Tonkatsu and home-made sauce

Yesterday I was in the mood for some tonkatsu (Japanese-style pork cutlet) served with rice and stir fried vegetables.

Sauce ingredients: I used this recipe online http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/09/tonkatsu-sauce-japanese-barbecue-recipe.html

1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

In a small pot, mix all the ingredients. Put on low heat and cook to a glue-y consistency. Let sit for about 10-20 minutes before serving.

Ingredients:
Pork loin thin cutlets, preferably mostly lean cuts (1/2 – 3/4 inch thickness)
1 large egg, beaten well in a bowl
Corn starch or flour
Panko (VERY large bread crumbs, usually available in Asian supermarket)
Salt and Pepper
Vegetable oil or canola oil (since we’ll be using quite a bit of oil to fry the cutlets, I chose the cheaper oil over expensive olive oil.)

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Use a sharp knife to tenderize the cutlets to form a crosshatch pattern and turn to the other side, repeat. Use your hands or fists to gently pound on the meat to spread out a bit more to about an ideal 3/8 inch thickness. Add salt and pepper to both sides and massage into the cutting lines. Coat both sides with flour or corn starch. Soak the cutlets into the bowl of the beaten egg and make sure both sides are well covered. Dredge the cutlets in Panko and make sure the cutlets are evenly coated with Panko.

Add oil to a pot to about 3/4 – 1 inch depth from the bottom. Put on medium heat and wait until the oil gets to about 370 F. Lower the cutlets into the oil gently and let cook until one side turns golden brown, which usually takes about 2-3 minutes and then flip to the other side. When the temperature in the middle of the cutlet reaches about 140 F, the meat is done. Place some paper towel on a plate to soak the grease and transfer the cutlets onto the plate. Let the meat to sit for about 5 minutes so that the juice inside gets reabsorbed.

Add the tonkatsu sauce and serve. Enjoy! 🙂

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Spicy honey chicken wings

I love spicy chicken wings!! Today I am going to make my version of spicy chicken wings, instead of using hot sauce.

Ingredients:
Chicken wings
A few slices of ginger
A few cloves of garlic, sliced
A few stems of green onions, coarsely chopped
Coconut oil
Salt and pepper
Honey
Soy sauce
Paprika powder
Cayenne pepper
Red chili powder
crushed Red pepper

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Fill 3/4 of a large pot with water and put in ginger, green onions and garlic. Bring to boil. Put in the chicken wings and turn the heat down to medium and let cook for about 30 minutes. The wings should start floating on the surface of the water after about 5-10 minutes and keep them there for another 20 minutes. Drain the water and use a fork to poke a few holes in each wing and be careful not to tear the wings apart. One way to tell if the wings are fully cooked is to use a long bamboo kebab skewer and see if you can easily poke through the meat. If it gets caught somewhere in the middle, that means the meat is not fully cooked yet. Pour icy cold water on the wings immediately so that the pores on the skin shrinks which will result in better tasting texture. Drain the water.

Note that, at this moment, the chicken wings are already fully cooked and the later steps are to mix the spices well with the wings and add a more crispy taste to the skin. Make sure not to overcook the chicken in the later step.

In a large pan, heat up the coconut oil. Throw in the wings. When hearing sizzling sound, add salt, pepper, Paprika powder, Cayenne pepper, Red chili powder, crushed Red pepper. Stir constantly and make sure the wings not stuck to the pan. When the skin turns golden brown, add a couple spoonful of soy sauce, and stir well – this is to add some color and a tiny bit saltiness. Add a few teaspoons of honey and mix. Before serving, add a few drops of honey on each wing.

I like them a lot! They have the spicy taste but with some sweetness from honey. Since they are boiled, they will not be as greasy as the deep-fried ones and it is easier to get them taste moist and tender compared to being cooked in an oven. Enjoy! 🙂

Good old fashioned dumplings

In northern part of China, dumpling making is a family event. From making the dough to folding each dumpling, everybody gathers around a big dinner table, chat and make food for dinner. We had a friend visiting last night, and I decided we will bond over making some dumplings. 🙂

Since we started out somewhat late, I already bought the wrappers and prepared the fillings. The guy at the grocery store was curious what I was making. When I said “Dumplings, aka. Chinese ravioli”, he was quite amused by the new fancy name I just made up.

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Wrappers:
I had both the round kind and the square kind. The round kind makes what we call “jiaozi (gyoza in japanese)” and the square kind makes what we call “huntun (wonton in cantonese)”. In regions around Shanghai, the wonton shape made out of the square kind is call “cat ear”. See if you can recognize cat ears from the photo below. Lol.

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Filling ingredients: yields about 60 dumplings, feeding about 3 people
3 (large) bok choy
3 celery sticks
4-5 mushrooms
3-4 green onions
10-12 key west shrimps, peeled
1/2 lbs of ground pork
1 raw egg
salt and pepper
a few drops of Worcestershire sauce
a few drops of oyster sauce
olive oil

Fill a large pot with 3/4 of water and bring to boil. Throw in bok choy, celery sticks and let cook for about 1 minute. Pour out the hot water and soak the vegetables in icy cold water immediately. Take out bok choy and celery sticks and mince them into fine bits. Drain the water out as you put away the chopped vegetables. Mince the mushrooms, green onions, shrimps and add to the chopped vegetable pile. Add ground pork and mix well. Add salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, olive oil and the egg. Stir well to mix everything and make sure it has a somewhat glue-y consistency.

Note that this filling is a mixture of meat and vegetables. You can put whatever you want in the filling as long as they can be chopped into small bits.

Once you have the filling and the wrappers ready, have a bowl of warm water handy and you can start making some dumplings. Apply water to where the folds touch each other.

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You can pan fry them to make some “pot stickers”, although you need to be careful since dumpling wrappers are generally thinner than the wrappers used for pot stickers. Turn the dumplings when sides turn golden brown. The fried dumplings are best served with some Chinkiang rice vinegar or soy sauce.

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You can also boil them. Bring a pot of water mixed with chicken broth to boil and put in the dumplings. Cook until they start floating on the water and cook for another minute or two. Add some sea weed, dried Sakura shrimp bits, sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Last night was a blast and it was a lot of fun making dumplings with friends!

Thai-inspired Sauteed Vegetable Salad

I had some vegetables to finish off with, and today I decided to be a bit creative and play with the spices and sauces I have in the kitchen.

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Ingredients: yields about 4 servings
A few sliced mushrooms
A bunch of spinach
A red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
A few celery sticks, cut into small chunks
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
half of leek, cut into small chunks
(You can also use/add on other vegetables at hand for substitution, such as Swiss chard, mini sweet peppers, green beans, etc.)

Salt and pepper
Coconut oil
Turmeric root powder
Thai sweet chili sauce

In a large pan, heat up the coconut oil until it melts. Add garlic and leek, stir until the aroma comes out. Add the tougher vegetables, ie. red bell pepper, celery, and mushrooms. Cook for 1-3 minutes and then add the spinach, or the rest of the softer vegetables. Cook until all the spinach shrinks and gets soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a pinch of turmeric root powder and stir to mix well. Plate the food and pour a couple spoonful of Thai sweet chili sauce on the top. Serve immediately!

This turned out very good. Delicious! I like this new way of eating warm salad! 🙂

Marinated beef fajitas with homemade salsa and guacamole

When there are ripened avocados, fresh tomatoes on vine, and fajita meat laying around in the house, I know it is time to marinate some beef and make a fajita feast. 😛

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Marinating ingredients:
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Lime juice
Cayenne pepper
Garlic powder

Mix the ingredients and marinate the meat for at least 1 hr. before cooking or if you are planning ahead, overnight.

Salsa ingredients: (Quick!)
2-3 tomatoes, diced into chunks
1/4 of an onion, minced
a hand full of cilantro, minced

Salt and pepper
Lime juice
Garlic powder

Mix all the ingredients well and serve whenever needed. Feel free to add other things, such as pineapple, or mango bits.

Guacamole ingredients: (Quick!)
2 avocados, mushed
1/4 of an onion, minced

Salt and pepper
Lime juice
Olive oil (a few drops)
Cayenne pepper

Mix all the ingredients well and serve whenever needed. I skipped tomatoes and cilantro since I was going to eat the salsa as well.

Fajita ingredients:
1-1.5 lbs fajita meat, marinated
2-3 bell peppers, chopped into long strips
6 white mushrooms, chopped thinly
1/2 of an onion, chopped into long strips
1/2 yellow squash, chopped into long strips
(I had to use the yellow squash, otherwise it would have gone bad; but if there are any vegetables that themselves do not really carry any strong flavors and turn relatively soft once cooked, using them will be a good way to incorporate more vegetables as well as use up left over ingredients.)

Fajita seasoning:
Coconut oil, solid
Salt and pepper
Sugar
Cayenne pepper
Chili powder
Paprika (You can be a little more generous with chili powder and paprika as them bring the flavor up quite a few notches.)
Garlic powder
Corn starch (This is added to give a slightly thicker consistency. Adjust according to your taste.)

As the seasoning goes, you can either mix them up beforehand or you can add them one after one when cooking.

Turn the oven onto 250F and keep the tortillas in the oven. Make sure they do not stay there for too long so they will not dry out.
Lay the marinated meat on a heated pan and cook to your desired condition: medium, rare or well done. Cover the pan and let the meat rest for a few minutes. Slice the meat into long strips if needed.
Add coconut oil to another pan and heat up the pan so that all the oil becomes liquid-y. Throw in all the chopped onions first, and cook until they turn gold and somewhat transparent. Add all the other vegetables and stir. Let cook for about 1 minute. Add all the seasoning and stir well. Let cook for about another 3-5 minutes.
Put the tortilla on a plate, add the vegetables, the meat, salsa and guacamole. Sit back and enjoy!

Making everything from scratch (including salsa and guacamole) took me about 1.5 hr, even though I usually do not act very quickly in the kitchen.

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Sometimes just a few slices will make your day…

I spent literally ONE minute to slice the fish, 30 seconds to spread a ton of wasabi onto the soy sauce. Eating sashimi with a bowl of warm rice (drizzled with rice vinegar) is simply the simplest but greatest treat. Mmmmm…..

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So this was the reason why I was craving some sashimi at home last night while waiting for a snow storm to come – SUSHI PARTY at a friend’s three days ago…lol.

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