February 27, 2011

Steamed Happy Prawns with Bean Sauce

One of my favorite ingredient is tofu as it is rich in protein and low in calories. Tofu is soft and bland, and has very little flavor, therefore it is often marinated and seasoned well to paired with other savory or sweet dishes. There are many types of tofu that you find in most supermarkets. This recipe illustrate a savory version of the serving tofu. Enjoy!
Ingredients: (serve 3)
4-6 large prawns
1 soft tofu
cilantro for garnishing
2 pips of garlic, minced
1 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. lemon peel, minced
1 Tbsp. red pepper, cut in small cubes
½ tsp. fermented soy bean or bean paste
½ tsp. oyster sauce
1 tsp. dark soy paste
1 tsp. honey
½ tsp. sesame seed oil
½ tsp. Chinese cooking wine
1 tsp. cornstarch, mixed with a little water
dash of pepper
1. Wash and remove heads and shells from prawns, leaving the tail intact. Using a small knife, slit along the back and remove the black thread, rinse well and wipe dry. Poke a small opening in the front part of the prawn and pull the tail and insert into the hole. Set aside.

2. Cut tofu in 4-6 squares and carefully place on steaming tray or individual small dish. Set aside.
3. Mix the sauce ingredients: soy sauce, bean sauce, wine, honey, sesame oil, oyster sauce, and cornstarch in a bowl. Heat pan with some oil and fry ginger and garlic until soft but not brown. Add in the tangerine peel if used, red pepper, followed by the sauce mixture. The mixture will thickens, add warm water and adjust seasonings accordingly to your taste. Remove from heat. Place the prawns on top of the tofu and pour sauce on top.
4. Heat water in a steamer and steam for 5-6 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with cilantro and serve warm.
Cook's Note: Another option of serving is to cook the prawns with the sauce and add in half of the tofu. Use the frying ladle to break the tofu and stir to mix with the prawns and sauce. Remove and serve.
Tips: Tofu are best consumed within a day or and is bad when it starts to look slimy and develops a stale smell.

February 26, 2011

Baked Stuffed Sombreroni

I found this adorable pasta over the holidays at a specialty shop in Palo Alto. They have a good selection on display of the different type’s of pasta in shapes of flowers, bow ties, and much more. I was fascinated by this particular one in lovely stripes of yellow, red, orange and green. Sombreroni, or large Mexican hats are little fun-shaped pasta. Made by Pozzo del Re, this colorful pasta is hand crafted in Italy. The hues of green, red, orange, and yellow stem from natural and dehydrated ingredients that are added to the flour mix. Green is from spinach, yellow is turmeric, red is tomato or beet root. Bon Appétit!
10 Sombreroni shells
¾ lb lean ground beef
½ onion, finely chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped
2 clove garlic, minced
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
½ cup bread crumbs
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup cheddar chesese, grated
1 jar good quality spaghetti sauce
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro for garnishing
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook pasta shells according to directions on package.
2. Heat oil in skillet and sauté onion and garlic until soft. Add ground beef and fry for about 5 minutes, then the chopped spinach. Stir to mix well and remove from heat. Drain off excess oil.
3. Mix in the breadcrumbs, nutmeg, only half of the cheeses, and then followed by the egg mixture. When mixture is cool enough to handle, stuff cooked shells with the mixture.

4. In a baking tray, spread half of the spaghetti sauce. Arrange stuffed shells side by side into baking dish. Spoon remaining sauce over shells and sprinkle with the rest of the cheeses. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30-35 minutes until sauce and cheese are bubbly and cooked through. Remove from oven and sprinkle the top with the rest of cheeses and cilantro. Serve warm.
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February 25, 2011

Pan Fried Sticky Rice Cake/Nian Gao

After the Chinese New Year, one of the festive goodies to enjoy is Fried Nian Gao. It is a round sticky brown cake made from glutinous rice and sugar. You can find them on display weeks before the Chinese New Year. It is auspicious to eat this cake during this time of the year as the word, "nian gao" signifies "every year higher" in Chinese. In other words, eating this will bring much prosperity and wealth for the year. You can steam it to soften the cake and coat with fresh coconut, or pan fried it with batter. Whichever way you decide to cook this, it is simply delicious with tea.
6-8 pieces sticky rice cake, (sliced into ¼ inch thickness)
1 small yam or sweet potato, (sliced into ¼ inch thickness)
½ cup all-purpose flour
1. Mix flour, egg and water in a bowl until smooth and free from lumps. The mixture should be thick enough to coat the mixing spoon. Adjust water if necessary.
2. Arrange one slice of sticky rice cake between 2 slices of yam or sweet potato. Heat enough oil in pan on medium high. Dip slices of cakes into the batter to coat all sides evenly and fry in oil on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.
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February 13, 2011

Pandan Jelly

This jelly is made with agar-agar powder and flavored with pandan essence. Pandan, or screwpine is a fragrant green leafy plant that is a widely grown in Malaysia. The leaves are used in cooking rice and the juice is extracted from the leaves to enhance the flavor in desserts and cakes.
1/2 cup sugar
5 cups water (6 cups if you like a softer jelly)
1 can coconut cream (400 ml)
1 box Agar Agar Powder (6 ozs)
1 tsp. pandan paste
a pinch of salt
jelly mold or stainless trays
1. Rinse molds and set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring water, salt, pandan paste and sugar to a boil. Pour in Agar Agar powder and stir to mix until it dissolve completely. Reduce heat to a simmer for another minute.
2. Pour half of this mixture into jelly molds leaving room for the second layer. Set aside to cool.
3. Mix coconut cream until it is free from lumps and stir into the jelly mixture that is on the stove. Reheat over medium heat. Remove and gently pour this gently over the 1st layer. Chill and leave to set in the refrigerator. Unmold and serve cold.
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February 11, 2011

Water Chestnuts Jelly/Ma Ti Gao

Water chestnuts is a brown knobby vegetable that resembles a small bulb. Don't be mistaken by its name--as it is not a nut but an aquatic vegetable that grows in wet muddy marshes. You can buy it fresh or canned in most Chinese supermarkets. It has a crunchy texture with a delicate and nutty flavor. This dessert is another treat to prepare for the Chinese New Year.
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water chestnut flour
1/4 cup dried chrysanthemum flower
2 1/2 cups water
10-12 wolfberries or goji berries (pre-soaked some water to soften)
10 water chestnuts, peeled and chopped finely
1. In a medium saucepan, heat water, chrysanthemum flowers and sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolves and lower heat and cook for another 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and filter away the chrysanthemum.
2. Return liquid to saucepan and add wolfberries, water chestnuts and cook and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in water chestnut flour slowly and whisk briskly to dissolve. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl or jelly mould to cool and chill overnight in the refrigerator. Unmould and serve or cut into thick slices and pan-fried with a little oil.
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February 6, 2011

Three Precious Gem Noodles

Here's a simple dish using what's leftover from the roast duck meat I've made yesterday. You can use any variety of noodles and vegetables of your choice.
1 cup cooked noodles
½-1 cup cooked duck meat (shredded)
1 piece ginger, julienned
1 cup bok choy, chopped
2 leaves cabbage, cut thinly
1 Tbsp. soy paste
1 Tbsp. duck oil (from duck fat, optional)
pepper to taste
1. In a frying pan over medium heat oil and fry ginger until fragrant. Add in the duck meat, then cabbage. Fry until the cabbage has just turn soft, then add in the bok choy to cook.
2. Stir in the soy paste and mix with the vegetables. Lastly toss in noodles, stir and season to taste. Serve warm.
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February 5, 2011

Crispy Roast Duck

Whenever I have a craving for duck, I would drive to Chinatown and bring home a roast duck. They are the ones that you see hanging in the shop window. I love to eat it while it is still warm as the skin is crispy and the meat is succulent and delicious. It is great serve over rice or noodles. For years, I am intimidated by the thought of roasting a duck as someone told me that it takes hours of skillful preparation and roasting. Well, I figured it is worth giving it a try. You can buy frozen duck in the freezer compartment in most supermarket, or pre-order a fresh one in some Chinese supermarket.
frozen duck
gently score skin surface
after an hour of roasting
poke skin all over
follow steps to roasting and final glaze
1 whole duck (4-5 lbs)
½ cup honey
¼ cup orange juce
2 tsp. plum sauce
1 tsp. orange flavored water
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash duck and remove giblets and fat, remove and quills by pulling it out with a tweezer. Pat dry with paper towel. Use a knife and gently score the surface of the skin by slicing through the skin and fat (this process remove excess fat when cooking). Rub inside and outside with salt and truss with cooking twine.
2. Place breast side-up in a baking rack and roast for an hour. Pull out, poke skin all over and roast further for another hour breast-side down.
3. Repeat Step 2 and turn duck each time reversing positions (breast-side up or down) for the next hour of roasting.
4. Mix the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Season to taste. (This recipe makes a substantial amount, but you can vary the quantities according to your needs)
3. At the final 3rd hour, increase heat to 400°F. Turn duck breast-side up brush duck with glaze and roast further for another 10 minutes until duck has a nice mahogany color and golden. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the duck until the temperature is 165°F. Remove and cool duck completely before carving. 5. Drain pan drippings and strain into remaining glaze. Reheat and thicken slightly with some cornstarch and serve with duck on the side.
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