Five-Spice Chinese Marinade

I made this with some chicken tonight and everyone loved it. It was easy, fragrant, and delicious, bite after bite.

I adapted the recipe from one I found at Epicurious.

2/3 cup minced green onions
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1/4 cup dry Sherry
2 Tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl and add sliced chicken (or beef). Cover and refrigerate, marinating between one and three hours before cooking.

When ready to cook, heat a small amount of oil in a pan. Remove the chicken from the marinade with a slotted spoon and fry over medium heat until cooked through. At that point, you can serve it straight over white rice or Asian noodles, or add it to vegetables that you stir-fry until warmed through.

Pasta con Salsa di Pignoli

This is an easy, no-cook, creamy sauce for pasta that works perfectly for these hot summer nights. The pine nuts (pignoli) add some crunch and protein. You can use either fat-free or regular dairy ingredients, and you can serve it atop any kind of pasta you like — although I favor linguine for this one.

The raw garlic is strong, so leave it out if it’s too much for you, but I personally loved the kick it added to the sauce.

Serves 3

300g (10.5 oz.) linguine
1/2 cup milk
170g (6 oz.) cottage cheese
1 large clove garlic, minced
6 Tbsp. pine nuts, plus extra for garnish
Dried oregano
Salt
Black pepper

Set a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Put the rest of the ingredients in a blender and mix until combined.

Cook the linguine in the water. When it’s done, drain it, then quickly whiz the sauce ingredients in the blender again. Arrange the pasta on plates and pour the sauce on top. Sprinkle a small handful of pine nuts on top, along with some more oregano. Serve immediately.

Asian Stir-Fry Sauce

The recipe for a good, basic stir-fry sauce has eluded me for a while, but I have finally found one I like. It takes just a couple of minutes to make and has just what I want in a sauce — something that clings to the ingredients and gives it a spicy, salty, and slightly sweet Asian flavor.

This is perfect for those bags of pre-cut stir-fry vegetables you see in the produce aisle of the supermarket. Add bean sprouts, edamame beans, or tofu for a great vegetarian meal, then serve it all on top of rice or rice noodles. It is for me the perfect weekday meal — quick and nutritious, with enough for leftovers (to save time the next day!).

I adapted the recipe from one I found at about.com.

Serves 4

2/3 cup chicken stock
5 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. agave syrup (you can substitute honey)
Something for heat — whether minced red chili, a dash of chili sauce, or a sprinkling of cayenne pepper
4 tsp. cornstarch (cornflour) dissolved in 1/2 cup water
4 cloves garlic, minced

Place the first five ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When it begins to bubble, reduce the heat slightly and add the cornstarch mixture and garlic. Stir until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste and adjust the flavors as needed.

How to use it:
Make the sauce as you cook the rice and before you start cooking the vegetables. When you’re ready, stir-fry the vegetables in a little oil. When the pan becomes dry, add a few spoonfuls of the sauce and stir to coat the vegetables. Keep cooking until the vegetables have softened but still retain some crispness. Add the remaining sauce and mix until everything is coated. Serve immediately over rice.