Chinese Cold Dressing

4 cloves garlic (minced; 4 cloves = about 15g)
3 thin slices ginger (minced; 3 thin slices = about 8g)
2 scallions (chopped, with the green and white parts separated)
3 Thai chilies (chopped)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar (or to taste)
2 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce (or vegetarian oyster sauce)
1/2-1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
1 tablespoon cilantro (chopped; or to taste)

In a large heat-proof bowl, arrange the minced garlic, minced ginger, the white parts of the chopped scallion, and chopped Thai chilies so they are adjacent to each other at the bottom of the bowl (don’t messily pile them all on top of each other).

Now infuse the Sichuan peppercorns in oil. In a small pot, heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil with the Sichuan peppercorns over low heat until fragrant, taking care not to burn the peppercorns.
After about 10 minutes, remove the peppercorns using a fine meshed strainer or slotted spoon. Heat the infused oil just until it begins to smoke. Pour it carefully over the arranged aromatics in the bowl. It will bubble and sizzle! Carefully stir to evenly distribute the heat.

Now add in the sugar, vinegar, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, salt and five spice powder. Mix well.

Finally add in the green parts of the chopped scallion and the cilantro. (If pre-making the sauce, leave these last ingredients out and add them right before serving.)

This all-purpose Chinese Cold “salad” dressing is ready to add flavor to blanched or steamed vegetables, tofu, seaweed, noodles, etc. With this sauce, you can make a variety of refreshing, cooling dishes during the warmer months, and use it for anything you have on hand.

Simply blanch or steam some vegetables, say: carrots, celery, zucchini, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, string beans, even mushrooms. You could also include some traditional Chinese add-ins like tofu, seitan, five-spiced tofu, bean threads, seaweed, wood ears, noodles, etc.

This dressing will make your dinner planning that much easier. Make double, triple or quadruple this recipe and keep it refrigerated to be used throughout the week.

Isan Beef Salad

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 stalk lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed, bottom four inches only, sliced as thinly as possible into rounds
Kosher salt
2 flat iron, flank, skirt, or hanger steaks, about 12 ounces total (see note)
Ground white or black pepper
3 medium cloves garlic
2 teaspoons Thai red pepper flakes (more or less to taste, see note)
1 small green thai chili or 1/2 small Serrano chili, finely chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar (more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon fish sauce (more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lime (more or less to taste)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves

Combine vegetable oil and lemongrass in a small skillet and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until lemongrass is golden brown and crisp, about 6 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer set in a small saucepan. Transfer crisp lemongrass to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. Set aside.

Season steak generously with salt and pepper. Transfer 2 teaspoons of reserved lemongrass oil to a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet (reserve remaining lemongrass oil for another use or discard, see note). Heat over high heat until lightly smoking. Cook steak, turning frequently, until well browned and an instant read thermometer inserted into the center registers 125°F for medium, 3 to 8 minutes total depending on thickness. Transfer steak to a cutting board, set aside, and proceed to step 4.

Alternatively, to finish on a grill: Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Season steak generously with salt and pepper. Place steak directly on hot side of grill and cook, turning frequently, until well browned and an instant read thermometer inserted into the center registers 125°F for medium, 3 to 8 minutes total depending on thickness. Transfer steak to a cutting board and set aside.

Combine garlic, pepper flakes, and Thai chilies in a mortar and pestle and pound into a fine paste (see note). Add sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice, and pound until the sugar is dissolved. Taste dressing and add more sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, or pepper flakes to taste. It should be strongly spicy, sweet, salty, and acidic.

Thinly slice steak against the grain and transfer to a large bowl along with any juices that have accumulated on the cutting board. Add fried lemongrass, tomatoes, onion, mint, basil, and dressing. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Thai Beef Salad (Yam Neua)

1 large shallot, sliced into very thin rings (about 1/3 cup)
3 tablespoons lime juice from 2 limes
4 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed and cut into 2 to 3 pieces
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups (about 7 ounces) red or yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus cilantro sprigs for garnish (optional)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint

In a large bowl, combine the shallots and lime juice and let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons of sugar, the salt, and white pepper. Pat the steak dry with paper towels, then rub all over with the sugar-salt mixture.

