Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cantonese Stuffed Tofu

Hope I'm not tiring out the palette with all of these Chinese recipes, but I've got another one today. I also made this a little while ago but just hadn't had a chance to post it yet. I never tried making this type of tofu dish before, I usually just stir fry cubes of tofu with some other ingredients, so this was a new experiment!

The hardest part was turning the tofu in the wok without breaking the triangles. Other than that, the prep is pretty straightforward (and a lot of fun!).

The recipe comes from Grace Young's Breath of a Wok. This cookbook focuses more on the specialty dishes of many different chefs/cooks and has a great variety of different Chinese dishes, each with a very thorough description of preparation and instruction.

Cantonese Stuffed Tofu

Serves 4 as part of a multicourse meal
1 tbsp dried shrimp (haw mai)
4 squares firm tofu (14 ounces) rinsed
3/4 tsp salt
4-8 ounces ground pork
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup minced scallions
2 tbsp canola oil
1 minced garlic clove
3/4 cup Chicken Broth
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce (I used the thick ketjap manis)
1 tbsp oyster sauce
cilantro for garnish

1. In a small saucepan, boil 1/2 cup water. Add the shrimp and simmer for a minute. Drain and reserve the water. Mince the shrimp and set aside.
2. Place the tofu on some paper towels, sprinkle 1/2 tsp of the salt evenly over the tofu and set aside.
3. Combine the pork, 1 tsp cornstarch, sugar, pepper, 1/4 tsp salt, and the minced shrimp. Stir in 1/2 tsp sesame oil, the scallions, and a couple tablespoons of the reserved shrimp liquid.
4. Cut each tofu square diagonally into 2 triangles. With a paring knife, cut a shallow pocket along the long side of each triangle, removing some bean curd and discarding the excess. Stuff each triangle with the filling.
5. Bring your wok under high heat until a bead of water vaporizes in a split second. Swirl in the canola oil and add the tofu triangles, pork side down (may need to do multiple batches if your wok is smaller). Pan fry for 2 minutes over medium heat and then scatter the garlic in the pan. Cook for another minute.
6. Add the broth and 1/4 cup cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to med-low and simmer for about 3 minutes.
7. Using a spatula, loosen each triangle and turn on its side. Add the soy sauce, cover and summer for another 4 minutes. Add the rest of the soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sesame oil.
8. With the remaining 1 tsp cornstarch, mix it with a tablespoon of cold water. Increase the heat to high, add the cornstarch slurry and cook for 30 more seconds. Garnish with cilantro

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Stir Fried Scallops with Snow Peas and Peppers

One of my favorite types of dishes during the summer is fresh seafood. Whether it's some form of sushi or a nicely cooked fish fillet with a tasty glaze, it's no matter, I'll eat it all! And as much as people say that too much shellfish is bad for you, I absolutely love having scallops. I even add it to macaroni and cheese :)

So when I was at Whole Foods a couple weeks ago, imagine my delight when the big sea scallops were on their "weekly buys!" So I had to buy a pound of it and cook it up. Normally, I'll cook this dish but I decided that I needed to experiment this time. So out came Grace Young's Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen and lo and behold, I found a recipe! Enjoy :P

Stir-Fried Scallops w/ Snow Peas and Peppers

Serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal

4-6 ounces snow peas
1 pound fresh sea scallops
2 tbsp + 2 tbsp cornstarch (separate)
1 tsp + 1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp ShaoHsing rice wine
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil (I like the chili sesame oil :D)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/3 cup Chicken Broth
2 tsp oyster sauce
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp canola oil
4-6 slices of ginger
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, cut into small squares (about an inch)
2 scallions, ends removed, sliced

1. String the snow peas, rinse, set aside.
2. Wash the scallops in cold water, drain well and slice into quarters.
3. Mix together 2 tbsp cornstarch, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp rice wine, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp sugar, and the scallops. Stir to coat well.
4. Combine the chicken broth, oyster sauce, salt, and remaining 2 tsp cornstarch, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp rice wine, 1 tsp sesame oil, and 1 tsp sugar. Stir well.
5. Add 1 tbsp canola oil to the scallop mixture. Heat a wok under high heat until hot (when a droplet of water sizzles away in a couple seconds). Add 1 tbsp canola oil and the scallops. Cook for a couple minutes without disturbing the scallops, and then use a spatula to stir fry for another couple minutes. Remove and set aside.
6. Add remaining 1 tbsp canola oil, ginger, and garlic. Let the ginger and garlic sizzle, and then add the snow peas, red pepper, and scallions. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes, add the sauce mixture and stir well. Add the scallops back in and stir fry another 1-2 minutes. Serve with rice

Friday, July 18, 2008

Beef Chow Fun

One of my favorite Chinese dishes growing up was Beef Chow Fun or rather beef stir fried with bean sprouts and haw fun (wide rice noodles). It was a great complement to a traditional Chinese lunch or dinner along with a steamed dish and some veggies (chinese broccoli, pea sprouts, etc). I could really not get enough of this dish, as well as the version made with more gravy (I'll try making that another time), and we used to order it every time we went out to eat (Not to mention it was also my sister's favorite dish!).

I'd come across many different recipes for Beef Chow Fun but they all came out much different than I was used to. Then I found a version in Grace Young's Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen and it came out amazingly. Not as greasy or as dark (probably the soy sauce I used) as in a restaurant, which was a plus, but it still had the same texture and flavor!

I always try to get fresh haw fun from the grocery store, I usually don't like using the dried haw fun and it never seems to come out right! Fresh haw fun should be cooked the day it's purchased, otherwise the noodles start to harden and will break apart on you in the wok.

Beef Chow Fun

8 ounces mung bean sprouts (I used closer to 6), rinsed and cleaned
2/3 - 3/4 lb beef flank steak, sliced
1/4 tsp baking soda
2-3 tbsp light soy sauce (or dark soy sauce, can use less)
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp ShaoHsing cooking wine
1 tbsp Chinese dried black beans (fermented dried black beans), rinsed and mashed
1 lb fresh rice noodles (haw fun)
3 tbsp canola oil
3-4 thin slices of ginger
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions, ends removed, cut into inch slices
2-3 tbsp oyster sauce

1. Mix together the baking soda, 1 tbsp soy sauce, cornstarch, and rice wine. Add the beef, stir to combine and set aside.
2. Heat a wok over high heat until hot but not smoking (Good test is if a droplet of water evaporates in a couple seconds). Add 1 tbsp oil, the ginger, and garlic to the wok and stir fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Add the beef and spread it out evenly in the wok, let cook for about a minute. Add the mashed black beans and stir fry for another couple minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
4. Add the rest of the oil with the noodles, spreading them out in the wok. Cook for about a minute and then add the bean sprouts. Stir fry for another couple minutes and add the rest of the soy sauce, toss to coat the noodles.
5. Add the beef back in, toss, then add the scallions and the oyster sauce.
6. Stir fry another couple minutes and serve.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Clear Flour Bread - Allston MA

One thing I haven't had much of in the past couple years was fresh bread from a local bakery. But lately, I've wandered to a couple different bakeries in the Allston/Brighton/Brookline area, When Pig's Fly Bakery, and Clear Flour Bread. Both places are wonderful and bake some awesome bread but today I only have pictures from the latter...I have to admit that I ate the bread from When Pigs Fly before I remembered to take pictures.

Anyway, Clear Flour has all kinds of daily specials in addition to a large assortment of staple breads including one of my favorites, an onion foccacia! They also bake many different pastries and sometimes have creative versions of a bread that are amazing! They had a loaf of Challah bread shaped like a turtle the last time I visited and I've seen bread baked in the shapes of flowers as well!

Here are the pictures! See for yourself :)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dinner last night

Just a few pictures tonight, really tired from the weekend plus Boston Chowderfest (more on this another time).

These are from last night's dinner. Had a few buddies over and we scarfed down as I bought way too much food (as always). Scallops were on sale and I wanted to pick out a live fish this time :)

The dishes ended up being: Beef chow fun, Chinese Broccoli in ginger sauce, tofu stuffed with pork, stir-fried scallops with vegetables in oyster sauce, and a steamed tilapia with ginger scallions.

The chinese broccoli came out a bit bitter (I forgot to blanch it :-/) but other than that, the meal went over well I think!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Martha Stewart's Mac-and-Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese is one of those classic American dishes that everyone probably has had at least once. In my case, I remember eating all different kinds ranging from home-made, boxed, to the restaurant mac-and-cheese at places like The Publick House in Brookline and the 50's Diner in Dedham. I'd seen plenty of recipes all over the web but I never tried making it myself

But that all changed when I saw Smitten Kitchen's version, also found in Martha Stewart Living Cookbook:The Original Classics. And after looking at all the various pictures and reading about it, I decided I just had to try it this once and hope for the best. And wow, it turned out well. The kitchen started smelling real good after baking for about 10 minutes and it was hard waiting the next 20 minutes for the dish to finish!

One word of warning. This recipe makes A LOT of mac-and-cheese. I'm not kidding about this, the roommate can attest. I spent the next week eating mac-and-cheese for lunch and dinner. Halving the recipe works, I was just too dumb to do it :P

Martha Stewart's Mac-and-Cheese

Serves 12

8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus some more for the baking dish
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, cubed
5 1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt, plus some more for boiling the pasta
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cup (18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere (Can substitute 5 ounces grated Romano)
1 lb elbow macaroni

1. Preheat oven to 375 Farenheit. Butter a 3 quart casserole/baking dish and set aside. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a small saucepan. Pour the melted butter into a mixing bowl with the bread and toss. Set aside.
2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Separately melt the remaining 6 tbsp butter in a high-sided skillet or saute pan over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Stir and cook for about a minute.
3. Slowly pour the hot milk into the skillet while whisking. Try to keep the mixture smooth. Continue cooking and whisking until the mixture bubbles and thickens, about 8-12 minutes.
4. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups (not all) cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere. Set aside.
5. Boil the macaroni until the outside of the pasta is barely cooked. About 2 to 3 minutes. When finished, rinse and drain the macaroni, then add it to the cheese sauce.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.