March 14, 2011

 I felt devastating watching the tsunami situation in Japan from youtube or TV.  It was really scary. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQD-2tlppdY&feature=player_embedded

I couldn’t even imagine any what-ifs if it happened to me.  A good friend of mine was visiting Japan when the earthquake happened.  She sent a message on Facebook saying she experienced a little bit of earthquake when she was enjoying her coffee at a café.  We just didn’t know that the big earthquake came the next day.  We lost touch for a few days and I was thankful to know she and her family survived and they are safe in one piece.  I have a few friends in Japan, and they are all safe.  It’s really sad to think about how long would the country take to reconstruct roads, houses, schools, … to bring the nation back.  Even though I’ve only visited Japan couple of times, I felt a strong tie to it.  I love Japanese food.  Ramen noodles are pretty much my daily lunch these days.  I grew up with tons of Japanese cartoons and comics.  I still love Dragonball even thought I’m too old for that now.  I have used tons of gadgets and devices that were made in Japan.  I feel very sad.  I feel obligated to spread the words.

Help Japan. Help if you can. Donate.  Ever dollar counts. If you have itunes, try this link, it’s very easy to donate to the Red Cross for the Japan Tsunami Fund.

https://buy.itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZFinance.woa/wa/buyCharityGiftWizard

It wasn’t my intent to introduce all these weird dishes here. But it happened tonight that my buddy ordered a Steamed Fish Intestine dish, and I couldn’t help to take a picture of it.  I had never tried fish intestine before. It was not appealing to my appetite just knowing that it was fish intestine that I was having.  I did try a bite.  It was not as bad as I thought, edible and I didn’t throw up.  LOL.  But I know it wasn’t something that I would order.  From the look of the dish, I would be fooled if no one told me it was fish intestine.  It looked like a poofy egg omelette.  Besides, it smelled really good.  My friend told me it was a traditional Cantonese dish. I had no idea.  All I know was that I tried and I wasn’t crazy about it.

Steamed Fish Intestine - not my thing

OMG, what a week!  I was completely buried with deadlines at work and assignment stuff for school.  Plus, I’m forcing myself to spend an hour exercise per day.  I probably got 3 hours of sleep per night for the whole week.  Yet, I still try to make some dinner instead of getting pizza.  What I made for dinner was all easy stuff, something like Unagi-don, a Japanese grilled sea eel with rice.  EEL????  Eeeewww!!!  Yes, it is a long and round snake-looking fish.  Sound yucky right?  I remember watching my grandpa killed an eel when I was a kid.  I won’t go into details.  But it wasn’t something I could do.  I am glad that the eel I got was already cleaned, filet, and actually completely cooked.  To me, eel is very yummy.  It has a very soft white flesh.  I got this one from the refrigerated/frozen food section of a Chinese grocery store.  It is packed in a plastic bag.  Eel is usually relatively expensive.  I think it was like $7 for the one I got.  But still, it is still a lot cheaper compare to having the same dish (unagi dinner) at any Japanese restaurant.  The unagi dinner was served with some white Japanese rice on a bottom of a fancy Japanese box or bowl, then the fish was placed on top of the rice, and a few pieces of pickled vegetable was placed on the side of the fish.  That was it.  And they would easily charge you $20 for that.  It is probably the easiest dish to make at home.  The ready-made unagi I got is already cooked.  It was grilled with teriyaki sauce, very tasty.  I cut a small corner off from the bag.  Put the whole bag in the microwave. A minute or two later, the fish is ready.  Then I heat up some ready-made rice for couple of minutes in the microwave.  So, no more than 5 minutes, my dinner is ready!  Thank god for the microwave!!   

 

Fully cooked unagi in a bag
Unagi dinner, served with rice and pickled vegetable

Ingredients (serves 1 or 2 depending on how big a piece of fish you prefer):

  • Eel, 1 pack
  • Ready-cooked rice, 1 pack (you can get it from any grocery store.  It just need to be heated up in a microwave)
  • Optional: some pickled vegetable (it is usually served with some yellow pickled Japanese radish.  I didn’t have that at home, I served it with some Chinese pickled vegetable instead)
  • Optional: some vegetable (I stir fried some chinese broccoli, you can use regular broccoli or whatever you prefer)

 

Steps:

  1. Put the ready-made rice in the microwave.  Follow the cooking instruction of the ready-made rice.  Different brand has different instructions.  When the rice is done, put it on a serving plate or some fancy bowl.
  2. Cut off a small corner of the bag of the unagi so that it can vent out steams when heated.  Put it in the microwave and heat it up (with the bag on) on high temperature for 1 minute.  Then check if it is warm enough or not.  Repeat for 30 seconds if needed.  Remove fish from the bag.  Cut it into halves.  Place fish on the rice.  
  3. Optionally, add pickle vegetable on the side. 
  4. Optionally, you can serve it with some stir-fried vegetable like I did. That probably takes 5 mins to cook it.
August 23, 2010

I love mussels.  I should say I love any shellfish.  I still remember the first time I tried mussels. My friend bought a bunch of huge green shelled New Zealand mussels from a seafood store.  She got so much that she was willing to sell some to me.  So I got a couple of dozen from her.  I had never cooked mussels before.  She suggested me to soak the mussels in water for an hour or so.  Then put them in a toaster oven.  Let it cook until the shell opens. Then add a little bit melted butter.  It was super simple and soooooooo delicious.  Each mussel was huge, like 3 inches long.  I really crave that freshness of mussels.  I tried mussels in some restaurants in US, but all of the mussels were very tiny.  The other day, I came across the seafood counter of the Chinese grocery store and found some frozen mussels.  I thought I could give it a try.  HUGE mistake.  The frozen mussels were edible.  But the texture were very semi-ok because it  didn’t taste fresh at all.  Next time, I will remind myself never to get any mussels from a box.

Don't buy mussels in a box!!! It wasn't good
Cook onion and garlic first
Cook onion and garlic first
Add wine and water
Add wine and water
Mussels in White Wine Sauce

Ingredients:

  • Mussels, 2 pounds
  • Onion, 1 small, chopped
  • Garlic, 2 cloves, chopped
  • Chicken powder, 1 tsp
  • Parsley, 2 stalks
  • White wine, 1 cup
  • Water, 1 cup
  • Butter, 2 Tbsp
  • Lemon Juice, a few drops (Optional.  I probably use 1 tsp)

Steps:

  1. Let mussels soak in water for couple of hours for clearning.
  2. Finely cut onion into tiny pieces, put it aside.
  3. Finely chop garlic. Put it aside.
  4. In a large pan, add butter to the pan. Use medium heat.  Add onion and garlic to the pan.  Let it cook for a minute or two.
  5. Add water, white wine, chicken powder and parsley to the pan.
  6. Add cleaned mussels to the pan.  Let it cook for about 8 mins.  Make sure all the shells are open.  Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice to the pan.    Serve hot.

It’s a lazy Sunday, and I’m not playing golf today.  I played yesterday, I totally sucked.  It’s alright, I’ll keep doing it cos I need some regular exercise anyway.  I weighed myself the other day, and I wasn’t happy about it.  I have to do something.  I am going to eat more fish or seafood and cut back on the meat.  I was so tempted to get a piece of steak at the grocery store yesterday but I talked myself out of it.  I haven’t made salmon for a long time.  So I got a piece of salmon, and some veggie.  I usually cook the salmon on a grill or pan fried it.  That was very yummy and juicy.  One time my coworker went to a grocery store near work.  He told me that we can get cooked fish from the fish counter. I was shocked.  We went there, we each picked a piece of fish (uncooked, of course), then the guy at the fish counter would cook it for us with no extra cost, either deep fried, or steamed.  I bought a piece of salmon there, and I had it deep fried.  I was worried that they steamed it too long and make it dry.  I have never had steamed salmon before. I wasn’t sure if it would be good or not.  My coworker had his salmon steamed with some spices.  He cut a small piece for me to try.  It was not bad, a little bit dry as I predicted. LOL.  Yesterday I thought I may try to steam the fish myself, and add some Chinese flavor in it.  I added some black bean sauce, and steamed it for just under 10 mins.  The fish was very moist.  I liked it.  This morning, I put some leftover in the congee.  It was really delicious and healthy.  Besides, I did kick my own ass and did an hour p90x. I felt GREAT!!

 SteamedSalmon1

 
Add black bean sauce mixture
Add black bean sauce mixture

 

  

Add scallion after the fish is cooked
Add scallion after the fish is cooked

  

Steamed Salmon with Black Bean Sauce
Steamed Salmon with Black Bean Sauce

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • Salmon, about 1 pound
  • Black bean sauce, 1 tsp
  • Oyster sauce, 1 Tbsp
  • Soy Sauce, 1 tsp
  • Water, 1 tsp
  • Black pepper, a dash
  • Cornstarch, 1 tsp
  • Scallion, 2 stalks

 

Steps:

  1. Prepare the sauce first.  Finely chop the garlic. Put it on a bowl.  Add black bean sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, black pepper, water and cornstarch to the bowl.  Mix them well.
  2. Prepare a steamer:  Add enough water to a pot.  Bring it to a boil.
  3. If the fish filet is very thick (say an inch thick) like the one I got, you can use a knife to cut a few slit on the fish so that it will get cooked faster.  Put salmon on a plate that will fit into the steamer/pot.  I just fold a piece of aluminum foil as a container.  It works too.
  4. Pour the sauce onto the fish.
  5. When the water boils in the steamer, put the fish in the steamer and let it steam with a lid on for 9 mins.
  6. While the fish is steaming, cut the scallion into thin strips or dices.  Put it aside.
  7. After 9 minutes, add scallion to the fish.  Put the lid back on.  Count 30 seconds. Turn off the heat immediately and serve.

What the hail??!!  I mean hail, not hell.  It was rain and hail when I drove home today.  I couldn’t believe that. Why would we have hail in summer?  There were so many cars pulled over on the side of the highway.  I made it home safe.  I didn’t take a look at my car to see if the hail made any dents or not.  Oh well, I’ll find out tomorrow.  My dinner plan certainly had to change due to the weather.  I was planning to grill a bunch of chicken drumsticks, which would not work as it rained like crazy.  I looked for other ingredients I had in the fridge.  I decided to make Egg Foo Young.  I have not made this before.  Heheheh..  But this is one of those basic dishes that I can’t screw up much.  I had tried good Egg Foo Young, and bad Egg Foo Young before.  The good ones, of course, made from my mom.  The bad ones are from various Chinese take out restaurants.  Most take-out places deep fry the dish.  Not kidding.  It was like eating fried eggs in oil.  Yucky.  On top of that, they usually serve the egg with some brownish looking gravy that doesn’t have much taste but looks very pukey to me.  Sorry, I really couldn’t stand the visual part of the sauce, and I asked the chef to skip the sauce or I couldn’t eat it. LOL.  Anyway, those are all modified or Americanized Egg Foo Young.  The real Chinese version tastes much better. It is not deep fried and it doesn’t serve with any brown sauce.  Egg Foo Young dishes are like omelette except that is no cheese.  The most common Egg Foo Young is cooked with shrimp.  It’s another traditional Cantonese dish.

 

Beat egg and add chopped scallion
Beat egg and add chopped scallion
Cook shrimp first
Cook shrimp first
Add egg mixture, then cooked shrimp to the pan
Add egg mixture, then cooked shrimp to the pan
Stir a little bit
Stir a little bit
Shrimp egg Foo Young
Shrimp egg Foo Young

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • Shrimp, ½ pound (I used the small ones.  If you are using big or medium size shrimp, you can cut them into smaller pieces first)
  • Eggs, 4
  • Scallion, 2 or 3 stalks (I used 3 tonight)
  • Chicken powder, ½ tsp
  • Oyster sauce, ½ tsp (optional. I added a little bit to make it yummier)
  • Water, 2 Tbsp
  • Salt, a dash
  • White Pepper, a dash (I prefer white pepper. Black pepper is ok too)

 

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl/container, add 4 eggs, a pinch of salt, chicken powder, oyster sauce, 2 Tbsp of water and white pepper.  Mix them well while beating the eggs.
  2. Cut scallion into dices.  Add to the scallion dices to the egg mixture.  Mix it well.
  3. Use a non-stick pan.  Spray cooking oil.  Cook the shrimp first.  Stir fry the shrimp for a few minutes or until it is cooked.  Dish it up on a container for now.
  4. Spray more oil on the pan.  Add the egg mixture to the pan.  Then add the shrimp.
  5. Stir a little bit as if you are making omlette.  Then let it cook untouched for a couple of minutes.  Flip the egg to the other side and cook it for another minute or so or until the egg is fully cooked, ie not more liquid comes out.  Serve Hot.

 

July 17, 2010

Sitting in class waiting for the professor to give out the exam. I did make myself a big fancy Ramen Noodle with seaweed, fake crab meat, chopped scallion and a drizzle of sesame oil for breakfast.  Hopefully that gives me enough brain food to get over this exam.   I can’t wait till this is over and I’ll go buy tons of food for a big dinner tonight 😀

Big fancy ramen noodles as my brain food this morning
Big fancy ramen noodles as my brain food this morning

It’s a lazy Sunday.  I didn’t play golf.  I’m suffering from golfer’s elbow.  I didn’t hit the ball right. I hit the ground a lot before my club hit the ball, and now my elbow hurts like hell.  That’s the price of not being a good golfer.  It looks so easy when I saw professional golfers hit their balls on TV, it is really a very difficult thing to learn to swing the club right.  I’m resting at home today. I started my cooking early.  I made chicken on a stick for lunch and ate some of the leftover Singapore Noodles that I made last night.  I’ve been thinking about chicken on a stick for a while since I watched Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods episode in Japan.  He learned how to make the Japanese version of chicken on a stick.  I missed this dish too.  Instead of the Japanese version, I missed more of the Malaysian chicken on a stick, Chicken Satay that is served with peanut sauce.  Every time I had Malaysian food, I would order half a dozen of combo satays (6 sticks) that had 2 beef, 2 chicken and 2 pork.  They were served with peanut sauce and pickled cucumber.  What a great appetizer to start a meal. YUM.

Put seasoned chicken meat on a stick
Put seasoned chicken meat on a stick
Grill chicken on a stick
Grill chicken on a stick
Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Ingredients (Make about 6 sticks):

  • Chicken meat, 1 pound (boneless, I used chicken fingers breast meat. You can use thigh meat too)
  • Soy sauce, 1 tsp
  • Ginger, 3 slices
  • Garlic, 1 clove
  • Chicken powder, 1 tsp
  • Cooking oil, 1 tsp
  • Bamboo skewers, about 6 or 7 sticks (or you can use the metal skewers)

Peanut sauce:

  • Chunky peanut butter, 1 cup
  • Brown sugar, 2 Tbsp
  • Hot chili sauce, 1 tsp
  • Garlic, 2 cloves, finely chopped
  • Honey, 3 Tbsp
  • Soy sauce, 1 Tbsp
  • Hot water, ½ cup
  • Lime, 1

 

Pickled Cucumber (Optional):

  • Cucumber, 1
  • Vinegar, 1 Tbsp
  • Sugar, 1 Tbsp
  • Salt, a dash
  • Water, 2 Tbsp

 

Steps:

  1. If you are using the bamboo skewers, soak them in water first.  They will not get burnt.
  2. Finely chop 1 clove of garlic and ginger.  Put both in a big mixing bowl.
  3. 1 tsp of soy sauce, 1 tsp of chicken powder into the bowl.
  4. Cut chicken into cubes like 1.5 inches.  Put the chicken cubes into the mixing bowl.  Mix them well with the seasoning.  Add a tsp of cooling oil to the mixture.  Mix it well.  Cover the mixing bowl with a lid or plastic wrap, and let it marinated in the fridge for at least 20 mins.  I also tried the lazy person’s version of not cutting the chicken at all, ie just put the whole piece on a stick. They didn’t cook as nice as the ones that are cut.  See the picture.
  5. Prepare the pickled cucumber if you are getting fancy:  Peel the cucumber, remove big seeds if there are any.  Cut cucumber into small cubes like 2 cm long.  Add vinegar, sugar, water, and a pinch of salt to the cucumber. Mix them well.  Let it get marinated for at least 20 mins in a refrigerator.
  6. Prepare the sauce: mix all the sauce ingredients in a small serving bowl.  Cut the lime in halves and squeeze the juice in.  Mix it well.
  7. When the chicken is marinated.  Put chicken cubes in the skewers.
  8. Start the grill.  Cook the chicken for 5 -7 minutes on one side.  Flip it over to cook the other side for another 5-7 minutes or until it is fully cooked.
  9. Serve hot with the peanut sauce.

I’ve been busy playing golf for the July 4th weekend. Hahhaha.  It depends on how fast/slow the day goes, 18 holes of golf could go from anything like 4 hours to 6 hours.  Sometimes if we got stuck behind some slow players like people who take 5 or 6 practice swings before they hit anything, that would take forever.  Golf is certainly a game to test my patience.  Can I tolerate slow people like that, or can I tolerate my own frustration when I don’t play well?  Anyway, I still enjoy it.  I needed a big breakfast for the days that I played golf.  I don’t like breaking for lunch.  Saturday I made some Lap Cheong Sticky Rice for dinner, and I got leftovers.  I ate it as breakfast on Sunday morning before a round of golf.  It was satisfying, and it filled me up for a few hours till I was done with the game.  Besides, I really like Lap Cheong.  They are Chinese sausages.  They have a nice sweet and savory taste.  It’s one of my all time favorites.  One of my Japanese friend was crazy about Lap Cheong.  One time we went out for dim sum.  I ordered Steamed Lap Cheong.  My Japanese friend tried it, and felt in love with the dish.  From then onwards, he would order Lap Cheong Buns everything he went for dim sum.  Hm.. may be I’ll make some Lap Cheong Buns when I get a chance.

 

Sweet Rice (aka sticky rice or glutinous rice)
Sweet Rice (aka sticky rice or glutinous rice)
Soak dried mushrooms and shrimps, overnight
Soak dried mushrooms and shrimps, overnight
 

 

 

 

 

Lap Cheong Chinese Sausage
Lap Cheong Chinese Sausage

 

 

 

Add rice, mushroom and dried shrimp first. Then add lap cheong to the rice.
Add rice, mushroom and dried shrimp first. Then add lap cheong to the rice.

 

Lap Cheong Sweet Sticky Rice
Lap Cheong Sweet Sticky Rice

 

 

Ingredients:

  • Lap Cheong, 2 or 3 links
  • Sweet rice (aka glutinous rice or sticky rice), 1.5 cups
  • Water, 2 cups (or according to the cooking instruction on the sweet rice package)
  • Dried shrimps, a small handful (like 2 or 3 Tbsp)
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms, 5 or 6
  • Scallion
  • Dark soy sauce (or you can use regular soy sauce), 1.5 Tbsp
  • Sugar, ½ tsp

Steps:

  1. You need to pre-soak these ingredients the night before:
    1. Put sweet rice in a container, and add cold water in it.  Soak it over night first.
    2. Put dried mushrooms and dried shrimp in a container, and add some cold water in it.  Soak it over night as well.
  2. Slice the mushrooms into thin slices after they are soaked overnight.  Put it aside.
  3. Cut scallion into dices, put it aside.
  4. In a small bowl, mix dark soy sauce and sugar.  Put it aside.
  5. Use a non-stick pan.  This is important because the rice is so sticky.  If you use regular pan, you will have a hard time cleaning the pot afterwards.  Spray non-stick cooking oil on the pan.
  6. For sweet rice, discard the water from the container.  Put the sweet rice in the pan.  Then add appropriate amount of water to the pan (I used 2 cups of water, you can add less to begin with and see if it is moist enough first before you added the rest).
  7. Add mushroom and dried shrimp to the rice.  Use high heat, bring it to a boil.  Then lower the heat to the lowest.  Add lap cheong on the rice.  Put a lid or a piece of aluminum foil on the pot.  Let it simmer for another 15 mins or until the rice is fully cooked.
  8. If the rice is too dry, add a little bit more of water, cover the lid, and let it simmer for another few minutes.  Turn off the heat.  Let the rice sit for 5 mins or so.
  9. Take out the lap cheong, and cut it into slices.  Mix it well with the rice.  Add scallion dices on top.
  10. When served, add a bit of dark soy sauce and sugar mixture.  

The weather is getting warm in NY.  I played a round of golf on Sunday, and the humidity was just too much, and I sweated like crazy.  Of course, it would be nothing compares to the humidity in Asia in summer.  I think the hot weather was making me lose my appetite.  I decided to make something more refreshing instead of having steaks or something too heavy.  I made Winter Melon Soup. I haven’t made this soup for years.  Winter melon has a very mild taste, almost like none.  Usually they are sold in pieces or portions because the whole winter melon is so big that no one would buy the whole thing.  Winter melon looks similar to a water melon except it is more elongated in shape.  I added some dried scallops and dried shiitake mushrooms to add some taste to the soup.  Both dried scallops and dried shiitake mushrooms have strong taste. I only used a few of them.  I had a big bowl of soup for dinner on Sunday night. It was light and refreshing.

Soak dried scallops and dried shiitake mushrooms first
Soak dried scallops and dried shiitake mushrooms first
Winter Melon
Winter Melon
Tear dried scallops into small pieces after it is soaked
Tear dried scallops into small pieces after it is soaked
Put winter mellon, mushroom, dried scallop, chicken stock into a pot
Put winter mellon, mushroom, dried scallop, chicken stock into a pot
Winter Melon Soup
Winter Melon Soup

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • Winter melon, about 1.5 pounds
  • Dried scallops, 3 pieces
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms, 3 pieces
  • Shrimps, about ¼ or 1/3 of a pound
  • Scallions, 2 stalks
  • Chicken stock, 6 cups (or you can use 6 cups of water and 1 tsp of chicken powder)
  • Cornstarch, 1 Tbsp
  • Salt, a dash
  • White pepper, a dash (optional)

 Steps:

  1. Soak dried shiitake mushrooms and dried scallops in warm water for at least 2 hours. You can soak them overnight in the refrigerator as well.  Then cut shiitake mushrooms into small strips, then dices.  For dried scallops, tear it into really small pieces with your hand. See picture.  Put these aside.
  2. Trim off the green rough skin of the water melon, discard it, only use the white meat.  Cut the white part into 1 inch cubes. Put them aside.
  3. Cut scallion into small pieces. Put it aside.
  4. Cut shrimp into small pieces (I cut each shrimp into 3 pieces). Put them aside.
  5. Use a big pot, add 6 cups of chicken stock (or water and 1 tsp of chicken powder) and water melon cubes, dried mushrooms, and shredded dried scallops.  Bring it to a boil.  Turn the heat down to medium and let it simmer for 45 minutes. 
  6. Add cornstarch in a small bowl, mix it well with 3 tablespoon of water.  Add the mixture to the soup. This will thicken the soup a little bit.
  7. Wait until the soup boils.  Add chopped shrimps to the pot. Let it cook for 3 or 4 minutes until the shrimp is cooked.  Taste the soup, add a pinch of salt and white pepper if needed.
  8. Add chopped scallion. Mix it well. Turn off the heat.  Serve hot.