Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wontons


Ingredients:

1 pack defrosted wonton wrappers (in frozen section; I use the Hong Kong style ones, which are square and yellowish and very thin)
1 beaten egg in a small bowl (= the "glue")

**Filling, Variant A:
1 lb ground pork or lamb
2 cups chopped Chinese leek ("Gau Choy"; also called chives; long, green, with a bud at the end, they really do look like Western chives)
1 egg, beaten
10 dried Chinese mushrooms

**Filling, Variant B:
1 lb ground pork
1/2 lb raw shrimp, chopped
1 egg, beaten
10 dried Chinese mushrooms
1 cup water chestnut, chopped

**Seasoning for filling:
soya sauce
salt
sugar
corn starch
sesame oil
white pepper

**Soup:
1/2 chicken (or equivalent in wings)
1/2 Napa cabbage
1 piece Knorr soup stock ("Chinese Ham Bouillon" is a personal favorite)
2 small packets vermicelli, pre-soaked in cold water till tender
10 dried Chinese mushrooms

**Dipping sauce:
1 TBS dark soya sauce
1 tsp chili oil (dried chili in oil)
2 TBS white vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil

1. Soak the mushrooms in hot water for a very long time, until tender.
2. Soak the vermicelli in cold water until tender.
3. Start the soup by boiling the chicken wings and bouillon cube in a large pot of water. Slice the Napa cabbage and add.
4. Slice 10 mushrooms and add to soup pot.
5. Mix the ingredients for the filling [mushrooms should be finely chopped].
6. Holding a wrapper in the palm of one hand, spoon about 2 tsp of filling into the middle. Dip a finger into the beaten egg and spread the egg on the edges of the wrapper. Fold in half, lengthwise. With the opening facing you, put packet on the middle finger of your right hand. Put some egg onto the upper right corner (corner that's on the fold, i.e. the side facing away from you). Holding onto the upper left corner with your left thumb and index finger, and the upper right corner with the same fingers of your right hand, gently bend so that you bring the upper left corner over the upper right corner. Press and seal.
[**alternatively, just bunch up the wrapper after spreading egg on its edges and hope for the best!]
7. Boil some water; cook the wontons in it when you're ready. The wontons should be cooked when they float.
8. Just before serving, put the vermicelli in the soup.
9. Serve in individual bowls in soup, with dipping sauce by the side.

**Alternative:
Serve with bowl of wonton noodles!

Twice Cooked Pork


Ingredients:

1 lb boneless, lean pork
1 slice ginger
splash of Chinese cooking wine
3 scallions
1 onion
1/4 medium sized cabbage
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS minced ginger

**Sauce:
2 TBS Sweet bean sauce or Hoisin sauce
1 TBS Do ban djan (chili bean sauce with garlic)
1 TBS soya sauce
1 tsp sugar
dash of white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp corn starch

1. Combine pork, cooking wine and ginger slice in a pot; cover with just enough water to submerge the pork. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove, drain, and cut into very thin slices.
2. Cut scallion, onion, and cabbage into slices.
3. Mix the ingredients for the sauce together.
4. Heat oil in wok, and add garlic and ginger. When the oil begins to smell, add the vegetables. Stir fry for about 2 minutes, remove and set aside.
5. Heat a bit more oil in wok, and when hot, add the meat and cook for 1 minute. Add the sauce and toss until meat is well coated. Add the vegetables and stir until heated through, about 30 seconds. Serve.

Chicken Baked in Preserved Bean Curd ("Foo Yue")

Called "chicken in brown sauce" by Markus, this was an invention one hungry and tired evening.

Ingredients:

1 piece (1 TBS) of preserved bean curd ("Foo Yue"; comes in small jar; I use the spicy variety)
dash of sesame oil
dash of white pepper
2 TBS cooking wine
4 chicken legs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Mash the preserved bean curd. Add sesame oil, white pepper, and cooking wine. Keep mashing until you get a smooth sauce.
3. Dribble the sauce over the chicken legs until they are completely covered.
4. Place in a baking dish. Bake for about 20 minutes or until done.

{**Tastes particularly good when served with white rice topped with Japanese rice seasoning--a mixture of dried seafoods, seaweed and sesame seeds]

Sweet Soup Variants

This is the basic recipe for a sweet dessert soup, to which a number
of things may be added as variations.

**Soup Base:

5-8 slices ginger (use more for a spicier soup)
1-2 chunks of rock sugar (a form of raw sugar that looks like clear
light brown rocks)
water

**Variant A: Soup with Balls ("Tong Yuen")

1 packet frozen "Tong Yuen" (= Sweet Glutinous Rice Balls filled with
a) black sesame paste; b) peanut paste; or c) red bean paste)

**Variant B: Soup with Tofu Skin ("Foo Juk") and Egg Flower ("Daan Fah")

1 egg, beaten
3-4 large pieces of dried tofu skin (looks like paper, but brittle,
yellow, and shiny)

1. Put ginger and rock sugar into a pot with 3 cups of water, and
bring to a boil.
2. Boil for 5 minutes, then lower heat to simmer.
3. Leave to simmer for anything up to 2-3 hours, depending on how
spicy you want the soup to be. [**This is perfect for a cook who's
multitasking: put the soup on, and cook the rest of your meal while
it simmers in the background. In fact, keep it simmering until you
are ready for dessert; just add a little water if you need to.]

**Variant A:
4. Boil lots of water in a separate pot. Put the frozen balls into
it, and follow the directions on the packet. They should be done
when they've been floating for a couple of minutes.
5. Fish them out with a slotted spoon into individual serving bowls,
and pour the sweet soup over them. Serve!

**Variant B:
5. With the heat back to medium and water bubbling, pour the egg into
the pot with one hand, and stir with the other; the egg should turn
into "flowery" threads.
6. Break pieces of tofu skin into the soup. Stir, and simmer for
about 3 minutes.
7. Spoon into individual serving bowls.

[**Variant B can also be served cold, in which case you should put
more sugar into the soup, since things taste less sweet at cooler
temperatures.]

Monday, August 27, 2007

Pineapple Boat Baked Fried Rice

Fried rice with major "impress your guests" factor!

**TIP: Fried rice needs drier rice so that the egg can soak in; use refridgerated, leftover rice.

Ingredients:

1 whole pineapple
3-4 eggs
2-3 cups cooked rice, preferably cooled overnight in refridgerator
2 cups (= a couple handfuls) of small assorted seafood (can be found in a baggy in any grocery store; alternatively, mix small shrimp, mussels, clams and/or firm fish chunks as you please)
soya sauce
sesame oil
salt
white pepper
1 cup peas (optional)
1 cup chopped scallions
1 TSB minced garlic
1 TBS minced ginger

1. Preheat the oven to about 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cut the pineapple lengthwise, including the leaves. Cut into the flesh of each half and scoop out the chunks, trying to preserve as much liquid as possible. You should end up with 2 pineapple "boats".
3. Beat eggs; add splash of soya sauce, 1 tsp salt, dash of white pepper, and a dash of sesame oil. Mix well. Add scallions.
4. Heat oil in wok, and add garlic and ginger. When the oil begins to smell, add the seafood and stir fry for about 5 minutes. Add peas (optional) and stir.
5. Pour in the beaten egg mixture. Before it cooks thoroughly, add the cold rice (should be broken into individual grains). Wait half a minute, then flip the stuff around till all the rice is covered with some egg.
6. Add the pineapple chunks. Stir fry for a bit. Sprinkle with some sesame oil.
7. Turn off the wok. Spoon the fried rice into the pineapple boats, and pour a bit of the pineapple juice over each one. Wrap them individually in foil, and put in the oven resting on a baking sheet or other oven-proof dish. Bake for 15 minutes, then open up the tops of the foil packets and bake for another 5 minutes.
8. Serve in the pineapple boats, with more chopped scallions or some parsley as garnish.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Stir Fry Egg with Shrimp and Onion

Ingredients:

1/2 lb shrimp
4 eggs
1 tsp light soya sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
white pepper
Chinese cooking wine
1 medium to large onion, sliced
chopped scallion
chopped garlic
chopped ginger

1. **INSTRUCTIONS FOR FRESH SHRIMP: Deshell shrimp, take the intestine out from the backs (long black slimy thread-like thing), and scrub with 1 tsp corn starch.
2. Beat eggs, and add soya sauce, salt and sugar, sesame oil and white pepper. Mix well.
3. Heat oil in wok, add garlic and ginger, and when the oil starts to smell, add onions. 1 minute later, add shrimps. When 1/2 cooked, sprinkle with cooking wine.
4. Add egg mixture, stir fry until cooked.
5. Sprinkle with sesame oil, and serve with chopped scallions as garnish.

Spicy Fish-Aroma Eggplant ("Yue Heung Keh Tsee")

Ingredients:
1 lb eggplants, cut into strips 1/2 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long, soaked in salt water
1/2 lb ground pork
minced garlic
minced ginger
chopped scallions
1 TBS chili bean sauce ("do ban djan")
salt
sugar
corn starch

Sauce:
1 TBS oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS white vinegar

1. Season pork with salt, sugar and 1 tsp corn starch. Cook in oil in wok for 1 minute, strain and set aside.
2. Strain the eggplant. Lightly fry in wok until tender, strain, and set aside.
3. Heat oil in wok, add ginger, garlic and chili bean sauce, then add pork, eggplant, and sauce mix.
4. Sprinkle with sesame oil, and serve with chopped scallions as garnish.

Ma Po Tofu


Ingredients:

1 block soft or medium tofu
1/2 lb ground beef or pork
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2/3 tsp corn starch
minced garlic
dash of sesame oil
chopped scallion

**Sauce:
2 tsp chili bean sauce ("do ban djan")
1 tsp fermented bean paste
1/4 tsp anise powder
1/2 tsp chili oil (preferably the type with dried chili in oil, and with a picture of a serial killer woman on the label)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

1. Season beef/pork with 1/2 tsp salt and sugar, 2/3 tsp corn starch and a dash of sesame oil.
2. Stir fry the meat in a wok with oil, drain and set aside.
3. Fry the garlic in the wok, add sauce, bean curd, and meat.
3. Sprinkle some sesame oil, put on a dish and serve with some chopped scallion as garnish.

Cashew Chicken

2 boneless chicken breasts, cubed

**Marinade:
1 TBS oyster sauce
1/2 tsp light soya sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ginger juice
dash of pepper and sesame oil

1 bunch celery [**and/or other tough vegetable, like carrots], cubed
1 cup cashews
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS minced ginger
1 piece shallot, chopped
Chinese cooking wine

**Basic sauce:
1 TBS soya sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
dash of white pepper
dash of sesame oil
PLUS:
1 TBS oyster sauce
1/2 cup water

1. Marinade the chicken for 1/2 hour.
2. Deep fry cashews until brown. Drain on a paper towel.
3. Blanche celery (or other vegetables) in boiling water for 1/2 minute.
4. Heat oil in wok; add ginger, garlic and shallot. When oil starts to smell, add the chicken and fry until about 80% cooked.
5. Add vegetables and sprinkle with cooking wine. Add basic sauce + oyster sauce mixed with water, cover for 1 minute or until fully cooked.
6. Add cashews.
7. If the sauce is too runny, add corn starch mixture (1 TBS corn starch mixed with cold water), stirring constantly.

Napa Cabbage with Vermicelli

1-2 small packets of dried vermicelli
handful of small dried shrimps
1/2-1 medium sized napa cabbage
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS minced ginger
splash of Chinese cooking wine

**Sauce:
1 TBS oyster sauce
1 tsp light soya sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup water
dash of white pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil

1. Soak the vermicelli in cold water until soft, wash and drain.
2. Soak dried shrimps in small bowl of hot water for 1/2 hour.
3. Chop cabbage into bite-sized pieces.
4. Heat cooking oil in wok; throw in garlic and ginger. When the oil starts to smell, add cabbage and shrimps, and stir fry for about 5 minutes.
5. Sprinkle with some cooking wine.
6. Add the sauce (made by mixing the ingredients indicated above) and the vermicelli. Stir well.
7. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, until most of the sauce is absorbed; alternatively, add some of the water in which the shrimp was soaked if there's not enough liquid.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Laksa

Sunshine sent me this one; there's a picture of it on her blog, which you can reach by following the link.

Ingredients:

6 sprigs laksa leaves (Vietnamese mint)
6 cups water
1 1/2 cups thick coconut milk
1 heaped tablespoon sugar
salt
500 g (1 lb) fresh yellow noodles or dried rice vermicelli, cooked, drained
150 g (5 oz) bean sprouts, blanched (remove root ends)
1 chicken breast, steamed and shredded
100 g (3 1/2 oz) peeled prawns, steamed

8 red chilis
10 shallots
1 lemongrass
2 cm (3/4 inches) galangal
1/2 cm (1/4 in) fresh turmeric or 1/2 tsp powdered
1/2 teaspoon dried shrimp paste

3 sprigs laksa leaves, sliced
1 cucumber shredded
3 eggs, cooked as a thin omelette and shredded
2 red chilis, sliced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
6 TBS sambal belacan
6 small round limes or lemon wedges

1. Chop and blend spice ingredients into paste, adding oil if necessary.
2. Heat oil and gently fry paste for 10 min. stirring from time to time.
3. Add laksa leaves and water, bringing to a boil.
4. Add coconut milk, sugar and salt.
5. Reduce heat and simmer gently uncovered for 10-15 minutes

6. Divide noodles, chicken and beansprouts into bowls and top with shredded laksa leaves.
7. Pour soup on top and add a little cucumber, egg strips, chilis and spring onion.
8. Serve with a sambal belacan and limes on the side.

Crab in Black Bean Sauce

Ingredients:

1 large crab (or 2 smaller crabs), chopped (ask the butcher to do it unless you feel like getting crab guts all over you!)
1 large onion, cut into pieces (whatever shape and size you prefer)
1/2 cup scallion, cut into lengths
4 pcs thinly sliced ginger
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pc thinly sliced small red chili

**Black Bean Sauce: (this is for freshly made sauce; there's a ready-to-use version by Lee Kum Kee that's sold in a jar, though I've never tried that one)
4 TBS preserved black beans (kinda sticky and comes in a sealed plastic bag)
garlic
2 TBS sugar
2 TBS soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
pinch of ground white pepper
2 cups water

**Light Soya Sauce Water:
1 TBS soya sauce
5 TBS water
1/2 TBS sugar

1. Heat wok with 2 TBS oil, fry onion, ginger, garlic and scallion until it smells (that's in my mom's words).
2. Add the black bean sauce (made by mixing the ingredients indicated above).
3. Add crab, stir fry for about 10 minutes.
4. Cover, making sure the water level almost completely covers the crab. If there's too little liquid, add some light soya sauce water (made by mixing the ingredients indicated above). Cook on medium fire for about 8 minutes.
5. Prepare 1/2 cup cold water with 1 TBS corn starch (= sauce thickener). Pour into wok, stirring constantly, and add 1 TBS cooking wine, till sauce is thicker and crab has turned completely red. Serve.

White Cut Chicken ("Bak Tseet Gai")

A home favorite. The dipping sauce is one of my most beloved things in the world and can probably be used for other things.

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken

**Marinade:
1 TBS ginger juice or mush
1 TBS Chinese cooking wine
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cooking oil

3-4 slices of ginger
1 piece scallion, cut into 2 inch lengths

**Dipping sauce: (these are just the proportions; I usually make 3 to 4 times as much)
1 TBS ginger, finely chopped
1 TBS scallion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS hot cooking oil

Equipment:
steamer or wok with a steaming stand
dish lifter also helps!

1. Marinade the chicken with the marinade mixture, smearing it inside and out.
2. Stuff the ginger slices and scallion lengths inside the chicken.
3. Place on a dish and inside a steamer or on the steamer stand in the wok-obviously the water has to be boiling inside the steamer or the wok by then. Cover and steam for 20-25 minutes.
4. Check for readiness by poking the thigh with a chopstick. Chicken is done when clear liquid rather than blood comes out.
5. Make the dipping sauce by combining the ginger, scallion and salt in a small bowl, and pouring the hot oil over them. Mix well.

Braised Vegetables ("Yau Choi")

This is the basic recipe for cooking any sort of fleshy green Chinese vegetable in a wok.

Ingredients:

3-4 cups water (enough to cover vegetables)
1-2 lb vegetables, e.g. "choi sum" (= Chinese broccoli?), kale, "bok choi", baby bok choi, "A" vegetable ...
1/2 TBS sugar
1 tsp cooking oil
oyster sauce

1. Bring 3-4 cups water to boil in a wok.
2. Add 1 tsp cooking oil.
3. Add vegetables. Sprinkle sugar on them. Cook for approx. 10 minutes with the cover on.
4. Check stem for transparency-which indicates that the vegetables are cooked.
5. Serve with oyster sauce drizzled on top.

Drunken Chicken

**Warning: This takes overnight cooling in the fridge!

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken
18 pcs (= 1 tsp) Chinese black peppercorn ("fa tsiu")
2 slices ginger
2 pieces scallion
enough water to cover chicken
3/4 cup + 1/2 TBS Chinese cooking wine (= clear and brown in color)
1 TBS salt
1 tsp fish sauce

***
for chili sauce:

4-5 small red chili peppers
4-5 pcs. garlic
2 tsp lemon or lime juice
1 tsp salt

1. Put water, peppercorns, ginger and spring onions in a large pot. Bring to a boil.
2. Put chicken in the pot, breast down. Cook for about 8 minutes on medium high heat.
3. Turn chicken around so that the breast is up. Cook for about 7 minutes.
4. Poke thigh with chopstick. If blood comes out, cook for another 2-3 minutes. Chicken is done when clear liquid comes out of the hole.
5. Remove chicken. Cut into 4 pieces.
6. Wait till broth is cooled down. Then, mix 3/4 of it with 3/4 cup cooking wine and 1 TBS salt, so that the taste is just saltier than a normal soup.
7. Put chicken SKIN DOWN with broth and wine mixture in a container and refridgerate overnight. Make sure all the flesh is covered. Chicken will keep for a number of days.
8. When ready to serve, chop whatever you will eat, place in serving dish and sprinkle the following mixture on top:

1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp broth
1/2 TBS fresh cooking wine

9. Blend all the ingredients for the fresh chili sauce and use as dipping sauce for the chicken.

Thousand Year Old Eggs on Fresh Tofu



I had this with Ben Shum at the most amazing Jiaozi (dumpling) restaurant in Beijing, across the big-ass road from the Beijing Film Academy. This was one of Ben's favorite dishes. Years later, I'm recreating this from my memory, so be warned: tinkering is most welcome.



Ingredients:

1 block soft or medium tofu (the fresher the better)
1 thousand year old egg (black inside)
salt
2 TBS sesame oil
2 pieces scallions, chopped

1. Rinse and drain the tofu. Arrange on plate (may be cut into individual serving sizes). Season with salt.
2. Remove the shell of the thousand year old egg. Chop into pieces and place on the tofu.
3. Top with chopped scallions.
4. Sprinkle with sesame oil.

**I don't think soya sauce was used-the salt should suffice-but feel free to add according to your taste.

Anchovies on Fresh Tofu



Ingredients:

1 block soft or medium tofu (the fresher the better)
3-4 TBS small dried anchovies
2 TBS vegetable oil
8 TBS sesame oil
1-2 TBS soya sauce/shoyu
1 TBS sake
2 pieces scallion, chopped
salt

1. Rinse and drain the tofu. Arrange on a plate. Sprinkle with a little salt. [can be cut into individual serving sizes]
2. In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable oil and 4 TBS of the sesame oil. Season with salt. When hot, add anchovies, and fry until foam subsides and anchovies are crispy. Remove the anchovies with a slotted spoon and arrange them on top of the tofu. Top with chopped scallions.
3. Add rest of the sesame oil to the saucepan and heat. Add sake. When hot, remove from heat and add the soya sauce, stirring quickly.
4. Pour onto the tofu and serve.

Spiced Cabbage Salad

Again, courtesy of Sophia Khan.

Ingredients:

4 cups shredded green cabbage
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
2 to 3 green cayenne chiles, seeded and minced
about 6 fresh or frozen curry leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons grated coconut

1. wash the cabbage, then put it in a medium heavy pot with the
shallots, chile, curry leaves, salt, turmeric, and cumin
2. place over medium-high heat, cover, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes
(the cabbage will cook in the water that clings to the leaves from
washing.) give the pot a quick stir, cover again, and lower the heat
to medium.
3. simmer until the cabbage is cooked and tender, about another 10
minutes, depending on the cabbage and how finely it's shredded.
4. add the lime juice and coconut and stir to mix well. let cook for
a minute or two, uncovered, then turn out and serve, mounded on a
plate

Cucumber Salad with Hot Spiced Mustard Dressing

I present: a salad from Sophia Khan.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound cucumbers, peeled
kosher salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons plain yougurt (or water)
1 1/2 teaspoons of mustard oil (if you can't find mustard oil,
substitute olive or vegetable oil and just add mustard seeds)
1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/8 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 green chile, slit lengthwise and seeded
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 ablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoons minced cilantro

1. cut the cucumber lengthwise in quarters and slice off the seeds
then cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths. Cut lengthwise again so the pieces are fat
place in colander and sprinkle on about 2 tablespoons kosher salt and
set aside for 15 minutes

2. dry roast sesame seeds until golden, set aside
dry roast cumin until it's aromatic
grind sesame and cumin seeds in a coffee grinder to a powder
set in a small bowl and add either the yogurt or water to make a paste
set aside

3. rinse cucumbers with cold water and pat out excess water
completely coat the cucumbers with the spice paste
set aside

4. heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat
add fenugreek, nigellla, and chile and cook for about a minute,
stirring occasionally until you can smell the spices
add cayenne and turmeric, stir
pour the flavored oil over the cucumbers and toss gently
add lemon juice, toss
set aside for 10-20 minutes for to allow flavors to mingle

5. right before serving add cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon salt or more to
taste, and toss gently to mix

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Chole

Here's another one from Sophia Khan. It's "a popular Indian chick
pea dish that works as a great side dish or snack".

Ingredients:

1 16 oz can of chickpeas
2-3 firm tomatoes, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of garlic and ginger pulp
dash of lemon juice
cilantro for garnish

1. brown the onions in some olive oil
2. add salt, turmeric, and garlic and ginger pulp and fry together
for a minute or two
3. drain the can of chickpeas and add to the onion and spice mixture
4. add tomatoes
5. stir around for several minutes until the tomatoes have cooked
through and are a little smashed
6. add a dash of lemon juice to taste and garnish with cilantro

Green Beans and Mango Stir-Fried

This one was kindly contributed by Sophia Khan, who "kinda threw [it]
together one day and was extremely pleased, so [she] cooks it all the
time".

Ingredients:

1 pound of green beans, washed
1 medium to large onion sliced
1 medium to large mango, anywhere from green and tart to ripe (but
not overly ripe) cubed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 heaping teaspoon of garlic and ginger pulp (it's usually sold as a
mixture in indian groceries)
salt to taste (i usually do 1 teaspoon, makes the recipe easy)

1. slice the onions and brown them in some olive oil
2. add chili powder, garam masala, garlic and ginger pulp, salt and
stir fry for a minute on medium heat
3. toss in green beans and fry for a few minutes until the beans are blanched
4. add mango and stir it all around for a couple of more minutes

Kani Su Maki (Crab and Cucumber)

This one was sent to me by Brian Wilkens, host of memorable barbecues past.

Ingredients:

1 Pound Crab Legs.
1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Sugar or Agave Sweetener
1 Dash of Salt
3 Large Cucumbers

1. Mix vinegar, sweetener and salt in a large mixing Bowl.
2. Add shredded crab Meat, stir and let sit for 30 minutes.
3. Skin and de-seed cucumbers.
4. Add crab meat inside cucumber.
5. Cut into bite-sized pieces and arrange on a tray. Pour any
leftover vinegar over the maki.

** For more sophistication, you can add sprouts to the shredded crab
meat, and peppers, shredded beets and onions to the serving tray for
color and taste.

Vegetarian Phô

I found this recipe online at some point and I've essentially stayed true to it. This is enough for 2 huge bowls or 3 medium sized ones and I swear on my Napa cabbage that it's as good as the original beef version.

Ingredients:

450 g thin phô noodles
4 cups prepared broth (recipe below)
100 g seitan, drained
big handful of bean sprouts

handful of Asian basil leaves - they're minty and can't really be replaced by the normal kind
handful of coriander / cilantro, coarsely chopped
handful of Napa cabbage, coarsely chopped
1/4 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 long spring onion, thinly sliced (stalk and green part)
1.5 tablespoon roasted peanuts,
chopped (optional)
1 small lime, cut into wedges
2 small red / green chili peppers, cut into fine rounds
fish sauce, salt and white pepper to taste


1. Prepare the broth. Once it has been simmering for about 10 minutes, soak the noodles in boiling water (removed from heat) for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
2. Drain and divide the noodles into bowls. Heat through the seitan in the broth and remove after a few minutes. Cut into equal portions. Slice thinly and add to the noodles.
3. The greens-and-whites can go in the bowls at this point (bean sprouts, Napa cabbage, onion and spring onion, coriander). Ladle the broth, top with peanuts and serve with lime wedges, chili peppers, fish sauce and salt / pepper as condiments. I prefer white pepper, though freshly ground black pepper is also perfectly fine.

________________________

Phô Broth:

1 l vegetable stock
1.5 tablespoon soya sauce
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1x 1" piece of ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 small onion, diced
1x 3" cinnamon stick
1 large bay leaf
1 pod of star anise

1. Put stock, soy sauce, garlic, and onion in a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.
2. Heat ginger in a small skillet and add to the stock.
3. Chuck in the rest to the broth. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer partially covered for about 20 - 25 minutes.
4. Strain the broth and adjust to taste. Return to pot and keep simmering until ready to be used.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fujiko's Beet Salad

I'm going to call this Japanese because I got the recipe from Fujiko
by way of Titus. It was a hit at my most recent barbecue.

Ingredients:

3 regular beets or 1 humungous beet the size of your head
lots of garlic
1/8-1/4 cup olive oil
balsamic vinegar
1/2 large red onion
salt&pepper
fresh herbs, if you like

1. Boil beets WITH THE SKIN ON (I did a lot of research on this one)
for 1-2 hours. You'll know when they are done when you can poke a
chopstick all the way through the beet.
2. Drain the beets. Running them under cold water, slide off the skin.
3. Cut the beets into slices about 1.5 inches squared in area and 1/2
inch thick. Place in a bowl.
4. Fry up the garlic (as much as you like, really; I like it really
garlicky) in the olive oil. Cool slightly and add to the beets.
5. Thinly slice the red onion, and add to beets.
6. Add salt&pepper, balsamic vinegar and chopped fresh herbs (e.g.
basil) to taste. ** I have also experimented with a bit of sesame
oil, which tasted really good.
7. Can serve immediately or chilled.

Baked Salmon with Masago


Also known as "Mama J's Sinful Salmon", this recipe is from Misha, of
Ena and Misha. I am quoting from his blog with a few minor
alterations.

Ingredients:

4 salmon fillets, preferably something wild and Alaskan
2/3 cups Japanese mayonnaise (differs from regular mayonnaise in that
it is made with rice vinegar instead of white wine vinegar - also, it
comes in these cute squishy bottles with the kewpie doll on them)
6 TBS flying fish roe (a.k.a. "masago", the smaller of the two types
of bright orange fish roe you can find on your sushi)
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Equipment:

a casserole, preferably with a lid

1. Preheat oven to 400 deg. F.
2. Mix the parsley with the mayonnaise. With a pastry brush lightly
brush the fillets with the parsley mayonnaise so that all sides are
completely covered.
3. Place the fillets skin side down into a casserole. Cover the top
side of the fillets with a thin layer of flying fish roe.
4. Cover the casserole and bake in the oven for at least 15 minutes.
To tell you the truth, I lost track how long the baking took. Mama J
didn't supply a time and it seemed to take quite a bit. It will also
depend on the heat conductivity of your casserole dish and the
thickness of the fillets you're using. Ideally, the flying fish roe
should start turning opaque when the dish is done.

Steamer


Steaming is a basic technique in Chinese cooking, and can be done in
2 basic ways:

1. Steamer: essentially a very large pot-like container divided into
layers by porous materials that allow the steam to seep through. We
are all familiar with the bamboo variety, which stack and come in a
variety of diameters; dim sum (Cantonese tapas-style lunch) is served
in these. But you still need to put these steamers in a larger pot
that generates the steam. So someone has invented the fusion of the
two, namely the huge pot subdivided into layers by metal dividers
that have holes in them. Pour water into the pot, bring to a boil,
put the food (either a dish or a bun with a piece of paper
underneath) onto each layer, cover with the lid, and steam for the
required amount of time.

2. Wok: if you have a metal stand (which sometimes comes with the
wok, but are also sold separately in the utensils section), just
place it in the wok, bring water to a boil in the wok, place the dish
on the stand, cover with the wok lid, and steam for the required
amount of time.

N.B.: in both cases, having what I call a dish lifter helps. This
gadget is basically a pair of non-elastic tongs adapted in width and
grip to pick up hot dishes by their edges from a steamer or a wok.
It really has no name, but is also widely sold for a couple of
dollars in any Asian grocery store.

Examples:

Salty Duck Eggs with Pork

Chopsticks

Chopsticks are useful not only for transferring food from the rice bowl into your mouth, but also for the following, extraordinarily helpful tasks:

1. Any type: beating eggs. Hold your hand stiff and the chopsticks open at an approximately 20 degree angle (yes, use a protractor). Beat eggs by moving the chopsticks rapidly in an ellipsis. I guarantee this makes less of a mess than using an egg whisk (which is bulkier and doesn't rest on a bowl easily), and faster.

2. Wooden: stirring, picking up dumplings and noodles, and similar manoeuvers from inside a pot or pan that's cooking. This includes a hot pot or shabu shabu (Asian fondu). You can also use it to poke through things like potatoes and beets, as well as into steamed dishes to check if they're done. Do not use plastic, ivory, metal or laminated chopsticks! They will either melt or burn your hands.

3. Long, wooden: for wok cooking. You'll easily find these 2 foot long things--sometimes joined on the ends by a string--near the cooking equipment. They will do all the things in #2 above, while protecting your hands from wok splatter.

4. Wooden: preparing live crabs. This will sound cruel to all you vegetarians out there, but is the traditional way to do it: when preparing live crabs to eat, you must remove the tail flap, stick a wooden chopstick up its &%$, and leave the crabs like that for about half an hour. According to my grandma, this is to let out dangerous intestinal and urinal fluids before cooking the crab.

5. Any type: saving space in your fridge. My grandma used to stack normal dishes in our tiny, Hong Kong sized fridge in our even tinier, Hong Kong sized kitchen by putting a couple of chopsticks across the top of each one as a divider. It works extraordinarily well--and saves you a couple of Tupperware to wash.

Wok


A wok should be round-bottomed for equal distribution of heat to all of its sides. This means that it will have to stand on a gas burner. In Chicago I had an electric stove top, so I bought a mobile single gas burner that feeds on canisters of gas from the nearest Asian grocery store. The entire thing (including gas canisters) cost about $17.00.

The wok should also be made of pure iron or steel ... WITHOUT a non-stick coating. The heat, which should be pretty much on a constant high if Chinese cooking is done properly (to emit the proper "wok hay" or "breath of wok" into the food), would make the non-stick coating come off, which according to my mom is carcinogenic.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Glass Noodle Salad

Ingredients:

100 g glass noodles (bean thread noodle)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
100 g firm tofu (I like the pre-fried kind), cubed
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons vegetarian fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 tablespoon lime juice
2 - 4 red chili peppers, finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped coriander / cilantro
1/4 cup chopped spring onion
handful of chopped peanuts

Equipment:

uhh... nothing special...
kitchen scissors to cut the noodles, maybe? nothing wrong with a knife though.
an old coffee bean grinder would be nice to pulse the nuts; i chop by hand, which can be a right pain.

1.
Soak noodles in hot water for about 10 minutes and drain. Run under cold water and set aside in a big bowl. Prepare the following while the noodles are soaking.
2. Boil tofu for about 2 minutes, drain and set aside.
3. In a smaller bowl, mix together the following for a dressing: fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and chili peppers. Test and adjust according to taste.
4. Roughly cut the noodles into shorter lengths and toss in the tofu as well as the remaining ingredients (but not the peanuts).
5. Pour with dressing, toss and top with peanuts. Garnish with coriander.