Laotian-Style Khao Soi

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“Anytime I’m eating spicy noodles in a bowl, I’m happy.” – the late, great Anthony Bourdain.

He was right, of course. I can’t think of much that’s more satisfying than a bowl of noodles. This Laotian-style khao soi is a lot different than its richer, northern Thai-style counterpart, down to the zucchini ribbons that are served alongside rice noodles for a lighter bowl. It’s perfect on a sweltering summer day.

Laotian-Style Khao Soi

Ingredients:

3 dried Thai chiles
1 cup hot water
3 tablespoons avocado oil
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 pound ground turkey
1 plum tomatoe, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup soybean paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 bunch cilantro
8 cups chicken broth
14 ounces dried thin rice stick noodles
3 cups zucchini ribbons
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
Black pepper
Lime wedges

1. Crumble Thai chiles into a medium heatproof bowl. Add 1 cup hot water; let stand 15 minutes. Drain chiles; discard liquid. Process chiles, oil, and garlic in a mini food processor until chiles are very finely chopped, about 30 seconds.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium. Add chile mixture; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add turkey; cook, stirring occasionally to break pork into small pieces, until browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, soybean paste, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, sugar, and paprika. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced and turkey is coated with sauce, about 8 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, separate cilantro stems from leaves. Chop leaves to yield about 1/2 cup; set aside for garnish. Stir together chicken broth, cilantro stems, and remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium. Uncover; strain and discard cilantro stems. Cover broth; keep warm over medium-low.

4. Prepare rice noodles according to package directions. Drain noodles, and divide evenly among 8 serving bowls. Add zucchini ribbons to hot broth; cook over medium-low until just tender, about 1 minute. Using tongs or a spider, remove zucchini from broth and divide evenly among serving bowls. Top each bowl with about 1/4 cup turkey mixture and 1 cup hot broth. Sprinkle bowls evenly with mint and reserved chopped cilantro. Garnish with black pepper and serve with lime wedges.

Steak and Kimchi Rice Bowls

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I could probably eat rice bowls every single day. Give me a bowl, give me rice (obvs), and top it with all the tasty things. These steak and kimchi rice bowls are protein packed and super healthy: brown rice, avocados, spinach, sunflower seeds, and kimchi make this a energy-packed meal.

Steak and kimchi rice bowls

Ingredients:

8 ounces to 1 pound boneless rib-eye steak, trimmed (you can also use hanger or sirloin steak)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 cups brown rice
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
4 green onions, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 avocado, cubed
3/4 cup kimchi
4 cups baby spinach
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1. Sprinkle steak with 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside for 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

2. Cook brown rice according to package instructions. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

3. Meanwhile, separate shallot slices into rings. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until browned and crispy, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to a plate; set aside.

4. Add mushrooms and 1/8 teaspoon salt to the pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add green onions and cook, stirring, until tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl.

5. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Cook the steak, turning once and adjusting the heat as necessary, until browned 4 to 5 minutes per side depending on how you like your steak. Transfer to a clean cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into cubes.

6. Transfer the rice to the bowl with the vegetables and add avocado, kimchi, spinach, and the steak; toss with lemon juice and gently mix to combine. Divide among 4 shallow bowls. Top the rice mixture with the shallots and sunflower seeds.

Congee with Soft Boiled Egg

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I’ve waxed poetic a ton about my love of congee before. It doesn’t matter if it’s Taiwanese, Cambodian, Vietnamese, or Singaporean — I’m always game for a comforting bowl of rice porridge adorned with all kinds of salty-spicy-sour-herby toppings. This version, one of my favorites, is Thai and is adapted from Kris Yenbamroong’s Night + Market.

Congee with soft boiled egg

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups uncooked jasmine rice
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 eggs
1/4 cup minced garlic
Vegetable oil
2 inches ginger, peeled and cut into short matchsticks
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup sliced green onions
Fish sauce
Pepper
Chile oil

1. Make the fried garlic: Pour 1 inch of oil into a saucepan. Heat the oil over medium-low. Add the garlic and fry until golden and crispy, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir occasionally, especially towards the end of cooking when the garlic has taken on a golden color. Remove the garlic using a slotted spoon and cool on a paper towel-lined plate.

2. In a large pot, bring 3 1/2 quarts water to a boil. Add the rice, bouillon cubes, and salt and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the grains have mostly dissolved and the rice has broken down into a porridge, about 1 1/2 hours.

3. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Boil the eggs for 5 to 6 minutes and remove from the pot. Cool eggs slightly and peel.

4. Once the congee is done, divide it onto serving bowls and garnish each with a soft-boiled egg, fried garlic, ginger, cilantro, green onions, and fish sauce, pepper, and chile oil to taste.

Tofu with Wild Mushrooms and Greens

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I love this dish because it’s endlessly riffable. Don’t have Swiss chard? Use kale. Don’t have oyster mushrooms? Use straw mushrooms. You get the picture. Eat this on rice or by itself, because it’s really that good.

Tofu with wild mushrooms and greens

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced bird’s eye chiles or 1 teaspoon minced serrano chiles
6 cups Swiss chard or other leafy greens, stems thinly sliced, leaves sliced into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups oyster mushrooms or other mushrooms like straw, wood ear, or king trumpet, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons peeled and julienned ginger
8 ounces medium tofu, cubed

1. In a wok, heat the sesame oil over high heat. Add the garlic and chiles and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the chard, mushrooms, sugar, and soy sauce. Cook, tossing the greens until they are tender. (If you are using heartier greens like kale, add two tablespoons water at a time to help them wilt.) Once the greens are wilted, gently stir in the ginger and tofu and cook for another two minutes.

2. Remove from the heat and serve with rice or on its own.

Soba Noodles with Crispy Kale

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If a dish calls for nutritional yeast, chances are that I’m making it. Even though I’m not a vegetarian, I can’t get enough of the umami-rich hit that nutritional yeast provides, and there’s plenty of it in this easy noodle bowl. Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe, I’ve reduced the amount of coconut flakes and upped the volume of sauce for an even more umami-rich dish.

Soba noodles with crispy kale

Ingredients:

1 bunch curly kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons plus 1/3 cup olive oil
12 ounces dried soba noodles
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 lime

1. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 375F degrees. Toss kale, coconut, nutritional yeast, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl to coat. Divide mixture evenly between 2 rimmed baking sheets and roast, tossing and rotating baking sheets halfway through, until kale is crisp and coconut is golden brown, 15–20 minutes.

2. While kale is roasting, cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Place noodles in a large bowl.

3. Combine tahini, soy sauce, honey, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and remaining 1/3 cup olive oil in a small bowl. Finely grate zest from lime into bowl; halve lime and squeeze in juice. Whisk dressing until smooth, then pour about half of it over noodles; toss to coat.

4. Add half of kale mixture to noodles and toss to coat. Drizzle in remaining dressing, tossing until noodles are creamy. Pile remaining kale on top.