Jun 16, 2019

Chorizo and Broccoli Orecchiette

It's not the fancy type of pasta with vibrant red sauce all over, thick and heavy creamy white sauce, or filled with ass-kicking Creole style spices. Just a simple, quick, and easy-to-make pasta with two basic ingredients - chorizo and broccoli. The flavors also got an upgrade with the help of aged Parmigiano Reggiano and drizzles of Tabasco sauce.

Chorizo and broccoli orecchiette -




Ingredients (about 5 to 6 portions)?


  • 2 heads medium sized broccoli
  • 180 grams Iberico chorizo
  • 500 grams orecchiette
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • Some olive oil
  • Some salt
  • Some aged Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Some Tabasco sauce (optional)


How?



Break broccoli into smaller florets, trim and chop the stems into smaller pieces too. Transfer to a container. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt and drizzle some olive oil. Steam for 10 minutes. Remove and let it rest in room temperature while releasing any trapped steam and some moisture at the same time.



Cube the Iberico chorizo. Peel and chop the garlic cloves. 



Transfer these two to a big pot. Also add in some red chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Turn to medium heat and sear till that red colored fats render from the chorizo.




Meanwhile, bring a big pot of water to a boil and add in few pinches of salt. Cook the orecchiette till nearly al dente. Once ready, drain and set aside first.


Back to the chorizo pot, add in steamed broccoli along with 1 more teaspoon of salt. Give it a quick mix, cook for one more minute.




Transfer the pasta over and mix with these ingredients. Cook till the pasta reaches desired texture. 




Plate and grate a generous amount of aged Parmigiano Reggiano all over right before serving. Accompany with Tabasco sauce if desired.


With such a simple style pasta, the quality of the ingredients become vital. This is especially the case for Iberico chorizo and aged cheese. These two basically determine the make or break of the dish, providing extra umami and depth of flavors in every bite. 


Other pasta recipes:


Jun 9, 2019

Meatballs with Preserved Mustard Greens 梅菜肉丸

Mustard greens "jie cai" (芥菜) has many forms in Asian cuisine. Besides fresh mustard greens, once salt cured and fermented, it became pickled mustard greens "suan cai" (酸菜). From there, further dried up to about 70%, the name changed to "fu cai" (福菜). Once dried all the way, it has reached its final form "meigan cai" (梅干菜).

The name can be very confusing, and so does the taste. Taken from the same vegetable, the flavors vary widely depending on the time of  preserving and drying. I guess the best way is finding a chance to try them all to get a better understanding of such versatile leafy greens.


Meatballs with preserved mustard greens/meigan cai -





Ingredients?


  • 1 cup loosely packed preserved mustard greens (meigan cai)
  • 0.8 lb lean ground pork
  • 0.8 lb coarse ground pork
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 1 slice ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • Some cilantro
  • Some water


How?

Soak the preserved mustard greens first in cold water for about 15 minutes. Drain and dry well with kitchen towel. Give it a few chops if the leafy pieces are too long. Make sure it's small enough to be mixed with ground pork then form into meatballs.




Peel the garlic cloves. Destem the scallion then cut into about 2-inch long sections.




Prepare a big container, mix in all the ground pork, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of corn starch, and chopped preserved mustard greens. Mix and form into medium sized meatballs. Try to toss the meatballs between palms, back and forth, to draw out trapped air.


Transfer these meatballs into a clay pot. Arrange garlic cloves, scallion sections, and ginger slice throughout.




Pour in about 2/3 cup of soy sauce along with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Skim off any grayish brownish foam floating on top during the process. Cover with lid and continue to cook for 30 to 40 minutes. Remember to flip the meatballs once or twice during the process for even coloring. 

Depending on preference, this can serve with some sauce or simply cook till nearly fully reduced. I waited a wee bit too long so all the sauce has been completely dried up and slightly burnt the bottom of my meatballs. But hey, at least they still taste good.




Plate and garnish with cilantro and some black pepper.



Extended reading:


Jun 3, 2019

Teriyaki Salmon 照燒鮭魚塊

Food makes me happy. But at times I kind of lost the urge to seek food. Like the feeling of eagerly wanting to try new restaurant, that push to book a fancy meal. However, that doesn't stop me from making comfort food at home. No energy to dine out? It's ok, at least I've still got a semi-equipped kitchen here. A soul-soothing meal without going out can be a good alternative for now.

Teriyaki salmon -




Ingredients?


  • 0.7 lb salmon fillet
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Some flour
  • Some toasted white sesame seeds

Teriyaki sauce -

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger  


How?

Peel and grate the garlic cloves. Peel and grate the ginger. Destem and chop the scallion.


Mix all the ingredients for the teriyaki sauce. Make sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Set aside for later use.



Slice the salmon fillet into big chunks and dust with flour.



Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a wok, or non-stick pan. Make sure the oil can evenly coat the bottom of the pan. Turn to medium high heat and wait till the oil turns hot. Carefully transfer salmon over and sear till colored. 


Do not flip the salmon until slightly browned, otherwise it might still stick to the pan and tear the fish. Sear till slightly darkened on all sides.




Pour in pre-mixed teriyaki sauce. Mix the fish with the sauce to make sure even coating. Cook till the sauce has been reduced and thickened.




Plate the salmon cubes and garnish with toasted white sesame seeds and chopped scallion.




Even though not really dining at fancy places these days, still slowly gaining weights at home. Probably still need more time to recuperate, till I get my urge back, that kind of "I wanna go out and have fun" kind of urge. But no worries, still enjoying food one way or another.



Other salmon recipes:


May 28, 2019

Mentaiko and Soy Milk Udon 明太子豆乳烏龍麵

Soy milk, not just for breakfast, not just for coffee. Let's make it into something savory this time, with udon and mentaiko fish roe.

Mentaiko and soy milk udon 明太子豆乳烏龍麵 -




Ingredients (for 2)?

  • 3 to 4 packs instant udon
  • 2 cups soy milk
  • 1/3 cup triple concentrated tsuyu
  • 1/4 cup grated aged Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 3 tablespoons mentaiko 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Some chopped scallion
  • Some black pepper


How?

Remove mentaiko from its thin sac and set aside for later use. Grate the cheese. Destem and chop the scallion. Cook the instant udon according to package instruction, drain well and transfer to serving bowls.



Take a medium soup pot, mix in 2 cups of soy milk, 1/3 cup of tsuyu, 1/4 cup of grated cheese, 2 tablespoons of mentaiko, and also melt in 1/ 12 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Whisk till fully combined. 

Scoop the soy milk soup to each udon serving and top with remaining mentaiko. Sprinkle some black pepper over and garnish with chopped scallion.



Such a heart-warming soup, especially when added with butter, further rounded out all the flavors, also smooth out all the possible edges. 



Please enjoy immediately, once cools down, a thin layer of bean curd skin will start to form on the surface, so go ahead and devour it right away!


Extended reading:



May 22, 2019

Western Chicken Donburi 洋風雞肉丼

Need some kind of stimulant to brighten up my gloomy days. Food-wise, besides spiciness, perhaps a little change of regular rice bowl can bring some fun to the night. 

Similar to Asian style rice bowls, but this time with a slight western twist. 

Western chicken donburi -




Ingredients (for two portions)?

  • 2 servings cooked basmati rice
  • 2 chicken breasts (or some chicken tenders)
  • 2 medium large or 3 small colorful bell peppers
  • 15 to 20 button mushrooms
  • 1 broccoli
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper


How?

Cook the rice beforehand. 

Thickly slice the chicken. Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Peel and slice the onion. Trim the mushroom stems and cut in half if needed. Break the broccoli into smaller pieces, save the stem, trim off fibrous layer and cut into thick slices. Pit and slice the bell peppers.

Drizzle some olive oil to the pot, also add in onion, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. Cook till the onion turns translucent then add in chopped garlic.



Wait about 30 seconds then add in broccoli and bell pepper.



Sear the chicken with a grill pan brushed with olive oil if not too troublesome, otherwise simply add the chicken to the mixture and sear till slightly colored.

Add in 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Cook for about another minute then transfer button mushrooms over. Cook for another 30 seconds or so.

Scoop some rice to serving bowls then transfer the toppings over.



By the way, talking about spice things up in life, behind the scenes for Avengers was on TV. Is it just me or does anyone out there also adores the new look of Jeremy Renner? Sizzling hot.

Anyways, back to my dinner. 


Other rice recipes:


May 19, 2019

The Guest House at Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel - Whispering Here

Located inside Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel, The Guest House sits high up on the 17th and 18th floor, serving a wide variety of Chinese dishes. And I'm serious about its vast cuisine selections.




Let it be Taiwanese wok stir-fry, Sichuan, or even Yang Zhou food, The Guest House has a little of everything. Usually I'm skeptical of such one-stop shop kind of restaurant, but hey, The Guest House was crowned two Michelin star again this year, have some faith in it.



Spacious seating here, even just for two people, they still gave us a four-seated table. 



The main dining area is located on the 17th floor and the private rooms are on the 18th floor. However, even if not inside an enclosed private room, the tables on the 17th floor are still semi-covered due to its interior design. Guests can still dine in comfort in their own space.




Menu, full details can be found on hotel's website.






"Pork tongue wrapped in pork ear" aka whispering -



The direct translation of its Chinese name is "whispering," which is fun because this cold plate is made using tongue and ear, two elements involved in such action.

Never thought that pork ear can be used as a wrapping ingredient due to its cartilaginous nature. If not knowing, one might even think that it's a beef shank stew. And that slightly crunchy texture from the ear might be beef tendon. Definitely a must order dish here, do not miss it, I'm serious. 

"Handmade noodles with chili sauce" -





Our waitress brought over the noodles to show us first and use a scissor to cut into smaller pieces on the side.



English name never as good as its Chinese original. Its Chinese name is actually pronounced as "biang biang" noodles, known for wide and flat shape. Originated from Shaanxi China, besides that spicy aroma, just the aroma, not really burning at all, vinegar scent prevails also.



Extra chilies for myself, just a little bit -



"Braised pork knuckle with rock sugar served with steamed buns" -



First pork tongue, pork ear, and now pork knuckle. 



Took the idea from dong po rou (braised pork belly), but in order to cut down the fat and grease, the chef uses pork knuckle instead. Still able to reach that gelatinous texture without much oil involved. 



It was bouncy when I poke my knife around it, but it just slightly melts in mouth after few chews. Soon after Chinese braised aroma, almost airy sweetness appears, gently covering the surface of the sauce, adding a touch of elegance to this supposedly heavy braise.

"Stir-fried dried cauliflower, shrimp, and pork with chili" -



Westerners should be familiar with cauliflower, especially it's been a popular ingredient in recent restaurant scene, mostly roasted or fried as a whole. Definitely an eye-catching dish on the table.



But here in Taiwan, sometimes cauliflowers are dried, sun dried, and can be stored for longer time. Texture turned slightly chewy that way, and can withstand heavier seasoning, makes a better wok-fry ingredient, like the one used here.

"Steamed scallops with garlic sauce" -



Who'd have thought there's noodles inside, bouncy and chewy noodles. I even wondered if these were some type of fish cakes in tube form. Anyway, not the best dish of the night.

"Crispy duck leg" -



Lightly seasoned duck leg, mostly focusing on contrasting texture. That thin and crunchy skin with a layer of duck fat hidden underneath, further lubricate the dryer meat beneath.



Dip in pepper salt to complete the flavor profile.



"Sweetened red bean pancakes" -



Toward the end of the meal, let's talk about the service. It's good in general, but they don't really talk about the dishes when serving. No extra information about how the dishes were made or the concept behind it. To me, it's like missing something interesting when trying out fine dining restaurants, but maybe that's just me, some might prefer to dine in peace.



"Sweet mung bean soup with pearl barley" -



Truly refreshing, just the right amount of icy touch and sweetness. After few heavy dishes, I was alive again once downing this bowl of sweet treat.



Got some hotel vouchers here, so ended up only paid around $25 USD that night, $25 only. Surprisingly, the service charge was calculated based on $25 instead of the entire actual meal value. Put the tips aside, that obligated service charge was less than $3 USD...oh man...


The Guest House currently holds two Michelin star status.



The Guest House at Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel
17th Fl., No 12., Sec 1., Zhongxiao East Road., Zhongzheng District
Taipei, Taiwan 
+886 2 2321 1818
Hotel website: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/restaurant/tpest-sheraton-grand-taipei-hotel/
Restaurant Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/guesthousesheraton/

Opening hours: 
Monday through Sunday 
Lunch from 11:30 a.m. ~ 2:30 p.m.
Dinner from 6:00 p.m. ~ 9:30 p.m.


Another Michelin starred restaurant nearby: