Posts Tagged ‘Cooking

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-

21
Jan
13

Day 17: Vanilla Ice Cream with Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar

Hello Dairy, we meet again.

Hello dairy, we meet again.

Did you know that 90% of East Asians are lactose intolerant?  I did.  I also know that I am part of that statistic, and I have come to terms with it.  In case you wanted to know; lactose intolerance happens because our body doesn’t have the enzyme to break down lactose or milk sugar which causes the symptoms that the pink stuff can relieve.  Most mammals become intolerant after weaning, we however, will refuse to give up on the milk and all the goodness that dairy provides.  I mean, come on, a life without cheese, cereal, and ice cream?  We reached evolutionary hierarchy for a reason and it’s to enjoy vanilla bean ice cream and a bowl of frosted flakes.

Now, I don’t have real lactose intolerance.  Well, at least I’ve trained myself to think that there is such thing as Acute Lactose Intolerance.  It came in handy when I first found out I was lactose intolerant.  Growing up, my mom and dad always made me drink milk.  I would have a glass every morning and a glass every night. Sometimes I would have it as a snack.

“When is dinner?”

“Not until 6:30.”

“But that’s three hours from now, can I eat something?”

“No, if you are hungry have a glass of milk.”

“But that’s not solid, I didn’t say I’m thirsty.”

“We know, have a glass of milk.”

“Can I have it with Fruity Pebbles?”

“No.”

“But I’m hungry.”

“Then drink some milk.”

So, it is safe to say, milk was integral to my development when I was young.  I continued drinking milk every morning until my sophomore year in high school.  When I finally realized that I was lactose intolerant, something I learned in an unfortunate incident at school one awkward day during my German class.  I told my dad that I was lactose intolerant and that I probably shouldn’t drink milk anymore.  He didn’t believe me and the next day I saw two gallons of milk in the fridge.  Thanks Dad.

I luckily have been able to understand my allergy better, and can make smart decisions when I am out.  I know not to drink milk when I am out, I will have one dish that has lots of cheese on it, and I will chow down on Ice Cream if I am close to home (or a friend’s home that I trust).  I’m willing to face the symptoms, especially if these strawberries are chilling in my fridge.

~stuff

1 quart strawberries, washed and halved or quartered

¼ c or 4 tbs balsamic vinegar

¼ tsp black pepper, ground

basil, as garnish (optional)

vanilla ice cream

~steps

mix all ingredients except for ice cream and basil

let sit for at least an hour

serve over creamy vanilla ice cream and top with basil if using

-serves 4-

29
Mar
12

Easy Pork and Garlic Chive Stir Fry

...pork and chive stir fry...

It feels like spring came extremely early this year, which, as you know, means two things for me.  I will relentlessly talk about my love for the farmers market and you will be forced to listen with no escape like a slideshow of my family vacation.  And, I will tear down all the weeds (with itchy eyes and a runny nose) to pretend to make way for a patch of dirt with green sprouts and try to call it a garden.  Yay, spring!

 

Last year, I neglected my duties of weeding and let some of the weeds (which I thought where just plants) turn into small trees.  Yes.  This year, we had giant tree weeds.  I never knew that these things existed, but I have the 6-foot carcass in my backyard as proof.  In order to protect my integrity as a green thumb (*ahem*), I went to Target and bought a giant tree/bush scissor thingy (clearly a green thumb) and hacked away at all the weeds at my house.  It was a brutal image, with sticks, roots, and dirt flying in every direction.  In the end, it was a war zone but it was beautiful.  I was weed free and, as a bonus, there was faint aroma of garlic in the air.  It was amazing.  At first, I wasn’t sure what the smell was.  It was a familiar aroma and I couldn’t put my finger on it.  I finally realized it was the smell of Chinese chives.

 

It immediately brought me back to memories of my childhood.  My mom would cook it for dumplings and stir-fries and it would have an amazing gentle garlic flavor to it.  I started to get nostalgic and looked around for the sprouts of dark green leaves.  Turns out my neighbors had planted some of these chives a while back and they have began to grow into our part of the fence.  I ended up planting them in some pots that I had, and harvesting the leaves.  The best thing about these chives is that they are hearty.  So you can cut off the tops and in a few weeks, you’ll have some more leaves to enjoy.  And they’re easy to care for, so I can continue to pretend to be amazing with the green thumb.

 

For this recipe, I only needed 1/2 a pound of pork.  What my Mom and I do now is just buy a bunch of it, then slice it once we get home and then freeze them in individual sandwich bags.  This way they are proportioned out for when you need it.  Plus, the marinade for the pork was my Mom’s standard marinade that she used for all her sliced meats that she used for stir-fry.  It’s tasty and is a quick marinade.  You can use it with any sliced meat for any stir-fry.  I like the pork and chive combo here.  Use tofu as a substitute if you are a vegetarian or NOT on the primal diet.

 

Enjoy.

 

~stuff

½ lb pork (I used tenderloin), julienne

1 tbs soy sauce

½ tbs cooking rice wine

2 tsp rice flour or cornstarch

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

1 bunches of Chinese garlic chives (about ½ lb), 1 inch slices

vegetable oil (if needed)

~steps

mix first seven items together in a small bowl and set aside for at least 15 minutes

heat a pan or wok on high until screaming hot and stir-fry the pork until cooked through (add oil if necessary)

add garlic chives and stir until cooked, a few minutes

-serves 4-

 

 

 

 

 

11
Oct
11

Taiwanese Braised Pig’s Feet

Whatever you want to call it. “Pig Feet” or “Trotters”, either way it’s awesome!

I’ve been in survival/no waste mode. Well, at least that’s what it seems like from my last four or five posts. Liver, lard, free seafood, and now the front (or back) feet of a pig; my blog is turning into an “I like ‘strange’ things/Foodie” or an “I am resourceful” blog. Today, I spend eight dollars on eight pounds of goodness.

My brother and I grew up on pig’s feet or as foodies like to call it: trotters. It was one of the many dishes that my mom knew that we thoroughly enjoyed and would put in her arsenal of dishes to cook to coax us home. She has been cooking this dish for years. I remember when she would cook this when I was young. It would be a Saturday or a Sunday and the whole house would fill up with the amazing aroma of pork, star anise, and soy sauce. As the day went on, the air in house would change as the stages of the cooking progressed. In the beginning of the day, you would get the aroma of rice wine as it steams in the air, then comes the savory smell of pork, finally you get the spice of licorice from the anise and then the nuttiness of soy sauce and caramelizing sugar. It immediately took me back to Taiwan and the smells of traditional cooking. It took me to dishes that never changed with fads, exotic ingredients, or Western impressions. It was how dishes where enjoyed by my parents, their parents, and their parents and how they have always stimulated the senses for generations.

I’ve been missing Taiwan a lot lately. Last November I had the amazing opportunity to go back to Taiwan for a few weeks. Since then I have dreamed of going back, more importantly dreamed of hosting a travel show highlighting the food of the island and the people who make and produce them. One of my favorite things to do in Taiwan is to eat the food and really see what it means for people to love cooking and be proud of the ingredients and the dishes from Taiwan. This is totally one of the dishes that I would highlight. Not only is it very Taiwanese, it’s completely simple in flavor, much like the islands philosophy on cooking.

I always thought, until now, that there was a bunch of ingredients in this dish. It seemed so complicated with all the flavors that fill my mouth, but turns out that it is super simple. Who knew that all you needed was pork, soy sauce, star anise, and sugar. My mom figured out that if you steam the feet half way through, you can get most of the grease out of the dish. I steamed it with rice wine, per my momma’s instruction. This way you get the wine to really permeate through the pork early on in the cooking process and give it a subtle flavor note that helps complicate a simple flavor profile. Plus it helps bring out the pork amazingly.

If you want true flavors or Taiwan as well as the real philosophy behind Taiwanese food, this is it. Enjoy, especially with rice.

~stuff

8 lb pig feet, chopped into pieces (ask your butcher…unless you want to lose a finger)

1/2 cup cooking rice wine or dry sherry

3 cups of water

2 cups of soy sauce soy sauce

8 pods of star anise

3 dried salted plums (optional)

1/4 cup of brown sugar

~steps

steam pig feet with ¼ cup rice wine and 1 cup of water in a steamer for 30 to 45 minutes

remove excess grease, if necessary (this is depending on what kind of steamer you use.  I used a steamer that allowed it to drip into the water)

place pig feet in a large pot and add remaining ingredients except for sugar and turn on low, stirring often, for at least 3 hours

add sugar to the pot and stir on medium high temperature 30 minutes before serving to allow the sugar to caramelize

-serves 6-

12
Apr
10

zha jiang mian- northern chinese bolognese with home made noodles

zha jiang mian

I have a noodle infatuation.  There, I admitted it- first step of recovery.  I love the doughy chewy texture that noodles give when you first bite into it.  When you fill your mouth with a really long strand or big bite of noodle with some delicately developed sauce or broth; it’s like an amusement ride for your mouth.    Home made noodles are pretty much the best, but sometimes a nice packaged or store bought brand does the job for me.  The best though, is when your brother comes into your room on a Saturday morning at 9 am, waking you after some drinking with some friends, and says, “noodles tonight?  I’m making”  [Him talking like Yoda could be associated with my drinking, not how he actually talks], you can’t help but want to throw something at him for disturbing my beauty sleep-and then say yes.

My brother is a really good cook.  He, like me, loves to watch food network and spend time in the kitchen to relax and create.  His forte is more around recreating dishes.  When he gets a hankering for something, he’ll try to recreate the dish on his own.  Most of the time it is delicious and results into a phase for him.  I think one year, I had chicken soup and variations of chicken soup for weeks.  This time, the excitement for him is noodles.  And, I’m not complaining.

I have a favorite noodle dish.  The best is from a restaurant called A & J noodles in Irvine, California.  It’s my favorite and I have no idea what is in their recipe but it’s awesome.  Growing up in California, we would go almost every other week (and some times, if I’m lucky, every week) to this noodle place.  The great thing about this noodle place is that they knew me.  I would get the same things every time.  If they saw me coming up in the parking lot, then by the time I got to my table I wouldn’t have to order.  A couple of minutes later in front of me was a Coke, seaweed salad, and the best noodle dish in the world: Zha Jiang Mian.  Oh, just thinking about it is making me excited.  It is legal crack.  The folks working at the restaurant knew me so well, it was like I had Aunties to make sure I was properly fed…and wanting to know every detail of my love life…and how they had a daughter/niece/cousin/friend…I started going to this place when I was real young, 7 or 8…and they continued to do this well into my college years at 21 or 22.  I miss them.

Now, I would describe Zha Jiang Mian as Northern Chinese style Bolognese sauce.  It’s chunky and full of meat and little liquid.  Served over fresh noodles, no broth, topped with cucumber and bean sprouts, is the way I eat it.  Zha Jiang Mian is kind of like mac and cheese, everyone makes it differently.  BUT, I like it without the fillers.  Just pork.  That’s all anyone really needs: some nice ground pork with bits of fat in it.  Yum.

And yes, this is my brother’s recipe.

Recipe Notes- Ingredient defining [I should really start a running list/glossary]:  The one hard thing that may be difficult to find, it’s difficult to find here in Queens, is Huangdou Jiang.  The literal translation is: Yellow Sauce or Yellow Bean Sauce.  It is nowhere yellow in color, but quite delicious.  You can use Brown Soy Bean Paste or Sweet Bean Paste (not really sweet).  Some people also use Hoison Sauce (easier to find).  If you use Hoison, taste before adding too much sugar.  It’s on the sweeter side.  Vegetarian option is to replace with dried tofu and/or rehydrated shitake mushrooms, diced.  Your choice.

Also, there is a Korean variation of this dish out there.  Not the same and shouldn’t be compared.  Although, I do have a favorite.

~stuff

-noodles-

 

3½  cups all purpose flour

½ cup warm water

1 tsp salt

­-sauce-

 

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup of green onions, minced

1½ lb ground pork

2 tbs vegetable oil

4 tbs huangdou jiang (or any of the other substitutes I listed)

1 tbs sugar

1 tsp cornstarch

1/8 cup water

1 medium cucumber

1 cup of bean sprouts

~steps

mix flour, water, and salt in a large bowl

 

remove dough from bowl and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes

rest dough covered for at least a half hour in the refrigerator

while dough rests, bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch [lightly cook and cool] bean sprouts and julienne peeled cucumber

knead dough until soft and at room temperature and separate dough into two balls, cover

roll out one ball until ¼ inch thick and with a pizza cutter, cut ½ inch wide noodles, flour noodles to separate

continue with other ball and reserve noodles until sauce is complete

stir fry garlic, green onion, pork in a hot wok or deep pan on high with the oil until fragrant, about 5 minutes

add huangdou jiang and sugar, and stir

mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl and then add to sauce mixture and stir until thick, turn down heat

cook noodles in boiling water until slightly chewy in the center, about 5 minutes

serve noodles in a bowl with sauce, cucumber, and bean sprouts on the top

-serves 4-




…me…


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

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