Mar 1, 2024

Salmon Crudo in Asian Seasonings

Once in a while I'm super happy with the food pictures that I cooked, such as this salmon crudo in Asian seasonings. The lighting was right and the food looks vivid and delicious. In fact, the salmon crudo was pretty yummy. It can be addicting too because I couldn't really stop myself after taking the first bite. 


The savory note from the soy sauce paired with a kick from the shallot, the herbal touch from cilantro and a pop of citrusy aroma, the combo of all the above spells "success." If you bring out this dish at a party, I'm sure praises will start popping up from all over the place.


Salmon crudo in Asian seasonings - 


Salmon crudo in Asian seasonings


Ingredients?

  • 150 grams sushi-grade salmon
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 small bundle cilantro
  • Some black pepper
  • Some salt flakes

Sauce:

  • 1/4 teaspoon grated garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil 


How?

Finely chop the cilantro. Peel and slice the shallot. Slice the lemon into wedges.


Slice the salmon and arrange them on the serving plate. 


Sushi-grade salmon

Have a bowl ready and add in all the ingredients listed under the "sauce" section. Pour the sauce all over salmon.


Sushi-grade salmon in Asian seasonings

Scatter the shallot slices and chopped cilantro on top. Crack some black pepper and sprinkle some salt flakes. Squeeze 1 to 2 lemon wedges throughout, but also have 1 more wedge standing by on the plate.


Salmon crudo in Asian seasonings


This dish doesn't have to be served at your own place. In fact, you can pre-slice the ingredients and premix the sauce, then bring the entire thing perhaps to your friend's or family's places instead. Simply plate and put together all the elements, shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes. Just make sure to keep the sushi-grade salmon cold throughout the process. 


Salmon crudo in Asian seasonings

Also don't limit yourself with salmon. If serving a big group of people, maybe you can use more sushi-grade seafood such as scallops and yellowtail. The finished seafood crudo in Asian seasonings will definitely be a crowd pleaser. 


Extended reading:


Feb 24, 2024

Lotus Root and Pork Belly in Asian Seasonings

Usually I would slice the lotus root so that it'll look like a round-shaped vegetable with some holes throughout. However, this time let's cut the lotus root into thick sticks instead in order to achieve maximum crunchiness in every bite.


Lotus root and pork belly in Asian seasonings - 


Lotus root and pork belly in Asian seasonings


Ingredients?

  • 1 medium section lotus root
  • 370 grams pork belly
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 big stalks scallion
  • 6 dried red chilies
  • 1 chunk ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons preferred cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce 老抽
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon aged Chinese Shaoxing wine


How?

Rinse and dry the lotus root. After washing away all the dirt on it, the lotus root's true color reveals and I absolutely adore it. The brownish appearance and scattering dark marks might be rustic, but somehow feel so artistic to me.


Lotus root

Peel the lotus root then cut to thick sticks. It might feel funny cutting it since there are holes inside, but just do it till you got like skinny woman's pinky finger sized lotus root.


Prepare a pot of boiling water and add in 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar. Transfer lotus root over and bring to a boil again. Let it cook for two more minutes. Once ready, drain and set aside.


Lotus root in thick strips form

Don't worry if you see some purple color throughout even after cooking the lotus root in vinegary water. It's because of the natural polyphenols in lotus root. When in contact with air, it triggers the oxidation and so the color change.


Cut the pork to medium size chunks with some thickness. Mine was a bit too thick, which might result in harder texture in the end depending on the cut of pork used. I would say keep the pork at about 1 to 2 mm thickness the best. 


Pork belly chunks

Destem and section the scallion. Separate the white and the green parts. Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves. Scrape the skin then chop the ginger, we'll need about 1 tablespoon of prepped ginger for this recipe.


Have a big wok ready and drizzle 1 1/2 tablespoons of preferred cooking oil. Switch to medium heat, but you can use medium high heat if confident enough. Remember, bigger fire means you have to work your way in the kitchen faster, and you'll get more wok hei as a reward in the end. 


Add in pork and sear till some fats start to render. Once slightly browned, make sure to flip and continue to sear the other side. It might take a few minutes here.


Searing pork belly chunks

Add in garlics, ginger, white section of the scallion, and 6 dried red chilies. Cook till aromatic but not overly burn the garlics.


Searing pork belly chunks with Asian aromatics

Pour in 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of aged Shaoxing wine. Give it a quick mix. Cook for a minute.


Searing pork belly with dark soy sauce

Transfer prepped lotus root to the wok. Also add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce. Mix and cook for couple more minutes.


Making lotus root and pork belly dish

Add in green section of scallion towards the end. Give it a quick mix and scoop out to serving plate while that nice green color still remains. 


Lotus root and pork belly in Asian seasonings

This recipe is quite different than the other lotus root dishes I've made in the past. Not because of the seasonings, but the shape of the lotus root. It is quite crunchy, but not in a way hard to bite. 


Lotus root and pork belly in Asian seasonings

Mister is fond it I think, he even asked what those thick sticks were when I first serving him this dish. I guess without the signature thinly sliced shape and holes, lotus root can be hard to identify sometimes. 


Feb 18, 2024

Whipped Brie with Mascarpone, Honey, and Pink Peppercorn

It was meant to be ricotta, but the only option I have at the grocery store that day was crème fraîche and mascarpone. Imagining the final taste in my head, I quickly grabbed the mascarpone and started putting all the ingredients together in the kitchen.


Whipped brie with mascarpone, honey, and pink peppercorn - 


Whipped brie with mascarpone, honey, and pink peppercorn


Ingredients?

  • 250 grams brie
  • 200 grams mascarpone 
  • 1 to 2 baguette 
  • Some honey
  • Some pink peppercorn
  • Some salt flakes (optional)


How? 

Slice the baguette and set aside for later use. I serve the baguette slices as it is. Ok, I admit I was a bit lazy. However, if you would like to go all out for this recipe, drizzle some olive oil to the baguette slices and toast till the bread gets nice grill marks.


Slice the baguette bread

Cut off the rinds from brie then dice the soft center part. Smaller pieces will be easier to blend in a food processor.


Trimmed brie

Add the brie chunks to the food processor, the end total after removing the rind was about one cup full. Also add in 200 grams of mascarpone. 


Adding brie and mascarpone to food processor

Start blending till smooth.


Whipped brie and mascarpone

Scoop out the whipped brie and mascarpone to a serving plate. Perhaps make a swirl like serving hummus if you can. Drizzle some good quality honey and crack some pink peppercorn throughout. 


Whipped brie with mascarpone, honey, and pink peppercorn

Give it a taste first then decide if you would like some salt flakes too. Serve the whipped brie with baguette slices.


Whipped brie with mascarpone, honey, and pink peppercorn

I was going to make it even more fancier with fresh strawberries, though that whipped brie, mascarpone, and honey all sound very compatible with strawberries on the side. But you know what, the grocery store I went to was a bit high-end, so they only carry imported strawberries from Japan. The cheapest box I could find was nearly $20 USD. That's why you won't find any strawberries here, what a shame. 


Feb 13, 2024

Diced Chicken with Preserved Yibin Suimiyacai 雞米芽菜

It might not be as well-known to the western world, but Yibin yacai or suimiyacai is a popular preserved mustard greens in China. Yibin is a prefecture-level city in Sichuan, China. Yacai is the name of the preserved veggies, and suimiyacai simply means the already rinsed and chopped version.


The vegetable needs to go through many steps such as drying, flavoring, and preserving to become a useful flavor booster in many Chinese dishes. You can use it in soup, stir-fry, or steamed meat to add more depth and flavor profile. And about my recipe this time, it's used in diced chicken stir-fry, also one of the classics in Sichuan cuisine, but a bit modification to simplify the process for the common households. 


Diced chicken with preserved Yibin suimiyacai 雞米芽菜 - 


Diced chicken with preserved Yibin suimiyacai


Ingredients?

  • 4 tablespoons Yibin suimiyacai
  • 440 grams chicken breast
  • 100 grams red chilies (the long and not super spicy kind)
  • 100 grams green chilies (I also used the long and no so spicy kind)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon scraped and chopped ginger
  • 2 tablespoons light-tasting cooking oil

Marinade - 

  • 1 tablespoon aged Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch 


How?

Destem and chop both the red and green chilies. Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Scrape and finely chop the ginger, we'll need about 1 teaspoon of prepped ginger for this recipe.


Yibin suimiyacai 碎米芽菜

Thinly sliced the chicken crosswise, then slice to strips, then finally slice to little pieces, like smaller diced chicken. If you follow the classic way of doing it, the chicken needs to cut to the size of rice grains, which explains the Chinese name for this dish 雞米, meaning chicken rice. 雞 means chicken and 米 means rice. Nope, that's a bit too much work for a common housewife, so I settled for chunkier size.


Transfer the chicken to a bowl and add in all the ingredients listed under the "marinade" section. Give it a gentle massage so that the seasonings can fully bond with the meat. Let it marinate for about 10 minutes.


Diced chicken in Asian marinade

Bring out a pan and drizzle 2 tablespoons of light-tasting cooking oil. Also add in chopped garlic and ginger. Switch to medium heat and cook till aromatic but not burnt.


Add in the chicken and stir-fry till separated. Further stir-fry the meat till dries out a little bit.


Stir-frying diced chicken

Add in suimiyacai, stir-fry till evenly distributed.


Stir-frying diced chicken and Yibin suimiyacai

Add in all the chilies and stir-fry for 2 more minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Once checked, plate and serve. 


Diced chicken with preserved Yibin suimiyacai

I like to enjoy this dish with steamed rice, but using it as base for dry noodles is equally appetizing. 


So for the pack of Yibin suimiyacai, I've used about half of it for this recipe. The rest was stored in an airtight container in the fridge. The remaining Yibin suimiyacau was actually added to fried rice about a week later. The amount I used won't heavily alter the flavor of the fried rice, but more so enhance the savory note in the end. Perhaps you can do the same if there're any leftover preserved mustard greens too. 


Feb 6, 2024

Creamy Mussels and Seaweed Pasta

It doesn't have to be mussels, you can also use clams, scallops, or hearty fish. In fact, I'm using canned smoked mussels, the very last canned seafood I've brought home all the way from Denmark.


Creamy mussels and seaweed pasta - 


Creamy mussels and seaweed pasta


Ingredients (for 2 servings)?

  • 200 grams spaghettini pasta
  • 1 can/about 100 grams smoked mussels (many substitutions)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons dried seaweed flakes
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and chopped shallots
  • 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Some salt
  • Some pasta water (optional)


How?

Prepare a big pot of water and add in few pinches of salt. Bring to a boil and cook the pasta till almost al dente. Save about 1 cup of pasta water for emulsification later on, then drain out the rest.


Peel and chop the shallots and garlic cloves.


Take a big pan and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Switch to medium heat. Add in shallots, garlics, dried red chili flakes, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook till aromatic but not burning the garlic pieces.


Searing the aromatics for pasta

Pour in 1 cup of heavy cream and give it a nice stir. Then add in most of the dried seaweed flakes, only save a little for dusting on top after plating. Stir till mixed.


Mixing heavy cream and dried seaweed flakes for the pasta sauce

Depending on the consistency of the sauce, it's up to you if adding the preserved pasta water or not. But I would pour in about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of pasta water and cook till emulsified. You'll know the sauce is ready when the cream has fully intertwined with the water.


Transfer drained pasta over and stir till mixed. Add in drained canned mussels. If using fresh seafood, add it before the pasta and let it simmer in the sauce till almost fully cooked-through, or till the shells open. Then we add the pasta afterwards.


Fangst smoked mussels

Taste and adjust accordingly. Once checked, plate and garnish with the remaining dried seaweed flakes.  


Creamy mussels and seaweed pasta
 

I used dried seaweed flakes here because I have like a big full bag at home. You can also use those roasted nori sheets sold as snacks. Simply tear them into smaller pieces and add to the pasta. 


Creamy mussels and seaweed pasta

However, the roasted nori sheets are usually flavored or salted, so remember to keep that in mind and adjust the amount of salt used accordingly. 

 

Other spaghettini recipes:


Jan 31, 2024

Spicy Sausage Fried Rice (Interchangeable with Chorizo)

The spicy sausage I'm using here is the Chinese kind, and I know it can be hard to find if you're in western countries. Worry not, if that's the case, use other spicy varieties. Take chorizo for instance, which can be a great substitute if you can't get a hold of Chinese spicy sausages.


Spicy sausage fried rice (interchangeable with chorizo) - 


Spicy sausage fried rice


Ingredients (about 5 servings)?

  • 3 rice measuring cups basmati rice
  • 4 spicy sausages
  • 2/3 cup green beans/peas
  • 200 grams gai lan (Chinese broccoli)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 stalks scallion
  • 1 chunk ginger
  • 1/2 cup peeled and chopped shallots
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper powder


How?

Measure the rice to the inner pot of rice cooker. Rinse and drain the water a few times. Cook the rice with a bit less water than usual. Per my case, I use the rice measuring cup and measured 3 cups of rice, then I only added water up to the scale indicating 2 1/2 cups of rice.


