Follow a novice cook on her way to great Asian foodom!

Green Onion Pancakes

Hi friends! Hope you had a great weekend! Those of you who “Liked” my Facebook page probably realize I have been a cooking fool the last few days… This is kind of unusual because just take a look at the title of my blog “Weeknite Meals”, you should have figured out I don’t normally hang around in the kitchen during the weekends.

Though the past weekend was special, because August 8th is Father’s Day at Taiwan, but I had a jam packed schedule so I didn’t get to take my Dad out for a carb. loaded lunch. Why carb. loaded you asked? Well my Dad is originally from Northern China (Beijing to be exact), and he grew up eating all kinds of doughy goodness! Though now my parents are older, and they are very careful with healthy eating, so most of the time they keep the carb. intake pretty low. This is why when there’s a special occasion for my Dad, I like to take him to restaurants that serve the familiar Northern China goodies. This year I really wanted to try my hand at making him something, since home made food always feels more special, and not only did he get to enjoy the green onion pancakes, all my nieces and nephews were very excited with this little treat, it made me very happy to see a whole room full of stuffed smiley faces!

Here is the recipe, this is actually very easy to make, though it does take some time and elbow grease. I didn’t have a proper rolling pin which made things interesting at times, though now I realized how fun making doughy goodies can be, I will invest in a good rolling pin soon. (Do you guys like wooden or marble ones?)

Ingredients:

3 cups flour
1 cup warm water
3 stalks green onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Mix salt, white pepper and black pepper in a small dish, reserve aside.

In a large bowl mix flour with 1/2 cup of water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one tablespoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.

Knead the dough about until smooth then cover with a damp towel for 30 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into 10-12 pieces of equal size. Roll the pieces into balls.

Place a ball of dough on a well-floured work surface and roll out into a thin circle (about 1/16th inch thickness). Spread a little of oil evenly over the pancake (use more if needed). Sprinkle salt and pepper mix evenly over the pancake. Sprinkle green onions over the pancake. Roll the pancake up from one end like a rug, then curl the roll around in a spiral and pinch the end to the roll so it stays wrapped. With the palm of your hand, press the roll from the top to flatten it. Roll the pancake out to 1/8th inch thickness. Heat a tablespoon of oil on a flat, wide pan over a medium-low to medium flame until hot. Set the pancake in the oil and let fry until the bottom is crisp and golden. Flip the pancake, adding more oil as needed. Remove from heat and serve immediately or reheat in the toaster.

Adapted from Use Real Butter

Pork Tenderloin Pockets

Do you ever watch that show “Hoarder”? I have on a few occasions, close to dinner time at that (don’t ask me why we stick to that channel when there are literally over one hundred other stations to watch). I am definitely not the most organized person amongst people I know, but my house is relatively presentable now a days, so if someone drops by unannounced, I probably would not be super embarrassed and try to block them outside the front door. Now my fridge is another story (yes I am talking about the piece of machine I am not friends with at the moment AGAIN). I am probably considered a light weight hoarder when it comes to food items. my pantry is filled from top to bottom, my fridge was filled to the rim that I can no longer find items I need, because the light inside is being blocked by mountains of food… Since Houston is close to the gulf and we do have quite an interesting hurricane season every year, I tell myself we can probably last a couple of weeks before I start eying the animals (I kid, I kid…) Anyway, I have been using frozen and dry goods here and there the last couple of weeks while the fridge is out, I am happy to report the pantry is starting to air out, and freezer is getting brighter due to the visible light shining through. Though I am super excited for this weekend’s grocery shopping trip, looks like it’s time for the hoarding to begin again after the technician comes to fix the fridge on Thursday, YAY!

Anywho, I found a nice piece of pork tenderloin in the freezer today, decided to make use of the slow cooker again (pork and beef tend to get real tender in the crock pot). Dinner was  a hit, it’s always fun to involve the whole family on “making” their own food, in this case we got to assemble the steamed pockets with various toppings, the pork was very flavorful and pretty effortless, hope you will give it a try also!

This is how the tenderloins looked after browning, sitting in the slow cooker.

Tenderloin Ingredients

  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 boneless whole pork loin roast (2-3 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Other items

  •  green onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup of hoison sauce, serve in small dish
  • a few pieces of lettuce, broken into halves to fit inside steamed pockets
  • some Korean kim chi
  • a bag of steamed pockets (can be purchased at frozen section of Asian markets) Heat up according to manufacturer directions

Directions

  • Place onions in a 5-qt. slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, salt and pepper. Cut roast in half; rub with garlic mixture. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, brown pork in oil on all sides. Transfer to slow cooker; add bay leaves.
  • In a small bowl, combine hot water and honey; stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, ginger and cloves. Pour over pork. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until meat is tender. (I might have cooked mine for too long, the meat was falling apart)
  • Remove meat and onions from slow cooker; keep warm. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.
  • Slice pork; top with onions, sauce and sesame seeds.
  • Serve with steam pocket, sauce, lettuce, green onions and kimchi (they really enhanced the flavor). Enjoy!

The wonderful spread

Adapted from Taste of Home

Roasted Chickpeas

Hi everyone! We are going into the second week of not having a working fridge. After getting rid of whatever was causing that embarrassing stench (I shared this piece of info with my friend while our girls were having a swim playdate, she laughed so hard and called me pathetic, it was pretty awesome), hubby went on YouTube to see whether he can resolve the problem himself, it’s amazing to see the man at work, he opened everything up and figured out the fan is no longer turning, so now we are contemplating whether he should just replace the fan himself, or we should wait for the warranty repairmen to do that for us on August 9th, which is 9 whole days away… Ugh!!!

The lack of a working fridge means I can’t have fresh produce around, so far I’ve been using frozen goods, and tonight I just bought a rotisserie chicken from the market and wrapped ourselves some chicken tacos for dinner. Not cooking is giving me the itch to do something in the kitchen (do y’all feel the same itch also?),  that’s why the decision was made to bake some healthy snacks, so little girl and I can make ourselves useful while watching the 2008 Olympic opening ceremony… Hahah you read that right, the London Olympic opening ceremony reminded us how in awe we felt 4 years ago when Beijing was hosting the game, so it was time to review the glory all over again while we are having Olympic fever!

The finished chickpeas are crunchy and delicious, the aroma fill the whole house and made us want to eat more, thank goodness this is such a high fiber and protein snack, I don’t feel guilty eating them. Hope you will give it a try too!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans chick peas (aka garbanzo beans)
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Drain the chickpeas, rinse thoroughly and dry them using paper towels. Pick out and toss the darker colored peas.
  • On a baking sheet, cover with foil, lay the chickpeas flat and spread evenly onto the foil.
  • Once the oven is hot, bake the chickpeas for 20 minutes, shake the baking sheet every 10 minutes to ensure even heat distribution.
  • Put the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, when 20 minutes is up, dump the hot chickpeas into the bowl and mix thoroughly. then bake the chickpeas for another 20 minutes, make sure to shake the baking sheet at 10 minutes interval.
  • Voila, you got yourself some delicious and healthy snacks. Enjoy!

Adapted from: Then I Ate It…

I am having fridge problems! It’s an inconvenience and I am not happy with having to throw spoiled food away, especially when hubby and I have been working hard to figure out our spending and trying build a good budget! The good thing is this is suppose to be the weekend we go grocery shop (I am trying to go every other week, the less I go into a store, the less chance of money being spent right?), which means most of the food in the fridge are pretty much eaten, so I do feel somewhat better about this situation. The freezer is fine, so the meat and seafood are safe, and we all know that’s where the expensive stuff are stored, whew!

