I am back! Second trimester is here and I am feeling more alive. I have really missed blogging but no matter how much I wanted to blog I just had no energy these last few months. I didn’t have too bad of a time morning sickness wise but for weeks all I wanted to eat was avocado toast (you really can’t get the Californian out of me) and as much as I think avocado toast is the best thing ever spreading fresh avocados on toast isn’t really a recipe so not really blog worthy. But while I haven’t had energy to blog I have been compiling an amazing list of recipes that I want to share with you.
Today’s recipe has me so excited I almost feel like I am shaking. Now why on earth would a recipe excite me this much, well let me explain. I have probably mentioned before that I grew up in Hong Kong and we spend about 8 months in Nanning, China. While we were there we were introduced to some incredible local dishes and ingredients that outside of that area we never saw again, including a vegetable that looked like the vines of a pumpkin. One of our favourite dishes included a long thin green with a slight flowered head, we were told they were garlic greens. I have served for what feels like forever for this ingredient. No Chinese restaurant that I went to seemed to have ever heard of it and as time went by I started to forget about it. But the other day we went to our favourite Chinese supermarket and there in the veggies were jui cai, or flowering chives. I got so excited I tried to explain to Chris how amazing this find was but he said I was so excited I wasn’t really making any sense.
I am not even positive if these are the exact vegetable that we had but boy does it look, smell and taste like it so surely it must be, right? I cook Chinese meals all the time, some of them are dishes I remember for Hong Kong or inspired by China and sometimes they are inspired from dishes I had in the US or here. But this is the first time I made something that smelled so much like Nanning for a second I could actually close my eyes and see images of it in my head. This dish blew my mind because it was the closest authentic taste of the food from that area of China that I have had since I left 14 years ago.
Chicken and Jiu Cai Stir-Fry
100g (3.5 oz) Jiu Cai (flowering chives), chopped into 1 1/2-inch lengths
500g (1 lb) chicken pieces, diced
80mL (1/3 c.) water
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp rice wine
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Adapted from Pig Pig’s Corner
This week Sunday Supper are tackling food adventures, either in the form of a difficult recipe or a new cuisine. I chose my recipe for two reasons, one I have always wanted to make dim sum at home. I have such wonderful memories of going out for dim sum on Sunday’s when we lived in Hong Kong. If you are unfamiliar with Dim Sum it is a style of Cantonese food that is prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions. It is traditionally served in small bamboo steamer baskets or on small plates.
The second reason I chose this recipe is because I did a silly thing. I go the the Chinese Supermarket in a near by city and stock up on ingredients. I cook a lot of Chinese food so it is much cheaper for me to stock up there. But the other day I over did my saving money when I bought a package of frozen won ton wrappers that had 1000 wrappers in it. Yes it was cheaper per 100g but now I have TONS of wrappers.
But hey that just means I get to be very creative in order to get through all of them. And I am so excited to share this recipe with you as it is something that has been on my to make bucket list for a long time. If you don’t have a bamboo steamer just line a regular steamer with a damp tea towel. Normally dum sum would be served with several other types of dim sum, as dim sum refers to the way the food as been prepared rather then a recipe in particular. But we served this with some rice and steamed veggies.
Today’s Sunday Supper it is all about lighter options. Which works well for me since I have a few pounds I would like to lose before my brother’s wedding in May. Today I decided to share something that I have been wanting to make for a while. I am a big spring roll fan but I avoid making them at home because they are usually fried. But I started thinking about lettuce wraps and wondered if I could do something similar with napa cabbage that I had on hand. It was a bit of an experiment and at first seemed rather daunting but to be honest it turned out to not be as hard as I worried it would be. And it was so tasty. Although something like this is normally served as an appetizer I served it with some fried rice as a main course and we loved it.
This week for Sunday Supper we are honouring chefs who have inspired us. I am so excited to be sharing with you not only my favourite Chinese dish but from the chef who inspired me to want to learn how to cook, Martin Yan. When I was seven we lived in Hong Kong and Martin Yan had a cooking show Yan Can Cook. I LOVED the show. He had this chant he would call out at the end of the show, “If Yan can cook so can you” and I would shout it out with him. Even thinking about it now brings back a flood of wonderful memories. He was so passionate about every dish he prepared and his skill with the knife was one that to this day I stand in awe of. I wanted to be a chef because of Martin Yan so I am so proud to be serving up one of his recipes. I am not sure if I would have done Master Chef Yan proud with my attempt but we really enjoyed it. It would have been a lot easier if my wok was larger. Must tell Santa I want a larger wok.
Beef Chow Fun
250g (1/2 lb) dried wide rice noodles
3 Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
1 tsp cornstarch
250g (1/2 lb) flank steak, thinly sliced across the grain
118mL (1/2 c.) beef broth
2 tsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced
3 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
recipe from Martin Yan
Have you ever read a recipe and questioned whether or not it would turn out? I have done that many times and mostly I have been proved wrong. I say that because when I first stumbled on this recipe I questioned why on earth you should marinate the chicken first in baking soda. I had terrible visions of salty chicken and wondered if I should just skip the step. But I trust Bee Yinn Low, from Rasa Malaysia. I have never found a recipe on her website that I didn’t LOVE. Seriously if you are like me and love Asian food you have to check out her website.
According to Bee Yinn Low the secret to make the chicken tender, that is used by many restaurants and Chinese chefs is BAKING SODA.
Baking soda serves two purposes:
1. To rid the chicken of any potential smell (I am sure you have had bad experiences eating chicken with a foul chicken-y odor
2. To tenderize the meat. Just by looking at my pictures, you can tell that those chicken breast cubes are silky and tender
What is funny is when ever I am cooking chicken I always look for my chicken to brown to know that it is done. But using these technics the chicken doesn’t brown. Instead it ends up with a melt in your mouth tenderness and FULL of flavour. It has been so long since I actually took a bite into a dish and went “This tastes exactly like I remember it tasted in China”. Please note this isn’t a heavy sauce dish, it isn’t meant to be. It might not be like cashew dishes you have eaten before but I can promise you this is as authentic as they come. I left her recipe completely as is, it fed 2 of us but to be honest it was to large portions, but we just couldn’t stop eating it.
300g (10 oz) 1 boneless & skinless chicken breast, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup unsalted roasted cashew nuts
1 small green bell pepper, about 4 oz. (cut into small square pieces)
5 slices ginger
1/4 onion (cut into small square pieces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon corn starch
1/2 teaspoon rice wine
1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
3/4 teaspoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons water
3 dashes white pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
Salt to taste