Jun 29, 2017

Black Food Rocks! Black Yakiudon (焼きうどん)

Something garlicky and spicy, something bouncy and slurpy, something irresistible and perhaps evil. This is a plate full of dark matters - this is a plate of black yakiudon. 

Ready to darken yourself?


Black yakiudon (焼きうどん) -





Ingredients (for 6 portions)?

  • 900 grams udon
  • 0.7 lb matsuzaka pork slices or any thick-cut shabu pork slices
  • 6 to 8 shiitake mushrooms
  • 6 to 8 bok choy
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/4 cabbage
  • 1 onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 red chilies
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 2 teaspoons grated or finely chopped ginger
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce paste
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Japanese tsuyu (double concentrated)
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons squid ink
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Some kimchi or pickled red ginger (beni shoga)
  • Some bonito flakes (katsuobushi)


How?


Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves. Trim off the scallion stem and cut the remaining in about 2-inch long sections. Destem and chop the chilies. Peel and slice the onion. 

Destem and slice shiitake mushrooms. Peel and julienne the carrot. Tear the cabbage into large bite size pieces. Tear the bok choy into strips and cut to shorter or thinner strips if needed.




Cook the udon till about 70% cooked-through. Drain and set aside for later use. You can even rinse or soak the udon with cold water to stop the cooking process.




Use a big pot or a wok, drizzle some olive oil and turn to medium high heat. Add in the onion along with salt and pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till translucent.


Add in garlic, scallion, chilies, and ginger. Cook till aromatic but not burning the garlic.


Transfer the pork to the pot and sear till some fat renders. Add the carrot and shiitake to the mixture. The shiitake will absorb all the extra fat from the pork and become tender and juicy.




Transfer the cabbage over, it might appear almost overflowing the pot but do not worry. The cabbage will start to wilt after a while. Once that happens, transfer the bok choy over.


Add the soy sauce paste, oyster sauce, tsuyu, mirin and mix well. Cook for couple more minutes to fully incorporate all the flavors. 


Add in the squid ink and mix gently to avoid lumps. Transfer the udon over and cook till it reaches desired texture.




Plate the udon and serve some kimchi or pickled red ginger on the side. Only add some katsuobushi right before serving so it can start "dancing" with the help from the heat below.


May the force be with you. 



Other udon recipes:



Jun 23, 2017

Chicken Stir-Fry with a Secret Aromatic Weapon - Cilantro

Cilantro is truly a love and hate ingredient. To some people, cilantro is an irreplaceable aromatic that make a dish shine, especially in Asian countries. But to some, cilantro is nothing more than a soapy, scary tasting thing. Well, believe it or not, it has to do with genes. Some people's olfactory-receptor genes, OR6A2 specifically speaking, can pick up certain aldehyde chemicals. Aldehyde chemicals can be found in cilantro and some soap. And I guess soapy is not a welcomed aroma when presents in food.

Luckily I don't have such concerns and would love to just dive in cilantro paradise. However, if you just can't accept cilantro whatsoever, simply swap out cilantro with flat leaf parsley. The result will just be as aromatic, without the soapy taste. 


Chicken stir-fry with lots of cilantro -




Ingredients?



  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 1 small bundle cilantro
  • 3 medium king oyster mushroom
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 small can of kernel corn
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Some white pepper powder
  • Few dashes fish sauce


How?

Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Peel and cube the carrot. Cube the king oyster mushrooms. Cube the chicken. There is no need to marinate the chicken first, the cilantro will do most of the flavoring work. 

Finely chop the cilantro, it should loosely packed a small bowl. Drain the juice from canned kernel corn.




Drizzle enough oil to evenly coat the bottom of the pan. Turn to medium high heat and add in chopped garlic along with salt and pepper. Mix a little and cook till aromatic but not burnt.


Add the chicken and cook till the meat is about half way cooked through.


Add in the carrot and mushroom, cook for a short moment then add in few dashes of fish sauce.


Add in drained kernel corn and cook till the corn warms up. Lastly, mix in chopped cilantro and some white pepper powder. Taste and see if need to pump up the saltiness by using extra fish sauce.


Plate and garnish with fresh cilantro.




Do not discard the cilantro steams. Use both the leaves and stems for maximum flavor boost. In fact, the texture of the stems actually works better in stir-fry dishes.



Other recipes where the aroma of cilantro shines:

Jun 17, 2017

Fancy Dinner in No Time - Iberico Steak with Salad Greens

Fancy for a steak dinner? Since this recipe uses high quality Iberico loin end, just a touch of salt and pepper and let the pork speaks for itself. Some quick fix salad greens serve as a healthy side dish, but of course the greens are mainly there to justify my meaty guilty pleasure.

Iberico steak with salad greens -





Ingredients (for 2 to 3 portions)?


  • 2 Iberico loin end steaks
  • Some mixed salad greens
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Some fleur de sel or kosher salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper


Simple salad dressing -

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Some fleur de sel or kosher salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper


How?

Rest the Iberico steaks in room temperature and season both sides with some salt and pepper. 





Drizzle just enough olive oil to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. Turn to medium high heat. Once the oil turns hot, transfer the Iberico pork over and sear till slightly crusty and browned on both sides. The actual cooking time differs depending on the thickness of the meat, but just treat it like regular steak, you can even transfer the whole thing to the oven to finish cooking. A little pink in the center is fine too for Iberico pork.


Once the steaks are ready, remove from heat and let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes.




Prepare the salad while resting the meat. Mix all the dressing ingredients and adjust the flavor with salt and pepper. Toss with salad greens, it's that simple. 


Plate the Iberico pork and top with salad greens. Sprinkle some more black pepper and serve immediately before the salad starts to wilt. 



  
No kidding, this part of Iberico pork really tastes like a beefy steak. 



Use something slightly sourish as a side dish to balance off the flavors. I didn't have time to make red onion pickles, otherwise it can be a wonderful addition. However, quick fix salad with balsamic dressing can always be a good alternative, just like this meat-loaded meal I just had.



Other steak recipes:


Jun 12, 2017

Beef Stroganoff - I Shall See You Again Very Soon

A pack of leftover sour cream, thank you. Without you being sitting in the fridge for days, I couldn't have thought about making beef stroganoff. 

The regular pasta dishes in my household are either tomato or olive oil based. So that extra pack of sour cream changed the usual scene, and my tummy was very happy with the result.

Beef stroganoff -



Ingredients (for 4 to 6 portions)?

  • 1 pack/400 grams egg pasta (can be substitute with tagliatelle)
  • 380 grams steak quality beef (cut into thicker slices)
  • 12 medium to large button mushrooms
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pack/200 grams sour cream
  • 1 can beef broth or onion soup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Some salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper
  • Some chopped scallion (optional)


How?

Cut the beef into thick slices and season with salt and pepper. Peel and slice the onion. Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves. Halve or quarter the button mushrooms. Chop the scallion.

Bring a big pot of water to a boil and add some salt. Cook the pasta till almost reaches desired texture. Once ready, drain and set the pasta aside for later use. However, if you time it well, the pasta should be ready when the sauce is ready.

Take another big pot or cookware, add in butter and olive oil. Turn to medium high heat and wait till the oil gets hot. Add in the beef slices and sear till semi-cooked through. Remove from the pot.


Continue to use the same pot, drizzle some more olive oil if needed. Transfer the onion slices over. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till the onion turns translucent. Add in garlic and sear for about one more minute. 


Sprinkle in the flour and kind of "stir-frying" it along with the onion and garlic in the pot. Pour in one can of beef broth or onion soup and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk the mixture to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook till the meat turns tender or just wait till all the flavors combined, this can take up to 20 to 30 minutes depending on the cut of beef used.

Add in button mushrooms and cook for about one minute or less. Do not overcook the button mushrooms otherwise they can start to shrink even by 2/3 of the original size. 


Mix in the sour cream then lastly mix in cooked pasta. Continue to cook till the pasta reaches desired texture.

Plate and garnish with chopped scallion. 


It's not as thick and creamy as Alfredo pasta, but rather like a denser sauce with a hint of milkiness. The Worcestershire sauce does most of the job, providing sweet and savory notes for this beef stroganoff.


What else can you do with sour cream? The most obvious answers popped up right away - cheesecake, baked potatoes, and dips. However, after tasting this beef stroganoff, I think all the leftover sour cream will turn into pasta sauce in my kitchen from now on.


Other pasta recipes:


Jun 5, 2017

Asparagus Stir-Fry with Button Mushrooms and Bacon

Asparagus is in season now, so why not get the most out of it?

Asparagus stir-fry with button mushrooms and bacon -





Ingredients?


  • 0.3 lb or 150 grams bacon
  • 1 bundle of skinny asparagus 
  • 8 to 10 button mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Some salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper


How?


Peel and slice the garlic cloves. Use thick-cut bacon if possible and cut into smaller pieces. Trim the asparagus first if needed. The skinny type I used here is pretty tender throughout and no need for extra prep work. Cut the asparagus into about 2-inch long sections. Halve or quarter the button mushrooms.




No need to use extra oil. Just transfer the bacon to a pan then turn to medium high heat. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Give it a quick stir. Take it easy on the salt here especially some bacon can be quite salty. You can always adjust the flavor in the end. 




Sear till the bacon fat starts to render. Add in garlic slices and keep cooking till that wonderful garlicky aroma starts to fill the kitchen. 


There should be enough bacon fat in the pan now. Transfer the button mushrooms over and make sure they are coated with bacon fat. Cook till the mushrooms just about to shrink then toss in the asparagus. Mix a little and cook till the asparagus reaches desired texture. Taste and add more salt if needed. 


Plate the food and sprinkle some more black pepper.



A little cooking tips, always try to use ingredients that are in season. These are the best produce you can find and usually taste better than off-peak months. You're already half way there by starting out with the tastiest ingredients. On top of that, in season produce is usually cheaper too, talking about saving a few bucks on groceries. 


Want more bacon goodness? Here are some recipes using bacon: