Japchae

August 3, 2012 § 4 Comments

Since coming back from the Bay Area, I’ve been eating a lot of Korean food. At home, I’ve made mostly bulgogi (post to come) and galbi, but I recently tried my hand at making banchan, well, other than the simple cucumber salad. I typically buy banchan from Zion but since I like to have banchan on hand for just about anything lately, it was time to try making my own. I’ve been craving japchae lately although I don’t really know if japchae is actually considered a banchan dish or not. But anyways…moving on.

For Korean recipes, I usually go to my first source, Maangchi. If you haven’t checked out her sight or her videos, you gotta do it if you’re interested in Korean food. I normally don’t see japchae at Zion, and with the craving and all, it seemed like a good one to start with. It’s also a nice option for the Mister since it’s *mostly* Paleo friendly. At least now he can have another type of noodle other than kelp noodles. For hard core Paleo folks, leave out the sugar. Thank goodness I don’t have those kind of constraints!

So for my first japchae attempt, I followed Maangchi’s recipe almost exactly. There were a few things that I had to adjust, like the cooking time for the sweet potato noodles (dangmyun). Maangchi says to cook the noodles for 3 minutes but the brand I used said 7 minutes. It actually took about 6 minutes for the noodles to get soft. She also mentioned not to rinse the noodles after cooking. Other recipes I’ve read (online and in cookbooks) all recommended rinsing in cold water thoroughly. Lesson learned here, rinse after cooking because the noodles are soooo starchy that it took way more sesame oil to keep the noodles from sticking together. A whole lot more than what the recipe called for. So rinse those noodles immediately, people! That is unless you like sticky noodles and a shit load of sesame oil.

The other things I modified was just the amount of vegetables. I wanted more carrots and onions so I used 2 carrots and 1 very large onion. Once all the prep is done, this dish comes together very quickly. Oh yeah, one other note, Maangchi’s recipe called for 2 bunches of noodles. That’s about half a package of noodles. When I was at Zion, I looked at all the various brands of noodles and most of them weren’t separated in bunches within the package. Most packages were about 1 pound so for her recipe, use about 8 ounces. Oh yeah, one other thing to note. Maangchi cooked most of the ingredients separately and then added them all together. To make it simpler, you can cook the onions and carrots together to save a step.

Overall, we enjoyed this version, even with the extra sesame oil. I liked the white mushrooms in there as well. What’s really nice is that you can add whatever kind of vegetables you want in this as well as any protein. Want to go vegetarian? Leave out the meat or substitute it with some tofu (fried ones perhaps). Only like one kind of vegetable? Then add only that, albeit I think it needs onions for a fuller flavor. The sweetness of the dish can easily be adjusted. I don’t like mine that sweet so I cut back a bit on the sugar. I like just a hint of sweetness.

This dish holds well as a leftover. The noodles don’t get bloated like cellophane noodles and kept its chewiness for a few days of reheating. Loved it! I’ve added some spicy chili paste sauce to one lunch and that was really good, gave it a nice kick. Another time I added a few dashes of Golden Mountain sauce (or Maggi sauce) before reheating and that gave it a different and yummy twist. Best part is that I’m getting a good serving of veggies, if I eat enough of it at one sitting. This is definitely one banchan that I’ll be keeping as a regular.

CC's Pancit Bihon

January 25, 2012 § 8 Comments

For Chinese New Year (belated gong xi fa cai to everyone!), one of the dishes I made was CC’s Pancit Bihon. OMG! I did a test run a couple of days before just to be sure. What can I say except this was the best pancit I have ever had and it was pretty easy to put together. If you love pancit bihon like us, you’ve got to try CC’s recipe. It’s awesome (like her!). The great thing about this is that you can use just about any kind of protein you want in it.

If you recall, this has been on my to-make list for some time. And since she had already armed me with this:

I was pretty much all set since the other ingredients I already had ready. I decided to use some Chinese sausage, char siu I bought from Jasmine (bought especially for this dish), shredded thigh and leg meat from a rotisserie chicken (as CC would say, “Costco dude.”) which are hiding under all that char siu, and about 8 shrimp (16-20 size) as my protein. Since the shrimp was quite large, I cut them into pieces. I also had sweet onions and garlic, lots of garlic! I used about 4 large cloves and it was awesome! Use less if you don’t like it so garlicky. It actually wasn’t as garlicky as you might think.

Some finely shredded cabbage, thinly sliced celery, and not-so julienned carrots, they were more matchsticks.

CC’s recipe uses the entire bag (16 oz) of noodles but I ended up only making a half batch. But it turned out that I had waaaaay too much other ingredients, meat especially, for a half batch. So I saved half of ingredients and made it with the rest of the noodles a couple days later for Chinese New Year.

Soaked the noodles for 10 minutes in hot water. The noodles just needs to be soft. Woo, all that steam fogging up my camera lens! I really liked these noodles, thin and easy to work with.

Although oyster sauce is optional, I really love the flavor it added to the dish. So I highly recommend using fish sauce AND oyster sauce with the soy sauce. I’ve added the amounts I used in the half recipe below. Of course add or exclude what you want but I’m just telling you right now, you’ll want to add at least a bit of each.

I know this is a real shitty picture but I can’t take a picture and wok at the the same time. I mainly wanted to show how much a half batch was in a 14-inch wok. Most of the meat was under the noodles.

This was so damn good! The Mister even had 2 bowls of it for lunch that day. I couldn’t stop eating it. The half batch could feed 4-6 people as a side. Guess it all depends on how much they like pancit bihon.  I didn’t have any kalamansi to squeeze over the noodles but a bit of lemon will suffice in a pinch.

CC’s Pancit Bihon (half recipe)
adapted from Canine Cologne

CC’s Pancit Bihon
Author: Canine Cologne
Ingredients
  • 2-3 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped (use less if you don’t like it so garlicky)
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 small cabbage, sliced thin
  • 2 small carrots, peeled, julienned pieces (or cut into rounds)
  • 6 Tbsp soy sauce, divided (and to taste)
  • 3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced thin
  • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce)
  • 1-2 tsp fish sauce (patis) – use sparingly
  • 1-2 Chinese sausage (lap cheong), sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup char siu (Chinese BBQ pork), diced
  • 1/2 cup shrimp (raw or pre-cooked shrimp can be used)
  • 1/2 shredded roasted chicken breast (rotisserie from Costco dudes)
  • 1/2 package (8 oz) bihon noodles, pre-soak in hot water and drain before using
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 green onion, chopped, greens reserved for garnish
  • sliced kalamansi to squeeze on top (substitute with lemon)
Instructions
  1. In a wok or a large pan on high heat, add cooking oil. Saute the onions, white part of green onion, and garlic until fragrant, for about a minute.
  2. Add the Chinese sausage and cook for several minutes, until cooked through.
  3. Add the carrots, celery and cabbage. Sprinkle on a pinch of kosher salt and saute for about a minute.
  4. Add oyster sauce, fish sauce, and 3 tablespoon of soy sauce. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  5. Add chicken broth, cover wok and simmer until vegetables are cooked through, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. If using raw shrimp, add it now and cook until the shrimp just cooked through.
  7. Add the rest of the meats (shrimp, chicken, char siu). If using precooked shrimp, add it with the rest of the meat.
  8. Mix in the soaked and drained bihon noodles (if they’re too long, you can cut the noodles).
  9. Season again with soy sauce. More ground black pepper if desired. Stir everything together. Most of the broth should be absorbed by now.
  10. Garnish with sliced green onions and squeeze kalamansi (or lemon) on top before serving.

 

Hong Kong Fried Noodles – Revisited

January 9, 2012 § 10 Comments

For New Year’s Day, I decided to make Hong Kong style fried noodles with seafood. The original post with the recipe can be found here. I’ve updated the recipe since that first time and I think the sauce is much better now. As with most stir-fry recipes, you can add just about any kind of protein and vegetables to this dish. I typically like to have at least shrimp and squid in this. But it’s great with  pork, beef, chicken, fish, even tofu.

I did a couple of things different this time. I blanched the noodles a few hours ahead and them laid out two (very large) servings on a baking sheet to dry out the noodles. I thought this might help with the frying of the noodles and although the noodles didn’t fry any faster, it did make the noodles more crunchy throughout.  The previous method left some of the noodles in the middle softer. So depending on whether you like crunchy noodles like I do or a mixture of soft and crunchy, pick the method to your liking.. Here are the fried noodle cakes resting. BTW, the majority of the pictures in this post was taken by the Mister. I was kind of up to my ears in prep so I asked him to be my photographer and just take pictures as he saw fit.

I decided to use some shrimp and baby squid this time, about a pound of shrimp (shelled and deveined) and about half a pound of baby squid, already cleaned. I had both seafood marinading together but in hindsight I should have done these two separately since the shrimp was so large, it took longer for them to cook through. I removed the squid from the wok as it cooked but was kind of a pain in the ass. Would have been much easier if I had thought it through in the beginning.

I also bought a humungo lobster from 99 Ranch (that sucker was 4.5 lbs), which I steamed ahead of time, which took about 30 minutes to steam. That big boy was going to be 2 meals! Here’s the size of the lobster tail, about 1 lb of meat. I saved that for our meal the next night. The meat in the bowl was all claw meat.

For the fried noodles, I used only claw meat. Here’s an action shot of the chaos of removing lobster meat. Most of the lobster shell is in the freezer for when I need to make some lobster stock.

I doubled the sauce ingredients on this one since I was doing 2 noodle cakes. Since I was going through all the trouble of de-meating the lobster, I wanted to make sure I had leftovers. Other things I had in this version were bok choy and shiitake mushrooms. I had sliced sweet onions but completely forgot to add those but we didn’t miss them.  Here’s the only shot I took, my plate. Yum!

This would have easily fed 4 hungry people but the leftovers made 2 delicious lunches for me! Dang, now I want some more…

Cauliflower Fried Rice

May 29, 2011 § 8 Comments


The Mister dubbed this dish the discovery of the year. I call it, “so good you won’t miss real fried rice” dish. Granted it’s only (end of) May but I think it’ll be tough to come up with another “new” dish as good as this one. What’s so special about this dish other than it tastes so good? There’s actually not a single grain of rice in it. Really. And it’s blow your socks off good. Really. When the SIL had it, she said she would have never known that it didn’t have rice if I hadn’t said anything.

Okay, now the disclaimer. Although the “mouth feel” isn’t exactly like fried rice, it’s a damn good substitute for anyone who is looking to cut down on starches. The key is Chinese sausage (lap cheong) and fish sauce. I’ve been doing a lot of stir fries lately, thanks to Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge. I’m trying to make my way through the book (stayed tuned for more recipes in upcoming posts). The challenge here of course is the Mister cutting  out rice. Not a big deal since I don’t have that restriction, but I grew up where it’s mandatory to have some kind of rice or noodles with stir-fry. As a matter of fact, steamed white rice was served with just about every breakfast, lunch and dinner in Mom’s house. So it didn’t feel right not to have some kind of rice-like accompaniment. 

One of the Paleo tricks for rice substitution is cauliflower shredded in a food processor. Even Alton Brown made a dish using this shredded technique except he made a slaw (see end of post). I’ve seen other Paleo recipes for cauliflower fried rice and quite frankly, they all sounded blah! So I used my fried rice recipe and modified it for cauliflower rice. If there was any dish I would recommend to try this year, especially if you’re looking to increase your veggie intake, this is the one. But you should try it regardless because it’s so damn good! It also keeps very well as a leftover in the fridge. As a matter of fact, this is good all by itself and it’s even satisfied the Mister’s loco moco cravings. Of course you can make this without the Chinese sausage and it would still taste good, but nothing beats a bit of lap cheong in fried rice in my book. If you decide to skip the sausage, add another couple of teaspoons of fish sauce. Or you can use another kind of sausage or meat to give it a different spin. But don’t skip the fish sauce.

If you don’t have a food processor with a shredding disk, you can hand shred the cauliflower using the large holes of a box shredder. Just be careful of your fingers. I would also recommend cutting the cauliflower head into quarters rather than florets for easier gripping. Also, as with all stir fries, it’s important to have all the ingredients prepped (mise en place) and ready and within reach before you start stir frying.

Paleo diet ingredient substitution in red.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head (~2 lb) of cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 4 Chinese sausages (lap cheong), diced
  • 1 scallion, sliced thinly both green and white parts
  • 3 eggs, beatened
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce (low sodium Tamari)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (extra virgin avocado oil)

Using the largest shredding disk of your food processor, feed the florets through the tube until all the florets have been shredded (check out Alton’s video below about 7 minutes in). It’s okay if there are little shreds of cauliflower. Set aside.

Heat a large wok on high heat. Swirl in oil, add beaten eggs and stir fry until egg has set but still very wet, about a couple of minutes. Remove from wok and set aside. Don’t worry, this all goes back into the wok for final stir frying.

Add sausage to wok and stir fry on high until sausage begins to brown a bit on the edges and has cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove from wok and set aside. If a lot of fat has rendered out of the sausage, dump out the excess fat leaving about a tablespoon of fat in the wok. This will help flavor the dish. Or if you prefer, you can dump out all the sausage rendered fat and add another tablespoon of cooking oil in its place.

Add minced garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add shredded cauliflower and salt, stir fry for a minute. Turn the heat down to medium-high, add soy sauce and fish sauce, stir fry for another 2 minutes. Add the scrambled eggs back in, breaking it up into small pieces with the spatula. Add the scallions and cooked sausage, stir fry for another minute or two to combine everything together. Give it a little taste to check seasoning. Add a bit more salt if needed. Serve hot.

Hope everyone is having a fantastic Memorial weekend!

Spicy Sesame Noodles

November 12, 2010 § 4 Comments

Awhile back, Mike of Menu in Progress posted some beautiful dishes with fish (read the post here). Ever since I read the post, I’ve been craving sesame noodles. Mike pointed me to Week of Menu’s version of William Sonoma’s recipe (thanks Mike!).

On a recent shopping trip, I bought some fresh Asian noodles (flour ones, not egg noodles) that I had planned for some other recipe but never got around to it. Then it hit me that I should make the sesame noodles with them before they pass the expiration date. Although I like Week of Menu’s version, I played around with the recipe a bit since I really wanted to enhance the sesame flavor, much like the sesame noodles I grew up with. I used Mike’s recommendations of reducing the sesame oil and the veggies. I also tried using rice vinegar and Shaoxing wine in place of the balsamic vinegar but I liked it best with the balsamic vinegar. The tang from the rice wine was a bit too much tang and with the Shaoxing wine, it wasn’t enough tang.  I also tried using a bit of peanut butter (not more than a tablespoon) and it was okay but not really the sesame flavor I was looking for. I also increased the amount of sesame oil, which surprising didn’t increase the sesame flavor a whole lot.

What really did the trick in boosting the sesame was sesame paste. I love sesame paste, especialliy in dipping sauces. And just a couple of tablespoons really took the flavor through the roof. I also liked the extra kick from the Asian chili garlic sauce (but I love that stuff). The Mister loved it and he said it reminded him a bit of Ba Ren’s cold Sichuan Cold Noodles. It did a little in an odd way. And if I had some diced Sichuan pickles, it would have been even better. So here’s my version of a version of Willliam Sonoma’s sesame noodles.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon Asian chili garlic sauce
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced or pushed through a press
  • 1 Tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons Asian sesame paste
  • 3 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil (preferably Japanese or Korean sesame oil)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 lb Asian noodles (you can use linguine or angel hair pasta)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm vegetable oil.  Add red pepper flakes and chili garlic sauce.  Cook, stirring mixture until the oil becomes slightly red and the pepper is fragrant.  Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant and soft, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together sesame paste, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar until mixture is smooth.  Add sesame oil, sugar, and salt.  Whisk in the garlic-ginger mixture.  Set aside.

Cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain and rinse under cold water.  Transfer to a bowl.  Add sauce and coat the noodles.  Add scallions and coat the noodles.  Cover and let sit at room temperature for about 1 hour. Just before serving add cilantro.  Toss to coat.

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