Spicy Tofu with Vermicelli

For our Chinese New Year dinner, my friend Robert prepared this dish. It’s a very flavorful vegetarian friendly dish and something that can be made quickly.

Spicy Tofu with Vermicelli
recipe adapted from Understocked Veggie Kitchen

12 oz. firm tofu
vermicelli (more if you like your noodles in oodles, less if you like it more veggie-heavy)
4 small sized carrots
1-2 cups frozen broccoli florets
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 teaspoons chili flakes
a splash of olive or sesame oil
salt to taste

– Cut your tofu into small cubes.
– Heat a splash of your cooking oil of choice in the skillet.
– After the oil is heated enough, toss in the tofu strips. Let them brown a little. Make sure you turn them and flip them so they brown evenly.
– Use a vegetable peeler on your carrots and make ribbons.
– Chop the bok choy into edible pieces.
– Fry the vermicelli in the oil when the tofu is just about done. Leave the tofu in while you fry the vermicelli. This will take about 30 seconds. Don’t burn the noodles!
– Toss in the broccoli, with about 2 spoons of water, in with the noodles and tofu.
– Cover and let it cook for about 3-4 minutes.
– While your skillet is cooking, whisk together the peanut butter and chili flakes with a tablespoon of water.
– Add salt to taste.
– Pour your sauce into the skillet and toss until everything is coated. Let it cook for 1-2 more minutes.

Traditional Mandarin Fried Rice

For my Chinese New Year Dinner, my friend Yumi prepared this Ming Tsai dish. It’s a wonderful fried rice recipe that is as easy as it comes! The ingredients include common items with the exception of Chinese Sausage. If you don’t have Chinese sausage available, you can use bacon or even ham (which is what was used here).

Traditional Mandarin Fried Rice
recipe from Ming Tsai

4 tablespoons canola oil
3 eggs, beaten lightly
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
1 la chang (Chinese sausage), cut into 1/8 inch dice
1 bunch scallions, white & green parts chopped and separated
5 cups cold cooked rice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
salt to taste (if needed)

Heat a wok or large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and swirl to coat the pan. When the oil shimmers, add the eggs, which will puff up. Allow to set about 5 seconds, and using a wok spatula or similiar tool, add push the sides of the egg mass towards the tender to allow uncooked egg to reach the pan and solidify. Flip the egg, allow it to set about 5 seconds, and slide it onto a dish; do not over cook. With the edge of the spatula, break the eggs into small pieces. Set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil to the wok and swirl to coat the pan. when the oil shimmers, add the garlic and ginger and stir fry until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the la chang or bacon, the white parts of the scallions, and the rice. Toss thoroughly until heated through. Add the soy sauce, pepper, and reserved eggs and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper; transfer to a platter and garnish with the scallion greens.

Steamed Lime & Cilantro Tilapia w/Dark Soy Sauce

One of my favorite fish dishes is from my Tita Cora. Tita Cora (aka ‘Auntie’ Cora, my husband’s first Aunt) usually makes a steamed fish often for the holidays or just get togethers throughout the year. She uses various kinds of fish, but the flavors of lime, cilantro and ginger are always the same. Tita Cora is an amazing cook, as she should be since she had her own Filipino restaurant for many years.

This recipe is one inspired by my Tita Cora. I had some whole tilapia that have been scaled and gutted ready to use… so preparing similarly as Tita Cora was the first thing that came to mind. I don’t know how often you cook or prepare whole fish as some folks don’t feel comfortable with dishes that stare back at you. But having grown up around dishes that stare back at me, this is pretty normal to me and takes me back to my ethnic cooking roots.

Steamed Lime & Cilantro Tilapia w/Dark Soy Sauce
original Joelen recipe, inspired by Tita Cora

1/2 cube shrimp broth cube
1 thumb fresh ginger, sliced
2-3 cups water
1-2 small whole tilapia fish, gutted & scaled
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
1 lime, sliced
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1/4 cup canola oil

– In a large bottom dutch oven or wok, add water, shrimp broth cube and sliced ginger.
– Place bamboo steamer on top of wok or metal collapsable steamer in your dutch oven.
– Season tilapia with salt & pepper on both sides. Place in steamer.
– Top tilapia with fresh cilantro.
– Place lime slices over the cilantro.
– Cover and let fish steam until done; 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and place on serving platter.
– While fish is on serving platter, in a small sauce pan, heat oil and soy sauce. Let it come to a boil to thicken and set aside.
– Pour mixture over fish and serve hot with rice.

Joy Luck Club: Family Favorites Round Up!

This month for my Read, Watch & Eat event, the chosen book & movie my friends and I read/watched was The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. It’s a wonderful story that captures various dynamics of mother and daughter relationships… some of which come very close to home for me. In honor of the book and movie, friends shared Chinese-inspired dishes which we ate before watching the movie. Here are some pics of our “Joy Luck Club” lunch:

Sweet & Sour Chicken Wings shared by Joyce: Mixed “Bento” Box shared by Lennie: Chinese Baked Goods shared by Diana: Chinese Dim Sum shared by Diana: Fortune Cookies shared by Lane: Steamed Bao filled with sweet bean paste shared by Erin: Sauteed Bok Choy & Water Chestnuts shared by Emma: Chinese Rice Crackers shared by Yumi: Shrimp Stir Fry & noodles shared by Joelen Napa Cabbage Slaw shared by Joelen:

To join in the fun, my fellow bloggers have submitted family favorite recipes! Being that the book and movie story line had to do with family, this blogging adventure highlights family favorite recipes. As I do with each blogging event I host, a lucky blogger receives a giveaway related to the food theme. This event’s winner is Carly of Live. Laugh. Grow! Carly has won an Family Favorites recipe collection cookbook. Congrats Carly and hope you enjoy the cookbook, especially with the upcoming holiday entertaining season around the corner!

Stina of Eat Something
from Tennessee
Grandma’s Chili
One of my favorite fall comfort foods is chili and Stina shares with us a special chili recipe from her husband’s Grandma. To find out how Stina ate mashed potatoes as a child and for the recipe of this delicious comfort food, check out her blog!
Becke of Columbus Foodie
from Ohio
Homemade Pittsburgh Pierogies with Sour Cream
Becke shares some tasty food porn featuring pierogies. I don’t know about you, but I have a real craving for some Polish eats and pierogies! Check out Becke’s blog for pierogie making tips and recipes!
Carly of Live. Laugh. Grow.
from West Virginia
Chock Full O’Veggies Soup & Grown Up Grilled Cheese
It’s soup season now that fall is here and Carly creates one that is filling, high in fiber/protein and low in fat and sodium. To pair with the soup, she has a flavorful sandwich made with cheeses, sun dried tomatoes and basil. For the tasty recipes and pics, check out Carly’s blog!

BBQ Chicken & BBQ Pork Fillings

The following recipe was used for my Steam Buns cooking class. You can read about my class and get other links to recipes HERE.

BBQ Chicken & BBQ Pork Fillings
1.5 cups shredded chicken or diced/shredded pork
1/2 -3/4 cup bbq sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1-2 tablespoons fried minced garlic
salt & white pepper to taste

Combine all the above ingredients.

Mongolian Beef Filling

The following recipe was used for my Steam Buns cooking class. You can read about my class and get other links to recipes HERE.

Mongolian Beef Filling

2 bunches green onion, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 lb lean beef, sliced thin
salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce

Season sliced beef with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
Sprinkle cornstarch over beef and toss to coat. Set aside.
In hot pan saute garlic and onion in cooking oil until softened.
Add meat and brown.
Add oyster sauce and soy sauce; stir to coat.
Add green onions and toss.
Allow to cool before using as filling.

Creamy Crab Filling

The following recipe was used for my Steam Buns cooking class. You can read about my class and get other links to recipes HERE.

Creamy Crab Filling

1 brick cream cheese

1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 bunch green onions sliced
1 1/2 cups imitation crab meat, chopped
pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon white sugar

Combine all the ingredients.