a balanced plate with room for dessert

Leave a comment

Pork and Ginger-Apple Pot Stickers

I’ve been on the lookout for more interesting pot sticker variations. Yes, pork and chive pot stickers are delicious. As are shrimp pot stickers. Even the vegetarian pot stickers I made a while back are pretty darn tasty. But, these pork and ginger-apple pot stickers take the dumpling game to a whole new level.

You remember that ginger-apple chutney that I was raving about on Monday? Well, take that and mix it with some pork and chives and… mind blown. I doubled the original recipe because pot stickers freeze wonderfully and are great when you’re in a crunch for dinner. (If you’re not a great planner (coughmecough) and only buy 1 package of wrappers and run out … the filling is pretty darn tasty cooked up and served over some brown rice with a splash of the dipping sauce.)

Pork Ginger-Apple Pot Stickers |

Pork and Ginger-Apple Pot Stickers
makes about 75 pot stickers

2 pounds ground pork
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 cup green onions, thinly sliced
2 cups ginger-apple chutney
1/4 teaspoon each: kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, white pepper (or, to taste)
1 1/2 packages dumpling wrappers (about 75)
canola oil, for frying

for the dipping sauce:
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon sambal oelek

  1. To make the filling: combine pork and soy sauce in a large bowl. Fold in green onions, chutney, salt, black pepper, and white pepper. Mix until well combined.
  2. Set up your station: bowl of filling, stack of pot sticker wrappers, a small bowl filled with water, and a large baking sheet.
  3. To fold: place a wrapper in your non-dominant hand. Scoop a scant tablespoon of filling into the center of the wrapper, being careful not to get any on the edge. Wet a finger on your dominant hand and lightly trace the outside of the wrapper. Fold wrapper in half to form a half circle and pinch at the top. Starting at the center, make 3 pleats down toward the bottom-right corner. Repeat on the left side. Continue with the remaining filling and wrappers. (There are pictures on how to fold in my vegetarian pot stickers post.)
  4. To cook: heat a large, lidded saute pan over high heat. Add in 1 teaspoon oil and swirl pan to coat. Add pot stickers, pleat-side up, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook until bottoms are browned, about 5 minutes. Add in 1/2 cup water and immediately cover the pan to contain the splatter. After 30 seconds, when splattering has subsided, slightly crack the lid open to allow steam to escape. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until heated through and water has evaporated. Let cook for an additional 1 – 2 minutes to allow bottom to re-crisp. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.
  5. To make dipping sauce: combine soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and sambal in a bowl and whisk to combine.

recipe slightly adapted from Ming Tsai


Leave a comment

Three Cup Tofu

Once in a while I dream of “san bei ji”, or three cup chicken. It’s a Taiwanese dish I associate strongly with my mom. She gave me her recipe for three cup chicken and I’ve tried to recreate it. Even though I follow her directions exactly, it never tastes right. It’s mystifying – there are so few ingredients. Literally no room for error. I’m not sure what her secret is, but I’ve given up.

Luckily, I can create a little magic of my own. Specifically in the form of three cup tofu. It follows her basic three cup chicken recipe, but with a few adjustments. And folks, this is good. Even if you’re not a tofu fan, you have got to give this a try. I fell in love with the texture of the tofu in this dish – it’s silky, but not mushy. The sauce is rich, but not heavy.

This may be my ultimate comfort food.

three cup tofu |

Three Cup Tofu

14 ounce container firm tofu, drained
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1.5-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
5 cloves of garlic, smashed
3 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon corn starch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, ripped into large pieces

cooked brown rice, for serving

  1. Press tofu with paper towel to soak up excess moisture. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Fry tofu on both sides until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Place tofu on paper towels to drain.
  2. Reduce heat to low and add in sesame oil. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in cooking wine, soy sauce, brown sugar, and water. Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer sauce for 5 minutes. Stir in corn starch mixture and cook until sauce thickens, about 1 minute.
  4. Gently stir in tofu and Thai basil and cook for 1 more minute.
  5. Serve immediately over brown rice.


adapted from my mother’s three cup chicken recipe 

1 Comment

Cold Peanut Noodles with Tofu and Bell Peppers

This summery pasta dish is perfect for those nights where it’s just too dang hot to spend hours sweating in the kitchen. Or for those nights where you need something on the table in less than 30 minutes. Or for those nights where you are just really craving tofu.

What? You don’t crave tofu? I do. I also really hate cooking when it’s hot and humid out. So this dish was perfect.

Cold Peanut Noodles with Tofu and Bell Peppers |

Cold Peanut Noodles with Tofu and Bell Peppers
adapted from Food and Wine

3/4 pound cold tofu, cut into 1/2 – 3/4″ cubes
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 pound Chinese shan dong noodles or other wide, flat noodle
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon Chinese chile-black bean sauce
1″ piece of ginger, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
3/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 large bell peppers, thinly sliced
3 large green onions, thinly sliced
cilantro, optional

  1. Toss tofu with 1/3 cup soy sauce in a medium bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add noodles and cook according to package directions until they are al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Place into a large bowl.
  3. Combine the remaining soy sauce with peanut butter, broth, vinegar, chile sauce, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. Puree until smooth. Pour over the noodles and toss to combine.
  4. To serve, place noodles into a bowl and top with tofu, bell peppers, and green onions. Serve immediately.

Leave a comment

Sweet & Sour Meatballs with Peppers

There are some days where I just don’t have the time (or energy) to cook an elaborate meal. I’ve come to love quick, easy dinners that I can throw together in a half hour.

There are some sweet & sour meatball recipes that use only 3 ingredients: frozen meatballs, grape jelly, and chili sauce. I couldn’t even bring myself to consider making it. Instead, I opted to make meatballs from scratch (easy!) and sauce from scratch (easier!). Sure, it took a little longer to whip together than the 3 ingredient meatballs, but it’s well worth it to me! The meatballs are super tender and I love the sauce. I also love the fact that I can pour a healthy dose of Sriracha on top.

The only part that beats the fact that it is so simple to make is that this made a LOT of food. That means that Mike and I were able to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a couple days 😉 If you’re cooking for a small group, you may want to cut the recipe in half.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs |

Sweet & Sour Meatballs with Peppers
adapted from All Recipes

for the meatballs:
2 pounds 90% lean ground beef
2 eggs
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped or grated onion
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

for the sauce:
2 – 20 ounce cans pineapple chunks, drained and juice reserved
1 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 large onion, chopped
2 red or yellow bell peppers, sliced

white or brown rice, for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. To make the meatballs: combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix by hand until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Shape into 1 – 1 1/2 inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Pour reserved pineapple juice into a large pot over medium heat. Whisk in water, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, corn starch, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
  4. Stir in pineapple chunks, onion, bell peppers, and meatballs into the sauce. Gently stir to combine and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.
  5. Serve immediately with rice.


Grilled Kimcheese Sandwich

Is there such thing as too much kimchi? I don’t think so. Or at least I haven’t reached that point yet. Today I have yet another kimchi dish. This time, in sandwich form. Yeah, you read the title right. It’s a grilled cheese sandwich with kimchi. Grilled kimcheese. See what I did there?

So, this dish doesn’t really need a recipe because nothing is easier to cook than grilled cheese, but… why not? I just  had to. Imagine it: ooey, gooey cheese with crunchy, tangy, spicy kimchi.

grilled kimcheese sandwich |

Grilled Kimcheese Sandwich
makes 2 sandwiches

1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 slices sourdough bread
1/2 cup kimchi, chopped
4 ounces havarti cheese, sliced

  1. Heat a large pan over medium heat. 
  2. Butter bread slices with butter on one side and place 2 of  them in the pan butter side down.
  3. Distribute the 1/4 of the cheese onto each bread slice in the pan. Top with 1/4 cup kimchi, remaining cheese, and the remaining 2 slices of sourdough bread, butter side up.
  4. Cook for 1 minute or until golden brown and cheese has started to melt. With a spatula, flip sandwiches and cook until other side is golden brown and cheese is completely melted. Serve immediately.

Leave a comment

Korean Steak & Mushroom Tacos with Kimchi

korean steak & mushroom tacos with kimchi |

Have you ever eaten something so good that you wanted nothing more than to eat it alone?

Not because you didn’t want people to distract you from the deliciousness, but because you were ashamed at the rate in which you were shoveling the food into your mouth.

No? Well, that happens to me once in a while. Most recently with these tacos. These tacos were a-ma-zing. One of my favorite ways to get kimchi into my mouth, I think. These tacos were so good that I couldn’t decide if one was enough. If I only had one that meant I would have more leftovers for future meals. But… one just wasn’t enough. And if I ate only one that meant I might have to share the leftovers with Mike. Hmm…

I mean, seriously. These tacos are the perfect balance of sweet, savory and crunchy. And they were super easy to cook.

korean steak & mushroom tacos with kimchi |

Korean Steak & Mushroom Tacos with Kimchi
adapted from Eating Well

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons gochujang
5 cloves garlic, minced
1.25 pounds skirt steak, trimmed
1 teaspoon canola oil
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
8 flour tortillas
1 cup kimchi, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, shredded
4 scallions, thinly sliced

  1. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. 
  2. Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, mirin, gochujang, and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Cover and keep warm.
  3. Add oil to heated pan and cook steak until browned and desired level of doneness is reached (I cooked about 3 minutes on each side). Remove from pan and set on cutting board to rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, add mushrooms to skillet and cook until heated through and slightly soft, about 1 – 2 minutes on each side. Remove mushrooms from skillet and slice. Slice steak across the grain. Add steak and mushrooms to sauce and stir to combine.
  5. To assemble tacos, divide and steak and mushrooms among the tortillas. Top with chopped kimchi, shredded carrots, and scallions.

Ok, now get off your computer/iPad/phone and go to the grocery store and pick up the ingredients you need to make this. Then, kick everyone out of your house and eat in silence and with reckless abandon.

I swear I’m not an animal…


Kimchi Fried Rice

Fried rice is good. Kimchi is good. Together, they are phenomenal. The addition of a sunny-side up egg makes it even better.

kimchi fried rice |

Breaking an egg yolk and watching it run all over the place and slowly soak into the rice is the most beautiful thing.

kimchi fried rice |

I can’t stress the importance of using day-old rice enough. Day old as in you cook it the night before, stick it in the fridge, and then use it the next day. Day-old rice has a harder texture and will give you a much better fried rice. If you don’t have time to make the rice the day before, cook it and then spread it out in a thin layer and stick it in the fridge to cool it quickly.

I used to make all my fried rice in a wok, but this time I used a huge nonstick skillet and I think it worked out a lot better. This is probably mostly due to the fact that I made less of a mess in the skillet. There’s just something about a wok that causes me to violently stir the food in it. Obviously, this creates a mess. Either way, this fried rice is a winner and it couldn’t be easier.

kimchi fried rice |

Kimchi Fried Rice

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup kimchi, roughly chopped
4 cups day-old white rice
1 tablespoon gochujang (chili paste)
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 green onions, green parts sliced, divided
4 eggs, cooked sunny side up

  1. Heat canola oil in a large nonstick oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Stir in kimchi and stir until well combined.
  2. Add in rice and stir to break up large pieces. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is well incorporated with the kimchi.
  3. Stir in gochujang, soy sauce, pepper, and half the green onions until well combined.
  4. Portion into 4 serving dishes and sprinkle with remaining green onions. Top with egg and serve immediately.


How to Make Kimchi

homemade kimchi |

Kimchi. Kimchee. Fermented cabbage. However you spell it out, there’s no denying that this stuff is good. Growing up,I could always find a huge jar of this spicy-salty-sour food. It was food at any time of day, with any kind of food. Oatmeal for breakfast? Boom, kimchi on top. Rice for dinner? Boom, kimchi as a side. Snack? Kimchi straight outta the jar (sorry, Mom).

homemade kimchi |

Now that I’m all grown up without a mom to fill my fridge, I have been loving a sad, kimchi-less life. I finally went to the store to buy a some a few weeks ago and grabbed a jar of it off the shelf. $8.75. Excuse me?! I put it back, pulled up a recipe on my phone and bought the ingredients to make my own instead.

It turns out that making kimchi is actually kind of easy. The only annoying part is the wait time between all the soaking steps. But the results are worth it!

how to make kimchi |

So join me on my journey as I not only make a batch of homemade kimchi, but as I discover new ways to cook with it as well.

homemade kimchi |

Homemade Kimchi
adapted from David Lebovitz and the Kitchen Wench

1 large head Napa cabbage
4 cups water
1/2 cup kosher salt, divided
2 pounds daikon radish, cut into matchstick
2 tablespoons dried salted shrimp, chopped
2/3 cup Korean chili powder
1/2 cup fish sauce
2″ piece of ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon sugar

  1. Remove and discard outer leaves of cabbage. Cut lengthwise into quarters and cut into the stem to remove most of it.
  2. Combine water with 1/4 cup of the kosher salt in a large bowl. Plunge cabbage sections into the water one at a time. Carefully separate the leaves under water and shake gently to get water and salt mixture in between the leaves.
  3. Drain water from the cabbage segments, then sprinkle a light layer of kosher salt over each leaf, making sure to cover the entire leaf.
  4. Place cabbage into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 4- 6 hours, or until cabbage leaves are floppy.
  5. Rinse cabbage with water twice in clean water, then squeeze out as much water as possible. Place into a strainer and let sit for 1 hour for the remaining water to drain out.
  6. Meanwhile, place the daikon radish, shrimp, chili powder, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, green onions, and sugar into a large bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.
  7. Chop drained cabbage into 1″ pieces and place into large bowl with radish. Toss with a pair of tongs until well combined. Once all the cabbage has been coated, place into an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place for 3 days to ferment. After 3 days, the kimchi should be tangy, crunchy, and spicy. Store in the refrigerator until being used.

1 Comment

Mapo Tofu – A Healthier Version

Mapo tofu is delicious. It might be the soft, silky tofu that melts in your moth. It might be the in-your-face kick of Szechuan peppercorn. But, I think the real reason it’s delicious is because it’s traditionally made with very, very fatty ground pork. I was afraid that when I “trimmed down” this recipe by subbing in lean turkey for fatty pork it would lose its great depth of flavor. After all, I’ve tried to make healthier version of various dishes and ended up with not-so-appetizing results (I’m looking at you, rock-hard muffins).

Fortunately, this healthier version of mapo tofu is far from being unappetizing. In fact, I would say that it’s pretty dang stellar. I challenge you tofu  haters to try this. It just might change your mind about tofu. If you still don’t like it, then I guess you can mash it up and pretend like it’s just a huge bowl of ground turkey.

mapo tofu

Healthier Mapo Tofu
serves 6

1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1.5″ piece of ginger, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
6 green onions, thinly sliced; whites and greens separated
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons hot chili bean sauce
14 ounce package soft tofu, drained and cut into 1″ cubes
1 pound extra lean ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
steamed rice, for serving

  1. Toast peppercorns in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Allow to cool and then grind in a spice grinder.*
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water until well combined. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in canola oil and swirl to coat. Add garlic, ginger, and white parts of the scallion and stir fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add turkey and cook until meat is no longer pink.
  4. Add in chicken broth, soy sauce, and chili sauce, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil and add corn starch mixture and stir until the sauce becomes thick and clear. Gently stir in tofu and cook until heated through, about 2 – 3 minutes. Stir in Szechuan peppercorns, to taste. Drizzle with sesame oil.
  5. Serve immediately with steamed rice. Garnish with remaining green onions.


*I don’t own a spice grinder. I tossed the cooled peppercorns into a zip-top bag, shut it, and then rolled and lightly pounded it with a large rolling pin. It worked!


Vegetarian Potstickers


I have a notoriously bad memory. I can’t remember much of my childhood. I can’t recall the names of any of my teachers from elementary through high school, and college professors are getting a little spotty. Yikes. The few memories I do have, I cherish.

One of these memories is of my mom, sister, and me sitting around a kitchen table, folding potstickers. We each had a small pile of wrappers in front of us, small bowls of water, and a communal bowl of potsticker filling in the middle of the table. Baking sheets dusted with flour sat on the table lined with folded dumplings. My mom used chopsticks to scoop the filling from the bowl into her wrapper. My sister and I used spoons.

This time, I stood at the counter alone and folded roughly 100 potstickers filled with tofu, not pork. Mike came in towards the end and helped me. I have to admit, I much prefer the company of my mom and sister to the company of Netflix on my iPad.

So, grab yourself a potsticker buddy or two and get cooking! Or, if you choose to make this alone, choose something better than Toddlers & Tiaras as background noise 😉

If this is your first time making potstickers, don’t be intimidated. It’s actually quite simple. It’s easy as 1, 2, 3… kind of. And don’t forget – practice makes perfect.


1) take a wrapper  2) 1 tablespoon filling  3) wet edges with water
4) pinch at top 5) pleat down right side  6) pleat down left side

cooking potstickers

7) arrange potstickers on baking sheet  8) fry in pan – don’t overcrowd
9) cook until brown on the bottom  10) add water & steam to finish cooking

Fair warning – this recipe makes an insane amount of potstickers – over 100 for me. I cooked 1/3 of them and froze the rest to fry up for a quick meal later. To freeze, I simply stuck the baking pan of potstickers into the freezer. Once frozen, I placed them in a freezer bag.


Vegetarian Potstickers

10 ounces firm tofu, drained
1/2 medium onion
1″ piece of ginger, peeled
3 cloves garlic
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
2 cups cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup bean sprouts, chopped
3 teaspoons sesame oil
4 tablespoons soy sauce
freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste
2 packages gyoza/potsticker wrappers

For dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small red chili pepper, thinly sliced (optional)

  1. Crumble tofu with your hands until it resembles ground meat. Place in a strainer and set aside. 
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine onion, ginger  garlic, mushrooms, carrot, and celery. Pulse until ingredients are roughly chopped. Place mixture into a large bowl. Mix in cabbage, bean sprouts, and tofu. Sprinkle mixture with sesame oil, soy sauce, pepper, and salt and mix well to combine.
  3. Set up your station: bowl of filling, stack of potsticker wrapper, a small bowl filled with water, and a large baking sheet.
  4. To fold: place wrapper in your non-dominant hand. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of filling into the center of the wrapper. Wet a finger on your dominant hand and lightly trace the outside of the wrapper. Fold wrapper in half to form a half circle and pinch at the top. Starting at the center, make 3 pleats down toward the bottom-right corner. Repeat on the left side. Continue with the remaining filling and wrappers.
  5. To cook: heat a large, lidded saute pan over high heat. Add in 1 teaspoon oil and swirl pan to coat. Add pot stickers, pleat-side up, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook until bottoms are browned, about 5 minutes. Add in 1/2 cup water and immediately cover the pan to contain the splatter. After 30 seconds, when splattering has subsided, slightly crack the lid open to allow steam to escape. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until heated through and water has evaporated. Let cook for an additional 1 – 2 minutes to allow bottom to re-crisp. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.
  6. To make dipping sauce: combine soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and chili pepper in a small bowl. Stir to combine.