Category Archives: Asian

Tofu StirFry

Great with rice, noodles, or inside summer rolls.

The tofu can be replaced with almost any meat or fish.

If you want a refresher about cooking rice or combining Asian sauces, refer to my Asian Food Essentials blog post.

Tofu packs a lot of protein and has zero cholesterol. The texture makes it a good substitute for meat if you want to veganize or vetetarianize (yep, made that up) a meal. The smaller the tofu is cut, the better it blends with sauces and flavor. In this case, make sure you buy firm tofu.

For this dish, I pressed the tofu dry for a few hours assembling it in such an order starting from the bottom: 1) plate or cutting board  2) layers of paper towels  3) Tofu  4) more layers of paper towels  5) a cooking pot filled with a couple canned foods to weigh it down.



I cut the tofu into about 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes.


After tossing it to be thinly coated in cornstarch (Speisestärke in German), I dropped them slowly into some shallow vegetable oil for frying.


A couple minutes of frying and gently stirring will hopefully lead to some lightly golden crispy cubes. Dry them on paper towels when done.


Then in a large pan, add a little vegetable oil to cook some bell pepper, ginger, regular onions & green onions, and garlic until tender.


Add about 4 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp brown sugar, and a little water if necessary to coat everything. Then add the fried tofu.


I couldn’t decide if I liked it better served with rice or as left-overs the next day with rice noodles.


A side of arugula kept things fresh the next day. To spruce it up more, I added a little peanut butter and sesame oil to the noodles when I heated them up. Yum.



Asian BBQ Tacos: A Favorite!

Originally made on accident, Chef Jimi created the taco shells to be perfectly chewy and crispy. After a light, crispy crunch when you bite in, comes a soft medley of rice, meat, and bold BBQ flavors. Sweet, salty, with caramelized onions, garlic, and garnished with fresh green onions, these tacos are the best around.

Can be made with any meat. This time, we used pork. The pork was sautéed with grilled onions, garlic; a mix of Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, chili sauce, and Worcestershire. A little flour was used to bind it together. This is comfort food brought to another level.


Salmon Sushi Roll

Even without a bamboo sushi mat, you can still make homemade sushi rolls. This version is my one of my favorites, but instead of cream cheese, I normally like it with Avocados. Here’s a simple version of a Salmon Roll, of which you can use many substitutes such as tuna instead of salmon, or cucumber instead of cream cheese, or both. We used FRESH, raw fish. Here in Washington, it’s possible to get the best Salmon around. Regardless of which fish you use, make sure it smells like nothing but the ocean or salty sea air.



  • Fresh, raw or cooked fish (raw Salmon, this time)
  • 1 package Seaweed wrap (also known as Nori, and available at most grocery stores now)
  • White rice (you can use a sushi rice recipe that requires vinegar for an even more authentic taste)
  • Narrow cucumber slices
  • Cream cheese
  • Pickled ginger and Wasabi for garnish (we used our homemade pickled ginger, but you can buy it in jars)

Cut the skin off the fish it’s still on. This is best to do with the skin facing down, hand placed on top of the fish, and slide the knife horizontally through, in a long sawing motion (get as close down as you can to the skin with your knife). Then slice the fish into half-inch thick, narrow pieces.


Lay out a sheet of seaweed wrap. Using a spoon, spread on an even, thin layer of rice to cover entire sheet. You can wet the spoon a few times to keep it slippery and keep the rice from sticking. Pat down with the wet spoon to set the rice.


Place the fish slices toward the bottom and any other topping on top like the cucumber or cream cheese. And roll up firmly.


Cut the roll carefully (sharp knives come in handy here), starting from the center. You should be able to get about 8 pieces.


Place the pickled ginger and wasabi on the side. Serve with soy sauce. The ginger can be eaten in between bites as a palette cleanser or at the end of your meal. It’s purpose is not only to be a palette cleanser, but is also known to help reduce the Mercury content commonly in fish. I just happen to like the taste of it with my sushi. Wasabi can be mixed into the soy sauce for a spicy kick, but some people just place tiny pieces of it onto the sushi bites.


Spring Rolls

Traditional spring rolls

Pictured above are traditional Vietnamese Spring Rolls. Usually filled with rice noodles, pork, shrimp, cilantro, and wrapped in rice paper. I added shredded carrots here.

There are many places you can find in Westminster, CA that make spring rolls fresh and daily. If there’s an Asian community near you, chances are you kind find these pre-made and packaged with a dipping sauce. It is great while on-the-go. My family and I used to sit around the dinner table and roll our own Spring Rolls for dinner. It’s a fun way to get people to interact; adding more or less of different ingredients, and building their Spring Rolls together.


I’ve been able to find rice paper and other oriental ingredients at most grocery stores. Big corporate grocery stores are very likely to have them now.

Below is my version of Spring Rolls with what I had instead of rice noodles—regular rice. And it worked perfectly. Dipping it into your sauce of choice was a little difficult with the rice falling out, so I started spooning on my sauce, which worked as well.

rice paper

Step 1: Wet the rice paper in warm water for up to 15 seconds (it will drastically soften in no time). Here, I filled a large bowl with warm water, almost a little hot, which gets the job done faster.

spring rolls

Step 2: Lay the rice paper on a plate and fill with ingredients. I used rice and chicken stir–fry. Add veggies for crunch if you wish.


Step 3: Fold as shown above. Sides first, then bring the bottom up and keep rolling it.


Here’s a couple of them next to a fish sauce I used for dipping.

Asian Food Essentials

Asian Sauces
These are the sauces that I have recently used in all my Asian dishes. The combination of these flavors make your dish taste oriental and makes your kitchen smell like a Chinese restaurant. I add about 1 tbsp of soy sauce and equal parts of the rest (1-2 tsp) to beef, pork, or chicken, it doesn’t matter. I have no brand preference. Shown are sesame oil, soy sauce (I prefer low sodium), Worcestershire (not very Asian but I like the smokiness), Hoisin (an Asian BBQ sauce), and rice vinegar.

One of the next essentials is either rice or noodles. Or both.

Here you can see how to cook rice without an automatic rice cooker.

Step 1: Whether it’s a small pot or large one, make sure the dry rice is only 1/3 of the way up or less. When cooked, it expands like crazy.

Step 2: Rinse the rice and pour out the cloudy water a couple times while the rice stays at the bottom. The more you do this, the more starches wash away and causes the rice to be softer and fluffier.


Step 3: Add enough water to cover over the rice about an inch up or so. The method my mom taught me was to place my index finger tip at the top of the rice. The water level should come to the first line up on your finger (sounds crazy, it really is just about an inch, but that’s what the Asian lady did). Supposedly, it doesn’t matter if you’re cooking 3 or 10 servings, this form of measurement works.

Step 4: Bring the water up to a light boil. Then turn it down to a simmer. If you don’t have a lid, you can just place aluminum foil to cover. Doesn’t have to be too tight.


Step 5: Check on the rice after about 15 minutes. I carefully fluff it with a fork to see how cooked the bottom is compared to the top. If it seems soggy towards the bottom, leave the cover off and leave on low. If the whole thing seems dry, add a tiny bit more water, cover, and continue to cook on low. This seems tedious, but without an automatic cooker, different stove tops and burners changes everything.


The next essential is meat of choice. I’ve tried these sauces with beef, pork, and chicken. All equally delicious when you sauté it with garlic, onions, and vegetables. Probably also great with fish. In this case, I finely sliced beef and chose to side it with sautéed spinach and garlic.

Stir fry beefBeef rice and spinach

Spinach. Not just for Popeye..

Spinach can be juiced, put in salads, sandwiches, creamed, and so much more. Here are a few ways I’ve used it.



  • In a pan, add a little olive oil. The spinach will wilt so much that you don’t want too much oil to make it soggy. The spinach can also look like it’s over crowding the pan, but you can pile it pretty high.
  • On medium heat, slowly stir, letting the several layers wilt.
  • Add minced garlic, salt and pepper.
  • That’s it! SO good as a side for rice and stir–fried meat.


This is how much the same pan reduced down. I leave the garlic pieces a little bit chunkier in this dish and it’s amazing.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip

This was soo good that we forgot to take an official photo. This picture was found but it captures the need we had to cut up crostini bread to eat with the dip right away.


  • 1 small package (10 oz.) of frozen chopped spinach
  • equal parts chopped artichoke hearts (jarred, canned, or frozen, doesn’t matter)
  • 1 package (6 to 8 oz.) of cream cheese.. Melt slightly in microwave.
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • salt and pepper

Serve at room temperature or warm.

Just Raw


Great as a salad or as the greens in a hearty sandwich.