Jun 11, 2024

Apple and Honey Black Tea (The Blender Way)

What do you use when making juice? Blender or fancy cold press juicer? I've only got my old blender here so I had to add some water when making apple juice. However, if you're using juicer, lucky you to have a more condensed and sweeter apple juice to incorporate to the final drink.


Apple and honey black tea - 


Apple and honey black tea


Ingredients (for 3 portions)?

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons black tea leaves (or tea bags)
  • 1200ml hot water 
  • 4 medium apples
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons honey
  • 2 cups icy cold water
  • Some ice cubes (optional)


How?

Let's start with brewing the black tea. Simply follow the instruction for the tea leaves or tea bags using and make two big glasses of tea. 


Brewing black tea

I used 1200ml hot water for the tea and used about 2 tablespoons of tea leaves. The brewing time varies too. Also if you prefer a stronger tea flavor, try to brew for extra one minute.


Strain out the tea leaves or remove teabags once done. Transfer the hot tea to the fridge and wait till completely cool-off. You can use the leftover tea leaves or tea bags to brew more tea to drink along the way if the flavor still holds.


Peel the apples and slice some fine cubes on the side. The rest cut into chunks and add to the blender. 


Prepping apples to tiny cubes and chunks

We are using about 4 cups of apple cubes. Also pour in 2 cups of cold water to the blender and blend till smooth. Strain the juice and leave the pulp aside. Try to press down the pulp to draw out more juice. 


Making fresh apple juice

The portion is about 600ml of cold black tea plus 1 cup of apple juice plus 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey if using. Add that to the clean blender and blend till evenly incorporated.


Add about 1 to 2 spoonful of tiny apple cubes to the serving glass then pour over the prepped fruity tea. It's up to you if you would like to serve with ice cubes or not.


Apple and honey black tea

So what to do with the leftover pulp? I actually saved them and stored in the fridge. Sometimes I would just take a spoon and eat the pulp plain like a healthy snack. But you know what? The best way to utilize the pulp is to either marinade the pork with it or use in pork braise. 


Apple and honey black tea

Apple pairs really well with pork, so when use in a marinade, it'll not only provide flavors but also slightly tenderize the meat. If use in a stew or braise, the pulp will act like a minimal sweetening agent, especially good when used in an Asian soy sauce based stew. 


Other drinks recipes:


Jun 5, 2024

Paccheri with Tuna in Red Bell Pepper Sauce (Portion for Two)

Half way through my cooking I suddenly realized that the vendor forgot to put fresh dill in my grocery bag. This dish wouldn't be complete without a touch of any herbal note, so I started searching the fridge to see if there's any leftover herbs, let it be parsley or chives, both will do.


Guess what? Of course there weren't any left in my fridge. I tend to use up all the ingredients I bought whenever possible every time I cook. And I got scared of growing my own herbs here in Taiwan, too many bugs especially caterpillars always seemed to favor my plants for some reason.


Good thing is that I have plenty of dried herbs in the pantry to choose from, so I picked dried thyme instead. In fact, I'm quite happy with the result switching to dried thyme, giving this pasta dish a new set of aroma different from what I first imagined. A good and delightful twist in the end.


Paccheri with tuna in red bell pepper sauce - 


Paccheri with tuna in red bell pepper sauce


Ingredients (about two portions)?

  • 240 grams tuna 
  • 200 grams paccheri pasta 
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • Few shallots
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup drinkable hot water
  • Some olive oil
  • Some salt


How?

Destem and remove the pits from the red bell pepper then give it a rough chop. Peel and rough chop the garlic clove and shallots. We will need about 1/4 cup of chopped shallots in the end.


If using fresh herb, give it a fine chop and set aside. Zest one lemon and save for later. Halve the lemon or slice into wedges so it'll be easier to squeeze out the juice shortly after.


Diced sashimi grade tuna

Cube the tuna, I actually used sashimi grade tuna because that's the only chunky piece of tuna I can find in the market. 


Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and switch to medium heat. Add in chopped shallots and garlic, cook till aromatic.


There is no need to finely chop the shallots nor the garlic because we are going to blend them into a smooth paste after cooking.


Add the chopped red bell pepper to the pan and stir-fry for couple minutes. Pour in 1/2 cup of drinkable hot water and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Let it boil for a little bit.


Cooking aromatics and red bell pepper before blending

Pour the whole thing to a food processor. Perhaps wait a few minutes for the temperature to drop a little. Then blend till it forms smooth sauce. You can also use hand held blender to finish the task.


