Easy Asian Recipes

Honey Water Drink Recipe

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When I was young I didn’t really drink much of anything aside from water and milk. Definitely no coke or gatorade. I guess I just didn’t like it but once in a while my grandmother would make me Honey Water. I’m not sure where she got the idea from but I liked it. It was refreshing, not too sweet and tasted great.
I’ve also read that drinking honey water can help you increase your metabolism and add moisture back into your body and stomach. Honey also has various vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, zinc and magnesium. Some people also say that honey water can help you lose weight. I’m not sure if any of these claims are true and I’ve never tried to lose weight by drinking honey water but I figure that these benefits are just an added bonus to its great taste.

Below is a quote from the National Honey Board site talking about the benefits of honey. I figure they must have some authority on the subject.

“Honey is composed primarily of carbohydrates (natural sugars) and water, as well as trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids. Providing 17 grams of carbohydrates and 64 calories per tablespoon, honey is an all-natural sweetener without any added ingredients. Honey also contains a variety of flavonoids and phenolic acids, which act as antioxidants, scavenging and eliminating free radicals. Generally, darker honeys have higher antioxidant content than lighter honeys.” - the National Honey Board

Regardless I think most people have some honey in their cabinet so give it a whirl and try this easy drink.

Recipe

Difficulty Level: 1 – Heat, stir, and have a beer.
Prep Time: 1 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
Real people serving size:1

Ingredients:
1.5 tablespoons honey (use darker better grade honey if possible)
1 glass 16oz hot water

Directions
1. Heat water and stir in honey.
2. Chill in refrigerator until cold.
3. Add a squeeze of lime or lemon. (optional)
4. Or better yet add 2oz of gin and you’ll have a bees knees!

Optional
I usually make a gallon of it and fill up a water bottle and leave it in the fridge as a soft drink, similar to sweet tea. And of course if you want it sweeter than add more honey and if you want to drink it instantly then use less water at the beginning and add ice cubes at the end to chill the drink.

Hope you enjoy the drink and leave your comments below.

Chinese Tomato Egg Recipe

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Recipe

Difficulty Level: 1 – Heat, stir, and have a beer.
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Cooking Time: 13 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Real people serving size:4

Chinese Tomato Egg Recipe
Ingredients:
6 large eggs
4 small tomatoes diced (the riper the better) or 1 can diced tomatoes
(Basically you want the ratio of egg to tomato to be about the same)
1 table spoon tomato sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 stalk green onions
2 table spoon water, milk or cream (optional – fluffier eggs)
1 tsp vegetable oil
salt to taste
white pepper to taste


Chinese Tomato Eggs Recipe

Directions:
1. Add 2 tbs water or milk to eggs to make them fluffier and beat them in a bowl. Scramble the eggs in a pan with 1 tsp vegetable oil. After scrambling put them on a plate and set aside.
2. Add the diced tomatoes into the pan with the chicken broth and simmer for a minute.
3. Add tomato paste and mix into the diced tomatoes and let simmer for another minute.
4. Now add the scrambled eggs back into the pan and let everything simmer until tomatoes are soft.
5. Add a dash or two of white pepper and salt to taste.
6. Plate and top with chopped green onions.

That’s it! It’s very easy and great for a quick meal. I sometimes replace the tomatoes with a can of diced tomatoes. Not a preferred but it’s definitely easier and works if I don’t want to go to the grocery store. Also, if you used canned tomatoes then don’t add the tomato paste, you can just pour a little of the liquid in the can. Canned tomatoes already have a strong taste. I didn’t always use tomato paste but tomatoes in the store don’t taste that great. So if you grow your own tomatoes and make sure that they are ripe then they will taste much better and you may not need the tomato paste. Try your own take on it and see what happens.

Chinese Braised Pork Belly Recipe

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Braised pork

Before I start with my Chinese pork belly recipe here’s some trivia:

Question: Which country consumes the most amount of pork in the world?

Answer: China, 54.2 million metric tons in 2006.  Total world consumption 98.9 million metric tons.

That’s more than 50% of all pigs in the world.  I guess that makes sense since a lot of Chinese dishes have pork.  Dim Sum, pork short ribs, BBQ pork, pork knuckles, roast whole pig, pepper and salt pork chop, minced pork, etc. You get the idea.

Personally, I love pork,  I think it’s one of the most flavorful meats out there.   It also has great texture, can be cooked in a variety of ways, and it’s inexpensive compared to beef.  In fact, North Carolina loves pork, pulled/chopped pork is a staple here.

So here is my Chinese braised pork belly recipe.  It’s fairly quick and easy, although the cooking time is a few hours long.  The tip is to set everything up early, pop it in a crock pot, set it and forget it. Generally if I’m lazy, I’ll make some rice, put some pork on it and eat away. But in this post I’ll show you a few other easy things you can make with it for a more comprehensive meal.   So here we go!

Braised pork ingredients

Recipe

Difficulty Level: 1 – Heat, stir, and have a beer.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3.5 hours
Real people serving size:4

Braised Pork Belly
Ingredients:

2-3 lbs pork belly
1 Medium chunk of Rock Candy (half the size of a golf ball) or 2 tablespoons of sugar
6 cloves of garlic (smashed)
3 slices of ginger
4 whole star anise
1 tsp of whole peppercorns
2 whole red chillies (totally optional, I like it a little spicy)
3 tbs shao xing cooking wine
1/2 cup of soy sauce (or 1/4-1/2 cup of dark soy sauce depending on salt level)
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tbs salt as necessary
1 tbs vegetable oil
4 cups of water (just enough to almost cover the pork belly)
4 hard boiled eggs (or more if you love eggs)

Chinese Braising Spice Packet
As an alternative you can also use our Chinese Braising Spice Packet. It contains all the dry ingredients in a simple convenient spice pouch. Just place it in with the wet ingredients and you’re done. Try it today.

Special Offer: Buy One Get One Free

Directions:
First dry the pork belly and give it a good sear in the Dutch oven (or stainless steel pot), at least 15 min. Then add the ginger and garlic and brown a little in the oil. Then dump in all the other ingredients and set it on low and braise for 2-3 hours. Your cooking time will vary depending on your stove and what your “low setting” is, so check after 1.5-2 hours and you can test how tender the pork is. The longer you cook the more tender it will be. I love to be able cut it with a fork, so I braise it a tad longer, generally 2-2.5 hours. You’ll probably never have to go over 3 hours, otherwise your low setting is waaayyy tooo low.
If you prefer using the oven then pre-heat to 325°F and bake for 2-3 hours. You can also cook the pork belly in a slower cooker (crock pot) but it’ll probably take longer.
Last tip, the boiled eggs get a little tough during the process so you can put it in at the beginning for more flavor or during the last hour for a softer but less flavorful egg. (picture shows 2 hour egg) You can also take it one step further by taking a cup of the braising liquid and reducing it down until it’s thick. It makes a great sauce for the pork belly and rice.

Bok Choy
Ingredients:
1tbs oil
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
10 baby bok choy stalks

Directions:
It’s super easy.
1. Cut off the ends of the bok choy and wash. Some people might like it whole so you can leave it whole also.
2. Heat oil, make sure it’s hot!
3. Put in minced garlic and stir, maybe 30 seconds, make sure it doesn’t burn.
4. Toss in the bok choy, stir and toss. Should be a few minutes. It generally cooks fast and continues to cook once the fire is off. But you can cook it on your personal taste some people like it really soft, I prefer it slightly crunchy.

(optional) If you don’t want to stir fry it simply salt some boiling water and boil it for a minute or two. Once the green color brightens start thinking about taking it out. It should cook pretty fast in boiling water.

Plating
Once everything is cooked get a bed of rice, place the pork belly, egg, and some bok choy on top of it. Drizzle some sauce (great on rice) on top of the pork belly. Garnish with some preserved mustard and cilantro. Then pig out! That’s it.  Oh you can also put the braised pork belly in ramen!

You can apply this braising recipe to almost any cut of pork or type of meat. In fact, Chinese people usually use this braising liquid with a hodge podge of meats. I also use this recipe for intestine, ribs, pork knuckle, ham hock, etc. And some people even save it and continually use it and reuse to to increase the flavor of braising liquid.

Good Luck and post any questions or suggestions you have about this recipe.

Hot Dog Fried Rice Recipe

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Fried rice, sounds simple eh. Well it is. Especially hot dog fried rice. While growing up, unlike my friends who ate hot dogs in a bun, burgers or pasta, I ate fried rice. It was a staple in my house along with frozen Stouffer’s mac and cheese, totally unrelated story and I’ll share if you’re interested, just comment below. In any case, fried rice was easy to make and there are about a million and one variations on how to make it. Being a bachelor I’ve never gone to the grocery store with the intention of buying ingredients for fried rice. It was more like, “Damn! I’m hungry and all I got in my fridge is a hot dog, ketchup, and mayo.” So my only options were to make fried rice or drink lots of water. (college, high school, unemployed = no money for buns or anything else)

Well today’s version of hot dog fried rice is a little different from what I usually make but then again I generally don’t make the same fried rice twice. I looked in my fridge and I have half a pack of beef hot dogs, some baby bok choy, and 5 eggs. Perfect for some hot dog fried rice with bok choy.

Recipe

Difficulty Level: 1 – Heat, stir, and have a beer.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Real people serving size:2

Ingredients:
2 hot dogs (depending on what brand you get it will change the taste slightly,
beef vs turkey, nathan’s vs ball park, etc)
3 small heads of baby bok choy
3 eggs
1 -1.5 cups of rice (precooked)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp vegetable oil
salt to taste
white pepper to taste


Directions:
Prep
They say that using day old rice makes fried rice taste better and for the most part I agree with that, but it also highly depends on the type of rice you have, how you cooked the original rice, how old it is, and how you like your fried rice. Some people like it a little drier where the kernels are separated but some people like it a little more soft and with some moisture. It just all depends on personal preference. For this fried rice I used freshly cooked jasmine rice so it’ll be a little softer but and if you cook it right then it won’t clump together.
Cut the hot dog to small pieces.
Cut the bok choy into small strips.
Mince the garlic.
Scramble the eggs.

First I have a nice size fry pan, make sure it’s large enough to fit everything and still gives you room to stir otherwise you’ll have fried rice everywhere! Heat the vegetable oil in the fry pan until hot. Then add the minced garlic and fry lightly for 10 seconds. Move the garlic to the sides of the pan and add in the scrambled egg. Don’t worry if some garlic mixes in, it’ll all be together in the end. After the eggs are scrambled then add the hot dog and bok choy.
Add a dash of salt and white pepper. Stir fry all those ingredients until the bok choy is starting to wilt. Once that happens add in the cooked rice.
Now this is probably the hardest part of the entire recipe. Mix the rice in with the other ingredients without spilling it all over the cook top. Some patience is needed in this step. Now add in the soy sauce and if you like hot sauce you can add some here as well. In fact, add any other flavoring you want at this point. Now simple stir, mix, flip, fry till your desired consistency. I usually like it not dryer than wetter but not too dry. Okay that was confusing. Try 4 minutes, taste and add salt, pepper, or more soy sauce if needed. Then cook longer if you’d like. The important part is that everything is mixed together well.

Options
Like I said earlier, there are a million and one ways to make fried rice. So you can add in anything and make it any flavor you want. Yes, it is probably dangerous for me to recommend that since there are just as many ways to screw up fried rice. It’s kinda like watching people go to mongolian bbq and watching what some people put into their bowl. Scary…but then again each to their own. So cook according to what you like.

Some options would be ground beef, frozen peas and carrots, bean sprouts, left over chicken, ketchup, sriracha, five spice, chinese bbq sauce, onions, grilled pork chop leftover, tomatoes, green beans etc. Also the longer you fry rice the dryer it gets so if you’re rice is too wet you may want to fry the rice first and then add in the ingredients later. It’s endless and in the future I’ll provide more variations of fried rice that I like.

Remember it’s easy, just use what you have in the fridge and experiment. (Ketchup fried rice is great I’ll post that one up in the future.)

Shredded Pork and Sichuan Preserved Vegetable Noodle Soup

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I often get Sichuan preserved vegetables and pork noodle soup when I go to Taiwanese restaurants, but then I figured out the recipe and how to make it, with the help of my aunt of course. It’s often referred to in restaurants as preserved vegetables with shredded pork or pork with sichuan preserved vegetables noodle soup. This Chinese noodle recipe has very little prep time and makes a good portion for all your family members or guests. Make it a noodle party!

Now the main ingredient is the Sichuan (szechuan) preserved vegetables. Now what is a preserved vegetable? In this case it is the root or steam of a mustard green, pickled in chili powder and salt. You can also buy them uncut in local Asian supermarkets, usually next to the fresh tofu or fresh fish cake. Or you can buy it in the can. I use the White Rabbit brand cans because they are already shredded for me. White Rabbit also sells preserved vegetable whole in cans so make sure you pick the ones that say shredded on it.

Recipe

Difficulty Level: 1 – Heat, stir, and have a beer.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Real people serving size:4

Ingredients:
1 can shredded szechuan (sichuan) preserved vegetables 12oz (make sure it’s the shredded kind)
1-1.3 lbs shredded pork
1 tsp soy sauce
0.5 tsp white pepper
1.5 tsp corn starch
1 tsp sesame oil
2 14 oz cans of chicken broth
2 cans of water or use more chicken broth
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 green onion (for garnish)
Add white pepper to taste
a handful of dry Chinese flour noodles (not chow mien noodles, not egg noodles, not udon, not spaghetti)

Directions:
First you want to marinate the shredded pork. Sometimes your butcher can cut it into strips for you but often Chinese markets will have pork loin pre-cut into strips. Or you can cut them into strips that are a few inches long and 1/4 inch thick.
To marinate the pork simply add the soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper and corn starch together. It should be a light marinate, that just coats the pork. Let that sit for 5-10 minutes.
The reason we add corn starch is because it helps to break down the pork. I’m not sure why it acts as a tenderizer but it does. I’ll have to research that and get back to you in a later post.


While pork is marinating, heat a big pot and add in 2 cans of chicken broth and 2 cans of water, bring to a boil.
Open the can of preserved vegetable and rinse 3 times with a colander, otherwise it’ll be really salty.
Now stir fry the pork in a pan with vegetable oil until it is brown.
Now combine all of it in the pot. Add pork and preserved vegetables to the broth and let simmer for 30 minutes. If it’s too salty then add more water or chicken broth.
When you’re 10 minutes away start boiling hot water for the dry noodles.
Done!

Options
One of the easiest option is the type of noodle that you can use. I prefer Chinese noodles but in reality you can use any type of noodle. You can also substitute chicken for the pork. Or for a vegetarian version you can leave out the pork and replace it with some other vegetables like bok choy, spinach, bean sprouts, etc.
Oh and if you have pork and preserved vegetables left over with no broth, then you can save it and make fried rice from it! Yes I love fried rice.

That’s it, so easy yet so good.  Either way I hope you enjoyed the Chinese pork and vegetable recipe.

Grilled Five Spice Cornish Game Hen Recipe

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five spice cornish game hen

My five spice Cornish game hen/chicken recipe is really a beautiful combination of Chinese spices and a tender flavorful chicken. But…

What is a Cornish game hen?  It sounds like a fancy game bird hunted in the wild wetlands of England, but it’s not.  A Cornish game hen is basically a young chicken.  Technically it is a young chicken of the Cornish chicken breed, 5 to 6 weeks old,  less than 2 pounds, and very tasty.

When I use to live in NYC my apartment was like a small motel in the East Village.   Every weekend there was a new visitor and during the holidays I’d have to turn away friends because my couch has met it’s capacity. Now that I live in Raleigh I have a place 10x bigger and maybe one guest a year, if I’m lucky.  Funny how things work out.  Recently I did have one visitor from California, my friend Derek.  He had some meetings during the day but afterward I tried to show him around a bit and I started with my favorite place in North Carolina.  24 hour  Super Walmart.

Yes, I know that they are not going to win any company of the year awards, but I’m not here to talk about a company’s best business practices.  But given the fact that most stores are closed at 9pm and being quite a night owl, I have a limited selection.  It’s the only place open at 2am, other than the mini mart at the gas station, where the variety of product is not limited to Funyuns and Monster energy drink.  Basically I like to cruise the miles of white aisles free of hundreds of people and shopping carts.  It makes the entire process much faster and easier.  So while browsing the food section, we talked about cooking, BBQ and some of our favorite foods.  Cornish game hen was on sale and he told me his super easy recipe.  The rest was history.

I never cooked Cornish game hen never mind five spice Cornish game hen, but now it’s one of the easiest Asian recipes that I know.  Anyone can make it and it only takes a few minutes to set up.

raw cornish game hen

Recipe

Difficulty Level: 1 – Heat, stir, and have a beer.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes (1 hour if you marinate)
Real people serving size:1

Ingredients:
1 Cornish game hen (usually 1lb to 1.5 lbs frozen, so you’ll have to defrost)
2 tsp salt (I prefer kosher salt but any salt works)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp five spice powder
1 large brick (covered with foil, that way you know it’s clean)

Directions:
Butterfly the chicken from the back. Mix the three dry ingredients together in a bowl and rub it all over the chicken including the front and back(the inside cavity with the bones). And that’s it for prep. You can grill it right away or let it sit for an hour in the fridge and let it marinate.
Grill for 6 minutes with the breast side up on medium high and place the brick on top of it. Then flip it and cook it breast side down for another 5 minutes or until done with the brick on top of it. Once cooked let it rest for 4 minutes.

Now grilling is probably one of the hardest things to explain on the internet simply because there are so many variables and differences in grills. Gas, electric, charcoal, wood, hot areas, low areas, etc. Any BBQer worth their salt knows their grill like the back of their hand. So cook accordingly. The brick simply helps cook the chicken faster and more evenly by allowing all parts of the chicken equal contact with the grill. Keep in mind that the brick may got too hot to handle so be careful.

Options
There are a ton of options, you can broil it in the oven without the brick of course. You don’t have to butterfly it and can cook it whole in the oven like a roast chicken. You can use a regular chicken. You can add some minced garlic to the inside of the skin, or some soy sauce to the mix. The possibilities are endless but sometimes it’s great to keep it simple.

Plating
Cut the Cornish game hen into quarters or halves and serve with Thai sweet chili sauce and rice.
That’s it, super quick and easy. Great for parties, romantic dinners, or quick late night snacks.

Mapo Tofu Recipe

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Mapo tofu, ma pu tofu, ma-po tofu, mapo doufu, mapu doufu, ma-po doufu are all the same thing, sometimes the Chinese words and recipe get lost in translation. In any case Mapo Tofu is a Sichuan province dish made up of tofu, chili, bean paste, and ground pork.  Generally it is pretty spicy and has lots of red chili oil suspended all around it.  But to me it is a  home cooked favorite, consisting of boxed mapo tofu sauce, tofu, and ground pork.  Yes I know this is the easy way out but have you ever met a person that loves canned tomato soup, or boxed mac and cheese.  Personally I don’t like either of them, but I know a lot of people that do love these prepackaged mass produced food products.  Of course, you don’t eat it because it is a quality food product, but you do continue to eat it when you’re old and gray because it reminds you of when you were young.  It’s these tastes that separates us and our personal food preferences.  You’ll always love what you’re use to. So in this case, it’s much of the same.  My aunt use to make Mapo Tofu out of the box and I loved it over a big bowl of rice. Now, I’m going to share one of my most favorite and simple dishes in the world.  It’s super easy and hopefully you enjoy it.

Recipe

Difficulty Level: 1 – Heat, stir, and have a beer.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes
Real people serving size:3

Ingredients:
1 box House brand Mapo Tofu sauce (hot) (IMPORTANT! use only HOUSE BRAND)
1/2-3/4 pound ground pork
1 package silken tofu 19oz
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 green onion (optional for garnish)
1 tbs vegetable oil
salt to taste
white pepper to taste

Directions:
Poor vegetable oil into pan and saute the ground pork. Make sure that the pork gets separated into little bits.
Add white pepper, soy sauce, additional hot sauce (optional)
Drain and cut the tofu into 1″-1.5″ squares (larger is better than smaller since it’ll break apart)
Add tofu to the pan when the pork is almost cooked.
Then add the House brand mapo tofu sauce.
Liquids from the tofu and pork will thin the sauce out a little.
Fold in the sauce gently until everything is mixed well and simmer for a 3 minutes or until tofu is hot.

Done, it’s super easy. Garnish with green onion and serve it with some rice and you’re good to go.
Now you might be wondering why I like House brand sauce so much, well it is what I grew up on. It’s like going to Mcdonalds vs Burger King. Anyhow, there are lots of mapo tofu sauces out there and I encourage you to try them but in my opinion House brand tastes the best. And I haven’t quite figured out why but it is also 3x more expensive than the other brands. Maybe it’s branding, maybe it’s the quality of the sauce, maybe it’s because it’s from Japan, yes who would have thought, but those Japanese know how to improve on everything.

Options
As far as options you can either make it spicier with more hot sauce or get the mild flavored sauce which is not hot at all. Ground chicken, turkey, beef, can all be used but I can’t promise anything. I also prefer silken tofu because I like the texture and it mixes with rice easily, but you can use soft tofu but I wouldn’t go any firmer than soft. If you prefer a vegetarian version, I’d probably add some shitake mushrooms and yellow onions.
The best thing about Mapo tofu is that the left overs can be used as a sauce. So you can adapt it to our dishes such as Mapo tofu ramen, Mapo tofu fried rice, or even Mapo tofu fried noodles.

Traditional Recipe
My boxed version is spicy but compared to the real deal, it’s mild. So here’s a traditional recipe of Mapo tofu for your reference.

Ingredients:
1/2-3/4 pound ground pork
1 package silken tofu 19oz
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbs hot chili bean paste
1 tsp hot chili oil
2 whole dry red chilies
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns (ground)
1 tsp Chinese black beans (mashed)
1/2 tsp white pepper
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 green onion (optional for garnish)
1 tbs vegetable oil

Directions:
The directions are similar to the box recipe.
Start by adding vegetable oil to the pan and stir fry the minced garlic with the mashed black beans for a few seconds, don’t burn them.
Add in ground pork and saute until it’s mostly cooked and broken down to little bits.
Add soy sauce, hot chili bean paste, chili oil, dry red chilies, and powder Sichuan peppercorns
Stir for a minute and then add in chicken stock.
Add tofu last and fold into sauce and pork.
Let simmer for 3 minutes or until tofu is hot.
Add 1 tsp corn starch mixed with 1 tbs cold water if you like it thicker.

Now be prepared, it’s going to be hot hot hot. So you might want to start without the dry chili and chili oil.
Alright there you go enjoy the Mapo tofu recipe.