Monday, June 30, 2008

Singapore Chili Crab made good Spicy Pasta!

Most of you visually devoured the crab “crab” gravy, just like I do. With the remaining gravy, it became pasta sauce for the following day. Singapore Chili Crab's gravy is really good with spaghetti(or pasta).

I will mop and lick the gravy till the last drop
I will mop up the gravy with whatever I have got

I had a bakery-style cheese breadroll/bun and had to use it to "sponge" up. It is a lot of carbo - pasta PLUS bread...but I could not help it.

Spicy Prawn Spaghetti (Singapore Chili Crab style)
Ingredients: Shrimps; 1egg, whisked; some minced garlic; 1tbsp vegetable oil; 1pack Prima chilli crab paste/premix(includes 1pkt paste, 1pkt premix, 1pkt extra hot chilli mix); pasta cooked according to instructions

1.Lightly oil pan on medium heat
2.Fry the garlic till fragrant, then add in shrimps
3.When shrimps start to turn pink, set aside
4.In the same pan, heat up some oil and mix with chilli crab paste, stir for 1min medium heat
5.Add in shrimp stir well, coating shrimp with paste, fry for 1min
6.Add in some water, and sprinkle desired amount of hot chilli mix over entire mixture
7.Stir crab premix into water, mix well into crab and stir gravy evenly
8.Pour in beaten eggs, stir 20secs
9.Before serving, stir in cooked pasta and allow it to mix well and soak up the sauce....
(Note: Detailed instructions are provided with the paste/premix)

Other recipes:
Tamarind Shrimps
Pasta Arrabiata with Grilled Jumbo Shirmps

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Spring onions, green onions, scallions - preparation cooking tips

Spring is officially over? I'm bringing you Spring Onions...and another way you can further release the aroma of spring onions before using them in cooking and especially for salads.

Use a fork and from the edge of the spring onion, start "scraping" them, as shown. You will get long thin strips even without using a knife. You make less cuts with your knife. You just slice to the length you desire.

The trick is not to save you time or steps in slicing or julienning. It is to release the aroma, or if you think it is pungency...that you dislike - you can do the "freako" thinking and turn it to a way to remove pungency. Make a few "scrapes" and then soak in ice-cold water bath for a few minutes. Then it becomes easier to use in salads when the sharp biting taste has been partially removed. Spring onions are the most pungent tasting of young onions (spring onions > green onions > scallions, in the scale of pungency) with more biting taste than green onions. Note that the longer they are allowed to mature, the sharper the taste they gain. So if you really want to use spring onions in salads or cooking, make sure its flavor does not overpower the other delicate flavors.

Similar concept applies to onions. Here's how you can cut an onion to reduce an onion's pungency.

Also, a reading source where you can learn to differentiate spring onions, green onions, and scallions.

Finally, a condiment I made before - using green onions and minced ginger姜蓉. A good dip for poached chicken.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pasta with Mushroom and Beef in Lightly Spiced Sauce

"Fusili with Mushrooms and Beef in a Lightly Spiced Sauce " sounds like a traffic throng in the tongue, but the ingredients and cooking are SIMPLE, really. Finished by a unique touch of spice - Asian curry powder. Now...that's even crazier than adding oyster and Japanese mushrooms into a pasta dish.

Fusili with Mushrooms and Beef in a Lightly Spiced Sauce
Ingredients: Ground beef; half a onion- sliced and chopped finely; assorted mushrooms; can of diced tomatoes; 2tsp curry powder (or more depending on how strong a curry flavor you want but note: do not use too much or it will become curry beef - as in with too much gravy); fusili, cooked according to instructions

1. In lightly oiled pan, add in onions to saute and when slightly soften (half way to "translucence"), add in tomatoes, then ground beef and mushrooms. Will take about 3-5mins for things to "soften" a little (to be cooked)
2. Add ~2 tsp curry powder and mix well
3. Add some water/stock, allow it to simmer on low heat
4. Before serving, add in boiled/cooked pasta in the pan of sauce and mix well

Crazy but simple, isn't it? :D Not too fiery...just mildly spicy.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cooking tips - tender juicy minced meat

Tips on getting juicy tender minced pork:
1. The technique is almost similar to twice-cooked pork 回锅肉. If there are other ingredients to be cooked with the pork. Fry the pork first to just partial cook them and release the "oils and flavor"
2. These "oils and flavor" will then be absorbed by the other ingredients and these ingredients will be infused with pork flavor
3. For a dish that needs lots of gravy and juicy tender pork bits like the above, add in desired seasoning + water, and allow low simmering heat + steams of water to actually cook/braise the pork. Cooking minced/ground pork over high heat (hot oil) for an extended period will overcook the pork and make it tough (not juicy anymore)

Read more here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mushroom-Flavored Minced Meat

Dripping essence...

Mushroom-Flavored Minced Meat 香菇肉燥
Minced/ground pork
2tsp dried shrimps , soaked in water, rinsed away water, then minced finely
fresh shitake mushrooms , clean the caps, and cubed to small bits
1 clove garlic-minced finely
half a big onion - chop to small pieces
salt, pepper to taste

Seasoning: soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar
In a separate bowl, mix 1-2tbsp soy sauce and 1-2tsp oyster sauce, 1tsp sugar in about 3-5 tbsp of warm water, till dissolved

1. Heat 1tbsp oil in frying pan and fry the minced pork for a while just to slightly cook them. In this process, some "fats" in the pork will be "released" as oil into the pan and can be used to fry the other ingredients. Dish out the partially cooked pork and set aside. (Note: Do not allow the pork to remain in the pan to be cooked and fried with the other ingredients as there is tendency to over-cook pork and it will become rubbery, chewy and tough)
2. Add garlic, onions, dried shrimps and fry till aromatic. Add in mushrooms, mix well. Add in some water. Turn to low heat and allow the mixture to reach simmer.
3. Once small bubbling begins (begin of simmering), add in the pork, 1/2 portion of the seasonings, add more warm water to partially cover the entire mixture(including pork) and maintain low heat and allow entire mixture to simmer. (Note: Since the pork has been pre-fried initially, the low heat cooking at this stage will slowly cook the pork through yet retaining tenderness in the pork since the pork has not been cooked in the higher heat in the frying stage. The low simmering heat + water will actually cook/braise the pork, not the high heat and hot oil!)
4. When starting to simmer, do a taste -test and adjust seasoning accordingly. You can add more of the remaining seasoning and let it simmer a while longer.
5. Best when served with steamed rice.

The best about this dish is I can cook more and keep the leftovers for further consumption (just need to be steamed or re-heated again) the next day, to ladle over steamed rice.

Well, if you like pork, then this...a uber-porky dish you will like. The natural sweetness in the pork, plus those earthy mushrooms, and sweet onions will complement well with the savory seasonings. It's mild but very tasty and definitely whets your appetite when you allow the steamed rice to soak up the nicely combined flavors in the gravy. You can say the essence of flavors is all in the gravy but the pork, mushrooms and onions bits adds a juicy soft texture to your bite. Perfect homemade dish!

Read more here.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Onion - how to reduce pungency and sharp biting taste

Read Part I. The secret affair continues...

Stay on stay on, you are on the right page, though I am talking beef, yet showing an onion

Under circumstances YOU GET TO SEE the GRAIN LINES (obvious lines) on that piece of meat...when you see them, then SLICE AGAINST THE GRAINS LINES! One (but not the only) tip to get tender piece of beef. I HEARD YOUR TIPS and TRICKS! :) Thanks.

SECOND TIP during preparation. I'm not so sure about this but many Chinese cooks and chefs believe SALT will make beef more chewy (less tender). Is that true ? Probably a more appropriate statement when seasoning uncooked beef before you cook it. Once the beef is cooked, you can seasoned with salt without worries and to taste, since a different science concept would have applied. you want to season uncooked beef with salt, make sure it is minimally seasoned with salt. Minimal ? Okay. Let's say you are grilling a chunk of sirloin steak. Sprinkling a pinch or two of salt on it should be fine? Relativity measurements.

I'm beginning to understand why Chinese cooks and chefs say that. Most of the beef dishes whipped up in Chinese cuisine uses strips and thin fillets of beef. I am trying to vision - when they have to season many strips/fillets/pieces of beef (VERSUS one single slab of 9-oz, typically calls by in the Western cuisine), the amount of salt contacting the beef surface area is different. OH, SAVE ME SAVE ME...and save you from all my talk. Professional chefs out there, don't throw your eggs at me ok? I'm learning and starting to appreciate the science of cooking. Hmmph....did Alton Brown ever had an episode or snippet on explain the molecular or atomic reactions? I miss Alton Brown (though he does not know me)!

WHY? WHY ? I hope I am not being technically incorrect. But I deduced --> when salt contacts blood, it will cause blood channels/vessels to constrict. If you bring this back to beef, the salt that contacts the "blood" in the beef (thus, called red meat) will cause the muscles/grains lines in the beef to constrict further - tensed muscles, constricted grain lines, contracted meat structure ---> hard-to-bite and less tender beef ? Tender beef = beef with a "relaxed" meat structure. Does it sound logical? Enough said. This post is getting longer.

Then, why on earth am I featuring an ONION ??? Am I getting a second throw of eggs here? Please don't....

I wanted to bring you to a point about slicing an onion, AND it has got to do with SLICING AGAINST the "lines". THIS.

Onion: I'm not beef but if you slice me like that, I will appreciate it and be milder to you :)

If you ever find raw onions too pungent or too sharp to be consumed as-is, TIPS are:
1. Cut or slice against the "grain" or lines (shown in the 2nd & 3rd photo, compare that with the first which is slicing along the "lines")...yes, and you thought that "theory" only applies to tenderizing beef ? When you slice them this way, you break up the channels that produce the evil tear-inducing chemicals, also the channels that cause onions to have pungent and sharp raw taste.
2. Soak sliced onions in cold ice water bath for 5-10 mins. The chemicals that result in pungency and sharp biting taste gradually "leaks" out to the water.

Well, depending on how brave you are when facing an onion. Some people do enjoy its pungent and sharp biting taste as distinct characteristics but some shun onions for the same reason. If you ignore step (1) --> slice it along the "lines"--> step (2) can also give you milder-tasting raw onions -OR - if you are cooking onions in a dish, and wants your onions to turn sweet (the longer you cook onions at low-medium heat, the softer and sweeter it becomes) in a shorter period of time, step (1) slicing/cutting will help release the onion "sweetness" faster.

Now by understanding an onion, you will love your onion more, raw and/or cooked. Specifically, you will enjoy raw onions in future - make your crisp clean salads or burger much more appealing and welcomed by all. No more will you say "I wanna order a burger, without onions...puh-leasse..." (maybe it's just me?)

Hey, why am I discussing and having this monologue here? It is natural, basic, inherent instinctive knowledge to all of you. It is ME, THE ONE who has NOT been PAYING TOO MUCH ATTENTION to an ONION for so many years. D0 all cooking schools teach this ? :P

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Beef and Onion - secret affair exposed!

Choosing the right cut of beef for the intended cooking method. That will make your beef tender. Some cuts of beef benefit from slow cooking methods such as stewing, braising VS other cuts that are more suitable for grilling. I do not go to a specialty butcher to intentionally select meat, specifically the right cuts of it. I buy my "cuts" - sirloin, flank or simply...stew cubes (not knowing which part or cut)...from whatever I see, available in the supermarkets/grocery produce stores.

If I choose a flank for that day and plan to do a dish such as Stir Fry Black Pepper Beef or rather Black Pepper Basil Beef, the FIRST thing I will remember in my beef preparation is to SLICE AGAINST THE GRAINS LINES of the beef. This has ever since (forgotten when!) gone embedded into my head. SLICE AGAINST THE GRAINS LINES to get yourself a better(easier) chew of the beef (in short, tender beef) when cooked. Unless you are chewing on beef jerky...when it does not really matter or in fact, the only time you want your beef to sustain the chewing action of your dynamic teeth for the longest time ?

Beef and onion do have a secret affair and it's not as simple as combining them in a dish like this.

What do you do to get your beef tender?

To be continued...

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

9 sober soba recipes

9 sober ways with soba and still counting...

That's soba in-
Sesame dressing
Pork-rib tea, bak kut teh style
Braised E-fu style
Minced pork topping and wontons
Green onion dressing and mushrooms
Almond butter dressing
Spicy Korean broth
Braised pork ribs

Am I sober or crazy ?

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