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!

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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 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.

Nancy Singleton Hachisu recently put out a new cookbook, Preserving the Japanese Way. Her previous cookbook was a favorite of mine, so I was excited to get my hands on this. It’s mainly themed on pickling and preserving, and this recipe came up right when I had a small fuckton of broccoli on hand, so I was eager to give this a try.

The resulting broccoli has a great flavor from being macreated in the soy sauce, dashi, and red pepper flakes, and the katsuoboshi adds a lovely savory flavor to it, too. I doubled the recipe because of the sheer amount of broccoli I had, but will include the original amounts below.

Broccoli in Soy Sauce with Red Pepper

Ingredients

  • 3 heads broccoli
  • 6 T dashi (recipe here)
  • 8 T soy sauce
  • red pepper flakes to taste (original recommends 3 dried red chiles, crumbled roughly)
  • 2 T katsuoboshi flakes (you can find these at your local Asian grocery)

Bring a mediumish pot of water to boil, and have a bowl of cold water waiting in the kitchen sink. While the water comes to a boil, cut your main stem from your broccoli heads and discard, and then cut up closer to where the florets start, so that it’ll break down into lots of nice sized florets. Cut the upper stems that are left over into similar sized pieces.

Drop your broccoli into the boiling water, and cook for three minutes. While the broccoli cooks, mix together the dashi, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes in a medium sized bowl with a lid. Strain the broccoli from the boiling water, and then immediately put in the cold water. Run cold water from your tap over the broccoli until cooled, and then pat dry.

Once dried and cooled, toss the brocooli with the dashi/soy/red pepper mixture and then cover, Let macreate at room temperature for 30 minutes, then drain the mixture. If eating right away, sprinkle with the katsuoboshi and eat, but these can be stored for a few days in the fridge and still be good.

Nancy also recommends a version with yuzu or lemon peel at the end instead of the katsuoboshi, so I would recommend that if you can get your hand on it.

“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!

This is something I threw together because the boyfriend really liked the sound of the recipe, and I had almost everything on hand, and what I didn’t was on sale. I accidentally used less honey than I should’ve on the glaze, so more of that will likely make the glaze cover better next time, and maybe use a bit less coconut on the coconut rice, but otherwise, this is a pretty solid dinner. And it’s also significantly quicker if you have an Asian marketplace (or a local producer) that does fried tofu. Getting everything to assembly is a long, involved process, and some of this was a bit out of my comfort range, but the boy really liked it, so that helped boost my confidence here a lot.

Mango Tofu Coconut Rice Bowls

Ingredients

Coconut Rice

  • 1.5 c uncooked rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • .75 t sea salt
  • 1 c water

Honey Lime Glaze

  • .25 c honey
  • .25 c fresh lime juice
  • 1 t lime zest, split
  • .5 T soy sauce
  • (you can use corn starch to thicken it, I passed on it)
  • 14 oz fried tofu

(note: I used packaged fried tofu here, so I’m skipping the instructions for the pan fried tofu; if you just have unfried tofu, click on the link above for the instructions/ingredients.)

Bowl Toppings

  • 1 mango
  • 1 avocado, sliced (had one on hand but chose not to use it tonight)
  • red pepper flakes
  • (optional: green onions, cilantro)

First, take your ingredients for your coconut rice, throw it all in the rice cooker, and set it to cook on the sweet rice or white rice setting (depending on your preference, I used sweet rice here because it gets it the right kind of sticky). If not using a rice cooker, please click on the link above for stovetop instructions.

While your rice is cooking, cube your fried tofu, and your mango. 

Don’t know how to cube your mango? Here’s how! (If I was smart, I would’ve taken pictures of this process.) Take your mango, and your largest knife available (trust me, if you have a chef’s knife, you’re gonna need it), and cut your mango just slightly off center to avoid the flat seed. Do the same just to the other side of the center; you will now have two halves of mango meat. To cube your mango, score a checkerboard pattern into the fruit, being careful not to cut all the way through to the skin. Push up on the skin underneath to invert the mango, and now, all you have to do is slice at the base, and you have lovely mango cubes for use!

As soon as you’ve got these ready to go, whisk together your glaze ingredients (only use half of the lime zest), and transfer to a pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and once it’s thickened, remove from heat, and toss your tofu and mango in it. (I ended up keeping it separate, and drizzling it over the tofu and mango once in the bowl.)

By this point, your rice will likely be done; take a bowl, scoop some rice out into it, add some tofu and mango, along with, if you should so choose, red pepper flakes, avocado and green onion slices, and bits of cilantro. And then, enjoy your lovely summery dish!

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!