Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sausage Spinach Omelette - with spicy italian sausages and baby spinach

Italian Sausage and Baby Spinach Omelette

Ingredients: Italian sausage, baby spinach (rinsed thoroughly and gently dab-dry with paper towels), 2-3 eggs whisked (with some ground pepper added)

: Heat some oil in flat pan. Add in sausages and when slightly brown, slowly add in whisked egg. Allow the egg to cook on the underside, then add in handfuls of baby spinach on top. Gently press the spinach to flatten, on the egg and sausage. The spinach will reduce in volume once contact with heat. Flip the egg over and allow the egg with ingredients to cook gently on the other side.

If you like Baby Spinach raw and au naturel - a few ideas for you. You can make Spinach Pesto and stuff them into scallops; or create Finger Food. Baby spinach is great for use in salads as it has a sweeter taste, probably due to its reduced concentration of oxalic acid. If you want something more elaborate, you can use thawed frozen spinach, puree it and add a finishing touch to Braised Tofu with Mushrooms.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Fried Crabs, Typhoon Shelter Crabs

Typhoon Shelter Crab - 避風塘炒蟹

Fried crab with fried garlic, mixed with scallion, red chili and black beans

The famous dish typhoon shelter-style fried crab (避風塘炒蟹 Bi Feng Tang Chao Xie), is served in a lot of Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong. This dish is believed to be originated from typhoon shelters, invented almost 30 years ago on a sampam.

While Singapore Chilli Crab hails a symbolic gravy, Typhoon Shelter Crab pins it on fried garlic and black bean. The supposedly secret is that the minced garlic will be soaked in black bean sauce overnight and gives the intense flavor when fried with the crabs.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tofu Meat Balls Rock-a-pop-pop

Using potato flour 地瓜粉 will give a more springy (QQ-with dialect connotation) texture of deep-fried coat when compared to the crisp golden coat from cornflour + breadcrumbs (panko) combination. The former still has that crunch to it... just of a lesser degree. I've said, tried and done it in these nori seaweed coated shrimps and repeating this again with pork-tofu mix. Try the steamed version of tofu "pops" if you are opting for super-healthy version. However, "pops" and "steaming" just do not gel together in my head. Fit for a family-style sit-down homemade meal perhaps - this steamed Tofu Balls, and maybe Stir Fry Tofu with Shrimps and Mushrooms, but in a party, THIS is definitely a more welcoming snack! Deep Fried Tofu Pops! Rock-a-pop-pop!

Not at all messy. Bite on these mini tofu pops and beware of "juice" spurting out...

Tofu Pops/Deep Fried Tofu Meat Balls

-1/2 lb or slightly lesser ground pork or chicken
-1 pack of standard size tofu (Note: silken contains more moisture and the resultant "pop" tend to be more "juicy", not dry. You can use medium-soft or firm but the texture is going to be different)
-1 egg white (as binder)
-1 tbsp soy sauce to season/marinade the pork
-1 tbsp rice wine to season/marinade the pork
- dashes of white pepper to season/marinade the pork
- less than 1 tsp sesame oil to season/marinade the pork
- cornflour to thicken the tofu+meat batter/mixture if too hard to shape into little rounds (plays a binder role, too)
- potato flour for coating

1. Mash up the tofu and mix with seasoned ground pork. Add in egg white and mix thoroughly
2. When in a consistency easy to be shape, make rounds out of the mixture (similar to making fish balls from fish paste)
3. Dust or roll them over a light coat of potato flour, set aside

4. Prepare hot oil in wok for deep frying
5. Slide those rounds by the side of the wok into the medium-hot oil to be deep fried
6. When starts to change color to light brown, strain out from hot oil and set aside to drain excess oil from paper towels
7. Before serving, you can dash a lil' white pepper over the tofu pops to enhance the flavor. Also, sprinkle some nori strips or flakes.

Warm, moist inside...crisp and chewy outside...

I was trying to think of a better description - the texture of crisp and chewy. Hmmm....it is almost like mochi... daifuku...the chewy portion...springy (go *toint toint*). Why not you think of a warm crispy mochi-coat of something? You are almost there. And the filling is a familiar taste of savory mix of meat and tofu. That is not too difficult to imagine?

Definitely more finger-friendly than steamed tofu. So you gotta try it! Rock-a-pop-pop! Once you pop, you cannot stop!

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Spicy Water Spinach and Yardlong Beans, both good!

Taking it from here, I wish to share a vegetable spicy stir fry recipe common in Southeast Asia. Whether it is dark leafy green vegetable like water spinach (or kangkong) or legume like yardlong bean (Chinese long beans), both are calcium-rich vegetables and I like to stir fry them this way. Okra (lady fingers) as well...with sambal belacan, can be oh-so-delicious.

Sambal Belacan KangKong/Water Spinach
Ingredients: Water spinach, garlic sliced thinly, dried shrimps, sambal belacan
Directions: Heat oil in wok. Add in garlic and dried shrimps and fry till fragrant. Add in sambal belacan then the vegetables. Quickly fry at high heat and dish up (do not overcook the vegetables.)

When it is perfectly done, the vegetables should maintain a slight crisp in their tender stems and soft tender leaves. I do not like to overcook my vegetables.

Spicy Long Beans
The ingredients are the same(as above) except Chinese long beans are used.

Wokking it up! Remember...no overcooking!

These long beans are a good source of protein, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, and potassium, and a very good source of vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and manganese. Of course, calcium-rich too!

