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Saturday was Test Kitchen night.  This time, we tackled Asian cuisine.  And the verdict = LOVE!!!

I’ve been jonesin’ for beef kalbi for a while, and stumbled on this beauty via Chrissy Teigen: http://sodelushious.com/2011/06/28/beef-curtains/ and just last week, PBS posted their recipe archive on Facebook and I immediately found and fell in love with Mapo Tofu: http://www.pbs.org/food/fresh-tastes/mapo-tofu/

Please click thru these links for recipes. They are fabulous as they are, and I want you to see them just how I did.

Being a white girl who grew up on chicken breasts and pasta, I get intimidated by Asian faire.  So last week, I hopped up to Ranch 99 to pick up some basics.  About 10 minutes later and two passes thru the “sauces” aisle, I had my black bean paste (OMG the precious) and chili bean paste.  I passed on sake- I never know what I’m buying and apparently I’m embarrassed to buy sake because I’m probably just buying the cheap crap.  But I digress….

Back to the food!  Making the marinade for the kalbi was super easy. I grated the pear on my microplaner and just about sliced off a few fingernails (always inevitable).  Super easy. Pour it on the brown sugar rubbed beef and let it marinate for a few hours.

Best to let it soak a few hours

Next up: chill.  Once you get going with this stuff, dinner will be ready in about 10 minutes.

Now let’s talk tofu.  I edited this recipe because the husband isn’t super fond of the Silken tofu (I prefer firmer fu as well).  The fermented black beans came in a huge vat so I opted for a smaller glass jar of black bean paste (love love love); the doubanjiang… well I ended up picking up a jar of “chili bean paste with garlic” – worked out just fine.  Also, I didn’t get the Sischuan peppercorns because I’m new to this whole cuisine and don’t want to buy a ton of something I may use just once.  Next time, I’m investing.   And about the cornstarch: this type of stuff is evil so I use arrowroot instead.  Works just the same and is a grain-free alternative. 

Husband grilled the ribs on the bbq- don’t start the tofu until the ribs are on the fire.  All of this stuff cooks quick!!

This is going to happen a lot more in my kitchen

Once you’re done cooking this pork & tofu goodness in the wok, add a little more sesame oil and stir fry some veggies to go on the side.  Rice is just a stomach filler, and that space is too precious to be wasted!

Simplicity at its best

A few things I’d change: flank steak instead of Oriental short ribs.  These were great, but the fat content made it difficult to eat.  Also, I want to mess around with Mapo and add prawns.

After this massive success, I’ve gained some confidence and feel more secure about cooking Asian cuisine.  If there’s one thing I cannot take, its failure in the kitchen.  And with a spread like this, you really can’t lose. 

Beef Kalbi, Mapo Tofu & Stir Fried Veggies