You know when you’re hungry and you feel like you should eat light but you don’t want “health food” so you go out for Asian food? (Because whether it’s Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese or Japanese, and especially if it’s authentic, there will be no bread on the table, very little dairy, often less meat, and most importantly, cheesy pasta isn’t an option.) A new cookbook from Steamy Kitchen author Jaden Hair aims to cater to that exact craving. Steamy Kitchen’s Healthy Asian Favorites has the same approachable tone as the author’s blog but contains only super-simple dishes with a small number of ingredients that are also good for you. The simplicity of Hair’s recipes keeps many of them from being super authentic, but it’s a great book for a beginner cook who wants to learn to cook with Asian ingredients without investing a ton of time and money. Here are a few recipes from the book.
4. Sake-Steamed Mussels
2 pounds fresh mussels
11/2 cups sake or dry white wine
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 shallot, sliced into very thin rings
1 handful fresh basil leaves
Scrub the mussels under cool water, discarding any with broken or cracked shells.
Heat a large sauté pan, deep soup pot, or wok over high heat with the sake, ginger, garlic, and shallots. When the mixture comes to a boil, add the mussels and cover.
Cook for 5 minutes, or until the mussels open.
Toss in the basil and serve immediately.
5. Miso Cod
There’s a famous chef named Nobu Matsuhisa who popularized miso marinated cod — one of the to-die-for dishes at his restaurants all over the world. The nutty miso is a perfect match for any type of fish, especially buttery, rich cod. This signature dish is a simple recipe with lots of flexibility. The fish (I use cod, but you can use any fish your little heart desires, such as salmon, tuna, snapper, or tilapia) is marinated in miso paste either for a couple of hours or up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Then it’s bake, broil, or grill — up to you. Shiro miso is white miso, the mildest of all the miso pastes. You can substitute any other type of miso, but decrease the amount to 1 1/2 tablespoons.
2 tablespoons shiro miso (white miso)
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons mirin (or 1 tablespoon honey mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
4 pieces black cod (about 6 ounces each)
Combine the miso, sake, mirin, and sugar in a resealable bag. Mix well. Add the fish fillets to the bag, seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Massage the bag a bit, spreading the marinade all over the fillet. Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the fish from the marinade and use a paper towel to gently wipe off any excess marinade, but don’t rinse the fish. Discard marinade.
Place the fish in the prepared baking sheet and bake until the fish flakes easily, about 10 to 12 minutes. Move the fish to the top rack and place 6 inches from heating element. Turn oven to broil to brown and caramelize the fish, about 1 minute. Keep a close eye on it as it will burn easily. Serve immediately.
6. Salmon-Honey Teriyaki
This is one of my “bag recipes”: open a resealable bag, add all the marinade ingredients, throw in the fish, close, and slosh the marinade around the fillet. When you’re ready to eat, take out the fish and slap it on a hot grill.
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
3 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons honey
1 pound fresh salmon fillet
2 teaspoons cooking oil
Combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake, and honey in a resealable bag. Add the salmon and mix to coat. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
Remove salmon, reserving the marinade. Heat a frying pan or sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, swirl in the oil. Sear salmon, 2 minutes per side.
Turn heat to low and pour in the reserved marinade. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until cooked through.