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Recipes that include vegetable oil

Chinese Beef and Peppers

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Growing up, meals were almost always Chinese family style. Everyone gets a bowl of rice and a large plate to fill-up with goodies. On any regular weeknight, 4 to 6 different dishes would be set in the center, and we’d take first, seconds, and thirds, to our hearts’ content. Sometimes we’d end with soup, and always fruit. As I got older, I realized how impressive it was that my mom, who worked full-time, put this spread on the table night after night. It was always different too. (You can tell by now, my mom’s got quite a roster up her sleeves.)

One of the tips/tricks that makes this possible is offering a mix of dishes she already made ahead of time with one or two that can be thrown together really quickly. She might have marinated cucumbers in the morning as we got dressed for school. A variety of “red-cooked” meats, egg, or bean curd was probably made on the weekend. When she walked through the door, she’d whirl around the kitchen: steaming a fish and stir-frying another two like it was as easy as skipping. This led me to some wrong assumptions. I thought that every mother in the world did that and I thought it was no-sweat, easiest thing ever. I know now, I was so wrong.

Beef and Peppers

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Vegetarian Yellow Sparrow

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Soo Hwang Chue sounds a little better in Chinese than it does translated into Vegetarian Yellow Sparrow, and like the Lion’s Head Casserole, these don’t really look like birds. Naming issues aside, it’s a fabulous dish. It takes a little prep work and a bit of finesse, so it’s one of those dishes that you want to make for your special vegetarian friend to show them that you went the extra bit for them. It’s full of so many nutritious ingredients like shitake mushrooms, black fungus, and lily buds, all considered to have medicinal properties to enrich good health. The edamame, dry bean curd, and  bean curd sheets round-out this dish with an abundant source of protein. In my opinion, this is the perfect vegetarian dish.

Vegetarian Yellow Sparrow

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Lion’s Head Casserole

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lion’s Head Casserole is a simple dish of pork meatballs and napa cabbage. The meatballs supposedly look like lion’s heads, which is a stretch, I know, but that is the name. Last week, I wasn’t feeling that great and got in that I want my mommy mood. (Yes, I’m 30.) I whined and asked my mom to make me a pot of this umami-powered dish that feels so nurturing. It feels mommy-made. I took pictures and notes, not remembering that I already posted this dish over a year ago.

I decided that it was worth re-posting for the new pics and some added thoughts. It’s interesting to compare the notes since my mom does not ever use recipes. It’s amazingly similar in making the meat mixture, but you’ll notice that you can vary the size of the meatballs if you want.

Lion's Head Casserole 2

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Lu Ro Fan (Chopped Pork Belly Rice)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We’ve been on a Taiwanese kick lately. I think it all started when my mom told me that the food court in Flushing Mall had closed. Taiwanese restaurants are already hard to find and now some of the last little booths standing are forever gone. Where will we get our Stinky Tofu (my family loves but I don’t), Oyster Pancakes, Pork Chop Rice, and Taiwanese Ice? When we were kids, we used to go to Lai Food but it changed to 66 Lu’s (Chinese name stayed the same) and it never tasted the same. There was a place in Elmhurst called David’s Taiwanese that also changed it’s name to something like Taiwanese Specialties Corp. It’s still decent but again, not the same.

We were at that restaurant, formerly David’s Taiwanese, and had the Lu Ro Fan. It was so sub par that the next week, my mom insisted on making me a good one. Of course, I did not protest. The secret is having the right mix of lean and fatty pork meat in little chunks, dancing together in a rich sauce that spills over onto the rice. The Pickled Mustard Green Relish is essential for the acid that balances the fatty juices. It is an ultra comforting home-style dish.

Lu Ro Fan

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Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sweet & Sour dishes are commonly known Chinese dishes. They’re probably even in the top 5 most popular. Yet, what I’ve seen at “fake” Chinese take-outs rarely resembles what I know of as Sweet & Sour. They’re often neon orange ( I don’t even know where that color comes from), taste like pure fried batter without meat, sweeter than a lollipop, or all three atrocities.

