RSSArchive for April, 2006

Saffron

I have earlier blogged on Lubria Polo (Persian Green Bean Rice) which uses Saffron as spice. I am fascinated with this spice because I have been told that this is the most expensive spice by weight in the world.

Saffran_crocus_sativus_moist.jpgSaffron is a spice derived from the flower saffron crocus. Each of the flowers has three stigmas. The stigmas and the stalk connecting the stigmas to the rest of the plant are often dried and used in cooking as a seasoning and colouring agent.

Saffron, which has for decades been the world’s most expensive spice by weight, is native to Southwest Asia. It was first cultivated in the vicinity of Greece.

Saffron is characterized by a bitter taste and hay-like fragrance. It also contains a dye that gives food a rich golden-yellow hue. These traits make saffron a much-sought ingredient in many foods worldwide. Saffron also has been known to have medicinal applications.

I was told that I could only get saffron from a Persian grocery store. There is only one Persian grocery store that I know of in Richmond — it is called Sahand Supermarket in Westminster and Minoru.

Sahand has only one brand which is kept behind the counter and not on the shelves. You got to ask them for it.

The Edman Saffron costs $4.99. See the pack below.

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You don’t need to use a lot for cooking. I was told that half of teaspoon is more than enough for each cooking. So, that box I bought is enough for quite some time. Can anyone tell me more about saffron and how else you can use saffron? Share with me your recipes …

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No 1 Beef Noodle House at Willingdon and Moscorp

Suanne and I went to a new place for lunch. For those of you familiar with the Willingdon/Moscorp area in Burnaby, you might know of where the Orchid Delight Singaporean restaurant used to be. It seems like Orchid Delight had closed and in it’s place is this new Taiwanese Beef Noodle House.

The restaurant is simply called No 1 Beef Noodle House. We were very impressed with the changes that the owner made to the interior. It was very modern and upbeat. The address of this restaurant is 4741 Willingdon Ave, Burnaby. You know, I highly recommend you checking out this restaurant.

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What we like about this restaurant was that not only the food was excellent but the price was very OK. The restaurant is clean and the service was prompt. We were surprised how busy the place was even though it was newly opened. There is a wait for tables at the peak of lunch time — very much like what you see in dim sum restaurants on a weekend. The bad thing about this restaurant is that parking is a challenge at peak lunch hour.

BEEF BRISKET NOODLE IN SPICY SOUP

Suanne ordered their popular dish — the Beef Brisket Noodle in Spicy Soup which costs $6.25. There were big chucks of beef brisket which was quite tender. What we like about the way this is served is that they provided a deep wooden spoon — just excellent for slurping the spicy soup.

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They served this dish with flat egg noodle. The waitress warned us that it is very spicy but no, it was not as spicy as we expected. You simply MUST try this dish.

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EGGPLANT IN GARLIC CHILLI SAUCE WITH MINCED MEAT IN RICE

I ordered a rice dish and chose the Eggplant rice which costs $6.95. The eggplant was surprisingly very delicious in that you can even eat it without rice and still it does not tastes too salty. The dish comes along with two small sides of preserved vegetables.

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The serving was large with lots of eggplants. I wish there are more rice. Looking around the other tables I see quite a few other rice dish which looked equally as appealing. I will most certainly come back again and try them out.

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No. 1 Beef Noodle House on Urbanspoon

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Chinese Drunken Chicken

We wanted to make drunken chicken but never knew how to really make it. We have always enjoyed the soupy type of drunken chicken and so we did a search on the internet for recipes of this dish. We were quite surprised how many versions of drunken chicken there are out there. Here is one that sounded simple and delicious.

The one we found is a popular Chinese appetizer which is recommended served cold. I am not sure why it is called an appetizer but the amount of meat does not really qualify this as a appetizer but more of a main meal. Anyway, I prefer to serve it warm with rice for dinner. This is very much like every popular Hainanese Chicken Rice with a touch of Chinese cooking wine.

Chinese Drunken Chicken

I was intrigued by the instructions to soak the cooked chicken in cooking wine for “a few days”. Instead of Chinese cooking wine, you may use sherry instead. So, read on …

Ingredients

  • 3 lb broiler or fryer chicken
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Sherry (I used Chinese Xiao Xin Wine) or a good dry wine to cover chicken

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Instructions

IMG_4608_edited-1.jpgBring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the ginger, green onion, and salt and boil for a few minutes. This is to add a tinge of flavour.
IMG_4611_edited-1.jpgAdd the chicken which has been washed and dried (with paper towels) into the pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the chicken to cool in the broth. That’s the whole cooking done.
IMG_4612_edited-1.jpgDrain the bird. I leave it for a few minutes until it does not drip anymore.
IMG_4614_edited-1.jpgAt this point you can cut the chicken in half, quarters or eight pieces (2 pieces for the wings, 4 for the legs, 2 for the breast and discard the back). Place the chicken pieces into a jar (I used a ziplock bag instead) and cover with sherry. Keep refrigerated for several days. I started serving it after just two days in the refrigerator.Before serving, cut into bite-sized pieces. Serve cold. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

Variation: you can save some of the broth from boiling the chicken and mix it with the sherry to cover the chicken if you do want it too heavy in wine flavour.

Frankly, it’s not too bad but I wasn’t too pleased with it. Perhaps Ben always expected such chicken to be a bit salty but this is not at all. At least, it does look nice to me. :-) Let me know what you think.

Anyone has a good recipe for a drunken chicken — send it my way and I’ll try it out … just make sure that it’s a simple recipe!

Chinese Drunken Chicken

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Fried Chicken — 3 Ways

In this week’s cooking club, Julie from Taiwan showed us three different way of making fried chicken. She made a chicken scallopini and two sesame chicken dishes. She made a scrumptious lunch for us.

Taiwanese Fried Chicken

Ingredients

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Julie marinated the chicken overnight with some salt, white pepper, garlic, ginger, wine, sugar and soy sauce. She used two type of chicken meat. One type is boneless and skinless chicken breast which had been pounded very thin to make chicken scallopini. The other type is chicken with bones, which had been cut into small pieces.

Instructions

IMG_4624_edited-2.jpgFor the chicken scallopini, she coated the marinated chicken with some ready-made fried powder which she brought back from Taiwan. Julie told us that we can make home-made fried powder by combining some all-purpose flour, cornstarch, black pepper and salt.
IMG_4623_edited-2.jpgJulie placed the coated chicken scallopini on a tray, ready for frying.
IMG_4629_edited-2.jpgFor the next chicken dish, Julie prepared the coating by adding some vegetable oil to the fried powder until a paste is formed. She also added sesame seeds to the paste.
IMG_4630_edited-2.jpgThe marinated chicken pieces are added to the coating paste and mixed well.Julie told us that this is a popular dish in Taiwan and is called “Yim So Gai” (pronunciation in Cantonese). She does not know what it’s called in English :-)
IMG_4631_edited-2.jpgFor the last chicken dish, Julie simply coated the marinated chicken pieces with tapioca starch (or sweet potato starch) and sesame seeds. Julie told us that the tapioca starch is good for coating fish for frying too.
IMG_4632_edited-1.jpgJulie tested the readiness of the oil with a wooden chopstick submerged into the hot oil. When little bubbles rise along the chopstick, the oil is hot enough for frying.
IMG_4640_edited-2.jpgJulie fried the chicken is a few batches. The chicken does not take long to fry as they are either very thin or in small pieces.

Chicken Scallopini

Chicken Scallopini.

Sesame Chicken

Sesame Chicken.

Thank you Julie for sharing the recipes with us. I’m sure my kids will love these dishes.

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Ice Cool Sports Drink

We normally don’t buy such Asian drinks. I mean, I am always unsure of what goes into making these colourful and too-nice-smell-to-be-true kind of drinks. When we went to the Smart-N-Save store in the Lansdowne Mall, Vincent told us we simply must try this out. It’s called Ice Cool Sports Drinks.

Ice! Cool...

Each bottle costs $1.50. The markings on the bottle said that it’s a sports drink with “meal fibre” with a slogan “drink to feel it”. From the outside, it seems like just another pinkish clear drink. However, when we drink it, there were a lot of gelatin — we can’t see it but it’s there.

Sports Drink with Meal Fibre

You know, I won’t call this a sports drink at any rate. I would however describe this as a fun drink. The kids will like it and is great for outdoor parties.

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Crab and Smelt in Richmond Public Market

Note: The latest post about the Richmond Public Market is of February 2011 and is found on this link.

For some reason, I am thinking of seafood – specifically smelt and crabs. So, I went to the Richmond Public Market because their food is so cheap. I like smelt especially the ones with roes. I’ve Suanne to make it at home but we just can’t find such smelt (with roes). Anyone knows where to get them? I see a lot of smelt in the supermarket selling frozen smelt but they all are not pregnant.

Smelt

I also got myself some crabs — salt and pepper crabs. Each dish costs $6. It looks good but there’s very little meat and is a bit too dry on some part.

Crab

You know, we can cook crabs ourselves but it’s just that we have never cut up a live crab before. Suanne don’t mind cooking and she had some recipes at hand too but her condition is that I do the killing. Can someone tell me what is the proper way to cut up a live crab?

Crab

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Spaghetti with Meatballs

Ben started biking to work again having been driving to work for the past three months. He did not say it but I think he’s doing it because of the price of gas these days. Gosh! It is $1.16 per litre today. To think that just a couple of months ago, anything over $1 were considered outrageous.

Anyway, knowing that he would want to carbo-load with his biking and all, I thought I make good old meatball spaghetti. Arkensen and Nanzaro loves that too. I like to add lots of chopped onions and garlic and with liberal sprinkle of Parmesan.

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I learned to make spaghetti only when we got to Canada and did it my way. So, I am not very sure if this is the “normal” way spaghetti was made. Let me know if I am doing differently from the way you make it — I would most certainly want to learn from you.

Ingredients

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Oh yeah, I like to use Mrs Dash for seasoning. It’s much more healthier using Mrs Dash compared to salt. If you have never tried it, you should check it out. It goes so well with so many types of dishes that you’ll be amazed. Here are the ingredients:

  • Frozen Meatballs: I had that box in my fridge for 3 months now. Good to use that today and free up some space in the ice box. I only used half the box … still …
  • Mrs Dash for seasoning
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Spaghettini: I used spaghettini instead of spaghetti; I like the thinner version in spaghettini,
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Parmesan Cheese

Instructions

IMG_4591_edited-1.jpgWell, this is the simple step. It’s not like anyone does not know that you need to thaw and cook the frozen meatballs! Duh …
IMG_4593_edited-1.jpgChop the garlic, onion and parsley …
IMG_4595_edited-1.jpgCook the pasta in salted boiling water for 7-8 minutes.
IMG_4597_edited-1.jpgI fried the onion until it’s soft and then add the garlic. Stir fry for a few seconds. Next, I added the pasta sauce and Mrs Dash seasoning. I also added a laddle of the pasta water to dilute the sauce — it gets too thick if I don’t dilute it. To balance the tartness of the tomato sauce, I added in a tablespoon of brown sugar.
IMG_4599_edited-1.jpgThe meatballs go into the sauce and cook for another minute or two. Actually, this is the first time I use meatballs. I normally use ground beef.Lastly, I added the parsley and turned off the stove immediately as not to overcook the parsley.

It’s then ready to serve. I sprinkle Parmesan on top of the sauce before serving.

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Garlic Studded Prime Rib Premium Oven Roast

I stumbled on a good deal the other day at Save-On-Foods. The Prime Ribs were on special — just $18 for the three pounds of prime ribs. I recall the last time we bought it, it was something like almost $30.

With oven roasts, preparation is really simple and the dinner cooks unattended. Although I made this only for the family this time, premium oven roasts are wonderful for the special occasions and for those times you want to impress.

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To add flavour I insert garlic slivers all over the roasts.

Ingredients

When choosing the perfect prime rib, make sure that it is cut from the ribs and then tied back on. The bones will add flavour during cooking and they can be easily removed for carving. Here are the ingredients

  • Prime Rib
  • Garlic
  • Lea and Perrins Worchestershire sauce
  • Dried Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

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Instructions

First of all cut three cloves of garlic into slivers. Use a sharp knife to cut slits all over the roast and insert the garlic slivers. Rub the roast with salt and pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle with some dried thymes to coat the surface. That’s it, all ready for the roasting.

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A food thermometer is the best way to determine the meat doneness. Insert the thermometer into the center of the roast, avoiding fat or bones. I like the roast medium and for this I had to roast until the internal temperature is 155F. That piece of 3 lbs meat took close to 2 hours in 325F oven.

After roasting to the desired doneness, I removed the roast to the cutting board and tent it with foil for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the temperature to rise an additional 5F.

That’s it … you just need to carve across the grain to serve.

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