Sesame Noodles

IMG_3548Oh, hello there. It's been a while. And a lot has happened since my last post–I'm officially a California resident (not used to it yet), we moved into an apartment and bought a car (my first!) All very exciting, but one of the things I was most excited about when we found our place (which was a process, as anyone who's looked for housing in the Bay Area recently knows) was the fact that I could cook again. After staying with very generous family and friends for more than six weeks, you can bet that I was anxious to get back in the kitchen, and the first thing I made when we were moved in were these sesame noodles. IMG_3549

Sesame noodles were my go-to order from our local Chinese takeout in Brooklyn, and I haven't found a place in Oakland (yet) that makes the same kind–so when I found this recipe from the New York Times, it seemed to perfect to pass up.

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These noodles come together in minutes and satisfied my craving for takeout Chinese exactly–now I just have to learn how to make scallion pancakes and I'll be all set.

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Sesame Noodles (modified from The New York Times)

1 pound Chinese egg noodles (1/8-inch-thick), frozen or (preferably) fresh, available in Asian markets

2 tablespoons sesame oil, plus a splash

3 ½ tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar

tablespoons tahini

tablespoons smooth peanut butter

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon finely grated ginger

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons chili-garlic paste, or to taste

Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/8-inch by 1/8-inch by 2-inch sticks

¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes; they should retain a hint of chewiness. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and toss with a splash of sesame oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, the soy sauce, rice vinegar, tahini, peanut butter, sugar, ginger, garlic and chili-garlic paste.

Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with cucumber and peanuts.

Kimchi Fried Rice

IMG_2122I've spoken before about my love for fried rice as an easy weeknight meal, but lately I've been wanting to spice it up a little. Believe it or not, I had never had kimchi until relatively recently (there aren't a ton of Korean restaurants in Minnesota, unfortunately) and the first time I tried it, I wasn't so sure if I liked it or not. IMG_2117

But after trying it a few more times, I'm officially a convert–plus, fermented foods are supposed to be very good for you. Ari is still a little wary of the funky, spicy fermented cabbage, so I've been making this fried rice in the meantime–you still get all of the spicy goodness of kimchi, but cooking it for a few minutes tones down the taste.

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Kimchi Fried Rice (adapted from Food52)

1 to 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil1 package tofu, drained and cut into small cubes
2 cups mixed vegetables (I used peas, carrots and broccoli)

4 to 5 scallions, whites only, finely sliced

1 1/2 cups kimchi, chopped

2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)

4 cups cooked rice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 pinch salt, to taste

Fried eggs (1 per person)
Heat canola or vegetable oil in a large, deep frying pan over high heat. Add tofu and cook, stirring frequently, until browned on all sides. Add vegetables and sauté until just cooked through, about 3 minutes.
Add the scallion whites, and cook while stirring for 1 to 2 minutes. Next, add kimchi and kochujang, and cook while stirring for 3 to 5 minutes until the kimchi begins to soften.Add the rice and soy sauce. Then mix well until the rice is coated with the kimchi. (You can always add a little bit of the briny liquid from the kimchi jar if it seems like there’s not enough color or spice for all of your rice!)

Continue cooking, stirring constantly, for just a few more minutes until the rice is warmed through. Season with salt, to taste.

Serve topped with a fried egg and sprinkled with scallions greens.

Soba Noodle Salad

IMG_1062 We've been eating a lot of soup lately. Winter, unsurprisingly, usually makes you crave hearty, stick-to-your-ribs kind of food, like stews, baked pasta and occasionally Shake Shack. But when you are tired of lasagna, sometimes a cold and light noodle salad will do the trick, even when it's 5 degrees outside. Cucumber and radishes add excellent crunch, and thanks to buckwheat soba noodles, you can eat a heaping plate and not feel too full (all the better to save room for dessert.)

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IMG_1068I probably shouldn't be writing this now considering we likely have at least two more months of chilly weather, but I for one am looking forward to spring. I love squash and apples and potatoes as much as anyone, but you know, one can only eat so much. We're leaving for Paris(!) in a week, and I'll be back in March with pictures (and of course, where we ate–I have a running list of approximately 50 places right now.)

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Soba Noodle Salad (adapted from Bon Appétit)

Chile-Scallion Oil

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 star anise pods

2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

½ cup vegetable oil

Noodles And Assembly

12 oz. soba noodles

tablespoons soy sauce

tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

scallions, thinly sliced

½ large English hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced

4 radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced

1 cup cilantro leaves or any sprout

Chile-Scallion Oil

Cook all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally, until scallions and garlic are just golden brown, about 3 minutes. Let cool; transfer oil to a jar and cover until ready to use.

Noodles And Assembly

Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions; drain. Rinse noodles under cold water, then shake off as much water as possible.

Whisk soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and oil in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Add noodles, chicken, and scallions; toss to coat.

Toss with cucumber, radishes, and cilantro and drizzle with chile oil just before serving.

Shrimp and Asparagus Salad

_MG_6418 Hotter temperatures call for lighter meals, generally. I don't usually feel like a giant bowl of pasta when it's 80 degrees out (though there are , of course, exceptions) so we have been eating a lot of salads lately. When it's hot I'm always craving Thai or Mexican food (I think it's something about the spices),and I think the shrimp and asparagus go really well with a soy dressing. The peanuts add a little crunch, and the lime provides a hit of acidity – pair with a cold beer, and what else do you really need on a hot June night?_MG_6422

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Shrimp and Asparagus Salad (serves 3-4)

For dressing:

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1/8 cup fresh lime juice 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 teaspoon light brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce 1/2 teaspoon grated peeled ginger

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off and cut into 1-inch pieces

10 oz. mixed greens

1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts

Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and shrimp, and asparagus and sauté until shrimp are pink and cooked through and asparagus are bright green and crisp-tender. Remove from heat and place shrimp and asparagus in a large bowl. Pour dressing over, then add greens and peanuts and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

 

 

Sriracha, Ginger & Soy-Glazed Chicken Wings

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_MG_5715Does anyone eat chicken wings after the Super Bowl? I know, this post comes a little too late. But since the Super Bowl itself was pretty boring (and heartbreaking for us as diehard and pretty-into-it 49ers fans – guess who is who), I was much more excited about the food – which, let's be honest, isn't very surprising. I had actually never made wings before, and I have to say that this recipe is far too good to save for only once a year – and you could easily switch it up with a whole chicken cut into pieces, or even skin-on chicken breasts. It also make a great addition to my lunchtime salads this week, and now I have such a leisurely walk to my office through Times Square without all of the Broncos and Seahawks fans running all over the place (not really, but a girl can dream, right?)

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Sriracha, Ginger & Soy-Glazed Chicken Wings (adapted, very slightly, from Food & Wine)

12 chicken wings or drumsticks 2 tablespoons vegetable oil Salt and freshly ground pepper 3/4 cup rice vinegar 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup soy sauce 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet Asian chile sauce 2 teaspoons Sriracha chile sauce 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger 3 scallions, sliced
Preheat the broiler. In a bowl, toss the chicken wings with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the wings on a rack set over a baking sheet and broil 10 to 12 inches from the heat for about 45 minutes, turning once or twice, until golden, crisp and cooked through.
Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the vinegar with the brown sugar, soy sauce, sweet chile sauce, Sriracha, ginger and half of the scallions and puree until very smooth. Transfer the sauce to a large saucepan and boil over high heat until thick and glossy, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken to the sauce and cook, tossing gently, until glazed, about 3 minutes. Transfer the wings to a platter and garnish with the remaining scallions.

