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.