Category Archives: Chinese

Steamed Rainbow Trout with Asian Pesto Dressing

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Steamed fish is as homey as one gets in Asian home cooking.  Living in west LA I have no access to Ranch 99, a big Chinese supermarket chain known for its bubbling tanks of live fish.  There is where I play God.  I point out the fish that I want and the fishmonger swiftly scoops it out of the tank and kills it.  Here I got myself civilization and Costco.  Whole Foods and its f&*k you prices for its seafood is not an option.  And because I am cheap, like to eat whole fish and consume it in one seating, my imaginary seafood decision tree concludes that rainbow trout is my BFF, “best fish forever”

This is a good vacuum cleaner recipe to use up leftover or wilting herbs. Throw any combination of scallion, cilantro, italian parsley, garlic, tomato in a food processor and you got yourself a sauce.  For marketing purposes I am calling any finely minced vegetation combination a pesto.  Add a jalapeno or two for heat.  Dressing the fish with this pesto and searing it with really hot oil is essential to reducing the sharpness of the herbs and releasing their natural oils.

Ingredients:

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Rainbow Trout

  • 1 Rainbow Trout
  • A thumb of peeled ginger, sliced
  • 2 lemongrass stalk, bruised
  • 2-4 kaffir lime leaves

Pesto:

  • A handful of italian parsley or cilantro
  • 1/2 thumb of ginger
  • 10 cherry tomatoes or any tomato you have available
  • 1-2 gloves of garlic
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce

Steps:

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  1. Clean fish and place on a plate.
  2. “Score” or make three deep cuts across the thickest part of the flesh on each side.
  3. Stuff the ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves into the cavity of the fish.
  4. Steam fish for 8 minutes.
  5. Take fish out of steamer and discard 3/4 of liquid produced.
  6. While fish is steaming, combine all pesto ingredients into a food processor and pulse till finely chopped.
  7. Pour pesto over steamed fish.
  8. Heat 4 Tbsp of any unflavored oil with a high smoking point till it is smoking.
  9. Pour hot oil over the pesto, searing the herbs.  You should hear a sizzling sound.

Cook’s Notes:

Do not worry if you do not have the harder to find herbs such as lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves.  The key is to use ginger and scallion.  The fish will taste even with just ginger and scallion.  If you do not have fish sauce use soy sauce.  Try the Ginger Cilantro Sauce because it is based on the same concept.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butter Corn Fried Rice with Mentaiko and Shrimp

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The marriage between butter and corn is universally recognized.  Hokkaido, Japan is famous for its butter corn ramen.  You will find a mound of corn, slices of pork belly and a knob of butter melting away in a steamy bowl of ramen.  Asians love corn and we put it on pizza, in ice cream, cake, etc.  Since I have leftover rice and corn is in season why not make butter corn fried rice.  I am adding mentaiko, marinated pollack roe, to give the rice a kick.  Mentaiko tastes a bit like salted anchovies but with more depth and has a very slight bitter aftertaste.  Karasumi is dried pressed fish roe and bottarga is its Italian equivalent.  Shiso compliments mentaiko with its bright citrusy notes.  And who can forget the eggs!

Ingredients:

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  • 3 cups day old cooked white rice
  • 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup peeled shrimp, chopped into big pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tbsp mentaiko
  • 5 shiso leaves, sliced into long thin strips, “chiffonard”
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp finely diced shallots
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 black pepper

Steps:

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  1. Beat eggs in small bowl and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. Heat wok over high heat and add 2 Tbsp of oil.  When hot, add egg and create an omelette.  When cooked, set aside and tear into pieces.
  3. Return wok to heat and add 2 Tbsp butter.
  4. When butter foams, add diced shallots, shrimp and stir-fry until shrimp is almost cooked. 1 min.
  5. Add garlic, corn and stir-fry. 1 min.
  6. Add rice, breaking up clumps with spatula.
  7. Season with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and continue to stir-fry rice for 2-3 mins, thoroughly coating the rice with the ingredients/butter.
  8. Add shredded cooked omelette.
  9. Add mentaiko and mix thoroughly. Mentaiko will cook immediately and turn pale pink.
  10. Stir in shiso leaves.
  11. Transfer to a bowl and top off with a dollop of raw mentaiko.
  12. Serve immediately.

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Cook’s Notes:

It is important to use day old rice because rice fresh out of the cooker is very moist and sticky.  The resulting fried rice will be very wet and clumpy.  If there is no day old rice, spread rice out on a sheet and place in freezer to dry.

Chili Ginger Sauce

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This is the tangy garlic ginger chili sauce that made Hainan Chicken Rice the super rockstar dish that it is today. Fortunately it does not need to stay monogamous and pairs well with grilled pork and beef too.

Ingredients:

  • 8 red jalapeno peppers, de-seeded
  • 1 small thumb of peeled ginger
  • 2 – 3 gloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp of calamansi lime juice (if unavailable use regular limes)
  • 2 Tbsp of sugarcane vinegar (if unavailable use white vinegar)
  • 1 tps sesame seed oil
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce

Steps:

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Add some chicken stock or water to thin out the sauce if too thick. 
  2. Taste and adjust accordingly.

 

Hainanese Chicken

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If Singaporeans had to choose a national dish the title could easily go to Hainanese Chicken Rice. But it looks like any poached chicken topped over rice?! What makes this dish distinctively Singaporean lies in the flavoring of the rice and its accompanying chili and ginger sauce. Cooked in a delicious chicken broth flavored with ahem chicken fat, stir fried ginger, garlic, shallots and screwpine leaves, the rice alone stands out as a star. I substituted quinoa for rice because it has a lower glycemic index. Quinoa also cooks fast and absorbs the wonderful flavors of the chicken broth just as nicely. I can imagine Singaporeans crying in horror at my suggestion but give it a shot and let me know what you think.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken (preferably organic/air-chilled)
  • 2 Tbsp of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp of chinese cooking wine
  • 5 thick slices of ginger
  • 8 stalks of scallions
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, bruised.

Steps:

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  1. Exfoliate chicken with kosher salt to clean skin and remove any gunk from its cavity. Rinse thoroughly.
  2. Rub the chicken cavity with 1 tsp of chinese cooking wine
  3. Stuff chicken cavity with ginger, scallions and lemongrass
  4. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season boiling water with 2 Tbsp of kosher salt. The water must taste salty.
  5. Immerse chicken into pot of boiling water with breast side down. Water temperature will decrease immediately.
  6. Keep flame on high until water re-boils with chicken. Boil for about about 3-5 mins. Flip chicken over to breast side up. Cover the pot with its lid and TURN OFF FLAME.
  7. Let chicken sit in pot for 30 mins.
  8. Remove chicken from the pot and plunge it immediately into an ice bath to halt the cooking process.
  9. Once the chicken has cooled down, remove from ice bath and discard all the ingredients from its cavity.
  10. Pat dry and let it rest.
  11. Debone and slice when ready to serve. Reserve the chicken bones and stock.
  12. Optional – Mix 2 tsp of soy sauce and 1 tsp of sesame oil with 2 Tbsp of chicken stock. Spoon glaze over the sliced chicken and garnish with cilantro.
  13. Serve with Quinoa, Cilantro Ginger Sauce and Chili Sauce

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Cook’s Notes:

I have tried various brands of organic chicken and love Mary’s chicken from Whole Foods. Because it is air-chilled, water is not absorbed and the chicken retains its natural flavor and firmness. I have seen recipes where you bring the chicken to a boil starting with cold water or boil the chicken for 10-20  minutes then bring it down to a simmer. These are all attempts at meeting the key challenge which is, how to thoroughly cook the chicken breast while keeping it super juicy and tender. It is very important to have enough water in the pot to keep the water temperature constant. There must be enough water/heat to swirl around the chicken. This is the cheap Chinese version of “sous-vide” minus all the contraptions. This recipe is very technique driven. Unfortunately you will most likely undercook or overcook the chicken the first time. You will get better as you practice more.

 

Ginger Cilantro Sauce

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I created this sauce as the herbier sister to the ginger sauce, a must-have companion in eating Hainanese chicken. View it as a pesto or chimichurri but with an Asian twist. It is versatile and pairs well with roasted chicken, grilled beef and steamed fish. What a great way to use up leftover herbs!

Ingredients:

  • A handful of cilantro (use the amount that it is sold in)
  • 10 scallions (use both white and green parts)
  • Thumbs of peeled ginger
  • 2-3 gloves of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of Japanese “tsuyu”, a seasoning soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1 tsp of brown sugar

Steps:

  1. Remove roots from the cilantro and scallions.
  2. Rough chop cilantro, scallions, ginger and place all ingredients into food processor. Pulse 10-12 times to finely chop the herbs. Do not create a paste.
  3. Transfer herbs into a glass bowl.
  4. Heat one cup of canola oil in pot till smoking.
  5. Add fish sauce, Japanese tsuyu, sesame oil, brown sugar to the herbs.
  6. Slowly pour the searing hot canola oil over the herbs. Mix as you pour. The mixture must sizzle as the hot oil hits the herbs.

Cook’s Notes:

To develop the key flavor in this sauce it is important to sear the herbs with the hot oil. It also helps tone down the sharpness of the ginger. Do not use olive oil due to its low smoking point. “Tsuyu” is a Japanese seasoning soy sauce and often used diluted to form a soup base for udon, soba or soy noodles. If neither fish sauce nor soy sauce is available just use salt and it will taste delicious too. Play around with the herbs to develop your favorite ratio or add jalapeno for spice.