Chef John's Best Asian-Inspired Recipes
We've gathered some of Chef John's best Asian recipes, featuring Korean, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Indonesian specialties that you can make at home. Watch Chef John's videos, too, and pick up smart tips and tricks for making Beef Bulgogi, Spicy Thai Basil Chicken, Roasted Pork Banh Mi, Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup, and more.
Bulgogi Beef (Korean-Style Barbecue)
This amazing marinade works beautifully with chicken, pork and beef, but Chef John prefers boneless short ribs. A peeled, grated Asian pear adds a touch of sweetness. "In the best examples I've had of beef bulgogi in Korean restaurants, the meat, while tender, still had a little bit of chewiness to it," says Chef John. "You can control texture by the thickness or thinness of the slices and how long you marinate them. But this is a fairly fast-acting marinade, so I go with an hour or two."
Chinese Barbeque Pork (Char Siu)
"In addition to its impressive high-gloss appearance and savory taste, this Chinese barbeque pork is quite easy to make at home -- even without a fancy ceramic grill," says Chef John. These simple Chinese BBQ sauce combines hoisin sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, Chinese wine, crushed garlic, Chinese 5-spice, cayenne pepper, and a pinch of pink salt.
Spicy Pork and Vegetable Tofu
"If you can't decide what to make for dinner, try this spicy pork and vegetable tofu dish: fast, easy, and tasty, it checks all the boxes for a satisfying meal and acts as a catch-all for any seasonal produce," says Chef John. "All the individual ingredients taste distinct while blending seamlessly into one harmonious flavor bomb. Zucchini is our favorite veggie to showcase, especially if you take the extra 15 minutes to salt it, but pretty much any vegetables will shine."
Chef John's Beef Rendang
"The sauce in this amazing Indonesian curry might be invisible, but you'll know it's there," says Chef John. "As it reduces, the water evaporates, leaving behind the fat and flavor that make this dish so unique and addictive. Originally, cooking meat this way helped preserve it in hot and humid Indonesia. Turns out, people continued making it long after refrigeration came around. Serve with steamed rice, garnished with cilantro and lime if desired."
Cabbage Patch Halibut
"Fish wrapped in cabbage is one of easiest and most delicious ways you can cook fish," says Chef John. "The cabbage leaf not only keeps the halibut moist, but also holds all your assorted garnishes and seasonings tight against the meat, which creates an even more intensely flavored result. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves."
Grilled Hoisin Beef
"Hoisin sauce is a thickened, fermented soy-sauce-like substance, flavored with chilies, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and, of course, exotic spices," says Chef John. "It makes a great marinade. And unless you horribly overcook it, this skirt steak is juicy and tender."
Spicy Thai Basil Chicken (Pad Krapow Gai)
"My version of this classic Thai dish has spectacular taste even with regular basil instead of Thai or holy basil," says Chef John. "The sauce actually acts like a glaze as the chicken mixture cooks over high heat. The recipe works best if you chop or grind your own chicken and have all ingredients prepped before you start cooking."
Corned Beef Kimchi Fried Rice
"There's nothing quite as deeply and profoundly flavorful as caramelizing fermented foods, which is why you've got to try this kimchi fried rice and top it with 2 poached or fried eggs; the runny yolk will mix into and moisten the rice, taking this to a whole other level. The poached egg also paired quite nicely with my 'landweed' garnish, some fresh nasturtium from my garden, as it does with the much more traditional shredded seaweed."
Thai-Dipped Beef Tri Tip
"I enjoy beef satay way more than I do skewering small pieces of beef," says Chef John. "Besides, I've never made satay, and not stuck a bamboo skewer into my finger at some point in the process. Not only did this involve less labor, but you can cook this in any number of ways."
Charred Broccoli Beef
Make this takeout favorite at home! Chef John makes it with seasoned skirt steak. "I saw a charred broccoli salad online somewhere recently, and for whatever reason I had the idea to try the same technique for a fairly classic version of broccoli beef," says Chef John. "Serve over steamed rice."
Roasted Pork Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich)
"I'll never forget my first real bánh mì. I remember thinking to myself, this isn't just one of the best sandwiches I've ever had to eat, but one of the best things, period," says Chef John. "Not only do we get amazing contrasts in flavor and texture, but also the temperature difference between the crisp, warm, meat-filled roll, and cool, crunchy vegetables makes this so much fun to eat."
Turkey Tom Kha Gai
"One of the great blessings, and curses, of Thanksgiving is leftover turkey," says Chef John. "That's where this spicy Thai coconut soup recipe comes in. This is my take on Tom Kha Gai, and as usual I make no claim as to its authenticity. I do know it tastes amazing and will make you forget you even roasted a turkey. Garnish with chili oil, cilantro leaves, and lime wedges."
Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup
"This recipe is my attempt at the famous Vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup, Pho," says Chef John. "Garnish with thinly sliced raw beef tenderloin, basil, mint, cilantro, chili sambal, and fresh lime wedges."
Chef John's Cashew Chicken
"This is a fantastic way to use up some leftover grilled chicken breasts," says Chef John. "This will work with any kind of cooked chicken, but leftover grilled chicken has that little bit of smokiness that adds something special to this quick recipe. Serve over hot cooked rice."
Lazy Pork Dumplings
"While the filling and dough are relatively straightforward, it's usually the shaping of dumplings that takes a while," says Chef John. "I've come up with a much quicker, more casual assembly method that works whether you boil, steam, or fry them. Served in a vinegary broth, they mimic the experience of soup dumplings, which are typically served with vinegar to balance that gush of rich, meaty juices you get when you bite in."
Spicy Tuna Rice Bowl
"What we have here is equal parts tuna and rice by weight, which for me, gives this the perfect balance between protein and starch," says Chef John. "While this may remind some people of a fried rice dish, this is significantly lighter, and actually very low on the fat content, but that doesn't mean it's not satisfying, and like most rice dishes, it's very comforting."
"These deceivingly simple, yet devastatingly delicious garlic noodles were invented back in the '70s at a restaurant in San Francisco called Thanh Long," says Chef John. "Usually served with roasted Dungeness crab, the recipe is a very closely guarded family secret, but after lots of investigation, and even more experimentation, I think this is very close."
Chef John's Hot and Sour Soup
"Yes, it's hot, and yes, it's sour, but it's also so much more," says Chef John. "And other than a little bit of slicing and dicing, this is relatively fast and simple to make. This is almost always served as an appetizer in a Chinese restaurant, but if you added some pork to this, or some little fun-sized meatballs, it would make a fantastic meal. Serve with extra sliced green onions on top."