My college buddy went to Hong Kong for vacation, and she posted a lot of food pictures on Facebook.  I was drooling just watching them.  She posted a picture of a street vendor selling stuffed tofu, stuffed eggplant, stuffed peppers and fish balls.  Those were all my favorite street snacks that I grew up with.  I remember every time I bought a couple of stuffed tofu from a street vendor after school, they were taken right out of a big deep fry wok.  I burned my tongue every time.  Hehehehe.  It really brought back a lot of good childhood memory.  My mom made stuffed tofu, stuffed eggplant, and stuffed peppers at home sometimes.  She showed me how, it wasn’t hard.  Besides, the home-made version is a lot healthier since it is not deep fried.

Ground fish into paste first
Put fish paste on the eggplant, tofu or pepper
Put the side with the paste facing down first
Stuffed three treasures (stuffed tofu, stuffed eggplant, stuffed pepper)

Ingredients: 

  • White fish filet, ½ pound (any boneless white fish filet would do, You can use 1/2 pound of ready-made fish paste.  You can get it from Chinese grocery store. )
  • Dried shrimp, a few pieces (about 1 Tbsp)
  • Scallion, 2 stalks,
  • Fish sauce, a dash
  • White pepper, a dash
  • Water, 1 Tbsp
  • Chinese Eggplant, 1 (if you are using the huge American eggplant, you probably need ¼ of it)
  • Tofu, 1 packet (medium or firm, don’t get silken)
  • Green pepper, 1

 Steps:

  1. Pre-soak the dried shrimps 30 mins in hot water. Then chop it finely.
  2. Cut scallion into dices.
  3. Cut white fish filet into big pieces.  Put the pieces into a food processor.  Add a tablespoon of water, a dash of fish sauce and a dash of white pepper.  Ground every thing finely until it turns into a smooth paste.  You can add a little bit more water to make it smoother. Remove the paste from the food processor.  Mix it well with the chopped dried shrimp and scallion.  Put the mixture aside.
  4. Cut eggplant into slices of about 1 cm thick.
  5. Cut pepper into pieces about 2 inches wide.
  6. Cut tofu into slices of about 2 cm thick.  Pat dry them with a paper towel.
  7. Use a butter knife to grab a little bit of paste onto the tofu, eggplant or pepper.  
  8. Use a large non-stick frying pan.  Spray non-stick cooking oil onto the pan.  Use medium high heat.  Put the tofu, eggplant or pepper with the paste facing downward on the pan.  Let it cook for 6 or 7 mins.  Then flip it over to let it cook for another 6 or 7 mins.  Serve hot. You can add a few drops of diluted soy sauce if desired.
February 22, 2011

It’s only a couple of weeks since the Chinese New Year, and I feel like I’m buried already with work and school. It has been crazy.  One resolution I have for Chinese New Year was to eat more fish.  I made some fish cake from scratch.  I was trying to be creative. HAHAHAHAHA.   I got some white fish filet. I put the fish in a food processor with shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimp and scallion.  Mix it well, form it into round cakes, put some breadcrumbs on them, and pan fried them. They turned out pretty good.  I was happy. I was so easily pleased. LOL.

Cut fish into big dices first
Ground everything and mix them well
Cover each fish cake with breadcrumbs
Pan fry the fish cakes

 

Ingredients (Makes about 4 pieces):

  •  White fish filet, ½ pound (any boneless white fish filet would do)
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms, 2
  • Dried shrimp, a few pieces (about 1 Tbsp)
  • Scallion, 2 stalks
  • Chicken powder, ½ tsp
  • White pepper, a dash
  • Breadcrumbs, 1.5 cups

 Steps:

  1. Soak dried shiitake mushrooms and dried shrimp into hot water for 30 mins or so.
  2. Chop mushrooms and shrimps finely.
  3. Chop scallions into dices.
  4. Cut the fish into big dices first. The put the fish, mushrooms, scallion into a food processor and ground everything for 20 seconds or so.
  5. Remove the mixture from the food processor.  Add chicken powder and white pepper into the mixture.  Mix it well. 
  6. Form the mixture into balls.  Drop the balls about 2 inches into breadcrumbs and fully covered them.
  7. Spray non-stick cooking oil onto a frying pan.  Flatten the fish cakes a little bit when put them onto the pan.  Let it pan fry for 6 or 7 minutes on medium heat on one side.  Spray oil onto the other side of the fish cake before flip them over and cook for another 6 or 7 minutes.

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

Finally, I was able to take a break after all these crazy workloads. I’m in Happyland visiting friends and family. I mean I’m back in Hong Kong. I couldn’t help trying out food I grew up with. A lot of the food that I carved could be added to the Bizarre Food show. LOL. I never crave expensive stuff, rather, I love regular food. Call me cheap or stupid. For lunch today, I had a bowl of dumplings and fish balls soup, and some deep fried fish skins. The fish skins were so crunchy. They were like crackers. I soaked a piece of the fish skin into the soup, it was delicious! The wontons were not regular dumplings. The skin of the dumplings was made from fish, not kidding! They are actually called “Fish Skin Dumplings”. I think the whole wonton was made from fish. It was so yummy. I remember I bought a bag of Fish Skin Dumplings from a Chinese grocery store in NY. I cooked it like I did for regular dumplings. It was pretty yucky and it didn’t taste anything like the real ones I got from Hong Kong. With a simple meal like this, I was totally satisfied. Besides, fish skin has a bunch of collagen. So the more I eat this, I probably have better skin. LOL.

Deep fried fish skin. They are like crackers 🙂
Fish Skin Dumpling, super yummy

I’m really wondering if my life will get any less busy.  My day job plus my part-time school are killing me.  Plus I’m trying hard to squeeze in an hour per day to do p90x so that I can look excellent in 90 days, and not a little fatty. LOL. But time is my enemy.  I couldn’t find time to do anything.   A few weeks ago, someone introduced me to a super lazy dish which was steamed tofu and fish floss on it.  I was like “wow, who would think of a lazy dish like this?”  But now I definitely need some lazy dish like this.  I was pretty much having 5 or 6 hours back to back meetings these days.  I got a pack of tofu and fish floss at home.  So I was willing to give it a try. I modify the dish even more to suit my laziness.  Instead of steaming the tofu, I just microwave it.  Tofu is already cooked and they are edible out of the package.  So what’s the point of steaming it if I just want to heat it up?  That was the super lazy Fatty speaking. LOL.  So, I heated it up in a microwave for a minute.  Discard any water.  Then I added a few tablespoons of fish floss on top.  It was surprisingly refreshing.  I loved it.  Plus it is healthy, no oil, no toxin.  I ate that as a side dish with a bowl of rice.  Fish floss is one of those funky things.  It is dried and is already cooked.  It has a fish taste but not the fish texture.  I’ve seen mom made that from scratch when I was kid.  She used the leftover fish filet, and stir fried it in a wok while smashing it until it got really dried and turned flaky.  I would not know how to repeat what she did.  I usually put fish floss on a bowl of rice and it would be yummy.  I tried putting fish floss on a piece of bread and make it like a sandwich. It was yummy too.  It was funky but it was definitely cool stuff.  I usually keep a can of fish floss in my pantry just in case I have 0 time to cook, which happened quite often to me these days.

Fish Floss. Very flaky. This one has some seaweed in it.
A pack of tofu. Use soft or medium firmness
Tofu with Fish Floss. Healthy, lazy, funky!

Ingredients (Serves 2 as side dish):

  • Tofu, 1 pack (soft or medium firmness)
  • Fish floss – about 5 or 6 Tbsp (or you can add more)

Steps:

  1. Cut tofu into thick slices, like 1.5 inches or so.  Lay it flat on a plate.
  2. You can steam the tofu or microwave it for a minute like I did if you are lazy.  Or you can have it cold too. It’s up to you.  Discard any water.
  3. Use a paper towel to pat dry the surface of the tofu.
  4. Add the fish floss on top.

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.

It has been a busy week.  I managed to finish an exam, some school projects, and my day job.  Sometimes, I felt like I really didn’t even have time for lunch.  But as a fatty, I can’t skip lunch.  I need food.  LOL.  Going to the cafeteria would waste me 10 minutes going back and forth, and I may end up with burgers or fries which is not something I would like to have now since I’m trying to eat healthier.  I used to pack leftover for lunch if I was really busy and eat it at my desk. But I do have concerns because I don’t want my office to smell like food.  I like to keep the work environment neutral in smell.  So I started to make tuna fish sandwich instead.  I learned a trick from my friend for making tuna fish sandwich.  To prevent it from getting soggy, I toasted the bread lightly. This made the bread less absorbent.  I also learned to add some celery and onion with the tuna.  I used the 15-grain bread that gave some extra fiber to my meal.  I used light mayonnaise. It was yummy.  It was almost as good as Oliver’s super sandwich. LOL. Their tuna sandwich was so good.  It was soooooo thick stuffed with tons of tuna.  Mm… I missed that. I wish they have a store nearby.

Cut celery and onion
Cut celery and onion
Add tuna
Add tuna
Toast and let bread to cool down
Toast and let bread to cool down
Spread tuna mixture on the bread
Spread tuna mixture on the bread
Home made tuna fish sandwich
Home made tuna fish sandwich

Ingredients:

  • Bread, two pieces (whole wheat, or multi-grain would be healthier)
  • Light mayonnaise, 1.5 Tbsp
  • Canned tuna fish, 1 can (I used the solid tuna fish in water. I recommend that)
  • Celery, 1 stalk
  • Onion, chopped, about 1-2 Tbsp
  • Pepper, a dash

Steps:

  1. Set the toaster to the lightest setting.  Lightly toast the bread.  Set it aside to let it cool down.
  2. Cut celery into dices.  Put it in a bowl.
  3. Finely chopped onion.  Add this to the celery.
  4. Open a can of tuna.  Use the lid of the can to press down the tuna and squeeze out the water from the can.  The more water you get rid of, the better the sandwich would be because a soggy fish sandwich would be yucky.  Or you can use a colander to get rid of the water or whatever works for you.
  5. Add the tuna to the bowl.
  6. Add a dash of pepper and 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise first to see if there is enough sauce to mix everything.  If you need more sauce, add the rest of ½ tablespoon.  Don’t add too much sauce because it will make the sandwich soggy, and it adds more calories. LOL.
  7. Mix all the ingredients well.
  8. Make sure the bread cools down before you add the tuna on it.
  9. Now you can wrap it up on a piece of aluminum foil or sandwich bag. And it is ready to go.

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.

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!

I made Pan Fried Fish for tonight. It took me just 20 minutes to make this dinner. I made it right in time before American Idol started   I am trying to be healthier these days. I need to eat more fish instead of meat.  Instead of getting fresh fish that could be expensive, I went to Trader Joe to get frozen fish. They are just as good.  I got a bag of frozen white fish for $7.  It has 3 big filets in a bag. All I needed to do was to leave the frozen fish in the kitchen sink in the morning before I left for work, and let it defrost during the day.  Then when I got home after work, it would be totally defrost, and ready to be cooked.  Fish cooks fast, and it makes it a super fast and yet healthy dinner.  If you are worried about the fishy taste, you would love this dish.

Pan Fried Fish - No fishy taste
Pan Fried Fish - No fishy taste

Ingredients:

  • Frozen fish, 1 bag, about 1 pound per bag
  • Scallion, 3 stems
  • Corn starch, 2 Tbsp
  • Soy sauce, 1 Tbsp
  • Chinese cooking wine, 1 Tbsp
  • Teriyaki sauce, 1 Tbsp
  • Oyster sauce, 1 Tbsp
  • Sugar, 1 tsp
  • Water, 5 Tbsp

Steps:

  1. Cut the scallions into small strips.  Put it aside.
  2. Make sure the fish is defrosted. Pat dry the filets with paper towel
  3. Add 1 Tbsp of cornstarch to the fish.  Rub it evenly on the surface of all the filets.
  4. To prepare for the sauce, add the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Mix it well.  Put it aside.
  5. Use a large non-stop frying pan. Spray enough non-stick cooking oil to the pan.
  6. Use medium high heat.  Let the pan heat up for a minute.  Add the fish fillets to the pan.  Let it cook for 3 or 4 minutes.  Do not touch!
  7. Spray non-stick cooking oil on the uncooked side of the fish.
  8. Flip the fish fillets over so that the uncooked side is on the pan.  Let it cook for another 3 or 4 minutes.  Do not touch.
  9. Make sure the fish is fully cooked.  The meat should be white in color instead of translucent.  Dish the fish onto a serving plate.

10.  Rinse the frying pan to make sure the surface is cleaned.

11.  Use medium heat.  Add the sauce to the pan.  Let it cook until it thickens.  Stir occasionally to make sure it is nice and smooth.  When the sauce thickens, add the scallions to the sauce.  Mix it well. Cook it for 30 seconds.  Turn off the heat.

12.  Pour the sauce over the fish fillet.

Note: Must serve hot!