Wanting some takeout, but not feeling like spending the money? Have a kitchen decently stocked with ingredients for Asian cooking, or a cheap Asian grocery store within an easy walk? Then go with this recipe. All I really had to do for this recipe was throw a thing of rice in the rice cooker the day before, and spend maybe a half hour tops getting everything going the day of. Simple, quick, and makes a regular shitton (though I might have to double the recipe next time as the boything really liked it). 

Ginger Fried Rice
Lasted two of us one meal and a bit leftover, will probably double next time

Ingredients

  • 4 c day-old cooked rice
  • .5 c peanut oil
  • 2 T minced garlic 
  • 2 T minced ginger (mine was grated, as I freeze mine) 
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 large leek, white and light green bits sliced thin
  • egg, if you want one on yours (do the thing if you do eggs, it’s great)
  • sesame oil 
  • soy sauce (I used the aged soy that I have from ) 

First, your rice. If you have leftover rice from other takeout that’s still good, use that. Otherwise, do what I did – throw a bunch of rice in your rice cooker the day before, cook it, and keep the warm function off. 

In a large pan, heat .25 c of peanut oil over medium heat, and then add in the minced garlic and ginger, cooking until crisp and lightly browned (see picture 3). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl or on paper towels, and salt lightly. 

Reduce heat to medium low, add another 2 T of peanut oil, and add in your sliced leeks. Cook them for about 10 minutes, until they’re tender (but not browned; see the difference between pictures 4 and 5). Salt them lightly. 

Then, raise the heat back to medium, and add in your rice. Stir well, and cook until the rice is heated fully through (about eightish minutes), maybe a bit longer if you want the rice to have a bit of color and crunch to it. Pics six and seven are the rice just added to the pan, and after being fully heated. Again, add a small bit of salt. 

If you want to add an egg, heat the remaining peanut oil in a small nonstick pan over high, break an egg into it, and then cook until the whites have just set, but the yolk is still wobbly (call it two minutes). 

Then, scoop out the rice into your serving bowls, drizzle with a bit of sesame and a bigger bit of soy sauce, sprinkle the crisped garlic and ginger over it all, and, if you feel so inclined, put your egg on top, and enjoy!

This? This is amazing. Especially if you live near a high concentration of Asian groceries and can find a bunch of these ingredients for cheap, and salmon goes on sale for the right price. A nice Thai riff on the classic salmon chowder, and makes the apartment smell amazing. 

Thai Style Salmon Chowder

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thin
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced large
  • 2 stalks lemon grass, outer layers removed and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 10 kaffir lime leaves (you can get these for super cheap at Asian grocery stores, trust me)
  • 1 qt chicken stock
  • 1 13 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 lb salmon, skin removed and cut into .5 inch pieces (save the skin)
  • .25 c fish sauce
  • .25 c fresh lime juice

Heat a large pot over high heat. Add the olive oil, and once it starts to shimmer, add your sliced shiitake, and sautee until deeply bronzed (about 7 to 10 minutes). Then, stir in the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant (a minute or so), followed by the tomato, bell pepper, lime leaves, and lemongrass, cooking until the tomatoes release juice and the bell pepper just barely starts to wilt. 

Add in the chicken stock and coconut milk and stir together, bringing to a simmer. Once steadily simmering, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. 

While the soup simmers, heat a small pan with olive oil over medium high heat, add your salmon skin, and cook on each side for about three minutes, until crispy. (Mine didn’t quite work out that way due to the sheer amount, but I tried and got pretty close!  See pics 8 and 9). 

Once your salmon skin is ready, add the salmon chunks, fish sauce, and lime juice in, and cook another minute or two, until the salmon that you can see is cooked. (The residual heat will take care of cooking it the rest of the way.)

Taste and adjust to your tastes, add a bit of salmon skin for garnish to your bowl as you scoop it out, and enjoy your ridiculously good soup. 

Looking for a quick, delicious dinner? Try this!  The flank steak was on sale, so it was cheaper than it would’ve been normally, but everything else you should have in your pantry. 

Asian Steak Bites
Lasts 2 lunches

Ingredients

  • 1.75 lbs flank steak
  • .25 c soy sauce
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 T chili paste (I used sambal oelek) 
  • 2 T olive oil

Slice your flank steak into strips, and then into bite size pieces. Place the pieces in a medium sized bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, and chili paste, and pour over the beef, stirring to mix well. Let the beef sit in the marinade for twenty minutes to a half hour.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat, and then add the beef, cooking on all sides until browned (about 5 minutes total). Enjoy!

This recipe is a bit involved for all the stuff that needs to be done to make it, but honestly, the resulting porridge is pretty fantastic. I’ve heard a lot about congee and how awesome it is, but didn’t really feel the urge to go out of my way to make it until I found this recipe.

And honestly? This might go into my regular breakfasts rotation. Garlic plus beef plus soy plus rice = very very good combination, in my book. And this makes enough that this should keep me in breakfasts for most of the week. 

Congee with Beef, Garlic Chips, and Shiitake
Lasts 4 breakfasts

Ingredients

Garlic Chips

  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and sliced
  • .5 c olive oil
  • pinch sea salt

Beef

  • .5 lb ground beef
  • 2 t soy sauce
  • 3 t vegetable oil
  • dash sugar
  • pinch sea salt

Congee

  • 1 c rice
  • 5 c water
  • shiitake mushrooms, sliced (amount variable; original recipe suggests 6, I did an entire package)
  • 2 t soy sauce
  • pinch pepper and salt

To make your garlic chips, take your garlic slices, put them in a small pan with the olive oil, and cook over medium high heat until they are golden brown. Drain the chips with a mesh strainer, and reserve the garlic oil that results. Sprinkle the chips with salt. 

Combine the beef, soy, sugar,vegetable oil, and salt in a small bowl while the chips fry, and chill in the fridge. 

For the congee, combine your rice in water in a medium sized pot, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot, and cook for 30 minutes, checking at least twice (I ended up checking every ten minutes or so) to stir and ensure that rice isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot. Picture 6 is what the rice will look like after the 15 minute mark. After the half hour, add the shiitakes in, and simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

After 20 minutes, take your ground beef and add in in teaspoon sized chunks, stirring it into the congee. Cover the pot again and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, until the beef has cooked through. Add in the soy, salt, and pepper to taste.

When ready to serve, scoop into bowls, sprinkle with garlic chips, and pour a small amount of the garlic oil over the congee. Serve hot, and enjoy!

Some nights you just need a quick, simple soup to throw on the stove, simmer, and then dig into. This definitely fits the bill. This has seven ingredients (six if you exclude one), and is done in fifteen minutes’ time. No dicing, no chopping, just pour it all in a pot, boil, simmer, and boom. Done. 

Additional ingredient notes: You can use homemade pumpkin puree if you like, but honestly, it’s easier and cheaper and saner just to find some cans at the store. The original recipe suggests adding peanut butter, and I added a cappuccino peanut butter that I think really added to the soup.

Thai Pumpkin Soup
Lasts 6 meals as a main

Ingredients

  • 2 T red curry paste
  • 2 c chicken stock (substitute vegetable stock to make vegetarian)
  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 2 15 oz (or 1 32 oz) cans pumpkin puree
  • 2 T soy sauce (can also use fish sauce)
  • 2 T lime juice 
  • 2 T dark brown sugar
  • .25 c peanut butter (optional)

Heat a pot over medium heat, take your red curry paste, and stir till fragrant (about a minute). Then, add all the rest of your ingredients, whisk together, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for five minutes.

And then, behold!  You have your soup!  Quick, simple, and no hassle.

I had some extra salmon from the Japanese glazed pan-seared salmon I made last week, and wanted to use it up before it went bad.  The recipe I used was originally made for use with scallops, but honestly, it works pretty well with the salmon; I just pan sear it, and then make the sauce and pour it over the seared salmon.  I also give more detail in my directions than in the original recipe, as it assumes you know certain things.

Maple-Miso Salmon

Ingredients

  • salmon
  • olive oil
  • .25 c rice vinegar (reduced from original recipe bc I didn’t have .5 c on hand)
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 2 T white miso paste

Heat your olive oil over high, and pan sear your salmon, cooking for three minutes on each side, enough to leave the center still good and pink. 

Reduce your heat to medium high, and add your vinegar, maple, and miso, stirring with a whisk to get the miso paste to combine into the maple syrup and vinegar.  It may not fully combine, and that’s okay.  Simmer, until reduced and thickened.  

Pour your sauce over your salmon, and enjoy!

EDIT: But make sure your salmon is still good first. That’s important. Urk.

So, potstickers continue to reinforce two things for me.  One, that I will never win anything that involves making my cooking pretty (see the bottom photo for evidence of this). Two, that while I may start a recipe to try to invoke a zen state of calm (see: folding potstickers, which takes patience and a hell of a lot of time), I will likely end up getting impatient about halfway through and attempting to find a way that works better – in this case, double wrappers, and making the final wrapped product look more like shumai more than potstickers.  And trust me, this recipe takes a pretty long time; total time for me was something around an hour and a half to two hours.

As your farmers markets are coming into season, be sure to check there for your vegetables.  For the most part, you can get some hella good deals on fresh veggies, and they taste better.  Witness: when peas inevitably come into season out here, I’ll be buying several pounds worth (one of the stalls sells them pre-shelled) and freezing them for future use.  For now, though, I used grocery store asparagus (which was way more expensive than the stuff I picked up yesterday) and frozen peas.

General note: I skipped the scallions and chives, here, as they aren’t quite in season at the farmers market (where they’re typically a buck for a large bunch), and they’re expensive otherwise around here.

Spring Vegetable Potstickers 
Makes between 25 to 50 potstickers (depending on if you single or double wrap them)

Ingredients: 

Potsticker Filling: 

  • 3 to 3.25 c of spring veggies (SK suggests asparagus, fava or lima beans, peas; I chopped up about ¾ lb of asparagus and used 2/3rds of a 16 oz bag of frozen peas)
  • 1 T neutral cooking oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 oz tofu, chopped small (about half of a 12 oz package)
  • 1 t toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ t salt

To Assemble and Cook: 

  • 1 T cornstarch and ½ c water
  • 1 package dumpling wrappers (I got wonton wrappers, and that gave about 50 wrappers, but they were too thin; SK had success with mandu wrappers.  Look for dumpling wrappers, or, if you’re more crazy than me, make your own!)
  • 1-2 T more of the neutral cooking oil mentioned above
  • ¼ to ½ c water

Dipping Sauce: 

  • ¼ c rice vinegar
  • ¼ c soy sauce
  • 1 T sesame oil

Prep your veggies (I recommend googling best prep methods depending on what you have; for asparagus, I chopped up the stalks, and if they were thicker, sliced them in half and chopped those up, and the peas I left whole).  Add 1 T of oil to your pan, and heat to medium. Once that’s ready, add your veggies in order of time it’ll take to get them crisp and cooked through. Asparagus typically takes about 4 mins, and peas 2 to 3 mins (a bit longer if you’re using frozen, like I was). Once they’re done, add the tofu, and cook for about a minute more, and season with salt and remove to a separate bowl, and mix with the sesame oil.  

SK recommends draining off excess moisture; I ended up not doing so.  Don’t think it made that much difference in the final product. If the mixture is still too thick, chop it up (DO NOT PUREE) using a knife and a cutting board, or a blender.  Mine was mostly peas, chopped asparagus, and tofu, along with minced/chopped ginger and garlic, so I left it like it was.  Might chop it up next time. 

To assemble, have a tray ready to put your finished potstickers on (I used a pizza sheet and didn’t oil it, though SK recommends either oiling or parchment paper).  Mix the water and cornstarch, which will be your glue for the wrappers. Have a plate next to your bowl of filling. Once you open your package of wrappers, either use plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to keep the wrappers from drying out.  I didn’t use it, but they didn’t dry out, for the most part.

To assemble your potstickers, brush a wrapper with the cornstarch/water mixture, and set it on the plate. Scoop ½ T of filling (I typically used about a T, and that was a bit too much) onto the center of the wrapper.  Now, SK has a pretty solid picture guide for how to attempt to seal and crease the wrappers.  I tried doing this with single wrappers, then double wrappers, but they never quite worked for me.  The method I ended up going with for the last half or so of the potstickers was to fold the four corners to the center and pinch them shut, and then put that wrapper in the middle of another wet one and do the same, sealing shut with the cornstarch/water mixture. Do whatever works best for you.  😛  Do this until you run out of wrappers, and after that’s done, you can either freeze them for later cooking, or cook them right away. You may have leftover mixture; if it’s still mostly whole like mine, keep it as a side!  Otherwise, save and freeze for future use. I also had leftover tofu, and will likely be using it to make Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce.  

Once you’re ready to make your potstickers, heat up your skillet (yes, I used it the same one I used to make the filling, just cleaned it out after) with the oil to medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the potstickers in a single layer and cook until the bottom is browned (at least a minute or two). Add water (smaller amt for a smaller batch, larger amt for a larger batch, which will hiss and sputter if it’s hot enough), and cover, cooking for 2 to 3 mins more.  Remove the lid, and simmer until any remaining water (there shouldn’t be a lot left) has simmered away.

Make your dipping sauce by combining all the ingredients.  If you’d like a sweeter sauce, add ½ t brown sugar or honey.

And then, freaking finally, EAT THEM.