Monday, March 26, 2007
My mother saw these Kao Fu (i.e. wheat gluten) and fresh bamboo shoots when we were out grocery shopping at some Asian markets, and she suggested that I try them because they are very tasty. She said that Kao Fu is often served with black mushrooms, but I didn't have any on hand. I cooked them with soy sauce, star anise, vegetarian Asian barbecue sauce, 1 dried red chili cut, and a small piece Chinese brown cooking sugar candy because I wanted a soy sauce based flavor that was a bit spicy and had a hint of sweetness. The resulting dish sort of tastes like a chewy soy-flavored Asian stuffing.
Recipe adapted from http://wokwithme.blogspot.com/2006/07/kao-fu-braise-wheat-gluten.html
1 fresh bamboo shoot
1 package kao fu (wheat gluten)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp Asian vegetarian barbecue sauce
1 star anise
1/2 tsp Chinese brown cooking sugar candy
1 tsp sesame oil
Raw bamboo shoots are indeed very bitter; I tried a small piece and it left a bitter hairy taste in my mouth for at least 30 minutes. To remove the bitterness, fresh bamboo needs to be boiled. First remove the tough fibrous outer leaves and cut off the root ends. Boil for 40 to 50 minutes. After boiling, sliced the inner part. Fresh bamboo shoots taste similar to baby corn.
Meanwhile, pan-fry the fresh kao fu in peanut oil because it will give it a bouncy, resilient texture that can with stand the braising, whereas without frying the texture will become soggy and fall apart. (If you have dried kao fu, you will need to rehydrate it by soaking it in water first.) Drain on paper towels.
Add kao fu, sliced bamboo shoots into a large pan. Add about 2 cups water, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 star anise, 1 tsp vegetarian Asian barbecue sauce, 1 dried red chili cut in half, and 1/2 tsp Chinese brown cooking sugar candy (or sugar if you don't have it) because I wanted a soy sauce based flavor that was a bit spicy and had a hint of sweetness. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour until there is little liquid left. While braising, turn the kao fu over every once in a while so that the can absorb the braising liquid evenly. The dish is done when there is little liquid left in the pan (you can raise the heat to help evaporate some of the liquid if necessary). Add 1 tsp sesame oil just before serving. Can be eaten either hot or cold.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I really enjoy the a spicy cold tofu noodle appetizer that is served at some Chinese/Taiwanese restaurants and occasionally at dim sum. The "noodles" are actually tofu that has been shaped into long thin strands. The dish is so spicy that it makes the edges of your lips burn slightly and you can see the orangeness of the oil on the plate. It is a very simple dish; its main components are the spiciness that comes from using hot chili oil, the contrasting cool temperature of the dish, and the chewiness of the tofu.
I found some tofu noodles in a Taiwanese grocery store, and I wanted to make this; however on the Internet I could only find lots of vegan recipes which use tofu noodles as a replacement for regular noodles. So I made my own version. I wanted to add sliced black fungus but I didn't have any on hand, so I toasted some black sesame seeds and used those instead.
- tofu noodles (i.e. tofu that is cut in a noodle shape)
- Chinese hot chili oil
- a small dash soy sauce
- a pinch finely ground white pepper
- sesame oil
- toasted black sesame seeds or sliced black fungus that has been soaked in hot water
Use the freshest tofu noodles that you can find. You can use the tofu noodles right out of the package. Add enough chili oil to make the dish very spicy (Add slowly because chili oil is usually very strong); the chili oil should be the main flavor of the dish. Use only a dash of soy sauce so that the dish is salty but not colored brown from the soy sauce (salt will probably be unnecessary). Add a small amount of sesame oil and a pinch of white pepper. Mix together the ingredients to taste. Add toasted sesame seeds or sliced black fungus that has been soaked in hot water until its soft. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight so that the tofu can absorb the flavors.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Recipe: From Saveur Magazine February 2007, based on Anahid Krichian's recipe at her Armenian bakery and deli, Krichian Armenian Foods, in Paterson, New Jersey.
Status: Made once.
I made this because the tahini in the recipe sounded really interesting--I've only used tahini in hummus, so I was curious what this tasted like. It resembles a sesame flavoured cinnamon roll.
1 package (7-grams) active dry yeast
3 cups plus 1 tsp sugar
5 cups flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups well-stirred tahini (sesame seed paste)
Stir together yeast, 1 tsp sugar, and 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl; set aside to let rest until frothy, 8-10 minutes. Stir together flour, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl, then add yeast mixture, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and 1 cup water; stir into a rough dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Nestle dough into a large bowl greased with remaining oil. Cover with plastic wrap; let sit in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into 2 balls, cover with a towel, and let rest for 10 minutes. Working on a lightly floured surface with 1 ball at a time, roll dough out into a 25" circle (keep remaining dough covered). Gently spread half the tahini evenly over the dough and sprinkle with half the remaining sugar. Make a 1" hole in the center of circle and begin rolling and stretching inner lip of dough hold toward outward edge of dough to create a large, rolled-up "doughnut". Cut doughnut into 6 equal ropes. Tightly coil each rope so that it resembles a cinnamon roll, then flatten each with your hand into a dough round on a lightly floured surface. Roll out each round into a 7" circle, then transfer the circles to parchment paper-lined baking sheets, keeping them spaced apart. Let rest while you repeat the process with the remaining dough. Mist each round of dough generously with water and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
I came up with this salad while I was on my weekly shopping excursion to the farmer's market. To make this salad for one person:
- mixed greens
- 2 or 3 quail eggs
- 1 blood orange
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
Hard boil 2 quail eggs. When eggs are cooked, immerse them in cold water to cool. When cool, peel eggs, and cut in half.
Wash and dry some mixed greens (I used a winter mescalin mix).
Cut a couple slices crosswise from a blood orange. Remove the rind from one orange slice and separate the sections into small triangles.
Make a balsamic vinaigrette (1 part Balsamic vinegar, 2 parts olive oil, plus salt and pepper) and squeeze the juice from two slices of blood orange into the vinaigrette. Taste and adjust the seasonings of the vinaigrette, if necessary.
Just before serving, toss the triangular orange pieces, mixed greens, and vinaigrette together. Transfer the salad greens to a plate. Arrange a slice of blood orange and the eggs on top of the salad.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Recipe: My mother's
Rating: One of my childhood favorites
Status: Made many times.
My mother made this soup for me almost every week in high school; I probably ate gallons of the stuff. It is a very lightly flavored soup; in fact, the chicken stock is diluted with water, so that even that flavor isn't too strong. If you prefer stronger soups, then you should use no extra water and add extra soy sauce.
It should be served pipping hot. The napa cabbage is what gives most of the the flavor. The white pepper adds a bit of spiciness in the back of your throat, which is especially good if you have a sore throat. It has the aroma of sesame oil if you add it just before serving. Like many soups, this soup improves in flavor on the second day.
1/2 daikon radish
1/2 napa cabbage
1 quart chicken stock, preferably light-colored
1 quart water
a pinch ground white pepper (about 1/8 tsp)
1 to 2 tbsp soy sauce
a dash of sesame oil
1/4 ginger root, peeled and cut into slices
salt to taste
mushrooms (e.g. Chinese black mushrooms, shiitake)
3 to 4 dried scallops, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes (optionally you can break them into pieces)
clear mung bean vermicelli noodles or udon
a few Tbsp of Chinese cooking wine (or white wine)
Cut daikon radish into bite sized pieces (don't cut it too small). I like to quarter the radish, and then cut the quartered sticks into slices about 1/4 an inch thick.
Napa cabbage contains a lot of water, so you want to use about half of the cabbage because it will boil down significantly. Remove the outer leaves of the napa cabbage. Pull off about half the leaves and wash them. If the leaves are wide, then vertically cut them in half or into thirds. Cut into 1 inch wide pieces. All parts of the cabbage can be eaten, except for base and the dark green tops (if it has any) of the outer leaves because they are bitter. Using both the white and light green parts since it adds a nice variety. The leaves from the heart of the cabbage are especially good because they are very delicate.
Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes to an hour. As the soup cooks, it should reduce by about 1/4 to 1/3. If it reduces more than this and the taste becomes too strong, you can add more water. When you are done cooking the soup, add the sesame oil. Taste and adjust the seasonings (especially make sure there is enough salt and white pepper).
Can be serve immediately or up to a week later if refrigerated. Serve the soup hot, and with a fresh drizzle of sesame oil. Don't forget the sesame oil! It's aroma adds complexity and is important for this dish. More soy sauce can be added at the table to adjust the taste individually.
The soup is best served with either clear vermicelli noodles or udon, and also fish balls, but it can also be served without these ingredients. To prepare the vermicelli noodles, soak them in hot water for 10 minutes and then boil them briefly in the soup and serve. If you do add clear noodles, you should only add the amount that you will eat, because they will absorb water in the soup over night and become bloated. Fish balls can be bought in the frozen section of Asian supermarkets. To serve, defrost them either by setting them out on the counter for a while, or if you are in a rush you can run luke warm water over them. Boil them in the soup until they expand, puff up a bit, and are hot inside.
Optional variations that will add a lot of flavor: dried lilly flowers, and/or the spiral shaped dried bamboo. (Rinse either of these before adding them to soup.)