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.

 

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I came across a video that showed the fancy Wolf Integrated Steamer in the kitchen.  I wish I could afford a Wolf stove. But you know what? As fancy as this steaming device is built into the kitchen, it somehow looks complicated to me.  Steaming doesn’t need to be this complicated.  I’m not a gadget queen.  I stick with very basic pots and pans.  That reminded me that I owe my friend Sally a Steamed Water Egg recipe.  She asked me a few months ago when I just started this blog.  I made this dish last night.  It was a good timing for me to make more steamed dishes cos now I decided to exercise again and get healthy.  I literally translated the name of the Cantonese dish into English.  You can guess that it is a very basic dish – steam the water and egg mixture, that’s pretty much it.  But it is a very authentic and comforting Cantonese dish.  If you add sugar instead of salt to the dish, it’s like the egg custard, which could be a dessert.  I only learned how to make this dish a few years back from my mom.  She was fuzzy about the look of the dish, making sure that there were no bubbles when pouring the egg mixture to the serving plate for steaming….  Mom, I don’t care about these!  LOL.  I made this dish like a dozen of times now.  But I didn’t write down any recipe, so the results were inconsistent.  Sometimes the eggs get too overcooked, sometimes I added too much water,  sometimes the surface got too many bubbles, sometimes the dish was no taste,… So I made the dish again last night and it turned out very good, and I got to write down what I did.  I modified mom’s recipe.  I skipped the “getting rid of the bubbles” step. LOL.  I added some diced scallion on the surface.  The weight of the scallion killed the bubbles.  Pretty smart, right? ;p  The texture was very good too. It was like silken tofu.

Put eggs in a container. Use the eggshell as measuring unit.

Put eggs in a container. Use the eggshell as measuring unit.

Pour egg mixture in a serving bowl

Pour egg mixture in a serving bowl

Put egg mixture in a pot for steaming

Put egg mixture in a pot for steaming

Add soy sauce when it is done

Add soy sauce when it is done

Steamed Water Eggs

Steamed Water Eggs

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • Large eggs, 3
  • Hon Dashi or chicken powder, 1 tsp (I used Hon Dashi last night. Hon Dashi is a Japanese Fish Stock powder)
  • Scallion, 1 or 2 stalks (optional, it’s perfectly fine if you skip this)
  • Water, 9 units (each unit is a half eggshell)
  • Salt, a dash
  • Cornstarch, ¼ tsp
  • Soy sauce, 1 tsp

 

Steps:

  1. Chop scallion into small dices, put them aside.
  2. We’ll be steaming the dish. You need to prepare a big pot with a lid, and a serving bowl that will fit into the pot.  If you have a fancy steamer, then you’ll all set.  Add sufficient water in the pot.  Boil the water first.
  3. While waiting for the steamer to get reader, prepare the egg mixture.  Use a large bowl or container, break 3 eggs and add them in it.  Save a half eggshell and use it as measuring unit.  For each egg, add 3 half eggshell of water to the container.  So we have 3 eggs here, total of 9 half eggshell of water.
  4. Add Hon Dashi or chicken powder, cornstarch and a very small pinch of salt to the mixture.  Mix it well.  Yes, you’ll see bubbles while mixing it.
  5. Get a shallow serving bowl.  Pour egg mixture to the bowl.  If you are fuzzy about the bubbles of the mixture, you can get rid of them with a spoon.  I didn’t do that cos it didn’t bother me.
  6. Sprinkle scallion dices to the surface of the mixture.  Put it aside.
  7. When the water boils, BE CAREFUL of the heat, put the bowl into the pot.  Cover it with a lid (or a piece of aluminum foil if you don’t find a lid that fits).  Let it steamed for 15 minutes on medium heat.  After 15 minutes is due, turn off the heat.  Let the dish sit in the pot with the lid on for another 5 mins before taking it out.
  8. To check if the dish is cooked or not, run a small knife through the mixture and pull the knife out.   The knife should not have any egg stick to it.
  9. Add a teaspoon of soy sauce to the surface of the dish.  Serve hot.
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I was working late last night on school work. I flipped through the channels and happened to watch Andrew Zimmerman’s show.  He visited Tokyo and ate all sort of weird stuff.  I was so jealous.  I wish I could go visit Tokyo again. It is such a fun city, the culture, the trendy people, mega shopping malls, the food are so awesome.  Even though I had a crazy day and I felt like I have been working non-stop the whole day, I can’t help thinking about the wonderful Japanese food I tried when I visited Japan.  I’m not talking about sushi, but cooked Japanese food.  I made Oyakodon for dinner tonight.  It’s a Japanese chicken and egg dish served on rice.  I learned how to make this dish from some youtube video that I watched a while back. This was my second time of making the dish.  It’s so simple and yet very comforting.  The egg absorbed the sauce and it was very yummy!  It’s a perfect dish to make for a hectic day. LOL.  I cooked the whole dinner in less than 30 mins. There are a few more cooked Japanese dishes served on rice that I really like. I’ll make them sometimes.

 

Cook onion, garlic and chicken first

Cook onion, garlic and chicken first

Add soy sauce, mirin, hon dashi etc to the pot

Add soy sauce, mirin, hon dashi etc to the pot

Hon Dashi - a Japanese fish stock powder

Hon Dashi - a Japanese fish stock powder

Add egg

Add egg

Let egg fully cooked untouched!

Let egg fully cooked untouched!

Oyakodon served with rice

Oyakodon served with rice

 

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • Boneless chicken meat, 1 pound (I recommend boneless thigh meat as it won’t get too dry after cooking it for a while)
  • Onion, 1
  • Egg, 2
  • Garlic, 1 clove
  • Soy sauce, ¼ cup
  • Mirin, 2 Tbsp (Mirin is a kind of sweet rice wine, you can get it even from American grocery stores)
  • Water, ¼ cup
  • Chinese cooking wine, 1 Tbsp
  • Sugar, 1 tsp
  • Hon Dashi, 1 tsp (Hon Dashi is a Japanese fish stock powder, Most asian grocery stores have them)

Steps:

  1. Finely chopped garlic.  Cut onion into strips.  Put it aside. 
  2. Cut boneless chicken meat into small edible pieces.
  3. Spray a little bit cooking oil to a frying pan.  Use high heat.  Add garlic and onion.  Stir fry it for couple of minutes.  Then add chicken to the pan.  Stir fry for couple of minutes.
  4. Add soy sauce, mirin, cooking wine, sugar, Hon Dashi and water to the pan.  Turn the heat down to medium low. Put a lid on the pan, and let it simmer for 7 mins.  Stir occasionally.  If you don’t have a lid, put a piece of aluminum foil on top like what I did.
  5. Taste the sauce and see if it is too salty or not.  Add more water or salt if needed.  
  6. Beat an egg.  Pour it over the chicken.  Don’t touch it.  Put the lid back on and let it cook for another 3 or 4 minutes or until the egg is fully cooked.  Serve hot.
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I looked around at people I know, everyone works like crazy to make a living in this economy.  I know I age fast with the stress I have.  I used to pluck my white hair whenever I see it.  Now, I got so many that I don’t even care. My vision is getting worse.  I do feel my body is getting old.  Can I do something about it?  Yes, I can  exercise more to keep my mind and soul young. But it’s just hard to find time.  Also diet is important.  One thing I know I’m missing all these years in my diet is soup.  Soup is a very important part of Chinese diet.  I’m not talking about Wonton Soup or Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup.  I’m talking about traditional Chinese soup like Ginseng Chicken Soup that takes a few hours to make.  All the good flavor and nutrients of the ingredients are released in the water after the cooking process.  Growing up, my mom made soup almost every day.  We would have a bowl of soup at the end of each meal.  It was like taking daily supplement in an organic way.  All these years, mom has been telling me that I need to make soup, but I kept telling her I have no time.  She said I can cook it in a crockpot and it didn’t take much effort.  I felt guilty that I have not done anything with the soup mix that she packed for me.  I promised her that I would do so.  After I hang up the phone with her on Saturday night.  I put a soup mix package that she gave me with Gogi Wolfberries in a crock pot. I added some chicken drumsticks in it.  I filled up the pot with hot water. I put the lid on.  I turned the cooking temperature to be high. And I went to bed.  6 hours later when I woke up on Sunday morning.  The soup was ready!  I just made the soup while I was sleeping!!! How cool was that!  Mom was right again. It was effortless.  The soup was delicious.  I ate everything including the Gogi berries.   Gogi Wolfberries are getting more traction these days as Westerners recently discovered the nutritious values of these little guys.  Gogi berries have amazing anti-aging power, improve your vision and boost your immune system.  They are packed with tons of antioxidants.  I will put Gogi Chicken Soup as part of my regular meals instead of wasting money on buying anti-aging creams that don’t work. LOL.

Chinese Soup Mix:

You can get a pack of Chinese soup mix from a Chinese grocery store that contains Gogi Wolfberries.  They are inexpensive.  Or you can buy separate ingredients from the store.  I would suggest to include these 3:

  • Gogi Wolfberries  – They are tiny dried berries, red in color. They are great for anti-aging and vision
  • Dioscorea Opposita – It’s a kind of Japanese Yam, white in color. Use the dried ones here.  They are also pre-sliced. They are good for the immune system.
  • Dried Logan fruit (aka dragon eye fruit) –  They are dark brown in color when dried.  They are rich in Vitamin A and C. Good stuff for improving vision and immune system.
Chinese Soup Mix with Gogi Berries

Chinese Soup Mix with Gogi Berries

Mom's Chinese Soup Mix including Gogi Berries (red ones), Dioscorea Opposita (long, white slices), dried Logan/Dragon Eye fruit and other good stuff

Mom's Chinese Soup Mix including Gogi Berries (red ones), Dioscorea Opposita (long, white slices), dried Logan/Dragon Eye fruit and other good stuff

Gogi Wolfberries Chinese Chicken Soup for Anti-aging

Gogi Wolfberries Chinese Chicken Soup for Anti-aging

Ingredients:

  • Dried Gogi Wolfberries, 2 Tbsp
  • Dioscorea Opposita, a big handful
  • Dried Logan fruit, a small handful
  • Chicken, 1.5 pounds. I used 7 drumsticks, or you can put 1/2 a chicken, or breast meat or dark meat. Or pork, if you prefer that.

Steps:

  1. Boil a big pot of water.
  2. Put soup mix in a colander or strainer.  Rinse it under water.
  3. Add the soup mix in a crock pot. 
  4. Add chicken to the crock pot.
  5. Add hot water to the pot. Leave about 1 inches room on top.
  6. Put the lid on. Turn the temperature of the crock pot to be high.  Set your timer to 5 or 6 hours or so.  The soup will be done.  You don’t have to do anything while it cooks.
  7. Add a pinch of salt for taste when it is done.
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After posting the funky Zongzi yesterday, I’m still in the mood of adding more funky Chinese food here.  LOL.  This one is definitely weird looking – Chinese Thousand Year Egg.  They look like regular eggs except the shell has tons of tiny grey dots.  If you peel the shell, it is black in color and has a very strong sulphur smell.  Then I cut it in halves. The egg white is totally black and translucent. The yolk is dark greenish in color. I couldn’t help thinking what the heck have people done to turn regular eggs to look like this?  I used to love Thousand Year Eggs when I was a kid until one day I asked my mom how they were made.  Mom told me that they were soaked in horse urine for a few months.  From then onwards, I stop eating them for years.  I didnt know whether it was a myth or not, it just grossed me out.  A few years ago I saw the Fear Factor TV show asked the challengers to eat mashed Thousand Year Eggs.  Of course, they make it look so gross that no one could bypass the vision part.  In fact, they are not bad in taste.  My sister’s Japanese buddies tried the Thousand Year Egg for the very first time a few years ago.  After the first bite, they all said “oshi”, which means delicious.  My buddy’s American boyfriend tried it as well, and he loved it.  She even sent him a few Thousand Year Eggs in mail one summer when she was working in a different state for internship.

Thousand Year Egg

Thousand Year Egg

Thousand Year Egg Looks So WEIRD

Thousand Year Egg Looks So WEIRD

Thousand Year Egg Congee

Thousand Year Egg Congee

Note: I did not put any meat in this congee. The traditional dish should be pork and thousand year egg congee.  If your prefer, you can put some pork or chicken in it.

Ingredients:

  • Uncooked rice, or leftover rice, 1.5 cups
  • Water, 8 cups
  • Thousand year eggs, 2
  • Ginger, 5 slices
  • Scallion, 3 stalks
  • Fish sauce, 1 Tbsp
  • Salt, a dash

Steps:

  1. Cut ginger slices into very fine strips.
  2. Cut the scallion into small dices.  Put it aside.
  3. If you are using uncooked rice, rinse it under the water 2 times.
  4. Put 8 cups of water and rice (cooked or uncooked) in a big pot.  Use high heat, bring it to a boil.
  5. Lower the heat to medium, add ginger strips and let it cook for 30 mins.  Stir occasionally.  Add more water if needed.  The congee should be very soupy.
  6. Add fish sauce to the congee.  Stir well.
  7. Peel the Thousand Year Eggs. Cut them into eight slices, then cut them into dices.  Add them to the congee.  Mix it well.
  8. Let it cook for another 15 mins.  Taste it. Add a dash of salt if needed. 
  9. Add scallion to the congee.  Mix it well. Turn off the heat.  Serve. 
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Rush rush rush… I rushed home after a long day, and got about 45 mins to cook and eat dinner before my conference call with my school mates at 8pm.  I could have been lazy and got pizza or take-out on the way home, but I talked myself out of it.  I really want to eat something healthy.  Actually, I was pretty of proud of myself today because I also talked myself out of having burgers and fries for lunch.  Instead, I got sushi at the cafeteria.  Despite that it was yucky (ya, what do you expect from a cafeteria??!!), it was still much healthier than greasy fries.   Tonight, I made Steamed Chilean Sea Bass.  It was sooooo good.  I’m not a big fish fan.  My mom made steamed fish for every meal when I was a kid, and I was sick of it.  She couldn’t go without fish.  Now that I realized how healthy it is and how easy to make it, I started to like it.  It took me about 20 mins to make the dish tonight!  I remember I asked one of my coworkers once how he keeps himself so lean.  He said he runs 6 miles per day, he eats fish and veggies , and no meat.  I can’t do the no-meat thing nor run 6 miles a day, but I could try eating more steamed fish.

Put ginger strips on the fish first

Put ginger strips on the fish first

 

Add scallion after the fish is cooked for 10 mins

Add scallion after the fish is cooked for 10 mins

Steamed Chilean Sea Bass

Steamed Chilean Sea Bass

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • Chilean Sea Bass, about 1 pound (or you can use whatever white fish)
  • Ginger, 5-6 slices
  • Scallion, 3 steams
  • Soy sauce, 2 teaspoons
  • Dark soy sauce (optional), a few drops

Steps:

  1. You need to defrost the fish first if it is frozen.  I usually leave it out at the kitchen sink and let it defrost naturally a few hours before cooking.
  2. Prepare a steamer.  Add enough water to the steamer.  Boil the water with high heat.
  3. While you are waiting for the water to boil, put the fish on a plate/container that fits into the steamer.  Put it aside.
  4. Cut ginger slices into thin strips.  Put the ginger strips on the fish.
  5. When the water boils, put the fish in the steamer.  Use high heat.  Cover it and steam it for 10 minutes with the lid on.  Set your timer.
  6. Now the fish is in the steamer,  you can cut the scallion into thin strips.  Put it aside.
  7. When the time is up (ie, the fish is cooked for 10 minutes), put the scallion on top of the fish (see picture).  Put the lid back on.  Count 30 seconds.  Open the lid. Turn off the heat.  Take the fish out from the steamer. The 30 seconds is good enough for cooking the scallion.
  8. There may be a lot of water coming out from the fish in the plate.  Disgard most of it and leave a little bit (like 2 or 3 Tbsp) left.  That could dilute the soy sauce that we are going to add in the next step.
  9. Put fish on a serving plate if you prefer a different plate (whatever you like).  Then drizzle 2 teaspoons of soy sauce on the fish.  You can put less soy sauce if you prefer. Or you can mix 1 tsp soy sauce with 1 tsp of dark soy sauce, too.  Dark soy sauce gives a nice darker color.

MUST serve HOT!

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Another snow day here.  It felt cold and uninviting outside.  Any home made comfort food would help to bring some sunshine to these days.  So I decided to make Chinese Lo Shui Chicken Drumsticks.  Lo Shui literally means old water if I translate it.  It is the same thing as braising except the sauce get reused.  If you cook the meat or tofu or whatever in the sauce (or lo shui) for the first time, the meat absorbs the taste of the sauce, the sauce also absorbs the flavor of the meat or whatever you put in the pot.  When you reuse ths sauce or lo shui the second time for cooking, it adds extra flavor to the meat you are going to cook.  See how it works?  See why it is called old water?  I don’t  know how many times you can repeat this. I usually repeat it two or three times. Then I use the leftover sauce as seasoning for stir-fried or soup noodles. Try it, it’s really yummy. BTW, making Lo Shui dishes is so easy.  You put everything in a pot, set your timer, stir it occasionally. That’s it.  I enjoy any one-pot cooking.  That’s the lazy Fatty speaking. LOL.  But seriously, who has time for crazy preparation these days?

Star Anise Powder, add a nice aroma to the dish

Star Anise Powder, add a nice aroma to the dish

LoShuiDrumksticks2

Making Lo Shui Chicken

Chinese Lo Shui Braised Chicken Drumstricks

Chinese Lo Shui Braised Chicken Drumstricks

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • Chicken drumsticks, 6 (slightly more than a pound)
  • Garlic, 1 clove
  • Ginger, 2 slices (Optional)
  • Soy Sauce, ¾ cup
  • Chinese cooking wine, 1 Tbsp
  • Dark Soy Sauce, 1 tsp (Optional if you have it, it would give a nice darker color for the sauce)
  • Oyster sauce, 1 Tbsp
  • Star Anise, 4 pieces or 1/2 tsp if you use the powder
  • Chicken powder. 1 tsp (or chicken bouillon, 1 cube)
  • Sugar, 1 Tbsp
  • Water, 4 cups

Steps:

  1. Cut garlic into small pieces.
  2. Add all ingredients to a pot, including the chicken.  Make sure there is enough sauce covering the chicken.  Add more water and soy sauce if needed.
  3. Use high heat.  Bring it to a boil.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium low.  Cover it with a lid and let it cook for 40 mins.  Turn the chicken occassionally so that all the sides are cooked with the sauce.  

I highly recommend this dish.  They are so good, they fall off the bone!

You can put the sauce or lo shui in the refridgerator/freezer and save it for next time.  BTW, you can lo shui a lot of things other than chicken, such as pork, beef, tofu, or eggs.  When you reuse the sauce for the second time, there may not be enough sauce, so you can add a little bit more of each ingredient and water.  Trust me, the same dish tastes and looks even better the second time.

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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.

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It’s not “damn tart”, it’s “dan tart”, Egg Tart.  “Dan” in Cantonese means egg.

I wasn”t crazy about Egg Tarts when I was young.  It was one of those food that I would eat it but I didn”t have any special craving for it.  One year my childhood best friend got a summer job in a bakery shop.  I visited her a few times that summer.  Every time I visited her, she was making egg tarts.  They smelled so good.  I saw her poured the liquid to the tart shells.  She said it was so easy to make egg tarts.  Of course, back then I had no clue how to cook.  Now I don”t live anywhere near any bakery that serves egg tarts.  And I do crave egg tarts once in a while, I don’t know why.   I probably crave the smell of it more than the taste.  Now I would order it whenever I have dim sum in a Chinese restaurant.  One time, I had lunch with my sister and a bunch of friends at a dim sum place.  We ordered egg tarts as desserts.  The waiter told us that their egg tarts were very special.  My sister asked him “How special?”  He said, “especially small”  What a surprising and stupid answer!  We all laughed.

Soft Egg Tart Filling

Soft Egg Tart Filling

Chinese Egg Tart

Chinese Egg Tart

Ingredients: (make 12-15)

Dough:

  • Confectioners” sugar, 1 cup
  • All-purpose flour, 3 cup
  • Butter, 1 cup
  • Egg, 1 beaten

Filling:

  • Sugar, 2/3 cup
  • Water 1.5 cups
  • Eggs, 5 beaten
  • Vanilla extract, a dash
  • Evaporated milk or half and half, 1 cup

Steps:

  1. In a  mixing bowl, add confectioners” sugar, flour, and butter.  Use a fork or two knives to cut the butter into small crumbs.  Mix well with the flour mixture. If you have one of those fancy gadget that can cut the butter into small crumbs, use that instead of a fork or knives.
  2. Add egg to the mixture.  Mix well and form a dough.   The dough should be moist.  If it is too dry, you can add some more butter.  If  it is too moist, add some more flour.  Knead the dough a few times.  Form a big ball.
  3. Shape dough into 1.5 inches balls.  Press it flat with a rolling pin.  Lay it on a tart mold/paper shell.  Make sure if covers the whole mold, ie bottom and side.  Finsih the rest of the molds.  Put them aside.
  4. To make the filling, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan.  Use low heat, cook until the sugar is dissolved.  Turn off the heat.  Let it cool (this step is important!).
  5. Wait till the sugar mixture is cool.  Beat the eggs in a bowl.  Strain it through a sieve to remove lumps. Add the egg into the sugar mixture.  Mix well.  Add evaporated milk and a dash of vanilla.   You can strain the whole mixture through a sieve the second time to make sure the mxiture has no lumps.
  6. Pour the mixture to the shells.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400F.  Bake for 25-30 minutes in a preheated oven, or until they turn golden brown.
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Ma Po Tofu

14 Feb
2

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!!

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