Thursday, September 22, 2011

gung bao chicken

I've been making this recipe for years. It's very good, I promise! I usually triple the recipe so that we can eat it for left overs and then all I would need to make would be a vegetable dish to accompany the left overs. We usually have all the sauces needed at the house for this, so we only have to buy the chicken, which makes it a very economical dish for us.
Tip: If you can't find the Sichuan peppercorns (since they might be hard to come by), you can omit it. We had to order them online. I find that the dish, however,  is not all that different without the Sichuan peppercorns. Also, while the recipe calls for boned chicken, we prefer to leave the bones in the chicken. I think it adds more flavor, but it really just comes down to personal preference.

adapted from the Periplus Mini Cookbooks series, Spicy Sichuan Cooking

1lb boned fresh chicken meat, cut in 3/4 inch chunks
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 dried red chillies, cut in thirds
10 Sichuan peppercorns
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
6 slices of ginger
3 spring onions (scallions) cut in 1 1/2 inch lengths

1 tablespoon cooking wine
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cornflour dissolved in 1 teaspoon water

3 tablespoons Sweet Thick Soy Sauce ( I highly recommend the brand ABC Kecap Manis. Found at most Asian grocery.)
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon cooking wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornflour dissolved in 1/4 cup of water

1. Place the chicken chunks in the bowl and pour the marinade ingredients over. Mix well with fingers and leave aside to marinate for 15-20 minutes.
2. Combine sauce ingredients and set aside.
3. Heat oil in a wok (or pot) until hot, then add the cut dried chilies and allow them to scorch for 30 to 60 seconds. Add the Sichuan peppercorns, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry 30 seconds more.
4. Add the marinated chicken and stir-fry quickly, turning frequently, until chicken changes color and gets firm, about 3-4 minutes. Then add the sauce, stir to blend all ingredients, cover with lid, lower heat to medium, and braise for 5 minutes. Remove lid, add spring onions, stir to mix with the chicken for 30 seconds, then remove to a serving dish.

If you leave the bones in the chicken, I find that you have to braise it a little longer than 5 minutes.

Serves 4

cabbage sautéed with dried shrimp

you can get the small dried shrimp for this dish at the asian and mexican market.  however, i think the dried shrimp at the asian market is higher quality so that might be reflected in the price.

from Periplus Mini Cookbook series, Spicy Sichuan Cooking

1/4 cup small dried shrimp 
2 tablespoons rice wine
1 medium or large head of Chinese Napa cabbage ( about 1 1/2 lbs)
2 tablespoons oil
2 slices ginger, cut in thin slivers
2 spring onions (scallions), halved lengthways, then cut in three

2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

1. Place dried shrimp in a small bowl, cover with the rice wine and leave to soak for 10-15 minutes, drain and set aside. 
2. Wash and drain the cabbage, cut each leaf in half lengthways, then cut each half into pieces about 2 inches long. 
3. Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside. 
4. Heat oil in the wok (if you have one) or heavy set pot until hot, then add the ginger, spring onions and shrimp, and stir-fry until their aromas are released, about 2 minutes. 
5. Add the cut cabbage and continue to toss until coated with oil. Then add the sauce , stir to mix well, cover with lid, lower heat to medium, and simmer until the cabbage is soft and tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Check occasionally to see if it is done, and that it does not get scorched. Remove to dish and serve. 

Serves 4

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Red Pesto

Red pesto is a good alternative to green pesto because it is cheaper to make since it does not involve pine nuts. It is a very good vegetarian friendly sauce that is versatile. Spread it on french bread, bruschetta, or pizza, or toss it with a thin pasta like linguini.  It also goes well with grilled poultry or seafood.  I highly recommend it!

The following recipe is from Joy of Cooking. 

Combine in a small saucepan with enough water to cover:
1/3 cup chopped drained water-packed sun dried tomatoes
1 clove garlic, peeled
6 fresh basil leaves

Bring to boil, remove from the heat, and let stand for 20 minutes. With the machine running, drop through the feed tube of the food processor:
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated parmasen cheese

Drain the tomato mixture, add to the processor, and finely chop.  Season with:
salt and ground black pepper to taste 
Stir in:
1/2 cup pasta cooking water or hot water


Friday, September 9, 2011

Soba Salad With Spinach, Edamame and Miso Dressing

This is Mark Bittman's recipe. The ingredients can be semi-expensive because you need miso paste and soba noodles. After you get miso paste, however, it will last you quite a while. Since Japanese food is fairly typical at our house, we had these ingredients in stock. This is a fairly decent recipe that I think can satisfy vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
In this recipe, I used baby spinach.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

radicchio salad

I call this salad an adult salad because of the radicchio, which has a bitter and spicy taste.  Only an adult with a sophisticated palate can truly appreciate it. This healthy, light, and easy to make salad was introduced to us by a friend from Germany.

- 1 head of radicchio
- 1 ball of fresh mozzarella (not that dried shredded stuff in a bag)
- 1 generous handful of fresh basil
- balsamic vinegar
- olive oil (if you can get your hands on a high quality bottle that would be best)
- pepper
- salt

1. wash, drain, and slice the radicchio into slivers shown in the picture above. 
2. cut up the mozzarella and add it to the radicchio
3. slice or tear the basil and add it to the mix (tearing gives it more flavor)

For the dressing:
Mix in a small bowl balsamic vinegar, a bit of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix this in with the salad. I don't have the exact measurements because I just do it by taste. The flavors should be light and complimentary. 

middlebrow coleslaw

you need:
-1 head of savoy cabbage
-anchovy filets
-olive oil
-balsamic vinegar
-garlic or shallots
-black pepper
-nonpareil capers
-dijon mustard

(This is essentially the Joy of Cooking 1997 recipe, except that theirs is open format and gives you options; I am just describing the option I took)

1. remove outer leaves, shred the cabbage, soak in ice water for an hour
2. make a vinaigrette with two cloves of garlic, 2-3 anchovy filets, a tablespoon of mustard, 1/3c each olive oil and vinegar, salt and black pepper to taste, and 2T capers.
3. fry two strips of bacon to crispness and chop them finely.
4. drain the cabbage (you may let it sit over a bowl draining in the fridge to keep it cold)
5. put the cabbage in a bowl, pour in the vinaigrette and bacon and mix together.