Green Onion Pancakes

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This might be the first bread I learned to make. I was practically a baby Yogurtsoda, obsessed with PBS’ roster of cooking shows in the 1990s. Martin Yan’s Yan Can Cook was one of my favorites and these chewy green onion pancakes looked like an irresistible snack, so I learned how to cook them.

Rolling out the dough for this unleavened bread takes a bit of getting used to but once you get the hang of it, the rest is easy. The accompanying dipping sauce isn’t authentic, but it adds a deliciously savory layer of flavor to the final dish.

Green onion pancakes

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups warm water
1/4 cup cooking oil plus additional for pan-frying
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons chopped green onions
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

1. Place flour in a bowl. Add water, stirring with a fork, until dough holds together. On a lightly floured board, knead dough until smooth and satiny, about 5 minutes. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

2. Combine chicken broth, soy sauce, 2 teaspoons green onions, garlic, and chili garlic sauce in a bowl and set aside.

3. On a lightly floured board, roll dough into a cylinder, then cut into 12 portions. To make each pancake, roll a portion of dough to make an 8-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick; keep remaining dough covered to prevent drying. Brush with cooking oil. Sprinkle sesame oil, green onions, salt, and pepper on top. Roll dough into a cylinder and coil dough into a round patty; tuck end of dough underneath. Roll again to make an 8-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick.

4. Place a 10-inch frying pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil, swirling to coat sides. Add a pancake and cook until golden brown on each side, about 4 minutes total. Remove and drain on paper towels. Add more oil as needed and repeat with remaining pancakes.

5. Cut pancakes into wedges and serve with dipping sauce on the side.

Bibimbap

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Bibimbap! Fun to say, funner to eat. This colorful Korean rice bowl is endlessly adaptable. Keep the toppings vegetarian or add extra meat if you please. Go heavy on the seafood. Add your egg yolk raw. Or top it with a fried egg instead. The world is your oyster. (Ooh, how about oysters on bibimbap though? Can you do that?)

Bibimbap

Ingredients:

8 ounces ground beef or flank steak, cut into matchsticks
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons gochugaru
5 teaspoons sesame oil, plus more for serving
4 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 cups soybean sprouts
8 ounces spinach
2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
3 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
8 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
6 cups freshly cooked rice
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup gochujang
salt

1. Make the spicy soy seasoning: combine 1/4 cup soy sauce, green onions, 1 teaspoon garlic, sugar, gochugaru, 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, and 2 teaspoons sesame oil in a bowl. Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the beef, stirring to break up into small pieces and until cooked through and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

2. Combine the meat, remaining tablespoon soy sauce, honey, remaining tablespoon garlic, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon sesame seeds in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. Clean the soybean sprouts and pick out any brownish roots. Put the sprouts in a saucepan, add 1/2 cup water, cover, and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Drain and mix with a pinch of salt and 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil. Set aside.

4. Blanch the spinach in boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again and squeeze out excess water. Coarsely chop the spinach and mix with a pinch of salt and 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil. Set aside.

5. Heat 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the carrots and cook until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

6. Combine the zucchini and and pinch of salt in a bowl and let stand for a few minutes, then pat dry. Add the zucchini and saute until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil, remove from the skillet, and set aside.

7. Combine the cucumber and and pinch of salt in a bowl and let stand for a few minutes, then pat dry. Add the cucumber and saute until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from the skillet, and set aside.

8. Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms, stirring occasionally until softened, about 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.

9. To serve, divide the hot rice between 4 to 6 bowls and arrange the vegetables and beef on the rice. Top with egg yolks while the rice is still hot. Sprinkle the bibimbap with sesame seeds, drizzle with sesame oil to taste, and serve with gochujang and soy seasoning sauce on the side.

Cold Soba Noodles with Walnut Paste and Dashi

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It’s hot outside. You need cold pasta. You need radishes. You need this soba noodle salad.

This easy entree is a little bit salty, a little bit sweet, and entirely refreshing. You may not be used to seeing walnuts in a Japanese-style dish, but don’t omit this part. Trust me, it works.

Cold soba noodles with walnut paste and dashi

Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 cups water
3 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 4-inch square dried kombu seaweed
2 ounces bonito flakes
1 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
6 ounces daikon, peeled and grated
6 green onions, thinly sliced
12 ounces soba noodles

1. Make the dashi: In a saucepan, combine water with mushrooms and let stand for 1 hour. Add kombu and bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, discard the mushrooms and kombu, and stir in bonito flakes. Let steep for 10 minutes. Pour the dashi through a sieve set over a bowl and discard the bonito flakes. Set aside.

2. Make the kaeshi sauce base: in a small saucepan, combine soy sauce, mirin, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool. Set aside.

3. In a food processor, grind the walnuts with the remaining sugar until it forms a paste. Set aside.

4. In a small bowl, stir the dashi with the kaeshi sauce base to make a dipping sauce. Set aside. Decoratively place the grated radish and green onions on a serving plate, keeping each in its own separate pile.

5. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the soba noodles until al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain the noodles and rinse the noodles under cold running water until the water runs clear. Drain again divide the noodles among 6 serving bowls. Serve the noodles immediately with the dipping sauces, grated radish, and scallions.

Khao Soi (Chiang Mai Curry Noodles)

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Chiang Mai has two seasons: smoky and not smoky. Each spring, farmers create manmade fires to get rid of material from old rice stalks to clear the way for the next season’s planting. The air becomes polluted in addition to the stiflingly hot weather. It’s not the most popular time of year to visit Chiang Mai.

But I am undeterred. When I visited Thailand last year, I had to include Chiang Mai in my travels. Why? I wanted to eat khao soi. Khao soi is a soupy, curry-laden bowl of Burmese-influenced goodness, a mix of deep-fried crispy egg noodles and boiled egg noodles, shallots, lime, ground chilis, coconut milk, and usually meat. I researched the best khao soi restaurant in Chiang Mai and Nishan and I trekked through the smoggy heat until we found it: a nondescript outdoor restaurant with a corrugated sheet metal roof and plastic stools, identifiable only by the huge crowd of happy eaters.

The khao soi was worth the walk and when I’ve since learned to recreate these curry noodles at home, adapting my version from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet. If you want to make this dish a bit healthier and easier to cook, omit the fried noodles. The red curry paste is a shortcut to making your own curry paste by hand, but the results are still delicious.

Chiang Mai curry noodles (khao soi)

Ingredients:

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 tablespoon cooking oil plus more for deep-frying noodles
3 cups canned coconut milk, with 1/2 cup of the thickest milk set aside
1/2 pound sirloin beef, cut into thin slices
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup water
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 pound Chinese egg noodles
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 shallots, chopped

1. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, turmeric, and a pinch salt until well blended. Stir in the curry paste and set aside.

2. Place a large heavy pot over high heat. Add the one tablespoon oil and when it is hot, add the curry paste mixture. Stir-fry for one minute, then add the reserved 1/2 cup thick coconut milk and lower the heat to medium-high. Add the meat and sugar and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, until the meat has slightly browned. Add the remaining coconut milk, the water, fish sauce, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook at a simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice. The soup can be prepared ahead of time and reheated just before serving.

3. Make the optional crispy noodles: line a plate with paper towels. Place a large wok over high heat and add about 1 cup oil, or 1/2 inch oil. When the oil is hot, drop in a strand of uncooked noodles to test the temperature. It should sizzle slightly as it falls to the bottom, then immediately puff and rise to the surface; adjust the heat slightly, if necessary. Toss a handful (about 1 cup) of noodles into the oil and watch as they crisp and puff up. Use a spatula or long tongs to turn them over and expose all of them to the hot oil. They will crisp up quickly, in less than 1 minute. Lift the crisped noodles out of the oil and place on the paper towel-lined plate. Give the oil a moment to come back to temperature, and then repeat with a second handful of noodles.

4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the remaining noodles, bring back to a boil, and cook until tender but not mushy, about 6 minutes. Drain well and rinse in fresh water to get rid of extra starch and stop the cooking process.

5. Divide the cooked noodles among four bowls. Ladle over the broth and meat. Top with crispy noodles and a pinch each of shallots and scallions.

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

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“Mariam, when are you making linguine with white clam sauce again?” – My sister, every month since forever, basically.

Growing up, this was one one of my sister’s favorite dishes that I’d cook, but let’s be honest. It’s one of my favorites too. What’s better than pasta? Pasta enveloped in a garlicy seafood sauce. Sure, the dish has 1990s vibes, but good taste is timeless. This dish is easy and it’s a crowd pleaser. The next time my sister asks, I’m making a huge pot of this — for us both.

Linguine with white clam sauce

1/3 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup bottled clam juice
1 pound linguine
3 pounds small clams, scrubbed well
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat oil in a large pot over high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute onion, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in wine and clam juice and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.

2. Cook pasta in another large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain in a colander.

3. While pasta is cooking, stir clams into sauce and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until clams open wide, 4 to 6 minutes. (Discard any clams that have not opened after 5 minutes.) Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted.

4. Add pasta to clams along with parsley and salt to taste, then toss with sauce until combined well.