Crispy Tofu With Cashews and Blistered Snap Peas (with Variations)

1 (14-ounce) block firm or extra-firm tofu, drained
3 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed, vegetable or canola, plus more as needed
Kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 pound snap peas, trimmed
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (about 2 tablespoons)
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 (13-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk (light or full-fat)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons molasses, dark brown sugar or honey
1/2 cup toasted cashews
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup mint leaves, torn if large
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (optional)
Rice or any steamed grain, for serving

Slice the tofu in half horizontally, and leave on paper towels to dry any excess liquid.

In a medium skillet or cast-iron pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high until it shimmers. Season both sides of the tofu with salt and black pepper, place in the pan and sear without moving until tofu is browned and golden on both sides, turning once halfway through, about 8 minutes total. Move the tofu to a plate.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, and add the snap peas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until blistered and just tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and move to a bowl.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, add the ginger and garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the coconut milk, soy sauce and molasses. Simmer, stirring frequently until the sauce reduces and its color deepens to a dark brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. It should coat a spoon without running right off. Stir in the cashews, break the tofu into 1-inch pieces and toss in the pan to coat with sauce. Remove from heat, and taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Toss the snap peas with the rice vinegar, scallions, mint and red-pepper flakes, if using. Divide among plates, along with the tofu and cashews. Serve with rice or any steamed grain.

Yam and Plantain Curry With Crispy Shallots

1/4 cup neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
4 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
Kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 (2- to 3-inch) piece fresh ginger, grated (about 2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 whole red habanero or Scotch bonnet chile, pierced all over with a knife
1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with their juices
1 1/2 pounds white or orange yams, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 green (unripe) plantains (about 1 pound total), peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 (13-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon red palm oil (optional)
4 cups julienned hearty greens, such as dandelion greens, collards or lacinato kale, tough stems removed
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
1 lime, sliced into wedges

Heat a medium pot, large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium. Pour in the neutral oil, add the sliced shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are caramelized and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove shallots from the oil and allow to drain on paper towels or a cooling rack. Season with salt and set aside.

Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the cooking oil out of the pot. (Reserve extra oil for another use.) Over medium-low heat, add the garlic, ginger and turmeric to the pot and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for an additional 2 minutes or until it begins to stick to the bottom of the pot.

Drop in the chile and add the whole peeled tomatoes with their juices, crushing the whole tomatoes with your hands as they go in. Stir to combine ingredients and dissolve the tomato paste, then add 3 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat.

Once boiling, season with salt, reduce heat to medium, add the yams and simmer until the yams are just beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the plantains and cook until both are tender but hold their shape, and the liquid is slightly reduced and thickened, 15 to 18 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk and red palm oil, if using, season with more salt and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the greens and cook until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

To serve, remove and discard the cooked chile. Ladle the curry into bowls, top with the caramelized shallots, a scattering of basil and cilantro, and several squeezes of lime juice.

Note: This recipe is an adaptation of asaro, the Yoruba word for a dish of starchy root vegetables simmered in a seasoned tomato- and chile-based sauce. Regional versions of asaro are served all year round across the south of Nigeria and in other parts of West Africa. Traditionally, the dish is made with the West African yam, but you can also use white or purple taro root or unripe plantains. Here, firm, green plantains are combined with white yams in a sauce rich with caramelized shallots, garlic and ginger. There is a slight but welcome heat from a single red habanero dropped in whole to infuse the stew. Coconut milk and an optional spoonful of red palm oil — a floral, slightly smoky oil that is pressed from the fruit of oil palm trees — round out the flavors, and hearty greens cut the richness. Serve topped with crunchy shallots, fresh herbs and a wedge of lime.

Spanish White Bean Soup with Bacon and Herbs

1 1/4 pounds thick-sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely diced
2 celery ribs, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh bay leaf
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1 pound Great Northern beans, soaked overnight and drained
10 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large soup pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Drain, reserving the fat and bacon separately.

Heat the olive oil in the soup pot. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf and 1 teaspoon each of the chopped thyme and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the drained beans, stock and 3 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat and bring to a boil. Simmer the soup over moderately low heat until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

Discard the bay leaf and stir in the remaining thyme and rosemary. Season the soup with salt and pepper and transfer to shallow bowls. Garnish the soup with the bacon and serve.

Laksa Ayam Betawi (Jakarta Coconut Chicken Soup)

800 gr chicken breast fillet – about 28 oz, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp cooking oil
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups coconut milk

Ingredients to grind:
30 gr dried shrimp – soak in warm water until soft
4 cloves garlic
1 large onion
1 inch fresh ginger
1 Tbsp sambal oelek – or more if you want it spicier. You can also use this chili paste

Spices and herbs:
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp galangal powder
1 stalk lemongrass
2 bay leaves
3 kaffir lime leaves

Seasonings:
2 tsp salt – or more to taste
1 tsp sugar – or more to taste
1/2 tsp ground white pepper

Choice of noodles: (choose one)
Rice noodles – (bihun) prepare according to directions on the package
mungbean thread noodles – (soun) prepare according to directions on the package

Serve with:
200 gr mungbean sprouts (tauge) – blanched in hot water
2 hard-boiled eggs – cut into quarters
Crispy fried shallots / bawang goreng
Emping crackers
Limes

Garnishes:
1 stalk green onion – finely chopped
Fresh mints and/or basil leaves

Place all ingredients to grind in a food processor and process into a paste. Add the cooking oil to help it going.

Preheat a large heavy-bottom pot. Add cooking oil (if you haven’t added it when you grind the ingredients above). Add the ground ingredients and stir fry until they smell really good, about 3 minutes or so.

Add the chicken pieces followed by turmeric, coriander, galangal powder, and seasonings. Stir to mix everything and cook until the chicken just turn opaque and add chicken broth, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer until the chicken pieces are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Then stir in the coconut milk. Have a taste and adjust the seasonings to your taste.

Serving:
Portion the cooked noodles into individual serving bowl. Portion out some chicken pieces. and beansprouts. Ladle the hot soup over.

Add hard-boiled pieces, chopped green onions, bawang goreng, and fresh mint and/or basil leaves. Squeeze some lime juice over if you like. Serve immediately when it’s warm with some emping crackers if you have some.

Laotian Khao Soi (Coconut Curry Noodles with Pork)

5 dried Thai chiles
1 cup hot water 3 tablespoons canola oil
3 medium garlic cloves, smashed
1 pound ground pork
2 small plum tomatoes, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/4 cup soybean paste (such as Healthy Boy)
2 tablespoons fish sauce (such as Red Boat), divided
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 bunch fresh cilantro
8 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
14 ounces uncooked dried
1/8-inch-wide banh pho rice stick noodles
2 cups zucchini ribbons (shaved using a Y-shaped peeler, avoiding and discarding squash seeds) (optional)
2 cups shredded napa cabbage (optional)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint Black pepper, for garnish
Lime wedges, for serving

Wearing gloves, crumble Thai chiles into a medium-size heatproof bowl. Add 1 cup hot water; let stand 15 minutes. Drain chiles; discard liquid. Process chiles, oil, and garlic in a mini food processor until chiles are very finely chopped, about 30 seconds, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed.

Heat a large skillet over medium. Add chile mixture; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add pork; cook, stirring occasionally to break pork into small pieces, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, soybean paste, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, sugar, and paprika. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced and pork is coated with sauce, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, separate cilantro stems from leaves; tie stems together with kitchen twine. Chop leaves to yield about 1/2 cup; set aside for garnish. Stir together chicken broth, cilantro stems, and remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium. Uncover; remove and discard cilantro stems. Cover broth; keep warm over medium-low.

Prepare rice noodles according to package directions. Drain noodles, and divide evenly among 8 serving bowls (about 2/3 cup each). If using, add zucchini ribbons and cabbage to hot broth; cook over medium-low until just tender, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Using tongs or a spider, remove vegetables from broth, and divide evenly among serving bowls (about 1/2 cup each). Top each bowl with about 1/4 cup pork mixture and 1 cup hot broth. Sprinkle bowls evenly with mint and reserved chopped cilantro. Garnish with black pepper, and serve with lime wedges.

Note: Noodles can be cooked up to 4 hours in advance and held in cold water. Broth can be made up to 4 hours in advance. Pork mixture can be cooked and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days ahead.

Soto Ayam

1/2 pack rice noodles (8 oz)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 skinless and boneless chicken breast, cut into cubes
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 3 strips
1 can coconut milk, 13.5 fl oz (400 ml)
1 can chicken broth, 14.05 oz (411 g)
1 cup water
Salt, to taste

Spice Paste:

1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 shallots, peeled
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 piece turmeric (2-inch), peeled or 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
1 piece galangal, peeled and sliced (2-inch)
1 piece ginger, peeled and sliced (2-inch)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Toppings:

2 cups bean sprouts
2 cups sliced cabbages, optional
2 hard-boiled eggs, cut into wedges
1 stalk spring onion, cut into rounds
2 limes, cut into wedges
Fried shallot crisps

Soak the rice noodles in warm water to soften them. Set aside.
Blend the Spice Paste in a food processor. Add some water if needed.
Add the oil in a pot on medium-high heat. Add in the Spice Paste and stir with spatula back and forth until aromatic.

Add in the chicken broth, coconut milk, lemongrass and water. Bring it to a boil. Add in the chicken breast cubes. Cover the pot and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Blanch the rice noodles, bean sprouts, cabbages (if using) in another pot of boiling water. Transfer them to a bowl once they are cooked. Add the Toppings of hard-boiled eggs, spring onions and add the hot chicken broth into the bowl. Serve hot with lime wedges and shallot crisps on top of the noodles.

Herbed White Bean Stew with Sausage

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, sliced 3/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound dried great Northern beans, rinsed and picked through
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 thyme sprigs
1 large rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high. Add the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Add the tomato paste and cumin to the pot. Cook, stirring, until dark golden, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beans, 8 cups water, salt, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer gently until the beans are tender, about 2 hours, adding more water if needed to make sure the beans remain submerged.

When beans are tender, return the sausage to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into warm bowls and serve drizzled with more vinegar and olive oil.

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

Perfect Doctored Ramen

1 pack ramen noodles with flavor packet
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon butter
2 slices American cheese
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 scallion, green part only, thinly

Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the noodles and cook for 2 minutes. Add the flavor packet, stir, and continue to cook for another 30 seconds.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the egg. Do not stir; pull the noodles over the egg and let sit for one minute to poach.

Carefully transfer everything to a serving bowl, add the butter, cheese and sesame seeds and mix. Garnish with the scallions if desired.

Coconut and Red Curry Lentil Stew with Sweet Potatoes

2 tablespoons unrefined virgin coconut oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 to 1 1/4 cups)
2 sweet potatoes (16 to 18 ounces in total), peeled and chopped into 3/4-inch chunks
1 pinch kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 pinch red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
4 teaspoons finely grated ginger (from a 3-inch piece)
3 garlic cloves, finely grated
3 tablespoons red curry paste (such as Maesri or Thai Kitchen)
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (with juices)
1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
1 lime finely grated zest (juice reserved for finishing the dish)
2 1/2 cups water, plus more to thin, as needed
1 tablespoon fish sauce, or to taste; see note about a vegan substitute
1 tablespoon (per person) Greek yogurt or sour cream, to serve
1 handful cilantro leaves, to serve

Heat coconut oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 4 to 6 minutes, until softened. Add sweet potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook for 5 minutes (stirring often), or until the outsides lose their firmness.

Push the sweet potatoes to the side of the pan and add ginger, garlic, and red curry paste. Cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant, then stir together with the sweet potatoes.

Add red lentils, tomatoes, cilantro, coconut milk, lime zest, and water. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft, about 20 minutes, thinning with more water, if needed. Season soup with fish sauce, then off the heat, add the lime juice (start with 1 teaspoon and go from there). Taste again. Need more fish sauce or salt? Add a bit more. Need more heat? Add a few red pepper flakes.

