Asian Recipes You Can Cook Cheap and Fast – SWR3

It has to taste good, but it also has to be fast and not too expensive. The author of the book Sebastian Maas has found this perfect combination in many dishes. In the SWR3 interview, he introduces us to three of them.

Varied and inexpensive cooking: Sebastian Maas can do it

As important as a varied diet is, it often suffers from a lack of time in everyday life. Besides, regular and varied cooking can also cost a lot of money – but it doesn’t have to. Author Sebastian Maas confirms this: He only started experimenting more in the kitchen when he had his first stable income. Before that, he felt too limited by his financial situation to try more complex recipes:

I lacked ideas and courage to try it in a slightly different way.

Meanwhile, he’s made it his mission to cook in a variety of ways without spending what feels like half a fortune each time. He wrote about his experiences in the cookbook “Do it without money‘ prohibited.

On the SWR3 Breakfast Show, he gave us three recipes we can use to save without having to go without:

  1. Garlic Peanut Butter Pasta
  2. Homemade ramen with poached egg
  3. Delicious Japanese pancakes

If you want to save when you shop, you don’t have to skimp on the quality of the food. Sebastian Maas also told us how he can buy as cheaply as possible at the supermarket:

Peanut butter and garlic noodles is one of the dishes that Sebastian Maas cooks for himself most often – several times a week if he feels like it. He told us why on the SWR3 morning show:

You have the ingredients in the fridge, you need to chop some fresh vegetables and the sauce is ready in no time. It is extremely delicious!

15 minutes for a delicious dish sounds good! Here’s the recipe for anyone who wants to try it.

Cheap dishes for less than three euros not only taste, but also look delicious.  (Photo: Sebastian Maas)

Sebastian Maas

Ingredients for Peanut Butter Garlic Pasta (serves 2):

  • 200 g dry long wheat pasta (spaghetti, linguine,…)
  • 2 small carrots
  • Half a cucumber
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper

For the sauce:

  • 4 heaping tablespoons of thick peanut butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of oil (recommendation: sesame oil)
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar (recommendation: rice vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (prefer Sriracha to Tabasco)
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 1 tablespoon honey, agave syrup, or sugar

Optional as a group:

  • 2 spring onions
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
  • Half a lime

Directions: Here’s how to make Peanut Butter and Garlic Noodles

The preparation is simple, but leaves a lot of room for your ideas: First put a pot of water and let it boil. It should not be too small because in the end all the ingredients will be mixed in it.

Mince, crush or mince the garlic and ginger and mix with the remaining dressing ingredients. If you can, use rice vinegar and sesame oil, but safflower oil and white wine vinegar serve the purpose just as well. Maybe you like one variant more than another? Just try it.

Wash the remaining vegetables, clean the peppers and cucumber. Now cut the carrots, peppers and cucumber into strips about five centimeters long and one centimeter wide (the slices don’t fit so nicely against the pasta). Slice the onions diagonally.

Now the water should be boiling and you can put the noodles in the water. You can try it here too: from spaghetti to wide rice noodles to udon noodles, anything is possible. Just pay attention to the cooking time on the package.

When the noodles are ready, you can drain the pasta water, except for a little. Then put the sauce and chopped vegetables in the pot with the noodles. Mix everything together and you are ready to serve!

“Ramen” is known to many as instant noodles that are poured with boiling water. Option two is ramen, like one of those restaurant dishes that you can’t make at home anyway. However, Maas did not want to use the ready-made version as often.

That’s why he developed a recipe for making delicious ramen yourself at home – and it’s all affordable. You have to bring some time with you, but it is well invested. Here are the instructions for some variety in your home kitchen:

Cheap dishes for less than three euros not only taste, but also look delicious.  (Photo: Sebastian Maas)

Sebastian Maas

Ingredients for homemade ramen (2 people):

For the soup:

  • 600 ml of broth (vegetable, chicken or beef)
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 4 spoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 halves of white onion
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 150 g of durum wheat spaghetti or elongated pasta

For the fillings:

  • 2 eggs
  • 6-10 mushrooms
  • 4 radishes or 1 carrot
  • 2 halves of green onion
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
  • 1 spoon of sesame oil
  • 1 spoon of sugar or honey

Directions: This is how ramen succeeds


  • of egg Boil exactly six minutes, quench in ice water for one minute and marinate in a screw jar with 2-3 spoons of soy sauce, 1 spoon of sugar and fill the jar with water. You should inject for at least 15 minutes, but 24 hours is possible.
  • Clean the mushrooms, remove the stems and mark the top with a cross. Fry on both sides in hot oil for 5-10 minutes and add 2 spoons of soy sauce and 3 spoons of water at the end. Let them boil, turn off the heat and the mushrooms are already simmering in a delicious sauce. You can continue to do this for at least 10 minutes.
  • Cut the radishes and carrot into small sticks and marinate them with a tablespoon of sesame oil and sesame seeds.


  • Finely chop the garlic and the white parts of the spring onions and fry in a pan with sesame oil until golden brown. Brush both with soy sauce and let them cook for about half a minute. Then pour the juice.
  • Finely chop the ginger, add and cook for another 10 minutes. After that, the heat can be turned off. At this point everything can be mixed with a hand blender; it depends on you.
  • In a separate pot, cook the noodles until still slightly al dente.
  • When the noodles are almost ready, bring the broth back to a boil because it’s time to serve.

The service

  • Drain the pasta and “place” it in the middle of the plate.
  • Add the liquid. Caution: the broth is much spicier at the bottom of the pot than at the top. If there are several portions, it is better to divide the cups equally!
  • Melt some warm butter over the soup.
  • Halve the prepared eggs and cover them next to the pasta.
  • Place the prepared vegetables in the middle of the bowl and serve quickly!

Okonomiyaki, Japanese pancakes, from Maas’ book are ready in no time. If you don’t have time for homemade ramen at the moment, you can choose this dish.

Cheap dishes for less than three euros not only taste, but also look delicious.  (Photo: Sebastian Maas)

Sebastian Maas

Ingredients for Japanese pancakes (2 people):

For the dough:

  • 200 grams of wheat flour
  • 200 g lukewarm soup (vegetable soup, chicken stock or similar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 300-400 g chopped vegetables (recommendation: Chinese cabbage, carrots, chickpeas, corn)
  • 2 halves of white onion
  • butter or oil for frying

For the decoration:

Instructions: How to Make Japanese Pancakes!

First, the dough is made: In a bowl, mix the flour, the lukewarm liquid (not too warm!) and the eggs until they are homogeneous. Then the hard vegetables (carrots for example) are chopped and the remaining vegetables are cut into bite-sized pieces. This goes straight into the dough.

Keyword “leftover food”: Here you can put all the vegetables that are currently in the fridge and need to go soon! Only here you change the ingredients a little.

If the mixture is now nice and sticky, the pancakes can be baked. To do this, put a pan on medium heat and fry a quarter of the mass in a little oil. As a guide, at about an inch thick, each side will take about four minutes.

The sauce question

In some parts of Japan, pancakes are traditionally topped with a light and dark sauce. Light sauce it’s Japanese mayonnaise. But because it is very expensive in Germany, we use German mayonnaise.
of dark sauce is in Japan a mixture of ketchup, Worcestershire and oyster sauce. The cheap foxes are well advised here with a barbecue sauce. Another variation would be ketchup with soy sauce or a mixture of chili sauce, honey and soy sauce. But maybe there will be “Asian Week” again in supermarkets in your area. Then you can also buy oyster sauce at a low price.

The breakfast table (Photo: imago)

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Basic ingredients are the key to success. If you have legumes, flour and grains at home, you can build a relatively cheap and long-term supply of fresh food. Maas also recommends this. Most important to him personally: chickpeas and dried beans. Of course, it always depends on your taste. It is also important to make a plan in advance:

How much will I eat at home this week, how much will I eat out? It’s important to think carefully about your meals and not just go with your gut feeling. Because then you often buy too much, then maybe one or the other ingredient spoils and you have to throw it away.

Maas has a simple approach to this plan: the ingredients come first, then the dishes. Before deciding what to eat for the week, he looks around for supermarket offers. He then builds his menu around them. Of course, you can also buy cauliflower without an offer, but then it can be significantly more expensive.

We asked Maas this question on the SWR3 morning show. He also says: It’s hard to cook cheaply when prices are rising, but it’s possible. There is no medicine to be bought; Prices vary from region to region and even from supermarket to supermarket. That’s why Maas’ biggest tip remains: Focus on seasonal offers and products.

If something is in season, firstly it is fresher and secondly it is usually significantly cheaper due to the oversupply. That’s why I always look: Which vegetables are in surplus at the moment, which are the cheapest? And then build my menu around it.

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