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Some Recipes

February 11th, 2007 at 03:06 pm

My parents came to visit for a few days. My tiny apartment was bursting at the seams trying to accomodate three people, but we're all family so it was ok stepping on each others' toes for a couple of days.

As I like to joke, whenever they come visit, my dad requests I cook for them, not because I'm some world-renowned Chef, but I think he just wants to taste a change in cooking styles. I do like cooking, but I also like finding shortcuts to reduce the prep time. So my recipes do tend to change at spur of the moment, depending on whatever materials are on hand. Here are some easy Chinese and Taiwanese dishes that you can try:

Pork and Daikon Soup
So simple to make in large quantities. Take a quantity of pork chop, cut up in small pieces. Throw in boiling water for a minute or two, then turn off the heat. Skim off the junk that floats on top of the water, then return to full boil. Reduce heat, add in daikon (white carrot) that is cut up in chunks. Cook until daikon is clear. Add salt to taste. The flavor comes from the meat and the bone.

San bei ji (3-cup chicken)
The traditional method is to cook the chicken in an earthenware pot but I made do in a regular skillet. You really have to cook the chicken for 1-2hrs over low heat to achieve the perfect tenderness. The name of the dish derives from the 3 main flavourings which are 1 cup each of soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine, but let me tell you, my poor stomach gurgles at the thought of that much oil going into the dish so I admit that I sometimes use less oil and more rice wine. Or use more soy sauce if you like the saltiness. Or just add more water. You need enough liquid to cover the chicken. Anyway, first you braise the chicken a bit, then you pour in the liquids. Now as to the rest of the flavors, I like to add basil, ginger and hot peppers. Bring to boil, cover the pot, let cook on low heat until chicken is of desired tenderness or you are too hungry to wait.

Si zi tou (Lion's head meatballs)
I used to call this Chinese meatloaf, much to my mom's chagrin. She only uses pork and a little chopped scallion but I am more, errrr, creative in my choice of filling. Ground pork is the staple of the filling, but then I chop up dried shrimps, bok choy, and once I added tofu (the result: meatballs were more tender, chewy, because the tofu added more water content). I loved making this dish because you got to play with your hands- plus shaping the meatballs by hand really speeds up the process! Braise the meatballs in a skillet using a little oil, then add some more water to cover the bottom of the skillet. Then here comes my mom's favorite part (she's a veggie fanatic) she puts in lots of leaves of bok choy or any sort of lettuce. Cover the skillet and let cook for 5-10 minutes.

"Ketchup" Fish
Well, actually, I read somewhere that ketchup is a Chinese invention. Really! The original sauce, which was not tomato-based, used in Asia contained rather fishy ingredients and fish/shellfish brine. The tomato got added at some later time. Anyway, for this dish you do use the tomatoey Heinz ketchup, mixed with soy sauce. As my mom likes to call it, "a little sweet, a little salty." I just think it results in a cool color. Marinade fish fillets in combination ketchup, soy sauce, ginger, scallion, and cornstarch. Stir fry, preferably with some bright green bell peppers to make a beautiful contrasting dish.

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