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Asian/ ENTREES/ Seafood

Commander Tso’s Cod

Celebrate the Chinese New Year on Jan. 25 with this better-than-take-out twist on a classic.

According to The New York Times General Tso’s chicken is not really named for Tso Tsungt’ang, a 19th-century general. Although, he is believed to have enjoyed the dish, this ubiquitous offering traces its roots to Peng Chang-kuei, a chef who created the dish in 1950s Taiwan. Later, when he moved to the United States in 1973, he brought his recipe along with him. Once here, he sweetened it to appeal to Americans.


Here I have replaced the chicken with cod and toned down the sweetness just a bit. But feel free to add more sugar if you like. And because I love a good alliteration, I’ve named it Commander Tso’s Cod — after no one in particular.



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Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • For the sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 3-4 tablespoons water
  • chili flakes to taste
  • ½-1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • For the fish
  • 12 ounces cod filets
  • 2 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • Oil for frying (peanut or any neutral oil)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • Scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Instructions

1

Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and set aside.

2

To prepare the fish, cut each filet into bite sized pieces. Add the soy sauce and egg yolk and mix well. Stir in the corn starch and 2 teaspoons neutral oil and set aside.

3

Pour the peanut oil into a large wok or large frying pan. (You want enough oil so it comes up at least half way on the fish.) Set over high heat until the oil is hot. (I test the oil by putting a damp toothpick in the oil. If it sizzles, it’s ready) Add half the fish and fry until crispy and golden. Using a slotted spoon, move the fish to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the fish. Pour the oil into a heatproof container and wipe the wok or pan clean.

4

Place the wok or pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons peanut oil. Once the oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds, until fragrant. Add the reserved sauce. It will thicken a little as it cooks. Return the fish to the wok and stir carefully to coat. You don’t want the fish to break up. Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and top with scallions. Serve with rice and roasted Brussels sprouts.

5

For the Brussels sprouts

6

Trim one pound of Brussels sprouts and cut in half. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place a rimmed sheet-pan in the oven to get hot.

7

Toss the Brussels sprouts in a mixing bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of a neutral oil and kosher salt to taste.

8

Carefully remove the sheet-pan from the oven and spread the Brussels sprouts on the sheet-pan cut side down. Return the pan to the oven and roast for 20-30 minutes until they are brown and crispy on the cut side.

Asian/ ENTREES/ SIDES

Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

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Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 Japanese eggplants, cut into half moons
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch plus more
  • 3 scallions cut into 1 inch pieces

Instructions

1

Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and let it sit for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Wipe clean, but do not rinse. Then toss the eggplant with cornstarch to coat.

2

Mix the soy sauce and sugar with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch.

3

Working in batches saute the eggplant — In a non stick pan, heat the oil. When hot, add some of the eggplant in a single layer. Cook until golden, flip and repeat. Remove from pan, set aside. Repeat with remaining eggplant.

4

Add the garlic, ginger and scallions to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add the eggplant back and pour the sauce over it. stir to combine. Serve with rice or noodles.

Asian/ ENTREES

Crispy Halibut with Baby Bok Choy and Sweet Potatoes

This was a big hit with the family. It’s a little bit of work as there are several components, but none of them are too labor intensive. Hey, I made this on a Tuesday after work. The sweet potatoes are a little out of the box, but I didn’t feel like making rice and I had one leftover potato so I put it to good use. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it went.

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Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds halibut
  • 3 baby bok choy, halved and rinsed well
  • 1 sweet potato, sliced into 18” rounds
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 orange, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1” piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch, plus more for dusting fish
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Scallion, sliced (optional)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions

1

Preheat the oven to 425

2

Place the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment and brush with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes and flip. Roast for another 10-15 minutes until tender. Set aside.

3

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the soy sauce, citrus juice, honey, sesame oil, garlic and ginger and corn starch. Cook until it is slightly thickened.

4

In a cast iron skillet, sauce the mushrooms in little oil until browned. Remove and set aside.

5

Place the bok choy in the same skillet, cut side down until it has a little color on it. Flip them over and cook until leaves are slightly wilted. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

6

Set aside

7

Season the fish with a little salt and pepper and dust with a touch of cornstarch. Add little vegetable oil to the skillet and sear on both sides until golden brown. Remove from pan and let rest for 5 minutes while you assemble the beautiful platter.

8

Arrange the sweet potatoes on a platter. Rest the boy chop over the potatoes and then place the fish on the bok chop. Sprinkle the top with the shiitake mushrooms, scallions and sesame seeds if using.

9

Then drizzle the sauce over the whole thing. The sauce is pretty strong, so don’t go overboard.

Notes

You could easily sub in your favorite white and flaky fish. Or use any greens you have on hand instead of the bok choy. IF you skip the mushrooms, it wouldn't be the end of the world. And of course you can serve over rice instead of the sweet potatoes. But the sauce was on point.