Stir-fried nian gao

Adapted from The Woks of Life

Ingredients:

  • some marinated meat (I used leftover chicken dumpling filling)
  • 1 pound rice cakes (I had frozen from my aunt)
  • 8 ounces baby bok choy
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3 scallions, cut diagonally in 2.5 cm pieces
  • shiitake mushrooms (I had fresh! from SkyFoods)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1/2-3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Marinate the julienned protein with light soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, vegetable oil, and cornstarch for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Rinse the rice cakes and drain. If using fresh or frozen rice cakes, you do not have to soak or thaw them. Only soak (according to package instructions) if using dried rice cakes.
  3. Thoroughly wash the baby bok choy. Drain, shaking off excess water. If using baby bok choy, separate into individual leaves. Also prepare the garlic and scallions.
  4. If using fresh mushrooms, slice them thinly. If using dried shiitake mushrooms, save the soaking liquid.
  5. Place your wok over high heat until it begins to smoke lightly. Add the vegetable oil to coat the wok, and add the pork and garlic. Cook until the pork turns opaque. If using mushrooms, add them now and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the scallions, bok choy/cabbage, and Shaoxing wine. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, and move everything to the center of the wok to create an even “bed” of vegetables and meat. Distribute the rice cakes on top (this prevents them from sticking to the wok).
  7. Add water (or mushroom soaking water for extra flavor). Depending on how hot your stove gets, you can add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup. Cover, and cook for 2 minutes to steam the rice cakes and cook the vegetables.
  8. Remove the cover, and add the sesame oil, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, white pepper, and sugar. Stir-fry everything together for 1 minute over medium heat. Taste, and season with additional salt if necessary. Continue stir-frying until the rice cakes are coated in sauce, cooked through but still chewy. Plate and serve!

Apparently, stir-fried rice cakes are known in Chinese as “chao niángāo” (炒年糕), which is different from the sweet nian gao “cake” that is also traditional New Year’s fare. We substituted with ground chicken because of dietary preferences in the party, and we had some leftover carrot matchsticks from the summer rolls. This would have been an even more elaborate dish to make, but thankfully there was a real wok! And thankfully there were multiple hands on deck to help with the preparation. No one had ever tried something like this before, so it was a fun experiment! ^_^

~Jessica

Vietnamese summer rolls

Adapted from Rasa Malayasia

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz (115g) rice noodles or rice vermicelli (or Maifun rice noodles)
  • 4 oz (115g) peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 2 leaves fresh lettuce, sliced
  • 6 sheets Vietnamese rice paper
  • 2 oz (56g) carrot, peeled and cut into matchstick strips

Thai peanut sauce:

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons ground peanuts
  • salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Add some water to a pot and bring it to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook per the package instructions, stirring occasionally (10 minutes approximately). Drain and rise under cold water, set aside.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the Peanut Sauce together in a small bowl. Whisk it to mix well. Transfer to a dip bowl and garnish with the peanuts.
  3. In another small pot, bring some water to boil. Cook the shrimp for about 1 minute, or until the shrimp are completely cooked. Drain, let cool, and slice in half lengthwise. Set aside.
  4. Divide the vermicelli, shrimp, lettuce and carrot into 6 equal portions.
  5. To assemble the summer rolls, dip one sheet of the rice paper in a big bowl of water. Shake off the excess water and quickly transfer it to a clean, dry and flat working surface, for example, kitchen countertop or a chopping board.
  6. Place the rice noodles on the bottom part of the rice paper.
  7. Add the sliced lettuce and carrots.
  8. Place 3 shrimp halves on top.
  9. Fold the bottom side of rice paper over the filling securely, then fold the left and right sides of the rice paper over the filing. Make sure the filling is secured tightly.
  10. Continue to roll the summer roll over, until fully wrapped. Repeat the same until everything is used up!
  11. Cut the Summer Rolls diagonally in the middle into halves, place them on a platter, and serve immediately with the Peanut Sauce.

We made the hoisin version of the peanut sauce, but I kind of missed a little Thai peanut sauce flavor! I know, fusion. Jesse’s sister made them really well (see photos).

