Tag Archive: Asian

My Favorite Store-Bought Sauces

The food bloggers who cook everyday and love making time-consuming sauces and stews amaze me.

I’m nothing like that.

Sure, I like making desserts and even occasionally a dinner or two, but a lot of the time I have no problem phoning in meals. Cereal and yogurt for dinner is more than fine with me. But occasionally I like to pick up pre-made products at the store to help me make something easy and delicious that’s also a little bit more impressive than cereal.

Here are a few of the trusty, reliable, go-to sauces I’m sure to have in my pantry.

Trader Joe’s Marinara Sauce

Trader Joe's Traditional Marinara Sauce

Trader Joe’s sells my favorite marinara sauce. I would happily serve this to guests and not say a thing. It’s delicious, cheap, and has all vegan and gluten-free ingredients. I usually have 3-4 in my pantry at any time because that’s how many I’ll go through in between shopping trips.

Trader Joe's Traditional Marinara Sauce Pasta

Of course it’s good with (corn) pasta and (soy) meatballs. I also like poaching eggs in the sauce and putting that over pasta or rice or quinoa. Just add some fresh herbs and you’ll forget it ever came from a jar.

Thai Kitchen Curry Paste

Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste

I really have no clue about Thai cooking and yet I love eating it; that’s where the Thai Kitchen curry paste comes in handy. All you need to do is mix it over a stove with coconut milk and it turns into a curry sauce—super simple. All the ingredients are vegan and gluten-free, too! I like it more than the bottled curry sauces because it lasts longer and the ingredients are simpler. Again, this is something I usually have in my pantry waiting to be used.

Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste Bowl

I always have tofu and frozen vegetables on hand and usually have some leftover brown rice in my refrigerator. When you mix them all together it’s a perfect combination.

San-J Stir-Fry Sauces

San-J Teryaki Sauce

Like I mentioned, tofu, vegetables, and rice are big in my diet so I like anything that makes those tastier without lots of pressing and cooking. San-J stir-fry sauces are great because you just have to dice a block of tofu and sauté it in a pan in the sauce. It’s also hard to find sauces that use gluten-free soy sauce and I love the fact that they have a variety of flavors that are all gluten-free.

San-J Teryaki Sauce Tofu


Have any favorite sauces I should try? By the way, none of these were given to me or offered compensation. I just really like the sauces.

Baked Sesame Tofu

Baked Sesame Tofu

It’s really hard to get good gluten-free vegetarian food at most Asian restaurants. Whenever I do find it, it’s usually in the form of fried tofu. Don’t get me wrong—I do love getting golden and greasy tofu now and again, especially when someone else is making it. But it’s a heavy thing to eat again and again.

This tofu has a texture closure to fried tofu than any baked tofu I’ve ever had thanks to the corn starch while still not being overly salty or heavy. You can cook a big pot of brown rice and stir fry some vegetables and have your own take-out meal at home without the take-out.

Baked Sesame Tofu Collage

To make this gluten-free, make sure to use a gluten-free tamari in place of the soy sauce. You can also substitute tapioca starch in place of the corn starch and agave for the honey.

Baked Sesame Tofu

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 2 servings):

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 3 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/2 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice the tofu into even segments
  3. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl.
  4. One at a time, dip the pieces of tofu in the sauce and lay them out on a non-stick baking surface. Pour any remaining sauce on top of the tofu.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes until the outside is golden and the edges brown. Turn once halfway through baking.
  6. Serve hot with rice and vegetables and extra soy sauce.

Baked Sesame Tofu Long

Healthy Tofu Stir-Fry


When I posted about seasoning rice, I got asked what I was eating it with. Well, here’s the recipe. It’s really hard to find gluten-free vegetarian options at Chinese restaurants. Most of the times I’ve been able to eat out, it’s been fried tofu, which is lovely the first few times but after a while starts weighing you down. Some things are just better to make yourself.

I didn’t press my tofu before making this but it would probably help the texture of the tofu. You could swap in tempeh cubes, seitan, or shredded chicken. To keep it gluten-free, make sure to use a wheat-free soy sauce.

Healthy Tofu Stir-Fry

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 2 servings)

  • 1 block firm or extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 2/3 cup bean sprouts
  • 2/3 cup broccoli slaw
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar OR 3 Tablespoons liquid sweetener
  • 1 Tablespoon sriracha sauce(optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons cooking starch(arrowroot, tapioca, or corn) + 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil(optional)



  1. Heat up a large frying pan over medium heat and toss in the tofu, bean sprouts, broccoli slaw, soy sauce, sweetener and sriracha. Mix thoroughly
  2. Cover with a lid and let the contents steam until the vegetables are tender and the tofu has taken on a brown color, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Dissolve your cooking starch in the water and pour it into the pan. Quickly mix the contents around while the starch turns the cooking liquid into a glaze.
  4. Finish with salt and sesame oil if using. Serve hot with vegetables or rice.


This goes great with seasoned rice or healthy Chinese broccoli. I wouldn’t omit the sweetener or it would taste rather bland. If you don’t use the sriracha, add about 1/2 Tablespoon of rice vinegar instead to make the flavor pop.

The Best Tempeh


People who are vegetarian or want to eat less meat always ask me how to cook tofu to make it taste less… well, like tofu. Here’s my answer: I don’t really eat tofu all that much; tempeh has a much more natural taste and texture to it and the process for making it is a little less sketchy.

The second part to the answer is this recipe. Sometimes I eat tempeh plain because it tastes fine on its own to me, but when I do cook it I use this sauce. It’s only 2 ingredients and incredibly easy to make; it’s a great one for beginner cooks who aren’t looking to tackle long ingredient lists for flavorful food.

This dish is also really easy to make gluten-free. Just make sure to use wheat-free soy sauce and that the tempeh doesn’t have any grains fermented in it; the ingredients should just be soy beans, vinegar, and salt.

Maple Soy Tempeh

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 2 servings):

  • 1 block of tempeh
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup



  1. Dice the tempeh into bite-sized pieces
  2. Heat together the tempeh, maple syrup, and soy sauce in a large pan over medium heat.
  3. Turn the tempeh occasionally as the liquid boils off into a glaze. Make sure all sides get covered in sauce.
  4. When most of the liquid has boiled off, remove the pan from the heat and scoop the tempeh out. Serve hot or cold as leftovers.


If you have trouble cleaning the pan afterwards, simply put it back on the hot burner and pour in some vinegar to loosen the glaze. Wipe the rest off with a folded paper towel or reduce it and pour over as a sauce.

Maple-Sriracha Lentils


Hi, again. I’m back after a short posting hiatus. I figured I needed to post something if only so that my parents don’t think I died. I’ve done plenty of writing over the past few days, but not about food; it’s mostly been commentaries on ancient elegiac and epic poetry, and I figured no one wants to read that(I don’t even really want to read that). And cooking? Oh, cooking. Well, there’s plenty of time for that now.

This might be an unpopular opinion, but I really don’t like sriracha sauce—at least not on its own. It’s far too spicy for me; even just thinking about pouring large amounts of it over food makes jump back. I do, however, love the flavor it adds to sauces with a little sweetness to balance the heat. I’ve made this sauce with maple syrup and soy sauce a few times lately and poured it over everything: Lentils, quinoa, eggs—there’s no bad combination.


If you’re a sriracha fan, I’m sure you’ll love this. Even if you’re not a sriracha fan, give it a shot and you might just be surprised how much you like it.

Maple-Sriracha Lentils

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 4 servings):

  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons sriracha sauce



  1. Cook the lentils for 30-40 minutes in the boiling water until they’ve become tender and soaked up all the liquid.
  2. Turn off the heat and add in the soy sauce, maple syrup, and sriracha and mix, letting the lentils sit over the burner for a couple minutes to absorb the sauce.
  3. Serve hot or cold as leftovers.


The sriracha adds a great complexity to a sauce that’s only 3 ingredients. For a little more depth of flavor you can add a Tablespoon of toasted sesame oil at the end of cooking.

And now I have 6 weeks with not much to do and a full kitchen at my exposal so expect to hear a lot more from me.

Fried Rice With Mushrooms


Or really fried quinoa. But what’s the difference?

I love mushrooms but don’t buy them much since they’re not much to eat on their own. I had some leftover this week and thought I’d add them to a stir fry to lend a “meatiness” to it. I don’t think mushrooms remind me all that much of meat; I think they remind me a whole lot of mushrooms. But that’s OK because I like mushrooms.


Mushrooms are prized in Asian dishes because they’re high in umami, or what I’d probably butcher by calling savoriness. Sautéing the mushrooms in oil helps to bring out this flavor and spread it through the whole dish which elevates the flavor. I like mine best with some red chili flakes to add a level of spiciness.

Fried Rice With Mushrooms

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients(For 2 people):

  • 2 large portabella mushroom caps, sliced
  • 1 Pepper, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 1 cup cooked rice(or quinoa)
  • 2/3 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 4 eggs(optional)



  1. Heat up 1 Tablespoon of sesame oil and 1 1/2 Tablespoons of soy sauce in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once heated, toss in the mushroom slices and diced pepper and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the rice, bean sprouts, vinegar, sugar, and the rest of the sesame oil and soy sauce and mix all of the ingredients together.
  3. Continue cooking until most of the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated away, also about 5 minutes.
  4. Crack in the eggs if using and mix them in with the rice. Cook until the egg has cooked through.
  5. Plate and serve hot.


I served this with some steamed kale to bring color to the dish. You can leave the eggs out and make this vegan, adding in tempeh for extra protein or not. I like adding eggs because it’s a cheap way to add bulk to a meal.

Fried Quinoa


The downside(or benefit depending on how you look at it) of making things like quinoa in big batches is that you have the same old food meal after meal. Luckily, quinoa is one grain that’s easy to dress up. You can eat it in the morning in place of oatmeal, or later on in place of rice. Here I used it to make a tasty, higher protein version of fried rice.


I’ve never really found rice interesting, even as fried rice from a halfway decent Chinese takeout restaurant. This, however, I could eat meal after meal. The vegetables and egg add a play of textures and the quinoa has a nice nutty flavor to it to compliment the sesame oil. Add some stir-fried tofu or chicken and you’re good to go.

Of course, if you have leftover rice you could make the same recipe subbing in rice for quinoa and have a more traditional dish.

Fried Quinoa

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients(makes 2 servings)

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce(use wheat-free tamari for a gluten-free meal)
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 4 eggs



  1. Heat the oil and soy sauce in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until the oil starts to bubble.
  2. Add in the onion and sauté until translucent.
  3. Add in the quinoa, pepper, and bean sprouts. Toss the pan to mix. Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa on the bottom of the pan begins to pop.
  4. Crack the eggs directly into the pan. Lightly mix them in with the other ingredients. Continue mixing until the all the whites and yolks have cooked through.
  5. Plate and serve hot. Can be kept in the refrigerator and reheated as leftovers for up to 3 days.


I ate this as leftovers and it was most definitely better the next day, with a strong, nutty sesame flavor and crunchy bean sprouts.

Orange Tempeh


When I was in high school, we didn’t really have a traditional cafeteria; instead, we used a college campus’ union where they had tons of food options inside. Between my freshman and sophomore year, Burger King was moved out and in their place came a Panda Express. I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about that, since I loved the Burger King frozen chocolate pies so much. But one taste of Panda Express’ orange chicken and it was love at first bite.

I can’t count how many times I got that order over the next couple of years. Now I sometimes go back and get a little nostalgic just looking at the Panda Express sign. But since gluten and meat are out, Panda Express’ orange chicken is, too. So that inspired me to make my own; if I could make something half as good as their orange chicken without chicken or wheat, I’d be happy. Luckily I think I came upon with something half as good and more.


I used tapioca starch for a corn-free dish I was a little worried it wouldn’t be a good replacement, but it worked exactly the same. It’s something I now keep on hand at all times for gluten-free/grain-free baking and cooking.

Orange Tempeh

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients(for 2 servings):

  • 1 block of tempeh, cubed
  • Juice of 1/2 an orange(about 2 Tablespoons)
  • 2 Tablespoons agave, or any sweetener
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce(or wheat-free tamari)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon siracha sauce(optional)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon tapioca or corn starch mixed with 2 Tablespoon water



  1. In a small dish, mix together the orange juice, agave, soy sauce, vinegar, salt, sesame oil and siracha if using.
  2. Pour the mixture into a frying pan and heat over a burner set to medium.
  3. When the liquid is hot, add in the tempeh. Brown the tempeh on all sides in the sauce until half the liquid has boiled off, about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour the dissolved starch into the pan and mix it around with the tempeh and sauce to thicken up. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a couple tablespoons of hot water into the pan and mix it in until more of the starch has dissolved and adjust it until it forms a coating over the tempeh.
  5. Remove from the heat. Serve over vegetables or rice.


This sauce is slightly less sweet and more orange-flavored than Panda Express’, which I like in terms of complexity but not quite fitting for a Chinese take-out craving. You can play with the sweetness and saltiness by adding more sugar or soy sauce and adjust to taste.

Tempeh And Broccoli


I’ve been getting a lot of questions on tempeh recently. I want to put all my thoughts into a post about it but until then you’ll only get recipes, which is pretty good considering half the time I eat tempeh it’s raw, cold from the fridge. I would not suggest eating it that way if it’s you’re first time; it would be a horrible, bland introduction to something that can be so tasty.

If tofu is soy chicken, tempeh is soy beef. It’s much firmer, earthier and has a chew to it. Naturally it’s a great vegetarian substitute for beef in Asian dishes, like beef and broccoli. Since broccoli was one of the three vegetables I liked growing up(the other being carrots and olives), beef and broccoli was what I always chose on Chinese take-out night. This recipe keeps all those same flavors and textures, but with whole food ingredients anyone can enjoy.


You can substitute rice vinegar in place of apple cider vinegar for a more traditional ingredient list. I like apple cider vinegar here because it replicates the sweet, fruity flavor of plum sauce common in Asian cooking.

Tempeh And Broccoli(inspired by Caitlin)

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients(makes 2 servings):

  • 1 block of tempeh, diced
  • 6 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon soy sauce(or wheat-free tamari)
  • 2 Tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil, preferably toasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cups broccoli, steamed
  • 1/2 onion, julienned
  • 1 bell pepper, julienned(optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Combine the tempeh, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, agave, and chili powder in a large pan and heat it on a burner set to medium-high.
  2. Cook for about 5 minutes flipping once until the liquid thickens up like a sauce.
  3. Add in the broccoli, onion, pepper, and garlic powder. Continue cooking over medium heat until the moisture has boiled off of the pan and the onions turn soft(about 5 minutes).
  4. Remove from the heat and season with salt. Plate and serve hot.


When this is cooked the tempeh should be fork-tender with a sweet, nutty flavor and fall apart in your mouth. It’s a great introduction to a food that could become your best friend.

Healthy Chinese Broccoli


My favorite Chinese take-out to order has always been broccoli: Beef and broccoli, mushroom and broccoli, bean curd and broccoli. They just know how to do something to broccoli that makes it taste good. No doubt it’s full of sodium and sugar, which is part of why I wanted to make this myself. The other reason is, well, who doesn’t want to have delicious take-out food at half the cost whenever they feel like it?

Whether or not this is “healthy” you can debate. It has added sugar and a modest amount of sodium. Corn starch isn’t too “clean” an ingredient either. But I think making it for yourself, using ingredients you can see and touch, and being aware of what’s in your food is a pretty darn healthy way to live.

Healthy Chinese Broccoli

Ingredients(Makes 4 servings):

  • 4 cups raw broccoli
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, julienned
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoon water
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch or tapioca starch



  1. In a large pan, heat the sesame oil over a burner set to medium heat.
  2. Sauté the garlic in the sesame oil until lightly browned.
  3. In a small cup, mix the sugar, rice vinegar, and soy sauce until the sugar has mostly dissolved.
  4. Add the broccoli, onion, and sugar mixture into the pan and cover with a lid until the broccoli has steam cooked and turned bright green.
  5. While continuing to cook, remove the lid and mix together the contents of the pan until everything is covered in sauce.
  6. Dissolve the starch into 2 tablespoons of water and pour it into the pan to mix with the sauce.
  7. Cook until all the excess water has evaporated and the broccoli is covered in sauce. Plate and serve hot.