Scallion and Steak Rice Cakes

Chinese cooking is usually very simple to make with the key ingredients on hand and is cooked in just minutes in a very hot wok. We don’t eat very much beef in our home, but this dish is one that brings me back to my childhood. Several versions of this has been kept in our rotation of regular dishes whether it be scallions and beef with flat rice noodles, over rice, or in this case, with rice cakes. It just takes minutes to prepare and the outcome tastes like Chinese takeout.

I like using rice cakes when I’m feeling extra hungry. They’re more dense and filling than flat rice noodles, and I just really enjoy its bouncy chewy texture! You can find these in the refrigerator section of any Asian market. Sometimes it can also be found fresh wrapped in flat trays – I’ve seen this at my local Korean market.

Anyways, let’s get started cause I’m getting hungry and can’t wait much longer. Good thing the cooking time is under 10 minutes! Have everything already prepared.

Scallion and Beef Rice Cakes
Servings: 4

About 1 lb. sirloin steak, sliced. Don’t use anymore than 1 lb or you’ll have ALOT of beef.
2 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. canola oil + more for cooking.
6 scallions, cut into 2-3 inch pieces.
1 half in slice of ginger
1 lb rice cakes (I used the flat oval shaped rice cakes)
2 Tsp. shaoxing wine

Sauce:
1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. sambal olek, optional)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Put your thinly sliced steak in a medium sized bowl and add the low sodium soy sauce, corn starch and canola oil. Mix and massage soy sauce, corn starch, and oil into the beef using your fingers or a spoon. Set aside for about 30 minutes.

2. In a separate small bowl, add the ingredients for the sauce and stiry. Set aside.

3. In a wok or a large thick frying pan over high heat, add a couple of tablespoons of oil and heat until the oil is hot. Add the beef and cook until the beef just turns brown, about 1 minute, and set aside in a bowl.

4. Now add the slice of ginger and scallions. Toss and stir in the pan for about a minute.

5. Quickly add the rice cakes and stir fry for another minute. Add the shaoxing wine around the perimeter of the wok or pan. Cover with a lid and cooke for about 1 minute. The rice cakes should now be pliable and is starting to get soft.

6. Add the beef and stir to evenly mix the beef in with the rice cakes. Pour the sauce into the wok or pan and stir fry until all of the rice cakes are covered with sauce. If the rice cakes aren’t chewy at this point, cook for a bit longer until they are.

7. Lastly, find that piece of ginger and remove it! Nobody enjoys biting into a whole piece of ginger!

Serve immediately!

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Oxtail Pho

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Hello there! For the past couple of months, my mind has been focused on work, studying, and no play whatsoever. If we were able to see into each other’s minds, you’d probably see either a tornado or a block of mush, in mine.

I came across Steph’s recipe of oxtail pho on iamafoodblog. It happened I was reading her post while standing in Costco. I looked over my shoulder and saw about 100 lbs. of oxtail sitting there right before my eyes. How could I not buy a couple of pounds and not make oxtail pho, right??

Steph simmered her soup stock for about 4 hours.  Keeping in mind I’m completely mentally drained, I just threw everything into a slow cooker. That was probably the best decision I made that day. Slow-cooking the oxtail ensures fall-off-the-bone tender meat and also means stress-free no fuss cooking. I literally slept while the soup cooked. I woke up to a house that had the spicy aroma of pho broth flooding down the hallway. Almost as good as the smell of mom’s baking in the early morning. Right before serving, I heated the oxtail in a pan to create a crust and lightly sprinkled it with salt to create another dimension of flavor. I also tried to keep as much of the meat on the bone as I fully believe that one of the best ways to enjoy oxtail is to suck all of the meat and tendon off from the bone! Hey, no shame here.

This entire process took two days to make and about 10 minutes to eat, but it took very little effort and 98% of the time was waiting. Anyways, keep reading to see what I did. Thanks Steph for posting this awesome recipe!