Blending red bell pepper and aromatics

Bring out a big pot and add in good amount of water to cook the pasta. Add few good pinches of salt to the water and bring to a boil. Add in the paccheri pasta and cook till al dente. I usually would cook the pasta till "almost" al dente, but the paccheri I used here has a tougher bite so cook a little longer should be fine. You can adjust the cooking time based on your ingredients and preference instead.


So back to the sauce, pour it to the pan and use medium heat to bring the temperature up again. When the pasta is done cooking, drain and transfer to the pan here. Toss and mix.


Combining red bell pepper sauce and paccheri pasta

Add in diced tuna and give it a good toss. 


Mixing in diced tuna to the paccheri pasta

Continue to cook for 30 seconds to about a minute. Add in the lemon zest and squeeze some lemon juice, about 1 tablespoon. Also mix in the herbs and give the pasta a few tosses again.


Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Otherwise drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and give it a few last tosses. Plate and serve. 


Paccheri with tuna in red bell pepper sauce

If you can't get a hold of tuna, swordfish or mahi mahi are two good alternatives for this recipe. 


Paccheri with tuna in red bell pepper sauce

Mister had it for dinner and thought the pasta was tomato based sauce just because of the red color. It's fun to see the surprise showing on his face when I told him there's no tomato involved. 

 

Other pasta recipes:


May 30, 2024

Seared Boneless Chicken Leg with Lemony Scallion Sauce

In general, there are two ways to sear the boneless chicken legs for this recipe. You can simply lay down the chicken and let it sear on its own. That's what I did too, which yields a fuller bite and thicker meaty part in the end. 


You can also aim for extra crunchiness for the skin. If doing so, you'll have to find something heavy, for instance a brick to weight down the meat while searing skin side down. However, in exchange of that even crispier skin, the meat section will also get pressed down a bit and result in a tougher bite. 


Both methods still result in pretty delicious chicken steak, so it's up to you whether to put more emphasis on the meat itself or the skin part.


Seared boneless chicken leg with lemony scallion sauce - 


Seared boneless chicken leg with lemony scallion sauce


Ingredients?

  • 2 medium boneless skin-on chicken legs
  • 2 stalks scallion (mainly use the white section)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon drinkable hot water
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Some olive oil
  • Some salt
  • Some black pepper


How?

Trim the boneless skin-on chicken leg by removing tendons and excess fats. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on both sides.


Salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken legs

Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Destem and chop the scallion. Try to use the white section first, if not enough then mix in some green part. We will need about 1 cup of chopped scallion here.


Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a pan and switch to medium high heat. Wait till the pan gets hot then transfer the chicken over skin side down. Do not move the chicken at all in the beginning. You can check the sides, once seemed golden brown then you can try to move it around.


If you move the chicken too fast before the skin has been browned, the skin might still be stuck to the pan and you won't get a pretty whole chicken steak in the end.


Searing boneless skin-on chicken legs

You can add something heavy on top, usually a brick to get crispier skin. I went for a simpler route instead and just let the meat sear as it is. Once the skin side has been seared till golden brown color, flip the chicken.


Switch to medium heat and slowly sear the chicken till fully cooked through. Once ready, transfer the chicken legs to serving plate. The meat can also rest there while we work on the lemony sauce. 


Still using the same pan, either wipe out excess oil or add more if needed, just remember we need enough oil to evenly coat the pan plus a bit extra. Using medium heat, add in chopped scallion and garlic. Give it a quick stir-fry, cook till aromatic but not burning the garlic.


Searing chopped scallion and garlic

Add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, juice of half lemon (which is about 1 1/2 tablespoons for mine), 1 tablespoon of hot water, 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil, and 1 tablespoon of toasted white sesame seeds.


Making lemony scallion sauce

Bring the heat up to a light boil and let it reduce a bit. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.


Pour that sauce all over the chicken legs. Crack some more black pepper before serving.


Seared boneless chicken leg with lemony scallion sauce


You can serve the chicken as it is, but together with steamed rice is my favorite way to eat it. Especially when the rice slightly sucked in the sauce, it's like double of flavors double the enjoyment.  


Seared boneless chicken leg with lemony scallion sauce

On a side note, remember that even if you went for the crispier skin route, once the lemony scallion sauce drizzled all over, you'll still start to lose some of that crunchiness over time.


Seared boneless chicken leg with lemony scallion sauce

Which I don't mind at all. I'm more for the juicy meat paired with the sauce. That extra touch of lemon truly made a big difference brighting up the flavors.  


