Friday, December 21, 2012

Sauteed Shrimp, Shiitake Mushrooms and Ginger (serves 1)

sauteed shrimp, shiitake mushrooms and ginger
whole shrimp
This is my 100th blog posting!  It's hard to believe that I actually wrote more than just a few recipes since I started this in August.  I want to thank all of you who have been reading and following my blog.  I have learned a great deal as a result and I will continue to grow and learn from this every day.  Work has been keeping me very busy lately. Because of long hours and coming home later than usual I have not post as much as I would like this month.  I have been eating though!  I still don't post everything I cook, but I do eat all the food that I posted.  For me it is still much quicker to cook without measuring.  However, it has been getting easier for me to measure and time my cooking process these days!!

Sometimes I take my senses for granted.  For the last five days I suffered from a decreased sense of smell and taste from having this nasty cold.  After seeing a large volume of ill patients day after day I was destined to catch something sooner or later.  My husband likes to remind me that I am just exercising my immune system!  Ginger seemed to be one of the few ingredients that I can taste so I decided to make this dish.  I love the combination of fresh ginger and shrimp and this is perfect for my diminished senses.  I like to eat this dish with freshly cooked rice.  However, you can put this on a toasted baguette for an appetizer; you can add a sprinkle of fresh chopped chives or scallions on top for a nice presentation.

Sauteed Shrimp, Shiitake Mushrooms and Ginger (serves 1)

Ingredients:

1 lb shrimp, washed, shelled, butterflied and deveined
1 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/2 oz young ginger, peeled and finely julienned
3 large garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1/2 tsp fish sauce
Ground black pepper (to taste and to garnish)
A large pitch of red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp olive oil

Method:

1) Heat oil in a medium size pan over high heat.
2) Once the pan is hot add ginger and garlic, turn heat down to medium and saute for 1-2 minutes.
3) Add shiitake mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes.
4) Add shrimp, stir occasionally until shrimp curls up and cooked thoroughly, about 4-5 minutes.
5) Add fish sauce, peppers and cook for 1 minute.
6) Scoop the contents out onto a dish or bowl and sprinkle with more black pepper if desired.

just a few sparks to celebrate my 100th posting!  :--)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Braised Chilean Sea Bass (serves 2-3)



I have the worst cold of my life.  I don't normally get an upper respiratory infection so it really caught me off guard.  I decided to make this dish and loaded it with ginger.  I made this dish only a few times a year since the Chilean sea bass is not cheap.  Each time I make this dish I add different ingredients. Today I came across some fresh looking lotus roots and young ginger.  The lotus root has a mild taste but it added a nice crunch, texture and presentation to this dish.

Braised Chilean Sea Bass (serves 2-3)


Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb Chilean sea bass (2 large steaks)
10 oz lotus roots, peeled, cut into 1/8th inch disc (cook the lotus in water for 10 minutes, save cooking liquid)
10 dried shiitake mushrooms, hydrated and sliced thinly
5 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
3 oz young ginger, peeled and julienned
2 1/2 oz or 1 large shallot, finely minced
2 garlic, finely minced
1 scallion, cut into 1-inch lengths
3 napa cabbage leaves, sliced 1/2 inch lengths
5 T olive oil
5 T seasoned soy sauce for seafood*
3 T mirin (optional)

Method:

1) Heat 3 T of oil in a skillet or large pan over high heat.  Once the pan is hot reduce heat to medium.
2) Add shallot, ginger, and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
3) Add 1 T oil and add napa cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, lotus, and scallion, stir for 4 minutes.
4) Clear the center of the pan and put in 1 T oil, place the fish in the center of the pan.  Add 1/2 C of lotus liquid, seasoned soy sauce, and mirin.
5) Cover the pan and turn heat to low.  Cook for 5-7 minutes, carefully turn the fish and cook for another 5-7 minutes.  Take some of the liquid from the pan and drizzle on top of the contents to prevent drying out during the cooking process.

historic gas lamps and wreaths
(Bay Village, Boston, MA)
fresh lotus roots
*The seasoned soy sauce for seafood can be found in an Asian grocery store.
*I prefer to use the Chilean sea bass steaks for this dish instead of fillets.  Cooking with the bones in adds more flavor.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rice and Pork Soup (makes about 7 quarts)


Cháo is a Vietnamese term for a simple rice soup that my family typically served as a light meal in the morning, late night or when one is ill.  In Teochew the soup is called mue.  The soup can be made plain with just a little rice (cooked or uncooked) and a lot of water and cooked until the rice is very soft.  The plain rice soup can be eaten with many other dishes such as braised pork, salted duck eggs, pickled or preserved vegetables to name a few.  My grandmother eats her plain rice soup with a pickled-salted fruit that looks like an olive.  In general the plain rice soup is eaten with a more salty dish to balance the plain and saltiness of a meal. Other times the soup can be made with a more hearty filling by adding meat, fish, eggs, blood cubes and vegetables.  Sometimes fresh vegetables such as bean sprouts can be added on top as a garnish and eaten as well. Growing up my mother made both versions of this soup, plain or with added ingredients and it was always delicious.  When I visited Kowloon (Hong Kong) years ago my husband and I stayed in a small hotel where we were served a similar soup with thousand year old egg every morning and I really enjoyed it.  I tried to fish out as much of the egg as I could!

