Skiing comfort food – Japanese potato salad

When you are out and about skiing, if you are tired of eating home-made PB&J or lodge-provided chicken tenders and french fries like I am, then this post is for you. I like the idea of packing a sandwich that is quick and cheap and the texture does not change too much when kept in pockets for hours. But the idea of eating soft water-dripping leafy greens, barely tasting the thin slices of ham or salami turns me off a little bit.

This Japanese potato salad goes very well with the bread and it still maintains chunky filling taste. I even start looking forward to eating this while skiing.

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To make 3-4 sandwich fillings, you will need the following:

3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and each cut into 3-4 big chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 4-5 big chunkes
1/2 onion, finely minced
1 cucumber, finely sliced and squeeze out the water a bit
3/4 or 1 lbs of ham, chopped into small cubes
3-4 tablespoons of green peas, cooked
Some spicy sprouts
2-3 tablespoon of Japanese mayo (Kewpie brand)
2-3 teaspoons of honey
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
Salt
Black pepper

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In a pot, boil water and throw in chopped potato and carrot chunks. Cook for about 30 min or so until you can use a fork to easily poke through the carrots and the potatoes. Meanwhile, chop up other ingredients. When potatoes and carrots are ready, drain the water and throw the potato into a big bowl. Mash up the potato chunks while they are still hot. Add the olive oil, honey, lemon juice, mayo onto the mashed potatoes and add salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Cool the carrots with cold water and chop the carrots into small cubes. Throw in the carrot, onion, ham, cucumber, peas, sprouts and mix. Add more olive oil, honey and mayo to increase the stickiness of the sandwich filling. And spread the filling onto your bread to make a delicious sandwich!

This sandwich is packed with calories as well as nutrients. Enjoy it while on the slope!

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A duck fix

I looooooove duck meat. I call them “ribeye with wings”. They are rich and flavorful thanks to their high content of fat. Some people think they taste between chicken and turkey, I say they missed the mark by quite a bit. Ducks float on water and swim, they taste closer to goose. Duck meat is red meat but it still has the tender texture of poultry.

The Chinese and the French really have a knack for cooking ducks. I love wood fire roasted duck the most, and adding some dried orange peels or tea leaves, or fruit tree branches into the fire gives another layer of flavor to the delicious duck meat. Since I have such passion for ducks, I seek out for ducks whenever I get a chance.

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Today I tried out a local Chinese restaurant that has been open for a few months. Their Peking duck was without a doubt the best I have tasted in the US.

I went straight to wholefoods after and got myself a whole duck. I am looking forward to making my own duck. Yum! Thanks for checking in.

Hot Red Borscht Soup — the Chinese Version!

On a cold winter night, I couldn’t help but crave for some of my mum’s borscht soup. As a Chinese, I am very thankful that the delicious, hearty, warm soup recipe traveled all the way from Eastern and Central Europe to the middle of China, with a few twists of course.

The original recipe’s main ingredient: beetroot, is no long present in my mum’s version simply due to the fact that it is not a commonly seen produce where I grew up.

This recipe makes a full pot of thick soup, enough to serve about 4-5 meals
Ingredients:
1/2 of a white onion, coarsely chopped, about 3×3 cm square
1/3 of a medium cabbage, coarsely chopped, size similar to onion slices
3-4 Yukon potatoes, coarsely chopped, about 2x2x2 cm cube chunks
2-3 Carrots, coarsely chopped, size similar to the potato chunks
3-4 Celery sticks, coarsely chopped, size similar to the potato chunks
2-3 Tomatoes, coarsely chopped, size similar to the potato chunks
1 lb of red sausages, “Pølser” (already cooked and spiced) or I used black forest ham since they are also salty and happened to be sitting around in my fridge, coarsely chopped, size similar to the potato chunks (if you want to start with raw meat, it will require more time to prepare)
1-2 jars of tomato sauce
4-5 cups of beef stock
1-2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup of corn starch
1/2 stick of melted butter
1-2 teaspoons of olive oil
3-4 teaspoons of sugar

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Throw all the onions, potatoes, carrots, celery chunks, garlic into a big pot. Add flour, corn starch, olive oil and butter to the pot. Use your hands to mix everything. Add some water (1-2 cups). Turn the heat on medium and stir sometimes. At the same time in another pot heat up all the beef stock. When the beef stock starts to boil, start transferring the beef stock to the mix one ladle after another. Cover the pot with the lid and wait for about 10min, stir sometimes. Throw in the cabbages, the tomatoes, and the sausages (if you use raw meat, they can be cooked in the beef stock first). Stir to mix well. Add tomato sauce, salt,grounded black pepper, sugar. Stir well. Cook for another 20-25min and stir occasionally. When you can use a fork to easily poke through a potato or carrot chunk, since they are the toughest ingredients in the soup, the soup is ready to serve. If you would like more redness or sweeter taste, before serving, add some ketchup and stir well.

The flour and corn starch were added to make the consistency thicker. If you prefer different consistency, you can choose to use less or more flour and corn starch.

