Hello everyone! Sorry for the delay in posting; life has been getting in the way of me sitting down to write posts. I actually have hefty backlog of posts to work on….
This week has been pretty packed, with Mr. ABC Chef (my husband, Tim) coming back from PyCon in Montreal, celebrating his birthday with two birthday dinners (one where I made Korean food for him and 4 of his buddies!), and going to Hopkins Alumni weekend, which was mostly an excuse to hang out with my best friend 🙂
The best friend and I ate out every meal, except Sunday breakfast, which we made together- dou jiang and fan tuan, which are staples of Taiwanese breakfast. Stay tuned for a fan tuan (deep fried dough aka you tiao, dried pork, and salted and slightly sweet radish bits- all wrapped up in sticky rice, almost like a sushi roll!) recipe to come.
Then on the way home, Megabus was delayed a whole hour, so I spent over an hour in line, doing nothing but trying to get the intermittent WiFi to idly browse Instagram and Facebook, while fighting the cold breeze.
Anyway, now we are back to our regular schedule!
I would regularly ask, “媽媽(mama), how do you make this?” when we just ate something really tasty at a restaurant. Or, my mom would shake her head and discreetly mutter to my sister and me that the restaurant was taking shortcuts because x and y dish should not be made this way, but that way instead.
媽媽 always said that the Chinese “salt and pepper”seasoning should just be toasted salt, and Sichuan peppercorns, ground up. Nothing else. When we got salt and pepper pork chops (because they were always the least expensive and you would get more than if you ordered squid or shrimp), I would look forward to the deep fried pork pieces that were laced with this addicting seasoning, and when the meat was gone, I would use my chopsticks skills to hunt for abandoned pieces of scallions and jalapenos, and mix it with the restaurant white rice in my bowl. I wondered why no one else would eat these pieces of salty goodness that were left behind, but was also glad that my sister and I had these morsels all to ourselves.
I’ve been wanting to post a recipe for salt and pepper shrimp that would do justice to its name. When you make the salt and peppercorn powder, prepare to be blown away by the mysteriously addicting aroma that is created by the marriage of two simple spices!
I love eating Sichuan food! When we go to Sichuan restaurants, we will often order spicy oil wontons, also known as hong you chao shou (紅油抄手）。 Hong you translates to ‘red oil,’ better known as chili oil. Chao shou is another way to say wonton. So，hong you chao shou = chili oil wontons.
When we were in Taiwan last year, I got two cookbooks- one of which was this tiny, old cookbook in Taiwan called 正宗川菜，which means ‘authentic Sichuan dishes’. I love this little book for its pictures and approach to breaking down Sichuan food into what I would describe as different flavor styles.
I decided to go all out and make these wontons from scratch- from the chili oil to the wonton skins. If you think about what you get at a restaurant- 6 or 7 tiny wontons for ~$6-7, you will definitely be happy knowing that you can make these on your own at a fraction of the price =)
I highly recommend that you make the chili oil in advance, because it keeps extremely well, and you will be able to cook these chao shou in no time!
|Wonton skins, and from the same dough, noodles that were eaten with Niu Rou Mian|
I’ve had this picture of mapo tofu from Wu Chao Shou in Taiwan as my Google picture for forever…it’s time to replace that! And, it is also way overdue for a post about 麻婆豆腐, seeing as I make it rather often (does once every 2-3 weeks count?).
Beef noodle soup probably doesn’t need any introduction. I believe it was the Taiwanese who made it famous, but it is made in different ways: hong shao, ‘red braised’ with a soy saucey color, and also qing dun, which is a clear broth (no soy sauce) with a lighter taste. I’ve also had beef noodle soup where the stock has been cooked with tomatoes, too!
My mom sent me this recipe as the best beef noodle soup recipe she has tried, and I made some small adjustments to it. I’m not really sure if one would consider this Sichuan or Taiwanese, because I think beef noodle soup was made famous by the Taiwanese, but there are Sichuanese components in it, like the fermented soybean paste….We are going to Taiwan at the end of the month, and I am so excited to try all the different ways that beef noodle soup is made!
Edit: So according to this site, they think that the origins of niu rou mian started with Chinese soldiers who fled to Taiwan in 1949. They made a beef soup with the spicy bean paste (that definitely originates from the Sichuan province) and soy sauce, and served it with noodles. So, I think I can confidently call this Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup. Yay!
With homemade wheat noodles and short rib! And bokchoy and cilantro from the garden 😀
I decided to see what would happen if I added all the ingredients I liked together in a pot with chicken. So, I seriously just added a little bit of this, a little bit of that, tried to think what else would go with what, and went with it. The outcome? A new favorite! I don’t know if any real Sichuan person would nod his/her head in approval, or shake it in dismay, but I used components of what I know to star in Sichuan dishes, like chili peppers and peppercorns. Anyhow, this was my tribute to Sichuan in the form of a chicken dish. I want to name it Lee Family Spicy Chicken, because Tim has upping his spicy game, and can now eat from the same spicy dishes as the big kids (like me :D).
I like this dish a lot, not only because it is spicy and low maintenance ( just like me 😉 ), but because the ingredients are fairly standard ABC kitchen ingredients. For me, I happened to have all of these ingredients in my kitchen. Your mileage may vary, but the good thing is that these ingredients keep well, especially if you take my advice from a previous post and freeze your ginger! For some pictures of ingredients not commonly found at American grocery stores, visit this post on Sichuan spicy cooked fish to see what all these things are.
The third version of this chicken; the plainest looking but the best tasting!
Our dinner comprised of this chicken, in addition to stir-fried cabbage (that I made without the spicy peppers), and lots of rice.