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Beef and Sea Cucumber Dumplings

Beef and Sea Cucumber Dumplings 1

After making a dish using Sea Cucumber, I had a little under half of one left and I thought it might make an interesting textural component in a dumpling filling. I decided to use ground beef as the main ingredient and that I would cook the dumplings as Guōtiē (鍋貼), more popularly known as ‘Pot Stickers’ …  Read more

Experiment: Grilled Zucchini Pickle

Grilled Zucchini Pickle 1

I had a rather large zucchini leftover from a bunch I bought for other purposes and, being left home alone for the past few weeks while my wife is away, I decided to play around a little. A first, I thought I might do a pickle of some sort based on a minted vinegar (and I still plan to do so sometime), but then I decided to do something spicy in a vaguely Indian type of preparation that could be used as a side condiment, or even a ‘bread and butter’ type accompaniment.

Now, I will say at the outset that, though the result of this experiment was pretty, I did find that some tweaking is necessary. Accordingly, if you are inclined to play around with the basic idea yourselves, you may wish to read my notes at the end of this post…  Read more

Foodstuff: Sichuan Preserved Vegetable

Sichuan Preserved Vegetable 1

This particular foodstuff is something I have bought and used in a variety of different forms. The name on the can label, ‘Preserved Vegetable’ is further amplified in the Chinese script as being a Sichuan specialty, and one might be excused for thinking that the contents are any sort of vegetable that has been preserved in the style of Sichuan. In fact, any time you encounter the name ‘Sichuan Preserved Vegetable’, you are almost invariably dealing with a specific plant, sometimes known as a ‘Mustard Tuber’, which is fermented with salt and then quite heavily spiced, chiefly with chili paste or powder… Read more

Chili Beef with Pickled Cauliflower

Chili Beef with Pickled Cauliflower 1

The Pickled Cauliflower I made a little while ago turned out quite nicely and I was interested to see how it might be used as a cooking ingredient. The dish I came up with for today’s post is something of a fusion, incorporating a little of India, China, and the American Southwest. That being said though, I’m going to save you the trouble of scrolling all the way to the end-notes and tell you right away that the result was not quite as good as I hoped… Still, some of my readers might like to see what I did and suggest how it might be improved…  Read more

Foodstuff: Guyabano Nectar

Guyabano Nectar 1

The name ‘Guyabano’ meant nothing to me when I picked this beverage up at our local grocery store and I didn’t immediately recognize the picture on the can that shows a fruit somewhat resembling a Chayote with a nodular, almost spiny skin. As it turns out, however, ‘Guyabano’ is the Filipino name for what is elsewhere known as a ‘Soursop’ and some of my readers will recall that I tried Soursop Juice a while ago.

This particular product is a ‘nectar’ rather than a juice, which means it is made from a puree of the fruit with sugar added, and the taste experience was somewhat different. To my mind, this was very like a ‘creamy’ grapefruit juice but with a very floral aftertaste. One of my readers commenting on my Soursop Juice post likened the juice to Persimmon and I would tend to agree that there is a similarity, but without the rather nutty under-taste that Persimmons can have. Anyway, I rather liked it but I also found I just a little too sweet to be refreshing. It would, however, make an interesting cooking medium, I think, and I will report on any experiments along those lines.

For Iqaluit residents who would like to try this, it can be found at Northmart in the same aisle as the exotic foods…

 

Black Pepper Beef

Black Pepper Beef 1

The Chinese tend to prefer White Pepper for many preparations but Black Pepper does make the odd appearance (notably in some versions of Hot and Sour Soup), and it goes very nicely with Beef. Today I am doing a quick stir-fried dish using these two ingredients and I am also adding both zucchini and button mushrooms. However, you could easily replace these vegetables for all sorts of other combinations if you like… Read more

A ‘Murta-Dilla’ ?

Murtadilla 1

The rather whimsical name of today’s feature comes from the fact that it is something like a cross between a Quesedilla and he lesser known mid-eastern/south-east Asian snack known as a Murtabak. I wasn’t actually planning this dish with a blog-post in mind (I was just hungry) but it began to get interesting as I worked on the idea and so I thought I would share…

Anyway, a proper Murtabak uses a raw flat-bread dough (of the Roti type) folded to enclose a thick filling of meat, eggs, or whatever you like, which is then griddle fried. This particular version, like a Quesadilla, uses a prepared Tortilla as the wrapper, but it incorporates cheese with a spicy beef mixture and is folded Murtabak style before being grilled…  Read more

Bok Choy with Braised Mushrooms

Braised Bok Choy with Mushrooms 1

I actually put this little side dish together as a side for a leg of lamb I intended to roast but when I opened up the plastic wrapper it had clearly gone off. As a last minute substitute, I ended up braising a piece of flank steak in a little broth with some lemon juice and capers.

I often pan-fry up bok choy and add some mushrooms, most commonly as part of an Asian meal, but here I have used western seasonings and, in a switch from my usual practice, I gave the mushrooms a long braise in chicken stock with garlic first. The result, much more than simply frying the mushrooms, makes them deliciously tender and meaty…  Read more

Cauliflower Pickle

Cauliflower Pickle 1

I often buy a commercially made pickle consisting of sections of gherkin, cocktail onions, and cauliflower florets with turmeric as a main flavor component. The cauliflower is my favorite part but I usually find that there are too few pieces in each jar and, with most brands, they are often just a tad too sweet. Accordingly, I made a batch of pickle containing nothing but cauliflower, just a little sugar, and a spice blend to suit my own taste…  Read more

Red Cooked Pork with Dried Octopus

Red Cooked Pork and Octopus 1

Red Cooked, or 紅燒 dishes, are, as I have explained in previous posts, those in which the main ingredients are braised with soy sauce, giving them a dark, often reddish color. One encounters pork cooked this way with dried squid from time to time and I originally intended to do that here but, on discovering I had run out of squid, I decided to use some dried octopus I happened to have on hand instead. This dish, whether with squid or octopus, is not one you will find on many restaurant menus but is rather more of a rich, home-style preparation. Normally, especially in Cantonese cuisine, red-cooked dishes are spiced with Star Anise, and possibly cinnamon, orange peel, or the like. I am not fond of the addition of the sweeter aromatics in dishes of this type so I am omitting them here and have instead added just a little dried chili and Galanga, both of which you might find in Sichuanese interpretations.

By the way, the process for reconstituting and preparing the octopus for cooking is largely the same as that for Dried Squid, so you may want to take a look at my earlier post on that topic. Also, you really ought to look at my notes at the end of this post before trying this dish yourselves…  Read more

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