Stir-Fry Chicken in Black Bean Sauce

Chicken in Black Bean Sauce | Pinky's Pantry
This is one of the easiest chicken dishes you can make. My local grocery stocks jars of black bean garlic sauce, but you can also find it in Asian food stores. Black bean sauce is a common condiment in Chinese cuisine. It’s made from fermented black soy beans and is really delicious, though extremely salty so use it sparingly. A little does go a long way with black bean sauce. It’s best to start with a tablespoon at a time, tasting and adding a little more at the end if you need to.

STIR-FRY CHICKEN IN BLACK BEAN SAUCE

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in cubes
  • ½ small onion, cut into a half-inch dice
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into a half-inch dice
  • 3 tbsp. black bean garlic sauce, or to taste
  1. Heat a little bit of cooking oil in a wok or frying pan.
  2. Add chicken and 1 tablespoon black bean sauce and stir fry until chicken is half cooked.
  3. Add onions and 1 more tablespoon black bean sauce, continuing to stir fry for another minute.
  4. Finally add bell pepper and remaining 1 tablespoon black bean sauce, and stir fry until bell pepper is crisp-tender.
  5. Taste for seasoning, and stir in a little more black bean sauce if desired.
  6. Serve with hot white rice.

Americanized Bibingka

Americanized Bibingka | Pinky's Pantry
Living in the United States, we don’t always have easy access to Filipino food. I guess it depends on where in the U.S. you live. Unfortunately, where I live, if you want Filipino food, you need to make it yourself. There have been times when I’ve really been craving some native food from back home. This recipe was born from one of those cravings.

Filipino bibingka galapong is a native cake made of rice flour that’s cooked in a clay pot lined with banana leaves. As strange as it sounds, the sweet little cakes are dotted with pieces of quesong puti (carabao milk cheese) and wedges of itlog na maalat (salted duck eggs). Growing up, the best bibingkahan to get hot, fresh-made bibingka was a place called Ferino’s. It was started in 1938 by a man and his wife who made their bibingkas on three clay pots set on a bench. From there, the business grew till they eventually had shops all over town.

Anyway, I was craving the taste of Ferino’s bibingka one day. Since I don’t have a clay pot or banana leaves, and since we can’t get quesong puti or itlog na maalat where we live, I came up with this recipe which I called “Americanized Bibingka” because I baked it in a pyrex glass baking dish in the oven, and I substituted American ingredients for the native Filipino ingredients I couldn’t get – cream cheese for the quesong puti and dried shredded coconut for the itlog na maalat. It’s not Ferino’s, but it’s a really good substitute.

This recipe makes a big pyrex dish so it’s perfect for parties or get-togethers. Don’t expect it to look anything like traditional native Filipino bibingka galapong. Just follow the recipe and you’ll get a good taste of what bibingka is like, albeit without the look. Everybody loves it, including all our American friends.

AMERICANIZED BIBINGKA GALAPONG

  • 4 cups self-rising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 box (8-oz.) cream cheese
  • ½ to 1 cup shredded, sweetened, desiccated coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, eggs, sugar and water.
  3. Pour batter into a greased 9” x 13” pyrex glass baking dish.
  4. In a small saucepan, melt and stir together the butter and cream cheese. The cream cheese mixture will be separated and lumpy. It looks weird, but don’t worry. This is normal.
    Americanized Bibingka | Pinky's Pantry
  5. Pour cream cheese mixture as evenly as you can over the cake batter. Don’t worry about trying to make it perfectly even. You can’t.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove cake from oven and top with shredded coconut (as much as you want).
  8. Return cake to the oven and broil till the coconut flakes turn golden brown.

NOTE:  If you can’t get self-rising flour, you can make your own by mixing together:
                4 cups all-purpose flour
                2 Tbsp. double acting baking powder
                2 tsp. salt

Filipino Buko Pie (Young Coconut Pie)

Buko Pie | Pinky's PantryMy Dad’s family hails from a place called Bay, Laguna in the Philippines. Bay (pronounced “Bah-eh” by the locals) is one of the oldest towns in the province of Laguna. Legend has it that the Datu or Tribal Chief of the area had three beautiful daughters. When the Spanish came to convert the natives to Catholicism, the Datu’s three daughters were baptized and renamed Maria Basilisa, Maria Angela and Maria Elena. The first letters of Basilisa, Angela and Elena were put together to form the name “Bae” which over time changed to “Bay.” The district of Santo Domingo in Bay was actually named after my great-grandfather, Domingo Ordoveza, who was a wealthy landowner in the area.

I remember going to Bay as a little girl with my grandparents. We went every year during the town fiesta. There would be a huge party on the plantation with lots of people, tons of food, games, prizes, and fun. We stayed at the family homestead which I remember as a big, white house surrounded by lanzones trees. Lanzones is a small, yellow fruit native to the Philippines. I remember watching the boys climb the trees to pick the fruit for us to eat.

One of the things I also remember eating is Buko Pie. The province of Laguna with all its coconut trees is famous for its buko pie. Buko is the Filipino word for “young coconut.” As a coconut matures, the meat becomes thicker, firmer and whiter; but young coconut meat is thin, soft and almost opaque in color. That’s the coconut we use to make buko pie. The coconut shell is cut in half and the buko is scraped out with a shredding tool that produces thin strips or strings of the meat. It’s absolutely delicious. Where I live in North America, I can’t get fresh buko (or fresh coconuts for that matter) so I have to buy frozen buko from the Asian grocery stores. It’s not as good as fresh, of course, but it works fine when you’re craving a slice of nostalgia in pie form.
Buko Pie | Pinky's Pantry

FILIPINO BUKO PIE

Crust:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup cold butter, cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup cold shortening, cut into pieces
  • 5-6 tbsp. cold water
  • 1 egg, for egg wash
  1. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.
  2. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Pinch off a small clump of dough and squeeze it in your hand. If it does not hold together, sprinkle the dough with 1 tablespoon of ice water and blend with a fork. Keep adding ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture just holds together when squeezed in your hand.
  4. Divide dough into 2 balls, one slightly bigger than the other, and flatten each ball into a disk.
  5. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 2 days.

Filling:

  • 3 pkgs. (about 3 cups) frozen shredded buko, thawed and drained
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup buko juice
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  1. In a small saucepan, stir cornstarch into buko juice until completely dissolved.
  2. Stir in evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla and buko.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

To Assemble Pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Sprinkle flour on work surface and roll out the larger of the two disks into a 12-inch circle. When rolling, work from the center to the outer edges, spinning the dough occasionally to get an even round shape.
  3. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, pressing into the bottom and up the sides.
  4. Trim off any excess dough.
  5. Place bottom crust in refrigerator while you work on second disk of dough.
  6. Roll out second disk on lightly floured work surface, spinning occasionally to get an even circle large enough to cover the pie.
  7. Take bottom crust from the refrigerator and pour filling into it spreading evenly.
  8. Place top crust over pie.
  9. Roll the edge of the top crust just underneath the edge of the bottom crust and flute the edges together all around the pie.
  10. Make an egg wash by beating 1 egg and 1 tablespoon cold water together.
  11. Brush egg wash all over top crust.
  12. Prick holes on the top crust with a fork to allow steam to escape the pie while baking. You could also cut 6 or 8 vent holes with a sharp paring knife, or cut out decorative designs with a pie crust cutter.
  13. Bake pie in oven for 35-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
  14. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

NOTE:  If you have a food processor, use it to make the pie crust. It makes it so much easier and quicker. Besides, the less you handle the dough, the more tender and flaky your crust will turn out. Just follow the directions as listed, but instead of using a pastry blender or a fork, pulse the ingredients together in the food processor.

