Ham and Egg with Rice - super fast lunch
Ham and Egg with Rice - super fast lunch

This is one of those days that I work from home and yet still tight on time for lunch.  These back to back meetings are wearing me out.  It was 1:00pm and I got 30 minutes to make myself something quick to eat before meeting starts again at 1:30pm.   I know I need rice cos my brain hasn’t been working too well all day… LOL.  I make Ham and Egg with Rice.  I had this a lot when I was kid.  It may sound weird to most Americans since eggs and ham are more like breakfast food.  So instead of toast, I had rice 🙂  Actually, this is a real dish believe it or not.  You can order it in most Chinese fast-food restaurants in Hong Kong.  I will show you more fast lunch ideas.  It took me 5 mins to fry an egg and some ham, 1 minute to microwave my leftover rice, 1 minute to put the dish together and add Dark Soy Sauce on top, 5 minutes to eat, 2 minutes for dishes, and still I got time to make myself a nice cup of tea 🙂

Mom used to make plain congee (rice soup) for breakfast.  To make plain congee, all you need is to put the rice in a big pot of water, and cook it for an hour until it turns creamy, and it’s done.  You can imagine how no taste it is.  Mom would fry some peanuts in a wok, and then added some salt on them.  That or some chinese pickled vegetable would be our side dishes that went along with the no-taste congee.  Yup, that was my breakfast when I was a kid.  I never understood back then why we couldn’t put some meat or whatever in the congee to give it some taste. Of course, looking back I would understand that it was because we were poor.  We couldn’t afford fancy breakfast.  Every time I asked her “Plain congee again?”, she would say “it cleanses your stomach.”  Now that I’m not that broke and I could afford meat.  I never make plain congee. 

As mom said, congee is good for the digestive system.  So whenever I don’t feel like eating anything, or may be feeling sick, I would make congee.  I would also have it for a good detox.  Forget about those detox pills or tea, try having congee for 3 whole days (breakfast, lunch and dinner), it really cleanses your digestive system.

This is my very-close-to plain congee that I made this morning. If you can afford meat, feel free to add some. But if you are really trying this out for detox, skip the meat!

 

Chinese Congee Rice Soup for Detox
Chinese Congee Rice Soup for Detox

Ingredients (make 2 servings):

  • Uncooked rice, 1.5 cup (or cooked rice, 2 cups)
  • Dried whole shiitake mushrooms, 2 (or dried sliced shiitake mushrooms, 8 slices)
  • Oatmeal, 1 Tbsp (optional, it gives more detox function)
  • Scallion, 2 stems
  • Fish sauce, 1 Tbsp
  • Salt, a pinch
  • Water, 9 cup

Steps:

  1. If you are using dried whole shiitake mushrooms, soak it in warm water for 30 mins.  When it gets soft, chop it finely, put it in a big pot.  If you use driced sliced shiitake mushromms, you can easily break them into small pieces by hand, put it in a big pot.
  2. Add rice and water to the pot.  Use high heat, bring it to a boil.
  3. Let it boil for couple of minutes.  Turn the heat to medium.  Add a tablespoon of fish sauce.
  4. Let it simmer for 50 mins until the rice expands and blends well with the water. The rice should look kind of creamy.  Stir occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.  Add more water if it is too thick for you.
  5. This is an optional step. If you have any leftover cooked chicken, or whatever meat.  I like to add leftover steamed Chinese Chicken pieces. Cut them into small pieces.   Add them to the pot.  Cook it for 5 minutes. 
  6. Add chopped scallion to the pot.
  7. Add a pinch of salt according to your liking.

MUST serve while it is hot.

February 14, 2010

I LOVE Ma Po Tofu. Well, I should say I love any tofu. Tofu doesn’t have much taste by itself, so it absorbs whatever seasoning/sauce you add to the dish, which makes it yummy.

Mom used to feed us Tofu Fa and soy milk for breakfast when we were kids. Tofu Fa is basically silken tofu in a sweet syrup or brown sugar. It can be served hot or cold. I love having Tofu Fa for breakfast. I also remember mom brought me to the market (not grocery store) to buy tofu. I hated going to the market cos it smelled bad and the floor was always wet.  Anyway, those were the days.

I can’t get good Ma Po Tofu in Chinese restaurants in the US. One time I ordered it at my usual Chinese take-out place, and it had no meat in it. What a rip-off! I never order any Ma Po Tofu in any restaurants after that except my last reunion with my high school friends. But that Ma Po Tofu was too spicy for me.

Here is my version, not that spicy.

Ingredients:

  • Tofu, 1 package.  You can get it from most grocery stores.  I like medium firm. You can get the firm or silken version as you like.  Silken tofu may be harder to work with since it breaks easily when you stir fry it.
  • Ground beef or pork, 1/3 pound.  You can make it 1/2 pound if you like more meat, or cut it back.
  • Oyster sauce, 1 Tbsp.  Lee Kum Kee is a good brand. I don’t use other ones.
  • Cornstarch, 1 Tbsp.
  • Chinese cooking wine (or white wine) 1/2 Tbsp.
  • Black bean sauce, 1 Tbsp.  I use the Lee Kum Kee Garlic and Black Bean sauce.
  • Garlic, 1 clove, chopped.  Skip this if you use the Lee Kum Kee Garlic and Black Bean sauce.
  • Sugar, 1/2 Tbsp
  • Soy Sauce 1/2 Tbsp
  • Hot chili sauce or Chinese hot bean sauce, 1/2 teaspoon (optional, you can cut back the amount if you don’t like it spicy).
  • Water, 3 Tbsp
  • Scallion, 1 stem, chopped (optional, only for garnish)

Steps:

  1. Cut tofu into big cubes.  Put it aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine water, corn starch, oyster sauce, black bean sauce, and sugar. Mix well, put it aside.
  3. In a pan, add 1 Tbsp of cooking oil.  Use high heat.  Add beef. Stir it and make sure it doesn’t have big clumps.   Cook it for 5 mins or so.   Then add cooking wine and soy sauce. Stir well, cook for another min.
  4. Add tofu to the pan. Mix a little bit.  Be gentle, not to break the tofu too much.
  5. Add the sauce.  Mix well.  Lower the heat to medium.  Add the hot chili sauce.  Cook for another 2 minutes or so until the sauce thickens.
  6. Add scallion as garnish.

Remember to eat it while it’s hot!!

I woke up early this morning. I feel so good.  I usually sleep till noon on a weekend.  Just to be able to feel the sunlight in the morning is wonderful.  I want to write down the new appetitizer that I just learned from my coworker the other day.  We had a Chinese pot luck lucheon a few days ago.  Someone made Chinese Tea Eggs.  I heard about this dish a long time ago.  I know this is one of the popular snack or street food in China but I never got a chance to try it.  I told my coworkers that I have never tried this dish before. Guess what?  Every one was giving me a hard time saying that I”m not Chinese.  Some of my friends teased me in other ocassions that I”m imitation Chinky.  I don”t care!  Well, there are so many traditional Chinese dishes that I have not tried.  So for now, I have more things to look forward in my life.  See… I am thinking positive!  Could be the power of the morning sunlight

 

Chinese Tea Eggs
Chinese Tea Eggs

 

Pretty Chinese Tea Eggs
Pretty Chinese Tea Egg
Try Chinese Tea Egg for a Healthy Snack
Try Chinese Tea Egg for a Healthy Snack

Ingredients:

  • Uncooked Eggs, 1 dozen
  • Soy Sauce, 1 cup
  • Salt, 2 tsp
  • Sugar, 1 tsp
  • Star Anise, 5 pieces
  • Chinese Black Tea leaves- 2 Tbsp or 2 tea bags.  Actually any black tea would do.  If you don”t have Chinese tea, use English Breakfast or Orange Pekoe tea.  Does not need anything fancy. 

Steps:

  1. Use a saucepan, put the uncooked eggs in one layer in the pot.  Add cold water to the pot to cover the eggs, like 2 inches high.
  2. Use medium heat.  Bring the water to a boil.  Let it boil for 1 minute. Turn off the heat.  Remove the pot from the heat.  Put a lid on the pot, cover it and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the eggs from the pot.  Run them under cold running water, or iced water.  Keep the pot of the water for later use.
  4. Gently crack the shell of each egg all over on a plate.  Do not remove the shell. Put the eggs aside.
  5. Add the Chinese tea, soy sauce, salt, sugar and star anise to the water in the pot.  Use medium heat.  Bring it to a boil.
  6. Add the eggs back to the pot.  Make sure the water covers the eggs.  Add more water if needed to cover the eggs. 

Use medium low heat, let the eggs simmers for 3 minutes or until the water boils again. Turn off the heat.  Cover with a lid. Let the eggs marinate in the sauce for 5 or 6 hours. If you can let them sit over night, that would be even better.

February 13, 2010

Today was my first day transitioning to a new job. I was very overwhelmed as I found out I have to connect to like 150 people for my job!  I felt so exhausted when I got home. I needed to fix a quick dinner.  24 was on tonight. I can”t miss that  So I decided to put a bunch of leftovers into a meal, ie, Chinese fried rice.   You can put any ingredients into fried rice, be creative.  There is a very famous Chinese fried rice dish called “Yeung Chow Fried Rice” which has BBQ pork and shrimps in it. But I did not have those ingredients. So, I made a simple Chinese Chicken Fried Rice instead.  You can substitute the chicken with other kind of meat like beef, pork or even skip it as you like.  I will show you Yeung Chow Fried Rice some other time.  My high school friend told me that his uncle worked in a restaurant, and workers there used to use their feet to press down on the leftover rice to separate it.  It was sooooooooo gross!  I thought she made this whole thing up to gross me out.  Anyway, I have not ordered fried rice at any restaurant for yeaars.  I make my own.

My leftover rice from a take-out place
My leftover rice from a take-out place
Add An Egg to Fried Rice
Add An Egg to Fried Rice
Basic Chinese Chicken Fried Rice
Basic Chinese Chicken Fried Rice

 

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • Leftover cooked rice, 2.5 to 3 cups (prefer leftover rice over fresh cooked rice because leftover rice is drier)
  • Cooked chicken meat, 1- 1.5 cup
  • Ham, 2 slices (Optional, ham would give a nice savoury taste)
  • carrots, 2 stalks
  • Celery, 2 stalks
  • Onion, 1/2
  • Scallion, 1 stalk
  • Garlic, 1 clove
  • Egg, 1
  • Chinese cooking wine, 1 tsp
  • Soy sauce, 1 tsp
  • Oyster sauce, 1 tsp
  • Salt, a dash
  • White pepper, a dash (you can use regular black pepper instead)
  • Sesame oil (optional)
  • Water, 2 Tbsp

Steps:

  1. Wash your hands first!  If the leftover rice has big lumps, break them with your hand first. Put it aside.
  2. Finely chopped the garlic. Put it aside.
  3. Peel and cut carrots into small cubes, like 1 cm.  Put it aside.
  4. Cut celery into small cubes, like 1 cm.  Put it aside.
  5. Cut onion into small pieces.  Put it aside.
  6. Cut scallion into small pieces. Put it aside.
  7. Cut ham into small pieces. Put it aside.
  8. Spray oil in a frying pan.  Use medium to high heat. Put carrots into the pan.  Stir fry it for 3 minutes or so. 
  9. Add onion and garlic to the frying pan.  Stir fry it for 2 minutes.
  10. Add celery and stir fry for a minute.
  11. Add cooking wine and a dash of salt to the pan. Mix it well.
  12. Spray a little bit more oil to the pan.  Add rice.  Stir fry for a minute or so.  Add 2 Tbsp of water.   Mix it well. 
  13. Add oyster sauce, soy sauce to the rice.  Mix it well.
  14. Dig a hole in the middle of the pan. Break an egg and put it in the middle (like a volcano).  Let it cooked untouch for a minute.  Then start to fold the rice from the side to the middle of the pan to mix it slowly with the egg.   Keep folding the rice in.  Mix it well for couple of minutes.
  15. Add cooked chicken finally.
  16. Taste it. Add a pinch of salt if needed.  Add scallion, pepper and sesame oil.  Mix it well. Turn off the heat.

I was so excited to visit the Nissin Ramen Noodles Museum in Japan last year. I love ramen noodles!

Fatty visited Nissin Ramen Noodles Museum
Fatty visited Nissin Ramen Noodles Museum
A lot of Ramen Noodles!
A lot of Ramen Noodles!

 

I ate so many Ramen noodles in my life that I’m really claiming myself to be an expert chef for cooking ramen noodles ;p LOL.  I take it seriously.  Mom may had cooked my Ramen noodles a few times, and she didn’t make it the way I like it.  I like it al dente!  If you undercook it, it’s like eating something fake, or plastic-like.  If you overcook it, it’s too soggy and it’s all gross IMHO.  If you add too much water for the soup, it doesn’t have much taste. If you add too little water, it gets too salty. It takes a lot of skills to make a good bowl of ramen noodles   I ate so much of these in my life because I grew up poor.  I’m still somewhat poor.. LOL.   It probably costs like 60 cents or so for a pack of noodles. Even if you make it fancy by adding some toppings on it, it is still like $1 or so for the meal. It’s a real poor man’s dish.  I remember I met some students from China back when I was doing my internship at a company.  The company subsidized all the students to stay in a hotel.  There was a pantry area in the hotel. We all gathered there for dinner.  I saw some Chinese guy there every night.  He would put the ramen noodle in a large plastic container, then add tap water in it, add the seasoning, and heat it up in a microwave.  YUCKY!  First of all, you can’t make good ramen noodles that way.  But the thing that really amazed me was that when his noodles were ready, he would open a jar of pickles and put one pickled cucumber in his noodles.  That’s his dinner!   He ate that every night.  He would have a few bites of noodles, and then had a small bite on the pickle as if it is something precious that he had to conserve.  Seeing that, I was like OMG and I thought I was broke!  There’s always someone that’s less fortunate!

 

Cooking Ramen Noodles
Cooking Ramen Noodles

 

Ramen Noodles With Egg and Ham
Ramen Noodles With Egg and Ham

Ingredients:

  • Ramen Noodles, 1 pack.  I would recommend the Nissin Chicken noodles, or anything from Japan.  Nong Shim is also a good brand, they were made in Korea, and they are a lot spicier.
  • Water, 6 cups
  • Sesame oil (optional), a few drops

Steps:

  1. Optional: if you are planning to add toppings to the noodles, you should prepare the toppings first.  Trust me, if you prepare the toppings after you cook the noodles, your noodles would turn so soggy that it may not look edible!  I like to add a cooked egg, a few pieces of ham or spam, or whatever leftover chicken etc.
  2. To cook the noodles, add 6 cups of water in a pot.  Use high heat. Boil the water.
  3. When the water boils, pour about 1.5-2 cups of water in a container. Save that for soup use.  You should have about 4 cups of boiled water in the pot.
  4. Put the noodles into the pot.  Turn the heat back onto high.  Use a pork or a pair of chopsticks and give it a good stir. Make sure the noodles get separated easily.  Cook it for 2 minutes.  Turn off the heat.
  5. Give the noodle a good stir, and discard the water.  Now you have drained noodles left in the pot.
  6. Put the pot back to the stove.  Add the seasoning pack that comes along with the noodles in the pot.  Add the 1.5-2 cups of hot water to the pot.  Turn the heat back on to high.
  7. Cook the noodles for 1 minute.  Turn off the heat.  Put the noodles in a serving bowl.
  8. Optional: You can put a few drops of sesame oil to give it more flavor. 
  9. Optional: put some toppings to the noodles.

Enjoy!  Eat it right away!

Somehow didn’t really feel like going out to get food today.  It’s one of those days that I would look at my pantry and see if there’s anything that can fill me up.  So I decided to make fried noodles.  This is not any fancy pan fried noodles that you order at a Chinese restaurant. This is another poor man’s food cos there isn’t much ingredients needed.  I had this as my breakfast occassionally when I was in middle/high school.  There were street hawkers selling fried noodles, congees and other goodies in the morning.  I would pay a few bucks for my fried noodles.  They put the noodles in a small white plastic bag, and stick a plastic folk in it, it’s totally unfancy.  I could put hot sauce or hoisin sauce in if I like.  I would eat that in the bus. By the time I got to school, I was done with breakfast.

 

Dried Noodles
Dried Noodles
Fried Noodles
Fried Noodles

 

Ingredients (serve 2 -3):

  • Chinese dried noodles (prefer the skinny noodles, see the picture), 1/2 pound (which is half a bag)
  • Ground meat, 1/4 pound (Optional. I usually use pork/beef, you can use chicken, or even turkey, or totally skip this)
  • Carrot, 2 sticks
  • Bok choy, 4 or 5 leaves
  • Scallion, 4 stems
  • Garlic, 1 clove
  • Soy sauce, 1 tsp
  • Chinese cooking wine, 1 tsp
  • Fish sauce, 1 tsp
  • Oyster sauce, 1 Tbsp
  • Teriyaki sauce, 1 Tbsp
  • Black bean sauce, 1 tsp
  • Sesame oil, 1 tsp

Steps:

  1. Cut the carrots into thin strips.  Put it aside.
  2. Cut the bok choy into thin strips.  Put it aside.
  3. Finely chopped the garlic.  Put it aside.
  4. Cut the scallions into thin strips. Put it aside.
  5. To prepare the sauce, add the following in a bowl and put it aside: oyster sauce, fish sauce, teriyaki sauce, and black bean sauce.
  6. In a big pot, boil 8 or 9 cups of water.  Use high heat.  When the water boils, add the dried noodles.  Separate them with a fork or chopsticks.  Let it cooked for 5 mins or so. 
  7. When the noodles are cooked. Turn off the heat.  Run it under cold water.  Rinse it with cold water for a couple of times to get rid of the starch.  Drain them well.
  8. In a frying pan, add a tablespoon of cooking oil, or spray oil to the pan.  Use high heat. Add carrot. Stir fry it for 2 mins.
  9. Add ground meat to the pan.  Stir fry it for a couple of minutes until it is cooked.  Add a teaspoon of cooking wine.  Add a teaspoon of soy sauce.  Mix it well.
  10. Add bok choy to the pan.  Mix it well.
  11. Add the drained noodles to the pan.  Turn down the heat to medium.
  12. Add the sauce to the noodles.  Mix it well.  Stir fry the noodles for a couple of minutes. 
  13. Add chopped scallion to the noodles.  Add a few drops of sesame oil.  Mix it well. Let it cook for 1 more minute.