Thursday, June 29, 2017

Chicken Larb 2.0

I've always loved salads in the summertime, especially if they contain a meat of some kind. That's why I'm so fond of Thai Salads - Crying Tiger and Larb to be specific. I learned recently from a Thai friend that Larb is not a stir-fry dish. It is actually Chicken or Pork cooked in Broth with the addition of Lime Juice, Fish Sauce, Green Onions and Shallots, Garlic and Chili flakes that together create a salty, sweet, spicy and savory melange of a sauce that is served over Lettuce.  It's a light meal and oh so delicious! I posted a Larb dish before, but I made it as a stir-fry and while it was good, this method of cooking the ground Chicken in Broth makes it much more tender. And, like all Thai dishes, there is a lot of fresh herbs - in this case Cilantro(Coriander) and Mint. It is traditionally served with Toasted Rice Powder and some steamed Sticky Rice, but I had it just by itself and enjoyed it so much!

Chicken Larb 2.0

1 pound of Ground Chicken
1/4 cup Chicken Broth
2 teaspoons Vegetable Oil
1 heaping teaspoon Sugar
Juice of 3 Limes - about 6 Tablespoons
1 Red JalapeƱo or Red Thai Chili, sliced into rings
6 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
3 Garlic Cloves minced
2 Green Onions, trimmed and cut into small pieces
1 large Shallot, peeled and sliced into thin rings
3/4 cup packed Mint Leaves
3/4 cup packed Cilantro Leaves
1 small head (or 1/2 of a large head) Iceberg Lettuce torn into large bite-size pieces

Optional:  Toast 2 Tablespoons of Glutinous (Sticky or Sweet) Rice in frying pan until brown. Then grind in a mortar and pestle and sprinkle on top of the Larb.

Pour the Chicken Broth into a large frying pan and add the Oil and Sugar. Bring to a boil and add in the Ground Chicken, stirring to cook until almost all becomes opaque and has broken up into small pieces. Stir in Lime Juice, Fish Sauce, Red Chili and Chili Flakes.  Then add in the Garlic, Green Onions and Shallots and cook for a few seconds and take off the heat. Then add in the Mint and Cilantro leaves.  

Place the Lettuce in a large serving bowl or a plate with sides and spoon the Larb on top to serve.  

Five Element Analysis

Salads are a Fire Food because they involve Lettuce and the Red Chili , both fresh and dried adds just a bit more. The Chicken and Chicken Broth along with the Lime Juice contributes plenty of the Wood Element. The Garlic, Onions, Shallots as well as the Mint and Cilantro leaves make sure that the Metal Element is present. And finally, the Fish sauces brings in the Water Element making this a balanced Five Element dish!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Spinach with Ginger Dressing

It's been unusually hot here in Seattle and when that happens, I want to eat light and that means salads and cold plates. In Chinese cuisine, anything served room temperature or colder is called a cold plate. And, I might add, the vegetables are usually cooked before they are served cold. Tonight, I decided tonight to make one of my Mother's favorite vegetable cold plate that involves blanching Spinach and topping it with a Ginger-infused Dressing. It can be served immediately, but I usually refrigerate it so that it is served cold. This is a lovely accompaniment to a grilled Steak that has been marinating in Asian flavors and is a perfect recipe for a summer night!

Spinach with Ginger Dressing

8 oz bag of Spinach (275 g), washed
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil (I used Grapeseed)
1 inch piece of Ginger, peeled and grated (equals about 1 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons Chinkiang Black Vinegar or Rice Wine Vinegar
1 teaspoon Tamari
2 Tablespoons Chicken Broth
½ teaspoon Sesame Oil
½ teaspoon - 1 teaspoon Sugar
¼ teaspoon Salt

Combine the Vegetable Oil, Vinegar, Tamari, Sesame Oil and Chicken Broth in a small bowl.  Then stir in the Ginger, Sugar and Salt. Taste and add more Sugar if desired.

Heat a pot of Water to a boil. Add the Spinach, submerge and then drain. Rinse quickly with cold Water.  Place the Spinach in a serving bowl and pour the dressing over. Toss to mix and chill to serve cold.

Five Element Analysis

Spinach as a leafy Green belongs to the Wood Element and this is mostly a Wood Element food with the Vinegar and Chicken Broth adding even more. The Water Element is also present in a small amount from the Tamari and the Sesame Oil. And the Ginger brings in just a hint of both the Metal and Earth Elements. So, this is a good side dish where the main dish is from the Earth Element, like Steak and any other dishes should incorporate the Fire Element and more of the Metal Element to create balance.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Mixed Fruit Almond Cookie Crumble

I often buy too much fruit when I am at the market - it just looks to good to me. I eat as much as I can out of hand and then there comes that day when it's all getting a little soft. Then, it's time to cook it! I had a large Nectarine, some Blueberries and some Strawberries that simply weren't going to last much longer and I decided to make a Crumble. I didn't want to use Oats so I made a Cookie Crumble instead. It's a simple recipe of Almond Flour mixed with Sugar and an Egg. It can be seasoned with Vanilla Extract, Almond Extract or Orange Zest. I cut up the fruit and mixed it with a little bit of Sugar. Then I dropped the Cookie Dough on top and baked it in the oven for 35 minutes. It was delicious! You can use any combination of fruit so it's the perfect recipe for summer. If you are really feeling decadent, it goes wonderfully with Whipped Cream or Vanilla Ice Cream too!

Mixed Fruit Almond Cookie Crumble

4 cups cut up fresh Fruit
3 Tablespoons Sugar or more to taste
1 cup Almond Flour
1/3 cup Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1 Egg, beaten lightly
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla or Almond Extract or Orange Zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the Fruit with the Sugar in a bowl and then pour into an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan.  Then mix the Almond Flour with the Sugar, Salt, Egg and Seasonings.  Break off pieces of the Cookie Dough and flatten in your hand, placing it on top of the fruit. Continue until the fruit is covered.  Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until the Cookie top is browned and the fruit is bubbling. Cool slightly before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Because this is a sweet dessert, this is an Earth Element food and the Almond Flour and Sugar represented that element. The Nectarine and the Strawberries contributed the Fire Element and the Blueberries added the Water Element. The Vanilla or Almond Extracts brought in just a hint of the Metal Element, so serving it with Whipped Cream would make this a more balanced Five Element dessert!  

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sichuan Sliced Beef Tendon

As many of you are probably aware, the Chinese have always cooked everything that is edible. I grew up eating many things that most people think are strange, like Pig Ears and Jellyfish and thinking nothing of it. In fact, it's one of the reasons, I will try almost anything. Plus I also think of food as the best medicine and I will cook whatever is needed to enhance my own health or the health of someone else that I care about. Recently, I needed to make my son some Beef Tendons because he hurt his knees and so I made them for the first time in a long time. And believe it or not, I've actually had a lot of requests for this recipe from my students because so many of them are Wood people who hurt themselves when exercising. So here's the recipe - finally!  

I have to admit that Beef Tendons look really weird, but if you can get past that, they are considered the best medicine for tendon injuries along with Oxtails. You can cook Oxtails or Beef Shank along with the Tendons if you like, but be sure to double the recipe. You can buy Beef Tendons at most Asian markets or ask your Butcher to save them for you.  And, believe it or not, they are quite tasty! 

The Sichuanese eat Beef Tendons as a kind of cold salad. They are cooked for many hours in a spiced broth and then chilled. You can save the extra broth as a Master Sauce to cook other cuts of Beef or make a Chinese stew.  Once cold, the Beef Tendons are sliced very thin because they are very chewy.  Then they are dressed with a mixture of Tamari, Sesame Oil, a dash of Vinegar and Chili Oil - usually a lot of Chili Oil.  I toned down my version because I can't take that kind of heat, but if you need to heal your tendons and like Chili, please add more!

Sichuan Sliced Beef Tendon

2 Beef Tendons, washed
4 cups Water
¼ teaspoon Five Spice Powder
3 Green Onions, washed, trimmed and cut in half 
2 large cloves Garlic, peeled
1 Star Anise
3 cloves of Garlic
1” piece of Ginger peeled and sliced into 3 pieces
2 whole dried Red Chiles 
1 Tablespoon Sichuan Peppercorns
2 Tablespoons Rock Sugar or Sugar
1/2 cup Shaoshing Rice Wine
1/2 cup Tamari
1/2 teaspoon White Pepper

Cover Beef Tendons with water and bring to a boil. Then, remove tendons, drain water and wipe out the pot Then add in the Water and all of the spices and vegetables. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce heat. Cook for 3 hours on simmer or until Beef Tendons are soft when pierced with a fork. Cool.

Place the cooked Beef Tendons in a glass container and surround with the broth. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Then, remove the Beef Tendons and slice very thinly. Mix the slices with the Sauce - recipe below.  Reserve the gelatinized broth for another use - it can be frozen.  

For Sauce:

3 Tablespoons Tamari
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 - 2 Tablespoons Chili Oil
2 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup Cilantro Leaves

Mix together in a small bowl and toss with the sliced Beef Tendon. Sprinkle with Cilantro leaves to serve.

Five Element Analysis

This dish is primarily Earthy because it is made of a Beef product. However, Tendons are also a body part associated with the Wood Element, so that Element is definitely involved and the Vinegar brings in a little more of the Wood Element The Water Element is represented by the Tamari and Sesame Oil and the fact that this is a boiled dish. The Fire Element can be found in the Rice Wine, Chiles, Chili Oil and Peppercorns and the Metal Element is covered by all the different spices along with the Green Onions, Cilantro and Garlic. I served this over a bed of Asian Greens to bring in more of the Wood Element to make this a a balanced Five Element dish.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Banana Souffle Pancakes

I have this thing about Bananas that stems back to my childhood. While I was living in Japan, I got burned when our maid spilled boiling hot tea on me by accident. I had to go to the hospital and I refused to eat - probably for the only time in my life! But I was only 18 months old and they wouldn't allow my mother to stay with me. So, she snuck in Bananas to feed me and ever since, Bananas are my go-to food when I am feeling stressed.  Lately, I've been traveling and teaching a lot so one of the first things I did when I got home was to buy some Bananas. If I eat them plain, they need to be a bit green. If they get yellow, I have to find ways to cook them. 

Over the years, I've made many versions of Banana Bread, Banana Cake, Roasted Banans, etc., but the one thing I haven't tried until today was Banana Pancakes. I read about this flour-free pancake and just had to try to make them myself. The ingredients were always very simple - Bananas, Eggs, Baking Powder and a little Oil. But of course, I had to change it up, particularly regarding the amount of Banana because I wanted to use up what I had.  So, I came up with this recipe and it was divine!  To me, the Banana Pancakes were so fluffy and light that they tasted like a Banana Souffle, hence the name of the recipe. I added a hint of Vanilla and cooked them in Butter. It couldn't be simpler! I also topped them with Maple Syrup, which they probably didn't need, but I loved them that way. This for me was such a nourishing and comforting breakfast that I will no doubt whip up anytime I have some Bananas that are turning yellow!

Banana Souffle Pancakes

2 large Bananas peeled and mashed (equal to about 2 cups) 
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Sugar
4 Tablespoons Butter, divided

Mix together the Eggs, Baking Powder and Vanilla in a mixing bowl. Add in the mashed Bananas.  

Heat a large frying pan to medium high and add in 2 Tablespoons of Butter until melted and bubbling. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, fill it halfway up with the Banana mixture and drop into the pan, making 6 small pancakes. Cook until the edges are browned and drying out before trying to turn them (this takes a while). Flip carefully and cook the other side until browned.  Repeat for the remaining pancakes. Serve with Maple Syrup.

Five Element Analysis

This is a primarily Earth dish as Bananas, being Tropical Fruit, are very sweet. The Maple Syrup adds even more of the Earth Element although because it is made from Tree Sap, it also has some of the Wood Element too. The Eggs contribute the Water Element. The Butter, Vanilla Extract and Baking Powder bring in the Metal Element. So to create balance, I added some Chicken Sausages that contributed more of the Wood Element and had some Tea that brought in the Fire Element to make a balanced breakfast!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Seared Tuna over Baby Bok Choy with Black Rice Ramen

I've been teaching so much that I haven't cooked anything new and different lately. I was checking my postings and realized that I forgot to post this one - so here it finally about a month late!  I'll be posting more new recipes soon. 

One of the impromptu meals I made while I was down in Portland was a delicious Seared Tuna over a bed of Baby Bok Choi and surrounded with Black Rice Ramen. We got the Ramen at an International Grocery Store and I have seen it before at Whole Foods but never tried it. This Ramen is completely gluten free and has that wonderful chewy texture and it just soaked up the flavor of the dressing we served on it. And, it's beautiful too, setting off the rosy colors of the Tuna and the green of the Baby Bok Choy. You know how much I love beautiful food!  Of course you can use regular Ramen if you are not going Gluten Free.  This meal was incredibly easy to make and so delicious!  It's one of those meals that can be whipped up easily and makes lunch or dinner special.

Seared Tuna over Baby Bok Choy with Black Rice Ramen

1 pound of Ahi Tuna, cut into 2 pieces
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil - divided
4 - 6 Baby Bok Choi (depending on the size)
1/4 cup Chicken Broth or water
3 Black Rice Ramen squares (I used Forbidden Rice Ramen by Lotus Foods) or 2 regular Ramen packages (remove seasoning packet)
1/4 cup Tamari
2 Tablespoons toasted Sesame Oil
2 Tablespoons Mirin 
2 Tablespoons Black Sesame Seeds

Mix together the Tamari, Sesame Oil and Mirin

Sprinkle the Ahi Tuna with salt. Heat a frying pan with the oil and then lay the tuna pieces onto the hot pan. Sear until browned and turn over, searing the other side as well. Remove to a plate. Clean the frying pan and add the additional 1 Tablespoon of Oil. Heat and add the Baby Bok Choi, stirring frequently until softened. Add in Chicken Broth and cook until the broth reduces slightly.  Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, heat a small pot of water to boiling and add in the Forbidden Rice Ramen. Cook until tender and drain.  

Then, place 1/2 of the Baby Bok Choi in the center of a plate. Surround with 1/2 of the Black Rice Ramen.  Lay the Tuna on top of the Baby Bok Choi and then drizzle 1/2 of the sauce over the entire plate. Sprinkle with the Black Sesame Seeds. Repeat with the other plate and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Tuna belongs to the Water Element and although Rice is part of the Metal Element, the fact that it is Black Rice gives it some Water Element too. Then the Tamari, Sesame Oil and Black Sesame Seeds add even more Water. This is a good meal for your Kidneys! The Bok Choi contributes the Wood Element and the Mirin brings in a little bit of the Fire Element. Only the Earth Element is missing so be sure to serve some dessert and if you make it with  Berries, the Fire Element will be supported too!