Thursday, May 26, 2011

Steam-fried tofu patties

So after getting busy with sneezing, coughing, and wiping my nose (sorry) since Monday, I finally took a day off today. I thought I would get bored to death staying at home alone as I was too dizzy to read  or watch anything, let alone cook in my kitchen. But with the medicine, I dozed off right after my lunch (instant noodles, yikes) and dinner (store-bought bento, better). Now I`m awake and except for the stuffy nose and the occasional coughing, I`m feeling much much better now.
I hope my story won`t cause you loosing your appetite, because I`m going to share this steam-fried tofu patties recipe. I learned about this steam-frying technique from cooking gyouza and love the way it gives moisture to the browned food without having to turn it into a stew or soup.

Shall we start now?
Lightly wash the tofu, drain, and remove the excess water by wrapping it with a paper towel and let it sit that way for like 30 mins.

While waiting, chop garlic and saute it with bit of oil to bring out the aroma. Try not to overcook it as burned garlic is NO good at all, even for a garlic addict like me. Set aside when the sauteed garlic is done.

After the tofu turned drier (it`s almost impossible to make it 100% dry with a paper towel), place it in a mixing bowl.

Dump in shirasu (tiny white anchovies), chili slices, sesame seeds (better if toasted), spring onion, and sauteed garlic and season it with salt and pepper.
You can substitute the anchovies for minced beef, chicken, or pork if you`re a meat lover.

Mix everything well with your hand, a potato masher, or a wooden spatula.

With your hand, take a fistful of the tofu mixture, softly squeeze it to make it compact, and shape into a patty.

Put a bit of oil  on a frying pan but do not turn on the heat yet, place the patties one by one, and now you can turn on the heat.

Carefully (I used two spatulas) flip over to brown the other side.

After both sides are browned, pour in a mixture of water, soy sauce, sugar (or mirin), vinegar, salt, and pepper. The liquid should be enough to cover one third to one half of the patties and later you can reduce it to your preference.

Throw in carrots and mushrooms, quickly close the lid, and let the steam cook the tofu and vegetables.

How long the steaming process will take depends whether you like the carrots to be mushy or crunchy. For me, I steamed them for 5 minutes and the carrots were cooked through but still leaving the crunchy texture.

So this is what we had for one of our meatless days. The lightness of the texture makes this dish a good choice when you need a break from non-fish meats and heavy meals. Or you can omit the fish  if you`re more into a vegan diet.

p.s. I gained weight. Gasp!! Now you know why I had these patties.

White tofu
Tiny white anchovies (shirasu)
Sesame seeds
Spring onion
Soy sauce

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sweetie greenies

Do you like brownies? I do. Love it. Well, who doesn`t, anyway. And the easiness in making it just make it a perfect treat. But this time I`m not going to show you how to make it (as it seems like everyone mastered it already). Instead you are going to see how I turn it into greenies. No, I won`t mix spinach into the chocolate batter if that`s what you`re worrying about.
Now, do you like green tea? Please say you do.
Aha, now you got the hint.

I use the same recipe for brownies I made before, with some changes, though.
First, melt the butter in the microwave or on low heat in a sauce pan. Transfer the melted butter in a mixing bowl, add sugar, and cream it.

Whisk it until it turns into a paler emulsion-like batter.

Beat the eggs, pour into the batter in batches, and whisk.

Mix cake flour (70 g) with green tea powder (1 tbs). Naturally, the more green tea you add in, the more bitter and green the cake will be. So you might want to test some proportions of the green tea to get your preferred green-teaness, but I hope this recipe can be a good one to start with.

The flour mix may seem not green at all, but once you dump it into the batter and stir it, you`ll see how the batter will turn greener and greener nevertheless.

It`s okay to add in some more green tea powder if you think it`s not green enough for you, but keep in mind that it will affect the taste at some level.
And to harmonize the greenness, I added chocolate bars broken into chunks and toasted almonds.

Pour the batter onto a baking dish lined with parchment paper and sprinkle toasted almond to cover the whole surface.
Bake it in preheated oven at 180 C for 25 min

And voilĂ ! Dessert is almost ready!
Oh don`t worry about the surface getting browned.

Because the beautiful greenies are still there waiting for you.
The bittersweet aroma of the green tea and the gooeyness of the chocolate are nicely wrapped in the cake while the crunchy almonds inside and out give an edge to the whole joy.
Oh, what am I blabbering about.

By the way, have you tried Green Tea KitKat??
I haven`t. I know. I`ll get them tomorrow.

100 g unsalted butter
90 g sugar
2 medium-sized eggs
70 g cake flour
1 tbs green tea powder
Toasted almond
Chocolate chunks

Bake at preheated oven at 180 C for 25 min

Fried gnocchi with tuna cheese sauce

When I`m super hungry yet super lazy to chop or peel anything, a pack of (almost expired) gnocchi in my kitchen will look like a treasure. It IS a treasure. I do have pasta (almost expired too), but boiling seems too long for my growling stomach. 
By the way, this has nothing to do with the gnocchi, but I can`t help wondering if everyone in this planet plays Angry Birds except me? My husband seems unable to leave those poor cute pigs alone and I keep telling him that there should be another game called Angry Wife. Are you with me?
Ah yes, gnocchi. One thing I love about gnocchi is the versatility in cooking them. For the speediness, I chose shallow-frying them. Or searing maybe?
Heat a bit of oil, dump the gnocchi on a frying pan, and brown them. 

