Crab Sotanghon

The usual crab sotanghon (mung bean noodle) that I cook (and that hubby likes) is a creamy, saucy concoction. This time, however, circumstances forced me to stray from the usual. The culprit? The absence of a crucial ingredient.

The result? A different, but still delicious, dish!

The recipe:

300 to 400 grams sotanghon, softened
1 kilo crabs, cut up (cleaned)
4 to 5 thin slices of ginger
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, sliced
350 grams ground pork
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 liter chicken stock
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon sesame oil
salt, pepper and chili flakes, to taste

Saute the ginger in hot oil.  Add onions and garlic.  Stir fry a few seconds and add the pork.  Stir fry until almost cooked.   Add the crabs and mix around a few seconds and season with oyster sauce and soy sauce.  Add the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper (and chili flakes, if desired).  When the stock boils, add the sotanghon.  Swirl in the beaten egg whites.  Let simmer until the sauce is fully absorbed by the sotanghon. Toss with sesame oil (adjust seasonings, as needed). Serve hot.

Advertisements

Stewed Pork Leg

My mom has always been “revolutionary”… while all other parents encouraged their kids to eat fatty food (at least as far as my contemporaries have told me) my mom “trained” us by cutting out the fat in pork chops and adobo, trimming the fat from spare ribs and liempo, removing the fat from barbecue… even going as far as having no-skin fried chicken!  Needless to say, we were utterly ignorant of bacon, chicharon, crispy pata (pork leg) and similar stuff!  Our only exposure to “fat” was the yearly lechon at the office party at Christmas!

But my late father had 3 favorite foods – the pancit (noodles) from his hometown (the ones his mom made from scratch), adobo, and stewed pork leg… stewed pork leg which was usually swimming in fat, and hidden from my mom’s sights!

Well then, imagine my surprise when I found a recipe for stewed pork leg in my mom’s recipe files!!!!

Of course I had to make it!!!!  And, of course I bought pork leg slices which were the least fatty that I could find!!!!

Sorry, though, since I do not have my mom’s permission to share her recipes. But, the good news is that this dish is a winner!!! Everyone said so!!!

 

Sauteéd Watercress with 2 Kinds of Eggs

Watercress is a leafy vegetable that I can find usually in a Chinese restaurant, specifically a hotpot restaurant, and I just love them!  It is rare that I can find them in the local market, but once in a while, they make an appearance in the specialty market and when I see them, I just grab them!

The thing with watercress is that it does not last long, so if I get them in the morning, I have to cook them within the day.  I used to just add them to pork bone soup but this time around I thought of stir-frying them with some salted eggs and century eggs – inspired by a dish hubby and I had recently.

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch watercress, about 300 to 400 grams, trimmed and cleaned
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, or according to taste
1 to 2 pieces century eggs, roughly chopped
1 to 2 pieces salted eggs, roughly chopped
dash of sesame oil

Saute the garlic in some oil (canola is what I use).  Toss in the watercress when the garlic becomes fragrant.  Season with salt (take it easy though since the salted eggs will add more saltiness).  Add the chopped eggs and stir fry until the watercress is cooked but still a bit crispy.  Garnish with a dash of sesame oil.  Serve hot.

Homemade Char Siew

Char Siew, or Chinese BBQ Pork, also known as Asado locally, is one of my childhood favorites.  There was this place in Chinatown where my mom used to buy char siew – it was the best in town!

These days it is not easy to find good char siew,  It seems like just every Chinese restaurant has its version and it is not necessarily a good one… but there is one place I found, a virtual hole-in-a-wall place relatively near, where the char siew is good enough.  They have good lechon macao (known as roast pork) also.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to make a homemade one and this one seems to be the best – and guess what?  It is not even roasted!

I found the recipe online from a lady who calls herself a “Domestic Goddess Wannabe“.  Her recipe and instructions are very clear, and I followed her recipe exactly!

(well, except that my pork shoulder marinated for about 4 to 5 days!  although I had intended to marinate only for a night, and scheduled the char siew for lunch the next day, something came up and I didn’t have the opportunity to cook it until about 5 days later!)

Verdict?

Success!  Hubby likes it!  It is moist and perfect!

Success!  I like it!  It is easy to make!!!!!

 

Pineapple Tarts for CNY

Yes, yes, I know.  I need to practice more to make the tart shells even and nice…

But I am happy to say that after several attempts, I finally found a tart shell/crust recipe that hubby (and the kid) likes!  The only problem?  It is a fragile one, and does not keep well!

More than that, I found a recipe for the pineapple filling that used weight!  Most of the recipes I found specified the number of pineapples to use and my problem with that is the varying sizes of pineapples!!!!

The recipe is from Bake for Happy Kids.  I scaled down the recipe because I was intending to make only a dozen or two at most.  Also, I grated the pineapple instead of using the food processor (the filling was very chunky, but as it turns out, hubby preferred it!).

Happy Chinese New Year (of the Earth Piggy)!

Chinese-style Fried Rice

I grew up with rice.  In our corner of the world, bread was not the carbohydrate of choice (although it is growing exponentially in popularity).  We had rice for breakfast, rice for lunch and more rice for dinner…  This means that we always have leftover rice, in one form or another.

In the morning, leftover rice would become garlic fried rice (Filipino-style).  For lunch or dinner, we would have the Chinese-style fried rice.

When I was way younger, I would watch my mom make fried rice.  (My dad would occasionally make sinangag, but for Chinese style fried rice, mommy was the cook.)  I remember that the egg went in the pan last and it would make the rice look yellowish.  But that meant there were little, if any at all, egg bits in the fried rice.  (and I wanted lots of egg bits!)

Later on, I noticed that she would make scrambled eggs BEFORE the frying the rice and then add it last, stirring everything together and breaking up the already scrambled eggs.  And that’s when I saw my preferred egg bits!

Another thing about fried rice, especially those in Chinese restaurants, there are usually vegetables such as diced carrots, corn, green peas, and even shredded lettuce, and definitely spring onions.  In my version, I usually skip the veggies, except for the spring onions (and of course the standard garlic and onions).  Almost always, though, there’s some form of meat – shrimp almost always, and pork or chicken, or the famous Chinese sausage!

Also, I don’t really have a recipe for fried rice.  It was one of those things that we learn “by feel”, and by estimation… trial and error, if you will.

Frist thing to do is get out a Chinese wok – it is the best to cook fried rice in!  Heat it until smoking before adding some oil.  Pour in 2 beaten eggs and stir to scramble, remove from the pan (it’s ok it it slightly undercooked).

Heat the pan again and add some oil.  Saute minced garlic and onions, until they are soft and fragrant.  Add the protein you prefer – my favorites are shrimp and Chinese sausage (diced, in chunks, or sliced, whichever you prefer) and stir around the pan for a minute or two.  (if you like some vegetables, this is when you add them too – diced carrots, peas and shredded lettuce are most common.)  Add day-old rice (2 or 3 cups worth?) and a light dash of light soy sauce (not too much because I find that the rice tends to get mushy, as well as get an unappetizing color).  Stir-fry until done, season with salt as preferred.  Add the scrambled eggs back in, stirring lightly to break up the curds.

Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with spring onions and serve!

 

Sabaw Itim

When my brothers and I were kids, we called this dish “Sabaw Itim”, literally Black Soup.  To our very young minds, we called it as we saw it – soup because it was so liquid-y and black because it was so dark in color.

sabaw_itim_02

It’s actually chicken braised in soy sauce with mushrooms and boiled eggs.

It was a real favorite and we had it at least once a month!  In those days, the dish was so much more soupier (after all we all wanted the soup/sauce on our rice!) and the chicken pieces were various cuts from 1 whole chicken.  These days, chicken is available by specific parts, and boneless, no less!  My favorite part?  boneless, skinless chicken thigh!

The recipe:

about 600 to 700 grams of boneless chicken thighs (about 8 to 10 pieces)

Marinade:

2 to 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 bulb garlic, smashed
a small thumb of ginger, sliced into matchsticks
2 to 3 pieces large bay leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon mixed peppercorns
1/4 cup light soy sauce
dash of shao xing wine
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

150 grams small fresh shitake, about 15 to 18 small pieces
(or 60 grams dried shitake, about 15 to 18 small pieces)
4 to 6 pieces boiled eggs

1/2 to 1 cup water (or mushroom soaking liquid, chicken stock)

Mix marinade ingredients together; set aside for a while.

Clean the chicken pieces and slice each piece into 2 or 3 pieces, depending on the size desired (remember that meat shrinks upon cooking so adjust accordingly).

Pour marinade over chicken and let stand for about 30 minutes.

sabaw_itim_03

Meanwhile, if using dried mushrooms, soak in warm water until softened; drain but keep the soaking liquid.  Cut the stems off the mushrooms (fresh or dried ones). Rinse lightly to remove dirt and grime, if there is any.

sabaw_itim_04

When we were younger, this dish was cooked on the stove-top in a clay pot; it was soupier too. The way I make this dish now is with the magic cooker and with a lot less liquid.

The traditional way:

Smash some more garlic and saute them over low fire until lightly browned and deliciously fragrant! Then dump the chicken pieces and all marinade into the pot. Throw the rehydrated mushrooms in too (IF using fresh mushrooms, add them after 15 minutes of simmering.) Add enough liquid to barely cover the chicken pieces; mix to combine everything. Cook on medium or medium low and simmer until done, about 30 minutes or so, depending on the size of chicken pieces (smaller pieces cook faster). Top up with more liquid if the sauce is reduced too much OR if a soupier dish is desired. About 5 minutes before putting off the stove fire, add the boiled eggs. Adjust seasonings to desired taste. Off fire, add a few more drops of sesame oil. Top with chopped leeks. Serve while hot!

The magic cooker way:

sabaw_itim_05

Just dump the chicken pieces and marinade into the inner pot. Throw in mushrooms and boiled eggs, too. Add 1/2 cup of liquid; mix gently to combine everything (and not mutilate the eggs). Adjust seasonings. Cook on medium or medium low and simmer for 10 minutes (start counting when liquid starts bubbling). Place inner pot inside the outer chamber of the magic cooker. Leave for 30 to 45 minutes. Just before serving, add a few more drops of sesame oil. Top with chopped leeks. Serve while hot!

DISH VARIATIONS – Use firm tofu instead of mushrooms, or use a variety of fresh mushrooms – shitake, button, Korean king oyster, straw, etc.

Or, use pork cubes or ribs instead of chicken.

00_sabaw itim

PERSONAL NOTES –

The soaking liquid of the dried mushrooms is very flavorful, but some find it too strong, in which case use only 1/4 of the soaking liquid and 1/4 cup or more of water or stock. Or omit the soaking liquid altogether.

If using dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid, the sauce of the dish will have a stronger, more pronounced flavor. If using fresh mushrooms, the dish has a more subtle, delicate flavor. It’s delicious either way. Using different kinds of fresh mushrooms gives more dimension to the dish.

The original recipe (from my mom’s files) has 1/2 tablespoon sugar as an ingredient in the marinade but I’ve always skipped it. Also, dark (and salty) soy sauce was traditionally used but I’m happy with my light soya sauce (and hubby is ok with it as well) which is less salty and does not impart a dark brown (almost black) color.

 

Cashew Chicken

A dear friend gave me some cashews.  Now, I could sit and eat the whole bag but my body would not appreciate it so hello Cashew Chicken!!!

I didn’t follow a recipe from a book for this dish.  Instead I tried to recall how my mother made it a lo-o–ong time ago.

As I remembered it, it started with boneless, skinless chicken cubes which were marinated with a bit of light soy and cornstarch.  The sliced ginger was sauteed in the wok, after which the chicken was dumped in to be stir fried.  (I added some leftover baby corn whilie I was at it.)  When the chicken is just about done, in goes the cashews for a bit more stir-frying.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Then IT IS DONE!!!  After garnishing with sliced chives or leeks, it was good and ready to eat!

Yummyyyyy!

Tofu and Mushrooms with XO Sauce

As I’ve said before, the secret to any good XO dish is the XO sauce!  If you have a good XO sauce (traditionally a scallop-based sauce, but other variants such as abalone has been available in the market), you can virtually mix and match any combination of ingredients!

Take this combination of tofu and mushrooms.  It is a standard in our kitchen since I always, always have mushrooms, and tofu is one of hubby’s and the kid’s favorites!

This is one of those recipes that really does not have specific measurements…

Always begin with a hot pan and the golden “trio” of garlic, ginger, and onion.  Saute until soft and fragrant.  Toss a heaping spoon of the XO sauce (use as little or as much as you like!) into the pass and stir fry until fragrant (trust me, the fragrance is divine!)  While optional, diced red bell peppers may also be added (it adds color as well as texture and flavor).

Throw in the mushrooms (use whichever ones you like – my personal favorites are shitake, enoki, and the Korean king oyster) and stir fry several minutes until the mushrooms are cooked.  De-glaze the pan with some rice wine and a splash of oyster sauce and sweet soya sauce.  Add a little water if you like a saucy dish.  Then add the sliced tofu (my favorite shape is the cube).  Adjust the seasonings according to personal taste.  Cook until the tofu is heated through and then thicken the dish with cornstarch slurry.  Garnish with sliced leeks.

It’s super delicious on top of steamed rice!

 

Steamed Chicken

The problem with my mom’s recipes is that they need decoding!

My mom writes her recipes in weird ways.  Most of the time, there are no instructions; instead there are groups of ingredients with a brief sentence at the end.

Like her recipe for steamed chicken… there are 3 groups of ingredients and a short sentence at the end – Steam for 10 minutes.

Hmmmmm….

Someone else would (probably) throw this recipe out the window but it’s a good thing that I know my mom (pretty) well and can speak her “language”…  As she explains to me, it is deliberate on her part so that her recipes remain her secret.  (As I mentioned before, she rarely shares her recipes!)  So, given her preference, I will not (well, I can not) share her recipe.  I can, however, share mine (even if it is based on hers, it is NOT the same…)

750 grams boneless chicken thighs, skin on, rinsed and dried with paper towels

Slice the chicken thighs into serving pieces (if the thighs are large, cut into 4). Mix together slices of ginger, 1 tablespoon EACH of sesame oil, oyster sauce, and light soya sauce, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon rice wine.  Marinate the chicken pieces in this mixture for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile start boiling water in the steamer.

Prepare:

5 stalks of leeks, sliced at a diagonal, separate the white and green parts
ginger, slice into thick matchsticks
about 12 slices of lotus root, parboiled then drained
about 80 grams fresh black fungus (tenga ng daga), sliced into strips
re-hydrated banana blossoms, thick hard end/s removed

In a round Pyrex dish (a deep pie plate works), scatter the white parts of the leeks. Arrange the lotus root at the base of the pan.  Scatter the black fungus on top, then the banana blossoms.  Arrange the chicken thighs, skin side up, and stick the ginger pieces in between the chicken thighs.

When the water in the steamer boils, put the plate in.  Steam for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken pieces); start counting minutes when the water reboils.

Before serving, garnish the top with the green part of the leeks.

Note – the dish has a delicate and mild taste, should you wish for a stronger flavor, adjust the seasonings as desired, or add slat and pepper, according to personal taste.