Winter is a good time to enjoy a good spicy braising dish, and I find myself drawn to Korean dubu jorim many times this time of year. This dish is really easy and quick to prepare. Prep time is probably less than 15 minutes, and the cooking time is about the same. If you have a minimally stocked Korean seasoning in your pantry, you should be able to quickly replicate this recipe in your kitchen.
Korean dishes tend to look extremely scary spicy, but I think it is still tolerable for most Indonesians like myself. If you are not sure you can handle the spiciness, feel free to reduce the amount of Korean chili pepper (gochugaru) used in the recipe, but don’t completely omit it. There are two types of gochugaru, coarse and fine, you can use a mix of two, of just pick either all coarse or all fine, it really doesn’t matter in this recipe. Another key ingredient is gochujang, a chili paste that is also very commonly used in many Korean dishes. If you are familiar with Japanese cuisine, then you probably know that Japanese use katsuoboshi in most of their dishes. In this respect, the Korean is very similar to Japanese, but instead of katsuoboshi, they use anchovies. The store that I frequent sells Korean anchovies in the freezer section, next to miso paste. If you cannot find this in your nearby stores, you can always place an order of Korean anchovies with Amazon. Or in a pinch, katsuoboshi is also a good substitute, though the taste of course will be slightly different. I dare hope that the rest of the ingredients should not pose a problem.
Eggs are my go-to easy dishes. I love making hard-boiled eggs, and then further cook them in delicious sauces like this gulai telur Padang.
You can fry the hard-boiled eggs in hot oil first to create a blistered golden brown crust on the eggs. I usually skip this step, but the ones sold in Padang restaurants usually have this golden brown crust, so it is up to you if you want to or not.
Gulai Padang sauce
The sauce is simple, just need to gather the ingredients and make a spice paste with food processor or blender.
You will need lemongrass, shallot, garlic, bird eye chilies, candlenuts (or macadamia), ginger, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, daun salam, tumeric powder, and coconut milk.
If bird eye chilies are too spicy for your liking, feel free to use milder varieties, such as cayenne, or even Fresno. Just make sure to use red color chilies.
Daun salam is Indonesian bay leaves. The flavor is super different compared to regular bay leaves. So if you can’t find daun salam, the best option would be to simply omit them.
How to cook gulai telur Padang?
First, sauté spice paste and all seasoning ingredients until fragrant and the color turns into a darker shade.
Then, add water and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add the peeled hard boiled eggs and simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce thickens.
Turn off the heat, discard the leaves, and serve gulai telur padang with steamed white rice.
A typical packet of nasi Padang
Typically if you buy a packet of Padang rice meal, you get a serving of rice, a serving of egg (gulai telur or telur balado, you get to choose usually), a serving of vegetables, and a serving of meat (rendang, gulai ayam, ayam bakar, ayam pop), and a generous amount of sambal lado.
A rice packet like this is very filling and most likely costs less than $2, a truly delicious and satisfying meal at a very reasonable price. Give it a try if you ever visit Indonesia 🙂
I have a very old fashioned Chinese recipe for you today, five spice braised peanuts. This is such an old fashioned snack that I remember only my older aunties used to make this and share with their younger sisters, my Mom being one of them. 🙂
I almost forgot all about this snack until my friend shared hers. I simply must try her recipe and replicate, since it is so good and extremely easy. So a big thanks Pearlyn. 🙂
Peanuts with Skin On
For this recipe, you want to hunt down dried raw peanuts with skin on. I usually buy this kind of peanuts in my Asian grocery since I like sticking to using Chinese ingredients for Chinese recipe. Interestingly the ones I usually buy comes in a 12 oz (340 gram) packet, hence the same amount in my recipe. 😀 If you have no access to Asian grocery, feel free to use the one stocked in your regular grocery stores.
Regular pot vs. Pressure Cooker
Since I want to make sure even newbies can replicate this recipe, I make sure to cook this in a saucepot. It takes 2 hours, but it is super easy and not much work needs to be done. You simply have to check occasionally to make sure there is still enough water in the pot, and add some hot water if needed. If you are a more advanced cook and have a pressure cooker, you can cut down the cooking time to only 45 minutes. Either way, this five spice braised peanuts should turn out delicious.
