Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mongolian Beef for Two

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Sometimes it's just Hubbalicious and me, which is why I have these occasional recipes for two.

This recipe is easily doubled, but you'll still want to stir fry in smaller batches to get the best result (as is generally the case for stir-frying on a regular home stove rather than a commercial range - you want as high a heat as you can get and too-big batches of ingredients dilute the heat too much for optimal stir-frying).

For example, if you double the recipe, do the beef in four equal batches, and the veg in two batches. It'll still be good if you're in a hurry and cook all the veg at once and all the beef at once, but it'll be even better if you do it the other way. :)

Mongolian Beef for Two
Makes 2 Servings
Time: 30 minutes
Printable Version

- 1 pound skirt steak, sliced into roughly 1/4-inch thick pieces on an angle
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 1.5 Tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons sugar, depending on how sweet you like things
- 1 Tablespoon chili garlic paste (sriracha works in a pinch)
- 1/2 Tablespoon vinegar
- oil
- 1/2 a medium onion, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 2 green onions, cut into 1.5-inch segments

*If you're going to have this with rice and you need to make a fresh batch, best to get the rice going before you start in the Mongolian Beef.

1) In a medium to large bowl, mix the beef, corn starch, oyster sauce, soy sauce, garlic, sugar, chili garlic paste, and vinegar together, making sure to thoroughly and evenly distribute the seasonings throughout the meat. (I prefer clean hands for this purpose.) Let it sit for at least 10-15 and up to 30 minutes to soak up the flavor.

2) In a wok or large saute pan, bring 1/2 Tablespoon of oil to high heat and quickly stir fry onions and green onions just until the onions start to turn translucent. Set aside on a plate.

3) Keeping the heat high, stir fry the meat in two equal batches for 3 minutes or so (until the meat is done) with 1/2 Tablespoon of oil per batch. You can set aside the first batch on the plate with the veg while you stir fry the second.

4) When all the meat is cooked, put it all back in the wok or pan, and add the onions.

5) Give everything a few quick tosses or folds to make sure all the components get seasond.

6) Enjoy over steamed rice. :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

French Toast for One

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Yesterday morning was rainy, Littlest was at preschool, and I was working from home, so I decided to treat myself. (Did I mention I'm back to working work? More dish on that later. :) )

French Toast for One
Time: 20 minutes

- 2 thick slices of bread (about 3/4" thick). I like brioche, challah, and Texas toast. Slightly stale is even better.
- extra maple syrup or powdered sugar to finish
- butter for cooking

For the custard:

- 1 large or XL egg
- 1/4 cup whole milk (If you like it richer, you can use half and half or cream. If lighter, lowfat milk.)
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- a few grinds or small pinch of cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1) In a medium bowl, mix all the custard ingredients and beat or whisk until thoroughly combined. (Sometimes I like to pick out the chalaza, which is the twisty white cord, from the egg.)

2) Pour the custard mixture in a baking dish and soak your bread in the custard, flipping after about 20 seconds to make sure both sides absorb the mixture.

3) Preheat your frypan to medium, melt about a Tablespoon of butter on it, and spread the butter around.

4) Cook your French Toast for about 3 to 4 minutes per side or until each side is golden brown, and the center of the bread has firmed up from the custard cooking through. If you see that the toast is browning too quickly for the custard to cook through without burning the toast, turn the heat down just a little bit.

* If you can't fit both whole pieces of bread on your pan or griddle, cutting the bread slices in half might enable you to arrange them so you can cook them all in one batch.

6) Enjoy with a drizzle of maple syrup or sprinkling of powdered sugar. Or both! :)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Easy Viet-Inspired Coffee & Brown Sugar Braised Pork

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This easy and delicious sweet-savory pork recipe was inspired by the traditional Vietnamese dish Thit Kho. The coffee and brown sugar lend a similar flavor to the dish as Vietnamese caramel sauce, which is often used in the dish for its roasted, caramelized, coffee type flavor and glaze, but which I rarely make or have on hand.

We like to eat it with steamed Jasmine rice and some simple Vietnamese style pickled cabbage and carrots on the side. (Or kimchi. I am half-Korean, after all.)

The leftover sauce is so delicious over steamed rice, you won't want to throw it away.

Oh, and the pork also makes an awesome filling for my Vietnamese Street Tacos, but that's a recipe for another day. ;)

Easy Viet-Inspired Coffee & Brown Sugar Braised Pork
Serves 4 to 6
Time: 60 minutes
Printable Version

- 2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1/2 a medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 1 large shallot, chopped (if you don't have shallots, just double the onion)
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3/4 cup black coffee (or 3/4 cup water + 1 Tablespoon espresso grind coffee or 1.5 Tablespoons instant coffee)
- 1 Tablespoon vinegar (Balsamic, distilled white, apple cider all work fine)
- chopped green onion for garnish

1) Put all the ingredients in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. This should take 15 minutes or so.

2) Once everything comes to a boil, give everything a couple of gentle stirs, lower the heat to medium low, and simmer, lid askew, for another 30 minutes.

3) Enjoy garnished with a sprinkling of chopped green onions and a bowl of Jasmine rice (or whatever kind you prefer).

Friday, December 30, 2016

Ddukbokki with Pork & Kimchi

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Ddukbokki is a dish made with plain dduk (Korean rice cake that has a plain rice flavor and a texture something like a cross between gnocchi and mochi when cooked), a sweet and spicy hot sauce made with gochujang and often also with Korean style fish cake called odeng or eomuk, but when we were kids, my dad always made it with pork and ripe kimchi, and it's my favorite way to eat it.

The chew of the dduk, a little bite of pork, some crunchytangy contrast from the ripe kimchi, and that sweet and spicyhot sauce - Delicious memories... :)

Ddukbokki with Pork & Kimchi
Makes 2 to 3 servings
Time: 30 minutes
Printable Version

- 1 Tablespoon oil
- 1 pound pork shoulder or belly, cut into thin slices (1/8 to 1/4 inch thick)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 a small onion, cut into 1/4-inch strips vertically
- 2 cups ripe kimchi, lightly drained and cut into 1/2-inch strips (no need to be exact - I just bunch it all together and start cutting in roughly 1/2-inch increments)
- 1 Tablespoon gochujang to start
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce to start
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons sugar depending on how sweet you like things
- 3/4 to 1 cup water, depending on how thick or thin you like the sauce
- 400 grams dduk aka Korean Rice Ovalettes (at the Korean market, you won't see packaging labeled with Imperial measurements)
- optional: chopped green onion and/or toasted sesame seeds for garnish

1) In a wok or large frying pan, bring 1/2 Tablespoon oil up to medium high heat and then saute the pork until it's cooked through (opaque on both sides).

2) Add the onions and continue to saute just until onions start to turn translucent. Add the 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir to distribute seasoning.

3) Add another 1/2 Tablespoon of oil and kimchi, and continue to saute another 2 or 3 minutes.

4) Add gochujang, soy sauce, sugar, and water, and stir until gochujang is mostly dissolved.

5) Add dduk (rice cakes), stir to incorporate, turn the heat down to medium, and cook, covered, for 4 to 6 minutes or until rice cakes are just cooked through, stirring occasionally. (If you try to cut a piece of dduk in half with the side of a fork, the dduk should have a soft and chewy give almost completely to the bottom before you can cut through it.)

6) Sprinkle with chopped green onions and/or sesame seeds if you like and enjoy! :)

Friday, December 2, 2016

California Roll Dip

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

Family and friends can't get enough of this deconstructed sushi favorite adapted for dipping. You can also serve it over sushi rice or regular steamed rice and make a rice bowl meal of it. It's good for 2 or 3 servings that way.

So easy to make and perfect for those holiday parties and potlucks coming up!

If you don't have surimi (artificial crab), you can substitute with peeled and precooked shrimp (the smallest size you can find), thawed and thoroughly drained. Of course real lump crab, thoroughly drained, is worth the splurge if you can swing it. ;)

California Roll Dip
Serves 4 to 6 as appetizer or 2 to 3 as a rice bowl topping
Time: 20 minutes
Printable Version

- 1/2 pound surimi (artificial crab), completely thawed, water squeezed out, and chopped
- 1 Persian cucumber (aka Baby Cucumber) diced, excess water squeezed out. (You can use one small pickling cucumber or half of an English/Hothouse cucumber, seeded as well.)
- 1 large ripe avocado, diced
- 3 Tablespoons very finely chopped onions
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise (I like Best Foods/Hellman's.)
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Gently fold all ingredients together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. (In these kinds of preparations, I like to sprinkle dry/powder ingredients like salt and sugar over the entire surface area because it's much easier to make sure they get evenly incorporated into the recipe that way.)

Serve with crackers, pita, tortilla chips, or as a vegetable dip.

Enjoy! :)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Bulgogi Marinade for Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs

When you're grilling on a budget or for many people, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a wonderfully juicy, flavorful, and frugal alternative that takes well to all kinds of marinades.

