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Rice and grains
Published By Michele Fan on February 06, 2018

Quick and easy dinner recipes are great for weeknights. Besides one-pot meals, sandwiches and salads, I like adding some Asian recipes to the rotation. With a few ingredients, here’s how you can cook authentic Asian dishes at home.

5 Basic Ingredients for Asian Cooking

  1. Rice (and a rice cooker)
    Rice is good for colon health and preventing obesity. The staple food in Asia is rich in resistant starch. Although harder to digest (thus taking up more room and filling you up sooner), resistant starch has a high potential for fermentation in the large intestine (a.k.a. the colon) to become food for intestinal bacteria.
    For enhanced health benefits, you may also cook different types of rice together. In fact, many Koreans prefer eating multigrain rice to plain white rice.
  2. Soy sauce
    Made from fermented soybeans, salt and water, soy sauce is widely used in Asian cuisines as a marinade or dipping sauce. As the condiment is high in sodium and may contain MSG, soy sauce with a lower sodium content or coconut aminos is recommended as a healthier alternative.
  3. Fish sauce
    Fish sauce is made from fermented fish, salt and water. The savory condiment is a key ingredient in Thai, Vietnamese and a range of Southeast Asian cuisines.
  4. Sesame oil
    Extracted from sesame seeds, sesame oil adds aroma and flavor to many Korean, Chinese and Japanese dishes. Sesame oil has a low smoke point and turns bitter when heated. It is not used for frying but more often as a dressing and for marinades and quick sautés.
  5. Garlic, ginger, green onion (or scallion)
    Whether minced, chopped or whole, garlic, ginger and green onion are used a lot in Asian cuisines as base flavors. Ginger, when boiled in water with black peppercorns, is often used to remove the gamey taste of meat.

5 Authentic Asian Recipes

  1. Stir-Fried Tomatoes and Eggs (Cantonese)
    While most online recipes for stir-fried tomatoes and eggs call for eggs, tomatoes, scallions, vinegar, sesame oil, rice wine and cornstarch, the recipe below is much simpler but tastes equally good.

    • Eggs*
    • Tomatoes (cut into wedges)
    • Cooking oil
    • Pinch of salt
    • Pinch of sugar
    • Ketchup
    • ½ cup water

    • In a small bowl, beat eggs with salt.
    • Add cooking oil to a pan, cook eggs, remove from pan and set aside.
    • Add cooking oil to the pan again, stir-fry tomato wedges briefly, then add water to simmer tomatoes until soft.
    • Put eggs back into pan, add ketchup and sugar to taste, then stir-fry to mix well.
    • Serve with rice.

    *A ratio of 2 eggs to 1 tomato is perfect for a one-person meal.

  2. Beef Stew With Beer (Taiwanese)
    Braised beef noodles is one of the most popular Taiwanese dishes. Beef stew with beer is a simplified, low-calorie version of the dish.

    • 2.5 lbs. stew-cut beef
    • 4 tomatoes (cut into wedges)
    • 1 onion (cut into wedges)
    • Cooking oil
    • 1 cup beer*
    • ½ cup soy sauce
    • 1 Tbsp. sugar
    • 1½ cups water

    • Brown beef in a pot, then drain fat and set beef aside.
    • Add cooking oil to the pot, cook onions until translucent.
    • Add tomatoes to the pot, cook and stir for 1 or 2 minutes.
    • Return beef to the pot, add beer, soy sauce, water and sugar; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the meat is tender, 30 to 45 minutes.
    • Serve with rice.

    *Any beer would work for this recipe, although I prefer using stout, dark beer or porter.

  3. Tonkatsu Japanese Pork Cutlet (Japanese)
    This deep-fried pork chop dish is one of the most popular staples in Japan. It is commonly served with a sweet Tonkatsu sauce or a sweet Japanese-style curry sauce. The recipe featured below is baked, not deep-fried, which results in a healthier version of the dish.

    • 2 thin, boneless pork chops
    • 1 cup panko
    • Vegetable oil
    • Pinch of salt
    • Pinch of pepper
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1 cup flour (or corn flour)

    • Mix panko with a teaspoon of vegetable oil, microwave the mixture for 1 minute.
    • Add another teaspoon of vegetable oil to the panko and microwave for another minute.
    • Season pork chops with salt and pepper.
    • Coat pork chops with flour, dip in egg wash and coat with microwaved panko.
    • Preheat oven to 485 degrees.
    • Place pork chops in a shallow baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
    • Serve with rice and salad.

  4. Basil Chili Pork/Beef/Chicken (Pad Krapow Moo) (Thai)
    The stir-fried pork/beef/chicken dish is a street-food favorite in Thailand and is often served with rice and a fried egg on top.

    • 1 lb. ground pork/beef/chicken
    • Cooking oil
    • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (halved)
    • 20 fresh basil leaves
    • 6 cloves garlic (minced)
    • 4 Tbsp. fish sauce
    • A pinch of crushed red peppers (optional)

    • Brown the pork/beef/chicken in a pan, then drain fat and set meat aside.
    • Add cooking oil to the pan, add garlic and cook until fragrant.
    • Return meat to the pan, add basil and fish sauce, stir and mix well.
    • Add cherry tomatoes to the pan, mix well.
    • Serve with rice and a fried egg.
  5. Bulgogi Beef (Korean)
    Bulgogi refers to Korean-style, thinly sliced, marinated, grilled meat. While bulgogi marinade comes in bottles in Asian supermarkets, you can also create your own by pulverizing onion, garlic, pears (or apples), sesame oil and soy sauce in a food processor. You may find the recipe here.

Shake up your weekday dinner with these few quick and easy Asian recipes!

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