Thursday, August 21, 2014

Steamed Eggplant with Gochujang Dressing 蒸茄子

Though these baby eggplants are fragrant with garlic, or pack punch of spice with chili; fuss-free Steamed Eggplant is my go-to whenever I want to put together something easy, healthy yet flavorful. Steamed does not equal to flavor? I don't agree.

The secret lies in the sauce, in this case.

Asian eggplant variety such as Chinese eggplant and Japanese eggplant which have thin delicate skin and sweeter flesh are more suitable for steamed eggplant dishes.

Some of you may not like the sharp bitterness of bitter melon, the sliminess of okra, the sponginess of eggplant. These must be the three most hated vegetables for most people, especially kids. I used to dislike eggplant when I was a teenager - not only was eggplant spongy, it was cooked all wrong at food stalls, eateries and even restaurants. Most often wok-fried and almost every time, they turned out greasy. It was just eating mouthful of oil back then.

Whether you just never developed a taste or liking for a certain vegetable or you had bad food memories of bland food, mushy and overcooked vegetables as a child, there is still hope to learn to appreciate these not-so-popular vegetables, by using new prep. and cooking methods. At least I have found new hope in this Spicy Steamed Eggplant. Comparing to miso dressing, this spicy dressing is definitely my favorite.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Vegetarian Stewed/ Braised Meat-Sauce 素肉燥

One of the famous street-food in Taiwan is Stewed Meat Rice 肉燥饭 (usually made from ground pork) or Braised Meat Rice 卤肉饭 (made with slightly bigger chunks of pork, or pork belly).

The ideal stewed/braised meat is perfectly balanced in savory and sweet flavors, and at some point, the gravy/sauce leans towards being sticky, glossy and gooey gelatinous - as a result of fats in the pork melding into the gravy. The meat used in stewed meat  肉燥 is, by default - pork, due to the higher ratio of fats in pork. However, there are also healthier versions which use ground chicken - that reminded me of the Zha-Jiang meat-sauce 炸酱 I have made previously, and ground turkey.

Pork, chicken, or turkey but none of them is vegetarian. When we associate vegetarian "stewed or braised meat", blehs and mehs are all we hear. Nothing interesting when "meat" substitutes such as tofu and mushrooms start coming in, which in fact is what I am going to use to make my Vegetarian Stewed Meat 素肉燥.

I was excited in trying a vegetarian "stewed meat" especially after being inspired by a cooking segment that was demonstrating similar but with some key tips that I thought was really quite out-of-the-box.

Now, it sounds even better when the vegetarian version can be made "gelatinous" * (How? Hint: Corn-starch is not the answer, as that only makes the mixture sticky).

Friday, August 15, 2014

Stir-Fry Shrimps & Vegetables Medley 虾仁清炒蔬菜

As long as you are patient enough with all the slicing, chopping, mincing and dicing, it is halfway to success.