Roasted Broccoli with Nutritional Yeast

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I get it. Nutritional yeast doesn’t make your tastebuds salivate and broccoli never got anyone too excited. But this easy side dish is virtuously healthy and actually tastes really, really good. Never had nutritional yeast? Think of it as umami powder: slightly cheesy and super savory. Sprinkle it on your greens and you’ll be asking for seconds in no time.

Roasted broccoli with nutritional yeast

Ingredients:

2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets and similarly-sized pieces of peeled stalk
2 teaspoons virgin coconut oil, warmed to liquefy
5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss vegetables with oil on a rimmed baking sheet to coat and season with salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown and tender, 20–25 minutes. Let cool slightly, then toss with nutritional yeast.

Hot and Sour Soup with Lemongrass

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I’ve amassed a lot of cookbooks over the years, but there’s one I return to time and time again. It’s my tattered, dog-eared copy of Martin Yan’s China. I grew up watching PBS’ roster of old school chefs, including Martin Yan. Naturally, the first cookbook I bought followed suit.

Hot and sour soup is one of the first things I learned to make from Yan’s cookbook. My version today bears little resemblance to the original recipe, but the nostalgia remains strong. It may not be authentic, but it has a piece of my heart forever.

Oh, also, this soup is delicious.

Hot and sour soup with lemongrass

Ingredients:

4 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 pieces dried wood ear mushrooms
1 package soft tofu
5 cups chicken broth
1 stalk lemongrass, bottom six inches only, crushed
2 slices ginger, crushed
1 small carrot, julienned
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, julienned
1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Soak shiitake wood ear mushrooms in warm water until softened, about 15 minutes; drain. Thinly slice mushrooms. Cut tofu into 1/2-inch cubes.

2. Place broth in a large pot; bring to a boil. Add shiitake mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms, lemongrass, and ginger. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Discard lemongrass and ginger.

3. Add tofu, carrots, and bamboo shoots; cook for 2 minutes. Add vinegar, soy sauce, and chili garlic sauce; bring to a boil.

4. Add cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until soup boils and very slightly thickens. Turn off heat. Add egg, stirring, until it forms long threads. Serve hot.

Noodle Soup in Anchovy Broth

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On a scale of one to infinity, how ridiculous is it to be excited at the prospect of soup weather? Rainy season is here and with it comes an excuse to cook soup and after soup after soup. I’ve been craving this simple, umami-laden, and slightly spicy Korean noodle soup to warm me up as I adjust to foggy mornings and freezing nights. (Well, freezing for California. Don’t judge.)

Noodle soup in anchovy broth

Ingredients:

8 ounces Korean radish or daikon, cut into 1-2 inch slices
1 onion, sliced
20 large dried anchovies, heads and guts removed
1 7×10 inch piece dried kelp
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
4 pieces packaged fried tofu, sliced into strips
salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
8 ounces somen (somyeon) noodles
2 green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons gochugaru (Korean hot pepper)
2 sheets nori seaweed, toasted and crushed

1. Make the anchovy broth: combine 3 quarts water, radish, and onion in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes. Add the anchovies and kelp and cook for 20 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat, strain the stock into another saucepan, and stir in 2 teaspoons salt. Set aside.

2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil, garlic, fried tofu strips, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until the garlic is crisp and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and sesame oil and stir for another minute to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles, stirring so that they don’t stick to each other. Cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the noodles, rinse with cold water, and drain again.

4. Divide the noodles between two soup bowls.

5. Heat the anchovy broth until hot, then pour over the noodles. Add half the tofu strips, green onions, gochugaru, crushed nori, and a few drops of sesame oil to each bowl. Serve hot.

Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry with Noodle Pancake

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I’ve been making this dish since I was a teenager. I can’t even remember the source anymore, and over the years, it’s changed from the original recipe to something entirely anew. But it remains one of my favorite things to cook and eat. The Hong Kong-style crispy noodles soak up the spicy, savory sauce oh so wonderfully. The meat is tender. The vegetables are crisp. This dish, my friends, hits all the right notes.

It may take a while to cook, but the results are well worth it. The leftovers won’t last nearly as long as you think they will. Consider yourself warned.

Beef and asparagus stir-fry with noodle pancake

1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon ginger
1 lb sirloin beef or flank steak, sliced thin
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
8 ounces fresh thin Chinese egg noodles
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

1. Marinade beef: stir rice wine, soy, 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, garlic and ginger in a large bowl. Add beef to marinade.

2. In a separate bowl, mix chicken broth, oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, pepper and sesame oil together. Set aside.

3. Cook noodles in large pot, according to directions. Drain, rinse under cold water, drain again.

4. Heat nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and coat. Spread noodles evenly and cook, pressing lightly from time to time to form a cake, until bottom is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn cake over. Drizzle one tablespoon oil on bottom and cook other side, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate.

5. Heat wok over high heat and add remaining tablespoon of oil. Add meat and stir fry until cooked through and no longer pink. Remove from wok. Add onion to wok and stir fry for two minutes. Add asparagus and cook for four minutes.

6. Return meat to wok, pour in sauce and bring to boil. Cook until slightly thickened, about two minutes. Spoon over noodle pancake and serve.

Buttery Dal

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Until last year, I didn’t really know how to cook South Asian food. I mean, I’d try, and it’d end horrifically in memorable encounters such as That Time I Attempted A Dubious Fish Curry or In Which We Attempt A Fusiony Chicken Karahi Recipe from Bon Appetit. Needless to say, I thought I was completely incapable of pulling off decent biryani or a passable samosa.

That is, until I tried out this buttery dal. This dal, ladies and gentlemen, was my gateway dish into finally learning how to cook South Asian food, and deliciously at that. There are countless iterations of dal, but this was the first I mastered, and my favorite to date. This is comfort food at its finest.

Buttery Dal

Ingredients:

1 cup lentils (ideally Indian black lentils)
1 bay leaf
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly crushed
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeno or serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped
salt
1 tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Rinse the lentils and pick out any foreign objects. Put in a bowl, add water to cover by 1 inch, and soak for at least six hours.

2. Drain the lentils and put in a medium saucepan with the bay leaf and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and lower to a simmer. Cook, skimming the foam periodically, until the lentils are tender and beginning to disintegrate, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds; when fragrant (about 1 minute), add the onion, garlic, chile, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato and another 1/2 teaspoon salt and continue to cook, stirring for 1 minute longer.

4. Add the tomato-onion mixture to the lentils and return to a simmer. Cover the pot partially, lower the heat, and simmer gently for 1 hour to blend the flavors. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Carefully puree half of the dal in a blender (in batches, if necessary) and add it back to the pot.

5. If the dal is runnier than you like, continue to simmer uncovered until it reaches the desired consistency. Stir in the lemon juice, then taste and season with more lemon juice or salt if necessary.