Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Twice-cooked Pork (回鍋肉)

On every Chinese restaurant menu, there is always a "twice-cooked pork" dish and there are many versions of twice-cooked pork (回鍋肉).

The seasonings might be a tad different, e.g. some may be spicier than others and some might have fermented black beans, but in its basic concept, the dish is cooked pork belly that is sliced thin (that's the first cooking) and then stir-fried in a wok with more ingredients, usually with cabbage (that's the second cooking).

This is a recipe that we've adapted from Kian of Red Cook.
(Kian's recipe here: Twice-Cooked Pork and Garlic Shoots)

You may remember our epic undertaking of making White Pork with Garlic Sauce, Two Ways (蒜泥白肉).

Those three pieces of pork belly yielded quite a lot, so there was enough to make this dish as well. We cooked the pork belly by simply simmering them in water. After letting them cool, I sliced them thinly.

sliced cooked pork belly

Hot Bean Paste (辣豆瓣醬) and Sweet Bean Paste (甜麵醬)

I know, I know, these bean pastes are confusing. They're all bean pastes! One's best bet is to copy out the Chinese and match that to the label. We used these two types for this dish. As a point of reference, the sweet bean paste is similar to hoisin sauce.

There's our pork belly, some green onions and chile peppers. Another essential ingredient is cabbage.

To start, I heated some oil, then added some garlic and the cabbage. I cooked the cabbage for a bit.

I then added the pork belly, sweet bean paste and hot bean paste. I also added some rice vinegar, sesame oil and a touch of soy sauce to balance out the sweetness. The green onions and chile peppers went in last.

The dish made for a really satisfying accompaniment to rice. I found it a tad sweet for me, so I would add more hot bean paste than sweet bean paste next time (reflected in the recipe below). I would also probably like some red chile oil in the dish as well.

Oooh, red chile oil (紅油). Drool.

This is a good dish to experiment with bean sauces, or a combination of bean sauces. I like mine with a hot, spicy broad bean sauce (郫县豆瓣酱) -- so that's also definitely another option the next time we try twice-cooked pork.
Wiki: Pixian Doubanjiang (郫县豆瓣酱)

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Twice-cooked Pork (回鍋肉)

adapted from Red Cook's Twice-cooked Pork and Garlic Shoots

400g cooked pork belly, sliced thin

2 Tablespoons chopped garlic
1 head cabbage, chopped into about the same size as the pork belly slices

1 Tablespoons sweet bean paste (甜麵醬)

2 Tablespoons hot bean paste (辣豆瓣醬)

1-2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 Tablespoon rice vinegar

soy sauce
green onions, sliced

chile peppers (optional)

To cook pork belly, place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Cook for 45 minutes to about an hour, until tender. Cool, then slice thinly.

In a wok or large sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir for a few seconds, then add cabbage. Cook until the cabbage has softened slightly, a couple of minutes, or until they are almost to your desired doneness.

Add sliced pork belly, then the sweet and hot bean pastes. Stir and season with sesame oil, rice vinegar and soy sauce. Feel free to adjust the ratio of the bean pastes according to taste.

When the pork belly is heated through and the cabbage is your desired doneness, add the green onions and chile peppers.

Serve hot with white rice.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Philippine-style Chicken Salad Sandwich

Simple Philippine-style chicken salad today.

This was a merienda fixture in our school bags growing up.

Merienda is the meal between the big three meals (breakfast, merienda, lunch, merienda, and dinner). Sometimes we'd have merienda after dinner too, before going to sleep.

Good times.

Steam or boil chicken breast.
Allow to cool, then shred.
Add mayonnaise.
Add sweet pickle relish.
Mix it all up.
Season to taste.

It should be creamy and slightly sweet.

Serve chicken salad on pan de sal or toast.

Make the chicken salad as creamy (mayo-y) and sweet (relish-y) as you want!

For "authenticity", we served ours in a pan de sal bun.

For "authenticity", our sandwich was squished into all sorts of weird shapes, reminiscent of their usual state as we pulled them out of our school bags during recess.

More eatingclub Philippine/Filipino food

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Home-style Chinese Steamed Egg with Pork (家常蒸雞蛋)

A while back, my aunt and uncle from Toronto came to visit Vancouver with some friends, on their way to an Alaskan cruise. My mother asked if we can prepare a home-cooked meal for them one of the days they were here.

TS and I said yes -- but warned our mother that the meal is most likely going to be a very simple one. That was no problem, apparently, as by the end of their trip, my relatives were starting to suffer from restaurant food fatigue.

One of the surprise hits of that meal was this Home-style Chinese Steamed Egg (家常蒸雞蛋). In the Fujian/Hokkien dialect, called "tim-nung".

Our mother used to prepare steamed egg quite often back in the day, but for some reason, her steamed egg kept changing and changing and it was never the same taste from the first time to the next.

After a spate of inconsistent and unsatisfying steamed egg dishes, unsatisfying to herself, I guess, our mother probably got discouraged because she never made steamed egg again.

Which is a shame, because home-style steamed egg can be one of the most soul-satisfying dishes to eat.

As with home-style dishes, this was dead simple to make.

I started by pan-frying the ground pork. Well, pan-"frying" may not be the best word. Basically, I cooked the ground pork to release some of its liquid. I added the tiniest amount of Shaoxing wine and sesame oil to taste.

The cooked ground pork then goes into the steaming vessel. In the meantime, I beat some eggs, then added some chicken stock, chopped green onions, chopped tree ear mushrooms, and some Shaoxing wine and salt to taste.

If without tree ear mushrooms in the house, simply use shiitake, dried (reconstituted) or fresh.

That whole lot goes into the steaming vessel over the pork.

As per its name, the dish is then steamed until cooked. There's really no way to overcook this. We had some of these salted egg yolks, so I stuck them into the dish for garnish when the eggs were more or less cooked.


Such a homey dish is quite the pick-me-upper after a long day at work. Our cousins and guests at the get-together remarked, on more than one occasion, how eating this dish gave them such a warm, comforting, satisfying feeling.

Some eggy eatingclub dishes
Tarragon-Carrot Deviled Eggs
Golden Egg Torta
Hunanese Stir-fried Eggs with Green Peppers
Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish "Omelette")
Piedmont Marinated Eggs
Asparagus and Crab Egg Crêpes
Stir-fried Egg and Tomato
Oyster Torta
Torta with Pork and Kecap Manis
Curried (Easter) Egg Salad
Taiwanese Stewed Eggs (滷蛋) with Stewed Minced Pork (魯肉 or 肉燥)
Longsilog (Longganisa + Sinangag + Itlog)
Torta (Mexican Sandwich)
Mr. Zheng's Soupy Tomatoes and Eggs with Tofu
Nasi Lemak (Malaysian Coconut Rice Meal with Sambal)
Home-style Chinese Steamed Egg with Pork
Golden Shrimp Torta (Philippine Shrimp Omelette)

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Home-style Chinese Steamed Egg with Pork (家常蒸雞蛋)
Serves 8, or more if part of a multi-course meal

This is quite a large size of steamed egg. Feel free to halve the recipe.

3/4 pounds ground pork
Shaoxing wine, to taste
sesame oil, to taste

16 eggs
2 cups chicken stock
6 stalks green onions, chopped
1 cup soaked tree ear mushrooms, chopped
(substitution: chopped reconstituted dried shiitake mushrooms, or chopped fresh shiitakes)

1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine

salted egg yolks, optional

Heat pan/skillet over medium heat. Add ground pork, Shaoxing wine and sesame oil, and cook until the ground pork is cooked through. Let cool and set aside.

In a bowl, beat eggs and mix in chicken stock, green onions, mushrooms, Shaoxing wine and salt. If using, chop salted egg yolks and add into the mixture. You may reserve some for garnish.