Divide among bowls and top with a dollop of yogurt and a little cilantro. (Make-ahead tip: stew can be made up to 3 days in advance; gently reheat before serving.)

Pasta e Ceci with Miso and Chili Oil

2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons white miso
2 1/2 cups just-boiled water
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup ditalini
2 teaspoons chili crisp (such as Lao Gan Ma or Fly By Jing), with oil, adjusted to taste

Add the oil and miso to a large saucepan or small soup pot. Set on the stove over medium to medium-low heat and stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes, lowering the heat if the miso is threatening to burn, until the miso is very fragrant and a toasty, chestnutty brown.

Carefully pour off the oil into a small heatproof bowl (you don’t need to obsess over every last drop, just try to get most of it); discard this later on, whenever it’s cool.

Set the pan back on the stove and add about half the water, stirring until the miso is incorporated and all the bits on the bottom are scraped up.

Add the rest of the water, as well as the chickpeas and pasta. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the pasta is super-duper al dente (remember, it will continue to cook as it hangs out in the hot soup).

Divide into two soup bowls and top with however much chili crisp you want.

Small Batch Congee (Khao Tom)

2 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
1/4 pound ground turkey or pork
1 tablespoon fish sauce (more to taste)
2 eggs
1 green onion, chopped for garish
1 handful cilantro, for garnish
1 pinch ground black pepper, to taste

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Lower to medium heat and cook the ground meat in the water for about 5 minutes, separating the meat into chunks.
Drain the meat from the boiling water and wash the pot. Add the meat and rice to the pot.

Add enough water to just cover the rice by an inch and heat to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer for another 10 minutes for rice to soften.

While the rice and meat are cooking, add fish sauce to taste. Start with 1 tablespoon and add more for more flavor.

Poach the eggs in the porridge for at least 2 minutes depending on how runny you like your eggs.

Divide into bowls and top with pepper, cilantro and chopped green onion.

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.

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.

Winter Vegetable Stew

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 onion, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bulb fennel, chopped
1 bunch kale, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 leeks, chopped
1 large carrot, diced small
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small napa cabbage, sliced thin
2 to 3 cups cooked Rancho Gordo Cassoulet beans with some broth

In a large pot, heat the olive over medium heat until shimmering, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, fennel, kale, leeks, and carrot. Salt lightly and stir. Allow them to cook for about 10 minutes until they’re soft but not quite done. Add the cabbage and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add water to barely cover the mixture, about 5 or 6 cups, depending on the pot you’re using and the state of the vegetables. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a gentle simmer over medium to medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until vegetables are cooked through.

Add the beans and adjust the salt. Add a generous amount of pepper and bring back to a simmer.

Ladle into large bowls and drizzle each serving with extra-virgin olive oil.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
2 cups (10 ounces) diced onion, 1 large
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
4 cups (16 ounces) cauliflower florets, 1 medium
2 cups (16 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk, warmed
1/2 cup dark beer, such as Guinness
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese

In a 5-quart stock pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt, stir and cook until the onion turns slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower, stir everything together to coat with the oil, cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the liquid is just simmering. Cover the pot and cook until the cauliflower is fork-tender, 7 to 10 minutes.

While the cauliflower cooks, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter until foaming. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and whisk until smooth, forming a roux. Reduce the heat and continue to whisk until the roux turns golden brown, about 7 minutes. Add the warmed milk in a stream, whisking until thick and smooth. Add the beer, whisking until smooth, and bring to a simmer, warming just until the bubbles have dispersed, 2 to 3 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, scrape the beer sauce into the soup and stir until smooth. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, the thyme, Worcestershire, mustard, black pepper and cheese. Stir and heat until a silky cheese soup surrounds the cauliflower, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve hot.

