egg foo young with sauce

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Egg Foo Young is a comfort food staple of American-style Chinese food. A Chinese frittata, this egg-y concoction is filled with cabbage, onions, shiitake mushrooms, and Chinese sausage, then drizzled with a tangy ginger-garlic-soy sauce. I like this recipe because it does not use much oil nor require deep-frying.

Egg Foo Young (adapted from the Spruce Eats)
Yield: 10-inch frittata

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing Rice Wine/dry sherry
Dash sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 4 teaspoons water

Make the sauce. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a small pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger, and stir. Stir in the soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, and sesame oil. Turn up the heat a little and add the cornstarch mixture, stirring until thickened. Set aside.

For the Egg Foo Young
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/4 to 1/2 cup cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup onion, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup mung bean sprouts, optional
1 Chinese sausage
5 large eggs
Salt and Pepper
2-3 teaspoons Shaoxing Rice Wine/dry sherry
2 tablespoons rice bran oil or a neutral oil
2 scallions, sliced diagonally, optional

Make the egg foo young. Soak the mushrooms in hot water until softened. Put a small bowl or plate on top of the mushrooms to keep them submerged in the hot water, 15 minutes. When they soften, squeeze out the excess water, cut off the stem and discard, and slice the cap into strips. Set aside.

Rinse and drain the cabbage and mung bean sprouts, if using. Set aside. Chop the sausage on the diagonal and set aside. Cut the onion into thin slices and set aside. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a little salt and pepper, and the rice wine or sherry. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, lightly stir fry the cabbage until softened and wilted. Add the bean sprouts, it using, and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Remove and cool slightly, then add to the eggs. To the remaining oil in the pan, stir fry the sausage and onions until lightly browned. Remove and cool slightly. Then add to the egg mixture. Cook the mushrooms for a minute. If more oil is needed, add a teaspoon to the pan. Remove mushrooms and cool slightly. Add to the egg mixture.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat it over medium heat. When it is hot, scrape the egg mixture into the pan. Turn down the heat to medium-low. Re-arrange the fillings so they are evenly distributed. Cover the egg foo young and let the eggs set around the edges, 2-3 minutes. Using a silicone spatula, go around the edges to release the eggs. Cover and cook until the center is somewhat set–it shouldn’t be liquid, about 5-8 minutes. Remove the cover and put a large plate over the skillet. Holding the skillet handle with your dominant hand, and covering the top of the plate with the other hand, invert the skillet and the plate. The egg foo young will drop out onto the plate. Put the skillet back on the heat source, turn it up to medium, and slide the egg foo young into the skillet to brown the top, 3-5 minutes.

Slide the egg foo young onto a large plate. If the sauce is cold, reheat. Drizzle the warmed sauce over the top and sprinkle with scallions, if using.

ants climbing a tree: ground pork with bean vermicelli sichuan style

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Ants Climbing a Tree: Ground Pork with Mung Bean Vermicelli, and a bowl of Sautéed Cabbage, lightly salted, with Crispy Skin Pork

This dish gets its whimsical name from the ground pork clinging to the strands of vermicelli. Despite the name, it isn’t banquet food but Chinese homestyle cooking. Salty with the earthy tang of bean paste and  chilies, it is truly comfort food when it is served with hot jasmine white rice and sautéed cabbage on the side. I adjusted the recipe because I thought 200 grams of vermicelli was overwhelming. However, I increased the garlic, ginger, and scallions, also called the Chinese trinity, because you can never have too much. I improvised with the chili bean sauce because I didn’t have any–I did have miso and gojuchang. Delicious, aromatic, and perfect. 

Ants Climbing a Tree: Ground Meat with Mung Bean Vermicelli Sichuan Style (adapted from China Sichuan Food)
Yield: 2-4 servings

80-100g mung bean vermicelli
200g ground meat (pork, beef, or chicken)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cooking oil, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon Chili Bean Sauce (improv: 3/4 tablespoon miso+1/4 tablespoon gojuchang)
1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus more to taste
1/3 cup scallions, sliced thinly on diagonal
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger root, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups water or stock

Season ground meat with a ¼ teaspoon of salt. Set aside. Soak vermicelli in warm water until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in wok and fry ground meat until it is no longer pink, using the spatula to break up the big pieces. Set aside.

Add chili bean sauce, minced garlic, minced ginger, and half of the scallions to the hot wok. Add additional oil if needed. Heat over medium high heat until the mixture turns red and it becomes aromatic. Return meat to the wok and add soy sauce. Taste. Add more soy sauce or chili bean sauce as needed.

Add the water or stock to the wok and bring to a boil. Add drained vermicelli and sugar. Stir well to heat and combine. The vermicelli will absorb the liquid and turn transparent. Transfer meat and vermicelli to a large serving platter or bowl. Sprinkle remaining scallions on top. Serve hot with rice.

