Includes Food from all Asian Countries – Japan, China, So. East Asia, etc.
Includes Food from all Asian Countries – Japan, China, So. East Asia, etc.
Here we are again talking about Breakfasts. Since September is ‘National Breakfast Month’ this is a good format to use – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – simply because you are breaking a long fast between the last meal of the day before and the first meal of the current day. Your body, like your car, needs fuel to run on and your brain especially needs that fuel to keep you thinking straight. In the last blog I talked about Western Style Breakfasts – that is the Breakfast as we know it in American and also in parts of Europe.
Pictured above is Pineapple and Pork Fried Rice – this would make a good and healthy breakfast for any culture so try having an Asian Style Breakfast sometime if you have leftovers.
Today I am going to be talking about Asian Breakfasts. People in Asia, for the most part, do not have special foods that they eat for Breakfast. Usually it is food left over from the day before. However, in China, Congee, a porridge made from Rice is the preferred Breakfast. Usually leftovers of vegetables, fruit or meat are added to the Congee. Interestingly, the last time we were in Thailand our Hotel served a Breakfast Buffet every morning. Since a considerable number of Chinese people visit Thailand, along with Westerners, the Hotel served a Chinese Breakfast. Congee with a large number of different items that could be added to it. They also served a Western Breakfast. I always have a habit of observing what other people are eating and I noticed that the Chinese guests were eating the Western Style Breakfast. I who always eat a Western Style Breakfast at home was eating the Congee or the Chinese Breakfast. I guess people all over the world do like a little variety in their food.
Japanese people usually eat whatever is left over from the night before as do the people of Thailand. Even though Breakfast Foods per se are not common among the Thai people there are plenty of restaurants in Thailand that do serve a Western Style Breakfast. That being said, if you are Thai you probably have Rice along with perhaps some Pork or whatever happens to be available. When my Sons and Daughter- in – Law were here visiting, my Thai Daughter – in – Law fell in love with Breakfast Jacks. She also loves to make a Thai Omelet which isn’t necessarily eaten for Breakfast. A Thai Omelet is similar to Egg Foo Young but is still different. It is quite delicious and can be eaten for any meal of the day.
More Fried Rice Photos just to the left. The top one is Chicken-Fried Rice – a good way to use up leftover Chicken and the one on the bottom is Fried Rice I made when we were in Kauai. There is a strong Asian influence in modern Hawaiian Food and Rice is frequently eaten for any meal.
For Western Breakfast Ideas please see the previous post ‘Breakfast’ in this Blog.
THAI BEEF SALAD
Unusual thought it may be for me to have eaten at three different Thai restaurants within a four day span, I did. Each time was with a different person and coincidentally we ended up ordering Thai Beef Salad each time. This was not a problem for me because Yum Nua is one of my favorite Thai dishes. Having said all this, each salad was both similar to and different from the other ones.
The first Yum Nua that I had was in the Conejo Valley at my favorite local Thai Restaurant. That being said, there really is no other local Thai Restaurant as this company has at least four locations in the Conjeo as well as one in Camarillo and one in Woodland Hills.
The salad is made with Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Red Onion and Beef Tenderloin with a dressing that definitely has Fish Sauce in it although in their version the Fish Sauce taste is not prominent. Oh, by the way it is also listed as Spicy – I get mine medium and it is quite tolerable (and this is for someone who cannot take it really hot!) I always order it with a side of steamed Jasmine Rice just in case the heat is more than I can stand. This particular evening I had dinner with two former students of mine so we also ordered Tom Yum Soup and Yellow Curry Chicken. Everything this evening was quite good and tasty!
The second Yum Nua I had was actually the next day when I went to visit my family in Lompoc. My daughter-in-law and I were out shopping and decided to stop for lunch. There are actually at least four Thai Restaurants in Lompoc but the one that we went to was the one that Nereida thought was the best one. In comparing the dishes and the prices to the one in the Conjeo, I would say that the portions were actually larger for the same price and the Beef Salad was more Beef than Salad which I suppose would be good for most people. We ordered the Salad medium which was the same that we had ordered the night before. When it came to the table and we both tasted it, we actually had to send it back because it was intolerably spicy – I think even in Thailand it would have been too spicy for most people. When something burns the lining of your stomach after one bite, you know that it is way too hot. I think they just went overboard with the Chilies!
All that being said, we also ordered Pad See Ewe which was flat noodles with Chicken and Fried Tofu. I am sorry to say that I definitely did not like this dish either – there really wasn’t much flavor and the noodles were sort of on the mushy side. For an appetizer we ordered the Pork Satay. The Pork was cut way too thick, and it was actually tough. The only good thing about this dish was the Peanut Sauce and the marinated Cucumber Salad that came with it.
Again, the food at this Restaurant was about the same price as in the Conjeo but the portions were larger. However, I would rather have the smaller portions with better flavor and palatability!
The third Yum Nua which I had was two days later in Moorpark at a Restaurant that I and my friend who I had lunch with had never frequented before, even though it was only one mile from her home. We ordered the Yum Nua, this time mild after my experience in Lompoc and along with that, Mee Krob which is a crispy noodle salad with Chicken and Shrimp. And of course, steamed Rice. The Salad was mild and we could have tolerated some more heat with it. The dressing was just a little on the fishy side (but as we ate it, that kind of disappeared). The beef with this salad was the most tender of all three and was cut into more palatable pieces. So the Moorpark Restaurant was the winner of the Yum Nua Salad and yes, I would go there and order it again!
Now, the Moorpark Salad was good and the Conjeo Valley Salad was good, but the truly best Yum Nua that I have ever had was that one which I and my sons and daughter-in-law ordered and ate in Thailand! And this was in a restaurant! Now, you may wonder why I marvel at a Restaurant’s Yum Nua being so good! In Thailand, some of the best food is that which is prepared on the street! It is tasty and authentic and perfectly safe to eat as the vendors are very particular about cleanliness. One instance of comparing Street Food with Hotel Food as an example – we had a very good Tom Yum Soup from a floating boat vendor at the Floating Market – this cost us $1.50 per person. On one evening my daughter-in-law was hungry and we were at the hotel so we went down to the hotel restaurant. She ordered the Soup which at the hotel cost $10.00 and wasn’t nearly as good! So, when in Thailand, do try the food from the street vendors or at the very least, the small restaurants!
The second best Thai Beef Salad that I have ever had was at the Maui Thai Restaurant in Kihei.
So the final rating goes like this:
#1 – Pizzalun, Thailand
#2 – Maui Thai Restaurant in Kihei, HI
#3 – Thai Restaurant in Moorpark, CA
#4 – Thai Restaurant in the Conejo Valley, CA
#5 – Thai Restaurant in Lompoc, CA
Sorry, no photos for Moorpark or Lompoc. Next time I frequent the Moorpark Restaurant, will take photo, but sorry, not at the Lompoc Restaurant – at least not the one we went to on Saturday.
Stir Fry is one of my favorite dishes to cook and to eat. You can literally clean out your refrigerator and almost always come up with enough items to make a delicious Stir Fry Dinner. Beef, Pork Chicken or Fish or even Tofu will serve as the Protein. Vegetables such as Cabbage, Celery, Carrots, Onion, Spinach or Broccoli will complement your protein items. Asian Condiments such as Soy Sauce, Bean Sauce, Hoison Sauce and even Oyster Sauce will add the flavor enhancements. A Stir Fry Dish can be served with either Rice or Noodles.
The Noodles that I prefer with Asian Stir Fry are Rice Noodles which only need to be cooked or soaked for a short time. (This will depend on the manufacturer and the directions on the package they come in)
This particular night we had decided that we wanted Stir Fry Shrimp. While I had the Shrimp in the freezer I did have to go out and purchase a few of the Vegetable items for the Stir Fry. The Vegetables that I did have on hand were:
Broccoli Stalks – I love the crunchiness of the stalks – peel the stalks and then slice thinly.
Green Cabbage –
Orange Carrots – Carrots can be had in a variety of colors these days – Red, Yellow, White or even Purple.
Garlic – an absolute necessity when it comes to Stir Fry
Eight Ball Zuchinni – an interesting shape – this is a round zuchinni just about the size of a pool table ball ‘8’ ball.
Ginger Root – adds amazing flavor – a little zing! Cut off the amount you need (usually a piece about the size of a quarter) and peel. This can be done with a teaspoon as the skin has a contrasting texture to the Ginger itself. Then mince before using.
Maitaki Mushrooms – these are also known as Beech Mushrooms which also come in a white variety. They grow together in a cluster which you can cut apart at the base leaving tiny mushrooms on a slender stem.
The Vegetables that I purchased for this dish were:
Bean Sprouts – I usually use Mung Bean Sprouts – just add them at the very end – these also need very little or no cooking
Chinese Pea Pods – wash and remove the strings – they need very little or no cooking
You will want to marinate whatever Meat you are using in your Stir Fry; Shrimp or any other Seafood should not be marinated for more than about 20 minutes. Chicken, Beef Pork or Lam on the other hand can be marinated for several hours or even overnight. For our Stir Fry this night I did use Shrimp. For the Marinade I used:
Hoison Sauce – 1-2 Tbsps.
Black Bean Sauce – 1- 2 Tbsps.
Fish Sauce – 1 Tbsp.
Peanut Oil – 2 Tbsps.
To make your Stir Fry start with the Onion; sauté in a wok or large sauté pan just to soften and then add the Garlic. Next add the Vegetables that would need the most cooking, starting with the Cabbage and then the Carrots and lastly the Zuchinni which needs very little cooking.
Once these Vegetable are almost done (about 2-3 minutes) remove them to a covered dish and then Stir Fry the Shrimp. Stir Fry the Shrimp in the same vessel as the Vegetables were cooked in – Shrimp should take 3-4 minutes to cook. Add the Noodles (if the Noodles have stuck together, just rinse them with some warm water) and combine with the Shrimp Mixture.
Once the Noodles have warmed and been coated with the Sauce, add the cooked Vegetables along with the Pea Pods, Bean Sprouts and the Bell Pepper.
Once everything is combined and hot serve immediately. This is a great one-dish meal or can be served as a second course after a soup or salad starter.
Funny that November is recognized as the following Food Month –
Honoring many types of food, but not of all things the Turkey. Why not? November is Thanksgiving and Turkey is the main highlight of most families dinners on Thanksgiving. So like October which I have declared ‘The Month of the Pumpkin’ I am now declaring November as Turkey Month. Everywhere you go, there are turkeys for sale, Frozen Turkeys, Fresh Turkeys, Heritage Turkeys, already prepared Turkey Dinners, etc.
Before we go any further does anyone know why the Turkey is called the Turkey? What did the Indians call the Wild Turkey that was prevalent when the first Pilgrims came over? Does anyone know? And why did the Europeans call Turkeys, Turkeys? Well it seems that the Europeans thought the Turkeys were related to Guinea Fowl which were transported to Europe via Turkey. Therefore, they called the Wild Bird they found in the New World, Turkeys. That name has stuck to this day.
Benjamin Franklin thought that the Turkey should be the National Bird but the Bald Eagle has and probably always will be the Bird Symbol for the United States. However, three States including Massachusetts have adopted the Turkey as their State Bird.
Most of us will be making or Eating Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner. There are many ways to cook Turkey; Smoking, Frying, Barbecuing but the traditional and most ways to cook Turkey is still to roast it fully packed with Stuffing. But preparing Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner is not the problem. It’s what to do with the leftovers that presents challenges. The best and probably favorite way is the ‘Turkey Sandwich’. My preference is with Mayonnaise, Pickles and Lettuce. Some like to put Stuffing and Cranberries on their Sandwiches, but whichever way you make it, I would venture to say that the Sandwich is the favorite way to use Turkey Leftovers.
Another use, though probably not usually thought by most people is a Turkey Frittata turkey-frittata/. The Frittata can be made for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner and is a good way to use up those little pieces of Turkey that fall off the bone or crumble from the slices. The Frittata is an omelet with Meat, (Turkey) Vegetables and usually some kind of Cheese. The Frittata is very tasty and a great use for leftover anything, including Turkey.
Another good use for Turkey leftovers are Turkey Croquettes. /turkey-croquettes/ Great for Brunch, Lunch or Dinner the Croquette can be varied to suit your individual taste palette. Either good old American, Italian, Mexican or even Asian. With just one or two additional ingredients the flavors can be easily varied.
One more use for leftover Turkey is the Turkey Pot Pie. turkey-pot-pie/ Delicious and warming in the cooler weather of Fall!
The above are just a few of the things that can be done with Turkey Leftovers. You can probably come up with more ideas on your own.
And don’t forget! November is ‘Turkey Month’!!
Categories: Asian, Breakfast Ideas, Cooking for Everyone, Cooking for Kids, Dinner Ideas, Holiday Ideas, Holiday Meals, Holiday Tidbits, Italian, Leftovers, Lunch Ideas, Main, Mexican, National Food Days Tags: Appetizers, family dinner, holiday recipes, Leftovers, National Food Days, turkey, Turkey Leftovers, Vegetables
Today is ‘More Herbs, Less Salt Day’. While Salt is a wonderful all-purpose seasoning that would be hard to do without, Herbs play another role in our culinary efforts. Herbs impart wonderful flavor, each one distinctive from another. Even the different herbs in the same family have different distinctive flavors and aromas.
My favorite all-around Herb is Basil. There are dozens of varieties of Basil, but of all the ones that I have encountered, Sweet Italian Basil is my favorite. Here are just some varieties of Basil that are available in local nurseries in Southern California. Varieties will vary throughout the country and throughout the world.
African Blue Basil – blue hue to the leaves and has purple flowers
Greek Basil – small green leaves – lasts long into the Fall
Italian Sweet Basil – large green leaves (probably the most popular)
Lemon Basil – small leaves with slight lemon scent
Thai Basil – smaller leaves with some purple hue to them – purple flowers, slightly spicy
The Varieties of Basil above are listed in alphabetical order. The Greek and Sweet Italian are probably the most popular and used most frequently in Italian and Greek Cuisine.
The Thai Basil is used in South Eastern Cuisine and does have a distinctive taste, somewhat sharper than the sweet varieties.
I prefer to use the Sweet Italian most of the time just because it is easier to clean and mince because of the size of the leaves. I also use the African Blue, but usually just use the whole leave as they are small.
I use Thai Basil in all my Asian Cooking. I really love the Thai Basil and if you don’t grow it you can easily find it in Asian markets.
Oregano –The second most popular Herb is probably Oregano. I planted Oregano when we first moved into this house and the same plant is still growing. It sometimes freezes in the Winter but always comes back in the spring. It is an essential in Italian and Greek Cuisine and is of course used in other types of cooking as well.
Pineapple Sage – normally I don’t like Sage, but the Pineapple variety is another story. It actually smells like Pineapple when you tear a leave or water and does impart the flavor of Pineapple to your dishes. I planted a tiny plant several years ago. This plant is now huge in spite of being constantly cut back. I have also endowed many of my friends with a shoot from this plant. All you have to do is stick a piece in water and let it root, then plant it. The result eventually will be as pictured here in this blog. One of the assets of this Sage plant is the Red Flowers which attract Humming Birds to our yard.
Mint – is popular in mixed drinks, desserts and in South East Asian Cuisine. This too grows like crazy and is easy to root. We have mint that comes over from our neighbors yard and I constantly have to pull it out. I sometimes will wash it and then steep it in hot water and make a mint fusion which can be used for drinks or mint jelly. Mint also comes in several varieties, such as Spearmint, Peppermint and my favorite, Chocolate Mint.
Lemon Grass – an essential in South East Asian Cuisine, especially Thai and Vietnamese. In fact, there is a restaurant named after this Herb on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. This too grows like crazy. I just planted a small plant and this is the result.
Chives – part of the Onion Family – frequently served as a topping for Baked Potatoes – but beware! those Chives in the Restaurants are more frequently Green Onions or Scallions which are thicker and less flavorful (but stronger) than the Chives. Chives are very thin and it is best to cut them with scissors. Chives make a nice flavorful addition to many vegetable and meat dishes.
Try some Herbs today and you will find that you don’t need to use too much salt in your food!
MY CULINARY DIARY
CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD
Friday, June 8th, 2012
It is Friday and we have gone through many culinary avenues this week and do not wish to repeat anything, so it is time for Chicken. We both love fried Chicken, but since the weather is warm and I really did not want to start frying anything, we decided on Chicken Salad. Since all we needed for the salad was enough chicken to feed the two of us, I decided on purchasing a chicken breast rather than the whole chicken.
Since it was only a breast that we needed, I decided to splurge and purchase a free range organic chicken breast. The difference in flavor and moistness, between this type of chicken and the normal supermarket ones is astronomical. The organic, free range chicken reminds me of the chickens that we used to get delivered years ago when we lived in Granada Hills. A poultry company called Bob’s Poultry use to deliver Chicken and Eggs directly to our home and there was nothing like those chickens. They were so good! In those days, I had to cook at least 2 Chickens at one time! Later on it was three!
Along with the Chicken Breast I purchased some white corn and an Orange Honey Dew Melon and some Croissants to go with the meal.
To make the Chicken Salad I poached the Chicken Breast in some Madera Wine with fresh Pineapple Sage Leaves, fresh Greek Basil and freshly cut Chives. All the herbs were direct from our garden. I placed the Chicken Breast in the poaching liquid, brought it up to a simmer and cooked them for about 10 minutes and then shut the heat off. You can cut the breasts in half to make sure they are done or you can use a poultry thermometer. One hundred seventy degrees is more than done!
Once the Chicken Breasts cooled off, I sliced them against the grain and then cut the slices into bite-sized pieces. (The pieces were a healthy size, as I didn’t want pate.) I washed and dried some celery ribs and cut them into bite-sized pieces. I cut the celery considerably smaller than the Chicken pieces as celery has a tendency to get stuck in between teeth.
Along with the Celery were some more snipped Chives, Gherkin Pickles which I diced and a Pink Lady Apple, which I quartered, cored and cut up into bite-sized pieces. I leave on the skin, because the color adds a nice contrast to the white Chicken Breast.
To season the Chicken Salad, I added ½ tsp. Salt, ¼ tsp. White Pepper, 1 tsp. Curry Powder and approximately ½ cup of Mayonnaise.
For the complete recipe please see curried-chicken-salad/
Ev husked the Corn and I washed it and made sure all the silks were off. To cook the Corn, I placed it in my steamer with water in the lower portion and steamed the Corn for 1 minute. Young fresh Corn does not need to be cooked for more than 1 minute – all you want to do is to get it hot – young fresh corn even tastes good raw. In fact, I always taste it before cooking it to make sure it is sweet. If it is not sweet you can add 1 Tbsp. Sugar and the Juice of half a Lemon to the Water and then just cook it directly in the water which should not be more than 1 inch deep. Again, do not cook it more than 1-2 minutes unless it is old and tough and in which case you should not even be eating it off the cob.
For our Beverage we had Ginger/Peach Sun Tea brewed in the sun with orange slices and fresh ginger.
Dinner tonight was the Chicken Salad, steamed Corn and warmed Croissants. We decided to keep the Honey Dew for Sunday night when we would again eat the Chicken Salad, since I can never make just enough food for only 2 people.
This was just one variation on Chicken Salad. There are hundreds of ways that you can prepare it. Chicken Salad can be an Hawaiian Variation, Chinese Chicken Salad, Thai Chicken Salad, and on and on. Just use whatever you have on hand and what you think will go well with Chicken. Don’t forget that Chicken Breast has somewhat of a neutral flavor that can be enhanced with most anything! Even nuts and noodles will work in a Chicken Salad!
MY CULINARY DIARY
MONGOLIAN BEEF FOR DINNER
On Tuesday, June 5th, in order to fulfill an urge for a very tasty, beefy meal, I decided to make Mongolian Beef for dinner. Mongolian Beef is usually made with Flank Steak which at times can be a little on the chewy side. In order to fully enjoy the meal and not have to cook the meat for more than a minute or two, I decided to make it with Beef Tenderloin. It may be somewhat more expensive but when you are only cooking for two, it hardly matters as compared to the enjoyment of the meal.
Mongolian Beef is usually found on the menu in Chinese Restaurants and as the name implies, its roots stem back to the Mongols. The Mongolians invaded and put forth their influence in many of the Asian countries. Traditional Mongolian Beef is served with Mai Fun Noodles which are a rice noodle, which when cooked in hot oil, will puff up instantly and provides a nice contrast to the beef which can be a bit spicy, if prepared with an ample amount of chilies as the recipe calls for. In our household, we do not like our food to be ultra spicy, so I always use a moderate amount of chilies, however we still like the dish with puffed rice noodles which also provide a nice texture contrast.
Along with the Mongolian Beef, I served Broccolini which is very similar to Chinese Broccoli and which does not have the same amount of buds on it as western broccoli, but is instead more leafy and has longer, more tender stems, making it taste like more of a cross between broccoli, spinach and asparagus. Broccolini, in fact, is actually a cross between Western Broccoli and Chinese Broccoli.
I started preparations about one hour before dinner by slicing the meat across the grain into ¼” thick pieces that were slightly less than ½” in diameter and about 1- 2 inches long.
The meat was then marinated in a mixture of Egg White mixed with Cornstarch and refrigerated.
Then I mixed up the ingredients for the sauce which included Soy Sauce, Bean Sauce, Garlic and Sugar.
Wash, dry and cut a bunch of Green Onions up into 2″ pieces and set aside. You will also need a Cornstarch/Water slurry to thicken the sauce.
Next I washed and trimmed the Broccolini and set it aside.
I love Cucumbers and made a marinated Cucumber Salad. Just thinly slice your cucumbers, lightly salt them and set aside. Once the Cucumbers release some of their moisture, you can then drain them and rinse if they are too salty. Next add some Seasoned Rice Vinegar, Garlic Powder and a little Peanut Oil. For a Thai variation, add about 1 Tbsp. Fish Sauce.
If you are serving Rice, begin cooking the rice and then heat about 2 inches of Oil in a wok or sauté pan.
Once the Oil is hot, add your Mai Fun Noodles (they should be broken up before cooking – the easiest way to break them up is to put them in a plastic bag that can be sealed – this avoids getting rice noodles all over the kitchen). Cook a small amount of noodles at one time – if they don’t immediately puff up to the surface the oil is not hot enough. Using your thermometer to ascertain the correct temperature which should be about 360 degrees. Remove from the oil with a spider or slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack placed over a baking pan for them to drain.
Lightly sauté the Broccolini in a sauté pan, shut off the heat and cover until ready to serve.
Next, remove the meat from the refrigerator and cook a few pieces at a time in the hot oil. This will take less than a minute – you just want the coating to brown. Remove the meat as it cooks. Once all the meat is cooked, remove all but about 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the ingredients for the sauce and cook for about 2 minutes over high heat. Add the Meat, Onions and Cornstarch mixture and cook for another 2 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.
Turn the heat on under the Broccolini and heat for about 1 minute or just until the Vegetables are hot. Place the cooked Mai Fun Noodles on a serving platter and top with the meat. Serve immediately with steamed Rice, the Broccolini and Cucumber Salad. The above preparation will feed four people.
Mongolian Beef is a very tasty and satisfying dish. The amount of heat you create from the chilies will vary on how much of the chilies that you use. I used about ¼ tsp. but if you like it hotter, just use as many as your taste buds will tolerate. For the full recipe please see mongolian-beef/