Coconut-Baked Fish with Tomatoes

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, scrubbed and finely grated
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 tablespoon honey
Kosher salt
2 limes
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4 (6-ounce) fish fillets, such as snapper, haddock, striped bass, fluke, sablefish or salmon, skin on or off
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil

In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, ginger, garlic, turmeric, red-pepper flakes, honey and 1 teaspoon salt.

Zest and juice 1 lime directly into the coconut milk mixture. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Add the fish fillets and turn to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position. Arrange another rack in the position closest to the broiler heat source. Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Place the tomatoes on a large sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, season with salt and toss to coat. Place the marinated fish between the tomatoes and spoon all the marinade from the bowl over the fish. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil over the fish. Transfer the pan to the lower-middle rack and roast until the surface of the fish is opaque but the center is not cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness of the fish. The fish should not flake easily with a fork. Remove the pan from the oven and heat the broiler to high.

Move the pan to the broiler and finish cooking, rotating the pan once, until the fish is tender and the tomatoes are just beginning to brown in spots, 5 to 6 minutes, depending on thickness of the fish. Slice the remaining lime into wedges.

Divide the tomatoes and fish among dishes and tip the pan juices over the fish. Garnish with the remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and serve with lime wedges for squeezing.

Coconut-Poached Fish with Bok Choy

4 (6-ounce) cod fillets or other flaky white fish
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
1 fresh Thai or Serrano chile, thinly sliced
2 (13 1/2-ounce) cans coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
About 7 ounces baby bok choy, ends trimmed and stalks separated
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro, both leaves and tender stems
2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion greens
Lime wedges (from 1 lime), for serving
Flaky salt (optional)

Season fish well with salt. In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic, ginger and chile, and cook, stirring often until they become translucent, about 2 minutes. Season with salt.

Add coconut milk, fish sauce and brown sugar, and whisk together until combined and sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to a gentle simmer. Add cod fillets and turn the heat down to low. Cover and cook until cod is just cooked through and opaque, about 6 to 8 minutes. Carefully remove the fish and plate in bowls.

Add bok choy to the coconut milk broth and turn heat to medium-low. Cook bok choy until leaves are wilted and stems are tender, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Divide bok choy evenly alongside the fish and ladle the coconut milk broth over each portion. Top with cilantro, scallions and a good squeeze of lime, and serve with remaining wedges on the side. Garnish with flaky salt, if desired.

Birria de Res

2 poblano chiles
5 guajillo chiles, seeded, stemmed and halved lengthwise
5 pounds bone-in beef shoulder, cut into large pieces, or goat or lamb stew cuts on the bone
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cloves
Fresh black pepper
1 cinnamon stick
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, quartered
Corn tortillas, warmed

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Prepare the chiles: Use tongs to place the poblano chiles directly over the open flame of a gas burner set to high. Cook the poblanos until totally charred all over, turning as needed, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap so the poblanos can steam. After 10 minutes, use your fingers to pull the blackened skins away from the poblanos, then remove the stems and seeds. Roughly chop the poblanos and set aside.

While the poblano chiles steam, place a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches to cook the guajillo chiles evenly in one layer, flatten the chile halves on the hot skillet and toast them for about 15 seconds, turning once. Put the chiles in a bowl and add 2 cups hot water to help soften them. Set aside.
Prepare the meat: Season the meat all over with the salt. Heat the oil in a large, oven-proof pot over medium-high. Working in batches, sear the meat on all sides until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side, transferring the browned meat to a large bowl as you work.
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After you’ve seared all the meat, add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Return all the meat to the pot.
Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, ginger, oregano, sesame seeds, cumin, cloves and a few grinds of black pepper to a blender, along with the chopped poblanos, toasted guajillos and the chile soaking liquid. Purée until smooth, scraping down the edges of the blender as needed.

Pour the blended mixture into the pot with the meat. Add the cinnamon stick and bay leaves, along with about 4 to 6 cups of water, enough to amply cover the meat.

Cover and cook in the oven until the meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours.
Divide among bowls and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing on top, and a side of warm tortillas.

Calabacitas

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (seeds removed if you don’t want it spicy)
1 15-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 large zucchini, sliced into half moons
1 large yellow squash, sliced into half moons
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup milk
optional garnishes: crumbled cotija cheese, chopped cilantro

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add onions, poblanos, and and jalapenos. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften.