First and foremost, take out your slow-cooker!

Oxtail Pho

Original recipe here
Servings: About 6 bowls of pho

Spices:

1 cinnamon stick
1 heaping tsp. of whole coriander
1 heaping tsp. of whole cloves
5 star anise

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Stock:

2 large onions, cut in half, keep outer skin
3/4″ knob of ginger
medium sized daikon radish, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 lbs. oxtail
3 quarts water
2 quarts beef broth
1/4 C. fish sauce

Pho noodles (this time I used fresh flat rice noodles)

Garnish:

thai basil
bean sprouts
green onions, thinly sliced
sriracha
sliced jalapeños
cilantro

1. Place halved onions and ginger into a 400 F oven or toaster oven on broil. Toast until the outside of the onions are charred. About 15 minutes.

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2. While the onions and ginger are toasting, trim the fat from the oxtail. Place the trimmed oxtail into a large pot. Fill the pot up with cold water until all of the oxtail is covered about an inch. Place the pot onto the stove and bring the water up to a rolling boil. Boil the oxtail for about 10 minutes to remove all of the impurities. Pour the dirty water out and rinse the oxtail. Transfer the oxtail into the slow cooker. This is key to making a clear broth. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!

3. in a small hot pan, toast the coriander seeds, cloves, and star anise until fragrant. Put the toasted spices and cinnamon stick into the slow cooker. Also add the carrots and daikon radish.

4. Add the 3 quarts of water to the slow cooker. If you can’t fit the beef broth, no worries. You can add this in later.

5. Turn on your slow-cooker to low and slow cook for 10 hours.

6. After 10 hours, separate the onions, daikon, carrots, and oxtail from the stock then strain the broth into a clean large pot. Simmer the stock for at least another hour or until your desired taste. The longer it boils, the richer the stock will become. If you couldnt fit all if the liquid into your slowcooker earlier, this is the time to add it now. Add fish sauce and taste. If you want the srock saltier, add more fish sauce. Discard the onions, carrots and daikon or save for later to eat.

7. Let the stock cool then transfer the pot into the refrigerator. When the broth gets cold, a layer of fat will form on the surface. Remove the fat.

8. When you’re ready to eat, heat the stock until boiling.

9. Heat a frying pan and fry the oxtail meat and lightly sprinkle the meat with salt.

10. To prepare a bowl of pho, add a handful of noodles and a few chunks of meat to a large bowl. Spoon the hot broth over the noodles and oxtail then finish with your choice of garnish.

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Happy slurping!

Kalbi (Korean Shortribs)

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It’s officially Fall in San Francisco and it’s time to brush the dust off of the Winter coats. Before I shift full swing into the cold weather comfort foods, I figured why not do some BBQ’ing one last time! Actually, I’d still take the grill out for these ribs even if it were snowing.

Mr. V and I were going over to a friend’s place for dinner and didn’t want to go empty handed. I didn’t have much time to spend in the kitchen so something made beforehand and cooked quickly was in demand. I marinated the ribs two nights beforehand to make sure the ribs had maximum flavor and Mr. V helped with the grilling the day of. They came out flavorful, juicy, and finger licking delicious. I sorta wished we made more so that there were more leftovers!

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Kalbi
Adapted heavily from Rasamalaysia
Servings: 6-8

MARINADE:
1 small Asian pear
1 small yellow onion
1 C. Light soy sauce
1 C. Citrus soda
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1/4 C. Sesame oil
4 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp. Chili flakes

MEAT:
5 lbs short ribs (cut perpendicularly to the bones)
Water

Optional:
Sesame seeds
Green onions, sliced

1. Put all MARINADE ingredients into a food processor and blend until there are no chunks from the pear or onion.

2. In a large bowl, cover ribs with water and let sit for a few minutes. Drain the water out. This removes the impurities from the meat.

