Tag Archives: soy sauce

Roasted Cabbage with Soy-Glazed Shiitake Mushrooms

21 Dec

roasted cabbage with soy-glazed mushrooms

The past three months in Buenos Aires have been an exciting time for me – getting adjusted to a new city, learning Spanish, and settling into a new food routine (an amazing verduleria down the street for fresh, great quality vegetables when I feel like cooking and a cheap empanada place for when I don’t). But I’m taking a little break now from Argentina to check out Montevideo for a month. As I was preparing to leave, one of the main things I focused on was cleaning out my kitchen, and this recipe was great for the half head of cabbage rolling around in my refrigerator and the dried shiitake mushrooms sitting in the back of my cabinet. I’m already a big cabbage fan, but roasting cabbage just might be my new favorite preparation. As with most vegetables, roasting draws out the natural sweetness of cabbage and makes it easy to eat a lot of without even thinking about how healthy it is. I brushed the cabbage with sesame oil to pair with the Asian flavors of the shiitake mushrooms which are cooked in their soaking water along with soy sauce and sugar, boiling down to a flavor-packed glaze. Not a bad way to use up the last of some basics on my kitchen – now it’s time for me to start stocking up my new place.

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Black Bean Kimchi Quinoa Salad

7 Dec

black bean kimchi quinoa salad

Okay, I know I just posted about quinoa bibimbap, and yet here I am posting another recipe using both quinoa and kimchi. But this recipe doesn’t follow traditional Korean flavors; instead, there’s great fusion going on here with the incorporation of black beans and zucchini. In fact, you could take this recipe even further from your usual Asian flavors by seasoning it with a more traditional salad dressing instead of the mix of rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and brown sugar I use here. The black beans and zucchini are a surprisingly good match for the fermented flavors of the kimchi, and the overall effect is a great meal option that’s healthy but not boring.

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Quinoa Bibimbap

5 Dec

quinoa bibimbap

On Monday, I posted a great recipe for when you don’t have the time or energy to cook something elaborate. By contrast, here’s a complex recipe – for when you do feel like dedicating some time to the kitchen. Bibimbap is a classic Korean dish with a rice base and various vegetables as toppings. There are a lot of components here, but you can make this easier on yourself by preparing some ahead of time or omitting some. Or you can get creative and add different components using whatever you have on hand (bell peppers and zucchini, for example, are commonly used).

quinoa bibimbap

I stayed mostly traditional with the components here, with two main differences from the bibimbap you may have encountered before. For one, I omitted bulgogi (Korean barbecued beef) for a vegetarian version – you can add it back in, if you’re a meat-lover, or conversely, go a step further, and omit the fried egg and kimchi (or use a vegan kimchi) for a vegan version. For another, intead of rice, I used quinoa, mixed with chia seeds, as a substitute. Quinoa is a favorite of mine – a lot healthier than rice with a bit of a nutty flavor – and the inclusion of chia seeds helps to create a nice, sticky texture (while adding even more health benefits). Of course, using rice will also work just fine. However you customize this recipe, it’s a fun kitchen experiment and a tasty way to eat fresh veggies.

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Mongolian Beef

29 Oct

mongolian beef

I recently took a trip to Buenos Aires’ Barrio Chino (Chinatown) and was pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of Asian ingredients available. Finally, I could get my hands on hot sauce, soy sauce not made in Argentina (the versions made here are really quite bad to my taste), sesame oil, and more. They even had my favorite brand of soy sauce – Kimlan. But, unlike in the US, these bottles weren’t re-labeled with English and only had the most basic information written in Spanish on stickers attached to the sides of the bottles. So what I thought was my trusty Kimlan Super Special soy sauce turned out to be thick soy sauce instead. Thick soy sauce (not to be confused with dark soy sauce), also known as soy paste or soy jam, is sweetened and quite thick, often used for dipping sauces and, apparently, to color fried rice in many Chinese restaurants. I wasn’t sure what to do with the stuff, but when I saw this Mongolian beef recipe that called for large quantities of soy sauce and brown sugar, I knew this thick soy sauce would be the perfect alternative. This classic Americanized Chinese dish (despite the name, it is most certainly not Mongolian) is very simple to make, and although I wouldn’t quite call this recipe healthy, I’m sure it’s better than the usual take-out versions. In addition to the thick soy sauce, cornstarch further thickens the sauce (while tenderizing the beef as well). I also tossed in thickly sliced onions and bell peppers for color and variety of texture. I served mine over cauliflower rice, though of course, regular rice will work just fine, too.

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Crispy Tilapia with Spicy Thai Basil Sauce

25 Jul

crispy tilapia with spicy thai basil sauce

Usually when I go out to eat, I love sharing. It makes the meal delightfully communal and also means that I get to try a variety of different dishes. But every once in a while, I encounter a dish so spectacularly tasty that I need to have it all to myself. The crispy tilapia with spicy basil sauce at my neighborhood Thai restaurant, Beau Thai, is one such dish. When it first showed up on their rotating specials, my boyfriend and I thought we’d give it a try. We were amazed by the perfectly cooked fish, crunchy fried crust, and fragrant and flavorful sauce. Luckily, it has since been moved onto their regular menu. These days, we’ll stop by for dinner, take a look at their menu (as though we might order something else), and then each get an order of this. So finally I decided I had to try my hand at recreating the dish. I did a simple panko-crusted and fried preparation for the fish itself and modeled the sauce off of my Thai basil stir fry. The end result was like hitting jackpot – now I can get my fill of this dish at home! And maybe I’ll finally try some new dishes the next time I’m at Beau Thai.

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Korean Cold Noodles and Vegetables

18 Jul

korean cold noodles and vegetables

I haven’t even finished posting recipes for food I cooked during the last heatwave, and DC is already in the grip of a new one. Yesterday, it reached 100 degrees for the sixth time this year, and we may very well have the seventh time today. This, after only having five 100-degree days in 2011 and four in 2010 – and 17 total in the entirety of 1993 to 2009. Weather, like food, is something I feel passionately nerdy about. And they go all so well together. Even in this time of air conditioning, I find myself gravitating towards weather-appropriate recipes. Although this recipe does involve using (a single burner on) the stove for the noodles, these refreshing cold noodles and vegetables, tossed in an amazingly flavorful sauce is another perfect dish for hot days. And in addition to being delicious, this plate packs a powerful visual punch. The vegetables are easily adaptable to whatever you happen to have around, and you can even omit the noodles, if you want – I had a simple meal of broccoli in this sauce one night, and it was still delicious. The original recipe calls for the Korean herb perilla, but I wasn’t able to find any (and admittedly, in this heat, I didn’t feel like exerting myself much in searching), and it was just fine without it. If you can find it, feel free to add it in. Hopefully, this recipe can help you stay nice and cool, however you decide to adapt it.

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Garlic Scape Stir Fry

4 Jul

garlic scape stir fry

I’m always excited to try a new ingredient, so when curly green stalks labeled as “garlic stems” showed up in my usual grocery store, I was intrigued. Apparently, these are more commonly referred to as garlic scapes and are the stalk of the garlic plant (growing above ground from the tasty garlic bulb we are familiar with underground). The taste is spicy and garlicky, but mellows out after a quick cook, and the texture is pleasantly crisp, similar to green beans. A stir fry made perfect sense to me for this unique ingredient, and I thought the salty dried shrimp and spicy sambal oelek (both ingredients you can find at most Asian groceries) complemented the scapes well. I’ll definitely be picking up more garlic scapes the next time I see them!

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Three Cup Chicken

27 Jun

three cup chicken

Here’s a follow-up to my post on Monday – another recipe that hinges on the unique flavor of Thai basil. This recipe, however, is a popular Taiwanese one. Similar to pound cake and 3-2-1 stir fry, the recipe is in the name here. Three cup chicken was traditionally made using a nearby tea cup to measure out equal amounts of soy sauce, shaoxing cooking wine, and sesame oil for the extremely flavorful sauce. Of course, it’s not just those ingredients that make this dish so tasty. You may notice the seemingly ridiculous amounts of garlic, ginger, and Thai basil called for here and be tempted to cut back. Don’t; you’ll thank me. If you don’t have much tolerance for spice, feel free to cut back on the bird’s eye chiles, but leave the rest be. I was amazed at the tangy, sweet, and spicy (yet not overwhelming) flavor in this dish. Definitely best served over rice (or cauliflower rice) to soak up any extra sauce.

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Thai Basil Stir Fry

25 Jun

thai basil stir fry

Can I tell you what I am most excited about in my garden this year? Thai basil. A sweet basil cultivar used not only in Thai cooking, but also in Vietnamese, Laotian, and Taiwanese cuisine, this variety has dark purple stems and a distinctive anise flavor. Here’s the very first dish I cooked using fresh Thai basil from my garden. A simple vegetable stir fry with zucchini, carrot, and mushrooms, finished off with a fistful of Thai basil leaves and a simple Thai sauce. Garlic, shallots, and bird’s eye chiles (which are quite spicy, by the way, so cut back if you don’t have a very high spice tolerance) help to round out the flavors in this addictive stir fry. This could easily be adapted to whatever vegetables you like, but don’t even think about leaving out or substituting the Thai basil. It can usually be found in large bunches at Asian markets (which is also your best bet for fish sauce and bird’s eye chiles). Once you try this stir fry, don’t be surprised if you find yourself seeking out Thai basil whenever possible and wishing for your very own plant.

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Cucumber Sesame Salad

21 May

cucumber sesame salad

My life has been crazy lately, an absolute whirlwind of activity. All exciting events in various ways, but I’ve barely had a chance to catch my breath. As a matter of fact, I am writing this from an airport terminal as I wait to board a flight to Istanbul (where I’ll be presenting at a conference – and getting ideas for new cooking projects, of course). It can be hard, amidst a flurry of events, to keep cooking, to eat well (both in terms of health and taste). So that’s why I’m posting a simple recipe today, one you can throw together in a matter of minutes. And one that’s quite tasty, to boot. This Asian-inspired cucumber salad can work as a quick lunch (especially if served over greens) or a side and would work amazingly at a picnic. Black sesame seeds add crunch, flavor, and great visual effect. Even when your life feels overwhelming, you should find a little time for this salad.

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