Pad Woon Sen

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. glass noodle a.k.a. mung bean noodle
  • 1 onion or leek, sliced thin
  • 2 cups thinly chopped cabbage, brussel sprout or bean sprout
  • Other thinly chopped veggies of your choice: mushroom, carrot, celery, or whatever you have that isn’t a leafy, soggy green
  • Shrimp, chicken or tofu
  • 2 eggs
  • 4-8 minced garlic cloves

Sauce

  • ¼ c. water
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
  1. Soak glass noodle in very warm water for 5-10 minutes until soft. Cut into 4" bunches with scissors. Drain.
  2. Heat some oil over medium high heat. Add garlic until golden brown. Sautee veggies until almost done. Add shrimp/chicken/tofu and sautee until almost done.
  3. Make room in the center of the frying pan, add 2 beaten eggs and scramble quickly.
  4. Make room in the center of the frying pan, add noodles. Pour sauce on top of noodles, stir until well mixed. Stir well with ingredients for another 2-4 minutes until liquid is soaked up and noodle is tender. Serve.

OR you can sautee the veggies and meat separately, then put it in a large pot. Fry eggs, add to pot. Then sautee the noodles with the sauce. Mix into large pot. Serve.

Stir fry tofu

  • container extra-firm tofu , cut into 24 triangles
  • tablespoons soy sauce
  • tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  1. Whisk glaze ingredients in small bowl; whisk sauce ingredients in separate small bowl. In third small bowl, mix garlic and ginger with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. Set bowls aside.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. While oil is heating, sprinkle cornstarch evenly into baking dish. Place tofu on top of cornstarch and turn with fingers until evenly coated. When skillet is hot, add tofu in single layer and cook until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn tofu with tongs and cook until second side is browned, 4 to 6 minutes more. Add glaze ingredients and cook, stirring, until glaze is thick and tofu is coated, 1 to 2 minutes. 

Thai red curry

New version (August 2020)

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2-4 Tbsp red or panang curry
  • Basil
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • Fish sauce
  1. In a wok or saute pan, bring 3/4 cup of the coconut milk to a boil and let it reduce until it’s thick and creamy, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the curry paste, and keep stirring for a few minutes until it gets really thick and aromatic.
  3. Add brown sugar, and kaffir lime leaves if using, then cook it for a minute or so.
  4. Add meat/seafood and toss it with the curry paste. You want to separate the pieces quite quickly so they will cook evenly.
  5. Once the meat is about half way cooked, add the rest of the coconut milk and stir just until the meat is fully cooked.
  6. Add pre-blanched veggies and take off heat. Add a splash of fish sauce.
  7. At this point if it looks too dry and you want something a little more saucy, you can just add a splash of water.

Old version

  1. In a medium saucepan, sautee 2.5 tbsp red curry paste in olive oil over medium heat until aromatic (~2 min).
  2. Add ½ can coconut milk and whisk into the curry paste, so the curry paste breaks up.
  3. Add ¼ can water (or clam juice).
  4. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Add ¼ tsp fish sauce and 2 tsp sugar.
  6. Add vegetables, meat or seafood once curry is simmering. Add the items that take longest to cook first, then add the quick cooking items, so as not to overcook them.
  7. Cook until vegetables, meat or seafood is done.
  8. Serve with rice.

Chinese tea eggs

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On a recent visit to SF Chinatown, street vendors were selling Chinese tea eggs as a Chinese New Year specialty. I decided to make my own as a treat for myself since eggs are one of my favorite foods. I adapted from a few recipes I saw online and came up with my own method for the recipe.

I love eggs and eat them like candy if I can’t help myself, so I decided to up the recipe to 10 eggs and soft boil them with my tried and true method – cover eggs in room temperature water in a pot, high heat for 10 minutes, then rinse eggs under cool water.

The main variation in my recipe was inspired by my desire to multi-task. The longer you simmer the eggs, the more flavorful they get, but I wasn’t about to sit around for 2 hours watching the stove and adding more water to my simmering egg + tea leaf mixture, so I bought the tea leaf mixture to a boil and threw everything into a crock pot (slow cooker). 15 hours later, I had the best tea eggs I’d ever tasted – the yolks were infused with the flavors of the tea and spices, while the whites were perfectly marbled and pretty (my friends think it looks like a dinosaur egg in my photo).

Storing the tea eggs is important, too. I didn’t want the eggs drying out, so I put them into a large glass jar and covered them with the remaining liquid mixture. This way, as they keep in my fridge, they will derive more flavor from the liquid!

The tea eggs are delicious as a snack or in ramen and I love how they look. I’m keeping the leftover liquid for my next batch.

Japanese curry in 2 meals

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My latest obsession is Japanese curry. I had it at Curry House in Cupertino and looooved it so very much. Of course, new obsession means I’m going to cook it at least a dozen times until I perfect it.

You can make Japanese curry from the S&B curry bricks or make your own curry roux base and freeze it. Either way, you’ll have curry bricks ready to melt into water for a quick meal anytime!

Above, I made a simple ground beef and onion curry over whole wheat spaghetti. I topped it with sauteed thick slices of zucchini, my favorite gourd, which is an idea I got from a Japanese curry restaurant I went to. One of the topping options was zucchini and it tasted great with the curry! This took about 20 minutes total.

Below, I had potato and onion curry over some of my leftover char siu fried rice from a few days prior. Very simple and helped me get through my leftovers.

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Wontons, shui gao and ramen

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Every time I tell my friends I eat ramen a lot, they seemed shocked because I’m the active chef amongst us. However, my ramen is often a feast!

The most important part of a delicious ramen meal is to start out with a good brand of ramen. Choosing ramen can get to be a lengthy process as there are different types of noodles, flavors and even the difference between the “instant” cup/bowl varities and bags is great. Here are my favorite kinds:

  • Korean Nong Shim shin ramyum – a thicker noodle with a spicy soup. I usually only use half the soup packet otherwise my mouth is on fire and I can’t taste anything.
  • The classic Chinese CQYD by Nissin – a delicious, more typical ramen style noodle that doesn’t get soggy if it sits in the soup for a while. There are at least a dozen flavors and XO Sauce is by far my favorite.
  • Sau Tao ho fun – a thin, flat rice noodle with a great soup base. Mushroom or chicken abalone are delish!
  • Matsuda rice vermicelli noodles also hold up well and have a good soup base, but I buy them in the bag and not instant bowl.

A good bowl of ramen wouldn’t be filling without wontons or dumplings of some sort, so I make my own wontons and shui gao (water dumplings). I usually go nuts and make them in bulk, then freeze them for future consumption. Quick recipes as follows:

Wontons

My family made wontons on occasion when I was a child, so I’ve followed what I remember of my parents recipe with some of my own modifications. This will make roughly 2/3-¾ of a package of wonton skins.

  • ½ lb. lean ground pork
  • ½ lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined (I buy the frozen shelled and deveined shrimp at Costco)
  • 3 baby bok choy (a.k.a. Shanghai bok choy)
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp. sesame oil
  • ½ tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp. sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of white pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten into mixture

Chop up the bok choy so it fits into a food processor. Turn it on “chop” until you get small pieces, but not too fine. Do the same with the shrimp, being sure you have peanut sized pieces and not shrimp paste. Stir together in a large bowl with the ground pork; add seasonings, mix well. Beat in egg until well incorporated. Then follow this awesome tutorial by Rasa Malaysia on how to wrap a wonton. Voila, you’re done!

Shui gao recipe is pretty much the same, except I add more shrimp than pork. Maybe 2/3 lb. shrimp, 1/3 lb. pork. I also add in about half a finely shredded carrot and 3 finely chopped shitake mushrooms. Don’t add beaten egg, though. Wrap with shui gao wrappers, which are round instead of square like wonton wrappers, and finish with a shui gao press (you can buy this at an Asian discount store for $1).

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Adding the chopped up bok choy to your wontons or shui gao adds a fluffy, lightly crunchy flavor to the dumpling. Recipes usually call for 1 tbsp. of cornstarch to achieve this, but I like the taste of the bok choy. Freezing the dumplings are easy – just freeze them on a plate in a single layer for an hour to two, then throw them all in a ziploc freezer bag. To cook, just add to boiling water until they float, which indicates their doneness.

So back to the ramen. I add a bunch of extras to my ramen to make a whole meal out of it – some fish cake, wontons and/or shui gao, enoki mushrooms, seaweed and poached egg. This makes a hearty meal that’s also quick and easy!

My friend Joe asked me about the cost per serving of my ramen.. I calculated it out to be roughly $1.25 for each meal. A bowl of ramen at my favorite ramen shop is ~$9 with tax and tip.

Char siu fried rice & garlic honey eggplant

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I haven’t made fried rice in a while and was inspired this past Sunday afternoon as I was strolling through Chinatown. I went into my favorite to-go shop and got 1 lb. of char siu, chopped up. The fried rice was made loosely following Rasa Malaysia’s Chinese fried rice recipe with the following changes:

  • Substituted overnight fried rice with fresh cooked rice that was cooled down on a cookie sheet
  • Instead of all the crazy sauces, I just put 2 tbsp soy sauce and ½ tspn sugar
  • For veggies, I chopped up ½ lb of baby bok choy I had leftover from making wontons and ½ cup frozen vegetables blanched in boiling water
  • 1 lb of bite size char siu, fat removed

My favorite part of the Rasa Malaysia recipe is the “egg well” that produces the perfect, fluffy, bite sized pieces of egg in the fried rice. With all my ingredients, my fried rice was pretty delicious and I made enough for leftovers and lunches this week.

The stuff surrounding the fried rice is garlic and honey glazed egg plant. I salted the eggplant slices and let them dehydrate on a paper towel for 15 minutes – this is important because it reduces the water content of the egg plant and also removes some of the bitter flavor. Next, I brushed the eggplant lightly with honey and sauteed them in olive oil that had slices of garlic. This imparted a nice sweet and garlicky flavor to the eggplant and was healthy!

Miso eggplant

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Inspired by the cheapness of eggplants at the market, I decided to try my hand at miso eggplant from this recipe. Everything was fine, except the following changes:

  • 2 cups of miso mix for 4 eggplants? No way. I didn’t know what to do with 2 whole cups of the miso mix and decided to distribute it evenly over the eggplants. WAY TOO SALTY. Ended up scraping off the excess miso and eating the eggplant with a touch of the miso. I would suggest half the miso mix or double the eggplants next time.
  • Pan seared the eggplants in a sautee pan first, instead of broiling them pre-miso basting.

I’d make this again, maybe even with different vegetables like zucchini.

Chicken tikka masala with potatoes

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My favorite Indian dish is tikka masala because I love rich, creamy foods that have a hint of spice. When I moved to San Francisco, the Costco’s in the area started carrying Maya Kaimal Indian sauces, which included a quart of tikka masala. Most recently, they renamed it to butter masala. Still the same sauce though.

The tikka masala is very easy to prepare – start some rice in the rice cooker, boil some potatoes until they are soft, lightly sautee some chicken until it is half cooked, pour in the tikka masala sauce and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thicker.

I used baby russet potatoes which have a soft, creamy texture that mixes well with the chicken and rice. A quick meal after work!