Category: Vegetables (page 2 of 4)

“Chinese Pizza”- Hu Bing 糊餅

fried cornmeal hu bing

In the year 2000, my dad’s half sisters from Beijing came to our house to visit for a month. Not only did I learn that my 爺爺, like some Chinese who fled to Taiwan to escape Mao, had married a first wife before he met my 奶奶, but that he had two daughters from that previous marriage, whom my dad and our family had never met. Obviously, Chinese/family drama prevented us from meeting them or knowing about them up until that point.

So, my 大姑 二姑 (da gu, er gu) arrived, and after only a few days into their stay, my dad promptly brought home a 50 pound bag of flour from our local Costco (I miss the days of living 5 minutes away from Costco 🙁 ). Fear not; this was not gluttony at work, but rather, common sense. Northerners are famous for their “麵食“ or mian shi, or basically goodies made with or from flour- think dumplings, noodles, steamed buns, shao bing, etc etc., and my 大姑 and 二姑 were no exception. They, like many other Chinese, showed their love and care for us through the delicious food they made for us, carby and bready delights included. Even though their visit was 15 years ago, I remember many goodies they made us- pan fried steamed buns (sheng jian bao) with kabocha squash filling, individual sesame shao bing, chewy dough filled with sesame paste and ooey gooey brown sugar, zongzi galore, man tou, and Chinese pizza, as my mom and I (and sister, maybe?) fondly called it. Continue reading

Sauteed Mung Bean Sprouts

My dad came to visit us from California this week! When I came home from work every day, I would come home to a hot stove and at least one or two vegetable dishes on the table as a head start on dinner. Thanks, Ba!

We had dinner in Chinatown on one of the first nights he was here, and once we told him how to take the subway to get to Chinatown from our apartment, he went Chinatown-happy. For the next 3 days, he went to Chinatown once a day and came back with groceries every time.Needless to say, the fridge was exploding with groceries and leftovers, because not only was there the groceries I planned to make and our CSA pick-up, but also the food and groceries my dad cooked or bought.

On one such Chinatown run, he came back with a big bag of mung bean sprouts because “they looked fresh”. They were indeed very fresh, because they didn’t get watery or slimy after just a few days.

Most of the time, mung bean sprouts are eaten as an accompanying component of the meal, whether in pho, pad thai, zha jiang mian, “Asian” salads, or whatever else. However, in this case, we can sautee the bean sprouts for a slightly crunchy and easy vegetable dish. This dish requires absolutely no skill, short of washing vegetables and cutting a tiny bit of scallions. I hope you’ll give it a try!

mung bean sproutsSauteed Mung Bean Sprouts Continue reading

Roasted Beet Salad

We got pretty Chioggia beets in our CSA this week, and I love roasted beets. So…it was time to It’s been a while since I posted a ‘Western’ recipe, so here it goes! I like the salad because of the great contrast between the candy sweet beets, salty pistachios and cheese, and fruitiness of the olive oil. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! roasted beet salad Continue reading

Salted Mustard Greens: Xue Cai

Since I moved from California, a restaurant item that I really miss is xue cai (雪菜), or salted mustard greens. Xue cai rou si chao fan, xue cai rou si chao nian gao, xue cai rou si tang mian (炒飯,炒年糕,湯麵)…..all of it! For English speakers, that’s salted mustard greens in fried rice, stir-fried rice cakes, and noodle soup (all with some meat, of course). YUMMY.

I forget if it was my mom or grandma who taught me how to make it, but the ingredients are what the title suggests: salt + mustard greens. What kind of mustard greens? Not what Americans call mustard greens, but the Asian version…Da jie cai (大芥菜), or big mustard greens, are the precursor to sour/pickled mustard greens, that stuff you see as a condiment for Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup and in those vacuum-sealed packages for $.99 at Asian stores.  Xiao jie cai (小芥菜) (or sometimes labeled xue li hong (雪里紅)),  little mustard greens, are what are used to make xue cai.

xue cai salted mustard greens

My grandma was flipping through cookbooks at Eslite in Taiwan, and she shook her head at recipes where the procedure for making xue cai called for rinsing the mustard greens first, then salting. I asked her why, and she responded that back in the day, salting was supposed to be a way to preserve the life of the mustard greens. If you washed the greens first, they wouldn’t keep nearly as well as if you only salted them.

Anyway, if you have salt, a fridge, and some time, you can make xue cai at home!

Xue cai


Salted Mustard Greens


Kosher salt

“Little” mustard greens


1) Get a big bowl. In the bowl, sprinkle coarse salt generously, on all the leaves of the mustard greens.

xue cai salted mustard greens

2) Place the bowl with the greens in the refrigerator overnight.

3) The next day, wash and rinse the mustard greens. Squeeze out excess moisture, and set in a colander to further drain liquid.

4) Chop the greens up and cook! Add garlic and protein, and eat with or cook with your carb of choice. Or….keep reading for an impromptu dish I made!

Xue cai dou fu


Salted Mustard Greens with Tofu


Oil- 2 tsp, or enough to barely coat a pan

1/2 lb tofu

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

A few handfuls of salted mustard greens, chopped

1) Cut tofu up into tiny little dice. Blot them dry them with a clean kitchen towel.

2) Heat pan, then add oil. In batches, pan fry tofu until brown; flip and do the same to the other side. Take tofu out.

3) Stir fry garlic on low heat until fragrant, then add the mustard greens and make sure they are heated thoroughly. Add tofu and mix together until everything is evenly hot.


Pickled Watermelon Rind (Liang ban xi gua pi)

Happy Memorial Day Eve!

Do you get sad when you see watermelon rinds in the trash, or is it just me? It all started with my trip to Aldi..

Yesterday I bought my first ever good whole watermelon at Aldi for$3.99, enabling me to eat sweet, juicy, crunchy and non-mealy watermelon from the comforts of my own home.

Take a trip down memory lane with me, if you will: Summers at our house were marked with lots of sweet watermelon, maybe one or two at a time, rolling around on the kitchen floor. On trips to Costco (in most cases), my dad would hover around the bins of watermelon to pick the perfect one. He would flick his index finger and thumb together to thump the watermelon, and listen intently for whatever sound. He was the watermelon whisperer; I can scarcely remember a time there was bad watermelon in our house!

I can now empathize with people who never inherited or got the chance to learn the culinary secrets and tips from their chefs of parents. I never learned watermelon picking from my dad, and it’s been a sad realization, as I’ve moved away from home and don’t have the luxury of perfect watermelons in the house. I’ve picked several bad watermelons that were not only not sweet, but had mealy insides 🙁 .

So, this watermelon selection was actually mere luck of the draw; I was in the checkout at Aldi and saw watermelons and wanted one for Tim, my husband, and me to enjoy. I thumped the watermelons like I had seen my dad do, but couldn’t distinguish the sounds of a bad watermelon from a good.  I also don’t have data on my phone, so I couldn’t just look up “How to pick a watermelon”, either. I asked the lady behind me in line if she knew how to pick a good one, and she said that someone told her to look for the yellow belly, and that it had worked for her thus far. I picked the first one I had tapped, because it had the signature yellow belly.

Thanks for the tip, lady! The tip succeeded once again, as the watermelon was bright red and had a large portion of that sweet “upper” watermelon part that is furthest from the rind. You know what I’m talking about!!

I cut up a bunch of watermelon, but was sad to see the rinds get tossed in the trash. What could I make…..pickles? Apparently, Westerners already have a method: pickled watermelon rind! I was dismayed to see that several recipes call for boiling the watermelon rinds for several minutes.  Why not marinate and pickle it like cucumbers in liang ban huang gua? Then, I googled the recipe in Chinese, and realize that I wasn’t the only one with this brilliant idea. Oh well! It’s still good.

As you go off to your Memorial Day barbecues and are looking for a last minute salad or side dish to make, consider pickled watermelon rind! You can bring not only fruit, but a side dish as well! Enjoy.

pickled watermelon rinds  Continue reading

Shredded King Oyster Mushroom Stir-Fry

Mushrooms are delicious! There is no type of mushroom that I don’t like. King oyster. Shiitake. Oyster. Portabello. Enoki. Cremini. Morels. Black trumpet. The textures, tastes, and appearances all differ, and it’s like a whole different world out there! I am sad for all those people who don’t like mushrooms. If you are a mushroom hater, don’t give up! Keep trying different types of mushrooms until you find one you like..

My personal favorite (considering cost) that I use a lot is the king oyster or king trumpet mushroom. My mom and I affectionately refer to it as the baseball bat mushroom. It is very hearty and does not leach out too much water, as long as you don’t cook it too long, and cook with high heat. And the texture!

This dish pays homage to shredded pork with bean curd, xiang gan rou si (香乾肉絲), commonly found on Chinese restaurant menus (especially at Shanghainese places). I made a variation of this dish in college for two guy friends, and they gobbled it up!

Try this at home- it’s good. Promise!

What’s your favorite type of mushroom ?

Xiang gan xin bao gu si
Shredded King Oyster Mushroom Stir-Fry

Continue reading

Finally, a recipe

I’m back from the (blogging universe) dead!

Today we had a busy day; it started out with my husband T not going to play airsoft outdoors because it was 25 degrees out, so he went to the gun range with his trusty friend K instead.

I had choir practice today until 4, then visited the new Penzey’s at the Bourse (Independence Hall East and Randstead)- my first time at a Penzey’s, ever! It was nice but I decided to stick to purchasing “Western” food spices, because some of the non-Western spices like Sichuan peppercorns, were not only much more expensive than I’m used to seeing, but not as high in quality. (They contained quite a few of those black crunchy seeds) My favorite aspect of the store was being able to smell all the different spices. Something that I actually would have preferred would be the ability to scoop out whatever amount you desire, instead of just buying previously portioned out amounts, like 1, 4, or 8 oz, etc. I bought 4 oz each of cayenne pepper and Hungarian paprika, and each was around $5. Not bad, considering they will last me a very long time.

If you are looking to buy spices, I have had good experiences with They also sell stuff including matcha powder (it’s from China, so I am a little skeptical- though it has good customer reviews), spinach powder, beet powder, and tons of other types of powders, if you want to use them to color your frostings naturally. Lots of spinach powder can actually make your food taste like matcha, strangely. I speak from experience- I used it to color the frosting on my mom’s wedding cake, and people were asking if the frosting was green tea!

I came home and had some chicken leftovers, but needed some vegetables. I had bought a big napa cabbage, and had soaked mushrooms already, so it was easy to think of what to make.

Braised Napa and Shiitake Mushrooms
Da bai cai xiang gu
Makes 2 hearty vegetable servings
Continue reading

Kohlrabi Fritters

I’m sure you have seen these “alien” looking fruit at the grocery store. Raw, they taste kind of sharp or peppery like turnips or radishes, with a crunchy texture. Cooked, the taste is a bit mellowed out.

I first received kohlrabi in my CSA with Highland Orchards (though have now switched to Lancaster Farm Fresh, which I prefer for its variety). I tried them raw, but for some reason wasn’t a bit fan of the raw taste. I know others enjoy it raw, so maybe I will go back to trying it uncooked someday. Until then, however, I look forward to kohlrabi because I can make fritters!

To me, these fritters taste like a cross between latkes and Chinese turnip cake, or luo buo gao (萝卜糕), both of which I really like. Just like latkes, I think these would taste delicious with sour cream or applesauce, but Tim and I have just been eating them with Carla Goncalves’ amazing Piri Piri sauce, which she kindly gifted us with for our wedding. (quick back story: Carla and her husband, David, used to own a Portuguese restaurant called KooZeeDoo which is now closed, but David is the exec chef at Morgan’s Pier as of May 1! Carla does desserts for Sunday brunch, and Carla is a pastry wizard, in my opinion)

Kohlrabi Fritters
Makes 8 mediumish fritters
inspired by and Continue reading

Easy Stir-Fried Taiwanese Cabbage

Taiwanese cabbage is flat instead of spherical like the green cabbage we see in most American grocery stores. Taiwanese cabbage is less dense than American cabbage, and its layers, as you can kind of see in the picture, are more loosely packed. Its layers are thinner, and crisp up very well when cooked. In general, the taste is lighter and more refreshing than normal green cabbage, in my opinion. Below is a picture of the Murdoc cabbage from this week’s CSA. I believe its alternate name is ‘pointed head cabbage’- the cabbage looks like a little cone (pre-cutting, obviously)! It’s pretty cool. The picture on the right is “Taiwan cabbage” apparently, and ignore the yellow, but it’s the only picture with a cross section I could find. I found Murdoc cabbage to be a great substitute for Taiwanese cabbage, and good thing, because that was one big cabbage!

Murdoc cabbage is on the left; Taiwanese cabbage is on the right. Look at the loosely packed leaves!

Today I’m sharing the recipe for a standby cabbage stir-fry dish…cabbage and garlic, up a notch. My mom used to cook cabbage and garlic for us, as a simple and tasty vegetables. I have since come to really love the Taiwanese cabbage.

For best results, cook this cabbage on the highest heat you can without burning the garlic (hence the slices instead of minced or chopped). The high heat helps to evaporate the water that is being released by the cabbage, so that it doesn’t just get boiled. I’m sure most people have eaten some iteration of cabbage and garlic, but I like this cooking method because I feel that the ginger gives the cabbage an extra dimension besides garlic alone. The heat from the peppers is also nice to lift the dish a bit. This would be a good accompaniment to any Chinese or even just Asian meal that needs some vegetables.

Tim loves this stuff, and perks up when hears that cabbage will be in the dinner spread. I hope you will love it, too! 🙂

Stir-Fried Taiwanese Cabbage

serves 2 as part of a multi-dish dinner (yields 2 cups post-cooking)
inspired by this recipe and this also
1 thin slice of ginger (1/4″ to 1/2″), cut into 2 or 3 pieces
4-6 garlic cloves, cut thickly lengthwise
1+ red chili peppers, sliced thinly (optional)
1 Tbsp oil
1/4 head cabbage (about 4 cups), cut into about 1-1 1/2 inch squares
1/2 to 1 tsp kosher salt (to taste)


1) Separate the chunks of cut cabbage into its individual leaves. This will help them cook more evenly and quickly.

2) Heat ginger, garlic, peppers, and oil in a wok on low/medium low until they just start to smell.

3) Immediately add cabbage, stir quickly to move aromatics around, and increase the heat. Saute until cabbage starts to lose water and turn more translucent. Add salt and continue to saute until the cabbage is cooked. If you are in doubt of the doneness of the cabbage, taste a piece! Also, the volume of the cabbage will shrink by about 2 when it is completely cooked.

4)Take out ginger slices if you like (hence the thick slicing instructions).

5) Eat!

-Turn the heat down and add salt earlier, to turn this into a dish with juicy, tender cabbage.
-I used long red peppers that HMart labeled something like “Thai Finger Long Peppers”. I’ve also used bird’s eye chilies, which are spicier.
-I personally really dislike biting into ginger, so I pick around it, but you can also take out the slices once the dish is cooked.
-Murdoc cabbage, or pointed head cabbage, is extremely similar in both taste and texture as Taiwanese cabbage. Use it as a substitute if you, like me, received it in your CSA share.
-Green cabbage is okay in this dish, but it definitely won’t have the same texture, which I think is half of the enjoyment of eating this! But, you can be the judge of that, if and when you try it.

Continue reading

Garlic Chive Pockets / Chinese Leek Boxes

This is for you, Jen Fung!

My grandma tells me to eat napa cabbage in the winter, and garlic chives, or jiu cai, in the summer. This applies largely to dumplings, because two of the most common fillings are some variation on pork and napa or pork and garlic chives.

Tim and I were in Chinatown getting groceries and these chives were so fat and plump! I knew they would be good. They call them garlic chives because they smell and taste so strongly of garlic that one would think there is garlic in the dish as well.

Today, I will teach you how to make jiu cai he zi ( 韭菜盒子), or literally, Garlic Chive Boxes. Chive pockets, for some reason, sounds more right to me. Maybe because of its association with hot pockets? Anyway, I toiled long and hard on this recipe…I made the dough 5 times before I was happy with it! I have lots of experiences with cold water dough, but the hot water dough was a new technique for me to learn.

These goodies are made with hot water dough, which also can be used to make scallion pancakes, potstickers, 小龍包 (xiaolongbao), or soup dumplings, and many other goodies.

I would eat jiucaihezi a bowl of xi fan or soup for dinner, or just as is for lunch or breakfast 🙂 Enjoy!

I found my pictures! Yay! If you have the patience for it, you can follow along in the linked video to learn how to roll out the dough. Even if you can’t understand her, the visuals definitely at least helped me!

She uses a lot more water, but I’m not sure why, because her measurements gave me very goopy dough many times! Follow my water suggestions for success 🙂

jiucaiheedit Continue reading

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