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
Tomorrow is the Lantern Festival, which is called Yuan Xiao Jie (元宵節）in Chinese. I don’t know much about it, other than the fact that it tang yuan is traditionally eaten at this time. Hooray for an excuse to eat tang yuan!
So, tell me more about tang yuan, you say. Remember yuan zi? Tang yuan are basically filled yuan zi. I think there are actually savory fillings and sweet fillings, but my only experience is with sweet, so that’s what I’ll be featuring today. A common filling that is also my favorite is black sesame paste, and other popular fillings include peanut and red bean paste
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 zi, jian 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?
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 myspicesage.com. 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
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.
Things have been pretty busy around here! Practices for the Mendelssohn Club choir have begun, I’ve been to New York City and Staten Island just in this month, and we’ve started to pack for our move to a smaller but less expensive apartment. It’s been 5 years since I’ve lived at the same place for more than a year, so I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking from the pantry and freezer the month or month and a half before we have to move. Tim was also working late most of this past week (and got free breakfast/lunch/dinner), so I had no one to help me eat all the food!
Today, I pulled out some taro I had frozen a while back. Taro is another ingredient that freezes quite well. So, the next time you see pretty taro in the grocery store, buy it, freeze up what you don’t use, then make this easy Chinese dessert soup. Even though I call it a soup, it’s thicker* than a soup but thinner than tapioca pudding or a custard. You should totally make this dessert because it only requires using one pot! The version I make is not super sweet, and doesn’t skimp on taro or coconut milk taste. I hope you will try it out sometime 🙂 My neighbors had it- the parents loved it, but the 3 and 10 year olds had one spoonful each and decided they didn’t like it at all! Hopefully y’all will enjoy it like the parents did. Oh yeah! I also made this for our pastor’s ordination ceremony in a huge 16 or 20 quart pot, and there was none left at the end. :d
Growing in southern California, I definitely took soy milk sources for granted. When I talk about soy milk, I mean the kind that made from just soybeans and water. I am not referring to soymilk like Silk, which adds carrageenan (for thickening) and “natural flavor”.
At 99 Ranch Market, a huge Chinese grocery store chain, there would be a few types of soy milk from local stores, and you could buy it in half gallons in the sweetened or plain varieties (we always bought plain, then added our own sugar). You could get hot or cold soy milk as part of a Taiwanese breakfast. My dad also went through phases of making soymilk. He would buy big bags of soybeans from Smart and Final to make oodles of soymilk. Eventually, he decided that he craved soymilk enough to invest in a soymilk machine. I sometimes wondered why he would make it, when we could buy it from the store!
Now that I’m older and enjoy drinking (plain, even! *gasp*) soy milk even more, plus the fact that soybeans are really inexpensive, I see more eye to eye with my dad on making soymilk. Another incentive is that the soymilk I make won’t have carrageenan or natural flavoring in it.
Also, for some math: I got some (organic) soybeans for $1.53/lb. For one batch of soymilk (Depending on your preference of thickness), it requires 1 cup of soybeans, which costs roughly 67 cents. Not bad, right? Read on to make EASY homemade soy milk!
|Soy milk and Pepper wanting to be famous|
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).
-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.
I got some zucchini from one farmer fairy (thanks, Ron and Terry!), and had leftover basil from my other farmer fairy (thanks, Patti!) to use up.
-Slice some zucchini (I used 1+3/4 zucchini) into thin slices on the diagonal.
-Roughly chop garlic (I used 3 cloves)
-Add garlic to cold oil, and add the zucchini to the warmed oil.
-Add some salt and saute in olive oil until the zucchini is just tender; turn the heat off.
-Mix in sliced basil to zucchini as you transfer it to your serving plate or bowl. I used 8-9 HUGE leaves!
For the past birthdays and Christmases, my mom has been getting me cookbooks. This year, my mom got me Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi for my birthday. Thanks, mommy!
I am sick at home and wanted something easy to make. I feel very blessed to have so many generous co-workers who share their spring and summer bounty with me. Terry gave us two pounds of gorgeous and plump asparagus, which we ate in the form of shaved asparagus, and steamed with fried egg.
This past week, my co-worker Patti gifted me with a beautiful bag of large-leafed, plump basil, and a gorgeous mix of greens including green and red leaf lettuces and Tuscan kale. Oh, and spring onions, too! My boss got a mix of lettuces from another co-worker, and we have dubbed these kindly folks our farmer fairies. Sounds about right.
My first instinct when Patti handed me the lovely basil was to buy tomato and mozzarella to eat with our lovely extra-virgin olive oil from Los Olivos, CA, but my second thought was to try to use up what we had. I remembered that we have a stockpile of hazelnuts from Costco in the freezer, as well as zucchini that needed to be used up. Aha, Yotam, thanks for saving the day!
The combination of the semi-licoricey basil, toasty hazelnuts, and juicy zucchini…is quite something. What a great way to use up lots of basil!
Zucchini and hazelnut salad
adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi
serves 1 generously