Add corn and tomatoes. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add zucchini, yellow squash, garlic, salt, black pepper, oregano and ground cumin. Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so.
Add water to skillet, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Uncover the skillet, add the shredded cheese and milk, and stir together until the cheese has fully melted.

Remove from heat, garnish with chopped cilantro and cotija cheese, and serve.

Rajas con Tomate

8 poblano chiles, roasted and peeled
6 Tbsp. peanut oil
1-1/2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp. salt
2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

Remove the seeds and veins from the chiles and cut into 1-1/2? x 1/2? strips.

Heat the oil and fry the onions gently until soft. Add the chile strips, tomatoes and salt to the onions in the pan. Cook uncovered, over a fairly high flame until the vegetables are all well seasoned and the liquid has evaporated (about 10 minutes).

This is very good served as a thick sauce over Torta de Elote. Is is also an excellent accompaniment for plain broiled meats, fish, and chicken.

Grilled Tomato-Poblano Rajas

1 generous pound (2 medium-large round or 5 to 7 plum)ripe tomatoes
1 thickly sliced white onion
2 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 or 2 fresh poblano chiles
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 or 2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off)
Salt

Turn on a gas grill to medium or light a charcoal fire, letting the coals burn until they are covered with a gray ash and are medium-hot. If you have wide grates, place a perforated grill pan over the grates. Lay the tomatoes, onion, garlic and chile directly over the fire and grill, turning occasionally, until everything is soft and blackened in spots—about 10 minutes for the garlic, 15 minutes for the chile and 20 minutes for the tomatoes and onions.

Cool all the vegetables until handleable, then peel the tomatoes and garlic. Roughly chop them along with the onion, scoop into a food processor and process into a coarse puree. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Peel the chiles and pull out the stem, then rinse briefly to remove all the seeds and bits of skin. Slice into 1/8” strips and stir into the salsa along with the lime juice and cilantro. Taste and season with salt, about 1 teaspoon. If the salsa is too thick, drizzle in a little water.

Potatoes with Roasted Poblanos (Papas con Rajas)

5 large poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and veins removed (or not, depending on how spicy you want this to be)
2 large Yukon gold potatoes or another waxy potato, cut into 1/2-inch / 12mm cubes
1 Tbsp sea salt, plus more as needed
1 Tbsp safflower oil
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
1 cup / 240g Homemade Mexican Crema or crème fraîche

On an ungreased comal or in a cast-iron skillet over high heat, roast the chiles, turning them over every couple of minutes using tongs or your hands (carefully, so you don’t get burned). You’re looking for uniform blistering, but you don’t want them to become too soggy in the process, especially if you intend to stuff them, since they need to hold their shape. The process will probably take 10 to 15 minutes. Once they are well blistered and before the flesh is completely charred through in any spots, place the peppers in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid or in a bowl that you can cover with a plate (not a towel or anything porous) and set aside to “sweat” for about 10 minutes, or until they are cool enough to handle.

Remove the charred skin from the whole chiles. Once you have removed and discarded the skin and seeds, cut them into rajas, or strips, about the width of fettuccine.

In a small saucepan, cover the potatoes with 2 inches / 5cm water and add the salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove one of the potatoes and taste it. The piece should be soft but not falling apart, still holding its cube shape. Cubed like this, they will cook quite quickly, so be attentive. Once they have the right texture, drain the potatoes and set aside in a medium bowl with a lid or cover the pan with a plate to keep them warm.

Using the same comal or skillet in which you toasted your chiles, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it’s hot but not smoking. Add the onion and sauté until it’s translucent but not browned.

In a saucepan, combine the potatoes, chiles, onion, and crema or crème fraîche. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. As the mixture cools, the starches will absorb some of the melted cream and help it firm up. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve as you wish!

Do Ahead: These potatoes can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Rajas with Chicken

5 fresh poblano peppers (or canned, peeled and seeded))
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 cup corn kernels (frozen are fine)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Mexican crema or part sour cream, part creme fraiche
1 1/2 teaspoons easpoons powdered chicken stock (recommended Knorr or Maggi)
salt and pepper

Char the poblano peppers directly over the gas flame on the stove or under the broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in a plastic bag and let steam for 10 minutes.

While peppers are cooling, coat the pan with 2 tablespoons oil and warm a large skillet on medium heat, add the chicken breasts and cook on each side until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the pan.

