Chili Pork Strips

April 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

When was the last time you need to clean out the freezer? Me. Almost always. I’m not very good at managing my purchases and end up buying way too much. Yes, I’m a bit of a hoarder, and I regularly need to clean out the refrigerator.

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So I saw some leftover pork strips lingering in a corner of the freezer. Time to get them out of that corner and into our tummies with my tested combination of Chili Bean and Oyster Sauce.

Oyster-and-Chili-Bean

A combination I rely on a lot, be it tofu, or veggies or just ground meat. It (the sauce) tickles the taste buds and is so easy to make. All you need is to combine the two sauces according to your preference, some sugar to balance the saltiness then dilute with water or soup stock if available.

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I cut the strips into 1-1/2” approximately, sauté them with garlic in a little oil. Add sliced mushrooms, any should be fine, but I like shiitake or button for the dish. Pour in the chili sauce, let simmer until sauce coats the pork. Top over rice or pasta.

That’s it—a dish in no time, packed with beautiful flavors.

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Wild Rice Shoots

August 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

I first had it at my mom’s.  Succulent, crisp strips similar in texture to bamboo shoot but less fibrous.  It assimilated well with the heat of the chili bean paste and the savory taste of oyster sauce.

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It became an instant favorite, thanks to the lady at Wei Wang, the neighborhood oriental store my mom frequents, for recommending this bamboo shoot looking vegetable to her complete with instructions on how to cook it. She said it was a kind of shoot called “kuw-sun”.

wild-rice-shoots

I later find out that “kuw-sun” is also called Wild Rice Shoots, an aquatic plant widely used in China and Japan which, when stripped of its husk, reveals a smooth, very pale inside. Rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and other minerals, it is sliced and eaten raw or cooked, usually prepared by stir-frying with thinly sliced pork.

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Chili Wild Rice Shoots with Pork and Mushrooms

What You’ll Need

  • 2 stalks of wild rice shoots, outer layer removed, and cut into strips
  • 4-5 shiitake mushrooms cut into strips
  • 100-150g minced pork
  • 1 tablespoon Chili Bean Paste
  • 1 tablespoon Premium Oyster Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoon Vegetable oil
  • Sesame oil for drizzling

 What You Do

  1. In a small bowl, mix together chili bean paste, oyster sauce, sugar and water.  Set aside.
  2. Heat up a wok until smoky and add oil.  Bring temperature down to medium high
  3. Add the pork, stir-fry until brown then add the mushrooms.  Cook for seconds before adding the wild rice shoots.  Toss around until the shoots are slightly brown.IMG_0551
  4. Add the chili mixture and toss until well coated.
  5. Drizzle with a good quality sesame oil before serving.

A dish packed with flavor and so easy to prepare.

What To Eat in Laos: Luang Prabang Pork Sausages

September 3, 2012 § 1 Comment

I have a thing about sausages.  It is my comfort food.  Growing up, my brother and I would make hotdogs with caramelized onion rings cooked in ketchup.  It was my brother’s idea, I think.  We grew up on that and once in a while, I’d still make these for old time’s sake.  But I’ve come a long way with my sausages.  I’ve soon learned to love all kinds of sausages from chorizo to kielbasa to our local longganisa.

Credits:  Kaboks’ SFJ Christmas Treasure papers.

So when I saw sausages drying on a sidewalk in Luang Prabang, I knew I had to get my hands on some of those and ordered the first sausage I spotted on the menu.  Luang Prabang has exceptionally good sausages.  Sweet and herby with a hint of heat from the chili peppers.  The lemongrass and the juice from Kaffir lime delivered a flavor that is so distinctly indochina.

That and sticky red rice, add the casual, cozy open-air ambience of Mango Tree and it was pure bliss.

Mango Tree
Ban Vat Nong, Sakkarine Road,
Luang Prabang, Laos
+856 71 253-888 / 253-750

Small Bites: Bacon Wrapped Dates

August 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Credits:  JSprague DIDer Course Material

When entertaining a modest sized group, say about 8-12 guests (more than that and I’ll need help in the kitchen), I like serving tapas.  Many of the dishes would need very little preparation or cooking.  I won’t have to slave it out in the kitchen and guests are given a variety to choose from.  Load up on reds and whites and you’re good to go.  A fun way to entertain and be entertained, if you ask me.

I’d usually prepare plates of olives, 3-4 kinds of cheese – 1 hard like Manchego and/or a not so hard like Gruyère, a soft cheese like brie, and I usually go for a cream cheese spread like Boursin.  These are great to go with Jamon Serrano and sliced baguette.  Chorizo, rendered in its own oil, are always present in my table too.  Include a few heavy dishes – a pasta salad or a meat dish perhaps – and this takes care of filling up the tummy.

A friend sent me a box of honey dates from the Middle East.  A nice snack it makes but I thought these would go better with bacon.  Bacon wrapped dates – I once had this in a tapas bar and fell in love with it.  Served this as part of my tapas selection recently and my friends loved it too.

This dish can be prepared ahead of time and cooked when guests arrive.  The dates that are soaked in honey while easily caramelizes the bacon (so be careful not to burn), gives that added sweet contrast that makes this dish a winner in my books.  Sweet, salty with a hint of smoky aroma… Yum!

