Somen Noodles and Sausage

This dish is a classic example of "pacham" (pachamba-chamba or "by chance") because I just kinda' threw in all sorts of ingredients from my fridge that I thought would work well with the dish. Luckily, somen is hubby's favorite noodle and would devour anything cooked with it.

Truth be told, I wasn't disappointed myself. The dish had a good flavor, it was well-balanced (carbs, protein and veggies in one plate!), and the noodles offered a break from the usual steamed rice.

What you need: 

1 pound smoked sausage, cut into coins
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon black bean sauce
1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 bundles of somen noodles
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups Japanese Blend vegetables
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 Vidalia onion, sliced

What to do: 

Cook somen noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat the canola oil in a wok over medium-high. Add the coined sausage and cook for about 2 minutes. In the same wok, saute the garlic and onion for about a minute, then add the rest of the veggies. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until veggies are crisp tender.

Add the soy sauce, black bean sauce and oyster sauce. Adjust taste by adding 2 tablespoons of water if it is too salty for you. Cook until heated through.

Ladle some noodles in a bowl and top with the veggies-sausage mix. Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Too salty for you? Skip the soy sauce!
2. You can use other vegetables for this dish - carrots, celery, etc.
3. Try chicken if you don't have sausage available.
4. Any kind of firm noodle would work for this dish. Don't use misua! ;-)
5. You can steam your veggies beforehand, but it would be soggy when you add it to the noodles.


Eggstravaganza 2011

Egg-shaped Easter candies!
As an Easter game, my mother-in-law hid 45 plastic Easter eggs in the backyard and sent us on a hunt. To spruce things up, she put a number inside each egg, and assigned three winning numbers. That way, it won't be just a mad dash for eggs and/or whoever gets the most wins. It was so much fun, and we enjoyed every minute of it. 

Easter eggs symbolize new life, a rebirth, just as Jesus rose from the dead after three days. It is so sad that the meaning of these eggs has been drowned by commercialism and other capitalist ventures. 

These eggs (below), by the way, are turkey eggs. A friend of mine gave them to me since they don't eat turkey eggs. I didn't too, until now. I wondered why we don't see a lot of turkey eggs for public consumption, and I found out that since turkeys only lay eggs every so often, their eggs are used to produce more turkeys. I guess there is a greater demand for turkey meat than eggs.

I noticed that the shell and membrane of the turkey egg is significantly harder to crack (in fact, I had to poke the membrane just to get the egg out). The yolk seemed to be twice as big as a regular chicken egg. They taste kinda' the same, but turkey egg has more flavor. It also has three times the amount of cholesterol found in a chicken egg. 

I love how turkey eggs look. They are spotted, which somewhat reminded me of quail or finch eggs. I almost didn't want to break them. The other eggs in the crate are from chickens. By the way, did you know that you don't need to refrigerate farm fresh eggs? Cool huh.

Happy Easter!

"I am the resurrection and the life." - John 11:25


Spicy Buffalo Wings

Look closely and you'll see the dip at the end of the plate!

I was looking for a quick and simple recipe for buffalo wings when my search led me to (my favorite - of course!) Alton Brown's recipe. I was intrigued upon reading it because it called for steaming the chicken before putting it in the oven. Also, it only had 5 ingredients, which was very unlike Alton (see Thanksgiving turkey recipe). 

Later on, I found out that steaming the chicken and patting it dry with a paper towel would make for crispier skin, and a healthier version of buffalo wings since most of the fat has been rendered out. This recipe is really delicious, and the spice is toned down with the butter. Definitely one to make again and again! 

What you need:

12 pieces chicken wings
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sriracha
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

What to do:

Place chicken wings in a steamer and steam for about 10 minutes. Remove and pat dry using a paper towel. Lay the wings on a cooling rack lined with paper towels and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat your oven to 425°F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the wings about an inch apart from one another. Roast on mid rack for about 15 to 20 minutes, then turn the wings over and cook for 20 to 30 minutes more.

While the skin is roasting, combine all the remaining ingredients in a big bowl and mix well. Remove wings from the oven, transfer to the bowl and toss with the sauce. Serve with your favorite dip.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. As always, it is important to wash your hands, especially when handling chicken.
2. Use Tabasco if you don't have Sriracha available.
3. If using salted butter, skip the kosher salt.

4. Importance of the refrigeration part - the paper towels would absorb more liquid from the chicken and would make skin crispier!


Pork Marsala

I got this recipe from the Italian issue (March 2011) of Food Network Magazine. Marsala wine comes from the southern region of Italy, particularly the coast of Sicily. The wine is better known for its culinary uses than for sipping. 

I was actually intrigued upon seeing the recipe, because it was the first time I saw marsala paired with pork. It is more often used with chicken or steak. So I gave it a try and was not disappointed! I loved the "kick" that the lemon gave to this dish. So yummy!

What you need: 

1 pound boneless pork loin
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, quartered
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry marsala wine
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried parsley
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

What to do:

Cut the pork in bite-size pieces. Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons flour. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the pork, remove from heat and let drain. Set aside.

Using the same skillet, saute the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt until mushrooms are golden brown. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the broth and marsala and bring to a boil. Add the heavy cream and boil until the sauce thickens, about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Serve hot.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. If using fresh parsley leaves, use 1/2 cup.
2. DO NOT skip the lemon. It makes a difference in this dish!
3. The original recipe called for cooking the (butterflied) pork in the oven. I didn't do it since I cut them in bite-size pieces.
4. Drizzle some more lemon juice in the sauce just before eating it. (Delish!)


Count the Birds!

Click for larger image

How many birds can you find? ;-)


Bourbon Chicken

I had a craving for Bourbon Chicken one night - you know, the kind that the sellers in the food court try to cram down your throat entice you with. 

I have to say, the dish I made looked very similar to the mall-type bourbon chickens, but my sauce was thicker and it tastes so much better. Mall bourbon chickens are very sweet, but this dish is a nice balance of sweet and savory. So yummy! (Even better as leftovers!)

What you need: 

1 pound boneless chicken thigh
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 stalks of green onions
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
5 garlic cloves
2 tablespoon canola oil

What to do: 

Wash the chicken thighs, pat dry and cut into bite-size pieces. 

Chop the green onions and place in a bowl along with the soy sauce, vinegar, bourbon, brown sugar, powdered ginger and garlic cloves. Whisk to distribute ingredients evenly. Set aside.

Heat the wok with peanut oil over high heat. Saute the chicken pieces for about 2 minutes or until lightly brown.

Add the liquid mixture to the wok, let boil then reduce heat to mediu. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until liquid is reduced to a glaze and chicken os cooked through. Serve with hot rice.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Don't have bourbon? Substitute with juice or vanilla extract. Check measurements here.
2. If using fresh ginger, use about 1/2 tablespoon. Saute it with chicken.
3. As always, cleanliness is important since we are dealing with poultry. Wash your hands!
4. If the bourbon taste is too strong for you, cut it in half.


Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffin

I am not a baker. Most of the goods I bake are semi-homemade, meaning it is from a box and I just tweak it. I like it that way because baking is an "exact science "- and most of my cooking are just eye-balling ingredients. Hubby is the "pastry chef" in the family.

In this recipe, I used banana-nut muffin mix and added chocolate morsels to it. I was thinking of making banana-chocolate chip bread, but since my loaf pan was MIA (missing in action), I made jumbo muffins instead. I also added a bit of banana extract to bring out more flavor. It was delicious and best eaten while warm.

What you need: 
1 box banana-nut muffin mix
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon banana extract

What to do: 

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Lightly spray muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.

Place water, oil, eggs, and full box muffin mix in medium bowl. Add chocolate chips and banana extract. Stir until moistened.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin  pan, filling 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes. To test if the muffins are done, insert a toothpick directly in it, and if it comes out clean, your muffins are ready!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. The cake mix had a bit of walnut in it, so you can add more walnut if you like the nutty taste.
2. If making regular-sized (cupcake-sized) muffins, bake for 18 to 20 minutes.
3. Skip the banana extract and use real mashed bananas! (It might change the consistency of the muffin, though)

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Steamed Eggs with Ground Pork

I was inspired to make this dish from an old childhood memory. I remember my mother making this for us, and young as we were, my brother and I thought it looked weird, but we ate it anyway. And it was delicious. (Hubby thought it looked like meatloaf with egg!)

Looking back, I realized that this recipe is a somewhat crude form of quiche, but of course, a few years ago, I didn't even know that the word "quiche" exists. I feel that this is more Oriental than French though... maybe Chinese? Next time I make it, I would probably pair it with congee. 

What you need: 

3/4 pound ground pork
6 eggs
about 6 to 8 pieces dried shiitake mushrooms
3 stalks green onion
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon rice wine
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon beef broth
dash of white pepper   

What to do: 

Put about 2 cups of water in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for at least 2 minutes. Soak dried mushrooms in the hot water for about 5 minutes. Remove from water and slice the caps in small pieces.

Heat wok over medium-high and add canola oil. Saute garlic for about 30 seconds, then add ground pork. Cook until brown. Season with soy sauce and oyster sauce. Mix well, remove from heat and set aside.

In a deep oven-safe bowl, beat eggs and add rice wine, sugar, beef broth, green onions and ground pork. Stir to distribute ingredients evenly. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and steam for 45 minutes, or until eggs are set. Season with white pepper.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Use ground beef instead of pork.
2. It is natural for the meat to settle when you steam the mixture. You would also find some water/broth on the bottom of the bowl.
3. Not a fan of dried mushroom? Skip it!
4. You can also use regular black pepper. I used white so it wouldn't show on the surface.
5. I feel like I used a lot of meat. Next time, I will cut the amount of meat in half to give it a more "quiche-ish" texture.

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BBQ Pulled Pork Fried Rice

Leftovers galore!!! We had a lot of leftover BBQ pulled pork from Sonny's and I thought I'd spice up my rice with it. It was delicious - so delicious that I couldn't stop eating it! This fusion of Western ingredients with oriental cooking turned out to be one of the best versions of fried rice I have ever had! 

What you need: 

1 1/2 to 2 cups of cooked rice
1 cup cooked pulled pork
1/4 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 small carrots, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced coarsely
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce 

What to do: 

Heat canola oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic for about 30 seconds, then add the carrots and cook for about a minute. Add the rice, corn kernels, peas, pulled pork, and barbecue sauce. Stir well to evenly distribute the sauce.  Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until heated through. Serve hot.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Refrigerated cooked rice is always best to use because they are not as sticky as freshly-cooked rice.
2. Make sure veggies are cut at least the same sizes for even cooking.
3. Need a recipe for pulled pork? Click here

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