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.

Sichuan Dry Fried Green Beans

INGREDIENTS

Sauce

2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
Stir fry

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound (450 grams) green beans, tough ends removed
(Optional) 1/2 pound (220 grams) ground pork (*Footnote 1)
(Optional) 3 tablespoons Sichuan pickled mustard greens (Sui Mi Ya Cai) (*Footnote 2)
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon whole Szechuan peppercorn
3 dried chili peppers (*Footnote 3)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside. Dry the green beans thoroughly before cooking to prevent oil splatter.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add the green beans and stir to coat well with oil. Spread the beans to prevent them from overlapping, as much as possible. Flip every 15 seconds or so. Cook and stir until the surface is mostly brown and withered, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn to medium heat if the pan starts to smoke too much. Remove the pan from the stove. Transfer the green beans to a plate and set aside. (*Footnote 4)

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the Sichuan peppercorns to the pan. Cook over medium heat until the peppercorns turn dark. Scoop out and save for later. (*Footnote 5)

Add the ground pork, Sichuan pickled mustard greens, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook and chop the pork to separate it into small pieces. When the surface of the pork turns golden, add the dried chili pepper, garlic, and ginger. Stir a few seconds to release the fragrance. Add back the green beans and pour the sauce over them. Cook and stir until the sauce is mostly absorbed, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the stove and taste a green bean. If it’s not salty enough, add a pinch more salt, return the pan to the stove, and stir to mix well. Transfer everything to a plate.
Serve hot on top of rice as a main, or as a side.

NOTES

The purpose of ground pork is to add flavor, although I did use a bit more pork in this recipe to make the dish substantial enough to serve as a main. You can replace it with ground chicken or ground beef, or skip it altogether for a side dish. If you choose to skip the ground meat, I highly recommend you add 2 more tablespoons of the Sichuan pickled mustard greens to enhance the flavor. If you do not have Sichuan pickled mustard greens, adding a bit of chicken bouillon, 2 tablespoons of fermented black beans, or 1 tablespoon of fermented chili bean paste (Doubanjiang) will work too.

Sichuan pickled mustard greens add savory and sweetness to the dish, making it extra rich. You can double the pickles and skip the salt to make the dish extra fragrant. If you do not have pickled mustard greens, 2 tablespoons of fermented black beans, or 1 tablespoon of fermented chili bean paste (Doubanjiang) will work great, too.

The dried chili peppers add a fragrance and smokiness to the dish but not much in terms of heat. If you want the dish to be a bit spicy, break apart the chili peppers before adding them.
Alternatively, you could use a pair of tongs to remove charred beans and transfer them to a plate. This way, the beans will be browned more evenly without overcooking.

For the cooked Sichuan peppercorns, drain the oil with kitchen paper towel and ground them to powder. You can use them on the cooked green beans to add a zing or add to other dishes such as noodles etc.

Chinese Pork Fried Rice

2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil) (*Footnote 1)
1 lbs (450 g) ground pork
3 tablespoons oyster sauce , separated
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 green onions , chopped
3 cloves garlic , minced
3 eggs , beaten
1 cup mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, corn)
3 cups leftover steamed rice
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the ground pork. Stir and cook until browned, 2 minutes.

Add the green onion, garlic, and 2 tablespoons oyster sauce. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

Add the rice. Cook and stir to mix everything together. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oyster sauce and soy sauce. Stir to mix the sauce with the other ingredients.

Add the mixed vegetables. Stir everything together and cook until the vegetables defrost, 1 minute or so.

Move everything to one side of the pan. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the other side of the pan. Add the beaten eggs. Let the bottom set for a couple seconds. Then scramble the eggs and use your spatula to cut them into small pieces. Then mix the eggs with the other ingredients.

Taste the rice and add salt to adjust the seasoning, if needed, then mix well again. If you like slightly crispy rice, let the rice sit on the hot pan for 20 to 30 without stirring.

Add the sesame oil and mix everything again. Transfer the fried rice onto serving plates.

Serve hot as a main or side dish.

Black Pepper Chicken

1 pound (450 grams) chicken breasts or thighs, sliced against the grain into 1/4-inch (5-mm) thick pieces

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

Sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce (or soy sauce)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

Stir fry
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped mixed colors)

Combine chicken, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and cornstarch in a medium-sized bowl. Gently mix by hand until the chicken is coated with a thin layer of the mixture. Marinate for 10 to 15 minutes.

