Month: September 2019

Kara Age with Ikura and Kewpie

I’ve been a fan of David Chang‘s cooking since I saw him eating raw ramen noodles sprinkled with instant noodle powder in Mind of a Chef. One of the dishes I’ve always wanted to try at Momofuku is the caviar and fried chicken. I’ve never been to New York with enough people, or enough money for that matter. So this feast always seemed out of reach.

Throwback someday to that time I couldn’t find Baohaus the day I’d planned to, so I ‘had to’ 👀 eat there and at Momofuku Ssäm Bar during the same lunch and then they had octopus on the menu so I had to get that as well as some pork belly. 🐙🐷🤤 .

Lady and Pups: Goddess of Aggressive Umami

But then I saw Lady and Pups post about her fried chicken and salmon roe. And I realized, off course! You can make this shit at home! And personally. I prefer salmon roe over caviar anyway, though that might be because I’ve never had the real deal. Either way making something like this at home means you can tweak it to suit your personal preferences.

For those of you who don’t know Lady and Pups, she is by far my favorite food blogger. All her recipes pack a punch and a lot of my cooking is inspired by her. She’s actually got a book coming out this fall, called The Art of Escapism Cooking and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

That said, I’m much more of a lazy cook than she is, so I just pulled together my own version of this dish.

Tokyo Cult Recipes

I got my recipe for kara-age from Maori Murota’s Tokyo Cult Recipes and used Kewpie mayo (extra delicious because the addition of MSG) with either salmon or trout roe, depending on what I can afford and what my fish monger has laying around at the time.

Of course you can also just have the chicken with some rice and pickled cucumber. But if you’ve got it, flaunt it.

What do I eat with Momofuku inspired fried chicken with ikura?

Have it with a nice cold glass of sake and a lightly dressed salad of wakame or cucumber with rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and sesame seeds and maybe some fries.

A bowl of Japanese fried chicken with ikura, salmon roe and tufts of Kewpie mayo

Momofuku Inspired Fried Chicken with Ikura

Dorothy Porker
A home-style version of the fried chicken and caviar they serve at Momofuku, with Japanese fried chicken, Japanese mayo and salmon roe.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Main course
Cuisine American, Asian, Japanese
Servings 2

Equipment

  • Plate x2
  • Deep fat fryer
  • Paper towels

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 clove garlic finely grated
  • 1" - 2.5 cm ginger peeled and finely grated
  • 1 T - 15 ml sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 T - 25 ml soy sauce Japanese preferred
  • 1 t - 5 gr cane sugar plane will suffice if that's what you've got
  • 5 T - 75 gr potato starch corn starch or rice flour will also work in a pinch
  • 1 t - 5 gr cinnamon yes really
  • pinch pepper
  • 4 pieces chicken boneless, skinless, cut into1.5 inch/ 4 cm strips
  • oil for deep fat frying
  • salt

To serve

  • Kewpie mayo to taste, if you can't get Kewpie, mix some MSG into 'regular' mayo
  • salmon or trout roe (imitation) caviar also works (in a pinch?)
  • 2 medium eggs soft boiled or poached, optional

Instructions
 

  • Mix together 1 egg, 1 clove of garlic, 1" - 2.5 cm ginger, 1 T - 15 ml of sesame oil, 1 1/2 T - 22.5 ml of soy sauce, 1 t - 5 gr of sugar, 5 T - 75 gr potato starch, 1 t - 5 gr cinnamon and a pinch of pepper shallow plate. Add 4 pieces of chicken , cut into strips and leave to marinade for about 30 minutes in the flavored batter.
  • Preheat your deep fat fryer to 180° C/ 360° F .
  • Be sure to set up a plate with paper towels to move your chicken to once you're done frying.
  • Now, stir the chicken and batter thoroughly before you fry the chicken in batches. The starch can sink to the bottom of the marinade and the chicken really needs a good layer of properly mixed batter to crisp up.
  • Depending on the size of your fryer, fry the chicken in small batches until golden brown and crisp. This should take 5-10 minutes depending on the size of your pieces of chicken.
  • Move to the kitchen towel lined plate while you fry up the remainder of your chicken. Finish the fried chicken with some salt.

To serve

  • Plate this however you want. You can either stack all the strips of chicken on a big tray, douse them in Kewpie in a zig-zag or Jackson Pollock-style splatter pattern and then toss all the salmon roe on top in one go, or serve individual portions on smaller plates, mayhaps with a soft boiled egg, to avoid fights. Or serve the chicken, roe and Kewpie separately, and let your dinners 'build their own'. Either way you're in for a very good time.

Notes

This recipe is not suited for the air fryer because the batter is very loose.
Keyword david chang, fried chicken, Japanese food, kewpie mayo, Lady and Pups, maori murota, momofuku, msg, salmon roe, tokyo cult recipes

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Oven-Baked Kimchi Mac and Cheese

As I did in the spring, I am participating in The Little Plantation’s Eat Capture Share Challenge for fall. This is a food photography challenge with different weekly themes. I like the challenges she creates. Someone else feeding me ideas helps me think of new ways to approach photography.

The core ingredients for kimchi mac and cheese, kimchi, macaroni, egg and cheddar slices

Americanos – Blue Jeans and Chinos Coke Pepsi and Oreos

This week, the challenges are all based on well-known TV shows around food. To be honest the last time I watched a Guy Fieri show was probably over a decade ago. I didn’t even sit down to watch Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives until after I took these photos. But once I did I was reminded of why I love the show. And American food in general.

I’ve always had a fondness for the USA. It probably has something to do with being a pop culture floozy and the fact that most of the music, literature, films and TV shows that got me through some really tough years are American. The sense of escapism that the American Dream never really delivers on will probably never entirely leave me. False hope is hope to, you know?

A close up of some kimchi mac and cheese

Team America

I’m always disappointed when Europeans shit on America. If we didn’t speak all these different languages and were broadcasting our absolute worst to the world no one’d like us either. Hell is other people. They don’t need to be American for that.

I am even more disappointed when I meet people who claim American food is terrible. Like a co-worker who spent a good 4 weeks cruising California and claimed she hadn’t been able to find one single fresh vegetable. In California.

If you can’t find good food in America, let alone fucking California, that is entirely on you.

Dorothy Porker Eats on Google Maps

If you are one of these people, please go find yourself some Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives to watch. Bourdain of course also works. Or use my nifty Dorothy Porker Eats Google map to get you to places that are good.

A map of the world

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

What Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives reminded me of. Beyond it being the reason me and Marloes Coenen ended up at Beer Belly experiencing Death By Duck. Is how America absolutely rules when it comes to comfort food. When it’s good it’s greasy, comforting, lovingly prepared and fresh as hell.

What’s the beef?

I get why people frown at Fieri. Which vaguely reminds me of a guy I dated in the mid-90’s who never really grew up. And maybe opening a restaurant in Times Square and having something called donkey sauce on the menu wasn’t the best idea.

But any guy who has spent a large part of his time platforming hundreds of small independent restaurants is at least doing a little bit right.

A picknick table with a slab of kimchi mac and cheese on top

Finally, I get to the point: kimchi mac and cheese!

All of the above is only tangentially related to the recipe below, which is kimchi mac and cheese! I always wanted to make kimchi mac and cheese, so when me and Nombelina set up a play date where she’d take care of the ribs (and burgers, and cheese, and cookies) and I’d take care of mac, it was the perfect opportunity to finally get it done.

I used an old recipe for a 70’s style mac and cheese as a base. And double the cheese (as one does) and use cream instead of milk if that’s what’s in the fridge.

I think the next time I’ll leave out the bacon and have it with some nice nice thick cuts of Korean pork belly Squirrel’s of a Feather-style on the side.

Variations on kimchi mac and cheese

If you want to make this using your own kimchi, you’ll also need this (store-bought is fine too):

You can use the below as a blueprint for any veg and cheese combo that tickles your fancy. The foundations are the pasta, milk and eggs. You could even omit the eggs and make a more sloppy unctuous mac and cheese instead. Make a roux with the milk and equal parts flour and butter if you’re going this route. The type of cheese(s!), veggies, spices and protein turn it into whatever the hell you need it to be.

Because kimchi already has onion and a lot of other flavors going on, I didn’t add any onions or garlic. The classic has 150 grams of grated onion and a couple cloves of garlic, because everything kinda should.

A close up of some kimchi mac and cheese

Oven-Baked Kimchi Mac and Cheese

Dorothy Porker
A solid oven-baked umami rich kimchi mac and cheese recipe that can easily be turned into any other kind of mac and cheese, but honestly: why would you?
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Dinner, Main course, Side dish
Cuisine American, Asian, Fusion, Korean
Servings 4 -6 people

Equipment

  • Frying pan, optional - if adding bacon
  • Oven
  • Large pot with lid for boiling pasta
  • Small food processor, optional
  • Small saucepan, for unctuous mac and cheese
  • Ovenproof dish

Ingredients
  

Bacon optional

  • 1 t - 5 gr gochujang fermented Korean chili paste, get this from an Asian supermarket
  • 1 t - 5 gr honey
  • 1/2 T - 7.5 ml soy sauce
  • 1 c - 150 gr thick unsmoked bacon cut into cubes

For the mac and cheese

  • 2 1/4 c - 225 gr macaroni or other pasta of choice, I'd steer clear of the stringy and flatter variaties
  • 1 c - 250 ml milk other (non)-dairy variaties or cream also work
  • 4 c - 400 gr cheap cheddar slices the kind your mother warned you about, you can use less or a totally different cheese if you prefer
  • 1 c - 150 gr kimchi more to taste, other vegetables also work
  • 1/2 c - 45 gr breadcrumbs to top, optional but it does add a nice extra texture

Solid or unctuous?

  • 2 large eggs use this for a more solid pasta bake, as pictured OR
  • 2 T - 30 gr butter use this for more unctuous mac and cheese
  • 2 T - 30 gr flour use this for a more unctuous mac and cheese

Instructions
 

If you are using bacon, ideally do this the night before

  • Mix together 1 t - 5 gr gochujang, 1 ts - 5 gr honey and 1/2 T - 7.5 ml soy sauce in a bowl. Add 1 c - 150 gr of bacon cut into cubes and leave to marinade ideally overnight or at least for 1 hour.

If you are using another kind of vegetable

  • If you're adding a different kind of vegetable than kimchi, please make sure this is precooked. Either saute it in some olive oil or butter until soft, or boil it until fully cooked. As the possibilities are kind of endless I will not leave instructions here on how to do that, but the internet is your friend.
  • I murder the kimchi because hot bits of liquid logged kimchi are unpleasant to bite into, but a lot of other sauteed or precooked vegetables will be comfortable kept in bite-sized pieces.

Make mac and cheese

  • Preheat your oven to 350° F/ 175° C.
  • Strain the marinade from the bacon cubes and fry them up in a dry frying pan or skillet until the edges start to crisp. Set aside.
  • Cook 2 1/4 c - 225 gr of pasta al dente according to packet instructions.
  • Use a small food processor to grind 1 c - 150 gr kimchi down to a pulp, if using. You can also use a knife for this. You can keep it in larger pieces or grind down half and keep half in bigger pieces, etc, but I prefer to grind it down completely, because kimchi is cabbage so it’d just be hot pieces of boiling water floating around in your mac and cheese, which doesn’t appeal to me.
  • Drain the pasta and throw it into an ovenproof dish.

For a solid pasta bake

  • Beat together 2 eggs with 1 c - 250 ml milk.
  • Mix the kimchi, bacon into the pasta with 4 c - 400 gr of cheese until all the cheese has melted from the heat of the pasta.
  • Mix the beaten eggs and milk into the pasta mixture until well-combined.
  • If you like a crunchy topping add a layer of breadcrumbs before placing it into the oven.
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes until solid and golden on top.

For an unctuous mac and cheese

  • Melt 2 T - 30 gr of butter in a small saucepan. Once the butter has melted, stir in 2 T - 30 gr of flour with a wooden spoon and stir like a motherfucker, until the mixture has started sticking together and coming off the bottom of the pan. This is what's known as a roux.
  • Now pour in 1 c - 250 ml of milk and keep stirring until this sauce starts to thicken slightly. It needs to coat the back of the spoon for you to be ready for the next step. This will take 5-10 minutes.
  • In an ovenproof dish mix together the pasta, kimchi, bacon and cheese sauce until well-combined.
  • If you like a crunchy topping add a layer of breadcrumbs before placing it into the oven.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top has turned golden and the sauce is bubbling up the sides.

Notes

Kimchi mac and cheese will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 days. You can reheat it in a skillet or frying pan with some oil.
I find unctuous mac and cheese isn't as nice to reheat as you lose a lot of the sauce on the first serving so any leftovers tend to be on the dry side.
Keyword American, Asian food, asian recipes, cheese, kimchi, Korean American, mac and cheese, macaroni, oven bake

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Lucky Peach’s Shroom Mapo Tofu

Lucky Peach presents Power Vegetables comes in particularly handy during Veganuary, though a lot of the recipes are actually vegetarian.

A bookshelf filled with cookbooks and a copy of Power Vegetables shown in front.

Sichuan pepper love

One of my other favorite ingredients is Sichuan pepper. It’s just a floral spicy bundle of joy. This vegan rendition used shiitake mushrooms, which bring a lot of additional ooooooh-mami to the table. Sheer perfection if you’re into funky food.

Vegan check

Be sure to check the ingredients of the doubanjiang, black bean and chili crisp sauce. Sometimes these contain animal products.

What do I eat with vegan mushroom mapo tofu?

I like to have mine with plain white rice and some stir fried baby bok choy, broccoli or just same plain old cucumber.

Do more with vegan mushroom mapo tofu

You can keep leftovers in the fridge for a couple of days, in the freezer for a couple of months and wrap them in wonton skins to make some bangin’ ass gyozo.

I used the spice mix to come up with my own hot-tingle mapo hot sauce, get the recipe here.

A small white enamel bowl with a blue rim, filled with vegan mushroom mapo tofu on a grey laminate background surrounded by sichuan peppercorns, spring onions, shiitake mushrooms and the book Lucky Peach presents Power Vegetables

Lucky Peach Vegan Mushroom Mapo Tofu

Dorothy Porker
This vegan mapo tofu made with shiitake mushrooms is a must-have for anyone that likes Sichuan food or umami, vegan or not.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Soaking time 30 mins
Course Dinner, Main course
Cuisine Chinese, Sichuan
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Bowl
  • Small plate
  • Food processor
  • Large pot
  • Strainer
  • Frying pan or wok
  • Kitchen towel

Ingredients
  

  • 4.5 oz - 125 g dried shiitake mushrooms see instructions
  • 9 oz - 250 g fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 12 oz - 350 g silken tofu cut into cubes - firm tofu works but is less nice for mapo tofu
  • salt
  • 2 t - 10 g corn starch
  • 1/4 c - 60 ml lukewarm water
  • 2 T - 30 ml sunflower oil
  • 1 leek sliced into thin strips
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 T - 30 g grated ginger
  • 4 T - 60 g doubanjiang chili bean sauce
  • 2 T - 30 g black bean sauce
  • 1 T - 15 g chili crisp
  • 2 T - 30 g Sichuan peppercorns black seeds and woody stems removed
  • 1 T - 15 g gochugaru Korean chili flakes

Instructions
 

Soak the dried mushrooms

  • Remove the stems from 4.5 oz - 125 g dried mushrooms and leave them to soak in water for at least 30 minutes. To submerge them it helps to place a small plate on top.
  • Drain and set the liquid aside.
  • Now use a food processor to chop the dried shiitakes together with 9 oz - 250 g of fresh shiitakes to a rough pulp.

Poach the silken tofu

  • If you are using firm tofu you can skip this step and press the tofu for 30 minutes with a heavy object instead. But silken tofu really gives the best result for mapo tofu imho.
  • Cut the silken tofu into 1 inch - 1.5 cm cubes.
  • Bring water to a boil in a large pot and poach 12 oz - 350 g of silken tofu for 3 minutes or so. Strain, salt lightly and set aside.

Make vegan mushroom mapo tofu

  • Mix together 2 t - 10 g of corn starch with 1/4 c - 60 ml of water to create a slushy paste.
  • Now get all your other ingredients together alongside the mushroom pulp, poached silken tofu and corn paste so you have your mis-en-place ready and are good to go.
  • Heat 2 T - 30 ml of sunflower oil in a large frying pan or a wok. Add the shiitake mushroom pulp and spread it out in an even layer, folding it every few minutes or so until any remaining liquids have evaporated and the shiitake are starting to brown. This should take 5 minutes or so.
  • Now add 1 leek sliced into thick strips, 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic and 1 T - 15 g of grated ginger and mix this in with the mushrooms for another 2 minutes or so until fragrant. Remove the mushroom and leek mixture from the pan and give the pan a quick wipe with a kitchen towel before returning it to the heat.
  • Add 2 T - 30 g of Sichuan peppercorns, 4 T - 60 g of doubjiang, 2 T - 30 g of black bean and 1 T - 15 g of chili crisp sauce to the pan with 1 T - 15 gr of gochugaru and stir until the oils start to separate from the sauce, before adding the mushroom mixture back in. This should take 2 minutes or so. Now gently stir in the soft tofu and finally add the corn starch slush to create that mapo tofu glaze.
  • Now gently fold in the poached silken tofu cubes and finally add the corn starch slush, allowing the liquids to thicken ever so slightly before serving.

Notes

Mushroom mapo tofu freezes okay though the tofu becomes a bit of an acquired texture. It's the perfect filling for gyozo too.
Mushroom mapo tofu will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months and can be reheated by allowing it to thaw and then briefly frying it back up in a greased frying pan.
Keyword chinese recipe, easy vegan, lucky peach, mapo tofu, mushrooms, sichaun food, sichuan, sichuan recipe

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PB and Hot Sauce Noodles with Tofu

Because I am perpetually broke but also overspending, I eat a lot of instant noodles. On this path I’ve discovered I prefer dry instant noodles over instant noodle soup, especially during summer.

So now… all of the instant noodles I have left in my cupboard are soup based. And I don’t want to buy more dry noodles because that seems wasteful.

The ingredients for mapo noodles with silken tofu

Indorockspiration

I wanted to eat something quick and easy and cheap the other week when this dish hit me. The inspiration comes from both my tahini noodle bowl with harissa tofu puffs as well as a banging recipe for tempeh-brittle from Vanja van der Leeden’s upcoming Indorock, which I tested for her (unfortunately only available in Dutch and German).

Together their powers combined, with my hot-tingle mapo hot sauce, this is really something excellent and easy to make any day.

Variations on pb and hot sauce noodles with silken tofu

You can make this sauce with pretty much any hot sauce you like, though I’d stick to Asian variaties like srirachas and sambals.

If you’d prefer a firmer tofu with these noodles try my recipe for crispy oven-baked tofu puffs. Obviously you can also add more veg, some quickly wilted baby bok choy should do you nicely.

The ingredients for mapo hot sauce flavored noodles with silken tofu

PB and hot sauce noodles with silken tofu

Dorothy Porker
This vegan tangy spicy noodle bowl is delicious, filling and an easy treat for any weekday lunch or dinner.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main course, Salad
Cuisine Asian, Vegan
Servings 1

Equipment

  • Pot for cooking noodles
  • Pot for poaching tofu
  • Bowl

Ingredients
  

  • 1 bundle noodles per person, I like udon but use whatever noodles you have
  • 6 oz - 175 gr silken tofu about half a pack
  • 2 T - 30 gr hot sauce of choice
  • 1 T - 15 gr peanut butter whatever kind you have
  • 1 t - 5 ml kecap manis sweet Indonesian soy sauce, Japanse or Chinese soy sauce will work in a pinch
  • 1 t - 5 gr honey or palm sugar to make it vegan
  • 2 spring onions finely chopped
  • 1 T - 15 gr peanuts coarsely chopped
  • 2 t - 10 gr crispy chili oil to finish, optional - I like Lao Gan Ma

Instructions
 

  • Cook the noodles per the packet instructions.
  • Cut 6 oz - 175 gr of silken tofu into cubes and poach them for 3 minutes in boiling water. You can skip this step, but poaching firms the tofu up a bit and helps it retain its shape.
  • Mix together 2 T - 30 gr of hot sauce, 1 T - 15 gr of peanut butter, 1 t - 5 ml of kecap manis, 1 t - 5 gr of honey and 1 finely chopped spring onion together in a bowl.
  • Drain the noodles and place them in the bowl with the sauce, mixing them together until the noodles are evenly coated in the sauce.
  • Top the noodle-sauce mixture with the poached silken tofu, another chopped spring onion, 1 t of coarsely chopped peanuts and a dash of crispy chili oil if you have it. You can either do this in the bowl you mixed the sauce in, to save on washing up, or get fancy and put it on a plate (or in a mason jar, but I will cut you).
Keyword easy vegan, noodle bowl, noodles, peanutbutter

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Peppercorn and Lime Rice

I am a self professed book hoarder. Given my situation and the state of the world I’ve been able to cut back on a lot of stuff, like using half the electricity, gas and water, and only having to take out the trash once every 2 weeks, largely due to the smell, but not because my trash can is full.

The one thing I cannot seem to cut back on is books. This is all books, but books in relation to the Dutch East Indies and cookbooks in particular.

A bookshelf filled with cookbooks and a copy of On The Side shown in front.

On The Side

Dutch as I am, then I also love a sale, so when I saw Ed Smith’s On The Side at the American Book Center in The Hague a while ago, I had to have it.

It has since become the most heavily bookmarked cookbook I ever owned. I don’t know why more people aren’t writing cookbooks about side dishes, but On The Side is a genius list of simple, mostly vegetable based side dishes. Including explanations on what to have them with, or how to combine them to make a full meal.

I’m in love with this book and I basically cannot stop cooking from it. There’s never an occasion where you don’t need a side now, is there?

The ingredients for peppercorn and lime rice

Variations on three peppercorn wild rice

The first recipe I cooked, and cooked again and again and again, from On The Side, is this 3 peppercorn wild rice dish. Sometimes I’ll make it with plain or brown rice. Sometimes I’ll use the leftovers in a salad with some beans, chicken and cilantro, sometimes I’ll have it for lunch with some fried eggs and my hot-tingle mapo hot sauce, sometimes I’ll switch the eggs out for crispy oven-baked tofu puffs. Basically, it works with everything. As long as you like it hot.

I did switch out the lemon for lime and one of the peppercorns for Indonesian andaliman pepper, since that’s what I had laying around, but you can basically pick and mix from your own cupboard.

A bowl of pepercorn and lime rice surrounded by peppercorns and limes

Peppercorn and lime rice

Dorothy Porker
This three peppercorn and lime rice from Ed Smith's On The Side is delicious and punchy and will make any meal more festive and fancy.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Side dish, Sides
Cuisine Asian
Servings 2

Equipment

  • Rice cooker OR
  • Heavy bottomed small (sauce)pan with a lid
  • Fine sieve, optional
  • Pestle and mortar or spice/ coffee grinder

Ingredients
  

  • 1 c - 225 gr wild rice plain (non-stick) rice will also work
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 t - 5 gr black peppercorns
  • 1 t - 5 gr Sichuan peppercorns black seeds removed
  • 1 t - 5 gr Andaliman peppercorns if you can't find these pink or green peppercorns are nice as well
  • salt to taste

Instructions
 

Methods for cooking the rice

  • Rinse and wash your rice thoroughly until any added water runs clear.
  • Cook 1 c - 225 gr of rice in a rice cooker, according to your manufacturer's instructions.
  • Alternatively cook 1 c - 225 gr of rice in a heavy bottomed (sauce)pan with ample water by bringing it to the boil, lid on, and then leaving it to simmer for 3 minutes less than the packet instructions prescribe. Strain the rice and place it back in the saucepan, lid on, and leave to sit for another 3 minutes for perfectly fluffy rice. This is Ed Smith's method.
  • Place 1 c - 225 gr of rice in a heavy bottomed (sauce)pan. Add water until the rice sits 1 index phalanx deep in water. Bring to a boil on a medium heat with the lid on. Leave to cook for 5 minutes. Move to the lowest heat you have and steam for another 15 minutes for perfectly fluffy rice. This is the Asian method that I learned from my grandmother.

To finish the rice

  • While your rice is cooking, grind together 1 t - 5 gr of each of the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar and squeeze out the juice of 1 lime.
  • Once the rice is cooked, fluff it up with a fork and stir in the peppercorn mixture, lime juice and salt to taste.
Keyword cookbook recipe, ed smith, on the side, rice, side dish, side dishes

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Mapo Tofu Inspired Hot Sauce

I’ve always wanted to make my own hot sauce. But I have such a long list of things I’ve always wanted to make from scratch I never got round to it before. Then a friend asked me some tips on making baked vegan wings and the hot sauce bug was back on the menu.

The issue I have with store-bought hot sauce is that the good stuff is often expensive, especially when you have to import it. And because taste is so personal you’re never quite sure what you’re getting.

Mapo tofu inspired hot sauce with tofu, rice and cucumber

Hot Sauce Research

So I got back on track with my hot sauce plans. Chili Pepper Madness has a great article on the foundations of what kind of hot sauces there are and how to make them. So that’s where I started.

Then I started thinking about flavors. I don’t like my hot sauce overtly hot, I want flavor, not burn. That sort of nonsense is for white people.

I do like my hot sauce kind of gritty texture wise. And I wanted it to be umami rich, with smoky undertones. I settled on this idea I had years ago, which is to make a mapo tofu flavored hot sauce. I used the spices from Lucky Peach’s Power Vegetable mushroom mapo tofu recipe, with the foundation for a basic Louisana style hot sauce from Chili Pepper Madness.

A temple of tofu puffs covered in mapo tofu inspired hot sauce

Mapo Hot Sauce Uses and a Name!

The result is pretty awesome. If I do say so myself. I’ve plonked it on eggs, crispy oven-baked tofu puffs and chicken and used it to make a really sumptuous vegan spicy noodle bowl with silken tofu.

I have not tested the acidity levels yet, so I’m not sure how long this keeps. Given that it’s drowning in oil, vinegar and fermented goods, I’d imagine basically until you see mold on it. Which hasn’t been the case for me yet, staring at it for the past couple of weeks or so.

I have named her: Hot Tingle Hot Sauce. After some hot tingle noodles I saw at the Asian supermarket here.

The next step of course would be to make my own doubanjiang and spicy chili crisp before making this. But hey, baby steps.

The ingredients for mapo tofu inspired hot sauce

Mapo tofu inspired hot sauce

Dorothy Porker
A course umami rich hot sauce with smoky undertones combining the basics for a Louisiana vinegar based hot sauce with the depth of flavor from mapo tofu.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Dip, Sauce
Cuisine American, Asian, Chinese, Louisiana, Sichuan

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • Small saucepan
  • Glass bottle or jar, sterilized
  • Sieve, optional

Ingredients
  

  • 6-8 cloves garlic peeled
  • 2 T - 30 gr ginger peeled and cut into pieces, weigh after peeling
  • 8 T - 120 gr doubanjiang this is a fermented broad and soy bean paste, find it at your local Asian supermarket
  • 8 T - 120 gr spicy chili crisp no nuts, Lao Gan Ma is my brand of choice
  • 8 t - 40 gr Sichuan peppercorns stems and black seeds removed
  • 4 t - 20 gr gochugaru ground Korean chili flakes, best not substituted
  • 1 1/2 c - 375 ml rice wine vinegar

Instructions
 

  • Place all the ingredients, except the vinegar, in a food processor and blend until you get to as fine a paste as possible.
  • Dump the paste into a small saucepan with 1 1/2 c - 375 ml of rice wine vinegar and bring to the boil.
  • Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Leave to cool.
  • Place the mixture back into your food processor or a blender and blend again until you get a semi-fine sauce.
  • I like my sauce coarse and pulpy, but if you want a thin even sauce you can run the sauce through a fine sieve to get any grit out.
  • Bottle the sauce in sterilized glass bottles or jars. I sterilize my jars by running them through the hottest cycle in my dishwasher, this should be enough for home sterilizing in most cases.
  • Shake before use.

Notes

This sauce should keep for up to 1 month in a closed container in the fridge. 
Keyword home made, hot sauce, mapo, mapo tofu, sichuan

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Make Your Own Tofu Puffs

Two rows of oven baked crispy tofu puffs

Everyone loves tofu puffs. Okay, maybe not everyone. But they’re a great way to add crisp to any meal. You could also just plonk some sauce on them, with a side of noodles or rice and some greens, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good meal.

The ingredients for oven baked tofu puffs: sunflower oil, tofu and corn flour

I like to have mine with harissa and tahin noodles, or with mapo hot sauce and spicy noodles, or with some classic Indonesian gado gado, or even peppercorn and lime or just plain old rice.

They’re pretty cheap store-bought but also super easy to make yourself. Find the recipe for tofu puffs from the oven below. Including a basic recipe for Korean tofu with spicy sauce (dububuchim-yangnyeomjang) that I found on Maangchi’s blog years ago.

Oven-baked tofu puffs recipe

Dorothy Porker
Bake your own tofu puffs in the oven at home. It's quick and easy and they go with pretty much everything.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Tofu pressing time 30 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch, Side dish, Sides
Cuisine Asian, Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Thai
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Sheet pan or similar flat surface
  • Kitchen towels
  • Heavy object, for example a Dutch oven
  • Oven
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment

Ingredients
  

For the oven-baked tofu puffs

  • 3 c - 375 gr firm tofu this will only work with regular firm tofu
  • 2 T - 30 gr corn flour rice or potato flour also work
  • 2 T - 30 ml neutral oil I use sunflower

For the dububuchim-yangnyeomjang

  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1 t - 5 gr honey use palm sugar if you want to make this vegan
  • 1 T - 15 ml soy sauce
  • 1 t - 5 ml sesame oil
  • 1 t - 5 gr gochugaru dried Korean chili flakes
  • 1 spring onion sliced into thin rings
  • 1 t - 5 gr sesame seeds optional, but they do really round off the dish

Instructions
 

Press your tofu

  • You can skip pressing the tofu but it gives much better results than unpressed tofu as this tends to be waterlogged.
  • Press 3 c - 375 gr of tofu for at least 30 mins. You can do this by placing the tofu on some kitchen towels on a sheet tray, placing more kitchen towel on top and then balancing a heavy object on top of that. If you don't have a Dutch oven a large pot with a bunch of books in them will do the trick.

To make oven-baked tofu

  • Once the tofu has been pressed, preheat an oven to 365° F/ 185° C and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  • Cut the tofu into your desired shape. Cubes of 1"x1" - 2x2 cm's or flat squares of 1.5" wide and 0.5" - 1 cm thick work best. Cut them too small and you'll be left will fully crisped up tofu.
  • Mix together 2 T - 30 gr of corn flour and 2 T - 30 ml of sunflower oil to make a slushy paste.
  • Coat the tofu cubes or slabs in the corn flour/ oil slushy.
  • Place the tofu cubes, blocks or slabs on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or so, until the tofu has become puffy and golden. Turn them at the halfway mark.

To make dububuchim-yangnyeomjang

  • Note, you’ll want to cut your tofu in slabs for this one. Traditionally the tofu is pan fried in oil, but I find baking them in the oven works just as well and is a little less messy if you're a slightly panicked fryer like I am.
  • While your tofu is baking, mix together 1 clove of finely chopped garlic, 1 t - 5 gr of honey, 1 t - 15 ml of soy, 1 t - 5 ml sesame oil and 1 t - 5 ml gochugaru.
  • As soon as your tofu is done, plate it and toss over the sauce mixture. Doing this while the tofu is hot will take a bit of the edge of the garlic, in case you were worried about that.
  • Top with 1 finely chopped spring onion and 1 t - 5 gr of sesame seeds and serve with plain rice.

Notes

I dislike reheated tofu puffs, which is why I don't buy them ready-made but make my own.
Once cooled, however, these will keep in the fridge for 3 days or so. You can reheat them in the microwave on high for 30 seconds or so, or by just throwing them into your noodle soup or whatever hot dish you're having so they warm up that way. Still, personally? Not a fan. 
Keyword asian basics, Asian food, asian recipes, easy vegan, easy vegetarian, minced tofu, oven baked, vegan, vegetarian

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Vegan Harissa Tofu and Tahin Noodles

This crispy harissa tofu with sesame noodles recipe is perfection and a lot easier to make than it sounds.

Doomsday prep

I make the harissa and oven-baked tofu puffs ahead of time and then mix and reheat to crisp up. That way I only have to throw it together when I get home from a hard day’s work.

This technique for making oven-baked tofu puffs is my go-to for any baked tofu situation. I have written it out in the recipe below for clarity.

I use the leftover harissa on pretty much everything that’ll fit into my mouth. It’s perfect on toast, with scrambled eggs, on a burger, etc. etc. etc.

A word on the ‘harissa’

Apologies if this is not a proper harissa recipe btw. I forget where I got this concoction and it’s very good, but it may not actually *be* harissa harissa.

A bowl of harissa tofu puffs and tahin noodles with some lettuce peaking out of the edges, with two bamboo handles sticking out of the plate. There is an out of focus slice of lemon in the foreground and there are a blue checkered towel and a small bowl of harissa in the background

Vegan Harissa Tofu and Tahin Noodles

Dorothy Porker
Spicy crisp tofu puffs served with earthy noodles make this a perfect vegan lunch or summery dinner.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Tofu pressing time 30 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main course
Cuisine Vegan
Servings 2

Equipment

  • Skillet
  • Small food processor or pestle and mortar
  • Sheet pan or similar flat surface
  • Kitchen towels
  • Heavy object, like a Dutch oven
  • Oven
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment
  • Small bowl

Ingredients
  

For the harissa - you can also buy ready made harissa

  • 1/4 t - 2 gr coriander seeds ground works but isn't as nice
  • 1/4 t - 2 gr fennel seeds same
  • 2 T - 30 ml red wine vinegar
  • 2 T - 30 gr tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic smoked if you have them
  • 1 T - 15 ml lemon juice fresh preferred
  • 4 T - 60 ml olive oil
  • 1 1/2 T - 20 gr sweet paprika powder smoked if you have it
  • 1/4 t - 2 gr chili flakes chipotle if you have it
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch salt
  • pinch black pepper

For the tofu puffs - you can also buy ready made tofu puffs

  • 7 oz - 200 gr firm tofu this will not work with other types of tofu
  • 2 T - 30 gr corn starch rice or potato flour also work
  • 2 T - 30 ml neutral oil I use sunflower

For the noodles

  • 7 oz - 200 gr udon noodles or other noodles of choice
  • 3 small shallots finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 T - 15 ml sunflower oil
  • 1 T - 15 ml water
  • 2 T - 30 gr sesame oil
  • 2 T - 30 gr tahin
  • 3 T - 45 ml soy sauce or tamari

To serve

  • 2 handfuls mesclun or other salad mix of choice

Instructions
 

Make the harissa

  • Toast 1/4 t - 2 gr of coriander and fennel seeds each in a dry skillet until aromatic, 2 minutes or so. Skip this step if you're using ground spices.
  • Add the toasted coriander and fennel seeds, 2 T - 30 ml of red wine vinegar, 2 T - 30 gr of tomato paste, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 T - 15 ml of lemon juice, 4 T - 60 ml of olive oil, 1 1/2 T - 20 gr of sweet paprika, 1/4 t - 2 gr of chili powder and pinches of nutmeg, black pepper and salt to a small food processor and blend on high until smooth. Taste and add more salt or spice as you see fit. If you don't have a food processor you can do this with a pestle and mortar and a lot of elbow grease.

To make the tofu puffs

  • You can skip pressing the tofu if you're in a rush, but it gives much better results than unpressed tofu as this tends to be waterlogged.
  • Press 7 oz - 200 gr of tofu for at least 30 mins. You can do this by placing the tofu on some kitchen towels on a sheet tray, placing more kitchen towel on top and then balancing a heavy object on top of that. If you don't have a Dutch oven a large pot with a bunch of books in them will do the trick.
  • Once the tofu has been pressed, preheat an oven to 365° F/ 185° C and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  • Cut the tofu into cubes of 1"x1" - 2x2 cm.
  • Mix together 2 T - 30 gr of corn flour and 2 T - 30 ml of sunflower oil to make a slushy paste.
  • Coat the tofu cubes or slabs in the corn flour/ oil slushy.
  • Place the tofu cubes, blocks or slabs on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until the tofu has become puffy and golden. Turn them at the halfway mark. Be sure to leave the oven on after 15 minutes because we're not done yet.
  • You can start making the noodles while the tofu is baking.
  • Mix the tofu with 2 T - 15 gr of the harissa and then place them back onto your baking sheet. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  • Remove the tofu puffs from the oven and mix with another 2 Tof harissa.

Make the noodles

  • Make 7 oz - 200 gr of udon noodles according to the directions on the packet.
  • While the noodles are cooking, saute 3 minced shallot and 2 cloves of garlic in 1 T of sunflower oil in the skillet you used to dry-roast the spices earlier. Once the garlic and shallots have gone soft and translucent add them to a small bowl along with 2 T - 15 ml of sesame oil, 2 T - 30 gr of tahin, 1 T - 15 ml of water and 3 T - 45 ml of soy sauce. Whisk to combine.
  • Once cooked, toss the drained noodles with the sauce until evenly coated.

To serve

  • Place the noodles, tofu and mesclun on a plate. Add more harissa if you want.

Notes

Provided you keep the elements (the tofu puffs, noodles and mesclun) separate, this recipe will keep for about 1 day in the fridge or on the road.
Reheat the tofu puffs briefly in a hot oven and let the noodles come to room temperature before digging in unless you love cold stodgy noodles.
Keyword easy vegan, noodle bowl, noodles, tahin, tofu, vegan

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