Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pan Seared Yellow Croaker

Yellow Croaker fish is a very popular fish among Chinese people.
Then why am I barely learning about yellow croaker now?!?

It's so delicious, and so easy to prepare.  a quick pan sear on 2 sides with a bowl of steamed rice, and you are good to go.

On our last trip to the Asian market, they were having a special Mothers Day sale where their frozen fish was a fraction of the cost.  Now, I typically prefer fresh fish but when frozen fish is on sale, then I go where my wallet takes me.  

The 5 pound box of fish contained a bunch of small sized yellow croakers that were not yet gutted.  The fish gutting process took much longer than the actual cooking time (especially because the fish were so tiny) so it was tedious and I had to do it gingerly. 

After gutting, I simply rubbed a little salt on each side, added a drizzle of oil in a heavy pan on high heat, and seared the little suckers.
Only sear each side once (do not flip the fish several times), and turn the fish when the skin is loosened from the pan and there is a crunchy char (this is true anytime you sear anything).

Both Jeff and our dinner guest enjoyed the fish.  She was even more happy with the fact that she was eating a home-cooked Chinese meal -- these are hard to come by.
I love cooking for people when they appreciate it  (both the food, and my efforts).  =)

French Onion Soup

We recently had some dinner guests over and I served French Onion Soup as one of the side dishes.
In the past, I made french onion soup using chicken broth and white wine.  It was very delicious, but this time, I decided to be more bold and use beef broth and red wine.

The verdict?

It's the land of no return.  Beef broth and red wine only moving forward!
The flavor was more rich and bold.
I think everyone enjoyed the soup, and Jeff even said that its wayyy better than the french onion soup we had in France!  What a compliment.

Unfortunately, french onion soup never comes out nice in pictures I take.
This picture does not do justice to how it tastes.

The ingredients consists of 1 stick of butter, about 6 onions (thinly sliced), 2 garlic cloves, 2 bay leaves, 1 cup red wine, 3 spoonfuls of flour, 2 quarts of beef broth, 1 sliced baguette, and 1/2 pound of grated gruyere (great prices at Trader Joes for gruyere!).

In a large pot,  melt the butter and add in the onions, bay leafs, salt and pepper.  I turned the onions over and over and over for about 25 minutes until it was carmelized  (good food takes time!)
I then added in the wine, and kept stirring until all the wine evaporated.  Remove the bay leaves and add in the flour.  Cook the flour for about 10 minutes until its cooked and mixed with the onions.  Add in all the broth and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

When you are ready to eat, get your oven safe bowls, and ladle in the soup, 2 slices of toasted baguette per bowl, and a TON of gruyere cheese.  yum yum!
Pop it in the broiler until its bubbling and melted.

My own attempt at Pho

I love pho.  It's so hearty, tasty and rich.
I was excited when I was at Ranch99 and found a jar of their broth base on sale. 
I bought a jar of the broth base, some beef flank, pho vermicelli noodles, and beef balls with tendons.  I went the cheap route and did not buy the tendons and tripe.

Where I live, its so hard to find good pho, so making at-home pho with a powdered broth base seems a win to me!

I first simmered the beef flank in water and onions to create a tasty broth, and to cook the beef down so its softer.  Then following the engrish directions on the broth jar label, I dissolved the broth powder and added in the seasonings bag. Finally adding in the beef balls to cook last.  When I was ready to eat, I boiled the pho vermicelli noodles for a minute, strained, then placed them into bowls.  Ladling the pho soup over the bed of noodles.

My pho does not *look* like your traditional pho, but it sure tasted like it.  And making it at home is so much cheaper and so easy too.  Maybe next time, I'll get the tendons and mint leaves.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Grilling is not limited to the summertime

One of the many perks to living in Los Angeles is that grilling is not limited to the summertime.  In fact, we grill year round because the weather is so wonderful!

Early last month, we had my sister and her husband over for dinner, so of course we had to pull out our grill!  I cannot remember the reason why we got our hands on some yummy rib eye steaks, but I'm glad we did.

The steak came out so tasty and tender -- it was a big hit.  Big thanks to the grill master!
I also baked up some fluffy baked potatoes and quickly chopped up a simple salad.

Yes, I know you wish you could come over to my house for dinner every night.  =).

our grill master.  kiss the cook! muah!

chopped salad

a little grill seasoning, and it's ready to go on the grill

 Rib eye steaks are my fav cut of steak.  I prefer my steaks rare or medium-rare.
The fat keeps it juicy and tasty.  Cut off the fat before eating.

baked potatoes

The (under dressed) hosts!
Oh well.  That glass of red wine makes us look a little bit fancy

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I can't think of a better name for this dish. 
I was thinking along the lines of "scallion tofu", or "soy sauce simmered tofu" or "simmered tofu with scallions", but they all got too long.  We will just call this dish "tofu"  and leave it at that.

After returning from my Europe trip, my stomach felt all wierd.  My stomach would feel hungry, but did not have an appetite for anything meaty or anything greasy.  We spent the entire week eating veggies and tofu.
I was very happy with how the tofu dish came out.

Scallions were on sale at the asian market, 7 bunches for $1. 
I chopped up a bunch of scallions, and sliced up 2 boxes of tofu. (we eat lots of tofu in this house.  1 box is too small!).  I first browned each side of the tofu in my skillet, with a little bit of oil.  It actually takes a while to brown each sides, since the tofu is cold and moist.  Finally, when each side is golden is crispy, i pushed the tofu aside in my skillet, added a teeny dab of oil, and threw the chopped scallions in the oil.  Once the scallions started to cook (and you can smell its yummy smell), I used a spatula to turn the tofu and scallions together.  I was using high heat to brown the tofu, so turn down the heat to low, to add in the water, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar.  Let it simmer until the tofu sucks up the soy sauce mixture.