Category Archives: Chinese

So Nice When Someone Else Cooks…

These days, generally I make lunch and Mom makes dinner. This is what we had for dinner today.

Garlicky Broccoli with Tomatoes. Broccoli is one of my favourite vegetables of all time.

Tofu. With green onions and soy sauce. Not sure what else is in it. I just eat. 🙂

One of the easiest ways to make eggs Chinese style. Just add green onions and scramble. It’s very good!

I hope you are having something yummy for dinner as well. I further hope that you’re lucky enough to have someone else cook for you. 😀

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Filed under Chinese, Dinner

Chinese Takeout…from Home

I whipped this together for lunch today. It was easy, healthy, and yummy. Helps you to be well on your way to getting your vegetables. My mommy made chicken meatball soup for dinner last night and we had some leftover meatball mixture. I panfried that in lumps that I’d like to call meatballs and roughly chopped it to include in my stir-fried noodles. If you would like to have this dish vegetarian, just omit the chicken and substitute panfried tofu.

Chinese Stir-fried Noodles with Vegetables
serves 4

8 oz. broad noodles (ShanDong La Mian)
1 small crown broccoli, broken into florets
2 small carrots, sliced on a bias
1 large stalk celery, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. Sichuan peppercorns
1 Tsp. finely chopped ginger
1 green onion, sliced
3 Tbps. light soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Chinese red vinegar
1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce (I often use this sauce to add a touch of sweetness to dishes)
salt to taste
panfried meatballs, or tofu, or sausages, or nothing

Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling water. Be sure to stir briskly to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Broad noodles especially tend to stick. After about two minutes of boiling, or when the noodles first begin to soften, add the broccoli, carrots, and celery to the boiling pot. Drain well after everything is cooked, after another few minutes.

In a large wok, heat the oil until fairly hot, on medium heat. Add the peppercorns and toast for three minutes, until very fragrant. Pour in the soy sauce, vinegar, and hoisin sauce. It will spatter, so be prepared and shield yourself with a pot cover, which is what I always do. Mix well and add a bit of water if the mixture appears to be reducing too fast. Add the green onions, garlic, and ginger. Cook for one minute, then toss in the noodles and vegetables.

Toss together well, adding more water if the noodles are too dry. Turn off the heat and season with salt. Serve and congratulate yourself on being healthy!

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Filed under Chinese, Lunch, Vegetables

Mama's Shrimp

Would you like some steaming hot shrimp? Meet my mom! She’ll make you some. She’s nice like that. 🙂 You’ve already seen her hands at work in making dumplings. She has awesome hands. Hands that held and rocked her babies. Hands that learned to cook simple and gorgeous dishes like this one. Hands that swept and wiped and chopped and stirred and poured and petted and touched and loved. We kids grew up because of our mother’s hands.

I am so grateful for that.

She makes this dish whenever she has cravings for seafood, since she’s the only one in the family crazy about seafood. This is how she always makes it.

The exact proportions are unknown to me, and probably unknown to her as well. Everything varies each time, much like her dumplings, and much like most other things she cooks. I’ll try it on my own one day and tell you if it’s anything close.

She uses green onions, ginger, and Sichuan peppercorns. The oil is heated until very hot, then the aromatics are added, then the shrimp. The shrimp is cooked over high heat and very quickly, thus retaining their vibrant color and sweet juices.

And no soy sauce. Really. Just a bit of salt.

Nothing to distract us from the unique flavour of the shrimp.

She used tiger shrimp today and the results were especially spectacular. I ate more than I normally would. Each shrimp had the perfect crisp and crunch to it, and the flesh was oh so sweet. She finished the dish with a bit of chopped cilantro, which never fails to lift a dish.

As beautiful to eat as it is to look at.

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Filed under Chinese, Dinner, Seafood

Green Onion Pancakes

This is yet another dish I seldom order when eating out at a Chinese restaurant. Not that they don’t get it right. Most places make acceptable pancakes. It’s hard to totally botch them. They are pretty easy to make. However, a lot of restaurants fry them in a ton of oil and the appetizer end up greasy. Not good. So I make it at home. Usually though, I make it with leftover dough, such as from making dumplings. There are many things that can be done with a piece of leftover dough. It’s a marvelous thing.

Dumpling dough is very lean, made with simply water and flour. It makes a good, chewy base for the pancakes. Use plenty of fresh green onions. Take care not to over salt and add too much oil, or you’d have hell with the rolling process.

I find these addictive and will nimble on it all day. It is best when it’s warm and crisp. Nimble nimble…there goes my waistline.

Green Onion Pancakes

Leftover lean dough, unleavened, if that is unavailable:
Mix 2 cups of flour with about 2/3 cup of cold water slowly, adding more flour or water as needed to make a malleable, slightly sticky dough. Knead 2-3 minutes. Let rest for at least 20 minutes.
1/2 cup chopped green onions, use more if you wish
2 Tbsp. oil
salt to taste
oil for frying (3-4 Tbsp.)

Roll out the dough into a large circle 1/4 inch. Sprinkle with oil, salt, and green onions. Roll up like you would cinnamon bun dough. Seal both sides. Cut into 2 inch segments. Twist and pinch to close each open end of each piece. Make sure it’s closed well. Roll out each piece. Flour your work space as needed. If the green onions burst out of the dough, it’s okay, just keep rolling.