Rice and Pork Soup (makes about 7 quarts)

Ingredients:

2.5 lb pork ribs
1 lb ground pork
4 C cooked rice
6 carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery sticks, washed and cut in half
1 bunch (or about 10) scallions, chopped (may reserve 2 T to garnish the soup)
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 t salt
1 T fish sauce
16 C water
Black pepper, garnish (optional)
Fried red onion, garnish (optional)

Method:

1) Heat a large pot (at least 8-quart) with the pork ribs and enough water to cover the ribs over high heat.
2) Once the water comes to a boil, discard the water in the pot, rinse the ribs, and rinse the pot. Do not turn off the burner or stove top.
3) Add the ribs back into the pot and add 16 cups of cold water, place the pot back onto the burner or stove top.
4) Add rice, carrots, celery, scallions, white onion, salt, and fish sauce to the pot.
5) Break the ground pork into small pieces (bite size) and drop it into the pot.  If you have time you can make marble size meatballs.
6) Once the water boils turn heat down to medium low and cook for 40-45 minutes or until the rice is soft. Skim the scum off the top of the soup as needed and discard.
7) Once the soup is done cooking, remove and discard the celery sticks.
8) Serve this soup hot with a sprinkle of black pepper and fried red onions or chopped green scallions.

night view of Ngã Ba (a small village near Sóc Trăng, Việtnam, 2010)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fried Rice--Auntie's Style (serves 3-4)


Years ago I lived with my Tùa Ý (eldest maternal aunt) for a short time when I worked for the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.  She is a wonderful cook and I was never hungry in her home.  Today I made fried rice using tomato paste which is the main ingredient that makes her fried rice especially tasty. It's a great dish to use up day old rice!  You can put anything in your fried rice.  If you are not a fan of pork sausage you can add kielbasa, ham, chicken, turkey, fresh or dried shrimp or just vegetables. However, the Chinese pork sausage is delicious!  Just like most things, consume these sausages in moderation.

Fried Rice--Auntie's Style (serves 3-4)

Fried Rice

Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil
6-oz (2 1/4 links) Chinese pork sausage, diced
1/2 large (or 5-oz) white onion, diced
16-oz frozen peas and diced carrots bag
2 Tbsps tomato paste
3 Tbsps soy sauce
About 4 C of fluffed cooked jasmine rice
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Sliced egg, garnish, garnish, optional (direction follows)

Method:

1) Heat oil in a large pan or wok over medium high heat until the pan is hot.
2) Add sausage and stir occasionally for 3 minutes or until the sausage is cooked but not burned, remove sausage and set aside in a small bowl.
3) Add onion to the pan, sauté for 2 minutes or until onions is translucent.
4) Add frozen peas and carrots, cook for 5-6 minutes (or longer if you prefer your carrots to be softer).
5) Add tomato paste and soy sauce, mix well.
6) Add rice about a cup at a time and mix until well blended, continue until all the rice has incorporated.
7) Sprinkle the pepper into the mixture.
8) Garnish with sliced egg.

*You can dice your own carrots if you prefer.  I was running short on time and I had a bag of frozen peas and diced carrots in the freezer.  You can boil the frozen peas and diced carrots prior to adding to the pan.  

Sliced Egg (garnish)



My mother showed me how she makes her sliced egg to garnish her dish.  It's really pretty and so simple to make.


Ingredients:

1 egg
About 1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small non-stick pan

Method:

1) Crack one egg into a small bowl, take a fork and stir until egg yolk and white is mix well.

2) Heat a small (preferably non-stick) pan with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat.
3) Once the pan is hot pour 1/2 of the egg mixture into the pan and swirl the pan around until the pan is coated with a thin layer of egg.  If there is extra egg mixture then pour the left over back into your bowl.
4) Cover and cook for about 20-30 seconds until the top is cooked but not dry out and make sure the egg does not burn.
5) Once done then flip the pan upside down onto a plate or a cutting board.  If it does not come out then you may to use a thin spatula to lift the edges.
6) If the pan needs more oil you may add a teaspoon of oil to the pan, add the rest of the egg and repeat the process.
7) Layer the second egg sheet onto the first.  Loosely roll the sheets into a log.  Cut the rolled log into thin strips. Spread the sliced egg over your food.

*If you are making a huge platter or a few plates of fried rice or other food and would like to use more sliced egg then just add more eggs.  If you are interested you can add fresh chopped chives to the egg mixture for a different look.

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Passionate Crème Brûlée (makes 16 ramekins)


Crème Brûlée is extremely simple to make and it always seems to be a crowd pleaser even for those who are not so fond of sweets such as my father, brothers and me.  This recipe may seem to have a lot of sugar but my passion fruit syrup was a bit tart.  If you make your own fruit syrup then you can control the amount of sugar that goes into it. Some fruit will have more natural sugar than others. When I make my own fruit syrup I tend not to add sugar.  When I use it for cooking then I can add sugar to taste.

My Passionate Crème Brûlée (makes 16 ramekins)

4 C heavy cream
12 Tbsp passion fruit syrup (please see Lilikoi Syrup post)**
10 Tbsp white sugar**
16 large egg yolks
Raw sugar (according to your taste)

Method:

1) In a large bowl, gently whisk egg yolks, white sugar and passion fruit or lilikoi syrup until blended, set aside.  Preheat the oven at 325 F.
2) In a medium size pot add cream and turn heat to medium.  Once the cream is just boiling turn heat down to a low simmer, stir frequently for 3-5 minutes.
3) Temper the cooked cream into the egg-sugar-passion syrup bowl, one ladle at a time until the cooked cream is gone.
4) Boil a large kettle of water, place the ramekins in heat proof casserole dishes/pans, pour the hot water up to about 2/3 up to the ramekins (take care not to burn yourself).
5) Pour the tempered mixture in the ramekins.
6) Bake for 35-40 minutes.
7) Remove the casserole dishes/pans with the ramekins from the oven and let cool completely.
8) Cover each ramekin in plastic and chill the creme in a refrigerator at least 4-6 hours or overnight.
9) Once chilled, sprinkle about 1/2 to 1 t (or according to your taste) of raw sugar on the top of each ramekin, blow torch the top to melt and caramelize the sugar.
10) Serve the crème brûlée immediately once the burned sugar has cooled.

**10/24/14, addendum:  12 Tbsp passion fruit syrup = approximately 3/4 cups.  The white sugar is between 3/4 cup to 1 cup depending on the tartness of your passion fruit syrup.  You can add some rum to step #1 if you are interested.  

*Typically my ratio for making crème brûlée consists of 1 cup heavy cream to 4-5 large yolks.  This ratio makes 4 ramekins.  I prefer to use fresh eggs if there are any available, these are tastier and the yolks are more intense in color.
*When I make a large batch I use the oven to bake the ramekins for convenience.  If I am just making 3-4 ramekins then I prefer to steam on the stove top.  Please see Lilikoi Crème Brûlée post on how to steam the creme brulee.
*If you have a friend who lives near you who only eat egg whites then you can trade.  He/She can give you all of his/her yolks and you can give him/her your egg whites!  It's too bad my friend Thúy lives an hour away.  Another option is to make egg white omelets.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My 4-Hour Goat Stew--Vietnamese Style (makes about 3 quarts)


I made a Vietnamese goat stew to serve my family for a get together this afternoon for our Thanksgiving sans turkey.  It is normally made with beef, hence the name Bò Kho (Beef Stew). Here is my Dê Kho (Goat Stew)!  This is a great dish to make in advance.  As with any stew it usually tastes a lot better the next day!  Make sure to scoop or suck out the bone marrow if you are lucky to get a good bone on your plate!!  This stew may appear to have complex flavors but all the herbs blend together well. The broth has a beautiful yellow-orange color that comes from the annatto seeds.  If you can plant and harvest your own seeds then you can ensure freshness. The annatto tree is grown in the tropics.

My 4-Hour Goat Stew--Vietnamese Style (makes about 3 quarts)

Ingredients:

4 1/2 lb goat leg or shoulder*, have the butcher cut the meat and bone into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces
4 T canola oil
1 T annatto seeds
5 shallots, peeled and diced
5 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
3 lemongrass, minced or ground for the soft part, bruised and tied for the rest into a knot
2 T curry powder
1/4 t ground cloves
5 whole star anise (ground 1 star anise to a powder)
1 t Chinese 5-spice powder
1 three-inch cinnamon stick
2 T fish sauce
1 t sugar
2 t Better Than Bouillon (beef base)
32-oz beef stock (all natural and low sodium)
2 C water
6 carrots, cut into 2-inch lengths

Method:

1) Heat the annatto seeds and oil in a pot (use at least a 5-quart pot) over medium heat.  Stir for 1 minute. Turn heat off and let the seeds steep for 10-15 minutes.  Discard the seeds.
2) Heat the pot back up over medium heat.  Sear the goat meat in the annatto oil about 1-2 minutes on each side, set the seared meat aside.
3) In the same pot, add shallots, garlic, lemongrass, curry powder, cloves, star anise, and Chinese 5-spice. Sauté for 1-2 minutes.
4) Return the seared goat meat back into the pot, add cinnamon stick, fish sauce, sugar, beef base, beef stock, and water.  Turn heat to low, cover pot and simmer for 3 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.
5) Add carrots and cook for 20-30 minutes or until carrot is tender.
6) Serve with rice, noodles or toasted baguette.

annatto seeds
(either buy them in the store or harvest your own)
rendering the annatto seeds in oil
for a beautiful yellow-orange color
goat meat cut into the preferred size
(best to ask your butcher for assistance!)

*Let the pot cool completely and then refrigerate.  The next day scoop out some of the fat that has floated to the top and discard.  I find that the goat meat has much less fat than beef.
*Optional:  Just before serving you can make a sauce and stir it in the pot to enhance a yellow-orange color of the stew.  Heat 3 T olive oil in a small pot over medium high heat.  Add 2 t annatto seeds and 1 t curry powder and stir for about 1 minute.  Turn off heat and let the contents steep for about 10-15 minutes. Remove and discard the annatto seeds and pour the colored oil into the pot. Stir the pot a few times to mix the oil thoroughly.  This will give the pot a nice yellow-orange color to your dish. 
*After you cut the soft parts of the lemongrass into thin rings you can mince it finely with a heavy knife.  What I find to be helpful is to use a coffee grinder to grind it.  It's quick and works great.  I have a coffee grinder that I keep in my kitchen cabinet strictly for grinding herbs.
*I bought a goat leg at my favorite goat meat store in Haymarket.  Scott is the owner of Puritan Beef Company, which was first opened by his grandfather in 1911!!  The service is excellent and the meat is clean and fresh.  If you ever want to buy part or a whole goat this is the place to go!  Puritan Beef Company is located at 90 Blackstone Street, Boston, MA.  It is near the Orange Line (MBTA) and it is open Monday to Saturday.  Their phone number is 617-523-1419.
*Make sure you ask your butcher to cut the goat leg or shoulder to the size you prefer.  It is impossible to cut it at home without the proper equipment. 

My 4-Hour Curried Goat (serves 4-6)



This is a great dish to make if you are planning on having guests over or making it for a pot luck. You can make it 1-2 days in advance and it will taste even better when you are ready to serve!

My 4-Hour Curried Goat (serves 4-6)


Ingredients:

3 lbs goat leg or shoulder, cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces
4 T canola oil
2 lemongrass, minced or ground for the soft part, bruised and tied for the rest into a knot
1/2 large onion or about 1/2 C chopped
4 scallion stalks, chopped
1 T chopped garlic
1/2 t turmeric powder
2 T curry powder
1/2 t cumin powder
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
6 lightly crushed cardamom pods
1 three-inch cinnamon stick
2-3 dried bay leaves
1 T fish sauce
1 t sugar
32-oz beef stock (all natural and low sodium)
14-oz or 400 mL of coconut milk (sodium and sugar free)

Method:

1) Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Once the pot is hot, add enough goat meat to the layer the pot and sear the meat about 1-2 minutes on each side.  Remove and reserve the meat on a plate.  Repeat the process until all the goat meat is seared.
2) Use the same pot and add 1 tablespoon oil, onions, scallions, and garlic.  Stir and sauté for about 1 minute or until onion is translucent.
3) Add lemongrass, turmeric, curry, cumin, salt, pepper, and cardamom pods to the pot.  Stir and cook for about 1 minute to release the flavor.
4) Return the meat to the pot, add cinnamon stick, bay leaves, fish sauce, sugar and beef stock.  Once the broth starts to boil, turn heat down to low and let it simmer with the lid on for 3 1/2  hours or until the meat is tender.
5) Add coconut milk and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.
6) Serve with rice, rice noodles or toasted baguette.

Boston, MA (2010)
*I did not add chili pepper to this since there are some people in my family and young children who do not eat spicy food. You can add chili pepper on the side for anyone who wants some heat.  If you cook with the chili pepper you can remove the seeds and chop what you desire and add to step 2. Just don't get too close to the pot while the chili is cooking or you may be crying!
*Let the pot cool completely and then refrigerate.  Depending on the meat, scoop out the fat that has floated up to the top the next day.  This process will help save your arteries!  The goat meat I purchased from Puritan Beef Company had very little fat.
*I bought a goat leg at my favorite goat meat store in Haymarket.  Scott is the owner of Puritan Beef Company, which was first opened by his grandfather in 1911!!  The service is excellent and the meat is clean and fresh.  Puritan Beef Company is located at 90 Blackstone Street, Boston, MA.  It is near the Orange Line (MBTA) Haymarket Station and it is open Monday to Saturday. Their phone number is 617-523-1419.
*Make sure to ask your butcher to cut the goat leg or shoulder to the size you prefer.  It is impossible to cut your meat with the bone in at home without the proper equipment.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Chicken and Elbow Pasta Soup


When I was a child living in Vietnam I did not know about pasta.  It was not something we eat on a regular basis.  Once my mother made elbow pasta soup for our family.  My memory of food is very strong even at a young age.  I must have been about 5 or 6 years old and I vividly remember when I ate my first pasta.  I thought it had a strange texture but it was very tasty.  I think we called the elbow pasta "grubs" since it looked like grubs!  Maybe I should have called this Chicken and Grub Soup!!

When you make your own soup it will taste a lot better and you can control the amount of sodium that goes into it.  When you buy a prepared soup, even one that has low sodium, it can still contain a lot of salt.  

Chicken and Elbow Pasta Soup

Ingredients:


1 recipe of Chicken Stock
1 T fish sauce
1/2 C- 3/4 C small elbow pasta
1 bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped
1/4 C any dried sea vegetable, washed, soaked for 30 minutes, drained (optional)
1 chopped scallion

Method:

1) Dice and chop all the vegetables (1 onion, 2 celery sticks, 4 carrots, 2 russet potatoes, 2 scallions, and 1 bunch of cilantro stem) and add to the pot prior to making the stock.
2) Cook the stock according to the Chicken Stock post.
3) Remove the chicken and shred or dice the chicken meat and return it to the pot.
3) For the last 12-15 minutes of cooking add pasta, chopped cilantro leaves, sea vegetable and fish sauce.
4) Serve the soup in a bowl and sprinkle with a little chopped scallion.

girl in pink I
girl in pink II
girl in pink III
*If interested you can add 1/4 cup of dried sea vegetable to the pot or just add a little to each serving portion. You can add 1 tablespoon of dried sea vegetable to 3 cups of the soup. Make sure to wash and soak the sea vegetable for about 30 minutes, drain then add to the soup.  
*Girl in pink I, II, and III were a set of photos that I took when I was sitting in the living room talking to my grandmother one day. I was fascinated by this child playing in the warm rain and then I realized the reason. As a child I also played in the rain. Sometimes I played by myself, sometimes with my little friends.  As kids we loved the warm tropical rain. We would play all day outside until our parents or an adult relative made us go inside. As I watched this little girl in pink it brought back some very good memories of my own childhood on that very spot (on Highway 1)!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Stir-Fried Asparagus and Mushrooms with Black Bean Garlic Sauce (serves 1-2)


Sometimes after I eat a lot of meat, I like to eat a vegetarian dish.  Stir-fry is a quick way to cook delicious and healthy meals if you are short on time or are hungry and need to be fed ASAP! 

Stir-Fried Asparagus and Mushrooms with Black Bean Garlic Sauce (serves 1-2)

Ingredients:


1 bunch (about 12 1/2 oz asparagus), snap off woody parts and cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch lengths
12-oz button mushrooms, sliced
3 1/2-oz enoki mushrooms
3/4-oz (or thumb size) ginger, julienne
1/2 C chopped cilantro
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 C chicken stock or water
3 tsps black bean garlic sauce
1/2 tsp sugar

Method:

1) Heat a large pan or wok with oil over high heat.
2) Once the pan is hot, turn heat down to medium and add oil, garlic, shallot and ginger, sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
3) Add asparagus, mushrooms, and broth, turn heat to medium high and cook for 5 minutes.
4) Add bean sauce and sugar, cook for 1 minute.
5) May serve with rice.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pomegranate & Mixed Greens Salad (serves 2-4 as part of a meal)


This is a simple, colorful and tasty salad that I served with my grilled chicken.  

Pomegranate & Mixed Greens Salad (serves 2-4 as part of a meal)

Ingredients:


5 oz mixed greens, washed and drained
1 C pomegranate seeds
2 Tbsp sunflower seeds (roasted and unsalted)
2 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 C olive oil

Method:

1) Arrange the mixed greens, pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds and cheese in a bowl or plate.
2) Mix the balsamic vinegar and oil in a small bottle.
3) When ready to eat, scoop the salad on a plate and drizzle with balsamic and oil vinaigrette.

brilliant
(it's November here in NH
and some leaves are still very colorful, 2012)
*If you are using seeds or nuts in your cooking it is best to use unsalted ones.  Your food will taste much better!
*A salad spinner is a great tool to dry the leafy vegetables and herbs quickly.

Huli Huli Chicken--my way (makes 15 chicken thighs)


This recipe is inspired by the huli huli chicken from Hawaii.  The term "huli huli" means turn, turn. This recipe may seem to contain a lot of ingredients but it's worth the trouble.  If you prefer to spice this chicken up then you may add finely minced hot chili peppers such as jalapeno, Thai bird, habanero or even Scotch bonnet!!  This will surely make you sweat and cool you down!

Huli Huli Chicken--my way (makes 15 chicken thighs)

Ingredients:

15 pieces of chicken thighs (almost 8 lbs)
1/3 C finely minced lemongrass (or from 1 large stalk)
1/2 C chopped scallions (or 3 scallions)
Zest of 1 lime
2 minced shallots
5 minced garlic cloves
1/4 tsp grated ginger
3 Tbsp mirin  
3 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or according to your taste)
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice

Method:

1) Wash the chicken thoroughly with cold water, drain, and trim off excess fat.
2) Mix the rest of the ingredients in a medium size bowl.
3) Either use a large zip lock bag or a large dish and add the mixture to the chicken.
4) Marinade the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
5) Grill at 325-350 F for 25-30 minutes or until cooked thoroughly.

marinade for at least 1 hour
(overnight is better)
grill the chicken pieces
*I like to trim off some excess fat from the chicken pieces.  However, I like to keep a little on.  The fat will burn off on the grill and it will add flavor to your chicken.  I like to grill my chicken with the skin on to prevent the meat from drying out.  
*If you can buy chicken that is all natural without preservatives it is healthier and tastes better.
*I grilled half of the marinaded chicken and pan fried the other half.  Both cooking methods kept the meat moist.  If you grill in cold weather the grill temperature may not be so consistent if you keep opening up the lid and turning your meat.  Also the drippings can cause fire in the grill so you may need to watch your grill more carefully. For pan frying you can heat 1 Tbsp of canola oil over high heat, sear each side for about 1 1/2 minutes, turn heat down to medium low, turn every 2-3 minutes, cook for about 15 minutes.  Make sure to keep a splatter guard on the pan at all time or you will be cleaning the floor after!
*Instead of mirin you can use Chinese rice wine, sherry or bourbon.
*I have a coffee grinder that I use strictly for grinding herbs.  Slice and roughly chop the lemongrass and grind it in a coffee grinder until it is finely ground.  You can buy already ground lemongrass in the frozen section of some Asian grocery stores.  However, it is not as flavorful as the freshly ground one.

Making More Garnishes





Making such garnishes is very simple.  All you need is a sharp knife and your imagination.  I used orange peels, a kaffir lime and a few bougainvillea bracts and flowers.



Materials:

A sharp knife
2 strips of orange peels (about 2 1/2-inch x 1-inch)
1 kaffir lime, cut in half
6 bougainvillea bracts (color leaf-like) and 3 tiny tubular white flowers
1 toothpick

Procedure:

1) Take a knife and trim the orange peels into a rectangle.
2) Slice the peel 3/4 of the way diagonally, about 1/8th spacing.
3) Roll the peel tightly into a circle.
4) Take a toothpick and skewer through the middle of the rolled peel.
5) Skewer bougainvillea bracts on each side and place the tiny white flowers into the rolled orange.
6) Secure the ends with the kaffir lime halves.

cut 2 strips of orange peel
(if you have a green orange then you can have
one piece that is green and one orange
to make this more interesting)
trim edges to make a rectangle
cut the peel 3/4 of the way diagonally,
about 1/8th of an inch spacing between each cut
once done it should look like this
start to roll one end of the cut strip into a tight circle
take a toothpick and skewer through the middle
of the rolled peel,
skewer the bougainvillea bracts on each side and
place the tiny white flowers into the rolled orange
secure the ends with the half kaffir lime halves
*If you do not have kaffir lime you can use whole grapes or even cherry tomatoes to secure the ends.  You can use any non-poisonous flowers/flowers that have not been sprayed by pesticide.

Spicy Tofu Scallops and Sauteed Vegetables (serves 1)


spicy tofu scallops and sauteed vegetables
I like the taste of soft tofu.  However, it is a bit of a challenge to cook with it since it can fall apart before it gets to your plate!  If you don't have access to the soft tofu tubes then you can use another tofu.  Most of the tofu containers come in a square or rectangular shape.  You can just cube your tofu for this dish, then you can even call this spicy tofu squares and sautéed vegetables!  You can use other land or sea vegetables if you prefer.  

Spicy Tofu Scallops and Sauteed Vegetables (serves 1)

Ingredients:

1 soft tofu tube, cut into 5 pieces (about 1 1/2 inch in height)
1 handful of pea shoots, washed and cut into 4 inch lengths
1 oz enoki mushrooms
1/3 C chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp sesame oil
Chili pepper to taste (optional)
Toasted sesame seeds, garnish (optional)

Method:

1) Heat canola oil in a medium size pan over high heat.
2) Add tofu pieces and fry 2-3 minutes on each side.
3) Remove tofu and add onion, garlic and ginger, sauté for 1 minute.
4) Add mushrooms, pea shoots and cook for 1-2 minutes.
5) Add fish sauce and sesame oil and cook for 1 more minute.
6) Arrange tofu on a plate, spread the sautéed vegetable mixture on the plate, sprinkle sesame seeds on top, and add dollops of chili pepper on top to taste.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Maui Inspired Poke (appetizer serves 2-3)



Poke is a popular way to eat fresh fish in Hawaii. The term poke means to slice or cut.  When you go to a grocery store in Hawaii you can find a huge selection of prepared poke.  In the past a mixture of the kukui nut or candle nut and salt called inamona was often added to this dish. Nowadays it is rare to see a poke made with this mixture. This evening I have recreated this dish using the kukui nuts that I had roasted myself when I was on Maui and brought back to New Hampshire. I kept the nuts in a zip lock bag in a freezer.

Maui Inspired Poke (appetizer serves 2-3)


Ingredients:

12 oz of cubed or bite size sushi-grade fish*
1/4 C hydrated sea vegetable*
1/4 C chopped sweet onion
2 Tbsp chopped scallions
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp crushed Hawaiian sea salt or any sea salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp mirin
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 roasted kukui nut, chopped (please see How to Roast Kukui Nuts post)

Method:

Mix all ingredients gently until well blended and chill. Serves cold over rice, crackers or crostini.

jade plant & birdhouse
birdhouse
*You can use any type of sushi-grade fish. Be careful when buying fresh fish to eat raw. Some grocery stores may claim that the fish is "sushi-grade" but they handle it poorly and you can get very ill from eating it. Get to know your fish monger and local fishermen.
*You can use any type of sea vegetable that you have available for the poke. In Hawaii some poke contains a type of sea vegetable called ogo.  
*I often eat my poke with rice. Sometimes I like to add diced avocado to it and it's delicious. Tonight I eat it with crackers. I did not make this recipe too salty so it can actually be eaten as is.
*If you do not have access to kukui nuts you can use other unsalted nuts or seeds such as macadamia nuts, pine nuts, or sesame seeds.

Five-Minute Stir-Fried Shrimp & Pea Shoots (serves 1-2)


This is a quick and simple stir fry that is also tasty.  I actually prefer to cook and eat pea shoots instead of the peas.  The shoots are very tender and delicious.  Once you have eaten it you will enjoy it too. 

Five-Minute Stir-Fried Shrimp & Pea Shoots (serves 1-2)

Ingredients:

1/2 lb large shrimp (21-25 count*), cleaned, shells removed and butterflied
1 lb pea shoots, washed well and cut into 4-inch lengths
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 t grated ginger
1 T fish sauce
1 T canola oil

Method:

1) Heat oil in a large pan or wok over medium high heat.
2) Add garlic and ginger, saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
3) Add shrimp and cook for 2 minutes, frequently turning to cook thoroughly  remove and reserve in a dish or bowl.
4) Add pea shoots in the pan or wok.  Cook for 1-2 minutes.
5) Return the shrimp back into the pan or wok, add fish sauce, stir and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
6) Remove and serve with rice.

*When you buy shrimp it comes with a size number that represents the count per pound.  For example, "21-25" means that there are about 21 to 25 shrimp in a pound.  In general the lower the number the higher the price.  Big shrimp are expensive!
*The pea shoots may be called/labeled as bean leaves.  These are sold in some Asian markets.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wonton Soup (makes 82 wontons)



It's the day after Hurricane Sandy.  We still did not have power in the morning.  We decided to drive to the ocean and check out the waves--they were impressive and there were a few surfers riding them.  I decided to make wonton soup using my grill when I got home.  By the time we got home the power was back up and I was able to use my stove again!  If you are looking to purchase a grill my advice to you would be to buy a good one and make sure it has a side burner so you can use it to cook.  About 3 winters ago I did not have power for several days.  I was comfortable in my home since I had water, a grill with a side burner, a fireplace with plenty of dry wood.  I was able to bath using boiled water, ate normal meals, and kept warm, while some of my neighbors left and stayed in hotels or with family/friends.