I’m not claiming that the real thing is healthy. It’s not. These spare ribs are deep-fried. There is still a lot of sugar, though I have to believe less than whatever “they” put. Plus, I know I’m still using meat. It is delicious, in addictive little chunks that work well as finger food at parties. Of course, Sweet & Sour Ribs goes over well with the kids too.

Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs 2

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Tomato Fried Eggs

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Recently, one of our commenters  (goes by Gardener) requested the Chinese recipe for Tomato Fried Eggs. I was giddy with excitement, not just because I got a recipe request, which I love, but because this isn’t the kind of dish you find at restaurants (though a few do offer it).  This is the most home-style of home-style dishes, quickly thrown together by moms (or some dads but not mine) when the family needs a quick meal. It’s also a very popular little kid meal because it’s soft, nutritious, and there’s a secret ingredient for the kid-version.

Tomato Fried Eggs

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Eel with Yellow Chives

Saturday, May 29, 2010

When I went to mom’s to learn Tee Pong (Red Cooked Picnic Shoulder), there was a theme that day. I was learning my grandfather’s favorite dishes, and after that fatty pig centerpiece, his next favorite was Eel with Yellow Chives. And just to let you know, he always finished every meal with oranges.

My grandpa insisted on eating these favorite dishes so much that my mom had to make it constantly, and we ordered it at restaurants too. Now, long after my grandfather passed away (in 1996), I realized that my mom hasn’t made Eel with Yellow Chives in years. I asked my mom why and she said it’s kind of a pain to make. Fresh eel requires a lot of cleaning. She also told me that sometimes she would be lazy and by frozen packs of prepped eel strips, ready-to-use, but in the last few years, she hasn’t seen it at the market. The yellow chives require some cleaning too.

Eel with Yellow Chives 2

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Tee Pong: Red Cooked Picnic Shoulder

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I spent Monday at mom’s house again and we decided, well I decided, that I wanted to learn my grandfather’s two favorite dishes. My grandpa, on my dad’s side, lived till he was 96! I remember what a bad example that set for us kids. He never ate veggies and yet he was as healthy as a pup, taking walks every day. Well, his walks were to Baskin Robbins.

Besides the Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream cone each day, his favorite dish was Tee Pong. It’s a Red-Cooked or Red-Braised Picnic Shoulder, and it’s all about the skin and fat. Brace yourself. The fat and skin can be more than an inch thick, and that’s the part my grandpa wanted to eat, sometimes leaving the meat behind.

Red Cooked Tee Pong (picnic shoulder)

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String Beans with Minced Pork

Thursday, May 20, 2010

So, two Chinese recipes in a row, and your going to get a lot more because I’m going to be hanging out at my mom’s house to cook. Why? Because she has a kitchen and I am going nuts! You know my kitchen renovation? We haven’t started yet! AHHHH!

So we had a general contractor, the same guy that did my mom’s kitchen. He did a beautiful job. He went to Taiwan and promised to be back by May 1st to start our kitchen. Guess what? He’s not coming back, at least for a while. For the past month, we’ve been looking for a new general contractor and man, it’s hard. What a weird bunch. Why do they waste the time to come see a potential job when they don’t plan on giving an estimate. Forget following up. Even if I ask again and again, they just keep saying, yea…I’ll get you an estimate tomorrow, or next week, but then nothing ever happens.

What the heck?

String Beans with Minced Pork 7

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Dried Sardines with Bean Curd

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In Chinese, sometimes we describe a dish as sha fan. The literal translation is down rice, and what we mean is that it goes down well with rice. It pairs so well with rice that it encourages the eating of more rice. These are usually addictive, salty or spicy foods, and the Dried Sardines with Bean Curd is both. I think of this dish as a confetti of aromatics: fish, ginger, garlic, scallion, and fermented black beans. Just sprinkle a little on rice and it goes a long long way.

I love the fishes1

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