In my last post, I mentioned that I am planning to write a cookbook. I have my first two easy Asian recipes drafted and post them here finally. Before I reveal the recipes, let me show you what content I want to include, how I look for the easy Asian recipes and the layout I want it to be.
After a week of planning, I began to look for inspiration and resources to create my first recipes for my intended easy Asian recipes cookbook.
I search for the recipes from four sources:
- My old files- there are a number of easy Asian recipes that I keep aside and never published or haven’t cooked for some time.
- Recipes that I use now- Since I work in a cafe, I have a number of Asian recipes that can be prepared in a short time.
- From other cookbooks- A great way to start the thinking process. I want to make sure that there is no plagiarism, improvise on the recipes so that they fit the quick and easy criteria. Very often the outcome is very different than the original version.
- From the Internet- A great way to look at recipes from other bloggers. I have the advantage of knowing the Chinese, Malay, and Indonesian languages and accessing authentic Asian recipes written in the native languages.
Kitchen tips to save time in the kitchen
The most hated thing in the kitchen is mundane work like cleaning and preparation. It will be a joy to cook if we can eliminate much of the mundane work. Cooking is not quick and easy even though the recipe is simple to follow. Therefore, a chapter will focus on discussing how to work efficiently in the kitchen. This content will skew towards Asian cooking. Important information I have in mind particularly for Asian cooking is how to season and always keep the wok in good condition, and the correct way to steam and stir-fry.
The criteria of easy and fast cooking dishes
I have not come across any definition of such dishes, so I set up my own criteria. In my opinion, any food that can be prepared within half an hour of active cooking should be considered as fast and easy.
This is based on the assumption that you can cook several dishes at the same time. You can start to cut, pour, and stir food sitting on another stove while waiting for the first dish to simmer or fry. I think it is an achievement for any home cook to get all the dishes to the dining table within 30 minutes. I also think that passive cooking time should not be included. Marinating may require more than an hour or even overnight but there is nothing to be done after placing it in the refrigerator.
Presentation of the recipes
I will start each recipe with a short introduction to the dish. The reader may want to know what it is before cooking it but not be interested in the details. I will keep it short and sweet, mainly to which country it is from and the expected flavor.
I want to present the recipe in the simplest way that the reader can easily understand. Therefore, I have incorporated some straightforward instructions into the ingredient section to get rid of lengthy explanations if I go into details in the method section. For example, I will say ‘3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped’ in the ingredients section, instead of repeating it in the method section by saying ‘ Clean and chop the garlic’. The steps in the method section will thus be shorter and tidier.
There will be a tip section mentioning some finer details helping to achieve a better result and possible variations you can do on the recipe.
An image of the dish is certainly essential for each recipe. Many people will look at the image to decide whether to read the details of the recipe. The image also shows the ingredients, presentation, and gives you a hint on how it is cooked. It also serves as a comparison to gauge whether the dish cooked by the reader is similar to what it is supposed to be.
Now the easy Asia recipes (First draft) ……
Writing the first recipe is rough, the second one gets slightly easier. Once I get into the momentum things will start rolling smoothly. So here are my first two recipes, pretty raw with minimal editing.
Eggplants with spicy Szechuan chili sauce (easy Asian recipes 1)
This is a common dish in the Szechuan province of China, cooked in a delicious Szechuan sauce. It is also called fish fragrant eggplant (鱼香茄子) because this sauce is widely associated with fish in Szechuan cuisine, albeit there isn’t any fish in it. It has a slightly spicy and beany flavor, perfect as a side dish for fried rice and noodles.
- 500 g of eggplants
- 150 g of minced meat
- 2 tablespoons of chopped spring onion
- 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons of chopped ginger
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil for frying
Remove the stems of the eggplant and cut into julienne of 4 cm length. Mix it with a tablespoon of salt and leave it for an hour. Wash away the salt thoroughly and squeeze the eggplants to remove excessive water.
Stir fry the chopped onion and garlic with vegetable oil until fragrant. Add the minced meat and stir-fry until it is cooked.
Deep fry the eggplants for 2 minutes. Keep aside.
Add the seasonings, eggplants and stir-fry until the eggplants are soft.
Sprinkle with spring onion and serve.
1 Minced pork or chicken meat are commonly used in this recipe.
2 Salt draws out juices that carry the flavors of eggplants and reduce the amount of oil they soak up during cooking.
3 Replace chilli bean paste with taucu if you prefer the dish to be less spicy.
Tofu with Minced Meat Topping (easy Asian recipes 2)
This tofu dish is everyday Chinese home cooked food and easy to prepare. The tofu can be steamed or deep-fried, and the topping can be varied according to your preference. The flavor of minced meat perfectly matches the subtle flavor of tofu. Best to eat together with rice.
- 1 Chinese dried mushrooms
- 1 box of square tofu
- 70 g of pork or chicken minced meat
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon of chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic
- Chopped red chili and spring onions
Soak the mushroom in warm water until it is soft. Remove the stem and cut it into small cubes.
Cut the square tofu in half, deep fry in oil for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
Saute the onion and garlic with vegetable oil until they become fragrant. Add the minced meat and stir-fry until it is cooked.
Add the mushroom and seasoning until the gravy becomes thick.
Place the tofu on a plate and top it with the minced meat gravy.
Garnish with chopped red chili and spring onions. Serve.
1. You can use other types of tofu in this recipe if the square tofu is not available.
2. Alternatively, you can steam the tofu instead of deep-frying it.
3. Add a tablespoon of chopped preserved vegetables (choy pou in Chinese) to create an authentic Chinese flavor.
I will publish at least one update of the progress of the easy Asian recipes cookbook every month. That will keep me writing because I know you are going to read and know my progress.