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: