Living in the city of Baltimore, I find it difficult to come across good and real Chinese food. So whenever I return home, I ask my mom to cook my favorite Chinese foods (dumplings, steamed buns, etc.) Growing up, my mom would always cook Chinese food for our family. However, when I started cooking by myself I found it hard to replicate her dishes because I didn’t have a recipe that quantified the ingredients.
Last week when I was home, my mom and I cooked a few of her dishes. We measured out the ingredients together so we could quantify the exact measurements to create a recipe. We cooked several spicy dishes such as fish, chicken, and cold noodles. These recipes require many of the same ingredients, such as ginger, garlic, and soy sauce (the basic staples of Chinese cooking). With these ingredients, you can make a variety of Chinese dishes!
I especially loved the chicken recipe because it was easy and extremely flavorful from all the spices. When I returned to Baltimore, it was one of the first things I cooked. My roommates were all amazed by the delicious smell that filled the room. Because the dish is so flavorful, it can be served with a simple vegetable, such as broccoli, and rice.
- 4-5 chicken thighs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 star anise
- 1 tsp Chinese peppercorns (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 slices ginger
- 1 cup soy sauce (divided into 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 scallion
- 2 tbsp Hunan Black Bean Sauce (optional)
- Mince garlic, slice ginger.
- Chop scallion into small pieces and set aside.
- Cut chicken thighs into bite-sized cubes. Place into a large bowl.
- Add 1/2 cup soy sauce chicken thighs and marinate for 15-20 minutes.
- In a large pot (or Dutch oven), heat 2 tbsp olive oil to high heat. Add star anise, Chinese peppercorns, ginger and garlic.
- When fragrant, add Hunan black bean sauce or other spicy sauces (optional).
- Place chicken thighs in the pot. Braise chicken on both sides, stirring occasionally. If the pot is too small for all the chicken, cook 2 batches.
- Add the other ½ cup of soy sauce, and stir again.
- Add water, cover the pot with a lid and let it simmer on low heat for 10-20 minutes.
When I was studying in Europe a few years ago, I was introduced to so many new and delicious dishes (along with truly unique dining experiences). One thing that I fell in love with immediately was mussels drenched in flavorful broth. I even remember the exact restaurant in Copenhagen where I became obsessed with them. Little did I know how easy it was to make such a complex-looking dish on your own.
These drunken mussels are made with garlic, shallot, and white wine. My favorite part is dunking some crusty bread into the soup to sop up all the delicious flavors. The recipe takes less than half an hour to make and barely any work, aka a perfect recipe to impress your friends, family, or someone special 😛
For many students, cooking mussels may be intimidating because seafood is typically expensive and not many people have ever tried to cook mussels. Rest assured because mussels are relatively cheap (about $5/lb) and they take only several minutes to be cooked. One thing to note when dealing with mussels is how to clean debeard them. Serious Eats gives a great tutorial on how to shop for and clean mussels.
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
- 1 1/2 lb mussels, cleaned and debearded
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
- pinch salt and pepper
- 1 lemon, cut into slices
- Optional: 1/2 loaf French bread, sliced
- Add butter to a large pot on medium heat.
- Once the butter has melted, add shallots and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the wine and increase the heat to high. Once boiling, add the mussels and cover with lid. Let the mussels cook until they open (about 3 minutes).
- Remove lid and add cream. Reduce heat to medium and stir. Cook for another 2 minutes letting the liquid reduce.
- Top with parsley, salt and pepper.
- Squeeze lemon juice on top before serving.
- Optional: Lightly saute both sides of the sliced bread pieces on a medium pan with olive oil.
One of my favorite scenes from Julie and Julia, which I have watched about a million times now, is when Julie is making bruschetta for her and her husband. I love watching the French bread sizzling in the pan and her husband’s reaction to how delicious it is. Unlike many of the rich, buttery French dishes that are made in the movie, bruchetta is a light and healthy Italian appetizer.
Bruschetta, although from Italy, reminds me of pan con tomate, a popular Spanish tapa (originally from the Catalonia region). Last summer when I was living in Spain, I ate a looot of pan con tomate, which is just toasted bread with tomato pulp and drizzled olive oil on top. During our daily snack break at work, my coworkers would all order pan con tomate, which was a simple, yet delicious snack. Bruschetta is different in that it uses diced tomatoes instead of tomato pulp. The tomatoes are also tossed with olive oil, basil, garlic, and parmesan cheese.
For this bruschetta, I used heirloom tomatoes – some were dark purple and some bright red. Just adding a little bit of garlic and basil made it so flavorful, but I also used balsamic vinegar to give it a little kick. This yummy appetizer can be whipped up in 15 minutes and doesn’t require any cooking. It is a perfect snack for a hot summer day or hors d’oeuvre for a dinner party.
- 3 medium tomatoes, diced
- 5 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- pinch of salt
- pinch of pepper
- 1/2 loaf French or Italian bread, cut into slices
- In a bowl, toss all of the ingredients except the bread together.
- In a medium pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil on medium-high heat. Toast bread slices on both sides until golden brown.
- Top bread with tomato mixture.