Tortilla Española

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There’s rarely anything as simple and as satisfying as Tortilla Española or Tortilla de Patatas, the Spanish Omelette. This tapas classic has existed in Spain and parts of the Latin Americans since the 1600s, and it is still as popular today as the day it is invented. With only 4 ingredients, it’s savory and sweet, with a touch of smokiness, with an almost crispy crust on the surface, and a creamy, soft interior, like an aged cheese. Even though the traditional recipe doesn’t contain any onion, it was added to the recipe in the 1900s to provide some extra sweetness to the omelette. This recipe takes about 30 mins and serves about 4 people.

You’ll Need:

  • 3 medium-sized potatoes (about 1/2 kg or 1 lb, starchy potatoes)
  • 1 sweet onion (or any other type of white onion)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups olive oil

How To Make This:

  1. Peel and thinly slice both the potatoes and onion, you can slice them with a knife, or save a lot of time and effort by using a mandoline.
  2. img_4316.jpgHeat up a deep pan over medium heat, pour in the oil and wait until the temperature rises to about 150C or 300F degrees.
  3. Add the onion first, fry for about 3 min, then add the sliced potatoes. Continue frying for about 12 min or until the potatoes are cooked through.
  4. Strain the fried potatoes and onion, gently mix them with the 6 eggs. Cover it with some aluminum foil and let it sit for about 5 min.
  5. Heat a well-oiled non-stick pan (with a 10-inch diameter) over high heat, add in the thickened egg mixture and cook for about 1 min, this will create the crust for the omelette. Then turn the heat down to medium and let the omelette cook for another 3 min. While the top of the omelette is still a bit runny, cover the top of the pan with a large plate, then flip the pan over, with the cooked part of the omelette facing up, and slide the omelette back into the pan. Cook for another 2 min over medium heat.
  6. Cut the omelette into wedges, you can serve them both hot and cold, enjoy!

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Thai Green Curry

I was having curry at a local Thai restaurant last weekend and it wasn’t so great, the so-called “Royal Curry” is similar to a peanut coconut curry, but it was way too sweet, and the consistency is too thick (they most likely used starch to thicken it). And I realized that overly-sweetness is actually a common theme in Thai food in Western countries, and after doing some research, the reason behind it is that for a dish like Thai Green Curry or Kaeng Khiao Wan (“Kaeng” meaning curry, “Khiao” meaning green, “Wan” meaning sweet), the sweet is usually understood too literally, when it actually meant to describe the particular color green of this curry, which is more like a cream green.

So, to make your Thai curry experience more authentic at home, we are going to make a pretty traditional Thai curry from Central Thailand, Kaeng Khiao Wan or Green Curry.

This recipe serves 4.

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For The Paste, You’ll Need:

  • IMG_3082140 g or 5 oz Green Thai (or Birdeye) Chilies
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 Shallots
  • 2 stalks Lemongrass (just the root)
  • 1 thumb-sized chunk of Galangal (or ginger, they are very similar in flavor)
  • 1 piece of Lime Peel
  • 1 tbsp Mix Peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp Shrimp Paste (or anchovy paste)
  • 1/2 tbsp Rock Sugar
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seed
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seed
  • 1 tsp Salt

For the Curry, You’ll Need:

  • 1.5 kg or 3 lb of river fish (like bass, pike or carb) or fish balls
  • 0.7 kg or 1.5 lb of mushroom
  • 500 ml or 2 cups of seafood stock (water)
  • 500 ml or 2 cups of coconut cream
  • 5 – 10 stems of Thai sweet basil
  • 2 red chilies

How to make this:

  1.  IMG_3110.jpgFirst, we make the paste, roughly chop the green Thai chilies, garlic, lime leaves, shallots, lemongrass, galangal and lime peel, lightly toast the peppercorns, coriander and cumin seeds, then blend everything together with a food processor or a pestle & mortar, then add the shrimp paste, salt and sugar. Blend or smash it to an almost paste-like consistency. (At this point, you can either make the curry or freeze the paste and use it in the future)
  2. Bring the seafood stock to a boil, then add all paste to the stock, cook for about 8 min or until it turns to a cream like color. At this step, you can either strain the stock and make a smooth curry, or keep the small bits in there and make a more rustic version of the dish.
  3. Add the mushroom and fish(or fishball) to the soup, pouch both until they are cooked, then add the coconut cream, mix gently so you don’t break apart the fish. Bring the curry to a boil and remove the mixture from the heat. Add the chopped red chilies and basil leaves, sever it with some rice, and enjoy!

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This is one of the easier Thai dishes, and take almost no time to cook, but it’s packed with amazing flavors and the freshness of the dish is unbelievable! The paste can be frozen into cubes and use in the future, and you can use almost any meat or mushroom or tofu you want, actually, Korean style fish cake is perfect for this dish. Give it a try, it’s really easy!

Wonton Noodle Soup/雲吞麵

One of my must-haves every time I visit Hong Kong is the wonton noodle soup or 港式雲吞麵, you can find wonton stands everywhere and a bowl can be as cheap as 30 HKD (about 3 USD) with 7 juicy & tender shrimp wonton, chewy egg noodles and flavorful, warm seafood broth. A dish like this is perfect for dinner on a cold winter night, or if you prefer, a hearty breakfast in the morning.

For this recipe, you can “mass produce” the wontons and keep them in your freezer, they’ll last about 3 months. Although this recipe doesn’t include the recipes for the noodle and soup, you can basically use any noodle-soup combination you want.

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For 50 Wontons, You’ll Need:

  • 225g or 1/2 lb 80% lean ground pork
  • 550g or 1 lb peeled & deveined shrimp
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp bonito flakes (the original recipe calls for Chinese dried fish powder, which is 50% MSG)
  • 1 tsp cooking rice wine/Japanese mirin
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp starch
  • 1 tsp chopped chives
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 50 square wonton wrappers

How to make this:

  1. Purée half (225g) of the shrimp using a food processor, you can mince the shrimp with a knife too, but it’s just too much work. Cut the rest of the shrimp into 3 equal pieces.
  2. Thoroughly the puréed shrimp, cut shrimp chunks and minced pork together, add the egg, bonito flakes, cooking rice wine/Japanese mirin, soy sauce, starch, chopped chives, salt, and ground pepper. Stop stirring when the mixture turns into a pink, consistent, smooth paste.
  3. Place about a teaspoon of the paste in the center of the wrapper, wet the edge and fold it diagonally. Then wet the 2 tips and press them together, repeat until you used up all the wrappers or fillings.6262A7B9-6EFC-41B6-8011-CF9C7AE0FC91
  4. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then carefully drop the wontons in the boiling water. The uncooked wonton would sink to the bottom of the pot, and a good indication of the wontons are cooked is when they flow to the top of the water (the same rule apply for both fresh & frozen wonton).
  5. Serve the wontons with some blanched greens, noodle, and soup. Enjoy!

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Cured Salmon

Among all the fishes out there, salmon is probably my favorite, you can smoke, sear, grill them or even eat it raw. For a lot of people, eating raw fish might be a little out of their comfort zone, so, as a stepping stone, I will make them try cured salmon. This recipe is extremely simple, you can add any spices to customize your cured salmon. In this recipe, it is important to try to use North Atlantic salmon, this is because pacific salmon has a tendency to have parasites.

You’ll need:

  • 400 g brown sugar
  • 175 g kosher salt or flaky sea salt
  • 1 to 2 lb Atlantic salmon fillet (no thicker than 1 1/2 inches/3.5 cm, skin on, pin bones removed)

How to make this:

  1. Mix together brown sugar and salt (So, this is just the most basic curing mixture, both the sugar and salt are crystals, which gives them the property to absorb moisture, but you can also add extra spices and herbs of your choice, I like to add black pepper, coriander seed, and sliced fresh fennel to my curing mixture)
  2. Place half of the mixture on the bottom of a container, whip the salmon try and place the salmon on top of the mixture, then bury the salmon using the rest of the mixture
  3. Seal the container and place it in the fridge for about 72 hours
  4. When you take it out after 72 hours, the dry mixture that covers the fish should have turned into a thick paste or liquid. Rinse with some ice water, then slices and serve.

Broccoli & Beef Stir Fry

Even though this dish is considered to be one of the “American-Chinese Food” dishes, I actually had this dish very often when I was growing up in China, it’s just one of those great combinations of flavors, and it’s quick and easy! This recipe serves about 2

You’ll Need:

  • 3/4 lb beef
  • 1 lb broccoli
  • 1/3 cup oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more if needed
  • 1 thin slice of fresh ginger root
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

How To Make This:

  1. Cut the beef into 1/8-inch thick strips, marinated the beef strips in the sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch for about 30 min to 1 hour
  2. Rinse the broccoli and cut into florets, blanch them in boiling water for about 1min, strain and rinse with cold water to cool
  3. Heat up a pan or wok with vegetable oil over medium-high heat, lightly fry the garlic and ginger, then add the beef strips and stir-fry for about 2 min, then add the blanched broccoli & oyster sauce, cook for another 2 min
  4. Sprinkle on some roasted sesame seed, serve it with some rice

Teriyaki Salmon

I lived in Seattle for about 5 years, and one thing I absolutely adored is the teriyaki. However, the teriyaki most of us who live outside Japan are familiar with is very different from the traditional teriyaki. This is not only in the flavor of the sauce (traditional sauce tends to be more savory than sweet) but also the choice of meat. In Japan, fish are usually the preferred protein to go with this sauce, whereas most places outside Japan like to use chicken & beef. The preparation method is also very different, very often, the fish are not marinated but simply seared/grilled then brushed with a layer of sauce, which make the natural flavor of the fish more outstanding. Despite all that, everyone has their favorites, and for me personly, the two style has diverged so much from each other that I wouldn’t even consider them to be the same dish, and I enjoy them both equally.

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb salmon with skin (very important to have the skin on, once you fry it, it will become crispy like chips)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp sake (or Chinese rice wine or dry sherry)
  • 1 tbsp mirin (or 1 tbsp sake + 1 tsp sugar)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

How to make this:

  1. Slice the salmon across into 2-3 inch wide pieces, this will help the skin crisp up faster, pad them dry with some paper towel and lightly season it with salt and black pepper
  2. Heat up a skillet over medium-high heat with the oil, when the pan is heated, place the salmon skin down onto the pan, there will be some oil splatters if you didn’t dry the skin enough, so make sure the salmon skin are dried
  3. Bring the heat down to medium, then let it sear for 2-3 min or until the skin has crispened up (or no longer sticks to the pan), then flip the salmon over, turn up the heat a little bit, then pour in the sake, mirin, sugar & soy sauce mix, once it starts to simmer, turn the heat back to medium and  let the sauce slowly thickens, this will take about 2-3 min, do not cover the pan at any point
  4. Once the sauce holds a syrup like texture, it means the salmon is done too, place the salmon on another plate, then brush on the chicken sauce, which at this point is more like a beautiful glaze
  5. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds and chopped spring onion, serve it with some rice and steamed veg

 

If you want to find out how to make the non-tridtional teriyaki chicken, you can find it here

Tofu Burger Patty

First of all, I just want to say that after 3 days of researching and experimenting on how to make a great vegan tofu patty, I have the utmost respect for those who gave up meat and decided to follow a more environmentally sustainable path. When I made this recipe, I tried my best to keep it simple with easy to find ingredients, while mimicking the taste and texture of meat, with a similar amount of essential nutrients. Since this recipe has a lot of steps, you can make a lot of them and keep them in the freezer, and reheat them when you need them. This recipe makes 3 -4 patties.

You’ll need:

  • 340g/12oz firm tofu
  • 110g/4oz crimini mushroom
  • 85g/3oz breadcrumbs
  • 50g/2 oz dried kidney beans (or any beans you like, I choose kidney beans because they are rich in iron)
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed & 3 tbsp water(if you are vegetarian, just use an egg)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • OPTIONAL: 1 tsp marmite or vegemite (it’s a yeast extract that adds a meaty flavor to the patty, it’s also very salty, so don’t put any salt in the mixture. It might be hard to find them in the US (Amazon maybe?), but they are pretty common in Europe and Australia)

Hot to make this

  1. Soak the kidney beans overnight in cold water, rinse and boil them the 2nd day, drain the beans then mash them into a thick paste
  2. Ground some flax seed into a fine powder, then mix 1 tbsp of the powder to 3 tbsp of cold water, mix evenly, then place in the fridge for 15 min or until it thickens
  3. Mince the mushrooms and cook them in a pan with some oil over medium heat for about 5 min
  4. Wrap the tofu with a tea towel or linen/cheesecloth, then squeeze out as much water as you can, an easy way to do this is to twist the 4 corners together and continue twisting them, the water will be pushed out slowly due to pressure. In the end, the tofu should have the texture of very wet sand
  5. Then, mix the dried tofu, mushroom, bean paste, flax water mix, breadcrumbs, olive oil,  black pepper, garlic powder, salt and marmite/vegemite(optional), mix them until everything are evenly distributed. You can blend them a little more in a food processor for a smoother texture, but the difference is not very significant
  6. Press them in a large cookie cutter into the desired shape and size, you can use your hand but the result tends to crack and crumble at the end
  7. You can either place them on an oiled parchment paper over a baking tray and bake them in a 175C/350F oven for 20 min, the advantage of this is that it’s healthier and you can make a large amount of it at once. Or you can pan fry them in some oil over medium-high heat for about 3 min each side, you get a better crust this way, but’s not very efficient if you are making these in large quantity
  8. Serve them over some buns or bread with whatever you want