Month: February 2017

Simple Kimchi

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When most people hear ‘Kimchi’, they tend to think of the most common variety made with Napa Cabbage. In truth, though, many things are pickled to make Kimchi and, even with the cabbage variety, there are thousands of versions, from the simple to highly complex. Beyond the cabbage, and, of course, chilli, there can be other vegetables added (scallions, for example), and the umami quotient is often enhanced with some sort of sea product. This can be in the form of Korean Salted Shrimp, oysters, anchovy essence, whole dried anchovies, or even fish guts.

Today, I am preparing a very simple cabbage version using just chilli and scallion. I am departing from the most common method of adding chilli, which is usually done by making a paste from powdered chilli, water, and generally rice powder, or even, in some cases, wheat flour. Instead, I am doing what some recipes do, and using Gochujang, or Korean Chili paste, which carries its own umami punch. I will be adding this to my cabbage a bit later than is common for a couple of reasons. First, while I am fairly confident, having regard to the ingredients list, that there are no preservatives in my commercially made paste that will inhibit fermentation, I am not taking chances. Also, the paste is already fermented and the chilli and rice flour don’t need further fermentation to develop their flavors…. Continue reading “Simple Kimchi”

Shrimp and Pork Stuffed Mushrooms

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Combining shrimp with pork is quite common in Chinese cookery and a well seasoned blend of ground pork and chopped shrimp is one of may favorite dumpling fillings. That being said, I wanted to experiment with the typical filling for dishes that don’t include the carb load of a dumpling wrapper and today’s post shows you the first of a few little ideas I tried… Continue reading “Shrimp and Pork Stuffed Mushrooms”

Mint-Jalapeño Salsa

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I first put together the prototype of this sauce for use as a condiment with some grilled lamb skewers. I liked the result very much and, since making the first batch, I began to think of other ways it might be used. It is very simple to make as well as being versatile, so I thought I would share the basic recipe with you today… Continue reading “Mint-Jalapeño Salsa”

Scallop Clusters

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The technique used in the preparation of these little appetizers is very much like the Japanese ‘Kakiage’ style of Tempura. However, I have departed from the Japanese roots a little by combining chopped scallop meat, not only with shredded Wakame seaweed, but also some finely diced Chinese Preserved Sausage. I still want to play around with the basic theme in variations to come, I think, but the result here was very good indeed … Continue reading “Scallop Clusters”

Chrysanthemum Chicken

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One of my oldest cookery books, ‘The Great Book of Chinese Cooking’ contains a recipe for something it calls ‘Chrysanthemum Chicken’; so named, apparently, because the appearance is supposed (with some poetic license, one presumes), to resemble the bloom of that particular flower. Now, I have to say that, as far as I am concerned, any such resemblance in that regard is a faint illusion at best. Moreover, every other recipe for Chrysanthemum Chicken I have ever come across derives its name from the fact the Chrysanthemum petals, or greens, are used as an ingredient, and not because of any particular floral quality in the presentation. Anyway… today’s dish is inspired by that old recipe and, though I have departed from the flavorings a little, my result looks quite a bit like the picture of the original…  Continue reading “Chrysanthemum Chicken”

Sad news on the farm front…

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On December 5th, my wife discovered that one of her cows had delivered a calf. As it was male (and thus destined for the butcher in about 18 months), she named if ‘Mignon’, as in ‘Filet Mignon’. Her other cow was also obviously pregnant too and there were high hopes it would be a female ( which would be a ‘keeper’ to increase the herd). I was promised that I would have the honor of naming it when the happy day arrived…

Anyway, just a few days ago, Darlene called and excitedly reported a new calf, female this time. Unfortunately, I won’t get the chance to name it as the poor little thing didn’t make it.

As sometimes happens, the bull kept interfering with the mother and calf, making nursing difficult. My wife kept an eye on things but. later in the day she went out and couldn’t see the calf. Tragically, it had fallen into a (very cold) brook. She managed, after a great deal off effort, to pull it out and then she actually took it into the house to try to keep it warm. … No luck, though, the little thing died shortly after. Not a good day 😦

Home-made Cantaloupe Sauce

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Years ago, I was intending to make Plum Sauce, but ended up using cantaloupe as there were no decent plums available at the time. In fact, other fruits are often substituted for the plums in commercial versions of the sauce and, ‘VH’ , the brand with which I am most familiar, while containing some plums, actually lists pumpkin as the primary fruit ingredient.

Last week, when the urge to whip up a batch came over me again, I could have chosen plums, if I wanted, as there were some nice ones available but, instead, I opted for cantaloupe again. The end result is every bit as good as using the traditional plum (hard to tell apart, in fact), and it is a good deal simpler to slice and dice a single melon than it is to peel and destone a crap-load of individual plums… Continue reading “Home-made Cantaloupe Sauce”

Kung Pao Dragon & Phoenix

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As I have mentioned before, any dish with ‘Dragon and Phoenix’ in the title generally means that it is made with shrimp and chicken. I put together this particular combination in order to show you the use of my homemade Simple Chili Oil as a dish ingredient rather than as a condiment and I have called it a ‘Kung Pao’ dish even though I stray from the traditional cookery methods a little. In the proper Sichuanese versions of Kung Pao cookery, chilies are fried in very hot until almost black, and the result is a characteristic scorched chili flavor with which the other ingredients are infused… my homemade oil definitely has that quality Continue reading “Kung Pao Dragon & Phoenix”

Simple Chili Oil

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I always like it when I eat at Asian restaurants and they provide each table with jars of the simple sort of Chili Oil that includes a thick layer of chili flakes at the bottom of the red-hued oil itself. It may not always be made in-house, but, home-made or not, a basic Chili Oil without any additional flavorings (like garlic, ginger, or Sichuan peppercorns, for example) is one of my favorite table condiments. You can cook with it too, of course, but I especially enjoy the unctuous, toasted chili flavor when it is drizzled over boiled Chinese dumplings… Continue reading “Simple Chili Oil”