Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Confessing a Mushroom Love - room for mushy love

Mushrooms, mushrooms....mushh....Vrrrrrooooooooom!

From left: oyster, velvet pioppino, cloud ear or wood ear(black fungus), coral

I was pleased - first, it came in an assortment; second, it looks "special". In face of new, unfamiliar stuff, I tend to be very fickle. That is why I go for sample brews when visiting a brew house and precisely for the same reason - this pack of pre-selected mushrooms variety. Now I do not have to decide - which variety, which pack, which one...I can try all at the same time!

Mushrooms are often meat substitutes for vegetarians partially due to its inherent woody and earthy flavor, being a good source of protein.

Golden Oyster - 珊瑚菇 (pronounced ShanHu Gu, literally means coral mushrooms)

Also known as Golden Oyster Spore Syringe (botanical name: Pleurotus citrinopileatus) or jade emperor mushrooms. These mushrooms grow in clusters of small, thin fleshed, funnel-shaped bright yellow caps. The flavor improves with thorough cooking

Velvet Pioppino or cinnamon cap mushroom - a Matsutake variety. Other names: brown swordbelt. Chinese names: 松茸 or 松菇

These mushrooms have intense rich flavor and maintain slight crisp texture in the stems and caps after cooking.

Tree oyster mushroom (botanical name: Pleurotus ostreatus) or sometimes known as abalone mushrooms.

These oyster mushrooms have a fleshy texture with mild delicate earthy flavor.

There is more mushroom reading at Dried Mushrooms, Food Subs and Wiki. In addition, a few WHB weeks ago, I posted on mushrooms - shitake, trumpet, beech and had a few good mushroom recipes for you. Do check them out.

Now, do you have any more room to confess your mushy love for mushrooms ? Which variety do you like best ?


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fish fillet recipes, and the battle with whole fish

The battle of fish fillets vs whole fish ! Steamed fish fillet rolls , steamed halibut fillets, pan fried fillets, I realized I have been dealing with fillets all this while in my home kitchen. While I can easily get hold of fish fillets in the US grocery stores and whole fish from some of the bigger Asian-based grocery stores (eg Ranch99) in California, USA, I realized I never ventured into cooking whole fishes (with heads and eyes intact) at home before!

How about you ?

There is a short video snippet in TIME magazine about General Tso Chicken. OK. What's that got to do with FISH??? You have to listen to that interview.

If you want to hear more about why Chinese food should not be orange (the color, I mean); General Tso Chicken VS Colonels Sanders; "...American like only fish fillets - no eye balls..." , do check out the "...I want no eye balls staring at me..." video here. I found it interesting - especially the food culture in different countries. Give me your comments on what you hear and by what you understand.

Oops, blame it on my poor skills, I tried...but I could not embed the video here for your easy viewing. I could only direct you to the link (above). Sorry...

NOW, if you ask me...do I like my fish with eye balls ? Well, I do not mind. I'll eat as long as it is a fresh fish and well-cooked. :D

Thai-style Steamed Fish

Japanese Grilled Fish

They all have eye balls staring at me but I don't care! HA!

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What are chayote shoots ?

This is Stir Fried Chayote Shoots -龍鬚菜 , literally meaning Dragon-Beard or Dragon-Whisker vegetable. Chayotes are widely planted for its shoot in Taiwan and usually consumed with the young leaves in a stir fry like this (thinly sliced garlic and sliced red chili). Most people are familiar only with the fruit, which in culinary terms is a vegetable. But the root, stem, seeds, and leaves are all edible.

In Brazil, chayote is known as chuchu; in Caribbean: cho-cho; Latin America: gayota; in China: 佛手瓜 (pronounced Fuo Shou Gua, literally meaning "Buddha hand squash"); in Indonesia: labu siam (or Siamese pumpkin), jipang or waluh; in Vietnamese: su-su, trai su.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One pot rice with chicken and shitake mushrooms

Dinner! ...It's oyster sauce-flavored chicken

A countable few slices of abalone

plus mini-shitake mushrooms (added while braising oyster sauce chicken wings)

Shitake mushrooms as cute and mini as raisins

then cooked (and warmed) just like another dish (the next day)

Rice-cooker meal for the busy executives

In short, I make oyster sauce chicken quite often. Sometimes, I will add shitake mushrooms to this recipe, cook double the quantity and keep the leftovers to be re-heated with rice the next day. This is usually what I do - whenever I steam ginger chicken, braise sesame oil and ginger chicken or chicken with assorted mushrooms. Ahhh...and the miracles of the rice-cooker. If you have followed my blog, you should also have noticed that I seldom do fried rice on a wok/pan. Rice cooker - one of the most basic kitchen appliances - allows me to have "fried" rice the easy peasy way. These Tom Yum Fried Rice, or Cabbage and Char Siew Fried Rice, are miracles from a basic (2-button: cook and warm) rice cooker.

I kid you not.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Oyster Sauce Chicken Wings - restaurant food at home

Oyster Sauce Chicken Wings 蚝油鸡翅 - easy preparation, a few key techniques, and finally made so delectable that you will want to keep this for your entertaining plans, especially if you want to delight your guests with restaurant-style Chinese cuisine at home.

To enhance "value" to your dish and do what the chefs do - PRESENTATION!

Now, you will discover and undiscover how easy a dish Oyster Sauce Chicken can be.

Oyster Sauce Chicken Wings 蚝油鸡翅
6 thawed chicken wings, lightly marinated in ~2tbsp rice wine + ~1tbsp soy sauce

2tbsp oyster sauce + 1tsp brown sugar + 4-6 tbsp water

1. Deep fry the chicken wings in hot oil (Note: according to some Chinese chefs, this will allow the chicken to easily have a "golden" coat when braised later in oyster sauce - gives a golden brown appearance, shiny look and not a sense of dull).
2. After deep frying, set aside to drain excess oil in kitchen paper towels
3. Pour away excess oil from wok with remaining of about 1tbsp(or less) oil
4. Add in the oyster sauce mix and hear the wok/pan sizzle
5. Add the chicken wings back in the wok/pan and space them well. Technique: Use a spoon to continuously spoon/drizzle the oyster sauce mix contained in the pan, over the chicken wings while simmering in oyster sauce mix in the pan. This will ensure the chicken wings are uniform in golden brown appearance.
6. Then allow the chicken wings to simmer low heat (pan covered) for a while till the sauce reduce further. There will be no gravy/sauce for this dish as intended to be.

I have no idea how...but the chicken wings were so tasty. You may have thought the final "surface braising" of chicken with the oyster sauce will just render the chicken to be tasty outside, tasteless inside but apparently, it is not. These are perfectly cooked, totally-flavor infused chicken wings!


Finger-lickin' , tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken wings, how could you resist ? I can't.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pasta Arrabiata with Grilled Jumbo Shrimps - sounds good?

How about Soba Arrabiata with Grilled Jumbo Shrimps? ... where the second batch of the chunky vegetable pasta sauce has gone into - I said there were many ways to use the sauce, and this is one of them.

Of course I am not looking for pasta texture in soba. For one can never get al-dente soba...

Soba Arrabiata with Grilled Jumbo Shrimps
Ingredients: soba, cooked according to instructions (or other pasta type you prefer); shrimps/prawns, lightly seasoned with salt, black pepper and dried oregano; and chunky vegetable pasta sauce

1. Put the shrimps under the grill plates, remove when cooked
2. Heat up the pre-made pasta sauce in non-stick pan, add in red pepper chili flakes, then add in noodles mix well
3. Serve with grilled shrimps and a pinch more of dried oregano

"Shrimpy"...soba...arrabiata...(did I just use three magic words?)...abracadabra

If you like soba, you will be able to appreciate its texture, and explore them in different ways of cooking. A non-al-dente version of "pasta" with the use of soba and another soba culinary adventure that worked out perfect. And with that juicy grilled jumbo shrimps...it's mild spicy and a delicious tomato-ey noodle delight. If you are interested in the easy chunky vegetable pasta sauce, here is the recipe.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Shitake, trumpet, beech, mushrooms in triple colors

I felt like this dish today. Something light and familiar. Familiar because I've always had the "privilege" to just sit down and enjoy this simple and tasty dish back home. Now, I need to do all the work, from the vegetable preparation (cleaning, slicing, cutting - this takes the most time!) to the "wokking".

It is homely satisfaction to be able to pick up each bit-and-piece using the chopsticks and nibble greedily; or using a spoon to devour by the scoop-fuls :D

A healthy colorful combination of celery, carrots, sliced red chili...

and mushrooms (a variety of fresh king trumpet, shitake and honshimeiji mushrooms)

Cut the king trumpet mushrooms and shitake into smaller pieces

Mushrooms Medley with Triple-Colored Vegetables
- 2 stems of celery, washed and cut into small pieces
- 1 carrot, washed and cut into small pieces or into very thin shreds
- 1-2 sliced red chili, cleaned with seeds removed
- Fresh mushrooms fresh (I use king trumpet, shitake, honshimeiji), cleaned and cut close to size/shape of the vegetables
- 1-2 garlic gloves, sliced thinly
- some ground pork ~ option (Note: If you are vegetarian, you can omit this)
- some white pepper

-2 tsp soy sauce
-1 tbsp oyster sauce (Note: If vegetarian, opt for vegetarian alternative)
- water/stock, adjust accordingly

1. In a lightly oiled pan, fry the garlic till fragrant, then add celery, carrots and red chili, followed by mushrooms and meat
2. Fry and mix well in the pan (~3-5mins) then add water and seasoning. Allow it to simmer till vegetables and mushrooms are tender and cooked, mixing well in the process
3. Finally, just a dash of white pepper to enhance the aroma

Good with rice and even as-is!

Is there anyone who does not like celery ? I like to use them in soups and stir fries. And how do you describe the taste of celery ? It's unique, isn't it ? Now, this dish has got a taste of fresh vegetables and light earthiness of mushrooms. It's a mildly sweet dish combined with savory seasoning, and celebration of wonderful textures ~ from light crisp of perfectly-cooked celery bits to the tender of mushrooms.

More mushrooms bits at Teczcape - An Escape to Food, and more mushroom recipes ...

Fresh shitake mushrooms
- Chinese Stuffed Mushrooms

Mushrooms - Braised Tofu with Pureed Spinach and Mushrooms

Fresh Shitake and Oyster Mushrooms -Simple Chinese Stir Fry Mushrooms

Enoki Mushrooms
- Steamed Cold Fish Rolls


Monday, April 14, 2008

Egg Tarts - Portuguese or Chinese

Egg Tarts (makes 6)
Crust ~
-1/2 box Betty Crocker Pie Crust Mix
-1.5 tbsps melted butter
-1/6 cups cold water

-2 egg yolks
-1/6 cup of brown cane sugar
-1/6 cup of heavy whipping cream
-1/6 cup of whole milk milk
-1.5 drops of vanilla extract

1.Mix the pie crust mix, water, and melted butter until pastry forms a ball. Roll into 6 balls on a floured board or surface. Set aside.
2. Whisk the filling ingredients by fork. Whisk till you get a consistent mixture and strain the filling through a strainer. Set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 200F
4. Butter the muffin pan and flatten the balls to fit well into the muffin pan by pressing firmly on bottom and side
5. Fill the pie crust with the egg mixture (3/4 of pan height)
6. Bake the tarts at 400F for about 15-20 minutes or until the filling turn brown.

Crust was rather thick. You can also refer to Egg Tarts for details and references to other recipes.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Soba Noodles in Tahini Sesame, Nori and Pork Floss

You can eat them with bread, top them on a bun and bake them in a puff, we all love pork floss, isn't that obvious ? Now, I have discovered another new way to eat it. With NOODLES! :D

Little Corner and Mandy...maybe we can come up with...something like... how about "101 Ways with Pork Floss". HA! This is so simple but exudes depths of flavors - the sesame dressing + unami nori + savory pork floss. You called me Noodle Queen, you are right! And you said I like soba, yes yes....indeed, indeed. :D

Tahini Soba/Stone ground Sesame Soba
Ingredients and directions as follows -

You need: pork floss and thin nori strips

You need: Tahini

You need: 2-3tbsp tahini (stonegroud sesame), 1-2tsp sesame oil, 1tsp crushed ginger (with some ginger juice) - noodle dressing

Plus: soba, cooked according to instructions

How: Tossing the soba in tahini dressing, then sprinkle with nori strips and pork floss

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Pipe Rigate in Light Tomato Soup

Minestrone usually "formulates" a handful of pasta shells relative to a big pot of soup. I don't see a big deal...adding in more cooked pasta shells to my leftover minestrone the next day and have a rigate* one-dish meal.

Rigate in Light Tomato Soup

I boiled one serving of Pipe Rigate and added them to the leftover corn minestrone. Since it is leftover soup, I did not want to re-boil it for too long by cooking the pasta in there (just like when I made the soup). I added in the cooked(boiled) rigate while heating up the leftover soup over a stove. Within minutes, I have a perfect one-dish meal. Since minestrone means "Big Soup" to the Italians - a soup with lots of goodies in it, a "Big Soup" should essentially have a big embracing heart and be forgiving. I hope I did not offend any Italians by thwarting cooking traditions..re-using minestrone as a light soup base for my rigate dish ;)

*Pipe Rigate is such a uniquely designed pasta shell that is opened on one edge and partially sealed and flattened on the other. Perfect for entrapping sauce, gravy, soup essence and even little corn kernels :)

Check out for my easy minestrone recipe here.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Apple pork chops, with lots of surprises

Who says dinner pork chops always need to be lying flat and boring on a meal plate ?

Surprise #1 - pork chops in rounds! Pork-chop pops...pork-chop balls!

Would it please you to see pork chops...so dainty ?

Surprise #2 - tender juicy perfectly fried pork-chop balls

Quick high heat frying that assures you non-oily pork chops that retained natural flavor and moisture within . You will know it's tender (not dry and tough) when you can slice them so easily with a knife and fork.

Apple Pork-Chop Balls
-Few pieces of pork tenderloin (Note: it depends on the kind of tenderloin you buy. If it's a thick cut of meat, make sure you slice them thinner (refer to collage)
-1-2 tsp soy sauce
- few dashes of ground white pepper
-1tsp rice wine
-1tsp brown sugar
-half a apple, peeled and cubed (refer to collage)
-corn flour

1. Season/marinate the slices of pork with soy sauce, white pepper, sugar, rice wine
2. Lay the pieces of pork flat on a board, add in one to two apple cubes (depending on size), and roll them up into balls (as shown in collage), lightly pressing with fingers, to seal the open edges. Dust in some corn flour to prevent "disintegration", and to maintain "structure" in the pork-chop (Note: pineapple cubes will be a good alternative to apples)
3. Prepare hot oil for frying and fry at 15o-160degC till pork turn color (Note: Since it's a thin cut of meat, it will take only a while for the pork to cook through). Then set aside on paper towels to drain excess oil
4. Serve immediately

Surprise #3 - you find apples in there!

Burst of juice from the apples + "juice" from the pork...you discover a wonderful combination...what a fruity sensation

Surprise #4 - the savory taste of pork in your palate is enhanced by the hint of sweetness and tartness of apple segments

Surprise #5 - the slight crunch of apples with tender bites of pork

The casual vibe in pork PLUS the simplicity of an apple...but

Surprise #6 - brings you an incredulous new flavor and refreshing texture nuance

This is how I bring plain old boring pork chops to new heights! Enjoy...

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Bread Crusted Shrimp Rolls, my Shrimp Rollie Toasties

As I was deep frying nori shrimps, seaweed coated prawns, I decided to try making bread crusted shrimps rolls!

Shrimps Rollie Toasties/Shrimp Toast-Rolls

Ingredients and directions: Shrimps, lightly rub them with black pepper, then wrap each shrimp with a layer of nori seaweed, and then wrap another layer of leftover bread over the shrimp (Note: nori and bread - I have cut into smaller squares to accommodate the length of the shrimps). Start deep frying in hot oil (about 160degC). When bread turns golden brown, strain and set aside the shrimps on paper towels to drain excess oil.

Lightly crisp on the outside, perfectly cooked inside - full of tasty shrimp flavor!

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Chinese wild yam, Japanese mountain yam, it is just good stuff!

Dioscoreae Oppositae - its English pharmaceutical name, or commonly Chinese wild yam, you can call it. Its other name - nagaimo, or Japanese mountain yam.

Seen them in Asian supermarkets, especially Japanese supermarkets such as Mitsuwa in the United States, but never tried them in my cooking. Seen them in Taiwan again and decided to have a simple stir fry to this. It's rather common in Taiwan and the people here believe this tuber has beneficial properties. In Mandarin, call it 淮山 ~ pronounced huai shan; or 山药 ~ pronounced shan yao. 山药 literally meaning "medicine of the mountain" - this tuber vegetable indeed has its healing properties. This wild yam even has sexual lubricating characteristics, as documented in Wiki.

Numerous tiny channels in the yam cross-section, are channels that produce the "slime"

This tuber vegetable is starchy and mucilaginous (slimly, gelatinous, sticky) when grated/sliced, and may be eaten plain (esp. those grown in Japan), as a side dish, or added to noodles. Can you see the numerous tiny round channels in the cross-section ? These are channels that produce the "slime". The long tuberous roots are cultivated for pharmaceutical as a superior herb. The dried white flesh of the tuber is sliced into long thin slabs and contains nutrients which can restore and enhance immune functions throughout the system. You can usually find these dried white flesh of thin tuber slabs, packaged with other dried Chinese herbs and sold as a complete Chinese tonic pack. I had a steamed herbal chicken recipe using Chinese dried herbs of dioscoreae oppositae and other herbs before.

Now for the recipe - Stir Fry Chinese Wild Yam

Stir Fry Chinese Wild Yam
-Chinese wild yam, sliced thinly at cross sections
-2 stalks green onions/spring onions/scallions julienned at the bias
-1 young ginger sliced thinly
-3 cloves garlic minced finely
-1 tbsp oyster sauce
- water

1.Heat 1tbsp oil in frying pan. Add in minced garlic, ginger and scallions and fry till fragrant
2.Add in sliced wild yam and mix well in the pan
3. Add the oyster sauce and some water, then allow entire mixture to simmer till wild yam is cooked (Note: it should turn from white to slightly translucent like the picture of the completed dish above)

This is not something that will burden your taste buds. You can have it with rice or pair them with noodles. And it's an absolutely nutritious dish!

Read more.

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