the chicken is cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil. Follow the package instructions to cook the noodles. Drain.
Once the potatoes are cooked through, by now, there should be at least 1 1½ cups of liquid in the wok so add more water if needed.To your wok, stir in the bell peppers. Cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste the dish and season with salt to taste. Now transfer the noodles to a large plate, and cover with your chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle with scallions and serve immediately!

Note: If you want more sauce, add a little more water to the wok. If the sauce is too thin, just turn up the heat to reduce and thicken the sauce.

Chongqing Chicken

For the chicken/marinade:
3 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oil
2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

For the rest of the dish:
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
2 slices ginger, julienned
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup whole dried red chilies (see note!)
1 teaspoon Shaoxing cooking wine
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 scallion, chopped

Note: You can use fewer dried chilies if you like. This dish won’t actually be that spicy, unless you break open some of the dry hot peppers. If you do like the dish spicy, don’t break open more than six peppers.

Start by rinsing the chicken and cutting it into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken to a bowl and toss with the marinade ingredients. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Prepare the rest of the ingredients. When you’re ready to cook, heat 3 tablespoons oil in a wok over high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer, and let it sear (DO NOT STIR at this point). Once you’ve got a good, crisp crust on the bottom of the chicken, stir and continue to sear the chicken until it’s browned and crisp on all sides. You really need a hot wok to achieve this. Turn off the heat and remove the chicken to a plate with a slotted spoon.

There should be about 1 tablespoon of oil left in the wok at this point. Add more if you need to. Heat the wok over medium low heat, and add the Sichuan peppercorns. Let them toast for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Add the whole dried chilies, and stir for another minute. Monitor the heat levels to avoid burning.

Turn up the heat to high, and add the chicken, Shaoxing wine, sugar, and scallion. Continue to stir-fry, until any liquid in the wok has evaporated. Serve with rice and a veggie!

Coconut Curry Noodle Soup with Chicken

2 tablespoons oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
8 oz. boneless chicken breast or thighs, sliced
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2/3 cup coconut milk
6 oz. dried rice vermicelli noodles
1 lime, juiced
Sliced red onion, red chilis, cilantro, scallions to garnish

In a large pot over medium heat, add the oil, garlic, ginger, and Thai red curry paste. Fry for 5 minutes, until fragrant. Add the chicken and cook for a couple minutes, just until the chicken turns opaque.

Add the chicken broth, water, fish sauce, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. At this point, taste the broth for salt and adjust seasoning accordingly (add salt if needed, or if it’s too salty, add a bit of water). Pour the boiling soup over the dried vermicelli noodles in your serving bowls, add a squeeze of lime juice and your garnishes, and serve. The noodles will be ready to eat in a couple minutes.

(Alternatively, you can add the noodles to the boiling broth to cook them, and then divide among serving bowls).

Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

For the chicken & marinade:
2 tablespoons water
12 ounces sliced chicken thighs or chicken breast
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the rest of the dish:
8 ounces wide dried rice noodles
1½ teaspoons brown sugar, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
2 teaspoons soy sauce (Thai soy sauce preferred)
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
pinch of ground white pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
¼ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
2 shallots, sliced (about ? cups)
1 scallion, julienned into 3-inch pieces
4 Thai red chili peppers, deseeded and julienned
1 cup loosely packed holy basil or Thai basil
5 to 6 pieces of baby corn, split in half (optional)
2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine

Work the two tablespoons of water into the chicken with your hands until the chicken absorbs the liquid. Add the soy sauce, oil and cornstarch, and mix until the chicken is evenly coated. Set aside for 20 minutes.

Follow the directions on the rice noodle package to prepare your noodles. What I usually do is prepare a stainless steel bowl with hot tap water to soak the noodles for about 15 minutes. Then I just drain them and set aside.

Stir together the dissolved brown sugar/water mixture, soy sauces, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and white pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat your wok until it’s close to smoking, and spread 2 tablespoons of oil around the perimeter of the wok. Add the chicken and let it sear for 1 minute on each side until it’s about 90% cooked. Remove from the wok and set aside. If the heat was high enough and you seared the meat correctly, your wok should be still clean with nothing sticking to it. If not, you can wash the wok to prevent the rice noodles from sticking.
Continue with the wok on high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil, along with the garlic and grated ginger.

After a few seconds, add the shallots. Stir fry for 20 seconds and add the scallions, chili peppers, basil, baby corn and shaoxing wine. Stir-fry for another 20 seconds and add in the rice noodles. Use a scooping motion to mix everything for another minute until the noodles warm up.

Next, add the prepared sauce mixture and stir-fry at the highest heat for about 1 minute until the noodles are uniform in color. Take care to use your metal spatula to scrape the bottom of the wok to prevent sticking. Add the seared chicken and stir-fry for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Firebird Chicken

the chicken and the marinade:
12 oz. chicken breast, sliced into ¼-inch thick pieces
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

For the rest of the dish:
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 scallions, sliced at an angle into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup bamboo shoots
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons Sacha sauce (Chinese BBQ sauce)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chili oil (preferably with a good mix of both oil and toasted pepper flakes)

Optional auxiliary sauce kicker:
1/3 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, plus just enough water to make a slurry (optional)

Add the chicken to a bowl, along with 2 tablespoons water. Use your hands to massage the water into the chicken until it is absorbed. Add the rest of the marinade ingredients to the chicken, mix well and set aside.

Heat your wok until almost smoking, and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Spread the chicken one layer deep, and let sear for about 20 seconds. Turn the chicken and let the other side sear for another 20 seconds. Then, immediately transfer back into the marinade bowl.

Add another tablespoon of oil and ginger to the wok, and let caramelize for 10 seconds. Working quickly, stir in the garlic and scallions. After 15 seconds, add the seared chicken (and any juices from the bowl), and the bamboo shoots.

The wok should be on the highest heat and should be searing hot for this next step. Pour the tablespoon of Shaoxing wine around the wok and quickly add the Sacha sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and chili oil. It’s a good idea to combine all these ingredients in a bowl before you turn on your stove, so that you’re not fumbling with jars and bottles while cooking. Note: If this sounds too spicy for you, you can add chili oil to taste rather than the entire amount called for.

Stir-fry everything to combine—at this point, it’s a glistening, spicy, delicious party. The sauces should combine nicely and the cornstarch from the chicken marinade should thicken the sauce slightly. Add a tablespoon of chicken stock if the sauce is too thick. If you like a lot of sauce, add in the optional auxiliary sauce kicker ingredients at this point, and stir fry for another 20 seconds. Plate and serve over rice!

Thai Basil Chicken

3 tablespoons oil
3 Thai bird or holland chilies, de-seeded (if desired) and thinly sliced
3 shallots, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pound ground chicken
2 teaspoons sugar or honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth or water
1 bunch holy or Thai basil leaves

In a wok over high heat, add the oil, chilies, shallots and garlic, and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the ground chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes, breaking up the chicken into small bits.

Add the sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Stir-fry for another minute and deglaze the pan with the broth. Because your pan is over high heat, the liquid should cook off very quickly. Add the basil, and stir-fry until wilted. Serve over rice.

Beef Chow Fun (gon chow ngau ho)

For the beef & marinade:
8 oz. flank steak
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (optional)
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon oil
For the rest of the dish:
12 oz. fresh flat rice noodles
3 tablespoons oil
4 scallions, split in half vertically and cut into 3-inch pieces
3 thin slices ginger
2 tablespoons shaoxing wine
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons regular soy sauce
Pinch of sugar
salt and white pepper, to taste
4 to 6 ounces fresh mung bean sprouts

Combine the beef and marinade ingredients and let it marinate for about an hour. The little bit of baking soda tenderizes the meat.

Some rice noodles come as large sheets, while others are already cut. If you have the sheets, slice the rice noodles so they’re about ½-3/4 of an inch thick.

Heat your wok over high heat until smoking, and add 1½ tablespoons oil to coat the wok. Add the beef and sear until browned. As long as your wok is hot enough, the meat shouldn’t stick. Set aside. Add a little more oil to the wok. Then add the ginger first to infuse the oil with its rich flavor for about 15 seconds. Add the scallions.

Spread the noodles evenly in the wok and stir-fry the whole mix on high until it is mixed evenly, about 15 seconds. Add the shaoxing wine around the rim of the wok.

Next, add the sesame oil, soy sauces, pinch of sugar, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste (taste the noodles before adding salt) along with the beef. Stir fry, making sure your spatula scrapes the bottom of the wok and you lift the ho fun in an upward motion to mix well and coat them evenly with the soy sauce.

If the noodles were cold and refrigerated when you started, you may have to toss the noodles longer to heat them through properly. If the noodles are fresh, then less time will be required. Your heat should remain as high as possible at all times. Add the bean sprouts and stir-fry until the bean sprouts are just tender. Serve!

Cantonese Beef Curry

3 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into large (1½-inch) cubes
1/4 cup oil, plus 1 tablespoon (divided)
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 shallots, finely chopped
One 6-inch section of lemongrass
3 bay leaves
1/3 cup good curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 cups chicken broth or water
4 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 medium onions, cut into large chunks
3 large potatoes, cut into large chunks
2 carrots, cut into large chunks
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

First, blanch the beef to get rid of any impurities. Boil a pot of water, add the chunks of beef, and bring to a boil again. Drain immediately and set aside.

Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium low heat. Add the garlic, shallots, lemongrass, and bay leaves to infuse the oil. Cook for a few minutes. Then turn the heat down to the lowest setting and add the curry powder and turmeric. Stir until well-combined. If need be, add a little bit more oil so the curry powder doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Take care not to burn the spices!

After a minute, add in the beef, chicken broth, sugar and tomato paste. Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, give the mixture a stir, turn the heat back down to medium, and cover. Let the curry simmer (covered) for 60-75 minutes. Check on the curry occasionally to stir and make sure your curry isn’t burning.

While the curry is simmering, prepare the onions, potatoes, and carrots. Next, heat a tablespoon of oil in your wok over medium heat. Cook the onions until transparent (about 2 minutes). Transfer to a separate dish and set aside.

After the beef is done simmering, it’s time to add the coconut milk, potatoes, and carrots. Turn up the heat, mix everything well, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down again to medium low, cover, and simmer for another 20 minutes.
By now, the potatoes, carrots, and beef should be tender. Add the onions and salt to taste. If need be, turn up the heat and reduce the liquid a bit to thicken the sauce. The sauce should be thick, but there should still be plenty left to pour over your rice. This one gets better after sitting in the refrigerator overnight, so don’t be afraid to make a big batch!

Pho

2 3-inch pieces ginger, cut in half lengthwise
2 onions, peeled
5 pounds beef marrow or knuckle bones
2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2 pieces
2 scallions, cut into 4-inch lengths
1/3 cup fish sauce
2 1/2 ounces rock sugar, or 2½ tablespoons granulated sugar
8 star anise
6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 black cardamom pod (optional)
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound dried pho noodles
1/3 pound beef sirloin, slightly frozen, then sliced paper-thin against the grain

Garnishes:
Sliced chili
Thinly sliced onion
Chopped scallion
Cilantro
Mung bean sprouts
Thai basil
Lime wedges

Start by charring your ginger and onions. One at a time, use tongs to hold the ginger and onions (one at a time) over an open flame, or place it directly on an electric burner. Turn until they’re lightly blackened and fragrant about 3 minutes. Rinse away all the blackened skins and set aside.

Place the bones and beef chuck in large stockpot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and thoroughly clean the stockpot. This process will give you a much cleaner broth.

Add 5 quarts fresh water back to the stockpot and bring to a boil. Transfer the bones and meat back to the pot, along with the charred/cleaned ginger and onions. Add the scallions, fish sauce and sugar. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the beef chuck is tender, about 40 minutes. Skim the surface often to remove any foam and fat.

Remove one piece of the chuck and transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Transfer the beef to a container and refrigerate. Leave the other piece of chuck in the pot.

Now toast the spices (star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, fennel seeds, and coriander seeds) in a dry pan over medium low heat for about 3 minutes, until fragrant. Use kitchen string to tie up the spices in a piece of cheesecloth, and add it to the broth.

Continue simmering for another 4 hours. Add the salt and continue to simmer, skimming as necessary, until you’re ready to assemble the rest of the dish. Taste broth and adjust seasoning by adding more salt, sugar, and/or fish sauce as needed.

To serve, boil the noodles according to package instructions. Add to a bowl. Place a few slices of the beef chuck and the raw sirloin on the noodles. Bring the broth to a rolling boil and ladle it into each bowl. The hot broth will cook the beef. Garnish with your toppings, and be sure to squeeze a lot of fresh lime juice over the top!

Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup

need:
4 lbs beef or pork soup bones
2¼ lbs (1 kg) beef shank
½ of a whole roasting chicken (or a leftover roasted chicken carcass)
10 cups water
4 cups (about 1 liter) chicken stock
Spice mix (see recipe below)
Salt, to taste (I added about a tablespoon)
½ of a small Chinese radish, quartered and thinly sliced
1 lb fresh or dried white noodles (they can really be any thickness, as long as they are wheat-based noodles rather than rice noodles, and have a nice chew when cooked)
Hot chili oil, to taste (see recipe below)
chopped scallion
chopped cilantro
For the spice mix:
7 star anise
12 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
5 bay leaves
6 large slices of ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons white peppercorns
5 licorice root slices (if you can’t find these, you can leave them out)
3 pieces dried orange peel
1 black cardamom
For the hot chili oil:
3/4 cup oil
2 star anise
1/2 of a small cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
3 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes (just the regular kind you’d sprinkle on your pizza)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Rinse the soup bones and pat dry. Roast them on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the beef shank and the chicken (or chicken carcass) to the pot. Bring everything to a boil again. Once boiling, remove the shank and the chicken, discard the water, and clean the pot. This process gets rid of any impurities, and will give your broth a cleaner flavor.

Put the beef shank and chicken back into the pot along with the roasted bones, 10 more cups of water, and 4 cups chicken stock. Make the spice mix by combining all ingredients and tying them tightly in cheese cloth with a bit of kitchen string. Add this to the pot as well and season with salt. Bring everything to a boil.