Prepare a grill for very high heat. For a charcoal grill, spread a full chimney of hot coals evenly over half of the grill bed. For a gas grill, set all burners to an even, high flame. Heat the grill until hot, about 5 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate. Grill the steak (directly over the coals, if using a charcoal grill) until charred all over and cooked to desired doneness, 2 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare (depending on the thickness of the steak). Transfer the steak to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the fish sauce, pepper flakes, and remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar to the shallot-lime juice mixture and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Thinly slice the steak against the grain, then transfer to the bowl along with any accumulated juices. Add the tomatoes, cilantro, and mint and fold to combine. Transfer to a platter, garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired, and serve.

Toor Dal

FOR THE DAL:
1 cup toor dal (split yellow pigeon peas)
2 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup raw whole peanuts

FOR THE TEMPERING
1/4 cup/55 grams ghee
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
3 small pieces Indian cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
3 red dried chiles, such as chile de árbol
3 cloves
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
Pinch of asafoetida

Prepare the dal: Soak the pigeon peas in a large bowl of warm water for about 1 hour. (They will have swelled a little.) Thoroughly rinse the soaked pigeon peas with fresh water, then tip the drained pigeon peas into a pot.

Add tomatoes, turmeric, salt and 5 cups water, and bring to a boil over high. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until very tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to purée some of the dal, leaving some intact and getting some very smooth, or whisk vigorously to break up some of the soft dal. Stir in the peanuts and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the dal is very tender, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust with salt. If the dal has become too thick for your liking, stir in a splash of water.

Prepare the tempering: In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the ghee. When hot, carefully add all of the tempering ingredients (the mustard seeds will sputter!) and swirl the pan until you can smell all the toasted spices, about 30 seconds. Pour everything over the hot dal.

Toor Dal with Tamarind

400g toor dal
3 tbsp vegetable/sunflower oil
1 tsp of fenugreek/methi seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
10 fresh curry leaves
2 inches fresh ginger, finely grated/chopped
a good pinch asafoetida/hing powder
2 small chillies, chopped into three
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp tamarind concentrate
100 mL water
2 tsp salt

Soak the toor dal in a bowl of water for 20 minutes or overnight if you are well organized. This simply makes the cooking time a little quicker but is not essential (unlike some lentils which you have to soak over night – red kidney beans and green mung beans for example). Make sure the water is sufficiently above the level of the dal. You rinse it through after so the exact amount is irrelevant.

Once the 20 minutes soaking are up, rinse the dal through a sieve and place in a large pan and cover with boiling water. This time the water should only be a little bit above the dal. Gently cook the dal so that it softens, this will take around 20-35minutes (more of you have not soaked). You may need to add more water if it gets soaked up whilst softening. It’s not an exact science so don’t worry too much on water amounts – sometimes I have it more ‘soupy’ in consistency than others. Remove the scum from the top of the pan, which occurs when cooking the dal. When it has softened, leave to rest whilst you finish off preparing the rest of the ingredients. To test it has softened squeeze a lentil between your thumb and forefinger. If it soft it is ready for the next stage, however, if the lentil remains hard you will need to boil it a little longer.

In a large karahi or frying pan heat up the oil and then add the fenugreek/methi, cumin and black mustard seeds. They will begin to pop so make sure you keep the heat low. Move them around the pan for 30 seconds before adding the curry leaves and give a good stir.

After three minutes cooking time add the chillies, fresh tomatoes and asafoetida/hing, fresh ginger, chilli powder and turmeric and mix in well together.

Once the tomatoes have softened – this will take a few minutes, add the tamarind concentrate and water and stir. You now want to deposit the pan with the toor dal into your karahi/frying pan with the other ingredients, or vice versa, depending on which pan is larger. Stir in well together and add a little extra boiling water to clean the pan and then turn that water into the main pan.

Add the salt to taste and leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Serve with rice or Indian bread or simply on its own. I often like to squeeze in a little fresh lemon or lime as well.

