Sep 21, 2017

Beef Tongue Rice Bowl with Lemon Onion Sauce (牛タン丼)

Got two fine pieces of trimmed beef tongue the other day. No need to worry about pre-boiling the tongue or peeling the outer membrane. Even though the size was smaller than expected, but the already prepped meat did save a lot of cooking time. Few steps closer to mealtime, no complaints there.

Beef tongue rice bowl with lemon onion sauce - 



Ingredients (for two servings)?
  • 0.7 lb/about 300 grams trimmed beef tongue
  • 1/4 small onion
  • 2 stalks scallion
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Japanese tsuyu 
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 yellow or orange citrus
  • 2 portions basmati and quinoa rice 
  • Some salt
  • Some olive oil

How?

The ingredients can be modified based on what's available in the kitchen. It doesn't have to be fancy basmati rice and quinoa mixture, simply plain steamed white rice will do. 

However, for the beef tongue, if you can use all the end section of the tongue, that will be wonderful. Tips can be very chewy and better to be sliced as thin as possible. The ends are more tender and can cut into thicker slices, which translates to fuller bites. The ones I got here are half of the tips and half of the ends.

One note on slicing the tip of the tongue. Try to slice it when the meat is still half frozen. The meat is easier to handle and will not slide around when slicing. The ends don't need to be thinly sliced, but try to keep it less than half inch thick. You can tell that I failed to slice the tip as thin as I would imagined - I over-defrosted it and refused to wait one hour longer to pop the tongue back into the freezer.


Prepare enough rice for two portions.


Peel and cube the onion. Soak the onion in icy cold water for about 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towel. This step helps mellow out the flavor and reduce the oniony aftertaste.


Trim off the scallion stems and fine chop the remaining section. Mix the scallion together with onion cubes, lemon juice, about 1/2 tablespoon citrus juice, and tsuyu. Citrus is key here since this sauce needs a gentle tap of fruity sweetness to balance off the lemon sourness. Taste and adjust the flavors if desired.

Brush some olive to coat the surface of a grill pan and heat it up using medium high heat. Make sure the tongue is rested under room temperature for at least 5 minutes before searing. Sprinkle some salt on both sides of the tongue slices.

Once the pan turns hot, transfer the tongue slices over, piece by piece. Cook till lovely grilled marks are shown. The thinner tips cook faster of course, so remove them from heat first and continue to cook the ends till ready to serve. Let the meat rest for few minutes before serving.

Scoop the rice to the serving bowl and lay the seared beef tongue on the sides. Spoon some lemon onion sauce in the middle. Garnish with some grated yellow citrus throughout.


The sauce doesn't need to be too salty since the tongue pieces were already seasoned with salt on both sides. The key is the crunch from the onion and a touch of refreshing scent from the lemon.


The ends are especially delicious, tender yet bouncy bite every time. Let me try to get only the end part in the future, it should be a great ingredients for curry. 


Other rice bowl recipes:

Sep 15, 2017

Not so Devilish but Still Comes with a Kick - Red Oil Wontons (紅油抄手)

Can't even remember when was the last time when I worked with these Chinese wrappers, perhaps a year ago? It's been too long and my rusty wrapping skill is visibly shown in these images. Luckily, a good seal is more important than its appearance based on how I fold the wontons. The wrappers are so thin, once boiled, little flaws here and there can be easily overlooked. 

The true or more so authentic Sichuan style red oil wontons come with much more devilish color compare to the ones I have here. The spiciness and oil used were toned down a bit, to suit the taste of Mister at home. However, customize the sauce based on preference can be an easy task. A tap of chili sauce, perhaps more black vinegar, maybe freshly grind Sichuan peppercorn or some peanuts, you can play around the combinations freely. 


So the post here is mostly for the wonton itself. How to wrap the wontons, and the basic ingredients for the red oil sauce. Once you have grasped the basic ideas, go wild and make your own version of Chinese wontons.


Red oil wontons 紅油抄手 -





Ingredients (makes about 30 to 32 wontons)?


For the fillings:


  • 1 lb ground pork (avoid lean meat)
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped or grated young ginger
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt


For the sauce:


  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons black vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn oil
  • 1 teaspoon homemade chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil


Some suggestions for the toppings and sides:


  • Some chopped scallion (optional)
  • Some dried seaweed threads (optional)
  • Some dried and crushed peanuts (optional)
  • Some Chinese cabbage (optional)


How?


