Thursday, August 9, 2018

Cantonese-Style Shrimp Salad with Mayonnaise, Chinese Hot Mustard & Sesame Dressing

For years I've been obsessed with the idea of cooking up and hosting a grand Chinese New Year banquet in the tradition of those 10+ course feasts that my grandparents used to make for the occasion back in Taiwan. Both my grandpa (Ah-Kung) and grandma (Ah-Ma) were fabulous home cooks, so emulating their dishes has always been a totally daunting task. Their main courses always included steamed whole fish with scallions, ginger and garlic, sautéed jumbo prawns in a sweet and sour sauce, sea cucumber (not my fav but considered a delicacy), sautéed mustard greens or other veggies with dried scallops, tea-smoked pomfret with a light mayonnaise dipping sauce, and an assortment of cold appetizers including sliced Chinese ham, sliced abalone or top shell, snails in a sweet soy glaze, drunken chicken, jellyfish salad, and thousand year-old eggs (Pidan). There were other dishes, of course, but I'll have to confer with my mom and sis for a more complete compilation. Anyhoo, during a recent bout of obsessive Googling for Chinese banquet appetizers, I found a reference to Shrimp Salad in Mustard Mayonnaise http://redcook.net/2008/02/11/chinese-new-year-banquet/ in blog called Red Cook: Adventures from a Chinese Home Kitchens that looked particularly scrumptious. The recipe is apparently Cantonese in origin and part of the appetizer assortment made by the author for his Chinese New Year banquet. However, he didn't post a recipe and I couldn't find anything like it on the web. Not to be deterred though, I used Red Cook's brief description of the ingredients (shrimp, mayonnaise, Chinese mustard, and sesame oil) as the basis for coming up with my own version, and here it is. It's ridiculously easy to make and really, really good, if I say so myself. I'm adding it to my appetizer list for my dream Chinese New Year banquet, hopefully to be realized sooner rather than later. 



Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. Chinese hot mustard (or 2 tbsp. water + 4 tsp. Chinese hot mustard powder)
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. honey or sugar

2 lbs. medium shrimp, shelled & deveined

Shredded Iceberg lettuce
Black sesame seeds
Lemon wedges

1. Combine all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl, stir well, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. 

2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil then add the shrimp; simmer for a few minutes or until the shrimp just turn pink (do NOT overcook). Immediately remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon to an ice bath (large bowl of cold water with ice cubes) to stop the cooking. 

3. Pour the shrimp and iced water through a colander, shaking out as much water as possible and removing any ice cubes from the shrimp; pour the shrimp into a medium bowl. 

4. Toss the shrimp with the dressing, plate on a bed of shredded lettuce and serve; if not serving right away, cover and refrigerate.

5. Before serving, sprinkle the top of the shrimp with black sesame seeds. Garnish with lemon wedges on the side, if desired. 


For the dressing: Chinese hot mustard, mayonnaise, honey, and sesame oil. 


Poach the shrimp briefly until they just turn pink. 


Remove the shrimp to an ice bath to stop the cooking.  

Toss the shrimp with the dressing.

 To serve: line a plate with shredded lettuce.


Plate the shrimp on top of the lettuce and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.  






Monday, August 6, 2018

Quick and Easy Pork Chile Verde

Normally I would make my own sauce for pork chile verde by roasting fresh tomatillos, Anaheim & Poblano chiles and blending them with sautéed onions, garlic, jalapeños, and green bell peppers https://thegrubfiles.blogspot.com/2012/06/pork-chile-verde.html. But when I'm short on time, this is a super quick and easy way of making this dish that still yields delicious results. 


5 lbs. pork butt or shoulder, trimmed & cut into large cubes
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 28-oz. can green enchilada sauce
1 4-oz. can diced green chiles
1 7-oz. can whole jalapenos
1 tbsp. tomato paste
4 cups water

Seasonings:
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. Mexican oregano
1 tsp. granulated garlic
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. sugar
(Do not add salt because the canned enchilada sauce & chiles are salted)

Shredded Mexican cheese blend and chopped cilantro for garnish

1. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the pork and cook until lightly browned. 

3. Add the scallions, cilantro and fresh jalapeno and stir to combine. Add the enchilada sauce, canned chiles, tomato paste and water and bring to a boil. 


