Archive for the ‘Side Dishes’ Category

Gai Lan with Garlic and Oyster Sauce


Gai lan is a Chinese broccoli served mostly in Cantonese cooking. The flower buds and stalks are both eaten. The recipe I’m about to show you can be used as a universal way of stir-frying any vegetable; you can use this for green beans, spinach, bok choy, choy sum, snow pea leaves, Chinese cabbage, etc. Gai lan has a slightly bitter flavor, and that’s why we cook it in garlic and oyster sauce.

I know, I’m using a non-stick wok. I look like a total amateur, with no authentic Chinese cookware. I gave my real wok away when I moved out of my apartment years ago, and never got a new one, due to laziness.

This is a fairly easy recipe. It actually shouldn’t be a recipe at all; after you do it once, you’ll always remember how to do it.

Gai Lan with Garlic and Oyster Sauce (serves 4)


  • 1 bunch of gai lan, washed and patted dry
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp corn oil
  • salt
  • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce

*You will need tongs and a wok

Quick Directions:

1) Soak the gai lan in a big tub of water for a few minutes. Pat dry; the water on the gai lan will make the oil splatter, so the dryer the better.

2) Heat oil in a wok on high. Immediately after you drop the garlic in, put the gai lan in. Use a lid as a shield from splattering oil.

3) Using tongs, flip the gai lan from bottom to top, so all the leaves are coated with oil. Sprinkle salt over the leaves, this will flavor it plus force the water out of the vegetable.

4) Put a lid on it, turn heat down to medium. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

5) When it is done, the gai lan should be a vibrant green, and the stalks should be tender and crisp. You can put the oyster sauce in now, or drizzle it on top when you serve it.


Illustrated Directions:

1) Soak the gai lan in a big tub of water for a few minutes. Trust me, if you saw my post on salad earlier, the state of gai lan is worse, given that you don’t purchase it pre-packaged in a fancy container. Pat dry; the water on the gai lan will make the oil splatter, so the dryer the better.


2) Heat oil in a wok on high.


3) Immediately after you drop the garlic in, put the gai lan in. It will splatter (no matter how much you dried the leaves), so use a lid as a shield.


4) Using tongs, flip the gai lan from bottom to top, so all the leaves are coated with oil. Sprinkle salt over the leaves, this will flavor it plus force the water out of the vegetable.


5) Put a lid on it, turn heat down to medium. Cook for 3-4 minutes.


6) When it is done, the gai lan should be a vibrant green, and the stalks should be tender and crisp. You can put the oyster sauce in now, or drizzle it on top when you serve it.


See how easy that was?


Roasted Asparagus


I don’t think we’re in Asparagus Season quite yet.  I should really google it up and determine when the perfect time to buy these are…OR I could go to the local farmers’ market and see what they have. Oh that’s right, I have, and they have nothing yet. Since I live in Rochester, NY (more specifically, small city 8 hours north of New York City, or neighboring city of Buffalo, NY) we’ve just recently defrosted from our 8 month winter. We all joke around here that in Rochester, there are only 2 seasons, winter and construction. The road construction is to fix the large potholes we take as a souvenir from winter each year.

I’m drifting away from the subject. What was I talking about? Do I even know if asparagus is grown locally here anyway? I should do my research before I type. I will later. But I bought these at the supermarket for $1.50. They were the big, thick stalks. To me, they are a little older than I would’ve liked. The younger ones seem to be less stringy/chewy. I will have to make them again after I find better stalks. But I can still offer the recipe. It’s really a non-recipe recipe, it’s so easy to make it doesn’t require much direction. Wow, I really dragged this one out, didn’t I?

Here is a helpful link for FAQ about asparagus.


  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • olive oil
  • ground sea salt
  • lemon (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)


1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Trim bottom of stalks (at least half an inch). Wash and pat dry with paper towel. On roasting pan, spread asparagus out in single layer. Drizzle olive oil over asparagus, and swish the pan back and forth to coat evenly. Salt them.


3) Roast for 10 minutes. They should come out a vibrant green, and look a little skinnier like the pic below.


4) Serve with a squirt of lemon, or sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Or both. Or none.


Stuffed Tomatoes


These roasted tomatoes stuffed with cheesy rice, peppers and sausage were as good as they look. I figured I’d make a non-vegetarian dish for once, since it almost looked like I was eating too healthy lately. I had some spicy Italian sausage in the freezer, and figured I needed a reason to use them.

Cheesy Stuffed Tomatoes (serves 2-4)


  • 4 large beefsteak tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped peppers (green, orange, yellow, or a mixture of all 3)
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 Italian sausages, casing removed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 Tbsp bread crumbs
  • olive oil


1) Use a knife to carefully cut and remove the top of each washed tomato.


2) After cutting the top with a knife, I used a grapefruit spoon to carefully dig its guts out. Save the tomato guts in a bowl for later, you will need it to cook with.



Tomato guts! I just like saying tomato guts…


3) In a pan, melt a tsp. of butter on medium high. Add onions and peppers, cook until translucent.


4) Add sausage, cook until browned.


5) Add tomato guts! Turn heat down to low, cook for 10-15 minutes. Preheat oven at 425 degrees.


6) Add rice, salt and pepper to taste.


7) Stir 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese into rice mixture.



8) Using a spoon, stuff rice into tomatoes, packing it firmly. In casserole dish, wedge tomatoes in so they are holding each other upright. I could only get 3 to fit into my largest casserole dish, and used a smaller dish for a loner tomato. Top with remaining cheese, sprinkle with bread crumbs and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Pour a tiny bit of water into bottom of casserole dishes to prevent burning/sticking.


9) My Macgyver skills led me to create this aluminum foil contraption to wedge the single tomato in securely.


10) Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes until tomatoes are tender. Should come out like this.



Breaded Zucchini

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Breaded zucchini. Be sure not to over fry them, or they get all soggy and limp.


  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • oil
  • salt


1) Slice zucchini into quarter inch slices.  Whisk egg into bowl, dip zucchini slices into egg. Pour bread crumbs into dish, cover egg dipped slices into bread crumbs.

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 2) Pour oil to coat bottom of pan, heat at medium high. Place zucchini slices in pan for one minute until brown, flip and cook for another minute. Remove and place on paper towels to soak up excess oil. Sprinkle salt, serve.

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Kimbap (korean sushi rolls)



Kimbap (or gimbap, or Gim-Bahp) is basically korean sushi, but without the raw fish.  It consists of rice, meat and vegetable rolled in a seaweed wrapper. They are incredibly addictive (probably because of the naturally occurring MSG in the seaweed?).  The ones I had at a friend’s house consisted of vienna sausage, egg and pickled radish.  You can use other forms of protein, like canned tuna, or strips of  bbq beef.  My husband had a craving for kimbap this past weekend and we couldn’t buy pickled radish, so we sliced regular pickles instead. It sounds like an odd combination, but the taste actually works.  They require some time and effort; we probably made these a total of 10 times in the past couple years before we mastered rolling something that resembled sushi. But practice does make perfect. In the picture above, I rolled the big ones (my husband jokingly nicknamed them ‘fat boys’), and my husband rolled the smaller ones (I didn’t nickname his because it’s not a competition for me).

Kimbap (makes roughly 10 rolls)


  • 3 cooked eggs, cut into strips (directions below)
  • 2 cans vienna sausage, cut lengthwise into 4 strips each
  • 5 pickles, cut lengthwise into 4 strips each
  • 6 cups cooked sushi rice (2 cups uncooked)
  • 1/4 cup sushi vinegar
  • 3 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 10-12 seaweed sheets
  • bamboo mat for rolling sushi


1) Whisk 3 eggs with 1 tsp. oil. On medium-high heat, pour egg mixture into wok, cook for 1 minute, then flip and cook another 1-2 minutes. Do not scramble. Cool on cutting board, then cut into strips.


2) Prepare ‘sushi making station’ with 3 bowls for egg strips, slices of meat, and slices of pickles, all roughly the same thickness/size as shown below. Don’t worry about the lengths, you can tear them to fit the rolls later on. Have bamboo mat(s) and seaweed sheets ready.



 3) Cook 2 cups sushi rice in rice cooker. As rice is cooking, have vinegar, sesame oil, salt and sugar ready.


4) Leave rice to steam in rice cooker for 10 minutes after it is finished cooking.  Then scoop the rice into a bowl, and mix the ingredients (above)  into the rice.  Immediately begin making rolls while rice is still hot.


Step by step directions on how to roll sushi:

1) Using a spoon, quickly spread a thin layer of rice onto seaweed sheet. Leave a bit of clearance on all sides, as shown. Put strips of egg, meat and pickle on top of rice an inch above bottom of sheet.


2) Roll bamboo to cover ingredients with seaweed, squeezing bamboo tightly with hands. 


3) You don’t need the bamboo for this part, so take bamboo off the roll as shown below.


4) Finish rolling the sushi by hand.


5) Place rolls seam side down on cutting board.


6) Wait for them to cool for a couple minutes, then cut pieces with a sharp knife.


Below: the ‘rejects’. These are the odds ‘n ends, we usually eat these rejects first because we’re perfectionists, and we don’t like seeing them on the table for long, so they go fast.


They go really well with beer.  I think all korean food goes well with beer. I wish we had banchan….


Grilled Zucchini



A nice healthy accompaniment to any main dish.  If you live in an apartment and don’t have a backyard grill, use a panini or george foreman grill.

Grilled Zucchini (serves 2-4)


  • 2 medium to large zucchinis
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper


1.  Using a peeler, peel stripes vertically on zucchini, as seen in picture below.


2.  Slice into 1 inch 1/2 inch (sorry, I’m a moron and should’ve used a ruler) thick slices.  Try to make the thickness consistent so they grill evenly together.  Brush olive oil on both sides, salt and pepper.


3.  Grill until brown, flip to other side and continue grilling until done. Serve.

Garlic Bread


Slice a baguette down the middle like you are making a sub. In a small bowl, mix 2 tbsp melted butter, 2 cloves crushed garlic, and salt. Brush mixture onto bread.  Toast in oven (set to broil) until edges are golden brown. Shouldn’t take more than a minute to toast, so watch it carefully in the oven. Can substitute butter with olive oil.

Coconut and Panko Fried Shrimp


 This recipe was pretty easy but in order to get that crispy breaded coating you need to follow the steps.  I use to combine or skip steps because I was lazy and they never turned out quite right.  You will need a bowl of tempura flour (or regular flour), a bowl with one whisked egg, and a plate with a mixture of coconut flakes and panko bread crumbs.  I also won’t tell you how to serve it as a side dish, main dish, appetizer, or something.  If it were up to me, I’d just make a pound of shrimp and eat that for dinner.

Coconut & Panko Fried Shrimp (serves 2-4)


  • 1 pound of de-veined, butterflied shrimp
  • 1 cup of tempura flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup of coconut flakes
  • 3 cups oil 



  1. De-vein and butterfly 1 pound of shrimp. Basically that means slitting both sides of the shrimp, one side should have the poop tract and the other side would butterfly the shrimp in half.  Pour 1 cup of tempura flour in bowl, whisk one egg into another bowl, and combine 1 cup of panko crumbs with 1 cup coconut flakes on a plate.
  2. Dredge shrimp in tempura flour. Shake off excess flour, coat with egg mixture. Shake off excess egg, coat in panko/coconut mixture, set aside.  Halfway through this process, heat 3 cups of oil on medium high on your stove.  Use a small pot deep enough so the shrimp are fully covered in oil, assuming you don’t own a deep fryer.  If your stove knob goes up to 10, set it to 8.
  3. Place 4-5 shrimp in at a time.  Too many will cause the oil to either bubble over or the oil temp to go down, something bad always happens when I do too much too fast.  When shrimp is golden brown, use tongs or wire mesh to scoop up onto plate lined with paper towel to drain.

This is how I served mine, with a side salad:


How to make fried rice


Fried rice is typically made to use up leftover rice and food from the night before.  There are no set ingredients to use other than rice, oil, and whatever meat and veggies you have in your fridge.  One important lesson in stir-frying is that it is done to produce ‘wok hei’; the heat of that wok that enhances the flavor of the ingredients, NOT generous amounts of soy sauce. Authentic fried rice is not painted a glossy dark brown by a bottle of soy sauce and heaping amounts of oil; the soy is used to enhance the flavors of the ingredients, and the rice should appear fluffy in texture.  I’m using leftover cooked ham, green peas, and egg since that’s what I have.  If you don’t have ham, you can use leftover barbeque pork, spam, chicken, shrimp, whatever. If you don’t have peas, substitute another vegetable that you can dice up.  If you like pineapple, put some in.  If you don’t like veggies or fruit, don’t use them.  I don’t care. 

Real Fried Rice (serves 4-6)


  • 5-6 cups leftover cooked rice (if you are making fresh rice, cook 1 ¼ cups and set aside to cool)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of chopped ham
  • 1 cup of green peas
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Handful of green onion or scallion, chopped (optional)
  • Wok


  1.        Whisk 1 tsp. of vegetable oil into 2 eggs.  On medium heat, pour eggs into wok.  Genty scramble, set aside.
  2.        Increase heat to high on stove.  Coat wok with 3 tbsp. of vegetable oil.  Pour rice in.  Fold rice over itself with spatula, add swigs of oil in increments as you are mixing rice until the kernels look separated and not like sticky clumps.
  3.        Add egg, diced ham, and peas, stir.  Add 1 tsp. sesame oil, stir.  Add soy sauce until desired saltiness/color.  I personally don’t like my rice to taste like salt, so my rice comes out a light brown color.
  4.        Garnish with green onion/scallion.  Serves 4-6.  Or if you’re really hungry, 1-2.

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