Thursday, October 4, 2012

Watermelon Salad, and Stir-Fry 西瓜两用

Something wacky about watermelon for today.

The sweet juicy watermelon used in this Watermelon Basil Salad,

and the rind used in this Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Indian-Spiced Green Beans 印度香料长豆

When these green beans are cooked down to tender, almost soft, with the spices, they are just so delicious. The ingredients in this recipe are almost similar to Indian Spicy Chickpeas.

Indian-Style Green Beans 印度香料长豆
Ingredients: green bean sliced, 4-5 shallots sliced, 2-3 garlic minced, 1-2tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp turmeric, butter, salt, 1tbsp oil, freshly ground black pepper, sprinkle of red chili pepper flakes

Directions: Add butter and 1tbsp oil to a frying pan, add in minced garlic, shallots saute till fragrant. Add in green beans and saute till green beans and onions are slightly tender/onions caramelized. Add the spices. Salt to taste. Cook for about 10 mins in low-heat pan (note: if too dry, add some water). Add in some freshly ground black pepper and red chili pepper flakes, mix well.

Really good with steamed rice!

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Garlic Herb Butter Crostini 蒜泥香草牛油烤面包

A hearty bowl of minestrone or pumpkin soup would pair so well with these garlic crostini (means "little toasts" in Italian).

You do not need a full-range oven for this. A small little toaster oven will do the job. And even a better deal - you can use "old" baguette (bread) and inject new life into that dry loaf of mass.

Garlic-Herb Butter Crostini - 蒜泥香草牛油烤面包
Ingredients: Baguette, thinly sliced; unsalted butter; garlic, finely minced; dried herbs (basil, oregano), salt

Directions: Preheat toaster oven at "Bake". When the butter is slightly soft (at room temperature), add in the minced garlic and herbs, then mix them thoroughly into the butter. Spread the garlic-herb butter on one side of the bread slice, then place the bread slices (slathered side up) onto a tray laid with Al foil. Set oven to "Toast" and toast for about 12-15minutes till the bread becomes toasted, golden brown.


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Monday, February 27, 2012

Flavoring Vegetarian Soups + Bitter Melon Soup 苦瓜蛋花汤

It is not the (huge) amount of oil you have to use. You also don't have to depend on excessively-rich, heavy hot sauces. How to flavor vegetarian soups?

Cooking Tips:
- Add tomatoes (I cannot emphasize enough);
- Then there is also a pre-fry of the onions (till slightly charred and caramelized) to deepen the flavor intensity.
- It is sometimes not everything-all-at-once-in-the-pot! The sequence of adding the ingredients is important as well. Refer to this post: Since celery, and carrots cook longer than Napa cabbage - those were added first so that more time is allowed for developing flavors with the aromatics (onions, ginger, garlic) before the Napa cabbage is added. To zoom into details, you should add the "white" bottom stems of the Napa cabbage first (since those take longer to cook), then the leaves.

This Bitter Melon Egg Drop Soup 苦瓜蛋花汤 is another example of using tomatoes and using a pre-fry step.

Bitter food is good for us, and helps to speed up our metabolism. Green vegetables such as broccoli, and spinach can also be classified as bitter good. Well, broccoli and spinach do not taste bitter to me. Bitter melon might be the ultimate!

I have cooked bitter melon soup many times and bitter melon soup (egg-drop version) quite frequently.

This time, the base of this Bitter Melon Soup 苦瓜蛋花汤 starts with ikan billis (dried boiled anchovies), some onions, ginger, and tomatoes. In a soup pot, aromatize them in a little oil. When the onions turn translucent, then add water (or stock) to constitute the soup. Allow it to come to a boil for about 10 minutes (for flavors and aromatics to infuse), then turn down heat, add in bitter melon and continue to let it simmer till the bitter melon is cooked (no more than 30 minutes). Before serving, gently stir in whisked egg to create silky egg-strands. Turn off the heat. Sea salt and ground white pepper to taste. Garnish generously with finely chopped green onions and cilantro.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Chayote (Chokos) Tomato Stew 番茄焖煮佛手瓜

Okra with Tomatoes. Bitter Melon with Tomatoes. Brisling Sardines with Tomatoes. Cabbage with Tomatoes. And now...Chokos (Chayote) with Tomatoes.

When the word "Umami" became a hype these few years, tomatoes became a topic of the town as they are tied to ketchup which many claimed to taste "Umami" - kinda addictive with savory deliciousness. I do not like ketchup (or probably, should I say, not my kitchen or dining habit to have it?) but extremely so love tomatoes. That is why many Indian curries and dishes taste so good. They've got tomatoes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Napa Cabbage and Barley Soup 白菜薏仁汤

Practice makes perfect when creating tasty vegetarian dishes. Nah, vegetarian dishes are not bland.

In fact, they can be flavorsome and delicious. Seriously, it is not difficult to develop flavors in vegetarian dishes. It is not the (huge) amount of oil you have to use. And you don't have to over-depend on excessively-rich, heavy hot sauces.

How then?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Stir-Fry Chayote with Fresh Lily Bulbs 清炒佛手瓜鲜百合

As I am quite familiar with using chayote in cooking, I also explored another relatively new ingredient to pair with chayote recently. Fresh Lily Bulbs mark a close resemblance to...errr.... "finger nails"?

Can you find the finger nails I am talking about?

Fresh lily bulbs have a natural hint of sweetness and according to Chinese medicinal perspective, have slightly "cold properties". When the weather is dry, lily bulbs can be used to relieve coughs, dry throats and to clear away "heat" in the body. They are also known to promote restful sleep, to treat insomnia and reduce heart palpitations.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Broccoli with Fresh Shitake Mushrooms 清炒西兰花

It is rare. Strangely rare. This is one of the few times I have done a broccoli stir-fry. It is so easy to enjoy steamed broccoli that I do not bother to cook them other ways. Do you stir-fry your broccoli or prefer to enjoy them...steamed?

But this day, I wanted to add more vegetables and cook just ONE side (vegetable) dish to pair with steamed rice. So I did so (the stir-fry)...with garlic, ginger, celery, carrots, broccoli and fresh shitake mushrooms.

This pan of fresh veggies stir-fry 


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Monday, January 16, 2012

Asparagus with Toasted Sesame Seeds 芝麻芦笋

The fatter (male) asparagus were better off steamed or to be cooked in a fish soup while the thinner (female) asparagus are worthy of stir-fries or in omelette. That's personal preference, really.

The sweet caramelized onions and carrots in this Asparagus Stir-Fry with Toasted Sesame Seeds complement with the flavors of fresh asparagus and fragrant toasted sesame seeds. Yum!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Frittata Fritters

I wanted to try spaghetti squash after seeing "noodle" dishes out of them! This recipe came to me at the instant when I had that plate of squash strands (after roasting in the oven 375degF for ~ 45 minutes) sitting right in front of me. No squash noodles, I decided, since I am cooking rice congee for that same meal. I wanted a side-dish more than a one-disher noodle. Here comes my Spaghetti Squash Frittata Fritter!

I am a huge fan of Indian spices so I fall back to my comfort zone when seasoning the squash strands - cumin, turmeric, ground coriander, curry powder, red chili powder, salt, pepper - that should work!