Moong Dal Khichdi

1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup moong dal I used moong dal dhuli
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon hing powder also know as asafoetida

1 teaspoon ghee
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
1 green chili finely chopped
1 large tomato chopped
1/4 cup green peas
salt to taste

Take 1/2 cup rice and 1/2 cup moong dal in a bowl. Soak it in enough water for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, drain the water and set aside.

Add the rice and dal to a pressure cooker and add around 3.5 to 4 cups water. Add salt, turmeric powder and asafoetida and pressure cook on high heat for 5- whistles.

The rice and dal will cook and be very soft and mushy, set aside.

To another pan on meidum heat, add ghee and oil. You may use only oil to keep it vegan.

Once the oil & ghee is hot, add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Wait till cumin seeds start sizzling and mustard seeds pop up.

Add chopped ginger and green chili. Saute for 30 seconds or so or till the ginger starts turning light golden brown in color.

Add chopped tomatoes and green peas. Cook for 2 minutes, you don’t want the tomatoes to get too mushy.

Add the cooked rice and dal to the pan.

Mix till well combined, add salt and adjust to taste.

Garnish with cilantro and serve the moong dal khichdi with some extra ghee on top. Also it’s usually served with some papad, achar (pickle) and yogurt on the side.

NOTES
Use only 2 cups of water if you want a more pilaf/pulao like consistency for your khichdi. This recipe is for a porridge like khichdi.

You may use other veggies in the khichdi like spinach, carrots, onion.

To make it vegan, simply skip the ghee and use oil only.

The khichdi tastes best when it’s warm. It will become thick once you keep it inside the refrigerator. Simply add more water and little salt and bring it to a desired consistency when heating it up again.

Peanut Noodles

200 g fresh white (wheat) noodles (7 ounces; or 100g/3.5 ounces dried)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger (minced or grated)
1/3 cup peanut butter (85g; creamy or chunky)
2-3 tablespoons hot water (depending on desired sauce consistency)
1 tablespoon Thai sweet soy sauce (we like the “Healthy Boy” brand; can substitute 1 teaspoon Chinese dark soy sauce, plus 1 teaspoon sugar)
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce (or vegan fish sauce to keep the dish vegan)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon lime juice (optional)
2 teaspoons chili oil (optional)

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the noodles. Meanwhile, prepare the garlic and ginger, and add to a serving bowl along with the peanut butter and hot water.

Stir to combine, letting the hot water loosen the peanut butter. Then stir in the sweet/dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, fish sauce, and sesame oil, along with the lime juice and chili oil if using.

By now, your water should be boiling. Cook your noodles according to package instructions. Drain and toss in your sauce. Serve.

Extra Crunchy Fruit Crumble

FOR THE TOPPING:
1 1/2 cups/190 grams all-purpose flour
1/2 cup/50 grams rolled oats
1/3 cup/75 grams light or dark brown sugar
1/3 cup/65 grams granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, ginger or allspice, or use lemon zest
1/2 cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled

FOR THE FILLING:
2 to 5 tablespoon light brown sugar (or granulated sugar), depending on the sweetness of the fruit
2 tablespoons cornstarch
8 cups mixed berries (fresh or frozen), or cubed peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, or pitted sweet cherries (or a combination)
Ice cream or whipped cream, for serving

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Make the topping: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, sugars, salt and spices. Stir in butter. Using your hands, squish mixture until coarse crumbs form. Some should be about 1/2-inch in size, some smaller.

Spread topping in one layer onto a rimmed baking sheet. (You don’t have to grease it first.) Bake until crumbs are solid when you gently poke them, and are fragrant, about 15 minutes. They won’t change appearance very much. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack to cool while you make the filling. (Crumbs can be baked up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.)
Prepare the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch until well combined. Add fruit and gently toss to coat with the sugar mixture. Pour filling into an ungreased 2-quart gratin dish or 10-inch cake pan, mounding the fruit in the center.

Spoon crumbs over filling and place the crumble dish on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any overflowing juices. (You can use the same baking sheet you cooked the crumbs on.) Bake until filling bubbles energetically around the edges, about 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream, if you like. Crumble can be made up to 8 hours ahead and kept at room temperature, or warmed up briefly in a 350-degree oven.