Posts Tagged ‘Recipes

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-

 

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-

03
Jan
13

My 100th Post and a Blogging Marathon: 30 in 30 days

A new look for the new year?

A new look for the new year?

It’s a new year, and lucky for me, means I don’t have to make any resolutions for another month.  On the flip side, I now only have a month to get my Dragon List completed before the snake rears it’s head on the 10th of February.  I will then discover what I have accomplished, what was a lack of judgement on my part, and what was just me losing perspective. (Did I really say that I would read a book in Chinese?)  Once the new year hits, I get to start the cycle all over again and create another list of 29 goals for my 29th year.  Holy. Shit.Because my lists where always private, I would find some way to use a loophole, excuse, or exaggeration as to why I didn’t, couldn’t, or sort of complete a task and be satisfied with the answer.  However, this year I decided to go public with my list, and have already been reminded through emails, calls and conversations of the many things on my list that I still need to do.  It’s like everyone has become my Aunt Martha, hovering over me and piercing a hole in every excuse I throw at her as to why I didn’t want to go to Yoga to do an intense side stretch.  (Note to my friends, I don’t have an Aunt Martha.  It’s not a common Taiwanese name).

However, because of the accountability, I’ve decided to attempt most of the list.  One of my goals this lunar year was to write 54 posts.  There is no excuse why I have not done this, I couldn’t blame a person, the internet, a third party, or my brother’s cat.  (All which would have failed the test of my Aunt Martha if I had one).  So, in order to get close to crossing this one off my list, I’m doing a blogging marathon.  If folks remember a couple of years back I did 30 posts in 30 days.  It was a fun and challenging experience that ended in a well stocked refrigerator, a full roomate, and a bank account that was slightly higher than usual because of the amount of money I was saving from not going out to eat lunch.

So, in honor of the new year, the dragon list, my procrastination, and my 100th post;  I will commit to writing 30 posts in 30 days.

——-

This is my 100th post.  When I first started this blog a few years ago, I was looking for a way to best document the dishes that have been so important to me.  I wanted to have a place where I could keep a list of recipes that are significant; Each one holds a cherished story or memory from my childhood.  I had no idea how much of an impact food would have on me, my childhood, my discoveries, my growth, or my relationships.  Writing for brb…eating has  been an amazing journey; One that I thought would have been finished in a year or so, but it’s clearly developed into a longer adventure that I now consider to me very much a part of who I am.  I’m so glad that I’ve been able to share it with all of you and I look forward to many more to come.  To commemorate my 100th post, I’m revisiting my first blog post, “Chicken Adobo.”  I’ve edited it (my writing has improved so much in the last 100 posts) and updated the recipe (It’s taken me a few years, but I now understand why ingredients are listed in a specific order.) I hope you enjoy and thank you for following me on this journey.

Chicken adobo; not the witch's brew version.

Chicken adobo; not the witch’s brew version.

“I’m not sure it’s suppose to look like that…”

My brother and I stared at the pot of chicken bones bubbling in a tan, creamy, gravy like sauce with bits of chicken pieces floating about.  We had spent over an hour on this dish and had no idea how or what it had turned into.

“It doesn’t look like the Filipino Chicken Adobo we get at the restaurant. It’s suppose to have the look of braised chicken.”  Instead it looked like something only mentioned in fairy tales when describing the witch’s brew.  We tried it, and I continued to question the tough, rubbery texture and flavor of the sauce.  It was a “first time cooking Chicken Adobo” failure, it was also one of the first times that my brother and I cooked together.  Before this, it was rare for my brother and I to ever be able to cook together.  We are 7 years apart which translates to me being home as a kid while he is in college and then us being in separate parts of the country while I was in college and he was being an adult.  Luckily I found my way to New York which has made the two of us even closer as well as many more days of cooking together and more successful attempts.

A few days after the adobo attempt, my brother figured out that what we had made was basically soy mayo with chicken in it.  If it sounds gross, you are right.  It  looked gross too.  The vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar mixed with the protein from the rendered chicken was basically the foundation of a mayonnaise or aioli.  At the time of attempting this dish, my culinary techniques where a little lacking.  I thought that turning something on high meant you where hungry and it would cook faster and that braising was for people with patience.  However, the rolling boil of the liquid  was enough to agitate the protein and fat and essentially mimicked the whisking or shaking that produces mayonnaise.  Oh, so that’s one of the reasons we braise things.

A couple of years later, I asked my friend Holly how her mom made the dish.   She gave me the list of ingredients and the family secret.  Her mom finishes the chicken off in the oven to ensure that it develops a crispy skin and slight glaze.   So with my knowledge of braising and the importance of a slow low heat and now with some insider secret from new Tita, I was able to recreate the Chicken Adobo with my brother.   The flavor was sweet, salty, and tangy.  The vinegar and slow braise allowed the chicken to become extremely tender and juicy.  The best part was the crisp skin that came from the few minutes that chicken was  in the oven.  To add more sauce, you can reduce the braising liquid down to give it a thicker consistency while the chicken is finishing, or you can skip the oven step all together.

If you have access to cane vinegar, I recommend it.  You can get it from most Asian stores.  It has a slightly sweet quality to it, but white vinegar is a good substitute.

~stuff

2 lb chicken (I like to mix wings and drumsticks)

1 tbs vegetable, peanut, or canola oil

4 large garlic cloves

2 dried chili crushed, or 1 tsp red chili flakes (to taste)

2 bay leaves

3/4 cup soy sauce

3/4 cup white vinegar

1/8 cup sugar

1 stalk of scallions, minced

~steps

sear chicken on high in a large dutch oven or heavy based pot with oil and remove chicken

add chili flakes, bay leaves, and garlic to the pot and sauté until garlic is fragrant and slightly toasted

return chicken and pour soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar and stir to coat

turn down heat to medium low and let simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

remove chicken, put onto baking dish and broil on high until chicken is slightly crispy (4-5 minutes)

reduce the braising liquid and pour over the chicken

garnish with green onions (optional)

-serves 6-

 

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-




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

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