Seafood Pasta Paella

Sometime ago I was given a largish packet of saffron. I knew it was expensive so I used it sparingly. Until the other day when I saw that its expiration date was drawing near. It would have been more wasteful if I just left it to expire, so I set about to cook with it!

My first project? Paella of course!!! But not with rice, with pasta!

I planned to serve this to “the boys” – hubby’s friends who come to the house twice a month or so.  They were polite enough to rave and gush at my cooking!

*smile*

400 grams spaghetti

2 tablespoons hot water
large pinch of saffron

1/4 cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 head of garlic, smashed and minced
4 large tomatoes, sliced into large dice

4 pieces small crab
6 pieces large shrimp
4 pieces large mussels

1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
chili flakes, to taste

5 to 6 cups of fish stock or water

Get 2 pots ready on the stove – one for the spaghetti (with salted water) and the other for the paella (I took out my paella pan!!!)  Start the water boiling for the spaghetti and heat the paella pan.  Meanwhile, steep the saffron in the hot water.

When the paella pan is hot, quick fry the bell pepper; remove when it is almost done.  Toss in the garlic, onion and tomatoes.  Stir-fry several minutes.  Add the saffron and the infused water.

(At this point, check the other pot, the water should be boiling, in which case, throw the spaghetti in and cook until halfway done, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.)

Add the crab, then remove when almost done.  Add the shrimp and the spices (paprika, bay leaves, salt and pepper and chili flakes, to taste.  Add about 4 cups of fish stock.  When the mixture simmers, add the half-cooked spaghetti and cook until almost done.  Towards the end of cooking, add the mussels and crab.  Add stock or water as necessary.  Season to taste.  Do not over-cook!

Before serving, arrange the seafood decoratively on top of the pasta.

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Easy Chicken ‘n Rice

This recipe is easy because it is basically a dump-the-ingredients-into-the-pot recipe.  The secret to this dish is a rice cooker!  A rice cooker is a staple in Asian kitchens, and while I’ve seen high-tech ones (with goodness-knows how many settings), for me, nothing beats the simple standard!

First thing to do – make the Ginger Dipping Sauce!

Grate some fresh ginger to measure about 2 tablespoons. Squeeze ginger juice out of the grated ginger in a bowl (keep the ginger juice!!!) Mix the grated ginger with 1 teaspoon minced spring onions, green part only, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon canola oil, and a pinch of salt. Let the mixture sit in the fridge until the dish is ready.

Next, rinse 700 grams of boneless chicken thighs and pat dry.  Slice the chicken into bite size pieces, then marinate, for 30 minutes, in a mix of:

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon light soya sauce
1 tablespoon dark soya sauce
the reserved ginger juice from the grated ginger earlier
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon shao xing wine
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

Meanwhile, prepare the following:

1 piece Chinese sausage, sliced thinly (but I omitted this)
about 6 large pieces dried mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced into strips
(reserve 1 tablespoon of the mushroom soaking liquid)

1-1/2 cups white rice grains, rinsed clear (I use Dinorado, not laon variety)

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced into matchsticks
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon mushroom soaking liquid
1 tablespoon dark soya sauce
3 cups chicken stock, more or less, depending on the type of rice used

Place the rice grains into the rice cooker (I don’t remember the capacity of our rice cooker but it is definitely not a big one. This recipe fills it to the brim). Place all other ingredients in it (do not include the chicken pieces). Stir lightly, cover, then turn the rice cooker on. Cook until the mixture is bubbly and rice grains are puffed but not yet done.

Using tongs, place the marinated chicken on the rice (do not pour in the marinade). Cover and cook further. If the rice cooker goes on “keep warm” check if the rice is done (move chicken slightly to expose rice and get a small teaspoonful to check). If the rice is done, leave on “keep warm” 5 more minutes then turn off. If the rice is still undercooked, press the “cook” button after 5 to 10 minutes to cook further.

When the rice is done, garnish with sliced spring onions and serve with ginger dipping sauce.

NOTE #1 – the chicken pieces should not be too big or it will not cook fully.
NOTE #2 – the dish can be served as faux “Claypot Chicken Rice”. When the rice is done, mix the rice and chicken together before serving.

Enjoy!

I served this to “the boys” and it was gone in an instant!!!

Braised Chicken Thighs & Eggs

This recipe is a winner! I know because the extremely picky kid ate everything on her plate!

The recipe –

about 8 thin slices of ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
about half or whole tablespoon of whole black peppercorns

8 pieces chicken thighs

12 pieces dried shitake mushroom, rehydrated, reserve soaking liquid
100 grams cooked chestnuts, optional
boiled eggs, optional

4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
2 pieces star anise
2 pieces whole cloves
1 piece cinnamon stick
1 to 2 pieces dried chili

Rinse the chicken thighs and remove the fatty membranes. Pat dry.

Sauté half the garlic, ginger and peppercorns. Add the chicken skin side down. Cook (don’t stir) chicken about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms on top of the chicken, and all the seasonings. Add enough water to just cover the chicken. When the sauce starts to simmer, turn the chicken over and lightly mix. Leave to simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is done (don’t overcook). If the liquid evaporates too much, add some hot water. To add more flavor, use the mushroom liquid, by tablespoons.

Don’t forget the chestnust and eggs, if using – add them in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Make sure that the eggs get enough color from the sauce.

Serve immediately and enjoy.

Scallops and Peppers

This is fast and easy dish, and it IS delicious!

Just how easy is it?  Well, it’s as simple as throwing sliced bell peppers (and some sliced onions) in the hot wok and then throwing in the scallops.  All that’s left is splashing in some rice wine, salt and pepper.  That’s it!

It is ready in… 15? 20? minutes!

Salted Egg Prawns

Salted egg yolks are the “IN” thing right now.  salted egg yolk potato chips, waffles, vegetables, chicken, shrimp…

So here is  my take on the shrimp dish.

Let me just say that I have an issue with just using the yolks.  I keep wondering what to do with the salted egg whites!!!  So to avoid wastage or the problem of what to do with the whites, I threw them right into the dish (hence my dish is salted egg shrimp and not salted egg yolk shrimp).

Also, i kind of dislike the “creamy” or “saucy” kind…

20 pieces large shrimp
cornstarch or tapioca starch
sea salt
fresh ground pepper

3 salted eggs, organic preferred*
thumb-sized ginger, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece siling pansigang (green chili), sliced**

The first thing to do is to prepare the shrimp/prawn. Cut the heads from the bodies.  Trim the heads and remove the “horn”, as well as any “whiskers” and “feet”.  Set aside in its own bowl.  Sprinkle with a large pinch of sea salt and several turns of pepper grinder.  Mix lightly.

Remove the shell from the bodies.  Make a long slit at the back and remove the “vein”.  Make the slit a bit deep, but not past halfway.  Pat dry.  Place in a bowl.  Sprinkle with a large pinch of sea salt and several turns of pepper grinder.  Mix lightly.  Leave to marinate about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep frying pan, to deep fry the shrimp.

Sprinkle the shrimp heads and shrimp bodies (in their separate bowls still) with  cornstarch or tapioca starch.  Eye-ball it, use just enough that they are coated but not thickly so.  When the oil is very hot, deep fry the shrimp heads and shrimp bodies.  In my smallish wok, it took 3 batches for the shrimp heads to cook and 4 batches for the bodies.  (The shrimp bodies should curl in a “round” shape.)  Drain on paper towels.

While the shrimp is frying, remove the shells from the salted eggs and chop coarsely.  Set aside.

Remove excess oil from the pan, leaving only about 1/2 tablespoon.  Sauté the ginger and garlic.  When fragrant, add the chili (whichever you prefer).  Add the chopped salted eggs.  Stir lightly over low-medium heat until the mixture in foamy.

Return the fried shrimp to the pan and mix lightly.  Season to taste, if desired (in my case, I felt it was not necessary).

Serve immediately.

*the salted eggs found in the supermarkets here are already cooked and ready to eat.  they are usually colored purple, but the organic ones are not colored and are of better quality.

**if a spicier dish is preferred, use the smaller, spicier bird’s eye chili (labuyo), the more, the spicier!

 

Steamed Fish ala Lucille

Because it is Holy Week…

As well as for BFF, because of the steamed fish discussion we had last Saturday afternoon!

whole white fish, about 500 grams, cleaned*
about 1/2 teaspoon sea salt**
2 tablespoons tausi, rinsed and mashed, OR 4-6 pieces dried black mushrooms, rehydrated, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of sugar, optional
splash of sesame oil***
splash of Shaoxing wine (or cooking rice wine)***
ground white (or black pepper)
1 tablespoon oil
1-inch knob (thumb-sized) ginger, sliced into thin matchstick size

Sauce:
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 to 1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon light soya sauce
ginger strips
1 piece labuyo, cut into largish pieces, optional
handful of wansoy

Garnish:
1 scallion, sliced thinly, diagonally

Rinse the fish and pat dry (use paper towels).  Make 2 to 3 diagonal slits on the body of the fish.  Rub salt on the fish; put a little inside the cavity also (through the opening on the side of the head).

Meanwhile, start the steamer and let the water boil at a gentle simmer.

Combine mashed beans OR diced mushrooms, minced garlic and sugar, if using, and sesame oil, wine pepper and a pinch of salt.  Rub the mixture on both sides of the fish; stuff some in the fish cavity also.

Place some ginger on the steaming plate.  Place the fish on top of the ginger.  Place some ginger on the top side of the fish, as well as in the cavity.

Steam the fish for 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the ingredients for the sauce; set aside while waiting for the 8 minutes to finish. Remove any liquid from the plate (drain gently).

Pour sauce over the fish and return to the steamer. Steam another 2 minutes, or until fish is done. Do not over-cook the fish.

Garnish with sliced scallions before serving.

Notes:

*I like using a fish called Kingfish, basically a red tilapia. But any white fish (lapulapu, tilapia, pompano, etc.) will do. Fish fillets will also work, but steaming time will be a bit less.

**Adjust the salt based on personal taste.

***Adjust the “splash” to personal taste.

 

 

Peanut Butter Cookies!!!

It’s laundry day.  Usually I am done in a couple of hours but today is the day we wash the sheets and blankets…

So… 7 hours later…

I am sitting in the kitchen, tired and hot, but feeling fidgety… like I want to do something but in the same breath, too lazy to do anything.

Enter these cookies… the recipe that I made when I was 10 years old.  The recipe that got me hooked on baking and after, cooking…

This recipe:

from The Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Cookies Cookbook, published in 1975.  The only cookbook in my library that survived Ondoy 9 years ago.  It survived simply because it was such a precious book for me that I kept it in my dresser drawer…

The recipe specifies that the dough is formed by way of a cookie press but I’ve always formed the dough into balls.

This time I decided to make variations… plain soft and chewy, crispy peanut butter cookie sandwiches with chocolate, choco chip peanut butter, and peanut butter kisses…

My favorite?  the plain soft and chewy peanut butter cookies, of course!

I took a bite and it was like I was 10 years old again,  I even managed a little dance of joy.  It was a great comfort, especially with a cup of good coffee… a nice bit of comfort after a long, lazy day.

Flat Bread… and Shrimp Curry!

The little girl likes flat bread.

When she discovered that I had bread dough in the fridge, she (sort of) requested her favorite flat bread.

And I am happy to oblige!  But then I couldn’t leave it at that.  The bread had to have something to slop up.

The perfect dish?  Curry of course!

The flat bread is easy – grab a small piece,flatten it and then cook it in a hot, lightly oiled frying pan… what’s important is to keep the flat bread warm.

As for the shrimp curry, clean and devein 500 grams of shrimp or prawns.  Set aside.  Sauté some ginger and sliced onions.  Add 2 to 3 tablespoons curry powder mix (I get mine from the local Indian store – they have a really nice chicken and seafood curry blend) and stir fry several seconds.  Add about 1-1/2 or up to 2 cups of coconut milk then add the shrimp.  When the shrimp is done, add sliced red bell peppers (I used a large red one that BFF gave me) and season to taste.  The dish is ok to serve at this point.  But I like to add about 1/2 cup coconut cream just to have extra creaminess.

So yummy!!!

 

Szechuan-style Hot and Sour Soup

My mother made a decent hot and sour soup – and despite my not liking spicy food, it was an exception.  It is unfortunate that I cannot find her recipe, nor can she remember enough to pass it on to me.

The next best thing? experiment and approximate!  But so far that has not worked for me.  Sigh.

What to do then?  Scour the cookbook library!

And, this recipe is good!  (although, as usual and always, I “personalize” the recipe – )

1.5 liters chicken stock
100 grams chicken breast fillet, julienned
8 pieces fresh shitake
handful of fresh shimenji
cloud ears, reconstituted
1 pack (50 grams) enoki mushrooms
2 blocks tofu, drained, cubed

Seasonings:
1/2 tablespoon salt
pinch of sugar, optional
1 tablespoon each light and dark soy sauce
3 to 4 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 t0 1-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
(chopped labuyo)

2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1/4 cup water

2 eggs, lightly beaten
wansoy

I like to simplify things (read as- I am lazy) so I boil the chicken stock and dump the chicken, mushrooms and tofu.  Season with salt and soy sauces (I skipped the sugar) and the rice vinegar and black pepper (I substituted part of it with chopped chili-labuyo).

Thicken with cornstarch slurry.  Slowly pour the beaten eggs into the soup, stirring at the same time to break the eggs.  Garnish with wansoy.

(Adjust and modify as you like!)

Creamy Smoked Salmon Capellini

Hubby had a dinner appointment so I was on my own. The little girl and lola had their own thing going so I was really on my own…

As always when I am eating by myself, I don’t bother to cook. Sometimes I don’t bother to eat – call me lazy but it seems to me that cooking then washing and cleaning up after doesn’t seem to be worth the bother if I am the only one eating…

This time though, as I rifled through the fridge for something (I was thinking fruit actually), I saw several containers of leftovers – a 50ml container of smoked salmon (left over from hubby’s dinner the night before), a 500ml container of capellini and parsley (left over from our dinner 2 nights before), ricotta cheese tub with a fourth of ricotta left in it, sour cream tub with about 1/4 cup left, a small pat of butter (left over from chocolate chip cookie cake the week before), several pieces of shimenji mushrooms (I don’t even know WHY there’s leftover mushrooms!!!), fresh milk (not really that fresh since it’s been in the fridge at least 4 days!) and 2 pieces shriveled calamansi…

What a merry bunch of leftovers!

At first I thought of making leftover omelette – a favorite of ours and perfect for using any and all kinds of leftovers, except maybe the pasta….

So then it hit me… why not make leftover pasta instead?

Who would’ve thought that the leftovers in the fridge would make an elegant meal for one, especially paired with Chardonney, yep, leftover from last Christmas! (Thanks to our friend who gave it to us for Christmas!)

So here is the no-recipe recipe for my (lonely, but seriously change the ‘n’ to ‘v’) dinner for one –

1. Sauté some sliced onions in olive oil and (leftover) butter until the onions are softened.

2. Add the (leftover) mushrooms and stir-fry several seconds.

3. Add the (leftover) smoked salmon and mix to break the pieces apart.

4. Add the (leftover) sour cream and (leftover) ricotta cheese. Thin the mixture with (leftover) milk.

5. Add the (leftover) capellini; mix gently to coat the pasta with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Cook over low-medium heat just until everything is heated through. Transfer to your (lonely) dinner plate.

7. Sprinkle a drop or two of (not fresh, since they’re a bit shriveled) calamansi. Garnish with (leftover) parsley (and Parmesan – just about the ingredient that is NOT left over from anything). Pair with (leftover) Chardonnay. Sit and enjoy.

8. Post the dish online and revel when hubby’s jaw drops because you had a lovely dinner while he had ordinary food at his meeting!

(Yuuuuummmmmmmm!)