Meal Planning: 10 Easy Asian Recipes (links)

Meal Planning: 10 Easy Asian Recipes (links)

(Image and recipe from My Korean Kitchen)

It’s week 8 or 9 of shelter-in-place for us and I feel the drain of cooking and cleaning after every meal 7-days a week (with help from the Hubs now and then, and gracious friends this past week ;)). Before the shelter-in-place order, we would eat out Friday evenings and the weekends, but now our home has become a 24-hr diner, and moms, I feel ya. If I was by myself, I’d eat simple things like eggplant spread on toast and call it lunch, but do my husband and daughter consider that a meal? Nope. And because I haven’t been eating red meat for the past couple of years, and I don’t cook chicken that often, I feel like my husband, especially, is not consuming enough protein, hence losing his hair (is my theory). Of course there are other factors like stress, age, genes, but his once beautiful black hair is now so scant and peppered with gray. Balding and gray–I thought it would be one or the other–but both! ’tis so cruel. Lord, you have taken away my hair but blessed me with regrowth and thick curly locks. Lord, please, please bring his hair back! T-T

I digress, so beyond the point. ehehe…

To inspire next week’s menu or meals during the month of May as the weather continues to warm up, here are some easy-ish recipes to incorporate into your meal planning:

  1. Cold Noodles (Korean Mul-Neng-myun (물냉면)): Easiest way is to go to buy a couple packs of these ready-made noodles (found in the refrigerated section in the Korean/Asian market), slice up some cucumbers and pickle them quickly in a vinegar mix (equal parts vinegar and water, with a little sugar), and add ice. For protein, add a hard-boiled egg and try to dig up some frozen meat. If you don’t have ready-made noodles or don’t want to risk going out, you can substitute buckwheat/soba noodles and use cans of chicken broth as the base soup. If you want to be fancy and take more time, here is Maangchi’s recipe, or if you want it simple, try My Korean Kitchen’s recipe. I personally don’t like pears in my noodles, but a hard-boiled egg is a must.
  2. Poke bowl or vegan poke bowl (회덮밥 or vegan): Add any veggies in the fridge and tofu/raw fish to rice and stir in some soy sauce and sesame oil if you don’t have red-pepper paste (home-made sauce: 2 tbs red pepper paste, 1 tbs corn/rice syrup, 2 tbs vinegar, 1 tbs sugar, 1 tbs minced garlic, 1 tbs lemon juice).
  3. Any of these 3 Korean noodles: These 3 noodle recipes are very easy to make with items most likely in your pantry/fridge. Her videos are calming and most of her recipes are somewhat approachable. Note: Her recipes are typed in the video’s description box.
  4. Unagi Chauke (unagi bowl): I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but it seems simple enough. I’ve tried her okonomiyaki and yaki udon, and they were both very good. Her recipes are solid so I’d browse through the site to see which ones would be more for your taste/effort. The yaki udon is simple and quick, so I also recommend that dish. The okonomiyaki is delicious, but it’s very time-consuming and requires special ingredients, so unless you’re up for a cooking project, it’s not a quick meal you can whip up with pantry items (it takes 1.5+ hrs of prep and 12-15 minutes to cook each okonomiyaki)
  5. Soba: The most similar recipe to what I usually make is Just One Cookbook’s oroshi soba. My quick tip is to use a pre-made soup base, i.e., Kikkoman’s Koidashi and forgo the whole dipping sauce/soup base prep. The pre-made soup base can be used for other dishes as well (udon, stir fry, etc.). There are many soba noodle dipping sauce soup bases options sold in Asian markets. All you need are soba noodles, the soup base, a small radish, and some green onions. I often add a silken tofu with soy sauce-based dip as a side-dish.
  6. Katsu sandwiches: Just One Cookbook’s or Bon Appétit’s spicy version. A change from a regular katsu rice dish. I can’t wait to visit Konbi. I may need to drive all the way there and order take-out if this quarantine isn’t over by the end of May. Until then, I’ll try it make a baked version at home.
  7. Peppered Steak: The Seasoned Mom’s recipe sounds like the meat incorporation my husband needs.
  8. Thai chicken thighs: add some chili sauce, fish sauce, peanuts, and cilantro to change up a chicken thigh recipe
  9. Hainanese Chicken Rice: a bit time-consuming, but easy enough with pantry/common ingredients (a pressure-cooker might speed things up)
  10. Veitnamese-style vermicelli noodles: This is a simplified version of what we’d find in a Vietnamese restaurant. Easy to make at home.

Basically, you can prepare a bowl of noodles/rice and throw on some vegetables, protein of choice, and a sauce and call it a meal. Change up the vegetables, protein, and sauce, and there you have it, Asian cooking. haha ;)

During this quarantine, if I could learn anything practical, I’d like to learn sauces and marinades.

I Cook: Cherry Almond Dutch Baby

I’ve been following Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen through her blog for years, before she had Instagram, before her first book deal, before she had kids, and I think even before she was married, so I believe that makes me one of her OG fans. I love her personality in writing and her tried and true recipes that turn out just as described and pictured. She provides tips and tricks to make food taste better, and I am always learning something new with each recipe.

By making the Cherry Almond Dutch Baby, I learned that taking the extra step to toast almond slices brings the pancake up to a whole new level, especially if you love almonds. And I love almonds. This Dutch baby pancake has almonds and almond extract, so.

Dutch baby pancakes are simple to make and they are best consumed fluffy right out of the oven, but it deflates quickly and you really have to be on standby to inhale it as it comes out of the oven, which is often impossible. Once the pancake deflates, it becomes a bit spongy. Although it’s still good, it won’t be as good as what you would imagine a cloud-like pancake should taste like.

It’s still delicious, especially because it’s cherry season and there’s cherries everywhere in supermarkets. Since I love cherries, almonds, and pancakes, her recent Instagram post had me driving to the supermarket to buy some sliced almonds.

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I can’t take credit for making this by myself. Elaine helped me measure, stir, assemble, and she even helped set the table. <333

Breakfast Breakdown

The other night at the dinner table, we were discussing favorite foods and my husband said my favorite food would be brunch. “It wouldn’t be a food. It would be brunch,” he said. And he was half right. I love breakfast foods, but I also love noodles, pasta, and bread (i.e., carbs).

Here is a breakdown of my everyday breakfast:

  1. Gather a handful of frozen vegetables and berries. I steam broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage every other week and store them in the freezer. I buy frozen berries from Costco; the organic frozen berries are so cheap compared to ones from the grocery store.
  2. Pour ~1 cup of my mom’s recipe of brewed roots and berries: a 4-5 hour endeavor of brewing milk thistle and licorice roots, then seeping dried goji and schisandra berries for another 5 hours.
  3. Add the frozen vegetables and berries into the liquid, then add half an apple and a steamed beet. I buy steamed beets from Trader Joe’s; they sell them packs of 5 in air-tight bags and you can find them in the salad section. I’ve seen steamed beets in Sprouts and Vons, so other grocery stores carry them as well. It’s convenient because beets are messy and prices are comparable (buying fresh beets vs. steamed beets).

4. Blend everything together and it will produce about 2 tall glasses (~4 cups). I drink one and store the other in the fridge to drink the next day.

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5. Make toast. I recently bought a loaf of pumpkin and black sesame seed bread from Paris Baguette and it’s soft and somewhat healthy.

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6. While I wait for my toast in the toaster oven, I brew a cup of English breakfast tea. My sister recently brought a fancy one from her quick trip to England, so I’ve been drinking this when I feel fancy. When it’s finished brewing, I add a scoop of the Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides (a huge canister I found at Costco) and some almond milk.

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7. Spread the toast with some chunky almond butter and boysenberry jam.

That’s it!  I also change things up by eating eggs on toast or avocado on toast, and I also usually eat them on whole grain breads, but in any variation, I gotta have my toast. ;)

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Birthday at Disneyland

Birthday at Disneyland

We didn’t start out as Disney fans. Sure, we grew up watching Disney films and visited Disneyland maybe once every decade, but there was no ingrained fascination with the megacorp that a certain group of people seemed to share. We weren’t those people.

My husband and I moved down to SoCal (from the Bay Area) for his residency program in 2013 (before we had Elaine) and many of his colleagues were annual pass holders to Disneyland who seemed to make it their mission to haul him onto the bandwagon. “It’s only 30 minutes away,” they said. “You can go there for date nights/days whenever you want.” “You can go there on your days/afternoons off.” “It’s a bargain if you think about a day’s admission cost.” Spellbound, my husband found himself purchasing the premium annual memberships for the both of us so that we didn’t have blackout dates and we didn’t have to pay for parking for every visit. By the end that year, after about one or two visits a month, we were converts; we shared the same sentiment as the other Disney people whom we didn’t understand at first. There’s a certain desire for fiction and magic that Disney provides, and you come to love walking down Main Street with the view of the castle, the foods associated with each section of the park, and riding the silly rides that only last a minute or so. I rode “it’s a small world” at the end of the day around 11:30PM with a sleepy Elaine, and a family came rushing into the line standing behind me in which I overhead a lady say, “I always ride ‘it’s a small world’ whenever I come to Disneyland. If I don’t, did it even happen?”

Fiction, magic, traditions. That’s how they get’ya.

Food highlights from Pixar Fest (see this post for all the details): I had a long list of foods to try, but our stomachs could only handle so much in one day and we had a dinner reservation at Goofy’s Kitchen, which was a dinner buffet with the family, so we couldn’t stuff ourselves in the afternoon. We tried the grape soda cake pop, alien macaron, cheeseburger pizza, apple and cherry slushy in a Finding Nemo souvenir light-up sipper cup, a habanero meatball cone, and a “Choose Your Racer” churro in which I chose the red churro for Lightning McQueen. My favorite was the alien macaron because it wasn’t that sweet and it was a well-made macaron with a sweet-tangy blackberry flavored filling. I wanted to try at least 3 churros (the cocoa churro (inspired by Coco) and the multi-colored fruity churro (inspired by Up)), Jessie’s Berry Jubilee funnel cake (inspired by Toy Story 3), the three-flavored corn dog (inspired by Jack-Jack from The Incredibles), and the three-course Remi-inspired (from Ratatouille) menu at Cafe Orleans, but again, our stomachs could handle so much and I think the Lord was keeping me in check with all the sweets. ;) I didn’t indulge too much because I only took a bite or two from each food item. I just wanted a taste, that’s all. hehe.