Creamy White Beans With ‘Nduja, Kale, and Gremolata Breadcrumbs

For the Beans:
2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil
3 large shallots (4 1/2 ounces; 125g), thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves (10g), thinly sliced
Kosher salt
4 ounces (1/2 cup; 113g) ‘nduja (see note)
3 (15-ounce) cans low-sodium white beans (cannellini or Great Northern), drained and rinsed
1 quart (950ml) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
1 bunch (8 ounces; 225g) lacinato kale, tough stems removed, leaves cut into 1-inch pieces (see note)
1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh lemon juice (from one lemon; zest finely grated and set aside before juicing fruit)
For the Gremolata Breadcrumbs: (optional)
2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (1 1/4 ounces; 35g) panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup (15g) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Finely grated zest from one lemon

For the Beans: In large, straight-sided sauté pan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add shallots and garlic, season lightly with salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not brown, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add ‘nduja and, using a wooden spoon, break it into pieces and stir vigorously to combine with shallots and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until fat from ‘nduja separates, and shallots and garlic are stained red and fully coated with ‘nduja, 3 to 5 minutes longer.

Add beans. Use wooden spoon to crush roughly 1/4 of the beans against sides and bottom of the pan. Stir until beans are fully incorporated and coated in ‘nduja-shallot mixture.

Add chicken stock, season lightly with salt, and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened to a creamy, stew-like consistency, with some beans just poking out on the surface, about 15 minutes.

Add kale, and stir to incorporate and very lightly wilt the greens, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice, and season to taste with salt.

For the Gremolata Breadcrumbs: While the beans simmer, combine oil and breadcrumbs in medium skillet, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until toasted and golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add parsley and lemon zest, season lightly with salt, stir to combine, and continue to cook until parsley begins to sizzle and mixture is very fragrant of citrus, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer breadcrumb mixture to small bowl and set aside until you are ready to serve.

For Serving: Divide beans between individual serving bowls and sprinkle with gremolata breadcrumbs. Serve immediately, passing more breadcrumbs at the table.

Sopa de Ajo (Basque Garlic Soup)

4 ounces high-quality baguette
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 garlic head (about 12 cloves), peeled and finely chopped
1 heaping tablespoon Pimentón de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika)
8 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place baguette on a baking sheet, and toast in preheated oven until very browned and almost burnt, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool. Break or slice bread into 2-inch pieces.

Heat 7 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add bread pieces, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, turning often to allow bread to toast and soak up oil, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove bread, and set aside. Wipe pot clean.

Add garlic and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pot. Cook over medium-high, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in paprika. Add broth and salt; bring to a boil.

Add bread to pot. Reduce heat to medium-low, and maintain a simmer. Add vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally to break up bread, until flavors meld, about 25 minutes. Taste and add more salt, if needed.

When ready to serve, bring soup to a simmer over medium-high. Stirring constantly, slowly pour beaten eggs into hot soup. If any large pieces of bread remain, cut with kitchen scissors, or break apart with a spoon. Serve hot.

Notes: Soup can be prepared through step 4 up to 2 days in advance. Bring to a simmer, and add beaten eggs just before serving.

Spicy Corn and Coconut Soup

5 ears yellow or bicolor corn (or 5 cups frozen corn kernels)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 serrano chile (or other chile), minced
2 small red potatoes (6 to 8 ounces total), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or 2 1/2 cups of hot water whisked with 1 1/2 teaspoons jarred bouillon)
1 (15-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon lime juice (from 1/2 lime)
Kosher salt, to season
Torn cilantro leaves, toasted coconut flakes, chopped roasted peanuts, crispy fried shallots, lime wedges and more sliced Serrano chiles, to serve (optional)

Cut the corn kernels off the cobs and transfer to a bowl. Using the back of a butter knife, scrape the cobs so that all of the milky juices collect in the bowl and the cobs look completely dry, like wrung-out sponges. Set aside. (If using frozen kernels, skip this step.)

In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add shallots, garlic, ginger and chile, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Add corn kernels and juices to the pot, and sauté until the corn is softer and brighter, about 3 minutes more.

Add potato pieces, and stir to coat, 1 to 2 minutes.

Now, pour in the vegetable broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender all the way through.

Use an immersion blender to roughly purée the soup, so that it’s creamy with some kernels of corn, chunks of potato, and chile flecks remaining. (Alternatively, ladle about half of the soup into a blender, blend until smooth, and return to the pot.) Season with lime juice and salt, and mix to combine. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with toppings of your choice.