Three-Cup Chicken 三杯雞

This is a simple Taiwanese dish.  It is a folk recipe that calls for one cup each of sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine but its name is a bit misleading because in reality you don’t actually cook it that way.  It is my favorite chicken dish in Taiwan.  Its sauce is incredibly aromatic and goes really well with rice.

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Ingredients:

1/8 to 1/4 cup sesame oil *
1/4 cup rice wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
2 lbs chicken – thighs and wings, cut into pieces
One inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced into rounds
12 medium garlic cloves, peeled
1 – 2 fresh red chilis, seeds removed and cut into halves
1 bunch of Thai basil leaves (optional)

* I modified the original recipe to use less than 1/4 cup sesame oil and discovered that it didn’t compromise too much on the taste.

Method:

  1. Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan. Add ginger, garlic and chili and stir fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the chicken to the pan and stir fry for about 5 mins until they are cooked.
  3. Add rice wine, soy sauce and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to cook the chicken thoroughly.  Add in Thai basil leaves and serve with rice.

 

Chicken in Tofu Cheese

Tofu Cheese? It’s fermented tofu (腐乳 or “fu yu” in Cantonese), sold in little glass bottles in Asian grocery stores. It’s a form of preserved tofu, made from soybeans. The other ingredients on the bottle list salt, rice wine and sesame oil. There’s a regular version and a spicy version which has bits of chili in the brine.

Tofu cheese is commonly used as a condiment for porridge or to stir fry kangkong vegetables (空心菜 “kong xin cai”, water convolvulus) but it makes a delicious savory marinade for chicken.  It is unbelievably easy – just be sure to marinate the chicken with it long enough, so that the flavor gets into the meat.  Deep fried chicken wings marinated with tofu cheese are incredibly tasty too!

Chicken in Tofu Cheese
I don’t deep-fry (too lazy to clean!), so here’s the healthy pan-fried version. I used the regular version of Tofu Cheese. I realized the chicken came out a bit pale in the photo – I should have fried it a bit longer to give it a more golden color.

Ingredients:

Fermentedchilibeancurd
Tofu Cheese

2-3 cubes of Tofu Cheese (regular or spicy), mashed into a paste, using a fork
1 teaspoon of the brine from the Tofu Cheese bottle
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 pieces whole chicken legs
dash of salt (optional – Tofu Cheese is naturally salty)
1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste (“belacan”) – optional

2-3 shallots, peeled and chopped, for frying
3 tablespoon cooking oil

1 stalk of spring onion, washed and cut into 1 inch pieces (for garnish)

Method:

1. Cut the chicken legs into smaller pieces, rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.

2. Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl.  Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, thoroughly coat the chicken pieces with the marinade and let sit it for a few hours, preferably overnight, in the fridge.

3. Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan. Fry the shallots for 1-2 minutes, then add in the chicken and stir fry until golden brown.

4. Dish up the chicken and garnish with spring onion. It goes really well with steam rice and vegetables.

(Tofu Cheese on spoon, photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fermentedchilibeancurd.jpg)

Beef with Oyster Sauce

We have been trying to eat more healthy for the past year, so we have been cutting down on red meat.  However, once in a while, I get this irresistible craving for a good steak or anything beef.  I would feel hungry all the time and that hunger would not be satisfied unless I ate meat. Sound familiar?  This is a very common Chinese dish and it doesn’t require a lot of beef but it hits the spot for me.  It is also quick and easy to cook and goes so well with rice.

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1 lb beef (flank steak or sirloin steak)
2 slices ginger

Marinade for beef:
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp water

Seasoning sauce:
2 Tbsp oyster sauce (I use Lee Kum Kee brand Premium Oyster Sauce)
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 lb green vegetable eg lettuce or baby bok choy

Method:
1. Slice the beef thinly into 1 inch squares. (I use pre-sliced sukiyaki beef from the Japanese supermarket because I am lazy!)
2. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl. Marinate the beef for at least 1 hour. Add in 1 tsp cooking oil and mix well.
3. Wash and boil the green vegetables in boiling water for 2 mins. Drain and arrange the vegetables on a serving dish.
4. Combine all the ingredients for the seasoning sauce in a small bowl and put aside.
5. Heat up 1-2 Tbsp cooking oil and ginger in a frying pan and quickly saute the beef on high heat until it turns light brown, about 10 to 20 seconds. Turn off the heat and stir in the seasoning sauce immediately. It is ok to turn off the heat even when the beef slices are still slightly pink in the center part (95% cooked) because the residual heat from the frying pan will continue to cook it.
6. Pour the beef over the green vegetables and serve with rice.

Miso Grilled Codfish

I saw this recipe in the newspaper a while ago and it reminded me of a mouthwatering dish I had eaten at a fancy Japanese restaurant.  I found the original recipe a bit too sweet and too salty at the same time, so I modified the recipe by reducing the amount of miso paste and sugar.  I like this version a lot better and besides cod is full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and it is wonderfully buttery when cooked.   You will need a few specialty Japanese ingredients but they are worth getting and keeping in your fridge.   This makes an easy, elegant dinner for guests or a quick main dish for a lazy, rainy day.

Grilled Miso Cod fish

2  black cod fillets (about 1.5 to 2 cm thickness)

Marinade:

1/2 Tbsp sake
1 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp white miso paste (actually brownish in color)
1/2 tsp sugar

Method:

1.  Wash and pat dry the cod fillets and put aside.

2.  Line a baking dish with aluminium foil,  with extra foil hanging outside the dish.

3.  In a small bowl, make a paste with the sake, mirin, miso paste and sugar.

4.  Brush both sides of  the cod fillets with the paste and place it in the baking dish.  Cover it with the remainder of the aluminium foil.

Allow the fillets to soak in the marinade in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

5.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Open the aluminium covering to expose the cod fillets and bake for about 30 minutes or until the top browns and blackens in spots.

Steamed Eggs

Steamed Eggs is deceptively simple to make.  Yet, it is so difficult to achieve that smooth, velvety texture that cuts cleanly when you dig in with a spoon. Like a silken tofu yet taste like a savory, custardy mouthful – so comforting and delicious to go with rice!  It is sometimes called Steamed Water Eggs because traditionally it is made with water. Some people like to add minced pork or seafood to this dish.  But I like mine made with just eggs and chicken broth.

I actually spent years trying to make the perfect Steamed Eggs – no more of that pock-marked surface or rubbery texture ….. all to no avail – until one day, my my mother-in-law told me the secret which I will tell you in this post.

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4 eggs
chicken broth or water

1. For a lower cholesterol recipe, use one egg and 3 egg whites.
2. Beat the eggs and pour into a shallow dish.
3. Stir in enough chicken broth (or water) to cover 1 cm over the level of the egg mixture that is already in the dish.
4. Use a spoon to remove as much of the froth as possible.
5. Cover the dish with a pot lid or an over-turned flat plate. This is the key to the silky smooth texture.
6. Put the covered dish into the steamer and steam it on medium heat for about 8 minutes. If your stove is on too high, it might cook faster than 8 minutes so it is a good idea to check after 6 minutes. The steamed eggs are done when the color has changed to a light opaque yellow and the center doesn’t wiggle.  (One reason why I prefer to use a glass pot lid to cover the steamed eggs is so that I can see if the center is cooked or not.)
7. If you had used water instead of chicken broth, then flavor the dish by drizzling a dash of sesame oil and light soy sauce on top. Best eaten with rice.

Long Beans and Minced Pork

Chinese long beans come in long bundles, each string is about 1 – 2 feet long.  You can also use string beans for this recipe. I like to add a small portion of “zar choi” (Cantonese pronunciation) or “zha cai” (Mandarin pronunciation) to this recipe.  Zha Cai can be bought at the Chinese market.  It is actually some sort of pressed mustard that has been salted and preserved with chili paste, hence it can be kept refrigerated for up to a year or longer.  You cut off a small piece whenever a recipe calls for it, wash off the chili paste and chop it up.  It adds a nice zing of sweet, spicy, salty or sour to your dish.

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1 bundle of long beans – cut into 2 inch pieces
4 oz or 120 g minced pork
1-2 Tbsp chopped pickled mustard “zha cai” (榨菜) – optional
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 – 2 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp cooking oil

Marinate for minced pork
1 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp corn starch
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp water

Method
1. Marinate the minced pork with soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, corn starch, sesame oil and water for at least half an hour before cooking. Stir in the zha cai.
2. Wash and cut up the long beans into 1 inch long pieces. Discard the pieces with black spots.
3. Blanch the long beans in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. This step cuts down on the amount of oil and cooking time you would need to cook the long beans during the stir fry step.
4. Drain the long beans.
5. Heat up 2 Tbsp cooking oil in a pan. Add the minced garlic and fry for 10 seconds, then add the blanched and drained long beans. Add 1/2 tsp salt to the long beans and stir fry for about 5 minutes.
6. Add the marinated minced pork mixture to the pan and fry together with the long beans. Add 1-2 Tbsp oyster sauce. Stir fry until the pork is done. If it looks a bit dry, add a bit of water so that it doesn’t stick to the pan.
7. Dish up and serve with rice.

Steam Fish with Tofu

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This is one of my favorite dishes – simply because it is so easy to prepare! And it takes only 8 minutes to cook. I like to use either a red garouper or green garouper or a sesame garouper. A pomfret works well too. I also like to steam it together with tofu – makes for a more substantial meal and tofu goes so well with the steam fish gravy!

In Hong Kong street markets, the garouper is often sold live (swimming in a fish tank). You pick the one you like by pointing at the fish, then the fishmonger will scoop it up, weigh it and gives you the price. If you are ok with the price, he will de-scale and gut the fish for you.

1 fish
1 piece soft tofu (optional) – cut into cubes
1 small piece of ginger – about 1/4 inch thickness – cut into narrow strips
1-2 stalks spring onion – sliced into 1 inch strips
light soy sauce or Lee Kum Kee brand flavored soy sauce for seafood
1-2 Tbsp cooking oil

Method:
1. Trim off part of the tail and all the fins.
2. Wash the fish under running water for a minute or two until there are no more water bubbles.
3. Place the fish on a plate, with sliced ginger strips on the top and arrange pieces of soft tofu around it.
4. Steam the fish and tofu for 8 minutes.
5. While the fish is in the steamer, heat up 1 or 2 Tbsp of cooking oil.
6. Check the fish after 8 minutes. It might take a bit longer if your fish is big. The fish is cooked when you poke a bit of its flesh and it is white and opaque. It is important not to overcook the fish.
7. Immediately turn off the stove. Sprinkle the spring onions on top of the fish, drizzle with soy sauce and sizzling hot cooking oil.

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