Archive for the 'Vegetarian Option' Category

17
Oct
13

Water Spinach Stem with Black Bean Pork Sauce

seasoned by pork...

seasoned by pork…

“Our friend is a pescetarian. She only eats seafood, so no chicken, beef, or pork. Especially pork.”

“Ok, so the daikon and ginger soup is ok?”

“No, there are pork bones in it.”

“So, if I take the bones out, then it will be ok? It’s just flavoring.”

I’ve just spent the last twenty minutes trying to explain to my relatives what it means to be pescetarian and the restrictions involved.

“Forget it, yes pork flavoring is ok, but I think tonight is the night I show them the night market instead of dinner at home.”

My parents grew up in a very traditional setting when it comes to food. Both of my parents grew up in the Southern region of Taiwan and both come from large families. In order to have fully flavorful and affordable meals at the table, both my grandmothers utilized meat to season vegetable dishes to ensure all 7 and 8 kids where happy. And to do this, they would buy pork and stretch it over a few dishes. It made sense to have pork as a flavoring agent; unlike chicken, pork has more fat and marbleization to flavor the vegetables. Beef would be too gamey and would compete against the other flavors, as well as being expensive and a waste of a work animal.

So, it’s no wonder why everything I ate growing up had some sort of portion of the pig in it: belly, foot, ear, loin, etc. It’s been sliced, ground, chopped, and cured.

This dish is one of those two-out-of-one-ingredients-money-saver-frugal dishes . It utilizes the stems of the water spinach. If you’re not familiar with water spinach, it’s also known as “morning glory” and “Chinese water spinach”. If you want to make this vegetarian, you can use extra firm tofu. If you can’t find water spinach, I might skip this dish. It’s hard to find a substitute for the water spinach, and you’d be missing the whole point. It’s not for the pork. That’s just seasoning.

~stuff

1 tbs vegetable oil

½ lb ground pork

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbs. fermented black beans, rehydrated (can use jarred sauce)

1 tbs. soy sauce

1 tbs. Chinese rice wine

2 c water spinach stems, minced

~steps

heat oil on high heat in a large saucepan or wok

brown ground pork in oil until the meat is no longer pink

add garlic, black bean, soy sauce, and rice wine to pork and sautee until fragrant, about 2 min.

add stems and stir until cooked through

season to taste and serve with rice

-serves 4-

14
Jun
13

A quick update and Happy Duanwu Day!

Hi friends,

I’ve had some personal things happen in my life the last couple of months that have been inspiring, trying, and eye opening.  Within a short couple of months, I’ve had experiences and challenges that I have only had to deal with, if ever, once or twice in 30 years.  All of these events have been hard as a friend, sibling, and loved one but nothing compares to what each person who is experiencing the event is going through.  I’m in awe of their courage.  However, this is not the reason for this post.  

It’s the year of the snake.  A year that allows for shedding of old skin and becoming a stronger self.  From these events I’ve been able to reach out to family members and friends for advice, laughter, and company.  So, although I’ve been missing from the blog the past couple of months, I’ve not forgotten it.  As part of my moving forward, shedding all the old skin, and coming into my new self I’m re-doing my blog.  I’ve had the same blog design for the last four years, and it makes sense to change the design as part of the year of the snake.  This transition isn’t going to be instant.  But I hope, by August 1st, the first day of my 30’s, that you will be looking at a newly designed blog.  

Also, it was Duanwu Festival, or Dragon Boat Festival yesterday.  So in honor of that, I’m pulling up an old post about Zong Zi, or Taiwanese Sticky Rice Dumplings, from a year ago.  It’s important to note, this was definitely a video of firsts:  First time I did a video post.  First time I made this dish.  First time I edited a video.  First time I filmed a video.  So, lot’s of firsts.  But, in my defense it was a year ago, and I feel like I’ve improved.  As you can see, it takes a long time to prepare everything and put it together, so if you decide to just buy it, that is ok, I won’t judge.

端午節快樂!

~slu

1 of few that made the cut.

1 of few that made the cut.

