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.

I have been liking the new McDonald’s banana and strawberry smoothie.  It was yummy but I don’t know how much sugar it has.  A customer was asking a staff at McDonald if they put any sugar in it.  The staff said no.  But you can’t really trust them.  Starbucks also have banana and strawberry smoothie.  I haven’t tried theirs but I did look at the ingredients.  They were basically banana and strawberries plus some protein powder.  Of course, they charge you a lot for that.  I thought I could try that at home.  It should be a no brainer, right?  I put a very ripe banana, 5 or 6 strawberries, fat free milk all in a blender.  Touch the button for a few seconds.  Da da… a wonderful shake was done.  It filled me up for like 3 hours or so.  Not bad especially when this shake can be made in 5 minutes. It was great as a quick snack on a busy day.  I made this shake a few times now as a lunch substitute when I was super busy.  I added some protein powder in it, and it would fill me up longer for 4 hours or so.  For a busy day, I would have the shake as a light lunch around 12:30pm or 1pm, and make an early dinner around 5:30pm or 6pm, regular food of course. 

Ingredients (serve 1):

  • Banana, 1
  • Strawberries, 5 or 6
  • Milk, 1 cup (I used fat free, you can use skimmed 1% or 2% if you prefer)
  • Ice cubes, 4
  • Whey protein powder, 1 scoop (Optional if you are making it as a meal substitute.  You can get protein powder from any nutrient supplement stores. Each bottle of protein powder comes along with a scoop)

 

One banana and a few strawberries
Add banana, strawberries, milk + protein powder. Blend everything.
Banana and Strawberry Smoothie. super yummy!

Steps:

  1. Use a big blender.  Peel and break banana into 3 or 4 pieces, and put them in the blender.
  2. Rinse the strawberries, and cut each in halves.  Add them to the blender.
  3. Add milk, protein powder and ice cubes all in the blender.
  4. Use the “ice crush” setting, and blend the whole thing for half a minute or so.  That’s it.  Serve cold.  Enjoy.

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.
June 10, 2010

I satisfied my meat craving last night with a bacon wrapped filet mignon.  Today I’m back to my no meat meals for lunch and breakfast.  I had a piece of whole wheat bread, an egg and a small cup of soy milk for breakfast. It was pretty good.  For lunch, I had ramen noodles.  It was a cheap and quick lunch but satisfying.  As mom always says, “Good meal is a meal. Bad meal is also a meal”.  It’s some deep stuff in my opinion.  We can’t always have the best thing cos we’ll take it for granted and we won’t appreciate it.  It also agrees with the Chinese Ying Yang thing.  It’s all about balance.  I don’t mind eating ramen noodles at all.  That’s one of my favorite food on earth.  I used to have plain ramen noodles almost everyday when I was in college.  Now, I had my favorite Nissin chicken flavor ramen with fake crab meat, seaweed and chopped scallion garnish. I felt rich. LOL…

My breakfast: egg, wheat toast, soy milk
My breakfast: egg, wheat toast, soy milk
Nissin chicken Flavored Ramen - my favorite ramen
Nissin chicken Flavored Ramen - my favorite ramen
Chicken ramen with fake crab meat, seaweed and scallion dices.  Super fancy :D
Lunch: Chicken ramen with fake crab meat, seaweed and scallion dices. Super fancy 😀

Someone I know at work was posting a bunch of pictures of veggies on facebook.  He has started a detox diet.  I was like ok, that sounded good. But I don’t really like uncooked veggie or salad much.  I’m not a rabbit. LOL.  But I could make something with no meat for a change.  I could skip meat for breakfast and lunch, and that would be my own detox diet for now 🙂  I had a piece of whole wheat bread for breakfast with a little bit peanut butter and a tea.  For lunch, I made Fried Tofu Cellophane Noodle Soup with Chinese bok choy.  I used to get this from a Shanghai style restaurant in the morning, and that was one of my favorite breakfasts growing up.  It was simple and comforting.  It’s amazing how the combination of the ingredients turns out to be yummy.  Fried tofu doesn’t have much taste.  Cellophane noodle (or clear noodle) does not have any taste either.  Same thing for the bok choy, almost tasteless.  All these things just absorb whatever the taste of broth or soup.  It’s a very subtle dish.  I added a few dried shrimps to add some taste.  It was yummy.  If you skip the dried shrimp, that’s totally vegetarian.  Besides, the cellophane noodles have lower calories than egg noodles.  I’m going to try this no-meat-breakfast-and-lunch for a week, and see if I look leaner.  LOL.  Oh I forgot to mention that this is super easy to make. It only takes about 15 mins or so, can’t beat that!

 

Cellophane noodle
Cellophane noodle
Fried tofu
Fried tofu
Dried shrimp
Dried shrimp
Add everything except the veggie to the pot
Add everything except the veggie to the pot
Fried Tofu Noodle Soup with Dried Shrimp
Fried Tofu Noodle Soup with Dried Shrimp

Ingredients (Serve 1):

  • Cellophane noodle, 1 small pack
  • Fried tofu, 2 pieces
  • Dried shrimp, a small handful (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Chinese bok choy, 2 or 3 leaves
  • Scallion, 1 stalk
  • Water, 3 cups (you can use chicken stock and skip the chicken powder)
  • Chicken powder, ½ tsp
  • Fish sauce, 1 tsp

 Steps:

  1. Cut Chinese bok choy into edible sizes.  Put it aside.
  2. Cut scallion into small dices.  Put it aside.
  3. Add water to the pot. Add cellophane noodle, dried shrimp, and fried tofu to the pot. Use high heat.  Let it cook for 10 minutes or until the noodle soften and is tender.  The more you cook the cellophane noodle, the more it absorb the water.
  4. Add chicken powder, fish sauce and boy choy to the pot.  Let it cook for couple of minutes.   Taste it.  Add more water or salt if needed.
  5. Turn off the heat.  Add scallion.  Serve hot.
My little source of evil
My little source of evil

My cat tried so hard to wake me up between 6 am and 7am this morning.  Damn it, it’s Sunday.  I really wish that my cat knows it’s Sunday, not Monday, and I don’t need to get up so early.  Besides, my body didn’t want to get up.  I played golf yesterday.  I haven’t moved that much for a long time.  My body is really sore.  I finally woke up at 7am.  I gave my cat his food and water.  I made Chicken Congee for breakfast, did a load of laundry, cleaned the bathroom, and I talked to a friend on the phone.  Actually, not a bad thing to get up early.   I got a lot done before noon.  My friend was telling me that her nutritionist told her that she needs to lose weight.  Her nutritionist said her ideal weight is 111 pounds. I’m like WHAT???  She’s 5’4″.  I don’t know how much I weigh since I got too scared to step on the scale.  But my clothes don’t lie, they are getting tight.  Some people may let themselves buy bigger size clothes.  I refuse to do that.  I usually go to McDonald for my Sunday lunch, and ordered a grilled chicken sandwich combo with supersize fries!  But today, I stayed at home and made a very simple lunch.  I had Choy Sum with Oyster Sauce, and some noodles.  Choy Sum is a very common Chinese vegetable.   I like it a lot.  You can stir fry it with some garlic sauce and salt, and it would be very yummy.  Or you can cook it in boiling water, drain, and add oyster sauce to it.  I choice the latter to cut down the oil.  I cooked some noodles to go along with it.  The noodles was about 200 calories.  So I think my whole lunch was probably like 300-350 calories or so.  I can deal with that.

Choy Sum
Choy Sum
Cook Choy Sum in boiling water
Cook Choy Sum in boiling water
1 pack of dried egg noodle
1 pack of dried egg noodle
Cook noodles
Cook noodles
Choy Sum with Oyster Sauce and Egg Noodles
Choy Sum with Oyster Sauce and Egg Noodles

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • Choy Sum, two small bunches (like two handfuls, or 4-5 stalks per person)
  • Dried noodle, 2 packs (1 per person for small serving portion)
  • Oyster Sauce, 2 Tbsp
  • Soy sauce, 2 tsp
  • Sesame oil, a few drops (Optional, I didn’t use it)

Steps:

  1. We need to wash the vegetable first. It’s important. You don’t want to have Choy Sum and Dirt Sauce… hehhehe…  Fill up a pot of container with cold water, soak the Choy Sum in the water.  Shake it a little bit.  Disgard the water.  Repeat it for one more time.  Drain the vegetable. Put it aside.
  2. Boil a big pot of water.  Use high heat.  When the water boils, put the vegetable in the pot.  Let it cook for 2 or 3 mins. You can put a teaspoon of oil in the water. I skipped this to cut back the fat.   Turn off the heat.  Remove the vegetable and put it on a serving plate.  Drain a little bit to get rid of any excess water in the vegetable.
  3. Use a pair of scissors, cut the vegetables into halves length-wise.
  4. Now cook the noodles. I don’t mind putting the noodles in the same pot of water since it is only veggie.  You can boil a separate pot of water if you prefer.  Turn the heat to high.  When the water boils, put the dried noodles in the pot.  Use a fork to separate the noodles in the pot.  Let it cook for 3 minutes or so.  Turn off the heat.  Disgard the water.  Put noodles in a drainer.  Run the noodles under cold tap water to get rid of the starchy taste.  Drain well.
  5. Put the noodles in a serving plate.  Put it in the microwave for 1 minute to heat it up a bit.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the oyster sauce with soy sauce.  Pour it over the vegetable and noodles. 
  7. Optionally, add a few drops of sesame oil to the noodles. I skipped this too since I am totally cutting back on any oil for this lunch.

Happy Friday.  That’s what we were supposed to say. Instead, I have another hectic Friday with tons of meetings.  I got 30 minutes to fix my lunch. De javu again.  I opened my fridge and I saw the Zongzi that I bought last week from a Chinese grocery store.  This is it, my lunch of the day.  If you have never seen one before, they look kind of mysterious.  You may guess it is some mystery food wrapped in some leaves and made in a triangular shape.  Haha, true. But it’s not as bad as hot dog that we have absolute no clue what mystery meat that is made of.  Zongzi is sweet glutinous rice (sticky rice), shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimps, peanuts, salty egg yolk, chestnut, chicken meat/pork all wrapped with some leaves. I forogt if these are banana leaves or Lotus flower leaves. Anyway, the leaves give the rice mixture a very nice aroma.  I have made this from scratch before. It was a lot of fun and super yummy.  They are supposed to be a seasonal food during the Dragon Boat Festival in fall.  These days, you can get Zongzi from the refridgerated section of any Chinese grocery store.  My mom’s version is the best.  One time she was being creative, and she wrapped expensive stuff like shark fins, dried scallops as fillings.  It was super delicious.  Well, that only happened once in my life. She never made that again. 

If I have time to make it from scratch, I’ll show you guys later.  For now, I cheated with the ready-made version.  I usually put them in a big pot of water and just boil it for 10 mins.  But today, I use the microwave instead.  Just 5 mins and my lunch was ready 😀

Funky looking Zongzi
Funky looking Zongzi
Zongzi Unwrapped
Zongzi Unwrapped
Zongzi, yummy :)
Zongzi, yummy 🙂

Microwave version:

  1. Put a Zongzi in a bowl.  Do not unwrap it.  Add about half a cup of water to the bowl.
  2. Wet a piece of paper towel and put it on top of the zongzi so that it covers the bowl. The water and the wet towel will give some steam when we heat the zongzi in the microwave.
  3. Put the whole thing in the microwave.  Use max power and heat it up for 3 minutes.  Take it out and disgard the water.
  4. Unwrap the zongzi.  Disgard the leaves.  Put the zongzi back in the bowl.  Cut it open to check if it is warm/hot enough.  If not, wet the towel and cover zongzi, and put it back in the microwave for another m inute.
  5. Add a few drops of soy sauce for flavor.

Stove Top version:

  1. Do not unwrap the zongzi.  Put the zongzi in a big pot of water.   Make sure the water covers the zongzi.
  2. Use high heat and cook it for 10 minutes in the water.
  3. Unwrap the zongzi. Add a few drops of soy sauce for taste.
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 🙂

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!