Heat a frying pan with 1 Tbsp. oil until hot. Maintain the heat at medium. Fry each pancake 2-3 minutes on each side, or until browned. Add more oil as needed, one tablespoon at a time. Nibble away!

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Filed under Appetizers, Chinese

Vegetarian Fried Rice

I almost never ordered fried rice at restaurants. When given the option between fried rice and plain rice, I always pick plain. Lesser of the two evils, in my opinion. I figured that if I didn’t want to eat rice anyway, since it’s (in my opinion) a rather flavourless grain, I might as well choose the one that is truly au naturel. In some places, the fried rice tastes just like the plain rice, except loaded with oil and soy sauce. It always makes me wonder, if they dumped buckets of soy sauce into the rice, why doesn’t it at least taste like it?

At home though, I made fried rice, because everyone else seems to like it. And because we always have leftover rice. I make it with enough vegetables to give it some balance, colour, and goodness. I also go fairly light on the oil. And the soy sauce. For this vegetarian fried rice, if no one objects, feel free to add some chopped, peeled shrimp, for a non-vegetarian version.

Vegetarian Fried Rice
enough for 4

3 cups cooked rice, use leftovers if you have it, otherwise, cook it fresh.
(Note: To make rice, add to a saucepan 1 1/2 cup rice, rinse, and add 2 1/2 cup water, bring to a boil, cover tightly and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender. Or use a nifty rice cooker, which is what we usually do)
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped green onions leaves, that is, the green part of the green onion
1 Tbsp. ginger, chopped finely
1 large tomato, diced
1 handful of soaked and chopped wood ears, optional
1/2 cup frozen green peas
3 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
salt as needed

Heat up a wok or a large pan with 3 Tbsp. oil till the oil ripples and a droplet of egg in the wok sizzles. Add the beaten eggs and scramble until almost done. Break apart with a spatula. Keeping the heat on medium high, add the ginger, green onions, tomato, wood ears, and peas. Shake in the sugar. Stir fry for about 5 minutes, until the peas are cooked and tomatoes are beginning to soften. Break up the rice in its container or fluff the rice in its pot. Add to the wok and stir to combine everything. Continue to break up the rice as needed. Heat over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the soy sauce and toss. Turn off the heat and season to taste.

Serve as a side to other dishes, such as meat or tofu and vegetables. Or as lunch, with tea.

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Filed under Chinese, Dinner, Lunch, Side dishes

Comfort Food…Chinese Dumplings

One of the strongest memories I have, is of my mother’s floury hands. How she swiftly kneads dough, rolls dough, fills dough, taking care to pinch the little wrappers together. Sometimes she added a pretty border on some of them, to my delight. I would always eat those dumplings first.

This is my childhood.

Ever since I was nine, I’d begged my mother to let me help her make the dumplings. I’d like to say she was patient, but after several rounds of “no, you’ll ruin the dough” she gave me a wrapper of my own with a little spoon to scoop up the filling. Then I would imitate her and gingerly pinch the wrapper around the filling. It wasn’t pretty. Flat. Lopsided. Wrinkly. Oozing. Sometimes it looked like a dead fish.

But I got better. Now I’m proud of my dumplings. Now my mother no longer worked alone. Now I have my own floury hands.

I wish I could give you the “family recipe.” But truth be told. There is none. Meat is vigorously stirred. Vegetables vehemently chopped. Soy sauce generously added. Sesame oil delicately sprinkled. It’s different every time. All depends on what’s in the fridge and judgment on what’s “enough.” No recipes involved. It’s an art form.

I never get homesick. I like living on my own. But sometimes I crave my mother’s dumplings. I know the “art” well enough now that I can make my own. Mine never taste just like hers though. Good but never hers. Everyone who has had my family’s dumplings claim it’s amongst the best they’re ever had. My father claims, each time we make dumplings, that this time it’s the “best ever.”

I always have to agree.

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Filed under Chinese, Comfort Food, Dinner, Meat, Vegetables

Moon Cake

I hope that wherever you live, there’s a Chinatown, or at the very least, there’s a good Chinese grocery store. Not only can you get cheap veggies and excellent rice (even though I don’t like rice), you can get all sorts of typical and atypical Chinese snacks and desserts. This is a typical dessert eaten as part of a tradition during Mid-autumn Festival in China. No we’re not celebrating the festival yet, it isn’t for another couple of months, but we are having the cake.

It isn’t really a cake in the layered, frosted affair you may be familiar with. Rather, it has a pastry crust that is often ornate, like this one, and a rich, sweet filling. This one has a lotus-paste filling. Other ones may contain red bean, nuts, or two egg yolks. The egg yolks symbolize “togetherness” and “reunion”. They are pickled and provide nice contrast with the sweet filling.

These are actually mini moon cakes. They are very cute, only about one and a half inches across. I’ve tried to make moon cakes of my own many years back. They tasted good but lacked much in the looks department. The commercially produced ones are all pressed in a moon cake mold, made of wood, so the cake takes its round fluted shape and gets a design on top. Maybe one day I’ll try to hunt down a mold and make moon cakes again.

The little cakes sure are cute, huh? 😉

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Filed under Chinese, Desserts