Add the other two tablespoons of oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the corn kernels and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Peel and seed the peppers. Cut the peppers into 1/2-inch strips (a.k.a rajas) and add them to the onion and corn mixture and cook until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream and Mexican crema, (or combination of creme fraiche and sour cream), add back the chicken, and cook until just bubbling, about for 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Transfer to a serving dish and serve.

Southwestern Chicken with Cinnamon and Chili

3 tablespoons olive oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 sweet onion, sliced thinly
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
1 cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons mild chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
A few cherry tomatoes for garnish

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pan. Brown chicken thighs, five minutes per side.

Remove from the pan and sauté onions until transparent, about five minutes.

Return chicken to pan, add tomatoes and a stick of cinnamon on top. Cover pan and simmer for 30 minutes until ingredients are completely cooked and blended.

Stir in chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with cherry tomatoes on top.

Southwestern Chicken Noodle Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 Roma tomatoes, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups fresh spinach, washed and chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup chili powder
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup cotija cheese, crumbled (can be found in Hispanic markets, or substitute with feta cheese)
1/3 pound pasta
4 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup Picante sauce
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy skillet, brown the chicken breast in oil, over high heat for 2 minutes on a side.

In a large covered oven pan, mix tomato, garlic, spinach, cilantro, chili powder, 2 cups of chicken broth and cheese. Place chicken in mixture, spooning some mixture over the tops of the chicken; cover and let bake for 45 minutes in a 400-degree oven. When done, remove chicken with a slotted spoon, and allow to cool, and shred. Set pan sauce aside to cool also.

Break pasta into pieces and cook according to package directions. Drain the pasta and place in a large soup pot with 4 cups of chicken broth, hot sauce, 1 cup of pan sauce, lime juice and chicken. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend and the pasta to soak up all the rich flavors.

Ladle into warm bowls and serve with lime wedges and more cilantro sprinkled on top. Serves 8.

Southwestern Chili

2-3 pounds ground beef (or you can substitute ground turkey or pork)
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 each red, green and yellow bell pepper diced
1 onion diced
5 celery stalks diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 4 ounce cans diced jalapeño, drained (save juice)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
3 4 ounce cans diced green chilies
2 cans each black beans, red kidney beans, pinto beans, refried pinto beans
4 ounces tomato juice
3 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans Mexican style corn
½ cup Santa Cruz Hot Chili Powder
1 cup coffee
1 cup bourbon whiskey, any brand
½ cup honey
½ cup brown sugar

Brown beef in a pan over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes. In a separate pan sauté bell pepper, onion, celery and garlic in cooking oil. In a large pot combine all ingredients, stir well and simmer over low heat for one to one and half hours.

Serve with corn bread and a green salad to make a filling, nutritious meal.

Grilled Halloumi and Fig Salad

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 fresh figs, stemmed and halved lengthwise
Two 1/4-inch thick slabs halloumi cheese (3 ounces total), patted dry
3 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar (see headnote)
2 packed cups baby arugula
1 cup thinly sliced fresh fennel (from 1 medium bulb)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted (see NOTE)
Freshly ground black pepper

Use a tablespoon of the oil to brush both sides of the figs and the slabs of cheese, then use 1 teaspoon of the balsamic vinegar to brush all the figs.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Add the cheese and figs; cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side until the fruit is caramelized and tender and the cheese is warmed and grill marks have formed.

Transfer the cheese to a cutting board; cut each slab into 4 triangular pieces, so you have 8 pieces total.

Toss the arugula and fennel in a medium bowl with the remaining tablespoon of oil and the salt.

To serve, divide the greens among individual salad plates. Top each with 2 fig halves, 2 cheese triangles and some walnuts. Drizzle each salad with a 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining balsamic vinegar, then sprinkle each lightly with pepper.

NOTE: Toast the walnuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan as needed to prevent scorching. Cool completely before using.

Lubia Polow (Persian Rice with Green Beans and Beef)

2 cups uncooked basmati rice, rinsed in several changes of water
2 tablespoons kosher salt (for the cooking liquid)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces green beans, ends trimmed, cut into thirds 1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef (90 percent lean) or lamb (or a combination of both)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Middle Eastern Spice Mix (recipe follows), divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or oil
Pinch of saffron threads, ground and dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water (see note)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the rice and salt. Boil for 3 to 5 minutes, until soft but still hard in the very center (it will finish cooking later). Drain through a fine-mesh sieve set in the sink and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside. (Rice can be prepared several hours ahead.)
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the green beans and sauté, stirring only occasionally, until seared and browned, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a medium bowl.

