Tag: easy

Yu Mi Rou Rou (Corn and beef)

This was one of the first posts that appeared on my blog in 2010 (!) But now, with an updated picture and some better instructions. This is obviously a very flexible dish and you should use whatever ratios of meat:corn you like..Just don’t add too much soy sauce, because you don’t want brown looking corn. ENJOY!
This dish reminds me of elementary school. My childhood friend Ashley and I loved this dish, and would always be excited if one person or the other had it in their lunch. It was definitely considered a “good” lunch to get.

It’s a very simple dish, and I hope you will be as excited to eat it as we 7 year olds were! “Rou rou” was the kid-friendly way to say meat, which is just “rou,” and it’s hard to call this by the ‘grown up’ name, so say it with me- yu mi rou rou!

yu mi rou rou

Hello, favorite windowsill of mine 😡

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Cha Xiang Xun Ji (Tea Smoked Chicken)

Our apartment smells like smoke. It’s okay, though- don’t call the fire department! I’ve made 3 batches of smoked chicken in the past 3 days. Smoking chicken in a wok + no vent leads to me swinging the broom in front of the beeping fire alarm, and Tim wielding a folder to fan the smoke in large vertical strokes in the kitchen.

Growing up, I remember two tasty chicken preparations that made their way into restaurants as appetizers or side dishes: smoked chicken and drunken chicken. Both chickens were always served bone, with neat and clean cuts across the chicken, no doubt made by a sharp cleaver. I tried my hand at making drunken and smoked chicken, but the drunken one didn’t turn out that well, and its failure was overshadowed by the promise of delicious smoked chicken.

This recipe is adapted from this Taiwanese lady who kind of reminds me of a younger version of my grandma. To me, she is adorable, just like the jolly Taiwanese chef who showed me how to make those yummy braised eggs with long hots. Some of her tips didn’t work for me, but it could be due to differences in chicken types and overall set-up. I’ll post what worked for me.

Tea Smoked Chicken xun ji

The chicken was so tender that the leg fell apart when I took it out!

 

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Pearl Meatballs (zhen1zhu1wan2zi 珍珠丸子)

When I was still single and living with 2 other girls, my housemate Lily made zhen zhu wan zi and shared some with me. I suppose they are named pearl meatballs because they look like pearls due to the sticky rice coating! I would also dub them porcupine meatballs, because they also remind me of porcupines..

I think they are from Hubei, China, where my grandma was born. Regardless of their origin, they are pretty tasty. This dish still requires some Asian market ingredients, but is one of the easiest dishes involving sticky rice that I am familiar with. These meatballs are slightly fancier than “regular” Chinese meatballs, but only take a bit more time for a taste and appearance that are so worth it, in my opinion! If you like rolling snickerdoodle dough in cinnamon sugar, this recipe is for you 😉 I am sorry that there are no water chestnuts in this recipe, because Tim doesn’t like them. But, if you want to get some, chop up 5-6 water chestnuts to add to the filling ingredients.

Cooking, especially Chinese cooking, is a good fit for me in the sense that I don’t like to follow all the directions all the time, and I like to make substitutions when it’s more convenient! Please refer to the notes and substitutions sections for some tips for the like-minded.

Zhen Zhu Wan Zi Pearl Meatballs
Fresh out of the steamer, minus two! (One for Tim, one for me)

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King Oyster Mushroom Stir-Fry

I love mushrooms. I love the bouncy yet meaty texture, and I love the different tastes imparted by different varieties of mushrooms!

One of my favorites is the king oyster mushroom, pictured below in the front:

Picture from wikimedia

King oyster mushrooms are very hearty mushrooms that I like to describe as baseball-bat shaped. Tim has referred to them accidentally as prince mushrooms 😀

These king oysters are great in hotpots and well as soups. I’m sure they would also be fantastic on the grill! The appearance, taste and texture of the king oyster mushroom is similar to that of the Nebrodini Blanco mushroom, which our favorite chefs at KooZeeDoo grilled to perfection when they were still in business.