Wait, toss, wait, and toss. Alright, this is brown (and good) enough for me. 

Set aside the browned gnocchi on a plate.Alright, you can eat one. One.

Now this is another life saver in our house. I feel terribly sad if we run out of this canned tuna and I forgot to buy the new stock.

Dump in the whole tuna flakes to the frying pan used for frying gnocchi before. If, just if, you happen to use too much oil to fry the gnocchi, just wipe off the excess oil from the pan. I don`t know how canned tuna in other countries looks like , but I assume it has enough oil already in the can.
For seasoning, I added garlic powder (knife-free day, everyone), cayenne pepper, black pepper, oregano, and nutmeg. Salt? Nah.

Because we`re adding lots and lots of cheese sauce here. Yes, cheese sauce from a jar.  From the store. Did I tell you that this time it`s all about lazy, speedy, easy, and yummy?
If you`re a hard worker, though, you might want to try out this cheese sauce recipe

A tablespoon of tomato ketchup is wonderful too. Stir the love potion.

 And throw in the gnocchi. Oh-la-la, I`m falling in love already.

It`s chewy and cheesy with "Mmmmm..." sound in every bite. 
And after a plate of it, the Angry Wife turns into a Happy Pig Bird.

Canned tuna
Cheese sauce
Garlic powder
Cayenne pepper
Black pepper
Tomato ketchup

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Soto sapi (turmeric beef soup)

I can`t believe this is happening. I haven`t blogged (and shared any food with you) for 2 weeks straight? No, this is unforgivable. I have a presentation to do tomorrow (to make my Monday perfect of course), but this post just can`t wait. In fact, I`ve been delaying to write about it since last month and I don`t even know why!
So, this soup is an Indonesian style beef soup with a quite strong accent of turmeric. As much as I wanted to call it "spicy beef soup", I think calling it yellow soup can somehow describe it better, as it literally is yellow and NOT spicy. Really, this soup is not spicy at all, unless you add sambal to it, which what Indonesian usually does. 
You can serve this with rice or vermicelli. I used Japanese vermicelli called "soumen". Like other noodle, soumen is usually bland. But,  the soumen I always buy have sesame oil and dashi in it and they make great extra flavors.

Alright, back to the soto. Cube the beef and boil. In a pressure cooker, please. But if you don`t have it, just regular pot will do fine, although it will take much longer time (and patience) to make the beef tender. That`s okay too, you can watch TV or do some blogging while waiting anyway.

Pressure cooker or regular pot, make sure to skim off the scam to make a cleaner soup. It`s almost impossible to get rid the scam completely with a (1 dollar) skimmer, though.
If you use a regular pot, keep boiling on a medium heat until you get the beef texture right. If it`s  tender enough for you, turn off the heat, and set it aside.

If you are using a pressure cooker like I did, close the lid after the skimming. With the lid on and locked, I cooked it for 30 or 40 minutes. The beef turned out beautifully tender despite the stiff square look.Set it aside and let`s continue with the spice.

Here`s what I used: garlic, onion, ginger, lemon grass, and turmeric powder...

..also salam leaves (Asian bay leaves) and kaffir lime leaves. Keep stirring the spice and you`ll notice how the turmeric will give a distinct fragrance to the spice mixture aside from the gorgeous yellowness.

Pour in the beef stock you made to the spice. Or you can do the other way of course, if it`s more practical for you. In that case, rinse the pan once the spice was in with the soup to make sure you don`t leave any good stuff there.
Stir the soup with spice in and adjust the taste with salt and pepper. Sugar? Well, a pinch of it won`t hurt. When it tastes alright, drink it. 
Or not. Set it aside, please. We need some self control here.

If you are serving the soto with rice, then you can skip this step. But if you choose vermicelli, boil them according to the instruction on the pack. Mine only needs 2 minutes in boiling water. 

Beautiful. Rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process.
If you serve the vermicelly right away, then you won`t have any problem. But if you will eat it later,  place the soumen in a bowl of (cold) water to avoid clumping.

Place the soumen in an individual bowl.

Add washed raw bean sprouts.

And pour over the beef soup. How much? As much as you like, dear. You deserve it.

Garnish with some greenie (spring onion, parsley, celery, etc) and fried onion, spritz in lemon juice (or kalamansi for the originality), and drizzle kecap manis over. If you`re more into the spicy version, get sambal too. I recommend a non-sweet sambal as the kecap manis is already sweet.
And if you want some more festivity (and calories), add boiled eggs too.

And by the way, you can also use chicken instead of beef with the same spice to make this soto. Just boil the chicken, remove the bones (if any), and shred before serving it.
Have a nice Sunday!

Beef stock
Beef, cubed

Spice paste
Salam leaves
Kaffir lime leaves

Salt and pepper

Vermicelli or soumen, boiled
Bean sprouts
Spring onion
Lemon juice
Kecap manis

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Crunchy Sunday

Here`s what we had for afternoon snack: a bag of tortilla chips with chili salsa.
I couldn`t find coriander at the store today, so I just used parsley instead. Great flavor too!

Tortilla chips (plain/seasoned)

Chili salsa
Use food processor or blender
Red bellpepper
Red chili
Lemon juice
Black pepper
Olive oil