The way I wrapped these wontons can hold up more fillings and doesn't require skillful artist's hands to do so. There is one other popular way of making wontons - the triangular method. The wrapper is folded into a triangle first, which looks prettier but doesn't hold as much fillings. Also for the triangular method, it's safer to wrap the wontons nicely, because its shape generally stayed the same once boiled. That means if you made a crooked wonton, you will end up with not so eye-pleasing wonton in the end.


Those being said, for beginners, just follow my lead and fold the wontons using the "rectangular" way. Better safe then sorry.


Start with the fillings first. Destem and finely chop the scallion. Mix the scallion along with ground pork, grated young ginger, salt, and a little bit of chicken stock at a time. Similar to massaging the meat, the chicken stock will get absorbed by the pork during the process, which helps moisturized the filling. Add more chicken stock and keep mixing, and use more chicken stock if needed. Cover the mixture with cling foil and let it rest in the fridge for few hours up to overnight.




Make sure to use the wonton wrappers and not the dumpling wrappers. Wonton wrappers are very thin compared to dumplings, they cook faster too. 


Spoon some filling to the center and tap half side of the wrapper edges with water. It's ok to start out with just a tiny spoonful of the pork mixture. You can be greedier and use more filling once you get a hang of the wrapping work.




Fold the wrapper to form a rectangular shape. Tightly seal the edges, the water will help binding the wrapper together. Use more water or press harder to help with the sealing.




Bring the two bottom corners together, perhaps with a tap of water to help sealing them together. The wonton should somewhat look like a hat at this moment.




Keep repeating the steps till all the fillings are gone. I did get greedy and start using more fillings after some trials and errors. In the end, I got about 32 wontons. However, if using the triangular way, since it can't hold up as much fillings, you should be getting about 40 to 45 wontons for the same amount of fillings.




Bring a big pot of water to a boil and drop the wontons into the water one by one. 


While the wontons are cooking, mix all the sauce ingredients and make sure the sugar has been fully dissolved. Taste and adjust per your preference. Scoop some sauce to the serving bowls first.


The wontons are ready when they float. Drain and transfer to serving bowls. I've also blanched some Chinese cabbage and add to the bottom of the bowls.


Drizzle more sauce over the wontons, garnish with chopped scallion or other preferred toppings.




The fillings are not too salty since the highlight also lies on the sauce. If you are not afraid of heavy tasting sauce, be brave and just go for the chili sauce, vinegar, Sichuan peppercorn, and even the granulated sugar. Even though adding more sugar to savory dishes might not be the norm, but it will truly enhance the flavors for other seasonings. In fact, my dad would use at least double the amount of sugar, chili sauce, and some freshly ground Sichuan peppercorn if he were the one making the sauce.




These wontons can also be made ahead and store in the freezer. Remember to dust the storing container or plate with flour before putting the wontons on top. Also dust some more flour on the wontons to prevent sticking.  


Sep 10, 2017

Versatile Chimichurri Sauce Recipe (Makes About 1 Cup)

Making versatile sauces ahead of time can be a lifesaver sometimes, especially free time is nearly squeezed out by tremendous amount of work and chores. Take this vibrant chimichurri sauce for instance, the most classic way is to serve it with steak. However, for a quicker and easier cleaning meal, baked white meat is the way to go. Chimichurri can also be used as bread spread, but with additional protein and salad greens, a comforting sandwich is made. 

Best part, this can be a make-ahead sauce and should last for few days in the fridge. You can even store the sauce in ice cube trays and just thaw a couple green cubes whenever in need.


Chimchurri sauce -





Ingredients (makes about 1 cup)?


  • 1 cup packed flat leaf parsley (a small portion can be substituted with cilantro)
  • 1/4 lemon (juice)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chili
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning


How?

I couldn't find fresh oregano at the grocery store so I used dried Italian seasoning instead. Not the norm to do so but the end result was still fragrant and delicious. If you can get a hold of fresh oregano, just leave the dried seasonings behind.


Peel and roughly chop the red onion. Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Roughly chop the herbs too. Destem and roughly chop the red chili. Juice 1/4 lemon.


Add all the ingredients to a food processor. 




Give it a few pulses first. Scrape down any coarse bits or herbs sticking on the side then blend till smooth.




I was especially fond of chimuchurri's bright aroma and that kick of sourness from the vinegar. And don't you just like that vibrant green color? 


Here are some other ways to utilize chimichurri sauce. Besides fish, chicken, steak, and all the protein options - as a sauce for fresh pasta. Just remember to grate a generous amount of Parmigiano Reggiano all over.


Are you ready for it?



Similar recipe:


Sep 4, 2017

Asian Dried Anchovies and Five-Spice Bean Curd Stir-Fry

While many western countries marinate and/or preserve anchovies in oil, the dried version is more common in Taiwan. Asian dried anchovies can be used in many ways to boost flavors in Taiwanese dishes. Some like to soak and pat dry the anchovies first, then use in steamed recipes. The anchovies come out soft and easy to swallow. Some add it to stir-fry dishes and by doing so, the anchovies become crunchy and packed with savory aroma.

The Asian dried anchovies and bean curd stir-fry here is one of the classic recipes incorporating dried anchovies. Pair with red chilies and salted black beans, you'll be even happier with ice cold beer on hand.

Asian dried anchovies and five-spice bean curd stir-fry 炒小魚豆乾 -



Ingredients?

  • 4 squares ready-to-eat five-spice bean curd
  • 1 1/2 cups dried anchovies
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 to 2 red chilies
  • 1 stalk garlic sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salted black beans 豆鼓
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Small pinch white pepper powder


How?

Gently rinse the dried anchovies and soak for about 5 minutes. Drain and pat-dry with kitchen towel.

Trim off the stem of garlic sprouts and slice the remaining part diagonally into about 2 inch long sections. Trim off red chili stems and slice diagonally too. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Slice the bean curd.


Drizzle some olive oil to the pan and turn to medium heat. Add in garlic sprouts, chopped garlic, chilies and give them a quick stir. Wait till the aroma comes out but be careful not to burn the garlic pieces. 

Add in dried anchovies and keep stir-frying till the fish appear nearly dried up. Turn up the heat if needed. Wait till the color of the anchovies darkens and the texture turns slightly crunchy. It might take a few minutes.


Add in the bean curd and give it a quick stir. It won't take long since the bean curd was already cooked-through before packaging.

Add in Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce, sugar, salted black beans, and white pepper powder. Mix gently and cook till the bean curd slices absorb all the seasonings.


Plate and serve right away, but this dish can be eaten cold too. If you really making sure to stir-fry the anchovies till almost completely dried up and crunchy on the edges, that crunchiness still holds even when the dish was out for a while.  


Other tofu product recipes:


Aug 28, 2017

Cold Noodles with Refreshing Black Sesame Sauce (黑芝麻涼麵)

Still surviving this scorching summer heat? Since we can't really make the rising temperature go away overnight, at least we can try to cool ourselves down with some appetizing cold dishes.

But don't take this cold noodles with black sesame sauce lightly. Despite its touch of coldness, the flavors are definitely up there with the help of Asian seasonings.


Cold noodles with refreshing black sesame sauce -





Ingredients (for two)?


  • 2 portals fresh noodles (thinner version or the oiled yellow noodles)
  • 1 skinny cucumber
  • 1/2 lb chicken tender or chicken breast
  • Few drops olive oil
  • Some bean sprouts or julienned carrot (optional)

Sauce - 

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons black sesame sauce
  • 2 tablespoons black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce (along with some chili oil)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves


How?


Most of the Chinese cold noodles with sesame sauce come with brownish sesame sauce made with white sesame seeds. But the one used here is made by black sesame seeds. There are many versions of black sesame sauce sold in the market, be sure to pick up the unsweetened version. The sweetened version is mostly used as a bread spread, but with unsweetened kind, you get to decide if the sauce transforms into dessert or savory dishes just like this cold noodles recipe.


Besides different types of sesame sauce, the noodles come with many varieties too. Most of the commercial Chinese cold noodles are yellowish. You can also find it at the grocery store, usually oiled to prevent sticking. My local noodles stand asked if I am going to cook and enjoy the noodles right away. I said yes, and she recommended me to use fresh noodles instead.




It was a good choice. The flavors are lighter and fresher. 


Simply bring a pot of water to a boil then cook the noodles till some chewiness still remains. Drain the noodles and quickly transfer to a big bowl filled with icy cold water. Once the noodles turned cold, drain again and mix with few drops of olive oil. Transfer the noodles to serving dishes. 



Boil the chicken first. Once cooked, set aside and wait till cool enough to handle by hand. Tear or chop the chicken into strips or smaller pieces.


Peel and julienne the skinny cucumber. Peel and julienne the carrot if using. Blanch the bean sprouts if using too. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves.




Mix the black sesame sauce, black vinegar, soy sauce, chili sauce along with some oil, lemon juice, sesame oil, sugar, and chopped garlic. Make sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Taste and adjust with more seasonings if needed.




Mix the noodles with some sauce first. Arrange chicken and other toppings on top. Drizzle more sauce throughout.




You can switch the ingredients used for the sauce per your liking. Some people like to use grated garlic instead of finely chopped version. However, I do like the texture and spicier kick from chopped garlic. The use the lemon juice is not a common thing too, but I love finding such a refreshing aroma from the heavier tasting sauce. 


Don't ever let recipes tie you up, be your own recipe creator and have fun with testing ingredients and combinations. Sure, sometimes you have to brave it up and finish off the scary creations. Trust me, it'll get better over time and soon enough you'll find yourself licking the plates asking for more. 



Other cold dish recipes:

Aug 22, 2017

Aromatic Meal - Curry Fried Rice

Bell pepper rarely shows up on my shopping list, and this colorful ingredient also seems absent from my family's dining table during my childhood. However, I guess taste does change over time and I start to appreciate bell pepper more throughout the years, especially when it's used for pizza topping! Who can resist pizza with sausages and bell pepper baked to perfection!?

Grilled bell peppers and pickled bell peppers are now my two favorite ways to enjoy these color veggies. 
Bell peppers can withstand stronger-tasting seasonings such as curry powder and cumin powder. So this time, I'm going to incorporate bell peppers into my curry fried rice recipe. 


Curry fried rice -





Ingredients (makes about 6 to 8 portions)?

  • 1/2 rice cup quinoa
  • 3 rice cups basmati rice
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 to 3 large king oyster mushrooms
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 to 2 eggplants (if using shorter and skinny variety then use 2 instead)
  • 1 small can green peas
  • 2 stalks scallion
  • 1 to 2 red chilies
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • Some salt
  • Some black pepper

Chicken marinade:
  • 2 tablespoons Japanese tsuyu
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder


How?

Soak the quinoa first for about 10 to 20 minutes. Wash the basmati rice then pour the quinoa and its soaking water to the rice cooker, mix together with basmati rice. Cook the rice mixture with a little bit less water than usual in order to get the right texture for the fried rice. Fluff the grains once ready.




Ideally, drier and firmer grains are more suitable for fried rice. You can also precook the grains the day before then store in the fridge overnight. It will help drawing out some moisture in such cold and dry environment.

Cut the chicken breasts into smaller cubes and massage with the marinade ingredients. Cover and transfer to the fridge, let it marinate for at least 6 hours up to overnight.




Take the chicken out of the fridge a little earlier before cooking, about 10 minutes. That way the meat won't be too cold when adding to the pan.


Peel and cube the onion. Destem and finely chop the red chilies. Discard the seeds and cube the bell peppers. Cube the king oyster mushrooms. Destem, peel, and slice the eggplants. Drain the canned peas.




Destem and chop the scallion, separate the white and green sections.


Add the butter to a big pan and turn to medium high heat. Once the butter starts to melt, add in cubed onion along with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Give it a quick stir then add in the white sections of chopped scallion and red chilies. Mix again and cook till the edges of the onion turns slightly browned.


Transfer the chicken into the pan and cook till about half way cooked through.




Add bell pepper and king oyster mushrooms, mix and cook for about 2 minutes. Now transfer the eggplants over and cook till softened. 




Add in 1 teaspoon of cumin powder, 2 teaspoons of curry powder, and 1 more teaspoon of salt. Mix well and cook for another minute or two.


Add in drained peas in the end. However, if using fresh peas then add to the pan earlier. Taste and adjust the flavors with salt or even more cumin/curry powder. It should be on the saltier side so the flavors will balanced out when the grains are mixed in.


Mix in the quinoa and basmati rice mixture in two to three batches. Make sure every grain is coated with the seasonings but try not to over mix it, otherwise the rice might turn sticky and even paste-like.




Plate the curry fried rice and garnish with green section of the chopped scallions and perhaps some more freshly ground black pepper.  




Think about it, this might actually be my first recipe using bell pepper on foodmakesmehappy.com. Maybe it's time to explore some other ingredients that I don't get to eat as mush when I was a kid. 



Other fried rice recipes: 


Aug 16, 2017

Dark Chocolate with Candied Violets and Hazelnuts

What kind of souvenirs do you get when visiting Vienna? My answer will definitely be food related. While most tourists buy Mozartkugel, kind of like pistachio marzipan combined with nougat and chocolate, I got kandierte veilchen instead. These purple pieces of candied violets just too beautiful to let go.

Even though the candied violets can be pleasing to the eye, consuming in bulk can numb the palate and turn the elegant flowery aroma into soapy taste. In order to make these violets into something I cannot keep my hands off, chocolate bar is the answer.


Dark chocolate with candied violets and hazelnuts -





Ingredients (makes about two bars)?

  • 2 or 200 grams dark chocolate bars, 70% to 80% preferred
  • 1/4 cup candied violets, or other candied flowers
  • Small handful or about 20 to 30 grams hazelnuts



How?


It's actually very easy to make this decorated chocolate bar. If using whole nuts, put the nuts into a Ziploc bag and smash them into smaller pieces with something hard, such as a meat tenderizer hammer or even the end of the chopstick. Line a baking dish with parchment paper.


Prepare a double boiler, break the chocolate into smaller pieces and start melting them. Stir the melted chocolate and wait till glistening and free of lumps. Pour the melted chocolate to the prepared baking dish.




Sprinkle crushed nuts and candied violets throughout. Transfer uncovered baking dish to the fridge for at least 2 hours or till fully hardened.




Once ready, remove from fridge and take out the parchment paper. Transfer the chocolate onto a wooden board. Cut or break the chocolate into large pieces.  

Let your imagination run free, use other types of nuts or even freeze-dried fruits to make the chocolate bars. My Instagram friend saw my earlier update about this chocolate and would like to try some, so I'm going to make a fancier version next time. Perhaps using both the dark and white chocolate with freeze-dried berries? I'll share the recipe if it turns out irresistible later on!



Other chocolate-related recipes:


Aug 10, 2017

Tofu Veggies with Salted Black Beans

Chicken stock was used in this recipe. However, if you want to go to the vegetarian route, swap it out with vegetable stock, the end result is just as healthy and delicious.

Tofu veggies with salted black beans -



Ingredients?

  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 big bamboo shoot
  • 10 to 12 shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 box fried tofu (usually comes as square or triangle-shaped)
  • Big handful edamame
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 to 2 red chilies
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce paste (蔭油膏)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salted black beans (豆鼓)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Some chicken stock
  • Some corn starch/water mixture
  • Some sesame oil


How?

If using fresh beans instead of already cooked edamame, blanch the beans first and set aside for later use. If edamame comes with pods attached, simply squeeze out the beans.

Peel and dice the garlic cloves. Trim off the chili stems and finely chop the remaining sections. Peel and slice the onion.

Peel and slice the carrot. Peel away the fibrous layer from the bamboo shoots and slice the softer section. Remove the shiitake stems and break the cap in half. 

As for the pre-fried tofu, this prep work is not necessary but recommended in order to draw out excess oil or any unwanted fried flavors. Bring a pot of water to a boil and quickly dip the tofu in boiling water. Drain and set aside


Drizzle enough olive oil to evenly coat the bottom of the pan or a pot. Turn to medium high heat and add in the onion, salt, and pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till the onion slices turn translucent. Add in chopped garlic and cook till aromatic.

Transfer tougher veggies into the pan first, such as bamboo shoots and carrot, especially if soft carrot is preferred. Cook for about a minute.


Add in shiitake mushrooms and tofu. Mix a little then put in the soy sauce paste and salted black beans. Pour in some chicken or vegetable stock, just till it reaches about 1/3 heights of the ingredient. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to keep it at a simmer. Add in edamame or other types of green beans. Cook for another minute or two.

Have some corn starch and water mixture ready. Evenly pour into the pan while gently stirring the veggies at the same time to prevent lumps. This dish is about done when the veggies turn slightly gooey and sticking to one another. Drizzle some sesame oil for extra aroma right before serving. 


You can also add some finely chopped cilantro to brighten up the flavors. Unlike regular Asian stir-fry veggies made with flamy wok fire, the slightly gooey version always seems extra comforting. It makes a great bento side dish too.


Other recipes using salted black beans: