Tag Archives: chinese

U is for Udon (Noodles that is)

Noodles are ubiquitous in many cuisines and udon, a soft, thick and chewy wheat noodle, is one of the many Asian forms I hadn’t tried until I found them fresh at my local, cut-rate, grocery store.

Vacuum sealed in individual portions, they’re removed from the package and added to a pot of boiling water where they take only three minutes to cook to the al dente stage. Rinsed thoroughly in cold water and then well drained, they can be served either hot or cold.

Closeup

Dan Dan Noodles … the noodles are topped with the meat sauce, sambal oelek and green onions … stir it up and dig in.

Tofu and red miso soup served over a half package of udon noodles with a poached egg for garnish.

Repeated … Asian Themed Dishes

I’ve been craving sushi again … and you know what THAT means.

I make a bunch of my favourite Chinese and Japanese dishes, take pictures of them and share them with you all.

Okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage pancake) – I diced some fake crab legs (surimi) and added it to the pancake mixture. The cooked strips of bacon are added to the top of the pancake before it’s flipped over and the top is cooked. I’m wrapping the two I made and freezing them away for future meals.

Szechuan shrimp and broccoli over longevity lo mein noodles – 3/4 of a pound of white Pacific shrimp in a spicy sweet and sour type sauce. I bought a bundle of broccoli cheap (88 cents). It was most mostly stem and very little florette so I threw in all the florettes and froze some of the stem for vegetable stock.

Sticky Asian drumsticks

Sushi hand rolls (temaki sushi) – A shiso (perilla) leaf gives these hand rolls a great fresh flavour. And they’re so inexpensive. Cook up a cup of sushi rice and you have enough rice for 8-10 hand rolls.

All you need is a drizzle of soy sauce before devouring these beauties.

Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry with Noodles

Broccoli is a great price these days, so I bought a bundle and paired it with chicken for a Chinese stir fry with noodles.

I winged this dish so writing up the recipe below was as accurate as I could make it, a few hours after the fact. If anything doesn’t make sense, please let me know.

Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry with Noodles – serves 2-3

200 gm dry spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

1 large chicken breast, skinless and boneless
3 tbsp soy sauce, divided
1 tbsp and 1 tsp cornstarch, divided
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced (may be replaced with 1/4 tsp dry garlic)
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1-2 stalks green onion, finely sliced
1 stalk broccoli, cut into 2-2 1/2 inch long florettes, peeled stalk cut into 1/4 inch thick planks about the same length
1/2 tsp salt
water as needed

Cut the chicken breast into 1/2 inch slices and dice into 1 inch cubes.

In a bowl, add diced chicken, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp cornstarch, hoisin, mirin, sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, half the ginger and half the garlic, white pepper and the white part of the green onion. Mix together and refrigerate overnight or for about 15-20 minutes at room temperature.

Cook pasta, drain and keep warm.

In a large saute pan, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat, add the remaining ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes, broccoli and salt and saute for a few minutes. Add 1/4 cup water, cover and steam for 2 minutes until broccoli is still green and slightly crunchy. Transfer the broccoli, ginger and garlic to a bowl and reserve.

Drain the marinaded chicken and reserve the liquid. Add the drained chicken to the hot saute pan and saute for a few minutes until it’s no longer pink. Stir often so the chicken doesn’t stick.

In a small bowl, mix the remaining tablespoon of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water and reserve.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the reserved marinade, the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce, the broccoli and the cornstarch mixture above. Stir through and cook until the sauce thickens and coats the meat and broccoli.

Add the hot, drained noodles and the green part of the onion and stir through to coat the noodles.

Taste for salt level. If needed, add some soy sauce and serve.

Bean Sprouts … what to do with them?

Whenever I make Pad Thai, I always have about a pound of bean sprouts to use up in a couple of days, before they go bad.

Usually, I make hot and sour soup, because I have things in the pantry to make it with. Like a can of bamboo shoots. Dried seaweed I can rehydrate in five to ten minutes. And diced tofu in the freezer, where I keep it for a quick pot of miso soup. I THOUGHT about making chop suey but, I didn’t have any protein thawed and limited time available, about half an hour.

Of course, summer rolls (the ones with the rice paper you have to soak) or egg rolls are a possibility too, but you have to plan ahead for them. And then there’s the frying with the latter.

What do YOU do with your bean sprouts if you buy them?

International Cooking

What country/nationality’s cooking, other than your own, do you enjoy?

I live in Canada and other than poutine and butter tarts, I can’t really claim that I cook anything that is particularly CANADIAN. Throwing maple syrup into a dish doesn’t make it Canadian, does it?

I enjoy a variety of national cuisines. This past week … I made Chinese (kale and white miso soup), Japanese and Tex-Mex dishes.

Donburi, or Japanese rice bowls, are a great way to use up leftover sushi rice. Chicken is one of my favourite proteins to top the rice bowl. The beef version was a new one for me though I didn’t have the paper thin fatty beef that is usually used and ended up with some chewy strips of sirloin steak. It still tasted good, though.

Chicken katsu (cutlet) with scrambled egg poached in the simmering sauce …

… and gyudon (beef) with egg. In Japan a raw egg is broken over the hot rice bowl but our eggs aren’t safe to eat raw so I poached mine. Paper thin cut fatty beef is preferred for quick cooking time and flavour. I garnished the rice bowl with shredded pickled ginger and green onion. And the pink, white and green colours looked pretty too.

I made a half dozen crab stick and avocado hand rolls with the rest of the sushi rice.

As for Tex-Mex … well, it’s better than going to Taco Bell. (Even if it IS an occasional guilty pleasure.)

Beef fajitas

Tamales are more Mexican than Tex-Mex but I’m going to throw them into the mix.

And, lest I forget … an iced Thai coffee to beat the heat. One of these days, I’ll make a more expansive Thai menu.

Iced Thai Coffee

Make double strength coffee and let cool to room temperature. If you like cardamom, a pinch or two added to the coffee while you’re brewing it is tasty.

In a tall glass, add a few ice cubes, 1-2 tbsp of sweetened condensed milk depending on how sweet you like your coffee. Pour the coffee over the ice cubes.

Dim sum (March break)

Before March break, I treated myself to a belated birthday meal of dim sum. All my usual favourites and a couple of my nephew’s as he’s been away at school so our regular get-togethers have been eliminated. My nephew usually orders the steamed sweet filled buns but I gave them a pass. I think I only had 9 dishes instead of my usual 10-12 as there are no steamed or baked bbq’d pork buns pictured, for example.

Stuffed green peppers with a black bean sauce. I usually order a plate … it’s my ‘healthy’ green dish.

Taro and mixed meat dumpling … it looks like a fuzzy football when the taro fries up. My nephew loves the bacon wrapped shrimp with mayo dipping sauce. We have to order two plates when we go together, cause he doesn’t like to share. Sometimes, he takes a plate home for his mom.

Beef short ribs and bean curd wrapped steamed rolls

Steamed shrimp rice noodles and garlic squid. Another type of roll in the back but fried. A close-up of the squid … I usually gobble it up piping hot and have been known, on rare occasions, to share but usually it’s all for me.

Steamed sticky rice packages and the fried rolls mentioned earlier.

Baked Chinese Buns and other stuff

WARNING: Picture Heavy Post

I’ve been doing quite a bit of cooking from my freezer these days due to necessity. No money and free time means I can get creative.

I love dim sum and one of my favourite dishes is char siu bao or Chinese bbq’d pork buns. I was going to use the Korean pork tenderloin for a filling but I was too lazy to do so when I had a  container of Jamaican beef patty filling in the freezer, so I used that instead. I ended up making 2 batches (24 buns total) to use up all the thawed filling. Next time I’ll try for something more traditional with my own Chinese bbq’d pork. The buns were a definite winner.

Char Siu Bao Dough – makes 12 x 1 1/2 oz buns

2 1/4 tsp (1 package) of dried yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups (280 gm/10 oz) plain flour
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt

Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp cold water

Shaping the Buns:

Place the sugar and warm water in a small bowl, mix until the sugar has dissolved. Add yeast and leave it for 10 – 15 minutes until it becomes all frothy.

Sift flour into a large bowl.

Add the yeast mixture, beaten egg, oil and salt and stir. Bring the flour mixture together with a fork or your hands.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes. Use as little flour as possible for kneading. The dough should be smooth and slightly elastic.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise until it is double in size. This will take from 1 – 2 hours depending on the temperature in your kitchen.

Once dough has doubled in size transfer to a working surface over which you’ve scattered some flour. Deflate the dough a bit and divide into 12 equal portions. Shape into round balls.

You can use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to approximately 8cm (3 inches) in diameter. Then pick the piece of dough up and gently pull the edges to enlarge to about 10cm (4 inches) in diameter. (By doing this it keeps the dough slightly thicker in the centre. This means that when your buns are cooking they won’t split on the top.)

Place a good sized tbsp of filling on the dough circle. Then gather the edges and seal your bun.

NOTE: Alternatively, press the ball of dough down with the heel of your palm, put the stretched dough into your left hand and add the filling. Use the thumb of your left hand to press down on the filling while using the thumb and first two fingers of your right hand to draw the edges of the dough up around the filling.

Place the bun sealed side down on your baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough. (You can press down on the balls gently so the bun won’t be too bread-y on the top and the filling will more centered. See picture below. ) Once all the buns are finished, brush the surface with egg wash.

Place in a preheated oven of 400º F for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

The buns went well with a freshly made bowl of creamy turkey and wild rice soup.

A few other goodies made this month: Raisin butter tarts and a couple of mini pies, coconut panna cotta with a blueberry sauce or a simple apricot jam base and a quince paste garnish.

I used the extra blueberry sauce for a filling for a couple of blueberry-raspberry mini pies. The filling for the fruit pies was thickened with a cornstarch slurry and cooked together with a handful of frozen raspberries before being allowed to cool. The pastry for the tarts and pies were made with Tenderflake lard pastry from the freezer.

And lest you think it was all about the sweets … here are some other tasty dishes.

Chorizo sausage, jalapeno cheese and cheddar cornbread … with leftover turkey potato gnocchi soup

Salmon in roasted tomato and pesto marinara over fettuccine

Pork chops – either simmered in a cream of mushroom gravy or breaded and pan fried

And then, there’s always a pizza or two. In this case, the last of the whole wheat sourdough dough from my freezer.

Washed down with a refreshing beer, in this case a Japanese Sapporo.

Chicken and Vegetables in Black Bean Sauce over Rice Noodles

Another quick work day meal, that’s fast and not too expensive to serve. The trick to getting it on the table fast is to prep your veggies and meat ahead. The night before is advised or in the morning if you have some free time. It’s even more economical if you use thigh meat instead of breast though 200 gms of meat serves 2-3 people.

For company, serve this dish restaurant style on a pretty serving plate.

Chicken and Vegetables in Black Bean Sauce – serves 2-3

1 tbsp vegetable oil
~1/2 pound (200 gm) boneless and skinless chicken breast or thighs
1 clove garlic, if not using the garlic version of black beans
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp black bean sauce, with or without garlic
1/4-1/2 water
1/2 onion, or substitute with 2-3 stalks of green onion, cut 1/4 inch long on the diagonal
2 peppers (red, green or yellow)
2 stalks broccoli, florettes and stems
1 thumb’s length (1 inch) fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped, if black bean sauce doesn’t have any (optional)
salt and ground black pepper, if needed
~1/2 pound (200 gm) large rice noodles
1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Thickener for sauce: 1 tbsp cornstarch, 1/4 cup cold water

Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl and set aside.

Preparing the vegetables: Cut the broccoli florettes off the stems, about 1 1/2 inches in length and break up into manageable pieces. Peel stems and cut into planks of about the same length and 1/4-1/2 inch thickness.

Core and seed peppers and slice into same thickness as the broccoli stems

Peel onion, if using, and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

Preparing the chicken meat: Slice chicken into strips 1/4-1/2 inch thick and about 1 1/2 inches long, as with the veggies.

Cooking the rice noodles: Follow package instructions for cooking time depending on the width of the noodles. (Red package: 5-6 minutes in boiling water). Make sure you break up the noodles well as they soften so that they cook evenly. When tender but still retaining some texture, drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Drain and keep until needed. You may drizzle the sesame oil over the noodles and toss a bit so they don’t stick while standing.

Heat the vegetable oil in a saute pan or wok over medium high heat, add the sliced chicken and cook just until no longer pink. Transfer meat to a bowl and reserve. In the same saute pan, add the sliced onions, ginger and garlic and saute until the onions are no longer translucent.

Add the broccoli and 1/4 cup of water, cover with a lid and let steam for 1 1/2-2 minutes until the broccoli is a bright green but still crunchy. Add the pepper strips and toss through, cooking for another minutes or so.

Return the cooked chicken to the pan, along with the black bean paste and soy sauce and stir together.

Stir the cornstarch/water mixture until it’s smooth and pour into the middle of the saute pan. Watch carefully as it bubbles and thickens. Stir the sauce so that it coats the vegetables and meat. If needed add the remaining 1/4 cup of water, or more.

Taste the meat and vegetables adding salt and pepper, if needed. You may also add an additional dash or so of soy sauce.

Stir the cooked noodles into the saute pan or place the noodles on a serving plate and pour the meat and vegetables into the middle.

Serve

It’s even pretty if you toss the noodles in with the meat and veggies and let everyone fill a bowl. I like a bit of spicy Sambal Oelek on my portion.