We’re Going Stir (Fry) Crazy!

The January winter is making me stir crazy! Today I hosted a stir fry wok cooking event for What’s Cookin Chicago. Everyone made their own stir fry creation with their choice fresh vegetables & stir fry sauces, served with either fried rice or lo mein noodles. As a thank you gift, each person also went home with a julienne vegetable peeler to continue making stir fries at home! Here are pics of the event:

Prep Work of Some Vegetables:
Vegetable Buffet which included:
baby organic spinach, sliced button mushrooms,
bean sprouts, edamame, pea pods, tamago (Japanese egg),
carrots, cucumber, water chestnuts, scallions,
bok choy, firm tofu, baby corn,
bamboo shoots,
tri-colored bell peppers and fried garlicStir Fry Sauces:
Teriyaki, Sweet & Sour, Stir Fry Sauce, Hoisin Sauce
ShrimpChicken BreastPorkSalmon & Unagi (eel)Orange slices & drinks:
Matcha Green Tea Latte & Sencha Green Tea
Fried Rice Lo Mein NoodlesGetting Stir Crazy!

Wasabi.. not only for Sushi!

In an attempt to use up some leftover wasabi, I decided to make a sushi inspired sauce combining wasabi and soy sauce. I call this, shrimp with wasabi soy noodles.Here’s my recipe:

1 lb large raw shrimp
1/2 package Shanghai egg noodles

2 cups water

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon wasabi
1 tablespoon sugar
splash of mirin
splash of sesame oil
1/2 cup julienned green beans
1 tablespoon slivered almonds

In a wok, add water & shrimp.

Cook shrimp until pink.
Add remaining ingredients except noodles, beans and almonds.
Allow shrimp to simmer and absorb flavors.
Remove shrimp and set aside.
Add noodles and cook until softened and sauce is absorbed.
Add beans and almonds; toss to coat.
Serve noodles with shrimps on the side.

Thai on a Gloomy Day

What’s a cuisine I haven’t had in a while? Thai! Rather than hitting up the nearest Thai restaurant (several are within walking distance from me) I decided to make some Thai Basil Beef Stir Fry . It allowed me to use up some veggies on hand and savor some favorite Thai flavors.Here’s my recipe for Thai Basil Beef Stir Fry:

2 beef strip steaks, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1-2 tablespoons oil for stir frying
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
4 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, sliced
2 small green bell peppers, sliced
1-2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
5-7 fresh thai basil leaves, whole
1 tablespoon each combined: cold water & cornstarch

In a bowl, combine sliced beef w/spices & cornstarch; allow to sit for 10 minutes.
In a wok or large skillet, heat oil and add onions & garlic.
Cook until softened.
Add beef and brown.
Add soy sauce, water and fish sauce.
Add tomatoes and carrots; cook for 3-5 minutes.
Add peppers; cook for 3 minutes.
Add mushrooms & thai basil; cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in slurry of water & cornstarch to thicken sauce.
Serve over steamed rice.

Chinese Flair & Farewell

For the past week, we’ve had some special houseguests visiting from San Diego. Today was their last day with us and to send them off with full bellies, I made a special lunch of their favorites.

Crab Rangoon

Here’s my recipe for crab rangoon:

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
1 pkg wonton wrapper squares
1 egg, for egg wash

Combine all the ingredients except wrappers and egg.
Cover and let it chill overnight to allow flavors to meld.
When ready to prepare, add a small dollop of crabmeat mixture in the middle of the wonton.
Rub 2 edges of the wonton with egg wash.
Seal wonton by folding up to form a triangle.
Squeeze any air pockets out.
Heat oil and fry up until golden brown.

Mongolian Beef

Here’s my recipe for Mongolian Beef:

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.
Just before serving, add green onions and toss.

I served this over steamed jasmine rice.

Where’s the Beef?

Still going on my asian cooking streak, my husband had a hankering for steak. So what better way to use steak in asian cooking than making beef stir fry?

Most home kitchens in America are poorly equipped to stir fry properly. The average kitchen is not designed to handle the large amount of oil vapor produced as a byproduct of proper stir frying. Those stir frying at home cannot achieve the same flavor as in restaurants because the wok is neither hot enough nor big enough to allow fast tossing. By contrast, most Chinese home kitchens are designed with stir frying in mind. The kitchen itself is either in a separate building or in a room with access to the outside. In our vacation home overseas, we have what we call a “dirty kitchen” that is outdoors and can accomodate stir frying and allow for proper ventilation.

Western-marketed woks with non-stick coating are not considered appropriate for proper stir-frying because the Teflon coating usually disintegrates after exposure to high heat. By contrast, low heat non-stick stir-frying is an oxymoron according to Cantonese cooking standards. Teflon woks also require the use of Teflon-safe utensils made of plastic or wood, which some traditional Chinese stir fryers only use metal utensils. Western woks are also usually flat-bottomed to accommodate for western stove tops that are flat, where a round-bottomed wok would roll around.

Many Western cooks on TV demonstrate stir frying on low heat with a small wok and a stirring motion comparable to tossing a salad. This is a western adaptation of stir frying, and is different from the traditional Chinese method.

Well, despite the proper methods of stir frying, I prepared Beef Pepper Steak in my flat bottomed pan and it still turned out wonderfully!

