Asian Secret #13 Eat raw Garlic

Cloves of Garlic

Gross… right? Most people think eating garlic makes your breath smell, but it’s not as bad as you might think. Actually, the healthiest diets in the world often include garlic, which helps fight off sickness by supporting your immune system and is said to decrease blood sugar.

One way to include garlic in meals is to buy garlic bulbs at the market, then chop them into slices and then throw them into your spaghetti sauce. (Sorry, sauce pre-made with garlic and herbs is not the same).

Taking garlic pills? There are some natural garlic supplements on the market that work well but nothing beats the benefits of  a clove of real garlic! I promise that if you build a relationship with the ingredients in your meals they will reward you. Continue reading Asian Secret #13 Eat raw Garlic

Asian Secret #28: Spicy Beer Duck!

Beer Duck 啤酒鸭

Ah, it’s Summer time again! Sun, beach, and beer time has come; and nothing excites me more than beer-infused, Asian recipes! First, I love duck, although it is a bit fatty, and can’t wait to start making this tasty dish back home for my family. A friend of mine in Zhuhai suggested it while she was home for a holiday. So, this new recipe of Chinese deliciousness is based loosely on her Guangxi family recipe – so here it goes without further delay!

Stuff to Prep:
a duck, preferably fresh and chopped into bite-sized pieces.
a spoonful of Dou Ban Jiang (chinese bean sauce).
two cubes of Nan Ru (red fermented toufu).
a few spoonfuls of oyster sauce (any brand will do).
600mL bottle of beer (or two cans). Continue reading Asian Secret #28: Spicy Beer Duck!

Summer Cooking 2010: The Best Cauliflower Dish in the World?

Cauliflower
Cauliflower

Day two of my visit home and I decided to cook up something unexpected!  Big, white, fluffy cauliflower! Woo hoo! First of all, my father looked at the huge serving of cauliflower I had prepared and was anything but ecstatic. …great… Ben’s cooking dull, taste-less, rabbit food… I knew this meal could be a tough pill to swallow, so I had to take out the big guns!

To clarify, my father is a meat-lover. Most dads are. Steak, hamburger, chicken, or pork should fill the air at most meal times.  A major dish at lunch consisting of rabbit food was a little disappointing to say the least. So, I thought… if I could transform the flavor of this vege into something mouth-watering and meaty, what would it taste like?

Let’s Tarantino this recipe so that the food-drama doesn’t go to waste… Continue reading Summer Cooking 2010: The Best Cauliflower Dish in the World?

Summer Cooking 2010: Ribs, Toufu, and Greens

ribs-toufu-greens
Ribs, Toufu, and Greens

It’s nice to be home! And I’ve been cooking various dishes to show my family that it is easy to cook healthy Asian food, one of the purposes of creating AsianLiving.me!

The first lunch I made included my now infamous Pork Ribs with Garlic and Black Bean Sauce, with spicy Toufu, and Spinach Greens. It was the first time my family had tried these dishes made at home, rather than at a restaurant.

The spicy Toufu was a little new for me. (It’s hard to do Toufu right!) So, let me summarize this basic recipe here: Continue reading Summer Cooking 2010: Ribs, Toufu, and Greens

Steamed Eggplant (vinegar + garlic)

Eggplant

One type of cooking that has always worried me is “steamed” anything! I know white rice is steamed, but how do I actually steam food without another special machine. If you are like me, read about using your rice cooker as a steamer for dishes first, then come back and follow these easy steps.

PREP: Finely mince 2-3 cloves of garlic and put them aside. Keep bottles of sesame oil, vinegar, and soy sauce handy. Salt too. (See image below) Also, use a steamer or your rice cooker.

1~ Slice up the eggplant in half, then into 1/2″ thick strips-lengthwise. This can be altered as you do the recipe more often and develop a preference.

2~ With your cooker/steamer warmed up, place the raw, sliced eggplant strips into the steaming tray. Let them steam for 5-10 minutes.

3~ Pull tray out of steamer carefully… let the tray sit on a cooling rack or kitchen counter. Sprinkle salt over them. After a minute, start pulling the eggplant into strings with chop sticks or a fork. You’ll notice that water is pulled out of the eggplant by the salt.

4~ After draining the water out, you’ll see the resulting mushy stuff that is in the image below. Let it cool for about 5 minutes before adding about a tablespoon of vinegar, a teaspoon of sesame oil, a splash of soy sauce, and the minced garlic. Mix completely.

Nearly finished product

* This dish is best served cool. You should be able to taste the fragrant sesame with a twang of vinegar.

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.

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

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.