Dry fried string beans

Adapted from Woks of Life

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound string beans (I only had ½ lb)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns (didn’t have)
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • A few dried red chilies, deseeded and chopped (optional)
  • 4 ounces ground pork (or chicken) — I didn’t have…
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon dark soy sauce (optional, mostly for color)
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Trim the tough ends off the string beans, and then cut them in half (each piece should be about 3 inches long). Wash them and pat them thoroughly dry with a kitchen towel to get rid of any water.
  2. Heat ¼ cup of oil in a wok over medium high heat, and shallow fry the string beans in two batches. They are done once they appear wrinkled and slightly scorched. Use a strainer to remove the string beans from the wok and set aside.
  3. Once all the string beans are shallow fried, turn off the heat. Scoop the oil out of the pan, except for 1 tablespoon. Turn the heat down to low, and add in the Sichuan peppercorns, ginger, garlic and dried chilies (if using). Stir-fry for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
  4. Next, add in the ground pork, turn up the heat to high, and stir-fry quickly to break up the pork and brown the meat slightly. Add in the fried string beans, Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and sugar. Toss everything well, and season with salt to taste. Stir-fry everything over high heat until any excess liquid has cooked off, and serve!

I had leftover string beans from when I thought I would cook them in the coconut curry. For the meat, ground pork (or chicken) — I didn’t have any, so I cooked some of my grandmother’s Shanghai-Style soy sauce-braised Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou) alongside. My grandmother comes from Sichuan province, though.

Cheers,
Jessie

Indian chai masala

Adapted from LMU München. This chai Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk (I used ⅔ cup of half and half)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Black tea bags (looseleaf preferable)
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • Cloves (didn’t have, grated some cinnamon stick instead)
  • sugar, to taste

Directions:

In a saucepan, heat 1 cup milk and 1 cup water on low heat, together with 5 cardamom pods and a few cloves. Then, add a black tea (best looseleaf is Indian or African) and cook over medium heat until the color is a caramel-brown. Add sugar to taste, bring to a boil again, and enjoy on a rainy day with savory pastries!

Fun Fact: “In many Indo-Aryan languages, chai or cha is the word for tea. This comes from the Persian چای chay, which originated from the Chinese word for tea 茶 chá.” (Wikipedia) Hearing about masala chai in grad school, I always thought it peculiar how similar the word sounded to the Mandarin word. If I really wanted to up my game, masala chai is “traditionally prepared as a decoction of green cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, ground ginger, and black peppercorn together with black tea leaves” (Wiki).

~Jessica

Coconut curry chicken

Adapted from Woks of Life and Tyler Florence and Damn Delicious

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons Ghee (I used butter)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • One 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoons Curry Powder (I used Garam masala)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 to 3 dried red chiles (I used red pepper flakes)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 400mL can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cups chicken stock (I used soup greens cooked in water; included parsnip, turnip, dill, parsley, carrot, onion, celery, leek)
  • 4 bone-in organic chicken thighs
  • handful of string beans
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 lemon, juiced (I subbed with 2 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar)

Directions:

  1. Heat the Ghee (butter) in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the diced onions, grated ginger, and smashed garlic and cook slowly until the onions are very soft, about 15 minutes.
  2. While waiting, I diced some red potato to add in. Add the curry powder and chili flakes and give it a good stir; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour in the coconut milk and chicken stock (water) and bring it back to a simmer; cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, chicken, cilantro, and half the lemon juice; continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. I added some slices of green bell pepper and a handful of string beans here (seemed more apropos then sugar snap peas).
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro and mint leaves.

I halved this recipe. My puopuo (mother’s mother) gets canned goods at the local senior citizen community center in Jackson Heights, so what better way to make this. I like to take the canned beans she gives me and make rice and beans in the rice cooker. This time I just cooked plain jasmine rice, after 2 rinses. Next coconut curry I make, I’d like to try the Penang (Thai) red curry. I wanted to add peanuts, but couldn’t find any raw ones at Fine Fare, so I stirred in a bit of peanut butter (Thanks puopuo!) instead.

Merry Christmas Eve,
~Jessica

Ginger fried rice II

Adapted from The Woks of Life

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Heat your wok over high heat. Add ¼ cup oil to the wok and heat over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and fry until fragrant (the color will darken, but the ginger will not necessarily become crisp). Next, add the garlic. It should be lightly toasted; if it’s still white in color, it needs more cooking time. In total, it will take about 10 minutes time to cook the ginger and garlic.
  2. Next, turn the heat up to high and add the rice to the wok. Stir-fry the rice so the ginger-garlic mixture is evenly distributed. Spread the rice out in one layer so it can evenly toast. Occasionally stir-fry the rice and re-spread it. Next, season the rice with the soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and white pepper. Continue to stir-fry for another 3-5 minutes.
  3. Next, pour the eggs evenly over the rice, and stir-fry quickly to distribute. The egg will coat the grains of rice, and you’ll have egg throughout instead of large clumps. If you’d prefer to pre-scramble the eggs and then stir them in at this step, you can do that too.
  4. I added some frozen vegetables (green peas to be exact) and pieces of soy sauce-stewed chicken my grandmother made.
  5. Add the scallions, stir-fry to combine, and serve!

I didn’t have shrimps. I ran out of scallions. I have been trying to be healthy cooking at home instead of always eating frozen dinners or Starbucks. It is hard though!

~Jessie

Korean kimchi

Adapted from Sara Moulton

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head napa cabbage (about 1 pound)
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp sweet or hot paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper
  • 3 medium scallions
  • One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove

Directions:

  1. Trim off the core end of the cabbage. Split each leaf lengthwise and cut it crosswise into 1 1/2 inch ribbons (about 4 cups). Combine the cabbage and salt in a nonreactive bowl and set aside at room temperature for 2 hours.
  2. Bring the vinegar, sugar, paprika, and cayenne to a boil over high heat in a small saucepan.
  3. Meanwhile, finely chop the bell pepper (about 1/2 cup) and transfer it to a medium bowl. Trim and thinly slice the scallions (a heaping 1/3 cup) and peel and Microplane-grate the ginger (about 1 tablespoon); transfer each to the bowl with the bell pepper as it is prepared. Press the garlic (about 1 teaspoon) into the bowl.
  4. Drain, rinse, and thoroughly dry the cabbage; add it to the bell pepper mixture along with the vinegar mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Pack the kimchi into a nonreactive bowl or jar, cover, refrigerate until you are ready to use it. Kimchi will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 week.

I use apple cider vinegar in making Korean Kimchi. It’s good — I like all of these pickled veggies, no cooking oil, no fat, just fresh vegetables. I made Kimchi with julienned carrots (as a sub for the red bell pepper). First I salted the Napa cabbage in a big pot and put a heavy plate on it, with added weights on it, so it will sweat more water out of it — for 4 hours or longer is fine. Also I used store-bought Kimchi first: after I finished the jar, then I could used the leftover sour juice for starter, as a shortcut. It came out pretty good! No need to spend big money to buy it packaged every time. I don’t eat Kimchi often, but once a while with my homemade fried rice, it’s a good combination in taste.
~Kai-ling

A side of kimchi with pork fried rice

P.S. Also I have heard that Kimchi and sauerkraut are good fermented foods: “Sauerkraut is essentially fermented cabbage… During the fermentation process, beneficial probiotics, or ‘live bacteria’ are produced, and these probiotics are what give sauerkraut most of its health benefits. Sauerkraut is a good form of dietary fibre and contains vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium and phosphorus.” (BBC Good Food)

Crispy pan-seared salmon fillet

Adapted from Food Network and Serious Eats and Damn Delicious

Ingredients:

  • cornstarch
  • soy sauce
  • a pinch of raw sugar, if you have it
  • minced ginger
  • minced garlic
  • honey
  • .785 lbs (350 g) salmon fillet
  • sriracha sauce

Directions:

  1. Mix the marinade, and marinate salmon for 30 minutes or more in a glass bowl.
  2. Bring the salmon to room temperature 10 minutes before cooking.
  3. Warm a large nonstick skillet with olive oil/butter over medium-low heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper.
  4. Raise the heat to medium-high until oil is shimmering. Place the salmon, skin-side up in the pan. Press firmly in place for 10 seconds, using the back of a flexible fish spatula, to prevent the skin from buckling. Cook until golden brown on 1 side, pressing gently on back of fillets occasionally to ensure good contact with skin, until skin releases easily from pan, about 4 minutes. Turn the fish over with a spatula, and cook until it feels firm to the touch and the skin is crisp if desired, about 3 minutes more.
  5. The skin can be served or removed easily with a knife or spoon.
  6. Transfer to a plate and serve as desired.

We served it with rice and spinach, but I would have really liked it with some broccoli and roasted potatoes. Also we removed the skin, but it browned beautifully.

~Jessica

How to pan-fry frozen dumplings

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With frozen dumplings, either prepared or homemade, you can boil the dumplings by 1) adding the dumplings to the pot, waiting for the water to re-simmer, adding a cup of water, wait to re-simmer, repeat again with another cup of water, then serve immediately as they float to the surface.

But the tastier version is to fry-steam them. Following Amber’s methods, pour some vegetable oil in a non-stick pan, coating the bottom thinly. Add your dumplings (I usually eat seven at a time) and allow them to fry over medium heat until golden brown on the bottom. Get your lid ready. Add a couple spoonfuls of water per dumplings, or enough to cover the bottom of the pan, and cover immediately, as splattering will commence. Steam them until most of the water is gone, which you will be able to hear. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Shou-wen’s Dipping Sauce
For the dipping sauce, I chop some garlic, boil some peanut oil until sizzling, then add the garlic to the oil. Pour the sizzling garlic oil on some dry chilli powder. Serve.

My dipping sauce
Slice thin some ginger, add some sesame oil, sliced scallions, and enough soy sauce.

~Jessica

Kombucha tea

Best summed up by The Kitchn

Ingredients to brew Kombucha:
4 cups of filtered water, then 8 cups of cool filtered water
6 bags of black tea (6 grams of loose tea)
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of “starter tea” from last kombucha brew (if you have it)
1 active Kombucha SCOBY

Equipment:
Stock pot to sterilize bottles
1 gallon glass jar
organic cotton cloth / bag
six swing-top bottles w/ caps – 16.9oz, Amber Glass
glass measuring cup

Directions:

  1. Boil four cups of water.
  2. Add the cup of sugar and dissolve it in a glass receptacle.
  3. Steep the tea bags in the sugar water for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Measure out the eight cups of cool water into your gallon glass jar (emptied and cleaned and rinsed).
  5. Add the four cups of tea to the gallon jar.
  6. If you have two cups of “starter tea” from the last kombucha brew, add it to the gallon jar.
  7. Once the gallon jar is room temperature-cool, slip your scoby into the gallon jar.
  8. Cover the jar with an organic cotton cloth, secure with twine / rubber bands, and set aside in a warm place out of direct sunlight. Ferment for 7 to 10 days.
  9. After seven days, taste the kombucha daily until the sweet-tart flavor is balanced to your preference.

Ingredients to bottle brewed Kombucha:
orange, ginger, lemon, lime, berries, mint, etc.

Directions for second fermentation/bottling:

  1. Prepare fresh tea (as directed above) for your next batch.
  2. Take out the scoby with cleaned hands (rinsed well). Remove the bottom (momma) scoby layer to give away to a friend or toss or save for back-up. Set aside the top (baby) scoby carefully for your next batch in a glass receptacle.
  3. Set aside two cups of this kombucha homebrew as “starter tea” for your next batch.
  4. Pour the fermented kombucha into your sterilized (5 minutes boiled) bottles.
  5. Add sliced flavorings (see above) to bottles — experiment! Leave 1.5 cm. head space in the bottle before capping.
  6. Prep your next batch: clean the gallon jar after emptied. Combine the 4 cups tea, 8 cups cool water, 1 cup sugar, and 2 cups of “starter tea” in the gallon jar. Slip (newest) scoby carefully into jar.
  7. Store these bottles at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 2-4 days, and pop the cap open each day to release excess carbonation.
  8. Refrigerate to stop fermentation. Drink within a month.
  9. Repeat

I picked up a scoby from a kombucha-brewing friend (Amber) and used regular Lipton tea bags and white sugar (my grandma saves them from her senior community center in Queens). Avoid any teas that contain oils, like earl grey or flavored teas. Avoid touching metal, especially aluminum. Peel off the bottom (oldest) layer every few batches. Can’t wait to try a berries and mint combination, as recommended by a friend!

~Jessica

White-cut chicken with ginger-scallion oil

IMG_20180106_205206.jpg

(bái qie ji) Adapted from KQED Food and The Woks of Life

Ingredients:

  • One 3-4 lb. free-range chicken, at room temperature
  • 2 whole scallions, cut into large pieces
  • 5 slices ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt, plus more to season the chicken
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons finely minced scallion (white and light green parts only)
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • salt
  • soy sauce (optional)

Directions:

  1. Clean the chicken inside and out, removing any innards, rinsing with cold water. Optional: Rub salt liberally inside and out and sit for 1 hour. I didn’t.
  2. Fill a large pot with water full enough to cover at least ¾ of the chicken. Bring the water to a boil, and add the smashed ginger, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of salt. Place the chicken in breast side up, cover, and bring to a boil. Switch it to low heat and let simmer for 45 minutes.
  3. Flip the chicken, cover it and cook on low heat for some more time. Test if the chicken is done, insert a chopstick near the thigh. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done. To lift the bird out of the pot, slip 2 chopsticks beneath the wings and lift up. Let cold water run over the chicken for a minute or so “to cool the skin off quickly to give the chicken skin a “crunchy” texture.”
  4. Pat the bird dry and rub with the sesame oil. Allow it to cool for 30 minutes before cutting — I started cooking late, so I just let it cool as long as it took to make the dipping sauce and boil some potatoes (my carbs for the meal, because I didn’t have a rice cooker).
  5. Prepare the dipping sauce by heating the vegetable oil just until it starts to smoke. Pour it over the scallion, ginger, and salt, and mix together. Serve with the chicken immediately.

My friend Peggy highly recommends this recipe for times of sickness — I saved the broth afterwards, and it made a pretty tasty soup! I boiled some rainbow potatoes from Trader Joe’s for 10 minutes in the broth, to make the meal a bit heartier. Stay warm!

~Jessica

Budget Meals: Day 5

Ingredients:
6 eggs $0.99
1 medium carrot $0.25
1 medium green zucchini $0.82
4 red onions $0.98
1 small yellow squash $0.40
Ginger $0.54
Total: $3.98
2 packages udon noodles
roasted peanut oil / sesame oil + vegetable oil
Kosher salt + freshly ground pepper
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced diagonally
3 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions
Thinly slice red onions, ginger. Slice thinly into sticks 1/2 carrot, 1/2 yellow squash, 1/4 zucchini. Saute onions and ginger and carrots in vegetable oil. Add the two squash, and cook, stirring.

In a separate pot, boil water and cook the udon for 1-2 minutes. Drain and add to the vegetables. Mix thoroughly. Season with soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. Add a spoonful of cornstarch mixed with cold water, to form a slurry. Set aside

Scramble two eggs with chopsticks in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in some green scallions. Fry separately in a little oil in a pan. Add to the rest of the stir fry. Serve immediately. Serves 3-4.

Redoing my sister’s udon with tofu and bok choy, this is my budget version. I had a bag of frozen edamame lying around, so I tossed that in the stir fry. My kingdom for some crushed red pepper flakes!

~Jessica