For the past couple years, culinary authorities have been predicting that Asian food will be trending (see here, here and here). The average American home cook is more likely to order Asian food for a night off from cooking than to prepare his or her own.
However, homemade Asian food doesn’t have to be daunting. While many popular Asian dishes seem complex and unattainable, once you break them down, the individual components are easy to master in your own kitchen.
Weeknight Pho or Faux Pho
Vietnamese pho soup has become increasingly popular amongst Americans. Traditional pho is a beef and noodle soup. The secret to the originality of the soup is in the broth, which is made from slow simmered beef bones and a variety of aromatic spices including star anise, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Chicken pho—or pho ga—is made with the same spices but with chicken bones.
You can make homemade pho weeknight friendly by using ready-made chicken stock and rotisserie chicken meat.
- 2 boxes chicken stock (64 oz.)
- 4-5 star anise pods
- 3-4 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 2 shallots sliced or 2 garlic cloves sliced and half a small onion sliced
- 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
- 2-4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey
- 1 lb. thin rice noodles (can substitute angel hair)
- 1 shredded rotisserie chicken
- Sliced green onion
- Sliced white onion
- Thai basil (can use Italian basil if you can’t find the Thai variety)
- Jalapeno slices
- Lime wedges
- Hoisin sauce
Simmer broth ingredients for at least 30 minutes. While the broth is simmering, shred the chicken meat, cook the noodles according to package directions and prepare your desired toppings. Strain the broth and discard the solids. Place one serving of each the noodles and the shredded chicken in each bowl. Pour the broth on top and garnish with your desired toppings.
The most popular form of Korean barbeque in the U.S. is bulgogi, which directly translates to “fire meat.” Bulgogi can be served in a variety of ways including lettuce wraps or over rice. One of the most delectable ways to enjoy bulgogi is in bibimbap. Bibimbap translates to “mixed rice,” and while you can have any variety of toppings in bibimbap (traditionally sautéed spinach, bean sprouts, an egg, carrots, cucumbers and cooked mushrooms), bulgogi is a common and delicious addition. Bibimbap makes a great weekend night dinner.
Bulgogi: (adapted from this more authentic Boy Meets Grill recipe)
- 1 pound rib-eye
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 1 Asian pear, grated with juices (can substitute 1 grated apple or 1 cup of applesauce)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
- ½ small white onion, sliced
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon cayenne (can be adjusted to make beef more or less spicy)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
Instant white rice cooked to package directions
Toppings: (use any amount you desire of each)
- Vegetables sautéed in peanut or canola oil with sesame seeds, salt and garlic: spinach, bean sprouts, shitake mushrooms
- Julienned carrots
- Cucumber slices
- 1 egg per serving, cooked over easy
When you wake up in the morning, place your rib-eye steak in the freezer for about 30 minutes so that it is easier to slice thin. While the beef is in the freezer, whisk together the rest of the bulgogi ingredients, set aside. Take the beef out of the freezer and thinly slice. Place the beef in a food storage bag and pour the marinade over it. Close the bag and make sure the marinade covers the beef completely. Refrigerate until you’re ready for dinner.
When you’re ready for dinner, pour the beef and marinade into a heavy-bottomed pot and cook on high heat. Keep the beef moving. While the beef is cooking, prepare your choice of other toppings.
To assemble: make a bed of rice in a shallow bowl (pasta bowls work great); place the beef and other toppings on top so that you can see each one (sort of like a cobb salad); place the egg on top. Mix the ingredients together to eat.