Pasta with ‘Nduja Sauce

1 tablespoon (15ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 large shallots (about 3 ounces; 90g), thinly sliced
Kosher salt
One (24.5-ounce; 700g) bottle tomato passata (see note)
4 ounces (1/2 cup; 115g) ‘nduja (see note)
1 pound (450g) dried ziti, candele (broken into 3-inch pieces) or other short tubular pasta
2 ounces (60g) finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add shallots, season lightly with salt, and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until shallots are softened but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add passata, and make sure to use up all of the tomato in the bottle by adding 1/4 cup (60ml) water to the empty bottle, screwing on the lid, shaking the contents, and then adding tomato-water mixture to the skillet. Bring to simmer, season lightly with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally until sauce is slightly thickened, 12 to 15 minutes.

Add ‘nduja, and use wooden spoon to break up and stir into sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, until ‘nduja is fully emulsified and incorporated in sauce, about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, in a pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until just softened on the exterior, but well shy of al dente, and still uncooked in the center (about 3 minutes less than the package directs). Using a spider skimmer, transfer pasta to sauce, along with 1/2 cup (120ml) pasta cooking water. Alternatively, drain pasta using a colander or fine-mesh strainer, making sure to reserve at least 1 cup (240ml) pasta cooking water.

Increase heat to high and cook, stirring and tossing rapidly, until pasta is al dente and sauce is thickened and coats noodles, about 2 minutes, adding more pasta cooking water in 1/4 cup (60ml) increments as needed. Remove from heat, add half of grated cheese, and stir rapidly to incorporate. Season with salt to taste. Serve immediately, passing remaining grated cheese at the table.

Curry Mee

2 tablespoons oil
1 onion (minced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon ginger (minced)
1 tablespoon lemongrass (minced)
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs (thinly sliced)
3 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
13.5 ounces coconut milk (400 ml)
4 cups chicken stock (950 ml)
3 tablespoons fish sauce (optional for vegetarians)
1 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces egg noodles (225g)
salt (to taste)
2 handfuls raw bean sprouts (washed and trimmed)
Cilantro leaves (for garnish)
1 lime (cut into wedges)

Heat the oil in a pot over medium high heat and add the onion, garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. Cook for about 6 minutes, until softened and fragrant. Stir in the red curry paste.

Turn the heat up to high and add the chicken. Stir-fry until the chicken turns opaque. Add the curry powder, turmeric, coconut milk, chicken stock, fish sauce, and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package directions. Divide between 2 soup bowls and set aside.

Taste the soup and season with salt to taste. Divide the soup among your 2 bowls of noodles, and garnish with raw bean sprouts, cilantro, and a squeeze

Chicken Khao Soi (Thai Coconut Curry Noodle Soup)

For the khao soi paste:
2 Thai bird’s eye chilies
2 medium shallots
6 cloves garlic
1-inch piece ginger (peeled and sliced)
1/4 cup cilantro (stems and leaves, rinsed)
zest of 1 lime
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 tablespoons shrimp paste (Thai, filipino, or Chinese shrimp pastes will all work; can substitute laksa paste)

For the soup:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (sliced)
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 teaspoons brown sugar
14 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
3 tablespoons fish sauce (or to taste)
1 pound fresh Chinese egg noodles (thick wonton noodles work well)

To garnish:
thinly sliced shallots
lime wedges
pickled mustard stems/greens
crispy noodles
chopped cilantro
Thai chili paste (Nam Prik Pao)

Add all the curry paste ingredients to a food processor and pulse until you get a smooth paste.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and stir-fry the chicken until browned. Remove from the pot and set aside. To the fat left in the pot, add the paste. Fry for 3-5 minutes, until fragrant. Add the canned Thai red curry paste, broth, and brown sugar, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low. When the broth is at a low simmer, add the coconut milk and fish sauce. Add the chicken back to the broth.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package instructions.

To serve, divide the noodles among 4 bowls. Cover with chicken and broth, and garnish with sliced shallots, lime wedges, pickled mustard greens, fried noodles, cilantro.

Ginger-Garlic Spiced Cashew Rice

1 1/2 cups basmati rice
3 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1 cup roasted cashews
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 white or green cardamom pods
3 bay leaves
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1-2 Fresno or serrano chilies, stemmed, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
5 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
1/4+cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

In a large saucepan over medium, heat the butter until foaming. Add the cashews, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, bay and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onion, chili(es), ginger, garlic and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

Cook, stirring, until the onion is softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat the grains with butter.

Indian Vermicelli with Peas and Cilantro

3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
2 medium shallots, halved and thinly sliced
2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 Fresno or jalapeño chili, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped, stems and leaves reserved separately
12 ounces vermicelli pasta, broken into 1-inch pieces
Kosher salt and ground back pepper
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

In a large pot over medium, heat the oil until shimmering.

Add the shallots and ginger, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the cumin and turmeric, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the chili, cilantro stems and pasta.

Add 3 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt and  teaspoon pepper, then bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cover, reduce to medium- low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente.

Off heat, add the cilantro leaves, peas, lemon zest and juice, and half the peanuts, then toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining peanuts.

Crispy Tofu

If you’ve had really great tofu, you know that it is a complete game-changer: perfectly golden on the outside, wildly soft and spongey on the inside, with the most amazing ability to soak up the sauce without getting soggy. It feels like a tiny miracle — and you can 100% make it at home.

There are a few tricks to perfect tofu. First, tossing cubed tofu with cornstarch will help you get a crispier exterior when baking or stir-frying. Pressing the block of tofu to eliminate excess moisture also helps. And you’ll want to make sure you’re using high enough heat. However, there is one trick that basically guarantees success.

The key to getting restaurant-style tofu texture at home is your freezer. Yes, freezing tofu is the very best strategy for cooking up perfectly soft, chewy tofu that soaks up sauce like a sponge.

As mentioned above, pressing tofu is essential for removing liquid. But no matter how long you press that block of tofu or how much weight you pile on top, it still seems to hold onto a lot of water. When you freeze the tofu overnight, and then thaw it at room temperature, all of the water basically pours right out — no extra pressing necessary.

While you can freeze any variety of tofu, extra-firm is the best option when you want to replicate the texture of the tofu from your favorite Chinese place. First, you’ll want to cut the tofu. Take your pick between cutting it into cubes, triangles, slabs, or just tearing it into pieces. Place the tofu pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then store in a freezer bag or container until you’re ready to use. Thaw the tofu at room temperature before cooking.

Game-Changing Crispy Topping

3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup fresh coarse or panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup finely grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re evenly toasted and golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes.

Add cup pecorino and toss to coat, letting the cheese melt and clump among the bread crumbs (think granola-like clusters).

Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl or plate. Use on mac and cheese or anything that needs a crispy topping.