Char siu has always been one of my guilty pleasure. I know it can be quite fatty and growing up, my parents would always remind us not to eat too much char siu. For a long while, I was a good daughter and did restrain myself. Now that I know just how easy to prepare a good char siu at home, it has been a challenge. And especially with this stovetop braised char siu recipe, making a good char siu is such an easy thing the only way to stop is to not even buy any pork when doing my groceries. 😀
I have to thank my friend Pearlyn for this wonderful recipe. I usually prepare my char siu with preserved bean curd (nam yue), but hers uses fermented chili soy bean paste (dou ban jiang). I know she is a remarkably good cook and followed her recipe exactly and it turned out so good I don’t want to change anything. If you love char siu, you owe it to yourself to at least try the recipe once. But, don’t come to me later to complain you cannot stop cooking this. 😉
Why is the char siu not red?
If you are wondering why the char siu is not as red as the ones in restaurant, it is because those are usually colored with red food coloring. There is a way if you want to add red color naturally, but you need to get some red yeast rice (angkak). Soak 1 tablespoon (or even up to 1.5 tablespoon) of angkak in hot water for 1 minute, drain, then grind in a food processor and mix with the rest of the marinating ingredients to marinate the pork. If you do it this way, your char siu will be red.
Mun tahu is a classic Chinese Indonesian braised silken tofu dish, with ground chicken/pork/beef (or roughly chopped shrimp), drenched in thick savory garlic ginger sauce. This dish is what I make when I need to prepare something quick and I don’t want a lot of fuss, because I can be very happy with a bowl of rice and mun tahu. If you love tofu, you are going to love this dish. Or if you don’t love tofu, maybe this can be the dish to convince you otherwise.
A Chinese Indonesian Tofu Dish
Mun tahu literally means braised tofu, originally a Hakka Chinese dish, but is now widely enjoyed by many Indonesian. You can still order mun tahu from many old established Chinese restaurants in Jakarta.
Ground chicken and chopped shrimps are probably the two most popular choice of meat to go with mun tahu, though you can also order them with ground pork or ground beef.
I think of mun tahu as the non spicy version of mapo tofu. In fact, I would argue most Indonesians are more familiar with mun tahu compared to mapo tofu.
A bowl of silky tofu goodness
The star of mun tahu is definitely the tofu. Try to stick to silken variety if you can. It is now very easy to find tofu in my neighborhood groceries, though the grocery nearest to my house for some reason only stock extra firm variety.
For silken tofu, I am still forced to make a special trip to Asian market. But I found out that Amazon now carries Mori-Nu tofu, and the silken tofu from Mori-Nu is a no brainer for this dish.
Not having to stash my tofu in refrigerator is such a revelation, since I am definitely that lady who fills her shopping cart with a dozen blocks of tofu in one trip, and later have to sacrifice half a shelf in the fridge just for tofu.
The next little secret to make a great mun tahu lies in the stock. It is true you can make an okay mun tahu with water, but if you use chicken stock, or even Japanese dashi stock if that’s what you have, you are going to have an amazing mun tahu.
I would say that even if all you have in your kitchen is some stock granules instead of the real deal, you should still go for it. Only in last resort should one prepare mun tahu with water.
Furofuki daikon (ふろふき大根) is a Japanese braised daikon dish served with miso sauce. This is a popular winter dish served in most Japanese households since winter is the time when daikon is sweetest and tastes the best.
The way to slowly boil the daikon until tender is mostly standard across households, but I am quite certain the miso sauce will differ slightly from family to family. But here is the way I prepare my miso sauce and I hope you will like it.
Boiling daikon with water from washing rice to reduce its bitterness
From the time when my Grandmother was still with us, we have always been boiling our daikons with water from washing rice. Since we cook rice daily, we will naturally have water from rinsing and washing rice. We collect this water and use it to boil daikon to reduce the bitterness of daikon.
What if I don’t cook rice and have no water from washing rice?
In that case, I suggest wrapping 2 tablespoons of rice in a cheesecloth (or a fine-mesh tea strainer), and boil your daikon with water and the small packet of rice. Once you have finished boiling the daikon, simply remove the rice packet and proceed with the remaining steps of the recipe.
Boil the daikon further in a konbu stock or vegetable stock
Once the daikon is boiled until tender in the washing rice water, we drain the boiling water and replace it with clean water with a small piece of konbu. A small 3″ square is enough. If you don’t have konbu, you have several alternatives:
use vegetable stock
use dashi stock (for non-vegetarian only)
use chicken stock (for non-vegetarian only)
This time, we only boil and simmer the daikon for a mere 8-10 minutes to lightly flavor the daikon.
Preparing miso sauce for the braised daikon
For the miso sauce, you will need:
Simply boil together sugar, sake, mirin, and water in a small sauce pot until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat, then add red miso paste and whisk into a smooth sauce.
Miso paste is full of health benefits and although the taste of your sauce will be okay if you cook it along with everything else, the highly valued nutrients in miso paste will not survive the cooking. So, always add miso paste to hot liquid and slowly whisk it instead of cooking it.
Serving braised daikon with miso paste
To serve this dish, simply arrange one piece of daikon in a small plate/bowl per person. Garnish the daikon with some thinly sliced scallions, and let each person add the miso sauce when they want to eat it. I think this is a very simple way to enjoy daikon, and the presentation is quite elegant too. 🙂
If you have a different way to prepare the miso sauce, please share with me in the comment.
This simple braised tofu is one of my trusted recipes that I make again and again. I always have packets of firm tofu in my fridge, along with some garlic, chilies, and scallions. Plus, the braising sauce is made from super common Chinese pantry items that I can whip up in minutes.
If you don’t want to fry the tofu yourself, you can always grab some packages of deep-fried tofu from you Asian market. In which case, this already quick meal will become lightning fast!
What you need to prepare Chinese simple braised tofu
You will only need a handful of ingredients for this dish. I’ll divide them into two parts, fresh ingredients, and pantry ingredients for the braising sauce.
The fresh ingredients
2 blocks of firm tofu, cut each block into 12-16 pieces
5 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 scallions, cut into 1-inch sections
2-4 red chilies, seeded and thinly sliced
The braising sauce
If your kitchen has a decent stock of common Chinese pantry ingredients, you can make this sauce in 1-2 minutes! All you need to do is stir everything together.
And you can use the exact same sauce to cook other dishes too. Simply switch up the tofu with thinly sliced chicken, beef, or pork. Easy right? 1 simple braising sauce = a variety of meals! Cool, right? 🙂
Do I really need to fry the tofu?
I understand that everyone is always strapped for time, and it is super tempting to skip the frying part but believe me, your effort will be rewarded. When you fry tofu, they will develop this golden brown skin that will absorb the sauce so much better than their plain version.
But… if you really want to skip, it is not the end of the world! So for sure, if you don’t have the time, I’d say just skip it. But really, try the fried version at least once, so you know what you are missing. 🙂
What’s the best way to fry tofu?
If I have managed to convince you to fry your tofu, here’s the easiest way to do about it.
Cut each block into 12-16 pieces. I usually go with 12. The way I do it is I cut one block into a 2×6 to get 12 pieces total.
Heat some oil in a non-stick pan or a well seasoned cast-iron pan (as long as it’s really well seasoned!) over medium heat. Fry tofu pieces until golden brown. Set aside.
Frying tofu is easy, but if you really don’t want to deal with this, I highly suggest trying to find already fried tofu packets when you next visit your Asian markets. They are usually right alongside the regular tofu. They do cost more, but they will save you time.
Japanese braised pork bellies, or buta kaku ni (豚角煮), is one of the best ways to enjoy pork belly. You may think that pork belly always yield oily dish, but with boiling, most of the fat and oil would have been washed away. The end result is a pork belly dish that is flavorful and melt-in-your-mouth tender.
What is buta kaku ni?
Translated word-for-word from Japanese to English:
buta (豚) = pork
kaku (角) = square
ni (煮) = boiled/simmered
This dish is the most popular and most common way pork bellies are cooked and prepared in most Japanese households.
Originated in China as Dongpo Pork (东坡肉), the dish evolved as it made its way to Okinawa and eventually into main island of Japan through the port city of Nagasaki.
Pork belly in this dish is extremely melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the dashi and soy sauce-based sauce is rich with umami. You won’t hesitate to eat every single drop of the sauce with as much steamed rice as possible. In fact, the sauce is so good, people even dilute the sauce with dashi stock to create an epic sauce for a bowl of udon, aptly name buta udon.
What goes into this Japanese braised pork belly dish?
Buta kaku ni is a very simple homecooked family food in Japan. The ingredients for this dish are those that are common staple Japanese pantry ingredients.
We will need oil, pork belly cubes, ginger slices, pearl onions/French shallots, and frozen green peas/frozen edamames.
When you thinly slice the ginger, it is not necessary to peel the ginger as long as they are clean.
If you don’t have pearl onions or French shallots, you can also use Japanese long green onion (negi), cut into 2″ pieces.
For the sauce, we will need dashi, sake (Japanese rice wine), sugar, mirin, and soy sauce.
Dashi is a Japanese stock. You can use homemade dashi, or mix together 400 ml water with 1 teaspoon instant bonito dashi granules.
For the soy sauce, I highly suggest using low-sodium soy sauce if possible. Otherwise, the dish may end up too salty.
How do you cook Japanese buta kaku ni?
1. Sear pork bellies.
First, heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan and oil are hot, sear pork belly cubes evenly until all sides are brown. Set aside.
2. Boil pork bellies.
Place seared pork belly cubes in a pot, then add enough water to cover the pork. Simmer for 1 hour, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
3. Cook pork bellies with sauce.
Arrange pork belly cubes neatly in a clean pot with ginger, dashi, and sake. Cover the pot, and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add remaining sauce ingredients (sugar, mirin, and soy sauce) and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
4. Add vegetables.
Finally, add pearl onions/shallots and frozen green peas/edamame into the pot. Continue simmering for 5 minutes.
And the dish is done! At this point, simply turn off the heat, and divide the dish into 4 individual serving bowls. Serve the dish hot with steamed white rice.
A little resting time to improve the flavors
Buta kaku ni is very delicious eaten straight away, but if you are patience and are willing to wait overnight, you will be rewarded with an even more delicious dish!
You can store the cooked dish in an air-tight container in the fridge, then when you want to serve, you can easily remove any excess fat in the dish (if there’s any!). To serve, simply reheat the dish gently in a pot on a stovetop.
Braised chicken and shiitake in soy sauce is a very classic Chinese dish, and every Chinese household probably knows how to cook it.
Although it is super easy to make this, I have seen this served on festive occasions, like Chinese New Year and weddings. I know my Mom always prepares this for Chinese New Year in my family, so it is also something I now make to celebrate CNY with my family.
Ingredients for braised chicken and shiitake in soy sauce
My Mom usually cooks this dish with a whole chicken and cut it up into 8-12 pieces. If you have a butcher, you can get your butcher to do this for you when you buy your chicken.
You can also use just chicken drumsticks and thighs, which will make the dish juicier. Please make sure that the total weight is about the same as the average weight of a whole chicken, which is around 3 to 5 lbs (or 1.5 kg to 3 kg).
Please use dried shiitake for this dish since we will also need to use the soaking liquid.
If you are going to use fresh shiitake, please substitute the soaking liquid with the same amount of chicken stock. The dish will still be great, just not as flavorful as the one using shiitake soaking liquid.
3. Aromatics: garlic and ginger
4. Oil: neutral oil (e.g. canola, peanut, or vegetable) and sesame oil
5. Sauces: Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, kecap manis
Shaoxing wine is Chinese rice wine. You can also substitute with Japanese sake or dry sherry. If you cannot use any alcohol in cooking, feel free to substitute it with the same amount of chicken stock or water.
