Amaranth (Green Vege) Dish

Amaranth (Green Vege)

Living in Asia really opens your eyes to the true variety of vegetables in the world. You will find at least 20-30 different leafy greens in any given market place. I honestly had no idea 5 years ago about half of the things I eat on a weekly/biweekly basis now. One of these leafy greens has a deep green color and is quite appetizing. “Amaranth”or “Xian Cai” (苋菜) which comes in a few colors, looks most like a kind of salad leaf you might see in a slightly sophisticated salad back home.

So, here are the simple steps cooking up this delicious green!

1~ Pour some oil into the base of the wok or pan. When hot, toss some chopped garlic into the oil and let simmer.

Amaranth in Wok

2~ After the garlic starts browning, pull the chopped garlic out and put aside. Toss two full handfulls of vege into the wok per person. It will shrink, so put a lot in!

Finished Cooking!

3~ Shift around with a spatula for a couple minutes. You could add some other flavorings if you want (like Chicken broth granules). Also, you could add the garlic bits back into the dish when you serve, but again, its not necessary.

Ginger Fish (lightly fried)

Final Product - Ginger Fish

After months of anticipation, my university leader came over to bestow on me some Chinese cooking secrets again! I still have the savory taste of black beans and ocean fish in my mouth while typing this post. Without further ado, let’s get down to the EASY steps of making this awesome dish.

PREP: Your fish should be gutted and cleaned off. Then, you’ll need to lightly salt them before frying. Just a couple pinches on each side should do the trick. Also, cut up scallions, coriander, or whatever small planty flavorings you have around. (prep some Chinese Black Beans for a savory addition) Don’t forget some slices of fresh ginger, which is used in a lot of the cooking recipes on Asian Living.

1~ In a wok or pan, let a small amount of oil simmer for a short time. Put your fish in when its hot.  Don’t move the fish around! You need to let them cook like this for a couple minutes.

Adding Ginger and Chinese Black Beans

2~ When its time to turn them over, you can slide them with a spatula. At this point, put the ginger slices between the fish and let cook. Don’t shift the fish around.

3~ Shortly after, you can put the scallions, coriander, black beans, and other planty flavorings into the oil beneath the fish. (See image left) At this point, you could add a couple splashes of soy sauce.

4~ As a final touch, my university leader suggested putting the serving dish on top of the whole thing for a few seconds. (See image below) This is a method that cleans your dish prior to putting food on it; A habit she developed many years ago…

That’s it! Serve this fish with an easy dish of greens and white rice. Enjoy!

Final step - Serving Dish

Pork Rib Chunks with Garlic & Black Bean Sauce

Garlic pork ribs
Ingredients for Garlic pork ribs

I’m finally letting this simple, but amazingly delicious recipe out of the bag! I would eat ribs everyday if I could because they are so freaking delicious. My favorite rib-dish is actually steamed and served more frequently at Zao Cha (早茶) or “morning tea,” which is most common in Southern China.  I have yet to find a more delicious way to cook pork ribs at home, but we will need to take a quick trip to the Asian Market first.

Start by preparing the following ingredients:
MEAT: Obviously, first comes the pork rib chunks. I buy them from a butcher’s market, which sells all cuts of meat in open air. The amount in the serving bowl to the right is about one full rib, which is about 8 inches long. You can get a 12 inch long rib chopped up for 2 people if this option is available. If you are not sure about portions, take a look at this article related to meat portion control.

Chilli powder, Corn starch, and Marinade
Chilli powder, Corn starch, and Marinade

SEASONINGS: We’ll simply take the chopped up pork ribs, rinse them through water, and do a simple 1 minute-marinade. I like 李锦记 (Lee Kum Kee) Brand’s prepared Black Bean and Garlic Sauce” marinade shown in the picture. (buy online) I also mix in some 玉米生粉 (Corn Starch), which is that bag with the ear of corn on it. Any corn starch will do. Notice that I don’t cake this onto the ribs; just put a shallow amount in your palm, with the marinade, and mix by hand a few minutes before cooking. I also put in Chilli powder according to taste. A spicy edge can enhance the flavor.

PLANTS: I’ve chosen to separate the shelved Seasonings from the fresh ones. As in the picture above, just cut a few slices of raw ginger, long segments of scallions, and loosely chopped up garlic. This should only take 1 minute.

1 ~ Warm up a frying pan/wok with corn oil (or whatever is available in the house). Throw in some of the garlic you chopped up with 1 or two slices of ginger. Shortly after you can throw in the scallions.

