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 cooking shows out there is Chopped. The competitors are asked to make a dish in a short amount of time from a basket of random, miscellaneous ingredients. Their crazy, innovative creations always inspire me to cook and whip up some spectacular dish of my own. I had always thought it would be fun to enter a Chopped-like competition but never thought I’d get a chance to until recently.
To celebrate Earth Day, our school hosts a Celebration Fair, where many student groups set up booths and activities related to Earth Day. A student group called Real Food Hopkins hosted a “Veg Fest” competition, where 4 student chefs competed to see who could make the best vegetarian dish. They gave us the list of ingredients a few days beforehand so we could come up with a recipe (a bit more time than they give you in Chopped). The students then prepared the recipes the night before the competition to hand out as samples to students at the fair. On the actual day of the fair, we cooked our dishes in front of everyone and had the judges taste them.
The list of ingredients they gave were: beets, radishes, turnips, carrots, kale, fingerling sweet potatoes, white button mushrooms, and French shallots. After tossing a few ideas in my head I thought of creating a twist on the Vietnamese bahn mi sandwich by using a veggie patty filling. This was a completely original recipe and actually turned out pretty great the first time I made it. I used the same recipe for the competition and although I didn’t win, the sandwich got some rave reviews from friends and students for being “creative and delicious.”
- 1 cup carrots, peeled intro thin strips
- 1/2 cup radish, chopped into thin slivers
- 1/2 shallot, chopped into slivers
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups fingerling sweet potatoes
- 2 cups white button mushrooms, chopped into small bits
- 1 cup red kale, chopped into small pieces
- 1 red shallot
- olive oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 egg
- 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 3 French baguettes (8-in long)
- salt and pepper
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce or Srirarcha
- In a medium bowl, mix together rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Using a vegetable peeler, peel outer layer of carrots and discard. Then continue peeling into long, thin strips. Using a knife, thinly slice radish into small circles. Thinly slice shallots. Add the carrots, radish, and shallot into the vinegar bowl and stir. Let stand at room temperature.
- Boil water in a large pot. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into small cubes. Steam sweet potato cubes for 15 min, until tender when poked with a fork.
- While sweet potatoes are steaming, peel and mince shallot. Roughly chop mushrooms and kale into small pieces. In a medium pan, sauté shallots. Then add mushrooms and kale. Stir for about 5 minutes, until cooked well.
- Transfer the steamed sweet potatoes into a bowl and mash well with a fork. Add the mushroom-kale mix and mash together. Add soy sauce, egg, and breadcrumbs and mix well. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Using hands, form sweet potato mix into small ½ inch balls. Press gently to flatten.
- In the same pan as before, heat oil to medium-high heat. Add the sweet potato discs and fry on both sides until dark golden on the outside (about 30-60 sec each).
- Cut baguettes horizontally. Mix mayonnaise and hot chili sauce together. Spread on the bottom inner side of the baguette. Add sweet potato discs and top with the pickled carrots, radish, and shallots.