Monday Dinner (6-16-14)

The night before starting a new job, I wanted to do my old job one last time. To close this stay-at-home-husband chapter of my life, I made three dishes:

Steamed Pork Cake With Shiitake, Chinese Preserved Vegetable, and Wood Ear
Carrot and Marrow Soup
Choy Sum with Oyster Sauce

porkcake

This was my first time making the pork cake with a real wok and an actual large plate. We’ve been cleaning out our Granny’s house (you might have noticed the posts with newspaper ads from 1938) and I nabbed her big wok. It takes a lot less time to steam because you can spread the meat out more. The result is juicy, tender, and (slightly over because I used a bit too much soy sauce) flavorful meat.

carrotmarrowsoup

We had some leftover veggies in the fridge so I made one of JC’s old standbys, carrot and marrow soup. I don’t remember if I mentioned how she made it for the first time. Growing up, I never had this combination (and actually, it’s not something you really see in restaurants), and I thought it was a bit odd when I first saw it. But then, I do enjoy both carrot soup and marrow soup by themselves, so the combo makes sense. Leave it to JC to be creative and break tradition.

Choy Sum with Oyster Sauce

Choy sum was also left over so I used the steaming water from the wok to boil it. You can’t really parboil it because it will taste raw (choy sum isn’t a vegetable I would eat without cooking). Anyhow, the oyster sauce was also JC’s creativity. For me, oyster sauce usually goes with Chinese broccoli, and unlike the soup, I’m not sure it’s such a great combo. 😉

Well, that’s it for this chapter, now on to the next. Hopefully I’ll still get chances to cook on weekends. Enjoy!

Menu Week of 5-19-14

Monday

Steak Plate

Sirloin Steak with Red Wine Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Simple Salad

I was at a supermarket with a more Western variety of foods (getting some Jameson Whiskey) when I ran across some Australian sirloin steaks that were on closeout. They looked pretty good so I snapped them up for Monday’s dinner. I’ve mentioned somewhere that beef is not as popular in Hong Kong, which means that deals can be had at the end of the day when supermarkets are trying to clear out inventory.

On the way home I realized that I hadn’t gotten anything to go with the steak. Luckily, I had bought some lettuce the previous week, and I still had a tomato and an onion. Instant salad. I also had a couple of potatoes left, so I opted for mashed potatoes, something we haven’t had since Thanksgiving of 2013.

Something to note for next time is that whole potatoes take a long time to soften. I was lazy and boiled them whole thinking they’d be nice and soft by the time I finished playing video games. They could definitely have been softer, especially when the only thing I have to mash them with is a fork. After applying some elbow grease, they came out okay. In tribute to my Aunt J, I left the skin on, because that’s how she used to make it.

The gravy was made with flour, butter, beef stock, and Cabernet Sauvignon.


Tuesday

Tuesday Night Meal

Water Convolvulus with Chili and Fermented Bean Curd
Stir-fried Lettuce with Garlic
Carrot and Lotus Root Soup
Cabbage, Corn, and Beef Sukiyaki

Variety is the spice of life, but when certain vegetables are in season it’s OK to eat a lot of it as well. Right now, it’s all about the water convolvulus (通菜).

As I said above I had some lettuce from the previous week. A popular way of cooking them here is to stir-fry them with some garlic. Cooking lettuce isn’t really something you see in Western cuisine, but it’s done in HK a lot. Doesn’t take long to cook, either.

Carrot and Lotus Root Soup

Carrot and lotus root soup came out great. I remembered to add a sweet date (蜜棗) this time, too.

Beef Sukiyaki with Corn and Cabbage

The sukiyaki was new. It’s a pain in the ass trying to think of new dishes to make on a daily basis. It seemed like we’d been having a lot of pan-fried meats (i.e. steak, pork chop, etc.) and I was browsing through the meat case trying to figure out what I could make. I saw some sliced steak and I thought of the times when we did hot pot with it, so I tried something new. I had a quarter of a cabbage left so I cooked that with some packaged instant miso soup, added corn, and plated while leaving the liquid in the pot. I then cooked the beef slice by slice, removing each slice immediately after cooking because the thin slices are super easy to overcook. I enjoyed this one.


Wednesday

Chinese Marrow with Dried Shrimp

Beef Stewed in Red Wine Sauce
Chinese Marrow Flavoured with Dried Shrimp
Leftover Lotus Root soup
Leftover Sukiyaki

Had some leftovers from Tuesday so made just a couple of dishes today. Used the leftover gravy from Monday to make a beef stew. Nothing complicated about that, bought some beef brisket and cooked it with the gravy and some added water. Soaked some dried shrimp beforehand, cut up some garlic, and stir-fried those until fragrant before adding the marrow and a little water. I used two kinds of dried shrimp, 暇米 and 暇乾. 暇米 as the name suggests is the smaller version. 暇乾 is dried-up regular-sized shrimp. I probably could have soaked those a little bit longer, because they came out slightly chewy. Overall I was happy with how this one came out.


Saturday

Carrot and Marrow Soup with Dried Scallop
Steamed Pork Spareribs with Black Beans and Garlic

This is one of the easiest (simplest) meals ever. The soup takes 2 to 3 hours to simmer, so make it beforehand by cutting up some carrot and marrow and throwing it into some water along with a piece of lean pork. I like to parboil the pork with some ginger before adding it to the soup. Helps remove some of the nasty shit that boils up. A note about using carrot in soups: the giant ones with the dirt all over them really are sweeter and more flavourful. I only needed one for this soup.

Next, marinate some spareribs with soy sauce, minced garlic, sugar, white pepper, corn starch, sesame oil, and black beans. Place some on a small dish, stick it into the rice cooker with the steaming attachment. Rice and pork ready at the same time. Scoop out some of the carrot and marrow to eat with the rice.

It was Saturday night and I ate while watching TV without formally setting the table, so sadly no photos.


And so, another week goes by. I’m glad I took some time off this week. It can be difficult trying to think up meals, preparing them, and cleaning up afterwards.

Menu Notes Week of 5-5-14

Monday

Spaghetti with Tomato Shrimp Sauce
Spaghetti with Tomato Shrimp Sauce

Nothing fancy, just your regular spaghetti with canned tomatoes and the leftover (frozen) shrimp from the salad last week. My recipe called for browning some garlic in olive oil, then discarding the garlic, probably to infuse the oil with garlic flavor. Maybe I didn’t brown enough, or maybe I used too much liquid subsequently, because I couldn’t really taste garlic in the end product. I also made too much pasta again. A pound is way too much for two people, a half pound might be better for next time.


Wednesday

Sweating Onions
Sweating onions

Clams in Tomato Whiskey Sauce
Chinese Marrow (節瓜) Flavoured with Ham and Dried Scallop
Steamed Pork Cake with Preserved Bok Choy (梅菜)

I had some leftover tomato juice from Monday’s canned tomatoes and figured I’d make a tomato egg-flower soup, but on the way to the supermarket it occurred to me that clams might be good in tomato sauce, so decided to give it a try. I sweated some onions first, then poured in the juice, and added another package of diced tomatoes just to be safe. Thinking about it now, maybe I didn’t need that extra package. Added the clams along with some Irish whiskey just for kicks, and it actually came out pretty good. I ate a lot of the sauce like a soup. The leftovers will make a good pasta sauce for tomorrow.

Clams in Tomato Whiskey Sauce Chinese Marrow Flavoured with Ham and Dried Scallop

I was craving some mushy Chinese marrow so I cooked these in a broth flavoured with Chinese ham and dried scallops (Swanson’s chicken broth flavoured with ham, and added my own dried scallops). Again, I drank the sauce like a soup and all was well. This one is super simple, plus I cheated with the Swanson’s, can’t really go wrong.

Steamed Pork Cake with Preserved Bok Choy (梅菜)
Steamed Pork Cake with Preserved Bok Choy (梅菜)

Lastly for today we had the steamed pork cake. I tried pulverizing the meat a little less today, and it came out alright. I realized that the packing of the meat happens not because I put too little accompaniments in it, but because I’m using a little tiny plate in order to squeeze it into the rice cooker. When I eat this dish in a restaurant, it’s always on a flat, large plate, and the cake itself is pretty flat as well. Obviously when you shrink the size of the container, the contents gets packed. This one will be good tomorrow as a leftover after spending a night in the fridge.


Thursday

Macaroni in Tomato Clam Sauce
Macaroni in Tomato Clam Sauce

Nothing special today, just used the sauce from last night to top some macaroni. Did shell the clams, though.

Guess it’s a tomato sauce week this week, but thankfully the sauce is all gone now.


Friday

Yam Leaves (Bittermelon in Background)
Yam leaves with bittermelon in the background, notice the ivy-like leaves

Stir-fried Yam Leaf with Garlic
Braised Pork Spareribs with Bittermelon and Black Beans

After getting the 青莧菜 last week thinking it was yam leaf, this week I got the real thing. Compared to 青莧菜, 翻薯葉 (aka 翻薯苗) is a little less tender and is probably better off being cooked in some liquid. After stir-frying for a bit, I tried some and it wasn’t as tender as when I’ve had it in restaurants. After adding a little water, it came out pretty good. I want to say it reminds me of spinach a little bit, but unlike spinach it doesn’t leave that feeling on your teeth.

The spareribs came out really good. I bought two whole ones and cut the meat off and into pieces, and braised the bones and meat after browning them with some garlic. After about an hour, I topped off some liquid (water only this time, no “secret ingredient”) and added sweated bittermelon and onion and let that braise for about 30 minutes. Removed the meat and veggies and seasoned and thickened the sauce, and all was well. Went really good with rice. I’m salivating just writing about it!


Sunday

Rice Cooker Wings
Baked chicken wings with spicy Montreal seasoning

A lazy Sunday today and wanted something to snack on while watching TV. Plopped some frozen chicken wings in the rice cooker, set the cake function for 25 minutes (maybe I should call them steam-baked?), season at 5 minutes, flip at 12 and season again, and beep-beep-beep, some plump, juicy wings ready for enjoying. These are the same as the ones I made on the Tuesday of 4-14-14.

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…