OK enough ranting! I got an notice from the library that the book I have requested has arrived, it’s a book about Macaron making, I know, Macarons! It seems like every time we travel to San Francisco, I get fixated on an food item. Last year was Japanese Ramen noodles (which I am still totally obsessed about). This year little girl and I indulged ourselves and got our first ever macarons from the famed La Boulange Cafe, ever since that day I can not stop thinking about them! Tell you the truth. after looking through the book I think it’s above my comfort level to make these delicious goodies (because I am a terrible baker and I tend to get half-assed when it comes to things I am not great at), even though little girl made threats and begged at the same time, I told her while looking into the magic 8 ball, it doesn’t look like she will encounter macaron eating in the near future, Haha! Though I did get a copy of “Harumi’s Japanese Cooking” from the library, which inspired tonight’s delicious creation, so little girl is pretty satisfied (for now)…

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of medium tofu
  • 1/2 pound of ground pork
  • 3-4 stalks of green onions, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 tsp of fish sauce
  • 2 tsp of light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • a generous pinch of white pepper
  • 2 Tbsp of cooking oil

Directions:

  • Drain the water from tofu package, wrap with a paper towel and set aside to drain excess water.
  • Mix the ground pork with everything except cooking oil. Hand tear the drained tofu into small pieces, mix thoroughly with the marinated ground pork.
  • Heat up the oil in a frying pan, when it starts to smoke, form the ground pork mixture with both hands into 10-12 separate sausage shaped patties. then carefully pan fry them in the hot oil for about 5 minutes on each side.
  • Use bamboo forks or skewers to make eating these delicious kabobs easier and fun!

Hi everyone! Hope you had a relaxing weekend. Houston has had a lot of rain, which means the temperature hasn’t been in the 100′s (Yay!). Even though the dampness can get a bit inconvenient, but we have been enjoying the “cool” weather in general. Hubby told me the average Houston household uses around $300 of electricity a month (fortunately ours is way below that), I suppose the rain should bring a little relief to all of our bills this month, plus our yard has abundance of flowers, I feel like we live in a cute English cottage every time we walk out the front door!

What do you usually do on the weekends? Ever since I got an Pinterest account, there are all kinds of little projects I want to try. This could be food related, or crafts. I’ve recently found a package of shells and cute rocks little girl picked up from this year’s North California vacation, instead of just leaving them in the baggie and eventually lose sight of them, I’ve decided to make jewelries. Here is a photo of the finished rings:

Every time I look at them, the California cool breeze comes back in my mind, good times!

I also got the inspiration for today’s recipe from Pinterest. There’s sighting of fried wrapped mozzarella cheese sticks, they looks delicious, but most of you know little girl and I are lactose sensitive, so that would not have been a good recipe to try out. But the thought of wrapped food item got stuck in my mind, so I bought a bag of wonton skin, and decided to wrap some vegetable to mix things up. They turned out really yummy. The asparagus were cooked through, and the wonton skins were crunchy. Dip them in spicy fish sauce or whatever you see fitting, this makes for a delicious way to add many servings of vegetables into a balanced meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, snap the tough ends off, clean and cut into 3 inch pieces
  • 3-4 stalked of green onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 bag of wonton skin, defrosted
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2-3 T Olive oil

Directions:

  • Preheat up the oven to 350 degrees.
  • On a single piece of wonton skin, put 1-2 stalks of asparagus, some thinly sliced green onions, a dash of salt and pepper, then roll it into tube shape. Seal the roll with a little bit of water.
  • Lay the finished asparagus rolls onto a baking sheet (lined with foil for ease of cleaning). Brush some olive oil over the rolls.
  • When the oven is ready, bake the rolls for 6-7 minutes.
  • Turn the broiler on (depending on your oven’s strength, mine was on high), broil the rolls for 3-4 minutes. Take the rolls out, reverse them onto the other side, brush some more olive oil on that side, then broil for another 3-4 minutes until wonton skin is crunchy. Serve immediately with spicy fish sauce (Recipe).

Hi everyone! LONG time no see, I am not too proud to leave you guys hanging, though this is my 200th posting, and I was waiting to share something very special. Even though I’ve been cooking and testing recipes on a regular basis, but nothing seemed worthy of being the “IT” posting. In my mind since this is a big milestone, I wanted something sophisticated, something that will show I am no longer the fumbling idiot that started this blog January of 2010, make sense right? The funny thing is the recipe I am sharing today (it got lots of interests on Weeknite Meals’ Facebook page) is probably the MOST SIMPLE dish I’ve ever made in the last 2 and half years. It might not be labor intensive, but it does represent what this blog is about: Comfort food that’s simple to make on a week night, so my family and I can enjoy a tasty, healthy meal without breaking the bank.

Before sharing the recipe, I wanted to thank all of you for visiting this humble blog. When I decided to start food blogging, I had no idea what a supportive community this is, I love the warm comments my foodie friends make. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned from y’all, the pure joy I experience from watching my family enjoying their dinner is priceless, I am now able to share recipes with my Mom (who is an expert cook), discuss cooking methods, and help her out in the kitchen effortlessly when we go visit. The dorkiest thing is I find myself feeling thrilled about grocery shopping, because I know the new recipes I will be able to look up and try out, the possibilities are endless. Woo Hoo to being a cook!

OK here we go, my 200th non-sophisticated recipe, hope you all enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cup of Korean Pancake Mix
  • 1.25 cup of cold water
  • 1 small bag of frozen seafood (mine had imitation crabs, mussels, shrimps, squid rings), defrosted
  • 2 stalks of green onions (sliced thinly)
  • 2 T of cooking oil

Directions:

  • In a medium size bowl, mix the water and pancake mix together thoroughly
  • Heat up a frying pan, when hot, add the cooking oil, swirl to cover the pan
  • Pour the pancake mix into the hot pan, sprinkle the seafood in, then add the green onions. I used a spatula to press the seafood in since the pancake mix started to harden pretty quickly.
  • Turn the fire to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes, then flip and cook another 4-5 minutes, you can cook it longer for crispier texture, but make sure don’t burn it.
  • Voila, it’s done, cut the pancake into smaller servings and share with loved ones!

If you don’t have access to the Korean Pancake Mix, my friend Sissi over at With A Glass has another version of the recipe, check it out here>

 

 

It’s such a treat when we head to H Mart to grocery shop! I know I know, you must think I don’t get out much, but the truth is there’s just something special about that particular Asian market, is it the smell of delicious Korean deli as soon as we step in the entrance? Or is it the beautifully stacked fresh fruits and vegetables begging to come home with me? Maybe it’s both… We don’t venture there often, maybe 5-6 times a year due to the long drive (It takes 40-45 minutes), but when we do go, I make sure to bring home a huge cart full of yummies!

I am featuring another cucumber recipe, even though they are both made with the same main ingredient, but the taste is night and day. My Japanese Cucumber Salad was light and crisp, slightly tangy and sweet. The Korean version here is much stronger, spicy and garlicky. Both got rave reviews from the family, I am thrilled because it’s such an easy side dish to prepare, eating cucumber in the Summer time is considered “Cooling” (Chinese Wisdom), plus anytime I can get the family to eat more vegetable, we all win!

This recipe is from Hyosun Ro (Eating & Living), I have been following her for quite a while now, though Korean food preparation still seems daunting to me (this is why we eat out at Korean restaurants A LOT). I didn’t have all the ingredients so the recipe was modified a little, since the family really enjoyed it, I am sharing it here. Thank you Hyosun, you rock!

I served Chinese Spaghetti with the cucumber salad, it was a great combination.

Ingredients:

4-5 mini cucumbers
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Korean hot pepper paste (gochugaru)
1 tablespoon chopped scallion
1 clove garlic minced
2 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Directions:

Thinly slice the cucumber (1/8 to 1/4-inch thick). Toss gently with salt and set aside for 15 -20 minutes. Drain excess liquid. (Avoid squeezing them because they will bruise.) Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl, then add onto the cucumber and toss well. Serve chilled.

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