Other chicken recipes:


May 24, 2024

Vietnamese Steamed Egg Meatloaf - I Was Actually Trying to Use All the Eggs in the Fridge

My mom uses many eggs in her cooking, quite often too. Somehow the eggs in my household always get neglected. I would have a box of eggs and used like one or two, the most four. Then the rest will be left in the fridge for weeks. Good thing that eggs can stay fresh for a while when stored correctly.


So the Vietnamese steamed egg meatloaf was like a recipe come to a rescue. To bring my long forgotten eggs out to the world again. This time, this well-known Vietnamese side dish released a total of eight eggs from the icy dreaded fridge.


Vietnamese steamed egg meatloaf - 


Vietnamese steamed egg meatloaf


Ingredients?

  • 8 eggs
  • 450 grams gorund pork 
  • 1 big piece fresh wood ear (can be substitute with dried wood ear)
  • 1/2 medium carrot
  • 50 grams glass noodles
  • 2 medium shallots or 1/4 small red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons corn starch 
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • Some salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


How?

If using dried wood ear, rehydrate it in warm water till plump again. Try to aim for one big piece in the end. Trim-off tougher area then mince the remaining part.


Minced wood ear

Soak the glass noodles in room temperature water till hydrate and soft. Soaking time varies depending on the type of glass noodles used. Once done, drain and chop to smaller bits, about 2 to 3 mm in length. 


Peel and finely chop the shallots or red onion. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves.


Separate 3 eggs. Store the yolks in the fridge first and pour the egg whites to a big mixing bowl.


In that big mixing bowl, also break in 5 whole eggs, wood ear, glass noodles, shallot or onion, garlic, ground pork. For the seasonings, add in 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 4 tablespoons of corn starch. 


Ingredients for Vietnamese steamed egg meatloaf

If you prefer firmer texture for the egg meatloaf, use 5 tablespoons of corn starch instead. Mix till all these ingredients are evenly blended.


Have a meatloaf pan lined up with parchment paper. I actually used glass food storage container instead.


Glass food storage container lined with parchment paper

Pour in the egg and pork mixture and even it out.


Before steaming the Vietnamese egg meatloaf

Cover with cling foil. Pour some water to the steamer and steam for 30 minutes. Once ready, carefully taking out the container and don't let any water drips into the steamed loaf. Remove the cling foil.


Main body for the Vietnamese steamed egg meatloaf

Remember the 3 yolks we saved earlier? Beat that with one small pinch of salt then pour right over the steamed loaf. You will have to tilt the container in different directions in order to get the yolk cover the whole surface.


Adding yolk on top of the Vietnamese steamed egg meatloaf

Cover with new cling foil. Add a bit more water to the steamer and transfer the container over again. This time steam till the yolk topping is set, about 10 minutes. 


I prefer to steam the egg meatloaf longer just to be sure that the very center has been cooked through. A few more minutes won't really alter the taste nor the texture of the loaf.


Once ready, remove the container and the foil while making sure no water drips in. Pull out the parchment paper while transferring the egg meatloaf to serving plate. 


Per my case, the parchment paper was torn apart. So I actually ran the knife along the edges then inverted the egg meatloaf to a big plate. Then I cover the loaf with serving plate and inverted back again, so that the yolk side stays on top.


Slice to thick rectangular pieces and serve as a side dish. Usually you'll find egg meatloaf together with broken rice, but it'll still serve well with just any other type of steamed rice. 


Vietnamese steamed egg meatloaf

If you don't have a steamer, oven works too. Use 400 degrees Fahrenheit/200 degrees Celsius and bake for 40 minutes first. The second time after pouring the yolk on top, simply bake for 10 minutes should do the trick. 

 

For my version of egg meatloaf, the main body is paler than the ones you often see at a Vietnamese restaurant. I think the reason is that I also added extra egg whites in the ground pork mixture, thus dilute the yolk color.


Vietnamese steamed egg meatloaf

On top of that, some people would add annatto oil to the yolk on top. I tried to keep the food I cook at home as natural as possible, so I purposefully steered away from any potential food coloring added ingredient. 


I think many of you would agree with what I do here? I'd rather use up all the eggs instead of having egg whites leftover. Also I think it's better to have paler outcome instead of any potential artificial food coloring involved. 


May 18, 2024

Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad

I guess foodgawker is officially gone for good. I've been trying to upload my recipes to the recipe-sharing website but it always ended up showing "this site can’t be reached." What a shame, foodgawker was pretty useful and acts sort of like my little storage box for many wonderful recipes. If any of you know more details or if there's any slight chance that foodgawker will be back, please drop a line and let me know!


