Ginger-Lime Grilled Chicken

1 1/2-to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lime zest (from about 2 limes), plus lime wedges, for serving
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger (from a 3-inch piece of peeled ginger)

Pat the chicken dry and season all over with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. In a medium bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, lime zest and ginger; season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the mayonnaise mixture and stir to coat. (The chicken can sit in the marinade for up to 8 hours in the fridge. Let come to room temperature before cooking.)

To grill: Heat a grill to medium-high. Grill the chicken over direct heat until cooked through and juices run clear, about 5 minutes per side for thighs and about 4 minutes per side for breasts, turning as necessary to avoid burning.

To cook in a skillet: Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Cook the chicken until juices run clear, about 5 minutes per side for thighs and about 4 minutes per side for breasts.

Serve chicken with lime wedges, for squeezing on top.

Shrimp with Tomatoes and Corn

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (from 4 ears)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon), plus wedges for serving (optional)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
3 tablespoons chopped parsley or chives, or torn basil leaves

Pat the shrimp very dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Add the shrimp and cook until pink and lightly golden in spots, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shrimp to a plate.

Add the tomatoes to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring just once or twice, until they start to blister in spots, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the corn, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring just once or twice, until the tomatoes burst and the corn is golden in spots, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until you smell garlic, about 1 minute.
Reduce heat to medium, and add the wine and lemon juice, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until nearly evaporated, then add the butter and stir until melted. Add the shrimp and its juices and stir until warmed through. (If the sauce breaks and looks greasy, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of water and stir until emulsified.)

Remove from heat, add the herbs, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with extra lemon for squeezing over, if you like.

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.

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.

Garlic Noodles

12 ounces thin spaghetti (340g; can also use dried Chinese noodles or fresh egg noodles)
salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 cloves garlic (peeled and thinly sliced)
1/8 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce (or vegetarian oyster sauce)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons brown sugar (depending on your taste)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1-2 whole scallions (chopped)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the noodles/pasta according to package instructions. If using fresh noodles, you may simply need to blanch them. (Reserve some of the pasta cooking water, as you may need it in the sauce later.)

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, until lightly caramelized, and stir in the turmeric (if using), oyster sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, and sesame oil. Stir for 1 minute and add the scallions.

After 30 seconds, to let the scallions wilt, toss in the cooked pasta and parmesan cheese. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of the noodle cooking water to loosen them up.

Serve them either as a side dish, or as a quick and easy vegetarian main, with some bok choy or sauteed broccoli on the side!

1-2-3-4-5 Tofu

21 ounces firm tofu (1 1/2 containers, 600g; cut into cubes)
2 tablespoons oil
4 slices ginger
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
4 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons water

Preheat a wok (or cast iron pan) until it starts to smoke lightly. This is very important to prevent the tofu from sticking.

Add 2 tablespoons oil, along with the ginger slices. Over medium heat, fry the ginger for 1 minute. Add the tofu, and take 10 minutes to brown the tofu on at least 2-3 sides.

When the tofu is lightly browned (or to your liking), add in 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine, 2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar, 3 tablespoons light soy sauce, 4 tablespoons sugar, and 5 tablespoons water. Stir and mix everything well. Turn up the heat to bring it to a boil.

Cover and reduce the heat to medium/low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Halfway through, check to make sure the liquid is not drying up. If so, reduce the heat further and add in a little more water if needed.

After 15 minutes, remove the lid. The sauce should be mostly cooked down. With the heat on high, gently toss the tofu to ensure every piece is coated in glistening sauce. This process takes a couple of minutes. Reduce the liquid until there is ¼ cup of liquid left and the tofu is gleaming with sauce. Serve immediately.

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.

Baked Tofu With Peanut Sauce and Coconut-Lime Rice (with Variations)

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil, plus more for brushing the pan and drizzling
2/3 cup lime juice (from about 5 limes), and zest of 1 lime
Kosher salt
8 baby bell peppers or 1 medium bell pepper (any color will do), stemmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
Black pepper
1 cup long-grain rice like jasmine or basmati
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 cup smooth, natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon red miso
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
2 teaspoons chopped habanero pepper, stem and seeds removed, or 1 tablespoon sambal
2 tablespoons buckwheat honey or molasses
2 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and sliced crosswise, 1/4-inch thick
3 cups peppery greens, like arugula, mizuna or baby mustard greens
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

Heat the oven to 450 degrees and lightly brush a large rimmed sheet pan with oil.

In a small bowl, stir 4 tablespoons lime juice with 1/2 teaspoon salt until salt dissolves. Add the sliced peppers, a few cracks of black pepper and set aside.

In a small pot, combine the rice with 1 cup water and the coconut milk. Season with salt and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over medium-low until the rice is just tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, until ready to serve.

In a medium bowl, whisk 4 tablespoons lime juice with the peanut butter, miso, ginger, fish sauce (if using), habanero, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon honey and 3/4 cup water. Stir until smooth and season to taste with salt.

Arrange the tofu pieces in a single layer on the oiled baking sheet and season with salt. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the peanut sauce over each, covering the top and allowing the sauce to run down and coat the sides. Drizzle the tops with some oil, and roast until glaze is set, deep brown and caramelized along the edges, 18 to 20 minutes. Add the remaining lime juice and 1 tablespoon honey to the leftover peanut sauce in the bowl to make the dressing; set aside.

Notes: A spicy, fragrant peanut sauce reminiscent of the groundnut stews that are popular across West Africa anchors this recipe. Any protein would be lucky to be doused and marinated in it, but tofu soaks up the peanut sauce’s flavors and chars up nicely upon roasting.

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.

Cabbage and Carrot Slaw with Peanut-Lime Dressing

4 cups shredded red cabbage
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup packed cilantro leaves
5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon garlic chili sauce
1/2 tablespoon red chili pepper flakes
1 teaspoon honey
Zest of 1 lime
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

In a large bowl, combine the red and green cabbage, carrots, and cilantro.

In another bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, chili sauce, chili flakes, honey, lime zest, and lime juice. Stir in the water until the dressing is smooth and set aside.

Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Garnish with chopped peanuts and serve chilled.

Basic Grilled Shrimp

1 large clove garlic
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ to 2 pounds shrimp, in the 15-to-18-a-pound range (or smaller, if skewered), peeled, rinsed and dried
Lemon wedges to serve

Start a charcoal or gas grill, or heat the broiler. Make the fire as hot as it will get, and put the rack close to the heat source.

Mince garlic with salt; mix with cayenne and paprika, then make into a paste with olive oil and lemon juice. Smear paste on shrimp. Grill or broil shrimp, 2 to 3 minutes a side, turning once. Serve immediately or at room temperature, with lemon wedges.

Crispy Rice with Shrimp, Bacon, and Corn

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, patted very dry
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
4 strips bacon
3 ears corn
6 scallions
1 cup grape tomatoes, or 1 large chopped juicy tomato
4 cups cooked rice

Heat oil in large cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet over high heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Add to the hot oil in a single layer and sear until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Turn heat down to medium-low and add the bacon in a single layer. Cook, turning to evenly brown, until crisp, about 10 minutes.

While the bacon browns, shuck the corn and cut off the kernels. You should end up with about 3 1/2 cups. Thinly slice the scallions and set aside some greens for garnish. Cut the tomatoes in half. (If the bacon is done cooking before you’re finished slicing, remove the pan from the heat for a moment.)
Drain the bacon on paper towels, leaving as much liquid as possible in the skillet. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the corn, scallions, and a pinch of salt to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until the scallions just wilt, about 1 minute.

Add the rice and stir until well-mixed and heated through, about 3 minutes. Press the rice evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Let cook, without stirring, as the rice and corn begin to crackle, until you smell a toasty scent and the rice browns, about 5 minutes. You can lift up a section of rice to peek and see if a golden brown crust has developed.
Remove from the heat and divide the rice mixture among four bowls, scattering the tomatoes, shrimp and accumulated juices on top of each. (Alternatively, serve rice directly from the pan, with tomatoes and shrimp on top.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Crumble the bacon all over and garnish with the reserved scallions.

Slaw with Tomatoes and Blistered Peanuts

1 1/2 cups unsalted raw peanuts
1/2 of a medium-large cabbage
1 basket of tiny cherry tomatoes, washed and quartered
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and diced
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon + fine-grain sea salt
honey, to taste

Blister the Peanuts
In a skillet or oven (350F) roast the peanuts for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice along the way, until golden and blistered.

Prepare the Coleslaw Ingredients
Cut the cabbage into two quarters and cut out the core. Using a knife shred each quarter into whisper thin slices. The key here is bite-sized and thin. If any pieces look like they might be awkwardly long, cut those in half. Combine the cabbage, tomatoes, jalapeno (opt), and cilantro in a bowl.

Make the Dressing
In a separate bowl combine the lime juice, olive oil, salt. Taste, and whisk in a teaspoon or two of honey if the lime is too strong for you. Add to the cabbage mixture and gently stir to combine. Just before serving fold in the peanuts (add them too earl and they lose some of their crunch). Taste and adjust the flavor with more salt if needed.

Notes: Go ahead and leave out the jalapeño if you like it milder. I also thought about adding shredded, baked tortilla chips (like the ones from the tortilla soup recipe). Also, I’ve mentioned this before – I try to seek out organic peanuts. As far as the choice of cabbage goes, you can use green cabbage, or a blend of purple and green. If you like a more creamy coleslaw, go ahead and add a dollop of mayo, or Greek yogurt.

All-Purpose Chinese Brown Sauce

1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable or mushroom stock; 350ml)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or granulated sugar)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce (can sub gluten-free soy sauce or tamari)
1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce (or vegetarian or gluten-free oyster sauce)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a jar with a tight lid (must hold 2 cups of liquid), combine all of the stir fry sauce ingredients together and shake well.

This sauce should keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator; all you need to do is measure and pour out what you need for your dish. Makes enough sauce for about 3 dishes.

Whether you have carrots, peppers, onions, celery, snow peas, snap peas, bean sprouts, bok choy, etc. left over or readily available in your fridge, you can use any combination you like. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full ingredients list and recipe!

HOW TO USE THIS STIR-FRY SAUCE:

MARINATE YOUR PROTEIN: Marinate 12 ounces of sliced beef, chicken or pork with:

2 tablespoons water
A pinch or more of baking soda (for beef only)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2. PREPARE AROMATICS:

I like to cut my aromatics fresh, so I will mince 3 cloves of garlic, grate a teaspoon of ginger, and perhaps slice 1 or 2 scallions into 2-inch lengths if I have some.

SLICE VEGETABLES: I’ll prepare the vegetables ahead of time, slicing celery, carrots, bell peppers, snow peas, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, and/or broccoli. Use whatever you like and make sure to cut the vegetables small/thinly enough so that they’ll cook quickly (i.e. a couple of minutes).

PREPARE YOUR THICKENER: 2 tablespoons water mixed with 2 tablespoons cornstarch.

SEAR MEAT: Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to your hot wok (it should be almost smoking). Add the meat, sear on both sides, and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil and add the garlic and ginger. (If you also sliced scallions, you can add the white parts of the scallion at this stage.)

After a few seconds, add the vegetables and stir fry for 1 minute or until just softened.

Add about 2/3 cup of stir fry sauce (more or less depending on how much sauce you like), and heat until simmering.

And add in the seared meat.

Bring to a boil and stir in the cornstarch slurry until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon (you may need a little more or a little less cornstarch slurry depending on how much sauce you added and how high your heat is). Add the green parts of your scallions (if using), and cook for another 15 to 20 seconds.

All-Purpose Chinese White Sauce

For the Chinese white sauce:
3 cups stock (chicken stock, pork stock or vegetable stock, 540 ml)
3 cloves garlic (finely minced or grated)
3/4 teaspoon ginger (grated)
1 teaspoon scallion (white part only, minced)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
3/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoon oyster sauce (or vegetarian oyster sauce)
1 teaspoon MSG (totally optional!)

Pour chicken, pork or vegetable stock into a resealable glass jar. It’s best to use home-made stock but you can use store-bought as well. If you use store-bought prepared stock, try to use a pure stock without any other flavorings added (herbs, spices, etc.), as usually store-bought stocks are usually made for western cooking.

Next, add the garlic, ginger, and scallion whites. It’s best if these aromatics are very finely minced. Add, salt, sugar, white pepper, sesame oil, oyster sauce (or vegetarian oyster sauce), and MSG if using.

Seal, and shake well to combine. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Shake before using. Makes enough sauce for 4-6 dishes.

To make a stir-fry:
8 ounces meat of your choice (225g, pork, chicken, or beef; thinly sliced ¼ inch thick)
3 cups mixed vegetables (bell pepper, mushrooms, celery, carrots, snow peas, snap peas, broccoli/broccolini, cauliflower, bamboo shoots, lotus root, etc.)
1/2 cup firm tofu (cubed, optional)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1/2 – 3/4 cup prepared Chinese white sauce (depending upon how much sauce you like)
1 tablespoon cornstarch (mixed with 1 tablespoon water; you may need a little more or less, depending upon how much sauce you use and how thick you like it)

Take your sliced meat, and velvet it using our method for velveting beef, velveting chicken, or velveting pork.

Bring 4 to 6 cups of water to a boil, and blanch the vegetables and tofu for 30 to 60 seconds. Drain thoroughly and set aside. (Blanch in 2 batches if you have lots of vegetables, or if vegetables require different cooking times. Dense vegetables like carrots will take a little longer than snap peas, for example).

Heat your wok over high heat until it just starts to smoke. Use 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to evenly coat the wok. Spread the velveted meat in the wok in one layer. Sear for 30 seconds on each side. Remove from the wok and set aside. Note, instead of searing the meat, you can also blanch it; just reduce oil to 1 tablespoon for stir-frying.

Next, without washing the wok, reheat your wok over high heat, and add the blanched vegetables and Shaoxing wine. Stir everything together, and add the meat.

Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of your white stir-fry sauce, and stir-fry everything together to deglaze the wok. Keep cooking until the sauce comes to a full simmer.

Mix the cornstarch and water into a slurry. Move the pork and vegetables to the sides of the wok. There should be a little well of sauce/liquid at the center of the wok. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the liquid, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Give everything a final stir. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Plate and serve over steamed rice.

Basic Pad Thai

For sauce, combine roughly equal parts fish sauce, palm or brown sugar, and tamarind liquid. Add Some chicken broth And bring to boil. Simmer until sauce thickens. Set aside.

In a wok, saute minced red onion and garlic until golden brown.

Add any combination of cooked and diced chicken, cooked and diced firm tofu, and raw shrimp.

Add fresh noodles and fry for 30 seconds.

Push noodles aside and use the space to fry two lightly beaten eggs.

Pour in 3-5 tablespoons of sauce. Fry for another 30 seconds. Thin with more chicken broth if desired.

Add about a cup of bean sprout and some chives or scallions and fry for 30 more seconds.

Serve topped with fresh cilantro, basil leaves, crushed peanuts, crushed dried chilies, and lime wedges.

Bhindi Masala

1 1lb okra/bhindi
3 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly or ? cup sliced onions
1 large tomato, chopped or ½ cup chopped tomatoes
2 green chilies, slit
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste or ½ inch ginger along with 3 to 4 medium garlic crushed to a paste in mortar-pestle
1/4 tsp turmeric powder/haldi
1/4 tsp red chili powder/lal mirch powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder/dhania powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder/jeera powder
1/2 tsp dry mango powder/amchur
1/4 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves, crushed
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves/dhania patta
salt as required

Rinse the bhindi/okra in water. then wipe dry them with a kitchen towel or just allow to dry them naturally in a plate. (making sure they are completely dry eliminates the gelatinous texture of okra)

Slice off the crown and tip of each bhindi. then slice them vertically.
also slice 1 medium onion. chop 1 large tomato and slit 2 green chilies. crush the ginger and garlic in a mortar-pestle.

Heat 3 tbsp oil in a thick bottomed shallow frying pan. add the sliced onions.
saute them till they start turning light brown.

Add 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste and the green chilies. Saute till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.

Add the chopped tomatoes. stir well.

Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin and dry mango powder. Mix the spices with the rest of the onion-tomato masala. Saute this mixture till the tomatoes become pulpy and you see oil releasing from the sides.

Add the chopped bhindi/okra, season with salt, and stir very well. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and cook on a low flame or simmer. Check after 4 to 5 minutes a couple of times. Continue to cook the bhindi fry on a low flame till the bhindi is done. You will have to check after every 4 to 5 minutes so that the bhindi does not get too browned or burnt. Stir every time when you check it. If the okra is becoming too browned or getting burnt, then sprinkle 1 to 1.5 tbsp water all over. stir, cover and continue to cook.

Once the bhindi is done, add garam masala powder and kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves, and cilantro, and stir well.

Sri Lankan Shrimp Curry

Prawns /Shrimp
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Sri Lankan Curry Powder

Prawn/ shrimp Curry
3 tbsp coconut oil
4 garlic cloves minced
1 inch piece ginger, minced
1 medium sweet onion chopped finely
1 Tbsp Sri Lankan Curry Powder
1/2 tsp ground fennel
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
12 curry leaves
3 pandan leaves
1/3 cup coconut milk
2/3 cup water
2 fresh red chili peppers more or less to your heat tolerance
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp Cilantro chopped, finely

Sprinkle the salt and curry powder over the shrimp and mix well and set aside to marinate while you cook the curry.

Heat a frying pan over medium high heat, and add the coconut oil. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, a generous pinch of salt and reduce the heat to medium and cook the shrimp heads until they soften – a few minutes.

Add the curry powder, fennel powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, curry leaves and stir frequently for about 5 minutes, until the spices are fragrant and have formed a paste with the onion, garlic and ginger.

Add the coconut milk, 2/3 cup water, fresh red chili pepper, lime juice and stir to combine. Bring to a boil.

Cover and simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes until the mixture is thick.

Add the peeled prawns/shrimp into the curry base and gently mix to combine and completely coat the prawn/shrimp with the sauce. Add a bit of water if the sauce is too thick, or you would like more sauce.

While stirring, bring the mix to a boil. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, or just until the prawns/shrimp is cooked through and is pink. Season with salt to taste.

Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid and let the prawns/shrimp sit in the sauce for a few minutes.

Sprinkle cilantro to garnish if using, and serve with steamed Basamati rice.

Sri Lankan Spiced Chickpeas (Kadala Thal Dala )

2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
10 curry leaves
4 dried red chilies chopped into large chunks
1 large onion finely diced
2 15 oz. chickpeas cans (drained)
Salt to taste
Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan.

Fry the mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves and chilies for around 30 seconds until you hear the seeds pop.

Add the onions and cook until soft and golden.

Stir through the chickpeas and add salt to taste. Sauté for a few minutes until heated through.

Serve warm as a snack or as a side to your meal.