Vietnamese-American Garlic Noodles

I’m a garlic girl but even I was worried that this dish was going to be so garlicky it may be overpowering. Nope. Twenty cloves!

This recipe was adapted from the cookbook “The Wok” by J. Kenji López-Alt, based on the noodle dish originally created and served by Helene An at San Francisco’s Thanh Long restaurant, via The New York Times.

Lopez-Alt uses the genius technique of cooking the pasta in a minimal amount of liquid which expedites the cooking process. The starch-concentrated pasta water is then used in the sauce. This dish was crazy quick to prepare and was absolutely packed with flavor. We ate it with roasted asparagus on the side.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 20 medium garlic cloves, minced or smashed in a mortar and pestle
  • 4 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce or shoyu
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 pound dry spaghetti or linguine fini
  • 1 ounce grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (heaping 1/4 cup)(I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  •  small handful of thinly sliced scallions (I used 4 scallions)
  1. Use a food processor to mince the garlic cloves, if desired. (I used a mini food processor.)
  2. Melt the butter in a wok or saucepan over medium heat. (I used a stainless all-in-one pan.)
  3. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce and fish sauce, and stir to combine. Remove from the heat.
  5. Meanwhile, bring 1 1/2 inches of water to a boil in a 12-​inch skillet or sauté pan over high heat. (Alternatively, heat up just enough water to cover the spaghetti in a large Dutch oven or saucepan.)
  6. Add the pasta, stir a few times to make sure it’s not clumping, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente (about 2 minutes short of the recommended cook time on the package). (I used linguine fini and cooked it for a total of 4 minutes.)
  7. Using tongs, transfer the cooked pasta to the garlic sauce, along with whatever water clings to it. Reserve the pasta water in the skillet; set aside.
  8. Increase the heat to high, add the cheese to the pasta and sauce, and stir with a wooden spatula or spoon, tossing vigorously until the sauce is creamy and emulsified, about 30 seconds. If the sauce looks too watery, let it keep reducing. If it looks greasy, splash some more pasta cooking water and let it re-​emulsify.
  9. Stir in the scallions and serve immediately.

Avocado-Chicken Burgers

The only drawback of these flavor-packed chicken burgers is that they have to be pan-cooked in order to keep their shape because they are very moist. Worth the mess!

The original recipe notes that the ginger, garlic, cilantro and scallions incorporated into the burger makes them similar to a dumpling filling. They were fresh and light.

I loved the soy-lime mayonnaise sauce and loads of toppings. I served them with a generous amount of sauce, and jalapeño and avocado slices on potato rolls. There were so many toppings that we forgot to add lettuce! I may even try them topped with arugula next time.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yasmin Fahr. I used freshly ground chicken thigh meat and froze the formed burgers for 20 minutes prior to cooking. We ate them with pickles and chips.

Yield: Serves 4

freezer for 20 min before cooking

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or fish sauce
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  •  Kosher salt
  • 1 packed cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup mashed, ripe Hass avocado (from about 1/2 avocado; slice the other half for serving)
  • 2 scallions, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, grated, minced, or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, grated or minced (about 2 tsp)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 pound ground chicken, preferably dark meat (I used freshly ground chicken thighs)
  • 2 T neutral oil, such as canola oil, or ghee
  • potato, brioche, or other burger buns, lightly toasted, as desired
  •  butter lettuce or other tender lettuce, for serving, or arugula
  • 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced, for serving, optional

To Make the Sauce:

  1. In a small serving bowl, combine the mayonnaise and soy sauce.
  2. Season with the juice of 1 lime wedge and salt as needed.

To Make the Burgers:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to mash and thoroughly combine the chopped cilantro, mashed avocado (see Tip), scallions, garlic, ginger, red-pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of the soy-lime mayonnaise sauce.
  2. Add the chicken and gently combine. Form into 4 large balls.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for 20 minutes to help maintain the shape while cooking.
  4. Heat a large (12-inch) cast-iron or heavy skillet over medium heat until very hot, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the neutral oil or ghee, then add the chicken meatballs, spacing them out in the pan. (We cooked 2 at a time.)
  6. Use a metal spatula to press them until they form 1/2-inch-thick patties.
  7. Cook without moving for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes, until a deep golden crust has formed and they easily release from the pan.
  8. Flip the patties using the spatula and cook until done with a nice crust on the other side, about 3 minutes more. If the patties need more time, cover the pan and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to avoid scorching.
  9. Squeeze a lime wedge over the patties and serve sandwiched between the buns topped with lettuce, a healthy slathering of sauce, avocado slices, jalapeño slices if using, and cilantro sprigs, if desired.
  10. Serve with the remaining lime wedges and mayonnaise on the side.

Tip: Resist the urge to add more than 1/4 cup mashed avocado to the ground chicken, as the burgers will get too soft and fall apart during cooking.

Coconut Chicken Curry

This dish was a home run in my house. Everyone really enjoyed it. I served it over brown Basmati rice with warm naan and steamed spinach on the side. Perfect weeknight comfort food! It does take a while to cook but it is mostly unattended. Letting the finished dish sit for 20 minutes after cooking allows the flavors to soak into the chicken- perfect.

This recipe is from Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy of Burma Superstar in the San Francisco Bay Area and their book “Burma Superstar,” via The New York Times, adapted by Genevieve Ko. I used Maharajah curry powder and additional garlic. I also had Greek yogurt available to temper the spice.

Yield: 8 servings

Shrimp & Basil Stir-Fry

My herb garden has been beyond fabulous this year. I wanted to make sure that I made this dish before my beautiful basil faded away.

This dish was described as being “more addictive than Doritos.” 🙂 The recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Andy Baraghani. I don’t usually follow a recipe precisely, but did on this occasion because I had never used Fresno chilies. Oops. The dish was tasty but beyond spicy. I regret not tasting my chilies for heat intensity. I will certainly do that next time, and will follow the recipe as written with milder chilies or remove the seeds and ribs for spicier chilies.

The spicy-sweet sauce was delicious and I still enjoyed it. This dish also comes together very quickly and is perfect for a weeknight meal. We ate it over brown Basmati rice with tomato slices on the side. The tomatoes really helped offset the heat. 🙂

Yield: Serves 3 to 4

  • 3 Fresno chiles, coarsely chopped (seeds and ribs removed, to taste)
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 T vegetable or grapeseed oil, divided
  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, patted dry
  • 2 cups basil leaves (about 1 bunch)
  • lime wedges, for serving
  • 1 cup of rice (cooked in 2 cups stock or water), for serving
  1. Blend chiles, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, salt, and 3 T oil in a blender until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  2. Transfer marinade to a medium bowl and add shrimp; toss to coat. Let sit 10 minutes.
  3. Heat remaining 1 T oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high.
  4. Using tongs, just when oil begins to smoke and working in batches if needed, add shrimp, leaving marinade behind, and cook, turning once, until lightly charred around the edges, about 1 minute per side.
  5. Remove pan from heat. Add basil and toss vigorously until basil is wilted.
  6. Transfer shrimp mixture to a platter. Serve with rice and lime wedges alongside.

Spicy Pork Kebabs with Fennel, Cumin & Red Onion

This is a full-flavored, weeknight summer dish. I served it with sautéed Napa cabbage, grilled radicchio, grilled fennel, and brown Basmati rice on the side. We squeezed fresh lime juice over the grilled meat, but next time I may also serve it with a garlicky lime-yogurt sauce.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used cubed pork tenderloin instead of pork shoulder and modified the proportions.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 ¾ pounds boneless pork shoulder OR 2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lime, plus some wedges for serving
  • ¼ cup cilantro or basil, leaves and tender stems, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 jalapeño or other green chile, seeded if desired (I used an unseeded Serrano chile)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 small red onion, sliced, for serving
  1.  Season pork lightly with kosher salt and put it in a bowl or resealable bag.
  2. Juice the lime into a blender or food processor and add cilantro, fish sauce, garlic, chile and honey. Blend until the chile and garlic are puréed, then add fennel, cumin, coriander seeds and pulse four or five times to bruise the spices and mix them in.
  3. Pour mixture over the pork, tossing to coat the pieces. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes while you heat the grill, or up to 24 hours.
  4. When ready to cook, heat the grill or broiler with a rack positioned 4 inches from the heat source.
  5. Thread the pork onto skewers, leaving a little space between cubes. Grill over the highest heat possible, or broil on high, for 2 to 5 minutes, then flip the skewers and continue cooking until the meat is browned all over and charred in spots. It should be just cooked through: A little pink is OK, but there shouldn’t be any red spots.
  6. Serve the pork with cilantro sprigs and onion slices on top, and lime wedges on the side for squeezing.

Sweet & Garlicky Pork Chops

These Thai-style pork chops were very juicy and flavorful. I used very thick pork chops but this garlic-packed marinade would also be great with pork tenderloin.

The recipe was adapted from The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen. I modified the grilling method. We ate it with special Aahu Barah Basmati rice and Ritzy Summer-Squash Casserole– a great combination.

Yield: 4 to 8 servings

  • 4 thick (1 to 2-inch) or 8 thin (1/2-inch) pork chops or pork tenderloin (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 head garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
  • 3 T granulated sugar
  • 5 T Asian fish sauce or soy sauce (or a combination)
  • 3 T honey
  • 3 T rice wine or sherry wine
  • 2 T toasted sesame oil
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. If using thin pork chops, cut 1 or 2 cuts in the fat side of each pork chop to keep them from curling during grilling.
  2. Arrange the pork chops in a glass baking dish and set aside.
  3. Combine the garlic and sugar in the bowl of a mini food processor; process into a paste. (Alternatively, pound into a paste using a mortar and pestle.)
  4. Add the fish sauce, honey, rice wine, sesame oil, ginger, salt, and pepper; process to combine.
  5. Pour the mixture over the pork chops. Spread to coat both sides.
  6. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. (I flipped the meat over after the first hour.)
  7. Preheat the grill to high on one side and low on the other.
  8. When ready to cook, oil the grill grate.
  9. Arrange the pork chops on the low heat side and cook for 5 to 10 minutes per side for thick chops (possibly half the time for thin), or until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees.
  10. Move the pork chops to the high heat side and continue to cook until nicely browned on both sides, or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.
  11. Transfer the chops to a platter and serve immediately.

Fried Rice with Kimchi, Bacon & Cabbage

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I am planning on serving shepherd’s pie tonight, but, for those of you serving corned beef and cabbage, this quick dish will put any leftover cabbage to good use. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. We ate it drizzled with sriracha and additional soy sauce. I also served the leftovers with scrambled eggs instead of fried.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 5 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed or sunflower, plus more as needed (I used canola oil)
  • 3 slices thick-cut bacon, in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small bunch scallions, whites and greens separated, sliced
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage (from about 1/2 small head)
  • coarse salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups cooked rice, white or brown, preferably day-old
  • 2 ½ tablespoons fish sauce, plus more as needed
  • ½ tablespoon soy sauce, plus more as needed for serving
  • ½ cup kimchi, drained and chopped, plus more for serving
  • ½ cup green peas (thawed, if frozen)
  • fried eggs or scrambled eggs, for serving, optional
  • toasted sesame oil, for drizzling, optional
  • sriracha or other hot sauce, for serving, optional
  1. One day ahead, cook 2 cups of rice in 4 cups of water or stock. Once cool, store in the refrigerator overnight. (I used brown Basmati rice.)
  2. In a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons oil until almost smoking. (I used a large 14-inch stainless steel skillet but a nonstick would have been preferable.)
  3. Stir in bacon, and cook, stirring constantly, until bacon is golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof bowl, leaving as much oil in the skillet as you can.
  4. Add scallion whites to the pan. Cook until soft, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes. If the pan looks dry, drizzle in a little more oil, then stir in cabbage and a pinch of salt. Cook, continuing to stir frequently, until cabbage is soft, 2 to 4 minutes.
  5. Stir in garlic, and cook until fragrant, another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the bacon.
  6. Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and raise heat to high.
  7. Add rice, and a large pinch of salt, then toss thoroughly to coat with oil. Spread out rice in an even layer along the bottom (and sides if in a wok), and drizzle fish sauce and soy sauce over. Let rice sit until sizzling stops and it starts to crackle and crisp, 1 to 4 minutes. Toss, taste, and add more fish sauce or soy sauce if necessary.
  8. Fold in bacon mixture, kimchi and peas, then transfer to plates.
  9. Top with scallion greens, more kimchi to taste, and fried eggs, if using. (I served it with one fried egg per person.)
  10. Drizzle everything with toasted sesame oil and soy sauce, as desired, and serve immediately with hot sauce on the side.

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