Monday, January 26, 2009

Good eats on Chinese New Year.

New Year's Eve. Cooked a full Chinese meal with Suelyn and her charming roommates at their charming apartment.

Suelyn taught me how to make onion pancakes, which is basically just fried dough with scallions, and delicious. My mother used to make it often. I will be trying them again on my own very soon.

Clockwise: black bean tofu and chicken stir-fry, mapo-tofu, baby bak choi, onion pancakes.

New Year's Day. Hotpot in Chinatown's wildly popular Lao Szechuan restaurant. We had a room to ourselves, complete with karaoke station.

Hotpot is what it sounds like: a huge steaming pot of broth over a burner.

We were given huge platters of raw food - lamb, beef, squid, cabbage, leafy greens, vermicelli noodles, mussels, fish, shrimp, tofu, fish balls, eggplant, tripe - which we plopped into the boiling broth until done, then picked out with our individual ladles.

I ate steadily for a full hour before I suddenly realized that I had eaten more than I could hope to digest. Looking for an excuse to stuff my face, as always.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Food of the week.

I didn't have much time at all to cook this week, so I resorted to the easiest genre of all: no-brainer Asian food.

Kimchee fried rice. Kimchee is a traditional Korean pickled cabbage, preserved in spices until sharp and strong in flavor. I fried up the kimchee in sesame oil, added precooked rice, and stir-fried until juices blended together. Served with two fried eggs on top.

Potstickers and soup.
Fifteen-minute dinner. Fried up the potstickers (packaged) while I boiled daikon radish in my home-made sausage-cabbage broth.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hearty Polish dinner.

Kielbasa, cabbage, and potatoes. I made this simple dish for the first time in Australia, and the recipe is still pretty much unchanged, except that I now cook it all in beer instead of water. The result is something heartier and perhaps more authentically Polish.

Ingredients (for 3):

- two links Kielbasa sausage
- one head cabbage, shredded
- roughly one bottle beer
- two small potatoes


Slice the sausage and brown it in a bit of oil.

Add cabbage and potatoes, and salt and pepper.

Pour in half the bottle of beer, stir around, cover the pan, and let cook for about 15 minutes. Check the pan occasionally, and keep adding more beer until the cabbage is tender. Uncover the pan to boil off the rest of the liquid.

Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot on a cold winter day.

Note: If there is too much liquid left over at the end (which is what happened to me today), drain it, and save it to use as a savory stock. I'm using mine tomorrow for a soup with Asian radishes.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Linguini with eggplant and tomato.

My tweak of a classic Sicilian dish. I've posted the recipe before, but I make this dish so often that some pictures are deserved. Besides, I've added a few improvements. The result is a pasta dish that is luxuriously rich, as it uses an almost unconscionable amount of olive oil, but still fresh and guilt-free.

Ingredients (for 2):

- long pasta, like linguini
- one good-sized eggplant, cut into half-inch slices
- three plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
- red wine
- garlic
- chili flakes
- lots and lots of olive oil
- minced parsley, basil (fresh if possible)


Pour lots of oil into the pan, layer in the eggplant, and sprinkle over some salt. Cook the eggplant undisturbed on low heat, flipping just once when the side is very brown. Cook until very soft. Keep adding lots of oil, as necessary.

When done, set aside, but do not drain. The oil will add silkiness to the eggplant.

Start cooking the pasta. Meanwhile, simmer garlic and chili flakes in a pan until aromatic. Add tomatoes. Continue adding just enough pasta water to the pan to keep the tomatoes from drying out.

When the tomatoes have broken up and start to become saucy, add a little bit of wine to the mixture.

Drain the pasta when it's al dente, and add the pasta, eggplant, and herbs to the sauce. Toss, and add more salt and pepper to taste.