Cashew Chicken

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Cashew chicken occupies the same place in my heart as Mongolian beef and chow mein: rarely authentic and yet typically delicious. These are the heavy hitters of Chinese American food, comforting and nostalgic. I’ve adapted this cashew chicken recipe so that it’s pretty healthy: low on oil and high in flavor. Serve this along rice for an easy weeknight meal.

Cashew chicken

Ingredients:

5 teaspoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon ginger juice (squeezed from finely grated peeled ginger)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
Vegetable oil, for frying
2/3 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup thinly sliced white onion
3 green onions, sliced into 2-inch pieces
Roasted Thai chili powder to taste

1. In a large bowl, combine 4 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons sugar, and the ginger juice. Add the chicken and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Drain off any excess sauce that hasn’t been absorbed.

2. Heat a empty wok over high heat, then swirl about 2 teaspoons of oil. Add the cashews and stir-fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Drain the cashews on a paper towel. Add the chicken and white onion to the wok and stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining soy sauce, sugar, and the cashews and cook for another two minutes. Add a dash of roasted chili powder and the green onions, cook for another minute, then remove from heat. Serve warm with rice.

Butternut Squash and Chicken Chorizo Hash

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Sick of butternut squash yet this season? Me neither. But seriously, it doesn’t have to be all butternut squash soup all day. Transform the humble squash into a powerhouse with this hash, decked with meaty chorizo and brightened with lime. And put an egg on it, obvs. Breakfast is served.

Butternut squash and chicken chorizo hash

2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil
8 ounces fresh chicken chorizo
1 pound butternut squash (about 1/2 of a medium squash), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
Salt
Pepper
4 eggs
Lime wedges and cilantro leaves, for serving

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high. Cook chorizo, breaking up into small pieces, until browned and cooked through, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon; reserve skillet with fat.

2. Add butternut squash and onion to reserved skillet and cook over medium-high, adding more oil if needed and stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in chorizo and season with salt. Squeeze a lime wedge over and top with cilantro.

3. In the meantime, heat remaining tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Fry eggs sunny-side up until whites are cooked through and yolks are still runny, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Divide hash among four plates and top each with an egg. Serve with additional lime wedges for squeezing over.

Turkey Meatball and Noodle Soup

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I love Asian-style meatballs. You know, the fish balls or meat balls you often find in noodle soups. They’re delicious. But if you’ve ever seen them at the market, the pre-packaged kind are also full of preservatives. In this soup, I made the meatballs from scratch, using grass-fed turkey and the results were better than the store-bought version. A chicken stock base and a drizzle of chili oil lends flavor to a hearty soup that’s perfect in January.

Turkey meatball and noodle soup

Ingredients:

4 shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh Chinese wheat noodles
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped kimchi
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon chili oil

1. In a bowl, soak the mushrooms in warm water until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain, thinly slice the mushrooms, and set aside.

2. Bring medium-sized pot filled with water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and cook according to package instructions. Drain, rinse, and drain again.

3. To prepare the meatballs, put the meat, cornstarch, sesame oil, and salt in a food processor and process to a smooth paste. Scoop the meatball mixture out into a bowl. With wet hands, roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls. Arrange the meatballs on a plate.

4. To make the soup, in a medium pot, combine the broth and the vinegar and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the meatballs and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and kimchi and simmer for 2 minutes longer. Add the cooked noodles and cook, stirring, until the noodles are heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with some green onions, cilantro, and chili oil.

Khmer-Style Rice Soup

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Adapted from a recipe in my weathered copy of Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet, this rice porridge is the perfect antidote to the winter blues. Similar to Singaporean congee or Cantonese jook, it’s got that same stick-to-your-ribs heartiness as any good rice soup should. The garnishes are endlessly adaptable — feel free to adjust to your liking.

Ingredients:

For the soup:

1/2 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
6 1/2 cups water
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and smashed flat with the side of a heavy blade
1 teaspoon anchovies in oil, drained and minced
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and smashed flat
1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed in cold water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic

For the garnishes:

1/4 cup fish sauce
1 Thai bird chile, minced
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 small bunch Thai or American basil, coarsely torn
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Black pepper
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

1. In a medium bowl, combine the turkey with the fish sauce and sugar, mix well, and set aside.

2. Place the water in a large heavy pot over high heat, add the lemongrass, anchovies, and ginger, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes, then add the rice and stir until the water returns to a boil. Maintain a gentle boil until the rice is tender (adding more water if necessary to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot), about 20 minutes, then turn off the heat. Remove the lemongrass and ginger.

3. In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the turkey and stir-fry, using your cooking spoon to break up any large pieces. Cook, stirring frequently, until the turkey has cooked through, about 7 minutes. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the soup and stir in.

4. Make the garnishes: Combine the fish sauce and chile in a condiment bowl and set aside.

5. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 3-5 minutes. Remove the shallots to a small bowl and set aside.

6. Just before serving, reheat the soup. Ladle into individual serving bowls and top with the basil, green onions, some shallots, black pepper, peanuts, and drizzle with the fish sauce-chile mixture. Serve hot.

Turkey Larb

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You know about my trifecta for a perfect recipe, right? If its (a) delicious, (b) healthy, and (c), easy to make, then it enters the gilded hall of Recipes To Be Cherished Forever Because The Nom Factor Is V High. This turkey larb makes the cut, especially since I’m trying to eat less grains these days. Hot, sour, salty, and a tiny bit sweet, you can larb anything, but this is poultry version is classic and never gets old.

turkey larb

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried chiles, roasted and ground to the texture of red chili flakes
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion or shallots
1 thinly sliced green onion
15-20 mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons rice, toasted and finely ground in a spice grinder
Butter lettuce, sliced cucumber, and sticky rice, to serve

1. Put the turkey in a medium saucepan and cover with water, stirring over medium heat until the turkey is opaque but still soft. Use a spatula to break up the meat into small pieces. Drain off the water, then stir in the fish sauce and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Once the turkey has cooled, add the seasonings and mix thoroughly: the chile powder, red onion, green onions, mint, cilantro, and lime juice. Once you’re ready to serve, add the rice powder at the last moment, then mix again. Serve with butter lettuce, sliced cucumber, and sticky rice on the side.