Posted in Recipes

Soy-Pickled Cucumber

Soy-pickled Cucumber 1

Today’s post is really just the result of me playing around with a number of different pickling recipes from both Chinese and Japanese cuisine. In many cucumber pickles, small ‘dill-pickle’ sized ‘cukes’ are used, and the pickling is by way of lactic acid fermentation for at least part of the process. Here, I am using large, seedless, English cucumbers and I am ‘quick-pickling’ using rice vinegar as the agent, and soy sauce, ginger, sesame seeds and rice wine for seasoning… Continue reading “Soy-Pickled Cucumber”

Posted in Notable Nosh

Notable Nosh: ‘Mandoo’ (Korean Dumplings)

Mandoo

I eat at Korean restaurants about once or maybe twice a year. I have rarely had dumplings during a Korean meal and, quite honestly, don’t particularly associate dumplings with Koran cuisine at all; Mostly, I think, because they most often appear on the menu under the name ‘pot-stickers’ or the Japanese name ‘Gyoza’. A lot of Korean restaurants will include Chinese, Japanese, or Thai items on the menu, and the dumplings I have seen in these places are generally the fried ‘Guo Tie’ or ‘Wor Tip’ variety that are commonly called pot-stickers, and it is never suggested that they are a Korean ‘thing’ at all…

At Alirang, a tiny, but excellent Korean restaurant in downtown Ottawa, they had dumplings described on the menu as ‘Mandoo’  (Korean Dumplings) … I have seen the name Mandoo in cookery books before, or in its more common variant ‘Mandu’, and the Wikipedia entry for the term suggests that the word refers to a wide variety of native Korean dumplings. In truth, I don’t think this is the case as the word clearly descends from the same root as ‘Manti’ (central Asian dumplings) and ‘Mantou’ (Chinese steamed buns) … In the inset in the above picture, I have shown the menu entry, which includes Chinese characters for the name. These solve the issue a little as they translate as ‘Korean style fried dumplings’ and suggest more a Korean twist on a standard Chinese classic rather than a purely Korean delicacy.

Anyway, whatever the origin, these were pretty decent , except that the wrapper dough was a bit thick for this type of dumpling and would be more appropriate for boiled or even steamed. The Chinese characters specify ‘jiānjiǎo’ which actually means ‘pan-fried’, but these ones were clearly deep-fried and quite oily, although I don’t mean this as a criticism as these were, as I say, pretty darned decent. The filling was ground pork and cabbage that didn’t seem to be seasoned with anything except a little salt, but the simplicity of this worked very well and the overall effect was very flavorful. They may not be truly a traditional Korean delicacy … but who cares 😊

Posted in Recipes

Deep-Fried Baby Octopus

Deep-Fried Baby Octopus II 1

In my recent ‘Foodstuff’ post featuring Baby Octopus, I did a quick little dish to try them out in which I deep-fried them whole with a seasoned coating. Today’s recipe is also a deep-fried appetizer style dish but I changed the approach very slightly: The last time, I fried the octopuses whole (except for the heads) and I used a fairly heavily seasoned cornstarch to coat them. This time, I decided to try marinating in order to influence the flavor (and perhaps the texture), and I tried using non-glutinous rice flour rather than cornstarch… Continue reading “Deep-Fried Baby Octopus”

Posted in Recipes

Chili Basil Squid

Chili Basil Squid 1

Not long ago, I posted about a lovely appetizer I had in an Indian restaurant called ‘Calamari Manko’, and I mentioned I wanted to try and reproduce it at home. I also said that I would be unable to employ the fresh curry leaf used in the original, but I mused that Thai Basil might work. Unfortunately no fresh Basil has been available around these parts of late but, as per another post, I thought that a little Thai Chili Paste with Holy Basil might work nicely. I gave it a try and the result was pretty darned decent … Continue reading “Chili Basil Squid”

Posted in General

Foodstuff: Fish Maw – 魚肚 (or 魚漂 or 花膠)

Fish Maw 1

The picture above shows what appear to be three very different things but, in fact, they are just different forms of a product used in Chinese and South-East Asian cookery, and commonly referred to as ‘Fish Maw’. The word maw actually means stomach, or gullet, and, as such, the term for this product is a bit of a misnomer as it is really the ‘Swim bladder’ of certain bony (non-cartilaginous) species of fish. The swim bladder, is a gas filled sac that lies in the belly and allows the fish that possess them to maintain and control buoyancy at different depths.

As with a number of products in Chinese cookery, this item is used primarily for its texture. Some sources state bluntly that it has no taste of its own but, like tofu, takes on the flavors of other ingredients in a dish. In fact, it does have a certain, mild, ‘fishiness’, but it is still the texture that is important. It is rich in collagen, which not only gives a pleasant texture itself, but the collagen will dissolve into soups and braising liquids to lend added richness.

Several species are harvested for their bladders (Yellow Croaker is a favored type), but I do not know what from what fish any of the ones you see picture were taken… the packages I have, all written exclusively in Chinese characters, are silent on that point… In any event, the two basic forms are the plain dried article (the yellowish things at the bottom right of the picture), and the sort that consists of the same thing that has been deep-fried before being packaged for sale… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Fish Maw – 魚肚 (or 魚漂 or 花膠)”

Posted in General, Recipes

Spicy Bagoong Prawns

Spicy Bagoon Prawns 1

Almost five years ago now, I posted a recipe for a Prawn Curry that was my take on a dish I first ate as a small child. That dish, mostly Indian in character, incorporated Belacan to enhance the rich prawn flavour and used tomato to make a thick sauce. Today, I am using some lovely giant prawns to make something similar, except that I am using Filipino Bagoong instead of the fermented dried shrimp paste, and producing a result that is less a ‘curry’ than a spicy, stir-fried dish… [ Continue reading “Spicy Bagoong Prawns”

Posted in General, Recipes

Spiced-Soy Pork

Spiced Soy Pork 1

Today’s recipe is something of an experiment and you may want to read the notes carefully. The Chinese classic ‘Dong Po Pork’ is one of my all-time favourite dishes in Asian cuisine but, as unctuous and decadent as it is, it tends to contain a lot of sugar, which is something I try to avoid these days. Accordingly, I wanted to try something along the same lines but not so diabetic unfriendly. It is still basically pork-belly red-cooked in soy, but I have played around with the flavourings and needed to make an adjustment or two to the technique… Continue reading “Spiced-Soy Pork”

Posted in General, Recipes

Pan-Asian Lamb

Pan-Pacific Lamb 1

I’m really not sure how to classify today’s dish… It draws heavily on the Rendang style of curry in that the main ingredients are cooked in coconut milk which is reduced to form a very thick sauce but beyond that, it has a little bit of India and other parts of east and south-east Asia. The name, admittedly, is not very inspired, but it turned out nicely… Continue reading “Pan-Asian Lamb”

Posted in General, Restaurants

Review: Sai Woo – Vancouver

158 East Pender Street, Vancouver

Sai Woo 1

Date of Visit: July, 2017

I was first tempted by Sai Woo because of their interesting menu. It is clearly Asian inspired, and features some traditional fare such as Cantonese Dried Shrimp Fried Rice, but the majority of the dishes are fusions of ingredients and techniques from both east and west. The place has had some good reviews but, after my visit, I was left a little underwhelmed… Continue reading “Review: Sai Woo – Vancouver”

Posted in General, Recipes

Home-made Cantaloupe Sauce

cantaloupe-sauce-1

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”