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.

Three-Mushroom Omelet

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This recipe combines two of my favorite ingredients into something that’s so much more than the sum of its parts. Meaty mushrooms and creamy eggs are the canvas for a spicy, savory sauce that coat these unique parcels. Toasted pine nuts add extra depth. You can have these for brunch, or prepare them for a light dinner like I do. They’re #uglydelicious.

Three-mushroom omelet

Ingredients:

For the sauce:
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

For the omelet:
3 portobello mushrooms
6 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed
3 green onions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
7 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced
8 button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
10 snow peas, trimmed and sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1. Prepare the sauce: stir the soy sauce, oyster sauce, water, and chili garlic sauce together in a small saucepan and set aside.

2. Remove and discard the stems from the portobello mushrooms. Scrape the gills from the underside of the caps and discard the gills. Thinly slice the caps.

3. Whisk the eggs and water together in a bowl.

4. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the oil. Pour about 1/3 cup of the egg mixture into the pan, tilting the pan so the egg coats the bottom, and cook until the bottom of the omelet is set, about 1 minute. Slide the omelet onto a plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining egg mixture, adding oil to the skillet as needed, to make six omelets.

5. Heat the sauce over medium heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Set aside and cover to keep warm.

6. Heat a wok over high heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic, and all the mushrooms and stir-fry until the mushrooms are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the snow peas, pine nuts, soy sauce, and oyster sauce and cook until the snow peas are tender, about 2 minutes.

7. To serve, spoon one-sixth of the mushroom mixture onto the bottom third of one of the omelets. Gently roll the omelet up like a burrito, leaving the ends open and placing on a serving platter seam side down. Repeat with the remaining omelets and filling. Spoon the sauce over them and serve immediately.

Cauliflower Larb

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Okay, okay. I know this larb isn’t even remotely authentic, but these days I sort of want to larb everything. Chicken larb? Check. Lamb larb? Check. And this cauliflower larb is surprisingly delicious, albeit much lighter than its meaty counterparts. Make this for a light lunch or dinner — you won’t miss the meat.

Cauliflower larb

1 head cauliflower, cut into large florets with some stalk attached
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 Thai chiles, finely chopped
1 4-inch piece lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, finely chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup sticky rice
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup chopped mint
Salt
Sliced Persian cucumber and Bibb lettuce, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Toss cauliflower with oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, tossing occasionally, until tender and well browned, about 50 minutes. Let cool slightly; chop into pea-size pieces. Transfer to a large bowl. Add chiles, lemongrass, lime leaves, fish sauce, and lime juice; mix.

2. Meanwhile, place rice in a small skillet and set over medium heat. Toast, shaking pan frequently to keep rice moving, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate; let cool. Grind in spice mill to a powder similar to cornmeal.

3. Toss green onions, cilantro, mint, and toasted rice powder into cauliflower mixture; season with salt. Serve with cucumber and lettuce to make lettuce cups.

Som Tam with Green Beans

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Salty, sour, and a little bit sweet, this Thai-inspired salad is a pinch to make and goes perfectly with all manner of grilled meats (or even on its own, really). I tried many variations of long bean salads in Chiang Mai a couple of years ago and the peanut and lime-flecked ones similar to this one remain my favorite.

Som tam with green beans

Ingredients:

1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 anchovy, minced
1 bird chile, minced
Pinch of sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 pound green beans or long beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths

1. Place the garlic, salt, peanuts, anchovy, chile, and sugar in a food processor and process to a paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl and stir in the lime juice and fish sauce. Add the chopped tomatoes and green beans, mix, and serve.

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.