Wednesday, April 30, 2008

General Tso’s Chicken

This is another thing I ALWAYS eat when I go to an Asian buffet. And boy oh boy is it good! Juicy tender chicken in a thick, savory, sweet, and not so spicy sauce – it’s the quintessence of American Asian buffet food!

General Tso's Chicken

1½ cup cornstarch
¼ cup water
1½ tsp minced garlic
1½ tsp minced ginger root
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup soy sauce
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup cooking wine
1½ cup hot chicken broth
3 lbs deboned dark chicken meat, cut into large chunks
1 tsp white pepper
1 egg
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
2 cups sliced scallions
16 small dried hot peppers

Mix ½ cup cornstarch with water. Add garlic, ginger, sugar, ½ cup soy sauce, vinegar, wine, and chicken broth. Stir until sugar dissolves.

In a separate bowl, mix chicken, remaining soy sauce, and white pepper. Stir in egg. Add remaining cup cornstarch and mix until chicken pieces are coated evenly. Add 1 cup of vegetable oil to help separate chicken pieces. Divide chicken into small quantities and deep-fry at 350 degrees until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Place a small amount of oil in wok (or sauté pan) and heat until wok/pan is hot. Add scallions and peppers and stir-fry briefly. Stir the cornstarch, water, garlic, ginger mixture and add to wok/pan. Place chicken in the sauce and cook until sauce thickens. Serve this alongside a heaping bowl of hot fluffy rice and enjoy!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Lo mein.

We are all familiar with this stuff. You know, that greasy tray of noodles with skimpy flecks of who knows what kind of vegetables we find at all Asian buffets – right next to the fried rice. Yup, that’s the one. Though it may be greasy, oily, unhealthy, and not much to look at - it sure does taste good! Seriously, no matter how much I tell myself that lo mein is bad for me, I still end up getting a plate full of it anyways.

So what exactly is this stuff anyways? Lo mein is a Chinese dish of Chinese egg noodles, a mix a veggies (usually carrots, cabbage, and onions), and some form of meat (most times chicken, beef, or roast pork) – all stirred in a brown sauce (soy sauce, corn starch, sugar, and other stuff I just don’t know exactly). Then, when these ingredients – simple they may seem – are combined, you get one heck of an addicting dish.

It’s salty, savory, soy saucy, slurpable, tender, cheap, tummy filling, and just plain DELICIOUS! I can’t get enough of it.

Maybe it is oily mushy bleh. SO WHAT? It’s taste (and price) makes up for all it’s bad attributes. It’s a great on the go meal for a great price. However, if you are too worried about the calories – don’t worry – I am too. Usually I just eat lo mein in small platefuls as a guilty pleasure. Other times I just make it at home where I can control the fat content.

So, if you haven’t tried lo mein before…ARE YOU CRAZY? If you have, then try making it at home! Here’s a healthy lo mein recipe courtesy of EatingWell:,,FOOD_30878_100796,00.html

Isn’t lo mein just great?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Braised tofu.

Ok, so this is yet another recipe my mom picked up from her Korean cooking class (hey what can I say – they’re good!). But let me tell you, this by far is my most favorite recipe out of all the ones she learned. It’s savory, salty sweet, oniony, garlicky, gingery, and not so spicy. It is topped with basically raw garlic, ginger, and scallion – but don’t worry. Their flavors marry so well together and with the braised tofu that somehow the garlic tastes less breath damaging, the ginger less biting, and the scallion less like…well…a scallion. Many times I even end up just eating the garlic ginger scallion topping by itself because it’s so lip-smacking tasty!

On the serving plate, it’s the perfect combo of juicy tofu, soy sauce, and sweet thinly sliced garlic, ginger, scallion, and red pepper. Not only is this my favorite Korean dish from the cooking class, it’s also the most appetizing. As they say, we eat with our eyes first. And as soon as you see this dish, your eyes will be stuffing themselves silly! Before I say any more that might possibly bore you out of trying this – here’s the recipe:

Braised Tofu

1 pack firm tofu
2 Tbsp starch
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
¼ oz peeled ginger
¼ oz peeled garlic
¼ oz scallion
¼ oz cleaned red pepper
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp cooking wine
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp rice wine

Cut tofu in half (not lengthwise) and then into ½ inch thick square slices. Pat tofu dry with paper towel. Sprinkle salt over one side. Coat all sides in starch and shake off the excess. Heat oil in a skillet and add tofu. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Turn off the stove. Julienne ginger, garlic, scallion, and red pepper. Mix soy sauce, cooking wine, sugar, and rice wine – this is for the sauce. Sprinkle the julienne ginger, garlic, scallion, and red pepper evenly over the tofu in the pan and pour in the sauce. Cook the tofu in the skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. And enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Red bean soup.

No, this is not another one of those canned bean soups. You know what I'm talking about - the ever so famous "Tex-mex" soup with three kinds of beans. And the red beans I am talking about are not the kind of beans you pack on a camping trip either - the kind that gives you...gas. No no no my friend! The red bean soup I am talking about is of a whole different sort. It's sweet, warm, and (as if it couldn't get any more strange) served as a dessert!

Did I just say dessert AND red bean soup?!? You bet I did! Ok, before you go outside and yell, "Has the writer of I Heart Asian Food gone crazy?" let me explain to you what exactly is red bean soup.

Red bean soup is a traditional Chinese soup that is served warm as a dessert after dinner. It's made by boiling red azuki beans and sugar until soft and mushy. These beans give the soup a deep red color, which makes sense since the color red signifies happiness and luck to the Chinese.

It's sugary sweet, deep deep red, warm, has mushy tender red beans, and is the perfect satisfying dessert!

When I was a kid, I use think, Ummm...I'm not so sure, when I saw red bean soup. That's because it looked so unappetizing. Don't get me wrong - it still looks like brownish red water with bean mush. But I've learned better. As I grew older, I became more tolerant to try new foods, and I discovered how good red bean soup really is. I now see it as my guilt free dessert. I don't know how many calories are in it exactly, but the fact that it's a soup helps me to believe that no matter how many bowls I drink (like 2 or 3!), I still won't gain as much weight as if I ate a slice of dark chocolate cake.

Definitly try red bean soup whenever you go to your favorite Chinese restaurant. I'm sure you will find it to be just as satisfying (or even more than) ordering that regular old vanilla ice cream!


Saturday, April 5, 2008


Dumplings are amazing. Need I say more? They are easy to make from scratch, available in almost every supermarket, the perfect on-the-go meal, fun to pop in your mouth, great for parties, and they come in all sorts of fillings. I like to think of them as the all in one meal - meat filling, bready wrapper, and specks of green (and that's enough veggie for me!).

Last night I ate at least 20 dumplings. And boy were they good! Meaty pork filling with chopped shrimp and vegetables all boiled in a thin dumpling wrapper. A full course meal all in itself and I ate 20 of them!

I don't know about you, but I don't usually like to eat a dumpling just by itself. I love dumplings, but they often turn out to be just so darn bland. That's why I love the dipping sauces. Yes, of course you can always just dip a dumpling in soy sauce, but a special sauce can make all the difference. Here's my personal favorite easy-to-make dumpling dipping sauce recipe:

Ginger Scallion Dipping Sauce

½ cup sugar
¼ cup sake (or any other cooking wine)
¼ cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon thinly slice scallions
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon minced ginger

Whisk all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Chill and serve with your favorite dumpling!

I believe dumplings are not only fun and easy to make/eat - they also bring people together. Why not make dumplings with your kids or have a dumpling making party with your friends? Then, you could also have a dumpling eating contest! Dumplings are definitely a fun way to bring those you love around the family table.

Click here for Ming Tsai's amazing recipe for shitake dumplings:,,FOOD_9936_10521,00.html

Make dumplings. Come together. Share stories. And have fun!