4. Stir in the seasonings, reduce heat, partially cover the pot, and simmer for 2 hours until the meat is very tender, stirring occasionally.

5. Serve as-is or with rice and/or refried beans on the side. Garnish with shredded cheese and chopped fresh cilantro.

Chopped onion, scallions, cilantro, jalapeño, and garlic. 

Pork shoulder, cut into large cubes. 

Saute onion first about 4-5 minutes until translucent, then add the garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes  

Add the pork and cook until lightly browned.  

Add the chopped cilantro, scallion and jalapeño. 

Add the enchilada sauce, canned diced green chiles and canned whole green chiles. 


Stir in seasoning, bring to a boil, then partially cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Taiwanese Egg & Scallion Crepe (Dan Bing)

Dan Bing is a traditional Taiwanese breakfast/street food that is essentially a crepe with eggs and scallions, served alongside with a savory-sweet black vinegar & soy dipping sauce. I've fiddled around with this recipe for awhile and finally got the knack of cooking the crepes, which is actually super easy, so long as you cook each side long enough so they'll develop that signature crispy texture. My first try yielded slightly gummy crepes - um, yeah...not doing that again. Anyho0, these make for a very satisfying breakfast. I've even seen some non-traditional ingredients such as ham, avocado, even tuna (?!), added to dan bing, so feel free to embellish if you get a special hankerin'. 
  

Crepe Ingredients:
1 cup bread flour (all purpose flour is also ok)
4 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups water

6 large eggs
1 tbsp. sesame oil
4 tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. salt

3-4 scallions, chopped

Sauce:
2 tbsp. black vinegar
4 tbsp. soy sauce paste
2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil
1 clove garlic, grated

1. Place all the crepe ingredients together in a medium bowl and whisk until thoroughly blended. Set aside for 30 minutes.

2. Combine all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Stir well, cover, and set aside. 

3. Add the eggs, 1 tbsp. sesame oil, 4 tbsp. water and 1/2 tsp. salt to a measuring cup; whisk until well-combined; set aside.

4. Heat a 9" non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1-2 tsp. of oil. Stir crepe batter mixture, in case it has separated a bit; using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, ladle 1/2 cup of the batter over the hot pan and swirl to spread over the bottom. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the bottom of the crepe has started to lightly brown. Flip the crepe over and continue cooking another 2-3 minutes until just starting to brown. Remove the crepe to a plate and continue cooking the remaining crepes in the same way (this recipe makes a total of 6). 

5. Return a crepe back to the skillet, bubbly side down, and let heat for 5-10 seconds, flip over, then add 1/4 to 1/3 of the egg mixture over the top. Sprinkle a handful of the chopped scallions evenly over the egg. Let set for a few seconds, then quickly flip over the crepe with a spatula. Let the egg set for another 5-10 seconds, then flip over again. 

6. Remove the finished crepe to a plate. Carefully (crepe will be quite hot) roll up the crepe from one side to form a roll; set aside. 

7. Continue cooking and rolling up the remaining crepes the same way. 

8. Assembly: Slice each crepe into 2" pieces and plate. Garnish with additional chopped scallions and serve with the dipping sauce on the side. Best served hot.


Crepe batter: bread flour, cornstarch, water and salt. 


For the sauce: black vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce paste and sugar.


Mise en place, if you will.., 


Heat 1-2 tsp. of oil in a 9" non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Pour in 1/2 cup of the batter and swirl around until the batter is evenly spread. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the bottom of the crepe is lightly browned and doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan anymore.  


Flip the crepe over with a spatula (I like to use a fish spatula, which is longer than your average spatula) and continue cooking another 2-3 minutes or until the other side is lightly browned.  


Remove each crepe to a plate and set aside.  


Return crepe back to the pan (bubbly side down first for a few seconds), flip over, then pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the beaten egg mixture over the top. Sprinkle with a handful of chopped scallions.  


Flip the crepe over again and let the egg cook for 5-10 seconds until just done. 


Remove the egg crepe to a plate, egg side up.  


Carefully roll the crepe up like a jelly roll. It will be hot so watch your fingers! 



Slice each Dan Bing into 2" pieces and serve hot with the dipping sauce on the side.  