King oyster mushrooms are also “meaty” enough that I once included in the spread of dishes I made for two college boys (one with quote a voracious appetite, might I add). They said that they were full and satisfied, and that they couldn’t believe they had had a meatless meal! This was in my Cafe 1010 days, which is a different story for a different post.

Okay, so I had these king oysters in the fridge, and I needed to use them up before our trip to Chicago over the long weekend. I have been trying to remember to cook with a variety of colors, so I whipped something together. It turns out that these ingredients went pretty well together, and they are a nice and simple dish to accompany dinner.

Easy Mushroom Stir-Fry Continue reading

Easy Trail Mix- No Recipe

Easy Trail Mix- No Recipe

-Walnuts
-Almonds
-Pumpkin Seeds

-Coconut flakes
-Dried cranberries

Toast nuts @ 250F.
Toast coconuts @ 250F. These will only take a few minutes
Add cranberries to the cooling nuts and coconut.

Here’s the recipe version, if you want something more straightforward:

Easy Trail Mix
-1/2 cup each of: walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes (unsweetened), and dried cranberries

-Toast nuts at 250F for 20-22 minutes, or until you can smell the fragrant aroma of toasted nuts!  Add the coconut atop the nuts during the last 5-7 minutes, or until the coconut is lightly brown. Add dried cranberries to the cooling nuts and coconut.

When everything is completely cooled, transfer to an airtight container. Sprinkle on yogurt, or eat as a snack!

Other options for your trail mix (add as much as you like, and only toast nuts+seeds):
Shelled pistachios, sunflower seeds, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, chocolate chips, all sorts of dried fruit, like apricots, papaya, figs, banana, apple, mango…

Soft Wheat Bread made with TangZhong 湯種

*edit as of April 9, 2014- You can replace 60 grams of the whole wheat bread flour with buckwheat flour. The resulting bread tastes more grassy or malty, or just buckwheatey, and the bread just won’t rise as much!*

I saw this recipe on King Arthur’s website, and I really wanted to make it with the flour that I got from Great River Milling Company (ordered from Amazon). Around the same time, I saw a website that reminded me of TangZhong, a technique that lots of Chinese bakeries use to get soft, fluffy bread. What’s the science behind tangzhong? Right now, my favorite explanation is from Jenni Fields at Pastry Chef Online, but I’d like to do even more research to be able to get even more details. For now, hers is good enough for me!

This recipe has been highly adapted; but I started with King Arthur’s recipe, so I should give them credit!

A summary of the changes:
-added tangzhong and sourdough starter
-used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil
-used a combination of honey, molasses, and maple syrup (emptied my almost-done bottles of honey and molasses, then supplemented with maple syrup)
-didn’t use milk
-cut the sweetness and upped the salt slightly
-used a “light” whole wheat bread flour; 80% of the bran has been removed, although 100% of the germ has been retained. Here’s the spec sheet: King Arthur’s recipe called for 100% whole wheat flour, so I’m sure you can do that too! 

Soft Wheat Bread
Heavily adapted from King Arthur Flour

Tang Zhong:
-35g whole wheat bread flour
-175 mL water

Sourdough starter
-50 grams 100% hydration unfed or weakly fed sourdough starter OR 25 g whole wheat flour + 25 g water

Rest of the dough
-50g coconut oil
-73g honey, molasses, or maple syrup, or a combination of any of them
-337 grams whole wheat bread flour
-2.5 tsp instant yeast
-1.5 tsp salt 

-65-88 grams water (I used 88 for a dough on the wetter side)

1. Make the tangzhong first:
Whisk the flour and water together, and heat over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until it forms a paste at 65C or 150F. This will only take 1-2 minutes! The water should be completely absorbed by the flour at this point. Cool the tangzhong before you add it to the rest of the ingredients.

2. While the tangzhong is cooking:  Combine the sourdough starter and the rest of the dough ingredients together. Start with 75 grams of water. Mix well. If the dough looks like it already absorbed all the water and leaves stray flour grains behind, add water 1 tsp at a time until all flour has made friends with the water.

3. Add cooled tangzhong to the dough ingredients from step 2.

4. Walk away for 30 minutes; do some dishes and let the flour absorb the moisture from all the components.

5. Knead the dough from 5-7 minutes until it has a homogeneous texture and is smooth and elastic. The dough shouldn’t be sticking to your hands and should not be falling apart / not sticking together in a cohesive mass. Add flour or water 1 tsp at a time to adjust.

6. Leave covered in a warm spot (~70F) to rise for 1-2 hours, until the dough is puffy. Shape into a log that will fit in your oiled or parchment paper lined 9×5 loaf pan. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise 1-2 hours, or until the bread has domed above the center of the pan by about one inch. When the bread is getting close to doming (say, at the same level as the center of the pan), preheat the oven to 350F.

7. Bake for 35-40 minutes OR until a thermometer inserted into the middle of the loaf reads 190F. If the bread is browning too quickly after 20 minutes, tent it with foil.

8. Remove the bread from the oven when it is done, and turn it onto a wire rack to cool. Don’t slice until it has completely cooled! Eat by itself, or with some Hazelnut Chocolate Spread.


葱油餅 (cong you bing) Scallion Pancakes

I learned all my essential skills and understanding of everything food-related from my mom, who is an amazing cook+baker. Much of the time, I learned while procrastinating on homework by spending time in the kitchen. After all, who else would take over sauteeing for her when she was in the middle of cooking and had to answer the phone? 😉

I don’t know any measurements to Chinese recipes because it’s how I learned:
“Ma, how much wine?” “More…more….okay, 夠了 (enough)!” The dishes that remind me of home are the ones that I only know how to cook by feel, because I would almost always be there to watch my mom make them.

Scallion pancakes and mung bean porridge (葱油餅 cong1 you2 bing3 and 綠豆稀飯 lu4 dou4 xi1 fan4) were two staples in our house as I grew up. My mom would buy bunches of lush and green onions fresh from the Chinese supermarket (only in Los Angeles can you call the Chinese grocery stores SUPERmarkets), or sometimes she would rescue green onions from the fridge that were threatening to go yellow/brown and limp. We would make stacks of these, and my sister and I would take turns being in charge of cutting these into eighths.

My husband Tim will attest to the fact that when we go out with friends and they order scallion pancakes ($4.95) at restaurants, I try my best not to let my cringing show. Of course, I cringe because they are so easy to make at home, and with $5 you could buy enough ingredients to make you a huge stack of scallion pancakes with lots of scallions, not just a wimpy few scallions that they give you in restaurants.

scallion pancakes cong you bing

Thin dough and very little oil; cooked for a longer period of time

Won’t you try making it ? I brought these for my friends at Bistrot La Minette, and even they loved it! (To me, that is ultimate food validation, next to Tim’s validation of posting pictures of the food to his Facebook page or pretending to steal all the food 😀 )
You have been warned: Once you make this, you may also start to cringe when you friends order it at restaurants, because you’ll know how simple it can be to make at home! Enjoy!

Cong You Bing
葱油餅
Scallion Pancakes

Makes about 4 pancakes Continue reading

Chicken Spice Rub

My mom got me “I’m Just Here for the Food” and I have yet to go through all of the recipes. BUT, of the recipes, I love the spice rubs. In particular, the chicken rub recipe is what I like to think of as magic dust. Do nothing to your chicken but add this spice rub + salt, and you have a delicious piece of protein. For someone who looves spices (see previous post), this is the perfect thing to mix together! Alton’s recipe featured parts/ratios instead of measuring devices, so I made one part = one teaspoon to simplify things. Feel free to double or triple as needed. His recipe also usually includes filé powder and dried sage, neither of which I actually ever have on hand (gasp!). Even without those ingredients, the rub still is pretty tasty. This rub is best on chicken that is seared, grilled, or roasted.

Chicken Rub
adapted from Alton Brown

1/2 tsp toasted fennel seeds
1 tsp toasted coriander
1/2 tsp toasted cumin
1/2 tsp toasted celery seeds
1/4 tsp toasted white peppercorns
1/4 tsp toasted black peppercorns
1/2 tsp toasted red pepper flakes
1 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp powdered sugar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients in a blender or coffee bean grinder. Store in an airtight container and label and date it with masking tape! Alton says the rub is good for 3 months, but I keep mine a little longer with no harmful consequences. Add salt to your chicken when you use the rub.
Notes:
If you don’t have whole spices, it’s okay to use ground spices. But, whole spices can be toasted, which is nice.

A.B. Spice Rubbed Chicken

chicken drumsticks, legs, or thighs
Chicken Rub
kosher salt

1) Preheat oven or toaster oven to 425F. Rub spices and salt liberally over the chicken (the thicker the piece of chicken, the more spices you need).

2) Line a pan with foil. Place chicken on foil, making sure to leave space between the chicken. Don’t crowd the chicken!

3) Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F-175F.

Chicken Spice Rub

Hong Shao Rou 红燒肉 Braised Pork- updated

Growing up, I ate a lot of hong shao rou (braised meat)- mostly pork and sometimes beef. Sometimes my mom would make braised pork spare ribs (you can easily replace the pork shoulder with short spare ribs), and those were even better.  This is a dish I learned by watching her make it so many times, so I definitely do it by feel. I love this dish because it’s forgiving and rather simple; it just requires some time to wait for the meat to get nice and tender. Please, do yourself a favor and do not use lean meat with this.
Also, the best part is the sauce, so make sure you  add some of the sauce on the rice when you eat it!
I like serving this with brown rice and sauteed green veggies. Every time I make it, I might do something different..this recipe is pretty flexible and forgiving!

Braised Pork
红燒猪肉
hong2shao1rou4

2 servings + leftovers

Ingredients:
-1 tsp canola oil (or any neutral oil)
-1 lb pork butt, belly, or fattier pork meat (some sort of bone-in pork would be great, too! In that case, use more; about 1.25-1.5 lbs)
-1/2 Tbsp to 1 Tbsp sugar, or more to taste
-2 Tbsp Shaoxing (preferable) or rice wine
-3 thin slices of ginger
-1-2 star anise
-3 Tbsp soy sauce
-5-6 dried shiitake mushrooms (optional)

Other hearty veggie add-ins (pick one): peeled and chopped to a similar size as the pork
-Winter Bamboo (冬筍)- 1 bamboo
-Potatoes and carrots- 1 1/2 cups


Instructions:
1) Heat oil in a 3 or 4 qt saucepan. While it is heating, slice the pork into 1 1/2 inch dice.

2a) When the heat is hot / shimmering , cook the meat until it is gray or no longer pink/red anywhere. It doesn’t have to be browned. The point of this step is to semi-cook the meat and not end up with cooked bloody shards in the sauce (ew =( )  

2b) The slightly healthier alternative: Bring water to a boil, and gently simmer the meat until it is no longer pink/red on the outside. Rinse the meat until the water runs clearish with few impurities (you can fish these out with a strainer).

3) Transfer the meat to a bowl.

4a) If you used the pseudo-browning method, just add some sugar (start with 1/2 Tbsp to start) in the residual oil until the sugar starts to brown.

4b) If you used the healthier method, add the oil now, then the sugar. Stir the sugar over medium high heat until it starts to brown. Immediately add the meat and accumulated juices back into the pan, stirring well.

5) Stir in the wine, ginger, star anise, soy sauce, mushrooms, and enough water to cover everything 3/4 way. Taste the sauce, and add soy sauce or sugar for more savory/sweetness. I like it mainly savory with a hint of sweetness at the end.

6) Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour or hour and half, until the meat is tender and almost falling apart. If you want to add veggies, winter bamboo is hearty enough to add in at the same time as the wine. If using potatoes and carrots, add them when the meat is 3/4 done (after about 40-45 minutes).

7) This dish is easily made in advance and reheated before serving. Feel free to scrape off the fat that rises to the top of the sauce when it cools, if you want to watch your calories!


Notes/Substitutions:
-I don’t remember my mom and grandma making this dish with shiitake mushrooms, but I like to add them in sometimes. Feel free to omit them if you like, or replace with whole button or cremini mushrooms for something a bit different.
-This dish is best served with a simply sauteed vegetable or salted mustard greens, and lots of rice.
-If you have extra sauce or tiny bits of leftovers, it’s great with thin noodles for a savory breakfast.

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