~Jessica

Homemade ramen

Adapted from Damn Delicious

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (peanut oil works too)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (missing!)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms (also had homegrown oyster mushrooms)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine
  • 3 (5.6-ounce) packages refrigerated Yaki-Soba, seasoning sauce packets discarded*
  • 2 bok choy
  • 8 slices Narutomaki, optional*
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions

Directions:

  1. Place eggs in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Cover eggs with a tight-fitting lid and remove from heat; set aside for 8-10 minutes. Drain well and let cool before peeling and halving. (I might revise and post a different soft boiled egg direction because ours came out hard boiled!)
  2. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and scallions whites, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Whisk in chicken broth, mushrooms, soy sauce (and seasonings) and 3 cups water.
  4. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until mushrooms have softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in Yaki-Soba until loosened and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. (I used different noodles, which got sticky! Flavor still amazing though.)
  5. Stir in bok choy, Narutomaki (wish I had, got Vietnamese hot pot pork balls instead), carrot and scallions until the greens begins to wilt, about 2 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately, garnished with eggs.

This was perfect for a cold winter’s meal. I wanted to use these fresh Chinese noodles I had, but they might have been not the most suitable. I will use real yakisoba noodles next time — Sun Noodles’ Shoyu and Miso flavors are good! Other classic ramen toppings I really love: Chāshū (sliced barbecued or braised pork), Seasoned Soy soft-boiled egg (“Ajitsuke Tamago“), Bean sprouts, Menma (lactate-fermented bamboo shoots), Kakuni (braised pork cubes or squares), Kikurage (wood ear mushroom), Nori (dried seaweed), Kamaboko (formed fish paste, only the pink and white spiral is called narutomaki), Corn, Butter, and Wakame (a different type of seaweed). Wiki I also grew my own oyster mushrooms — a gift from a friend for my classroom (pre-pandemic).

Next time for the eggs, I will 1) leave the eggs in the fridge until the water is boiling and 2) Prepare an ice water bath and 3) marinate them in soy sauce-sugar-mirin-sake for 2 days.

~Jessie

Stir fry noodles with bok choy

img-20170116-wa0034Adapted from mao mao mom

500 g Chinese noodles (I used fresh wheat)
3 splashes of soy sauce, 1 glug of vegetable oil
olive oil
1 bunch green scallions
garlic, ginger, chili (all chopped fine)
90 g shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
2 small carrots, julienned
400 g baby bok choy, separated into leaves
salt, white pepper, broth
2 glugs of sesame oil

Cook the fresh noodles in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain noodles and return to pot. Mix with the soy sauce and oil and “brown” the noodles on medium heat.

Heat oil in wok, and saute the scallions, chili, ginger, and garlic on high heat for 30 seconds. Add carrots and stir fry. Add mushrooms and stir fry. Add bok choy and stir fry. Season to taste with salt, pepper, broth.

Remove from heat, add the noodles, season with sesame oil, and toss. Serve hot.

~Jessica

Bun Chay

Bún Chay (Vietnamese Noodle Salad). Adapted from smitten kitchen and Cooking with a Wallflower

4-8 ounces dried rice sticks or vermicelli
12-18 large shrimp
peanut oil

Sauce
1 lime, the juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons water
4 cloves garlic, minced
ginger, finely grated
6 tablespoons natural unsalted peanut butter
Chili pepper/chili paste, miso, Asian fish sauce, mirin (rice vinegar, if you can find it)

Greens
mixed greens
1 small carrot, thinly sliced
2 small cucumbers, thinly sliced
handful of mixed herbs, coarsely chopped or torn (basil, mint, cilantro)

Garnish
2 tablespoons peanuts, roasted and chopped
Small Thai or Serrano chiles, thinly sliced, to taste
scallions
toasted sesame oil
Lime wedges (to serve)

Make the dipping sauce: Whisk ingredients in a small serving bowl, dissolve the sugar. Leave for 15 minutes. Refrigerate extras and use within a few days.

Cook the noodles: Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then turn off the heat. Add the rice vermicelli and soak for 7 to 8 minutes. (Package directions may vary; check for doneness by tasting.) Drain when noodles are al dente, and cool under running water. Fluff and leave in strainer to drain well.

Toss vegetables with 1 spoon dipping sauce in a small bowl. Divide the cooked noodles among 4 – 6 bowls. Top each bowl equally with vegetable mixture and chopped marinated protein. Toss each bowl with 2 teaspoons of each the dipping sauce and dressing, or more to taste. Add the herbs, peanuts and scallions to each bowl and serve with additional dressing and dipping sauce on the side.

Sesame noodles with chili oil and scallions

Following Gastronomy Blog, adapting Bon Appétit.

4 scallions, thinly sliced
vegetable oil
red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, Sichuan pepper
700 g ramen noodles (I used mung bean thread, aka cellophane/glass noodles)
35 g tahini (sesame seed paste)
60 mL rice vinegar (I used diluted black vinegar dumpling sauce )
soy sauce, sugar, toasted sesame oil, to taste

IMAG5538

Fry scallion whites, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and Sichuan pepper in oil over low heat, stirring occasionally, until oil is sizzling and scallions are golden brown, 12–15 minutes. Let chili oil cool, set aside. Cook noodles until al dente; drain and rinse cold. Drain. Set aside. Whisk together tahini, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and the chili oil (to taste) in a large bowl; season with salt. Add noodles and toss to coat. Top with scallion greens and drizzle with more chili oil.

~Jessica

Peanut sesame noodles

Adapted from smitten kitchen and Ming Tsai

For the peanut dressing
creamy peanut butter (I had Dutch PB! Less sweet than the USA)
soy sauce
chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
rice vinegar
toasted sesame oil
honey
Dijon mustard
coarse ground coriander (if you have it, I did not)
canola oil
dried red chili flakes or a splash of your hot sauce or chili paste

Toss with:
500 g  soba noodles (spaghetti will work in a pinch, cooked and rinsed)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
1/2 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
firm or extra-firm tofu, cubed (I didn’t have this time)
sesame seeds, toasted
chopped roasted peanuts for garnish (I didn’t have this time)

Mum’s Instructions:
Cook your skinny pasta, then rinse cold. In the meantime, mince 2 cloves of garlic, and soak them in 2 tablespoons of water. Mix your sesame sauce with water  and keeping stirring until it thins out. In another small bowl, mix soy sauce and rice vinegar, sugar. Julienne the cucumber and carrots thin. Toss the noodles in a bowl, then pour in the sesame sauce, then add the rest including your veggies. N.B. The noodles should be chilled before you mix in the sauces. Served cool, it’s the perfect meal for summer dining!

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My mum’s version

IMAG4042

My version

Alas, mum wins!

~Jessica

Chicken, bok choy, and shiitake chow mein

Adapted from Ming Tsai

cornstarch
shaoxing wine
oyster sauce
grated ginger
4 scallion whites, save the greens for garnish
black pepper
sambal oelek, or some red chili paste
250 g skinless chicken meat — I prefer the leg/thigh meat
sesame oil
Canola oil to cook
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
6 (shiitake) mushrooms, quartered
chicken stock
4 heads baby bok choy, core out, sliced
200 g blanched and refreshed egg lo mein noodles

FYI, Sambal ulek/oelek is a bright red, thin, and sharp tasting raw chili paste. Didn’t have shiitake so used regular brown button mushrooms, and egg ramen instead of the proper chow mein.

~Jessica

Singapore takeout noodles with cucumber

Adapted from Ming Tsai and smitten kitchen

Protein
100 g baby shrimps, without shells, deveined, rinsed and drained
125 g turkey strips
soy sauce
Chinese rice wine
cornstarch
ground white pepper

Aromatics
finely grated ginger, thumb-size
minced garlic (from 1 medium-large clove)
scallions

Vegetables
bean sprouts
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 onion, julienned
1/2 cucumber, thinly julienned

200 g dried noodles (rice noodles would be ideal)
2 eggs, scrambled

At the end
toasted sesame oil, plus a splash to loosen noodles
Chinese sesame paste & peanut butter & brown sugar & Chili-garlic paste
2 pinches of Madras curry powder
A handful of chopped fresh herbs, e.g. mint and cilantro, to garnish

I used egg ramen noodles, cooked and rinsed cold. Tried substituting a little miso paste instead of sesame to whisk with the peanut butter. Cooked the vegetables except the cucumber, which I added raw at the end. I lacked bean sprouts, scallions, and cilantro, unfortunately!

~Jessica