Honey pork slices (2?)

This is a continuation of my butadon experience. It is a continuation because I used the leftover pork slices to make this dish! I wanted to clear the fridge as soon as possible, so I was all up for improvised cooking.

Just One Cookbook (wonderful site with easy Japanese recipes!) has a recipe for honey pork belly, so I thought I should just modify the recipe for my pork slices. The key ingredient was the seasoning, and luckily I had everything I needed!

The seasoning reproduced below:

  • 2 tablespoons honey (did not have normal honey, so I used manuka honey instead LOL)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 2 garlic gloves (minced)

Similar to my butadon steps, I fried the slices in a pan for about 10 seconds on each side until the meat had little pink left, then I sat aside. After cleaning the pan, I poured the seasoning in, and then tossed the almost cooked meat into the pan. During the process of coating the meat with the seasoning, the remaining pink bits would be cooked as well.

Served in a plate, sprinkled some roasted white sesame seeds on top, just because I have roasted white sesame seeds in my pantry.

Stray observations:

  • A thought my dad cooked the dish, and that I was just reheating it for dinner?! What does that mean? Is he implying that the dish was too delicious to be cooked by me?! I will never know.

Steamed cod fish (1)

We finally bought a wok and a steam rack!

With a wok comes new possibilities, so I broke into it by steaming a piece of cod! I followed the recipe here but left some things out:

  • Sauce: I substituted rock sugar with granulated sugar and cooking rice wine with cooking sake. As there wasn’t a need to melt the sugar, I did not heat the sauce up before serving (truth to be told I was just lazy)
  • Garnishing: Was lazy to buy spring onions, so no spring onions

My verdict on steaming in a wok? It is friggin’ easy! Just boil the water, then place the fish dish on top of the rack, let the steam do the magic and viola! The hardest part is estimating the time required for the fish to be cooked thoroughly and not under or overcooking it. I set 5 minutes at first, and then poked the fish to see if it was done. It wasn’t, so I added another 2 minutes. Because of my incessant poking, the fish kinda looked destroyed by the time I served it, but it was good nonetheless!

Stray observations:

  • A said I should buy the metal dish that’s meant for serving fish, like this:

    He has strange ideas.
  • I am in need of a timer. Right now I’m relying on my phone.
  • I would also like a buy a kiapper. I have no idea what it is really called (Clamp? Tong?), but it looks like this:
  • What does it say about me when I have cooking sake but not cooking rice wine in my pantry?

Fried Rice (1)

Had leftover rice from the previous night’s dinner, so I refrigerated it (about half a cup) and decided to try making fried rice for breakfast. I have a love-hate relationship with rice because of the carbohydrates, so I tend to skip plain rice whenever possible. Fried rice though, I LOVE. My favourite fried rice has to be the signature dish from Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe, topped with tiny crabstick cubes (crabsticks are disgusting in general).

Anyway, my parents gave me a bag of mini bell peppers that has sat in the fridge for the past week because I don’t know what to do with it, so I thought I’d just toss everything into the pan with the rice. It turned out pretty nice despite the lack of ingredients, and I didn’t even have to watch a YouTube video to learn the ways of frying rice!

Here’s my less than scientific recipe:

  1. Heat up the pan with some oil in it. Pour in finely chopped garlic and swirl it around in the oil.
  2. Pour in the rice. Swirl it around the pan. Mix well with the garlic.
  3. Pour in one or two beaten egg(s) on top of the rice. Fold the rice and the eggs together.
  4. Pour in an appropriate amount of soy sauce. Mix well.
  5. Pour in chopped bell peppers. Mix well.
  6. Season with black pepper.

I continued flipping things around in the pan until an appropriate amount of time had passed, then I turned off the gas and plated the rice.I’m feeling very confident now that I know I can’t mess up fried rice! I’ll add meat next time. And maybe tiny crabstick cubes. I need spring onions as well. Also shallots. I am so domesticated now!

Stray observations:

  • After pouring in the beaten egg, the rice got a little clumpy and I was afraid it would turn soggy, but after drizzling in the soy sauce, the rice unclumped itself! Am I using too much egg?

Pan seared salmon: Trial 2

I’m beginning to appreciate cod fish more, after dabbling with salmon twice. The second attempt went ok-ish, I managed to find a rather even salmon fillet and it was thinner than the first one, so I decided to give it 2 minutes on each side. After both sides were done, I wasn’t entirely sure if it was cooked thoroughly, so A stepped in to finish off! In the end we plated a nicely done salmon, complete with un-charred skin!

I used the same sauce as the previous trial, but it turned out more sour than before?! I realised it is because I enlisted A’s help to squeeze the lemon, and he squeezed a great deal more than what I managed to! My husband has strong hands!

No other stray observations to report.

Trio/Duo Egg Spinach: Trial 1

This is normally found in Chinese restaurants, the Chinese name is 金银蛋上汤菠菜. Prior to trying this out I always thought 3 types of eggs were required, namely regular, salted and century, but after cooking once I’m inclined to think the regular chicken egg is not required in the recipe. Anyway, this is A’s favourite dish to order, so I always planned to attempt this dish in due time.

As much as possible I followed the recipe found in this hilarious video. The guy narrates in Cantonese and his videos are often interlaced with social commentaries or his thoughts on random things. The annoying thing though is that he doesn’t have a written ingredients and directions list, so I have to memorise all the steps.

We bought century eggs and salted duck eggs a while back, I didn’t look at them carefully until today. When I opened up the packaging I realised one of the eggs was coated in ORANGE STUFF, and the other was coated in BLACK STUFF! I panicked and shouted to A, “I don’t know how to handle the eggs!” and ran to my laptop to Google for help.

I found the following links that explained how to clean them:

How To Prepare A Century Egg “Pei Dan”
How To Clean Salted Duck Egg

The century egg was harder to clean and I ended up getting stuff under my nails 😦 Had to enlist A’s help too, and he was very efficient with them! After all the eggs were cleaned, I picked up the one that was originally coated in orange stuff thinking it was the salted egg (because salted egg = orange = coated in orange and century egg = black = coated in black, makes sense right?!) and I tried to crack it over a bowl, but a black century egg plopped out instead! *inserts horrified face*

Well. This has been an interesting learning experience for me.

Eventually I got all the ingredients sorted out. In the original video, the chef included boiled radish as he wanted to “prop” the spinach up, but I skipped that portion. Also, I added wolfberries into the broth so it would be sweeter. A was my taster as I have zero confidence with my taste buds, and he greenlit it.

The remaining task was cooking the vegetables and the eggs. As I (still) do not have a wok, I relied on the MIL’s trusty pan and managed to complete the process. The eggs didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked though, in the original video the chef did not include regular eggs, but I decided to add in a beaten egg and the solidified whites turned out very yellow and chunky! I realised I can only do either of the following:

  1. Century egg + raw salted egg
  2. Century egg + hard boiled salted egg + beaten regular egg

Else there would be too much egg white in the broth!

The dish itself was passable, honestly I can’t tell the difference between what I’ve cooked and the restaurant’s version, besides presentation that is. Here’s to another dish under my belt.

Stray observations:

  • Cooking was easy, it was the preparation part that killed me. Or rather, killed the time. Well now that I know how tedious cleaning century eggs and salted eggs is, I’ll know to start prepping earlier.
  • A complained that the vegetables were too long AGAIN.

Bok Choy in Oyster Sauce: Trial 1

The other day I was having dinner with FX and P, when deciding what to order I muttered, “I need to order some veges, haven’t had any today.” FX exclaimed that so much has changed in 10 years, referring to the little known historical fact that I used to hate eating my greens. My dislike for greens during my teenage years was so bad that whenever I dined with FX, she would automatically pick out the greens on my plate and transfer them onto her plate! That is true friendship, right there. (Also that’s why I only pooped once a week in the past)

Fast forward 10 years later, I now feel icky whenever I am conscious of the fact that I haven’t had any vegetables for an extended period of time. I’m not particular about food pyramids but somehow I manage to guilt trip myself into buying a prepacked salad bowl whenever that realisation sets in. What has happened to me?!

Anyway, I had previously cooked vegetables when FX came over for dinner, but for the life of me I cannot remember what I cooked, or how I did it. So let’s clean the slate and call this trial 1.

The recipe is suitable for any kind of greens, but I bought bok choy because bok choy is the most adorable name a vegetable can have! Also I have a general dislike for vege stems, but I like those on the bok choy.

I didn’t have a large enough pot, the best I had was a slightly deep pan with straight sides, so I made do with that. It took some time for the water to get to a rolling boil, so I cooked my cod fillet during that time. When the water was ready, I blanched the greens for about 1.5 minutes because I was afraid it would overcook, then I dunked the stalks into an ice bath before draining and plating.

The sauce was pretty easy to make, but once again I had trouble tasting and everything tasted salty to me. 😦 I added some more water to the oyster sauce, but it still tasted the same?! I am still confused.

The garlic oil was slightly trickier, past experiences taught me that overcooked garlic is bitter and gross, so I was wary of burning garlic. Kept the fire on low heat and allowed the garlic to swim in the oil, but because I didn’t do a good job of mincing the garlic into equal pieces, the smaller ones cooked much faster. Luckily it didn’t take long for the rest of the garlic to brown, so I switched off the fire and poured the garlic oil on top of the bok choy.

I liked my rendition of bok choy in oyster sauce, but I think the oyster sauce can be improved upon. I would also like to have a suitable pot to blanch vegetables in – at this rate I think A should just buy me one new set of pots and pans.

Stray observations:

  • A complained that each stalk was too long and hence difficult to eat, he quipped that restaurants would always cut the stalk into half! I disagree, and if you go to the recipe’s link you’ll see that the chef did not cut his bok choy either! However, I notice that my bok choy stalks were significantly longer than those in the pictures?! Why are my bok choy stalks so long?! Is it because I bought them from the organic section?! (not on purpose) I may never know.
  • Transferring the blanched veges from the pot to the ice bath proved to be quite challenging because of the steam and because I didn’t have tongs to do so. I need to buy one or two pairs of tongs. Tongs are not expensive. I can afford tongs.
  • I cooked 3 times this week. I am exhausted!