When the rice is cooked, fluff the grains and wait till some steam has been escaped. I prefer to cook the rice the day before, just so it'll be less work for me on the actual day of cooking.


Precooking basmati rice

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and quickly cook the peas. It should take no more than a minute. Drain and remove the skin if needed. There is no need to boil the peas first if using precooked frozen peas.


Steam the Asian spicy sausages first, or sear the western version instead. Once fully cooked through, remove from heat and let the sausages sit till cool enough to handle by hand. Pour out all the sausage juice or fats to a bowl. 


Slice the sausages to thinner pieces and transfer to the bowl with juice and fats. It'll keep the slices moist while we prep other ingredients.


Spicy Asian sausage slices

Peel and chop the shallots. We will need about 1/2 cup of prepped shallots later on. Scrape the ginger skin and finely chop the ginger, we will need about 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of prepped ginger. Destem and chop the scallion. Chop the gai lan. Beat the eggs in a bowl.


Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a big wok. Switch to medium heat and wait till the oil gets warm. Once hot enough, pour in beaten eggs to make scrambled eggs. You can use a spatula to break the eggs to smaller pieces while the heat keeps going. Once done, scoop out the eggs and set aside first.


Scrambled eggs for fried rice

Still using the same wok, pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil again and switch to medium high heat. Only use high heat if you can work your way around the fire fast enough without burning or messing up things.


Add in shallot, ginger, scallion, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Stir-fry till aromatic but not burning the garlic.


Stir-frying the aromatics for fried rice

Transfer chopped gai lan over along with peas. Continue to cook for a minute. Add the sausages along with its juice and fats. Mix till blended.


Stir-frying ingredients for spicy sausage fried rice

Add cooked rice over, also 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper powder. Flip, fluff, or gently mix the rice with all these ingredients. Try not to "smash" or "over-stir" the rice, that way the grains can turn mushy or broken to even smaller pieces.


Adding basmati rice to the spicy sausage and veggies mixture

Transfer scrambled eggs over and mix till blended. Taste and adjust with additional seasonings if needed. Especially most likely we are using different kind of spicy sausages, it's best to give it a taste test and see if the rice is salty enough.


Once checked and ready to go, scoop the rice to serving plates or bowls and enjoy right away.


Spicy sausage fried rice

One can say the key here is the spicy sausage. That's right, the flavor of the sausage controls a big portion of the taste profile here. But the key aroma lies on shallots and ginger. You have to use shallots here, not onion. And ginger provides a bright yet slightly spicy Asian tone to it, even though you won't really notice its presence. 


Sausages, we can improvise. But aromatics must stay. 


Other fried rice recipes:


Jan 26, 2024

A Quick Afternoon Snack - Seared Corn and Seaweed Fritters

Even though I'm not using any sugar in this recipe, but the natural sweetness from the corn kernels really shined through. That sweet note was even more noticeable after I dusted the hot fritters with salt flakes. Enjoy the fritters while they're still hot, that way you can truly feel the salt flakes melting on your tongue and a burst of umami from the seaweed comes through soon after.


Seared corn and seaweed fritters - 


Seared corn and seaweed fritters


Ingredients (about 8 pieces)?

  • 1 small can/160 grams corn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon dried seaweed flakes
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons drinking water
  • 6 tablespoons light-tasting oil (I used rice bran oil)
  • Some salt flakes


How?

Use a medium size bowl, add in drained corn kernels along with 2 tablespoons of flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons of corn starch, 1 1/2 tablespoons of drinking water, and 1 tablespoon of dried seaweed flakes. Mix till evenly distributed.


Corn and seaweed fritter mixture

Bring out a non-stick pan and drizzle about 6 tablespoons of oil, basically use double or triple the amount of oil you often used while making a stir-fry dish.


Switch to medium heat and wait till the oil gets warm. Use a spoon to scoop some corn mixture. Push one spoonful of mixture into the pan and slightly press it down but not breaking up the shape. Repeat for the rest.


Searing corn and seaweed fritters

Once the bottom seems to set, you can test it out by gently moving around the patties. If the patties don't stick and movable without breaking apart, it should be ready. 


Flip and continue to sear/semi-fry the other side till set and slightly golden. 


Prepare a big plate and top with paper towel. Transfer the corn fritters over and let them sit for about a minute.


Draining excess oil for corn and seaweed fritters

Once ready, transfer to serving dish and sprinkle some salt flakes while the fritters are still hot.


Seared corn and seaweed fritters

The heat combined with slightly crunchy coating, a sweet pop from the corn kernels, and salt flakes taste the best within the initial 15 minutes. So hurry and finish these goodies as soon as possible.


And I don't suppose these corn and seaweed fritters would last longer than that? Especially if you have a few hungry kids in the house?


Extended reading:


Jan 19, 2024

Vegetable and Meatballs Pasta Bake - Comforting and Nutritious All at Once

There are so many diet trends going on, Mediterranean, keto, Intermittent fasting just to name a few. I kind of have my own rule of cooking and eating, and it's quite simple and basic. Make sure to have at least five different kinds of vegetables and if possible, five different colors daily.


Usually for pasta, there're not as many recipes using such wide variety of vegetables as I would hope so. In fact, I can only think of one common pasta with many veggies right away, pasta primavera. So to suit my nutritious goal, I've modified the meatballs pasta bake and used colorful veggies in it. Also not to sacrifice the taste and that comforting touch, a good amount of seasonings plus melted oozing cheese cannot be missed. 


Vegetable and meatballs pasta bake -


Vegetable and meatballs pasta back


Ingredients (for 6 to 8 servings)?

  • 500 grams penne pasta
  • 1 can/400 grams diced tomatoes
  • 200 grams pancetta
  • 600 grams ground beef
  • 1 pack/300 grams mixed shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 purple onion
  • 1 chunky eggplant (not the skinny kind)
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper 
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 bundle spinach
  • 1 small bundle parsley
  • 1 teaspoon tomato purée
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Some olive oil
  • Some salt
  • Some black pepper


How? 

Cube the pancetta. Peel and cube the eggplant. Destem and remove the pits for both bel peppers then cube them. Peel and cube the zucchini. Peel and chop the onion. Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Finely chop the parsley. Section the spinach if too long to work with.


Ingredients for vegetable and meatballs pasta bake

Fill a big pot with water and add in good amount of salt, couple big pinches will do. Bring to a boil and cook the pasta till almost al dente. Once ready, drain and set aside for later use. 


Cooked and drained penne pasta

To make the meatballs, mix together ground beef, 1 teaspoon of dried Italian seasonings, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper in a big container. Once evenly blended, form into medium size meatballs.


Medium size beef meatballs

I prefer medium size meatballs for a fuller bite. In that case, my recipe will end up about 15 meatballs.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit/190 degrees Celsius.


Use a Dutch oven or other oven-proof container, we are going to cook the ingredients on the stove first. 


Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and switch to medium heat. Add in pancetta and sear till some fats have been rendered and some parts of the pancetta appear browned.


Transfer meatballs in one by one. Don't move them around too early, simply let them sit and sear till the bottom has been set, then it'll be ok to move to other sides. Continue to sear till most of the meatball surface has been slightly browned. Scoop everything out first.


Searing beef meatballs

Still using the same Dutch oven, drizzle more oil if needed and continue to use medium heat. Add in chopped onion along with 2 tablespoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Sear till the onion has been slightly browned. Add in garlics and cook till aromatic but not burnt. 


Transfer both the yellow and red bell peppers over and cook for about a minute.


Cooking colorful bell peppers

Add in the zucchini and eggplant, cook for another minute.


Add most of the chopped parsley and all the spinach. This time, a quick 30 seconds will do.


Pour in everything from the canned diced tomatoes along with 1 teaspoon of tomato purée and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Mix and cook for one minute.


Precooking ingredients for vegetable and meatballs pasta bake

Put the meatballs and pancetta back. Also add in drained pasta. Mix till blended. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.


Vegetable and meatballs pasta bake before going into the oven

Top with shredded cheese, make sure to cover all the surface. Into the oven till cheese has been melted and browned, about 15 minutes.


Adding shredded mixed cheese for pasta bake

Once ready, bring out the Dutch oven and garnish with remaining chopped parsley. 


Vegetable and meatballs pasta bake


Vegetable and meatballs pasta bake


Let me do the final count again, there're purple onion, eggplant, yellow bell pepper, red bell pepper, zucchini, spinach, and tomatoes. Wait, does tomatoes count as vegetable or fruit? Anyways, there're more than five kinds of vegetables and I'm pretty sure I got at least five colors for the pasta bake. Healthy and nutritious, checked.


Vegetable and meatballs pasta bake

How about taste? After downing a whole plate, flavor checked, plus that comforting touch, checked too.


Extended reading: