Greek Lentil Soup

1 pound lentils, rinsed and picked over
10 cups vegetable broth or water
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 bay leaves
2 medium potatoes (1 1/4 pounds), scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
10 ounces baby spinach, chopped
1 small butternut squash (1 pound), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, with leaves, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 lemons

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, combine the lentils, stock or water, jalapeño, coriander, cumin, oregano and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, about 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender.

Add the potatoes, spinach and butternut squash, re-cover and cook another 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes and squash are tender.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, and cook, stirring, until it starts to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the celery and garlic and cook, stirring often, until they soften, 3 minutes. Add the mixture to the soup, deglazing the skillet with a little soup liquid and adding the deglaze contents back to the soup pot. Add the salt and pepper, taste, and add more if needed. Pick out and discard the bay leaves.

Thinly slice one of the lemons and cut the other into wedges. Just before serving, stir the lemon juice into the soup. Serve the soup hot, with a lemon slice floating atop each bowl. Pass lemon wedges at the table.

Chicken Broccoli Stir Fry

1 lb (450 g) boneless skinless chicken breast (or thigh)

Marinade:
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Sauce:
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce (or soy sauce)
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 head broccoli, chopped into bite-sized florets
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced

Slice the chicken against the grain into thin bite-size pieces, no thicker than 1/4” (1/2 cm), transfer into a medium-size bowl. Add the marinade ingredients. Stir to mix well. Let sit for 10 minutes while preparing other ingredients.
Combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Stir to mix well.

Bring 1/3 cup of water to a boil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli and cover. Steam until the broccoli just turns tender and the water evaporates, about 40 to 50 seconds. Transfer the broccoli to a plate. Wipe the pan with a paper towel held in a pair of tongs if there’s any water left.

Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Spread the chicken in the skillet in a single layer. Allow to cook without touching for 30 seconds, or until the bottom side is browned. Flip to cook the other side for a few seconds. Stir and cook until the surface is lightly charred and the inside is still pink.

Add the garlic and ginger. Stir a few times to release the flavor and fragrance.

Return the broccoli to the pan. Stir the sauce again to dissolve the cornstarch completely and pour it into the skillet. Cook and stir until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Transfer everything to a plate immediately.

Serve hot with steamed rice or boiled noodles as a main dish.

Tofu Broccoli Stir Fry

1 14 oz. / 400 g block firm (or extra firm tofu)
Marinade
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons rice vinegar

Sauce:
1/4 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

2 1/2 tablespoon peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 large head of broccoli
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Cut the tofu into 3/4” (2 cm) cubes and place it in a sealable ziplock bag.
Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix well. Pour the marinade into the bag with the tofu. Press out as much air as possible and seal the bag. Gently swirl the bag around so all the tofu is coated with the marinade. Set aside, occasionally flipping as you finish your prep.

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Stir until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved.

Cut the florets off the stalks of broccoli. If there is excess stem, peel it and cut it into 1/2” (1 cm) chunks. Wash them, drain them, and set them aside.
Drain the marinated tofu and discard the marinade.

Heat 1/3 cup of water in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until boiling. Add the broccoli and cover with the lid. Steam until the broccoli is cooked to the tenderness you prefer, 2 minutes for a chewy texture or 3 minute for a softer one. Transfer the broccoli to a large plate. Wipe the pan with a few layers of paper towel held in a pair of tongs to get rid of any excess water.

Add 2 tablespoons of oil into the same pan. Add the tofu. Let cook until the bottom turns golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until browned. Gently stir a few times with a spatula, then move the tofu onto one side of the pan.

Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil, the ginger, and the garlic to the other side of the pan. Stir a few times to release the fragrance. Then stir everything together.

Stir the sauce again to make sure the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour it into the pan and stir and cook until the sauce thickens.

Add the cooked broccoli and turn off the heat. Stir to coat everything with the sauce, then transfer everything to a serving plate.

Serve hot over steamed rice as a main dish.

Ginger Chicken with Rice or Noodles

1 lb (450 g) boneless skinless chicken thighs , cut into 1” (2.5 cm) chunks

Marinade:
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Sauce:
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Stir Fry:
1 tablespoon peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
2 ” (5 cm) ginger, julienned, divided
1 small red bell pepper, sliced
1 chili pepper, sliced (Optional)

Add the chicken and the marinade ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. Mix everything together until the strips are all fully coated. Set aside and allow it to marinate for 10 to 15 minutes.

Mix together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set them aside.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add the marinated chicken into the heated pan. Separate any pieces that may be stuck together. Cook until the bottom turns brown and flip the chicken. Add half of the julienned ginger to the pan and fry it with the chicken, until the bottom of the chicken is browned.

Add the sauce to the pan and stir for about 30 seconds so that the sauce thickens slightly.

Add the rest of the ginger, bell pepper, and chili pepper (if using). Saute and stir briefly to coat everything, about 30 seconds.

Serve hot over steamed rice or noodles.

Chinese Lentil Soup

1 cup uncooked green lentils
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons Doubanjiang (*Footnote 1)
1 teaspoon cumin
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Salt to taste (Optional)

tomato, Chopped
avocado, Chopped
purple onion, Minced

Rinse the lentils with cold water and drain them. While rinsing, watch out and pick through your lentils to make sure there are no rocks or other debris (don’t be alarmed if there are, sometimes small rocks are overlooked during processing and packing).

Turn the Instant Pot to the saute function. Once the screen shows “Hot”, add the olive oil, onion, and garlic. Saute until fragrant and starting to brown, around 2 minutes.

Add the doubanjiang and cumin. Saute for another minute. If it looks dry, pour in a bit more oil or stock to prevent the ingredients from sticking or burning.
Turn the saute function off. Pour in the crushed tomato, and scrape the bottom again to make sure all the brown bits are lifted (This is important, to prevent the bottom of the pot from burning after adding pressure). Add the vegetable stock and rinsed lentils and stir to combine all the ingredients.

Seal the Instant Pot and make sure the valve is pointed to lock. Set to manual, high pressure, and the timer for 10 minutes for al dente lentils with soup, or for 12 minutes for a stew-like texture.

After the cooking is done, use quick release on the lid or unseal the valve by switching the lock using a spatula (watch out for the steam coming out). Stir and taste the soup. Add the white pepper and salt (if needed), according to your own taste.

You can top the soup with tomato, avocado, or onion if you wish. Serve hot as a side or main dish.

Store the leftover soup in a sealed container in the fridge for 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Notes:

I used 3 tablespoons to create an intense savory and spicy taste. Use 2 tablespoons for a milder taste.

To make this dish without an Instant Pot, use a 4-6 quart pot and follow the recipe and add 2 extra cups of water along with the vegetable broth in step 4. Then simmer the soup on the stove over medium-low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the lentils turn soft but are not falling apart.

Chinese Chili

16 Chinese Facing Heaven chili peppers
16 Chinese Red Lantern chili peppers
1 and 1/2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil (or vegetable oil)
1 yellow onion, minced
5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 lbs (1 kg) ground beef
4 tablespoons Doubanjiang Chinese fermented spicy chili paste
1 can (28 oz) canned diced tomatos
1 cup canned tomato sauce about 1/2 can (7 oz. tomato sauce, or 2 tablespoons tomato paste)
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup beef broth
2 can (14 oz) kidney beans, drained

Finely chopped cilantro
Cubed avocado or sour cream
Steamed rice

Toast the Sichuan peppercorns in a small saucepan over medium heat until you can smell the fragrance and the Sichuan peppercorns turn a little darker. Transfer the peppercorns to a small bowl and set aside.
Soak the chili peppers in 2 cups of hot water until softened, 15 minutes or so. Use your fingers to press the air out from the chili peppers so they soak evenly. Once soaked, remove the tough stems of the chili peppers and discard them.

