Menu Notes 5-12-14

Monday

Dinner - May 12, 2014

Choy Sum Stir-Fried in Ginger Oil
Pan-Fried Pork Chops in Onion-Soy Sauce
Tomato-Corn-Onion Soup

Pretty successful meal today. Heated up some oil and fried some ginger slices before adding the choy sum and stir-frying until most of the water was gone, added a little salt and plated.

Pork Chops in Onion-Soy Sauce Choy Sum Stir-Fried in Ginger Oil

For the pork chops, first seasoned one side with salt and pepper, then fried that side for about 3 minutes before seasoning the other side and flipping. Plated and then stir-fried some sliced onions in the same pan before adding the sauce mix: soy sauce, sugar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, water, and alcohol (I used Chinese rice wine). It’s great when you put the sauce in and it sizzles and evaporates with much fanfare. Cooked onions until tender, scraping off the pork chop bits. Poured over chops.

I had some leftover chicken broth so I added some water and threw in a tomato, a corn on the cob, and some of the onion from the pork chop. Cooked until the tomato fell apart. Corn is in season now so it was sweet and tender. Great!


Tuesday

Tuesday Dinner

Chicken Breast with Lemon-Caper Sauce
Bok Choy Stir-Fried in Ginger Oil

We bought some capers a while back and thought to make lemon-caper chicken, and this week we finally had a chance to try it. This one is super easy to make. We like our breasts a little thinner (plus they’re easier to cook that way) so I first split the breasts down the middle. Season with a little salt and pepper, then pan-fry until done, about 3 minutes each side on medium heat. Plate, then make the sauce and pour over. I improvised the recipe from here. Once again, the final product went really good with rice. In Chinese cooking, it’s sort of blasphemy to put butter in rice, but from this dish I can understand why it’s normal or acceptable in Western cuisine.

Pan-Fried Chicken Breast with Lemon-Caper Sauce Bok Choy Stir-Fried in Ginger OilBok Choy Stir-Fried in Ginger Oil

The bok choy was cooked in exactly the same way as the choy sum from yesterday. In San Francisco we called this vegetable 上海白菜 (as opposed to regular bok choy, which has white stalks), and here in Hong Kong it’s called 小唐菜. Either way, it’s all the same plant, just at different stages of development. More here.


Wednesday

Wednesday Dinner

Beef Vegetable Soup
Bok Choy Stir-Fried in Ginger Oil
Pan-Fried Chicken Thigh with Montreal Seasoning

Wasn’t sure what to make today until I saw a cabbage at the grocery store and decided to make beef vegetable soup. We still had a corn left over from Monday, and we had tomato, onion, and potato, so I bought some barley, carrots and a piece of beef shin/shank in addition to the cabbage. Beef is less popular in Hong Kong which means prices are relatively higher, and beef shank is one of the cheaper cuts. Even so, it’s pretty good in soups and stews. For this one, I didn’t do any browning or sweating or anything else. Just cut everything up, put it in the pot, add water, salt, and pepper, and cook for 3 hours. Came out great.

Beef Vegetable Soup Chicken Thigh with Montreal Seasoning

The other two dishes were more like accompaniments to the soup, just some small plates to go with the rice (though the soup itself was pretty good with rice also). The bok choy was a reprise from last night, still had some left, and we had a piece of chicken thigh in the freezer so I used that up. Nothing fancy there, just season with McCormick Montreal seasoning and pan-fry, then cut up, and serve with some English mustard on the side.

Pretty good dinner today!


Friday

Dinner - May 16, 2014

Beef Vegetable Soup
Water Convolvulus with Chili and Fermented Bean Curd
Stewed Chicken Wings with Bittermelon and Potatoes

Finished up the rest of the vegetable soup today and added a couple of new dishes. I bought a big bag of chili peppers for $5 and used a couple to cook some 水通 also bought from the wet market. Finally bought some fermented bean curd to go with it. IMHO, a lot better than shrimp paste. There are two in the picture because I made one without chilis for JC.

The chicken wing dish was a miss. Stewing chicken wings has always been difficult for me. The end result is usually a bland dish, and this one was no different. Perhaps the secret to chicken wing stew is in the broth. Since I used plain water, it probably didn’t do anything. I used the entire bittermelon because the sparerib dish last week was so good and I found myself wanting more bittermelon, but in the case of the chicken wings, ugh, wasted a perfectly good bittermelon. Today is Monday and there’s still a bit pot of it in the fridge. I’ll have to finish what I created.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but we have only one stove. For this meal, I tried making the veggies ahead of time, then microwaving for about 30 seconds just before serving. Made for a less stressful experience trying to time everything, and the veggies didn’t seem to suffer any ill effects. I might do it more often in the future.


Saturday

Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

Didn’t have a full meal tonight, but I did boil up some corn to snack on. I learned from here that the water should not be salted when boiling corn. It did seem better, but I think I’ll cook the corn a little longer next time, maybe 7 minutes.


Another week goes by. Happy cooking!

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.