Friday, October 30, 2009

Sautéed Kohlrabi Sticks

This will probably seem like the most boring post ever, especially following an Ethiopian stew! In any case, it was something out of the ordinary enough for our household.

We bought a couple of kohlrabi bulbs a few months back, but had no idea what to do with them, not having worked with them before. Finally, I just decided to cut them into sticks and sauté them until done (soft but not mushy), with just salt and pepper for seasoning.

They looked remarkably like French fries, which could work for you, or in the case of our household, resulted in some disappointment at the realization that they were not fries.

In any case, they were pretty good and tasted pretty much like cabbage stems. If anybody has excellent kohlrabi ideas, please share. Perhaps we may buy them again. ;)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Easy Dorowat (Ethiopian Chicken Stew)

We've had The Slow Cooker Recipe Book: Over 150 one-pot dishes for no-fuss preparation and delicious eating for quite a while now. It was a gift from LSC (see links to her recipe contributions at the end of the post).

This is quite an informative and useful book, with chapters on slow-cooking basics (of course), useful equipment in the kitchen, information on beef, lamb and pork cuts, information on poultry and even game (such as rabbit and hare), prepping fish and shellfish, basic techniques for making stock, cooking soups and stews, making sauces, puddings, preserves... all in addition to the recipes within.

I've been eyeing several recipes in this book since it came to be in our possession and finally, when we had some chicken in the fridge, I seized the opportunity. I had to choose something that would be friendly to all members of the household. Since this dorowat was cumin-free, I decided it should be "safe".

I've renamed this "Easy Dorowat" since the recipe seems to be a much simpler way to make this chicken stew. No need to make berbere (Ethiopian spice mix) and nit'r qibe (niter kibbeh; spiced butter), and the spices needed were minimal.

It's more or less a dump-into-a-pot kind of affair, our favorite. I've adapted it for stovetop cooking as our slow cooker is actually too small to cook an adequate amount for the family.

cloves; cardamom seeds still hiding inside pods; nutmeg yet to be grated

A "safe" blend of spices: cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and turmeric (not pictured).

The dish starts with onions, garlic and ginger, followed by tomatoes.

After the tomatoes have been cooking for a while, I added the spices. The chicken pieces went in next. I covered the pot and let the stew simmer.

In the meantime, I boiled some eggs. Bet you didn't expect that, eh? (Or, maybe you did!)

When the chicken were almost done, I added the peeled hardboiled eggs into the stew.

As a final touch, a little bit of hot paprika went in. (We didn't have cayenne on hand, nor "regular" hot paprika, so we used smoked.)

Some sliced red onions and cilantro were needed to top the stew and it was done!

You may have noticed that for photo purposes, I cheated and stuck in some "breakfast pita", which cannot/must not be mistaken for injera (Ethiopian bread). As this was supposed to be an "easy" wat (stew), we did not make any injera, but rather, ate the stew with plain white rice.

Wow, we actually made something Ethiopian before!
Eggplant (or Duck!) with Dried Fruit Stuffing

Recipes contributed by LSC
Ginataang Manok (Chicken in Coconut Milk)
Bulalo (Beef Marrow Bone Soup)
Dinuguan (Pork Innards in Pork "Chocolate" Sauce)
Papaitan (Beef Innards in Bitter Sauce)

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The Slow Cooker Recipe Book: Over 150 one-pot dishes for no-fuss preparation and delicious eating

Serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1-inch piece ginger, peeled & finely chopped
3/4 cup chicken/vegetable stock
1 cup passata or 14oz can chopped tomatoes
seeds from 5 cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
large pinch ground cinnamon
large pinch ground cloves
large pinch ground nutmeg
3lb chicken
4 hard-boiled eggs
cayenne pepper or hot paprika, to taste
salt & pepper
roughly chopped cilnatro
onion rings
flatbread or rice

Heat oil in a large pan, add the onions and cook for 10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add the stock and the passata/chopped tomatoes to the pan. Bring to the boil and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened, then season.

Transfer the mixture to the ceramic cooking pot (of the slow cooker) and stir in the cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Add the chicken in a single layer, pushing the pieces down into the sauce.

**slow-cooker instructions**
Cover with the lid and cook on high for 3 hours. Remove the shells from the eggs, then prick the eggs a few times w/ a fork or fine skewer. Add to the sauce and cook for 30-45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.

Season to taste with cayenne pepper or hot paprika. Garnish with cilantro and onions rings. Serve with flatbread or rice.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stir-fried Pork with Black Bean Sauce

This is another re-discovered dish.

Our Yaya used to do one pork with tausi dish when we were growing up, but it has been more than 15 years since I've had her, or any other, version. I had bought a pork loin and decided that it would be used for the very purpose of reconnecting us with the past.

"Tausi"/Black Bean Sauce

This dish could be made with either (a) dried fermented black beans, rinsing them first and soaking them in some hot water, (b) canned black beans, what we call "tausi", rinsed first and then used as is, or (c) a prepared black bean and garlic sauce. I generally go the (c) route, buying the Lee Kum Kee brand.

I cut the pork loin into strips, the thinner the better, of course, but when pressed for time, these thick-ish strips will also do. These are marinated for 30 minutes with one tablespoon of Shaoxing wine and velveted with cornstarch, as much as needed to coat the meat strips.

These strips are quickly stir-fried-seared in a very hot wok. Batch-cookery applies, although I must say I've gotten away with just dumping the whole lot into the wok.

After the pork strips are cooked and taken out, I put some chunks of tomatoes, garlic into the same wok until they're cooked through and fragrant. I then add a couple of tablespoons of black bean sauce to the tomatoes. The pork strips are then put back into the sauce to cook completely.

This brings back memories and very delicious memories at that. This is wonderful with white rice and it is such a bonus that the whole dish comes together very quickly, less than 30 minutes.

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Stir-fried Pork with Black Bean Sauce

pork loin or tenderloin, sliced thinly or cut into strips
Shaoxing wine

1-2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
garlic cloves, as many as you like

black bean and garlic sauce (Lee Kum Kee or other brand)

Marinate the pork slices/strips: Add a few spoonfuls of Shaoxing wine to the pork, just enough to moisten the pork. Mix in some cornstarch until it forms a paste with the wine. Adjust Shaoxing and cornstarch proportions to your liking.

Set aside marinating pork, about 30 minutes.

In a hot wok with hot oil, add the marinated pork pieces, tossing until they are 90% cooked. You may need to do this in batches if the wok is not large enough. Take out pork pieces and set aside.

In the same wok, heat oil. Add tomatoes and garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add a tablespoon or so of the black bean sauce. Put back pork strips into the wok. Toss around until the pork is cooked through. Adjust seasoning (you may add more black bean sauce if you wish).

Serve with plain white rice.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Clear Oxtail Soup with Corn, Cabbage and Potatoes

Towards the tail end of corn season several weeks ago, I bought several ears of corn for the family to enjoy. I arrived fairly late to market and it was already slim pickings by then, so I managed to snag only 6 ears.

Only 6 ears was not enough for us. When we devour corn, we usually have an ear each, at least. Two ears per person is a modest serving for us. I had to figure out how to stretch these ears of corn lest a riot breaks loose.

Hmmm. . . I had some oxtails, some potatoes, and cabbage. Why not make a soup with all of the ingredients above? I must admit in all my years eating soup and eating corn, I've never had corn in soup before. (That is, a soup that had corn in it, instead of a cream of corn soup).

There's really nothing in terms of recipe for this soup. It's basic home-cooking, where we put ingredients in a pot with some water and wait.

I put the oxtails in the pot first and cooked them in water until they were almost tender, added the potatoes and then the corn. I got some local nugget potatoes because they were also available (and my favourite) and I managed to multiply my 6 ears of corn into 18 pieces of corn, by cutting each ear into thirds. I added some sliced cabbage last. Then, the soup was seasoned to taste.

It is surprising how a simple meal like this is so very, very good. The corn were exceptional! Somehow, cooking them with the oxtails made them taste very buttery, very sweet. The cabbage also made the light but definitely beefy broth itself sweet, and of course, the potatoes soaked up all that flavor.

We are submitting this soup to this edition of Weekend Wokking. We're just sad that we couldn't do our usual "crazy" entry for the event. But, hopefully, we'll be able to someday soon, when time frees up.

This soup is similar to Bulalo (Philippine Beef Bone Soup)
Recipe below.

eatingclub vancouver Weekend Wokking posts:
Ravioli "Caprese": Tomato, Basil, Bocconcini
Eggplant "Clafouti"
Pumpkin Congee w/ Pumpkin "Beignets" & Sesame-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese w/ Pipián Verde
Adobo Mushroom Tart
Duck and Orange Crêpes with Orange-White Wine Sauce
Almond Eggplant "Bisteeya" (Bastilla)
"Mashed Potato Beef Burger" (Red-skinned Potato Salad in Taiwanese Sacha Cheeseburger)
Korean Soybean Sprouts Pancake (Kongnamul Jeon)
Lemon Chamomile Tiramisu
Cilantro Horchata
Strawberry Cilantro Salsa, on Grilled Flank Steak
Duck Enchiladas with Chipotle Peanut Salsa
Clear Oxtail Soup with Corn, Cabbage and Potatoes
Beijing Pickled Cabbage
Salsa Romesco ("Queen of the Catalan Sauces!")
Aguadito de Pollo (Peruvian Chicken Soup)
Bangus Belly à la Bistek (Milkfish Belly with Onions, Calamansi and Soy Sauce)
White Pork with Garlic Sauce, Two Ways (蒜泥白肉)
Mr. Zheng's Soupy Tomatoes and Eggs with Tofu (蕃茄雞蛋跟豆腐)
Steamed Fish and Tofu with Chinese Black Beans
Spinach and Cheese with Puff Pastry, Three Ways

We're submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks celebrating the multiple ways we can cook one ingredient.

The host this month is Graziana of Erbe in cucina.

If you would like to participate or to see the secret ingredient, check
who's hosting next month.

Check out
all Weekend Wokking Roundups.

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Clear Oxtail Soup with Corn, Cabbage and Potatoes

oxtail, chopped into pieces
nugget potatoes, whole or cut in half
corn, each cob cut into thirds
cabbage, chopped in large pieces

salt & pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce

All quantities are according to how much one wants them to be.

In a pot, add oxtail pieces and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, then simmer on low heat until oxtail is tender, about 2-3 hours.

Add potatoes and corn into broth. Simmer until cooked. Add cabbage last and cook in the soup until wilted to your liking. Season the soup to taste with salt & pepper, and/or soy sauce, and/or fish sauce.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New West KnifeWorks Phoenix Santoku

I have heard the injunction numerous time before, the reminder from every chef, celebrity chef and food "personality" to keep knives sharpened and sharp.

To be honest, I never thought much of it. Sure, it made good common sense and I can certainly see the wisdom of it, but it just never clicked for me. I have been going about my business with the knives we have -- and it seemed to me too that there was nothing that wrong with them. The knives cut when I need them to cut.

Suffice it to say that I have never known the pleasures of a truly sharp knife until I got the chance to use this New West knife.

New West KnifeWorks Phoenix Santoku (Cocobolo handle)

I first tried it to slice some onions -- and whoa!

Hey, slicing onions seem to be so much easier with this knife. Usually with what I have realized to be our horrendously dull knives, just getting the tops off onions requires a couple of grunts and, on some occasions, a couple of curses. The process from slicing the top off, to peeling the paper off the onions, to chopping them up finely seem to be pretty much painless.

I also used our New West knife to butcher three chickens. With our old knives, this task usually takes me more than half an hour to do. With the New West knife, the chickens were in parts in less about 15 minutes, ready for their next incarnation. The chicken carcasses were in the pot to ba made into stock.

A sharp knife does make a difference. I finally got it.

We used this knife to do all sorts of standard chopping and slicing tasks. Slicing through little rind-y key limes, chopping leafy greens...

...slicing beef, and cutting hard vegetables like cabbage.

Here are a couple of random thoughts.

The New West KnifeWorks Phoenix Santoku is quite lightweight with a much thinner blade, very different from a standard chef's knife. If you use a chef's knife, the Phoenix Santoku's almost-weightlessness may take a little bit of getting used to. On the other hand, it is a much friendlier knife to use for most people because it is so lightweight.

The blade of this particular knife is also shorter than the blade of a chef's knife. It's great for most purposes, but probably a little too small for some tasks, for example, cutting up a watermelon or a pumpkin.

The handle is also quite long compared to the blade. At times, the end of the handle would hit my forearm as I used the knife. Again, alternatively, there were comments in the household that the longer handle was much easier to use. (Perhaps it's just me, then; although, I don't think I have particularly short hands.)

All in all, this knife was great to use. I would compare it to a vegetable knife (such as the Global vegetable knife we have in possession). However, it does work as an all-purpose knife, with a few exceptions such as if one were to tackle a very big item, or for butchering large pieces of meat or cutting through bone.

JS and I would like to thank New West KnifeWorks for giving us the opportunity to get our hands on (literally!) one of their beautiful knives! It is quite a lovely addition to our kitchen.

New West KnifeWorks website
About the Phoenix Granton-Santoku Knife

[ No Recipes ] has a great knife comparison post:
The Great Knife Off

What's Cooking also has reviews of New West knives:
Super Bread Knife
Making Chopping Easy

I love this pattern!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Miso Shortribs

Looking for a quick way to jazz up short ribs?

I was rummaging through our fridge a while back and found a container of half-unused miso.

I quickly mixed in about two tablespoons of miso, two tablespoons of mirin, and some brown sugar to taste. I added in a couple dashes of hot sauce and this was ready to slather onto some short ribs. I let the short ribs marinate for a couple of hours just because we had the time.

For sides, we made some roasted zucchini (with a bit of some other winter squash thrown in as well) that we topped with breadcrumbs and pinenuts. We also made some mashed/"smashed" potatoes.

But, who would even look at the sides when you have such shortrib beauty around? Look at them sizzle!


This was during our "PG" period: PRE-GRILL, that is. So, I grilled the shortribs on a stovetop grill.

I told you, shortrib beauty!

Miso shortribs with zucchini and smashed potatoes? I can't say I was disappointed with the meal at all.

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Miso Shortribs

shortribs, flanken cut

ratio 1:1 of
miso paste & mirin

brown sugar, to taste
hot sauce or chili flakes, optional

Mix together equal parts of miso and mirin. Add some brown sugar, to taste (to balance out the saltiness from the miso). If desired, mix in hot sauce or chili flakes for heat.

Marinate the shortribs in the miso mixture for 2 hours or more. If pressed for time, simply coat the shortribs well with the mixture before cooking.

Grill the shortribs until done.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

eatingclub Chicken Saltimbocca on's Best of the Web!

according to

I was puttering around our Google Analytics a few days ago -- a very rare occurrence as these "analytics" are all Greek to me -- when I noticed that on one certain day, we had an unusually higher number of visits. It was very strange indeed. On further investigation, I discovered why.

Our Chicken "Saltimbocca" post was featured on's Best of The Web!

Wow! That was totally unexpected; a complete surprise! We're so happy! Chicken Saltimbocca by [eatingclub] vancouver

[eatingclub] vancouver is now on their list of "Best of the Web" sites!
[eatingclub] vancouver:
Chicken "Saltimbocca" (the original post)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Taiwan Beef Noodle Soup, 4 versions (Taipei, Taiwan)

beef noodle soup at Yong Kang

Thinking back on our visit to Taipei last March, I can't believe how unprepared we were for that trip. We had no game plan: basically, we boarded a plane in Vancouver and landed in Taipei. We had a hotel booked and we knew we had a wedding to go that week -- but that was about it. We had no itinerary planned, didn't even do any research whatsoever.

So, we wandered and meandered through the streets of Taipei. Of course, we had to have (Taiwan) Beef Noodle Soup! We tried several beef noodle shops; this is their story.

Food Stall at Taipei 101
Our first day in Taipei, we went to Taipei 101. It is apparently the big tourist-y structure to see, but I was unclear what it was exactly that we should see there. I figured it was a big building -- and I feared it would be just another big mall.
Taipei 101

Just to show how beef-noodle-crazy the city seems to be, here's a funny statue in Taipei 101.

The cow is eating noodles in soup made from himself!

It's a cow in its own broth, complete with noodles and vegetables. I guess they do take their beef noodles quite seriously.

I don't know what this food stall is called. Please refer to its name in the photograph.

There was a Food Court in the basement of Taipei 101 and we decided to eat first before going on our way. I must say, food courts in Taipei are a different animal from food courts in North America. It seems to me that they still serve "real food", only quicker, not mish-mashed corn ingredients masquerading as food.

By the way, Taipei 101 is just a big mall. There's the observatory, but it was teeming with scary, unruly tourist groups, so we didn't bother. Therefore, our visit there was very short.

We bought a bowl of beef noodle soup from the stall pictured above. We piled on the pickled mustard greens on our noodles and away we slurped.

While the beef noodle soup was better than average and had a healthy portion of bok choy, the broth here had a hint of that "Chinese medicine" taste which we both didn't particularly care for.

Also, I wanted even thicker, even QQ-er noodles. ("QQ" is Chinese for "chewy". It's true. I don't lie.)

Onward we go!

Unknown Restaurant

Our second day, we finally got one of those free maps being given out by Metro Taipei, the subway system.

Metro Taipei

(We tried buying a real map at 7-11 or any conveniece store but were foiled by the Chinese-only maps and by the fact that the booklets were always covered by a plastic wrap and hence unviewable for those not buying. We bought a couple but they were pretty much useless.)

One of the places the Metro map suggested to go to was the Ximending 西門町 area, which was a "fashionable" part of town, full of "youthful lifestyle." We also saw the little letters on the map telling us that one of the streets was the "Street of Beef Noodle."

We're not exactly sure if we got onto this street of beef noodle but we did end up in a beef noodle shop with no name.

TS put up two fingers to indicate that there were 2 of us going to be eating. When the owner/waiter never returned with the menu or anything else for that matter, we were starting to get antsy. Were they going to let us order or are we supposed to just sit here?

After about five minutes, we had two steaming bowls of beef noodle soup. Apparently, TS's peace sign already signified our order of two bowls!

Ooooh, pickled mustard greens, so plentiful!

I loved the fact that they had a big container of the pickled mustard greens on the table. In Vancouver, most beef noodle joints are very miserly with their pickled mustard greens. In Taipei, it seems they just give it away.

I can't really remember how this tasted exactly, except that it was very good. Umm, yeah, that's about it: it was very good.

(But, again, "skinny" noodles!)

We went into the restaurant via a side alley entrance, and it was only after eating that we discovered their "kitchen" outside the other door.

We looked around a bit, trying to see if they had some sort of signage, but it seems that they didn't. So, I took a picture of the street sign to take note of the location.

If you ever wish to visit them, that's where you go. =)

Yong Kang Beef Noodle 永康牛肉麵

Since 1963

For our 3rd taiwan beef noodle experience, AL -- the bride whose wedding we were attending -- took us to her favourite beef noodle place.

It was a busy place; full house!

There was another place a few doors down that supposedly won the title of "Best Beef Noodle Soup" in Taipei's annual beef noodle soup contest, but AL scoffs at their "win". She thinks they might've bribed the judges or something, teehee. She's bitter that Yong Kang did not win. I must say, though, that when we walked past the other restaurant, only about 30% of the tables was occupied.

We sat at a communal table. That's a portion of our table. The little plate of noodle-like items in the background is tofu.

Tofu "strings"/"strips." Simply marinated. Very nice and refreshing. This was served room temperature or cold.

Oh, typically, beef noodle places (and other places as well) in Taipei have several "side dishes" on offer.

Marinated lotus root. Again, very nice and "refreshing", as it was also served room temperature/cold.

In general, most of these items are generically called "marinated". At least, that's the translation I see often.

Steamed spareribs with rice "powder". The rice "powder" is ground-up rice with various added flavorings/spices. It comes in a mini bamboo steamer with a handle. This was served piping hot, of course! The "unknown restaurant" also carried this item; we just didn't order it that time.

You may be wondering, "Why is the beef noodle soup so pale?" Well, in most places, beside the dark "hong shao" (紅燒, aka "red cook") beef broth, they also carry a plain clear broth. I was very curious about this plain clear broth after seeing it on various menus.

I asked AL: "What does the plain one taste like? Should I order that instead?"

I should say that when I asked this question, I was very much visibly torn and confused, with my heart yearning for the hong-shao noodle soup, yet my curiousity incredibly piqued by this clear broth.

AL did not help much. "It's just a clear broth. If you want to find out what it is, why don't you just order it, then."

She led me astray!!!!!

I mean, it was all right and all, but obviously, it wasn't that rich, complex hong-shao type broth I was looking for. I looked enviously at both AL's and JS' bowls of hong-shao beef noodle soup all throughout the dinner, feeling quite sorry for myself.

That was what I was missing! Look at that hong-shao goodness! The broth, so dark and rich! So flavorful! I still get sad thinking about my plain broth. [sniffle]

Yong Kang Beef Noodle 永康牛肉麵 website

Food place at "The Mall"

Our last day in Taipei, we were too lazy to venture too far out of our hotel. Our hotel is situated beside The Mall. Like every department store, it has a food court in the basement. We've eaten at several other food stalls in The Mall, but this time, we chose the Taiwanese place.

The Mall

I must reiterate that as JS has mentioned, eating at these food courts is nothing to be ashamed of! ;) Actually some of the food places in these food courts are full-fledged restaurants. This place was kind of a restaurant.

Oh, if you go to "The Mall" website, then select About > Floor Directory > B2, this is the 6th item on that list of stores/restaurants.

That teensy-teensy, tiny spoon was adorable!

Once again, we decided to get some sides.

Bamboo shoots.

Pickled vegetables.

Tofu and various vegetables with these small fish.

What do we have here?

Look at that goodness! I don't exactly know what type of vegetable/herb is in this. The filling also had mung bean threads/noodles, and possibly chopped tofu.

It was so very, very good. In fact, after eating this one, we ordered yet another one. (You may remember this type of "bing" 餅 from our Chinese "Stuffed Pancakes" post.)

What am I forgetting? Oh yes, the beef noodle soup!

Lookee here...

Our order sheet. We were quite happy to see they had "knife-cut" noodles.

Lo and behold, our bowls of beef noodle finally had these more rustic and chewy noodles. That was one thing I was missing from all the other beef noodle soups that we tried.

Finally, my QQ dreams were fulfilled! These noodles were so nice and chewy.

All in all, we didn't eat any awful bowls of beef noodle soup during our trip.

(Believe it or not, we still have some posts still to write from our Taipei trip from oh, about 7 months ago!)

About Taiwan Beef Noodle Soup
Wikipedia: Taipei 101
Taipei 101 official site
Metro Taipei
Wikipedia: Ximending
The Mall

Taiwan trip 2009
Taiwanese Bakery Goods (including ChiaTe Bakery)
Dan Shui 淡水, Taiwan (including food)
Taipei Quick Eats: Mos Burger, Hong Ya Breakfast, Ay Chung Flour-Rice Noodle
Taipei Convenience Store Foods
Shilin Night Market 士林夜市 (Taipei, Taiwan)
Breakfast Buffet at the Shangri-La (Taipei, Taiwan)
Taiwan Beef Noodle Soup, 4 versions (Taipei, Taiwan)
Yehliu 野柳 Geopark; Dried Seafood (Taiwan)

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