Spicy Korean cucumber salad - 


Spicy Korean cucumber salad


Ingredients?

  • 3 skinny cucumbers
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Marinade:

  • 3 tablespoons chopped scallion
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed thinly sliced onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons Korean red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon toasted white sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar


How?

Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Destem and chop the scallion. Peel and thinly slice the onion.


Trim-off both ends for the cucumbers. I prefer to cut the cucumber into rectangular shaped sections. However, you can slice it to 1mm thickness round pieces if preferred. 


Skinny cucumber sticks

Transfer the cucumber to a bowl and add about 1 teaspoon of salt. Gently massage in the salt. Let it sit and marinate for 10 minutes. You'll find some liquid being draw out on the bottom.


Marinating cucumber with some salt

Squeeze the cucumber hard but not breaking the shape in order to draw out even more liquid. Discard the liquid and transfer the cucumber to another clean bowl.


Add all the ingredients listed under the "marinade" section to the bowl. Make sure to thoroughly mix these ingredients together with the cucumber. Cover the bowl with cling foil and let it rest in the fridge for at least 10 more minutes.


Making spicy Korean cucumber salad

You can serve the cucumber after a short marinating time. However, you can definitely leave the cucumber in the fridge for like one or two more days. I actually did that and the cucumbers won't get too salty in the end. Not the crunchiness though, you'll loose just a tiny bit of that crunch but overall still very appetizing.


Spicy Korean cucumber salad

By the way, if you haven't noticed, unlike many other Asian cucumber side dish recipes especially the pickled version from Japan, the spicy Korean cucumber salad we are making here does not use any vinegar. There is no other acid seasonings used such as lemon or lime. 


Spicy Korean cucumber salad

Instead, the main flavor comes from the aromatics and sesame oil. Give it a try, when served cold, this cucumber salad also works great with some Korean drinks (just remember to drink responsibly, especially when the food pairs so well with alcohol). 


Other Korean recipes:


May 12, 2024

Radish Corn and Pork Ribs Soup 蘿蔔玉米排骨湯

Usually I'll get canned corn kernels or the entire corn on the cob for my recipes. Once a while I'll use baby corn too, but never a big fan of it mainly due to the texture. However, for this Asian soup recipe, I need the corn in shorter sections. Ideally one whole corn being cut into three sections. And that, requires either professionals or some muscles at home.


Radish corn and pork ribs soup 蘿蔔玉米排骨湯 - 


Radish corn and pork ribs soup


Ingredients?

  • 3 whole corn on the cob
  • 1 medium large radish/daikon
  • 8 to 10 pork ribs
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 stalk skinny celery (or some cilantro)
  • 2 pieces ginger
  • Some salt
  • 12 cups water


How?

If I get the corn on the cob at the local market, like farmer's market, usually I'll ask the vendor to break the corn to sections for me. It's such an easy task to them. However, if you have to do it yourself at home, be prepared to work on your arms.


I actually had to do it myself this time. What I did was run the end of the knife, not the tip, but the part closer to the handle all the way around the corn. It'll be right on the spot where I want the corn to cut-off. 


Then try to force some part of the knife in and wiggle it. Do that for few spots along that cutting line. Lastly, knife away and I used all my force to break the corn with my hands. Sounds primitive, but it works. However, in the end, if you can get help from the vendor, it'll save so much work and no bits of corn splashing around the kitchen.


So once the corn is settled, peel and slice the radish/daikon to medium chunks. Slice the ginger to about 1mm thickness pieces. Peel and halve the onion. Wrap the onion in cheesecloth or something similar, tie it up so the onion will be able to cook in the soup without falling apart everywhere.


Prepare a pot and fill with water. Turn to medium heat and toss in pork ribs. Keep the water hot but not like full-on boiling. A bit bubbling is fine. Such temperature can help drawing out more foamy grayish bits.


Prepping pork ribs and drawing out foamy bits

Once successfully drawing out some foamy bits, drain and rinse the pork ribs.


Pork ribs preparation for Asian soup recipe

Prepare a big pot and add in prepped pork ribs. Also add in the corn, radish, onion in bag, ginger, and 12 cups of water. Use medium to medium high heat until the soup is boiling. Then lower the heat to keep it at a light bubbling stage. Continue to cook for 30 minutes.


Making radish corn and pork ribs soup

Remember to skim-off any foamy bits floating on top during the process. There should be some more during the first 10 minutes, after that just check once or twice should be good.


Towards the end, remove the onion bag and ginger slices. Flavor the soup with enough salt. I used 2 tablespoons here.


Radish corn and pork ribs soup

Chop some skinny celery or cilantro. Scoop the soup and some ingredients to serving bowls then garnish with chopped celery or cilantro.


Radish corn and pork ribs soup noodles

If using celery, instead of garnishing the soup in the end, you can also just toss them into the pot for a slight boost of aroma. Celery can be left in the soup and its texture and flavor won't change as much even after days.


Radish corn and pork ribs soup noodles

Enjoy the soup as it is. I also cooked up some noodles and turn it into soup noodles too. With additional help from homemade cilantro flavored chili sauce. The meal might look light at first, but don't underestimate the power of Asian chili sauce.


Other Asian soup recipes:


May 6, 2024

Eggplant Rollatini with Marinara and Pesto Sauce

This recipe might seem like a lot of work at first, well, that's if you're making everything from scratch. In order to keep it simple and not overworking us housewives, it's ok to use some store-bought ingredients.


Just like two of my great helpers here, store-bought marinara sauce and pesto sauce. These two alone can definitely cut down at least 30 minutes prep time, not mentioning the cleaning work involved.


To further cutting down the workload, you can use the already shredded cheese. I use packaged shredded mozzarella here. However, I have to grate my own parmesan cheese. The reason is that I always stick to aged parmigiano reggiano, and there's no pre-grating version of this. But a bit extra work in exchange for a much more complex savory note, I think it's well worth tiring my hands and my arms in grating the cheese.


Eggplant rollatini with marinara and pesto sauce - 


Eggplant rollatini with marinara and pesto sauce


Ingredients?

  • 2 big and round eggplants
  • Some salt
  • Some olive oil
  • 300 grams marinara sauce 
  • 3 tablespoons pesto sauce
  • 120 grams shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated aged parmigiano reggiano
  • Some fresh basil sprigs (for garnish/optional)

Filling:

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated aged parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 egg
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


How?

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit/200 degrees Celsius. Brush baking sheet with some olive oil. 


Cut-off both ends for the eggplants. If you can find big, round, and longer eggplants then that's your best choice. The shape makes it much easier to roll later on.


Slice the eggplant to 1/4 inch thick pieces from top down. Because the natural curvy shape of the eggplant, I'm not using the first and the last slices, only use the center part instead.


Eggplant slices

Lay out the eggplant slices and sprinkle some salt on both sides.


Sprinkle some salts over eggplant slices

Let it sit for about 10 minutes. You'll start to see some tiny water droplets forming on the eggplant. Wipe off these excess liquid while removing some of the salt on both sides.


Transfer the eggplant slices to the baking dish and into the oven for 10 minutes. Once ready, remove and let the eggplant cool-off, at least till cool enough to handle by hand. 


If you have to move the eggplant slices around while still a bit hot, better use a spatula and scoop from the ends. Otherwise some very soft part might separate while trying to pick up the eggplant with uneven force. 


While waiting for the eggplant to cool-off, prepare all the ingredients listed under the "filling" section. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves then transfer to a mixing bowl. Break in one egg, also add all other ingredients for the filling.


Cheese filling for eggplant rollatini

Mix till all the ingredients are evenly blended together.


Have a baking dish ready, medium size with some depth should work. Pour over some marinara sauce and spoon them evenly on the bottom.


Marinara sauce as the base layer of eggplant rollatini

Check and see if the eggplant slices have cooled-off. If so, take one spoonful of the filling to the end of the eggplant slice then start rolling up. Transfer rolled up eggplant to the baking dish, with opening side down. Continue to do so till the baking dish has been fully placed by the eggplant rolls.


Eggplant rollatini before baking

Spoon some more marinara sauce all over the eggplant rolls, also spread out about 3 tablespoons of the pesto sauce.


Using marinara and pesto sauce for the eggplant rollatini

Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese all over first, then sprinkle 1/4 cup of that high quality aged parmigiano reggiano cheese on top too.


Mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano cheese for the eggplant rollatini

Cover the baking dish with foil then into the oven, bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and switch to high heat. Continue to bake till the cheese on top starts to turn slightly browned. 


Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil sprigs.


Eggplant rollatini with marinara and pesto sauce

Remember the edges of the eggplant slices that I didn't use in this recipe? In fact, I ended up dicing them and used in a pasta dish. Besides that, I also used all the leftover marinara sauce and pesto sauce to the pasta dish too.


Eggplant rollatini with marinara and pesto sauce

So in the end I get to enjoy a full-on pasta meal paired with this eggplant rollatini. Not bad for a dinner combo.