Oct 17, 2021

Shiso Tomato Okra and Chicken Cold Dish

It's a rather light but refreshing cold dish thanks to shiso leaves. For heavier taste, you can always incorporate grated garlic or grated ginger for that extra kick of aroma. I actually served it with spicy curry, in case Mister at home can't take on the heat any longer and need a brush of cold soothing dish to eat along with.


Shiso tomato okra and chicken cold dish -


Shiso Tomato Okra and Chicken Cold Dish

Ingredients?

  • 10 shiso leaves
  • 8 to 10 okra
  • 10 chicken tenders
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 pack white beech mushroom
  • 1 tablespoon roasted white sesame seeds
  • 4 tablespoons triple-condensed tsuyu
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon mirin


How?  

Julienne then fine chop the shiso leaves. Dice the tomatoes. Remove the tougher bottom of the white beech mushroom. Remove tendons from the chicken tenders.


Prepare a medium small pot of water and bring to a boil. Transfer the okra over and cook for about a minute. Drain and set aside till cool enough to handle by hand. Or you can dip the okra in icy cold water for a bit then drain out the liquid.


Cook okra first

Fill up the water and bring to a boil again. Cook the mushroom for about a minute. Drain and set aside till cool enough to handle by hand, or go with the dip in icy cold water method.


Lastly, fill up the water again and bring to a boil. This time, cook the chicken tenders till fully cooked-through. Drain and wait till the meat cools down.


Destem and slice the okra. Chop the mushroom into smaller pieces. Cut the chicken into smaller chunks.


Transfer the okra, mushroom, chicken, tomatoes, and shiso to a big bowl. 


Shiso tomato okra and chicken chunks

Add in 4 tablespoons of Japanese tsuyu, 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of mirin. Mix till blended. Taste and see if need more seasonings, or add extra grated garlic or ginger if preferred.


Store in the fridge for about an hour before serving, but of course you can serve under semi-cool room temperature also. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle some toasted white sesame seeds on top.


Shiso tomato okra and chicken cold dish

You don't necessarily need to boil the okra, but if not doing so, remember to rub the okra with some salt for a smoother bite. Rinse off the salt and pat dry before slicing the okra. 


You can also serve this dish with an raw egg yolk in the middle. Simply break the yolk and mix together with all the ingredients for a fuller bite. However, if raw yolk is involved, make sure to finish it as soon as possible and don't put the dish back to the fridge. Only add the yolk for the portion that can be consumed right away. 


Other cold side dish recipes:


Oct 11, 2021

Garlic Shrimp Pasta Bake (with Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Provolone)

The fact is, I was going to make it into a much fancier "seafood" pasta bake, but eventually shied away the hefty price tags. Besides shrimps, my original list of ingredients including scallops and jumbo lump crab meat, I was too naive.


The cost of adding scallops and crab meat can easily top the price for this dish's all other ingredients combined, and way more. Trying to be reasonable when doing my grocery shopping, plus I was only making a regular family meal, not like celebrating or a date dinner. So I gave in. I'll settle with double the originally planned portion for the shrimps instead. That will do.


Garlic shrimp pasta bake with Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Provolone - 


Garlic shrimp pasta bake

Ingredients (about 6 portions)?

  • 300 grams peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 package/500 grams penne pasta
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 small bundle fennel leaves
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed shredded cheese (must have Mozzarella in it)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Some salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 small bundle parsley


How?

Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Dice the tomatoes, saving the seeds and pulp also. Peel and devein the shrimp. Juice half the lemon, we need about 1 to 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice.


Finely chop the parsley, flat leaf parsley preferred, but if unavailable, curly variety works too. Chop the fennel leaves too, just the leafy part, not going to use the bulb this time.


Prepare a medium large baking dish. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/175 degrees Celsius.


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add some salt to the water. Cook the pasta till almost al dente, like still a bit undercooked. Once ready, drain and set aside.


Cooked and drained penne pasta

Prepare a large pan or pot. Add 1 tablespoon of butter along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, turn to medium high heat. Add in garlic and cook till aromatic, but not burnt.


Add in shrimps and most of the chopped parsley, only save some for garnish in the end. Also add in all the chopped fennel leaves. Give it a quick stir-fry. Cook till the shrimp just about cooked through. Pick out everything and set aside for later use.