If you have, please use light soy sauce, such as Pearl River Bridge or Kimlan. You can also use Kikkoman but I prefer the flavor of this dish when using Chinese style soy sauce to prepare it.
Kecap manis is an Indonesian sweet soy sauce. There is no good substitute for it, but in a pinch, you can combine 50% soy sauce with 50% coconut palm sugar.
6. Other: salt, pepper, sugar, and cornstarch
Step-by-step to cook the dish
1. Prepare shiitake
Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in cold water overnight until soft and spongy. Reserve 1 cup of the soaking liquid, cut away the shiitake stems and cut each shiitake into four wedges.
2. Fry aromatics
Heat cooking oil and sesame oil in a pot, fry the garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Add chicken and mushrooms
Add chicken pieces and cook until no longer pink. Add shiitake mushroom and 1 cup of the soaking liquid and bring to a boil.
4. Add sauces
Add Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, kecap manis, salt, pepper, and sugar. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, until chicken is tender and fully cooked. Pour the cornstarch slurry and stir for 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce is thick.
Turn off heat, and serve immediately with steamed white rice.
Other suitable dishes to celebrate Chinese New Year
If you are menu planning for a Chinese New Year dinner party, you may want to check out the following recipes as well:
Shiitake mushroom has never been a cheap ingredient, and as such, a shiitake dish will always make an appearance in our dining table to celebrate Chinese New Year.
Once a year, the big family gathers around the dining table for a Chinese New Year dinner feast. It is an occasion to reunite with cousins, aunties, and uncles that we seldom meet during the year. And that warrants all the celebratory dishes, even pricier dishes such as this braised shiitake and napa cabbage.
Ingredients for braised shiitake and napa cabbage
This dish is easy to cook and needs only a minimum amount of ingredients.
Dried shiitake mushrooms are meatier and more flavorful. The soaking liquid is full of umami and makes the sauce more delicious compared to chicken stock.
2. Napa cabbage
Napa cabbage becomes soft and tender after a short braising time. Although they are rather bland on their own, cooked napa cabbage can soak up all the flavorful sauce, making it a perfect counterpart to the much stronger flavored shiitakes.
3. Garlic and scallions
4. Seasonings: salt, sugar, pepper, soy sauce, and oyster sauce
Oyster sauce is the only ingredient in this recipe that is not vegetarian friendly. If you wish to make this a vegan or vegetarian-friendly dish, you can use mushroom sauce instead.
How to prepare dried shiitakes
Dried shiitakes take time to rehydrate. Start soaking them in cold water the night before you plan to cook this dish.
Rinse dried shiitakes with cold running water to clean and place them in a large mixing bowl. Top with two cups of cold water and set aside overnight until they become soft, spongy, and fluffy.
Strain to separate the soaking liquid from the shiitakes. You will get about a cup of soaking liquid to use as cooking stock.
Cut and discard the stems from each shiitake. If you want a prettier presentation, you can also make a small crisscross cut to each of the mushroom caps.
Using fresh shiitakes to substitute dried shiitakes
If you cannot buy dried shiitakes, you can substitute them with fresh shiitakes. You can use chicken stock to make up for the lack of soaking liquid if using dried shiitakes.
How to cook braised shiitake and napa cabbage
Heat a wok over medium high heat until hot. Add oil and swirl to coat the wok, then add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.
Add white parts of scallions and shiitake mushrooms, and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
Add shiitake soaking liquid, soy sauce, oyster sauce, salt, sugar, and pepper. Mix well and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the wok, and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the mushrooms are soft.
Add napa cabbage and mix well. Cover the wok again and cook for 10 minutes, or until the cabbage is soft and translucent. Add cornstarch slurry and stir for 2 minutes, or until the sauce is thick.
Turn off the heat, transfer the dish to a serving plate, and garnish with scallion ribbons. Serve it immediately with steamed white rice.
Other shiitake recipes to try
If you end up buying a bag of dried shiitakes and wonder what else to cook with them, you may want to try these recipes: