Category Archives: Chinese

Almond Easter Egg Cookies

For this Easter, instead of making traditional vanilla iced sugar cookies, I created a cookie recipe based on one of my favorite flavors: almond. These cute iced almond cookies are moist, not too sweet and have a lovely almond flavor. In addition to almond extract, I added almond flour for more texture, and I also added natrural-dye sprinkles so the cookies will appeal to kids. Finally, this recipe only uses egg whites, which lightens the cookie dough. The recipe is very easy to follow and doesn’t even require a cookie-cutter!

If you love almond flavor, you’ll love these cookies. Enjoy and Happy Easter!

Almond Easter Egg Cookies

Yield: 1 dozen

3/4 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup of almond flour

1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup of granulated sugar

1 egg white

1 teaspoon of almond extract

3/4 cup of organic confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon of whole milk

1 teaspoon of almond extract

India Tree natural dye sprinkles

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place a parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, almond flour and salt. Set aside.

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3. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar. Beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

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4. Meanwhile, whisk the egg white until frothy.

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5. Add the beaten egg white and the almond extract to the butter and sugar. Beat until just combined.

6. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture until just combined.

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7. Using a 1 1/2 tablespoons scoop, portion out 12 balls on the cookie sheet.

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8. Roll each ball and shape to resemble a small egg.

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9. Using the palm of your hand, press down to flatten. Bake for 10-11 minutes.

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10. Remove from the oven. Cool for about 10 minutes.

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11. Meanwhile, whisk the confectioners sugar, milk, and almond extract to make the icing. Have your sprinkles ready.

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12. Spoon some icing on each cookie and top with some sprinkles (You will want to add the sprinkles before the icing sets.)

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13. Let the icing harden. Serve the cookies with cold milk, coffee, or tea.

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Crab and Scallion Noodles

One of my favorite restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley is Newport Seafood, which specializes in Chinese-Vietnamese cuisine. They are famous for their house special lobster, but I prefer their house special crab. The crab is sautéed with scallions, ginger, and fresh peppers and is so delicious, I crave it all the time, but I reserve Newport for birthdays and special gatherings. To satisfy my craving, I took the same flavor profile and created this noodle dish. This recipe is easy to prepare, but it is important to have all the ingredients prepped in advance, because the recipe moves quickly. You want to time the noodles so that they finish cooking right as the crab is being added to the scallion mixture. For this recipe, I use one whole Dungeness crab. I steam the crab for 20 minutes and then pick out the meat. Adding fresh crab really makes a difference, but if you can’t find live crabs, you can buy the lump crab meat from your local supermarket. I hope you’ll love this noodle dish as much as I do. Enjoy!

 

Crab and Scallion Noodles

Serving Size: 4

 

1 lb of fresh chow mein noodles or Chinese wheat noodles

1/4 cup of unsalted butter (1/2 stick)

1 cup of 1/4″ sliced scallions (about 3-4)

2-3 mild red peppers, thinly sliced (extra for garnish)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon of ginger juice*

2 tablespoons of oyster sauce

1 tablespoon of Maggi Seasoning**

1 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar, preferably organic

1/2 teaspoon of salt

3/4 teaspoon of freshly grated black pepper

1/2 lb of steamed Dungeness crabmeat or store-bought lump crab meat

Cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

 

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Take the chow mein noodles, separate them in a colander and set near the boiling pot.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter on medium-low heat in a wok or a large sauté pan.

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3. Once the butter is melted, add the scallions, sliced red peppers, garlic and ginger juice. Increase the heat to medium high. Stir with a wooden spoon for about one minute.

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4. Add the oyster sauce, Maggi, sugar, salt, and black pepper. Stir for another minute.

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5. The water should be boiling at this point. Follow the instructions on the noodle package and cook the noodles. (Fresh noodles typically take anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes to cook).

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6. Meanwhile, add the crab to the scallion mixture and toss gently, so as not to break up the meat.

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7. Drain the noodles (but don’t rinse) and add to the crab and scallion mixture. Using tongs, toss gently. Taste for seasoning. Remove from the heat.

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8. Divide the noodles among 4 bowls. Add a few cilantro leaves and sliced red peppers. Give each bowl one turn of the pepper mill. Serve immediately.

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* To make ginger juice,  using a microplane grate about a tablespoon of ginger.  Push it through a sieve to collect the juices. You should have about a teaspoon.

**Maggi Seasoning  can be found in most Asian markets.  It contains MSG, so if you are allergic, you can substitute it with soy sauce.

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Jajangmyeon

Growing up, we’d often order jajangmyeon at our local Korean-style Chinese restaurant. Jajangmyeon is a traditional Korean noodle dish that is a combination of pork and wheat noodles in a black bean sauce. It originated in China but made its way to South Korea with Mandarin Chinese immigrants, who adapted the dish for the Korean palette. The Korean version has more sauce and a richer flavor, and usually has less fat on the pork and in the sauce.

One of my fondest food memories was watching the chef hand-pull the noodles, transforming the dough into even strands of beautiful noodles by pulling, stretching and twisting it in the air. I was in awe whenever I watched the chef perform his magic, as the noodles danced and floated in front of him until they were the perfect thickness. He did this all for a single bowl of jajangmyeon. Today, most Korean-style Chinese restaurants serve jajangmyeon with factory-made noodles, so finding hand-pulled noodles is a real treat.

My version of jajangmyeon is a healthier version of the dish, as I use less oil and and leaner pork to try and cut down on the fat. I also pre-marinate the pork, which ensures tender pieces of meat. This sauce is rich and full of great flavor, and I love to eat a big bowl of these noodles with a side of cabbage kimchee or takuan. Enjoy!

Jajangmyeon

Serving Size: 4

Sunflower oil or organic canola oil

1 large sweet onion, chopped into 1/2″ in pieces

1/2 large zucchini, cut into 1/2″ pieces (3/4 cup)*

1 small Yukon gold potato, 1/2 ” dice (3/4 cup) – parboiled for 5 minutes

8 ounces of par-cooked, marinated pork (recipe below)

2/3 cup of fermented black bean paste**

2 teaspoons of organic sugar

1 tablespoon of organic soy sauce

1 1/2 cups of water

2 tablespoons of organic cornstarch

22 ounces of fresh jajangmyeon noodles or Chinese wheat noodles (medium thickness)**

1/2 cup of julienned cucumbers (seeds omitted)

 

1. Heat a wok to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once the oil starts to smoke, add all the chopped onion. Sauté for about 3 minutes until the onion becomes translucent.

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2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil.
3. Add the cut zucchini pieces to the wok with the onions. Sauté for 2 more minutes.

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4. Add the par-cooked pork and potatoes to the wok.

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5. Add the black bean paste. Stir to incorporate.

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6. Add the soy sauce, sugar and water and bring it to a boil.

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7. Meanwhile, add the noodles into the boiling water. Follow the instructions on the package. Rinse and set aside. (You want to time the noodles so they will be ready when the sauce is done)

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8. Mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water to create a slurry. Stir into the sauce.

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9. Cook and stir until thickened.

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10. Divide the noodles evenly into four bowls. Ladle a generous amount of sauce into each of the bowls. Top with some julienned cucumbers and serve with cabbage kimchi.

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* When cutting the zucchini, remove the center seedy potion.  The section with the seeds becomes mushy when cooked. Then dice the  zucchini to 1/2″ pieces as shown.

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**  Fermented black bean paste and jajangmyeon noodles can be found at your local Korean supermarket.

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Marinated pork recipe 

8 ounces of lean pork chuck or tenderloin

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of organic cornstarch

1 teaspoon of organic soy sauce

1 teaspoon of Shoxing wine or Sake

 

1. Dice the pork into small pieces just shy of 1/2″

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2. Place the cut pork in a small bowl and sprinkle with baking soda. Mix well and let it sit for 10 minutes (I would suggest using a timer for this step because you do not want exceeded the time allotted or the pork will be too tender.)

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3. After the 10 minutes, add the cornstarch, soy sauce and the wine. Stir and let sit for 2 minutes.

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4.Meanwhile heat a wok to high. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once oil gets hot, add the marinated pork. Leave undisturbed for 30 seconds.

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5. Using a wooden spoon stir and sauté for about one minute.
Place in a bowl and set aside until ready to use.

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Shanghai-Style Sautéed Rice Cakes

It’s the 1st day of 2017. It is tradition in the Korean culture to eat rice cake soup (tteokguk or ddukgook). Come New Year’s day, my mom always had a piping hot bowl of rice cake soup with dumplings waiting for us at the table. It was comforting and delicious. Now that I live in the San Gabriel Valley, Chinese food has influenced my cooking greatly. The same rice cake ovalettes my mom used in her tteokguk is sautéed in with pork and napa cabbage in many of the local Chinese restaurants. The dish is more commonly known as shanghai-style rice cakes. I’ve always wanted to make this dish and so with the rice cake ovalettes that My mom bought me from the Korean market, I decided to make my version of this dish without the pork. I was pleased with the results and now sharing my recipe with you. The rice cakes are nice and chewy and full umami flavor from the mushrooms and oyster sauce. This recipe cooks quickly so prep all your ingredients in advanced. If you want to make the dish completely vegetarian, they offer a vegetarian version of the oyster sauce at your local Chinese market. Enjoy. (Mom, I saved the other half of the bag for tteokguk later tonight.)
Happy New Year!

Shanghai-Style Sautéed Rice Cakes

Serving size: 4

1 1/2 Tablespoons of oyster sauce or vegetarian oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon of organic soy sauce
1 teaspoon of chili oil*
1 teaspoon of Mirin
Sunflower seed or organic canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces of fresh cremini or shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
Kosher salt, pinch
2 cups of chopped yu choy* or heirloom spinach
12 ounces of rice cake ovalettes*
Freshly grated black pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced on a bias
1 red jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced (optional)

1. In a small bowl, add the oyster sauce, oyster sauce, chili oil, and Mirin. Stir well with a fork and set aside.

2. In a large pot add 2 quarts of water and bring it to boil. Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan or wok to high heat.
Add 1 Tablespoon of oil. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for 15 seconds

3. Add the mushrooms and pinch of salt and sauté until most of the moisture evaporates, about 3 minutes. The mushrooms will be golden brown. Transfer the cooked mushrooms in a bowl and set aside.

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4. In the same pan, on high heat add 1 more Tablespoon of oil. Add the chopped choy. And sauté for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms back to the pan.

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5. Meanwhile, to the boiling water, add the rice cakes. Boil for one minute.

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6. Using a spider strainer, remove the boiled rice cakes and transfer them to the pan with mushrooms and yu chow.

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7. Add the oyster sauce mixture and some freshly grated black pepper.

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8. Sauté for one minute until all the rice cakes are coated with the sauce.

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9. Add the chopped scallions. Give the rice cakes a quick stir.

10. Transfer to a serving plate and top with sliced red peppers, if using. Serve immediately.

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* You can find most of these ingredients at your local Chinese markets.

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Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage and Shrimp

My first Chinese sticky rice experience was in high school at my friend’s house. My friend’s mom, Mrs. Young, was an amazing Chinese home cook and it was always a treat to have dinner at their place. Mrs. Young was originally from China, but lived in Vietnam before emigrating to the US, and you can taste the Vietnamese influence in her cooking. One of my favorite dishes that she made was her sticky rice. The sticky rice had tender pork, shiitake mushrooms and dried shrimp and was a beautiful caramel color. It was savory and slightly sweet and had the perfect texture. Mrs. Young was always kind of enough to pack extra for me to take home. It was best sticky rice I’ve ever had.

I lost contact with my friend about 15 years ago and for years have regretted not learning how to make her mother’s wonderful sticky rice. Since then, I have had many versions of the dish in the San Gabriel Valley and have finally come up with a good recipe for it. In this recipe, I have incorporated the steaming method my mom taught me when making Korean sticky rice for a dessert called yak-shik, but added all the Chinese flavors for sticky rice. Also, I added homemade Vietnamese caramel sauce to give it that great dark color. The combination of all the techniques and flavors produces a sticky rice close to my memory of Mrs. Young’s version. Try this recipe. I promise it won’t disappoint!

Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage and Shrimp

Serving Size: 4-6

2 cups of sweet rice (medium-grain or short-grain), soaked in water for 30 minutes
Non-stick cooking spray, vegetable oil based
1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, divided
3 slices of ginger, 1/2″ thick and 1 1/2 inches long
2 Chinese sausages, casing remove and thinly sliced* or 1/2 cup of roasted pork strips
2 ounces of fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced**
1/4 cup of dried shrimp, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes***
3 scallions, thinly sliced and divided
1 tablespoon of mirin
2 tablespoons of organic soy sauce
2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon of roasted sesame oil
Freshly grated pepper, to taste
1/2 cup of homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons of dark Vietnamese caramel sauce or 1 tablespoon of molasses****

1. In a medium steamer (2 quart-size), coat the steamer basket with non-stick cooking spray.

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2. Give the sweet rice a good rinse over a fine-meshed sieve. Transfer the rinsed rice into steamer basket.

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3. Add a generous amount of hot water into the base of the streamer. Cover and steam over high heat for 30 minutes. Add additional hot water to the base of the steamer, as needed.

4. Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch sauté pan to medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the ginger pieces and sauté for 30 seconds.

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5. Add the Chinese sausage slices and the shiitake mushrooms. Sauté until the sausages get a little crispy (about 5-7 minutes).

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6. Drain the soaked dried shrimp and add them to the pan. Sauté for 1 more minute.

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7. Add the mirin and sauté for 30 more seconds. Remove the ginger pieces. In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil and a couple of turns of the pepper mill. Pour the mixture into the sauté pan. Add 2/3 of the sliced scallions.

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8. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

9. Remove the lid off the steamer with the par-cooked sweet rice. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock directly to the rice and stir to moisten the rice. Add the cooked sausage/mushroom/shrimp mixture and 2 tablespoons of dark caramel sauce on top of the sweet rice. Stir with a wooden spoon to coat the rice and evenly distribute the ingredients.

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10. Replenish the base of the steamer with more hot water. Cover and steam for 20-30 more minutes (stirring a couple of times in between for even steaming) or until the rice is fully cooked.

11. Add the remaining sliced scallions on top of the cooked sticky rice.

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12. Serve with chili sauce and pickled vegetables. Enjoy!

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Sweet rice can be found in most Asian markets. Sweet rice is chalk white in color, unlike the more common translucent white rice. Make sure not to purchase the long-grain version, or the recipe will not be successful.   Shirakiku sells a 2-pound bag option.

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*There are several Chinese sausage brands. I prefer Kam Yen Jan’s Chinese sausage. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find nitrate-free options.

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**When purchasing fresh shiitake mushroom, try to purchase them locally or purchase the ones grown in the US. There are inferior versions being shipped from overseas you want to avoid.

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***You can find dried shrimp in the refrigerator section at most Asian markets. Make sure you soak the dried shrimp in warm water to reconstitute them before using.

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****I make my own caramel sauce using Andrea Nguyen’s recipe. It is pretty easy to make and stores in a dark pantry. If you don’t want make your own, you can use molasses instead.

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Sweet and Spicy Shrimp

Kan Pong Sae Woo is a popular shrimp dish at Korean-style Chinese restaurants. It is essentially sweet and sour shrimp with a little heat. My older son loves shrimp and whenever we order take-out at Dragon restaurant in Koreatown, we include this dish in our order. Dragon makes their shrimp with a lot of batter, but I created a version with a light cornstarch coating. The shrimp in this recipe is supple and juicy and has a little pop when you bite into it. The trick is a method call salt-leaching.

Salt-leaching is a technique used by many Chinese chefs and I learned it from reading one of David Rosengarten’s books. You add roughly 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of raw shrimp, toss and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse. Add more salt. Rinse. Add more salt. Rinse. This process does not make it salty, but glossy, supple, and almost crunchy….like sweet shrimp at sushi restaurants. You can use this technique for other recipes like shrimp fried rice or when adding shrimp to a stir-fry. You will be pleased with the results. Enjoy!
Sweet and Spicy Garlic Shrimp

Serving Size: 2 or 4 with other sides

12 ounces of medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (31-40 count per pound)*
1 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of organic ketchup
1/2 teaspoon of ground chili paste (Sambal Oelek)
1/2 teaspoon of organic soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of ginger juice*
1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of pineapple juice, optional
1/4 cup of cold water
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon of organic cornstarch or potato starch
1 1/2 cups of sunflower oil or peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced crosswise
6-7 dried Tien Tsin or Arbol chiles
Steamed Jasmine rice

 
1. Place the shrimp in a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle the 3/4 teaspoon of salt and toss to coat. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

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2. Meanwhile, add the sugar, vinegar, ketchup, chili paste, soy sauce, ginger juice, salt, and pineapple juice in a small bowl. In another small bowl, add the 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch and water and whisk well. Set aside both mixtures until ready to use.

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3. At the 30 minute mark, heat oil in a wok or a deep-fryer to 375°.

4. While the oil is heating, thoroughly rinse the salt off the shrimp with cold water. Add 1/4 teaspoon more salt and toss. Wait 30 seconds. Rinse. Repeat one more time. Pat dry with paper towels.

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5. Transfer the shrimp to large bowl and add 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. Toss well.

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6. Once the oil reaches 375°, add half of the shrimp. Deep-fry the shrimp for about 45 seconds or until the coating is nice and crispy. Remove the shrimp with a spider or slotted spoon and place them in a colander lined with a paper towel. Repeat with the process with other half of the shrimp.

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7. If using a wok, carefully pour out the oil into another pan. Place the wok back on the burner on high. Add garlic and sauté for 15 seconds.

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8. Give the water and cornstarch mixture a quick stir and add it to the sauce mixture. Pour the entire mixture to the wok.

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9. Once the sauce thickens, add all the cooked shrimp, dried chiles, and scallions. Toss to coat. Transfer to a plate and serve immediately.

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*When buying frozen shrimp, make sure there are no other ingredients besides shrimp. Avoid shrimp with additives like sodium tripolyphosphate. There is no need for preservatives. If at all possible, purchase wild caught shrimp.

*To make ginger juice, finely grate about 1 teaspoon of ginger. Squeeze the grated ginger over a fine mesh sieve. Discard the ginger solids and use ginger liquid for the recipe.

Mongolian Beef

Growing up in Koreatown in LA, the Chinese food I ate was quite different from the Chinese food I know today. Most of the Chinese restaurants in Koreatown served Mandarin cuisine, and the owners, servers, and cooks were all Chinese who previously lived in South Korea. When communicating with their customers, they spoke perfect Korean, and when talking amongst themselves, they spoke Mandarin. The food served at these Chinese restaurants was adapted for the Korean palate, with lots of bold flavors. (They even served cabbage kimchee with every meal!) One of my favorite dishes at these Korean-Style Chinese restaurants is Mongolian beef.

Mongolian beef is a dish with a distinct hoisin flavor and lots of scallions. What makes this dish so unique is the texture of the beef – unlike most sautéed meat dishes, the beef is extremely tender. The trick, I learned, is to tenderize the beef with baking soda. Just 1/4 teaspoon will tenderize 8 ounces of beef. I tried this technique at home with flank steak and it worked like a charm, yielding the same tenderness as the Mongolian beef I’ve had at Young Dragon Restaurant. The key is to not let the beef tenderize in the baking soda too long, so be sure not to tenderize the meat until you have everything prepped. As always, please read the entire recipe before you start. Enjoy!

Mongolian Beef

Serving Size: 4 (with rice and side dishes)

8 ounces of flank steak (thinly sliced against the grain)*
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of organic cornstarch
2 tablespoon of homemade chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons of organic soy sauce
1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce
2 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ginger juice*
Freshly grated ground pepper
2 tablespoon of sunflower or peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 organic scallions, sliced in 2 inch pieces
Steamed jasmine rice
Kimchee for serving

1. Place the flank steak in a small glass bowl. Sprinkle the baking soda all over the meat. Give it a good stir to coat evenly. Let the meat tenderize for 15-20 minutes.

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2. While the meat is tenderizing, in a glass measuring cup, add the chicken sock, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar, ginger juice, and good pinch of freshly grated pepper. Whisk and set aside.

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3. Once the the meat is tenderized, sprinkle the cornstarch and mix until all the meat is coated. Heat a wok or large stainless steel pan on high, adding 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok. Add the minced garlic and stir fry for 10 seconds.

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4. Add the beef, spreading it out so most of the meat touches the surface of the wok. Let it sit undisturbed for 1 seconds. Sauté until the beef is slightly pink (about 45 more seconds).

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5. Add the green onions and stir for a few seconds. Quickly move the beef and green onion to the sides of the of the wok, creating a well.

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6. Add about 2/3 of sauce mixture into the center of the wok. Let the sauce thicken for about 30 seconds. Bring the meat down from side of the wok. Sauté into the sauce for 30 more seconds. Taste for seasoning and add more sauce, if needed.

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7. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice, kimchee and other vegetable side dishes.

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*Cut the flank steak against the grain, just shy of 1/4 inch in thickness and about 2 inches wide.

*To make ginger juice, finely grate about 1 teaspoon of ginger. Squeeze the grated ginger over a fine mesh seive. Discard the ginger solids and use ginger liquid for the recipe.