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

Scallion ginger shrimp

Adapted from The Woks of Life

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound shrimp (450g, peeled and deveined)
  • 4 scallions (cut into 2-3 inch lengths)
  • 10 thin slices fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or canola or vegetable oil)
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing Wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 dash soy sauce (optional but we added)

Directions:

  1. Defrost your shrimp (I had them in the refrigerator) and give them a quick rinse, checking them for any veins. After they are defrosted and clean, place them into a colander to drain well. Pat them dry with a paper towel.
  2. Cut the scallions into 2 1/2 inch pieces and slice the ginger to about 1/8 inch thickness. Heat the oil in your wok over medium heat and spread the ginger across the wok. Let it fry in the oil for about 20 seconds to infuse the oil with all that great flavor, and immediately turn up the flame to the highest setting.
  3. Next, add the scallion ends and the middle green parts of the scallion. Give everything a quick stir and add the shrimp. Let the shrimp sear for 20 seconds and add the wine, sesame oil, salt, white pepper, and pinch of sugar.
  4. Add the remaining green portion of the scallions and stir-fry until the shrimp is just cooked through. Add in the dash of soy if using, and give everything a final toss. Plate and serve immediately.

I wanted to practice run through this recipe before using it for Lunar New Year next weekend. It was so quick, once your assemble all your seasonings, almost as quickly as making these ramen noodles, whose sauce is better than the original ramen recipe I tried myself. Jesse’s review: “They’re tasty.”

~Jessica

Chinese savory pancake

Adapted from The Woks of Life and Roti ‘n Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, julienned
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 small green pepper, julienned
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 scallions or Chinese garlic chives, chopped (if you have)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 cup flour, depending on egg size
  • a dash of corn starch
  • soy sauce (1 tbsp oyster sauce, if you have)
  • salt and 1/4 tsp white pepper, to your liking
  • 1/2 tsp. five spice powder (if you have)
  • vegetable oil and a little butter

Directions:

  1. Wash the carrot and bell pepper, dry. You can use a grater, if julienning carrots is hard.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the grated vegetables with ¾ teaspoon of salt. Let sit for 15 minutes, and you’ll see visible veg juice at the bottom of the bowl, which we will keep.
  3. Now mix in the eggs, chopped scallions (if you have), ground white pepper, sesame oil, sugar (optional), and about all-purpose flour. (I tried oat flour for gluten free, in the photos).
  4. If you feel like you need more flour (this could depend on the size of the eggs, for example), add it 1 tablespoon at a time. The final batter should look similar to breakfast pancake batter.
  5. Use medium-low heat, add the vegetable oil and a little butter. If you have, sprinkle sesame seeds over the top and cook each side until lightly golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side.
  6. Repeat.
  7. Serve with a simple soy dipping sauce, chili oil, etc.

It smells very good! And it’s all vegetables. Jessica tried it with some sour cream, like a potato latke! Would love to try to zucchini version of this (instead of just carrot and onion).

~Kailing

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

Shrimp fried rice

Adapted from Just One Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 6 shrimps (100 g or 3.7 oz; shelled and deveined)
  • 1 leaf iceberg lettuce (30 g or 1 oz)
  • 1 green onion/scallion
  • 2 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (canola, etc)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil (roasted)
  • 1 tsp sake (subbed with Shaoxing wine)
  • ¼ tsp kosher/sea salt (use half for table salt)
  • 2 cups cooked Japanese short-grain rice (preferably day-old cold rice)
  • ⅛ tsp white pepper powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Cut shrimp into ½ inch (1.3 cm) pieces.
  2. Cut iceberg lettuce and scallion into small pieces.
  3. Gently whisk the egg in a small bowl.
  4. Heat wok until surface almost smoking, add the oil and spread it around till it coats the surface evenly. Add the egg and cook over high heat. The egg will not stick to the pan as long as you put enough oil. Quickly mix it with a spatula and when it’s 80% cooked, take it out and put on a plate.
  5. In the same wok, add shrimp and then sake and salt. Cook until shrimp change color outside. The inside doesn’t have to be cooked through at this time. Take shrimp out onto the plate.
  6. Add sesame oil and cook scallion, stir until nicely coated with oil.
  7. Add the rice and break up the chunks of rice. Toss the wok and mix well together.
  8. When rice is coated with oil, put the egg and shrimp back in the wok again and toss all together. Add lettuce, white pepper, freshly ground black pepper, and soy sauce. Toss the wok frequently and mix it all together. Serve immediately.

But just in case anyone forgets, limit your seafood intake (if you’re concerned about mercury, by all means), because of this: Will the ocean ever run out of fish? I’m a huge fan of TedEd videos, especially in education. Feel free to sub with chicken, or tofu instead, just make sure to marinate the chicken well ahead of time (salt and pepper, minimum), or fry the tofu. Consumer decision has huge influence on overfishing practices. I used 1/4 lb. of “sustainably farmed” shrimp (although Thai — carbon footprint) from Whole Foods, used 2 eggs instead of just one, and subbed the sake with Shaoxing rice wine. Probably could have used 2-3 lettuce leaves for more veg.

~Jessica

Turkey kofte

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

Kofte Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 fresh red chili
  • 50 g. pistachios
  • 3 sprigs cilantro
  • 3 sprigs parsley (omitted)
  • 3 sprigs mint
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 large egg
  • 500 g. ground turkey
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Chili sauce ingredients: (I recommend halving this)

  • 4 ripe tomates
  • 2 small onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 jalapeno chilies
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. tomate paste
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Tahini yogurt:

  • 250 g. Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. tahini
  • 1 squeeze of lemon juice

Turkish pilav:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves. garlic
  • 300 g. bulgur wheat
  • 400 ml. hot chicken stock
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 80 g. broken rice vermicelli
  • 100 g. can chickpeas

Directions:

  1. Finely grate the courgette, trim and finely chop the spring onions and green chilli, then chop the pistachios. Pick and finely chop all the fresh herbs.
  2. Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan until smelling fantastic. Meanwhile, lightly beat the egg.
  3. Mix all the kofte ingredients together in a large bowl, keeping some pistachios back to garnish, then season well.
  4. With wet hands, form 16 kofte, each the size and shape of a small egg. Leave in the fridge to firm up for at least 30 minutes, then thread onto metal skewers, two kofte on each.
  5. Cook the kofte under a grill or over a flame charcoal grill, on high for 12 minutes, until juicy, golden brown and cooked through, turning regularly.
  1. To make the chilli sauce, halve the tomatoes and onions (there’s no need to peel), and bash the unpeeled garlic cloves.
  2. Place the red chillies, tomatoes, onions and garlic on a baking tray. Drizzle with oil and season, then roast for 25 minutes or until soft and slightly blackened.
  3. Allow to cool slightly, then carefully remove and discard the stalks from the chillies, the cores from the tomatoes and the skins from the onions and garlic.
  4. Add to a food processor, along with the sugar, tomato purée and vinegar. Blitz until smooth and add a lug of oil to make it glossy. Pulse again, then season.
  1. For the tahini yoghurt, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and season with a pinch each of sea salt and black pepper.
  1. To make the pilav, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Add a lug of oil to a non-stick pan over a medium-low heat, then sweat the onion and garlic for 10 minutes. Add the bulgur and stir to coat.
  2. Pour in the stock, bring it to the boil, then turn down the heat to very low. Cover with a lid and steam the bulgur for 8 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, melt the butter and cook the vermicelli until the butter turns golden brown.
  4. After 8 minutes, add it to the bulgur along with the chickpeas – don’t stir at any point, just replace the cloth and lid and let it steam for another 8 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes – you should end up with a beautifully light and fluffy pilav.

OMG this utterly takes two hours. The flavors and textures combined together so amazingly, and we regret nothing once we FINALLY sat down, but if we had known it would take that long, in such a very humid NYC summer… At least you can eat all the leftovers cold, cold, cold. Optimism! The recipe makes way, way too much chile sauce — I would halve that recipe for sure. Everything else was in good proportions.

I used white sugar, and apple cider vinegar instead of the recommended ingredients. I didn’t buy parsley or broken rice vermicelli — although I do like rice vermicelli, but neither of us care for parsley over much. Next time! (Just kidding — or at least not in summer. Ever.) We tried “grilling” the kofte and “oven roasting” the vegetables in a cast iron pan, which took considerably more time than the original recipe called for, and made the kitchen (and my apartment) hot, hot, hot. We even tried making the bulgur pilav in the cast iron, but that was unnecessary, and transferred it back to my ceramic pan later on. The turkey is quite lean, so I would love to try this (or another turkey meatball recipe) with ground pork instead. Fatty pork ftw.

~Jessica

Scallion turkey meatballs with soy-ginger glaze

Adapted from smitten kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce, preferably Japanese or reduced sodium
  • 1/2 cup mirin (sweet rice wine), or 1/2 cup sake with 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup peeled, chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 4 large or 6 small scallions, finely chopped
  • Half bunch cilantro, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, toasted if you can find it
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Make sauce: Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar melts completely. Reduce heat to a medium-low and add soy sauce, mirin, ginger, coriander and peppercorns. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 30 minutes, though this took me a bit longer to reduce it until it was syrupy enough that I thought it would coat, and not just dribble off the meatballs. You can keep it on a back burner, stirring it frequently, while browning the meatballs in the next step. Once it has reduced to your satisfaction, strain through a sieve.
  2. Make meatballs: Mix turkey, scallions, cilantro, egg, sesame oil, soy sauce and several grindings of black pepper in a bowl. I like mixing meatballs with a fork; it seems to work the ingredients into each other well. Roll tablespoon-sized knobs of the mixture into balls. The mixture is pretty soft; I find it easiest to roll — eh, more like toss the meatballs from palm to palm until they’re roundish — meatballs with damp hands.
  3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, generously cover bottom of pan with vegetable oil. Working in batches to avoid crowding, place meatballs in pan and cook, turning, until browned all over and cooked inside, about 8 minutes per batch. Arrange on a platter (a heated one will keep them warm longer), spoon a little sauce over each meatball, and serve with toothpicks. Alternatively, you can serve the glaze on the side, to dip the meatballs.

We halved the sugar, so it never became sticky, per Jesse’s preference. H-Mart did not have ground turkey, so we went with the traditional ground pork. It was serendipitously delicious. I accidentally doubled the ginger in the sauce — we’d plenty left over. Because the pork had fat, it really didn’t need much vegetable oil at all to cook (chef’s recommendation: a very light coating of the pan), but the ground turkey definitely would have needed more. Delicious in a halved baguette, with other antipasti to grace the table!

~Jessica

Kaeng phet (aka Thai red curry)

Adapted from Damn Delicious and Recipe Tin Eats

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon canola/peanut oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 3 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 bunch broccolini, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Directions:

  1. In a large rice cooker, cook rice. Set aside.
  2. Heat canola oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken, onion to the stockpot and cook until golden, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Stir in red curry paste and garlic, ginger until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in coconut milk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Stir in broccolini until just tender, about 3 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat; stir in green onions, cilantro and lime juice; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Serve immediately with rice.

Kaeng phet literally means spicy curry, but it is known as “red curry” in the West (Wiki). This is a class Thai dish: red curry. The paste I picked up at the local grocery packs a real punch! Apparently Panang curry differs in that it’s sweeter rather than spicier, creamier, and contains peanuts. I would like to try to make Phanaeng curry (possibly refers to the Malaysian island state of Penang) next time. I used green bell pepper instead of the broccolini, subbed mushrooms for the chicken, and added diced turnip because I had it. Unfortunately did not have cilantro or lime on hand, of course, but did have scallions! Somehow missed the garlic, but did add garlic powder (not remotely the same, I know). Spicy, but I can eat it with more rice to balance that out.

~Jessica

Taiwanese fried rice

Adapted from Michelle Ferng and Farm to Table Baby Mama

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups cooked white rice, cooled overnight in fridge
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup Chinese sausage / bacon, cooked and finely chopped (can sub with mushrooms, quartered)
  • 1 large garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, roughly chopped or diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • other vegetables (corn, chopped lettuce, spinach, etc.)
  • 4 stalks scallions (about 10 shoots total), chopped into 1/8″ segments
  • vegetable oil
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce
  • rice or sherry wine (optional)
  • white pepper (optional)
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Heat up skillet over high heat. Add a drizzle of grape-seed oil or other neutral vegetable oil.
  2. Add garlic and then white and light green scallions to infuse the oil. Slightly sauté until the garlic turns golden.
  3. Once oil is ready, add the cooked rice and use a spoon or rice paddle to break up the rice and mix with the garlic and scallions. Add the salt and pepper. Mix.
  4. Fold in the veggies and dark green scallions.
  5. Pour the eggs over the rice and continue to mix until the egg and mixture is dry. Taste and top with extra slices of veggies.
  6. Serve hot

Fried rice (蛋炒飯, dàn chǎofàn) is an amazing standby, the perfect comfort food. I had spinach, and I garnished with just a bit of kimchi for some zing. With the pandemic shelter-in, I’m developing a fondness for eating preserved vegetables at my own pace (getting too many vegetables usually means some portion of rot before I can finish it on my own).

~Jessica

Chicken katsudon

Adapted from my favorite The Woks of Life

Plated

Ingredients:

  • 2x Applegate Farms chicken patty – sub for the typical pork katsu
  • 1/2 cup dashi stock or chicken stock (I used Better Than Bouillon vegetable base)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Mirin (didn’t have, subbed with rice wine)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 servings steamed white rice (I wanted Taiwan noodles instead)
  • 1 scallion, chopped (wish I had)

Directions:

  1. Carefully lay the chicken patty in the hot oil and cook for 5-6 minutes on one side, until golden brown. Flip and cook the other side for another 5-6 minutes. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.
  2. While the pork is resting, add the stock, sugar, soy sauce, and Mirin to a small bowl. In another bowl, lightly beat 2 eggs. Add a tablespoon of oil to a pan over medium heat, and add the sliced onion. Fry the onions until they’re translucent and slightly caramelized.
  3. Pour the stock mixture over the onions. Slice your tonkatsu into pieces and place on top of the onions.
  4. Drizzle the eggs over everything.
  5. Cook over medium low heat until the egg is just set. Serve over bowls of steamed rice, and garnish with scallions.

COVID-19 shopping has been wack, so I randomly picked up the not-on-sale chicken patties, because why not live a little. Chicken Katsu (チキンカツ) is probably not the same, but beggars can’t be choosers, and everywhere is closing down, or running out of supplies. I made this last week, but have been so busy with work I’m posting it now (when I’m ready to cook something new tonight!)

-Jessica