PS to make the cabbage, just shred half a head and sauté in a little oil and salt until slightly wilted. Add 1/4 cup water or stock and continue cooking until the cabbage is a crunchy or as soft as you like. Taste and season with a little fish sauce or soy sauce, if needed.  I “garnished” it with crispy skin pork from the market but you can add Chinese sausage, ham, or tofu.

scallion pancake

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This is the savory pancake that is served in Chinese restaurants. It is so simple to make! The ingredients are flour, salt, hot water, oil, and scallions (green onions). The dough is filled with scallions, rolled out, and fried until crisp. It is sliced into wedges and served with a vinegar-soy dipping sauce. Delicious.

Scallion Pancakes (adapted from Food 52 and Allrecipes)
(Makes 2 pancakes)

Active time: about 40 minutes
Resting time: 2 hours

For the Dough:

2 cups (240 g) bread flour
1 teaspoon salt (1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt)
3/4 cup hot water (150˚F)

For the Oil Mixture
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

For the Pancakes
1 cup scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced (save 1-2 tablespoons for dipping sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or as needed.

Combine bread flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the hot water. Mix together with a wooden spoon to form a shaggy dough.

Transfer dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough until sticky but relatively smooth and elastic, dusting with a minimal amount of flour, if needed. Shape into a ball and wrap in plastic on the work surface. Let dough rest for 2 hours.

Mix vegetable oil, sesame oil, and flour together in a skillet over medium heat until starting to bubble, about 3 minutes. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Unwrap dough and cut in half with a dough scraper. Cover the second half with plastic for later. Roll out half into a cylinder and flatten with your fingers. Use a rolling pin to roll out dough into a rectangular shape about 1/8 inch thick, 12-15 inches long, and 4 inches wide. The secret is to roll it as thin as possible. Flip dough over and dust lightly with flour halfway through. If the dough springs back, cover it with plastic or a clean kitchen towel and let it rest a few minutes.

Paint the surface of the dough with the oil mixture until just covered, leaving 1/4 inch of space around the edges. Sprinkle evenly about 2-3 tablespoons scallion on top. Roll up dough tightly to seal in the scallions, starting with the long side nearest you. Pull the opposite edge over the top once you have reached it.

Start coiling one end of the dough inward toward the middle; wrap the opposite end around the coil to finish, tucking the tip under the bottom. Dust the coil lightly with flour and roll dough out into a pancake about 1/4 inch thick, rolling from the center outward. Turn the pancake one quarter turn and repeat. Flip pancake over, lightly flouring the surface, and roll and repeat. You should get a pancake that’s about 9” in diameter. Repeat process with remaining dough, oil, and green onions to make the second pancake. Stack with wax paper between the pancakes until ready to fry.

Heat vegetable oil in a 10 inch heavy bottomed skillet over high heat. Add 1 pancake; lower heat to medium. Cook until crispy and browned, about 4 minutes per side. You don’t want it to brown too fast or the inside will not cook. The outside will be crisp and brown. When both sides are browned, slice the pancake into wedges. When cooked, the inside will separate into honeycomb-like layers. Repeat with the second pancake. Cut into wedges. Serve hot with dipping sauce (recipe follows).

Dipping Sauce for Scallion Pancakes

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
Hot sauce to taste
Ginger, grated, to taste
1-2 tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced

Mix vinegar and soy sauce in a small bowl. Add hot sauce to taste. Grate some ginger to taste. Combine with about 1-2 tablespoons scallions.

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spare ribs in black bean-garlic sauce

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Spare Ribs in Black Bean-Garlic Sauce
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

2 pounds spare ribs, chopped into 2 inch lengths
1/3 cup salted black beans
8 large cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon vegetable cooking oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons black soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper

Put the black beans in a small bowl and cover with water. Let it sit five to ten minutes until softened, then drain water. Mash the softened black beans to a paste. Set aside.

Add the garlic and mix well. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the black bean-garlic paste and fry until fragrant. Add the spare ribs, turning to coat thoroughly. Season with soy sauce and black soy sauce. Add 3/4 cup water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 45 minutes. Stir ribs occasionally.

Remove the cover and let the ribs cook on medium high heat until the sauce is reduced and thickened. Taste. If it’s bitter, add sugar. Taste again, then season with salt and pepper.

soy-glazed chicken

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This recipe is a family favorite. I found it in a cookbook whose title I forgot and over the years I’ve perfected it. This recipe never fails to disappoint for the juiciness and flavor of the chicken. Five Spice Powder is available from Asian supermarkets; it has a wonderful anise scent without being overpowering. It adds just the right amount of flavor to the chicken.

Soy-Glazed Chicken
Marinating time: 8-12 hours
Roasting time: 35-45 minutes

1 x 3 pound whole roasting chicken
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon sweet dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon black pepper, coarse ground
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoons Five Spice Powder

In a small bowl, blend the soy sauces, garlic and onion powders, black pepper, oil, and Five Spice Powder. Put the chicken in a large zipper lock bag and pour the soy sauce mixture over the chicken. Close the bag and turn the chicken so that the marinade gets evenly distributed. Refrigerate for 8-12 hours, turning once half way through.

Preheat the oven to 450˚F/230˚C. Prepare a roasting pan with rack. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place it on the rack, tucking the wings back. Discard the marinade.

Roast 10 to 15 minutes at 450˚F/230˚C then reduce the heat to 350˚F/175˚C. This crisps the skin and the soy sauces caramelize it. Continue roasting for 25 to 30 minutes. At 25 minutes, test the thigh and breast with an instant read thermometer. The internal temperature of the chicken should be 165˚F. Be careful not to over cook the chicken or the breast will dry out.

Carve the chicken and serve it with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce for chicken (Also available at Asian supermarkets), and a spicy chili dipping sauce (recipe to follow).

Spicy Chili Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
2 large cloves garlic
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
3 tablespoons water

Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

singapore jerky fried rice

DSC04256Cousins from Singapore came up for the wedding and brought us a favorite treat: roast pork jerky called bakkwa by Bee Cheng Hiang. I decided to top this vegetarian fried rice with some strips of the meat. It’s chewy and salty and sweet by itself and makes a great snack.
Singapore Jerky Fried Rice
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

4 cups cooked red-and-brown rice, room temperature (can use brown rice or white rice)
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup scallion, bias cut
1/2 cup corn niblets
Coconut oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 squares Bee Cheng Hiang roasted pork jerky cut into slivers

Heat two teaspoons oil in a 10 inch skillet. Pour in the beaten egg and scramble it. Remove from the pan. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. When it shimmers, add the rice, scallion, and corn. Cook until heated through, stirring to mix well. Return the egg to the pot and combine with rice mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into bowls and top with a few slivers of the jerky. It’s salty and sweet and savory. Enjoy!

ground pork lettuce sandwiches–no recipe needed!

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I bought an induction cooker for Baht 1500 (about US$46.00). It came with a skillet and a spatula, seven settings, and instruction books in Thai and in English. I’ve only used the fry setting to make my mother-in-law’s favorite week-night Chinese meal, a deliciously light dish I call “lettuce sandwiches.” It’s made with ground meat and served on a leaf of organic cos or romaine lettuce. On the meat I drizzled some wasabi-soy-garlic sauce and sprinkled on top a few cilantro leaves and chopped scallions. It’s heady stuff that not only clears the sinuses it also adds a salty tanginess that’s very satisfying in a crunchy sort of way! To make this all you need is a pound (500g) of ground meat (beef, chicken, or pork will do) browned in a little oil, salt and pepper. Eat. So simple to make!

from my kitchen window

Typhoon Haiyan missed us. It’s been sunny and HOT here. Of course, as soon as the kitchen light snapped on this evening, Roti, the backdoor neighbors’ little white dog barked for his treat. He’s the cutest little beggar, so after his little performance I obliged him with a dog cookie. Khun Yupha who goes walking after dinner with her sister, saw a huge python just lying across their path in the soi.  She immediately scooped up Roti. She thinks it got her other dog last summer. It’s hard to imagine that even in the city of Bangkok, we have all manner of reptiles: pythons, cobras, and water monitor lizards. It’s still a jungle out there. It’s still eat or be eaten. And that reminds me that the true force of nature is lurking in the quiet sois and waterways deep inside the city.

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I’m glad Gigi the Mutt is safe inside our yard. She did so enjoy crunching these bones up afterwards! Andy  had requested Chinese barbecued spare ribs with sesame noodles this evening,  so to cut the heat in the kitchen, I made the ribs in the Sharp Healslo convection oven. It doesn’t generate as much heat as the range oven. I like these sesame noodles, especially when I can add my favorite veggies. This time, I used baby mustard greens and winter melon. I also recommend asparagus, sugar snap peas, and snow pea pods.

home made poh pia

Poh Pia is sometimes called the Chinese tortilla. It is a thin wheat pancake made of just flour and water,  that is filled with meat, vegetables, and sauce. The fillings make the poh pia outstanding; the pancake is merely the holder. These fillings vary regionally as well as from family to family. Usually, we buy the pancakes, because it’s easier than making them. But I was wrong. Making them from scratch is not only delicious, it’s fun to play with your food! Our friend Arun and his wife Ann invited us to share their family meal and taught me how to make these delicious unassuming pancakes. Two of them are rolled out together with a little oil in between to make a double pancake. After you fry up a double pancake, you peel them apart and you have two pancakes again!

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