Basic Recipes

These basic recipes use only a few ingredients (sometimes only one), and are about preparing items for later use, especially as ingredients in other recipes, rather than for producing finished dishes.

A Japnese Nihaizu Seasoned Vinegar
A Japnese Nihaizu Seasoned Vinegar

Two Basic Japanese Seasoned Vinegars

Nihaizu and Sanbaizu are both seasoned vinegars used in Japanese cuisine, sometimes as marinades, or the bases for dipping sauces, but primarily as dressings for the salad type preparations known as ‘Sunomono’. The basic forms for each are extremely simple and can be varied in any number of ways to suit personal needs and tastes.


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Crispy Fried Onions
Crispy Fried Onions

Crispy Fried Onions are a terrific topping on many different foods. Indeed,  I can’t imagine serving an Indian Biriyani without including crispy fried onions on top of the dish, and you can also find them being added to many rice, meat and vegetable dishes in  India, Indonesia, and a host of other Eastern cuisines.

In the West, crispy fried onions are widely available commercially either in the form of flakes or ‘strings’, and they are often used on burgers, in sandwiches, and scattered over salads, baked potatoes, and cooked vegetable dishes. The commercially packaged varieties are, unfortunately, often tasteless or stale, but it is easy enough, if a little time-consuming to make them yourself at home.


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Homemade Xiaolongbao - 小笼包
Homemade Xiaolongbao – 小笼包

 The Chinese Soup Dumpling Secret

If you have ever tried any of the Chinese delicacies generally known as ‘soup-dumplings’ or their (often) larger, and well-known cousins, Xiaolongbao, you have probably enjoyed the way that the steaming, liquid content squirts in your mouth when you bite into them. Quite possibly, it also occurred to you to wonder how on earth the cook gets the delicious broth into the dumplings in the first place…

Not long ago, when I featured the technique for making a Basic Chinese Pork Stock, I hinted at this ancient Chinese secret. If you haven’t guessed the answer yet, read on…


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An Appetizer of Marinated Roasted Red Peppers
An Appetizer of Marinated Roasted Red Peppers

Roasted Red Peppers that have been marinated in olive oil make a lovely Italian Antipasto style Appetizer but they are great to have on hand for a variety of other uses. They can be added to a whole variety of more complex hot and cold dishes, are fantastic when pureed for sauces and condiments, make great garnishes when sliced or dices attractively, and, on a more pedestrian level, go great on sandwiches and wraps.

You can buy some fairly decent pre-made varieties in jars, or occasionally in bulk from the deli section of the supermarket, but they are easy enough to prepare at home and the results are far better…


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Sweet Onion Shreds
Sweet Onion Shreds

Raw onion can often have an unpleasantly harsh ‘bite’ to them, but if you use the following technique, you can produce delightfully sweet onion shreds that can be used in all sorts of ways. They are a wonderful addition to salads, make a great condiment on burgers or sandwiches, and they can even be used as attractive, and edible garnish for appetizers or sushi plates

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Dough being rolled for dumplings
Dough being rolled for dumplings

The Basic Dumpling Wrapper Dough we are making here is of the unleavened, wheat flour variety. It is probably the most common dumpling wrapper dough all around the world, especially among home cooks. You will find it in such diverse types as Chinese Jaozi, Xiaolongbao, and Wontons, as well as the Korean Mandu, Japanese Gyoza, and the internationally ever-popular ‘Pot-Stickers’. The ingredient list is very short, as you will see, and virtually anyone can learn how to make a versatile dough with this extremely simple little recipe.


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