 

Bacon Wrapped Dates

What You’ll Need

  • Honey dates or dried dates
  • Cashews
  • Bacon strips

What You Do

  1. Slice dates lengthwise on one side to remove the pit.
  2. Fill the empty cavities of the dates with cashews.
  3. Push the sides together to close the dates up. Wrap a slice of bacon around each date and place them seam side down.
  4. Heat a small flat pan, preferably cast iron, on medium heat. Place the bacon wrapped dates, seam side down on the pan until the bottoms are brown and the seam is sealed.
  5. Turn and brown all the other sides.  Serve immediately.

Din Tai Fung

December 5, 2011 § 3 Comments

Credits: Brown Textured paper by J Sprague; Stitches by Carina Gardner, Feathers by J Sprague, Button by LivE Winter Breeze Jewel Brad.

The waiter arrives with the steamer, sets it down before you and removes the lid letting a cloud of steam escape, revealing 10 dumplings.

You gingerly pick up one with your chopsticks and at first instinct, you want to bite right in, but you’ve been burned before so you set it on a soup spoon, bite a small piece making a hole through the skin.

You slather some ginger-soy-vinegar sauce on it before you take a bite and drink the broth from the spoon.  You are in heaven… biting into dumpling with skin so fine yet firm, the meat steamed to perfection letting out soup that is so tasty it’s euphoric.

Din Tai Fung’s Xiao long bao never fails to evoke that sense of euphoria – at least for me.  Funny how I planned the hotel in Taipei to be near a Din Tai Fung and it turned out to be the original shop to boot.  On our first night in Taipei, we sallied forth for the best dumpling we’ve ever tasted so far.  Alas the lines were so long, we gave up.  We returned at 5pm on our last night and we were ushered in right away.

We walked passed a glass-in kitchen showcasing chefs at work in an assembly line – making dumplings.  Each dumpling is said to have 18 exquisite folds.

The restaurant at 5pm on a weeknight is almost full, halfway through our meal, a huge group occupied the remaining empty tables and by the time we stepped out of the restaurant, a line has already formed.  Amazing how a shop established more than 20 years ago has managed to maintain if not improve its stature over the years.  Customers, mostly locals, still fall in line for a meal at Din Tai Fung.

Although their Xiao long bao is still the star here, they’ve mastered a few dishes that have likewise become favorites like the fried pork chops.

Another instant hit is a new dish called pork and shrimp pot stickers.  This one is pan-fried to crispy perfection.

Rain Or Shine

November 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

Soup I have moods for.  But if I have to choose, I almost always go for tomato soup.  Chorizo, however, I always have a mood for.   Scanning through Donna Hay’s cookbook, it did not surprise me that I couldn’t move pass the page, not because it has rained the past few days.  This soup I can and will have over and over, rain or shine, for a very long time.  Best of all, it being a 30-minute meal is such a come-on.  With a few pieces of bread, it makes a great lunch or dinner that is fuss-free.  In fact I like it better the next day when all the flavors melds into one hearty soup.

The chorizo adds an incredible depth to the soup, perfectly marrying salty and sour.  The crisp chorizo adds more texture to a soup that has already so much texture – from the tomato chunks, crisp green beans to even the al dente but creamy bite of the chickpeas.  I made it without the green beans.  I just add a few strips before serving and while re-heating to keep the freshness and crispness of the vegetable.

Spicy Tomato-Chorizo Soup

(adapted from “The Instant Cook”, by Donna Hay)

What you need:

  • 4 chorizo sausages, sliced (I use chorizo Pamplona)
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes
  • 2 x 400g (14 oz.) cans peeled tomatoes, crushed
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 400g (14 0z.) can chickpeas (garbanzos), drained
  • 200g (7oz.) green beans, trimmed and chopped
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (baby arugula works well too)

What you do:

  1. Place a deep saucepan over high heat.  Add the chorizo, oil and chili and cook for 4 minutes or until the chorizo are crisp.
  2. Remove from the pan and drain on absorbent paper.
  3. Place the tomatoes and stock in the saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil.
  4. Add the chickpeas and beans and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Stir through the salt, pepper parsley and cooked chorizo and serve.  Serves 4.

To Satisfy A Craving

August 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

Korean Fried Chicken may not be the newest craze in the metro, it is a new addition in my neighborhood though — woohoo!.  The newly opened Chicken Bon Chon has cars queuing for parking that could cause a jam especially on weekends.  Though the long lines turn me off, so addicted to this crispy, garlicky sweet-coated tender juicy chicken, I find myself thinking of it day and night.  With this frustration comes a want to devour anything that is crunchy, sweet, spicy and garlicky just to satisfy this craving.  So when I came across this recipe by Trissa, I knew that I had to try it.

Although mine didn’t really come out sticky –too much flour perhaps —  it is a definite winner on the taste department.

Fried Pork Ribs Korean-Style

This marinade is sweet, garlicky and not too spicy because I used Ssamjang, a chili-bean paste for milder heat.

Ssamjang

Using Gochujang, a red chili paste will make it spicier, so the choice is yours.  The ribs were pan-fried as the recipe called for but I already imagine it to be exceptional too grilled or broiled.  That’s next on my agenda.

What You Need:

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 cm ginger, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ssamjang (chili-bean paste)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • 750 grams pork ribs
  • Oil for pan-frying

What You Do:

  1. Using a food processor or a blender, process the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, chili-bean paste, vinegar, sesame oil and brown sugar in a bowl.
  2. Add the eggs and place the pork ribs in the mixture.  Marinate for 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Mix the flour and cornstarch together and dredge the marinated pork ribs in it.
  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan over med-high heat. Pan fry for around 5 minutes on each side.

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