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Asian-Americans- Your Homestyle Dishes?

I hardly ever attempt the stuff my parents made at home, much less my favorite dishes from restaurants. But I do plenty of simple Asian-ish/Chinese-y dishes. You'd never find these in a restaurant (esp not a fusion), my mom would disdain them, but they are my staples and I only really make them for myself. Generally speaking they are 1) really simple, 2) healthy.

Here are my examples. Anyone else have any?
1) White cut chicken (also Hainan Chicken):
Organic chicken, brought to boil in plenty of water, let boil a bit, turn heat off till the it's cool enough to handle. Chop up. Should still be pink at the bones, extra tender. Serve with plenty of dipping sauce with soy, chili, ginger, garlic and scallions. If I'm not too lazy, I'll make some rice with the broth, but usually I just save the broth for something else.

2) Tofu salad:
Silken tofu, soy sauce, sesame oil, green scallions (very thin sliced)
Optional add ons are sriracha, thousand year old egg, bonito, umeboshi, lots of quick sauteed greens with garlic of any sort.

3) Fish Claypot:
Throw napa cabbage, preferably fresh shitake slices, slivers of ginger, garlic, squirt in some soy, fish sauce and water. Put it in the oven. Then when it's all boiling, put in some fish to cook till tender. Much better the next day. Very light.

These are all based on real dishes, but I skip or mess around with steps. I hope I generally retain the essence... I just make something that reminds me of dishes I liked, but within 20 min prep/cooking time requirements.

Any other Asian-Americans have embarrassingly easy, homestyle dishes they make for themselves? Please share!

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  1. Ketchup fried rice. Just make regular fried rice and add ketchup instead of soy sauce. Make an egg crepe and top over the rice. Add a dollop of ketchup on top. I use whatever I have on hand but always use peas. This is simple but by no means healthy!

    Or, I got this from Pei's blog, Chezpei--chicken fat on rice. I'll save some fat from Zuni chicken w/ other drippings and add it to white rice. Again, no where near healthy but quick and tasty.

    12 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      My mom used to make ketchup fried rice (with a fried egg hat) all the time for me ...

      1. re: ipsedixit

        I wonder where the whole idea came from? I don't think it's unique but it seems so...um, unusual. I think it might have a Japanese base.

        1. re: chowser

          We used to eat this all the time and called it omurice. I could have sworn the Japanese version came with brown gravy as opposed to ketchup. But I could be wrong.

          1. re: chowser

            Have you ever had a ketchup fried omelette?

            Basically, a big dallop of ketchup fried rice wrapped in an omelette. Fantastic.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I can't imagine this. We always had our eggs with soy sauce. (sunny side up, boiled, omelettes... All drizzled generously with soy).

              1. re: ipsedixit

                I just looked that up online--looks good. Along the same lines, with that crepe shaped egg (cooked flat), my mom would put the ketchup fried rice in a bowl, turn it upside and wrap the top of the bowl shaped rice w/ the egg. So, it wasn't completely enclosed but covered. Oh, now I wish I were closer to home so she can make me one.

                1. re: chowser

                  I am also intrigued by this ketchup fried rice...wouldn't the ketchup burn due to all the sugar in it, though? Son is on a low-sodium diet so of course, traditional fried rice is OUT but I do have no salt added ketchup in the house (which really does not taste too different from regular ketchup, I have to say)...would like to hear more about this, please. Okay, I'm a NON Asian replying to this! hee!

                  1. re: Val

                    You just add it near the end, stir until it's mixed in. I don't normally use a recipe but here's the omelette ipsedixit was talking about:


                    1. re: chowser

                      Yup, definitely add the ketchup towards the end (even adding it after you've turned off the heat isn't a bad idea).

                      As to the whole ketchup, rice, egg combo ... it's really natural when you think about it.

                      I love scrambled eggs with ketchup and I love rice, so what could be better than all 3 mixed together, right? :-)

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Youtube has some great example techniques for doing and placing the omelet topping. Search for "omuraisu" and "omurice". The topping sauces in restos indeed ranges from pure ketchup thru brown gravy to demiglace.

                1. re: hannaone

                  Thanks, everyone...will definitely try it out!

          2. Japanese peasant o-kazu dishes (that my mom made and that I make on week days) include:

            Simple vegetable plus meat in bit of shoyu, ginger, and water--sliced asparagus from the back yard (back then) with a bit of sliced beef; sliced green beans & bit of sliced pork; or napa, bit of fermented black bean, bit of sliced chicken. These dishes take only a few minutes from start to finish.

            Simple miso soups with fish, pork, or chicken, tofu, napa, and green onion.

            Quick teriyaki chicken organs or teriyaki poached fish.

            Sides include blanched spinach served cold with shoyu, lime juice, and sprinkle of sesame seeds; or cold tofu served with shoyu & bonito flakes.

            Other quick meals can be canned sardines with a touch of fish sauce and chile flakes served with hot gohan; hot gohan and Japanese pickled vegetables, quick home pickled vegetables, and/or ume; or red (ketchup) fried rice.

            Preparation of all but the red rice is done while the gohan is cooking.

            1. Teriyaki hot dogs. Spam in napa soup. Spam chirashi rice. Junk food actually.
              My mom added bacon to our ketchup rice and somehow called it Spanish rice.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mochi mochi

                I forgot about sata-shoyu sliced dogs! Going shopping.

                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  lol, Sam. Many memories of that as a youngster.

              2. Ok. Here's my lazy bastardized bi bim bap. Just saute a whole bunch of vegetables with some garlic, salt (or fish sauce) and top with toasted sesame oil. Serve over rice, fried egg and add some gochujang. Not quite the same as regular bi bim bap but a lot easier.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Miss Needle

                  i've got a lazy bibimbap recipe too...cut kimchee into small pieces, add to rice w/ soy sauce, sesame oil and gochujang. mix and enjoy. sometimes i add some microgreens and green onions.

                  also, another favorite is bibim guksu...thin noodles cooked and rinsed under cold water and tossed w/ soy sauce, sesame oil, hot red pepper, sesame seeds and green onions.

                  1. re: soypower

                    kimchee and gochujang make everything delicious. sometimes i'll just slather some gochujang on good firm tofu, tear of a piece of nori and chomp.

                2. To go along with the fried rice (I prefer mine fried with garlic and then "garnished" with ketchup): deep fried hot dogs with sweet chili sauce; sardines sauteed with sofrito, bay leaf, oregano and sambal; chicken adobo.

                  1. Oh yeah, ketchup fried rice is a good one.

                    My mom would do a lot of the fish balls & napa cabbage type-stews. Chop up some napa and start to stir fry it, throw in a can of bamboo shoots, some black mushrooms, and fish balls and let it stew together in a little bit of soy sauce and, of course, some cornstarch for thickness. Mmm, mmm good!

                    Did anyone else's parents stir fry up iceberg lettuce? My mom would whip that up with some oil and a little bit of sugar. Maybe that's not really an Asian-American dish, but it definitely tasted good.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: taylor_blair

                      YES! Stir fried iceberg lettuce with oyster sauce ... mmmm.

                      1. re: mrsleny

                        Yeah, that's another good one. Although, I think my mom used to stir-fry lettuce with soy sauce and sugar.

                      2. re: taylor_blair

                        Yes, I love stir fried iceberg lettuce. And, stir fried chopped celery.

                      3. how about lazy kimchi chigae? take a bunch of sour kimchi, add water (maybe some dashida or some dried niboshi) and then throw in some cut up hot dogs and spam. eat with a bunch of rice

                        1. 1. My version of spare ribs: Braised side ribs in an oyster, soya, rice vinegar and maple syrup sauce. Serve with lots of white rice, the sauce is sweet and a kids' favourite.

                          2. Steamed broccoli or Chinese cabbage with oyster sauce.

                          3. Won ton dumplings: ground pork, shrimp, green onion, soya sauce and sesame oil.

                          I use Corinne Trang's Essentials of Asian Cuisine whenever I want to be more ambitious.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Venusia

                            oh gosh, those ribs sound great. my simple spare ribs are just tons and tons of chopped garlic, brown sugar and soy sauce marinate over night, toss in for a long slow bake till falling off the bone.

                          2. i just made some egg foo young tonight for dinner with 3 eggs and about a cup of leftover wonton filling. added some fresh bean sprouts and green onions, fried until crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. sauce made from chicken stock, soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch. poured sauce over the egg pancakes and topped w/ some green onions.

                            1. Watercress soup: Sorry for the lack of measurements. You just eyeball it. Simmer a fist-sized chunk of fresh lean pork (the tougher the more flavorful) in a couple quarts of water for 30 minutes-1hour. Add a bunch of cleaned watercress and rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms. Simmer another 10 minutes. Add cubes of tofu and simmer another 10 minutes. Add salt to taste. The pork is usually not eaten since by then it will have given up all of its flavor to the stock.

                              Wintermelon soup: Prep the same pork stock and shiitake mushrooms, but leave out the watercress and tofu. Add chunks of peeled and seeded wintermelon and simmer until melon is translucent and tender. Sometimes I toss a few dried oysters in at the beginning for extra flavor.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: stilton

                                these soups sound really simple and refreshing. i'm going to try the watercress this weekend. thanks stilton.

                                1. re: stilton

                                  My maximum simmer time for watercress is two minutes.

                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    Yes, veggies should be cooked for a minimal amount of time. However, every Chinese old fogie I know boils the hell out of watercress. My dad says it's from times when veggies were grown in hygienically-suspect waters.

                                    1. re: stilton

                                      If you want to reduce the time for boiling the watercress. Use lots of garlic and that will help reduce the boiling time. My Mother said the garlic would reduce the effect of dirty water.

                                      So I wash the watercress in water with whole cloves of garlic, then reserve the garlic to soak in the water prior to cooking. Then add fresh garlic to the cooking water. The taste will not too of a garlic taste. But never too much garlic.

                                  2. re: stilton

                                    re: watercress soup....i was taught to wash the watercress with salt, and use slices of ginger in the stock...but i do like the idea of tofu in there! i leave the cress for the rest of the family, i just like the soup part, particularly on wintery nights...will have to try some of these variations the next time i do it, thanks!

                                  3. I make a Chinese Spaghetti dish, it is pretty unconventional.
                                    It has tomato sauce like normal, but sesame seed oil, soy sauce and green onions make it Asian. Fed this to my kids all the time when they were younger. In fact the youngest son asked for the recipe a few days ago. Great leftovers.

                                    1lb ground beef drain the fat if there is too much
                                    brown it in canola oil, add 1 medium white onion chopped

                                    1 can of chicken or beef broth
                                    2 small cans of tomato sauce
                                    salt and white pepper to taste
                                    2 T sesame oil
                                    1 tsp sugar
                                    3 T soy sauce
                                    3-4 cloves fresh garlic-smashed
                                    6 scallions chopped reserve some for the top

                                    After you sautee the beef with the onion and garlic, add the other ingredients and simmer for about 10 minutes. If you have to thicken it use a little cornstarch with chicken broth. Meanwhile cook a pound of vermicelli. I like sesame oil so I will add more, But its personal preference.

                                    Add the scallions last to the sauce reserving some for the top

                                    In a large pasta bowl put the pasta, pout the sauce over, and add the remaining scallions.

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                      My mom used to do something similar when I was a kid, except she would use commercial spaghetti sauce (e.g. Ragu) instead of the cans of tomato sauce.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        oh, well in this, you don't want the Italian seasonings at all. Its a shocker for some people that first bite, because they expect to taste Italian, and the main ingredient that stands out is sesame oil. I swear I'll eat it cold right out of the fridge too!

                                        Oh by the way I read the title, I'm thinking this is for Asian Americans? I'm not,
                                        I just think I am, or was in another life, or will be in the next! I just love all Asian food so much! I'm diluted French, German and smidgeon of Irish. sigh. Course I do love Mexican too.....

                                        1. re: chef chicklet

                                          that's really cool. the "asian-american" in the title was originally referring to asians who grew up in america, because i sort of wondered whether there are any common themes (apparently this ketchup fried rice thing, for eg). also just looking for any ideas, and the tomato sauce with sesame oil, etc sounds great!

                                          1. re: thejulia

                                            I'm can be such a buttinski, but I hope you do.

                                            In a pinch if I was out of tomato sauce, I would use paste and a little sugar. Also, I forgot, this needs 3 coins of ginger stir fried with the meat and garlic and white or yellow onions, the scallions come into the mix at the end.

                                          2. re: chef chicklet

                                            chef chicklet, I am more than honored that you're one of us!

                                        2. re: chef chicklet

                                          My grandfather's chinese spaghetti sauce was made with ground beef, onion, ginger and Heinz tomato soup! It sounds disgusting but I loved it. He also had a version of beefaroni made with ground beef, onion, oyster sauce and macaroni. I miss my grandpa.

                                          Also when we were sick my mom would make "star soup" made with beef broth and little "star" (more than 5 points) or flower shaped pasta (chinese brand not Italian). Does anyone know what I mean? I never seem to be able to find it at my Asian market.

                                          1. re: mrsleny

                                            the "stars" are star anise. i love that dark anise flavor they bring. dunno about the flower shaped pasta though.

                                            1. re: mrsleny

                                              Actually I have thrown oyster sauce into that dish too. Gosh I need to make it soon, it was my kids most requested dish when they were school age.
                                              No wonder you loved it, it is very tasty, and the Heinz soup isn't that far off.
                                              The reason I used the vermicelli was my attempt to copy chow mien noodles and make it "Chinese". It is good on jasmine rice too.
                                              I have the Italian little stars, I make a light soup with them too, is their a big difference with the Chinese pasta stars?

                                              1. re: mrsleny

                                                Wow I haven't thought about the little star pasta in ages! I remember eating it as a little kid - easy for a toddler to swallow! I'll have to look for it the next time I head to the Asian market.

                                            2. Chashu fried rice: Leftover rice; chashu w/ brown sauce from SamWoo BBQ; garlic; shoyu; onion; frozen peas and/or carrots; salt/pepper prn.

                                              Ajinomoto on popcorn. I thought it was normal until I tried serving it to some friends in jr hi school.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: pharmnerd

                                                OMG. That popcorn idea is making my mouth water.

                                                1. re: rumgum

                                                  What's ajinomoto? I know it's a food company that makes a lot of different types of food.

                                                  1. re: eatfood

                                                    Also a brand name for an MSG seasoning.

                                                    1. re: hannaone

                                                      Yup. Pretty much replaced salt in my home growing up, until all the bad press about it.

                                              2. Steamed chicken with lup cheong. We use boneless, skinless thighs cut into nice chunks, add several links of sliced lup cheong, ginger, green onions, sliced mushrooms. Place in a bowl for steaming, add pepper, a bit of soy sauce, chinese wine or sake and a teaspoon of oyster sauce. Steam for about an hour, be sure the bowl is large enough because a lot of oil and juice accumulates. We bring the whole bowl to the table and pick out the food with chopsticks family style, this way all the oil stays in the steaming bowl. Amazing how much flavor the lup cheong and oyster sauce gives this dish. Serve with hot rice.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: curiousgeo

                                                  wow, i've never thought of using lup cheong in anything but stirfy. this sounds DELICIOUS. i bet the juice is great on the rice.

                                                2. Thanks, thejulia, this is a great thread! I must come from a different generation and/or "village", though, because I've never heard of ketchup fried rice!!! :)

                                                  Anyway, I definitely do the tofu, white cut chicken, and steamed chicken already mentioned.

                                                  I also do a simple steamed vegetable, with whatever green you like, (usually broccoli or gai lan for us) in the style of ordering "yau choy" in a restaurant. Then either drizzle oyster sauce over it, or more commonly in our family I'll put some in a dish and let the kids dip it themselves.

                                                  If you're cooking for more than yourself and you have a good Asian market nearby, I'd suggest doing a steamed/poached whole fresh tilapia or other white fish. (Bass is nice, too, but a little pricey for our family's budget.) Score the thick parts of the cleaned fish and stuff the slits and belly with matchstick-cut ginger and green onion. Then steam if you have a large enough steamer; we don't, so I just put a very shallow layer of water in a big chicken fryer pan, lay the prepared fish in, and thus "poach/steam" it until done, usually 5 to 10 minutes depending on the size. I usually get a 2-lb. fish for our family of four, to eat with a couple of other dishes and rice. Fresh fish is the best, but of COURSE, you could do it with any frozen whitefish fillets in a pinch.

                                                  For my version of "Chinese spaghetti sauce", to borrow a term already used here, I brown ground pork seasoned with light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, cooking wine, cornstarch, oyster sauce, and sesame oil (basically whatever you have and in whatever amounts you like, to taste). Either I'll drain off the fat or let it cook even more until the meat gets crispy and the oil is "re-absorbed"(?). Depends on my mood and my time. Then I put it aside and fry up some cubed Asian eggplant until it has some colour, add the pork back in, pour some water (or chicken broth for more flavour), simmer for a bit to let it all come together, adjust seasoning with more oyster sauce if necessary, then thicken it with enough cornstarch/water solution to make a gravy. The key is to have enough sauce so you can eat it over rice (or even pasta)! Mmm...

                                                  A really quick meal-stretcher is a potato omelette that my boys especially like. Just fry some potato (matchstick, cube, dice), season to taste, pour in some beaten egg, and cook until the egg is set, browning to your preference.

                                                  Phew! Sorry for the lengthy post, but hopefully all of these dishes qualify as "embarassingly easy", "homestyle", and fairly quick!

                                                  (BTW, I will definitely try your fish claypot. Didn't realise it was so easy!)

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: homebaker

                                                    i think i might be from your "village" too :) never heard of the ketchup fried rice thing, though it does seem to be a little more korean/japanese american? the poached fish is a fantastic idea, i've seen it done a lot, but never bothered to do it myself. and your chinese spaghetti sounds totally delicious. (i cook for 1 and whichever one of my roommates want to share, and but i also try and cook big messes to have leftovers).

                                                  2. Hey can I add another one of my Chinese/American dishes that I love for breakfast?
                                                    Just eggs whipped with sesame oil and soy, chopped scallions, ginger/garlic and white pepper, pea pods, or baby bok choy, or whatever greensI can find, bean sprouts. In a sautee pan I make egg pancakes. Sometimes I'll add shrimp or make it strictly veggie.

                                                    Take chicken broth add soy and a little cornstarch slurry, oyster sauce, thicken it for a gravy. Over hot rice or alone, this is one of my favorite breakfasts!

                                                    1. Another: my four year old daughter now and then has cold pasta with a bit of shredded poached chicken and a drizzle of soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. She speaks no English and no Japanese, but I've gotten her to ask for "udon con sesamo y shoyu"!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                        Love it--fusion language for fusion food. My sister and I speak fusion Taiwanese-English food that I'm sure no one else understands, partially because we really don't speak Taiwanese and, sadly, butcher it so no one else understands.

                                                      2. I thought of another one: Pan fry shrimp, pan fry slices of tofu, pour beaten eggs over it (tomatoes if available), like a omelette and stir somewhat. Add scallions and other seasoning.

                                                        1. I like to boil giant pots of gook, korean-style

                                                          we had one all week in the fridge and reheated it for bfast, lunch and dinner - gumool gogi, roughly translated "beef water soup"

                                                          1 lb beef, eye round or something like that
                                                          1 bunch scallions, sliced into 2 inch pieces
                                                          1 onion, sliced thin
                                                          4 cloves garlic, sliced
                                                          1 bag of mung bean sprouts
                                                          1/2 big korean radish (moo) or a couple of daikons, sliced into triangle-ish pieces
                                                          add ground red pepper to make spicy yuk hae jang

                                                          boil the beef gently with a ton of water in large stock pot, shred beef and add back in with rest of ingredients - cook until everything is soft - serve with rice and kimchee - so easy and the smell/taste reminds me of growing up

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: jpmcd

                                                            my mom's omelette was chinese sausage sliced up and green peas and we'd that for supper with rice.

                                                            my grandmother's quick pasta was to cook spaghetti and throw some oyster sauce, a bit of soya sauce and drizzled with cooked oil (must be cooked..so you could take some uncooked oil and put into pot and heat up to 'cook' it). We'd eat that as a snack before supper.

                                                          2. My dad always used to make these (tasty, but probably totally unhealthy) fried noodles using instant noodles, lots of oil, oyster sauce, and frozen veggies. The key is in making sure the oil is good and hot, and cooking up the oyster sauce in the oil before anything else goes in the pan.

                                                            I also really like to make Chinese-style borscht (the kind served at HK cafes).

                                                            My lazy version of restaurant dishes rely on LKK sauces. For example, that spicy eggplant dish (yu hsiang jie zi) is essentially eggplant + ground pork + chili garlic sauce + oyster sauce.

                                                            If you have one of those microwave rice cookers... those are good to throw chicken thigh meat, shiitake mushroom and lap cheong in with the (uncooked) rice and water and a bit of soy sauce, and then cooking the whole thing together in the microwave as usual. .

                                                            1. I make a horribly embarrassing version of jai (vegetarian stew?):
                                                              -Dried beancurd, fried tofu, medium / firm tofu, dong gu mushrooms, cloud ear mushrooms, dried scallops, baby bok choy, snow peas, vermicelli - with whatever sauce I feel like that day - usually oyster sauce & bean sauce. Sometimes, I only make it from a few of the above - and it looks really, really sad.

                                                              I also get cravings for sweet poached eggs. Has anyone ever had this on their birthday? It's simple, so I can't say I do a bastardized version in any way. I just bring to boil enough water in a small pot to poach one egg, dissolve sugar, and carefully drop an egg in until poached. I'll have this for 'dessert' sometimes - makes me sleep really well.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: morefuuud

                                                                I've never had sweet poached eggs but my grandmother used to make a sweet egg drink. Most people would probably find this disgusting but I really liked it on cold winter mornings. She would boil some water and whisk a beaten egg into it and then add some rock sugar.

                                                                Has anyone else ever had this?

                                                                1. re: mrsleny

                                                                  I have had a similar sweet egg drink of the same description, but it was made from english tea instead of water. Eggs were so common in my house - they went into everything. I still crave oatmeal with an egg whisked in at the last second.

                                                              2. My favorite "nostalgia" dishes are Taiwanese:
                                                                o Tsao Mi Fun - http://weblog.xanga.com/mstinawu/6605...
                                                                o Sesame oil Ginger Chicken - http://weblog.xanga.com/mstinawu/6260...