Shrimp with chopped parsley and fennel leaves

Still using the same pan or pot, add 2 more tablespoons of butter. This time switch to medium heat. Once melted, add 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk till combined and starts turning into golden crumbs. 


Making a roux for garlic shrimp pasta bake

Pour in chicken stock first, whisk till blended. 


Making a roux and whisking with chicken stock

Pour in milk, whisk till combined.


Transfer diced tomatoes along with 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Bring the whole thing to a simmer, don't let it starts to boil.


Adding chopped tomatoes to white sauce

Add in about 2/3 of the shredded cheese mix, mine consist of Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Provolone. Wait till slightly melted.


Adding shredded cheese mix to white sauce

Pour in cooked pasta and give it a few tosses. Transfer the shrimp back and mix till combined. Taste and see if need more salt here. It varies depending on the cheese used. So adjust the flavor accordingly.


Scoop the pasta to the baking dish. Top with remaining cheese mix.


Adding cheese mix to garlic shrimp pasta bake

Into the oven for about 8 minutes, plus or minus 2 minutes. Just keep an close eye to it, the pasta is ready when the top turns slightly browned or golden.


Remove from heat and garnish with the chopped parsley we saved earlier.


Garlic shrimp pasta bake

Still happy belly without the scallops and crab meat, perhaps saving these two for a date night in the future. 


Garlic shrimp pasta bake

This leads to my memory, when I was back in CA, the price for scallops was at least acceptable. And these were big scallops that can't be tackled easily in one mouthful. If I'm going to find comparable scallops in Taiwan...I think I'll just stand there and gag at the price tags.


Other pasta recipes:


Oct 5, 2021

Three Cup Chicken Fried Rice 三杯雞炒飯

Three cup chicken, if you haven't really heard of it, is basically a Chinese/Taiwanese dish made with one cup of soy sauce, 1 cup of Chinese rice cooking wine, and 1 cup of sesame oil. Usually ginger, garlics, and Chinese basil are also involved in bringing up extra aromatics.


Three cup chicken fried rice

You don't have to strictly follow the proportion of the seasonings, the idea of "three cup" simply implies a general rule for making three cup dishes. Depending on your preference, sometimes people like to tone down the amount of sesame oil used. 


This time, instead of three cup chicken alone, I'm going to give it a little twist and turn the classic flavor into fried rice.


Three cup chicken fried rice 三杯雞炒飯 -


Three cup chicken fried rice

Ingredients (about 4 portions)?

  • 570 grams, about 1.25 lbs dark meat chicken (boneless, skin-on preferred)
  • 1 chunk old ginger
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves
  • 50 grams or 1 loosely packed cup chopped Chinese basil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/2 rice measuring cups brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or other preferred cooking oil
  • Some red chili sauce (optional)

Marinade:

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese rice cooking wine
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


How?

Precook 2 1/2 rice measuring cups of brown rice. You can use white rice instead, just remember to use less water than usual when cooking the rice. Once ready, fluff the rice and set aside. Leftover rice works too.


Cut the chicken into large bite size pieces. Massage and marinate the chicken with all the ingredients listed under the "marinade" section. Simply let it marinate while prepping other ingredients.


Marinating boneless skin-on chicken

Pick out the Chinese basil leaves and give it a fine chop. Beat 4 eggs. Add in chopped Chinese basil leaves and beat again till evenly blended.


Beaten eggs with chopped Chinese basil leaves

Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Scrape the skin and slice the old ginger, about 1 to 1.5 mm thickness.


Use a non-stick pan or a wok, drizzle 2 tablespoons of cooking oil, not the black sesame oil, to the pan and turn to medium high heat. Once warmed up, pour in beaten egg and make scrambled egg there. You can let the beaten egg set for a bit before stirring it. Scoop out the eggs for later use.


Scrambled eggs with Chinese basil

Still using the same pan, this time drizzle 2 tablespoons of black sesame oil over and continue with medium high heat. Add in ginger and sear till slightly colored. 


Add in garlic and chicken along with its marinade. Give it a quick mix. Cook till no more extra juice present, like almost dried up.


Searing boneless dark meat chicken

Mix in rice in two batches. Make sure each grains are coated with the seasonings first before adding the second batch. Once well blended, mix in scrambled eggs. Mix and give it a taste, see if need more soy sauce or other seasonings.


Plate and serve with some chili sauce on top.


Three cup chicken fried rice

How about fancier version of three cup chicken fried rice? Try frying up some Chinese basil leaves till crispy, like the ones you sometimes get from a Taiwanese crispy chicken place. Garnish the leaves on top of the rice. It'll definitely provide more depth, both presentation and flavor-wise. 


Other fried rice recipes:


Sep 29, 2021

Not With, but Together - Hash Browns Scrambled Eggs

Either use a box grater or a food professor to do the shredding for potatoes, this will make life much easier. Well, actually if you're using store-bought or frozen hash browns, that will definitely cut down a good portion of work in the kitchen.


Hash browns scrambled eggs - 


Hash browns scrambled eggs


Ingredients?

  • 3 medium small potatoes 
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 grams bacon
  • 1 small canned corn
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (if needed)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper (plus more for garnish)

Potato seasonings:

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


How?

Mix all the ingredients under the "potato seasonings" and set aside for later use.


Peel the potatoes, I actually used three different varieties for this recipe. Since we're going to make a scrambled eggs in the end, the texture of the potatoes don't matter as much compared to making hash browns only. Starchy or not, it's up to you. I think mixed potato types seemed more fun.


Shred the peeled potatoes with food processor. It can be done in seconds. The only drawback is that there're more parts needed to be cleaned with a food processor, as opposed to box grater.


Shredding potatoes using a food processor

Soak the shredded potatoes in cold water, about 30 minutes. Once done, drain well and transfer potatoes to table cloth to further squeeze out all the remaining liquid.


Draining shredded potatoes using a cloth

Prepare a pan and transfer bacon over. Turn to medium high heat to sear the bacon till some fats start to render. Drizzle some more olive oil if ended up without enough rendered fats.


Searing bacon

Pick out the bacon and let it cool off on the side. Once ready to handle by hand, slice the bacon into smaller pieces. Transfer to a big bowl.


You can sear chopped bacon in the beginning but that can easily result in dryer tougher texture bacon bits in the end. That's fine too, I prefer searing larger bacon pieces to begin with instead.


Make sure the pan is well-coated with oil. To the pan, add in well-dried shredded potatoes along with the seasoning mix. Stir-fry till the potatoes softened, around 10 to 15 minutes.


Searing shredded potatoes

Meanwhile, destem and chop the scallion, transfer to the bacon bowl. Drain out the liquid from canned corn, pour the corn to the bowl also. Beat in 4 eggs along with 1 pinch of salt and 1 pinch of black pepper. Mix till blended.


Pour the egg mixture to the pan and give it a quick mix till all the ingredients are evenly blended. 


Beaten egg mixture

Cover the pan with a lid to help the eggs set. When the eggs seemed cooked through, scramble into chunks and transfer to serving plate.


Sprinkle some more black pepper over before serving.


Hash browns scrambled eggs

Even though I'm not really making hash browns here, but I still followed the soaking and draining steps for the shredded potatoes. This only makes a slight different in the final texture, so if it seems too troublesome, simply omit this part all along. 


Most importantly, if you're going to start with shredded potatoes, remember to slowly cook and stir-fry the potatoes till softened early on to avoid rubbery bite in the end.


Extended reading:


Sep 24, 2021

Nikujaga 肉じゃが - Japanese Meat and Potato Stew

Niku means meat in Japanese, and jaga refers to potato, so it shouldn't be hard to imagine what this dish is about. Nikujaga is just like pork stew to Taiwanese, and perhaps pulled pork to Americans, most families in Japan have their own recipe for nikujaga. 


Japanese meat and potato stew nikujaga 肉じゃが

It's one of Japanese's all time comfort food. I can also recall that back in college in CA, the international student from Japan was making nikujaga for everyone, it's that one dish commonly cooked by Japanese students overseas. As recommended by my fellow Japanese friend, "use beef," she said. You must make nikujaga with beef slices, not pork. Instruction well remembered and followed.


Nikujaga 肉じゃが/Japanese meat and potato stew - 


Japanese meat and potato stew nikujaga 肉じゃが


Ingredients?

  • 250 grams beef slices
  • 3 small potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 170 grams shirataki noodles (konjac noodles)
  • 100 grams peas/snap peas
  • 850ml water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or other preferred cooking oil

Sauce:

  • 4 to 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar


How?

If you prefer potatoes to have a softer, more so "fluffy" bite, here's what I do. Peel and steam whole potatoes for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and wait till the potatoes cool down.


Steaming whole and peeled potatoes

Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add in the peas or snap peas and let it boil for about 30 seconds. Drain and remove the thin skin from the peas. Set aside for final garnish in the end.


Removing thin skin from peas


Peel and chop the carrot into chunks. Drain out any liquid from the shirataki/konjac noodles package and rinse for a bit. Drain again and cut into shorter sections. 


Once the earlier potatoes cool down, chop into chunks also. Peel and slice the onion, wider slices this time. If using long pieces of beef slices, slice into shorter sections.


Beef slices for nikujaga

Take a medium pot, drizzle about 2 tablespoons of oil and turn to medium high heat. Add in onion and stir-fry till translucent.


Stir-frying onion for Japanese meat and potato stew nikujaga

Add in carrot and potatoes, continue to stir-fry for another 30 seconds or so.


Stir-frying carrot and potatoes for nikujaga

Add in beef and shirataki. Pour in about 850ml of water along with all the ingredients under the "sauce" section. Use up to 6 tablespoons of soy sauce for a saltier taste. You can start out with 4 tablespoons and add a little bit more at a time when needed later on.


Adding water and sauce mixture for nikujaga

Still under medium high heat. Cook till it starts to bubble. You can cut the parchment paper into round shape with a hole in the center. Measure it so the paper can cover the inner surface of the pot perfectly. Or the easier way is to simply use a lid but don't fully cover the pot, leaving a small gap for the steam to escape. 


Leaving a gap when stewing nikujaga

Lower the heat to a simmer. Continue to cook for 20 to 25 minutes. If it starts to boil, try to move the lid a little bit more to the side, or tilted. Shouldn't be an issue if you use the paper method instead.


Japanese meat and potato stew nikujaga 肉じゃが


Finally, remove the paper or the lid, serve from the pot or scoop to individual servings, and remember to garnish with peas. A pop of green to brighten up this stew.


Japanese meat and potato stew nikujaga 肉じゃが

You should definitely taste the sweetness from both the sugar, stewed veggies, and mirin. That's how a basic Japanese stew would taste like. Slightly salty and sweet, makes all the remaining juice an ideal company for steamed rice.


Other Japanese recipes:


Sep 17, 2021

Pad See Ew - Thai Stir-Fry Noodles with Chicken and Gai Lan

Pad Thai and pad see ew might be the two most common Thai style stir-fry noodles known by foreigners. While the basic concept holds the same for stir-fry noodles, I think pad Thai is a bit harder to make, with more ingredients involved also. So if you are looking for an easier-to-achieve Thai recipe, pad see ew, mainly involved with chicken, gai lan (Chinese broccoli), and eggs, can be the way to go.


Pad see ew/Thai stir-fry noodles with chicken and gai lan -


Pad see ew (Thai stir-fry noodles with chicken and gai lan)


Ingredients (about 4 portions)?

  • 360 grams dried flat rice noodles
  • 8 chicken tenders
  • 12 stems gai lan/Chinese broccoli
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil or other preferred cooking oil

Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar


How?

Here's the noodles I got, which came in nest-shape. I used a total of 6 nests for this recipe. 


Asian dried flat rice noodles

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in dried noodles. Cook for about 7 to 10 minutes, or according to package instructions. Once ready, drain and set aside for later use. 


Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Remove the tendons from chicken tenders and slice the chicken to about 2mm-thick pieces. Beat the eggs in a bowl first. Mix all the ingredients under the "sauce" section and set aside.


Cut the gai lan into about 1.5 to 2-inch long sections. Separate the softer leafy parts and the tougher stems. I actually halved or quartered the stems into thinner strips, which will help the stems cook much faster and easier chew in the end.


Gai lan (Chinese broccoli)

Prepare a wok or a big pan, drizzle about 2 tablespoons of oil and turn to medium high heat. Using very high heat can create a desirable wok hei, that aroma you get from quick stir-fry dishes. But only use such heat if you can maneuver your way in the kitchen fast enough.


