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.

Cheesy Hasselback Potato Gratin

This dish was part of our Thanksgiving feast as a second potato dish to compliment my son’s mashed potatoes. (He almost exclusively eats potatoes on Thanksgiving Day!)

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by J. Kenji López-Alt, from his book titled “The Food Lab.” I substituted unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes for the peeled russet potatoes and added extra garlic and cheese. 😉 I actually added the cheese at the wrong time (oops!) and was thankfully still quite pleased with the results.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Time: about 2 hours

  • 3+ ounces finely grated Gruyère or Comté cheese
  • 2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 1/2 to 5 pounds unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/8-inch thick on a mandoline
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Combine cheeses in a large bowl.
  3. Transfer 1/3 of the cheese mixture to a separate bowl and set aside.
  4. Add cream, garlic, and thyme to cheese mixture.
  5. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  6. Add potato slices and toss with your hands until every slice is coated with cream mixture, making sure to separate any slices that are sticking together to get the cream mixture in between them.
  7. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish dish with butter.
  8. Pick up a handful of potatoes, organizing them into a neat stack, and lay them in the casserole dish with their edges aligned vertically.
  9. Continue placing potatoes in the dish, working until all of the potatoes have been added. The potatoes should be very tightly packed. (If necessary, slice an additional potato, coat with cream mixture, and add to casserole.)
  10. Pour the excess cream/cheese mixture evenly over the potatoes until the mixture comes halfway up the sides of the casserole. (You may not need all of the excess!)
  11. Cover the dish tightly with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
  12. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is pale golden brown, about 30 minutes longer.
  13. Carefully remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and return to the oven. Bake until deep golden brown and crisp on top, about 30 minutes.
  14. Remove from oven, let rest for a few minutes, and serve.

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