Monday, August 18, 2014

Vegetarian Stewed/ Braised Meat-Sauce 素肉燥

One of the famous street-food in Taiwan is Stewed Meat Rice 肉燥饭 (usually made from ground pork) or Braised Meat Rice 卤肉饭 (made with slightly bigger chunks of pork, or pork belly).

The ideal stewed/braised meat is perfectly balanced in savory and sweet flavors, and at some point, the gravy/sauce leans towards being sticky, glossy and gooey gelatinous - as a result of fats in the pork melding into the gravy. The meat used in stewed meat  肉燥 is, by default - pork, due to the higher ratio of fats in pork. However, there are also healthier versions which use ground chicken - that reminded me of the Zha-Jiang meat-sauce 炸酱 I have made previously, and ground turkey.

Pork, chicken, or turkey but none of them is vegetarian. When we associate vegetarian "stewed or braised meat", blehs and mehs are all we hear. Nothing interesting when "meat" substitutes such as tofu and mushrooms start coming in, which in fact is what I am going to use to make my Vegetarian Stewed Meat 素肉燥.

I was excited in trying a vegetarian "stewed meat" especially after being inspired by a cooking segment that was demonstrating similar but with some key tips that I thought was really quite out-of-the-box.

Now, it sounds even better when the vegetarian version can be made "gelatinous" * (How? Hint: Corn-starch is not the answer, as that only makes the mixture sticky).

Friday, August 15, 2014

Stir-Fry Shrimps & Vegetables Medley 虾仁清炒蔬菜

As long as you are patient enough with all the slicing, chopping, mincing and dicing, it is halfway to success.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Container Gardening - Herbs, Chili, Watercress

At almost the same time August last year, there was a variety of tomato plants and vegetables e.g. kale and Swiss chard growing in our backyard. After a year, some minor changes have taken place and this is the current garden update.

Due to the lack of full sun for long duration especially at the raised bed location, we have cut down on the growing of leafy green vegetables this year, and shifted our growing efforts to container gardening: fruits such as blueberries and pomegranates, vegetable/fruits e.g. watercress, different types of chili, and herbs such as basil, rosemary and thyme.

Herbs - basil, rosemary, thyme

These basil, rosemary, thyme are not grown from seeds, but bought as potted herbs from the nursery. They have survived and flourished. Herbs such as basil and rosemary have also been propagated successfully via stem cuttings.

For all of our chili plants, we have caged them as what you would do to a tomato plant, and have netted around the cage to prevent birds from eating the chili. The use of a reflective pinwheel also works to minimize pests and to prevent birds from eating the chili.

Thai Dragon Chili - bought as a plant from the nursery without fruits. It is now fruiting nicely and some chili have turned red with time.

Dragon Chili