Crunchy Soybeans

中文菜谱:

酥黄豆

Crunchy soybeans are far more than a snack to us.  They can also be used as a crunchy topping for Asian style noodle soups too, or as a topping to almost anything you like.  And be careful, these beans can be additive too O(∩_∩)O~

It is super simple and easy to make crunchy soybeans at home.  All you need is a little bit of time and patience, and of course, some soybeans!

Crunchy soybeans make perfect topping for Chinese noodles.

Ingredients:

1 cup of soybeans
water for soaking
1 1/2 to 2 cups oil
salt to taste

 

Directions:

Add soybeans to a bowl, along with water.  Let it sit overnight.

Soaked soybeans

Drain the soybeans.  Add to a thick sauce pan.  Add oil.  I use a 2 quarts cast iron wok which is perfect for frying small batch of meat and vegetables.

Cook over medium low heat. 

With a spoon, stir the beans from time to time to prevent uneven cooking.

A few minutes later, soybeans start to change colors.

They slowly darken the color. 

Reduce the heat to low.  DO NOT use high heat here.  Otherwise, you might end up with burnt or chewy soybeans instead of crunchy ones.

The beans have been deep-fried over low heat for almost 30 minutes.

Now the color is beautifully golden brown.

Drain the beans and let them cool down in a plate lined with kitchen paper towel.

Sprinkle with fine table salt.  Store in an air-tight mason jar up to 2 weeks after the beans are completely cooled. 

I posted how to make noodles at home before: Homemade Noodles in Thick Pork Broth  

Cook the noodles in boiling water for 45 seconds to one minute.  Add to a bowl, along with soy sauce, sesame oil, Sichuan peppercorn oil, chili oil sauce, spicy ground beef with dice tofu, finely shredded cucumber, chopped cilantro, green onion, and of course, crunchy soybeans.

Use pair of chopsticks to toss everything together.

Bon appetite! O(∩_∩)O~

Grilled Asparagus Wrapped in Bacon

中文菜谱:

烤培根芦笋卷

If you love to shop at local farmers’ markets like I do, you would agree with me that asparagus is a messenger for spring.  It is earliest vegetable coming out of the ground.

 When I was living back in Michigan, winter was really cold and long.  We had to wait until May when it finally warmed up.  And asparagus is always the first seasonal vegetable appearing at farmers’ markets, followed by strawberries in June. 

Asparagus can be cooked in so many ways that I can never get tired of it.  One of my favorite ways is to grill with bacon.  Oh, yes, bacon makes everything so much better! O(∩_∩)O~

Ingredients:

1 bunch asparagus
1 package of bacon (1 lb)
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

Try to pick the asparagus that is short and thick with tender and juicy texture.

Remove the tough bottom by bending each asparagus near its bottom until it snaps. Discard the tough bottom parts.    

Wrap each asparagus with one slice of bacon.  Secure both ends with bamboo toothpicks. 

I also wrap the bacon slices around some enokitake mushrooms and garlic chives. 

Preheat grill to 400F/ 204C

Quickly brush the griddle with some oil.  Add bacon-wrapped vegetables.

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Excessive dripping fat from bacons may cause the grill to flare up.  Keep a close eye on the grill.  Flip them frequently if necessary to prevent burning or over cooking. 

Sprinkle salt and black pepper on top while grilling.

Bacon turns amazingly golden brown.  The vegetables are ready.

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You can also bake asparagus in the oven with bacon.  But I think grilling is a better way because it adds extra smoky flavors that cannot be produced in a regular oven.

Pickled Peanuts with Vinegar and Onion

Pickled peanut is a dish, well, an appetizer to be exact, very popular during hot summer time across mainland China.  It is extremely simple and easy to make.  Just toss roasted peanuts and chopped onion, along with vinegar and some other seasonings.  And then wah-lah… you have a refreshing and crunchy peanut appetizer!

It sounds easy.  But it will take a few tries to achieve great flavors.  And the variations are limitless.  You can add celery, cilantro, chili peppers…  And every family has its own seasoning recipe too. All they have in common are peanuts, good vinegar and chopped onion.  

Ingredients:

1 cup raw peanuts
3 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (go with aged vinegar if you have one on hand )
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 to 2 tablespoons honey (or use more or less to taste)
3 to 4 tablespoons soy sauce
chopped cilantro
1 medium sized onion, peeled and chopped
salt to taste

 

Directions:

I love peanuts with that red thin layer of skin on.  The ones without it will taste just fine too.

Preheat oven to 350F/177C

Spread peanuts on a baking sheet.  Bake in the oven for 8 minutes.  When time is up, turn off oven heat.  Leave the peanuts in the oven until they are cooled down. 

Peanuts will be very crunchy when they cool down.

I have been using this vinegar for years.  The aged version tastes better.  Whenever I see them on shelves, I would stock up O(∩_∩)O~

Add peanuts, along with chopped onion, cilantro and all the seasonings to a large bowl.

Mix well.

It can be served right after everything is mixed together.  But the flavor would be so much better if you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

A few hours later, color has dulled a little bit, but all seasoning s and flavors combine better and the taste is smoother and more harmonious. 

Peanuts are still crunchy.  The contrast between crunchy peanut and juicy onion is well balanced and interesting.   I just can’t get enough of it O(∩_∩)O~

Stir-fried Minced Pork and Lotus Root

中文版菜谱:

肉末炒藕丁

Lotus root might be an exotic ingredient for most American people.  Trust me, it taste very good.  Fresh lotus root is very crunchy, a bit starchy and sweet.  It has a mild nutty earthy and fruity taste.  It is can eaten raw or cooked in soup, stir-fry, and even desserts.   

There are two kinds of lotus roots.  One is crunchier, nuttier, and more refreshing.  We usually use it in stir-fry.  The other kind is more on the starchy side, which taste better in soups.  Most lotus roots available in Asian grocery are first kind, the crunchy type.  We buy them a lot, not just because it taste good on itself, but also because its mild flavor goes with almost everything in the kitchen.

One of my favorite ways is stir-fry lotus root with minced pork.  The pork fat add deep rich flavor to crunchy lotus root.

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Ingredients:

1 medium size lotus root
200 to 300g minced pork
1teapsoon Sichuan peppercorns
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 small trunk of ginger root, chopped
1 tablespoon rice cooking wine
1 to 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 handful dried chili peppers, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoon vegetable oil for stir-fry
salt to taste

 

Directions:

Peel and dice the lotus root.

Part of the seasonings needed in this recipe

Heat a cast iron wok over high heat.  Add oil and then pork along with ginger and garlic.  Sautee until the pork turns a little bit golden brown.

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Add chili peppers.  Sautee for one minute

Add oyster sauce, rice cooking wine and black pepper.  Sautee for one minute

Add diced lotus root, and then soy sauce and dark soy sauce.  Sautee for another couple minutes.

Serve hot immediately

The dish is savory, crunchy, a little bit spicy, a little bit sweet, and loaded with umami O(∩_∩)O~

Sichuan Style Pickled Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem artichoke might be considered weeds because they can grow big and tall like crazy and take up a lot of space.  I have seen miles of Jerusalem artichokes in New York suburbs.  Their little yellow flowers shine like sunflowers in May afternoon sun.  It was beautiful.  Also what a shame that people nearby have no idea what they miss here if they only admire their flowers.  The root is the delicious part.

Sichuan province is widely famous for two things in China: hot and spicy food and Sichuan style pickled vegetables.   Pickles can be found in almost every family here.  A lot of vegetables can be pickled in a dark colored clay jar sealed with water on the edge.  It is the taste of home and comfort food for all the people from Sichuan area. 

We brought a clay jar back to America on one of our trip to China.  Ever since then, it is like my kitchen is cast with a special spell.  That familiar taste of pickled vegetables from this simple jar can always take us back to home.

My friend sent me two small Jerusalem artichoke plants last spring.  They grew into two giant plants!  I dig up their roots before winter comes.

If you want continuous supply of Jerusalem artichoke, just leave behind one or two pieces of root in the ground.  They will come back the next spring. 

Rinse well under running water

Air dry Jerusalem artichoke roots for 2 to 4 hours.

Add them to the pickle jar where the food magic will take place.   They shall be ready to eat in a couple weeks; shorter or longer than that depending on their size.

They can be served as an appetizer or side dish

I like to cut them into bite size and stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons garlic chili paste, 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil, and a little sugar. 

Ok, you still have no idea how to make it?  That is fine.  They can be found in Asian grocery stores. If you don’t want to go through all the trouble to make some pickle you haven’t even heard of but still curious how it taste.  Just go to the nearest Asian store.  You might also find all the kinds of other pickled vegetable on the shelves too.  Don’t be afraid to try them as well.  It might just be the new beginning of your food adventure! O(∩_∩)O~