Wonton Soup (makes 82 wontons)


Ingredients:

16-oz (square) wonton wrappers (Hong Kong style)
1 egg yolk and 1 t water mixture (to seal wrappers)
1.4 lb lean ground pork
2 scallions, chopped
1 T minced cooked ginger (see Curt's Ginger Tea post) or 1 t fresh grated ginger
2 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 t Chinese 5-spice
2 t Chinese rice wine
1 t sesame oil
2 t fish sauce
1/4 t salt
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/4 t sugar
1 egg white


For Serving Wonton Soup:

1 pot of Chicken Stock
Shredded chicken
1 scallions, sliced thinly
Cilantro leaves, chopped
Fried shallots
Chili pepper, optional
Fish sauce or soy sauce (to your taste)
Cooked vegetable (such as sliced napa cabbage, Chinese broccoli, sliced bamboo shoots, sliced carrot, sliced shiitake mushrooms, and/or spinach)

Method:

1) In a medium bowl mix pork, scallions, ginger, shallots, garlic, Chinese 5-spice, wine, sesame oil, fish, salt, pepper, sugar, and egg white until well blended.  Cover with plastic and keep refrigerated.
2) Make the broth (please see Chicken Broth post).
3) While the broth is cooking start making the wontons.
4) Take about 1 tsp of meat mixture and add to the center of a wonton wrapper (see photo below).
5) Use the egg mixture to seal 2 sides of the wrapper (see photo below).
6) Fold the sides, remove excess air, form a triangular shape (see photo below).
7) Use the egg mixture and dab a small amount on the corner of the triangle (see photo below).
8) Pinch the corners together to make a tight seal.
9) Dust a plate with all-purpose flour and put the completed wontons on this.
10) Continue to wrap all the wontons until all the wrappers or meat is gone.
11) Take what you do not use right away, stack the wontons in single file and put it in the refrigerator.
12) When ready to eat, heat water in a small pot over high heat.
13) When water starts to boil add the amount of wontons per serving (7-10 would be a good amount) and turns heat down to medium.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.
14) Remove the wontons with a slotted spoon to a large serving bowl, top with shredded chicken and cooked vegetable if desired, ladle the broth until it covers almost to the top of the wontons, garnish with a sprinkle of scallions, cilantro, fried shallots, a dollop of chili pepper, and fish sauce or soy sauce to taste.

4) take 1 tsp of meat mixture and add to the
center of a wonton wrapper (see left of plate)
5) use egg mixture to seal 2 sides of the wrapper (see bottom of plate)
6) fold the sides to form a triangle (see right of plate)
7) seal the corners together (see top of plate)
wrap all the wontons 
 cook the wontons in water
make the broth
cook the vegetable for 5 minutes in the broth
(I bought this handy Asian spider strainer
with a hook in NYC Chinatown)
Hampton Beach, NH 2012
(normally this place has a very wide sandy beach,
after the storm the beach is on the road!)
*In this recipe I used up all the meat mixture and the wonton wrappers.  However, if you find that you have left over meat then you can form little meatballs to add to the broth.  If you have left over wrappers then you can cut them into strips, cook it in simmering water and add to your soup.
*You can also serve egg noodles in the wonton soup.  When my husband and I visit NYC we like to go to Chinatown for a quick meal.  We eat this type of wonton soup where the restaurant adds egg noodles, a few slices and/or leg of roasted duck and Chinese broccoli.  The soup is satisfying and keep us warm and full until we walk to our next meal!

Chicken Stock



I like to make my chicken broth or stock from scratch. This is a versatile recipe that can be used as a base for other recipes.  The shredded chicken can be used for other dishes such as salads.

Chicken Stock

Ingredients:

1 (about 4 lbs) whole chicken
1/2 to 1 large onion, chopped
2 celery sticks, cut in half
4 carrots, peeled, cut off ends and cut in half
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
10 dried shiitake mushrooms, hydrated in water, cleaned and squeezed out excess water (optional)
2 scallions, chopped
2 1/2 oz of the last 4 inches of the cilantro stem
10 whole cloves (optional)
3-inch cinnamon stick (optional)
2 t salt
1 T fish sauce
5 star anise (optional)
20 C cold water
15 slices of cooked ginger (please see Curt's Ginger Tea post) or 1 sliced and smashed 3/4 to 1 oz   fresh ginger

Method:

1) In a large pot (at least 8 quarts) over high heat add chicken and enough cold water to cover the chicken.
2) Once the water is about to boil, discard all the water, wash the chicken in water.
3) Rinse the pot, return the chicken back into the pot, add all ingredients including water.  Once the water boils turn heat down to medium low, skim and discard any scum that floats up, cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes.
4) Turn heat to low, remove the chicken, use a slotted spoon to remove all the vegetable and herbs.
5) Shred the chicken, cut up the vegetable you want to keep and discard the rest.  Reserve the shredded chicken and cut vegetable.
6) Return the largest chicken bones back into the pot. Turn the heat to medium high.
7) Once the broth boils, turn heat down to medium low, skim and discard any scum that floats up, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
8) Remove and discard all the chicken bones and turn off heat.
9) Once the broth has cooled, keep broth refrigerated for 3-4 days.  May keep in a freezer if you are not using all of the stock.