Chinese Cooking Recipes – Ma Po Tofu

mapo tofu

Hi guys, you know, some people don’t like tofu.  I get it, I didn’t used too either, it’s a bland protein delivery system after all and why bother if you’re not vegetarian/vegan.  This recipe got me however and now I crave it in all it’s jiggly forms, at least once a week.  We could all be healthier and none of us are getting younger, tofu is good for you, think of it like a blank canvas.  Would you eat pasta with no sauce, or plain white rice?  No of course not, tofu is the same, it takes on whatever flavors you give it and there are so many great chinese tofu recipes.  This ma po tofu recipe is my favorite though and it’s a great tofu introduction for newbies, it even has meat!  The “ma po” part of the recipe refers to an smallpox scarred (pock marked) old woman who used to make this for hungry workers in Szechuan.  Enjoy this tofu stir fry!

Equipment You Will Need

Get your trusty saute pan or wok, your cutting board and best knife.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound block of tofu, use extra firm if possible
  • 5 green onions, sliced thin on the bias (diagonal)
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1/2 – 3/4 lb ground pork or beef (beef is tradtional but I like pork so there!)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Sichuan chili bean paste (this one is good too and easier to find in most markets)
  • 1 tablespoon fermented black beans (optional, I use chili garlic sauce sometimes for more heat)
  • 1 cup chicken broth/stock
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of corn starch mixed with 4 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon ground sichuan peppercorn
  • salt to taste

Grind up the Sichuan peppercorn in a mortar or just crush it up with the flat of your knife.  Make sure you taste as you cook, sometimes I add some ground chinese chilies to kick up the heat a bit more.

Let’s Cook!

Drain your tofu and cut it into 1 inch cubes (see the video below) and slice your green onions into thin diagonal shapes (horse ears in Chinese).  Add the oil to your wok and heat on med-high until almost smoking.  Cook the ground pork/beef until it is browned but not dry then turn the heat to medium.  Add the chili bean paste and stir fry until the oil takes on its color, about 30 seconds.  Then add the fermented beans and ground chilies (if using) and stir fry for 30 seconds more.  Pour in the chicken stock, stir and then gently add the tofu and gently mix.  Try not to break up the tofu too badly, add the sugar, soy sauce and salt and adjust as needed.  Simmer gently for about 5 minutes then add the scallions and simmer for a minute more.  Mix up the cornstarch and water and add slowly until the sauce climgs to the meat and tofu, you don’t need to use all the cornstach mixture.  Plate into a large bowl and add the ground sichuan peppercorn on top.

Platingma po tofu

Be careful not to break up the tofu as you’re mixing and plating, it should look like the picture to the right.  I think the video below is a classy way to eat this tofu stir fry but you can also scoop over a plate of rice if you want.  If you’ve not had Szechuan peppercorns before don’t be alarmed by the numbing feeling in your lips and tongue, it’s supposed to do that!

Post Prandial Thoughts

If you don’t at least like tofu after this then I can’t help you, it’s my favortie Chinese tofu recipe and a great one for the winter months.  This ma po tofu recipe reminds of Texas style chili in many ways, its hearty and comforting with a spicy kick!  I hope you will love it as much as I do, let me know how it went in the comments, enjoy!

-David B

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Sides/Salads – Braised Bacon Rice with Tomato Juice

carolina gold

Well we are officially getting into fall and just between you and I it is my favorite cooking season!  I get to fatten up for the winter and make all my favorite carb heavy meals like pizza, pasta and casseroles.  This is technically a side although it makes great eating on its own.  It is heavy so I recommend it with lighter mains like a steak or chicken grilled dish, it would be great with my healthy grilling recipe – steak with tomato salsa!  If you like spicy food this is a great side to cut the heat.  Bacon, bacon, bacon, we love the swine in my house so if you love it too don’t skimp.  Get some nice bacon from your local butcher or the better quality stuff from the supermarket, I’ve made this with the cheap stuff but it’s not the same.  I used Carolina gold rice and there’s a video about it below, however, it is hard to find outside of specialty stores so go ahead and use any decent long grain rice you can get your hands on.  Just not the microwave stuff, you’re better than that!  This makes quite a bit so if you can halve this recipe if you want but it keeps in the fridge for a week or so and reheats beautifully.

Equipment You Will Need

As always your trusty chef’s knife and a cutting board and a heavy pot of at least 4 quart size, not too crazy!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pound piece of bacon or the equivalent sliced, cut into 1/4 inch piecesbacon
  • 1 1/4 cups of chopped yellow onion
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (smoked if you can get it)
  • 4 cups chicken stock/broth
  • 1/2 cup tomato juice
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped celery leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt/pepper to taste

Again if you can get Carolina gold rice that is great but not necessary.  The celery leaves are a garnish but you have to buy celery anyway so get some with leaves on it!  I have given this a little extra kick with Tabasco but don’t overdo it!

Let’s Cook!

Heat up your pot and add the bacon, we want to render out some of the fat over low heat for about 5 minutes.  Add the onion, celery and garlic and cook for another 7-10 minutes until softened.  Stir in the mustard, cayenne, and paprika then add the stock/broth and tomato juice.  Bring everything to a boil then add the rice and simmer uncovered until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice texture is to your liking about 20-30 minutes.  The rice should be a little wet however so don’t cook it too long.  When the texture is right add the celery leaves, butter, salt and pepper to taste.  Adjust your seasonings and let stand for 5 minutes, stir again and serve!

carolina gold rice

Plating

Not too much to add on this one, slap it alongside your entree or if you’re fancy have it in separate bowl.  It’s great by itself with some bread too!

Post Prandial Thoughts

This dish is a great way for a really nice piece of bacon to shine, it’s warm and comforting and kids love it.  It’s not really a casserole but it’s so hearty and rich that it feels like one, so great for the chillier weather!  As always, if you have any questions or thoughts let me know in the comments, enjoy!

-David B

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Sides/Salads – Green Salad with Asian Shallot Vinaigrette

asian salad

Here is a side for the steak with grilled tomato salsa healthy grilling recipe. This is super easy and makes and interesting alternative to your standard green salad with vinaigrette dressing recipes. It is a lot so I would make half or it should be fine refrigerated for a few days as long as you shake/whisk upon further use.

Equipment you will Need

Pretty simple, a big salad bowl and some tongs/servers for tossing. A small bowl to make the dressing and a whisk. Your favorite sharp knife, a cutting board and you are ready!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup sesame oil
  • 1 shallot, peeled and sliced thin
  • 6oz+ mixed baby greens, if you can find an Asian green mix even better
  • Salt and pepper to taste

If you are not familiar with fish sauce it is used in a variety of Southeast Asian cooking, yes it has some serious funk! Don’t be afraid, it is an addictive taste and a great punch of umami. It does stay on your hands and is pretty pungent though so try not to splash it all over the kitchen.

You will probably not find Asian greens unless you have an Asian market close to you, it’s not a big deal, this dressing works great on any green salad. If you do want to track down Asian greens though look out for tasty, mustard greens, mizuna, wasabi rocket, or pea shoots.

viniagrette dressing recipes

Let’s Cook!

In a small bowl whisk the vinegar, fish sauce, and salt and pepper together. Slowly drizzle in the sesame oil while whisking to make a properly emulsified vinaigrette. Add your sliced shallot and set it aside for 30 minutes to let the flavors combine. Taste again and adjust the seasonings before adding to the greens. Add pepper to the salad to taste, toss and serve!

Plating

Due to the fish sauce you might use separate small bowls/plates for this salad until you are sure everyone likes it. I just slap it alongside my steak but I am a dab hand with the fish sauce, I’ve even been to the factory!

Post Prandial Thoughts

This has got to be among my favorite vinaigrette salad dressing recipes, it is so easy and different from the typical balsamic or Italian style dressings. Now call me crazy but I like some heat in my food. If you wanted to grab one of those small Thai chilies, slice it up and throw it in the dressing before the 30-minute soak then go for it! YOLO as the kids say, this salad goes great with anything grilled. Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments, enjoy!

-David B

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Healthy Grilling Recipe – Steak with Grilled Tomato Salsa

Guys if you’re like me, anytime is a good time to grill, but it’s always nicer in the summer.  This is one of my favorite outdoor grilling recipes when the weather gets warm.  The list of ingredients is a little longer but don’t get intimidated, nothing is too complicated and you can knock out the marinade then while the steak soaks make the salsa.

Equipment You Will Need

I prefer to use charcoal for grilling, most people didn’t have gas grills when I was growing up and this is how my family did it.  You do you though, if you like gas no worries, whatever is most comfortable for you.  I just got a new Weber charcoal grill so I am having fun breaking it in.  Your going to need a blender or food processor for the marinade and salsa, and as usual a good knife and cutting board.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup papaya, cut in chunks
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper, stemmed, Habanero is a good substitute
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • Juice of 1 ruby red grapefruit
  • 1 1/2 pounds of skirt or flank steak
  • 8 cloves peeled garlic
  • 3 jalapeno peppers stemmed or more, to taste
  • 4 cored plum tomatoes
  • 1 white onion halved
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • corn tortillas for serving, if you can get fresh all the better!

Let’s Cook!

Ok, couple things to remember here.

Be careful handling any chili pepper, was your hands thoroughly after handling cut peppers or wear gloves, please don’t touch your eye or other sensitive areas, wear clothes while cooking! Same applies to my outdoor grilling recipes!

Don’t marinade the steak for longer than 45 minutes or so, the citrus juice will begin to cook the meat and we’re grilling here!

Put the papaya, half the olive oil, your chili pepper of choice, grapefruit juice, salt and pepper in your blender or food processor and puree (that’s means make a smooth liquid in French!).  Taste it, add more salt and pepper as needed, good cooks constantly taste as they go.

Get a gallon plastic bag and pour in 2/3 of the marinade, add your steak, seal it and shake it around to coat.  You could use a deep dish/bowl too just make sure the steak is covered in that good stuff. Put aside your remaining marinade for basting.

Heat up your grill to high and grill your garlic, jalapenos, tomatoes, and onions on the hottest part of the grill. Pay attention, some of these guys only need a few minutes, this isn’t the time to get more beer or take selfies!  You want these veggies charred in spots and tender, not burned to a crisp, when you have achieved grilledness remove them and let cool.

Look, if you skip grilling the veggies I am not gonna bust your chops, but it does make your salsa nice and smoky. Anyway, when the above are cool throw them in your blender/processor with the remaining olive oil, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper.  You want this salsa to be chunky so just a few pulses should do it, actually a food processor is better for this.  Put your salsa in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.

Now make sure your grill is still hot then throw that steak on there, and leave the lid up/off.  Cook for at least 12 minutes which should give you medium rare, basting each side with the remaining marinade as you go.  Turn the steak as needed and if you like it more well done you’re probably looking at 15+ minutes total.  A good method is to touch the middle of your steak as it cooks and compare it to the parts of the palm of your hand, look it up, it works!

Plating

When your steak is cooked to perfection let it rest for 10 minutes then thinly slice it across the grain.  I like to warm up my tortillas on the grill while the meat rests, you can microwave them too for about 30-45 seconds just throw a wet paper towel on top.  Serve buffet style with the salsa and everyone can make their own tacos. I have a nice easy salad recipe that works well with this that I’ll put up shortly.

Post Prandial Thoughts

As steak grilling recipes go this is one of my favorites, it’s pretty easy and has a spicy kick.  I love the heat but if it’s too much for your hungry hippos you can sub jalapenos for the way hotter scotch bonnet.  If you want to dress up those tacos with some shredded cabbage or cheese or maybe some pickled veggies that sounds good to me!  Any way you do it have fun and enjoy it, grilling should be the most relaxing form of cooking.  Let me know how it went or any questions you have in the comments, enjoy!

-David B

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Easy Chinese Food Recipe – Stir Fried Pork with Scallions

easy chinese food recipe

Hi guys!

This one is a weeknight go to, you should after a couple of tries be able to bang this out in under 30 minutes. It is also a good one for the kids and an easy Chinese food recipe that you can make spicy, add more vegetables, or even make vegetarian/vegan if you want!

Equipment You Will Need

Break out your chef’s knife, your saucepan or wok and a cutting board, you’ll need measuring spoons as well unless you have a keener eye than me! Fire up your rice cooker at the beginning as well, it will take longer to cook the rice than the rest of the meal. In fact, I always start a recipe by starting the rice, it will keep almost indefinitely. Just give the rice a fluff about five minutes after it’s done and keep warm.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 lb of pork (boneless chops work great, pork butt too), cut into 1/4 thick slices or matchsticks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground white pepper (to taste, I use more cause I keep it spicy!)
  • 3 slices ginger (each about the size of a quarter, peeled)
  • 6 scallions, halved lengthwise and cut into 2 inch pieces, green and white parts
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Let’s Cook!

Combine the pork, rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch and white pepper. I like to mix everything up and then add the pork and mix by hand (with clean washed hands please).

Heat your pan/wok over medium-high heat until hot then add the vegetable oil. Add the pork carefully and let sit for a minute until it begins to brown, then stir-fry until brown all over but still slightly rare.

Add the salt, sugar and scallions and stir-fry for one or two more minutes until the scallions are bright green.

That’s it, not too bad right? Serve over rice and you’re done!

Plating

I usually just serve whatever I have cooked on top of a plate of rice because I have no class and just want to chow! However, the traditional Chinese service is to make several small plates/bowls of vegetable and protein dishes placed in the center of the table. Each diner will have their own small bowl of rice, serving themselves with chopsticks from the communal bowls. The various flavors from the dishes combine with the rice which is then finished ending the meal. You do you though, I won’t judge!

Post Prandial Thoughts

This might be my favorite Chinese pork recipe just because it is so easy and a great palette for any additions you want to make. I love it on its own though, very clean and simple, so I urge you to try that first and then make it yours! Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments, enjoy!

-David B

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Chinese Cooking Recipes – Beef with Broccoli

Chinese Cooking Recipies

Welcome! The first recipe I am going to share with you is one I most often recommend to friends and one of the first Chinese cooking recipes that I learned. Why you might ask? It’s easy, with a simple list of ingredients and techniques. Everything you need you probably have in your own kitchen and can find in your local grocery store. Even first timers can get this done in well under an hour and it is a huge crowd-pleaser and gets everyone to eat their broccoli!

Equipment You Will Need

I am going to make the assumption that you have a good sharp chef’s knife and a cutting board, if not, you need those to cook anything at home, if you would like a recommendation let me know in the comments.

I like to use either an 11-12″ wok or a 10.5″ saute pan for Chinese food recipes. Using the wok takes some higher level heat and quickness so I recommend the pan, hopefully you have something like that that is over 2″ deep. I don’t recommend cast iron as it is heavy and things can stick if you’re not careful, we’re trying to make this easy right?

Hey do you like rice? If so get a rice cooker, they’re not expensive and you just add your rice, water, set and forget!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 lb flank steak, sliced thin across the grain
  • 2 tablespoons oyster flavor sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 8 oz broccoli florets
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • Steamed white rice, about 4 cups cooked

Some notes on ingredients:

Use whatever soy sauce you like, I use a mix of light and dark but you won’t find dark everywhere. Regular old Kikkoman or whatever is fine. Likewise, with the rice wine, I have used Mirin, Japanese style, whatever they have at the store is fine to start. If you like more broccoli, great! If you like more beef, cool! Just remember to adjust the other ingredients accordingly. I like garlic so I put more in, if you want to add ginger go for it, you can mince it up and throw it in with the garlic. Make it yours!

Let’s Cook!

Make the marinade for the beef by mixing the 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, wine and cornstarch in a good sized bowl. Make sure to mix the starch thoroughly, you should end up with a pasty sauce. Add the beef and mix thoroughly, I use my (Always washed! Very often while cooking!) hands. Put that aside for a bit and make your sauce to add to the cooking beef. Mix the oyster sauce the remaining soy sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl.

While you’re marinating, mince your garlic and cut up your broccoli. A word on knife technique, be safe obviously, and use a sharp knife, dull knives are the ones that cut you. This isn’t a restaurant so no one will care if your little garlic pieces aren’t all the same size, if you want to develop pro-style knife skills there are plenty of videos online, I’d rather eat, when you’re done chopping put the broccoli aside. Make sure you get all of your chopping, measuring etc. done before you start cooking, there is nothing worse than having to panic measure/chop some ingredient while you’re cooking. That’s how stuff gets burnt and I once set a pan on fire this way, don’t do that!

Put your saute pan over medium-high heat and let it warm up for a couple minutes. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat the pan, throw in your garlic and follow with the beef right away. In my experience minced garlic cooks very quickly so no more than 10 seconds by itself. Stir fry your beef until is just a little pink still then add your oyster/soy/sesame sauce. Cook for about 1 minute more then remove from heat and transfer to a plate.

Return your saute pan to heat and throw in your broccoli and the chicken broth. I like my broccoli fairly crisp (as do most kids FYI) but if you like it softer you can cook until all the broth boils off. I usually remove it with a slotted spoon after about 3 minutes.

Plating

I don’t like doing dishes so here’s what I do. I dump the broccoli on top of the beef on one plate then make another plate with half the rice and take half of the beef broccoli mixture and transfer it back. I mix in the remaining rice with the remaining beef and broccoli. It is not a great presentation but it’s one less plate to clean. If you want to take pictures of your creation portion out the rice on two plates and gently spoon the beef over the top and surround with broccoli. Now you’re Insta-famous!

Post Prandial Thoughts

I love this dish, you get your broccoli which we know is good for you (fiber, vitamin C!). The iron in the beef helps your body absorb the vitamin C and vice versa, teamwork to make the dream work! After you make this a couple time you will be able to whip it up in under 30 minutes. My friends love this one on a Friday night after happy hour, so much healthier and tastier than bar food or fast food. Kids love it and they’re eating their greens. If you’re starting from scratch you’ll need to buy some ingredients but after a while you’ll only need the beef, broccoli and maybe garlic. Start building a pantry and experiment and soon you’ll have enough at home to make a great meal with only a quick grocery stop for veggies and a protein. You want to make it spicy, throw in some chili-garlic sauce! Blow out your sinuses with some Chinese hot mustard! This is a great recipe to mess around with because it’s almost impossible to screw up. Go ahead and try it and let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments, enjoy!

-David B

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About David B

Hi everybody and welcome to Cooking With David B, my cooking and recipe website. I have enjoyed cooking for myself, friends and family for over twenty years and over time have developed a repertoire of meals across many cuisines.

I am pretty much self-taught (with a little help from mom of course!) and started with almost no knowledge of anything beyond boiling water. Over the years I purchased many cookbooks as well as gathering recipes from family friends and of course online. I am living proof that if you can (sort of) follow directions you can be a pretty darn good cook with some practice.

I am going to show you how.

How I Started Cooking

I grew up in the 1980s, well before the words local, organic, and foodie entered the popular conversation. We ate a lot of prepackaged foods back then and I still love to make some of those for the childhood flavors. In fact, it is an easy way to get started as a lot of the prep work is done for you and you can concentrate on the mechanisms of cooking. As I grew older I started cooking breakfast in my college and early adult years to save money and to feed friends after long nights.

Let’s face it, every skill requires practice, and there were many times (especially cooking for dates) when I definitely overreached, and still do occasionally. If it takes 3 days to make a meal it may turn out nice but it is a lot of work for a home cook right?

I eventually learned that at least for every night cooking to keep things simple. Do I blow out and make some crazy meals for a party sometimes, sure, but on a regular weeknight that just won’t cut it. I’ll show you both but the bulk of what I do here will be something you can whip up for your family in under an hour.

Home Cooking is Healthy Cooking

Simply put, cooking at home is healthier for you and your family and cheaper than going out. A lot of us didn’t learn how to cook from our parents and not everyone has the time to gather that knowledge. Things are stressful these days, however, as we work together I hope you will find cooking at home can be very relaxing and in the main much healthier and tastier than dining out.

So Let’s Get to It!

I am here to share my love of cooking, and hopefully tech you some new recipes techniques and flavors you can bring to your home. I would love to hear from you about your experiences too, this isn’t a lecture, it’s a discussion!

If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

David B

cookingwithdavidb.com

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