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
Chop the aromatics and vegetables. Add the ginger and garlic to a small bowl. Add the onion and all the chopped peppers to another bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok (or nonstick pan) over high heat. When oil is hot, add the chicken. Immediately spread the chicken into a single layer using a spatula. Sear for 30 seconds or so, until the bottom is lightly browned. Flip the chicken. Let cook for 15 to 20 seconds. Stir occasionally, until both sides are browned but still a bit pink inside. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil into the wok. Add the ginger and garlic. Give it a quick stir until fragrant. Add the white onion and peppers. Stir and cook for 20 seconds.

Stir the sauce mixture until the cornstarch is dissolved completely, and pour it into the skillet. Stir with a spatula immediately and cook until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, a few seconds. Add back the cooked chicken. Quickly stir a few times to coat everything with the sauce. Turn off heat and remove the skillet from the stove. Immediately transfer everything to a big plate so the ingredients won’t keep cooking in the hot skillet.

Serve hot with steamed rice or on top of boiled noodles.

Sichuan Chicken in Red Oil

1 pound bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, or boneless, skinless thighs
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
4 dried chili peppers
2 slices ginger
4 green onions
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns

Sauce

3 to 4 tablespoons homemade chili oil with 2 tablespoons chili flake residue
2 tablespoons homemade flavored sweet soy sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
(Optional) Chopped cilantro for garnish

Place chicken in a small pot and add water to cover. Add the dried chili peppers, Shaoxing wine, ginger, green onion, bay leaf, salt, and Sichuan peppercorns. Cook over medium high heat until bringing to a boil. Turn to medium low heat. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked through. You can test it by inserting a knife into the thickest part and checking whether the juice runs clear. If it’s clear, the chicken is cooked.
Prepare an ice bath while boiling the chicken by adding ice into a big bowl and water to cover.

Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.

When the chicken is cooked, transfer it into the ice bath using a pair of tongs. Set it aside for 10 minutes, until the chicken is completely cooled down. Transfer the chicken onto a cutting board. Remove the bones using a paring knife, then slice chicken into 1/4-inch (1/2-cm) pieces. Transfer chicken to a small bowl.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with cilantro.

Serve cold as an appetizer.

NOTES

The prep time does not include the time you need to cook the homemade chili oil and homemade flavored sweet soy sauce.

Chinese Sweet Soy Sauce

2 cups soy sauce
3/4 cup (100 grams) brown sugar
1/2 cup (115 grams) rock sugar (or granulated sugar)
1 big thumb ginger, coarsely chopped
6 green onions
3 bay leaves
1 star anise pod
1 small cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 cloves
1 Cao Guo (or black cardamon)

Add soy sauce into a small sauce pan. Heat over medium high heat until boiling.
Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir and cook until the sugar completely dissolves and the liquid starts to simmer again.

Turn to medium low heat. Simmer until the liquid is reduced to about two-thirds of the original volume, and the soy sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Check on the pan every 15 minutes. It could take anywhere from 30 minutes to more than one hour, depending on the heat and the pan you use. Remove the pan from the stove.

Line a sieve over an airtight glass container or a jar and pour in the soy sauce. Discard all the solid ingredients.

Let the soy sauce cool completely. It is ready to use. Or you can store it covered in the fridge for a year.

Cabbage and Glass Noodle Stir Fry

1 batch glass noodles (yields 2 cups after soaking)

Option 1:
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
2 dried chili peppers

Option 2:
4 cloves garlic, minced
Stir Fry

2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1/2 head small cabbage, sliced (yield 4 cups after cutting)
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
(Optional) 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce (*footnote 1)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt or to taste

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the dry glass noodles. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until al-dente. Rinse with tap water to stop cooking and drain. Cut into 3-inch strands.

Heat a wok (or a large skillet) over medium-high heat until hot. Add oil and swirl to coat the bottom.

Option 1:
Add the Sichuan peppercorns. Cook and stir until the color turns from red to dark brown, but not burned. Remove and discard the peppercorns by scooping them out with your spatula.

Snip the chili peppers into 3 to 4 pieces, add into the wok, and stir a few times until the color turns dark.

