There are buckwheat noodles, and there are buckwheat noodles, and if you follow a gluten-free diet, you know what I mean. Some brands contain wheat flour as well as buckwheat; some contain yam or sweet potato; several brands are 100 percent buckwheat. I think they all taste so similar that, unless you have celiac disease, you can cook with them interchangeably. Read the labels when you shop at Asian markets; by law, ingredients must be listed in English on packaged foods sold in the United States. Soba noodles make a perfect backdrop for sauces with citrus, and here it's lime that provides the tart balance to the earthy buckwheat. My friend Sarah gave me a gorgeous yellow cucumber, as well as mint from her community... Read more →

One of my all-time favorite Chinese restaurant take-out recipes, shrimp lo mein finally gets the photo update it deserves. I first shared this recipe in 2008, in an ingredient post about oyster sauce, and I updated the post in 2010 with photos that made this dish look anything but appetizing. I hope these new photos will give you an idea of how much you'll love these salty, slurpy noodles, and how easy it is to make great lo mein at home. The basic sauce, what I call the Cantonese 3-2-1 Trinity, relies on staples from the pantry: three parts reduced-sodium soy sauce, two parts oyster sauce (also called oyster-flavor sauce), and one part sesame oil. You can use this mixture to season all types of... Read more →

My cousin Sandra deserves all the credit for bringing these amazing Thai chicken satay skewers into our lives. Neiman Marcus deserves credit, too, because the recipe originally appeared in one of their cookbooks, but to me, these will always be Sandra's skewers, because she introduced us to them. The chicken in this recipe marinates in a bold mixture of fish sauce, soy sauce, and herbs. Most satay marinades feature coconut milk, which mutes the power of the herbs a bit, but this one does not. The only changes I made were to reduce the amount of brown sugar, and to substitute lemongrass paste for a stalk of fresh lemongrass. We like to serve the skewers with light and easy sliced cucumber salad, and with our... Read more →

If it's green, I'm grilling it: that's my motto for this summer. After years of grilling asparagus (still my favorite way to cook it), I've moved on to the leafy greens like lettuce and bok choy. There's no stopping me. Proximity to a wonderful Asian grocery store gives me endless access to big bags of baby bok choy, and also makes it easy to keep my pantry stocked with Asian ingredients. Bok choy is a cabbage, which means it has a mild but distinct flavor of its own, and also takes well to strong flavors around it. For this and other sauces, I like to use a new-to-my-pantry ingredient, chili pepper stir-in paste, that I buy in the produce section of my supermarket; you can... Read more →

When the weather heats up, my little kitchen does, too. One way to beat the heat is by using the slow cooker. No need to turn on the stove, or stand over it to stir-fry or sauté. In fact, no need to pay any attention at all for most of the day, save a few minutes of prep, and a few minutes of shredding at the end of the cooking. You can spend the rest of the day at the beach, in the pool, or reading a book. I love one-dish meals, and I love beef brisket (you might have guessed that by now), so you know how much I love this slow cooker shredded beef brisket that's salty, tangy, with a little bit of... Read more →

This is my summer of thighs. No, not my thighs, the ones I don't want to show in a bathing suit: I'm talking about chicken thighs. My freezer runneth over with packages of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. (Consider yourselves warned.) If you are reading this in the morning, you could be eating this for lunch or dinner. The grilled chicken requires a quick marinade, made from ingredients you probably always have in the pantry (and can buy at the regular grocery store). And once cooked, the chicken tastes good hot or cold, which makes it a great make-ahead dish for summer entertaining. If you don't have a grill, go ahead and cook this under the broiler. I love to serve the chicken sliced and wrapped... Read more →

When it comes to revisiting old recipes, things don't always work out the way I plan. A post from 2008 needed updating with new photographs -- easy enough -- but when it came time to make the recipe, I realized that this was another case of how my cooking style and tastes have changed. Perfect for the broiler or grill and ideal for Meatless Mondays (and vegan friends), this tofu and asparagus dish with a rich, salty hoisin and sesame sauce bears slight resemblance to the original. I've simplified the number of ingredients, and eliminated the noodles, which I seldom eat these days. The grill lends a slightly smoky taste to the tofu, which is lovely but not entirely necessary if, like me, you don't... Read more →