Homemade Chili Oil

We have said it about 1000 times already but we absolutely love Asian food. One of our favorite ways to eat dumplings, pot stickers, noodles and just about anything, Asian or not, is to add chili oil. It is a condiment that we immediately request when we sit down to eat. With this in mind, we experimented a bit to create our own chili oil that we could have on hand in the kitchen to spice up our recipes. This recipe is a bit involved in terms of ingredients. You are going to need a lot of spices and to execute this carefully so they do not burn. But don’t be intimidated! We will walk you through this step by step. The best part is, once you make this recipe, you will have enough to hold you over for a while. Maybe….


Homemade Chili Oil
Makes: 1.5 cups of chili oil
Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 tbs Chinese chili powder (see here)
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tbs cayenne powder
  • 1 tbs Chinese 5 spice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 Thai chilies
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil

Directions:

  1. Combine all seasonings (star anise – Thai chilies) in an oven proof dish. You will want to be sure that this dish is deep enough enough room for the 1.5 cups of oil plus an inch or two on top.
  2. In a pan, heat the canola oil. Once hot, add the garlic. You will want the garlic to begin to fry but not burn – roughly one minute. Turn off the heat on the pan.
  3. Very carefully (over your sink) pour the hot oil into the dish with the seasonings. Once the oil is added, the seasonings will begin to boil. This is what you want! Let the seasonings boil and do their thing for a few minutes while the oil cools.
  4. When the oil cools completely, store in a mason jar or other air proof container. To keep it lasting longer, keep it in the refrigerator.
  5. Use on top of anything. Dumplings, noodles, tacos, eggs… the sky is the limit!


Semi-Homemade Massaman Curry

When Tuck’s mom and dad came home from Thailand, we were gifted with the ultimate arrangement of spices and curry mixes to try. We have loved making them these past few months and have found that modifying this dish is super easy and a fun way to experiment in the kitchen. Because we love spicy, we have added spicy Thai chilies to give the curry a kick. Feel free to incorporate vegetables that you have on hand and approach to make this a complete meal. We know that you probably won’t be able to find the exact packets that we used from Thailand but have included a link to something similar that you can purchase. Most mainstream grocery stores will have curry packets in the Asian aisle as well.

Semi-Homemade Massaman Curry

Makes: 4 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet Massaman curry mix (similar here)
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 package boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into strips
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 – 10 thai chilis
  • chopped green onion (optional)
  • 3 -4 cups rice or 1 package thai rice noodles

Directions:

  1. Add the curry mix and 1/2 of the can of coconut milk to a pan and bring to a boil. Be sure to stir thoroughly until the mix is fully incorporated into the coconut milk.
  2. Add the chicken and onion and cook for 5 minutes. The chicken does not need to be fully cooked through.
  3. Add the water and Thai chilis and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Keep the lid off the pan so that some of the water can evaporate.
  4. While the curry in cooking, cook the rice or noodles according to the package directions.
  5. Serve the curry over rice and noodles, hot. Add the green onions on top for garnish.

Fried Rice: Quarantine Edition

Cooking in self imposed quarantine has provided a fun opportunity to get back to the basics of cooking. This recipe reminds us of our days in college – using up what we had in the fridge and freezer to create something out of nothing. Fried rice is the pinnacle of quarantine food. You could make a thousand variations of this recipe with what you have on hand and consider it a thoughtful meal. No rice? Use any similar substitute including quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur, cous cous, or cauliflower rice. For the vegetables you can use literally anything you have on hand that would go well with stir fry. Frozen vegetable mixes are perfect for this but expand the criteria to shaved brussels sprouts, frozen edamame, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower…. the sky is the limit. For the photo below we used a pre-made vegetable stir fry packet that we found in the produce section of the grocery store and supplemented with a packet of frozen veggies. Add it all together in a pan with a few scrambled eggs, soy sauce, garlic, and sriracha and you have yourself a pretty darn tasty meal!

Fried Rice: Quarantine Edition
Makes: 4 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw brown or white rice*
  • 4 cups vegetables- this can be prepared stir fry mix, frozen vegetables, anything!
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbs sesame oil (sub vegetable oil if you don’t have sesame)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs ginger, minced (optional)
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs hot sauce (sriracha or sambal)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • chopped scallions or cilantro, for garnish, optional

Directions:

  1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large sauce pan. Add the brown rice and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. If the vegetables you are using are frozen, add the vegetables to the top of the pot. Cover and turn off the heat. Let the vegetables sit covered for 5 minutes to thaw.
  2. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add 2 tbs sesame oil and crack the eggs into the pan. Use a spatula to scramble the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the eggs from the pan onto a plate when they are near done- they will be back in the pan to finish cooking in a few steps.
  3. Put the saute pan back on the heat. Add the remaining sesame oil, garlic, and ginger to the pan if you have them on hand. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the garlic starts crisping and is fragrant. If you are using fresh vegetables that can be stir fried (leafy greens like kale, shredded brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli etc), add them to the pan. Stir everything well to coat. Add 1/4 cup water to the pan to help steam and saute the vegetables for 4 minutes.
  4. Add the brown rice and any frozen vegetables if you thawed them into the saute pan. Add the soy sauce, hot sauce, and eggs to the pan as well. Stir everything to combine and cook another 3 minutes so that all of the flavors can blend. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with cilantro or green onions if you have them on hand.

* If you have brown rice that is already cooked, use 3 cups. If you have frozen brown rice cook according to package directions and add in at Step 4.


Semi-Homemade Potsticker Salad Bowls

If you know us personally, you know that we love dumplings something fierce. At any given time, you can venture to Tuck or Tate’s homes and find potstickers in the freezer. They are the ultimate answer to “oh crap, what is for dinner?!” We have created these Potsticker Salad Bowls by combining two of our favorite Japanese appetizers: potstickers and the house salad with ginger dressing. 

Makoto Ginger Dressing one of the only pre-made salad dressings that we will buy at the grocery store- the stuff is that good. You can find it at regular grocery stores (Publix, Wegmans, King Soopers/Kroger) in the refrigerated salad section. We’ve added romaine, shredded carrots, snap peas, and cucumbers to bulk this baby up with some vegetables and brown rice because Tuck and Tate have fathers that would never consider a lettuce-based salad a dinner. If you prep the salad ingredients while the potstickers are cooking in the pan, this dinner can be on the table in 20 minutes. 

Semi-Homemade Potsticker Salad Bowls 
Prep Time: 20 minutes    Total Time: 20 minutes 
Makes: 4 servings 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 package frozen potstickers (there should be about 20 in the pack) 
  • 2 tbs sesame oil 
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs sriracha 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped into bite sized pieces 
  • 1 package frozen brown rice 
  • 1+ cups shredded carrots 
  • 1+ cups snap peas 
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 avocado, quartered and sliced 
  • 1 bottle Makoto Ginger Dressing 

Directions: 

  1. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha, and water to the pan- stir to combine the ingredients. Add the frozen potstickers to the pan, creating one even layer of potstickers. Cook the potstickers on medium heat for approximately 10 minutes- rotating every once in a while so that all sides of the potstickers are heated through. As the water evaporates and steams the filling, the oil and soy sauce will coat the outside dough and give the potstickers a crispy flavorful topping. 
  2. While the potstickers are cooking, cook the frozen brown rice in the microwave according to package directions. It doesn’t have to be scorching hot, just heated somewhere north of room temperature. 
  3. Assemble the salads by layering the romaine, brown rice, snap peas, carrots, and cucumbers. Top with the Makoto dressing. When the potstickers are finished cooking (starting to get crispy on the outside and the water has evaporated), remove from the pan and serve on top of the salads. Garnish with avocado and serve. 

* Please note our salad is not pictured with cucumber because we were so excited to cook, photograph, and then eat this recipe that we forgot to add them in the process. Sigh. 


Chilled Sesame Noodles

We love a good Asian-inspired noodle dish about as much as we love anything in this world. No matter what type of restaurant we are dining at, if noodles are on the menu, we will always partake. One of the problems with dishes like drunken noodles or pad thai is that they do not typically reheat well and creating these types of recipes for a crowd can be a struggle to cook everything at the exact right time so that it comes out tasting fresh and texturally correct. Our solution to this problem is to serve the noodles we cook for more than a few people chilled. This allows for a more relaxed preparation and on a day we are having friends over, we can actually enjoy the company and the food.

The key to any chilled dish is seasoning the heck out of the ingredients. A recipe served chilled tastes significantly less seasoned than the exact same dish served hot. For that reason our dressing packs a punch. If you are making these for a particular meal we suggest serving them at room temperature right after cooking the noodles. If you want to make them for meal-prep and have this as a weekday lunch, chill the noodles completely before adding the other ingredients. This will help the vegetables stay fresh for a day or two before eating.


Chilled Sesame Noodles
Makes: 4 entree servings
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients for the Noodles:

  • 1 lb noodles- we used pad thai noodles but soba are a great choice too
  • 2 cups frozen edamame beans
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced in half horizontally and then into thin matchsticks
  • fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • sesame seeds, for garnish

For the Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs+ Sriracha or other chili paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs fresh ginger, minced
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  • Heat a large pot of water on the stove top. Bring to a boil and cook the edamame, from frozen, according to package directions (approximately 4-5 minutes). Use a slotted spoon to remove the beans from the pot and set aside.
  • Cook the noodles according to package directions, about 6 minutes. While the noodles are cooking, prepare the dressing.
  • Mix the ingredients for the dressing (sesame oil – ginger) in a small mixing bowl. Whisk well to combine and season with salt. Set aside.
  • Drain the noodles from the boiling water. Run the noodles under cold water until they are luke warm to the touch if you are serving right away, until they are cold if you are making this to serve later.
  • Add the noodles and dressing to a large mixing bowl. Toss well to combine as the pad thai noodles can become sticky. Add the edamame, bell pepper, and carrots to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Season as needed and top with cilantro and sesame seeds for garnish, if desired.

Tofu Peanut Noodles

hen Tuck’s parents first started dating, Tuck’s dad did not eat Asian food. The Neistat girls (Tuck & Tate’s moms) believe they were Asian in another life, that is how much they crave dishes like pho, sushi, and Chinese dumplings on a regular basis. So, you can imagine, that when Tuck’s dad refused to eat Thai food late after a baseball game, Tuck’s mom nearly had a meltdown.

Over the years, Tuck’s dad has evolved his food palate immensely, and we think that is partly due to this Tofu Peanut Noodle recipe. The peanut sauce ingredients-soy sauce, ginger, garlic, chili sauce, and rice wine vinegar- are a 101 Intro Class into Asian flavors. Blending them with peanut butter tames their flavors and makes the sauce approachable for everyone. As with all of our recipes, feel free to modify the vegetables that we have added to the noodles so that you can use up what you have in your refrigerator. We love this recipe fresh off the stove and served hot, but we always make extra so that we can have it the next day for a quick lunch on-the-go.
Tofu Peanut Noodles

Makes: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients For The Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs sriracha or other chili paste (3 if you want to feel the burn)
  • 2 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbs fresh ginger, minced
  • salt, to taste

Ingredients For The Noodles :

  • 1 package tofu
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 2 (2/3 cup) shredded carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 large handful of green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup edamame beans, thawed if frozen
  • 7 oz (1/2 package) rice noodles, sometimes called pad thai noodles or pho noodles
  • 1 cup pasta water
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Make the sauce. Combine all of the ingredients for the peanut sauce (peanut butter – ginger) in a large mixing bowl. If the sauce resembles a thick paste, that is okay. You will dilute the peanut sauce with pasta water after you finish cooking the noodles. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces and put into the large skillet. Let the tofu dehydrate and cook for about 10 minutes, using a spatula to flip the tofu every few minutes. When it starts to stick to the pan, coat the tofu with cooking spray and season with salt and the garlic powder. Remove the tofu from the pan into a second bowl; cover and keep warm.
  3. Cook the rest of the vegetables (carrots – edamame) in the same skillet you cooked the tofu. Coat the pan with the 1 tbs of sesame oil and cook the vegetables until they are tender- 4 or 5 minutes. Season with salt and place the vegetables into the same bowl as the tofu and cover again to keep warm.
  4. Heat a large pot full of water to boil the noodles. Cook the noodles according to package directions- which should be about 3 minutes. Carefully remove the noodles from the water with tongs straight into the peanut sauce bowl. This will help the peanut sauce dilute to reach your desired consistency. If the water from the noodles is not enough, use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to add hot pasta water to the peanut sauce. Continue to use tongs to toss the pasta until the sauce is evenly coated on the noodles. As this point, taste the noodles and season with salt and sriracha as needed.
  5. Gently toss the vegetables and tofu with the peanut noodles. Serve immediately.