Category Archives: Cooking

Taiwanese Bian Dang

I’m Taiwanese and I love Taiwanese food. Some of the most homey dishes are the portable lunchboxes, or bian dang. It’s usually a meat dish on served on a bed of steamed rice with braised pork with sides of braised cabbage, a marinated egg, bean curd, and other greens. To go all-out pig, I made two pork dishes: fried pork chop and braised pork belly.

It’s basically all the same spices: five-spice, soy sauce, sugar, and garlic. Now I get to eat this all week, yes!


 

Lu rou fan (Taiwanese braised pork)

  • Hard-boil 4-6 eggs. Peel.
  • Fry 6 medium shallots finely sliced. Pat dry. (OR 1 cup prepackaged fried shallots)
  • In leftover oil, brown 2.5 lb ground pork in batches.
  • Fry 4 cloves garlic sliced, the white parts of 2 scallions sliced, 4 dried/fresh shiitake mushrooms and diced. Add pork and shallots.
  • Add 1/4 cup dark soy sauce, 1/4 cup light soy sauce, 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine, 2 tbsp rock sugar, 1/4 tsp white pepper, 1 tsp five-spice powder, enough water (~4 cups) to an inch above meat.
  • Simmer covered for 75-120 minutes. Add eggs an hour before the end. Boil uncovered to reduce as needed.
  • Serve on rice (essential). Top with the green part of scallions, egg sliced in half, fried sliced bean curd, braised cabbage.

 

Taiwanese Braised Pork Belly

  • Cut 1 lb pork belly into 2”x2”x0.5” pieces. Fry in oil on med-high until lightly browned on both sides, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Saute 2 cloves garlic sliced, 3 slices ginger, 1 star anise, 1 red chili sliced, 2 tbsp rock sugar, until the sugar is melted.
  • Add 1/2 tsp five spice powder, 1/4 cup rice wine, 1/4 cup dark soy sauce, 1/4 cup light soy sauce, 4 cups water.
  • Simmer pork belly in marinade for 1-2 hours, until very tender.

 

Taiwanese Pork Chop

  • Take 4 pork chops, bone-in, score the fatty sides, pound until flat.
  • Marinate 30 minutes to overnight in a bag with 4 cloves garlic smashed, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp white pepper, 3 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp shaoxing wine, 1/2 tsp five spice powder.
  • Coat with 1/2 cup coarse sweet potato starch.
  • Shallow fry for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

 

Taiwanese Braised Cabbage

  • Reconstitute 2 dried shiitake mushrooms in 1 cup water, then reserve the stock. Reconstitute 1 tbsp dried shrimp, then drain. Coarsely chop half head Taiwanese cabbage (white, flat, ~2 lbs), discarding the stem.
  • In a large wok on med-high heat, in 1 tbsp oil, saute the mushrooms, shrimp, 2 cloves garlic sliced, and optionally 1 small red chili chopped.
  • Add the cabbage, 1/2-inch carrot grated, 1/8 tsp white pepper, and pinch salt. Toss until incorporated.
  • Pour in mushroom stock and simmer covered for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until leaves are wilted and translucent.

Omurice

I adore it when the Japanese language adopts words from other languages but with that lilting multisyllabic style they have. Like omurice, which is omelette (omuretsu) and rice (raisu) shoved together. It’s a totally fitting of this dish too, which is literally ketchup fried rice wrapped in an omelette and topped with ketchup.

I’ve been busy rotating and retreating to some old dishes that are easy to make in bulk, so since I had fried rice things, I decided to exercise my recently developed experience with eggs.

I worked off the recipe from justonecookbook. People keep on telling me about the really fancy version with the awesome unfurling egg pocket. I can work on that later, I guess.

Omurice

  • Make ketchup fried rice without egg:
    • Cook 2 cups rice with 80% water. Or gather as much leftover rice.
    • Saute a medium onion diced. Add 3 chicken thighs cut small chunks. Season with salt and generous pepper. Cook. Add 1/2 lb frozen veggies (e.g. corn, carrots, peas, beans).
    • Cut in cooked rice. Add 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1.5 tbsp ketchup.
  • Make thin omelettes:
    • beat 1 egg and 1 tbsp milk.
    • Over medium heat, add ~1/2 tsp oil or butter. Pour in egg mixture, and tilt pan to coat. When it sets on the bottom, turn heat to low.
  • Optionally spread some shredded cheese down the center.
  • Heap fried rice down the center, less at the edges.
  • With a spatula, delicately fold over the uncovered side edges. It’s okay if the edges don’t meet or if they rip a little. Scoot omelette to side, then flip upside down onto plate. Garnish with ketchup.

Lamb Biryani

As a sendoff, I cooked biryani: a lavish rice and curry layered dish drizzled with butter and saffron (as far as I understand it, anyway). It’s a non-trivial dish with raw spices, including the most expensive spice in the world!

Recipe from here.


Lamb Biryani

  • Marinate ~1.3 lb lamb shoulder with bone cubed in 1 tsp turmeric, 3 tbsp greek yogurt, 1/2 tsp salt 2 hours to overnight.
  • In 2 tbsp butter, fry 1 bay leaf, 5 green cardamom pods crushed, 4 cloves, 3 cm cinnamon until crackling.
  • Add 2 medium onions diced. Saute until soft.
  • Add 6 cloves garlic minced, 2” ginger minced. Add 1/2 tsp red chili powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp fennel powder.
  • Add lamb, 2 tbsp tomato paste, mixing well. Saute.
  • Add 1/2 cup water. Simmer for an hour, until reduced.
  • Rice: Soak 500g (2.5 cups) basmati rice for 30 minutes. Drain. Cook rice with 4 cups water with 2 bay leaves, 3 green cardamom pods, pinch salt, until 75% done, 7-10 minutes. Drain.
  • Saffron water: Infuse generous pinch saffron in 2 tbsp hot water.
  • Assemble: In deep casserole dish or pot, brush with melted butter. Layer rice and lamb plus sauce in thirds, drizzling in saffron water with layers. Drizzle top with saffron water, 1-2 tbsp melted butter, 1 tbsp chopped mint. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes. OR Layer in pot, cover, cook on low for 15 minutes.
  • Garnish with 1 tbsp coriander. Serve with red onion rings, lemon wedges, mint chutney.

Mint Chutney

  • Puree 2 cups cilantro sprigs (1 bunch), 1 cup mint leaves, 1/2 cup chopped white onion, 1 green chili, 1/2″ ginger, 1 tsp sugar, 3/4 tsp salt, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup water as needed.

Mei Mei’s Double Awesome

Rumor has it that a little shop in Boston called Mei Mei’s serves this delicious breakfast sandwich made of two poached/fried eggs on a scallion pancake with pesto sauce and cheese. It’s called the “Double Awesome.” 

Making it called for learning how to make pesto and scallion pancakes, which wasn’t so bad. 


Mei Mei’s Double Awesome

  • Prepare a scallion pancake. Make 2 onsen tamago (or poached eggs). Make pesto.
  • Fry one side of the scallion pancake. Flip.
  • Sprinkle half with 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese to let melt.
  • Lightly fry the eggs cracked directly into a pan.
  • When pancake and eggs are both fried, place eggs over cheese. Spread pesto over other half. Fold pancake into sandwich. Cut into half.

Continue reading Mei Mei’s Double Awesome

Carnitas

After making cha siu and a Taiwanese-style pork roast, I was looking for other regional preparations of pork butt/shoulder (apparently butts and shoulders are interchangeable in pigs). I thought carnitas would be overly ambitious, but of course Kenji pulls through with a non-slow cooker non-pork lard soaked recipe.

Carnitas

  • Cut 3 lbs boneless pork butt with rind removed into 2-inch cubes. Season with 1 tbsp salt. Arrange in 9×13 baking dish with no spaces.
  • Quarter 1 medium orange. Squeeze over juices. Add orange pieces, 2 quarters of a medium onion, 4 cloves garlic halved, 2 bay leaves, 1 cinnamon stick broken up. Pour over 1/4 cup oil.
  • Bake tightly covered with foil at 275 F for 3.5 hours, until fork-tender.
  • Remove other solids. Strain out liquids, which should result in 1/2 cup liquid and 1/2 cup fat. Shred pork with forks. Season with more salt. Optionally add some fat back to pork.
  • Roast under broiler for 6 minutes to develop crispy edges. Rearrange and roast again for 6 minutes.
  • Serve with salsa, 1 onion finely diced, 1/2 cup cilantro chopped, limes, crumbled cheese, on corn tortillas.

Breakfast Frittata

You can make a frittata with a huge variety of ingredients. I happened to have fairly standard ingredients on hand from making a boatload of French omelettes last week, so I went with that. Recipe and tips from epicurious and bonappetit.

Other ingredients to consider: potatoes, sausages, ham, roasted red bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, crumbled bacon, and herbs like parsley, dill, basil. 

Breakfast Frittata

  • In an 10-inch cast-iron skillet, saute 1 onion diced in oil for a few minutes.
  • Add 8 oz crimini mushrooms sliced. Saute, trying to evaporate all liquid.
  • Whisk 10-12 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup shredded cheese (fontina, gruyere, cheddar, pecorino romano), 1 tsp kosher salt, generous pepper.
  • Spread handful (~1 oz) quickly blanched then wrung dry baby spinach.
  • Pour in egg mixture. Use chopsticks to lift up filling a little. Cook without stirring 5 minutes, until edges start to set. Sprinkle top with 1/4 cup cheese.
  • Bake at 350 F for 22-27 minutes, until golden brown and set. Don’t overbake.

Gyudon

This Japanese beef bowl is street fast food (from a place called Yoshinoya?). I use Chinese hot pot meat. I may retake this photo once I get the proper toppings. Recipe from justonecookbook.

 

Gyudon (Japanese beef rice bowl)

  • In small pan, boil 1/2 cup dashi (1/4 tsp hondashi in boiling water), 1 tbsp mirin, (1 tsp sake), 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp sugar.
  • Add 1/2 small onion thinly sliced in single layer. Simmer covered on medium for 5 minutes.
  • Add 1/2 lb beef ribeye thinly sliced. Cook uncovered until no longer pink and sauce mostly reduced.
  • Serve on bowl of rice topped with scallion sliced and pickled red ginger, togarashi (seven spice). Optionally top with 1 onsen tamago.

Recipe from justonecookbook

Onsen Tamago (hot spring egg)

  • In small pot, boil 4.25 cups (1000 ml) water. Take off heat, add ~3/4 cup (200 ml) cold tap water. (65-68 C)
  • Place in 4 large eggs from refrigerator. Cover and leave for 17 minutes. Take out eggs and set aside for 5 minutes. Garnish with scallions.
  • Or serve in 1/4 cup dashi, 1/2 tbsp mirin, 1.5 tbsp soy sauce, 3g katsuobushi