September 25, 2010

Braised Eight Treasures

Grandma used to make this on special occasions when the family gathers around for dinner, especially during Chinese New Year. Some of these ingredients are auspicious for Chinese New Year because their names in Chinese are homonym for auspicious words. To me, this is just another delicious dish grandma made. I was in charge of cooking the Chinese New Year dinner for grandma in my teenage years. I wish I could still make this for grandma.

From left to right: (Top) Dried scallops, dried oysters, shiitake mushrooms and sea cucumber. (Bottom) Fat choy, giant topshells, Pacific clams and enoki mushrooms.

The dish is called "Braised Eight Treasures" because the eight treasures are sea cucumbers, shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, dried scallops, dried oysters, giant topshells, Pacific clams and fat choy. Of course you can make this however many "treasures" you want but avoid four because it's inauspicious, although that doesn't really matter unless you have a very superstitious family. Sea cucumbers can be purchased dried or frozen. I usually just get the frozen ones because it's pre-cleaned. All you gotta do is rinse them and they are ready to be cooked.

4 cups sea cucumber (cut into 2 inch pieces)
3 inch ginger, bruised

3 cloves garlic, bruised
2 inch ginger, bruised
3 small pieces of rock sugar (or 1 teaspoon white sugar)
2 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
5 cups water (or chicken stock)
4 cups soaked shiitake mushrooms (cut off the stems)
1 package of enoki mushrooms
1 cup dried scallops
1 cup dried oysters
1 can (16 oz) giant topshells
1 can (15 oz) Pacific clams
2 cups soaked fat choy
Some chopped scallions for garnishing

You should prepare the sea cucumbers first. Once you thawed the sea cucumber, wash over cold running water until water runs clear.

Cut sea cucumber into about 2-3 inches pieces. It shrinks as it's cooked so be careful not to cut them into small pieces. In a pot, add ginger and enough water to cover 2/3 of the pot.

Once it starts boiling, add in pieces of sea cucumber. Cook for 2 minutes.

Drain the sea cucumber and set them aside. Discard ginger pieces.

Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger. Fry until it starts to browned, then add in shiitake mushrooms. Saute for a minute and then add in soy sauce, oyster sauce, rock sugar and water. Once it starts boiling, turn the heat down to low, cover and let it slowly braise for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add in dried oysters and dried scallops. Add another cup of water if it's too dry. Braise over low heat for another 30 minutes.

Add enoki mushrooms. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Then, add in sea cucumbers, giant topshells and Pacific clams. Cover and cook for 5 more minutes.

Make a small dent on the middle of the pot. Add in fat choy and cook for about 2 minutes over high heat.

Dish and sprinkle some chopped scallions on top. Serve warm.

September 15, 2010

Steamed Meat Patty with Salted Fish

Steamed Meat Patty with Salted Fish (咸鱼蒸肉饼) usually uses ground pork but since I'm not too keen on pork, I'm using ground chicken breast instead. For those that like moist patties, you can use a combination of lean and fatty ground pork or even ground chicken from dark meat. This dish is delicious over a bed of warm white rice. Grandma would sometimes pan fry the leftovers, IF there are leftovers. :)

There are 2 different kinds of salted fish; "dry" and "wet". I prefer using the wet ones for this dish because it melts into the patty. Well, not "melts", but blends pretty uniformly into the ground meat whereas the dry ones are more fibrous. The bottle of salted fish above is what I used for this recipe. You might ask why I'm using a lot of ginger in this recipe. Besides giving this dish a nice aroma, the ginger also makes the salted fish less "fishy".

1 lb ground chicken
Salted fish
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon chopped scallion
1/2 tablespoon chopped ginger
1/2 tablespoon white pepper
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
3 inch ginger, julienned

Chopped scallions for garnishing
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

Set up your steamer. Place a metal rack in the middle of the wok or a pot. Add in about 3 inches of water. Cover your wok or pot and let the water boil over high heat. Lightly grease a baking dish (I used a glass pie dish).

Deboned, skinned and chopped salted fish. You can use up to as much as 2 tablespoons of chopped salted fish.

Mix everything except julienned ginger.

Form a large patty on the baking dish and sprinkle julienned ginger on top.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap. Steam for about 25 minutes over high heat.

Once the patty is cooked, topped with chopped scallions, soy sauce and sesame oil. Serve warm.

Steamed Eggs with Beech Mushrooms

Grandma used to just make plain steamed eggs (蒸水蛋) and we would eat it warm with white rice. The trick to make this silky smooth is not to over beat the eggs and also steaming them in very low heat. If you never had this before, it's like eating a savory flan.

You can make this recipe with or without mushrooms. You can also used minced meat. Adding mushrooms gives more substance to this dish and it's actually a pretty good alternative for those that are watching their calories. We're doubling the bulk of eggs and also using mushrooms, which are a relatively low calorie food. Also, cover the eggs with plastic wrap so that excess water will not drip into the dish, causing it to be overly watery.

4 eggs
400 mL water
1 cup brown beech mushrooms
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Some chopped scallions

Lightly grease a casserole dish. Set up your steamer. Place a metal rack in the middle of the wok or a pot. Add in about 3 inches of water. Cover your wok or pot and let the water boil over high heat. Once the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium.

Combine eggs with water, salt, white pepper and sesame oil. Beat the mixture lightly until well combined. Add the egg mixture and mushrooms on the casserole dish.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap. Steam for about 20 minutes or until eggs are set.

To serve, top with chopped scallions, soy sauce and sesame oil. Serve warm.

September 10, 2010

Turnip Cake (Law Bok Gow)

Law Bok Gow (萝卜糕) is one of the beloved dishes from dim sum restaurants. "Law Bok" in Cantonese means "daikon radish" and "Gow" means cake. Of course, "cake" in this instance is not referring to the quintessential American cakes. Law Bok Gow is more of a semi-firm savory pudding. Traditional Law Bok Gow is a steamed velvety "cake" studded with daikon radish, Chinese sausages, shiitake mushroom, scallions and dried shrimp. Law Bok Gow is to Chinese New Year as gingerbread cookies is to Christmas. While mostly served in dim sum restaurants, Law Bok Gow is an auspicious dish served during Chinese New Year. Law Bok Gow is sometimes referred to as Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake.

This is a vegetarian/vegan version of the recipe. Dried shiitake mushrooms are used in this recipe (optional if you don't like its taste). Soak dried mushrooms for a few hours and then it's ready to be used. I omitted shiitake mushrooms when I was making this because Vance hates shiitake mushrooms. Other possible filling for Law Bok Gow are chopped Chinese sausage, dried shrimp and chopped scallions. The recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups of filling so adjust as you see fit. Your main ingredient, however, should be daikon radish.

Daikon radishes, photo from Wikipedia.

I like to make my Law Bok Gow with roughly chopped daikon radish because I like to bite into pieces of daikon radish. You can chop them smaller if that is what you prefer. You might want to make Law Bok Gow the day before you plan to serve it because you have to steam it and then let it cool before slicing and pan frying it. Law Bok Gow is served with soy sauce or oyster sauce (or vegetarian oyster sauce).

Here's a tip for steaming. If you are steaming something for a long time, you might encounter instances where water inside your wok is drying out. Keep a pot of boiling water next to you when you're steaming so you can just pour hot water into the wok to replenish the water. This saves the steaming time because you don't have to wait for cold water to boil again.

2 cups chopped daikon radish
1/2 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms
1 cup water
2 cups rice flour
1 teaspoon oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine

In a pan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute daikon radish and shiitake mushrooms. When the radish starts to turn translucent, turn off the heat and set the mixture aside to cool.

Combine water, rice flour, salt, white pepper, sesame oil and Chinese cooking wine. When the radish mixture had cooled, combine them and pour into a loaf pan (or a cake pan). You are gonna get a batter with the consistency of milk. That's normal. It will congeal as it steams.

Set up your steamer. Place a metal rack in the middle of the wok or a pot. Add in about 3 inches of water. Cover your wok or pot and let the water boil over high heat. Once the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium.

Place the loaf pan on top of the metal rack. Cover and let it steam. Check occasionally to replenish water. Let  it steam for about 1.5 hours. The cake is done if a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Depending on the cooking vessel, steaming time range between 1.5 hours to 2 hours.

 Once the Law Bok Gow is cooked, let it cool for at least 2 hours. You can just put plastic wrap on top of the Law Bok Gow and  store it inside the fridge for a few days.

To serve, invert the pan and cut the cake into squares. Cut to about an inch thick. The thicker they are, the less likely they will fall apart.

In a pan, heat some oil over medium heat and pan fry Law Bok Gow until it's browned on both sides

Serve Law Bok Gow with oyster sauce (or vegetarian soy sauce) or soy sauce.

September 8, 2010

Easy Creamy Mushroom and Bacon Fettucine

Got some fresh Fettuccine and Parmigiana Reggiano at Chelsea Market today so I'm making this for dinner. This recipe calls for brown beech mushrooms because I like to use them with bacon. You can, of course, substitute any mushrooms like sliced bellas. I love creamy Alfredo sauce but not too much with the calories that comes with butter and milk. Campbell's canned cream of mushroom soup (or cream of chicken) works great and is relatively low calorie.

This recipe is not low calorie but if you omit bacon (or use bacon bits), it should be fairly low. If you're not watching calories then go to town and use as much bacon as you want*. (*not responsible for clogged arteries and heart attack after ingesting this meal)

3 cups cooked Fettuccine
2 cups brown beech mushrooms
1 cup chopped bacon (about an inch wide)
1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom
1/2 cup water
Some Parmigiano Reggiano

In a pan, cook bacon without oil over medium heat. You should be rendering the fat from bacon and when the bacon starts to brown transfer them to a paper towel. Throw away most of the oil except for about 1/2 tablespoon. Don't clean your pan! You want those brown bits on the bottom.

In a bowl, combine cream of mushroom and water. Whisk until smooth. Sauté mushrooms over medium heat for 2 minutes.

Add the soup mixture into the pan and let it get all the drippings from the pan.

Once it starts to boil, add in cooked fettuccine.

Turn off the heat and mix well with bacon. You can reserve some to top the pasta. Serve with a few sprinkles of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Roasted Zucchini Squash with Parmesan Cheese

Zucchini squash are best roasted, or at least that's what Vance told me. If you are roasting this on a roasting pan, you should half the time because it requires less time to roast on a roasting pan than a baking dish.

3 cups sliced zucchini squash (green or yellow, or both)
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano 
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Add sliced zucchini squash into a baking dish.. Add dried basil, dried oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper into the zucchini squash and mix well. Roast for 20 minutes. Stir zucchini squash and bake for another 10 minutes.

Sprinkle Parmesan cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano on top of zucchini squash. Serve warm.

September 2, 2010

Vegetarian Sambal Edamame

This is a vegetarian version of Sambal Edamame with Shrimp. I also added in 1/2 cup baby corn cause Vance likes them and I have it leftover from making curry the other day. You can use or omit the baby corn. Be careful when choosing your sambal, make sure there are no shrimp in it. Any types of soy strips would do, even rehydrated ones. I have a packet of seasoned soy strips in the pantry so I used that instead. I washed the strip in cold water to wash off the seasoning (would probably taste weird with conflicting taste profile).

Soy strips (left) and sambal tumis (right)

2 cups edamame
1 cup soy strips 
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 packet of sambal tumis 
1 tablespoon oil
some water (if too dry)

Add oil to wok or pan over medium heat. Add in chopped garlic and soy strips. Cook for a few minutes until garlic starts to brown. 

Add in edamame. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add in sambal and mix well. Cook for another 5 minutes. If it gets too dry, add in some water. Serve warm with rice.

Sambal Edamame with Shrimp

Sometimes prepackaged sauces are a blessing in disguise (oh course I say this in the most secular way possible). Sambal is a fragrant mixture of fried chillies and spices. Commonly used in Malaysian cuisine, sambal can be eaten as condiment or built into a dish as sauce. One popular sambal dish in grandma's household is the Sambal Petai with Shrimp. Petai beans come from the Parkia speciosa plant and are eaten throughout Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, petai contains certain amino acids that makes your urine stinks (much like eating asparagus) and complex carbohydrates (like most beans)  that causes flatulence. Petai can now be found in the frozen aisle in most Chinese groceries that cater to Southeast Asian customers.

But why edamame in this recipe? To tell you the truth, I couldn't find frozen petai today and thought edamame would make an interesting substitute. They look kinda the same, although obviously edamame wouldn't impart a reminder that I ate it for dinner. I use frozen edamame beans (without the pods). I'm happy to say that it tasted as tasty as petai. PLUS I can make a vegetarian version for Vance (who grimaced at the beginning when he saw the edamame, which he thought was petai). Of course, you can always use petai instead of edamame.

This is what I used for my sambal (left). You can also use other types sambal (right). It's the right kind if you see petai beans on the package :)

2 cups edamame (or petai)
1 lb. shrimp (shelled and deveined)
1 bottle of sambal with shrimp (see above)
(if using Sambal Tumis without shrimp) 1/2 cup dried shrimp, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes then chopped
1 tablespoon oil
some water (if too dry)

Add oil to wok or pan over medium heat. Add in shrimp and cook until it starts to turn pink. Add in edamame. If you are using a sambal that has no dried shrimp in it, this is the time to add in the chopped dried shrimp. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Add in sambal and mix well. Cook for another 2 minutes. If it gets too dry, add in some water. Serve warm with rice.