Tuesday, August 16, 2011

ginger chicken with snow peas

a saucy dish best served over rice
This dish was part of a Taiwanese family style dinner (alongside sticky rice meatballs). This is an easy main course with lots of sauce to accompany any starch - personally I think rice works best. The ginger and snow peas make it fresh and light. It refrigerates well so don't worry about making extra - it's a leftover you'll want. Ryan and I both packed it for lunch and it was just as good the next day.

what you need:

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 cups or so of snow peas
  • 5 round slices of fresh ginger root
  • 2 tbsp finely diced ginger root
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp corn starch, dissolved in about 1/4 cup water
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce 
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • *optional - 3 dried red chilies

what to do:

  1. Slice raw chicken breast into about 1/3" thick strips, about 2-3" in length.  Marinate in a bowl with the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and diced ginger.  Store in fridge, for at least 2 hours (up to 12 hours) and the chicken should soak up most of the marinade.
  2. Slice onion roughly into long strips.  Remove rough ends of snow peas and wash thoroughly.
  3. In a pan on medium, heat up canola oil and sesame oil.  Add the dried red chilies and cook until blackened.  Add the ginger slices and onions - cook until onions are softened but not browned.
  4. Add sliced chicken and be sure not to overlap the strips.  Be sure to flip them to get even cooking on both sides, about 5 min each.
  5. Once the chicken doesn't look raw on the outsides anymore, deglaze the pan by adding the chicken stock.  If it looks like you need more sauce, add a little more chicken stock.
  6. Once the liquid comes to a gentle simmer, turn it down and add the snow peas.  Cook for about 2-3 more minutes then add the water with the cornstarch.  Stir to thicken the sauce.  Give your sauce and chicken a taste - add more soy sauce (1 tsp at a time) if it isn't salty enough.  
  7. Serve hot on top of rice (or noodles, or any starch you like) - enjoy!

    ginger chicken: bottom left corner, on a bed of white & wild rice

sticky rice meatballs

sticky rice meatballs on the bottom right corner, topped with peanut sauce
OK so this is actually one of my favourites.  I love sticky rice and I love meatballs - so this is the best combo ever!!!  It's a dish I've had in Taiwan and my mom has made it a few times - it does take a bit of work so you want to make them for special occasions or when you have some extra time.  It's not hard - just has a number of steps but its totally worth the effort!  They are great as part of a main course but also could be used as bite size appetizers.  You can eat them on their own or serve them with peanut sauce, which is what I did recently.  My friends Jillian and Criff were in town for only one night and I really wanted to make a special dinner for them.  I went with a Taiwanese family style dinner (with lots of help from my husband, Ryan) and these meatballs were one of the 4 dishes we made.  Our friends loved it!

what you need:
  • 1/2 lb lean ground pork
  • 2 green onions, chopped finely
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup glutinous sticky rice (short grain rice, arborio rice would work as well)
  • peanut sauce (see fresh rolls page for this recipe)
what to do:

  1. Boil about 4 cups of water.  Remove from heat and add the rice; let it sit for about 1 1/2 hours.  This step par cooks the sticky rice. (note: this step can be done the day before).
  2. Line a tray with parchment paper.
  3. In a bowl, use your hands to combine the pork, onions, egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.  Form meatballs (about 1 1/2" diameter) and place them on the parchment paper. 
  4. Drain water from rice, and allow the rice to dry for awhile in a strainer or spread out onto a plate lined with paper towel and pat dry.  
  5. Roll each meat ball in the rice until well studded with rice.
  6. Steam meatballs for 20 minutes.  You can use a steamer, or create one by using a bamboo steamer basket over a pot of boiling water. (check out the gourmet sleuth website on how to use a bamboo steamer). 
  7. electric steamer
  8. Remove gently with chopsticks/tongs (be gingerly as you don't want to lose the sticky rice on the tongs!) - serve hot on their own, with a simple sauce of sriracha + soy, or with the peanut sauce for extra flare.  Enjoy!
    best part! eating with friends

Sunday, August 14, 2011

tasty tofu bites

a fun vegetarian appetizer!
I know some people aren't fans of tofu, and sometimes the soy bean curd gets a bad rep for being bland and funny in texture.  This is a great way to enjoy it, and it is a simple vegetarian appetizer that will satisfy your taste buds.  The spicy crispy outside and soft inside of the tofu mixed with the creamy but fresh peanut dipping sauce makes one delicious bite.

what you need:
  • 1 package firm or extra firm tofu
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed 
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 green onions, chopped finely
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce 
  • salt and pepper
  • *optional: chopped cilantro can be added to the peanut sauce & garnish
what to do:
  1. Combine peanut butter, ginger, lime zest and juice, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and most of the green onions in a bowl.  (Save a little bit of the green onions for garnish).  Stir until a smooth sauce forms; set aside.
  2. If your tofu came in water, be sure to pat it dry with a paper towel.  Cube into about 1/2" squares.  
  3. In a pan, heat the canola oil on medium, then add garlic.  Do not let the garlic burn; once you see it start browning lightly and the oil has aromas of garlic, remove the smashed garlic from the pan.  Add red pepper flakes to oil.
  4. Add tofu cubes (do not over crowd your pan or the tofu won't crisp up).  Flip the cubes every few minutes to get even browning on all sides.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  5. Once the tofu is browned on all sides, remove from heat and plate.  Sprinkle chopped green onion on top for garnish.
  6. Serve with the peanut dipping sauce & toothpicks.  Enjoy!