This is one of those incredibly good, incredibly simple recipes that you come across every once in a while. I had something similar to this from one of the Chinese places downtown, decided to try to find a recipe to make it myself, and then did a bit of a riff on it based on what I had to hand. This is done in 15 minutes, incredibly simple, cheap if you have most of the stuff on hand, and has a good umami flavor about it.

Chinese Egg and Tomato Soup
Lasts three lunches, roughly

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 c vegetable stock
  • 1 T soy sauce (I used dark aged soy sauce)
  • 2 large eggs
  • (finished with a dash of fish sauce, recipe also recommends a dash of sesame oil)

In a medium sized pot over medium heat, add your tomatoes and sugar, and bring to a simmer (pic 1). Then add your grated ginger, veggie stock, and soy sauce, and bring to a boil (pic 2). While the soup is being bought to a boil, whisk your eggs until broken up (pic 3). Once boiling, slowly pour the eggs into the soup while stirring the soup (pic 4). Then, finish with a dash of fish sauce (and sesame oil, if you so choose), and enjoy!

As frustrating as dealing with my landlord can be (“I’ll maybe fix the peeling ceiling after the holidays,” oh and there might be mice as evidenced by the large trap placed right by a hole in the back stairway, and one running through the bedroom, that trap seems super helpful), one of the things I love about where I live is the neighborhood. And specifically, the middle eastern bakery/grocery that’s a ten minute walk up the street. They do amazing, cheap hand pies that are great for lunch or breakfast, wonderful sides (dolma! baba ghanoush! pita!), they have a small fuckton of spices, and they have a lot of reasonably priced staples. Like say, the black lentils that are central to this recipe.

This is a simple, cheap, low energy, but amazingly filling recipe. I’ve been perfecting it over the last few months to my and boything’s taste, and the recipe as I have it currently is beyond perfect. My spices are a bit more haphazard than the ingredients list below suggests in terms of amounts, but I promise you you can adjust this to your own taste, easy. Throw this on the stove while a Destiny 2 or Overwatch session is going on, and voila.

Punjabi-Style Black Lentils
Makes enough for two and then a little meals for two

Ingredients

  • 2 T ghee (regular butter or oil also acceptable)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • .5 T ground cumin (original says seeds, I went with what I have on hand for simplicity)
  • 1 in piece of ginger, grated (original says finely chopped, I go with the ginger grating trick mentioned earlier in the blog these days
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 1 t ground tumeric
  • 1 T garam masala (usually more)
  • pinch ground chile powder
  • 1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 t sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 c dried black lentils
  • 3.5 c water (reduced from original recipe bc now I just use a whole can of diced fire roasted tomatoes, which is an extra cup up from the original recommended amount
  • 4 t salted butter
  • 2 T heavy cream (can be omitted if people don’t like it)

Over medium heat, melt your ghee. Once warm, add the onion and cumin, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned in places (pic 1). Add in the ginger and garlic, cook 1 minute more until fragrant, and then add the remaining spices (pic 2) and can of tomatoes (pic 3), and cook 3 more minutes, scraping up any bits that may be stuck to the pot. Add the salt, water, and then the lentils. Bring to a simmer, and then reduce the heat to low, and cover the pot. Cook 35 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender (see pic 5). If you want a looser dal, add more water. Adjust the spices and seasoning to taste.

To finish, ladle the dal into the bowl, add 1 t butter and .5 T heavy cream, and stir in to melt (see pic 6).

So, earlier in 2015, I received a large amount of frozen steaks from my mom and her boyfriend, as a result of an auction they won. They mostly lived in the freezer for a good long time, and I was trying to figure out what the hell to make with them, as the amount of steak I had was, shall we say, slightly excessive to my norms.

And then I came across this recipe, and given that I was on a kalbi kick at the time, decided to give it a try. It was the right choice.

Simple, quick, and a good meat preparation. You can’t get too much better than that.

Korean Style Steak
Makes however much steak you want it to. 

Ingredients

  • 3 T sugar
  • 6 T soy sauce
  • 2 T vegetable oil (or other mild cooking oil), plus more for the grill pan
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 1 T fresh ginger, grated
  • 5 cloves garlic, grated or minced (whichever you prefer, I went crushed)
  • 1 small shallot, minced (I think I skipped this, it was long enough ago that I honestly don’t remember)
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • (recipe recommends 2 lbs hangar, skirt, or flap steak, I used whatever steak this was that I had in the freezer)
  • (scallions, sliced, and sesame seeds for serving, again, pretty sure I skipped this and just put it over a bowl of white rice)

In a large shallow bowl (large enough to fit your steak eventually), stir together the sugar, soy sauce, vegetable oil, sesame oil, grated ginger, garlic, shallot, sea salt, and pepper together until the sugar has dissolved. Add the steak, turn to coat with the marinade, and let sit at room temperature for about fifteen minutes. I marinated mine in the fridge overnight, I’m pretty sure.

If it’s not the dead of winter and you have access to a grill, heat up your grill. If not, heat up a grill pan on the stove. Either way, heat till medium-hot.

Lightly brush a paper towel with vegetable oil, and then rub that over the rack or pan using tongs. Transfer the steak to the grill area, and discard the leftover marinade. Grill it on each side until done to your liking (five minutes or so a side gets you medium rare, depending on how thick the steak is – adjust over or under according to your tastes). Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for five minutes.

Slice the steak thin, at an angle against the grain, and top with the sesame seeds and sliced scallion if you so choose, or put it over a bowl of rice from the rice cooker for a kinda donburi, do whatever you want!

This is a pretty straight forward, budget friendly soup. Not my favorite I’ve ever had from the site it’s originally from, but solid enough. The spices on this are super light, and I would recommend experimenting with them significantly. As is, this didn’t make too much of an impression on me.

Curried Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup
Makes enough soup for a quart container and a little more

Ingredients

  • 1 T olive oil
  • half of an onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minimum, minced
  • 1 T fresh ginger, grated (tip in recipe)
  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 1 c dry red lentils
  • 6 c vegetable stock
  • 1 T curry powder
  • sea salt

Heat your olive oil over medium heat, and add the diced onion, minced garlic, and grated ginger. To make it as easy as possible to grate the ginger (and what I’ve found gets the best flavor in recipes) is to freeze the whole root, and whenever you need it, take it out and grate it straight into the pot. Still fresh (even though the root’s been frozen, the grated ginger will warm up in the cooking process), and has even made recipes taste better. Saute until the onion is soft and transparent.

Then, add the pumpkin, lentils, veggie stock, and curry powder. Stir to combine, cover with a lid, and bring the heat to medium-high to bring the soup to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to low and bring the soup down to a simmer, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring here and there. After 20 minutes, the lentils should be soft, and the soup should have thickened a bit.

Taste it and add sea salt and more curry powder to your personal taste, and enjoy!

This is one of the best, weirdest, and cheapest dishes I made this year. As it turns out, when you live near Asian markets, you can get thick slices of pork belly (sliced a la bacon), heads of napa cabbage, and most of the other stuff you need for this recipe for incredibly cheap. The resulting hotpot (aka nabe) is hearty, filling, and keeps forfuckingever. (Yay depression proof food!) I’ve made this twice, and still have leftovers in my fridge from the last time. A+, can and will recommend.

It’s technically supposed to be real pretty cooking, but I’ll be real honest with you, I gave up on that pretty damn quickly. The assembly can be complicated, but it is doable. There are detailed pictoral directions at the linked recipe, too. If you can do it better than I can, bless and go forth.

Mille-Feuille Nabe
Makes: hella. You’re gonna have nabe for a while and then some.

Ingredients

  • 1 head napa cabbage (no really, I promise, whatever size you get WILL be enough)
  • 1.5 lbs sliced pork belly (go to your local Asian market for this, you’ll get it sliced just to the right thickness and way cheaper; feel free to increase this if you really like meat)
  • 5 c dashi (honestly, I had instant packets of dashi for this, and I used it; linked version will give you the normal way to make it)
  • 1 in ginger
  • 2 T sake
  • 1 t soy sauce
  • .5 t sea salt
  • shimeji/enoki mushrooms (optional)
  • ponzu and shichimi togarashi to dip in (green onion if you want to too, but I skipped it)

To start, thiny slice your ginger, and set to the side.

Cut your cabbage into quarters, lengthwise (pic 1), and wash the leaves carefully and drain well, taking care not to cut the edge as you do so. Keep a hold of any leaves that may come off; you will use them later. Take your pork belly slices, and put them between each leaf of the napa cabbage (pic 2). Use kitchen shears to cut the pork belly to the appropriate length for the leaves.

Once that’s done, cut the stuffed cabbage into three to four pieces, depending on the size of the leaf, usually about two inches or so long. Start packing the pot from the outer edge with the pieces, working your way in. The layers will loosen as they cook, so pack it as tight as possible. Stuff the center with leaves that fell off while washing, and, if you so choose, shimeji/enoki mushrooms. Pics 3 and 4 are what this looks like when I do it. Click the original recipe for a way better looking example of this.

Combine the soup ingredients (dashi through sea salt and the ginger slices), and add to the pot, pouring over the packed cabbage and pork belly and mushrooms. Don’t cut down on the salt, as the cabbage will release liquid when it cooks and dilute down the soup.

Cook on high heat, and skim the foam and fat on the surface once it starts boiling, if you so choose (I chose not to). Then, reduce the heat to medium high, and cook until the cabbage is tender, and the pork belly is cooked through. Pics 5 through 7 are what this process looks like, with pic 7 being from my second try at this.

When you’re ready, scoop it from the pot and serve hot, with the ponzu and shichimi togarashi to dip into (pic 8). And seriously, enjoy the wonderfully simple flavors in this.

So, I’ve been saying I would finally catch the hell up on this blog. This is me finally committing, entirely too late in the year for my liking. I’ve mostly been sticking to stuff I know this year, with the occasional new recipe here and there, and getting back into the swing of cooking in general, and finally getting my depression and anxiety under control (meds are great, kids, as is therapy). This is me catching up on my recipe backlog.

I’ve only made these once, and that’s a damn shame, because come on – browned butter AND chai spices AND pumpkin? This is the perfect fucking fall waffle.

Browned Butter Pumpkin Chai Waffles
Makes: waffles. I honestly don’t remember how many.

Ingredients

  • 6 T unsalted butter
  • 2.5 c flour
  • .33 c dark brown sugar
  • 2.25 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • .5 t salt
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t cardamom
  • .5 t ginger
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 c milk
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 c canned pumpkin

In a small pot/pan, melt the butter over low heat (pic 1). Continue cooking the butter until it turns amber and starts to smell nutty and get little brown flakes at the bottom (pic 2 is the end result of this). Pour into a separate small bowl to stop cooking, and let cool.

While the browned butter cools, whisk together your dry ingredients (everything from flour down to ginger). In a separate small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (the browned butter, and everything from the eggs down to the canned pumpkin). Then, pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold together until the batter just barely comes together (pics 3-4).

Heat up your waffle iron, and make the waffles according to the waffle iron’s instructions, and enjoy!

“You begin to suspect your bowl is a portal to the meat dimension… In order to finish this bowl, you must have Understanding of your limits, Knowledge to control your pace, Courage to face this unrelenting tide of beef, and Diligence to persevere against this colossal challenge." 

So, one of the things you can do to raise your stats in Persona 4 is to take the Aiya Bottomless Beef Bowl Challenge. On rainy days, you go to the Chinese restaurant, and for 3000 yen (~$30), you get a huge ass beef bowl that you have to try to finish. You can’t actually finish the beef bowl until you have all five stats maxed out (and then it’s free), so typically when you do it, you get three of four random stats increased, which is super useful in game. 

This is basically a combination of two existing recipes (Pixelated Provisions, and the now defunct Gourmet Gaming), but I like the end result I got better than the other two recipes. (I’ll likely include the onions on another run through, but I mostly just wanted the meat, egg, and rice for this.)

I’m thinking of trying something similar with reverse engineering recipes from the Odin Sphere remake, so any tag suggestions for this kind of thing would be great!

Aiya Bottomless Beef Bowl

Ingredients

  • Steak, sliced thin (note: I got chuck steak for this, about a pound and a half, and that lasted for two servings; get something reasonably priced that you can get in large quantities)
  • 3 T mirin
  • 3 T sake
  • 3 T sugar
  • 9 T aged dark soy sauce
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 3 T grated ginger
  • rice 
  • egg

Whisk together your mirin, sake, sugar, and soy sauce. Take your steak, slice it thin to your taste (you can see the approximate size I got from my photos), and marinate in the mirin/sake/sugar/soy sauce mix in the fridge. I let mine sit covered in the fridge for the better part of a day; you should marinate it for a minimum of fifteen minutes. 

About an hour out from when you’re looking to eat, toss together your rice according to its instructions in your rice cooker, and let it do its thing. 

Fifteen minutes out from when you’re looking to eat, take a large pan, heat it to medium high, and add the sesame oil. Take your grated ginger and garlic, and fry for about two minutes tops, until fragrant. Then, take your steak and marinade, and cook for about ten minutes, until your steak is browned on all sides (see difference between pics 4 and 5). 

As your steak gets close to being done, heat a small pan and a dash of olive oil over high, and fry your egg until you get your desired doneness (I like having a sunny side up with a runny yolk). 

Scoop out your rice, add a bunch of the steak, and then drop the egg on top, and open your portal to the meat dimension!