Dec 26, 2016

Asian Leafy Greens: Aromatic Mountain Tung Ho Stir-Fry in 5 Minutes

Mountain tung ho is one of the popular ingredients used in simple stir-fry or as one of the leafy veggies for hot pot. The texture is very tender and wilts like spinach, but it's the aroma that makes me crazy about mountain tung ho.


Almost celery-like with a light touch of peppery tone. Get the organic version whenever possible, some said that farmers tend to use more pesticides when growing mountain tung ho, I guess even bugs can't resist the charms of tung ho.

Mountain tong ho (山茼嵩) stir-fry in 5 minutes -



Ingredients?
  • 2 big bundles mountain tung ho
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 red chilies
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Tiny pinch salt
  • Some fish sauce

How?

Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves. Trim off the chili stems and slice diagonally. Gently rinse the mountain tung ho, soak in water if needed, and make sure the leafy greens stays dry before stir-frying.

Drizzle just enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Turn to medium high to high heat and add in garlic, chilies, and a small pinch of salt. Cook till the garlicky aroma comes out but not burning the garlic pieces.



Add in the leafy greens and give it a quick stir-fry. Adjust the taste with fish sauce. This step should take less than one minute since tung ho wilts very fast, do not overcook it.


Using salt alone works fine too, but I always like that extra depth when using fish sauce as a flavoring agent. Just a few dashes go a long way.


Dec 21, 2016

Scallion and Pork Stir Fry (蔥爆豬肉)

If you can get a hold of high quality scallion, such as the thick-looking, succulent kind from Japan or the aromatic version from Yilan Taiwan, without any hesitation, just buy it right away.

Acts as an aromatic ingredient, scallion itself can also be the protagonist of a Chinese stir-fry. So if you ever find good quality scallion at the market, give this recipe a try. You'll be amazed how sweet scallions can taste.

Scallion and pork stir fry -



Ingredients?
  • 0.5 to 0.6 lb (250 grams) pork slices
  • 1 big handful/about 3 bulbs scallion
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 to 2 red chilies
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Marinade:
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Small pinch black pepper plus extra for garnish
  • Small pinch granulated sugar
  • Small pinch corn starch

How?

Mix together the ingredients under the "marinade" section and make sure the sugar has been dissolved. Add in the pork slices and massage the marinade into the meat. Marinate for about 15 minutes.


Trim off the stems from the scallion bulbs and chop the remaining into about 2 inch long sections. Separate the white and the green parts. Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves. Trim off the chili stems and slice diagonally.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and turn to medium high heat. Add in the white sections of the scallion and sear till all sides turned slightly browned. Add in the garlic and chilies and cook till that wonderful garlicky aroma comes out, but not burnt.

Add in pork along with the marinade if there's any left, but should all be absorbed by the pork slices by now. Stir-fry once a while and sear till almost fully cooked through. 

Add in the green sections of the scallion and give it a quick stir. Turn off the heat right away, otherwise you'll loose some of that vibrant green color. Plate and sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper before serving.


Obviously the key here is scallion. Use more scallion if desired, this recipe should work for up to 6 bulbs and no need to adjust the amount of seasonings.



Other Asian stir-fry recipes:


Dec 15, 2016

Just in Time for Christmas! Small Batch Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Cookies

There's no such thing as too many chocolate chip cookies, but seriously, if only one or two people will get the privilege of devouring these sweet bites, perhaps a small batch works better than a recipe that calls for 24 to 36 cookies.

On top of that, smaller batch cookies mean that there is a higher chance of having freshly baked cookies to munch on. Who doesn't love fresh off the oven cookies?

Small batch bittersweet chocolate chip cookies - 




Ingredients (makes 10 to 12 cookies)?

  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg (smaller one if possible)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


How?

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the butter from the fridge and let it sit in room temperature till semi-melted. If the butter remains hard, simply warm it up in the oven for a little while.

Take a large bowl, sift in the flour, baking soda, and salt.



Take another large bowl or just use the bowl from the stand mixer, pour in the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Beat till smooth. Add in the egg, vanilla extra, and keep mixing till well incorporated.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, usually in two batches, but since this is already a small portion recipe, add the dry ingredients all at once is totally fine. Keep mixing till fully combined and no lumps present. 

Mix in chocolate chips with the help of plastic spatula.



Shape the mixture into smaller balls and transfer to the baking sheet. Remember to leave some room in between the cookie dough. Melon baller comes in handy here, but a rustic look formed by hands somehow feels more like a heart-warming snack.



Into the oven and bake for 10 to 13 minutes. Once ready, remove from heat and let the cookies cool for a few minutes. The cookies will harden a little once cooled down.



However, I can never resist eating chocolate chip cookies when it's fresh off the oven. The chocolate chips just melt in my mouth, making me uncontrollably reaching for more. 


Dec 8, 2016

Grilled Salmon Ciabatta Sandwich for Two - with a Hint of Creole Seasoning

Almost forgot that my friend got me a few bottles of premixed spices, such as allspice, carne asada, and Creole seasonings. These little helpers come in handy when trying to put up a quick fix meal. Per this case, grilled salmon ciabatta sandwich.

Grilled salmon ciabatta sandwich -





Ingredients (for two)?



  • 1 thick or 2 thinner salmon fillets 
  • 2 to 4 tomato slices
  • 2 to 4 lettuce leaves
  • 2 ciabatta
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Some salt
  • Some black pepper
  • Some Creole seasoning


How?


If using one thick salmon fillet, evenly slice the fillet lengthwise for two sandwiches. Season both sides with salt, pepper, and some Creole seasoning.




Heat up the ciabattas then slice in half, or slice them in half first then heat up in the oven. Mix the mayonnaise, whole grain mustard, and a small pinch of salt in a small bowl and spread evenly on the sliced bread.



Gently wash the lettuce leaves and pat dry with paper towel. Also slice the tomatoes and remove the pulps. Don't just discard the pulps, instead, add it to the stew or save for other recipes later on.

Heat up a grill pan and brush with some olive oil. Once the surface turns hot, transfer the salmon fillets over and sear till slightly browned on both sides. If using good quality salmon, it's ok if the center of the fish looks a little pink.


To assemble, take half of the ciabatta and top with lettuce, followed by salmon fillet, tomato slices, and the other half of the ciabatta. 




It's not necessarily to use mayo mustard mixture as a spread. Here's a great alternative, drizzle some olive oil to the ciabatta then grill it. Brush the ciabatta with garlic while still warm. 



Garlic butter works just as well, but make sure the flavor won't overpower the salmon. Focaccia can be another great substitute also. Be creative and be free!


Other salmon recipes:



Dec 2, 2016

Eggplant and Tomatoes Stir-Fry with Oyster Sauce - 蠔油燴雙茄

Key point for this recipe - using extra ripe tomatoes. Sometimes Asian stir-fry recipes calls for a small spoonful of granulated sugar, but instead of using sugar, why not just let the naturally sweet tomatoes do its job? On top of that, the pulps further making this stir-fry moist and juicy.

Eggplant and tomatoes stir-fry with oyster sauce 蠔油燴雙茄 -




Ingredients?

  • 3 eggplants (the long and skinny kind)
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 pre-fried or baked tofu 
  • 1 cup king oyster mushroom (bite size pieces) 
  • 6 bok choy
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 red chilies
  • 2 tablespoons black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Some sesame oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 small bundle cilantro
  • Some corn starch and water mixture (1:1)


How?

Soak the pre-fried tofu in boiling or hot water for a quick moment then drain out the liquid. This will help in drawing out the excess oil from the tofu. Slice into rectangular pieces. 

Peel and slice the onion. Peel and slice the garlic cloves. Trim off the chili stems and chop the remaining diagonally. Give the cilantro a few chops. Chop the tomatoes in smaller bite size pieces. Chop the king oyster mushrooms into bite size pieces. Trim off the bok choy stems and separate into each individual leaves. 

Trim off the eggplant stems and slice the remaining diagonally. Handle the eggplant last because once cut, the surface starts turning dark when in contact with oxygen.



Drizzle enough olive oil to evenly coat the bottom of the pan and turn to medium high heat. Add in onion slices along with salt and pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till the onion turns translucent. Add in garlic and chilies, cook till that wonderful garlicky aroma comes out but not burnt. 

Transfer the king oyster mushrooms and tomatoes into the pan and cook for about one more minute. The juice from the tomatoes provide just the right amount of moisture for the mushrooms, so make sure to add these two to the pan together.



Add in the eggplant and tofu pieces. Cook for a short moment then add in the bok choy. Season with oyster sauce, soy sauce paste, and black vinegar. Mix well and wait till the edges start to bubble. Taste and adjust with more oyster sauce or black vinegar if needed. 

Mix about 1 tablespoon of corn starch with 1 tablespoon of water first, pour into the veggies while gently stirring at the same time. The whole thing should start to turn gooey but not clumpy. 

Lastly, drizzle some sesame oil to add another layer of aroma. Garnish with chopped cilantro. 



The final dish looks moist and juicy, but note that there's no extra water involved except for the corn starch mixture. It's all natural juices rendered from the fresh produce. There's a sweet taste from these veggies stir-fry, partly from the oyster sauce but mostly from these glorified veggies too.




Other eggplant recipes:


Nov 26, 2016

Oyster Sauce Beef Stir-Fry (蠔油牛肉)

A classic Chinese dish that calls for quick and big fire. Tens of minutes spent on prepping the ingredients probably far exceed the actual cooking time. Not necessarily a bad thing since you can just dive into the beef stir-fry in no time. 

Oyster sauce beef stir-fry -





Ingredients?


  • 200 grams/0.4 lb marbled beef slices 
  • 2 stalks scallion
  • 1 to 2 red chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • Some olive oil
  • Some pre-boiled water
  • Some corn starch
  • Some Chinese broccoli/gai lan (optional)



How?


If serving the beef stir-fry with gai lan or other types of green veggies, blanch first then just plate alongside finished stir-fry after wards.

Mix about 1 small spoonful of corn starch with 1 small spoonful of water and 1 small spoonful of olive oil. Use this mixture to lightly marinate the beef. Give the meat a little massage with the marinade and let it rest for about 10 minutes. 




Usually this stir-fry calls for beef slices, but the version I used was from a thicker cut of the beef with great marbled fat throughout, better ingredient calls for a more delicious result.


Trim off the chili stems and cut diagonally. Trim off the scallion stems and cut into about 2 inch long sections, separate the white and green sections. 


Take a non-stick pan and turn to high or medium high heat. Wait till the surface turns hot then add in the beef along with its marinade, but all the marinade should all be absorbed by the meat by then. 


Just a quick sear then pushes the beef to the side. Transfer the white scallion sections to the center and sear till slightly browned. Add in the chilies and grated ginger and cook till aromatic, this should take about 30 seconds or so.


Pour in the oyster sauce. Some people will also add some sugar but not necessary, especially the oyster sauce I used already got some sweetness in it. Stir-fry all the ingredients then quickly transfer onto a serving plate.




On top of beef, I also upgraded the scallion used here. It's called "san shin" scallion from Taiwan, Yilan. It's more aromatic but not the kind that gives your a spicy aftertaste. Try to look for it at your local Asian grocery store if possible, you won't be disappointed.



Other beef stir-fry recipe:



Nov 21, 2016

Sweet and Savory Ciabatta Sandwich with Smoked Ham, Brie, Pesto Sauce, and Maple Syrup

There is no decent bakery within walking distance around where I live, or I haven't found one yet. So whenever I ran into quality bakery, I tend to stock up a small variety of baked good, especially the ones that can be kept in the freezer. The basil ciabatta used in this recipe is one of my hidden treasures.

Sweet and savory ciabatta sandwich with smoked ham, brie, pesto sauce, and maple syrup - 



Ingredients (for 2)?

  • 2 medium basil ciabatta bread (sourdough works just as good)
  • 100 grams/0.2 lb smoked ham
  • 2 brie chunks (or enough for two servings)
  • 2 tablespoons pesto sauce
  • Some maple syrup
  • Some olive oil
  • Some black pepper
  • Some salad (optional)


How?

Cube the smoked ham. Refer to my previous post on how to make simple pesto sauce

Slice the ciabatta bread in half and brush the inside with some olive oil. Heat up a grill pan and transfer the ciabatta over, cut side down. 


Press gently to get better grilled marks, but don't overheat the ciabatta because it can turn extra crunchy and hard to chew on.


Take the bottom half of the bread slices and top with chunky brie, which can be substitute with two brie squares per serving. Transfer to a baking dish then into the oven. Turn to high heat and wait till the cheese starts to ooze. The brie might not appear as melted when heated up, but you can poke it with a fork to check if the cheese has softened. 

Once ready, remove the baking dish from the oven. Spread out the cheese if using chunky version. 

Top the bottom bread slices with smoked ham cubes and sprinkle some black pepper. Drizzle some maple syrup and pesto sauce over. Put the top section of the bread slices on the side.


Serve with salad to complete a balanced meal.   



Other sandwich recipes:


Nov 15, 2016

Pesto Risotto with Seared Duck Breast, Perhaps with a Few Drops of Aged Balsamic Vinegar?

Making pesto sauce is a great way to utilize leftover basil and pine nuts. The sauce keeps well in the fridge and can be stored in the freezer up to one month or so. Check on my Cheesy goodness: chicken pesto lasagna for instructions on how to make simple pesto sauce.

Usually I would use the pesto sauce for pasta or as a sandwich spread, but it can be a great flavor boost for risotto as well.


Pesto risotto with seared duck breast -




Ingredients (2 to 3 portions)?


  • 1 duck breast
  • 2 cups Acquerello or Arborio rice
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup pesto sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • Some salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper



How?


Peel and finely chop the shallots. Meanwhile warm up the stock on the stove.


Remove the duck breast from the fridge and let it rest in room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes. Season both sides of the duck breast with salt and pepper. 


Heat up a big pot that'll be used for making the risotto. Turn to medium high heat and transfer the duck breast over, skin side down. Slowly searing the skin till the fat starts to render. Keep searing till the skin turns crispy but not burnt. Flip and continue to sear the breast till desired doneness. Ideally, a little pinkish color in the center yields a more tender bite of the meat.


Once the duck breast is ready, remove from heat and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.


Remove excess oil from the pot and reserve for future use, leaving about 2 tablespoons of duck fat in the pot. The extra duck fat can add great flavors to dishes like fries, baked potatoes, and roasted veggies. 


Turn to medium high heat and add in chopped shallots along with 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Sear till aromatic but not burnt. 


Pour in the wine to deglaze, consider using a wooden spoon to scrape up all the delicious brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil and cook for another 10 seconds or so. 


Add in the grains and mix a little. Pour in some warm stock in 2 to 3 batches. Only need to stir the mixture once a while making sure the rice is not sticking to the pot. 




When the rice is about done, add in the pesto sauce and mix well. Let it cook for about 30 more seconds before transfering onto a serving plate. 




Usually I would finish off with some butter for extra shine, but since there are quite some oil from the duck breast and pesto sauce, adding more butter can get too greasy. 


Scoop some risotto to the serving plate and transfer some duck breast over. Sprinkle some black pepper.




It takes some time to sear the duck especially we are not transfering the semi-cooked breast to the oven to finish off cooking, so patience is the key here. You'll be rewarded when biting into the crispy skin and tender breast.


Finish off with few drops of aged balsamic vinegar and turn it into a fancy dinner.


Other risotto recipes:



Nov 8, 2016

Step Back Vampires! 10 Minutes Garlicky Pork Slices

Flavorful food can still be managed without much hassle in the kitchen, no need to sear, no need to stir-fry, no need to marinate, no need to bake, and no need to fry. Sometimes just a pungent sauce can do all the tricks. 

10 minutes garlicky pork slices -





Ingredients?


  • 300 grams/0.7 lb pork slices 
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 red chilies
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Some cilantro (optional)


How?


Since the only main ingredient is pork, try to use quality pork slices with some fat throughout and avoid lean meat.




Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Trim off the chili stems and finely chop the remaining.


Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and shabu the pork slices. Once nearly cooked through, drain well and transfer to a serving dish. The remaining heat will finish cooking the pork.


Mix all the remaining ingredients except for the cilantro. Whisk till the sugar has been fully dissolved.




Drizzle the sauce all over pork slices and garnish with chopped cilantro if desired. 




This pungent sauce also works well on seared fish fillet, but that defies the purpose of this no fuss cooking recipe. Try steamed chicken, use the dark meat of course, or even mix the sauce with plain noodles. 




Step back, vampires!



Other Asian no fuss cooking recipes: