Four Clan Kitchen

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Archive for the ‘Chinese’ Category

Hot and Sour Soup

Posted by fourclankitchen on October 17, 2015


This hot and sour soup by Boston chef Joanne Chang is the best I have had  It is super quick and a very good weeknight meal.  I made some changes to it, mainly because of what I had on hand.  The only major changes I made were to increase the garlic, add sautéed cabbage, reduce the vinegar and omit the salt.



  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts, minced, plus more for garnish (I omitted because I did not have it on hand)
  • 8 ounces ground pork  (you can use ground chicken or omit entirely)
  • 4-5 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth (I used Better than bullion).
  • 1 pound firm tofu cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Half a head of cabbage shredded finely (the original recipe calls for 4 or 5 medium button mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (I omitted, seems unnecessary)
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar, or to taste  (the original recipe calls for 2/3 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoon Sriracha sauce, or to taste
  • 2 large eggs
  • White or black pepper for garnish
  • cilantro for garnish



  • In a saucepan, heat 1 tbs of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and pork and cook, stirring occasionally till the pork is browned. Break up the pork as you stir.
  • Remove the pork etc from the pan.  Add the remaining vegetable oil to the sauce pan and heat up.  Saute the cabbage with a bit of salt at high heat, 3-4 min. till cabbage wilts and browns.  Do not add too much water into the pan along with the cabbage or the cabbage will steam and taste mushy.
  • Add the stock  to the cabbage, then add the tofu and pork along with the garlic, ginger and scallions.


  • In a small bowl, mix sugar (if using), vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, and Sriracha sauce and add to the soup.
  •  Bring the soup back to a simmer over medium-high heat. Taste the soup and adjust the flavors.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. With the soup at a steady simmer, slowly whisk in the eggs so they form strands. Bring the soup back to a simmer. Ladle into bowls and garnish with scallion and cilantro.  For a more substantial meal,  serve on rice.
  • Instead of adding the cabbage to the soup,  I think it would work really well as a garnish.


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Curried Tofu Salad

Posted by fourclankitchen on November 17, 2012

There are those who eat tofu as a meat substitute.  I think it is a mediocre meat substitute, but is really good on its own, particularly because it can take on any flavor you ask it to.   Take for instance the red curry tofu salad our local co-op sells. It has Indian curry powder and some cajun spices in it and it tastes like a wonderful blend of the two.  Whoda thunk? Its delicious, but expensive.  You shouldn’t  pay 7.99/lb for a bit of tofu.  So I resolved to make it with the ingredients I had on hand.  My take on this salad is very close to the store bought version, its just slightly less greasy and certainly a lot cheaper.  This is definitely going to enter my lunch pantheon.  Try it and you might also get hooked to eating tofu as well.  It would also be wonderful with chicken: I will try that next.


1 pk extra firm tofu cut lengthwise into three slabs

2 tbs. vegetable oil, divided

2 tbs mayonnaise (the store sells a vegan version with vegennaise: no idea how this is made, but it tastes just fine)

1 tbs. apple cider vinegar (or other vinegar)

1/2 tsp old bay seasoning (or any cajun seasoning, barbecue dry rub etc.  you have)

1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp curry pwd

pinch of cayenne (the hot stuff)

five grinds black pepper

salt to taste

1 large carrot, shredded in the food processor or on a grater

1 stalk celery finely diced or shredded in the food processor

2-3 tbs. finely diced onion (preferably a sweet variety, do not grate in food processor)

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro


The day before you will make your salad, drain the tofu brick on paper towels, taking as much moisture off as possible.  Leave uncovered in fridge overnight.

Heat 1/2 -1 tbs oil in a griddle or sauté pan (the amount will depend on the type of pan you use, you don’t want the tofu to stick and you don’t want it greasy).

When hot, turn the stove to medium high and place your tofu slabs in the pan and brown, about 4 min per side (provided the tofu was drained as outlined above).

Remove from the flame and let the tofu cool down to room temperature.

Meanwhile,  whisk the mayo, oil, vinegar, sugar and spices together and let the flavors blend.

Process your vegetables.

Cut the tofu into small cubes and mix together the vegetables, the dressing and the tofu.  Be gentle so you don’t break the tofu to bits.  Taste and adjust the salt, sugar and vinegar.

Let the salad sit for at least half an hour in the fridge before serving or consuming.

Posted in Asian, Brunch, Chinese, Main Dishes, salads, Side Dishes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Chinese chili sauce with black bean paste

Posted by fourclankitchen on September 15, 2012

This chili sauce lights up any noodle or rice dish, soup or entree: it is just that perfect a combination of sweet, salt, sour and heat.  The black bean paste adds umami, not that it needs any more  punch.  I  posted this recipe before, using mostly thai green bird peppers, since the red ones are hard to come by in a regular grocery store.  Frankly, the green ones are not as good for this purpose as the red ones.  However,  I have experimented with other hot red peppers: fresnoes, serranos and the little habanero like red peppers. You can choose any of these or stick with the thai red peppers (which I think are hotter than the habanero doppelgänger). The original recipe  (from Diana Kuan’s blog: Appetite for China) calls for fermented black beans but I have never found a jar that did not contain a ton of chemicals including msg.  So I go with the black bean garlic sauce (Lee Kum Kee brand) and use a couple tablespoons of that.  Maybe this contains a ton of chemicals too, but I feel better since I don’t know about them.


8 oz. frescoes, serranos, habanero-like red peppers, thai red bird peppers (these are listed from least to most hot)

1-2 tbs of  black bean-garlic 
sauce (depending upon your salt preference)

2 tbs. vegetable oil
1 tbs. rice wine or xiao-xing wine
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tbs. sugar


1. Stem the peppers, coarsely chop and briefly  pulse the peppers in a food processor (don’t touch your eyes after this)

2. Heat oil in a small sauce pan, then add the peppers.  Cook for a minute or two (the longer time will reduce the heat).

3. Add the remaining ingredients.

4. Taste and adjust the flavors by adding more salt, vinegar or sugar  or a little more black bean paste.

5. Cool and store in a non-reactive container.  Put on everything including eggs, toast, rice, soup and on and on.

Posted in Asian, Chinese, condiments, Side Dishes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Beef Rendang (Malaysian/Indonesian Beef Stew)

Posted by fourclankitchen on September 9, 2012

This is arguably the most iconic dish of Indonesia, Malaysia and the surrounding regions.  Even for a non beef lover like me,  this is an amazingly satisfying dish because it tickles every taste bud on your tongue, the sweet, sour, salty, spicy and the Umami (I am told there is also a fat receptor on your tongue, but I haven’t heard about this in a while). I have tried making rendang before and did not like the results.  This recipe from Rasa Malaysia, however, is perfect.  I made only one or two substitutions:  I swapped out lemon zest for Kaffir lime leaves and added extra ginger for galanga, simply because the grocery store did not have these items, but this should be done only in a pinch.  I don’t have a powerful blender and the lemongrass stalks did not get fully pureed in the food processor.  I found the lemon grass chunks annoying while I ate, so I am going to try either just bruising and then taking out the lemon grass or some other substitutes,  like lemon essence and lime juice.  Sorry,  I am not a purist and just want the food to taste good.


1 1/2 pound boneless beef short ribs, cut into cubes  (I could not find the boneless stuff, so used 2.5 lbs of bone in short ribs)
5 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cinnamon stick (about 2-inch long)
3 cloves, whole
3 star anise, whole
3 cardamom pods, lightly crush
1 lemongrass (cut into 4-inch length and pounded)
1 cup thick coconut milk (decant the top half of a can without mixing)
1 cup water
2 teaspoons tamarind pulp (soaked in some warm water for the juice and discard the seeds ).  You can use 1 tsp of tamarind concentrate
6 kaffir lime leaves (very finely sliced)  or zest of 2 limes (a poor substitute, but will do in a pinch)
6 tablespoons kerisik (toasted coconut, see below)
1 tablespoon sugar/palm sugar or to taste (brown sugar if you don’t have palm sugar)
Salt to taste

Spice Paste:

5 shallots
1 inch galangal (I substituted 1″ginger, do this only if you have  to)
3 lemongrass stalks (white part only)
5 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
10-12 dried chilies (soaked in warm water and seeded)  (I used a single fresh Fresno pepper: my gang here would not go for this level of heat, although I would love it)


  1. Chop the spice paste ingredients and then blend it in a food processor until fine.
  2. Heat the oil in a stew pot, add the spice paste, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and cardamom and stir-fry them until aromatic.
  3. Add the beef and the pounded lemongrass and stir for 1 minute.
  4. Add the coconut milk, tamarind juice, water, and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until the meat is almost cooked.
  5. Add the kaffir lime leaves, kerisik (toasted coconut), sugar/palm sugar, stirring to blend well with the meat.
  6. Lower the heat to low, cover the lid, and simmer for 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is really tender and the gravy has dried up.
  7. Add salt to taste. If not sweet enough, add more sugar to taste.
  8. Serve immediately with steamed rice and save some for overnight.

Toasted Coconut: 

  1. To prepare the kerisik or toasted coconut, just add the grated coconut to a dry wok and stir continuosly until its turns golden brown.  You can buy fresh frozen coconut at any Indian Grocery Store and toast it for a few min on a cast iron griddle.  It can burn very easily, so be vigilant.

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Cold Sesame Noodles

Posted by fourclankitchen on August 19, 2012

Cold sesame noodles are a wonderful lunch or dinner for summer.  This recipe is modified only nominally from Diana Kuan’s blog: Appetite for China.  Any egg noodles will do for this recipe:  I bet you ramen noodles do too (just throw away the flavor packet).  The original recipe even proposes spaghetti, but nah…


8 oz egg noodles (the original recipe calls for 12 oz)

2 tablespoons peanut/vegetable oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons grated ginger

1 cucumber, peeled and julienned  (or grated in the food processor)

2 carrots, peeled and julienned (or grated in the food processor)

2 teaspoons white sesame seeds

2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced

cilantro for garnish, optional

3 tablespoons Japanese sesame paste (the original recipe calls for Chinese sesame paste- I have no idea what this is, but I always have  Japanese sesame paste on hand.  The original recipe proposes 3 tablespoons tahini with an extra teaspoon of sesame oil as an alternative)
2 tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chili paste (I used Maggi Asian chili garlic sauce)
2 tablespoons sugar (if your chili paste has sugar, you will want to take this down some)
½ teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper (optional)


  1. Cook noodles for the minimum amount of time suggested on the  package. Drain and  rinse with cold water.  Toss with a tbs of oil and set aside.
  2. Heat the other tablespoon of oil in a small pan over medium heat. Gently cook the minced garlic and grated ginger until just fragrant, about 30 to 40 seconds. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the sauce: In a medium bowl, combine the sesame paste, peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, chili paste, sugar, and Sichuan pepper, if using. Add 3 tbs of water and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the cooked garlic and ginger.
  4. Pour the sauce over the noodles, add the cucumbers and carrots, and toss. Transfer to large bowl or deep serving dish and sprinkle the sesame seeds, scallions and cilantro on top. You can serve the sesame noodles at room temperature or chill in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours before serving.  To me, they taste better chilled.

Posted in Asian, Brunch, Chinese, Main Dishes, pasta, Side Dishes, vegan | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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