Kung Pao Tofu

1 medium or small head cauliflower , cut into small florets
1 tablespoon peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup milk (or non-dairy milk)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1 bell pepper , cut into 1” (2.5 cm) pieces
4 green onions , cut into bite-sized pieces (*Footnote 1)

Sauce:
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
1/4 cup Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns , crushed
6 dried Chinese chili peppers
1 ” (2.5 cm) ginger , minced
4 cloves garlic , minced

Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and spray with a light coating of cooking spray.

Combine the Chinkiang vinegar, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium-sized bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar and cornstarch.

Dry the cauliflower thoroughly with paper towels. Add the cauliflower florets to a large bowl. Drizzle with oil and toss a few times. Add the flour and toss until the the florets are coated. Pour in the milk and toss again. Add the cornstarch and toss until the cauliflower is evenly coated. Spread the coated cauliflower on to the lined baking tray, making sure the pieces are evenly spaced out with gaps in between (*Footnote 2). Bake for 25 minutes in total. Check the cauliflower at the 15- and 20-minute marks. If the bottom is browned, flip the cauliflower. Once the baking is finished, the cauliflower should turn golden brown spotly and crispy throughout.

While the cauliflower is baking, make the sauce. Add the oil, peppercorns, and dried chilis to a small saucepan and turn the heat to medium-low. Once they become fragrant, about 1 minute, add the ginger and garlic. Cook until they are just starting to brown, another 1 to 2 minutes. Stir the sauce again to re-dissolve the cornstarch completely and add it to the pan. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring it to a boil. Boil until the sauce is just thickened. Remove the pot from the heat and set it aside.

After the cauliflower has baked for 25 minutes, pull the tray out and turn the heat to 500°F. Add the peanuts, peppers, and green onions. Put the tray back in the oven and cook for another 5 minutes, until the peppers are lightly cooked.

Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and gently toss to coat (*Footnote 3). Serve immediately as a side or a main.

Notes
It’s important to cut the cauliflower to the right size to ensure even roasting and browning. See the blog post above to see how to cut the cauliflower.

It’s very important to leave some space between the cauliflower florets, so the cauliflower will release steam and turn crispy once baked. If your baking tray does not have enough space, bake the rest in a separate tray. You can bake both trays at the same time by place the smaller tray on a different rack.

If you’re not serving the dish immediately, let the cauliflower cool off for a bit before tossing in the sauce. The cauliflower will stay crispy better this way.

Chinese Eggplant and Garlic Sauce

2 (10 oz. / 300 g) small Chinese long eggplant , chopped to bite-size pieces (*Footnote 1)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Sauce (*footnote 2):
1 tablespoon light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce (*see footnote 3)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Stir-fry:
2 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon ginger , minced
3 cloves garlic , chopped

(Option 1) Place eggplant in a large bowl and add water to cover. Add 1 teaspoon salt, mix well. Place a pot lid on top to keep the eggplant under water for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

(Option 2) Spread the sliced eggplant out on a paper towel. Sprinkle Kosher salt on both sides of the eggplant slices. Allow to rest for 45-60 minutes. Pat dry without rinsing.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl, mix well.

Sprinkle eggplant with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and mix by hand, until eggplant is evenly coated with with a thin layer of cornstarch.

Add 2 tablespoons oil to a big nonstick skillet and heat over medium high heat until hot. Spread eggplant across the bottom of the skillet without overlapping. Cook the eggplant one side at a time until all the surfaces are charred and the eggplant turns soft, 8 to 10 minutes in total. Transfer the eggplants to a plate. If the skillet gets too hot and starts to smoke, turn to medium heat.

Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil, the ginger and garlic into the same skillet. Stir a few times until fragrant. Add all the eggplant back into the skillet. Mix the sauce again until cornstarch is fully dissolved and pour it over the eggplant. Immediately stir a few times, until the eggplant is evenly coated and the sauce thickens. Transfer everything to a big plate.

Serve hot as a side or as main over steamed rice or noodles.

Home Style Tofu with Peppers

1 block (14 oz/396 g) soft or medium firm tofu , cut into 1 cm thick triangles (Footnote 1)
1 cup vegetable oil , for deep frying
4 cloves garlic , sliced
1 ” (2.5 cm) ginger , thinly sliced into strips
3 green onions , cut into 1″ pieces, white and green parts separated
1 tablespoon doubanjiang
1/2 carrot , sliced (about 1/3 cup)
1 bell pepper , cut into 1” diamonds
1 (8-oz / 226 g) can sliced bamboo shoots , or 1 bamboo shoot, sliced (about 1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Sauce:
3 tablespoons light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar
2 teaspoons vegetarian oyster sauce (or sweet bean paste) (Footnote 2)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons water (or vegetable stock)

Slurry:
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

Mix the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl.

Add the slurry ingredients into a small bowl and stir to mix well.

In a high-walled skillet or pot, heat the oil to 375°F (190°C). Carefully add the tofu. Fry until both sides turn golden, about 3 minutes. Flip once or twice to ensure even cooking. Remove the tofu from the oil and transfer it to a big plate.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan (alternatively, you can heat 1 tablespoon of oil in another large skillet).

Add the garlic, ginger, green onion (white part), and doubanjiang to the pan. Turn the heat to medium. Stir fry to release the fragrance until the oil turns red, about 2 minutes.

Add the fried tofu, carrots, bell peppers, and bamboo. Stir fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Pour in the sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, gently flipping occasionally. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the green onion (green part). Mix the slurry again so the cornstarch is fully dissolved. Pour in the slurry and mix with a spatula until the sauce thickens.

Drizzle in a teaspoon of sesame oil to finish up.

Serve hot over steamed rice as a main dish.

General Tso’s Tofu

Tofu:
1 block (16 oz / 450 g) extra firm tofu (or medium firm tofu)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or agave nectar)
5 to 6 tablespoons cornstarch

Sauce:
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
3 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Stir fry:
3 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
2 teaspoons whole Sichuan peppercorns (Optional)
4 to 5 dried chili peppers
1 tablespoon garlic , minced
1 tablespoon ginger , minced
2 teaspoons doubanjiang (spicy fermented bean paste) (Footnote 1) (Optional)
4 green onions , roughly chopped
1 bell pepper , chopped
1/3 cup fried peanuts

Cut tofu into 1-inch pieces and transfer to a large ziploc bag. Add soy sauce and maple syrup. Gently flip the bag a few times to coat tofu with the liquid. Marinate for 10 to 15 minutes.

Mix all the sauce ingredients with 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl.

When tofu is marinated, open the bag just a little bit without letting the tofu fall out. Drain the liquid and discard it. Add cornstarch, a tablespoon at a time, and gently toss the bag to coat the tofu. It is OK if the tofu isn’t coated evenly.

Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat until hot. Add the tofu with your hand (or a pair of tongs), shaking off any extra cornstarch. Let cook without moving for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the bottom turns golden. Flip to brown the other side. If the pan gets too hot, turn to medium or medium low heat. Transfer cooked tofu to a plate. Set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the Sichuan peppercorns. Cook and stir until the peppercorns turn dark (but not black). Remove the Sichuan peppercorns and discard them.

Add the chili pepper, garlic, ginger, and doubanjiang. Stir for 20 to 30 seconds to release the fragrance.

Add the bell pepper and green onion. Stir for 20 seconds.

Stir the sauce again to dissolve the cornstarch completely. Pour into the pan. Stir a few times until the sauce thickens.

Add back the cooked tofu. Gently toss to coat with sauce. Add the peanuts and give it a quick stir. Immediately transfer everything to a big plate.

Serve hot as main with steamed rice.

Baked Crispy Tofu

1 (14 oz/ 396 g) extra firm tofu (or firm tofu)

Batter:
1/2 cup soy milk (or other plant-based milk)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons parsley , dried (or Italian seasoning blend)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

Coating:
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup cornmeal

Serving options:
Thai sweet chili sauce, ketchup, Sriracha sauce, or mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 400 degree F (200 C). Spray a thin layer of oil onto a baking tray.

Carefully press the tofu with your hands. Wrap a few layers of kitchen paper towels (or cheesecloth) around it to absorb the extra liquid. Cut tofu into squares that are about 1/3 inch (1 cm) thick and 2 inches (4 cm) long.

Mix the batter in a large bowl. Mix the panko and cornmeal in another bowl.

Set up your workstation by placing the batter, plate of panko mixture, and the baking tray all in a row.

Pick up a piece of tofu with your hand and dunk it into the batter. Then place it into the panko bowl, flip to coat the other side, then transfer it onto the baking tray. Repeat the process with the remaining tofu.

Spray tofu with a thin layer of oil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping once in between, until both surfaces turn golden.

Serve hot or cold with homemade sweet chili sauce, ketchup.

Crispy Tofu with Garlic Sauce

Crispy tofu:
1 12-oz. / 340-g block extra firm tofu
Salt

Garlic sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari for gluten-free option
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves minced
1 green onion chopped (*Footnote 1)
Optional Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Optional Sriracha sauce for serving

Crispy tofu:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Line a baking tray with parchment.

Press the water out of the tofu while heating up the oven. Carefully press the tofu with your hands. Slice the tofu into two even-thickness pieces. Wrap a few layers of cheesecloth (or kitchen paper towel) outside the tofu, and place a small tray with a heavy weight on top. The weight can be a jar of pickles or canned tomatoes.

When the oven is heated, cut the tofu into 1/2-inch (1-cm) pieces. (*Footnote 2)
Season both sides with salt. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the tofu turns golden and the surface puffs.

Now you can use it in stir fries or serve the tofu with sauce.

Garlic sauce:

Prepare the garlic sauce while baking the tofu. Whisk the soy sauce, sugar, water, and cornstarch in a small bowl until completely dissolved.

Heat the oil in a small pan over a medium heat until hot. Add the garlic and green onions. Stir for 20 seconds to release the aroma.

Stir the sauce again to make sure the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour into the pan. Stir constantly for 10 to 20 seconds, until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Transfer immediately into a small bowl, so the sauce won’t overcook in the residual heat.

When the tofu is baked, drizzle the sauce over the tofu. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds, if using.

Serve immediately as a snack or appetizer.

Notes:
Use the white part to cook the sauce and save the green part to garnish the tofu before serving.
It is OK to cut the tofu slightly larger, up to 3/4-inch (1.5-cm) thick. It will take longer for the pieces to crisp up, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Crispy Marinated Tofu

1 block (14 oz / 400 g) extra-firm or firm tofu
Optional 3 to 4 green onions, coarsely sliced to fill the marinade (*Footnote 1), reserve green parts for garnish
Vegetable oil for pan frying

Marinade:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons chili paste (or hot sauce you like) (*Footnote 2)
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 inch ginger, grated

Coating:
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt (Skip the salt if using doubanjiang in the marinade)
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Marinate (4 hr to overnight)
(Optional) Press the tofu gently using your hands or a few layers of paper towel to get rid of excess water. Use this step if you’re short on time and need to use less time to marinate the tofu. You can skip this step if you’re going to marinate the tofu overnight.

Prepare a container that’s slightly bigger than the block of tofu. Combine all the sauce ingredients in the container. Stir to mix well. Transfer 2 to 3 tablespoons of the marinade into a separate small bowl to use as a dipping sauce later.

Cut the tofu in half lengthwise, then into half-inch-thick squares. Transfer the pieces into the container by making them “stand”, so it helps the marinade to disperse evenly (see the blog post above to see how to arrange the tofu). Use your hand to gently separate the tofu slices, so all the surfaces will be in touch with the marinade. If the marinade cannot cover all the tofu, use some green onion (or white onion) to fill up the empty space in the container, so the marinade covers most of the tofu.

Cover to seal the container. Gently shake it. Marinate overnight in the fridge or at room temperature for at least 4 hours.

Cook
When you’re ready to cook, remove the tofu from the marinade and lay it on a few layers of paper towels to drain the extra liquid.

Combine the coating ingredients in a plate. Stir to mix well.

Prepare a big plate with a few layers of paper towels, for the cooked tofu.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a nonstick (or carbon steel) pan over medium-high heat until hot.
You might need to cook the tofu in batches depending on your pan size. While heating up the pan, coat each piece of tofu with the coating mixture and place it on a plate. You should only coat the pieces you’re going to fry immediately.

Carefully add the coated tofu pieces into the pan. Cook without moving until the bottom is browned, 2 minutes or so. Flip to cook the other side until browned, another 2 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium if the pan gets too hot and the oil starts to smoke. Repeat the process until you’ve fried all the tofu pieces.

Transfer the fried tofu onto the paper towel lined plate to drain the excess oil.

Serve the fried tofu with the reserved dipping sauce on the side and garnish it with chopped green onion. Enjoy!

Notes:
I put green onion in the marinade container so the liquid would rise high enough to cover the tofu. You can skip it if the marinade covers the tofu already.

Sriracha, Thai chili paste, doubanjiang, and any other type of hot sauce will work in this recipe. Note, if you use doubanjiang, skip the salt in the coating since doubanjiang contains a lot of salt already.

The nutrition facts were calculated based on an estimate of the amount of marinade that gets absorbed by the tofu.

Chinese Deviled Eggs

6 extra large eggs
5 tablespoons mayonnaise (or to taste)
1 heaping teaspoon wasabi or Chinese hot mustard (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons zha cai Chinese pickled mustard greens, diced (Optional)
1 green onion , thinly sliced
Chinese chili flakes (or your favorite chili sauce)

To boil the eggs, fill a pot with enough water to cover the eggs. Bring the water to a boil, then slowly lower the eggs using a ladle. Boil for 12 minutes, stirring the water in a circular motion with a spoon for the first minute (to keep the egg yolk in the center). Once the eggs are done, run them under cold tap water to stop cooking.

Once the eggs are cooled, peel them and slice them in half lengthwise.

Gently pop out the cooked yolks into a big bowl using a small spoon. Mash them with the backside of a spoon. Make sure to mash them as finely as you can, so the finished filling will be smooth.
Add the mayonnaise, wasabi or mustard, and rice vinegar to the bowl. Mix with a spatula (or an immersion blender) just until it forms a smooth paste. You can adjust the taste by adding more mayo, wasabi, or vinegar.

Add the zha cai pickles, if using. Mix again to distribute throughout the yolk mixture.

Transfer the yolk mixture to a piping bag with a large star tip, or a small ziplock bag with a corner cut off.

Pipe the yolks into the halved egg white cups.

Garnish the eggs with chili flakes (or hot sauce) and green onions. Serve as an appetizer.

These eggs can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 2 days.

Sheet Pan Salt and Pepper Chicken

1 pound (450 grams) boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts) , cut to 1-inch (2-cm) pieces
1 egg , beaten
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 small batch basil (or nori sheets) (*Footnote 1)

Marinade
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic , finely grated
2 teaspoons ginger , finely grated
2 teaspoons brown sugar (or regular sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Spice Mix
2 teaspoons white pepper powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar (or regular sugar)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder

Combine the chicken and the marinade ingredients in a big bowl. Mix well. Marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, or up to overnight in the fridge.

Combine the ingredients for the spice mix in a small bowl and stir to mix well. Note, this recipe prepares more spice mix than you might use, so you can adjust the seasoning according to your preference.

When you’re ready to cook, add the beaten egg into the bowl with the chicken. Stir to mix well. Add the cornstarch. Stir to coat the chicken, until it forms an uneven coating with a little dry cornstarch left unattached. The batter should be quite dry and not very runny.

Add the oil to a large skillet (nonstick or carbon steel), just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add the chicken one piece at a time using a pair of chopsticks or tongs. Turn to medium heat if the pan starts to smoke too much.

Cook the chicken until the bottom turns golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip to brown the other side, 2 to 3 minutes. (Alternatively, you can deep-fry the chicken with more oil at 350 F (176 C) until golden brown.) Transfer chicken to a large plate and remove the pan from the stove to let it cool a bit.

Your pan should still have a thin layer of oil remaining in it. If not, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil. Heat over medium heat. Spread the basil leaves. Cook the bottom side for 30 seconds. Flip to cook the other side until crispy. Transfer the basil leaves to a large plate to cool.
While the chicken is still hot, sprinkle about half of the spice mix over the chicken and gently toss it with a pair of tongs. Taste the chicken. Add more spice mix if needed. Add the cooked basil leaves and toss again.

Serve as an appetizer.

You can store the leftover chicken in a sealed container in the fridge. To reheat the chicken, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (176 C). Heat the chicken for 10 to 15 minutes, or until heated through.

Notes
The crispy basil leaves add another flavor dimension to the dish, but it does require some extra effort to cook them. I’ve found that dried nori sheets have a similar texture and equally interesting taste. You can simply shred some nori and add it to the chicken to skip frying the basil.

Salt and Pepper Pork Chops

1 lb (450 g) boneless pork chops , cut into irregular 1/2” to 1” (1 to 2.5 cm) pieces (See the blog post above for how to cut the chops)

Marinade
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry for gluten-free)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pepper salt
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Cooking
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or enough to cover half of the pork)
3 cloves garlic , sliced
1 jalapeno , thinly sliced

Combine the cut pork with the oil, shaoxing wine, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and salt. Mix until the pork is evenly coated. Marinate for 15 minutes.

Mix the salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Add enough oil to a medium-sized pan to cover half of the pork. Heat over medium heat until hot. Prepare a plate lined with paper towels.

Add the garlic and peppers to the oil and fry them until the garlic just turns pale golden and the jalapenos crisp up on the edges, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon, draining the excess oil as you do, and place them onto the paper towel lined plate. Once the peppers and garlic have cooled, transfer them to a big bowl.

Add the 1/4 cup cornstarch to the marinated pork chops and toss to coat. Add the pork to the pan, a few pieces at a time, so they do not crowd the pan. Cook on each side for 2 to 3 minutes, until the coating is crispy and lightly browned.

Remove the pork from the pan, draining the excess oil as you do, and place them on the paper towel lined plate. Let rest for at least 10 to 20 seconds, so the paper soaks up some of the oil. Once you’ve cooked all the pork chops, transfer them to the bowl with the pepper and garlic.

Sprinkle half of the salt and pepper over everything and toss to evenly distribute. Taste the pork and sprinkle with more salt and pepper, if needed.

Chinese Quick-Pickled Shallots

1 shallot, sliced into 1/4″ (1/2 cm) round pieces
1/4 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns (or black peppercorns)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place the shallots in a heat proof bowl.

Add the peppercorns to a small pot. Toast over medium-low heat until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to the pot. Cook and stir until the sugar and salt are fully dissolved and the liquid is coming to a simmer.

Pour the hot pickling liquid over the shallots. Let the shallots cool completely.

Serve immediately, or you can store them in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Chili-Garlic Shrimp

1 lb (450 g) raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Sauce:
1/4 cup chili garlic sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons light soy sauce (or soy sauce)

Stir Fry:
4 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon ginger, minced

Combine the shrimp and Shaoxing wine in a medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle evenly with salt. Mix until the salt is evenly dispersed. Set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir until the brown sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Heat 4 tablespoons of oil (or just enough to cover the bottom of the pan) in a medium-sized skillet until hot. Meanwhile, add the cornstarch and all-purpose flour to the bowl with the shrimp. Toss until the shrimp are fully coated.
Shake the extra flour off the shrimp and add them to the pan. You might need to cook them in two batches. Let the shrimp cook without touching them, until the bottom turns golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip to brown the other side, another 2 to 3 minutes. Once done, transfer the shrimp to a large plate without overlapping and keep cooking the rest.

Once you’re done cooking the shrimp, turn off the stove and use paper towels to wipe the pan to remove any residue.

Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add the ginger and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the sauce to the pan. Cook and stir until the sauce becomes thick and glossy, 20 to 30 seconds.

Turn the heat off and return the shrimp into the pan, tossing to coat thoroughly.

Serve hot as a main dish.

Chinese Chili

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

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

Finely chopped cilantro
Cubed avocado or sour cream
Steamed rice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ham Fried Rice with Pineapple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stir-fried Baby Bok Choy

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

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

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

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

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

Serve hot as a side.

Ginger Beef with Peppers and Bok Choy

1 lb (450 g) flank steak cut to 1/2-inch thick strips
1/3 cup cornstarch

Marinade
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon ginger, finely grated
1 tablespoon peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sauce
1/3 cup broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable)
3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Beef and stir-fry
1/3 cup peanut oil
3 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 thumb ginger, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
2 baby bok choy, quartered

Beat the egg in a medium-sized bowl. Add the sliced beef, vegetable oil, and salt. Mix well and let marinate for 15 to 20 minutes while preparing the other ingredients.

Combine everything for the sauce in a big bowl and mix well.

When you’re ready to cook, add the cornstarch. Stir to coat the beef, until it forms an uneven coating with a little dry cornstarch left unattached.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet (or a cast iron paover medium-high heat until hot. Add the beef and spread it into a single layer in the skillet. Separate the beef pieces with a pair of tongs or chopsticks.

Cook without touching the beef for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bottom turns golden. Flip to brown the other side, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the beef to a big plate and remove the pan from the stove. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes.

Place the pan back onto the stove and turn to medium heat. You should still have 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan. If not, add more.

Add the green onion, ginger, and garlic. Stir a few times to release the fragrance.
Add the bell pepper and baby bok choy. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

Stir the sauce again to dissolve the cornstarch completely. Pour into the pan. Stir and cook until it thickens a bit.
Add back the beef pieces. Stir to coat the beef with sauce.

Transfer everything to a plate immediately and garnish with roasted sesame seeds, if using.

Serve hot over steamed rice as a main dish.

Cantonese Ground Beef Rice and Eggs

1 lb (450 g) ground beef

Sauce
2 cups chicken stock (or beef stock, or veggie stock)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (or soy sauce)
1/8 tsp white pepper powder
Cooking
1 tablespoon peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 yellow onion , minced
2 teaspoons ginger , minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup frozen green peas
1 tsp Sesame oil (optional)
5 large eggs

Serving:
2 cups steamed rice

Mix the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan (or carbon steel paover medium heat until hot. Add the ground beef and spread it with your spatula. Let it cook without touching until the bottom is browned. Break up the beef into smaller bits.

Add the onions and ginger. Cook and stir occasionally, until onion turns tender and the edges are lightly browned, 5 minutes or so.

Pour in the sauce. Stir to mix well. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Your pan should still have some sauce left, just enough to cover the beef. If not, you can gradually stir in more broth.

Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl.

Once the beef is cooked, add the frozen peas. Stir the cornstarch slurry again to dissolve the powder completely, and pour it into the pot. Stir to mix well. Crack 5 eggs onto the beef. Cover immediately and let it steam until the egg whites are cooked and the yolks are still runny, 2 to 3 minutes. Or you can cook the eggs to the degree you prefer. Make sure the sauce doesn’t come to a full boil, which will reduce the cornstarch’s ability to thicken the sauce. Move the pan off the heat for a few seconds if the pan gets too hot.

Once done, uncover the pan and remove it from the stove. Use a spatula or ladle to transfer the beef with an egg and some sauce onto a bowl of rice. Serve hot as a main dish.

Beef Fried Rice

2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1/2 lb (225 g) ground beef
2 tablespoons soy sauce , separated
3 eggs , beaten
4 green onions , chopped
3 cups cooked rice , chilled
1 cup frozen veggies (broccoli, carrot, corn, and/or peas)
1 bell pepper , diced
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (or powder)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick (or carbon steel paover medium-high heat until hot. Add the ground beef and quickly spread it across the pan with your spatula to form a thin layer. Let the bottom cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Drizzle with soy sauce. Flip the beef and chop it into smaller pieces with your spatula. When the beef is almost cooked through, move it to one side of the pan.

Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil and green onions onto the empty side of the pan. Stir a few times.

Add the rice and pour the remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce over the rice. Stir and cook for 30 seconds until evenly mixed. Stir everything together.

Add the frozen veggies, bell pepper, cumin powder, chili flakes, and sprinkle with the salt. Stir and cook for a minute. Move everything to one side of the pan.

Add 1/2 tablespoon of oil onto the other side of the pan. Add the beaten eggs onto the oil. Let them cook for a few seconds until the bottom sets. Scramble the eggs using your spatula, cut them into smaller pieces, and mix them with everything else.

Transfer everything to a plate and serve hot as a main or side dish. Enjoy!

String Bean Chicken

1 lb (450 g) boneless skinless chicken breast (or thighs), sliced to 1/4” (5mm) thickness

Marinade
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 tablespoons fermented black beans (or black bean sauce)
1/3 cup chicken stock
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Stir fry
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 lb (450 g) green beans , cut to 1” (2.5 cm) long pieces
3 cloves garlic , chopped
2 teaspoons ginger , minced
2 green onions , chopped

Combine the chicken and all the marinade ingredients in a big bowl. Stir to mix well. Let marinate for 15 minutes while preparing the other ingredients.

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Stir to mix well.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Spread the chicken in the skillet in a single layer. Sear until the bottom turns golden without moving it, 1 minute or so. Stir and flip to cook the other side, until golden, another minute or so. Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a big plate and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the green beans. Turn to medium heat. Sear the green beans, stirring and flipping occasionally, until the surface is browned and the texture turns tender, 10 minutes or so (*Footnote 1). Reduce to medium-low heat if the pan starts to smoke too much.

Turn to medium-high heat again. Add the garlic, ginger, and onion. Drizzle with a bit more oil (or chicken stock), 2 tablespoons or so. Stir and cook for a minute to release the fragrance.

Add the chicken back into the skillet. Stir the sauce again to thoroughly dissolve the cornstarch and pour it into the pan. Stir a few times until the sauce thickens and coats the ingredients. Immediately transfer everything to a big plate.

Serve hot over steamed rice as a main dish.

Notes
Slowly searing the beans generates the best result. But if you’re in a hurry, you can sear the green beans for 2 minutes, add 1/4 cup chicken stock (or water), then cover to steam. Cook until the green beans turn tender or reach your desired texture, 2 to 3 minutes.

Summer Mango Salad

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon palm sugar (or regular sugar)
1 fresh red chili pepper, sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
3 ripe mangoes , peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves , finely chopped
2 tablespoons shallots , fried (or French fried onion)

Prepare the dressing by combining the lime juice, palm sugar, chili, and salt in a small bowl. Stir to mix well and set aside.

Combine the mango and cilantro in a large bowl. Pour in the dressing and toss to mix well. If you plan to serve the dish later, you should transfer everything into a sealed container and store it in the fridge, up to 1 day.

Toss in the cashews and fried shallots. Mix well.