Frozen buko comes in plastic bags like this:
Buko Pie | Pinky's Pantry

Quick and Easy Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad | Pinky's Pantry
Oh my gosh, is it HOT outside! We hit 104º today! Whew! It’s even too hot to expend the energy fanning yourself! I needed to prepare something cool and refreshing for dinner but I didn’t want to work hard making it. Something quick and easy was in order. Enter my “Quick and Easy Chinese Chicken Salad.” What I love best about this salad is there’s very little prep needed if you buy pre-shredded rotisserie chicken, pre-cut lettuce, shredded carrots, and bottled dressing like I did! Then you literally just need to stack the water chestnut slices to cut them in half, and chop up the cilantro. Easy, peasy!
Chinese Chicken Salad | Pinky's Pantry
The dressing recipe I have here is a pretty simple one to make but if you really want to save time and effort, there are a lot of excellent bottled Chinese Chicken Salad Dressings out on the market. Just buy yourself a bottle and skip making it from scratch. Trust me, it’ll turn out just fine.

QUICK AND EASY CHINESE CHICKEN SALAD

For the Salad:

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, or 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, cut into bite sized pieces
  • ¾ cup shredded carrots
  • 1 small can (8 oz.) sliced water chestnuts, drained and cut in half
  • 1 small can (11 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup canned crunchy chow mein noodles (can substitute ⅔ cup slivered almonds)
  • 2-3 tbsps. toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

For the Dressing:

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar (plain or seasoned)
  • 3 tbsps. soy sauce
  • 1½ tbsps. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • ½ tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  1. If using rotisserie chicken:  Remove chicken meat from the bones and shred into bite-sized pieces. (I buy it already pre-shredded at Costco.)
    If using boneless, skinless chicken breasts:  Drizzle chicken with olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and bake at 350ºF until chicken is just cooked through, about 30-40 minutes. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Make dressing by whisking together all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Place chicken, lettuce, carrots, water chestnuts, mandarin oranges, cilantro and chow mein noodles in a large salad bowl.
  4. Pour dressing over everything and toss together gently.
  5. Serve in individual salad bowls and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.
  6. Salad can be served cold or at room temperature.

Note:  For those of you who’ve asked me, one of my favorite bottled chinese chicken salad dressings is “Joey D’s Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing & Marinade.” It’s really good, but I’m sure there are others just as good out there. Use your favorite one.

Asian Lettuce Cups

Asian Pork Lettuce Cups | Pinky's Pantry
I felt like having Chinese food for dinner tonight and started thinking about P.F. Chang’s restaurant. We haven’t eaten there in years, but I remember how much I loved their chicken lettuce wraps. Well, I didn’t have any chicken, but I did have some ground pork so I thought, why not? Couldn’t I create something using pork as a substitute? Here’s what I came up with. The family loved it! I called the dish “Asian” because it was inspired by the wraps from a Chinese restaurant, but teriyaki marinade is Japanese, the noodles are Filipino, the peanut sauce is Indonesian, and the Mae Ploy sauce is Thai. LOL! A delicious blend of Asian flavors!
Asian Pork Lettuce Cups | Pinky's Pantry        Asian Pork Lettuce Cups | Pinky's Pantry

ASIAN LETTUCE CUPS

Prepare the Meat:

