Tag Archives: vegetables

do you wok the wok

28 Jul

recently i watched a movie called “taste of happiness” that had a shanghai chef in japan who cooked all these dishes in this huge wok. my mom also cooks with a wok and every time i go home to eat, i marvel at how well scrambled eggs come out. other things seem to cook differently in a wok too – green veggies always come out more colorful and less wilted, and meat gets cooked thoroughly and tenderly without ever sticking to the side. so for a few weeks i was raving about how awesome a wok is. then, christine bought me a wok as a present, and last night i broke it in and made my first meal in the wok.

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i also used a new wok scoop that i bought in chinatown, and a butcher’s knife christine bought for me. the butcher’s knife is great – it is heavy and sharp and cuts vegetables completely differently than western chef’s knives. the wok scoop, surprisingly, is all you’d need to cook anything in the wok. you can stir the ingredients being cooked, spoon in broth or spoon out soup, you can use the edge to cut meat or veggies into smaller chunks in the wok, use it to serve single servings of rice, you can even scramble eggs using the scoop.

i made cucumber with scrambled eggs (i would have done the traditional tomato and eggs but my haymarket cucumbers were looking a bit overripe) and a large batch of garlic green beans. i made half of it with marinated tofu leftover from our barbeque last night, and another half with beef (from leftover hamburger). so christine, here’s to cooking together to procrastinating together.

Cucumber and Scrambled Eggs

Ingredients

two eggs
one asian cucumber

scramble two eggs in a bowl. sprinkle with salt. heat wok with a bit of oil. before oil gets hot and starts smoking, pour the egg into the wok. occasionally stir until egg starts to firm, then scoop the scrambled egg back into the bowl.

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peel and slice cucumber at an angle into elongated oval slices. heat oil in wok. put a bit more oil so that the cucumber doesnt become burned or dry, and will come out with more color. stir-fry cucumbers for two minutes. add the eggs back in, stir fry and add salt to taste.

Tossing the ingredients in the wok

Tossing the ingredients in the wok

Garlic Green Beans with Marinated Tofu or Beef

ingredients:
1 lb green beans
1/2 package (1 cube) extra firm tofu
1 clove garlic
1/2 lb ground beef
soy sauce and salt

marinated tofu:

slice extra firm tofu into 1/4 inch slices. prepare a marinade of soy sauce, sesame oil, and furikake, and soak the tofu in the marinade. be sure to flip the tofu once so both sides get covered by furikake. after marinating, cut the tofu into bite size squares.

beef:

take 80% lean hamburger (1/4 to 1/2 lbs, about the size of 1 burger patty). hand mix garlic powder, adobo powder, salt, pepper, and cumin.

greenbeans

wash and prepare the green beans by pinching off both ends, then breaking the beans into 1 to 2 inch long segments. peel and dice one clove of garlic into larger, rough slices. heat oil in wok, and toss in the tofu or the beef. if using beef, break the meat into small chunks as it cooks. remove the tofu when the sides barely start to brown, and the beef when it is almost thoroughly cooked.

heat some oil and toss in the garlic. stir for a few seconds for the garlic to start flavoring the oil, then toss in the green beans. stir fry the green beans, making sure that everythings gets a slight coat of oil and starts to get a bit tender. toss the tofu or beef back into the wok and stir fry together, adding salt and soy sauce to taste. remove when the green beans are tender but still slightly crunchy, and still have a bright green color to them.

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cooking time: 15 minutes to prepare green beans and cucumber while rice is cooking, 15 minutes to stir fry.
ways to prolong procrastination: cook a large batch of food. the wok is huge.

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Pan-fried Tofu with Napa Cabbage and Vermicelli

20 Jul

The weekend before last, I took a short trip back home to California for my dad’s birthday. Usually when I’m home, my mom doesn’t ever let me touch the stove because, in her words, she doesn’t like eating food made by people who don’t know how to cook. Ouch…burn.

To be fair, my mom is the best cook in the entire world.

This tofu, napa cabbage, and vermicelli dish is one that she taught me that weekend. And because she was swamped with cooking a banquet-sized dinner, she actually let me pan-fry the tofu! (Under her careful supervision, of course.) Progress is being made.

tofu and napa

Pan-fried Tofu with Napa Cabbage and Vermicelli
From my momma’s kitchen

Ingredients
1 package of extra-firm tofu
1 medium-sized head of napa cabbage
2 rectangular prisms of vermicelli (they usually come 3 to a bright pink mesh bag in Asian supermarkets)
cooking oil
sesame oil
soy sauce
salt, white pepper, Asian seasonings to taste
corn starch or other thickening agent (optional)

Put vermicelli in a bowl of cold water to soak.

