Dry Fried Glass Noodles with Chiles

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I’ve been on a spicy kick lately. Does it have chiles? Copious amounts of chiles? Yes? Will my tongue tingle and will my mouth go numb? Sign me up then.

This Sichuan-influenced dish of glass noodles quickly dry-fried with spices and ground meat is fiery thanks to a healthy dose of chili bean paste and dried chiles. It’s a flexible recipe, so feel free to leave out the meat for a vegetarian version or add vegetables galore to up the health factor. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that this dish is spicy. Pass the water, please.

Dry fried glass noodles

Ingredients:

6 ounces dried bean thread noodles
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
6 ounces ground turkey or chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon chili bean paste (tobanjan)
5 dried red chiles
1 green onion, sliced
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

1. Pour enough warm water over the noodles in a large bowl to cover completely. Soak until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain and cut the noodles in half.

2. Combine the rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons of the soy sauce, and cornstarch in a bowl and mix well. Add the meat and stir to coat evenly. Let stand for 10 minutes.

3. Place a wok over high heat until hot. Add the oil, then add the garlic, ginger, chili bean paste, and dried chiles and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add the meat and stir-fry until it is lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining teaspoon of soy sauce, noodles and cook, stir-frying until well-mixed, about 3 minutes. Stir in the green onion and sesame oil. Transfer to a serving plate and serve.

Kimbap

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I like to think of kimbap as maki sushi’s lesser-known cousin. There’s rice and there’s seaweed, but the fillings are completely different and the rice in kimbap is seasoned with sesame oil, as opposed to vinegar.

Kimbap is a perfect picnic food: easy (albeit time-consuming) to assemble head of time, tastes delicious at room temperature, and it’s healthy to boot. You can be flexible with the fillings: if you don’t like carrots, don’t add carrots. If you really like spinach, add some extra. Me? I’m all about that pickled radish.

Kimbap

Ingredients:
4 cups freshly cooked short grain white rice
salt
3 teaspoons sesame oil
3 eggs
vegetable oil
8 ounces ground beef
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound spinach, blanched in boiling water for 1 minute, rinsed and squeezed dry, and coarsely chopped
6 sticks of imitation crab
6 sheets of nori seaweed
1 yellow pickled radish, cut into thin strips

1. Transfer the warm cooked rice to a large bowl and stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sesame oil.

2. Beat the eggs with 1/4 teaspoon salt in another bowl. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Turn the heat to low and pour the beaten eggs into the skillet, tilting so that the eggs cover the bottom evenly. Cook until set but not browned, about 1 minute. Flip the egg sheet over, cook for another minute, and remove from heat. Transfer eggs to a cutting board to cool and cut into 1/2-inch strips.

3. Combine the beff, soy sauce, 3/4 of the garlic, brown sugar, pepper, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a bowl. Heat a skillet over high heat. Add the beef and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned. Remove from heat and let cool.

4. Mix the cooked spinach with 1/2 teaspoon salt, the remaining garlic, and the remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a bowl.

5. Heat half a teaspoon of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the crab sticks and cook for about 1 minute, then flip them over and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

6. Divide the rice into 6 portions and place a nori sheet on a bamboo mat, shiny side down. Spread 1 portion of rice evenly over the nori, leaving a 2-inch border at the top. Spread 1/4 cup of the beef mixture in a thin strip across the middle of the rice. Press it down with a spoon so it stays in place. Put one sixth of the spinach, a crab stick, a few egg strips, and a radish strip on top of the beef. Pick up the bottom edge of the mat and use it to roll the seaweed up and over the fillings, then continue rolling up the seaweed, using the mat, until you have a neat roll. Remove the roll from the mat and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 5 more rolls. Arrange on a plate and serve at room temperature.

Noodle Soup in Anchovy Broth

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On a scale of one to infinity, how ridiculous is it to be excited at the prospect of soup weather? Rainy season is here and with it comes an excuse to cook soup and after soup after soup. I’ve been craving this simple, umami-laden, and slightly spicy Korean noodle soup to warm me up as I adjust to foggy mornings and freezing nights. (Well, freezing for California. Don’t judge.)

Noodle soup in anchovy broth

Ingredients:

8 ounces Korean radish or daikon, cut into 1-2 inch slices
1 onion, sliced
20 large dried anchovies, heads and guts removed
1 7×10 inch piece dried kelp
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
4 pieces packaged fried tofu, sliced into strips
salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
8 ounces somen (somyeon) noodles
2 green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons gochugaru (Korean hot pepper)
2 sheets nori seaweed, toasted and crushed

1. Make the anchovy broth: combine 3 quarts water, radish, and onion in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes. Add the anchovies and kelp and cook for 20 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat, strain the stock into another saucepan, and stir in 2 teaspoons salt. Set aside.

2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil, garlic, fried tofu strips, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until the garlic is crisp and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and sesame oil and stir for another minute to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles, stirring so that they don’t stick to each other. Cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the noodles, rinse with cold water, and drain again.

4. Divide the noodles between two soup bowls.

5. Heat the anchovy broth until hot, then pour over the noodles. Add half the tofu strips, green onions, gochugaru, crushed nori, and a few drops of sesame oil to each bowl. Serve hot.

Sichuan Boiled Dumplings in Chili Oil

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“Nothing worth having comes easy,” a wise person once said. I’m pretty sure they were talking about these dumplings.

Spicy, garlicy, and out-of-this-world delicious, these meat-filled dumplings are one of my favorite things to cook and eat. They’re also time consuming to make, but I promise you they’ll be worth it when you find yourself wondering if it’s okay to lick your plate. (Yes. Yes, it is.)

Sichuan boiled dumplings in chili oil

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey or chicken
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 dried shiitake mushroom, soaked until softened, minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
30 round dumpling wrappers
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons hot bean paste
1 tablespoon hot chile oil

1. For the filling, combine the turkey, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1/3 of the green onion, mushroom, 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil, and 1/3 cup water in a bowl. Mix well and freeze for half an hour to firm the mixture to make it easier to handle.

2. Dissolve the cornstarch in 3 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl to make a thin paste. Moisten the edges of a dumpling wrapper by dipping your finger into the paste and running it over the edge of the wrapper. Place about a teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper. Bring the edges of the wrapper up to meet at the top of the filling and pinch them closed, squeezing the dough. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers.

3. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the dumplings and cook until the filling is cooked through and the dumplings are floating on top of the water, about 4 minutes.

4. While the dumplings are cooking, make the sauce: heat a wok over high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the remaining green onions, garlic, and black pepper. Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and add the sugar, vinegar, hot bean paste, remaining tablespoon soy sauce, remaining teaspoon sesame oil, and hot chili oil. Mix well.

5. Drain the dumplings in a colander. Place the dumplings in a serving bowl and pour the sauce over. Serve warm.

Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry with Noodle Pancake

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I’ve been making this dish since I was a teenager. I can’t even remember the source anymore, and over the years, it’s changed from the original recipe to something entirely anew. But it remains one of my favorite things to cook and eat. The Hong Kong-style crispy noodles soak up the spicy, savory sauce oh so wonderfully. The meat is tender. The vegetables are crisp. This dish, my friends, hits all the right notes.

It may take a while to cook, but the results are well worth it. The leftovers won’t last nearly as long as you think they will. Consider yourself warned.

Beef and asparagus stir-fry with noodle pancake

1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon ginger
1 lb sirloin beef or flank steak, sliced thin
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
8 ounces fresh thin Chinese egg noodles
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

1. Marinade beef: stir rice wine, soy, 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, garlic and ginger in a large bowl. Add beef to marinade.

2. In a separate bowl, mix chicken broth, oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, pepper and sesame oil together. Set aside.

3. Cook noodles in large pot, according to directions. Drain, rinse under cold water, drain again.

4. Heat nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and coat. Spread noodles evenly and cook, pressing lightly from time to time to form a cake, until bottom is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn cake over. Drizzle one tablespoon oil on bottom and cook other side, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate.

5. Heat wok over high heat and add remaining tablespoon of oil. Add meat and stir fry until cooked through and no longer pink. Remove from wok. Add onion to wok and stir fry for two minutes. Add asparagus and cook for four minutes.

6. Return meat to wok, pour in sauce and bring to boil. Cook until slightly thickened, about two minutes. Spoon over noodle pancake and serve.