Broccoli Beef

Why get take out when you can quickly dish up a quintessential Chinese takeout dish in minutes? This one-pan, 30-minutes dish is loaded with tender broccoli and nutrition-packed beef cooked in a delicious sauce. Serve over rice for a delicious meal!

Broccoli Beef originates from a Chinese dish called Gai Lan Chao Niu Rounor or Chinese Broccoli Fried Beef. However, early immigrants could not find Gai Lan in the US, and American broccoli became an easy substitute, right around when broccoli was getting more popular in the US too. Given the ability of the broccoli to absorb delicious flavors of the sauce and the tender slices of beef, it’s no wonder it makes its way onto every Chinese restaurant menu.

Servings: 4

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda or tenderize the meat by hammering it with a meat mallet)
  • 1  pound flank steak, cut into 1-inch pieces. (Find the grains of the beef and cut against it. After cutting rinse off the blood and set aside)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper powder
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame or vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup carrot, cut into matchsticks (optional)

Method

  • In a large bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch with water to form a slurry. Add beef to the bowl and toss until the beef is well coated with the cornstarch mix.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch along with soya sauce, oyster sauce, pepper and brown sugar. Set aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pan or wok on medium flame. When hot, add the beef and fry the beef on one side for 30-60 seconds. Flip and fry the beef until it is cooked through another 60 seconds. Transfer the beef to a plate and set aside.
  • Add remaining oil to the pan and when hot, add the diced onions, garlic and ginger and cook for a minute and then add the broccoli florets and carrots. Cook until broccoli is tender, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the beef back to the pan and pour the sauce over. Stir for another minute until the sauce thickens.
  • Turn off the stove and serve with a side of rice or noodles.

Salmon with  Tamarind- Mushroom- Red Pepper Sauce

This aromatic, sweet and tangy sauce complements salmon. Not only is it a healthy, quick and easy dinner option, it is an elegant  meal for when you have company.

Serves:4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb skin-on, boneless salmon filet
  • 8oz baby bella mushrooms, diced into small pieces
  • 1 large red pepper, diced into small pieces
  • 1/4 large red pepper, cut into thin red strips
  • 2 stems green onions, diced fine
  • 1 tbsp ginger, diced fine
  • 1 tbsp garlic, diced fine
  • 2 tbsp size chunks of seedless tamarind (see method below)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • For the fish before grilling or pan frying
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
    • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (2 tbsp if frying)

Method

  1. To make tamarind, soya and fish sauce mix:
    • Take a large marble sized piece of seedless tamarind
    • Put tamarind into a microwave safe bowl and add in 1/4 cup warm water. Heat for a minute in the microwave. Rest for 2 minutes. Then mash the pulp with the back of a spoon, forcing it through a strainer . Scrape off the paste that is on the underside of the strainer. Discard the solids left in the strainer
    • To the tamarind mix in the bowl, add fish sauce, soya sauce, sugar and blend well till sugar dissolves
  2. For the mushroom – red pepper sauce
    • Dice mushrooms and red pepper into small pieces
    • In a wok, heat oil
    • When hot, add in the garlic, stir fry for 30 seconds and add in the ginger
    • Stir fry for 30 seconds
    • Add in the mushrooms and stir fry for 3-4 minutes until the water from the mushrooms dry out
    • Add in the tamarind, fish sauce mix and stir fry for 1 minute
    • Add in the green onions, and diced red pepper and stir fry for another minute
    • Remove from heat and set aside
  3. Fish
    • To cook in Ninja Foodi: 
      • Place water into Ninja Foodi pot. Season salmon with salt and pepper on both sides, no oil, on rack, making sure the rack is in the higher position.
      • Assemble pressure lead, making sure the pressure release valve is in the SEAL position
      • Select PRESSURE and set to HIGH. Set time to 2 minutes. Select START/STOP to begin
      • When pressure cooking is complete, quick release the pressure by moving the pressure cooker valve to the VENT position. Carefully remove lid when pressure is released
      • Gently pat salmon dry with paper towel, then close with crisping lid
      • Select BROIL and set time to 7 minutes. Select START/STOP to begin, check for doneness after 5 minutes
    • To grill on a regular grill:
      • While the sauce is cooking, marinate the fish with oil, salt and pepper. Rub mixture on both sides of fish. Heat grill to 450 degree F. When hot, grill the salmon skin side down over direct heat with the lid closed, for about 4-5 minutes and then turn the salmon over, close the lid and another 4-5 minutes
    • To pan fry:
      • Rub salt on both sides of the fish. Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add fish, skin side down and fry for about 4 minutes on each side
  4. Serving
    • Serve fish while hot, with the Mushroom-Red Pepper sauce spooned over it, garnished with red pepper slivers and cilantro. It can be accompanied by vegetables like bok choi or broccoli as well as steamed rice

Thai yellow curry

This mild, yet complex Thai curry impresses with its pleasant and interesting flavors.

When we have guests, Thai or Mexican dishes are usually our go-to. Quick, flavorful, and enjoyed by most, it’s definitely faster to pull together than Indian food. When we do make Thai dishes, curries take center-stage and this yellow curry, is a mildly spicy delicious alternative to the ubiquitous red curry.

This curry can be made in advance, I prefer to, as I find it tastes even better. It has lots of sauce and can be re-heated very easily.

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 10 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast (optional if vegan, see note)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can Thai yellow curry paste or the paste made with this recipe
  • 3 kefir lime leaves
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce (alternatively, 3 tbsp lime juice if vegan)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 can bamboo shoots
  • 1 medium sized Chinese eggplant, cut into thin long slices
  • 3 tbsp green peas
  • 1/2 medium red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 large red potato (or white) cut into small cubes
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced fine
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1/4 red pepper strips, cut into thin strips for garnish
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil

Method

  • Slice chicken breast into thin, long slices ( 3 inch long, 1 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick)
  • Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok
  • Add in the onion, and stir fry for 2 minutes
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add in the yellow curry paste and stir fry for 1 minute
  • Add in the potato cubes and stir fry on low flame for 2 minutes
  • Add in half the can of the coconut milk, stir to dissolve the paste in the coconut milk and bring to a boil
  • Add the remaining cup of coconut milk, raise the heat to medium and let it cook for 10 minutes. You will start to see the oil from the coconut milk raise to the top
  • Tear the lime leaves to halves and add to the sauce. Cook for another 2 minutes, the sauce will thicken
  • Add chicken and egg plant into the sauce, turn heat to maximum, cook for a minute
  • Add 1/2 cup water and let the curry boil for a minute
  • Add fish sauce and sugar and turn heat to medium. Stir for 2 minutes
  • Add in bamboo shoots, red pepper strips and cook for 2 minutes
  • Add in the peas and 3/4 of the chopped cilantro
  • Stir fry for 2 minutes
  • Serve hot, topped with remaining cilantro leaves and a few red pepper strips with a side of rice

Thai yellow curry paste

Made from scratch, this recipe beats canned curry pastes. When time is not of the essence, prepare this paste and then make a delicious Thai curry. Serve it over rice and then enjoy the afternoon siesta!

Ingredients:

  • 14 dried thai chilis
  • 2 tbsp fresh turmeric root, grated (or 2 tsp turmeric powder)
  • 2 tbsp galangal or ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 cup cilantro stems
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 6 kefir lime leaves or 1 tsp grated lime
  • 6 large garlic cloves, diced fined
  • 4 small shallots peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper powder
  • 2 lemon grass stalks, bottom half only, chopped
  • 1 tbsp shrimp paste, omit if vegetarian
  • 1 tsp oil, set aside for later

Method:

  • With a mortar and pestle or in a blender, mix all the ingredients (except oil)together. Grind until you have a smooth paste
  • In a frying pan, heat the oil and on low flame , slowly cook the paste for about 3 minutes
  • Use to make a Thai yellow curry

Coconut tilapia curry

While living in Toronto, I was spoilt with some really good Thai restaurants. However, there isn’t a Thai restaurant near us that truly wows us. So, trial and error has got us to a point where we no longer need to drive out to a good Thai restaurant, chez nous kitchen beckons instead! And the best part of most Thai curries is they are easy to whip up allowing me to get a delicious, filling and health dinner to the table in 30 mins or less. And you can make a one-pot meal by adding vegetables to the curry.

Servings: 4 Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 (6 oz) skinless tilapia fillets ( or vegetables like tofu, baby corn, bamboo shoots, if you want to keep this vegetarian)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, small, diced fine
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 4 tbsp red curry paste ( or to taste, depending on the paste you use and spice level)
  • 1 15 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (if vegetarian, omit fish sauce and brown sugar, and add salt to taste)
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup carrots cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/4 cup cilantro or basil leaves, for garnish

Method:

  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. When oil is hot, add in the onions and ginger. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions turn soft and translucent.
  • Add in the red curry paste and stir for 1-2 minutes
  • Add half of the coconut milk to the pan and stir in, until the coconut milk and the curry paste are well blended. When the milk starts to bubble, add in the remaining coconut milk. Stir well for a minute
  • Add in the fish sauce and brown sugar and bring the curry to a boil
  • Lower the flame, add in the carrots and green peas
  • Stir and then add in the fish
  • Cover and let cook on medium-low flame for 5-6 minutes until the fish is cooked through
  • Remove from flame and garnish with the cilantro/basil leaves
  • Serve with brown rice

Wonton pork tacos

I made these Wonton Pork Taco recipes for a party and the guests loved it! Great appetizer for a party or even an option for dinner Give it a shot and tell me what you think. The steps are quick and will be worth it!

Prep time: 20 minutes. Cook time: 20 minutes

Servings :4

Ingredients

For the pork

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp Sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp Soya sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 scallion finely chopped

For the pickled vegetables

  • 1/2 cup red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup green cabbage
  • 1/2 cup fine cut carrot sticks
  • 1/4 cup radishes cut fine (optional)
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 jalapeno diced, deserved if you don’t like it spicy
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Remaining ingredients:

  • 12 Wonton wrappers or taco shells
  • Sweet chili sauce, to serve
  • 3 tbsp Chopped cilantro, to serve
  • Sesame seeds, to serve

Method

  1. Make the pickled vegetables:
    • In a medium glass bowl, mix well the 1 tbsp of sesame oil, as well as the rice vinegar, granulated sugar and salt. Stir well until the sugar is dissolved completely
    • Place the red and green cabbage, carrot sticks, radishes, and jalapeno in the above mixture and stir well. While you can eat this right away, it tastes best if you let it chill for atleast an hour
  2. Make the pork:
    1. Place a shallow pan on the stove and heat the 1 tbsp of sesame oil over medium-high heat
    2. Add the green onion and the ginger, garlic. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add pork and cook, breaking up with a fork, until no longer pink, 8-10 minutes.
    3. Stir in the Hoisin sauce, soya sauce, and Sriracha sauce. Fry another 2 minutes
    4. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes
  3. For the taco shells:
    1. Pre- heat oven to 375F
    2. Spray wonton wrappers with cooking spray, then drape over two of the metal slats of a steamer rack trivet. This creates a flat bottom and they stay open better to fill
      • Alternatively, use a cupcake tine and make wonton cups
    3. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Watch closely so they don’t burn

Assembly:

Add pork mixture to the wonton shells, top with pickled vegetables, drizzle with sweet chili sauce, sprinkle with cilantro and sesame seeds. Enjoy!


Char Siu (Chinese Barbequed Pork)

Nail Chinese BBQ pork with this recipe! My kids love going to a local Chinese dive because of the barbeque pork fried rice. They could eat that for lunch and then again for dinner! The restaurant isn’t close by and during Covid, we missed it much too much and had to try and replicate the recipe at home. The fried rice was easy, the bbq pork, not as much. A couple of recipe improvisations later, and we no longer need to step out for this bbq pork. Best of all, I know the cut and quality of the meat used and I don’t need to add red color.

Prep time: 10 minutes (not including overnight marinating time) Cook time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless pork shoulder (the more fat, the tastier it will be)
  • 2 tbsp finely minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • 1 cube red fermented bean curd
  • 2 tsp five spice powder
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 tsp water
     

Method:

  • Cut the pork into long strips or chunks about 2 inches thick. Aim for uniform slices so they cook uniformly. Don’t trim any excess fat, as it will add flavor
  • Sprinkle the salt over the slices. Then poke each side of the long strips with a fork to help it absorb the marinade, when applied
  • In a bowl, make the marinade – combine the garlic, oyster sauce, soya sauce, hoisin sauce, red wine, Shaoxing wine, garlic, five spice powder and the bean curd. Mix well till smooth
  • Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the marinade. Cover and set aside in fridge
  • In a large ziploc bag, pour in the remaining marinade. Add the pork to the bag and massage the pork allowing the marinade to cover the pork well. Close the bag and refrigerate overnight, or 8-10 hours
  • When ready to cook, remove the pork from the fridge and let it rest on countertop while pre-heating the oven to the bake setting at 425F, with a rack positioned in the upper third of the oven.
  • Line an oven-proof bowl with an aluminum foil. Place 3 tablespoons of water between the foil and the bottom of the bowl to create some steam. Place the pork slices in a single row on the foil.
  • Place the bowl in the oven and set timer for 15 minutes
  • While pork is in oven, combine the honey with 2 tbsp of water
  • Cook for 15 minutes and then lather both sides with the pork marinade
  • Cook for another 15 minutes and lather both sides with pork marinade again
  • Cook for 10 minutes and lather both sides with the honey-water mix
  • Now turn up the over to 450F, and cook for another 5 minutes
  • Remove from oven and baste with the 2 tablespoons of marinade that had been set aside
  • Let it rest for 5 minutes – then cut and enjoy
  • Note: By now, the pork has cooked for 50 minutes total. It should be cooked through and caramelized on top. If it’s not caramelized to your liking, an option is to turn on the broiler for a couple minutes to crisp the outside and add some color. Please don’t walk away during this as it can sear quickly. You can also use a meat thermometer to check if the internal temperature of the pork has ready 160F

Serving suggestions:

This big batch of pork can be used right away or frozen. Use it for barbeque pork fried rice, as an appetizer by itself, or in Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches which my high-schooler LOVED enough to take to school two days in a row!


Spicy Korean Tofu

Spicy Korean Tofu (Air-fryer/Ninja Foodi/Stove-top)

This spicy, gochujang tofu recipe will have you craving for more. Not only is it flavorful, combine that with brown rice, steamed vegetables like broccoli or bok choy, and you have a healthy, vegan meal on your table in under 45 minutes.

Why Tofu? Tofu has a range of benefits – it’s a great add to an anti-inflammatory diet while providing a good amount of protein. But it can be bland. Adding some soya sauce and gochujang certainly ups the game! What’s gochujang? Gochujang is a fundamental ingredient in Korean cooking. It’s a thick and spicy-sweet dark red paste made from red chili peppers, and fermented soybeans. If you don’t have it handy, a little Thai chili paste or sriracha combined with a dash of soya sauce and sugar will serve as a substitute.

Servings: 4 Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 14 oz package firm Tofu (sliced into cubes)
  • 2 tbsp dark soya sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp gochujang (or 1.5 tbsp sriracha, mixed with 1 tbsp ketchup, 1/2 tsp soya sauce and 1/2 tsp sugar)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 green onions (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • 1 tsp ginger (finely minced)
  • 2 tbsp Oil (plus spray if baking) – sesame, vegetable or olive oil
  • Optional: 1-2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Drain water from the package of tofu. Press down gently on the tofu to remove as much water as possible
  2. Slice the block of tofu into 1/2 inch planks and then into bite-sized cubes
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine1 tbsp of the soya sauce and the tablespoon of cornstarch. Add in the tofu cubes. Gently mix to combine.
  4. You can bake the tofu in the air-fryer or cook it on a stove top
    1. Air-fryer option: I used an air-fryer, a Ninja Foodi. Set the Foodi on air-crisp option to 400F. Heat the cooking basket for 3 minutes. Spray with oil to coat the bottom of dish and place tofu cubes in it. Spray the top of the tofu lightly. Air-fry the tofu for about 12 minutes until crispy.
    2. Stove-top option: Heat 2 tbsp of oil (sesame or olive or vegetable oil) in a pan, and when hot, add the tofu and cook over medium-high heat until golden brown
  5. While the tofu is baking in the air-fryer, or stove, mix the soya sauce, gochujang paste, brown sugar and water in a bowl until combined
  6. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic and the whites of the chopped green onion
  7. Saute on medium heat for 2 minutes
  8. Add the sauce and cook for 2 minutes
  9. Add the cooked tofu to the sauce and stir gently. Cook for 2 minutes
  10. Remove from stove top
  11. Best served right away, garnished with the chopped green onions
  12. Tastes great served on a bed of rice and with a side of steamed broccoli or bok choy


Hakka Noodles

Ever so often I crave Indo-Chinese food. More often than not, after a late night at work, my friends and I would grab Indian-style Chinese food from one of the street hawkers. Hakka noodles, Gobi (Cauliflower), Schezwan fried rice and Chili Chicken, were our staples. If you were lucky, there were no queues. If not, you stood around salivating waiting around the cart for your order to be ready. It’s amazing how the hawkers could serve all these dishes within 20 -30 minutes. They had no more than 1-2 huge woks over kerosene stoves, where they turned out one dish after another. The sizzle, the smoke, the pouring of all the sauces and mixing of all the flavors….ooh, I still salivate with the memories. While the kids’ favorite American Chinese dish is Orange Chicken from Panda Express, they equally enjoy Hakka Noodles while Nilesh and I are transported back to the streets of India.

Hakka Noodles is an Indian-style noodle dish. The noodles are made from 100% durum wheat. The typical vegetables are cabbage, carrots, capsicum (green peppers). I’ll often add mushrooms, spring onions, and edamame or green peas to get as much vegetables as possible. I also avoid too much of soya sauce and rice vinegar to keep the sodium lower. Feel free to adjust that to your liking.

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 packets – Ching’s Secret Veg Hakka Noodle
  • 4 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 small red onion sliced
  • 4 spring onions – chopped
  • 2 medium carrots -shredded or chopped
  • 1 green pepper (capsicum) – chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup mushrooms (white) chopped
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • 4 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp green chili/ red chili sauce
  • 0.5 tsp pepper powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Follow instructions on the noodle packet to boil the noodles. When the noodles are ready, drain the water. Add 2 cups of cold water, drain again and then toss with 1 tbsp of sesame oil to prevent noodles from sticking. Keep aside.
  2. Heat 3 tbsp of sesame oil in a large wok
  3. Add the red chili flakes, ginger, garlic, red onions and the whites from the spring onions. Fry for a minute.
  4. Add the mushrooms. Fry for another minute
  5. Add the remaining vegetables. Stir-fry on high flame for 2 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked but yet, retain their crunch
  6. Add the tomato ketchup, soya sauce, rice wine vinegar, green/red chili sauce, pepper power and salt
  7. Stir till the sauces are well combined with the vegetables
  8. Add in the noodles and mix gently till well combined
  9. Garnish with the remaining spring onions
  10. Serve hot and enjoy