Sunday, January 20, 2013

Korean Banchan style Kale with soy and sesame oil

I love Korean food, my favorite part is not the meat, but the Banchan - side dishes. One of my favorite has always been the simple spinach or watercress. I ran into some baby Kale at Costco for all places last week and I am getting pretty tired of salad, so here is a great alternative in the winter:

Korean Banchan style Kale with soy and sesame oil

4-5 cups pre-washed baby kale. Rinsed and drained
3-4 clove garlic
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil for frying
2 tbsp shoyu/soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
toasted sesame for garnish
Smashed the garlic with the back of the knife
 Finely chopped the garlic
 Preheat a large frying pan or wok with a couple table of oil
Add the garlic, saute over med low heat till fragrant.
 Add kale about a cup at a time, you will have to turn it it and
Let it cook down for each additional
 When the last batch of the kale start to wilt, add shoyu and sesame oil.
 Plate the vegetable and drizzle with a dash of additional sesame oil and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Serve 2 -3 as side


Moni's Vegan Sweet potato pie experiment

My dear Chaminde Alum sister Moni is allergic to eggs and dairy. She got a share of sweet potatoes and tried converting my sweet potato pie recipe into dairy and egg free, it didn't turn out quite right. So here it is for you, sistah! I am calling this my Moni's Vegan Sweet Potato Pie!

You will see that I only put 1/2 cup of brown sugar in the pictures, however it really should increase to 1 cup instead. The sweet potatoes are not very sweet. I guess it's 1°F outside, we are in the middle of the winter, there is not good vegetable around. I would adjust the sugar to your taste, depending on the quality of the sweet potatoes you can get. 

There is no egg in this recipe. By accident, I found that egg replacement product is actually mainly cornstarch and tapioca flour, so well... why do I want to pay over $5 for a box when I can get tapioca flour for about $2.00 a bag. The tapioca flour here helps jell the watery content from the tofu, since I am using a silken soft tofu, I don't have to add any liquid at all. It's almost fat free. (You still get fat from the crust and tofu). I would not recommend using cornstarch. Tapioca is almost tasteless without interfering with flavor of the main ingredient.

Oh Moni is a blogger too, check out her blog and her Foodie Forever

Moni's Vegan Sweet Potato Pie
1 ready made vegan pie crust - defrosted
2 cup mashed sweet potato (about 2 large root)
3/4-1 cup packed brown sugar
1 box silken soft tofu
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
In a blend or food processor, combine mashed sweet potato and sugar
Add tofu, the spices and 1/4 cup tapioca flour
Blend well together
Pour the custard in to the prepared pan
 Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour till the center is set. Test by inserting a toothpick in the center and it should come out clean
 Cool completely before serving.  If you want to serve this a la mode, I would recommend place  a slice of pie on a plate, then microwave for 30-45 sec to warm up. For some reason it is very hard to cut this pie hot/warm. Serve with your choice of non-dairy frozen dessert.
 Serve 8


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Classic Chinese chicken rice with Lap Cheong (Chinese cured sausage)

We had a gentle visit by an Alberta Clipper, it was 3*F past weekend. After all these years here in the upper mid-west, I learned how to deal with it. I don't complain about the cold much any more. I choose to live it, there is nothing much to complain about. Plus it's January, it's winter

With days like this, I love comfort food. Here is a classic Chinese winter dish that my family used to make. In Asia, this would be made in a clay pot and it gives the rice that lovely slight toasty flavor. I have a couple of those clay pot, but I chose to cook the rice dish in a regular, the clean up is much easier.

I am using Jasmine rice here, you can use Japanese short-grain rice. I would not recommend using American rice, the texture is not quite right with this. You can make this in a rice cooker. Here is a little secret about me... I am terrible with the rice cooker. The rice never comes out quite right for me.   I learned to cook rice from my All-American ex-husband. When my then husband  found out I didn't know how to cook rice. He was so surprised, I still remembered how he stared at me and said: "What kind of Chinese are you? You can't make rice!!" He made me practice making rice till I get it right, he said I needed to represent my "people". He lived in Hawai'i, he learned the Asian "knuckle water measuring" method from one of his Vietnamese girlfriend...

The sausage I used here is a "lean" version. It is made with chicken instead of pork. I made a dark soy sauce to top off the rice, it's Singaporean style. You can find the sausage, dark soy in most Asian store such as United Noodles here is Minneapolis. The sausage is usually in the refrigerated case and the dark soy is in the Chinese section.

You can use different protein in this. I may make a vegetarian version next weekend since my yoga teacher is back form Hawai'i. I have someone help me eat!!

Chinese Chicken Rice with Lap Cheong Sausage

3-4 skinless and boneless chicken thigh, cleaned, excess fat removed. Cut into 1" bite size pieces
2 Chinese Lap Cheong, I am using a chicken version. Washed
1 1/2cups jasmine rice
About 1 3/4 cups water
Chicken marinade:
1" piece of ginger, peeled
3-4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine or Sherry
1 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp grounded dry ginger
salt and pepper
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp dark soy
1 tbsp sesame oil

Chopped green onion
Cilantro - roughly chopped
Fried shallots

Using a ginger grinder, grind about 3/4" of the ginger. Set aside

In small bowl, mix together the marinade,
squeeze the juice from the grind ginger in to the marinade. Discard the dry ginger.
Add the marinade to the chicken and set aside in the fridge to season for about 15-30 mins.
Cut the washed sausage in diagonal pieces

Place the washed rice in a largo pot. Add water and check the water level by the Knuckle method: Level the rice in the pot , the water should come up to the first joint of your knuckle. Same method apples to the rice cooker.
Bring the rice to a boil over medium high heat uncover. Add chicken and sausage, 

Stir the meat into the rice
Lower heat to low, then cover. Let the rice cook for about 20 mins. Turn off the heat, do not open the cover and let it steam for about 10 additional mins. Fluffy the rice with a fork.
Transfer the rice to a clay pot or casserole.
Drizzle with soy sauce, top with green onion, cilantro and fried shallots, or you can serve the garnish on the side and let everyone choose how much topping one would like!
Serve 6 as an entree


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Vegan Farro Blueberry Hot Breakfast in a hurry

Winter in Minnesota can be hard, especially in the morning.  The chill just gets into your bone! I love having a little hot breakfast before work, but it is not easy to pull something together quickly.

I was at Trade Joe last weekend and they were tasting a Farro and blueberry with coconut milk. I loved it, but it takes 10 precious morning minutes to prepare! I did some experimenting and came up with this alternative. The method came from my Taiko Sensei Marco Lienhard. Marco is Swiss, he showed me how he made his muesli the night before by soaking the cereal in milk with fruit to blend the flavor together. The next morning, he would either have it cold or microwave it and make a hot breakfast.
This work very well with farro too! I usually make enough for a couple of days. You can adjust the amount of milk as you like. I am using coconut milk here. Not from a can, but a non-dairy alternative. I like this better than soy milk. You can certain can replace the coconut milk with dairy too!

Weekday hot Farro Blueberry breakfast
1/2 cup Farro
1/4 cup dried blueberry
1 cup non-dairy alternative coconut milk, I am using a vanilla flavor.

Optional: dash of cinnamon
Additional coconut milk

In a medium size plastic container with a tight cover, mix farro and blueberry together

 Add coconut milk
 Close the container tightly, place in the fridge overnight.

When ready to prepare for breakfast: Take about 1/2 cup of the cereal mix and place in microwave safe bowl. Close the container and store in the fridge
Add additional coconut milk if you prefer less dense cereal, about 1/8 cup.
You can also choose to microwave the cereal as is. Microwave for 2 mins on high till hot and bubbly.
 Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon if desired.

Enjoy mix for about 3- 1/2 cup serving.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Beef and Lettuce fried rice.

I am in a very nostalgic mood lately. I have been on the mainland most of my adult life. I may be what the ohana and my family overseas would caller "haole-fied", however I do try to keep some of my roots very much alive with cooking

I came from a household where the children were pretty spoiled. My grandfather made sure our amahs prepared dishes that "the kids" would eat. I wouldn't eat pork (I will tell you the story some other time.) Our amahs made me chicken or beef and lied that extremely lean Char Sui, (Chinese BBQ pork) came from a very special Char Sui (like a cow). Since the meat was red and didn't resemble pork or even had any taste of pork, I would eat it. They also made sure there would not be any fat so that I would not suspect it was pork.  Of course I had never seen how a Char Sui looked like. The household was not allowed to mention anything with pig or pork in front of me. Everything was "chicken", unless I could identify it, then came the "eating strike"! They could not make me eat it. To avoid the trouble, everyone went with the flow till I went off  to college. I then learned to like "everything" and I learned to appreciate different variety and flavors.

Rice as many know is a main staple in Asian diet. I actually didn't like rice when I was growing up. I preferred potatoes and I still do. One way to get me to eat rice was fried rice, or rice with butter and shoyu.

Beef and lettuce fried rice was one of my childhood favorite, there was no pork and it's a fried rice. Ah King Jie, our amah used to put butter in it to make sure I would eat it! I still make it the same way and that last tablespoon of ghee or butter is in honor of Ah King Jie. She raised my father, then raised me from birth till my teen years. She passed away during my freshman year in Hawai'i.

Back to our recipe, You can actually order this in any Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong, very popular at lunch! You will also notice that I am putting frozen peas in the rice. It's not a mistake, I don't want to overcook the pea. The frozen peas when cook in the rice, retained the moisture. It will "self cook" in the hot rice.

Classically peanut oil is the choice, however I prefer vegetable oil for cooking Chinese. Olive oil has a tendency to be too strong and it does not always work with Chinese cooking.

Here is another tip, the best fried rice is to use leftover or day-old rice. A dried texture makes it easy to stir fry. Plus it will absorb the flavor of the other ingredients better. Fried rice is designed to be a "leftover" dish!

Note: The pictures will not match the proportion of the recipe. I made a double portion here for our HCC (Hawaiian Civic Club) ho'olaule'a (celebration)

Beef and Lettuce Fried Rice
4-6 oz lean ground beef
1 tsp corn starch
1 tbsp shoyu
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
Optional: 1 tbsp Chinese Shao Xing wine (available in Asian grocer, such as United Noodles here in Minneapolis. It's over by the Chinese seasoning section) or you can use sherry.
1 small onion, peeled, cleaned and diced, about 1/4" small pieces.
1 tbsp chopped garlic
3 cups cold cooked short grain rice. Preferable day-old. You can make it overnight and leave it in the fridge.
2 eggs, lightly neaten
1/2 cup frozen baby peas
3-4  green onion, washed and sliced.
1 small romaine lettuce, washed and shredded.
Sesame oil
4-5 tbsp shoyu
1 tbsp of ghee or butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for frying.
Most important - make 4 cups of cooked short grain rice ahead and make sure it is cold.
In a large bowl, mixed beef with shoyu, cornstarch, sesame oil, wine, and sugar. Set aside and let it marinade for about 10-15 mins up to an hour
Preheat a large frying pan or a wok, add a couple 2-3 tbsp of vegetable and heat will very hot over med-high heat. Add garlic and let is sizzle for a min or 2
Add the meat and stir fried till the meat is cooked. Remove from the pan.
Drain the meat if it is too greasy, but make sure you keep a couple tbsp for flavoring the rice.
In the same pan, heat 1-2 tbsp oil and  stir in onion and green onion and cook till the onion is translucent.
Add the rice, stir fry for a few mins. I am using a non-stick pan. I do not need a lot of oil. However if you using a traditional wok, you will need to add more oil, or you can add the reserved fat from the meat. Fry the rice for a few min till it is hot.
Return the beef and the reserved liquid (if you have not done so) right to the rice, mix well.
 Add frozen peas and mix well, cook for about 2-3 mins, till the peas are nice and bright.
pour in the eggs and mixing. Check to make sure you rice is not sticking to your pan.
Season with shoyu, a dash of salt and pepper
Keep turning the rice till the egg is set
Add the ghee or butter. Mix well
Add the lettuce. Mix well. 
Ready to serve once the lettuce wilt light. It will continue to "cook" with the heat of the rice.

Serve 2 as an entree.

Ah King Jie tried to round up my brother and I (Hong Kong).