All posts filed under: Asian

One from Column “A” ~ Mongolian Beef

Strictly speaking, There is no such thing as Mongolian Beef. There is a “style” of Mongolian Barbeque and a style of stewing things in a Mongolian(ish) way…. but Mongolian Beef as we know it … is an American thing. Almost as American as Apple Pie, as it were…. I know… weird. It varies drastically from take out menus to affected restaurants to quasi~authentico~chinesey places in shopping strip centers. So, while mine might not be what you’ve had before – I have just as much right to call it Mongolian Beef as anyone else.  And… if I’m going to be completely honest, this is better than anyone else’s….I don’t care who they are. Right then… You all know I’m working in a soy deficit environment. So I’m always on the job to make soy delicious things without using the actual ingredient. In our case I’m putting the Haddar Sauce to work again… so, that’s our starting point. Depending on where you get your MB fix – the rich, sticky, sweet/salty sauce is either a mix of …

One from Column ‘A’ – Five Spice Caramel Pork

To be fair, I’ve never seen this on any Chinese take-out menu. I have only been able to get it in Bangkok…. or at my favorite Chinese fare haunt in the city. So, dont hate me there. In fact, if you are going to hate me at all – its because I’ve monkeyed around with the traditional recipe a goodly amount… I’m not using pork belly, Jane is deathly allergic to soy, neither of us like our head blown off with heat….. and (God forbid), I’m not using a wok, it’s a Dutch oven. Five spice pork is an old Cantonese recipe that has cousins and distant relatives across most of Asia. And, unlike most take-out oferings, is more of a stew rather than a quick wok fried dish (hence, the dutch oven.) It is smoky, spicy, slightly sweet and terribly flavor packed. Short of Char Sui, it is my absolute favorite way to enjoy pork. Alrighty then… on with the changes we’ve made. Chinese Five Spice Powder – If you wanted to go through …

Tales of Woe ~ Love, Hate, and Fake Soy Sauce

Shortly after Soy became an ugly four – letter word in our house (okay… 3, but it’s still a terrible thing), I was convinced I could produce a fake soy sauce that would mimic the properties, taste and joy of the luscious dark brown elixir. I’m here to tell you – I can’t…. And, neither can you. There is an army of crazy people out there that believes just because it looks like soy sauce… you can trick people into thinking it actually tastes like it. I fell into their trap; mixing balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and instant coffee – – – Roasting mushrooms and steeping them in beef broth, or this attempt,  expressing the heavenly ( garbage )mixtures into soy-free nirvana – – – Fake soy sauce has become the culinary equivalent of the  alchemist transmutation of lead into gold… it can’t be done. However… that isn’t to say that  finding a suitable medium (like chickpeas, or lentils), then submitting them to rigorous fermenting, salting, and aging (like a traditional soy or tamari) can’t …

One from Column “A” ~ Sweet and Sour Fish

I’ve seen it anywhere from something resembling savory fruit cocktail with chicken in it, to  what I’m absolutely sure was cherry pie filling with meat. Here’s the thing – by and large, “Sweet and Sour anything”  in almost every Asian food establishment is , well… dreadful. Either the: The sauce is gloppy… and red,  the vegetables are in much too large of chunks to be easily managed, the fried coating on the meat turns spongy when it hits the sauce,  or there’s pineapple (ergh) in it. Not that I dislike pineapple, I just don’t want something that’s already too sweet having yet another sweet / sharp component it the mix. So, what’s a fella to do? He  puts on his big boy apron and makes his very own. A couple of things you’ll notice about the recipe – The coating for the fried fish is a dry coat. I’ve found it works best when adding the cooked protein back to the sauce to keep the fish somewhat crispy. The sauce isn’t red, on purpose. I think …

Test Kitchen – The Fake Soy Sauce Reparation

Well, when we last left our hero and heroine – they had tracked down the source of a great many of Jane’s problems to certain food ingredients and combinations. At the time of the Train Ride  to Crazytown, we had only tested Soybean oil as a culprit. As it turned out – any food even barely kissed with any part of the soy bean does a number on her. Which means… No Tofu, No Soy Flour, No Soy…well, anything – in any amount. And that meant no soy sauce… which (if you’ve seen 99% of my recipes) is a problem. Doing my research, I came across Raw Coconut Aminos as a possible substitute. Made from fermented coconut pulp, it was supposed to be the answer. And – in all fairness – if you aren’t dealing with the issues we are, then it probably would work perfectly well for you as a “No Soy” soy sauce…. even if the after taste is a tad coconutty. (just make a lot of Polynesian dishes with it) Our problem was …

One from Column “A” – Braised Tofu with Pork

So, I used to go to this little hole-in-the-wall Chinese place. It was partly because of the “other” menu, as they did serve some pretty non – standard fare… or at least they did when “the usual suspect” was dining with me. I had my first Shark Fin Soup there, my first 1000 year old egg, and my 1-1/2 hour Oyster Pancakes  I found out later that they really didn’t take that long, they ran out of oysters and made a special run to the international market to buy enough for the cakes… so it was partly because of the service… But mainly, it was because of the chili sauce they brought to our table. It was spicy without being painful. It was oily. It was electric. It was supremely flavorful… and it was porky…. yes… porky. There would be nights that we would only order dumplings – and a bowl of that sauce with rice crackers. It was addictive. After six years trying to wrangle the recipe out of them, I just gave up. …

Shank’d – Faux Pho

I’m a horror when it comes to shopping at the international markets. I buy things that: I have no idea what they are or What you’re supposed to do with them or Buy just way too freakin‘ much of it. or Sometimes, all three…. shush…   My last outing, I bought 2 – 2.5 pound packages of white miso paste. In all fairness to me, one was miso + dashi, so that makes it all better… Anyway, I bought them, I own them, and they live in the freezer waiting for that special day when they would earn their keep in my kitchen. That would be today. Photo Courtesy of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association So, I was poking around the meat counter the other day can came across a package of Beef Shank Steaks. Two beautifully plump, thick marrowed, perfectly packaged 3″ hunks of bovine nirvana… and I had to have them. The thing was… I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with them… like the miso – I just wanted them. Last night I …

Wing It! – Asian Spiced Chicken Wings

Sooo… did you all do your homework and read yesterday’s post about sorghum syrup? good… let’s move on. I’ve always had this funny thing about chicken wings. Not particularly because we ate them all that much at home. I mean… they came attached to the chicken, but buying a package of wings? That never happened. A package of minimal meat anything had no place on the table…. We were human vacuums. Feeding us a pile of wings for dinner just meant that we’d be raiding the fridge later that night for some else to eat.  Jane hated it when we raided the fridge and made damned sure we were suitably filled with protein so that didn’t occur. But, I remember an episode of Galloping Gourmet.. I guess from the late 60’s…  (so you know, it was on in the daytime, so that meant we had to be home sick from school, or spring break, or summer vacation… so it wasn’t an all the time kind of thing)  where he made this chicken wing dish. I’ve tried …

One from column “A” – Pork Fried Rice

Given that it’s essentially:  rice – some variety of diced meatage – vegetables (usually carrots and peas) and some sort of seasoning, you really wouldn’t think there would be that much differentiation between recipes and production…. stir-fry it all together and you get fried rice…. right? The possibilities for construction are endless, and if you happen to find that magical step-to process, you’d be rewarded with starchy, salty, meaty nirvana. Why then is fried rice the culinary crap shoot at Chinese restaurants? Tasteless and oily, gummy and salty, dry and..well… just d r y. But understanding what the majority of fried rice is – a way to utilize leftovers in a restaurant environment – then you can see why there really is very little thought put into something that is basically a throwaway dish. However, in order to be good (and I mean really good) fried rice,  it has to be made fresh, with quality ingredients, and not left to steam away to oblivion in some holding table waiting for that specific “quality” diner that prefers fried over …

One From Column “A” – Five Spice Asian Eggplant

I’m only marginally ashamed to admit it – I buy grocery store sushi. Why? It’s brainless food. It’s a quick dinner without all the muss and fuss of actually getting in there and whooping up a tasty and healthy meal… but … I only bought one pack without really looking at what I bought, and in it were 8 pieces of brown rice California Roll and 4 pieces of brown rice Salmon Nigiri. I thought I picked up something with a better selection for two people. Which still puts me in the kitchen – cooking. Poking around in the fridge looking for something to augment tonight’s dinner with, I came across my “bounty” of Asian eggplant from the garden – all three of them. The eggplants have been a cruel joke all season as my plants are only giving up the goods (that’s one) every couple of weeks or so, and trying to find something to do with  a single, small, skinny aubergine is next to impossible… and, by the time I have enough to do something with, the …