Combine the soaked chili peppers, Sichuan peppercorns, cumin powder, dried oregano, and salt in a blender or in a tall glass and use an immersion blender. Add 1/2 cup of the pepper soaking water without adding the residue at the bottom. Blend until it forms a fine paste.

Heat oil in a 5.5 quart dutch oven over medium heat and add the yellow onion. Cook and stir until the onion just starts to soften, 5 minutes or so.
Use your spatula to move the onion to the edge of the pan and add the ground beef in the center. Add the Doubanjiang. Let cook for a minute without moving. Then stir with a spatula to break the meat into smaller pieces and coat with the Doubanjiang. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is cooked and turns into small pieces.

Add the chili paste. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.

Add the diced tomato, tomato sauce, Shaoxing wine, and soy sauce. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.

Add the beef broth. Cook until bringing to a simmer. Turn to medium-low heat. Simmer, covered, until the beef turns soft, 30 minutes.

Add the kidney beans and stir to mix well. Cook for another 5 minutes. Taste the chili carefully and add more salt if needed.

Serve the chili over steamed rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro and avocado, if using. Serve as a main course.

Store:
Store the leftover chili in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. The beans will continue to absorb liquid during storage. You can add a splash of broth before reheating to bring back the original texture.
Notes:

If you want a faster and easier recipe, or if you do not have whole Chinese chili peppers, use 1/3 cup of Chinese chili flakes (or 1/4 cup of chili powder) to replace the whole chili peppers. Grind the Sichuan peppercorns into powder in a spice or coffee grinder. Mix all the ingredients for the chili blend and toss them in a hot pan to release the fragrance. Then use the dry chili blend instead of the paste in the recipe.

Ham Fried Rice with Pineapple

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
3 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 cup leftover ham, diced
1/2 cup pineapple, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced (yields about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups cooked rice overnight long grain rice
3 eggs, beaten
Salt, to taste

Mix the soy sauce and pineapple juice together in a small bowl.

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large nonstick pan and heat it over medium-high heat until hot. Add the ham and pineapples. Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the bell peppers. Stir a few times to mix well, then transfer everything to a plate and set aside.

Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and the garlic into the skillet. Stir a few times to release the fragrance. Add the rice and spread it out with your spatula. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is lightly toasted.

Move the rice to one side of the pan and add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the other side of the skillet. Add the beaten eggs onto the oil. Let it cook until the bottom sets, 30 seconds. Scramble a few times until most of the eggs are cooked but some parts are still runny. Mix the rice into the egg, chopping and stirring to mix everything together.

Move the rice to the edge of the pan to make a well in the center. Pour the soy sauce and pineapple juice into the center. Let it cook for a few seconds to evaporate the liquid. Stir everything together until the rice is evenly coated with the seasonings. Let it cook, stirring occasionally, until the moisture is cooked off.

Add the cooked ham mixture back into the pan. Stir everything together. Taste the rice. Add a pinch of salt and mix again, if needed.

Stir-fried Baby Bok Choy

18 oz (500 g) baby bok choy
1 tablespoon peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (Optional)

Rinse the baby bok choy. Tear apart the large leaves and remove the tough ends (see the blog post above for more detailed instructions and pictures). Wash thoroughly to remove any dirt between the leaves and drain in a colander.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet (nonstick or carbon steel) over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic and stir a few times until fragrant.
Add the baby bok choy, stir, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the bok choy is evenly coated with oil.

Add sugar and swirl in the light soy sauce. Stir a few times to mix the sauce.
Cover and reduce to medium heat. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the baby bok choy turns tender, but not to the point of being mushy. You can uncover the pan to check on the progress in the meantime.

Uncover the pan. Carefully taste the baby bok choy. Let cook for another 30 seconds or so to absorb the sauce. Once done, stop the heat and immediately transfer the baby bok choy to a serving plate. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, if using.

Serve hot as a side.

Stir-Fried Glass Noodles With Pork and Chinese Broccoli (Phat Si Ew Wun Sen)

FOR THE SAUCE

1/2 cup Thai thin soy sauce (or regular soy sauce)
3 tablespoons Thai black soy sauce (or dark soy sauce)
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, or more as needed

FOR THE STIR-FRY

5 ounces dried glass noodles (wun sen)
2 tablespoons canola oil or another neutral oil, divided
2 small cloves garlic, crushed in a mortar or finely grated
8 ounces boneless pork loin or lean shoulder, thinly sliced against the grain and cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon fish sauce (preferably Thai)
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 ounces young Chinese broccoli, stems trimmed by 2 inches and clusters separated, or broccolini cut into 2- to 3-inch bite-size florets
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Make the sauce: In a 1-cup glass jar with a lid, combine the soy sauces, water and sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. You’ll wind up with about 1 cup. Reserve 1/4 cup for the noodles and refrigerate the rest.

Make the stir-fry: In a medium bowl, combine the noodles with enough warm-to-hot water to cover by 1 inch. Let soak until very pliable, about 8 minutes. Drain well, then snip the noodles into 4- to 6-inch lengths and set aside.

While the noodles soak, set a wok (preferably flat-bottomed) over very high heat and heat until it begins to smoke lightly. Add 1 tablespoons of the oil and swirl the wok to coat the sides. Add the garlic and cook, shaking the wok, for just 5 to 10 seconds, so the garlic is fragrant but not colored.

Add the pork and return the wok to the heat; stir well. Add the fish sauce and sugar and stir-fry, constantly stirring, scooping and tossing the ingredients until the pork is just cooked through, about 1 minute. Transfer the pork to a small bowl.

If necessary, wipe out the wok and return it to the very high heat. When it starts to smoke lightly add the remaining oil and swirl the wok to coat the sides. Crack in the eggs; they will spit and sizzle loudly, and the whites will bubble and puff. Cook, without moving, until the edges turn light golden brown, about 30 seconds. Using a fish spatula, quickly but gently flip the eggs over, break them up slightly and push them to the side.

Add the Chinese broccoli or broccolini, noodles, cooked pork and pepper. Cook, without stirring, for 10 seconds, then stir-fry, breaking up the egg a bit more as you go, until the noodles and broccoli leaves have slightly wilted, about 30 seconds. Add the 1/4 cup reserved phat si ew sauce and stir-fry until the sauce is fully absorbed, the noodles are cooked and the flavors meld, 1 to 2 minutes.

Divide the stir-fry between 2 plates and serve.

Make ahead: This recipe makes more phat si ew sauce than you’ll need for the dish. The leftover sauce can be refrigerated for up to 6 months.

Adapted from “Pok Pok Noodles: Recipes from Thailand and Beyond” by Andy Ricker with JJ Goode (Ten Speed Press, 2019).

Thai Basil Chicken (Or Beef) with Noodles or Rice

OR THE SAUCE
1/3 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
1/3 cup water or low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Thai chili sauce, or more to taste
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger root

FOR THE CHICKEN (or beef)
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 to 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Ground white pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, thinly sliced
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
1 cup packed Thai basil leaves
2 to 3 Thai chile pepper (may substitute 1 small jalapeño chile pepper), stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced

For the sauce: Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

For the chicken: In a medium bowl, combine the egg whites, cornstarch, 1 tablespoon of the oil and the white pepper. Add the chicken and mix well; set aside.

Heat a wok or skillet over high heat. Add the remaining 1/4 to 1/2 cup oil and add the chicken mixture; stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onion and stir-fry for a few minutes; the onion will not soften thoroughly. Add the sauce, stir for 1 minute and turn off the heat. Add the basil and chili pepper, stirring to combine. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately.

This makes plenty of sauce and can be served with noodles.