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.

Hot and Sour Silken Tofu

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This Sichuan-style dish is inspired by a Fuchsia Dunlop recipe that comes together in a matter of minutes. The silky-soft tofu and salty, crunchy dry-roasted edamame pair addictively well together. Eat this on its own or with rice. Either way it’s perfect on a chilly day.

Hot and sour silken tofu

Ingredients:

Salt
11 ounces silken tofu
1 teaspoon Chinkiang vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons chicken stock
2 teaspoons chili oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped Sichuan preserved vegetable or kimchi
1/2 cup dry-roasted edamame

1. Bring a saucepan filled with five inches of lightly salted water to a boil. Gently add the tofu and simmer gently until warmed through, about five minutes. Set aside.

2. In a serving bowl, mix together the vinegar, soy sauce, chicken stock, chili oil, sesame oil, 1 tablespoon green onions, garlic, and 1 tablespoon preserved vegetable.

3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu to a serving bowl and break it up into large chunks. Scatter with the remaining preserved vegetable, green onions, edamame, and serve.

Cumin Beef

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The first time I had cumin beef was decades ago at an Islamic Chinese restaurant in San Francisco. The silk road influences were obvious: cumin is often used in Ughyur cuisine in China’s Xingjiang Province, in tandem with loads of garlic and chiles. I was hooked.

This fragrant dish is a cinch to make and takes me right back to that first time I tasted Muslim Chinese cuisine. Serve this with rice for an easy weeknight meal.

Cumin beef

Ingredients:

1 pound trimmed sirloin steak
2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon potato flour
1 green or red bell pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
3 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 fresh red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes, to taste
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1. Cut the beef into thin slices. In a medium bowl, stir the marinade ingredients with 1 tablespoon water and add the beef, mixing to coat. Cut the peppers into 1-inch strips, then cut diagonally into diamond-shaped slices.

2. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to a wok over high heat. Add the beef and stir-fry until just cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove beef from the wok and set aside.

3. Return the wok to the heat with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the garlic and chili pepper, and stir-fry until hot and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Return the beef to the wok and add the cumin and dried chiles, continuing to stir-fry until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Just before removing from the heat, add the green onions and stir. Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil, and serve.

Garlic Green Beans

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Garlic green beans are a takeout staple, but this homestyle version is so easy and versatile, you’ll wonder why you ever ordered out to begin with. If I can find East Asian long beans, I prefer to use those, but your run-of-the-mill green beans work just as well. And instead of the traditional step of deep-frying the green beans first, this recipe modifies that step with far less oil, making these simpler and healthier.

Garlic green beans

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups trimmed green beans, about 3 inches long
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Thai seasoning sauce (you can substitute Maggi seasoning sauce or even soy sauce)
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pepper

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok over high heat. Working in two batches, stir-fry the beans until they begin to wrinkle, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

2. Once cooled, pour out most of the oil until about 1 tablespoon remains. Heat the wok over high heat again until the oil is shimmering, then add the garlic, green beans, sugar, Thai seasoning sauce, and oyster sauce. Stir-fry until the green beans have absorbed the sauce and the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add a dash of pepper and serve.

Hoisin-Chicken Nachos with Avocado

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Okay, so these aren’t really nachos. They’re more like vegetable chips plus chili-sake-tomato-avocado guacamole plus roast chicken plus a generous drizzle of hoisin. I can’t tell you if the leftovers keep well because we ate the whole thing in one sitting.

The first time I made these, I used roast duck, but leftover roast chicken is easier to come by and works just as brilliantly.

Hoisin-chicken nachos with avocado

Ingredients:

2 ripe but firm avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced
1/2 cup diced onion
1 tomato, diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
3 teaspoons sake
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced roast chicken
2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
2 bags Terra chips or similar vegetable chips

1. Mix the avocados, onion, tomato, half of the green onions, ginger, cilantro, sake, lime juice, vegetable oil, chili garlic sauce, and salt in a medium bowl, without mashing the avocado. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly to the surface and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Arrange the vegetable chips on a large platter. Dot spoonfuls of the avocado mixture across the chips evenly. Evenly scatter the roast chicken onto the chips next. Drizzle with hoisin sauce and garnish with the remaining green onion slices. Serve immediately.