Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Asian-Style Rice Vermicelli Bolognese 肉酱米粉

This dish is unconventional and that thick rice vermicelli stands out as being THE unconventional "pasta" alternative. So this is bolognese with an Asian twist!

Bunashimeji (beech) mushrooms and green onions (instead of herbs) - that's not very authentic bolognese either. Awww...

Whatever. As long as it is delicious! And indeed, absolutely delicious. On a lucky day, a dish made with twists and turns can be a successful homemade dish.

This bolognese sauce is very flavorful with generous use of vegetables (celery, tomato and tomatoes) and most importantly, the natural tangy-sweetness of the tomato gravy is superbly balanced by this secret ingredient - anchovy fillets.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Basil Walnut Pesto 罗勒/九层塔核桃青酱

The basil in our garden (picture, left) is flourishing beautifully, and it is just one basil plant. We will call it "the parent basil" for now. As he read that basil is easy to propagate from cuttings, he also tried to propagate two or three other basil plants from the cuttings of the parent basil.

"Stop!" was what I told him - to not propagate the basil as I do not use basil very often in my cooking.

Meantime, while the newly propagated basil plants are still rooting, I gotta find more ways to use the parent basil before it is "taken away" by winter in a few months time.

Without question, one of the easiest ways to use up the abundance of basil is to make pesto. I have shunned away from the expensive pine nuts and opted for walnuts for this pesto.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Steamed Eggplant with Gochujang Dressing 蒸茄子拌韩式辣酱

Though these baby eggplants are fragrant with garlic, or pack punch of spice with chili; fuss-free Steamed Eggplant is my go-to whenever I want to put together something easy, healthy yet flavorful. Steamed does not equal to flavor? I don't agree.

The secret lies in the sauce, in this case.

Asian eggplant variety such as Chinese eggplant and Japanese eggplant which have thin delicate skin and sweeter flesh are more suitable for steamed eggplant dishes.

Some of you may not like the sharp bitterness of bitter melon, the sliminess of okra, the sponginess of eggplant. These must be the three most hated vegetables for most people, especially kids. I used to dislike eggplant when I was a teenager - not only was eggplant spongy, it was cooked all wrong at food stalls, eateries and even restaurants. Most often wok-fried and almost every time, they turned out greasy. It was just eating mouthful of oil back then.

Whether you just never developed a taste or liking for a certain vegetable or you had bad food memories of bland food, mushy and overcooked vegetables as a child, there is still hope to learn to appreciate these not-so-popular vegetables, by using new prep. and cooking methods. At least I have found new hope in this Spicy Steamed Eggplant. Comparing to miso dressing, this spicy dressing is definitely my favorite.