Add the onions to the same sauté pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté about 1 minute more. Add the meat and sauté, stirring to break up, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. (If the meat has released a great deal of fat, pour it off into a small bowl and discard when cool.)

Push the ingredients to the side of the pan, and add the tomato paste to the cleared area. Cook until slightly darkened and thicker, about 2 minutes. Stir the tomato paste into the rest of the ingredients in the pan, then add the green beans back to the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of the spice mix and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, make the tahdig mixture by combining 1 cup of the cooked rice with the yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of spice mix.
Heat the butter or oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven (nonstick or enameled cast-iron) over medium heat, turning to evenly coat the bottom and partway up the sides. Spread the rice-yogurt mixture across the bottom and 1 1?2 inches up the sides of the pot. Add the remaining rice and the beef mixture in layers, starting with one- third of the rice, then half of the beef mixture, another third of rice, the remaining beef mixture, and then the rest of the rice. Aim to shape it in a pyramid, which helps steam escape up the sides of the pot. Drizzle the saffron water over the top. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to make several holes all the way down to the bottom of the pot, which will further help steam escape and form the crispy crust. Cover the pot with a clean dish cloth (folded so that the edges don’t hang too close to the burner) and set the lid on top. Allow to cook for 10 minutes over medium-high heat.

Reduce heat to medium-low and set a heat diffuser between the burner and the pot. (If you don’t have a diffuser, invert a metal pie dish over the burner to act as a diffuser. If you don’t have either one, you will need to turn the pot a quarter turn every 10 minutes or so to ensure the crust cooks evenly.) Allow to cook on medium-low for 45 minutes, until a brown crust of rice has formed on the bottom.
Take the pot off the heat and remove the lid, taking care not to let condensation on the underside fall in. Scoop some of the rice out onto a serving platter, then gently remove the tahdig with a spatula and set on top (alternatively, if you’re strong and careful, you can invert the whole pot onto a serving platter, but the pot will be hot and heavy). Pass the platter of rice with the browned tahdig at the table, allowing everyone to get a scoop of each. Serve with a crispy green salad.

NOTE: If your saffron is too moist to crumble easily, lightly toast it in a dry pan over medium heat for about 1 minute (or microwave on a plate for about 1 minute). When it cools, it should be brittle enough to crumble. Crush it in a mortar and pestle or between two spoons.

Middle Eastern Spice Mix
This blend takes its cue from advieh, a Persian spice blend that varies from region to dish to cook. But no matter how many spices people use, advieh is always built on cinnamon, cardamom, and cumin. This version adds turmeric for a bit more earthiness and clove for complexity.

Makes about 1/4 cup
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine ingredients in a small bowl or jar with an airtight lid. Keep it in a cool, dry, dark place and try to use it within 6 months.

From Dill magazine. Adapted with permission from Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up the World’s Favorite Grain by Danielle Centoni. Copyright © 2019. Published by Sasquatch Books.

Border Beans (Tepary Beans with Chorizo)

1 sprig epazote
4 slices bacon
1/2 pound Mexican chorizo, loose, not cased
1 small white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 poblano chile, roasted, skinned, seeded and roughly chopped (See note below)
4 cups cooked beans
2 to 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup queso fresco or cotija cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
Crushed chiltepin chiles, to taste (optional)

Cook the beans – generally you will need 2 cups dry beans to get around 4 cups, but it’s not an exact science – in lots of water at a very slow simmer. After about 90 minutes, add the epazote, if using. When the beans are reasonably soft, about 2 hours, add salt. This can all be done up to a couple days ahead of time. If you do cook them ahead of time, store them in their cooking liquid in the fridge.

When you are ready, cook the bacon in a large frying pan over medium heat until crispy. Remove and chop. Set it aside.

Add the chorizo, onions and garlic to the pan and cook over medium-high heat until the chorizo is nicely browned. Add the chopped poblanos, the cooked beans and a little of the cooking water. Mix well and let this cook gently. for 10 to 20 minutes. Don’t let the beans stick to the bottom of the pot. Keep adding cooking liquid, stock or water as needed. You want it a little wet, but not soupy.

Mix in the chopped tomatoes and let this cook a couple minutes, then remove from the heat. Add the cheese and serve. I like to crush a bunch of dried chiltepin chiles over everything, too.

