Monday, July 28, 2008

Tomato Chicken Curry

I have wanted to cook this dish for some time now, because it spells one of my favorite flavor combinations - spicy and tangy.

There are many spicy + tangy (combinations, permutations, levels, grade etc.) I love. For example, the combination of tamarind (assam) and pineapples in Assam Pineapple Prawns or Assam Fish, Tom Yum Soup and even Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup. These dishes are unique in the spice and sourness combination because each different ingredient (eg. chili or spice powder; tamarind, fruits or condiments such as vinegar) is tapped and employed differently for a characteristic taste via different cooking techniques). This Tomato Chicken Curry also has its spice and tangy factor but it is definitely not as sourish since tomatoes only adds a very mild tangy dimension. Well, ripe tomatoes are supposed to be mainly sweet, not sour.

Tomato Chicken Curry (Dry Version)
Ingredients: Chicken chicken drummettes or chicken wings, 1 medium-size tomato (cut to medium cubes), half a can of diced tomatoes, onions(sliced), 2tsp curry powder(or more, adjust accordingly), some chicken stock/water, salt and sugar to taste.

1. In a lightly oiled pan, saute the onions till soft, then add in the raw cubed tomatoes.
2. Add in chicken and fry at medium heat to brown the chicken a little.
3. Then add in curry powder and half a can of diced tomatoes with the "tomato juice", mix well, and allow entire mixture to simmer and cook. If too dry, add some stock/water to partially submerge the chicken.
4. After ~10-15mins when the chicken is cooked, the sauce reduced, the onions turn soft and sweet, it is ready. Add in salt or sugar accordingly if you wish too (Note: For myself, the onions have given the dish its sweetness, so I did not add any sugar)

Almost like chutney curry?

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stir Fry Pasta or Warm Pasta Salad - vegetables and mushrooms version

If you have some mushroom and vegetables leftovers, you can boil some pasta the next day, and toss them into a warm pasta salad sans the cheese or other garnishes. It should be fine when the vegetables (leftovers) are typically the non-leafy variety such as celery and carrots.

Or if you intentionally want to have leftovers so that next day is an easier day, try not to have this intentional action with green leafy vegetables overnight since they all lose its charm and appeal the next day. Leftover greens will only turn out mushy the next day. Yucks!

When you do not have leftovers...good for you! I cooked a similar mushroom and vegetable dish before. I did it again and this time, stir fry pasta in them. Call it a warm pasta salad, if it fits to be one. It is a one-dish meal, for sure.

Stir Fry Pasta with Mushrooms and Vegetables/Warm Pasta Salad
- 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 (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
- pasta, cooked according to instructions (reserve some pasta water for later)

-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 (~5-7mins) then add water and seasoning. Allow it to simmer till vegetables and mushrooms are tender and cooked
3. Dash in white pepper to enhance the aroma
4. When ready to serve, add in pasta, mix well and add in a little pasta water if too dry (Note: this dish does not have much gravy/sauce, similar to Chinese stir-fry noodles...moist but yet not too wet)

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Beef and Oyster Mushroom Fusili with Bok Choy - western with a pinch of Chinese

Beef and Oyster Mushrooms Fusili
Carrots, onions, can of tomatoes, oyster mushroom, ground beef/pork, salt and pepper to taste, bok choy (blanched), pasta cooked according to instructions

1. In a lightly oiled pan, sauce the onions and carrots, and when they are partially tender(soft), add in meat and mushrooms, followed by tomatoes (Remember?...some good oil is good for carrots and tomatoes)
2. Let this cook at medium heat and when start to simmer, turn to low heat and continue to let it simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Note: For a little variation, you can add in some curry powder so you get a light curried tomato-based sauce)

3. When the sauce and gravy partially reduced and all the ingredients are cooked, add in pasta and mix well
4. Before serving, turn off the heat, you can add in bok choy(already blanched) and mix into pasta or just serve the bok choy around the pasta.

Instead of using broccoli or spinach often seen in Western pasta dishes, I think alternating with bok choy is a great idea. At least, it works for me. Now, I can have tomato-based pasta with Chinese vegetables! Yay!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Carrots, tomatoes, healthy cooking oil - they belong!

I am not saying salads are not good. In fact, most, if not all salads are healthy when we are careful with the dressing. However, you can make your salads more nutritious. Now ask: consuming raw that the best way to take in nutrients? Think harder.

Cucumbers! Tomatoes! Carrots! Note: Healthy and Nutritious delivers different messages. Eating your vegetables raw can be healthy but may not be as nutritious as you think.

Heat destroys the vitamins! Yes. True. Overcooking of vegetables is not good. Heat destroys the vitamins! But. Partially.

Some vitamins such as carotene (in carrots) and lycopene (in tomatoes) are FAT-soluble vitamins. SO....LISTEN...HARD....boiling/steaming carrots (just carrots) in water is less nutritious than stir-frying carrots in a lightly oiled pan. In the latter, the oil helps to release the benefits of carotene and lycopene in the carrots and tomatoes respectively. The method of cooking you choose can maximize the nutrition you are extracting from the vegetables.

Stir Fry Celery and Carrots
Ingredients: Extra Virgin Olive Oil; Ginger(minced or crushed); Celery(shredded); Carrots(shredded); Dried herbs (optional)

1. In a lightly oiled pan, saute ginger till fragrant
2. Add in carrots and celery and saute till they start to turn tender. Remember, do not overcook.
3. Add in some dried herbs (basil or oregano) if you wish
4. Serve immediately

Are you convinced ? I hope this little information is useful to you.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bibimbap - Korean stonepot rice in rice cooker

I serve you Bibimbap - Korean stone-pot my rice cooker!

Do not have a stone-pot to keep your dolsot (meaning stone pot) bibimbap sizzling and most importantly...warm ? NOW YOU CAN! I hand you a trick...via the rice cooker. Remember my rice-cooker style cabbage fried rice? Similar technique applies. A rice-cooker style "bibimbap" is easy to do, not forgoing the taste. If you like a healthy and easy way of dining at home, this is it!

Bibimbap, Korean stone-pot rice (rice -cooker version)
-grilled salmon, seasoned with salt and black pepper,
-1-2 eggs, whisked lightly with some soy sauce and white pepper
-1-2 green pepper, julienned to strips
-some spinach,
-some kimchi
-nori strips, garnish
-cooked rice

Step A - Prepare and cook ingredients in advance
1. Grill salmon, set aside (Note: I would suggest choosing a fish that has a firm texture when cooked. Eg. Cod fish is too moist, soft when cooked - when flaked and tossed around too much, it becomes mushy - not recommend)
2. Fry an egg omelette, then set aside on kitchen paper towel to drain away the oil. When cool, cut into thin strips
3. Blanch the spinach, then totally drain away water (Note: Make sure your palms are clean and squeeze the spinach dry. Tip: If you have a bamboo sushi roller, you can use that and drain the water away from the spinach, just by rolling them up and apply slight pressure). When dry and cool, chop into pieces

Step B - Cook rice and add in cooked ingredients
1. Cook rice as per normal
2. When rice is cooked or ready to serve final dish, add in kimchi and green pepper into the rice cooker and mix well with the rice (Note: Allow rice to infuse with kimchi flavor first. Also, the green peppers were not cooked in advance in Step A, adding them first will ensure they get the warmest"heat" from the rice just when the rice is cooked)
3. Flake up the salmon, then with eggs strips, and chopped spinach, add into the rice and mix well
4. Garnish with nori seaweed strips
5. Ready to be scooped and served

Dish out a bowl of warm kimchi-infused rice with nutritious ingredients. Each spoonful of rice you enjoy is flavor-bombed and filled with a profile of textures. The light crunch of green peppers, the salmon flakes, moist warm rice, kimchi-fragrance... ... ... ... ...

How does it look? Healthy ? Easy ?

Bibimbap cooked, using standard and basic kitchen appliances and equipment. An effective way to keep your entire dish warm too!

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Instant Chilled Desserts - summer saviors!

Forget about making cold mango desserts and chilled grass jelly, this can be a thirst quencher!

A yellow watermelon has less beta carotene compared to a red one.

Do you have a preference for red or yellow watermelons ?

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