Spicy garlic kale and strawberry salad

This is a fusion (sort of) of two dishes (or kinds of dishes) I really like: one is spicy garlic cucumber salad, such as the one in Fuchsia Dunlop’s The Food of Sichuan and the other are spicy & sour dressed noodle dishes that have a base flavor profile of chile oil, soy sauce, Sichuan peppercorn and dark Chinese vinegar such as Dan Dan noodles or spicy cold noodles. Dunlop’s cucumber salad recipe uses a sweet aromatic soy sauce called fuzhi jiangyou which I made a batch of late last summer. It’s made by simmering whole spices such as black cardamom, cinnamon, anise, fennel, Sichuan peppercorns and more if you have it in Chinese light soy sauce for third minutes, then adding a lot of sugar. It comes out as a viscous syrup that when chilled in the fridge is quite thick (it could be mistaken for molasses at least visually). In the below recipe I suggest dissolving sugar in soy sauce as a substitute but I haven’t tried that!

Glossy dark green kale pieces and strawberries with a sheen of sauce topped with golden sesame seeds in a black serving bowl with a white geometric pattern.
Spicy kale and strawberry salad
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Cumin tofu recipe

One of my favorite recipe orders at a Sichuan restaurant is some kind of “cumin lamb”. It’s the flavor added to the lamb, not the lamb that I love. I’d been considering trying to figure out how to make something with tofu at home for a while when Mala Market posted a recipe for toothpick lamb which has a similar flavor profile. I decided it was time to try to make a riff on this! The result was very spicy but in that way where I could not stop eating.

A serving bowl of golden fried tofu cubes mixed with dried chiles and tossed in a gleaming oil with visible powdery spice mixture all over and streaks of oil in a few places, sprinkled with scallions.
A bowl of cumin tofu
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Purple sweet potato & black bean garlic dumpling filling

If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed that the last couple years I’ve been cooking more Chinese foods which was started by a mapo tofu recipe video from Chinese Cooking Demystified. We now have a number of cooking implements, including an induction wok unit, and stock a range of pantry staples for Chinese recipes. “Fried rice”, a dish that I’d attempted in the past and failed at repeatedly, is now something we do routinely to use up leftovers.

So with that background out of the way, this recipe came up as a riff on various other ideas to try to make a tasty savory dumpling (jiaozi) filling that was vegetarian and would appeal to the kiddo. A few months ago I started trying to make dumplings from scratch. Rolling out wrappers and filling dumplings as a family is fun! Unfortunately, the most common veggie fillings I would see were various combos of minced cabbage, mushroom, carrot, etc. or egg and jiucai (Chinese chives) and the kiddo wasn’t too into them. So we’d been making a chicken & cilantro recipe as one of the fillings. I don’t recall how I got the idea of using purple sweet potato & black bean garlic sauce but likely I had just made some other kind of black bean garlic dish and we had purple sweet potato on hand.

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Saturday Lazy Fancy Breakfast: pumpkin spice waffles!

Menus locally are full of squash and pumpkin themed recipes. The fancy coffee seasonal drinks are often pumpkin spice themed. For some reason this made me decide to make fancy waffles this morning for family breakfast. Specifically “squash spice waffles topped with coconut cream and candied spiced pistachios” since that’s what worked out with what is on hand.

A plate with two waffles with toppings, some veggie sausage and scrambled eggs and hot sauce
The waffles with a side of veggie sausage and some scrambled eggs and hot sauce

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