Chicken Meatball Tantanmen

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It’s ramen season! Shio ramen, shoyu ramen, Hokkaido-style ramen, I don’t care. Gimme all the ramen.

I made this spicy chicken meatball tantanmen ramen in my donabe, adapted from my Donabe cookbook. It’s a bit of effort but the results are well worth it. Make sure to seek out fresh ramen noodles for this recipe, as they’ll stay springy in the hot broth.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground chicken or turkey
1 egg
1 tablespoon katakuriko (potato starch)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 plus 1 tablespoon sake
4 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 clove garlic, finely grated
4-5 green onions, minced (white part only) plus 1 green onion minced, for serving
1 teaspoon tobanjan (fermented chili bean paste)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons miso (I used red miso)
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
5 leaves green or napa cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces
7 ounces medium or firm tofu, cut into large cubes
1/4 cup tahini
3 ounces enoki mushrooms, trimmed and pulled apart
5 ounces mung bean sprouts
1 or 2 packages fresh ramen noodles, cooked, drained, and set aside
Ground toasted white sesame seeds, for serving
Chili crisp or la-yu (chili oil), for serving
Kurozu (Japanese black vinegar), or rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar, for serving

1. Make the meatballs: combine chicken, egg, potato starch, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon sake, and 2 teaspoons ginger in a bowl and knead until combined and smooth. Set aside.

2. Heat the sesame oil in a donabe and saute the garlic, 2 teaspoons ginger, and half of the green onions over medium heat until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Push them to one side and add the tobanjan on the open side. Stir the tobanjan until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup sake and chicken stock. Whisk in the miso and add the soy sauce. Cover and bring to a simmer.

3. Add the cabbage and tofu to the broth. Form the chicken mixture into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and drop them into the broth. Cover and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes, then stir in the sesame paste. Add the mushrooms and bean sprouts and cook for 2 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining green onions and some ground sesame seeds and turn off the heat.

4. Assemble the cooked ramen noodles in individual bowls and carefully ladle the meatballs and broth mixture into the bowls. Add some chili crisp and vinegar to taste.

Roasted Red Pepper Bibimbap

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I’ll eat bibimbap in any shape or form. Traditional, vegetarian, seafood — I’ve never met a bibimbap I didn’t devour. This extra-healthy version is made with brown rice and lots of vegetables and is super satisfying. It’s a loose recipe, so adjust the proportions to your liking.

Ingredients:

2 cups short-grain brown rice
Salt
4 red bell peppers, halved
Avocado oil
Toasted sesame oil
Toasted sesame seeds
Soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons gochujang
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 carrot, sliced into matchsticks
1 1/2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 large handfuls kale, shredded
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
4 eggs
Pickled ginger, sliced
Green onions, sliced
Nori, cut into strips

1. Rinse the rice under cold water until it runs clear. Drain the rice and transfer to a saucepan or rice cooker and cook with a pinch of salt according to package directions.

2. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Arrange the pepper halves on a baking sheet, skin sides up. Drizzle with a little avocado oil and roast for 30 minutes, until soft and blackened in spots. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a plate. Leave for 10 minutes, then peel and slice into thick strips. Season the pepper ribbons with sesame oil, sesame seeds, and tamari.

3. Meanwhile, make the bibimbap sauce by combining the gochujang, sugar, garlic, and vinegar with 2 tablespoons of water, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, and 2 tablespoons sesame seeds. Set aside.

4. Cook the carrot: heat a teaspoon of avocado oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add the carrot and saute for 2 minutes, until just tender. Season with salt and set aside. Cook the mushrooms in a little oil in the same way, keeping the heat high and the pan moving until the mushrooms are cooked. Season with tamari.

5. Wipe out the wok and add a teaspoon of oil followed by the ginger and the kale and a few drops of water, sauteing for a few minutes until wilted. Toss with a drizzle of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds, and set aside.

6. Blanch the bean sprouts in boiling salted water for a minute, until wilted. Drain well.

7. Fry the eggs sunny side up in a frying pan, until the whites have set but the yolks are still runny.

8. To serve, divide the rice between large serving bowls. Spoon each topping on top in a circular manner: peppers, carrots, mushrooms, kale, and bean sprouts. Lay the fried egg on top and add pickled ginger, sliced green onions, nori seaweed, and sesame seeds to taste. Add a heaping spoonful of the bibimbap sauce, serving the rest on the table to spoon over, mixing everything as you eat.

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.