Tag: legumes

Lv Dou Tang (Mung Bean Soup)

Lv Dou Tang, mung bean soup, is a great healthy breakfast or light dessert. If you add rice (1/8 cup raw rice) and cook for a longer period of time, you’ll get lv dou xi fan, or mung bean porridge, my mom’s choice of accompaniment to cong you bing (scallion pancakes) or jiu cai he zi (chive boxes).

Hong dou tang (Red bean soup), its sister soup, is only served hot, and for hot days like today, it would probably just make you sweat more. Lv dou tang is best eaten cold, because it is great for helping you cool down.  So, make some lv dou tang, chill it in the refrigerator or add some ice cubes, and drink up for a refreshing snack.

Quick fact: Lv or lü (綠), means green, as in the color, just like hong (紅) means red (for hong dou tang). A direct translation of lü dou tang as green bean soup would sound very unappealing to those who imagine string beans in soup. Sweet green bean soup? Yuck! Likewise, red bean soup that is sweet, also sounds pretty strange, if you think of red beans and rice when you hear the word red bean. 😀

Henceforth…mung bean and adzuki bean, their more dynamic and non-literal translations.

Take advantage of lv dou tang’s versatility, and make some now. The version I’ll show you is a very, very basic version. Feel free to add extra goodies like lotus seed (lian zi) or lily bud (bai he)- a few tablespoons of each should do it!

lv dou tang lü mung bean soup

Pearled barley (left) and mung beans (right) make for a simple tasty soup

Lv / Lü Dou Tang
Mung Bean Soup
Makes 3-4 small servings Continue reading

Lv dou xi mi lu- Mung Bean Tapioca Soup

A few days before Chinese New Year, I brought red bean sticky rice cake  for my friends at the restaurant to try. “What is it?” one of the servers asked. “Bean cake,” K told them. “Hmm, is this eaten with anything else- ice cream or something?” S asked. “It tastes….innnnnteresting…”

1) Sweet bean taste (and weaker bean taste, too, because this was a store-bought cake, not the one I made) and 2) Rice in dessert made for some disappointments in taste and texture department from these French cuisiners. Oops! Needless to say, they were not fans. I later told my mom on the phone about this funny cultural exchange, and we talked about the differences in Western and Eastern palates.

It’s funny how different cultures think about different ingredients. For beans, Western cuisine and Eastern cuisine have completely different takes on it!

When I think of beans with a Western brain, I think of salt: chili, hummus, rice and beans, split pea soup, and salad.
When I think of beans with an Eastern mindset, I think of both salt and sugar: tofu, soy sauce, soymilk pudding, red bean paste (豆沙), Vietnamese 三色冰 or Che Ba Mau, red bean soup, mung bean soup, etc.

But, please stay with me on this beany journey- learn to appreciate both the savory and sweet applications of our legume friends!

‘Mung bean’ is the more appealing translation of the Chinese word lv dou (綠豆). Lv dou actually translates to ‘green bean,’ just like adzuki bean is another word for red bean. I’m sure people would be gagging if they heard green bean soup as a dessert, as a picture of the lovely string bean would first pop up in their minds.

If the taro version is the ‘original’ 西米露, then allow me to call this its mung bean cousin.
I was tempted to add a pinch of salt, after thinking of how salt is so smartly applied in the famous Thai dessert of mango sticky rice, but feel free to include or exclude that if you wish. I don’t think Chinese people ever add salt to desserts, so I guess this is my take on this one.
Also, I’m not sure if 綠豆西米露 is the official correct name for this, but it’s the way I thought to differentiate it from its popular taro counterpart. Bon appétit!

綠豆西米露 tapioca pudding
Pre-coconut milk…post coconut milk looks kind of funky! :d

lv dou xi mi lu
Mung Bean Tapioca Soup Continue reading

Happy Early Chinese(Lunar) New Year!

The Lunar New Year starts on Thursday, February 19 this year, but I think I should give everyone advanced notice so they can start buying ingredients for making rice cake now 😉

I was talking to a friend about really wanting to make ‘rice cake,’ and she (I actually forget who, now) asked, “Do you mean the diet food?” I had to quickly correct her and tell her, no, definitely not the diet food- anything but! This rice cake is made of sticky rice flour, or glutinous rice flour (which does not contain gluten in it, contrary to its possibly deceptive name). Sticky rice is even more carb-laden then regular rice- weee! Like its “regular” rice counterpart, long grain sticky rice is less sticky than short grain sticky rice, and this stickier short grain rice is ground up to produce what we formally call glutinous rice flour. Glutinous rice flour (糯米粉) is used to make the super chewy foods: yuan zijian dui, flat rice noodles, mochi and both sweet and savory nian gao (rice cake). I can’t think of anything else at the moment- feel free to chime in on other uses in the comment box!

I love QQ or “chewy” (for lack of a better translation) foods, such as those made from glutinous rice flour, and I love red bean, so I really love 紅豆年糕。Every year, one of our parents’ grandmotherly friends would make it around the Lunar New Year, and give a “loaf” to us, which was wrapped in plastic wrap and in a brown paper bag. It was the humblest of packaging for a tasty treat made with love.

We would slice the rice cake and coat it in egg and a tiny bit of flour, then pan-fry it until the insides were gooey, and the outside a nice golden brown. Dusted with a light powdering of confectioner’s sugar, this made for a great dessert or breakfast!

Every year since I’ve been away from California, my aunt sends me a package with new year candies and this rice cake. Thank you, Auntie R! I figure it is time for me to make it on my own.

T’s family said that this rice cake had just the right level of sweetness, and had a great amount of red beany taste. Make it, won’t you please?


hong dou nian gao 紅豆年糕 蒸

Continue reading

Potlucking for a Crowd: Mung Bean Soup with a twist

Every year our church holds two potlucks, and the weather forecast showed this past Sunday to be a warm day. I was trying to think of something that would be good for a crowd, yet easy enough to make in my barely-moved-in kitchen supplies and equipment! My friend G had requested that I make the Taro Coconut Dessert, but I thought it would be too warm for that. She has some food allergies and also tries to be vegan when possible, so I tried to also keep her in mind for the dessert.

Enter memories of mung bean soup, or lu dou tang, from childhood. My mom would make this simple lightly sweetened dessert of mung beans cooked until they were ‘sandy’, served cold. Sometimes she would add grains or seeds like lotus seeds or pearled barley, but the heart and soul was the mung bean. I thought of grass jelly as a refreshing addition to the mix, then thought of chewy mochi balls for some texture. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this soup would actually be an ode to some of my most favorite Taiwanese shaved ice fillings, in a drinkable form. (Imagine trying to make shaved ice for 100+ people and keeping it cold…good luck!) To keep it simple, I’ll call this mung bean soup. The additions are recommended, but not required; even just mung beans on their own soup taste delicious.

lu dou tang

Black Bean Burgers, Cabbage Slaw and French Fries

“Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart,
the more you eat the more you fart,
the more you fart the better you feel,
So eat your beans with every meal”

Besides the catchy song, there are three reasons Tim and I eat beans:
1) We like how they taste
2) They have lots of fiber- think digestion and fullness level! 🙂
3) They are less expensive than meat per serving

I wouldn’t compare the texture of these black bean burgers to that of hamburgers, but they are quite tasty! They remind me of the solid and toasty form of black bean soup.

Black Bean Burgers
There ARE buns beneath the black bean burger and avocado..

Continue reading

Marinated Tofu Liang2Ban4Dou4Fu

Saturday and Sunday lunches in my family were usually pretty sui2bian4, or whatever, because of activities or church right before. In our family, this dish was almost always an accompaniment to xi1fan4, juk, 稀飯, rice porridge, or whatever you want to call it. I guess we liked the combination of hot xifan and cold doufu (豆腐) together! Nowadays, I don’t eat xifan as much, but I still love this marinated doufu almost any time. It’s easy to make because the shelf life of most of the ingredients is pretty long! 

is probably one of my dad’s favorite impromptu dishes, because I always
remember seeing him open a package of tofu out of the fridge to make this.
Aside: What’s the best way to get tofu out of the box? Use a knife (the one you are currently using to prep your ingredients, preferably), and make 3 slices along the rectangular box that the tofu comes in. Peel off the plastic covering, and dump the tofu onto an expectantly clean hand or bowl. Use the tofu box to store your cut-up tofu. There is no other way! 

Anyway, my dad loves garlic, so you can bet that there would always be LOTS of garlic in any dish he made that called for garlic.
Sometimes we would have green onions in the house, sometimes not. I prefer it with!

Marinated Tofu

Kosher salt

1 package soft tofu (firm and silken could also work in a pinch)
1-2 thousand year old eggs (pi2dan4 皮蛋),sliced in half then in quarters (optional if you can’t find it or if you don’t like it)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp sesame oil
Soy sauce
Preserved turnip (zha4cai4 榨菜) – 2-3 tsp, minced (optional)
Dried shrimp, finely chopped and sauteed in some oil- 2-3 tsp, minced (optional)
Dried Pork (rou4song1 肉鬆)- 2-3 tsp, added at the last minute (optional)

1-2 stalks green onions, diced or minced (optional)
1-2 sprigs cilantro, coarsely chopped (quite optional and not that authentic)

1) If you have time, carefully salt the soft tofu all around its sides, and let the excess water drain out. If you less time, use a clean kitchen towel or paper towel to gently squeeze the excess water. If you have even less time, just use the the tofu as is.

2) Add all the ingredients to the tofu. Salt generously- remember that tofu is pretty bland on its own, and that you are seasoning a huge chunk of it! Just a little soy sauce- not enough to make your tofu look brown, but just a little for more fermented goodness.

3) Mix everything together, and try not to pulverize the tofu so that it’s itty bitty chunks like cottage cheese..(someone in my family who will not be named used to do this, and it made me very sad..)

As always, feel free to adjust further for YOUR preference of salty/sesame oil/garlickyness. 
-American brands of tofu , like Nasoya, have odd specifications for tofu firmness. I remember getting what I thought was soft tofu, only to open the package and realize that the ‘soft’ tofu was a lot more like firm tofu than anything else.
-I like Nature’s Soy tofu because they are localish, claim non-GMO beans, and I know what to expect for tofu firmness. 
-Note the several different add-ins. Thanks, Mom, for the dried shrimp and dried pork suggestion!

I don’t know if I want to make this dish… 
spicy and pungent garlic nudges your tastebuds gently, and its trusty friend, the green
onion, lingers in the background. The 1000-year old egg has a fattiness
and creaminess to it that stars opposite the cleansing and light tofu.
-You know how people talk about ‘Chinese salads’ or ‘Asian salads’? That’s a myth. Most Chinese food is cooked; this is as close to you’ll get as a “salad,” as the garlic, green onion, and tofu are all ‘raw’!
-Don’t worry, 1000-year old doesn’t really mean that its been sitting for 1000 years. Its texture is similar to that of a medium-boiled egg, but it’s much more bold tasting than a ‘regular’ egg. 

French Lentil Salad

I got some nice fennel in my CSA this week, and I have some brown lentils in the pantry that want to be cooked.

Perfect timing, David Lebovitz. I almost didn’t make this because I didn’t have the time to get French green lentils, but I figured I could just use the brown lentils and be vigilant about not overcooking them (I still did a tiiny bit because I was also making a braised pork..).

I followed almost all of David’s directions, and it turned out deliciously! Good olive oil really makes a big difference, like he said. I used olive oil from Rancho Olivos, the olive orchard Tim and I got to visit on our honeymoon!

David says that fennel is optional, but I think it is a must because of how it adds a semi licorice-y, special dimension to an otherwise maybe “ordinary” dish.

French Lentil Salad

French Lentil Salad

adapted slightly from David Lebovitz’s recipe

For the lentils: 
1 1/4 cup (250 gr) French green lentilles du Puy or brown lentils
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs of fresh , dried, or frozen thyme
olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
1 fennel bulb, finely diced
freshly ground pepper

For the vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
a few swigs of good extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, peeled and minced, or half a garlic clove, minced

On the side:
Belgian endive, romaine lettuce, or Bibb lettuce leaves (see below)

1. Rinse the lentils and remove any debris or rocks.

2. Put the lentils in a 1.5 quart pot and cover with a few inches of water. Add the bay leaf and thyme.

3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, add a pinch or two of salt, and simmer
for 15-20 minutes for brown lentils, or 20-25 minutes for green lentils, until the lentils are just tender. After 10 minutes, taste one to see how ‘done’ it tastes, to know how much longer to cook it. Add more water
if necessary. Cook until they are just bite-able; don’t overcook!

4. While the lentils are cooking, heat a little bit of olive oil
in a skillet and add the carrots, onions, and fennel. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until tender,and set aside.

5. In a large bowl, mix together the ingredients for the vinaigrette.

6. When the lentils are done, remove bay leaf and thyme. Drain them in a colander, then toss them in the
vinaigrette. Add the cooked vegetables. Taste, and season with more salt, pepper, and olive oil if

This can be eaten warm, room temperature, or cold!

-This would also be a good appetizer or finger food. Use Belgian endive, Bibb lettuce, or small romaine lettuce leaves as ‘bowls’. Spoon a bit of the salad onto the leaf.

Kidney Bean Curry (Rajma)

I am a spice nut. I have an entire drawer dedicated to spices, and it still overflows! I have been acquiring spices of all kinds- from simple Sichuan peppercorns (hua1jiao1 花椒)to poultry seasoning to amchur (green mango powder). Aside: Whenever possible, I buy whole spices (nutmeg, cumin, coriander, cardamom, black peppercorns, etc) so they keep for longer without losing their potency. I have made it a habit to label my spices with the purchase date so I know how fresh/strong they will be.

Spice Islands says:
Ground spices: 2-3 years
Whole spices: 3-4 years
Herbs: 1-3 years
Seasoning Blends: 1-2 years
Extracts: 4 years

A rough guideline for how long to keep herbs and spices.

  • Ground Spices 2-3 years
  • Whole Spices 3-4 years
  • Herbs 1-3 years
  • Seasoning Blends 1-2 years
  • Extracts 4 years

– See more at: http://www.spiceislands.com/SpiceEducation/ShelfLife.aspx#sthash.tpVGbVvd.dpuf

A rough guideline for how long to keep herbs and spices.

  • Ground Spices 2-3 years
  • Whole Spices 3-4 years
  • Herbs 1-3 years
  • Seasoning Blends 1-2 years
  • Extracts 4 years

– See more at: http://www.spiceislands.com/SpiceEducation/ShelfLife.aspx#sthash.tpVGbVvd.dpuf

Even though the spices take up a good bit of space in my kitchen, I have the freedom to make spicy food and not have to run to the store for xyz missing ingredients.

I have been trying to cook with legumes more at home, and one of my co-workers, who is Indian, brought in a homemade kidney bean curry dish for me to try, to thank me for bringing baked goods (that he would regularly try) so consistently. I liked it a lot, and realized, hey, I have lots of Indian spices..I can probably make this, too! I don’t remember his verbal recipe exactly, but I found one online that had lots of similar ingredients.

Rajma, adapted from Show Me The Curry

-kidney beans – 1.5 cups dried beans, soaked overnight in enough water* to cover, plus 1 tsp salt, then cooked until tender, OR 4.5 cups canned (drained and rinsed)
-oil – enough to cover the bottom of the pan
-onions – 2, finely chopped
-ginger – 1.5 tsp, ground with garlic in a mortar and pestle, OR coarsely chopped
-garlic – 1.5 tsp, ground with ginger in a mortar and pestle, OR coarsely chopped
-cayenne powder (~1/2 tsp to start), chopped green chile peppers (1-2 to start), or whatever hot/fiery source you want
-turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
-ground cumin – 1/2 tsp
-ground coriander – 1 tsp
-garam masala+ – 1 tsp
-tomatoes – 2 cups, fresh or canned (fresh would be better), coarsely chopped
-a few pinches of amchur powder (green mango powder)
-salt – to taste
-cilantro – to taste

1) Cook the soaked kidney beans in a pot for about an hour with 1/4 tsp turmeric, or until tender (taste one!), or rinse them if you have canned beans. 

2) Add oil, onions, garlic, and ginger to a heavy-bottomed pot (I used a Dutch Oven). Cook on medium to medium high, stirring constantly, to semi-scorch the onions and soften them.

3) Lower the heat to medium low.

4) If you are using fresh peppers, turn on range hood / fan / open windows, add chopped up hot peppers, and stir to wake the heat up 🙂

5) If you are using dried peppers, add turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala, and pepper powder. Stir constantly for about 20 seconds to wake the spices up.

6) Immediately add tomatoes, and cook for a few minutes to heat up the tomatoes if using canned tomatoes. For fresh tomatoes, cook until the tomatoes break down and get saucy.

7) Add beans, amchur powder, and adjust for salt.

8) Stir in cilantro (or not, if you husband despises the taste D:) and serve with rice. 

+Make your own garam masala:

-1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns
-16 whole cloves
-6 whole cardamom seeds (green)
-1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
-1 teaspoon whole black, small cumin seeds
-2 bay leaves
-2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds

Grind all of the ingredients in a coffee bean grinder or pepper mill. Store in a airtight jar and use anytime a recipe calls for garam masala! 

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