Add in chopped garlic and give it a quick stir-fry, cook till aromatic but not burnt.


Add in the chicken and cook till the meat just about to turn white, not fully cooked-through yet.


Searing chicken tenders

Add in gai lan stems and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add the leafy part and continue to cook till the veggies reach your preferred texture. Some like it crunchy, I prefer a softer bite instead.


Push these ingredients to the side of the wok/pan. Pour in beaten egg to the empty area. Don't stir it too early, wait till the bottom starts to set a bit. After that, go ahead and scramble the eggs. Try to get medium sized pieces of scrambled eggs.


Scoop out all the ingredients and set aside.


Still using the same wok/pan. Drizzle 1 more tablespoon of oil. Mix in the noodles along with the sauce mixture. Give it a few tosses till well-blended. Let the noodles cook with the sauce for a bit longer, 30 seconds will do.


Pad see ew noodles in sauce

Transfer the earlier stir-fried ingredients back to the wok/pan. Toss till blended. Plate and serve immediately.


Pad see ew (Thai stir-fry noodles with chicken and gai lan)

If you can't find gai lan in the market, use bok choy instead, which can be found in Asian markets all year round. The veggies are easier to substitute, but noodles, if you can't find flat rice noodles, go for the flour-based Asian noodles instead. It's ok to improvise along the way especially it's not always an easy task sorting Asian ingredients. As long as it still tastes good, changing a thing or two won't hurt, you think so? 


Other Asian stir-fry noodles recipes:


Sep 11, 2021

Oven-Baked Gochujang Salmon Fillets

What do you usually get at Costco? Here in Taiwan, I always go to Costco for toilet paper and tissue. As for food-related items, I tend to grab salmon fillets, organic chicken stock, and lactose-free milk. Especially the salmon fillets, not only it's priced reasonably, it comes boneless and skinless, so easy to utilize for many recipes.


You can find some broiled gochujang salmon recipes online, but I prefer oven-baked instead, I think that for thicker fillets, broiling can be harder to tell if the fish is fully cooked-through. Slower baking time takes that worry away and I don't even have to stick in a thermometer to check with this oven-baking method.


Oven-baked gochujang salmon fillets - 


Oven-baked gochujang salmon fillets


Ingredients (for 4 fillets)?

  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • Some toasted white sesame seeds
  • Some olive oil 
  • Some salt
  • Some black pepper
  • Some quinoa basmati rice (optional)

Glaze:

  • 3 tablespoons gochujang
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled/finely chopped)


How?

Preheat the oven to 390 degrees Fahrenheit/200 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease some oil on top, which will further prevent the fish fillets from sticking. 


Destem and chop the scallion, set aside for garnish in the end.


Set the salmon fillets to baking sheet. Drizzle some olive oil over fish fillets and season both sides with some salt and black pepper.


Salt and pepper on both sides of the salmon fillets

Into the oven for 5 minutes first. Meanwhile, let's prepare the glaze. Simply mix all the ingredients under the "glaze" section and give it a good mix. It'll be hard for all the sugar crystals to fully dissolved, but at least mix till somewhat blended.


Once the salmon has been baking for about 5 minutes, remove from oven. Pour over the glaze, make sure the glaze covers all sides, except the bottom. Back to the oven and cook for about 20 minutes.


Gochujang glaze over oven-baked salmon fillets

Now we switch the heat up to broiling. Pay attention to the fillets, once the glaze thickens and the top just about to burn, remove from heat and transfer to serving plates.


Oven-baked gochujang salmon fillets

I prepared some quinoa basmati rice to eat along with, so I lay the fillets on top of the rice. Sprinkle some toasted white sesame seeds over and garnish with chopped scallion.


Oven-baked gochujang salmon fillets served with quinoa basmati rice

The salmon fillets turned out moist in the center with thickened glaze all over. It's slightly sweet with a tiny hint of heat, pairs well with white rice per my opinion. 


You can actually prepare the sauce ahead of time and store in the fridge, I would say one or two days won't hurt. Maybe prep the glaze during the weekend and use it on busy weekdays. Cleaning is easy afterwards too since we covered the baking sheet with foil. I guess that adds a few extra points for this recipe, right? 


Other salmon recipes: