Hello blog friends! I’ve been away for too long. You know…as we were busy with life and packing and travelling (Taiwan!) and moving/driving (11 hours!), I contemplated ‘quitting’ this blog. After all, doesn’t this hobby of writing about food and life take away from living life? My husband pointed out that hobbies do take time away from life. But, maybe it’s better to say that hobbies ARE part of life. I have also read about the importance of perseverance when authoring a blog, so I will continue to chug along.
As I think about the consistency of my blog and reflect back on major life events, it seems that the past 2 years have been filled with transition: got married to Mr. ABC Chef in December 2013, moved in September AND October 2014, (ugh, boo dishonest landlords) got a new job in June 2015, then now November 2015, here we are – we have not only moved apartments, but driven to a faraway place, 11 hours from where we have lived for the past 5-6 years. Sorry blog readers, for my strange and seemingly numerous absences….it’s kind of hard to blog when most of your stuff is in boxes or in a moving van!
With these moves, I’ve learned about the importance of feeling like there is a place to call home; whether it is a hotel to call home base while on vacation, an apartment that barely has a few pieces of furniture, or a warm and cozy house with rambunctious children running about, there is something unique about “going home”. We are hoping to buy a house to move to in the next year, so hopefully that will home for several years, or for as long as God allows.
Now that I am (f)unemployed, I believe it is high time to catch up on recipes I have been wanting to post. On with the regular program:
Before I met Mr. ABC Chef, my understanding of casual, non dim-sum Cantonese food was limited to some family favorites: salted fish and chicken fried rice (which Tim claims is not actually Cantonese, but also could be that his family never ate it), stir-fried rice noodles with beef, fried noodles with the sauce on top, and cha siu (barbecue pork). Since I started dating and got married, I’ve learned that siu yuk is often superior to cha siu, fermented olives and black beans are soo delicious, gai lan is one of the coolest leafy vegetables there is, and that no meal eaten with the Lee family at a restaurant is complete without ging-dou-gwat- (Beijing-style pork chops).
In the strong second place finisher, ranks Singapore noodles, a funky and unusual mix of curry powder and rice vermicelli, decorated with bits of egg, peppers, last night’s cha siu, crunchy bean sprouts, and other pleasant surprises.
These shrimp are far larger than shrimp you’d see in a typical restaurant order of Singapore noodles. But, if you’re going to be deveining them yourself, as I did, might as well go for the bigger ones, no?
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!
Tim’s dad caught a bunch of flounder and one huge bass (don’t know exactly which, but it was nice and meaty)! The bass that he caught must have been massive, because we only got a chunk of it, but it weigh somewhere around 3 pounds. We got 6 or 7 fish in total, and they lasted us through all of August and then some.
One of my favorite Chinese banquet dishes is the steamed fish that they serve towards the end of the meal. It’s a good thing it’s actually not too difficult to make at home! My mom taught me how to make this preparation of steamed fish a long, long time ago. The fish is steamed first, then you pour a yummy sauce over it, and you heat oil and pour it on to semi-sear the aromatics and become part of the sauce.
I am not Korean, but I do like Korean food, and I know a smidgen of Korean (limited to mostly food items, as well as “I love you” and “Thank you”).
Haemul (Seafood) Pajeon (Pancake)
Recipe adapted from Koreancuisine lady, Anna Kim
makes 2 large pancakes
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour (aka glutinous rice flour)
3/4-1 cup water
That’s correct; no salt. This ain’t a typo.
1-2 Tbsp Oil (canola or light olive oil)
5 green onions or scallions, chopped into thirds
1 1/2 frozen seafood mix (or any desired combination of bay scallops, small shrimp, calamari rings, mussels, clams, whatever), defrosted and drained of excess water
optional: colors! 1 red bell pepper, thinly thinly sliced
Vinegar (Rice vinegar preferred, but you could probably use white or apple cider in a pinch?)
Pinch of Sugar
Extras: Sesame seeds, minced jalapenos, Korean red pepper flakes (gochukaru), sesame oil <–not conventional..
1. Mix pancake batter ingredients together. Start with 3/4 cup of water, and add more water as needed, to get the batter slightly thinner than American pancake batter. The more water you add, the less chewy/bite the pancake will have. If it is too thick, you will have a MOUND of very thick pancake.
2. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet. You can use Teflon, if you must…..
3. Dump half the green onions into the batter to coat them, then put them into the pan. Line them up like you would if you were building the base of a log cabin of green onions..
4. Evenly spread half your seafood mix and bell peppers atop the green onion base, so that they fill up in circle. Drizzle your batter back and forth across top to fill in the gaps. Cook on medium low until browned, then flip. Don’t cook too quickly, lest your pancake burn before your seafood cooks!!
You can make your sauce while waiting by mixing the soy sauce and vinegar in a rough 2:1 ratio. Add a little bit of sugar, and toss in some extras for some variety.
5. Cook until the other side is nicely golden brown, too.
6. Slice with a knife or pizza cutter, and DIP in the sauce and eat!