Friday, February 28, 2014

Scalloped Potatoes

Usually I post a dish that hubby likes.  This time, it's for me.  I just love potatoes!  French fried, baked, roasted, mashed, hashed, boiled, baked...

Scalloped potatoes are a particular favorite, although I didn't have much opportunity to enjoy them.  Until I made my own, that is...

I followed a recipe that I found online here.  I scaled the recipe back to a third and omitted the butter.

And yes, I loved it!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Braised Chicken and Taro

There are a number of ways to cook chicken with taro.  One of the simpler ways is braising in a soy sauce "broth" or sauce.

The recipe:

500 grams boneless chicken thighs, sliced into fourths
1 tablespoon light soya sauce
1/2 tablespoon Shao Xing wine
1/2 teaspoon cracked white peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

400 to 500 grams taro (Chinese variety), cubed

4 thin slices of ginger
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 stalks onion leeks, sliced diagonally, white and green parts separated

1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup milk or coconut cream, or more to taste
2 to 4 tablespoons light soya sauce (depending upon personal taste and saltiness of soy sauce)
1 cup straw mushrooms, parboiled (optional)

Marinate the chicken pieces in soy sauce, Shao Xing wine, pepper and cornstarch.  Let stand 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute the ginger, garlic and the white parts of the leeks.  Add the chicken and stir fry a few minutes, until lightly browned.  Throw in the taro and stir fry several seconds.  Add in the chicken broth, milk, soya sauce and mushrooms (if using).  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Simmer about 20 to 30 minutes, until taro is soft and tender (cooking time depends on the size of the chicken and taro pieces).  Garnish with the green parts of the leeks.

Note:  I used light soya sauce which makes the dish look a bit pale.  Dark soy sauce may be used instead but add cautiously since dark soy sauce tends to be saltier than light soy sauce.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Talbos ng Sayote Salad with Bagoong Vinaigrette

I first discovered the delicious talbos ng sayote (sayote tops) last year when we went to Laguna to visit some family friends.  Our friends served the most amazing salad made with the delicate-tasting sayote tops with native onions, tomatoes, salted eggs and a bagoong balayan vinaigrette.  I've been on the lookout for these amazing greens!

My patience has been rewarded!  I finally saw some at the local market and immediately bought a bundle!  So it was this delicious salad for dinner! 

To make the salad:

Clean talbos ng sayote (sayote tops) and remove thick stalks (remember to keep the tendrils, they're the best part!).  Blanch briefly in boiling water and rinse immediately in cold water.  Spin dry in a salad spinner.  Arrange in a serving plate.

Slice about 4 shallots, 2 medium salad tomatoes and 2 salted eggs into slices and/or wedges.  Arrange on top of the sayote tops.  Toss with bagoong vinaigrette.

I didn't have bagoong balayan, instead I had some bagoong that Tita G made and so that was what I used.

For the bagoong vinaigrette:

In an air-tight shaker, mix together 1/4 cup sukang paumbong (native vinegar), juice of 1/2 a lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, freshly ground black and white peppercorns, about 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of bagoong, 2 to 3 pinches of white sugar (depending on the sweetness of the bagoong), and 1 to 2 pinches of pink sea salt (again depending on the bagoong).  Seal the container and shake, shake, shake!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Vietnamese Spring Roll

Vietnamese cuisine is one that I am rather unfamiliar with.  At most, I know they have a noodle soup dish that my brother likes - pho, and spring rolls!!!  My first experience with Vietnamese spring rolls was neither in Vietnam or my home country!  I actually had my first taste of Vietnamese spring roll when I was on a visit to my brother's family abroad.  It seems that my sister-in-law D's favorite (at that time I guess) was this homey Vietnamese restaurant.  In any case, this is my attempt to recreate that dish that I liked so much.

1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1½ cups lean ground pork
½ cup finely minced shrimps
1 small firm tofu (about 100 grams), sliced into strips
1 small carrot, sliced into thin strips
2 to 3 pieces dried wood ear fungus, rehydrated, sliced into strips
50 grams sotanghon (mung bean vermicelli), soaked in water until soft then drained
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce (quality counts)
salt and pepper, to taste
romaine lettuce leaves
rice paper wrappers

Saute onion and garlic until soft and fragrant.  Add ground pork.  When the pork is partially cooked, add shrimp.  Cook until almost done then add the tofu, carrots and wood ear fungus.  Add the vermicelli last and toss together well.  Season with light soy sauce, fish cause, salt and pepper, to taste.

To assemble, wet the rice wrapper slightly to soften it.  Arrange a piece of romaine lettuce leaf on top of the wrapper and place 2 to 4 tablespoons of filling on the leaf.  Roll, fold and seal.

The spring rolls are delicious as is but we also tried frying the spring roll and they were good too.  They're even better with a dipping sauce:  Mix together 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/3 cup warm water, 1/8 cup fish sauce, 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon lime juice, 1 clove of garlic, minced and 1 small birds eye chili, sliced thinly; stir until sugar is dissolved.  Let stand at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld.

A note about the sugar, I use 1 tablespoon only simply because I am not too keen on sweet sauces but adjust according to your preference.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Braised Abalones and Mushrooms

Abalones are rare treats.  Usually, the only ones available are the dried ones or the canned ones and they're very expensive!  But lately, I've seen fresh ones in our specialty market and there are frozen ones too.  As for the price?  Well, in any form, abalones are costly!  Let's leave it at that.

Anyway, previously, I'd make do with faux abalone, which is really sliced mushrooms.  And, for weekend dinners, the faux abalone did nicely.  Special occasions requires the real thing, though.

So, for this Chinese New Year, I was really happy to find a pack of frozen abalones in the special market.  There were 5 pieces in the pack and despite the high price, I bought them.  And paired them with shitake mushrooms!  Yum, yum, yum!

This is actually an simple recipe.  What is complicated is the cleaning of the abalones and, if using dried mushrooms (which I used), the pre-soaking,

For the fresh or frozen (thawed) abalones, scrub them and remove the "fishy" membranes (sides and bottom) then pressure cook for 20 minutes (or more until tender) in a mixture of chicken stock, lots of ginger and a bit of soy sauce.  As for the dried mushrooms, pick the ones with nice tops or what they call "flower" design and soak the mushrooms for at least 12 hours, changing the soaking liquid once or twice.

Of course it is easiest to use canned abalone and fresh shitake, which take almost no preparation at all.

Here's the recipe:

1.  Soak 10 dried mushrooms overnight.
2.  Clean and pressure-cook the abalones (if using fresh/frozen ones).
3.  Saute 4 thin slices of ginger in some canola oil mixed with a little sesame oil.
4.  Remove the ginger and saute some sliced onions (remove also after)
5.  Saute about a teaspoon of abalone XO sauce then added the cleaned and rehydrated mushrooms.
6.  Pour in about 1/2 cup chicken stock and 1 tablespoon each of shao xing wine, light soya sauce and oyster sauce.  Simmer for about 30 minutes (at least).  Stir once in a while.  If the liquid evaporates fast, add up to 1/4 cup more chicken stock.  Adjust seasonings (especially if your soy sauce is very salty).  In my case, I added about half a teaspoon of brown sugar, to temper the saltiness a bit.
7.  Thicken with cornstarch slurry and top with some sesame oil.
8.  Fish out the mushrooms and place decoratively on a plate with the abalone.  Pour the sauce over.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Greek Peasant Salad

Hubby loves salads.  So every so often, I whip up one for him.  Here's one that he particularly likes -

I found the recipe in this book.

Hubby asked me why it was called "peasant" when it was indulgent as far as we were concerned.  My answer?  Well, since I followed the recipe in the book, I had to follow the name as well!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Shredded Pork with Enoki

I love mushrooms in general.  Golden mushrooms, or enoki, in particular, is a favorite of mine!  Thank goodness they're more readily available these days.

And here's one of my favorite ways of cooking enoki -

It's an easy stir fry dish that's on the table in about 30 minutes or so... assuming the meat is not frozen, that is.

The best cut of pork for this dish is tenderloin.  Slice about 250 grams of pork tenderloin into strips (my mom called them shreds, hence the title) and  marinate (for about 15 minutes) in a mix of 1 tablespoon shao xing wine, 1-1/2 tablespoons light soya sauce, 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil, 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch and about 1/2 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns.

While the meat is marinating, prepare the other ingredients - (1) about 3 thin slices of ginger, (2) 1 small onion, sliced thinly, (3) scallop or abalone XO sauce, to taste [I use about 1 teaspoon], (4) 200 to 300 grams golden mushrooms, cleaned and pulled apart into "shreds", and (5) 2 egg whites, lighlty beaten.

Heat some oil in a wok until very hot and saute the ginger and sliced onions.  When the ginger browns and the onions are soft, toss in the XO sauce and saute the mixture briefly.   Give the pork shreds a quick stir and drop into the hot wok, stir-frying until the pork shrinks a little (indicating that it's halfway to being done).  The mixture may appear quite oily.  Add the mushrooms and stir (at this point I usually add another tablespoon or so of soya sauce but be careful because some soy sauces are saltier than others; also, a friend of mine adds half a teaspoon of brown sugar and swears that the dish is better, but I've never tried it).  After a several minutes, the enoki should be "sweating" and the dish will appear soupier and less oily.  Do a taste test and adjust the seasonings according to your preference.  Pour in the egg whites while stirring the wok to break apart the egg whites.  Turn off the heat.  Serve immediately!