In a container safe for steaming, add the ground pork, then pour in the beaten egg mixture. Steam until cooked. If using salted egg yolks as garnish, simply add them when the steamed egg dish is more or less cooked, then steam for a little while longer to heat them through.

Serve with rice. If desired, serve soy sauce, Maggi seasoning, or kecap manis as condiments.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Manila Machine Food Truck (Los Angeles, CA)

Just back from a quick trip down to LA last week. One of the highlights of the trip was a tasting menu from The Manila Machine.

The Manila Machine is LA's first Filipino food truck, run by one of our favourite bloggers, Marvin of Burnt Lumpia. They have been receiving great press from the local media and we couldn't be happier for Marvin.

Here's The Manila Machine story from Marvin's own mouth:

website: The Manila Machine

I must say, I love the name The Manila Machine! It's catchy, and for me, has a very Filipino flavor (probably because it reminds me of Burger Machine in the Philippines).

Although we were short of time, we knew we couldn't leave LA without sampling their food.

We looked at the truck's schedule, tried to find where they were going to be parking, mapped it out -- and it seemed like our schedule put us on divergent paths, nowhere near Manila Machine.


Thankfully, quite serendipitously, we found out that there was a tasting event organized by Abby of The Pleasure Palate for Saturday, the day we leave, at 1pm. Since our plane for Vancouver doesn't leave until 6 in the evening, we figured we could swing by the tasting that day.

Given that we were already eating more than our body weight the past three days, we opted to share one person's portion between the two of us. It was more than enough food, though, as there were 9 courses/items on the tasting menu, including two desserts.

When we parked our rental car, we saw Nastassia bringing out a tray of calamansi juice. We were just in time!

For those who have never had had calamansi, it is quite different from lemons or limes. Its fragrance is intoxicating! I thought it was quite a nice touch bringing us the juice, seeing as it was a gajillion degrees out.

By the way, Nastassia is the other half (co-owner, that is) of The Manila Machine, and also a food blogger! (Nastassia's blog: Let Me Eat Cake)

There she is taking a picture of the attendees taking pictures of her and Marvin. =)

OK, enough chit-chat. On to the food!

Tapsilog (Tapa + Sinangag + Itlog)

First up was a breakfast item, tapsilog. Tapsilog is beef tapa with sinangag (garlic fried rice) and fried egg (itlog).

The -silog plate is infinitely variable. The Manila Machine also serves spamsilog and longsilog during their breakfast services.

(Here's our version of longsilog: longganisa + sinangag + itlog.)


The beef tapa here was nicely done, well-flavoured and tender. If you're used to the traditional tapa, which is usually pounded very thin and dry-ish, Marvin's version would be a pleasant surprise. I can take my tapa both ways, so I'm all good.

The only thing missing for me was some chili-infused vinegar to enjoy with the tapa and the egg.

Chicken Adobo & Lumpiang Shanghai

We got our second and third courses in one plate, the lumpiang shanghai and the chicken adobo. Marvin has mentioned that the most comments he receives are for the adobo and people have varying opinions about how chicken adobo should taste. The Manila Machine version is his take on the chicken adobo.

The lumpiang shanghai was good, very nicely rolled, nicely fried (not greasy at all) and filled with pork-y goodness. Marvin sure does know how to roll 'em.

Longganisa Slider

The next item we got was the longganisa slider.

The pan de sal (bread) was slightly sweet and squishy, which is how a slider bun should be. The longganisa (a type of sausage) was sweet and garlicky. This was topped with some arugula. There was also a slather of mango jam, which made the whole thing slightly too sweet for me. I could have used more garlic somewhere. They do have Sriracha available for use, so I probably will put a dollop of Sriracha next time I have the longganisa slider.

I really like the pan de sal they use. Unlike others I've seen, this had a yellow tint. It reminded me of the buns from Shake Shack.

Mango Popsicle

Magnolia Ice Milk Bar

We also got Magnolia Popsicles! I grabbed the mango flavour -- and man oh man, I had forgotten how good Philippine mangoes are and how different they taste from the mangoes available here. Le sigh.

I think the forgetting was a defense mechanism, since we could never get the same mangoes here.


Yeah! We're just stuck here with stores peddling those Hayden and/or Ataulfo mangoes.


Sisig on rice was the next item.

While sisig is traditionally made using the meat from the pig's head/face, including (or especially!) the ears, snout, and any other meat there, Marvin uses only pork cheeks.

When questioned, he did say he prefers the entire pork face for the varying textures and flavours -- however, the question is whether or not most people would accept pork face or pork ear sisig.

Sisig is also usually in smaller pieces, much like Marvin's own version on Burnt Lumpia. But then again, really small pieces of meat may be more "unusual-looking" to most people, and may be harder to eat for people who use forks and not spoons!

Place settings in the Philippines and Southeast Asia include a flat plate and a spoon and fork. The fork helps push the food onto the spoon, and the spoon is what makes it into the mouth. This is very efficient for rice-based meals. No rice grains falling through the tines of the fork!)

What sells is what sells: what people want is what people want. No use fighting it, so pork cheek sisig is it for now. Like the previous beef tapa, this was nicely seasoned and goes great with rice.

Spam Slider

Another slider they serve is the Spam and egg pan de sal slider.

Very good, albeit a tad messy, with the delicious oozy yolk dribbling down your arm. They serve this with banana ketchup, so there's that whole sweet-salty thing going on that's just irresistible.

Look how unassuming it looks at first glance. But take a bite, and there's an explosion of color... and even more yolk-ooze than ever!

An aside: Like a lot of kids in the Philippines, we grew up on Spam -- but detractors of Spam, please pan-fry the Spam first! Of course, Spam will be gross if you just eat it straight from the can with all those jellied "juices." I usually like my Spam pan-fried until I get a nice crust on the outside.

A little Spam goes a long way, so I found there was too much Spam per bite. I would've liked a thinner slice, but of course, I think most people would protest if presented with a smaller piece of meat.

Fried Wings with Spicy Adobo Glaze

Our surprise item was fried spicy adobo chicken wings. I liked this as the adobo sauce was reduced to create quite a yummy sauce for the chicken. The wing itself was not greasy and there was no batter.

A sampling of the items on the menu. For the full menu, visit their website.

Turon (Fried Banana "Spring Roll")

Our first dessert item was turon. The turon was big! Inside was a mixture of banana and jackfruit and it was served with a drizzle of caramel sauce. The turon was perfectly rolled, very tight, very professional. The turon was delicious.

I'm a sucker for turon. And really, wow, Marvin is an expert roller of lumpia wrappers! They're so prettily-wrapped. =D

Ube Cupcake

The ube cupcake was quite conveniently packed in a to-go container. It's as if they read our minds! So, we took our cupcake and drove straight to the airport.

Well, not straight to the airport. JS and I stopped at the In-N-Out near the airport and bought a couple of cheeseburgers to take with us on the plane.

The ube cupcake didn't last until the flight. We each ate our halves while waiting to board. Quite yummy too. This whole cupcake thing is starting to grow on me.

More press! Marvin and Nastassia being interviewed during the tasting.

It was great meeting Marvin after following his blog for all this time. And it was great meeting Nastassia. Apparently, she had just visited Vancouver a few months ago!

Understandably, they're very busy with the new venture; it is like a newborn baby needing constant attention. It looks like they're off to a great start and we wish them all the best.

We will definitely head over to the Machine should we be in LA.

The Manila Machine
Los Angeles, CA
Visited in July 2010

eatingclub vancouver in Los Angeles
The Manila Machine Food Truck
Yunnan 168

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Actual Hot Weather and Camera Death

dents and deformities

Well, the weather gods have punished me for complaining about the @^%$#!!@!$$# hot weather here in Vancouver.

I complained about 25-30 C (75-85 F) weather, so they subjected me to 30-35 C (86-95 F) heat!

That's right, JS and I were out gallavanting about in Los Angeles. Apparently, locals have told us that it had been hotter than usual the past week. Just my luck.

Another unfortunate incident: my camera finally died. It was pretty banged up already -- those dents and deformities pictured above existed long before death, but perhaps the heat was also too much for it to bear and it decided to end its misery.

Ah well, camera death is not something a little quickie trip to Costco can't fix.

I bought another point-and-shoot, the Panasonic Lumix FH20, for those who are curious. In an all's-well-that-ends-well turn of events, I think the camera was cheaper to buy in the US than in Canada. So there.

And that's what JS and I have been up to. Back to semi-regular posting soon.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Balsamic Strawberry Tart with Olive Oil Crust

It is too %#!@$@$ hot here to think straight right now.

I know, I know, you guys living in really hot places will laugh at me. But really, it is S.O. H.O.T.

It's a whopping 25 C to 30 C! (That's probably 75 F to 85 F.) Fine, you can laugh a little.

Hence, I don't seem to be physically able to write much. This will be a short one... well, "short" by eatingclub standards. ;)

Bimbo Strawberries

We had these bimbo-esque strawberries in the house, so they weren't very good for eating out of hand. Look at it! They were huge! They looked "pretty" enough, but they were tasteless.

So, I knew we had to do something with them. This is what I came up with.

I cooked together some butter, brown sugar, strawberries and balsamic vinegar.

I used this classical pairing of strawberries and balsamic vinegar as a tart filling. Since I had balsamic vinegar, I thought, why not make an olive oil tart crust!

I tried to do the easy way by having a press-in crust. Hmm, I don't know if I made it wrong, but it turned out that I didn't have enough dough to properly cover my tart pan. Oh well. The crust was just thin and patchy, but still edible.

I blind-baked the crust and simply filled it with the balsamic strawberry filling. The color wasn't that attractive because the balsamic vinegar turned everything brown. So, I decided to cover it up with whipped cream.

And there you go! I had the hardest time photographing this as well.

In any case, strawberries + caramel + balsamic = yummy. The olive oil crust was decidedly olive oil-y and worked quite well, I thought. The whipped cream didn't hold up well, though. It just drooped. But, that didn't affect the taste, so all was well.

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Balsamic Strawberry Tart with Olive Oil Crust
Makes 1 8 to 9-inch tart

Balsamic Strawberry Filling
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 to 1 pound strawberries, halved, sliced, or diced
lemon zest (optional)
cornstarch slurry (optional)

In a pan/skillet, heat butter and add the sugar and balsamic vinegar. Cook for a few minutes until slightly thickened and reduced. Add the strawberries and lemon zest (if using) and cook until strawberries are cooked through.

If you wish, add cornstarch slurry to thicken the filling and help it set. (Cornstarch slurry = cornstarch dissolved in cold water.)

While the filling is hot, add the cornstarch slurry, stirring, until mixture has thickened.

Olive Oil Press-In Tart Dough
tart dough recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar (white or brown)
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons ice water

Process the flour, sugar and salt together in a food processor until combined. Drizzle the oil over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand, about 12 pulses.

Add 2 tablespoons of the ice water and continue to process until large clumps of dough form and no powdery bits remain, about 5 seconds. If the dough doesn't clump, add the remaining tablespoon water and pulse to incorporate, about 4 pulses. Press the dough into a 9=inch tart pan.

Making the tart
Preheat oven to 350 F.

If dough is soft from working into the tart pan, place in refrigerator or freezer to firm up. Cover tart shell with parchment paper and add baking weights. Bake until crust is lightly golden. Let cool.

Pour in the balsamic strawberry filling into the tart shell and refrigerate to set. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

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