Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chayote Bell Peppers Stir-Fry 佛手瓜清炒灯笼椒

Have you taken a closer look at chayote and realized that it resembles the form of two fists clasped together? Chayote is also known as 合掌瓜 or 佛手瓜, with the former literally meaning "the joining of fists or palms".

Chayote is high in potassium, low in sodium and a good source of other trace minerals. It is crisp and  tastes mildly sweet when consumed raw. Think of pears. Still, as a rather bland and light-tasting ingredient, it does not over-power other ingredients in a quick-stew or stir-fry.

If you are budget-conscious cook, then you should be doing stir-fry quite, or in fact, very regularly. Stir-fry is one of the best cooking methods to flexibly "wok" your ingredients in many versatile dishes thus very importantly, making sure each and every ingredient is used up in some way, stretching your grocery budget.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Grilled Eel Rice, Unagi Don 鳗鱼饭

Not until I saw eel and eel bento being promoted all over on ad flyers of two of my neighborhood Japanese supermarkets, I did not even know the existence of a day Doyo-ushi - a day in Japan that is "dedicated" to eating eel (unagi). Generally, the consumption of eel during hot and humid summer days in Japan helps people fight fatigue and recover stamina as eel is nutritious with a rich source of Vitamins A, B1, B2 and E.

Japanese unagi imported from Japan, available in Mitsuwa (on sale for $17.99 for 4.4oz eel)

Eel is actually not seasonal and can be enjoyed all-year round. You can always order eel sushi, or eel rice (Unangi Don) from the regular menu in a reputed Japanese eatery; or buy eel (typically, already broiled, then vacuum-packed) from the supermarket.

Due to decreasing eel population, it is now very rare to have eels from Japan that is imported and sold in our local supermarkets. Most packaged broiled eels (I would say 90%) sold in Japanese and Korean supermarkets are all from China. If you frequent Japanese restaurants/eateries very often, and happens to love Unagi Don, that unagi is most likely from China as well.

Eel preparation, with reference to 

Rare as the facts but on this special day of Doyo-ushi and a week before, some supermarkets here in the Bay Area especially the Japanese supermarkets bring in eels, usually already broiled and vacuum-sealed, that are indeed "product of Japan". As a bonus to eel-consumers, it might be during this time that the already expensive "product of Japan" (about $25 for just about a 5-oz broiled eel) will be discounted, to about $18 - well, not heavily discounted but still a discount; and without doubt, even after sale, it is still much more expensive than the China eel counterpart that is just 1/5th the price ($6-7 for about 5-6oz eel).

Which would you buy?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Rice Rolls & Egg Stir-Fry 鸡蛋鱼松肠粉

Mornings are the most energizing and motivating. You wake up feeling refreshed after a good night's sleep, gearing to complete what is already planned for the rest of the day.

However, the motivation to make this breakfast dish did not come about after waking up from bed. It was "conceptualized" the night before.

Do you plan ahead of what to make/cook for breakfast?

For us, the no-brainer, no-plan, hassle-free breakfast is cereals/granola + milk or oatmeal. Occasionally, add a peanut butter toast and even better, plus a hard-boiled egg, then everything ends well with coffee.

Once in a while, one has to plan when change is intended.

In the US, we do not have the luxury of hawker-style breakfast such as fishball noodles, fried carrot cake and fried bee hoon. So to break the routine of cereals/granola and/or peanut butter toast breakfast, get cooking!