31 July 2010

what goes on in maine...

look what i ate in sunny coastal maine!

oops. wrong photo.

After giving them a splitting headache, my sadistic friend maximus then dropped them on a hot-arse bbq grill (400F ) for 15 minutes or so. while they wriggled and grilled, he seasoned them with paprika and pepper (do not add salt to crustaceans unless you want the extra high blood pressure), and then brushed them with a blanket of bacon fat.

too bad the lobsters couldn't taste themselves afterwards, cause we could have told them that they were delicious!

thanks for allowing delicious lobster homicide, maine!

20 July 2010

asian eggplants for summer hire

summer is most definitely not my favourite seasons of the year -- it's hot, it's humid, and there's half-dressed people almost everywhere.

fortunately, summer lasts only 2 months here, so the wardrobe indecency only seemingly lasts as long. this also means the eggplant season is relatively short, but long enough to produce abundant crops ready early or mid-august*.

as with most chinese foods, there are a gazillamillion overly ornamental names for eggplants (茄 ("keh"), 茄子 ("keh-tsi"), and 矮瓜 ("ngai-kua", or "short melons"), as us new world ch-nks — i shouldn't probably use that word even though I'M ALLOWED TO — call them) and eggplant dishes.

this one i'm calling fragrant third chinese lady president hand-handled sesame eggplant beauty cold dish. i don't even know if chinese people make this but i don't really care cause it tastes good.

sesame eggplant salad
not sure how many people this serves
1 large eggplant (~1.25lb/560g), or 2-3 chinese eggplants
1.5 Tbs (~25 ml) sesame seeds
1.5 Tb (~25 ml) sesame oil
1 tsp (5 ml) garlic, minced
1 tsp (5 ml) ginger, finely chopped
1 Tb (15 ml) light soy sauce
1 Tb (15 ml) vinegar (preferably black, but any will do)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp (1.5 to 2.5 ml) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) sugar
2 stalks green onions or chives, finely chopped
  1. using a fork, pierce eggplant all over. bake or roast it in a 400F oven until soft (~1 regular eggplant, ~45 min for smaller eggplants). let it cool until easy to handle.
  2. remove skin from eggplant and discard.
  3. shred the eggplant flesh and season with salt. at this point, you can cover the eggplant and chill it for up to 2 days until ready to use.
  4. in a frying pan, toast the sesame seeds over low heat until fragrant and golden. add the garlic and ginger and stir until warm (don't cook it, just warm it). remove from heat and let it cool.
  5. in a small bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. add sesame/ginger/garlic mixture. 
  6. combine sesame dressing into the shredded eggplant. 
  7. serve cold-ish, topped with green onions, as a goopy salad or a topping for bread or crackers!
*eggplants take at least 65 days to mature and need a lot of sun, which doesn't bode well for eggplants grown in basements.

13 July 2010

sawadee-ka! i am pad woon-sen

fun-see (粉絲) (literally "noodle thread" or "powder thread") are those teeny bundles of noodles you find in asian markets that are thin and white, and rolled up in mesh bags like small bricks of santa claus beard clippings... see for yourself!

cellophane noodles (aka glass noodles or bean vermicelli) in cantonese cuisine are often used in stewed or braised or soup dishes (like winter melon with cellophane noodles and winter mushrooms, or even chinese hotpot (NOT THE CRAP FROM THE CANS)). either way, they're a great option to wheat- or rice-based noodles, though a bit more delicate.

that said, i don't have a chinese dish explained here, but i do have a thai stir-fry dish with cellophane noodles called pad woon-sen. it's pad-woon-derful

pork and shrimp pad woon sen1
serves about 4 medium-sized eaters, 2 large eaters, or 1 very hungry man-eating plant.

note: the key to proper stir-frying is having all your ingredients ready to go, and also a hot, hot wok. heed my words. 

150g cellophane noodles (aka bean vermicelli, glass noodles, etc).
50g raw shrimp (deveined and shelled)2
50g pork loin or pork chops, sliced thin perpendicular to the grain (against the grain)
4 Tbps (75 ml) vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly or coarsely chopped
2-3 eggs, beaten
3 Tbps (15 ml) +/- fish sauce (nam pla)
1 tsp (5 ml) sugar
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips.
3 stalks of green onions, sliced into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces. 
fresh coriander leaves for garnish (optional but highly recommended)
fresh basil leaves for garnish (optional but preferable thai)
fresh bean sprouts for garnish (optional)
crushed peanuts for garnish (optinal)
  1. prepare the noodles by soaking them in water until they soften, and then drain them.
  2. season the shrimp with a bit of salt and pepper. season the pork with salt and pepper.
  3. in a hot wok or frying pan, briefly heat the oil, add the garlic and quickly . quickly add the pork and stir fry. when the pork is nearly done, add shrimp and cook until the shrimp is no longer gross-grey colour, but not longer. DO NOT OVERCOOK THEM. remove the pork and shrimp together from the wok and set aside.
  4. if there is none or very little, oil left in the wok, add a bit more and heat it. stir in the eggs and cook them until they are almost fully set. add the noodles to the eggs and stir fry until they are translucent.
  5. return the cooked pork and shrimp to the noodles. add the peppers and green onions. stir fry with all your might until everything is hot.
  6. mix sugar into fish sauce and then stir mixture into noodles are coated.garnish with the coriander, et al, and serve with dignity.
1you can use whatever protein you like best, even a can of silkworm larva!
2why removing a vein is called "deveining" (not "veining") and removing the shell is called "shelling", and not "de-shelling" is beyond me. shrimps don't even have real veins! the negative prefix is deceptive!