Friday, June 26, 2015

Sen Yai Noodles with Crispy Tofu, Purple Broccoli and Thai Fish Sauce

     Colorful Noodle House Food!
     Thai Sen Yai noodles are the same thing as Chinese Kwai Tiu noodles.  In plain English, these noodles would be called Rice Flour Fettuccine or Flat Rice Noodles.
     When cooking Sen Yai, it is easy to tear or damage the noodles when tossing them with the stir fry vegetables and sauce.  Rice flour lacks gluten strands that strengthen the noodle dough, so a gentle touch is required when finished a recipe that calls for Sen Yai.  

     Purple broccoli is a nice hybrid.  The purple broccoli adds a lively color to today's recipe.  Red bell pepper and the yellow crispy tofu creates an interesting classic color contrast.
     The bright yellow color of the fried tofu comes from turmeric and egg yolk.  The crispy texture of the egg coating comes from the cornstarch in the egg batter.
     This is not a traditional Thai recipe and it is not a Chinese recipe.  Today's recipe is the result of a nice combination of Asian flavors and Asian cooking techniques.  Many modern Asian chefs combine ingredients and cooking techniques from different regions of Asia to create nice new appealing entrées.  This free form style is part of what modern Noodle House Cuisine is about.

     *This entire recipe yields 1 entrée!
     Crispy Tofu:
     Only a small amount of batter is needed to create a thin crispy coating.  
     Step 1:  Cut 4 thick square shapes out of a block of firm tofu.  The tofu squares should be about 3/8" thick and 2 1/2" square.
     Place 2 egg yolks in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 large egg.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of Chinese five spice powder.
     Add enough corn starch while whisking, to create a medium consistency batter.  (About 3 to 4 tablespoons.)
     Step 2:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add enough vegetable frying oil, so the oil is 1/4" deep.
     Dredge the tofu squares in corn starch.
     Place the tofu squares in the batter one at a time.
     Knock off any excess batter.
     Place the battered tofu square in the hot oil.
     Pan fry both sides of each tofu slice, till the batter is crisp.
     Step 3:  Remove the tofu pieces from the oil after they are crispy.
     Place the crispy tofu slices on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.
     Keep the crispy tofu warm on a stove top.
     Sen Yai Noodles:
     Cook 1 large portion of Sen Yai (Rice Flour Fettuccine) in a pot of boiling water over high heat till they are tender.
     Drain the hot water off of the noodles.
     Place the noodles in a container of ice cold water.
     Leave the noodles in the ice water.
     Set the noodles and ice water aside.
     Crispy Tofu, Sen Yai Noodles, Purple Broccoli and Thai Fish Sauce:
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan or mini wok over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Step 2:  Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped onion.
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped napa cabbage.
     Add 1 cup of trimmed small purple cauliflower florets.
     Add 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped red bell pepper.
     Add 1/2 of a thin sliced jalapeño pepper.
     Add 1 green onion that is cut into bite size pieces.
     Step 3:  Sauté and stir fry the vegetables, till they are halfway cooked.
     Step 4:  Add 1/3 cup of mung bean sprouts.
     Stir fry for a few seconds.
     Step 5:  Add 1 cup of chicken broth.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Korean style coarse red serrano chile sauce.  (sambal)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Thai fish sauce.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add 10 to 12 fresh cilantro leaves.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 6:  Drain the cold water off of the ribbon noodles.
     Add the ribbon noodles, to the vegetables and sauce in the pan.
     Step 7:  Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to medium/medium low heat.
     Gently toss the ingredients in the pan together occasionally while rapidly simmering, till the excess liquid evaporates.
     Step 8:  Take the pan off of the heat.
     Mound the ribbon noodles and vegetables on a plate.
     Arrange the crispy tofu slices on top of the noodles and vegetables.
     Garnish the tofu slices with a piece of the green onion and a piece of red bell pepper from the stir fry vegetables.
     This is a very healthy noodle entrée!  The umami flavor is mildly spicy  This is a pretty plate of food to look at too. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Shime Saba Tacos garnished with Guacamole, Savoy Cabbage, Tomato and Wilted Garlic Chives

     Japanese Mexican Fusion Cuisine!  
     Japanese-Mexican Fusion Cuisine is popular in the Southwest.  Many modern Mexican chefs have adapted Japanese sushi making and some create interesting Japanese Mexican Fusion food items.  Modern Japanese sushi chefs do the same thing.  Modern sushi chef combine Mexican food items with Japanese sushi to create unique fusion specialties.   
     There are a few names for Japanese-Mexican Fusion Cuisine.  Some call it Jap-Mex or Mexanese.  Other than chefs offering Jap-Mex creations on a menu, relatively few Jap-Mex concept restaurants exist.  Introducing a new cuisine concept is not easy when the majority of the dining public has conservative tastes.  However, in trendy west coast cities and Las Vegas, a niche market of adventurous gourmands exists.
     Shime Saba is Japanese style Blue Mackerel that is quickly pickled with salt and vinegar, while the mackerel is still very fresh.  Shime Saba is usually featured as a sushi ingredient and it can be purchased fresh or frozen at Asian food markets.  Shima Saba actually has its origins in Korea and this light pickled mackerel specialty is sometimes offered will chilled noodles on Korean restaurant menus.   
     Mexican Pescado Tacos (Fish Tacos) are very popular and they are healthy to eat.  Pickled fish, like Shime Saba adds a new dimension to Pescado Tacos.  Shime Saba is ready to eat and it requires no cooking.  Shime saba tastes kind of like good pickled herring, so the taco garnishes should be chosen for their complimentary flavor qualities.
     Chinese Garlic Chives are the green top shoots of a garlic plant.  Garlic Chives are not in the chive family of plants.  Garlic Chives are popular throughout Asia.  Garlic Chives have a nice gentle garlic flavor that is perfect for today's Shima Saba Taco recipe!

     *One word of caution!  The orange color range habanero pepper garnish was set on the plate for color contrast.  I had to mild red peppers on hand.  In a restaurant or in most homes, serving a whole habanero as a garnish is taboo, because habaneros are one of the hottest peppers in the world.  

     This recipe yields about 1 cup.
     There are a zillion different recipes for guacamole.  In my opinion, the simpler the better.  Most of my guacamole recipes tend to be traditional and they usually contain no sour cream.
     Step 1:  Place the pulp of 1 avocado in a mixing bowl.  (About 3/4 cup)
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped green onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced seeded green jalapeño.
     Add 1 tablespoon of small diced red bell pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of small diced bermuda onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced cilantro.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Step 2:  Thoroughly mash the ingredients together, till the guacamole is smooth.
     Chill the guacamole for 20 minutes, so the flavors meld.

     Wilted Garlic Chives:
     This recipe yields enough for 4 tacos.
     Step 1:  Trim the tops and bottoms off of about 25 garlic chives.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of pomace olive oil.
     Add the trimmed garlic chives.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Sauté and toss the garlic chives, till they become wilted.
     Step 3:  Place the wilted garlic chives in a ceramic bowl and keep them warm on a stove top.

     Shime Saba Tacos with Guacamole, Savoy Cabbage, Tomato and Wilted Garlic Chives:
     This recipe yields 4 tacos.
     Step 1:  Heat a dry cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Place 4 small corn tortillas (4" to 5" wide) on the griddle.
     Gently warm the tortillas on both sides and try not to let them dry out.  
     Step 2:  Place the tortillas in a row on a countertop.
     Place a dollop of guacamole on the middle of each tortilla.
     Sprinkle a little bit of very thin sliced savoy cabbage on the guacamole.  (About 2 tablespoons.)
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of diced tomato over the savoy cabbage.
     Step 3:  Cut a 5 to 6 ounce piece of Shime Saba into 1/4" thick bias slices.
     Place a couple slices on each taco.  (About 1 ounce to 2 ounces per taco is plenty.)
     Place a small portion of wilted garlic chives on top of the Shime Saba on each taco.
     Place the tacos in a row on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with a piece of savoy cabbage leaf.
     Place a small mound of very thin sliced savoy cabbage on the cabbage leaf.
     Place a small mound of paper thin sliced onion next to the thin sliced cabbage.
     Garnish the cabbage with thin sliced red jalapeño pepper.
     Garnish with Chinese garlic chive flowers.  (optional)
     Garnish with an orange habanero chile pepper.  (optional)
     Serve with lime wedges and Mexican hot sauce on the side.

