Gai Yang (Thai BBQed Chicken)

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This is a simple recipe from my go-to Thai cookbook, Thailand: The Beautiful Cookbook. Although traditional gai yang is barbecued (and there are gai yang variations in the book whose directions only give barbecuing instructions), this one is baked then broiled. Juicy, fragrant, delicious, simple. Nevan’s favorite!

Quick notes: I usually double the marinade while keeping the salt at 1 tsp, up the cilantro/ginger/garlic, and add some dried sliced red Asian chillies. Doubling the marinade also gives you extra sauce to put on the rice! Also, while the recipe calls for a whole chicken, I just buy the same weight in wings because everyone in the house seems to prefer it that way (plus, American chickens rarely come in such a low weight).

1 whole chicken, about 3 lbs, cut in half


1 tsp salt
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp minced cilantro leaves and root (you may have to skip the root, as Americans rarely sell cilantro with it intact)
2 tbsp rice wine (or cognac or whiskey)
2 tbsp coconut milk
1 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce

Rub the entire chicken with the combined marinade ingredients. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes minimum. When I do wings, I put the wings and marinade in a casserole dish, coating the chicken well, and put them in the fridge until I’m ready for baking.

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes (I turn the wings over halfway through cooking) and then broil or grill for 10 minutes or until done and nicely browned.

Cut into serving sized pieces and serve with chili sauce. I like to serve this with steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables on the side.

For the vegetables, I threw together some leftover bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, onion, garlic, and basil with a little sesame oil and soy sauce… nothin’ fancy.


Pepper Lunch Nom Noms

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When living in Asia, I LOVE eating at Pepper Lunch, a Japanese chain restaurant whose most popular dish is a hot skillet plate with a mound of rice and corn in the middle and very thinly cut shabu-shabu beef sizzling around it, topped with lots of pepper and a runny egg if desired (click here for a picture). While we are lucky enough to have one here in the South Bay, it’s just barely far enough away that I don’t feel like driving there (plus it’s kinda divey here… no idea why, it’s not like that overseas). Thankfully, my area is chock full of Japanese markets where finding shabu-shabu is a snap, so I make my own version. It’s very quick and way more flavorful than my above description. As testament to that, know that when I make Pepper Lunch for dinner, there is no talking at the dinner table. Just the sound of Nevan going “MMMMMmmm” after every bite.

After some researching other homemade versions of the famous Pepper Lunch skillet plate, I tossed together my own recipe. Many Pepper Lunch lovers are sticklers for the sauces they make there, but personally I just prefer it with soy sauce. If you’re interested in reproducing their famous sauces, this page looks promising.

My home variation obviously takes into account my preferences. Per person, you will need:

1/2 cup cooked white Japanese rice
A pat of butter
soy sauce
Several tbsp of chopped green onions
A good amount of chopped cilantro (not in original recipe)
Approximately 1/4 cup frozen corn or boiled and cut off the cob
1 clove of garlic, sliced or chopped (not in original recipe)
1 egg
However much shabu-shabu sliced kobe/wagyu/angus beef you’d like
Lots of salt and pepper
Some Thai roasted chili paste (or whatever favorite chili sauce you have)

Cook the rice. Make a little mound and put your pat of butter on top to melt. In a hot pan, heat up a little oil and throw your corn and garlic in until hot and cooked through. Place on top of the rice. Fry your egg and place on top of the corn. Season your beef with plenty of salt and pepper and quickly cook through, being careful not to overcook. Place that on or around your rice/corn (I usually throw it all on a cutting board and roughly chop it up just to make it easier to eat). Top with green onions and cilantro and lots more ground pepper, and splash a little soy sauce on there if desired. Put a spoonful of chili paste on the side and chow the hell down.

Teriyaki Chicken with Spinach


The Man chose this meal.  It seemed too simple, too bland.  He found it in Men’s Health 1001 Muscle Meals.  I was pleasantly surprised that something so simple could still be quite the satisfying meal.  Honestly, I was worried that I wouldn’t like it so I may have served up a loaf of rosemary bread with olive oil for dipping as an appetizer.

Anyways, it was good, super healthy, and a quick meal to fix.  All three of us enjoyed it and it will probably become a bi-weekly meal.

Teriyaki Chicken

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 201 calories, 29 g protein, 8 g carb, 5.5 g fat, 657 mg sodium

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 1/2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp tomato paste

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs

A few sprinkles of garlic powder

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)

*If you have more than 4 thighs then you should double the sauce*


Heat broiler to high.  Put soy sauce, honey, garlic powder and tomato paste in medium bowl and stir together.

Add chicken and turn to coat all surfaces.

Place chicken on foil lined pan under broiler.

Cook chicken until well browned, about 8 minutes.  Flip and brown the other side until cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.


12 oz fresh spinach, stems removed

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp sesame seeds


Heat broiler.  Cut an 18″x18″ square of foil.  Spray with oil.

Put spinach on foil, spray with oil, and toss with salt.  Fold over and seal edges to form a well sealed pouch.

Cook until wilted, about 10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper and top with sesame seeds.


Peanut Udon Noodles and Cucumber Salad

We eat a lot of noodles in this house and a lot of natural peanut butter.  Combine them both, and everyone in this joint is pretty happy.  That said,  I had a hard time finding the perfect peanutty sauce that wasn’t too thick, wasn’t too thin, wasn’t too spicy, wasn’t too sweet, so after many attempts, this is my usual quick sauce that everyone gives a thumbs up.

Peanut Udon Noodles

1 pkg udon noodles

3 T. peanut butter (I like all natural, no sugar added)

1/2 c. chicken broth (vegetable broth works too)

1 1/2 T. minced fresh ginger root

1 T. honey

3 T. low sodium soy sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced

Sriracha sauce to taste (for the kids I usually only use about 1 tsp for the entire batch)

1/4 c. fresh cilantro, torn in to small pieces

1 bunch green onions, white tops sliced into thin rounds


Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add udon noodles.  Stir.  While those are boiling, you can make the sauce.

In a saucepan, add all other ingredients except cilantro and green onions.  Whisk over medium heat until it begins to boil.  Turn heat to low and stir periodically while you check the noodles.

When noodles are nicely al dente, drain the water off and return them to the pot.  Whisk peanut sauce one more time and pour over the noodles.  Mix well to combine.  When serving, top with cilantro and green onions.

Cucumber Salad

1 English cucumber

1/2 small white or yellow onion

1 sheet of Nori, torn in to small pieces

3/4 c. seasoned rice vinegar

1/4  c. water

1 T. sugar

1 T. minced garlic

1 T. low sodium soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

Peel and thinly slice cucumber.  Thinly slice onion into rings.  Whisk together all other ingredients.  Lay cucumber slices, pieces of nori, and onion slices in the mixture and stir to coat fully.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour prior to serving.  When serving, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. *optional

Peanut Noodles and Cucumbers

Wednesday Twofer: Lumpia and Lentil Soup

When you make beef bourguignon on a weeknight, you end up with a lot of time to kill while it’s in the oven. I ended up being really productive last night and used my two hours to prep Wednesday’s dinner — lumpia, also known as Filipino egg rolls — which is one of Noah and Julian’s favorite dishes. I had a batch of lumpia rolled up and ready to fry for dinner but as luck would have it, we experienced a 13 degree drop in temperature overnight — going from a warm 75 degrees to a chilly 62 (don’t laugh Kristin) — making Wednesday perfect soup weather. Also happening on Wednesday — Mark left for Singapore, meaning I could cook whatever I wanted to, and Smitten Kitchen posted a new recipe for lentil soup with sausage, chard and garlic. Quite possibly the best soup-making conditions I would have in a long time.  So despite having dinner all ready to go, I ended up making the soup for me anyway.  The soup had amazing flavor and depth — I could taste every layer of flavor in each bite — and despite being a hearty soup, it never felt heavy.  It also felt like I was eating something healthy — not a bad combination.  I don’t remember feeling this full in a long time.  Definitely a keeper recipe for me.

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makes about 60 3″ eggrolls as an appetizer, or about 4-6 servings as a main course

Note: This is a family recipe so all the amounts are approximate. It’s also a very basic recipe so substitute as you see fit — omit the shrimp, use a different type of ground meat, add a handful of chopped green onions, jicama, and/or water chestnuts…just to name a few examples that my mom has done in the past.

1 clove garlic
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined, and roughly chopped
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 egg
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. oyster sauce (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Eggroll wrappers (I use 6″ square wrappers), separated
1 egg
Vegetable oil for frying

Using a food processor, process the garlic until chopped. Add carrots and process until carrots are finely chopped. Add shrimp and process again until shrimp is minced. Add the ground pork, egg, soy sauce, oyster sauce (if using), and salt and pepper. Process until everything is well mixed. [If you are adding other ingredients, the general rule is to add ingredients in order of what needs more processing to least amount of processing. Jicama and water chestnuts, for example, don’t need too much processing or else they’ll get mushy so it’s usually best to add them right before the pork rather than at the very beginning.] To check seasoning, take a dime-sized portion of the filling and microwave it until fully cooked (30 seconds is normally enough). Taste it and adjust seasoning accordingly.

To wrap, beat the egg with about 1 Tbs. water. Lay the wrapper down on a flat surface and spoon or pipe a thin line of filling about one inch from the bottom. Roll tightly and use the egg wash to moisten and seal the end. Repeat until all the wrappers are used up.  Egg roll wrappers come in different sizes.  I usually use the 6″ square wrappers and then cut them in half after they’ve been rolled.  If preparing ahead of time, cover the wrapped lumpia in plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.  They also freeze well once they’ve been rolled.

To cook, these are traditionally deep-fried but shallow frying works as well. Pour enough oil in a pan to come up about 1/4″ and heat on medium-high. When the oil is hot and working in batches, add the lumpia, making sure to leave enough room that they aren’t touching each other. Cook until all sides are golden brown (about 3-5 minutes per side). Drain on paper towels and serve. I like to eat these as is, but you can also serve them with a sweet chili and plum sauce or with ketchup.

Lentil soup with sausage, chard and garlic
Serves 6 (I halved the recipe)
Source: Smitten Kitchen, who in turn adapted it from the book Secrets of the Best Chefs by Adam Roberts

Note: To make this vegetarian, she suggests omitting the sausage.  And for a vegan version, skip the sausage and cheese.  Easy as that.

1/2 cup olive oil, divided
4 large links of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced or diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons or diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
Kosher salt
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
6 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups shredded or thinly ribboned Swiss chard leaves or kale
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese to finish

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pot) in a large pot on medium heat. When hot, add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it starts to brown, about five minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrots, first two garlic cloves, a pinch fo salt, and if you like your soup spicy, a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook with the sausage until the vegetables soften a bit, another 5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes, water, more salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. (It might be necessary to add more water if the soup gets too thick, though we preferred ours on the thick side.)

When the lentils are cooked, add the chard and cook until the leaves are tender, just a few minutes more. Discard the bay leaves.

To finish, divide soup among bowls, then add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 garlic cloves to a small skillet and heat over medium until the garlic softens and hisses. Drizzle this over soup bowls, and top with fresh Romano, passing more at the table. Leftovers will keep for several days in the fridge.

Stir Fried Pork with Basil

Stir fried pork with basil, or pad ga-prao, is one of my favorite Thai dishes.  I love the combination of sweet basil and hot chilies.  I order this dish almost every time we go to a Thai restaurant so finding a recipe for it and figuring out how to make it at home was a challenge that I took on enthusiastically.  There are a ton of recipes for it online but the biggest challenge for me was tweaking the basic recipe to make everyone in the family happy.  So far, this version is the winner for us.  It has the right balance of heat — hot enough for me (personally, I love it when food makes you sweat) but not so hot that the kids (with a heat tolerance of: wuss) wouldn’t eat it.  It also has the right amount of fish sauce — detectable but not so much that Mark’s sensitive taste buds are turned off.  For a vegetarian version, you can substitute pre-fried tofu for the pork.

Pad Ga Prao (serves 4)

  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 4 Tbs. garlic (anywhere from 8-12 cloves)
  • 6-30 small Thai (bird’s eye) chillies [the amount is based on your heat tolerance but 5-6, with half of the seeds removed, is my family’s magic number]
  • 1 lb. ground pork (or chicken or beef) 
  • 4 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 4 tsp. soy sauce
  • 4 Tbs. oyster sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups basil leaves and flowers
  • 1 egg per person (optional)

1.  Thinly slice garlic and set aside.  Thinly slice the chilies, removing some, or all, of the seeds if you’re concerned about the heat.  I’ve found the easiest way to do this is to slice the tops off (the side with the stem), turn the chili cut-side down, and roll it between your fingers until the seeds fall out.  Set the chilies aside with the garlic.

2.  Pick leaves and flowers off the basil.  Discard the stems.  Rinse, dry, and set aside.

3.  Heat the oil in a pan or wok on high heat until very hot.  Add chilies and garlic and stir until browned, about 2 minutes.  (It’s not uncommon to sneeze from the chilies.)

4.  When the garlic is ready, add the pork, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon to make sure it cooks evenly.  Cook 5-8 minutes, or until the meat is no longer red.

5.  Add fish sauce, soy sauce and oyster sauce.  Stir and cook until the sauces are absorbed, about 10 minutes).

6.  When the mixture is dry, add the water and the basil leaves.  Stir until basil is wilted.  Serve on rice.

7.  If you want to top with a fried egg (and really, why wouldn’t you?), add a little more oil to the pan.  When the oil is very hot, crack an egg in the middle.  The egg should bubble up and sizzle.  When the edges are brown (about 2 minutes), flip and brown the other side, just under a minute for an egg that’s still runny on the inside.  Remove, being careful not to break the yolk, and place on top of the dish.  If you can fry more than one egg at a time, then I bow to your superior cooking abilities.  I, however, find it best to just cook the eggs one at a time.


Healthier Veggie Egg Rolls

These egg rolls are baked, not fried, and still turn out crisp and delicious.  Oh, and for all of you folks who say you don’t like tofu, or have a spouse who doesn’t dig tofu, well, this is your recipe.  I used an entire container of tofu and my husband couldn’t even tell it was in there…and he likes tofu!

Egg Rolls

1 pkg egg roll wraps

1 pkg extra firm tofu (I bought cubed, but you can certainly cube your own)

1 T. or so of minced, fresh ginger

1/2 small onion, diced

2 c. broccoli slaw

1/2 pkg of bean sprouts

2 T. soy sauce

1 1/2 T. olive oil, + 1/2 T. for the wraps

Small cup of water

Non-stick cooking spray

Heat oven to 400*.  If tofu is not pre-cubed, drain the package, pat with paper towels and cut in to small cubes.  Heat approximately 1 1/2 T. olive oil in large skillet.  Add tofu, minced ginger, soy sauce and diced onion.  Cook, stirring with wooden spoon until heated through and onions are slightly soft.  Add in broccoli slaw and bean sprouts.  Cook, stirring to mix for about 2 more minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Take first egg roll wrap and lay in diamond shape in front of you.  (The directions for how to do this are also on the back of the package of egg roll wraps).  Scoop a few tablespoons full of the tofu/broccoli mix across the center of the wrap (diagonally).  Fold the bottom corner half way up, enough to cover the filling.  Fold in the left and right corners.  At this point, it should look like an open envelope with the opening toward the top.  Roll toward the open side, and then dip your fingers in to some water to moisten the edges of the final corner to close.  Place on to a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray, or use parchment paper.

Repeat until all of your filling has been used.  Use remaining olive oil to lightlly brush the top of the egg rolls and bake in the oven for approximately 12 min or until you see them beginning to brown.  Flip them over, spray lightly with cooking spray and bake for about 5 more min.

Serve with any dipping sauces you like.  I made 2 easy ones that I’ll share with you:

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

1/4 c. peanut butter

1 T. Sriracha sauce

1 T. soy sauce

1 T. lime juice

1 T. sugar

warm water

Mix all ingredients except water.  Pour in a little amount of warm water and continue to whisk.  Add warm water until desired consistency.

Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce

2 T. soy sauce

3 T. rice wine vinegar

1 T. Sriracha

1 tsp sesame oil

1 T. sugar

sesame seeds to garnish

Whisk all ingredients and then add sesame seeds as desired (not needed)

Completed egg rolls with sauce