Cut tofu into small, flat blocks, about 1/2″x2″x3″, and lightly pan-fry with sesame oil. Set aside.

tofu

Slice the napa cabbage and stir-fry for 5-10 minutes. They should still be crunchy and undercooked. Add in the tofu along with about 1/2 cup of the water the vermicelli has been soaking in and cover.

While you wait, remove the vermicelli from the water and cut into 6″ strands. This step is skippable if you don’t mind long strands of vermicelli or if, like me, you just forget. Add in the vermicelli when the napa is almost cooked through. It’s important not to add the noodles in too early because they’ll turn into mush if cooked for too long. Season to taste. I usually use soy sauce, salt, white pepper, and some Asian “vegetarian seasoning” from home. The thing is like MSG–it makes everything taste like magic–but has to be all-natural because I bought it at an organic/health food store. But I digress.

If you prefer your sauce to be a little thicker, feel free to add in some corn starch or flour.

When your napa is soft, it’s all done! Nom to your heart’s content. Or until it’s all gone.

Length of procrastination: 20 minutes

Ways to prolong procrastination: Cook some rice to go with it!

Veggie Dumplings

8 Jul

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Let me be honest–I’ve never made dumplings in my life. In my twenty-one years, never have I sat down next to my mommy and helped her wrap the scrumptious, intricate crescents. Last weekend, after the Fourth of July madness, some of my ATS lovelies came over to help me wrap my very first dumplings. If you’re going to  make dumplings, I highly encourage you to do it with friends. It involves a lot of washing and shredding and dicing, which may drive the average person insane. The logical solution is to get someone else to do it.

Also, it takes five people one-fifth of the time to wrap nearly a 89 dumplings as it takes one person.

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Veggie Dumplings
From Angela, Stephie, Tiffy, Zach, and me.

Ingredients
1 pack silken tofu (two blocks)
1 small head napa cabbage
2 large eggs
5 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated
2 blocks of dried vermicelli, rehydrated
2 packs dumpling wrappers
salt
white pepper

Smash the tofu with the flat side of your Asian butcher knife until it looks like cottage cheese. Set aside.

Wash and shred the napa cabbage. Avoid the small bitter leaves in the middle of the head. Toss the shreds with salt to remove the excess water and set aside to drain.

Beat the eggs and fry over a large skillet to create thin pancakes of egg. Shred into pieces about 2 inches long and set aside.

Remove the stems of the shiitake mushrooms and dice. Set aside.

Cut the vermicelli into short strands, at most 2 inches in length. Shorter strands will be easier to wrap, but if they’re too short, the strands will turn into mush. Not tasty.

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Take all of the shredded and diced ingredients that you set aside and dump them into the smushed tofu. Thoroughly combine. Don’t be a wuss–use your hands! At this point, you can add a little white pepper and salt to season the filling, but most people will be eating dumplings with soy sauce, which adds a significant amount of salty flavor.

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Now it’s time to wrap the dumplings. There are tons of different ways of wrapping them–you can just seal the edges together or pleat one edge. It takes some practice and a lot of patience to create a nice, pleated dumpling. When wrapping, keep in mind that any air in the middle of the wrapped dumplings will expand in the heat and give you a funny-looking bloated dumpling. No worries; you can just squeeze the air out with a spoon as you cook them, and the taste isn’t compromised. You may want to flour the plate or aluminum foil you’re placing the folded dumplings on so that they won’t stick to the surface.

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Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a drop of sesame oil so that the dumplings don’t stick to each other. Add the dumplings and wait for the water to boil again. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the skin becomes soft and not too chewy.

Any leftover dumplings can be frozen in a ziploc bag for about a week.

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Length of Procrastination: About 3 hours
Ways to Prolong Procrastination: Make a delicious frozen treat for dessert while waiting for dinnertime. (Foreshadowing! DUN DUN DUNNN.)

Cooking Without Bobby

21 May

I know. It’s incredibly sad. Agonizingly sad, really.

Somehow, I got over it pretty quickly.

While Bobby was busy creating the year-end slideshow for the TKD Spring Banquet, Mark (who was my partner in crime for the TKD Winter Banquet as well) and I concocted a delicious dish of mushrooms, spinach, artichoke hearts, tortellini, and cheese. Oh, the cheese.

tortellini-bake

Mushroom, Spinach, and Artichoke Tortellini Bake
Modified from Taste and Tell

This recipe was a little vague on measurements. For example, how much flour do I add into the roux? What the monkey is a “broiler”? After finding out what a broiler is, what do I do if my kitchen lacks one? I’ve rewritten the recipe the way I made the dish. The ingredients list looks daunting, but it really contains a lot of things you would find in a well-stocked pantry. And anyway, it’s nothing a ten-minute trip to the grocery store couldn’t sort out.

Ingredients
2 packs of tortellini (about 20 oz., I believe)
4 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 handfuls of flour (probably about 1 cup)
4 cups milk
4 shakes of nutmeg from the container
2 10-ounce boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted (microwaved) and excess water squeezed out
2 cans artichoke hearts
5-8 button mushrooms, sliced
shredded “Italian Blend” cheese (includes Asiago, Mozzarella, and Parmesan, among others)
shredded Mozzarella
salt
ground black pepper
grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place a large pot of water over high heat to boil. Once boiling, salt the water and drop the pasta in. Cook to al dente according to package directions. Drain cooked pasta and transfer to cold water to stop them from overcooking.

While the pasta is working, place a large skillet over medium-high heat with the butter. Cook the garlic in the butter until aromatic, about 1 minute, then sprinkle the flour over the butter and cook for another minute. Whisk the milk into the roux and bring up to a bubble to thicken. This took me 10-15 minutes on medium heat with constant stirring. If necessary, split into two pans. Add nutmeg, spinach, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, salt and pepper, and cook until the veggies are heated through. Eat a slice of mushroom. Go on. It won’t kill you (hopefully).

Add the reserved tortellini to the skillet and toss to coat. Transfer everything to a large baking pan and sprinkle with the cheeses. Sprinkle liberally. Like, until you can’t see any of the tortellini anymore. Place on the top level of the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until the cheese starts to brown. Take out of the oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Serves a good number of hungry taekwondoists.

Length of Procrastination: 40 minutes

Ways to Prolong Procrastination: Try to study immunology while cooking…

Stir-fry Noodles With Two (!) Kinds of Onions

5 Mar

I’ve been craving noodles for the longest time. Specifically, I want steaming bowl of honest-to-goodness, hand-pulled ramen with miso soup (sans bonito flakes), mushrooms, and scallions. Because there’s a 7.10 exam on Thursday and a 7.23 exam on Monday, ramen at Porter Square seems a little out of reach. And since Bobby and I lacked the time and ingredients to make any kind of real broth, stir-fry noodles it was.

Stir-fry Noodles With Two (count ’em!) Kinds of Onions

Ingredients

  • enough noodles to fill your stomach — we used flat buckwheat noodles that my parents sent from California, but honestly any kind of Asian noodles works
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk green onion, chopped or a handful of frozen chopped scallions
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 small potato, sliced
  • any other kind of veggies, sliced
  • olive oil
  • vinegar
  • soy sauce
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Bring water in a large pot to a rolling boil. Cook the noodles on low heat for 2-3 minutes.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, heat about 2 tbsp oil in a wok. Add the garlic and scallions and stir-fry until you can smell the aroma. Be careful if you’re using frozen scallions because the water will cause the oil to splatter all over the place.
  3. Add another generous amount of oil and stir-fry the rest of the onions, the potatoes, and any other vegetables you may have in your refrigerator. Take a bite of the slowest-cooking vegetable–you’re done when it’s slightly crunchier than the ideal.
  4. Transfer the noodles from the pot to the wok along with about 1/4 cup of the water. Stir-fry until all the water has evaporated. Add a splash of vinegar and soy sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir-fry for another 5 minutes.

Notes: Before cooking the noodles in water, I heated them with a bit of oil on low heat in a pan for about 5 minutes. The package of my noodles say that they can be completely cooked this way, but I was pretty skeptical so I cooked them in water, then finished stir-frying. If you’re looking for crunchy noodles, add a lot more oil during the second round of stir-frying.

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The final result!
broccoli with salt
I love salt.

after nomming

What happens when you do it correctly.

Length of procrastination: 15-20 minutes

Ways to prolong procrastination: Grab a bowl of green tea ice cream for dessert. Length of procrastination is directly proportional to the size of your ice cream tub. Gallon tubs work best.

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