Ummmm, yummy!! Enjoy! 🙂

Feeling crabby? Try this Chinese crab dipping sauce.

I grew up in Shanghai where the unbelievably delicious Chinese mitten crabs are consumed every fall to winter.  They are small but meaty.  Their roe is the best part.  When you have super delicious ingredient, any extra cooking technique will (usually) end up covering up the umami (deliciousness, freshness, unique flavor to the ingredient).  So, what do we do? We steam them and pair them with some simple but fantastic sauce.

Every now and then, I get a craving for crabs.  I will go get some king crab legs in the grocery store and steam them.  Use them with the Chinese dipping sauce.  If you don’t feel like garlic butter, try this one instead.Image

Ingredients:

A few teaspoons of chinkiang rice vinegar (usually available in local asian markets and also Amazon)

Very finely minced ginger bits

One teaspoon of sugar

Mix all the ingredients and microwave for 10-20 sec and stir so that the sugar dissolve better in the mix.

Dip the crab meat with the sauce and sit back and ENJOY!!!

Cooking when you cannot

A recently broken collarbone during skiing means that I cannot cook for a while — since I cannot lift my arm, bear weight, etc.

But I soon realized I just couldn’t chop, but I still can MAKE food.  I might need to use more semi-prepared ingredients, but that is still better than heating up frozen pizza.

I probably will have to stick with a lot of salads which do not require much preparation, but I am unwilling to turn into a vegetarian completely.  So I am on a mission to establish a few recipes for this inconvenient time.

Updates will follow.  🙂

Takoyaki

Takoyaki

Octopus balls in cast iron pan

I love Japanese snack food! Takoyaki, aka Octopus ball, is one of them. I bought this cast iron pan on Amazon that can make 16 Takoyakis in one batch.

To make the batter for Takoyaki, you will need common ingredients such as flour, eggs, water, baking powder, salt and grated mountain yam. You will also need dashi powder, which is a common item in Japanese household but might require some effort to find in the US.

Ingredients:
To make one batch of 16-20 Takoyakis, you need
1/2 tsp salt,
1/2 tsp baking powder,
1/2 tsp dashi powder,
1 egg,
100g flour,
400ml cold water.

1 big chunk of Octopus
A small bowl of Agedama
3-4 Green onions
Half handful of Japanese pickled ginger

You need chopped up already boiled octopus bits, size of 1 cm cubic – or anything of similar size really. Make agedama using Tempura mix. Finely chop up green onions, and Japanese pickled ginger — Beni shoga.

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Heat the pan and brush the pan with olive oil. Pour the batter into pan so that the batter fills the half hole and levels with pan. Add octopus bits, agedama, green onion, and ginger to each hole. Pour more batter to overflow the pan. Use two long sticks to keep tucking in the batter and start rotating batter so that they form balls. Takoyakis will be ready to serve until they turn golden and crispy.

To taste, you will need:
Japanese mayo — I usually use a brand called Kewpie
Okonomiyaki sauce
Aonori — a kind of sea week flakes
Bonito flakes — shaved flakes of dried Bonito fish

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAnd, we are done. Enjoy!!!
Here is an awesome video illustrating how to make Takoyaki, thanks to Runnyrunny999. 🙂

A treat to Shanghai

I stumbled upon this webpage blogging about the backstreets’ markets in Shanghai, where I was born and brought up.

http://www.culinarybackstreets.com/shanghai/2013/shanghai-wet-markets/

I have to say, compared to the experience you get shopping in a backstreet market, walking down aisles in the US grocery store is simply painful and boring at the best.

In the backstreet market, you get seasonal fruits and vegetables picked yesterday coming from nearby regions.   The fishes are still alive in the water tank and you can choose to have it cleaned right then or take the fish home STILL alive in a bag of water.  You will be able to ask for almost any cut from the animal that was butchered on that morning and almost any animal or poultry you can imagine, you can find it in the market.  Better yet, if you are a frequent customer, the vendors know you so well that they will keep your favorite for you without being asked to do so.

Oh, man, I miss going to these backstreets’ markets!!!

Hello world!

I consider myself a food lover and adventurer.  

As a Chinese, I am in love with the cuisine and all of its branches and variations.  Living outside of China for many years also has made me enbrace other cuisines, such as French, Italian, Spanish, Indian, African, and other parts of Asian food.

My passion for cooking is almost as much as eating.  In this blog, I will blog about food I love, dishes I cook and yummy adventures I have.  🙂

Stay tuned.

PS. A lot of friends ask me if I only make Asian food. As a matter of fact, I make a lot of Italian, French, new American food as well. But the Western food I make is more or less already quite mainstream and popular – in other words, anybody can put up a few recipes or two. So I tend not to put up generic recipes for pasta with meatballs and tomato sauce or French onion soup or cheeseburger – well, you get the idea. I will be blogging mainly the food either I create myself or dishes that are popular in China/Japan/etc but little known to the other parts of the world. Or I will record my first try with dishes that are less familiar to me, such as Mexican/Indian/etc food with some of my own spin sometimes.