Option 2:
Add the garlic and stir a few times, until you can smell a strong fragrance.
Stir fry

Add the cabbage. Stir and cook for 1 minute, to coat evenly with oil.
Add the glass noodles. Stir for another 1 minute.

Add the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, chicken bouillon powder (or salt), and sugar. Immediately cook and stir, until the cabbage turns tender but retains some crunchiness.

Turn to medium-low heat and carefully taste the cabbage. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and stir again, if needed.

Transfer to a plate immediately and serve hot.

NOTES

Using dark soy sauce adds a beautiful brown color to the dish. You can use soy sauce to replace dark soy sauce as well.

Pressure Cooker Lemongrass Pumpkin Congee (Tinutuan)

1/2 cup (120 grams) long grain or short grain rice
8 cups water
1 stalk lemongrass (or 2 stalks if you like a very strong lemongrass flavor)
3 cups diced kabocha squash (the yield from half a kabocha squash)
1 cup sweet corn kernels
4 cups spinach
(Optional) 1 bunch of Thai basil leaves for garnish
Sambal and/or fried shallot for serving

Add rice and water to cover in a large bowl. Use your hand to gently swirl a few times to rinse, discard the water. Repeat 1 to 2 times. Drain rice and transfer into an Instant Pot. Add 8 cups water.

Cut the lemongrass into 2-inch (5-cm) stalks and pound them with the back of your knife, to bruise the stalks so they release more aroma. Add the lemongrass into the Instant Pot. Set the pressure to high and timer for 15 minutes. Once the timer is up, use quick release to reduce the pressure.
Add the diced pumpkin. Cover and cook on high pressure, for another 6 minutes. Use natural release to reduce pressure.

Add the sweet corn kernels and turn on the saute function until bringing to a boil. Cook with the lid two-thirds of the way covered for 3 to 5 minutes, until the corn is cooked through.
Add the spinach and continue cooking for a minute. Turn off the Instant pot.

Transfer the porridge into serving bowls. Serve hot with sambal and / or fried shallot.

Stir Fried Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

Marinade:
1 (270 grams / 9 oz.) boneless chicken breast (or boneless chicken leg), cubed
1 tablespoon Japanese sake
2 teaspoons potato starch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sauce:
2 tablespoonsblack bean sauce
1 tablespoon Japanese sake
1 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon freshly grounded black pepper

Stir-fry:
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 (200 grams / 7 oz.) big shallot (or onion), minced
(Optional) Green onion or cilantro for garnish

Combine chicken breast, Japanese sake, potato starch, and salt in a bowl. Mix well and set aside.

Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl.
Chop and prepare veggies and herbs.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Spread chicken in the skillet without overlapping. Let cook for 30 seconds without stirring. Separate the chicken with a spatula (it might stick together due to the potato starch). Cook until the bottom side turns slightly golden. Flip and stir chicken to cook other sides, until the surface is cooked but the inside is still a bit pink. Immediately transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and turn to medium heat. Add ginger, garlic and shallots. Cook until shallots begin to turn soft, 30 seconds. Add sauce. Give it a quick stir. Add chicken back into the skillet. Stir and cook until the sauce thickens, 1 minute. Immediately transfer everything to a plate.

Serve warm over steamed rice.

Grilled Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

4 chicken breasts (or thighs) (*see footnote 1)
Sauce
1/4 cup dried fermented black beans
1/4 cup soy sauce, or tamari for gluten-free
2 tablespoons minced shallot ( from one medium-sized shallot)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder (or paprika for less spiciness)
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Add fermented black beans into a bowl and water to cover.

Gently wash the beans by hand, rinse a few times, drain, and transfer to a small bowl. Mash with the back of a spoon.
Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.

Dry chicken breasts with paper towel. Transfer to a large zipper bag. Pour in sauce, use a spoon to arrange the sauce, so the marinade is on the meat side of the chicken. Squeeze out as much air as possible and seal the bag. Massage the bag a few times. Let marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. If you aren’t going to cook the chicken immediately, you can store the chicken in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours.

Light one chimney full of charcoal. When the charcoal at the top of the chimney is lit, put on heat resistant gloves, and pour the charcoal halfway over the coal grate to create a moderate two-zone fire. Set the cooking grate in place, cover the grill, and preheat for 5 minutes. Clean the cooking grate. Use a pair of tongs to dip a paper towel in oil, and brush grate with a thin layer of oil. Skip this step if you’re using a skin-on cut.

Place chicken breasts on hottest part of the cooking grate, skin side down. Grill uncovered until the bottom is browned, about 3 minutes. Flip to cook the other side until browned.

Transfer the chicken breasts to the cooler part of the grill, skin side up. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Flip and cook covered again, until the internal temperature of the thickest part reads 68 degrees C (155 F). Remove chicken from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes. The residual heat will continue to cook the chicken a bit more.

General Tso’s Chicken

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-cm (1-inch) pieces (*footnote 1)
Marinade
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Sauce (or 1/3 cup homemade General Tso Sauce + 1/3 cup stock)
3/4 cup chicken stock or water
1/4 cup Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
(Optional) 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
1 and 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (or 2 tablespoons tapioca starch)
1 and 1/2 tablespoon sugar (*footnote 2)
Stir-fry
3 to 4 cups high smoking point vegetable oil for frying
3/4 cup cornstarch (or tapioca starch)
3 tablespoons grated garlic (from 10 cloves garlic) (*footnote 3)
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/4 cup dried red chilies
(Optional) 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion

Whisk all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and add chicken cubes. Stir well to coat chicken evenly with spices. Marinate for 20 minutes.

Combine all the sauce ingredients in another bowl, set aside.
Prepare all the ingredients for the stir fry and keep them near your stove. Set a cooling rack on top of a tray (or a large colander on top of a bowl).

Heat vegetable oil in a wok over high heat until it reaches 190 degrees C (375 F). If you do not have a thermometer, test oil temperature by inserting a wooden chopstick into the oil. If the oil starts bubbling rapidly, the oil is hot enough for frying. If the oil bubbles vigorously, then the oil is too hot and needs to cool off a bit. If there are no or very few bubbles pop up, then it’s not hot enough.

Roll chicken pieces in the bowl of cornstarch to generously coat a layer of starch. Shake off extra starch. Fry chicken in small batches until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer the chicken onto the cooling rack to drain extra oil.

Once the chicken is done, carefully remove oil from the wok and transfer to a heat proven container, such as an aluminum pot (Do not use glassware for this step! The high temperature will break the glass and cause an oil burn). Wipe the wok clean with paper towel attached to the front of a pair of tongs.

Add 2 tablespoons oil and turn on medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, stir until fragrant. Add dried chili peppers. Stir a few times to release aroma. Stir the sauce again with a small spoon until the starch is fully dissolved. Pour into the wok. Cook until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Return the chicken to the wok and quickly toss with a spatula. Add sesame oil and give it a final stir, if using.

Immediately transfer everything into a plate. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onion.

Serve hot as a main over steamed rice.

NOTES
1. The original recipe calls for a smaller cut of chicken (3/4-inch cubes). I found larger cut (1 to 1 and 3/4-inch) is easier to fry and it generates better mouthfeel.

2. I slightly increased the sugar. If you like your dish sweet, like Chinese take-out, double the sugar amount.

3. Chinese stir fried dishes usually call for finely minced ginger and garlic. Since we are using a large amount of garlic, I found it faster to mince the herbs with a garlic press or cheese grater.

Roasted Cauliflower with Orange Sauce

1 head cauliflower (or 2 pounds frozen cauliflower) (Footnote 1)
(Optional) 1 big onion, sliced
4 and 1/2 tablespoons cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup pre-made orange sauce
Topping options
Chopped parsley, or cilantro, or green onion
Hot sauce (homemade chili oil, or Sriracha sauce)
Roasted peanuts or other nuts

Preheat oven to 280 degrees C (550 F), or the highest setting. Adjust oven rack to the upper level, so a baking sheet will be 2-inch below the broiler.

Separate cauliflower into bite size florets and place onto a large baking sheet. (Read blog post above to see how to cut cauliflower easily) Toss with 4 tablespoons olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper.

When oven is preheated, turn on broiler. Broil cauliflower until the top side is browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Flip and roast until the other side is browned, 3 to 4 minutes. You should set a timer for every 2 to 3 minutes, and keep an eye on the cauliflower during the cooking to prevent from burning.
Heat the homemade orange sauce in microwave for 1 minute or until hot, but not bubbling.

Remove the cauliflower from the oven. Pour sauce over the cauliflower and toss to coat well.

Garnish with nuts, chopped parsley, and serve with hot sauce, if using.