Tepary Beans With Chile-Agave Glaze

1 cup dried white tepary beans (see Note)
1 cup dried brown tepary beans (see Note)
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons light agave nectar
1 tablespoon New Mexico Hatch chile powder or chipotle powder, plus more for garnish
Sea salt
2 teaspoons whole fresh oregano leaves

Place the white and brown tepary beans in a large bowl. Add enough water to cover by 4 inches and let soak overnight at room temperature.

Drain the soaked beans, discarding the liquid, and transfer the beans to a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add enough cool water to cover the beans by about 4 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat, cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Reserve 1 cup of the bean cooking liquid, then drain the beans.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the cooked beans and the reserved bean cooking liquid, the agave and the chile powder. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced to a glaze, about 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Divide among bowls, sprinkle with additional chile powder and top with oregano.

Ginger-Scallion Chicken

2 large scallions, trimmed
1/4 cup peanut oil, or neutral oil such as grapeseed or sunflower, more as necessary
1 3/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, as needed
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
1 (2 1/2-inch) piece ginger, cut into thin matchsticks (about 3 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
Large pinch sugar

Cut the scallions in quarters lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch-long pieces. You should end up with thin blades of scallions. Separate out the dark green tops from the pale green and white parts. (You don’t have to be very thorough; some mixing of colors is fine.)

Heat oil in a wok or 12-inch skillet over very high heat. When it’s shimmering but not smoking, stir in chicken and salt. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until chicken is barely cooked and no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer chicken onto a serving plate, leaving the oil in the pan.

Immediately scatter cilantro and scallion greens (not whites) over hot chicken.
Return wok to medium-high heat. Make sure there are at least 2 tablespoons oil in the wok. If not, add more oil. Stir in ginger and cook until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Stir in scallion whites, soy sauce and sugar, and cook for another 30 seconds (if using a skillet, remove from heat). Immediately spoon the contents of the pan evenly over chicken and herbs. Serve right away.

Spicy Garlic Tofu with Pork

1 tablespoon oil (any neutral oil, such as vegetable or canola)
10 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
4 oz. ground pork
2 medium shallots (thinly sliced)
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon spicy bean sauce (doubanjiang)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch (mixed into a slurry with 1 tablespoon water)
1 pound firm tofu (cut into 3/4-inch/2 cm cubes)
1 scallion (chopped)

Heat the oil in your wok over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, and cook for about 30 seconds, or until the garlic begins to turn golden at the edges.
Add the ground pork, and stir-fry until browned, about 1-2 minutes. Increase the heat to high, and add the shallots. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the shallots begin to turn translucent.

Stir in the Shaoxing wine, hoisin sauce and spicy bean paste, and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

Add the chicken stock, white pepper, sugar, and sesame oil. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Mix the cornstarch slurry, and pour into the sauce. Simmer for 30 seconds, until the sauce has thickened.

Gently stir in the tofu cubes, and allow it to simmer for 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the scallions, and serve.

Chinese Beef and Asparagus Stir Fry

12 oz. flank steak or sirloin steak (340g, sliced)
1 teaspoon oil (plus more for cooking)
5 teaspoons light soy sauce (divided)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 pound fresh asparagus
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup hot chicken stock (or water)
3 tablespoons shaoxing wine
3 cloves garlic (sliced)
2 tablespoons cornstarch (mixed into a slurry with 2 tablespoons water)
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

In a small bowl, combine the sliced beef with 1 teaspoon oil, 1 teaspoon light soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Wash your asparagus, and cut about an inch off the bottom ends, depending on how tender they are. You can also use a vegetable peeler to peel the bottom of each stalk. Slice into 2-inch pieces on an angle.

Next combine the salt, sugar, the rest of the light soy sauce (4 teaspoons), dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and stock or water into a bowl. Mix well and set aside. Have your wine measured out, garlic ready, and the cornstarch slurry mixed up before you begin cooking, because this is all going to happen very fast!

Heat your wok until smoking. Add a couple tablespoons of oil and swirl it around to coat your wok. Quickly spread the beef slices around the wok in an even layer. Let it sear for 15-30 seconds without stirring. Then give it a quick stir to sear the other side. The meat should be browned and no sticking should happen if you got the wok hot enough! Take the meat out of the pan and set aside.