Once boiling, turn down the heat to low and let everything simmer for about 2 hours. After 2 hours have elapsed, remove the beef shank and set aside. Add the sliced radish and continue simmering for another hour. After that, use tongs to pick out and discard the spice pouch, chicken, and soup bones. Taste the broth for salt and adjust the seasoning if needed. The soup base is ready.

While all that is happening, you can take the time to make your chili oil. In a small pot, add the oil, star anise, cinnamon, and Sichuan peppercorns. Place the pot over very low heat and let everything toast together slowly for 15 minutes. Take care not to burn the spices. Use a slotted spoon to remove the spices, and turn off the heat. Let the oil cool for about 5 minutes, and then add the chili flakes. Slowly toast these in the hot oil until very fragrant (it should almost smell like popcorn), and very red. Stir in the salt and sugar.

Once the broth and chili oil are done, cook the noodles in a separate pot according to the package instructions. Divide the noodles among 6 bowls. Slice the cooled beef shank into thin slices, and fan them out over the noodles. To finish, add a big ladle of broth and radishes, a spoonful of hot chili oil, and a handful each (don’t be shy) of chopped scallion and cilantro.

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup (Niu Ro Mian)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds beef shank, cut into 4 large pieces
1 pound beef tendons
6 large slices fresh ginger
9 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 small fresh red Thai chiles, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
4 medium Roma tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons chili bean paste (doubanjiang)
1 cup Shaoxing rice wine
4 star anise pods
1 tablespoon crushed Sichuanese peppercorns
1 cup soy sauce, plus more to taste
½ pound leafy greens, such as baby bok choy or spinach
Black vinegar, to taste
2 pounds Asian wheat noodles
Preserved mustard greens, chopped, for serving
Fresh cilantro (leaves and stems), coarsely chopped, for serving
Scallions (light green and white parts), chopped, for serving

In a large pot, heat one tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the beef shank and tendons and cook until browned all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer the beef to a bowl and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the ginger, garlic, onion, and chiles and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and tomatoes and continue to cook until the sugar has dissolved and the tomatoes have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chili bean paste and continue to cook for an additional minute.

Return the browned meat and tendons to the pot. Add the Shaoxing wine, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the star anise, crushed peppercorns, soy sauce, and about 2 quarts of water. Bring the liquid to a boil; then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook, occasionally skimming any fat and debris off the surface, until the meat is meltingly tender, about 2 hours or longer for the tendons.

Transfer the beef shanks and tendons to a cutting board. Strain the soup through a colander into a clean pot, and discard the solids. When the beef and tendons have cooled, chop both into 1-inch slivers and add the meat to the strained broth. Bring the broth back to a slight boil, add the greens, and simmer just until tender. Season the soup with black vinegar and additional soy sauce to taste.

Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to the package directions, and drain them. Divide the noodles among large soup bowls, and pour the soup over them. Serve the mustard greens, cilantro, and scallions on the side, so each diner can pile them on in whatever order and amount they like.

Dan Dan Noodles

1/4 cup peanut oil
2 teaspoons coarsely ground Sichuanese peppercorns, or to taste
1/4 cup preserved cabbage (tianjin)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
1 pound ground pork
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1-pound package Chinese wheat flour noodles
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup chili oil
1/4 cup black vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame paste
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped, for serving
4 scallions (green and white parts), chopped on the diagonal

Heat a large wok on high heat and swirl in the peanut oil. Add the Sichuanese peppercorns and fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the preserved cabbage, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Season the pork with kosher salt and black pepper, add it to the wok, and cook, stirring with the back of a spoon to break up the bits, until the pork is browned, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to the package directions. Drain, and rinse under cold running water. Divide the noodles among 4 soup bowls or 6 snack bowls.

Stir the chicken broth, chili oil, black vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame paste into the wok. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
Pour the pork mixture evenly over the noodles in the bowls. Garnish with the peanuts and scallions, and give a stir to mix everything together before eating.

Thai Basil Beef (Pad Gra Prow)

2 tablespoons oil
12 oz. beef, sliced thinly against the grain and mixed with 1 teaspoon oil and 2 teaspoons cornstarch
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 of a red bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup thai basil leaves, packed
cilantro, to garnish

Heat your wok over high heat, and add the oil. Sear the beef until just browned, remove from the wok, and set aside.
Add the garlic and red pepper to the wok and stir-fry for about 20 seconds. Add the onions and stir-fry until browned and slightly caramelized.

Toss the beef back in, along with the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and sugar. Stir-fry for another few seconds, and then fold in the Thai basil until it’s just wilted. Serve with jasmine rice, and garnish with cilantro.