 

~stuff

10 cups Sticky Rice, uncooked and soaking for 3 hours

1 cup dried salted shrimp, rehydrated

2 cups whole dried shitake mushroom, rehydrated

1 cup raw peanuts

2 cups of water

4 star anise pods

1 tbs salt

1.5 lb pork belly, cubed into 1 inch pieces

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup rice wine

1/4 cup brown sugar

4 large cloves garlic, peeled

35 bamboo leaves, soaking for 3 hours

~steps

Boiled Peanuts

~place peanuts, water, star anise, and salt in a small saucepan and boil on high heat until peanuts are soft, 15 minutes

Braised Pork

~places garlic, brown sugar, rice wine, soy sauce, and pork belly in a large dutch oven and turn on low heat

~braise pork until fork tender, about 3 hours (can be done ahead of time)

Cooking the Zong Zi

~simmer 3 cups of water in a large pot on medium low heat

~place zong zi in pot until just covered by water (use the string to hold it up so they don’t float around)

~simmer for about 45 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked

-makes 15-20-

09
May
13

Japanese Curry with Ground Pork and Apples

Japanese Kare

Japanese Kare

“Did you put apples in that?”

 

“Yes, the image on the box has a picture of an apple, so I figured I would put some of it in the curry.”

 

“Wait, is that a pear you just put in, too?”

 

“I had an extra Asian pear lying around and thought it would be a good idea.”

 

This is how my mom cooks.  She is always inspired by whatever seems logical to her at the time, and then it is a crapshoot as to how the dish actually tastes.  The above conversation took place while she was cooking Japanese curry.  Our Japanese curry always came from a pre-packaged spice mix.  It was the additional ingredients that made it my Mom’s “special recipe.”  To me, she was the original Sandra Lee (but Taiwanese and less intense when it came to “tablescapes”).

 

IMG_4534

Is that the fruit section from the grocery store in the curry?

“I think you put too many apples in this, I can’t tell if I’m eating a potato or an apple.  Wait, is this a salted plum?”

 

My mom’s cooking style is an adventure and a journey.  She starts at a certain idea, picks up characters and ingredients along the way, and finishes with a complete story with a happy ending.  I’ve learned to appreciate her creative focus and now use it myself when I come up with the recipes for this blog. This in-the-moment creativity that defines my mother and my own cooking style is one of the things that my brother always criticizes me for.

 

For him, if it’s the first time that he is cooking a dish for friends or family, he will research a recipe and measure everything out with precision.  It makes sense.  Me, however, I will look at a recipe or two for inspiration and ideas.  I then grab ingredients that I think would taste good and run with it.  My brother gives me crap for it all the time, until he takes his first bite. The complaining then ceases.

 

I’m glad my mom taught me how to cook.  I credit my creativity to her.  If there was an ingredient she liked, something she wanted to try, or a dish she enjoyed from a meal out with the family, she would attempt making it at home.  Even today, she’ll still call me to chat about a dish she just made and how proud she is of the final outcome.   She’ll go into detail about it and I’m usually caught off guard from one or two ingredients.  But in the end, she is happy with result and it sounds like it would work.

 

I now make my Japanese curry with apples in it.  It gives it a subtle, sweet flavor without tasting too sweet.  The blend of spice and smoke go well with the apple.  But, you won’t see me putting a salted plum or pear in it.

I need more curry.

I need more curry.

 

Notes on the dish:  This is Japanese curry or “Kare”.  It was introduced to Japan by the British because of their colonial rule over India.  It’s much milder compared to Indian curry, and delicious with rice.  I made this from scratch, but you can make it with pre-packaged Kare.  I like both versions of the curry.  It’s kind of how I feel about homemade mac and cheese and the Kraft version.  Sometimes the packaged stuff is just as good in its own way.

~stuff

 

2 tbs butter

1 tbs garam masala or a milder curry powder (if you want less hot)

1 tsp tumeric

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp coriander

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

1 c onion, chopped

1 lb ground meat of your choice

1/2 c carrot, chopped

1 c vegetables, chopped (mix it up with squash, celery, chayote…)

1 medium potato, chopped

1 medium apple, chopped

1 c broth, vegetable or meat

½ c water

salt to taste

 

~steps

 

heat butter with curry powder, tumeric, garlic powder, cumin, and coriander and slightly toast the spices on high heat

 

add onion, ginger, and meat and stir until cooked through

 

stir in all the vegetables and fruit, add broth and water, and turn heat down to medium heat

 

simmer  on medium heat until fully incorporated and curry begins to thicken, about 30 to 45 minutes

 

season to taste and serve over rice

 

-serves 4-

 

12
Mar
13

Part 1: Kung Pao Chicken, Chinese American Style

Last week I did a radio segment for a friend of mine. We talked about the history of Chinese Restaurants, impact of immigration on food, and how Asian American food got its start. Well, I covered as much of the subject as I can within the limitations of a 17 minute segment. As a treat, I decided to make her Kung Pao Chicken the American way and then the actual Szechuan way. Here is the recipe of the first of the two part Kung Pao Chicken series that I will be doing. Next week, I’ll share the “authentic” recipe on my site. Also, if you’re curious as to what my radio voice sounds like, you can listen to the segment here.
Someone looks hungry...

Someone looks hungry…

 

“Does this mean I have to grow boobies?”

“Do you want to have viewers on your brb-eating YouTube site?”

“Yes.”

“Well then, this woman is just like you: young, attractive, likes to cook asian food, and likes to dance. Plus she has over 20,000 subscribers.”

“Yeah, but she has boobs, a low cut top, and ‘interesting’ camera angles.”

“We can get you low cut tops and I can shoot interesting angles.”

“It’s not the same.”

“And we can get you boobies.”

I was doing research for my video posts with my friend. She had agreed to help me film a few videos, teach me about basic editing and camera control, and direct me to feel more comfortable in front of the camera. She suggested we watch YouTube videos and, in the end, we found ourselves spending hours watching all sorts of Chinese cooking tutorials. My favorite vlogger was this woman who was cooking with rather large melons [think watermelons]. And, I’m not talking about the fruit.

From our YouTube research, I realized there is a select handful of dishes most commonly cooked. There appears to be a large need to know how to make things like fried rice and sweet and sour anything and egg rolls, not to mention the large number of kung pao chicken recipes. There were so many variations of the dish, and it was interesting to learn what folks’ take on a classic Chinese American dish was. Ingredients included everything from the stereotypical (water chestnuts, cabbage, and soy bean sprouts) to the exotic (pineapple chunks, soda, and ketchup. But, the recipes that really caught my attention were the “traditional” Chinese American versions. They reminded me of the trips I would take to the big box American chain restaurants, in particular, one that had an extensive cheesecake menu and was the “cool” place to go with friends before high school formal dances.

On the menu, there were always a few “exotic” dishes to give it that upscale feel, most being inspired by the Asian culture, i.e. Chinese Chicken Salad, Avocado Spring Roll, Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Roll. I remember a Kung Pao Chicken linguine on the menu that was a pretty popular selection amongst our group of friends, and I am ashamed to say, it was one of mine as well. It was a standard chicken dish smothered in brown gravy and then served over a bed of pasta. Sadly, it’s not on the menu anymore, but I’ve been able to create a dish that is similar and just as tasty.

Depending on your preference, this dish can be made without the noodles and instead served over rice. If you want to make this vegetarian and use tofu instead, remember to switch out the Chinese oyster sauce with Chinese mushroom sauce. I promise, this dish is going to taste familiar. Just like how your grandma used to make it at Panda Express.

~stuff
2 tbs vegetable oil
2 c chicken breast, cubed
2 tsp corn starch or rice flour
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium bell pepper, diced
2 medium zuchini, diced
2 tbs oyster sauce
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs water
1 cup roasted cashews
minced scallion, optional

~steps

heat a wok on high heat with 2 tbs oil
coat chicken with 1 tsp of the starch or flour
brown chicken in wok, and stir, about two minutes
add vegetables sautee until tender, about two minutes
add cashews and stir
mix sugar, oyster sauce, soy sauce, water, and the rest of the flour in another bowl
pour in sauce and mix until well coated and sauce thickens, about two minutes
serve over rice or pasta and top with scallion for garnish

-serves 4-
26
Feb
13

Roasted Garlic Bread

...garlicky...

…garlicky…

When I was young, I thought that everything I learned about food – the techniques, the ingredients, the flavors, and the rules of eating – was tied to Asian culture, in particular the Taiwanese culture. I feel like it’s a common issue facing young second generation children growing up in the US. Well, I’m at least going to believe that to make me feel less awkward about my lack of awareness as a kid.

I recall one lunch specifically in the third grade: I spied a couple of my non-Taiwanese friends placing napkins over their laps. I was quick to let them know of their error in doing something that I had, up until that point in time, assumed was exclusively a Taiwanese custom. They looked at me confused, but I persisted to try to educate them. As a seven-year-old, I felt that it was my duty to be a cultural soldier of all traditions sacred to Taiwan, in order to ensure that customs like placing napkins on laps, eating chicken feet, and drinking hot tea during a meal were kept in all of their authenticity. I later realized (albeit way too late in my development) how wrong I actually was.

Garlic powder was also one of those things that I believed to be deeply rooted in Taiwanese culinary history – I imagined a Taiwanese grandmother, rich with culinary stories and secrets tucked within the wrinkles of her face, experimenting with garlic in her kitchen and accidentally stumbling upon a new creation. Alas, I could only wish that garlic powder had such a romantic history.

My parents often used garlic powder in their cooking: My dad’s turkey recipe called for a healthy slathering and my mom always used it in a marinade with soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, and sesame oil for her stir fries. It’s no wonder why I thought garlic powder was an Asian ingredient. Especially because I thought that the ingredients that filled our refrigerator, pantry, and spice closets only contained items that were native to my parents. It took me until I was a young teenager to come to find out otherwise.

It was when my mom used garlic powder for cooking non-Taiwanese cuisine that my mind was blown! She used it to make garlic bread that was unlike the bread that I had at Olive Garden, which in my mind I thought was authentic as it gets. So, by that standard, my Mom had just created an Italian dish with Asian influences. I thought my mom was a genius, a trailblazer in fusion cooking, and a creative culinary matchmaker. It was all happening in front of me and I was honored to be present as history was taking place. Or, so I thought.

Eventually, my knowledge of ingredients and their origins grew as I began to do my own research through recipes, blogs, and online resources. I do miss my mom’s garlic bread, though. She would take a loaf of French bread and, without cutting all the way though, slice it into half inch sections. Next, a paste of garlic powder and salted margarine was spread onto each slit, then wrapped and baked. Eventually, what you get is a deliciously garlicky, butter-soaked slice of bread. What isn’t there to like?

In terms of the history of garlic powder. It’s shrouded in mystery, but until someone tells me the history (and if you know it, please share in the comments below), I’m going to believe that the Taiwanese grandmother discovered it. Enjoy.

Note on the recipe: I updated the recipe to add roasted garlic to give a subtle sweetness to the spread. I also added parsley to give it the green color that you see in garlic powder with dried parsley. This is mainly an homage to the recipe that my Mom used to do. You don’t need to put it in if you don’t like the flavor profile. I like it because it looks like the garlic powder my parents have at home.

~stuff

1 head of garlic

1 tsp olive oil

1 loaf crusty bread, Italian or French, halved lengthwise

1 stick of butter, about ½ cup softened

1 tbs. parsley, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp salt

 

~steps

preheat oven to 400°f

slice head of garlic in half exposing cloves and place on roasting pan

drizzle olive oil over garlic and roast for 25 to 30 min, until garlic is soft.

Remove roasted cloves from the garlic paper once the garlic is cool enough to touch and set aside

mix in another bowl the butter, parsley, minced garlic, and salt

blend garlic into butter mixture until well mixed

spread mixture onto cut side of the bread

wrap bread, cut side together, in foil and set aside for at least an hour

bake bread in 325°f oven for 10 minutes in foil and then remove from foil and brown the cut side for the last 2 minutes. Or until mixture has melted well into the bread and the top is toasted. Keep in foil if you want softer bread.

-serves 8-

11
Jan
13

Day 9: Garlic Chive and Bean Sprout Stir-Fry

Please accept this stir fry as my apology.

Please accept this stir fry as my apology.

Hi friends,

 

I’m going to apologize to you all for today’s post.  There is no funny story, no memory from the past, or some interesting research that I have done.  Instead it is a recipe, that my Mom did teach me, and a letter of apology.

 

When I started this journey to blog three years ago, it was solely for the purpose to document recipes that I would want to revisit in the future.  Stories, anecdotes, and essays where more of an afterthought when it came to posting on brb…eating and wasn’t a priority of mine.  However, a few years have gone by and I realized that I found joy in sharing the stories with everyone about my memories, experiences, and connection that I have with food.

 

I did a food blog marathon a few years ago as a challenge to myself to continue writing and follow through on projects.  I, like many people, start things with excitement, joy, and determination to finish but soon fall into the comforting embrace of laziness and procrastination.  So, in 2010, I challenged myself and completed my first 30 posts in 30 days marathon.  I was excited to accomplish something as challenging as a marathon.  However, in all honesty, I was not proud of the posts.  They felt rushed, forced, and shallow at times because my focus was on the recipe and not on the story.
This time around, with a slightly improved writing style, I’ve set out to do a marathon that I am proud of.  Instead of focusing on the food, I would focus on the story and find out what dish that inspires from it.  From that I have been able to share spills in ice water, the history of Chinese restaurants, and my mom and dad trying to force me into a life of crime.  But, today, I’ve hit a block.  The first time I did a marathon, posts took an average of 3 hours to create, cook, and write.  Now, I work 8 to 9 hour days and in addition spend 4 to 5 hours developing and creating the recipe, photographing the completed dish, and then writing the post to share with everyone.  At the end of the day, doing this on a daily basis is rough and something I didn’t plan.  But, I’m not letting it deter me from completing.

 

Since I made the rules for this blogging marathon, I feel like it will be ok to add one more rule.  I’m here by stating that it’s ok for me to not have a “traditional brb…eating” post once during the marathon process.  This will give me a chance to recharge, reboot, and be re-invigorated to continue on in the rest of the marathon.  So, I’m using that rule today as I share with you a recipe that my mom made when I was young.  It’s a stir-fry recipe so it’s quick, easy, and fresh.   It is the perfect post on a day where I am suffering from a loss of words.

 

I also now understand, why some of the bloggers that I admire write on a weekly basis.  And the ones that write more than once a week, I admire you even more.

 

~slu

 

~stuff

1 tsp oil

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 c garlic chives, one inch pieces

2 c mung bean sprouts

1 tbs rice wine

1 tsp salt

 

~steps

heat  oil in a wok or pan on high heat until it begins to shimmer

stir fry  garlic until it begins to change color

add chives and bean sprouts and stir for a few minutes

season with rice wine and salt and stir

serve as a side

 

-serves 3-

10
Jan
13

Day 8: Tomato Egg Drop Soup

Tomato Egg Drop (Flower) Soup

Tomato Egg Drop (Flower) Soup

As you know from a previous post, one of the most common dishes that I made when I was young was a noodle soup that my parents taught me. It was a dish that I commonly made after school and would involve whatever vegetables I can find, canned chicken stock, and scrambled egg. Well, it was supposed to be egg drop, but I was having trouble with creating the desired texture. Instead I was getting an omellette floating on the top of my soup.

For .01% of people who have never had a soup from any Chinese resteraunt, Egg Drop or Egg Flower soups are soups that have scrambled egg in it. The egg is done in a technique that creates a light feathery texture to the scrambled eggs allowing it to keep the broth light and fresh. Also, by doing the egg drop method, you’re ensuring that each scoop of the soup with have a subtle egg flavor rather than a big bite of egg.

If I sound a little too enthusiastic about the egg flower method, I am. I think it’s a brilliant cooking technique that has stood the test of time and it’s also one of the first cooking techniques that I learned. I’m proud of the fact that I was able to master this technique when I was only 13 years old. There is a sense of accomplishment that one feels when they finally get thin ribbons of egg in the soup.

When I was young, I was having a problem with my egg drop technique. I finally asked my dad to teach me how to make the egg drop soup and he said the secret was to turn the heat off completely and using one chopstick to stir. By having the heat off, your ensuring that the eggs don’t cook too quickly. The same theory is being used when you cook scrambled egg on a lower heat, because high heat would just turn it to rubber. By stirring with one chopstick slowly, the broth will be agitated just enough to move the egg around, but not too quickly to break up the eggs. The goal is to create a slow flowing movement to build ribbons instead of agitating the egg to break down the protein. If there is too much agitation, you risk turning the soup cloudy.

Now, the first time you do this, it might not be perfect. But, after a few times, I promise you will be just as good as your neighborhood Chinese take out.

~stuff

4 c chicken broth

2 c water

3 tsp salt

3 medium tomatos, sliced into wedges

1/4 c scallion, minced

4 eggs, beaten

~steps

combine first four ingredients and turn heat on high

simmer soup for 20 minutes, until the tomato begins to break down

turn off heat and slowly pour egg into soup while stirring the soup

add scallions and serve

-serves 4-




…me…


i hunger...i cook...i eat...i come back...i reminisce...i blog...enjoy.

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