3. In a large ziplock bag or large dish, lay the ribs flat and pour in the marinade, making sure every rib gets covered. Let the meat marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

4. Heat a heavy pan over high heat or prepare your BBQ grill. Cook the ribs until the surface gets charred. Flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

5. Set on a plate and sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds.

Serve immediately. Provide lots of napkins. Enjoy!!

Kimchi Fried Rice & Bulgogi

We were sharing some laughs at a lounge that was located next to a Korean restaurant with their menu posted outside on their wall.  All night, we were staring at the pictures of food as we stood outside and made new memories.  Before we knew it, we were kind of starving.  The six of us ended up making our way into the dark Korean restaurant and ordered enough food for maybe eight.  What did you expect from people with eyes larger than their stomaches?!  We ordered bulgogi (marinated slices of beef grilled to perfection), kimchi fried rice, Korean chicken wings, and bibimbap (rice bowl filled with prepared veggies and topped with a raw egg).  And of course, to finish the night, we ordered a bottle of shochu and played a drinking game called Titanic.

The kimchi fried rice and bulgogi hit the spot and I knew I wanted to recreate it at home.  I’ve tried making kimchi fried rice before, but could never get it right.  This time, what did I do?  I asked a Korean friend of mine what I was doing wrong and found out I was missing the chili paste, gochujang.  I was determined to get it right this time so that I could make it on my own if I was to ever crave it at home, which I promise you I eventually will!  I was feeling a little over the edge and decided to also try to make bulgogi.

I remember making a sauce that could possibly be used to make bulgogi, and I ended up thinking in the right direction.  In my opinion, the bulgogi came out a little salty.  My friend disagrees with me, but my tastebuds are a little sensitive to salt.  Originally, I used thin soy sauce, but in the recipe, I have changed it to light soy sauce.  Now don’t get thin and light soy sauce mixed up.  Light soy sauce has less sodium than thin soy sauce and thin soy sauce is just a thinner version of regular soy sauce.  I think you kind of get the point.

For the kimchi fried rice, make sure you cook the rice a couple of days beforehand otherwise the fried rice will come out a little on the wet and mushy side.  The second time I made it, I had made the mistake of using the rice I had just cooked the night before and it came out a little more wet than I preferred.  I also used spam, but hot links, chicken sausages, chinese barbeque pork, or ham can be used.

I know, I know… what?!  You eat spam?  Well.. as nasty as some people thing it is, I LOVE IT!  Don’t judge me!

Kimchi Fried Rice

2 Tbsp. oil, plus extra if the rice starts to stick to the pan.

1/2 of a medium onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 a block of spam, diced (I used the less sodium one)

3 C. of cooked rice, cooked two days in advanced

2 C. kimchi with 2 Tbsp. of kimchi juice

2 Tbsp. gochujang

2 tsp. sesame oil

Heat oil in a wok or a large heavy pan.  When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add garlic, onions, spam, and kimchi and stir fry for about two minutes.  Add the rice to the pan and stir to break the rice apart.  Add the kimchi juice, sesame oil, and additional oil if needed.  When the rice is evenly stirred in with the rest of the ingredients, add the gochujang and stir until evenly distributed.

Bulgogi

1 lb. thinly sliced ribeye,

3 stalks green onion, sliced (green and white parts), plus more for garnishing

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

1/4 C. light soy sauce

2.5 Tbsp. sugar

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

a little bit of minced ginger

1/4 tsp. chili flakes

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seed slightly chopped so they can be more fragrant, plus more for garnishing.

1/2 a small onion, sliced

In a large bowl, add the garlic, green onions, sugar, soy sauce, minced ginger, sesame oil, chili flakes, sesame seeds, and onions and mix until the sugar dissolves.  Add the slices of ribeye to the bowl one slice at a time, making sure each slice gets some sauce on it.  Cover and let marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a grill or a nonstick frying pan.  Add the slices of meat one at a time creating a single layer. Cook one layer at a time, including some onions each time.  Depending on how thing your slices are, each side just needs about 30 seconds cooking time.

Beef and Asparagus in Black Bean Sauce

You guys want to eat some flies?

Say what?

My grandpa used to tease us kids and pretend he was about to feed us flies everytime he made something in black bean sauce. You’ll see why in a min.  We’d quickly walk back to our grandparents house after summer school knowing there was a table of food waiting for us. Grandpa would usually make two dishes to eat with rice or for something quick, he would make us some noodles in soup with veggies.  We’d rush up the stairs, throw our backpacks on the floor, and run to the table to wait for the food to magically appear…

“Flies for lunch today!” he would say in Chinese. Can you imagine the faces of 4-9 year olds dropping with disappointment and disgust?! Then he’d laugh and bring us the real food he had cooked for us. The stir-fried veggies in black bean sauce aka flies, was for him and grandma. Because of that, i didn’t eat anything in black bean sauce until i was in high school! i wished i was more adventerous as a child and ate those flies cause, damn they’re good!

Now when I say black beans, I’m sure you’re thinking of the black beans that are found in burritos and salads.  In black bean sauce, dried fermented black beans are used.  I know it sounds gross, but they’re salty and extremely flavorful.  I like to pair them with chicken or beef and a strong hearty vegetable, such as asparagus or green and red peppers.  Black beans can be found in Asian supermarkets either dried on their own or already prepared as a sauce that comes in a small jar.

This past week, it’s been sunny but chilly in San Francisco.  The brightness of the sun and the blue skies trick me when I look out the window in the morning to help me decide what to wear that day.

I always find myself running back into the house to grab a scarf or a thicker jacket, sometimes both.  The weather reminds me of certain days taking the shortcut across the baseball field to get back to the grandparents house.  I was craving for something a little homey and beef and asparagus in black bean sauce is what I came up with.

Beef and Asparagus in Black Bean Sauce

12 spears of asparagus, cut into 2″ pieces

1/2 lb. flank steak

2 tbsp. soy sauce

4 cloves garlic, minced and divided in half

1 tsp. mirin

1/2 tsp. sesame oil

pepper

2 tbsp. dried black beans

half of a small onion, sliced thinly

2 tbsp. oil

2 tbsp. water

Boil a pot of water.  Wash your asparagus and hold each end of the asparagus.  Break the bottom portion of the asparagus at its natural breaking point.  Doing this removes the tough part of the stem. Discard the tough pieces.  Cut the asparagus into 2″ pieces and blanch them in the boiling water.  Set aside.

Slice your flank steak into thin pieces and place in a small bowl.  Add the soy sauce, mirin, 2 cloves of garlic, sesame oil, and a couple cracks of pepper into the bowl.  Stir so that all of the meat gets coated in the sauce.  Set aside for 20 minutes.

When the meat is done marinating, heat a wok or a heavy pan with the oil.  Add the onions and cook them for about a minute.  Throw in the remaining 2 tablespoons of garlic along with all of the meat.  Add the water.  Stir fry the meat and onions until the meat is almost done-about 4 minutes.

Rinse the black beans in a small bowl and drain.  Lay the black beans on a cutting board and run a large knife through them.  Also, with the side of your knife, smash some of the beans into a paste.  Add the black beans into the meat cooking in the pan and continue cooking for about 30 seconds.  See the whole beans sitting on the knife?  Don’t they kind of look like flies with no legs or wings? Hahaha.. yeah, I now, we’re weird and gross. SO WHAT!!?

Add the blanched asparagus and mix with the meat and sauce until coated.

Serve with rice and don’t forget to pour all of the sauce over the rice!

Feastin’

You know you’re getting old when you have less urges to go out and party the night away.  My friends and I have decided that we’re getting old.  In the past year, we’ve been having a lot of cooking nights instead of going out for drinks and waking up thinking, “what happened last night??”  Partying and drinking at clubs and lounges is fun, but something about staying in and getting everyone involved then sitting down together makes it much more fulfilling.  Sometimes, even the guys help out!

Throughout my first year in college, my friend Wyatt and I would cook something and trade with each other every weekend.  This saved us from having to eat our own food every day of the week.  It’s always nice to eat someone else’s cooking once in a while.  Since I was so busy with school, I’d usually try to make something really quick for myself.  Having food in the refrigerator from Wyatt was always a life saver for those nights when I REALLY didn’t feel like cooking.  It also gave us the opportunity to challenge ourselves in making something new. 

This past week, we decided to prepare a meal together for a few of our closest friends.  On the menu that night was spinach salad with parmesan croutons and avocado, curry pumpkin soup (in a previous post), mashed potatoes with chives, and beef wellington.  For dessert, we had chewy pecan praline chocolate bars (Please excuse the poor quality of the photos.  I couldn’t get any good lighting).

Spinach Salad:

(all ingredients can be found at Trader Joe’s)

1 lb baby spinach
1/4 C. grated parmesan cheese
6 sticks of parmesan cheese crackers
1 ripe avocado
a few slices of prosciutto
champagne vineagrette

Slice prosciutto into tiny pieces and throw into a hot pan with a teaspoon of oil.  When it’s brown and crispy, take the prosciutto out and drain on a paper towel. 

In the mean time, grate the cheese and crack the crackers into bite size pieces.  Cut avocado in half, remove the pit, then slice the avocado into thin slices.

In a large bowl, toss the spinach and dressing.  Put as much dressing as you’d like.  Throw in the crackers, cheese, avocado, and prosciutto.  Toss lightly

Mashed Potatoes:

4 starchy potatoes (do not use waxy potatoes)
3/4 C. sour cream
4 Tbsp. butter
salt
1 bunch of chives (cut into very small pieces)
5 slices of prosciutto

Prepare a large pot of water for boiling.  Remove skins from potatoes and cut them into 2″ cubes.  When the water is boiling, add the potatoes and boil until they slide off of a fork when a fork is stabbed into them.

While the potatoes are boiling, cut the prosciutto and pan fry them until crisp.

Drain the potatoes and bring the pot of potatoes back onto the stove.  Add a pinch of salt, butter,and sourcream and start mashing the potatoes with a potato masher until the desired consistency.  Add the chives and prosciutto and mix or you can top each serving with a sprinkle of chives and the prosciutto

Beef Wellington

2 lb. piece of filet mignon
about 2lbs of button mushrooms
1 shallot
pinch of thyme
sea salt
pepper
mustard
proscuitto
1 sheet of puff pastry

Prepare a large skillet with a drizzle of oil.  Sprinkle filet mignon with salt and pepper and place on the hot skillet.  Sear all sides of the meat.  When all of the sides are browned, place the meat on a plate and set aside.

Preheat oven for 450 degrees F.

Place shallot, thyme, salt, and pepper into a food processor and pulse until the mushrooms pieces are extremely small.  Cook the mushroom mixture in a pan until almost all of the moisture is gone.  n the meantime, smear the meat with a thin layer of mustard.

Layer prosciutto into a large thin sheet, large enough to wrap around the filet mignon.  Smear the mushroom mixture onto the prosciutto then place the filet mignon on one side of the prosciutto and wrap it tightly.  Seal this with seran wrap and set aside.

Take the sheet of puff pastry and roll out slightly.  Take the serap wrap off of the meat and place the meat onto one side of the puff pastry.  Wrap the puff pastry around the meat and place onto a pan with a small rack and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.

Let Mr. Wellington rest for a bit before cutting so the juices can settle otherwise he may fall apart and the meat will become dry.  Isn’t he beautifuullll……?

Look at the juicyness!

Now time for the sweets!

Sit around the table with a nice glass of red wine and enjoy the company from your loved ones. I must admit, we did a good job.. it was deeeelish!