     Cool refreshing Japanese-Mexican Fusion Shime Saba tacos!  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Miyeok Saewoo Tteokbokki

     Wakame Beef Broth and Shrimp Tteokbokki
     More Korean street vendor style food!  Tteokbokki (Rice Cake Sticks) are a popular street food item.  There are many old traditional recipes for tteokbokki.  There are also many new tteokbokki recipes that are created by Korean street vendors everyday.  
     Street vendor food chefs do not really have to play by a book of rules, as far as writing a menu goes.  Tradition is just another option to consider when designing street food menu items.  
     Street food design strategies focus more on creating something new and exciting.  The goal is always to inspire consumer interest and draw more customers.  
     Combinations of ingredients that were previously unheard of are often offered by street vendors by means of trial and error.  It the new street food creation becomes popular, then the idea is a success.  If the new street food does not sell, then either the idea is a dud or more product development is needed.  
     Sometimes just making a few improvements makes the difference in whether a new street food product sells or not.  Sometimes giving a slow selling product a catchy new name is enough to trigger sales.  For example, at tourist trap destination areas, the street food item that has the craziest name often is what sells the best and makes the most money.  

     Miyeok Guk is a Korean seaweed soup that is usually made with beef and beef broth.  I decided to break the bounds of tradition when designing the Meok Guk for today's street food style Rice Sticks recipe.  Instead of sliced beef, shrimp was used to make the Miyeok Guk recipe component.  
     I figured that the beef broth and seaweed flavor of Miyeok Guk would naturally go well with the shrimp and it could be turned into a sauce for Tteokbokki.  The flavor of today's Tteokbokki turned out rather nice!    

     Miyeok Saewoo Tteokbokki:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty large portion.
     Pre-made Tteokbokki (Rick Sticks) and salt packed dried wakame seaweed can be found at Korean food markets.  Salt packed wakame is soft and the seaweed is actually still alive.
     Rice cake sticks are easy to make, if you want to make them fresh from scratch.  Packages of pre-made fresh or frozen Tteokbokki are a nice convenience.
     Step 1:  Cut a strand of salt packed dried wakame that is about 8" long.
     Soak the seaweed in water, till it is fully reconstituted.
     Cut the seaweed into large bite size pieces and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Boil a pot of water over high heat, so the Tteokbokki can be cooked later in the recipe.
     Step 3:  Heat a sauté pan or mini wok over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of pure sesame oil.
     Add 2 cloves of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Briefly sauté for a few seconds, so the ginger and garlic becomes fragrant.
     Step 4:  Add 1/4 cup of thin julienne sliced onion.
     Sauté till the onions start to turn clear in color.
     Step 5:  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Korean style coarse ground red serrano chile pepper paste.  (sambal)
     Add 10 medium size whole shrimp.  (Leave the heads attacked, but trim off the antennae.)
     Add the reserved wakame seaweed pieces.
     Step 6:  Stir the ingredients as the marinade liquid rapidly reduces to a thin glaze consistency.  
     Step 7:  When the marinade thickens enough to easily coat the ingredients, immediately add 2 cups of rich dark beef broth.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Step 8:  Start cooking 1 generous portion of Tteokbokki (rice cake sticks) in the pot of boiling water.  
     Step 9:  When the rice sticks start to become tender, use a pasta net to gather the rice sticks and drain off the water.
     Add the rice sticks to the shrimp and thin broth sauce in the other pan.
     Step 10:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce, till most of the excess liquid evaporates and the thin sauce starts to cling to the rice sticks.  (The starch from the rice sticks will thicken the sauce a little bit.)   
     Step 11:  Toss the ingredients together.
     Place the Miyeok Saewoo Tteokbokki on a plate.  
     Use a squirt bottle to paint a little bit Sriracha Sauce on the entrée.

     This Miyeok Saewoo Tteokbokki is a healthy and filling plate of street vendor style food!    

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Roasted Duck Wings with Garlic Chile Mai Fun

     Duck Wings!
     Every chef does chicken wing recipes of some kind.  Chickens are not the only birds that have wings!  Chinese BBQ restaurants often sell Roasted Duck Wings.  Asian restaurants that have a street vendor style food theme sometimes offer duck wings on the menu too.   
     Duck wings taste great when they are prepared Asian style.  Even though duck wings are not always as meaty as chicken wings, they still are a nice snack.  Asian style duck wings are a nice appetizer for New Year's Eve and football game parties.  

     Usually the best place to purchase duck wings is at an Asian food market that has a busy butcher shop.  Chinatown in Las Vegas has several large busy Asian food markets, so finding meaty duck wings is easy to do.  Asian butchers usually set the small duck wings aside for making soup broth.  The larger meatier duck wings are then packaged and sold at a reasonable price.  The duck wings that I got at an Asian food market for today's recipe were all large and meaty! 
     Duck wings cannot be prepared like buffalo wings.  Deep frying or cooking the wings in a short amount of time will result in tough chewy duck wings.  Duck wings have to be marinated and slow cooked, so the meat will be tender.

     Roasted Duck Wings:
     A marinade does not have to drown the item that it marinates!  All a marinade needs to do is coat the item that needs marination.  This way an excess amount of marinade is not needlessly wasted.  When a small amount of marinade is used, it may be necessary to toss the duck wings with the marinade occasionally.
     Step 1:  Place 3 tablespoons of thin soy sauce in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Add 2 pinches of Chinese five spice powder.
     Add 1 small pinch of Chinese chile powder.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Sir the marinade.
     Step 2:  Cut the wing tips off of 5 or 6 whole duck wings and save them for making broth for another recipe.
     Cut through the wing joint on each duck wing, to separate the wing from the drummette.
     Place the duck wings in the marinade. 
     Marinate the duck wings in a refrigeratore for 2 hours.  Toss the wings with the marinade occasionally.
     Step 3:  Brush a small roasting pan with vegetable oil.
     Drain the marinade off of the duck wings.
     Slowly roast the duck wings in a 300ºF oven, till they are fully cooked and lightly browned.  (Be sure to flip the duck wings occasionally, so they do not stick to the pan.)

     Roasted Duck Wings with Garlic Chile Mai Fun:
     Mai Fun is Chinese style thin vermicelli rice noodles.  Mai Fun can be found at most grocery stores and Asian food markets.  
     Add 2 pinches of turmeric to the boiling water, if you want the noodles to have a pale yellow color, like the noodles in the photo examples above.
     Be sure to have all of the ingredients ready before starting a stir fry recipe! 
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of mai fun in boiling water over high heat, till they are fully cooked.  
     Drain the water off of the noodles.
     Cool the noodles in a container of ice water while stirring, so they gain a nice chewy texture.
     Drain the water off the noodles and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan or seasoned wok over medium heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of vegetable oil.
     Add 6 coarse chopped garlic cloves.  (The garlic should be chunky!)
     Add 3 tablespoons of diced onion.
     Add 1 diced seeded green jalapeño pepper.
     Add 2 tablespoons of diced red bell pepper.
     Sauté till the garlic is aromatic and the vegetables start to become tender.
     Step 3:  Add the reserved mai fun noodles and immediately start tossing them in the hot oil.
     Toss the noodles in the hot oil, till they just start to fry crisp.
     Add sea salt and white pepper while tossing the noodles.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the garlic chile mai fun on a plate as a bed for the duck wings.  Try to leave any excess oil in the pan.
     Mound the roasted duck wings on the garlic chile mai fun noodles.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of crushed dried red pepper over the duck wings.
     No garnish is necessary!

     Viola!  A nice plate of tasty roasted duck wings and garlic chile noodles!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wasabi Honey BBQ Spare Ribs 'n' Chips

     The sharp bite of wasabi mellows when it is cooked, especially when the sauce is sweetened with honey.  Today's Wasabi Honey Spare Ribs have an interesting mild wasabi flavor.  There is very little of the infamous wasabi sinus clearing kick.  If you want to experience the full impact of the wasabi side effects, then simply serve some wasabi sauce on the side or sprinkle wasabi powder over the ribs after they are cooked.
     Real wasabi is made from the root of a tree that grows next to streams in Japan.  Real wasabi root is not in the same plant family as horseradish.  Real Japanese wasabi is not easy to find at common food markets, but when it is available it is worth giving a try.  Real wasabi has a very potent flavor.
     Average quality wasabi is made from horseradish that is tinted green.  This kind of wasabi is easy to find and the price is much cheaper than real wasabi.  The flavor potency of horseradish wasabi can vary from fairly mild to very strong.

     English Chips are just like French Fries and they look nice on a plate of BBQ ribs.  As the name chips implies, the fries should look like they were chipped off of a whole potato.  Chips should be sliced fairly thick.  Chips should be fried crispy on the outside and they should still be soft in the middle.

     *This recipe yields 1 portion.  (5 individual spare ribs)

     Spare Ribs Preparation:
     Step 1:  Cut a section of a large rack of ribs into 5 individual spare ribs.
     Step 2:  Place the pork spare ribs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of 5 spice powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of ginger paste.
     Add 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt.
     Add 1 pinch of white pepper.
     Step 3:  Toss the ingredients together.
     Cover the container.
     Marinate the ribs for 4 hours in a refrigerator.
     Step 4:  Drain off the marinade.
     Place the ribs on a roasting rack on a roasting pan.
     Slowly roast the ribs in a 275ºF oven, till the meat is fully cooked and tender.  Turn the ribs occasionally while roasting, so they cook evenly.
     Set the ribs aside after they finish slow roasting.
     Wasabi Honey BBQ Spare Ribs:
     The ribs can be finished on a chargrill or under a broiler. 
     Step 1:  Mix 2 tablespoons of wasabi powder (green horseradish wasabi) and 2 tablespoons of water together to form a paste in a mixing bowl.
     Step 2:  Add 1 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/4 cup of honey.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of corn starch.
     Add 2 tablespoons of water.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     The wasabi basting sauce should be a very pale green color.
     Step 3:  Heat a chargrill to a medium/medium high temperature.  (Or set an oven broiler to a medium high temperature.)
     Place the ribs on the grill or under the broiler.
     Brush the ribs with the wasabi BBQ sauce fairly often as they are cooking.  Be sure to flip the ribs occasionally.
     The object is to let each coating of sauce thicken before applying more, so the ribs are glazed when they finish.  When the ribs are glazed and caramelized highlights appear, then they are ready to be served.

     English Chips:
     Step 1:  Cut a 6 ounce unpeeled Russet potato in half lengthwise.
     Slice the potato halves into odd shaped slices that are about 1/4" thick.
     Step 2:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     Deep fry the chips, till the chips are less than halfway cooked and they are still white.
     Remove the chips from the oil and let them rest for five minutes.
     Step 3:  Place the chips back in the hot frying oil.
     Fry till the chips are crispy golden brown.
     Step 4:  Place the chips on a wire roasting rack to drain off any excess oil.
     Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt over the chips.
     Wasabi Honey BBQ Spare Ribs 'n' Chips:
     Mound the chips on the middle of a plate.
     Place the ribs on the plate so they lean vertically against the mound of chips.
     Garnish the plate with a few Italian Parsley leaves.

     The combination of wasabi and honey creates a nice, mellow, aromatic glaze flavor.  The small amount of cornstarch helps to thicken the glazing sauce as it cooks on the ribs.  Four or five spare ribs is light lunch portion! 

Sesame Honey Chicken with Garlic Spinach

     A Tasty Light Entrée!
     Entrées like today's recipe were popular at trendy cafés in the 1980's.  Many chefs were offering a few Asian style entrées on menus and the cooking techniques used were close to being genuine traditional Asian style.  The dining public and chefs had an interest in Asian fine dining cuisine items back in those days and fusion cuisine had not yet entered the picture.

     *This entire recipe yields 1 petite entrée!  
     Boil or steam 1 small portion of white jasmine rice ahead of time.  The entrée only takes a few minutes to prepare!

     Sesame Honey Chicken:  
     Step 1:  Cut 4 thin wide chicken breast strips that weigh about 1 1/2 ounces to 2 ounces apiece.
     Step 2:  Whisk 1 large egg with 2 teaspoons of corn starch in a mixing bowl to make a thin batter.
     Step 3:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add enough vegetable oil, so the oil is about 1/8" deep.
     Step 4:  Dredge the chicken strips in flour.
     Dip the chicken in the batter.
     Place the chicken strips side by side in the hot pan.
     Pan fry the egg battered chicken pieces.
     Cook both sides of the chicken pieces, till they are golden brown.
     Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and keep them warm on a stove top.
     Step 5:  Drain the oil out of the hot pan.
     Return the pan to medium low heat.
     Step 6:  Add 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.
     Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Sauté for a few seconds, so the ginger and garlic are fragrant.
     Step 7:  Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese five spice powder.
     Step 8:  Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water to make a slurry.
     Add enough of the corn starch slurry while stirring, to thicken the sauce to a thin consistency.  (Save any extra slurry for another recipe!)
     Step 9:  Add 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds.
     Add 1 teaspoon of black sesame seeds.
     Add 2 tablespoons of honey.
     Step 10:  Return the chicken strips to the sauce.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till the sauce becomes a medium thin glaze consistency.
     Keep the chicken warm over very low heat.
     Garlic Spinach: 
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil.
     Add 2 cloves of minced garlic.
     Sauté till the garlic turns a golden color.
     Step 2:  Add 2 1/2 cups of fresh baby spinach leaves.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Stir till the spinach wilts.
     Remove the spinach from the pan and set it aside.
     Keep the wilted garlic spinach warm on a stove top.
     Sesame Honey Chicken with Garlic Spinach:
     Use a ring mold to place 1 small portion of rice on the center of a plate.
     Place the wilted spinach on the plate around the rice.
     Lean the sesame honey chicken strips against the rice's edge and on the spinach.
     Spoon a little bit of the sesame honey sauce over the chicken pieces.
     Sprinkle some thin sliced green onions over the center of the rice.
     Sweet sesame honey chicken and garlic spinach are a nice flavor combination!  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tomato Star Noodle Soup with Szechuan Pepper

     No Canned Tomato Soup For You!
     Many people are satisfied by eating the same old brand of canned tomato soup.  Others look for the cheapest brand of canned tomato soup.  Sometimes a better flavor can be found in a local bargain brand.  Every chef knows that the first concession that a canned soup company makes is quality.  Canned soups are never as good as a freshly made soup.  
     Some chefs never put out much effort into their cooking and they tend to look for the easy way to get through a day.  Frozen manufactured food products and canned food is all that they market.  There actually is a nickname for such a chef.  Referring to a "can opener chef" by the name "Chef Boyardee" is just about as low of an insult as it gets!
     Canned soups in a restaurant do nothing to increase sales and they cause many customers to never return.  Fresh soups can promote more sales.  
     Fresh soups can also reduce food costs and waste percentages in a restaurant.  Scraps of butchered meats and vegetable trimmings can be used to make broths, stocks and soups.  In an efficient restaurant kitchen, nothing is wasted and even spoilage is kept under control.   
     Choosing the right tomatoes for soup and sauce making is not an easy task for a cook that has minimal experience.  These next few paragraphs shed light on the tomato selection subject.  
     Modern commercial grade fresh tomatoes in America are usually not good for making sauces or soups.  Commercial grade fresh GMO tomatoes are picked green, shipped long distances and stored at a low temperature.  Just before marketing, the green hard tomatoes are are processed with ethylene gas, so they quickly ripen just before they are delivered.  The result is a tomato that has a tough chewy texture that tastes like cardboard.   
     The better choice of fresh tomato is local grown vine ripe organic tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes.  These fresh tomatoes can be costly, but they inspire consumer interest and they can be used to make great sauces.  As a chef, the way to reduce cost is go directly to the farm and offer to purchase the overripe local grown tomatoes that were too soft to send to the food market.  Farmers sell overripe tomatoes for cheap or they just give them away for free.  
     I once worked with an Italian chef that drove to every tomato farm in the county, till he amassed  10 cases of overripe tomatoes, so he could make a big batch of tomato sauce at his restaurant.  He got the overripe tomatoes for free and his tomato sauce was the best in town.  His food cost percentage for the great tomato sauce was next to nothing!

     Not every chef has access to good fresh tomatoes or free overripe tomatoes.  Canned tomatoes are never frowned upon by chefs.  
     Canned American and Spanish tomatoes are okay for some applications, but these tomatoes tend to be acidic.  Canned American or Spanish tomatoes should only be used in recipes that benefit from the flavor of acidic tomatoes.  Some tomato soups require acidic tomatoes.  Southwestern cuisine style soup recipes are a prime example.  
     For making tomato sauces or refined tomato soups that benefit from a "sweet" tomato flavor, the best choice is imported Italian canned tomatoes.  For the most part, canned Italian tomatoes are "sweet" and they are not acidic.  
     Italian canned tomatoes have a very rich bold tomato flavor that is perfect for soups and sauces.  Italian canned plum tomatoes are great for making anything from Salsa di Pomodoro to tomato soup.  Canned Italian San Marzano Tomatoes are regarded as being the best in the world and they should only be used to make premium tomato sauces, like Marinara.    

     Today's tomato soup recipe requires no cream or milk, so this recipe is good for anybody that is lactose intolerant.  Today's soup is a fine puree of vegetable broth, aromatic mirepoix vegetables and imported Italian canned plum tomato.  The tomato soup is delicately flavored with ginger and Chinese Five Spice Powder.  Szechuan Pepper is added as a finishing touch.  
     Chinese Star Noodles are a favorite of Chicken Noodle Soup fans!  Children really like the shape of little Star Noodles.  Bags of dried little Star Noodles for soups can be found in Asian food markets.

     Tomato Star Noodle Soup with Szechuan Pepper:
     This recipe yields 1 large serving of soup!  (2 1/2 cups)
     Only a few simple cooking techniques are required for this recipe.  Cornstarch slurry thickened soups cannot be reheated and they are made to order or made within a few hours before serving.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 3 1/2 cups of light vegetable broth.
     Add 2 tablespoons each of these finely chopped vegetables:
     - carrot
     - celery
     - onion
     Add the minced white part of 1 green onion.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 minced very small garlic clove.  (Less than 1/4 teaspoon)
     Add 1 1/4 cups of diced imported Italian canned peeled seeded plum tomatoes that are packed in their own juices.  Be sure to add a proportion of the juices from the can. 
     Add 2 pinches of Chinese Five Spice Powder.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.  
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
     Step 3:  Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer the soup, till the vegetables are very tender and till the soup reduces to about 2 1/2 cups. 
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.  
     Use an electric blending wand or a food processor to puree the soup to a very fine consistency.
     Step 5:  Place the pureed soup broth in a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Bring the soup to a gentle boil. 
     Step 6:  Mix a little bit of corn starch with cold water to create a slurry.  (About 1 or 2 tablespoons of cornstarch is plenty.)
     Slowly add just enough of the slurry, while stirring, to thicken the soup broth to a thin sauce consistency.  (Save any extra slurry for another recipe!)
     Step 7:  Add 2 tablespoons of dried Small Chinese Star Noodles.  
     Gently boil the soup, while stirring often, till the noodles are cooked tender.  
     *Thin Star Noodles for soup only take a few minutes to cook.  The soup has to be stirred often or the noodles will stick to the bottom of the pot!
     Step 8:  Add a little bit of vegetable broth if the soup becomes too thick after the noodle cook.  The soup should be a thin rich consistency that keeps the noodles in suspension.
     Step 9:  Pour the soup into a large 2 1/2 cup capacity soup cup.
     Place the soup serving cup on doily lined serving plate.
     Sprinkle 1 or 2 pinches of fresh Ground Szechuan Pepper on the surface of the soup.

     This noodle house fusion style tomato noodle soup tastes nice!  

Monday, June 8, 2015

Golden Hot Sour Ribbon Noodle Soup

     A Different Kind Of Hot Sour Soup! 
     Cow's Ear Fungus are also known as Wood Ear Mushrooms.  Cow's Ear Mushrooms have a delicate flavor.  These mushrooms are a main staple in China.  Cow's Ear Mushrooms actually have medicinal value.  These mushrooms boost the immune system, they fight cancer and they slow the aging process.
     I have been disappointed many times, when I had Hot Sour Soup at restaurants.  The basic flavors of the soup are fantastic if it is not overwhelmed with pepper, vinegar or corn starch.  Hot sour soups that have been simmering in a soup warmer all day long are best avoided.
     Today's hot sour soup recipe has a well balanced flavor.  Instead of settling for the same old brown color hot sour soup, turmeric was added, so the soup takes on a golden color.  Ribbon Noodles were added to make the soup heartier.
     Golden Hot Sour Ribbon Noodle Soup:
     This recipe yields 1 portion of soup!  (About 2 1/3 cups)
     Step 1:  Soak 3 dried Cow's Ear Fungus (Wood Ear Mushrooms) in water overnight in a refrigerator.
     After the mushrooms are reconstituted, cut the mushrooms into very thin slices and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Cook 1 small portion of ribbon rice noodles in boiling water over high heat, till they are tender.
     Drain the water off the noodles.
     Shock the noodles in ice water.
     Drain off the water and set the noodles aside.
     Step 3:  Place 3 cups of chicken broth in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add the thin sliced cow's ear mushrooms.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced bell pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of soy sauce.
     Step 3:  Add 1 pinch of Chinese five spice powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of crushed dried red chile pepper.
     Step 4:  Boil till the vegetables are tender and the soup reduces to about 2 1/2 cups.
     Step 5:  Make a slurry with cornstarch and cold water.  (About 2 tablespoons of cornstarch + 2 tablespoons of cold water should be enough.)
     Add just enough of the slurry to the hot soup, while stirring, to thicken the soup to a medium thin consistency.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar.  Taste the soup.  Add a little more rice vinegar if the soup is not sour enough.  The sour flavor should be delicate and not too strong.
     Step 7:  Place 1 raw egg in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch.
     Whisk the ingredients together.
     Step 8:  Use a spoon to thin stream ribbons of the egg mixture on the surface of the hot soup broth.  (Just like making egg flower soup.)
     Step 9:  Add the reserved ribbon rice noodles.
     Add 4 ounces of firm tofu that is cut into bite size cube shapes.
     Add 1/2 of a bias sliced green onion.
     Step 10:  Simmer till the soup reheats.
     Ladle the soup into a serving bowl.
     No garnish is necessary!
     This is a delicious golden color healthy hot sour soup!