  • 1 lb. ground chicken or ground pork (I used ground pork)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bottle Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki marinade & sauce (or use your favorite brand)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 can (8 ozs.) waterchestnuts, diced
  • 1 stalk green onion, thinly sliced
  • 4-6 shitake mushroom caps, finely diced (optional)
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded & minced (optional)
  1. Brown ground meat and garlic in a medium saucepot.
  2. Drain excess oil, if any.
  3. Stir in 1/2 cup teriyaki marinade and let cook for 2-3 minutes, then taste the meat. If it seems lacking in flavor, add more teriyaki sauce, a tablespoon at a time, until the flavor is to your liking. Be careful not to add too much or it will be too salty! I like Soy Vay teriyaki marinade but you could really use whatever brand you like.
  4. Stir in grated ginger, cook for a minute more, and then taste the meat again. Just like with the teriyaki sauce, you can add more grated ginger, a teaspoon at a time, till the flavor is to your liking.
  5. Stir in the water chestnuts, green onion, shitake mushrooms and jalapeño. Depending on how big your shitake mushroom caps are, you can add more or less, or omit them entirely if you don’t like them at all. Same thing with the jalapeño. You can add more than one if you want the dish spicier, or omit it altogether.

Make the Peanut Sauce:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1½ tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp. grated ginger
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepot and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wire whisk until well blended.
  2. The sauce thickens as it cools. If it becomes too thick, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, till it reaches the consistency you want.

Prepare Remaining Ingredients:

  • 1-2 heads butter lettuce
  • 1 pkg. bean thread or cellophane noodles
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 bunch basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 bunch mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup peanuts, finely chopped (optional)
  • Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce
  1. Carefully separate larger, outer lettuce leaves and wash and dry them well.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the noodles and let boil just until softened, about 2 minutes or so. Drain into a colander, run cold water over them, then allow to drain and cool completely.
  3. Place all the condiments in separate little serving bowls.
  4. Have everyone assemble their own wraps.

To Assemble:

  1. Place a lettuce leaf on your plate.
  2. Top with some noodles, then meat, carrots, and herbs.
  3. Pour a little peanut sauce over the top.
  4. Add a little Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce.
  5. Then finally, sprinkle top with chopped peanuts if desired.
  6. If your lettuce leaf is big enough, you can roll it into a little log and call it a lettuce wrap. If not, just serve it open-faced with a fork and knife and call it a lettuce cup like I did! A rose by any other name, right?

NOTE:  If you don’t like ground chicken or ground pork, you can make this dish with whole boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Mix the teriyaki marinade and grated ginger together (omit the rest of the ingredients). Marinate the chicken in the teriyaki-ginger mixture for at least an hour, preferably overnight. Grill the chicken or bake it in the oven. Slice cooked chicken into thin strips. Then continue with the recipe.
Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps | Pinky's Pantry

Chinese Sausage Bites

Chinese Sausage Bites | Pinky's Pantry
I originally saw this recipe on the Martha Stewart website and thought it would be fun to try making it. My family loves the Chinese sausage known as “lap cheong” and I love anything made with puff pastry. Lap Cheong wrapped in puff pastry sounded like a match made in heaven. These little bites were so easy to prepare, besides being tasty and addictive. Don’t forget to serve them with spicy Chinese mustard. It pairs perfectly with the sweet sausage bites.
Chinese Sausage Bites | Pinky's Pantry     Chinese Sausage Bites | Pinky's Pantry
Chinese Sausage Bites | Pinky's Pantry

CHINESE SAUSAGE BITES

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • flour, for dusting
  • 4 Chinese sausages (lap cheong)
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1/4 cup Chinese mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Whisk egg and water together in a small bowl.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry to about 10 x 12 inches.
  4. Cut into four 5­ x 6-­inch rectangles.
  5. Brush egg wash along one long edge of a puff pastry rectangle.
  6. Lay one sausage along opposite edge and roll up, pressing seam to seal.
  7. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side down, and brush with egg wash.
  8. Repeat with remaining puff pastry and sausages.
  9. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
  10. Bake until puff pastry has cooked through and is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
  11. Let cool slightly, then slice into rounds using a serrated knife.
  12. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with sliced scallions for garnish.
  13. Serve with Chinese mustard.

Vietnamese Shredded Chicken Salad

Vietnamese Chicken Salad | Pinky's Pantry
My sister, Helen, got the brilliant idea that we should all do this toxin-eliminating, inflammation-reducing, cleansing diet called the Whole 30 program. The program actually sounds really good. It’s supposed to restore a healthy digestive tract, balance your immune system, and raise your metabolism.

Old Goat Honey and I decided that we would do it! It could only help us, not hurt us, and Lord knows we could both stand to lose more than a few pounds. Plus the dramatic benefits of the program sound great! Our resolve firmed up as we read accounts of “consistently high energy levels, improved athletic performance, better sleep, improved focus and mental clarity, and a sunnier disposition.” But that’s about as far as we got on the program. Somehow, we just can’t seem to get started!

ME:  Let’s start the program on Monday.

OLD GOAT:  We’re supposed to take Bashful and her friend out to dinner on Tuesday. Maybe we should start it on Friday.

ME:  We can’t! I have a Mexican potluck at work on Friday!

OLD GOAT:  Well, we’re going out to lunch with your Aunt and her boyfriend on Saturday. Maybe we should start it next Monday instead.

And that’s pretty much how it’s been going. Helen has been successfully doing the program and bugging me everyday to get started on it, while we keep guiltily putting it off for one reason or another. Sigh…….. We’ll get started on it eventually. I know we will……..eventually……

In the meantime, in an effort to at least try to have something healthy on the dinner table tonight, I made this Vietnamese Shredded Chicken Salad. The only “questionable” ingredient in it is the white sugar, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use agave syrup or some other healthy sugar substitute in its place (though I haven’t tried it myself). Also, I used shredded rotisserie chicken which made it really easy.

VIETNAMESE SHREDDED CHICKEN SALAD
(Recipe from the November 2000 issue of Saveur magazine)

  • 2 fresh Thai red chiles (can substitute serrano chiles)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 3 tbsp. Vietnamese fish sauce (nuó’c mam)
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 4 cups shredded napa cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots, julienned
  • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh mint
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cilantro leaves, for garnish
  1. Cut chiles in half, remove seeds, then mince.
  2. Place chiles in a large bowl.
  3. Add garlic, sugar, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, oil, and onion.
  4. Mix until sugar dissolves.
  5. Add chicken, napa cabbage, carrots, and mint.
  6. Season with freshly ground black pepper and toss well.
  7. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired.

NOTE:  No. 1 got the idea to sprinkle chopped peanuts on top of the salad and loved it! He and Old Goat think the peanuts make the salad even better!

Shrimp Toast

Shrimp Toast | Pinky's PantrySomehow, I’d forgotten all about this recipe until now. I was looking through my recipe box for an appetizer to make and came across my recipe for these crispy little nuggets of seafoody goodness. I used to make Shrimp Toast for parties all the time when I was newly married. Finding this recipe instantly brought back memories of parties past….. a baby shower for my first born….. a birthday party where we danced all night….. lots of good times.

The name “Shrimp Toast” usually brings to mind those little triangles of fried bread with a shrimp mixture mounded on top. This recipe is different in that the bread is flattened with a rolling pin, spread with the shrimp mixture, then rolled into logs. The logs are fried until golden brown and then each log is cut into four little bite-sized rolls. One loaf of bread makes a lot of little shrimp rolls. For example, if your loaf has 15 slices of bread, you’ll end up with 60 little appetizers. It sounds like a lot, but believe me, they go fast! Everytime I make these, the little rolls are completely wiped out!
Shrimp Toast | Pinky's Pantry

SHRIMP TOAST

  • 1¼ lb. raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 stalks green onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp. minced ginger
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 4 tsp. Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1 loaf day-old white sandwich bread
  • canola oil for deep-frying
  1. Place shrimp, green onion, ginger, egg whites, rice wine, sesame oil, cornstarch, salt, and pepper into the workbowl of a food processor.
  2. Process until the mixture forms a paste, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Trim the crusts from the bread.
  4. With a rolling pin, roll each bread slice to a little less than ¼-inch thick.
  5. Spread a layer of the shrimp mixture about ⅛-inch thick on each slice of bread, leaving about a half-inch of one side free.
  6. Roll each bread slice into a little log and place seam side down on a plate. The shrimp mixture should squeeze out to reach the free edge as you roll. If the mixture doesn’t reach the free edge, just smear a thin layer of shrimp mixture on it and press it closed to seal.
  7. Pour about 2 inches of oil into a wok or high-sided frying pan and heat to 350ºF.
  8. Working with 3 or 4 rolls at a time, slide rolls into the oil and fry until golden brown.
    Shrimp Toast | Pinky's Pantry
  9. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  10. Cut each roll into 4 bite-sized pieces using a serrated knife.
    Shrimp Toast | Pinky's Pantry
  11. Serve warm with sweet-and-sour sauce or with a sweet chili sauce like Mae Ploy.

NOTE:  This recipe can be prepared a day or two in advance. Just follow the recipe all the way to Step 6, then stack the rolls in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to fry. I have never tried freezing the rolls, but I can’t imagine why that wouldn’t work if you needed to make them a week or two ahead of time for some reason. If you try freezing them, post a comment and let me know how they turned out.

Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles)

Japchae | Pinky's Pantry
One of No. 1’s best friends growing up was a little Korean boy named Eugene. He was a good, polite boy and so smart. His mother was a sweet, soft-spoken woman who worked for a bank and who cooked wonderful Korean dishes. I love Korean food. I always wish I could’ve asked her to teach me how to make some of their dishes but the opportunity just never came up. Thankfully, the Bay Area abounds with Korean restaurants.

Whenever we go to a Korean restaurant, I always order Bulgogi – Korean barbecue beef. It’s my favorite and it always comes with a serving of these noodles on the side. Japchae is a Korean noodle dish made from sweet potato noodles called dangmyeon. It’s hugely popular in Korea. I love it. It’s delicious and a lot easier to make than it looks.
Japchae | Pinky's Pantry

JAPCHAE

Steak:

  • ½ lb. rib eye steak
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  1. Slice steak very thinly. It’s easier to do this if steak is partially frozen.
  2. Combine ingredients for steak marinade in a small bowl.
  3. Add steak to marinade, stirring to coat well.
  4. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Sauce:

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  1. Mix sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Set aside until ready to use.

Noodles:

  • 1 pkg. (500g) Korean sweet potato noodles
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
  • ½ large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 ozs. fresh shitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
  • ½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 ozs. spinach, washed and dried
  • salt, to taste (optional)
  • 1 green onion stalk, green part only, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • canola oil for frying
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. When water is boiling, add noodles and boil for 7-8 minutes or until cooked to desired tenderness.
  3. Drain into colander and run cold water over noodles to stop them from cooking.
  4. Snip noodles with kitchen scissors in a few places so they’re not too long.
  5. Set aside to drain well.
  6. If you want little strips of scrambled egg, beat the egg in a small bowl.
  7. Heat a teaspoon of canola oil in a wok or large frying pan.
  8. Pour in egg, swirling pan from side to side to spread thinly.
  9. Cook on one side, then flip over to cook other side.
  10. Remove from pan, slice into thin strips, and set aside.
  11. In same pan, stir fry marinated steak until just cooked.
  12. Remove from pan and set aside.
  13. Stir fry carrots and onion until onion is translucent.
  14. Add mushrooms, bell pepper and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes more.
  15. Add the spinach and toss to combine, cooking until slightly wilted.
  16. Return the meat to the pan, then add the noodles and sauce.
  17. Toss all together until heated through.
  18. At this point, taste noodles and season with salt if necessary.
  19. Transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.
  20. Serve hot or cold. Can be reheated in the microwave.

NOTE:

  • You can use any cut of well marbled meat if you don’t want to use rib eye. Just make sure to slice it very thinly.
  • If you want to make this dish vegetarian, omit the beef entirely.
  • If you can’t find fresh shitake mushrooms, you can substitute dried. Just soak them in a bowl of hot water for at least 30 minutes to reconstitute. Remove the mushrooms from the water, squeeze them a little bit to remove excess water, then trim off the tough stems and slice the caps thinly.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to 2 days.
Japchae Noodles | Pinky's Pantry

These are the sweet potato noodles I used. I bought them because they were on sale. They were very good.

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup | Pinky's Pantry
When Old Goat Honey and I were newly married, there was a little hotel on the main road of the town where we lived. On the first floor of this hotel was a tiny Thai restaurant. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of it now. It has long since closed, but when it was open, we would go there for dinner at least once every other month. Their food was sooo good. One of our favorite things to order whenever we went there was their Thai Coconut Chicken Soup or “Soup No. 9” as we called it because it was the No. 9 item on their short, 2-page menu.

The soup was absolutely delicious! They served it in this round silver bowl that sat on a pedestal. The bowl had a hole in the center with a sort of “chimney” sticking up out of it. And inside the pedestal underneath the bowl was a little fire (I guess from a sterno can) that kept the soup hot. Since then, I’ve learned that that serving bowl is called a Thai Hot Pot. I don’t have one and just make my soup in a regular stock pot, but I suppose if you really wanted to go authentic, you could purchase a thai hot pot of your own.

Thai Hot Pot

Thai Hot Pot from Amazon.com

This soup calls for lemongrass. For those who are unfamiliar with it, lemongrass is a fragrant grass-like stalk that’s widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine. It’s long like a green onion, with a pale green color and with a tough, outer casing similar to a thick corn husk. It has a citrusy, herbal-like flavor. It’s readily available in Asian food stores and its increasing popularity is making it easier to find in your local neighborhood grocery. I know I can find it in mine.

TO PREPARE LEMON GRASS:  Cut off about a half-inch from the top and the root end. Wash it well, then peel off the tough outer layers. Before you chop or slice it, take a meat tenderizer or a mallet and smash it. This helps release the oils that impart that delicious lemony flavor. Then cut it into 2-inch pieces or mince it finely, depending on your recipe’s instructions. It’s quite tough and woody so it’s usually cut into pieces which are later discarded before serving, but you can eat the more tender center portion if it’s finely minced. If you’re going to mince the center portion, use the bottom 4 or 5 inches only since that’s the most tender part of the stalk.

THAI COCONUT CHICKEN SOUP

  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (3-inch) piece ginger, grated
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, crushed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (15-oz.) can coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp. patis (fish sauce)
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 ozs. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1-4 small Thai chilies, sliced thinly (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips (or 3 cups shredded, cooked chicken breast)
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk green onion, thinly sliced (for garnish)
  1. Heat canola oil in a soup pot and sauté garlic, ginger, and lemongrass.
  2. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, patis, sugar, and lime juice.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and stir in bell pepper, mushrooms, chilies, and chicken.
  4. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until chicken is just cooked through.
  5. Pick out and discard lemongrass.
  6. Stir in cilantro.
  7. Sprinkle with green onion and serve immediately with extra lime wedges on the side.

NOTE:  If you can’t find Thai chilies, you could substitute 1-2 tsp. sambal oelek (ground fresh chili paste) for the chilies. Actually, Old Goat Honey loves this soup served with a little bowl of sambal oelek on the side.

Also, if you can’t find fresh lemongrass, you could substitute the zest and juice of a fresh lemon, though it’s not quite the same thing. I’ve done it though, and it works fine in a pinch.

1 stalk lemongrass  =  zest of 1/2 lemon + 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Lemongrass freezes well so if you do find it, I recommend that you buy a bunch to freeze. Just wash it, peel off the outer leaves, stick it in a ziploc bag, squeeze out all the excess air, and put it in your freezer. It will keep for months and can be used directly from frozen.