2 ~ Quickly throw in your marinaded pork ribs. Move them around in the pan to give them equal heat. If you find the frying pan is drying out, just add small amounts of water periodically. You’ll slowly develop a nice coating of sauce this way.

3 ~ Cover and let them cook for a few minutes, mixing them up with the sauce in the pan. Add water if needed. (The meat cooks rather quickly because it is not frozen and its rather thin on the bone. Cooking times may vary according to the thickness of your meat.)

4 ~ I usually pull them off after 4-5 minutes. If you want, choose a thick piece and pull it out. Slice it and check the middle.

Garlic Bean Pork Ribs
Garlic Bean Pork Ribs with Rice

I eat this dish with white rice, as you can see from the picture of the final product. Also, it goes well with stir-fried green beans.  Notice that the vegetables and the rice portions are about 50% of the meal. (Try your best to make a habit of this!)

Enjoy!

Full Meal with Green Beans
Full Meal with Green Beans

Stir-Fried Udon Noodles

Pronounced “Wu Dong Mian” in Chinese, this stir-fried version of U-Don Noodle soup is awesome. The vegetables can be substituted by any other vege that’s in the house. The dish is about 40% noodles, 15% meat, and 45% vegetables. I don’t really use measurements in cooking, so please don’t worry about being specific.

Stir Fry U-Don Preparation
Stir-Fried Udon Ingredients

Here is a picture of all the ingredients basically prepared. You’ll need to do some shopping at the asian market for 1 or 2 things. (All of the Cooking recipes on Asian Living require a trip to the Asian Market.)

* Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, Shitake Mushrooms (See the bag  of dried 香菇, let them sit in water first), Chicken Broth (granulated is fine), a pinch of sugar, and bag of prepared Udon noodles (乌冬面, usually its a Japanese food); VEGES: Broccoli (cut up), Scallions (cut in 1 inch segments, not too short), garlic (1 or 2 cloves), green pepper (sliced), and an egg (for good measure). MEAT: Choose any meat you want, but don’t cut up a huge steak or anything… I sliced up some pork, as you can see.

1~ Boil U-Don noodles for a few minutes and set them aside.

2~ Put Sesame oil, or vegetable/peanut oil, in a wok. Heat it up and start cooking the meat, garlic, and scallions. (I like going rogue.) Continue reading Stir-Fried Udon Noodles

Ramen (La Mian) as a Meal

Nong Xin Ramen- 5 pack

My favorite “fast food” in all of Asia is actually a Korean Ramen called “Shin Ramyun” or 辛拉面 in Chinese. It’s basically a brick of ramen, some dried veges, and a packet of seasoning. This is not a meal in itself, nor is a Cup Noodles. Asian teenagers often eat this as a snack, but I’ll show you how college students often turn it into a proper meal.

1~ Boil water in a pot, add chopped onions, sliced mushrooms (shitake are nice), and let them cook for a minute or two.

2~ Add the ramen brick. Move it around with chopsticks or a fork. Loosen it up. Add the seasoning packet.

3~ Then, crack a couple eggs into the pot. Don’t move it too much while they cook.

4~ Test a noodle to make sure it’s soft. When its ready, turn off heat and pour a serving off into your bowl.

5~ Add water if its too spicy. You don’t need ice cubes.

Simple Chinese Cabbage Dish

Example of Fried Cabbage, but I don't use bacon...
Example of Fried Cabbage, but I don’t use bacon…

Ingredients– In order of use: Sesame Oil (Lee Kum Kee), Garlic, Ginger, Head (or half head) of cabbage, Soy Sauce (Lee Kum Kee), Water (if needed)

1~ Warm up a wok or pan with sesame oil.

2~ Throw in a few slices of garlic (don’t waste your time by mincing), also add 1 or 2 slices of skinned ginger. Let them brown slightly.

3~ Throw in chopped up, or ripped apart, pieces of cabbage. Half a head for 1-2 people. Full head for 2+ people. Cover pan while you get Soy Sauce ready.

4~ Pour in soy sauce. Just enough to give each leaf a coating. Cover and cook a few minutes. Shovel around in the pan so that everything gets attention from your ingredients.

5~ When leaves are smaller and stalks are looking browner (from soy sauce), turn off heat. Use spatula to shovel out the cabbage from the sauce into a serving dish. Put it on the table and get the next dish started!

* If the dish is too salty, add some water to smooth out the impact of the soy sauce.