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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

As geese migrate in the winter, so too must I migrate to fairer weather

I've moved! Lucky for me, there were no boxes to pack. Please visit my new site at: See you all there!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Black Pepper Beef Hao Fan

Tombee hates rice and I hate noodles. In order to be fair, I always alternate one day of noodles with one day of rice and so I'm always on the lookout for new noodle recipes. I saw black pepper udon on a blog and I decided to try making my own black pepper noodles, but with hao fan instead of udon. Hao Fan is a fresh flat rice noodle and comes in sliced sheets that are packaged. Usually when you purchase it fresh, it's quite hard because it's cold, so the best way to soften it is by steaming for a few minutes until the noodles are soft and pliable. Once soft, they are silky smooth and absorb sauces extremely well. Unfortunately despite its delicious taste, the noodles look quite ugly when mixed with the sauce and doesn't photograph well but I can assure you that despite the dodgy picture, the noodles are really delicious. The tenderness of the beef echoed the soft, smooth texture of the noodles and the slight sweetness in the beef from the mirin brought out the sweetness of the hoisin sauce in the black pepper sauce.

Cooking the beef with the snow peas and carrots

Black Pepper Beef Hao Fan

1/2lb beef, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon baking soda
900 gram package hao fan
1 1/2 cups snow peas
1 cup carrots, julienned
1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon cooking wine
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Black Pepper Sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons kecap manis (indonesian sweet soy sauce)
1 tablespoon cooking wine
1 teaspoon mirin
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

1. Marinate beef with baking soda for 15 minutes. Wash beef thoroughly of baking soda.
2. Mix marinade ingredients together and pour over beef and massage marinade into beef.
3. Bring a pot of water to boil and place steaming rack inside. Place hao fan on a heatproof plate and place on steaming rack. Steam for a few minutes until hao fan is soft. Set aside.
4. Mix sauce ingredients and set aside.
5. Heat oil in pan and add carrots. Cook for 1 minute, then add 2 tablespoons water and cover for a minute until carrots are slightly softened.
6. Move carrots to edge of pan and add a teaspoon of oil in the middle. Add beef and leave for 1 minute without stirring so that beef can brown. After one minute, stir beef around so that the second side gets browned.
7. Add snow peas when beef is 80% cooked and mix beef, carrots and snow peas together. Cover for 1 minute. Snow peas should be crisp and cooked by this time. If the snow peas are not cooked, add 1 tablespoon water and cover for another minute.
8. Add softened hao fan to pan and stir to mix noodles with beef and veggies. Add sauce and mix well so that noodle mixture is entirely coated with sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Raspberry and Maple Syrup Glazed Chicken

I got the idea to use raspberry preserves as a marinade when I saw another recipe that used apricot jam as part of a marinade for chicken. I started thinking about possible preserves and remembered that I had a quarter of a jar of raspberry preserves left in the fridge and I decided to try using that as a marinade for chicken. The raspberry flavour did not come through as well as I had hoped and I could only taste hints of it in the chicken. I'm not sure if the raspberry flavour would be more pronounced if I had marinated it overnight, so I would suggest trying that. The marinade resulted in a sweet and sticky glaze over the chicken that was delish but again was not necessarily different from a honey glaze since the predominant flavour was sweet rather than having a distinct raspberry flavour. The maple syrup added a nice depth to the marinade and was complemented well by the fish sauce. Overall quite good but just not as raspberry-ish as I had hoped.

The raspberry preserves lent a beautiful red colour to the chicken

Raspberry and Maple Syrup Glazed Chicken

1lb chicken drumsticks, wings or thighs

3 tablespoons raspberry preserves/jam
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons sriracha chili garlic sauce

1. Mix marinade ingredients together in a large bowl and taste. Adjust if necessary, adding more mirin for sweetness or fish sauce for saltiness.
2. Wash chicken and pat dry. Make slits in chicken to allow marinade to penetrate.
3. Add chicken to marinade and mix together thoroughly. Marinate overnight or at least 5 hours.
4. Heat oven to 350 degrees and place chicken on baking sheet covered with foil. Bake for 30-40 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Throughout the baking process, brush chicken with marinade every 10 minutes. After 20 minutes, brush chicken with honey or maple syrup instead and baste every 10 minutes. Chicken is done when juices run clear and flesh is no longer pink.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chicken Teriyaki

Teriyaki ready made sauce is prevalent today and very inexpensive to purchase in grocery stores. Wikipedia states that the word teriyaki is derived "from the noun teri (照り?), which refers to a shine or luster given by the sugar content in the tare, and yaki (焼き?), which refers to the cooking method of grilling or broiling. Traditionally the meat is dipped in or brushed with sauce several times before and during cooking." The traditional teriyaki sauce, made up of equal parts soy sauce, mirin and sake is incredibly easy to make and tastes much better than the store bought stuff. You can choose to braise meats in the teriyaki sauce, grill it or bake it in the oven. I've braised some cut up chicken thighs in the teriyaki sauce in order to infuse the chicken with the sweet marinade but any method will produce delicously glazed sweetness when brushed with the marinade.

Braising the chicken in the teriyaki sauce

Chicken Teriyaki

1lb chicken thighs, cut into 2 sections or any other chicken parts
1" knob ginger, sliced into 3 pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 green onion, cut into 2" sections
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup sake (substitute with chinese cooking wine if unavailable)
1 tablespoon oil
1 green onion, thinly sliced (for garnish)

1. In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce, mirin and sake and bring to a boil. The sauce should be slightly thickened.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add ginger, garlic and green onions. Cook until fragrant, then add chicken. Cook for another minute until chicken starts to brown.
3. Pour sauce over chicken and stir to coat. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and cover and simmer until chicken is cooked.
4. Sauce should have reduced to a syrupy glaze on the chicken but if you would like sauce to reduce even further, uncover and cook on high heat until sauce is reduced. Transfer chicken to plate and garnish with sliced green oniones.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Red Curry Squid and Green Beans

There once lived a king and a queen and the king was completely attended to by his queen. She did everything in the castle and even had to spoon feed him sometimes when he became extra lazy. They were completely smitten with each other and lived in harmony and happiness. However, one day the devil came to visit the kingdom and stayed for a while. Life was difficult and the king was so distracted that he didn't even have time to let the queen spoon feed him anymore. The king and queen were unhappy and managed to evict the devil from the castle for a short period of time, but not much time had passed before the devil managed to insinuate himself back into the castle. The devil's name? You guessed it - Modern Warfare 2! I know some of you ladies out there have had the pleasure of the devil's stay, either for a short time or you may still be enjoying its pleasant company, and can commiserate with me over this intrusion into life. It's like a second wife, and gets all the attention and none of the grief. The most annoying thing about MW2? Since Tombee's hogging the TV, I still haven't been able to watch Julie & Julia! It's a tough life I tell ya...

But, the show must go on. This dish was nice with a hint of spiciness. I would have added more curry paste since I adore super hot food but because Tombee sweats like an Eskimo in fur in 40 degree weather when he eats "spicy" food, I didn't add as much as I would have liked. The hoisin sauce complemented the heat in the dish well by tempering a lot of the spiciness with an almost caramelized sweetness. I cooked the beans until they were barely done and were still extremely crisp, which added a nice textural contrast to the soft squid. Of course I probably don't need to say that Tombee's food went ice cold while he was in the devil's clutches...waste of my efforts I tell ya!

Red Curry Squid and Green Beans

1lb squid, cut into rings
1lb green beans, ends trimmed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 birds eye chili, thinly sliced and seeds discarded
1 tablespoon oil

1-2 tablespoon red curry paste (depending on how spicy you want it)
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon water

1. Mix sauce ingredients and set aside.
2. Heat oil in pan and add garlic and chili pepper. Cook until fragrant.
3. Add green beans to pan and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water and cover for 2 minutes. The beans should be about 90% cooked. If not, add more water and cover again.
4. Add squid rings to pan and stir to mix with beans.
5. Add sauce and stir quickly to coat squid and green beans with sauce. Cook until squid is just cooked (do not overcook as squid will become rubbery). Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
6. Serve with steaming hot rice.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Brown Rice Peanut Vermicelli with Snow Peas, Shredded Carrots, Cubed Tofu and Spicy Soy Beef

I saw these brown rice vermicelli noodles and was intrigued since I love brown rice. Of course, it was also a bonus that the brown rice noodles are healthier than the regular rice vermicelli. It tastes the same so why not eat something that's better for you? Plus it has a cool factor since anyone can eat rice vermicelli but not many people eat brown rice vermicelli ;). The peanut butter lent a creaminess to the noodles and the crunchy carrots and snow peas provided a nice contrast to the tenderness of the beef. Peanut noodles are definitely one of my favourite ways to eat noodles (even though I must admit that I'm not much of a noodle fan).

Mixing the noodles in the pot

Brown Rice Peanut Vermicelli with Snow Peas, Shredded Carrots, Cubed Tofu and Spicy Soy Beef

1 cup snow peas
1/2 cup julienned carrot
1/2 cup cubed firm flavoured tofu
1lb beef
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 package brown rice vermicelli

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon cooking wine
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon cornstarch

3-4 tablespoons peanut butter (depending on your preference)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sriracha chili garlic sauce

1. Slice beef thinly across the grain into strips. Marinate beef with baking soda for 10 minutes. (Do not leave for longer!) Wash beef of all baking soda and pat dry with some paper towels.
2. Mix marinade ingredients in a bowl and add to beef. Leave to marinate for at least half an hour.
3. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook noodles until soft. Drain.
4. Mix dressing ingredients together and set aside.
5. Heat oil in pan and garlic. Cook until aromatic, then add beef. Quickly stir and cook until beef is 80% finished. Dish out and set aside.
6. Add carrots to the hot pan and cook for 2 minutes until slightly softened. Add snow peas and stir fry for a minute, then add 2 tablespoons water and cover for another minute.
7. Add tofu to pan and add oyster sauce. Stir to coat. Add beef back into pan and stir fry until beef is fully cooked.
8. Place noodles in a large bowl and add beef mixture, stirring to incorporate everything together.
9. Add dressing and mix until noodles are coated in the sauce. Taste and adjust as desired.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Gochujang and Chipotle Fried Sea Bass and Zucchini

I luurve spicy food. Unfortunately Tombee is a bit of a wimp when it comes to spicy stuff so I always have to be considerate when making something spicy. This dish was not spicy at all but Tombee said it was so I guess it depends on how much of a wimp you are ;). If you can't find chipotle peppers you can substitute with chili powder but the smokiness of the chipotle peppers just cannot be replaced.

Live action shot - look at that steam!

Gochujang and Chipotle Fried Sea Bass and Zucchini

2 sea bass filets, cubed (substitute with any firm white flesh fish)
2 small zucchinis, cubed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon oil

1-2 tablespoons gochujang (more or less depending on how spicy you want it)
1 chipotle pepper (omit or only use half if you don't want it too spicy)
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper sauce (from can)
2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons chicken broth (can substitute for water if you'd like)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cooking wine

1. Place all ingredients for sauce into a food processor and blend together until smooth. Taste and adjust sauce as desired.
2. Heat oil in pan and add minced garlic. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
3. Add zucchini cubes and cook until they are softened and almost cooked.
4. Add the fish cubes and cook for 1 minute.
5. Pour the sauce into pan and mix to fully coat fish and zucchini in the sauce.
6. Cook until fish and zucchini are cooked and tender.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Braised Beef Brisket and Daikon In Rice Noodle Soup With Baby Bok Choy

I am officially obsessed with beef brisket. We've had it at least once every week for almost a month. What can I say? I heart beef brisket! I love eating beef brisket at Chinese restaurants and I've always wanted to learn how to make it and now that I know how amazingly easy it is, I don't think I'll order it in a restaurant again. One note about the cut labelled beef brisket - I've talked to a few people and it seems that at the supermarkets, the cut labelled beef brisket is different from the one that Chinese markets label beef brisket as. Whenever making a Chinese recipe that calls for beef brisket, always make sure that you are buying a Chinese labelled beef brisket. I cooked mine the night before so that the fat would harden on top and I could scoop it out for the fat nazi (that means you Tombee!) but there wasn't a lot so you could skip this step. The daikon added a natural sweetness to the sauce that was heavenly. I could eat just the sauce by itself on rice, it's that delicious!

Braised Beef Brisket and Daikon In Rice Noodle Soup With Baby Bok Choy

Beef brisket braised in chee hou sauce (recipe follows)
Rice noodles
Chicken or veggie broth
Baby bok choy

1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add noodles. When noodles are almost done cooking, add baby bok choy and cook until noodles are soft but still slightly chewy and bok choy is cooked but still crisp. Drain and rinse with cold water.
2. Bring broth to a boil. Add a tablespoon or two of salt or soy sauce. You want the broth to be on the slightly salty side as the noodles have no taste of their own.
3. Place noodles and bok choy in a bowl and ladle hot broth into bowl. Top noodles with as much beef brisket as you would like and hide the leftovers and say you ate it all when your boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/dog asks you for more.

If you don't want to bother with the soup, after cooking the noodles, ladle beef brisket with mountains of sauce onto the noodles and you will have dry braised saucy noodles (which I prefer) instead of soup noodles.

Braised Beef Brisket in Chee Hou Sauce from Christine's Recipes

1 kg beef brisket, cut into chunks
1 daikon, peeled and cut into 2" chunks
1 tablespoon oil
3 slices ginger
3 star anises
2 tablespoons Lee Kum Kee Chu Hou paste
1 tablespoon madras curry powder
a small piece of rock sugar
1 green onion (garnish)

2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon corn flour
2 tablespoons water

1. Bring a pot of water to boil and blanch beef brisket cubes for 3 minutes. Remove and drain.
2.. Heat oil in pan and sauté ginger and Chee Hou paste until fragrant. Add beef brisket chunks and stir well to coat.
3. Add star anise and a bit of rock sugar. Add enough water to cover all ingredients and bring to a boil.
4. Transfer mixture to a slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours. After 4 hours, add daikon chunks and cover and cook for another 2 hours.
5. By this time the beef should be fall apart tender. Mix seasoning ingredients together and add to beef. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

If you don't have a slow cooker, leave beef in pan after it has come to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for two to two and a half hours until the beef is tender, then add daikon and cook for another half an hour. Serve with rice noodles.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chipotle Honey Soy Braised Chicken

When I first started cooking, I would never know if what I made would be a hit or miss. When I succeeded in making something that tasted good I wouldn't really know what I had done right or wrong (I still feel that way sometimes!) but the biggest difference between now and then is that if a recipe turns out poorly I can make some adjustments and make it taste better. The biggest mistake I made when I first began cooking was not tasting before serving. Somehow I must have thought that things would just work themselves out and magically taste perfect without having to adjust the seasoning. Of course now I know better and I taste things several times. Another very important thing to remember is that you can always add more but you can never take back what you add so add sparingly and taste every time you add seasoning! Now onto the recipe - I love chipotle peppers and I wanted something that brought out the smokiness of the chipotle peppers while also balancing the spiciness and bringing out the sweetness of the peppers. I added chocolate to the sauce mixture because it would bring out the smokiness and sweetness of the mixture and it's similar to how chocolate is used in a mole sauce (plus any excuse to use chocolate right?). The chicken was juicy and the sauce was finger-lickin good!