Spicy and tender crisp long beans! Yummy!

Both are definitely good with steamed rice.

What is your main source of calcium in the daily diet ?

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Grass Jelly

仙草冰 (xian cao bing) - grass jelly served on crushed ice, Taiwan

Grass Jelly is made from a herb plant known as Mesona Chinensis. Mesona is a genus in the mint family of Lamiaceae. Did you know that? I didn't know that. :O

All this while, I have assumed that grass jelly is some kind of artificial jello, cubed and mixed in water and syrup - consumed as a refreshing drink. Probably, that is part of the deception because in Singapore, grass jelly is typically served like that - cubed/in thin strips, and in a form of a drink known as Chin Chow (hokkien dialect pronunciation) . In Taiwan, this herb can be set as a huge piece of gelatin (picture above) served as grass jelly ~ a cooling dessert. Doesn't this look and sound good on a hot summer day? :D

The end products of this herb are typically tea or grass jelly. In Chinese medicine, this herb is noted for its cooling(yin) properties - helps to reduce "heatiness" in the body and prevent the occurrence of heat stroke. Therefore, 仙草 (literally meaning - immortal grass) is also known as 涼粉草 (literally meaning ~ cooling grass).

How it is made...
The aged and slightly fermented grass or leaves of this mint family (specifically, mesona chinensis) are boiled in a water bath containing potassium carbonate. The resultant mixture is then cooled into a gelatinous consistency.

Color and taste...
Typically black in appearance, some associate this jelly to taste slightly bitter (medicinal?).

Due to similarities in colors and textures, many people tend to confuse grass jelly with another black herbal jelly sometimes known as Tortoise Jelly, 龟苓膏 pronounced Gui Ling Gao. Though both are known to be good for nourishing yin and reducing the "heat" in the body, they are made totally from different components altogether. As recorded in the traditional Chinese books, tortoise jelly is primarily made from Platysternon Megalephalum and Rhizoma Smilacis Glabrae . I'm going to omit the details here since it involves me writing about a non-herb, and neither a plant nor vegetable. Read more about herbal jelly where Black Food is touted to be good.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Chinese Style Steamed Dungeness Crab

Taken at The Fish Market, Palo Alto

Dungeness Crab season usually runs from November till June in the West Coast, United States. Here are a few places you can have these crabs in San Francisco, Bay Area and along the Coast (Monterey, CA)

Fishermen's Grotto #9
Fishermen's Wharf , San Francisco
-->Hear about our revenge.

The Fish Market
3150 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
Other locations available (refer to website)

Phil's Fish Market and Eatery
7600 Sandholtd Rd.
Moss Landing, CA 95039
--> The cioppino is really really good! Delicious!

If you are interested in crabs mountain, Vegas got it!

Taken at Paradise Garden Buffet, Flamingo Las Vegas

At home, you can have your own steamed crabs or make Singapore Chilli Crabs - Cheat Sheet #1, Singapore Chilli Crabs - Cheat Sheet #2

It is really cheaper to buy live dungeness crab from the tank (available in Ranch 99, California) and steam the crabs at home.

Steamed Dungeness Crab (Chinese style)

Ingredients: dungeness crab, rice wine, ginger and spring onion (option)

1.Get the crab out from the refrigerator and prepare the wok for steaming
2.Fill the wok with water for steaming, start boiling the water
3.When the water in the wok starts to boil, place the crab in steaming position into the wok
4.Steam, covered for 15-20 mins. Within this time, the crab turns from purple-brown to bright orange, and then, time to eat!

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Singapore Chili Crabs - with Jumbo Prawns and all versions of them

Singapore Chili Crabs Prawns

If you like spicy prawns that goes with steamed rice, you will also like Assam Pineapple Prawns - a tamarind-based spice-loaded seafood dish. OH no no, you just want Singapore Chili Crabs, nothing else but Singapore Chili Crabs. Okie...I give you a cheat-sheet to Singapore Chilli Crabs. Be good. OH no no...boo hoo hoo (me), you have pride and wants to cook your own Chili Crab from scratch - okie okie...hush hush...here's one from Uniquely Singapore, recipe from Violet Oon.

Just that for me, my own DIY...I like to steam my crabs because it is easy and retains one of the best natural flavor in crabs.

Just that for me, right now...I want to mop up all the gravy with what I've got! :P~~~

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Home-style beef noodle soup

I prefer to slow cook a good ol' beef stew. Tender chunks of beef, the flavorful essence in the beef stew gravy...and easiest cooking ever! Since I cannot put my slow cooker to good use here (why can't the world standardize on the electrical usage and voltage?), I could only try the other way, to slowly braise the beef stew in a sauce pan. This braised Pearl Onion Beef Stew turn out still good but I prefer the slow cooker version, definitely.

I just love the sweetness of pearl onions. Better than the usual yellow, or white onions :)

Pearl Onion Beef Stew
Ingredients: Stewing beef cubes, sliced celery, sliced carrots, sliced pearl onions, black pepper

1. In light oiled pan, saute the onions, then add in beef, sliced celery and carrots.
2. Once slightly fried, add in some stock/water, add some black pepper, and allow it to simmer low heat for at least 30minutes

And what can a good beef stew do ? Wonders!

I could keep the leftover beef stew essence (mainly the gravy, and few pieces of meat) and use it to have some beef noodles soup the next day. Boil some noodles, add in some "new" greens at the side, and...a new meal - Home-style beef noodles soup

A very flavorful broth (beef stock) has cooked a simple noodle soup.

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