Here is my recipe for Beef Pepper Steak:

1/2 large vidalia onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
cooking oil
lean sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 green bell pepper, chunked
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
water + cornstarch slurry
black pepper & kosher salt to taste

In a hot pan, cook garlic and onion in oil.
When softened, add beef & brown.
Add green pepper and stir.
Add water, soy sauce and oyster sauce to deglaze pan; bring to boil.
Add slurry and bring to boil.
Season with salt & pepper to taste.

I served this over jasmine rice.

Asian Beginnings

Finally! We are in our new home and loving it! The downside? The room I’m so anxiously waiting to do some damage in is the last one to be completed. The kitchen is the only room that has yet a piece missing – my kitchen table/work island. Hopefully it will arrive in the next week or so.

Despite my lack of counter/workspace, I have already starting my cooking routine. My husband and I have been living off of American fast food or asian buffet restaurants…. and quite frankly, we are sick of it! It seems like we have been drawn to asian food recently since we haven’t had any good home cookin for the past two weeks and we’re very close to asian markets in our new neighborhood.

With that, I made some beef & broccoli stir fry over Hong Kong pan fried noodles as our first dinner in our new home. Hong Kong pan fried noodles is a Hong Kong-style dish consisting of flour noodles that have been pan-fried until crispy, and served together with vegetables, chicken, beef and/or seafood.

Here’s my recipe for Beef & Broccoli over Hong Kong Pan Fried Noodles:

1/2 pkg Hong Kong flour noodles

1/4 cup canola oil

1 lb lean beef cut thin for stir fry
1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large head of broccoli, cut in small flowerettes
1 can straw mushrooms, drained
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
salt & pepper to taste

Prepare beef by coating it in cornstarch, salt & pepper; Set aside.

In a medium hot pan, heat your oil.
Add flour noodles to pan in one even layer.
Cook noodles until crisp on one side.
Remove from pan and drain over paper towels.

Add beef to the hot pan and brown.

Add garlic and onions; stir until softened.

Add broccoli, oyster sauce, water and soy sauce.
Heat through until broccoli is cooked.

Plate crispy noodles and top with stir fry.

Stir (Fry) Crazy!

My husband loves shrimp to no end… so I decided to make him a stir fry with veggies and tofu.
Tofu is a popular Chinese food and ingredient. It’s made with soy milk that is coagulated, pressed and made into blocks. Making tofu from soy milk is similar to the technique of making cheese from milk. I prefer firm and extra firm tofu. This form of fresh tofu still contains a great amount of moisture. It has the firmness of raw meat but bounces back readily when pressed. The texture of the inside of the tofu is similar to that of a firm custard.

Here is my recipe for Shrimp & Tofu Stir Fry:

1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 lb shrimp
1 block firm tofu, cubed
2 cups frozen or fresh asian stir fry veggies
1 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
garlic & onion powder to taste
salt & pepper to taste

In a pan, saute garlic and shrimp.
When shrimps turn pink, add veggies and heat through.
Add sauce & tofu and heat through.
Season to taste.

I served this over brown rice

Pancit Bihon

:Pancit Bihon
(Filipino stir fried rice noodles)

1 pkg Excellent brand “rice stick special bihon” noodles, soaked in hot water
Silver Swan or Lauriat soy sauce
1 cup water
carrots – sliced in match stick
red bell pepper, sliced thin
green beans, julienned
2 cups sliced cabbage
chicken – small cubed or bite sized pieces
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
1 medium to large chopped onion
1 cube chicken buillion
garlic salt
black pepper

1. Heat large wok with about 2-3 tablespoons of cooking oil (veggie, corn, canola will do)
2. Add chopped garlic and onions to the pot – cook til translucent.
3. Add all meats and cook til heated through.
4. Season meats with garlic salt, black pepper, chicken buillion cube
5. Add veggies, water and soy sauce (I start pouring and count to 3, then stop.) Let simmer till shrimp is pink and cooked through.
6. Add soaked noodles
7. Toss until heated through.
8. Place on platter and serve with lemon or calamansi (philippine lemon)

Somen Since its So Cold!

Tonight we are having beef & broccoli with Japanese somen noodles. I also added some bamboo shoots for added color and texture. It hit the spot perfectly on such a cold night in Chicago.

Somen are thin, round, white noodles made from wheat flour and is similar to vermicelli. Strands of somen are generally found dried and often packaged in band tied bundles. It’s often served cold but is also added to soups. But for tonight, I decided it would compliment my beef & broccoli stir fry wonderfully… and it did!

Beef & Broccoli Somen Recipe:
1 lb beef chuck, sliced thin
2 tablespoons cornstarch
oil for browning beef
1-2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 small onion, sliced
1 cup beef broth
1 lb fresh broccoli florets or frozen chopped broccoli
1 cup bamboo shoots
1/4 cup soy sauce
1-2 tablespoons oyster sauce
garlic powder & black pepper to taste
small handful of somen noodles
water for boiling noodles
sesame oil (optional)
1. Toss sliced beef in the cornstarch and set aside.
2. In wide shallow pan, heat cooking oil and brown beef.
3. Add minced garlic and sliced onion.
4. When beef is completely browned, deglaze the pan with beef broth, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Stir to get all the brown bits from the bottom.
5. Season liquid to taste with garlic powder and black pepper.
6. Add broccoli and bamboo shoots; let simmer for about 10 minutes until cooked through.
7. Cook somen noodles in boiling water for 5-7 minutes; remove and drain.
8. Toss noodles in stir fry and add a few drops of sesame oil for added flavor/aroma.