Hodge Podge Kitchen

Friday, January 28, 2005


While we were in Hong Kong, we took a one day trip to Macau. The boat ride was about an hour long. It's amazing how different the two cities are. While Hong Kong for the most part looks very modern and new, Macau is on the opposite end. If the buildings would have been kept up better, it would have been a beautiful city. But as it is now, it's just a whole gray mess of buildings. The few main attractions in Macau includes the church facade, casino (reason why people from HK goes there), vistor's tower (like the space needle in Seattle), and speciality food items like pork jerky, egg rolls, and almond cookies. I don't have a picture of the pork jerky, but they actually roast the meat in front of you. The almond cookies are made of just sugar and ground almond. Here's a picture of the mini version with sesame.

Egg rolls are not the same egg rolls you get in Chinese restaurant. These are light, crisp crepe like wrapper. They could be filled with sweet fillings or savory version like the one here, which are flavored with curry and filled with dried, fried pork.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

On the trail of good eats II

So the way this food blog is set up is pretty clear. My sister, the experienced worldly cook, shows off her adventurous culinary adventures. While me, the beginniner brother, tries not to burn too many pots enroute to an edible meal (and as soon as sisisa post something, I will figure what she contributes). Continuing my post from my own blog, I decided to make myself dinner....

I was in an interesting situation the other night. My wife is sick and in bed all weekend, with no appetite at all. My kids were at my parents, who were gracious enough to watch them and feed them dinner. So I was left to fend for myself. Cooking for yourself is weird. No recipe in the world is set for one serving, and I didn't want too much leftovers to take up space in the fridge. I bought porkchops with plans for a brine but never got around to it with my wife being sick. So in a pinch, I pulled out some flour, some random spices, mix it all together with a fork, and rolled two porkchops around in it, and slid it in a hot pan. I cooked it for about 4 minutes on each side (they were pretty thick) until brown, and set it aside on a plate. This is where I used my Good Eats knowledge and proceeded to make myself some gravy. The drippings are the best part! I put about a cup and a half of chicken broth in the pan and let it reduce to about half. I then added about a half cup of milk to make it creamy. I then put the porkchops back in the pan and let it simmer in the gravy for a few more minutes (I was worried about the thickness of the pork chops). Simple? you bet. Delicious? It was ok. I was pretty happy with it considering I pretty much made it up in a pinch. I was also proud that I really learned something from watching all that Good Eats...I should really thank Alton Brown some time....hey wait, I think I will.....

(Ok, back to my blog for the exciting conclusion...)Posted by Hello

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Mango Chicken

One of Chris' favorites, I actually try to make this more than once a year. Which is amazing since I never really cook the same thing twice often.

Mango Chicken
2 boneless chicken breasts cut in strips (marinate in soy sauce, a little cornstarch, sesame oil, brown sugar, wine)
1 mango, peeled and seeded, cut into pieces
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
2 tbs plum sauce
1 heaping tbs chili garlic sauce
2 tbs oyster sauce
Marinate chicken for half an hour or however long it takes you to prepare the other ingredients. Heat pan until hot and add oil. Saute chicken until mostly cooked, add all the other ingredients. Cook until vegetables are heated through. Add the sauces and it's done. I served the chicken tonight with rice (with crushed pineapple, peas, and corn).

Monday, January 24, 2005

Am I really going to do with this???

I'm not a violent person. Really. Despite what I'm about to tell you. It's still crab season out here in the Bay Area and the prices are incredibly inexpensive. I believe 99 Ranch out in Daly City was selling them for $2.29 a pound. So it got me thinking, I never cooked crab before. When I want to have crab, I call my dad up and he cooks them for me. I've seen him cut it up and prepare it many times. So yesterday, I went and got one after work. As I'm driving home, the thought of actually cutting the crab up while it's alive begins to bother me. Yes people, I'm Chinese, that's how we cook crab. We don't just dump it in water and boil. And we definitely do not buy them precooked. Somehow, between avoiding getting caught by those scary looking craws and the guilt I'm starting to feel, I managed to do it. Not to say that it didn't disturb both Chris and me a bit. To spare all you sensitive souls out there, I won't go into any more details than that. I'll just show you what I did with it.

I decided to cook the crab simply. I was just looking at restaurants menu earlier and found one that served crab over cellophane noodles. That sounded like the perfect thing to soak up all the juice from the crab. I lined the noodle (soaked until soften in warm water) on the bottom of the pan, added the crab on top of it, and topped XO sauce (a spicy chili sauce made with dried shrimps and/or other dried seafood and bean paste). I then added a can of chicken broth and bring it up to a boil. Cover and steam for 10 minutes. Sprinkled with green onions and it's done.

The dish was definitely good. I just don't know if I could do it again. I'm not a violent person afterall.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

IMBB #11 - Beans, beans, the musical fruit...

My second participation in the IMBB event. This time hosted by Cathy over at My Little Kitchen. Last time I didn't try anything fancy, just wanted to get my feet wet. But this time, I wanted to use some ingredients that I haven't tried using before. While I was in Hong Kong, we got into the habit of getting dessert at night before going back to the hotel. One of the favorite was at a tofu house where they sell sweet soft tofu with different toppings/mix-ins. So for IMBB, I decided to make "Red-White". It is a mixture of sweet red bean soup with sweet soft tofu together. I didn't get as far as to make my own tofu, but I did make the sweet soup from scratch. The recipe is from one of the many cookbooks I got while I was in HK. Here's a picture of the ingredients:

Sweet Red Bean Soup with Fresh Lily Bulb
300g Adzuki beans
2 fresh lily bulbs
113g fresh lotus seeds
1 quarter dried tangerine peel
188g rock sugar (I used more than that)
1. Rinse the adzuki beans. Soak in boiling water for 2 hours. Drain.
2. Soak dried tangerine peel until soft. Scrape off the pith.
3. Cut the yellowish, brown parts off the lily bulbs. Separate the petals off. Rinse well. Soak in cold water.
4. Remove the core of the lotus seeds. Rinse well.
5. Boil red beans and tangerine peels in 10 cups of water. Turn to low heat and simmer for 2 hours. Add the rock sugar and lotus seeds. Cook for another 10 minutes. Add fresh lily bulbs and cook for 5 more minutes.

To make it a "Red-White", you just have to add sweet tofu to the bowl. I got the sweet tofu at my local Asian market, where I also got the fresh lily bulbs and lotus seeds. Make sure the tofu is sweet tofu for dessert, you can find it near the fresh soy milk in most asian markets. The dried version of the lily bulbs and lotus seeds would also work, they just need to be soaked along with everything else. If it is difficult to find, you can skip the lily bulbs and lotus seeds altogether. Another version to try with the sweet red bean soup is to add a can of coconut milk to it. I make the coconut version often with the canned cooked sweet adzuki beans and Chris really likes it. But he pretty much likes anything with coconut. I know for some people it is a little strange to think of bean soup as dessert. I was at a wedding banquet once sitting with a bunch of non-Asian people and they pretty much think it's down right weird. A few did try it, but I don't think they could get over the whole bean soup for dessert concept. But if you're up for trying something different, I highly recommend trying this. Especially on cold winter nights when you need something warm and sweet to help you ease to bed.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Wedding hand me downs

With my sister getting married, she is getting a lot of great wedding presents. Now being the fancy gourmet that she is, she already has a lot of fancy things that are now getting replaced...which is where I come in. I picked up her old stand up mixer and it made its debut with these peanut butter cookies. Apparently a lot of other people asked for her old mixer, to whom I'd like to say, "I asked first! Ha Ha!" And I am using it too, so maybe I'll share the food, but not the mixer. Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Cute dumplings!

Aren't these just the cutest? Funny thing is that they actually all have the same fillings in them. It's a mixture of shrimps and vegetables. They're part of the "healthy" menu at a dim sum restaurant in HK. By healthy they meant no beef or pork, not low fat since half of the "healthy" selection are fried.

Roasted Chestnuts

Another thing that's good to have on a cold winter's night is roasted chestnuts. There were a few street vendor around the area we were staying at in HK. Most of them have a big wok and cook the chestnut with coal chips (???) until they are cooked just perfectly. How could you tell they're cooked right? When it peels easily without anything peel sticks to it. The one shown in the picture was actually taken from Macau, I guess it's a little more "high-tech" method than turning by hand. For $20HK a pound, I can't think of a better snack. (They're nice hand warmer too!)

Warm Vitasoy

A bottle of warm vitasoy (malted of course!) is one of those thing that I remember fondly from my childhood in HK. So when Chris spotted it at the 7-eleven next to the hotel while we're there, we had to get one. It was just like I remembered it to be. Although the warmth was very much welcomed during the cold temperature we got while we were there. It was Chris' first time having vitasoy warm from a glass bottle, if it wasn't for me, he would've probably had a regular one instead of malted. I think he still liked it and actually wonder why we don't have it back home in US.

Airplane Food

With my trip to Hong Kong and my wedding, I haven't gotten a chance to blog about my trip yet. This blog is mostly for Alan who's actually interested in what plane food are like nowadays. I was quite surprise by the amount of food they feed you. These are the two meals I had on my way to Hong Kong. For dinner, it was smoked salmon salad, cheese and cracker, wok-seared fish with rice, dinner roll, and Black Forest cake. For breakfast, I had eggs with chicken apple sausages, rolls, rice krispy, and fruit bowl. In between the two meals, they also come around with snacks (sandwiches, candy bar, nuts, etc.) twice. The food are not the greatest, but it surpasses my expectations. Maybe it was set pretty low to start...