Sunday, June 5, 2011

Recipe #65: Mustard greens with dried scallops (干貝芥菜)

Mustard greens have a mix of spiciness and bitterness. As such, I usually don't eat a lot of it. However, the large-sized Chinese mustard greens are the only variants that I will eat. Not only because there is a hint of sweetness in the bitterness, but also that the dried scallop improves its taste.

In Chinese folklore, mustard greens is often called the "vegetable of long life." As such, this dish is often served at Chinese New Year or formal gatherings. This is because the festive dishes are elegant, which the scallops add to. In restaurants, there is usually no scallops, so most Cantonese restaurants will offer mustard green.


1. 1 bunch mustard greens
2. Dried scallops, soaked in 1/2 c. water
3. 1/2 tsp. light color soy sauce, 1 Tbs water
4. salt to taste
5. 1 Tbsp. cooking oil
6. 2 tsp. cornstarch


1. Soak dried scallops in water.
2. When scallops are soft, rub them apart, keeping the water (with the aroma of scallops).
3. Slice mustard greens into large chunks, and boil them till tender and drain.
3. In a saucepan, add cooking oil. When it is hot enough, add mustard greens.
4. Quick stir, then add salt and sautee.
5. Trans vegetables to plate.
6. Mix light color soy sauce, water and cornstarch well.
7. Pour the water (with the scallop aroma) in fry pan, sprinkle a little salt, and add cornstarch mixture, and bring it to a boil. It should result in a thick gravy.
8. Pour scallop gravy on mustard greens, serve hot.


1. A brief boil is adequate; you don't want to cook it too much, or the tenderness will be gone. The color will also be worse.
2. The reason for the boil is to remove the bitterness, which makes the taste less palpitable; I recommend not against frying it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Recipe #64: Stuffed luffa (絲瓜) with dried scallops

Taiwanese-born people, especially girls, are known to love luffa. Not only for its texture, but also for its skin-beautifying properties. In warmer weather, eating luffa can help balance the body. As such, one cannot grow so much pimples.

In the event where pimples do appear, it is a common practice to cut off a luffa, and attach a bottle to collect the sap, which would then applied to the face a bit every day. Even if there are a lot of pimples, they would be quickly cured.

One of my mother's college roommates had a bunch of pimples. She used this method; not only did her pimples disappear, her skin also became soft and fine, and also very beautiful. In the heart of Taiwanese girls, the luffa is a legend.

Of course, the luffa is used in many recipies...


1. 2 dried scallops
2. 8 oz. ground pork
3. 1 large luffa, peeled
4. 3 dried mushrooms
5. 1/2 egg white
6. 1 tsp. minced ginger
7. 1 Tbsp. chopped green onion
8. 1/2 tsp. salt
9. 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
10. 1/2 Tbsp. sake or cooking wine
11. 1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch


1. Cut luffa into 1" sections.
2. Soak dried mushrooms and scallops in separate bowl.
3. Chop mushrooms when soft, and rub scallop apart.
4. Add mushrooms, egg white, ginger, green onion, salt, and sake into ground pork, and mix well with hand.
5. Remove the center of the luffa (keep a small part of the bottom), and fill with pork mixture.
6. Arrange stuffed luffa on plate, and steam for about 15 minutes.
7. Mix soy sauce and scallops with 1 Tbsp. water and steamed juice, and bring it to a boil. It should result in a thick gravy.
8. Pour the gravy over luffa and serve.


1. Round (not the ones with jagged edges) luffa works best with this recipe.
2. This is one of the higher-class dishes, so it is usually served at parties with important guests. Otherwise, the scallops are not included. Speaking of which, dried scallops are often sold in Japanese medicine stores.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A classic Chinese dish
Recipe #63: broccoli beef

One time, my mother had a party. All of the food was very good except for the broccoli beef. I couldn't resist, so I asked her, "How did you cook this beef? It's very old and tough!" Before she could answer, another guest piped up, "Oh, I'm the one who made it!"

That turned out to be the only dish that was not made by my mother.

Ah, no wonder.

However, broccoli beef isn't all that hard to make, as long as you use the right methods.

The method my mother taught me does not use any sauce, so it's very light, tasty and healthy.


1. 3 oz. flank steak, sliced
2. beef marinade: 1/2 tsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. cooking wine (sake), 1 tsp. corn starch, 1/2 tsp. cooking oil
3. 2 stalks of broccoli
4. salt to taste
5. 1 Tbsp. cooking oil


1. Mix the ingredients the marinade and place beef in for a few minutes.
2. Cut broccoli into bite-sized florets.
3. Fill a 4- or 5-qt. pot half full with water and boil. Dip broccoli in for about a minute; drain and set aside.
4. In a saucepan, add cooking oil. When it is hot enough, add beef.
5. When beef is medium-well, add broccoli.
6. Add salt and sautee.
7. Meanwhile, add about 1 tsp. hot water to the remaining marinade and pour into saucepan.
8. Continue sauteing for about half a minute, or until beef is well done.
9. Serve hot.


1. Be sure to cut the flanks against the grain and put into small bowl; otherwise, the beef will be very hard to chew.
2. Flank steak is best fit for this dish. Some restaurants use regular beef instead of flank steak, and then use baking soda to tenderize the meat. Afterwards, they use sauce to cover the baking soda. However, this causes the beef to lose its original flavor, and it is also less healthy.
3. The broccoli only needs to be boiled for about a minute. This lets it stay green without being overcooked, yet still has a crispy and tender texture.
4. Adding hot water to the marinade lets the dish cook faster, and also improves the taste.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Recipe #62: steamed pork with rice powder

In my memory, my grandparents' generation often made steamed pork with rice powder. Especially, it was one of my grandfather's masterpieces. Those who have tasted it always wanted to come to our house for seconds. Some of those people would go as far as giving my grandfather great gifts, as well as a bit of PR.

Unfortunately, my mother would only enjoy eating when she was young, and, like I used to, assumed that she would magically know how to make it. Until when she actually tried, she did not know where to start! The steamed pork with rice powder was a dish she has always wanted to try, and she realized that even grandfather told her how to make the dish, she wouldn't necessarily be able to get the ingredients. So she decided to make her own version.

My mother really has talent. She experimented for a bit, and was able to this dish. In her generation, very few people know how to make this dish. But I am lucky that she does.


1. 1/2 lb. chunked porks or 1" baby pork ribs
2. 1/2 lb. kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) or yam
3. 2 packages of rice powder
4. 1/2 c. water
5. 1/2 Tbsp. hot soybean paste
6. 1 tsp. cooking wine
7. 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
8. 1/2 tsp. sugar
9. 2 slices ginger


1. Mix water, soybean paste, wine, soy sauce, sugar and ginger well; add pork to mixture and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Put pumpkin or yam into bowl or steamable container.
3. Dip every chunk of pork into rice powder on all sides. Line up on top of pumpkin or yam.
4. Pour remaining marinade on rice powder.
5. On high heat, steam for about 40-60 minutes.


1. We usually use pork butt. For baby back ribs, you can cut it into three pieces, and then you can cut each piece into small chunks.
2. Rice powder comes in several flavors, such as regular, five spices or spicy. Each type brings about its own unique taste.
3. If you don't like spicy foods, you can replace the hot soybean paste with another Tbsp. of soy sauce.
4. Putting the pumpkin or yam on the bottom brings about a better overall taste, but the pork will be on the bottom when you transfer the contents to a plate, resulting in a poor presentation. My mother solves this problem by steaming pumpkin/yam and pork separately; when the pork is about 80% done, add the pumpkin/yam to it and finish cooking.