Category Archives: Asian

Sesame Stir Fried Broccoli

I’ve heard some people say they don’t like broccoli because of the way it smells when they boil it. I say don’t boil it at all! A quick sauté in a saucepan is going to give you bright, crisp-tender broccoli that will be far more appetizing than any boiled broccoli mush you’ve eaten in the past.

If you aren’t crazy about how a vegetable (or anything) smells when you are cooking it, one of the best ways to combat it is to cook it with things that smell wonderful. I’ve combined my broccoli with garlic and sesame, both of which smell absolutely divine. Toss in a little crushed red pepper and a splash of soy sauce and you are good to go.

I would put this on a bowl of rice or noodles and call it dinner, but feel free to toss some shrimp, chicken or tofu with it, or just serve it as a veggie side for your favorite main dish.

Sesame Stir Fried Broccoli

Sesame Stir Fried Broccoli

Sesame Stir Fried Broccoli

1-2 heads broccoli, cut into bite size florets (I chop up the stems and include those too)
2 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. soy sauce
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Heat large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add sesame oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook and stir 30 seconds until fragrant. Add broccoli. Cook, stirring often, over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes, or until broccoli is bright green, tender but still crisp. Toss with soy sauce. Add a bit of salt if needed. Garnish with sesame seeds if desired.

 

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Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Like to cook once and eat twice? This is a perfect double duty recipe.  I made this meatball mixture originally for potsticker filling.  Rather than making a huge batch of those, I used half for the gyoza, and used the other half for these fabulous meatballs.  Some quickie sesame noodles while the meatballs cook and you have dinner on the table lickety split.  If you don’t want to use them all right away, just stick the cooked meatballs in a freezer bag and save for another day.

Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Meatballs:
1/2 – 1 pound ground pork (I used one pound, which will make a double batch or use half for gyoza filling)
1 shredded carrot
1 inch ginger, minced
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
3-4 green onions, chopped

Noodles:
1 package thin spaghetti noodles
1 cup spinach, coarsely chopped
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce (or more to taste)
1 tsp. lime juice
Salt (if needed – sometimes the soy sauce is salty enough on its own)
1-2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a bowl, combine meatball ingredients.  Roll into meatballs and space evenly on a baking sheet.

Meatballs!

Meatballs!

Bake for 30-40 minutes until brown and cooked through.

While the meatballs are cooking, bring water to a boil and cook noodles according to package directions.  When noodles are ready to drain, throw the spinach into the water with them, then drain the whole thing.  Toss with the other ingredients and then gently toss with the meatballs.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve hot or cold.

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Gyoza

I love going out for sushi.  One of the little-known best parts of going for sushi, in my opinion, is the not-sushi.  It’s the gyoza.  Also known as potstickers, or dumplings.  Mmmm, little pockets of heaven.  Pork, veggies, and a bit of Asian mystery all bundled up in a tiny little package just for me.  Dip them in ponzu sauce for a salty, tangy finish and oh man, happy happy me!

These are very easy to make.  Don’t be intimidated by what looks like hours of work.  While there is a little more prep work than just throwing something in a pan, these babies come together pretty quickly and it’s sooooo worth the extra effort!  They are easy enough to make that you can get the kids (or even the dinner guests!) to help with the assembly.  And the really nice thing is this recipe yields a ton of them.  This batch will easily make 60+ dumplings.  I made about 40 and then used the rest of the filling for Asian style meatballs for another day.  Don’t want to eat that many at once?  No problem.  They freeze beautifully for an easy meal or snack later on.

While most of the time in restaurants gyoza is offered as an appetizer, I really enjoy it as a main dish.  A pile of stir-fried veggies and rice alongside and you’re in business!

Gyoza.  Who says it's just an appetizer?  These were main dish quality.

Gyoza. Who says it’s just an appetizer? These were main dish quality.

Gyoza

1 pound ground pork
1 shredded carrot
1 inch ginger, minced
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
3-4 green onions, chopped
1-2 packages round gyoza wrappers (find in the refrigerated section in most produce departments at the grocery store)

Mix all ingredients (except wrappers) in a large bowl.  In the center of each wrapper place a teaspoon of the pork mixture.  I usually work in batches, laying out 9 or 10 skins (put out a little bowl filled with water for dipping fingers), filling, and then crimping all of them.  This is also a fun task for little (or big) helpers.

Making gyoza.  Be sure not to overfill, this is about the maximum amount you want to put in there if you want to be able to seal them up.

Making gyoza. Be sure not to overfill, this is about the maximum amount you want to put in there if you want to be able to seal them up.

Moisten the edge all around with a bit of water and bring the two edges up to meet in the center.  Pressing outward to remove the air, seal the edges, crimping with fingertips.  Place on wax paper on a baking sheet or board.

Gyoza, all crimped up and ready to cook (or to freeze).

Gyoza, all crimped up and ready to cook (or to freeze).

Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Drizzle a bit of canola or peanut oil in the pan and let it heat (I use about a tablespoon of oil for each batch).  Swirl oil around to coat the bottom of the pan.  In small batches, add the gyoza (I can do about 10-12 at a time in my skillet).  Let them sizzle and cook until brown on the bottom.  Add 1/3 cup of water to the pan and cover.  Let cook about 3-4 minutes, until water is evaporated.  Remove dumplings and repeat as needed with additional batches.  Serve hot with ponzu dipping sauce (see below for recipe).

Leave space between the dumplings so they cook evenly and don't stick together as they steam.

Leave space between the dumplings so they cook evenly and don’t stick together as they steam.

This batch made 40+ gyoza (1 package of skins), which for the three of us equals two meals.  So I cooked half, froze half, and still had some filling left which I rolled into meatballs for another meal.  Or if you have more wrappers, just make more gyoza and freeze what you don’t want to eat that day.

To freeze gyoza, leave on the cookie sheet, stick the whole thing in the freezer.  Let them freeze about an hour, and then you can pile them in ziplock freezer bags.

Frozen gyoza.  Freeze first on a cookie sheet, then pile into bags for easy storage.

Frozen gyoza. Freeze first on a cookie sheet, then pile into bags for easy storage.

To cook, simply take out what you need and follow the directions above.  No need to thaw first, simply put the frozen gyoza in the hot oil and cook as usual!

Ponzu Dipping Sauce

1 tbsp. chopped green onions
3 tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
2 tbsp. mirin
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic chile sauce
1/4 tsp. fish sauce

Combine all ingredients.

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Red Curry Shrimp Dumplings with Cucumber Peanut Slaw

I could eat dumplings for every meal.  Just about every cuisine in the world includes some sort of dumpling, which means endless variety!  These were a little outside the norm.  The red curry filling adds a tiny bit of Thai, while the steamed exterior is more Japanese.  Wherever they hail from, they are absolutely genius.  These are cooked just like potstickers, seared for a crispy bottom and then steamed to finish.  We loved these and managed to devour the entire batch between the three of us.

To go with an unusual dumpling, why not make an unusual slaw?  This cucumber/napa slaw is light and fresh, with a zingy, barely-there dressing.  Perfectly cool in contrast to the spicy salty dumplings.  And good left over the next day too.

Red Curry Shrimp Dumplings

Red Curry Shrimp Dumplings

Red Curry Shrimp Dumplings
(adapted from theperfectpantry.com)

3/4 pound shrimp (21-25 or 26-30), defrosted if frozen, peeled and deveined
2 scallions, roughly chopped
2 tsp grated ginger root (I use a microplane)
4 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 tsp fish sauce
1 pkg. wonton wrappers
Canola oil for cooking
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp chile garlic sauce (optional if you want a little more kick)

In a food processor add the shrimp, scallions, ginger, curry paste and fish sauce. Pulse several times until the ingredients come together and form a finely-chopped paste.

Set out a small bowl of water.

Working with just a few wonton wrappers at a time, place 1 teaspoon of the shrimp mixture in the center of each.

Do not overfill or it will not seal well.

Do not overfill or it will not seal well.

Wet your finger and run it around the edge of the wonton wrapper. Then, pull all corners to the center, and pinch to seal the dumpling. Repeat with remaining wontons and filling.

Little yummy presents ready to cook!

Little yummy presents ready to cook!

In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Place the dumplings flat side down in the pan, and cook for 1 minute until the bottoms are brown.

Pour in 1/2 cup water. Immediately cover the pan. Cook until the water is almost evaporated, approximately 3 minutes. Then, uncover, and cook until the remaining water evaporates.

Meanwhile, stir together the soy sauce, sesame oil, lime and chile sauce in a small bowl to make the dipping sauce.

Serve the dumplings hot, with dipping sauce.  The original recipe says it makes 24, but we ended up with 30-40.  Just depends on how generous you are with the filling I suppose.

Cucumber Peanut Slaw

Cucumber Peanut Slaw

Cucumber Peanut Slaw
(from healthyseasonalrecipes.com)

1 small head Napa Cabbage, finely sliced
3-4 small cucumbers (1 ½ pounds), julienne cut
1/2 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup peanut oil or canola oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Dried red pepper flakes to taste (optional)

Combine cabbage, cucumber, peanuts and cilantro.  In a small bowl whisk together oil, lime juice, sugar, salt, garlic powder and red pepper flakes.  Pour over slaw and toss to combine.

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Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

In my efforts to eat healthy some days are more successful than others.  This meal was probably the healthiest one I made all week, and definitely one of the tastiest as well.  It was a huge hit with the kids too.

If you don’t like it spicy, you will want to reduce or eliminate the Thai or serrano peppers.  Made according to the recipe, these definitely have a bit of a kick!

One note on ground chicken:  I typically don’t like to buy it.  For some reason it seems to always have a bit of a mysterious gritty texture that I don’t enjoy.  Unless you are close friends with the guy at the meat counter, there is no way to know exactly what is ground up in there.  Instead I buy chicken thighs and grind them up myself in my food processor.  A few pulses is all it takes.  It results in a coarser, juicier texture which I like, and no weird grit!  Plus you have the advantage of choosing exactly what parts of the chicken you want to eat.  I usually opt for thighs since I find them a bit more flavorful. That being said, if you’re in a hurry or just don’t want to mess with it, by all means buy ground chicken instead.

Not a fan of lettuce wraps?  Admittedly they are a little messy but I love them.  However, once you’ve made this mixture there is no reason you couldn’t put it in a wrap, tortilla, rice paper, pepper half or pita pocket.  Or just dig in with a fork.  Whatever conveyance you choose, these are just plain yummy!

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps.  Delicious!

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Delicious!

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps
(adapted from Cooking Light)

4 tsp. canola oil, divided
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/2 cup (or more) thinly sliced red bell pepper
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound chicken thighs (or ground chicken)
2 Thai or serrano chiles, minced (less if you don’t like it spicy)
1 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped or torn
1 tbsp. lime juice
Lime wedges
Large lettuce leaves (I like to use butter lettuce for this since the leaves are sort of bowl-shaped)

Cut chicken into chunks and add to a food processor.

Making ground chicken.  I prefer this to buying ground chicken.  It only takes a few extra minutes!

Making ground chicken. I prefer this to buying ground chicken. It only takes a few extra minutes!

Pulse until coarsely ground.

A few pulses and voila!  Ground chicken.

A few pulses and voila! Ground chicken.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 2 tsp. oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add shallots and sauté 2 minutes.  Add bell pepper; sauté one minute.  Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.  Remove shallot mixture from pan and set aside.

Add remaining 2 tsp. oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add chicken.  Cook and stir 5 minutes or until browned, crumbling with your stirring utensil as it cooks.  Drain well if there is extra juice in the pan.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add chiles; cook one minute.  Add shallot mixture back in.  Stir in fish sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce and black pepper.  Cook one minute or so until everything is heated through and combined well.  Remove pan from heat.  Stir in basil leaves and lime juice.

There is nothing stopping you from just eating this with a fork if you're no fan of lettuce wraps.  Dig in!  Otherwise, load up the wrap of your choice with this yummy concoction!

There is nothing stopping you from just eating this with a fork if you’re no fan of lettuce wraps. Otherwise, load up the wrap of your choice with this yummy concoction!

Serve in lettuce leaves with lime wedges or just dig in with a fork!

 

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Pork and Broccoli Stir Fry with a Twist of Orange

I won’t pretend this is any sort of authentic recipe, but it is one I make often.  It’s my healthier take on Chinese stir fry.  I usually use a small amount of meat, and a large amount of broccoli or other veggies.  I love the fresh udon noodles in this and use them often.  If you haven’t come across these before, I usually find them in the produce section with the refrigerated items such as tofu and wonton wrappers.  They also freeze well which makes them extra convenient in my book.  If you are on a low carb or low gluten diet, feel free to leave them out or serve the stir fry with rice instead.

I always find it interesting to note that when I eat with chopsticks I always eat less.  I think it’s because I have to concentrate a bit more on my food instead of eating mindlessly.  I also eat slower and take smaller bites.  Maybe I should start eating everything with chopsticks.

Pork and Broccoli Stir Fry with a Twist of Orange

Pork and Broccoli Stir Fry with a Twist of Orange

Pork & Broccoli Stir Fry with a Twist of Orange

1/2 pound boneless pork loin chops, sliced into thin strips
1 big bunch broccoli, cut into florets (I usually slice up most of the stems as well)
1-2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp. lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. chile garlic sauce (find in the Asian section of the store)
1 pkg. fresh udon noodles (find in the produce section in most stores)
Toasted sesame seeds

In a small bowl combine soy sauce, lime juice, orange juice, cornstarch and chile garlic sauce.  Stir until cornstarch dissolves and set aside.  Set your noodles in a colander and rinse with warm water to separate noodles.  Set aside.

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium high heat.  Add sesame oil and let heat for a few seconds.  Add ginger and stir fry for about 30 seconds.  Add pork.  Stir fry until most of the pink is gone.  Add broccoli.  Continue to stir fry 4-5 minutes until broccoli is just tender (I prefer mine a little on the crunchy side, but feel free to cook a bit more if you like it softer).  Pour sauce over meat and veggies and cook for a minute or two until it is slightly thickened and coating everything well.  Add noodles and stir fry (gently so you don’t break up the noodles too much) another minute or so to combine.   Top each serving with a generous sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and eat!

 

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Simplified Vietnamese-Style Beef Noodle Soup

Vietnamese food is one of my favorite cuisines.  I love the fresh flavors and the complexity of all the ingredients.  The little details are wonderful.  One signature dish is phó, a traditional soup full of flavor.  There are many ingredients in the traditional versions and one of these days, I plan take the time to do it up right.  This night, however, I was working with the fridge and pantry I had on hand, a short period of time and the inspiration of a beautiful dish.

While this is not a traditional recipe, this faux phó hits some of the high notes and comes together in no time for a simplified Asian-ish homey noodle soup that is wonderful no matter what the season or time of day.  If I had had bean sprouts I would have put a little bunch on top, but alas, I did not.  I made do with thinly sliced red bell pepper and the little cool crunch was just right.

Simplified Vietnamese-Style Beef Noodle Soup

Simplified Vietnamese-Style Beef Noodle Soup

Simplified Vietnamese-Style Beef Noodle Soup

8 oz. sirloin, sliced very thinly across the grain
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
6 cups beef broth
6 oz. rice noodles
1 carrot, sliced thinly
1/2 cup green onion
1 tsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. fish sauce
Red pepper matchsticks and/or bean sprouts for garnish

In a soup pot heat sesame oil over medium high heat.  Add sliced sirloin and crushed red pepper.  Stir fry until beef is browned.  Add mushrooms and carrot and continue to cook another 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, place noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.  Let them soak for about 5-10 minutes until soft.

Add beef broth, fish sauce, and lime juice.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add noodles and green onion.  Simmer another few minutes.  Adjust seasoning if needed.  Ladle into bowls and top with peppers and/or sprouts.

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Asian-Inspired Pork Loin and Slaw

I love mixing marinades.  I always feel like a mad scientist, tossing in a bit of this and a dash of that.  Rarely measuring.  One of the nice unexpected benefits to blogging is that it has forced me to write down what I do and how much I do it with, which has made it possible to reproduce good results.

I actually started out with the makings for an Asian slaw, and needed something to go with it, so I decided to go with an Asian(ish) pork loin.  I honestly have no idea if they would ever make it like this in Asia, but the flavors have a distinctive Asian twist so we’ll just roll with it.  When you have a well-stocked pantry, you can pretend you’re from anywhere, right?  Normally I would do these two dishes in two separate posts but they went together so well, I thought I’d just throw it out there together.

I never used to be a huge fan of pork, but I absolutely adore pork loin.  It’s lean, but juicy and it soaks up just about any marinade you put on it and just gets tastier.  And they are just about foolproof to cook.  Depending on where you shop, sometimes they are a little pricey, but I keep my eye out for sales, and when I see one I stash a few in my freezer.

Asian-Inspired Pork Loin and Slaw

Asian-Inspired Pork Loin and Slaw

Asian-ish Pork Loin

1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2-3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. chili garlic sauce
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1-2 pork loins (1 package usually has 2 loins in it)

Mix together marinade all ingredients in a large zip lock bag, then add pork loin.  Marinate at least 30 minutes or up to a couple of hours.

My favorite way to marinate since it's easy to reposition so all of the meat gets some love.  You can do it in a dish or bowl if you prefer.

My favorite way to marinate since it’s easy to reposition so all of the meat gets some love. You can do it in a dish or bowl if you prefer.

Preheat oven to 350˚.  Place loin in a shallow baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, brushing once or twice during cooking with leftover marinade (do not brush with marinade during the last 5 minutes of cooking). It should be done, but if you want to test it, a meat thermometer should read 145˚ in the center of the loin.  Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.  It should be slightly pink in the center.

Juicy wonderful pork loin.

Juicy wonderful pork loin.  Best when it’s slightly pink in the center.

Asian Slaw

1 small head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 bell pepper, chopped or sliced
2 carrots, shredded
2 green onions, sliced
3 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

Mix all ingredients.  I recommend letting it sit for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, before serving so flavors can mingle.

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An Anniversary and a Potsticker

Today marks a year since I started this blog.  It started with Project Veggie, our month-long journey of exploring vegetarianism.  Although we ultimately decided to keep eating meat, it did result in more mindful eating, a lean toward more healthy food and a focus on whole and natural foods and less processed crap.  Claire, age 12, has become quite the little cook, and Luke, age 17, has become even more adept at eating our creations.  This blog now has about 70 subscribers (yay!), and has been viewed more than 7000 times!  I’ll admit to getting a little thrill when people tell me they’re reading it, or sharing it, or cooking from it.  Very cool, folks.

In short, thanks for reading.  I hope you continue to do so.  Keep cooking, and eat your veggies.  And I’ll keep pelting you with new recipes.  And that’s enough blabbering on about THAT.

In my quest to find the perfect potsticker recipe, I tried a new one the other day.  I’m coming to the conclusion that there is no potsticker I don’t like.  These were wonderful.

Chicken Lemongrass Potstickers

Chicken Lemongrass Potstickers

Chicken Lemongrass Potstickers
(adapted from Food & Wine)

1 pound ground chicken
1 cup finely sliced or shredded napa cabbage
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
2 tbsp. finely grated lemongrass (2 stalks)
2 tbsp. minced chives
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced or grated
1 garlic clove, minced
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
Canola oil for cooking
1-2 pkg. gyoza wrappers

Ponzu Dipping Sauce

1 tbsp. chopped green onions
3 tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
2 tbsp. mirin
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic chile sauce
1/4 tsp. fish sauce

Mix all potsticker ingredients in a bowl (other than gyoza wrappers and oil).  Line two baking sheets with wax paper.  On a lightly floured surface (or surface lined with wax paper), lay out gyoza wrappers a few at a time.  Place 1 tbsp. filling in the center of each one.

Making potstickers.  Not too much filling, you want to be able to seal them well without it squishing out the edges.

Making potstickers. Not too much filling, you want to be able to seal them well without it squishing out the edges.

Dab around the edge with a bit of water.  Lift edges on both sides to meet at the top in the center and crimp together, making a good seal.  Set on the baking sheet, flattening a bit on the bottom.

Ready to cook. If you want to freeze any of these for another day, stop here and freeze, then store in zip lock bags.

Ready to cook. If you want to freeze any of these for another day, stop here and freeze on the tray, then store in freezer bags.  This recipe made two trays like this.

In a large frying pan, heat 2 tbsp. of canola or vegetable oil over medium high heat.  To test to see if it’s hot enough, flick a few drops of water in the pan.  If they sizzle, you’re good to go. Working in batches, set dumplings in the pan, leaving a bit of space between each one.  Cook about 2 minutes, until bottoms are brown.  Add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and cover.  Cook about 4-5 minutes more, until water evaporates.  Remove from pan and enjoy hot.

NOTE:  If you want to freeze part of these, make them up (but don’t cook them), set them on a cookie sheet and freeze.  Once frozen, you can put them in a freezer bag.  To cook, DO NOT THAW FIRST.  Just heat the oil as above, set frozen potstickers in the pan, cook a few minutes on the bottom, add 1/2 cup water, cover and steam until water evaporates, 5-7 minutes.

I served these with sautéed string beans and sesame noodles with ponzu sauce for dipping.

Chicken Lemongrass Potstickers with Sesame Noodles and String Beans

Chicken Lemongrass Potstickers with Sesame Noodles and String Beans

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Thai Chicken Soup

Usually when I think of Thai food my mind fills with thoughts of Pad Thai, red curry and incredible peanut sauce.  But one of my very favorite Thai dishes – and probably the one I make the most – is Tom Kha Gai, a flavorful Thai chicken soup with a coconut milk base.   It’s easy to make, satisfying and delicious.  Traditionally it doesn’t have the green veggies, and you can leave them out if you want, but I like the extra veggies and usually throw in a handful of whatever I happen to have.  I love this soup!

One of my friends served this to his son and was surprised when he wasn’t a huge fan.  As it turned out, he had eaten the big chunks of ginger and lemongrass and not enjoyed them much.  They are used just for flavoring the soup as it cooks, but aren’t meant to be eaten (though they are edible).  Now you could go through and fish this stuff out before serving it but I usually don’t.  Instead, I serve this with small bowls to discard the ginger and lemongrass as you come across them.  Second time around, the kid skipped those pieces and loved it!

Tom Kha Gai, one of my favorite chicken soups of all time!

Thai Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

1 pound chicken thighs (or breasts), cut into bite size pieces
2 cans coconut milk
4 cups chicken broth
3 inch piece of ginger, cut into slices (no need to peel)
2-3 stalks of lemongrass, cut into 2-3 inch pieces, smashed with flat of knife
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup green beans or peapods
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. thai chili paste
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Sriracha sauce (optional if you want an extra kick)
Cooked rice

In a dutch oven or soup pot, saute chicken in a tbsp of oil until no longer pink.  Add coconut milk, broth, ginger and lemongrass. Bring to a boil.  Add veggies, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and chili paste.  Reduce heat and simmer til veggies are tender and chicken is cooked all the way through.  Ladle over rice, garnish with basil and cilantro.  Spike with sriracha if you want it a little spicier.  Serves 6.  Serve with some small empty bowls for discarding the pieces of ginger and lemongrass.

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