Cooking the chicken in the yummy sauce

Chipotle Honey Soy Braised Chicken

1lb chicken pieces (I used chicken drumsticks)
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup water
chocolate curls (garnish - optional)

3 garlic cloves
2 small chipotle peppers
1 teaspoon chipotle sauce (from peppers)
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons mirin (add more honey if you don't have any)
1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate

1. Place sauce ingredients into a food processor and process until completely smooth. Taste and adjust depending on how spicy, sweet or salty you want the sauce.
2. Heat oil in pan and add chicken. Cook until chicken is lightly brown on both sides.
3. Add sauce ingredients and water to the pan. Stir chicken to fully coat in the sauce.
4. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer until chicken is fully cooked.
5. Plate and scatter chocolate curls over chicken.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Handrolled Noodles and Why You Should Buy Grey Goose

I needed fresh handrolled noodles to go with the Taiwanese beef noodle soup but when we went grocery shopping, Tombee drove away from the fresh noodle shop and would not turn around. He has no appreciation for my creative genius I tell you! I therefore had to make homemade handrolled noodles because the beef noodle soup is just not the same otherwise. I used a recipe from Gaga In The Kitchen. Personally I thought the noodles tasted too floury and I found it very difficult to cut the dough into thin enough noodles. Making the actual dough was incredibly easy and quick and it would be worth making the noodles just for those very reasons if you are craving home made noodles. Next time I might try adding 1/8 oil into the ratios for the dough in hopes that it would add a smoother and less doughy texture and perhaps add some more taste into the noodles themselves. I'm not sure if I did not knead enough, therefore not developing the gluten in the flour fully and that's why it resulted in a more floury taste and not enough of a chewy texture. When making these noodles, I used my trusty grey goose bottle to roll out the dough. This is probably the third time I've used this bottle to roll out dough and I'm loathe to get rid of something so useful (this is a two-in-one really as you can roll dough and drink from the bottle in between to make the job more fun) but I know I really should go and find a real rolling pin. However, it would be almost like parting two true loves; I've even written an ode to my grey goose bottle:

How I love thee grey goose bottle, let me count the ways:

I love thee for thy long and smooth curves that I can grip when rolling,
I love thee for thy matte skin to prevent sticking to dough,
I love thee for thy joyous taste when I need to quench my thirst,
And I love thee for thy magical powers in making me feel like the smartest person in the universe.

I know what you're thinking (other than that I should be a professional poetess of course) - I should get out more. But back to the noodles. I used 4 cups of flour and got enough dough to for 2 meals but again that depends on how thick or thin you slice your dough.

Very messy process

Coiled and ready to be cooked

Handrolled Noodles from Gaga In The Kichen

2 parts flour
1 part ice water
extra flour to keep things from sticking

1. Place flour into a bowl.
2. Make a well in the center of the flour and add some ice water. Mix flour around until water is absorbed. Keep doing this until all the water is added and a sticky dough forms.
3. Turn dough onto heavily floured surface and begin kneading until it forms a nice smooth dough, adding more flour as needed for dusting the work surface and your hands.
4. Let the dough rest for at least 10 minutes.
5. Roll the dough out into sheets about 1/8 of an inch thick. I would roll it out even thinner if you don't want very thick noodles as they expand when you boil them. If you're having trouble rolling it out, let it rest longer.
6. Flour the sheet heavily and roll it loosely into a log.
7. Cut the rolls into strips of your desired thickness.
8. Flour cut rolls heavily and stack in piles.
9. Freeze noodles if you are not ready to eat them. If you are ready to use them, place in boiling water and cook for a few minutes until noodles are cooked through.
10. Serve with Taiwanese beef noodle soup.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup with Handrolled Noodles

Tombee loves noodles in soup and I'm always trying to come up with new combinations and recipes since I hate eating the same thing twice. This is a dish that I definitely would not mind eating twice however as the broth is extremely rich and flavourful and the beef brisket is meltingly tender. I made handrolled noodles (which I'll post tomorrow) because only the chewy texture of handrolled fresh noodles stand up to the meaty broth. This was good but not quite the same as the ones in restaurants. I'm not sure how they get the perfect balance of a beefy soup with the right notes of star anise, soy sauce, and chili peppers. I may have added a bit too much soy sauce since the taste was quite prevalent. Overall though, the spice notes in the broth added a subtle layer to the soup and will more than do in a pinch if you are really craving Taiwanese beef noodle soup.

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup adapted from Lox, Stock, and Barrel

1.3 lbs Chinese beef brisket, cubed
2 scallions chopped into large pieces & extra for garnish
4 slices of ginger, smashed
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup chinese cooking wine
8 star anise
10 cardamom pods, crushed
12 whole black peppercorns
3 fresh or dried chili peppers
2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, toasted
10 cups beef broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon five spice powder
2 tablespoons hot bean sauce
2 tomatoes, cut into quarters
3 carrots, sliced into 2" chunks
3 hard boiled eggs
Handrolled fresh noodles
Pickled mustard greens (garnish - optional)

1. Rinse the beef and then blanch in boiling water for a couple minutes until the beef stops giving off grey residue. Strain, discard the water, and rinse the foam off the beef.
2. Smash the garlic cloves and ginger with the flat side of a large knife. Stir fry the scallions, ginger, and garlic cloves in oil for approximately 1 minute until they are fragrant and softened.
3. Add the wine and boil for 30 seconds. Add the star anise, cardamom, sichuan peppercorns, dried chili, and whole peppercorns. Be careful not to boil off all the liquid when you are adding the spices; if you need more time, then turn the burner or remove the pot from the heat.
4. Add the water or stock when the mixture is cool. Add the beef, 5 spice powder, hot bean paste, bean paste, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs*, soy sauce, sugar, and salt. Bring to a slow boil. If more foam rises to the top, then skim the soup as necessary.
5. Once the mixture has come to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 2 and a half hours until the beef is meltingly tender. Add carrots and cook until carrots are soft.
6. Taste and adjust more soy sauce if the mixture is not salty enough. At this point you can either serve it now or put it into the fridge overnight so that the fat hardens on top and you can scoop it out. I scooped out about a cup of solidified fat but the fat does add a smoother mouthfeel to the soup so it's your choice.
7. If you are serving right away, you can choose to scoop out the beef and carrots and pass soup through a sieve so that all the spices are removed and you are left with only the broth, beef and carrots. When ready to serve, place noodles in bowl. Ladle beef and soup over noodles. Sprinkle with green onions or chopped pickled mustard greens and serve hot.

*If you'd like a tea egg design, crack egg shells in various places and add to the soup with the shell on. When the soup is finished cooking, peel the eggs and they should have a beautiful marbled design and should be infused with the beefy taste of the soup.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vietnamese Eggplant with Shrimp Paste

I had a sweet surprise today when Tombee brought a cupcake home for me. I was really surprised at such a sweet gesture but now I'm terried at what it means. What man brings home a nice surprise for his girlfriend unless he's committed some horrible affront? Although sometimes I guess a cupcake could just be a cupcake but I'll still keep my eyes open O.O! It was delicious nonetheless! Anyway, we have a meeting tomorrow at 7:00PM so I had to make dinner for today and tomorrow so I've been running around like a chicken without its head. At least tomorrow I won't have to worry that we won't have anything to eat. Tonight's dinner was simple but filled with flavours that complimented each other well; we had vietnamese eggplant with shrimp and gochujang marinated sea bass. I overcooked the fish because I forgot I had the broiler on but the marinade was still yummy and penetrated the entire fish. I got the receipe for the eggplant from Wandering Chopsticks. Her blog is filled with delicious Vietnamese recipes and they deliver absolutely mouthwatering food! I've made the bo pho (beef pho) and the bo kho (beef stew) and if you ever want to try making either one of those, use her recipes because the effort is completely worth it! This recipe is a unique and impressive way to serve eggplant and the sweetness of the shrimp was echoed by the sweetness in the sweet chili sauce. The creaminess of the eggplant provided a good textural contrast against the cooked shrimp paste on top. If you like eggplant, you will absolutely love this dish!

The sweet gesture that tasted as yummy as it was sweet!

Eggplant with shrimp paste ready to be steamed

Vietnamese Eggplant with Shrimp Paste from Wandering Chopsticks

2 Japanese eggplants
20-30 prawns, shelled
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon oil

Serving Sauce
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
fresh ground pepper

1. Cut the eggplants on a diagonal into 1"-2" slices, depending on how thick you want it. I sliced mine about 2" thick.
2. Place garlic cloves and prawns into food processor and process. Do not overmix. The consistency should be lumpy and like a paste.
3. Mix sesame oil into mixture and add some salt and pepper.
4. Using a spoon, spread shrimp paste on each eggplant slice. Transfer slices to a heatproof plate.
5. Bring pot of water to boil with a steaming rack inside. Place heatproof plate onto steaming rack and steam for 12 minute at medium high heat.
6. Drain liquid that accumulated in plate.
7. Heat oil in pan and add eggplant slices. Fry each slice until bottom is golden brown. Remove to plate.
8. Mix together sauce ingredients and drizzle over eggplant slices. Serve hot and try not to share with anyone else.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Saucy Sesame Udon Noodles

I'm not sure what possessed me to make Chinese BBQ pork as well as making hand rolled noodles tonight, especially when we had a meeting at 7:30PM but I obviously thought I had 5 hands to get everything done. The BBQ pork was fine since all I had to do was pop it into the oven but the noodles took longer than I thought, especially when I was trying to cut them into even strands (I'll post about that in a couple of days). We left for the meeting at 7:30 and didn't get home until 10:00PM so we didn't even get to eat until 10:30PM! By that time I wasn't even hungry but I'm glad that I had a bowl of these noodles because they are really tasty! Grab a bib because this bad boy will leave sauce all over your face (don't even try to fight it!). I like to use Tombee's favourite t-shirt for this, especially when I'm not too pleased with him that day ;). Anyhow, I pretty much threw in stuff I had in my fridge but you can throw in anything you have on hand or want to get rid off. I used frozen udon noodles instead of the vacuum-sealed packages and they were out of this world! Chewy, slippery smooth, and tender, these noodles sucked up the sauce and were the star of the dish. Disclaimer: do not make this on a first, second or third date hoping to impress because sauce on your face and on your clothes is not hot.

Studded with goodies and slathered with delicious sauce

Saucy Sesame Udon Noodles

3 packages frozen udon
1 tablespoon oil
Chinese BBQ Pork (recipe follows)
1 cup sliced napa cabbage
1 cup sliced asparagus
1/2 cup frozen edamame beans
handful of shrimp

1/4 cup soy sauce
2-4 tablespoons sugar (depending on how sweet you want)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons hot bean sauce (or garlic chili sauce)
3 green onions, thinly sliced

1. Mix sauce ingredients together and set aside.
2. Bring pot of water to boil and add udon noodles and cook until udon is warm. Drain.
3. Heat oil in pan and add napa cabbage and asparagus. Cook for 2 minutes until napa cabbage is wilted and asparagus turns bright green.
4. Add a tablespoon of water, cover pan for a minute and then add shrimp and stir fry until shrimp turns pink and asparagus is tender.
5. Add edamame beans, then add a tablespoon of the sauce mixture and stir until everything in pan is coated.
6. Transfer udon noodles to large bowl or pan, then add cooked bbq pork and vegetable mixture. Stir to incorporate everything together.
7. Add sauce mixture, half at a time until noodles are well coated. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.

What did I tell you? Not a single morsel left in the bowl!

Chinese BBQ Pork from Rasa Malaysia

1lb pork butt (cut into 4 pieces)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons oil

Char Siu (BBQ Pork) Sauce:

3 tablespoons maltose
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon Chinese rose wine
3 dashes white pepper powder
3 drops red coloring (optional)
1.5 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 tablespoon sesame oil

1. Add all ingredients for the sauce in a sauce pan, heat it up and stir-well until mixture is well blended and is slightly thickened and sticky. Let cool.
2. Pierce the pork butt in a few places with a sharp knife or the tines of a fork. Marinate the pork butt pieces with 2/3 of the sauce and the chopped garlic overnight. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil into the remaining sauce. Keep in the fridge.
3. When you're ready to cook the pork, preheat the oven to 375 degree F.
4. Place a cooling rack onto a baking sheet, then place the pork onto the rack. Bake the pork for 15 minutes, basting with the marinade still in the bowl that the pork was marinated in. Turn and cook for 10 more minutes, basting once more. Check for doneness.
5. Remove tray from oven and let pork sit for 10 minutes until juices have settled. Slice the char siu into slices and pour the reserved sauce over and mix together until all the pieces are coated in the sauce.
6. Add to sesame udon noodles or eat with rice.

Saucy meat on saucy doesn't getter better than this kids

Monday, January 25, 2010

Spicy Korean Chicken Stew

Every weekend I go grocery shopping at a small Chinese grocery store in Vancouver. Now I'm a person that has been mistaken for a 16 year old before, so imagine this kind of person pushing a shopping cart in a market where every other person uses a small basket. Fast forward to checkout time. Tombee and I are very conscious about being green so we always bring our own reuseable bags. He always bags because otherwise it would take me ten years since I absolutely must bag according to type of food (anal retentive much?). Our cart is absolutely stocked to the top every single time and the people waiting in line behind us fidget impatiently or else just openly glare at our inconsiderate lollygagging at the checkout. I can just see what they're thinking at this point - "My gosh those two must have a large family to buy so much groceries." We are a family of two. But I have a picture that will explain everything.

Tombee's lunch box (left one) and my lunch box (right one)

Now, in case you didn't quite understand the extent of our gluttony, here's another picture with a box of tissue for comparison:

Really, with lunches like that (and don't even get me started on dinner!), no wonder we rack up a grocery bill that would feed a family of 6 in a week. I personally think that being Asian, our genes have been encoded to hoard and devour store food in case of a famine in the future. I have been called a monster before...many times actually. I secretly think I have a tapeworm that forces me to eat and never be satiated but I've never gotten it checked out because what would happen if that weren't true?! That's my story and I'm sticking to it! The reason for that tangent was because I needed an explanation for why I used 3.5 pounds - yes you read that right - 3.5 pounds of chicken to feed 2 people. I am including the original recipe as I don't think anyone else would ever be able to eat 3.5 pounds of food (this of course doesn't include our vegetable dish and the ever crucial bowl of rice) but if you also have a tapeworm in your stomach, just adjust the recipe accordingly by tripling it (that didn't sound so bad until I said it out loud...).

The magic ingredient. Delicious, just buy it! (1.1lbs - go big or go home right?)

Look at that peppery spicy goodness

Spicy Korean Chicken Stew from Anjelikuh's blog
2 - 3 chicken thighs, cut
3 large potatoes, cubed
2 medium carrots, cubed
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups of water (or enough to submerge the chicken and vegetables)
Spring onions or chilis for garnish

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons hot pepper paste (gochujang)
1 tablespoon Korean red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons sugar
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce

1. Heat oil in pan and add onions, potatoes, and carrots.
2. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, then add chicken.
3. Cook for another 2 minutes until chicken is slightly browned.
4. Cover with water until vegetables and chicken are almost covered.
5. Bring to a boil. Mix sauce ingredients together and taste. If you want it spicier, add more red pepper flakes, and more sugar if you'd like it sweeter.
6. Add sauce ingredients to pan and bring mixture to a boil again.
7. Turn heat down and simmer for 20-30 minutes until chicken is tender. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
8. Plate in a pretty stone pot to impress guests.

Obviously I didn't cook this in the claypot. Do you really think 3lbs of chicken would fit in here?! Use it to impress guests...they'll never know. Deliciousness is more important than honesty