Spicy Sticky Fried Tofu

bite2

I found this dish through Maangchi, a Korean food YouTuber, and knew I had to try and make it. This recipe is my take on her’s, however I added a little vinegar for acidity and rice syrup for a sticky sweet finish that makes this tofu so addicting.

Perfect served on its own for a quick snack, or with steamed vegetables and rice as a light meal, this recipe is (somewhat) healthy and very satisfying. I usually make it as a meatless meal during the week.

The key is to fry the tofu until it creates a skin that is dry and crispy. Try to not flip it until it is ready – all you need to do is set it down and let it go. If you have a little time you can further dry the tofu out in advance by taking the block out of its packaging, wrapping it in a paper towel, and pressing it down with a weight (I like putting cans on top of a plate) for 20 minutes.

ingredients

Spicy Sticky Fried Tofu

Makes 2 servings

Prep time: 5 minutes | Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 block firm tofu
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 tbs gochujang, Korean red pepper paste
  • 2 tbs sake
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs brown rice syrup, easily found at the Korean grocery store, or honey
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds for garnish, I used a mix of black and white

Step 1: Drain and pat the tofu dry with a paper towel. Cut into 1 cm thick blocks.

Step 2: Heat frying pan on medium high. Add frying oil. When oil is hot (you can test by sprinkling water on the pan – it’s ready when the water sizzles immediately upon contact) add tofu in single layer and shake pan to distribute the cooking oil under the tofu.

Step 3: Cook the tofu for about 10 minutes. Try not to flip them until they start to develop a crispy skin. Check the tofu on the sides and middle of the pan and make sure all pieces are cooking evenly. Reduce heat if needed if tofu is starting to burn.

When all pieces are evenly toasted and golden brown on one side, flip them and cook the other side.

Step 4: While the tofu is cooking, make the sauce. Start with the gochujang and gradually thin it out with the sake. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice syrup, and vinegar.

Step 5: When both sides of the tofu are crispy and golden brown, add the sauce. Reduce the sauce for a couple minutes while coating it on the tofu. When the sauce is thick and syrupy, everything is ready.

Step 6: Serve warm, sprinkled with sesame seeds and chopped green onion.

glaze2

final4

Garlic Olive Oil Pasta with Tuna and Tomatoes

pasta olive oil final

Sometimes you need something simple, yet satisfying. This is one of those dishes. A perfect recipe for spring, this dish is light and refreshing. The key ingredient is canned tuna stored in olive oil, which gives this recipe a beautiful saltiness that makes this dish so easy to devour.

Hopefully the idea of canned tuna doesn’t scare anyone off, but I promise, this is much more elevated than the tuna salad or casserole that gave it the bad reputation. The key here is that it is stored in olive oil, not water. This olive oil adds depth of flavor and acts as a perfect host to the pile of garlic that I added to give some savory to this dish.

To balance out the saltiness, I included fresh cherry tomatoes for their acidity and brightness. They are added right before serving so that they warm up enough to just slightly burst, making every bite juicy and tinge sweet.

Now, let’s get started:

 

Garlic Olive Oil Pasta with Tuna and Tomatoes

Makes 2 servings

Prep time: 5 minutes | Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 5 oz. can of tuna, stored in olive oil
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 5 bundles dried squid ink pasta (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • Drizzle extra virgin olive oil for garnish
  • Salt to taste

Step 1: Heat enough water to cook the pasta, add a teaspoon of salt. When boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente.

Step 2: Heat 3 tbs olive oil in a frying pan on medium high heat. Add garlic, and cook until they start to crisp up and become golden.

Step 3: Add the tuna and any leftover olive oil from the can. Break into bite-size pieces and cook for 3 minutes. Add the dried oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste. Stir to combine.

Step 4: Add the tomatoes. Cook until they start to blister and burst open, about 5 minutes. Crush half the tomatoes so they release their juice. Stir in the reserved pasta water to make a sauce.

Step 5: Add the pasta and coat everything with the sauce. Drizzle with olive oil, and it’s ready to serve.

ingredients final

bite mosaic

pasta final 3 final

 

 

Chia Pudding with Cardamom and Honey

final 2-medium

Effortless, delicious and healthy. This chia pudding recipe is a lighter take on a favorite dessert of mine. Kheer, which is an Indian-style rice pudding, is made by cooking rice in ample amounts of milk, sugar and cardamom until it softens and creates a thin pudding. It’s then chilled and served icy cold. (I especially like making it during the sweltering Texan summer.)

Now, I want to explore a different version of this dessert. Chia seeds are a popular super food and swell up when soaked in liquid, creating an almost custard-like texture. This makes them a great alternative to rice for this recipe. The key to making them is soaking them long enough. Patience is definitely key here or you will end up with a crunchy pudding.

In terms of flavor, cardamom is the highlight of this recipe. For those who aren’t familiar with it, cardamom is a very sweet, slightly citrusy spice. It’s one of my favorite and most-used ingredients. Great mixed in with ground coffee before brewing, stirred into yogurt with honey, or folded into orange pound cake batter; this spice is easy to integrate into your kitchen once you give it that first try. To maximize it’s flavor, it’s best to cook the cardamom in milk first. However this recipe keeps things simple and raw, resulting in a more subtle flavor. You are welcome to heat the milk, honey and cardamom first before adding the chia seeds if you want the flavor to be stronger.

cardamom-chia-pudding-ingredientscardamom chia pudding final 3-medium

Outside of the health factor of chia pudding, I have to say that I love making it because of it’s simplicity. This overnight food comes together in minutes. Prep it the night before and wake up to the pudding ready to eat. Also, chia pudding stores very well, so it’s is a great thing to make ahead for meal prep.

Lastly, I like to add a lot of toppings for added texture. Tart strawberries add brightness and work well with the honey and cardamom. They also bulk up the portion size to make a single serving quite filling.  I’ve also used nuts for some crunchiness and added protein. Feel free to play with toppings here and make this recipe your own.

Now, let’s get started!

 

Chia Pudding with Cardamom and Honey

Makes 2 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Total Time: 8 hours

Ingredients

  • 6 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3 tsp honey (feel free to add more to taste, I like mine slightly sweet)
  • Toppings of choice, strawberries or sliced almonds work beautifully

Step 1: Mix the cardamom, honey and chia seeds together in a large bowl until you get a thick paste.

Step 2: Slowly stir in the milk until fully combined.

Step 3: Cover bowl with cling wrap. Let mixture rest 15 minutes, and then mix again. Repeat this step 3 times until the pudding is thickened.

Step 4: Let pudding rest overnight or until the seeds are soft. There should be no crunchy texture left. Top with your choice of toppings, strawberries pictured, and serve.