Chicken & Cabbage Salad

_MG_5439This time of year, I remember why I love New York. All of the streets are lit up, there's a crispness in the air that isn't bitter cold yet, and you can't help but smile at all of the holiday decorations and Christmas trees. But with December comes a rush of holiday parties and with them an abundance of sweets, drinks and delicious little cheesy cocktail appetizers (you know what I mean). Some nights, you might just want a salad. Personally, I need salads with a lot of crunch, and some interesting elements besides just lettuce (and I can't always justify adding cheese and bacon). This salad has quickly become one of my favorite weeknight meals -- quick, inexpensive and delicious. _MG_5446

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Chicken & Cabbage Salad (adapted from Bon Appétit, serves 4)

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1/3 cup vegetable oil or olive oil 1/8 cup fresh lime juice
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 teaspoons  brown sugar 1 teaspoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam) 1 teaspoon grated peeled ginger Kosher salt
1/2 small head of cabbage, thinly sliced (about 5 cups) 2 medium carrots, peeled, shredded 6 scallions, whites and pale greens only, thinly sliced 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken or 3 chicken breasts, roasted and shredded 1 cup baby spinach, thinly sliced 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro 1/4 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts
1 avocado, thinly sliced

Whisk chile, oil, lime and lemon juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, and ginger in a large bowl; season with salt. Add cabbage, carrots, scallions, chicken, spinach, and cilantro; toss to coat. Top with peanuts and avocado slices.

Vegetable Fried Rice

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Do you ever have one of those nights where you feel like you have nothing to eat even though the fridge has plenty of food? Sometimes I get home from work at 7:30 and don't feel like making a complicated meal, and lately, fried rice has been the one thing that has saved me from ordering takeout (also great, but it adds up quickly). Fried rice may not be quite as healthy as having a salad, but it is a great way to use up any miscellaneous vegetables and the variations are almost endless. I love adding chicken or tofu for more protein, and while my favorite vegetables are broccoli and peas, it would be great with carrots, zucchini, or pretty much anything else you might have lying around in your refrigerator.

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Vegetable Fried Rice (serves 3-4)

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 large eggs

Salt and pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

5 scallions, white and green parts separated

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 cups broccoli florets and stems, roughly chopped

3/4 cups fresh or frozen peas

3 cups cooked rice

2 cups spinach, chopped

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts (optional)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan or wok. When hot, crack eggs directly into pan, and quickly scramble with a spatula until barely set. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat remaining oil in the same pan. When hot, add white parts of scallions, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and sauté until you can smell the aromatics, 1-2 minutes. Quickly add rice vinegar and sugar and stir. Add broccoli and peas, and cook until broccoli is bright green and still crisp, about 5 minutes.

Add rice, spinach, oyster sauce, soy sauce and fish sauce and mix well. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add cooked eggs. Serve immediately, garnishing with remaining scallions and peanuts, if desired.

Chicken Meatball Banh Mì

_MG_5150 _MG_5152This is very hard to believe now, but I had never had a banh mì sandwich until I was well into college. Vietnamese food wasn't the most prevalent in Minnesota, and I distinctly remember sitting at Hanco's in Park Slope with a friend from who is from New York, realizing what a genius combination pickled vegetables, pork pâté, and spicy mayonnaise is. Since that day, I have had banh mì from different places all over the city (and tried a couple of restaurants in Minnesota too), but I had yet to find a perfect sandwich. Something was always just slightly different -- not spicy enough, too much meat, too little mayo. So when I saw this genius idea, I knew I had to try it out, I subbed ground chicken for pork to make it slightly healthier, but otherwise kept things much the same. Ari quickly declared it one of his favorite dinners, and it has definitely become one of my too.

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Rice Noodle Salad with Fried Tofu

_MG_4988I have made a version of this salad pretty much once a week since the beginning of the summer, but neglected to post it until now because it usually disappears too quickly. It's the perfect summer dish, to me -- light, full of texture, and minimal cooking time. It also uses my favorite ingredients of the summer -- namely, lime juice, fish sauce and a little hot pepper. I was always wary of fish sauce until a couple of years ago, afraid of the pungent smell and implications behind the name. But luckily, I got over that and now I use it in dressings, marinades and sauces all the time -- it adds the perfect salty, unctuous flavor to almost anything. The original recipe uses panko-coated pan-fried shrimp instead of tofu, which is also delicious. _MG_4985

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Rice Noodle Salad with Fried Tofu (adapted from Food & Wine, serves 4)