Sunday, July 29, 2018

Thai-Style Clams/Mussels with Chili and Basil (Paht Peht Hoy Lai)

This is a clam dish, but I've also substituted with mussels, which work just as well. Thai roasted chili paste is a traditional component, but short of that, you can just add chopped shallots, fresh chiles, and garlic as a substitute, which is what I used for this recipe. So good and so easy!


Ingredients:
2 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp. chopped garlic (about 6-8 cloves)
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
2 jalapeños or Fresno chiles, seeded and sliced
2 lbs. Manila clams, well scrubbed or mussels (scrubbed and debearded)
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1/2 tsp. sugar
3-4 cups Thai basil leaves (ok to substitute with regular sweet basil)

1. Heat the oil in a wok or large saute pan. Add the garlic, shallots and fresh chiles and stir-fry for 10-15 seconds or until fragrant.

2. Add the clams or mussels and 1/2 cup of water. Bring up to heat, stir, cover and cook 1-2 minutes or until they have opened.

3. Add the fish sauce and sugar and stir to combine. Add the basil, turn off the heat and stir well.

4. Serve with steamed white jasmine rice. 

Basil, fish sauce, dried chiles, chopped shallots, garlic and jalapeño chiles.  

Rinse and scrub the shells of the mussels or clams. To test if they are still alive, touch any open shells with your finger and if they don't close up, then they're dead and should be discarded. Shellfish should be stored in a bowl covered with a damp paper towel in the refrigerator not more than 1-2 days before using (do not soak in water). 

If using mussels, you might find a "beard" which is a clump of seaweed-like fibers coming out from the shell. Gently tug at and remove the "beard" before using.  

 Heat the oil in a wok or large saute pan. Add the garlic, shallots and fresh chiles and stir-fry for 10-15 seconds or until fragrant.

 Add the clams or mussels and 1/2 cup of water. Bring up to heat and stir.

  Cover and cook 1-2 minutes or until they have opened.

 Add the fish sauce and sugar and stir to combine. Add the basil, turn off the heat and stir well.


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Spaghettini with Corn, Tomatoes, Olives, Capers, and Basil Pesto

This recipe was inspired by the Basil Pesto Spaghettini with Corn & Tomatoes dinner kit that I received  more than a year ago from Blue Apron. Gil, the consummate carnivore, actually really liked this dish, so I adapted it and came up with this version. Btw, I used to get Blue Apron for weekday dinner preps, but I'm using Gobble now instead since there's less prep involved as they pre-chop all the veggies and meat. I love being inventive and making everything from scratch, but only on the weekends. 


Basil Pesto:
4 cups basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. pine nuts
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil

1 lb. thin spaghetti or spaghettini


3 cloves garlic, minced

2 lbs. grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup corn kernels (frozen is ok)
1 tbsp. capers, drained
5 Castelvetrano or other salt-brined mild green olive, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1. Make the pesto: Place the basil leaves, 3 cloves minced garlic, pine nuts and salt in a small 
blender or food processor; pulse until the ingredients are just blended. Stir in the olive oil by hand (do not blend as the olive oil may become bitter). 

2. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to a large saute pan or wok and heat over medium high. Add the corn kernels, 3 cloves minced garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant and the kernels slightly softened. 

3. Add the sliced tomatoes to the corn mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook 1-2 minutes until softened. Stir in the capers, chopped olives, and red pepper flakes.

4. Add the cooked and drained pasta then stir in the pesto. 

5. Plate and garnish with fresh basil and parmesan. 


Fresh basil, olive oil, grape tomatoes, pine nuts and garlic. 

 For the pesto: place the basil leaves, 3 cloves minced garlic, pine nuts and salt in a small 
blender or food processor; pulse until the ingredients are just blended. 
Stir in the olive oil by hand (do not blend as the olive oil may become bitter). 

Pour the pesto into a container and set aside. 

Basil pesto, capers, corn kernels and halved grape tomatoes. 

 Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to a large saute pan or wok and heat over medium high. Add the corn kernels, 3 cloves minced garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant and the kernels slightly softened. 

Add the sliced tomatoes to the corn mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook 
1-2 minutes until softened. Stir in the capers, chopped olives, and red pepper flakes.

Add the cooked and drained pasta.

 Stir in the basil pesto. 

Plate the pasta into individual serving dishes and garnish with 
parmesan cheese and fresh basil.