Keep the wok on high heat and add another tablespoon of oil into the wok. Stir in your garlic and asparagus. Stir for about 10 seconds and add the shaoxing wine around the rim of the wok. Cover, leaving the heat on high. Let it cook for 20 to 30 seconds. Remove the cover and add the sauce mixture and white pepper. Add the beef back to the pan and stir. Let the liquid bubble up. Stir up your cornstarch slurry to make sure the starch is dissolved and pour in about half of it. Stir for a few seconds. If the sauce is still thin, add more slurry. If it’s too thick, add a little water or stock. Plate and serve immediately!

Chinese Chicken and Asparagus Stir Fry

For the chicken & marinade:
12 ounces chicken breast (thinly sliced)
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon oil (any neutral oil, such as vegetable or canola oil)
1 teaspoon oyster sauce

For the rest of the dish:
1/2 cup water (or low sodium chicken stock)
2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons oil (any neutral oil, such as vegetable or canola oil)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 pound asparagus (end trimmed and sliced on a sharp angle into 2-inch pieces)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine

In a medium bowl, combine the sliced chicken, water, cornstarch, oil, and oyster sauce. Mix until the liquid has been absorbed by the chicken. Set aside to marinate for 15-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the water (or chicken stock), cornstarch, white pepper, sugar, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sesame oil.

Heat your wok over high heat until it just starts to smoke, and add 1 tablespoon of oil to coat. Spread the chicken evenly in one layer, and allow it to sear undisturbed for 30 seconds. Stir-fry for another 30 seconds, or until about 75% cooked. Remove from the wok and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok, along with the minced garlic. Cook for 15 seconds, and add the asparagus. Stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the Shaoxing wine and stir-fry for another 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, mix your sauce mixture to ensure the cornstarch is fully incorporated. Add it to the wok, and bring to a simmer.

Add the chicken back to the wok, and stir-fry for another 30 seconds. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon, and the asparagus should be crisp-tender.
Taste for seasoning and add additional salt to taste if needed. Serve over rice.

Pan-Fried Gnocchi Ideas

To pan-fry a package of shelf-stable gnocchi, heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high.

Break up any stuck-together pieces, and add them to the skillet in an even layer (no need to boil first). Cover and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown on one side, 2 to 4 minutes.

Cook, stirring, until crisp on both sides, another 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown on both sides. Since they’re already cooked, you’re looking for deep color, which means deep flavor, on the outside.

Then, pair them with a sauce, and don’t be shy: Most shelf-stable gnocchi is fairly flavorless, some even mildly acidic, so go bold.

How to Use Your Gnocchi

Pair with a lemony cream sauce. Crisp the gnocchi as directed above, then reduce the heat and add 3/4 cup heavy cream and the zest of 1 lemon, and gently simmer until the cream has thickened.

Make a brown-butter tomato sauce: Cook the gnocchi as directed above, then transfer to a plate. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in the same skillet. Once it starts to brown, add 1 pint cherry tomatoes, and cook until they’ve burst. Stir in the gnocchi and some basil leaves. You could also top with mozzarella and broil until the cheese is melted and golden for “pizza gnocchi.”

Add a quick, rough pesto. Before you cook the gnocchi, coarsely chop about 1/4 cup toasted nuts (like pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts or hazelnuts) and a clove of garlic. Add 2 cups soft herbs (like parsley, basil or mint) and salt, and chop until the mixture resembles wet, coarse sand. Mix with 1 cup finely grated Parmesan and olive oil, to taste, then cook the gnocchi as directed above and stir in the pesto. (You could, of course, use a more traditional pesto, but the crunch of the nuts is a nice surprise.)

Riff on pierogies … Cook the gnocchi as directed, then transfer to a plate. In the same skillet, heat a little extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high, then add a few cups thinly sliced green cabbage and cook, stirring just once or twice, until charred and tender. Stir in the gnocchi, along with a good amount of butter (about 6 tablespoons per package) and dill to taste. Dollop sour cream and give just one stir. You want pockets of sour cream on your plate.

… Or on French fries: Nigella Lawson has called gnocchi “eight-minute roasted potatoes.” In her cookbook, “Nigella Kitchen” (Hyperion, 2010), she suggests salting crispy gnocchi and snacking on them with a beer. That’s a good idea — but so is showering them with finely grated Parmesan or Cheddar for frico-potato bites to dunk in tomato sauce, ketchup or mustard.