Cardamom-Lemon Chicken
Cardamom-Lemon Chicken

Cardamom-Lemon Chicken

This little dish very is Indian in spirit, although I don’t think I have ever actually seen cardamom paired with lemon zest in any of my Indian cookery books. The two flavorings do, however, work very nicely together with chicken and the result, using the spice blend and cooking method used here, makes for a novel twist on the ever-popular Indian restaurant favorite, Tandoori Chicken.


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Thai-Style Pork with Pineapple
Thai-Style Pork with Pineapple

Thai-Style Pork with Pineapple

A while ago, I reviewed the commercially prepared Jack Hua Brand Sour Shrimp Paste from Thailand. The culinary paste is primarily intended for making the perennial Thai restaurant favorite Tom Yum Soup, but I rarely use it that way and instead find it useful as a base for curries, or stir-fried dishes. Here, I have used the paste along with Pork and Pineapple in order to make a dish that is both sweet, sour, and pungent with the flavorings associated with a Thai Yellow Curry.


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Pork Rendang Thai-Style
Pork Rendang Thai-Style

Pork Rendang Thai-Style

A ‘Rendang’ is an Indonesian dish in which the main ingredient, usually a meat, is cooked slowly in spiced Coconut Milk until the milk has almost disappeared and the meat is supremely tender and infused with the flavors of the braising liquid.

Indonesian cuisine has its own range of preferred spices and my Rendang here departs from the traditional to give the dish a very Thai character. I have actually employed a spice blend that is typically used for the Thai specialty Tom Yum Soup, and, more particularly, I tried out a commercial product, the previously reviewed Jack Hua Brand Sour Shrimp Paste.


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Mushroom Fettucine with Truffle Oil
Mushroom Fettucine with Truffle Oil

Mushroom Fettucine with Truffle Oil

I always have a few cans of sliced or whole button mushrooms in my pantry. They are handy for adding to the sort of dish you throw together in a hurry at the last minute but, in all honesty, they do not have the depth or richness of flavor of fresh mushrooms. They are, it must be said, pretty much an ingredient of last resort rather than a first choice in most cases.

Truffle Oil is also one of those ingredients that pales in comparison to the ‘real deal’. It does have the advantage of convenience, and is SO much cheaper than fresh truffle, but it needs to be employed prudently. One use where it is very effective is in boosting the limited flavor of canned mushrooms in order to make a cheap, but special tasting pasta dish.


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Red-Cooked Pork with Dried Octopus
Red-Cooked Pork with Dried Octopus

This dish of Red-Cooked Pork with Dried Octopus illustrates a classic Chinese cookery technique known as ‘red-cooking’, in which the main ingredients are braised in a good Basic Chinese Chicken Stock enhanced with Soy Sauce and various aromatics. These ‘Red-Cooked’ or 紅燒 dishes derive their collective name from the dark, often reddish appearance that the Soy Sauce imparts.

Often, and especially in Cantonese cuisine, the aromatics include Star Anise, and sometimes cinnamon and orange peel, all of which add a very sweet background taste to the finished dish. Personally, I am not very fond of using 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.


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Steamed Pork Patty with Dried Squid Served over Rice
Steamed Pork Patty with Dried Squid Served over Rice

Steamed Pork Patty with Dried Squid

Back in the day, I had a Chinese room-mate who was newly arrived from Hong Kong. He wasn’t a terribly accomplished cook, but he had one dish in his repertoire that was truly delicious. This dish, featuring a Steamed Pork Patty with Dried Squid, produced copious amounts of umami-rich cooking juices during steaming that were terrific spooned over rice. The version here builds upon my room-mate’s simple recipe by including dried mushrooms for an extra flavor punch


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Eggs with Eggplant and Basil
Eggs with Eggplant and Basil

Eggs with Eggplant and Basil is Asian in spirit but doesn’t actually belong to any specific cuisine. It calls for the long, slender types of eggplant common to Japanese, or south-east Asian kitchens rather than the fatter, deep purple eggplants more familiar in the west. It could easily be served as a side dish as part of a more complex meal, or eaten alone as a snack or even a simple breakfast…


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Steamed Whole Tilapia
Steamed Whole Tilapia

Steamed Whole Tilapia with Ginger and Scallion

In western kitchens, fish is usually only cooked in fillets or steaks, rather than whole, and the cooking methods are primarily frying, deep-frying, or baking. In Chinese cuisine, however, fish is frequently steamed, both in pieces, and as a whole fish with the head and skin intact.

Here, whole Tilapia is given the traditional Chinese treatment by steaming it with ginger and garlic. As a final step, more ginger and also some scallion is added and hot oil is poured over everything just before service. The result is exquisitely aromatic and delicious.


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Three Shred Duck – 三絲鴨肉
Three Shred Duck – 三絲鴨肉

Three Shred Duck is a great way to use up leftover duck and it derives its name from the fact that the Duck meat is stir-fried with three other shredded ingredients… in this case, Carrot, Scallion and Celery. This very Chinese preparation is actually a good example of the type of stir-fried dish that is usually made to finish up the rest of the meat left after a meal of Peking (Beijing) Duck…


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Veal with Sweet Peppers and Mushrooms
Veal with Sweet Peppers and Mushrooms

The peppers in this Mediterranean-style dish of Veal with Sweet Peppers and Mushrooms are actually my own homemade Marinated Sweet Peppers. You can substitute with fresh, if you like, or even used a commercially prepared jar of roasted peppers, but the herb and garlic flavors of the marinated peppers work much better in this recipe.

Once tender veal strips are sautéed along with the peppers and seared button mushrooms, the result would be delicious served atop pasta, but is terrific with nothing more than thick ‘door-steps’ of crusty fresh bread…

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