Monday, December 22, 2025

A Recipe Blog?

This project is a product of three different events. First, I fell into a bizarre cultural fad along with an alarming number of my fellow 30+ year old males. For whatever reason, I watch far more Food Network than ESPN and care more about stand mixers than new car models. Second, I received a friend's set of family recipes, which included all sorts of great recipes from New England to the South (and even a chinese recipe). The recipes and the accompanying cover letter instantly made me wonder why my own family didn't have anything like that. And finally, I couldn't come up with a good gift for my dad for xmas. This isn't a new circumstance, in fact it happens every year, but this time I remembered what my dad shared at my grandmother's funeral two years ago.

Among many other things that were spoken in remembrance of my popo (grandmother), my father shared that one of his favorite memories was his mother's tomato and cabbage dish. As my family were refugees from China living in Hong Kong, my dad as the youngest, and popo would visit the open air markets after they closed and pick through the vegetables that weren't sold and thrown out. And one of the dishes that came out of those trips, was the tomato and cabbage dish that became my dad's favorite.

It may be a cliche since it is nearly universal, but food-and by extension- cooking, has always been a vehicle for love. My grandmother's first question to me whenever we spoke was, "have you eaten yet?"And her second was always, "What did you eat?" She always wanted to know what my favorite food was, and became very concerned when i stopped eating red meat for a short period. (She thought i would get cold.) And whenever i visited her, no matter what time arrived (and drives often had me arriving after 10pm), she would have a meal prepared for me and would stay up until finished whatever she put in front of me. Picture an elderly chinese woman, in pajamas, without her teeth, sitting down with me and watching to make sure i ate the food and wouldn't go to sleep hungry.

My grandmother never wrote her recipes down, and never made much of an effort to teach anyone what she cooked. If you wanted to learn, you had to pay attention and of course help out.. especially when she refused to get any help. Unfortunately, i rarely paid attention and was all too happy to take my grandmother's word that she didn't need my help as i did what seemed so much more exciting and interesting. Luckily, my dad grew up helping my grandmother, and was far more observant that i was.

So i decided to compile as many recipes as i could over the next few days and share them with you. Now, this is not to imply that all of these recipes are my grandmother's, in fact, many are probably not. Many, if not most, are from my dad, and is probably more his than hers, and some are from my dad's wife who is a great chinese cook in her own right. But, as my dad said, they may not be what my grandmother cooked, but they are definitely still my grandmother's food. Chinese home cooking is just like every other culture's own cooking, they share some common features, but the love of course, is in the details.

So much appreciation goes to my dad and his wife for being patient with me as i try and chronicle recipes and ask annoying questions. Any mistakes are obviously mine, and please feel free to comment or leave changes that you think are needed.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tomato and Cabbage

This is an extraordinarily easy dish.

1/2 a head of cabbage, preferably younger, fresh cabbage, avoid tougher heads.
2 medium tomatoes
1 TB of finely chopped ginger and green onions.

Slice the cabbage unevenly, but at about 1/2 in size.
like so:
Heat a large pan coated very lightly with some vegetable oil.
Place the ginger and green onions over high heat. Before the oil starts smoking, add the cabbage.
Saute the cabbage until it begins to soften and slightly translucent.
Add the tomatoes (cut into 1/8ths)
saute for another minute or so and then it is ready to serve.

You can add a small pinch of salt for taste.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pork Stew

3 lbs deboned pork spareribs
1/4 cup dark soy sauce1/4 cup dry sherry
4 small yellow onions, 1/2 lb dried shitake mushrooms, 2 TBs of dehydrated wood ear
star anise, 1 TB of szcheuan dried peppers (in asian grocery stores)
1 lb frozen chestnuts
1/2 lb chopped carrots

Marinate the pork in dark soy sauce (it is a less salty version of normal soy sauce, if using normal soy sauce may want to add a little less), and dry sherry for 3-4 hours (overnight if you have time)
Soak the shitake mushrooms in a bowl of water for about 2 hours (until fully hydrated). Do the same with the woodear.

Slice the 4 onions into sixths like so:

Coat the bottom of a large pot with vegetable oil and place the star anise and szcheuan peppers in the pot over high heat. You should be able to smell the fragrance of the anise pretty quickly. Add a TB of freshly and very finely chopped green onions.

Add the yellow onions and brown them until slightly translucent.

Remove the pork from the marinade and brown the pork with the onions and spices until it develops a nice sear (2 minutes or so).

Meanwhile cut off stems from the mushrooms and slice mushroom cups in 1/2. Brown the mushrooms in a small skillet with some vegetable oil until water is removed.

Add the mushrooms to the large pot, along with the woodears, add a 1/2 cup of water (best to use the water from hydrating the mushrooms, you may also want to add soy sauce for additional salt. Keep stew on for high heat for about 2-3 minutes. reduce heat and add defrosted chestnuts.

Simmer on medium low for 1 hour. Add chopped carrots about 45 minutes in, or until there is about 15 minutes left on cooking.

Baked Tofu with cucumber garnish

1 package of extra firm tofu.
Lemon Juice from one lemon
1TB of cumn powder
1/3 cup of soy sauce (vary depending on your taste for salt)
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 cucumber sliced diagonally.

drain the tofu, if packed in water. Cut tofu into 1/2 inch cubes.
Place in a large bowl and add, lemon juice cumin powder, soy sauce and olive oil

Marinate for about 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Pre- heat oven to 350 degrees.

Lay the tofu cubes on an oven sheet and bake on an oven for 45 minutes- 1 hour until the outside is crispy.

Serve with a cucumber garnish.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pepper and Black Bean Flank steak

1 1/4 lb of flank steak, cut into thin strips of about 1in in length against the grain
1/2 cup of blackbean chili paste (available in most asian grocery stores. Alternatively can use fermented black bean paste and szchewuan peppers.
1/2 cup of dry sherry
2 TB of finely chopped ginger and green onions
2 large green peppers
1 large yellow pepper

Marinate the steak, with the chili paste, sherry for 2-3 hours in a refrigerator. If the chili paste is not salty enough, you can use some soy sauce as well.
Here is a picture of the marinated flank steak:

De-seed the peppers. Tear peppers with hands into roughly 1 square inch pieces. Do not use a knife and instead just use hands.
They should look like this:

Coat a large skillet with vegetable oil and heat on medium high until just below smoking. Add the chopped ginger and green onions, and after it starts sizzling, add the marinated steak with the marinade.

After allowing the meat to brown a little bit, add the peppers cook for an additional couple minutes but remove from heat before peppers become soft.

Boiled Peanuts and Celery

A very simple, and surprisingly refreshing dish. This can be served when hot, or after refrigeration and cold.

2 cups of shelled raw peanuts (if salted, add less salt in the water)
1-2 star anise
2 cup of chopped celery

add peanuts to about 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Add 2 TBs of salt (if peanuts already salted add 1/2 that amount)
add 1-2 star anise to the water
boil water until the peanuts just start to get soft.

add chopped celery and cook additionally for about 1 minute.

drain and serve.