Menu Notes Week of 4-28-14

Monday

Fresh Straw Mushrooms
Fresh, not canned

Had a full menu today, back to work after Easter break:

Cilantro Tofu Soup with Preserved Duck Eggs and Straw Mushrooms
Garlic and Shrimp Paste Water Convolvulus with Chili
Ginger Pork Tenderloin

The soup was almost perfect, think I was a bit overzealous with the cilantro. One bunch might be good enough next time. Otherwise, 1 half-pack of tofu and 2 eggs worked well. The fresh straw mushrooms were a refreshing change from the canned variety.

Cilantro Tofu Soup w. Preserved Duck Eggs, Straw Mushrooms Garlic and Shrimp Paste Water Convolvulus w. Chili

When the veggie man grabbed the mushrooms for me he accidentally grabbed a chili pepper. I stir-fried that along with some garlic and shrimp paste in oil before throwing in the water convolvulus, and it came out better than the last couple of times. Note that this was the lighter-colored variety of convolvulus, also known as 水通.

Ginger Pork Tenderloin

The ginger pork tenderloin was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe I should have grilled the tenderloin instead, like how I used to do it in America. Instead, I sliced it and marinated it in soy sauce, sugar, ginger, sesame oil, and cornstarch. The flavor was there, but the texture was not. It was actually too tender. As the cook, having seen the meat in its raw form, eating it in its cooked form reminded me of the former. Not good. Perhaps tenderloin is not good for stir-fry. Anyhow, it was the first time I bought it in Hong Kong, never saw it before today.


Tuesday

Chinese Marrow with Dried Shrimp and Bean Thread

Too much water, tried to boil it off and marrow got too soft. The marrow probably releases some water when it’s cooked, too, so keep that in mind for next time.


Wednesday

Tom Yum Flavoured Soup with Shrimp and Straw Mushrooms

Had the leftover mushrooms from the other day as well as some Tom Yum soup paste, so decided to make a soup with it. Came out pretty good. I learned not to wash all the straw mushrooms at once if I’m not going to use them, because after storing them in the fridge for a couple of days all the water was drawn out and they got all damp and shriveled up. In the past, unwashed mushrooms remained firm and dry when stored.


Thursday

Chinese Marrow with Dried Scallops
Chinese Marrow with Dried Scallops

Chinese Marrow with Dried Scallops
Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings
Water Convolvulus Stir-Fried in Garlic and Shrimp Paste
Steamed Salted Duck Egg

Been doing the water convolvulus thing to death lately, gonna hold off for a while. I guess I wanted to use up the shrimp paste (still have some). The other way to make it is with fermented tofu, which I like better.

Salt and Pepper Wings
Salt and Pepper Wings

The salt and pepper wings may have come out a little too salty. This one’s really basic. When we didn’t have an oven we used the “cake” function on the rice cooker to make chicken wings, and they came out OK, though maybe tending more to the damp side. Perhaps I’ll start using the oven to cook the wings because sometimes I want traditional roasted, dry wings.

The Chinese marrow came out good but once again I used too much water (though this time it was for the sauce, not the marrow). I ended up pouring most of it out, but overall this dish came out great. We had some leftover oyster sauce stuck inside the bottle so I mixed in some hot water to get it out. I used three dried scallops. Didn’t need any other seasonings.

Salted Duck Egg
Salted Duck Egg

The salted duck egg exploded again, probably because I thought to use it at the last minute and it was still cold coming out of the fridge. At least it wasn’t as bad as last time.

That’s it for all the stuff I bought earlier in the week, off to the market tomorrow.


Friday

Garden Salad with Shrimp
Garden Salad with Shrimp

Garden Salad with Shrimp, Japanese Sesame Dressing
(Lettuce, Red Bell Pepper, Onion, Scallion, Cherry Tomato)

I went to the wet market not knowing what I’d make, thinking I’d try putting together something different using only ingredients that looked good. I stumbled upon some lettuce (not sure what kind, similar to Romaine, I want to say Chinese lettuce) and bell peppers, and it occurred to me to make a salad. In Hong Kong, vendors will throw in a few scallion stalks if you buy over a certain amount from them, so I used some in the salad. I was most proud of the shrimp since I’m usually not that great with seafood: boiled them in water along with some sliced lemon and onion, then plunged them in an ice bath. Refrigerate the whole thing, result: tasty and crispy!


Saturday

Chef's Salad
Chef’s Salad

Chef’s Salad
(Lettuce, Red Bell Pepper, Onion, Scallion, Cherry Tomato, Ham, American Cheese, Hard-boiled Eggs)

Had some ingredients left over so made a Chef’s Salad. Didn’t even know I’d made one until I made this post. My eggs could use a little work, had a hard time peeling them. I did bring them to room temp before boiling them.


Sunday

Washed Yam Leaf
Washed and ready to go

Chicken with Yellow Peppers
Stir-fried Yam Leaf with Dried Shrimp and Garlic

Chicken came out kind of tough, not sure if because it was frozen variety from China. When I tossed the meat into the pan to stir-fry, it stuck to the pan. Pan was not hot enough. Probably not enough oil, either. I did not marinate the chicken, just seasoned with salt and pepper. The toughness took away from it, a lot.

Chicken with Yellow Pepper Yam Leaf with Garlic and Dried Shrimp

The veggie came out good, and I say veggie because I’m not 100% certain that it was a yam leaf (翻薯葉). It tasted like it but the leaves didn’t look exactly like the ones I googled. Maybe it’s a variation. I had some in my ramen today and it was really good, I’m a big fan of it.

Update 5-7-14: I found out that the veggie I got was 青莧菜, the all-green variety of 莧菜, which has purple/red in it. In America, we used to have this with salted and preserved duck eggs, deep-fried garlic, and stock. Now that I think about it, it did taste similar to that. Yam leaf does indeed have ivy-like leaves, and was not what I had on Sunday.


A pretty good week last week in terms of menus. The beat goes on…

Hearty Meal 4-23-14

Pumpkin Chayote Pork Soup
Stewed Pork Belly with Carrots, Shiitakes, and 梅菜

Previously I had mentioned that the chayotes did not require peeling. I was mistaken. I must have been so excited that the pumpkin didn’t need peeling that I forgot I had already peeled the chayote. Well, I didn’t peel the chayote today and it definitely took away from the soup. So, remember for the future: pumpkin ok as is, chayote must peel.

The other thing is that the squash I bought this time were too large. The chayote was 3 times heavier (didn’t realize that when I bought it) and the pumpkin was almost twice as big. Going by the first soup, the sweet spot seems to be about half a catty for the pumpkin and a third of a catty for the chayote.


Browning Pork Belly Chunks
Mmmm… pork belly… *drool*

Wanted to use lotus roots with the pork belly but couldn’t find any, so tried using 梅菜 instead. I also put in some leftover eggplant. Came out good enough (hard to go wrong with pork belly), though I could have used a smaller carrot. If I’m doing 梅菜 in the future, probably don’t need carrot anyway. It’s either that or carrot and lotus root. Maybe could use a bit less of the Chinese sugar that comes in bars as well. Lastly, no shiitake stems. I kept disappointing myself biting into them thinking they were the stalks of the 梅菜.

Menu Week of 4-14-14

Monday

Water convolvulus stir-fried in garlic and shrimp paste
Chicken wings steamed with fresh shiitake mushrooms (garlic and soy sauce)
Steamed salted duck egg

Biggest lesson today was to not over-stuff the rice cooker. I tried to squeeze in the salted duck egg plus the chicken wings (which were larger, plumper Chilean ones) which resulted in the duck egg exploding, the rice compacted, and the chicken wings undercooked. Fuzzy logic is not the end-all-be-all of cooking!


Tuesday

Baked chicken wings with spicy Montreal seasoning
Pumpkin Chayote Pork Soup

After Monday’s debacle I had to do right by my chicken wing fix. Went back to basics and baked those plump wings sprinkled with spicy McCormick Montreal seasoning. Yum.

The soup was a new creation. I’ve never been a fan of pumpkin, but JC advocated it so I experimented with it. Made it traditional Chinese style, cooked in water with a piece of pork. The pumpkin peel is hard when raw, but it softened up a lot after being in the soup. Same goes for the chayote. Saves some time with prep.


Friday

Lotus Root and Carrot Soup
Almost perfect soup

Lotus root and carrot soup with dried lotus seeds

I really like this soup but I didn’t try adding lotus seeds until now. It seems that the seeds go well with the roots. I remembered to add a Chinese sweet date (蜜棗) this time. The pork bones I used had boar taint (yuck), taking away from the soup a bit.

Menu Week of 4-7-14

Monday

Steamed pork cake with shiitake
Fried eggs over-well with soy sauce
Cabbage, tomato, corn, potato soup

With the pork cake, I forgot to put dried wood ear in it to keep the meat from packing too much. Of course, the secret is to buy a whole piece of meat and pulverize it yourself with a knife so that the meat is unevenly and not overly grounded. I did remember to save some bits of fat to mix with the ground pork so that it wouldn’t dry out. Added a tiny bit too much soy sauce in the marinade (soy sauce, sugar, corn starch, sesame oil), but still very tasty overall and great with steamed rice.

Soup would be good with real chicken broth, but who has time to make that now? Not a big fan of the make-ahead-and-freeze method, plus it wouldn’t fit in our HK freezer anyway.

Lastly, those eggs are an HK staple. Been a while since I’ve made it and boy was it satisfying.


Tuesday

Steamed bok choy with soy sauce and sesame oil
Steamed chicken wings with garlic and soy sauce

Got kind of lazy today, didn’t want to go grocery shopping, so used up whatever we had. Having a hard time coming up with what to make next.


Wednesday

Oxtail and brisket stew
Red wine, carrots, onions, corn on the cob, tomatoes, garlic, butter

Coated the meat with flour and browned in cooking oil, set into rice cooker. Browned onions in leftover oil, then added butter and leftover flour (didn’t want to waste it) to get a roux effect going, added wine, water, and beef broth mix. Added salt/pepper and Worcestershire, then poured the whole thing into the rice cooker along with the rest of the ingredients. Set rice cooker to slow cook for 4 hours. Came out great, though probably a bit unhealthy.


Friday

Boiled chicken breast with dipping sauce
Watercress and carrot soup

It was suggested that the chicken breast could have been hand-pulled instead of simply cut with a knife. The suggestion is well received and taken under advisement. Also, the breasts were placed in boiling water that was brought back to a boil, then steeped with the heat off. I could have probably steeped it for a little less time. It’s always tough trying to balance tenderness and doneness with chicken.


Saturday

Fish soup with cilantro, tofu, and preserved duck eggs

Forgot to add ginger.


Sunday

Pan-fried Shrimp with Soy Seasoning

Pan-fried butterflied shrimp with soy sauce seasoning
Parboiled carrots and fresh shiitake mushrooms
Water convolvulus stir-fried in garlic and shrimp paste
Japanese cold noodles with dipping sauce
Cucumber salad

Week of March 31, 2014

Garlic
Broccoli


Beef
Peppers
Onion


Clams

Clams
Butter
Garlic
Wine
Lemon
Tomatoes

Ended up not using the lemons. Used way too much wine, thinking I’d boil it off. Saved the broth and did boil it down, used it for pasta. Also good that I purged the clams in some super salty water, because they shot out a bunch of nasty shit. Lastly some clams can use a gentle nudge to open up. If nudging them doesn’t do it then yeah, they’re bad.


Peas
Carrots
Butter
Diced onions

Melt butter and cook onions for a bit, add carrots, cook some more. Add broth/water and bring to a boil, then add peas. Might be good with bacon, too.


Cabbage
Onion
Carrot stir fry
Chicken


Tomato
Egg flower
Peas soup


Winter melon
Pork
Ginger soup


Stir fry Chicken
Peppers
Mushroom
Black beans


Broccoli
Cheese


Chicken
Peppers
Onions

Sunday Roast Chicken

Sunday Roast Chicken
Sunday roast chicken with vegetables

Some notes about last night’s dinner, for future reference:

1 300g pack of cut-up free-range chicken (走地雞)
1 zucchini, sliced
2 carrots (the smaller, pre-packed ones), sliced
2 potatoes (Russet, from Oregon), sliced
8 garlic cloves, couple of them smashed, rest whole
Salt, pepper, rosemary, olive oil

Temp. set at just under 200C on the dial, probably wasn’t hot enough. Try 200C next time. Also wouldn’t hurt to rotate the pan, because chicken was fine but some vegetables slightly undercooked. Another idea would be to remove chicken, stir vegetables, then cook a few more minutes. Not sure I like the “natural” flavor of free-range chicken, either. Finally, maybe try mincing some garlic to use for marinating the chicken for better flavor.