A few of you have asked me how to scale my regular beef bulgogi marinade recipe for boneless, skinless chicken thighs. You can double or triple the marinade ingredients depending on the quantity of chicken thighs, but the thicker chicken thighs do behave differently from thinly sliced beef, so I figured I'd just write out the measurements for you.

This marinade also works well for thinner cut dark meat pork chops.

Bulgogi Marinade for Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
Serves 4 to 6

- 4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

- 1/2 a small apple, finely grated using a microplane or fine cheese grater (or you can use 1/4 cup apple sauce)
- 1.5 to 2 Tablespoons minced garlic (about 3 or 4 large cloves)
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 1/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 green onions chopped (green and white parts)
- optional: 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger or 1.5 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root

I usually just throw everything into a large mixing bowl and get in there with my hands, gently tossing and massaging until all the seasonings are evenly distributed.

If you prefer, you can mix all the marinade ingredients in a separate bowl, stir or whisk until all the sugar is dissolved, and then pour it over the chicken thighs and mix.

I like to marinate it for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. Right around 6 to 8 hours is the sweet spot for me, where all the chicken takes on great flavor, but the texture of the meat hasn't taken on cured qualities and is tender, juicy, and still chicken-y. :)

Because it is dark and somewhat fatty meat, you'll want to grill over a medium low heat for 5 to 7 minutes per side, depending on the size of the thigh piece. Watch for flareups as the caramelized marinade mixed with the melting chicken fat hits the coals.

Enjoy! :)


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

BBQ Sauce Braised Pork Shoulder

Last week Dean was feeling something simple and BBQ-ish so I threw together this fridge cleanout BBQ Sauce Braised Pork Shoulder using the last of last week's pork shoulder, the last of the accumulated BBQ sauce leftovers from Dean's rib smoking adventures (Dean's Bourbon Cola BBQ Sauce recipe HERE), the last onion of last week, and some other odds and ends.

Sometimes when I make things with a fatty cut of meat, people will ask if they can substitute it with something leaner. Well, you can, and it'll still be ok, but there is something so truly delicious about BBQ sauce that gets caramelized with pork fat. And the texture is so much more tender, too.

With this kind of preparation, I'd rather eat a little less of the fatty pork shoulder than double the serving of a leaner cut, but that's my preference.

If you don't care for pork, you can also make this with boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat cut into slightly larger pieces. 

BBQ Sauce Braised Pork Shoulder
Serves 4 to 6
Time: About 1 hour total, 15 to 20 minutes active.

- 3.5 pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into 1.5-inch cubes
- 1.25 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
- 2 teaspoons neutral flavored oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- 1/2 cup water

- optional: up to 2 Tablespoons brown sugar if you like your BBQ sauce on the sweeter side, or if you have a fairly tart sauce that could use some mellowing with sugar. (Though you may not need it if you start out with an already sweet storebought sauce like Sweet Baby Ray's or Bull's-Eye . I used Dean's BBQ sauce, which is somewhat sweet, but also quite tangy.)

- optional: 1 to 2 Tablespoons apple cider or distilled white vinegar if you have a sweet sauce to start with and like your BBQ sauce flavor tangy

1) Season the pork shoulder cubes with the salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. I like to sprinkle the seasonings over the entire area of the meat so it starts out already well distributed before I give it a few tosses to make sure it's even more evenly distributed. (I also like to just do this right on the cutting board after cutting and save myself a dirty dish.)

2) In a large pot, bring your oil up to medium high heat and sear the pork on two opposite sides for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

3) Add in the onion, garlic, BBQ sauce and water (and/or brown sugar and/or vinegar if you choose), give the mixture a couple of stirs, and cover completely until you hear the mixture boiling (should be 5 to 7 minutes).

5) At that point, turn the heat down to medium low, give the braise a couple of stirs, and simmer, completely covered, for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If you can scrape any burnt solids from the bottom of the pot during this process, your heat's a little too high, and you should adjust it down slightly.

6) Remove the lid and continue to simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes to allow the liquids to reduce and concentrate in flavor, stirring occasionally. About halfway into this last simmer period is when you should taste the stew and adjust the seasoning for more salt and/or spices if you like. This will give the added seasoning time to meld. Always increase salt and spices in small amounts - you can always add, but you can't subtract.

We enjoyed ours with potato salad and the very last of the Cotton Candy grapes in the fridge.

That was yummy. Sometimes fridge cleanout comfort food is best.

Enjoy. :)