Friday, October 09, 2015

Vegetarian Garlic Chili Sauce 自制辣椒酱

Freshly blended kale, celery and apple juice. Banana and blueberry juice. Technically, you add fruits and/or vegetables in a food blender, add water or ice, press the ON button, and a healthy juice is a few minutes away. Now, what if I put chili + water into the food blender for a high-power blitz? Chili juice! Well, divert it to the sauce regime and call it Chili Sauce as less water is used in proportion.

Now that most of the garden chili (Jalapeno, Serrano, Thai Dragon, Thai Bird's Eye) have turned red, making our own red chili sauce came to mind while seeking an alternative to pickling (Pickled Chili recipe). I could pickle them all but when pickled, green chili usually turns out better than red (refer Pickled Hatch Chili).

Though it has the word "sauce", this chili sauce is not the kind of chili sauce of smooth sticky ketchup-style consistency in the like of bottled chili sauce. Instead, it is similar to the kind of chili-sauce condiment served alongside dishes such as chicken rice. Maybe the accurate term to use here, should be chicken-rice chili sauce, made vegetarian.

Why do I say that some chili sauce is not vegetarian ? Most chicken-rice chili sauce taste so good because there is chicken stock or rendered chicken fat in it! Yes, so now you know. Buyer, consumers, foodies, vegetarians beware.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Luffa (Loofah) with Egg 丝瓜炒蛋

Now, I thought there was only one kind of luffa (known as Angled Luffa) and I was wrong. Just the other day this summer, I chanced upon a gourd-like vegetable next to the angled luffa in the farmer's market and in the midst of market-goers, found that this smooth-skinned gourd-like vegetable is also luffa.

What? Luffa? Well, the luffa I know does not look like that. So yes, this is luffa indeed but another variety - Smooth-Skinned Luffa, or according to the stall, the younger version of Angled Luffa.

Luffa (or Loofah) with Egg is a healthy, nutritious and delicious dish, favored by homecooks in many Asian families, as this is also a quick and easy recipe.

I certainly enjoy this smoother-skin luffa, much better than Angled Luffa. Why? Peeling is much easier for this smooth-skinned luffa compared to the angled/ridged luffa. With easier peeling, the "yield" for this smooth-skinned luffa is also higher as I get as much "flesh" as possible in this luffa.  I also found that this luffa is more fleshy and moist when cooked - can I even use the word "juicy"?

I did not even use much water while cooking but by the time the entire dish was cooked, there was a reasonable amount of liquid due to the inherent moisture in the smooth-skinned luffa itself.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Roast Duck, Beijing 北京烤鸭

With China bullet train, Beijing - also the gateway to Forbidden City 紫禁城, Temple of Heaven 天坛, Summer Palace 颐和园- all UNESCO World Heritage Sites with footprints of the Ming and Qing dynasty (Qing being the last imperial dynasty of China) - is less than five hours from Zhengzhou, Henan.

Some say mutton hotpot 涮羊肉 is a must when visiting Beijing. But it was summer and hotpot was really not enticing in sweltering heat!

Others say, the visit to Beijing is not complete if you miss the Great Wall or Beijing Roast Duck. We did both. The Great Wall of China, also UNESCO World Heritage Site, dates back to Qin dynasty (though unfortunately the section from Qin dynasty is already much in ruins) to the existing main wall that dates back to the Ming Dynasty. Spectacular and magnificent the wall is, the only flip-side is the massive crowds walking The Great Wall - BaDaLing entrance.

Though it is not our first time eating Peking Roast Duck, it is our first time  feasting on Peking Roast Duck in Beijing. There are two traditional methods of cooking Peking Roast Duck that have resulted in the two main schools of roast duck preparation: closed-oven method 焖炉 vs open-flame open-oven 挂炉 method.

The oldest technique of closed-oven roasting method originated from BianYiFang 便宜坊 , established in 1861.

Way before the trip, we have made plans to have roast duck everyday. Well, Beijing is all about roast duck. And considering our short stay, having roast duck everyday is actually...hmmm....not going overboard or being overly ambitious. There are so many roast duck food establishments in Beijing.

Duck feast at BianYi Fang: sliced duck pieces with crispy duck skin with moist and succulent duck meat, braised duck liver, duck feet in mustard