Boiled Aubergine With Crispy Garlic, Dried Shrimp Served On Beansprouts

I don’t know what happened lately that caused my home to be like pigeon nest. That’s what my sister said to me LOL. I guessed what she meant was there’s non-stop of guests at my home just like pigeons to their nests… hmmm… I don’t know where she got that phrase from. Anyway, this situation tells me it’s time to move to bigger space!

So, tomorrow’s going to be noisy and busy day but for tonight’s dinner, I have left over of japanese aubergine (again… :-P). I bought a lot because the price was very cheap plus it’s organic! Yesterday, I bought some juicy and crunchy beansprouts and some silken tofu (not sure what to do with the tofu yet.) Already, I baked and grilled the gorgeous small japanese aubergine aka Nasu. There’s 1 method I didn’t use for quite sometime – boiling. It’s one of my mom’s favourite ways dealing with aubergine besides charcoal roasting on top of her faithful portable terracotta stove with a small square opening at the base (I love making ‘firework’ with that stove LOL.)
With what I have from the fridge and short of time for dinner, this was what I came up with for quick yet light meal.

Boiled Aubergine With Crispy Garlic, Dried Shrimp Served On Beansprouts
2-4 nos Japanese Aubergines (Nasu)
5 cloves Garlic
10 g Dried Shrimps
100 g Beansprouts
1 nos Red Capsicum (Bell Pepper) or 1 Red Chilli
1 stalk Spring Onion
Some Shoyu or Light Soy Sauce
Some Oil
Method:
1. Washed the vegetables and toss them dry. Cut the aubergines into halves at last minute before boiling them. Slice the spring onions. Set aside.
2. Soak the dried shrimps to remove some saltiness for 1-2 minutes. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper and set aside.
3. Minced the garlic finely and chop the capsicum into 
4. In a small pan, pour in 1/4 cup of oil and when it’s hot add in the dried shrimps. Fry until fragrant and crispy. Remove and drain the excess oil with kitchen paper. Set aside.
5. In a pot, boiled some water with some salt. When it boils, add the beansprouts. Blanch the beansprouts for few seconds. Remove quickly and arrange on a serving dish/plate.
6. With same water, add in the aubergine halves and boil them until soften. Remove from pot and drain. Arrange aubergine halve on top of beansprouts.
7. Sprinkle the chopped capsicum and the fried dried shrimps on the boiled vegetables.
8. Now, this maybe a bit tricky… because you need to do fast before your garlic burnt.
In the pan that you fried the dried shrimp, add extra cooking oil; another 1/4 cup or  just enough for the boiled vegetables. When oil is hot again, add in the minced garlic. Fry the garlic until fragrant and crispy but not burnt.
Remove the pan from heat and with the garlic crisps still frying in the oil, pour all the contents all over the boiled vegetable. Yep, the vegetables will sizzles, don’t worry :-D 
9. Sprinkle sliced spring onions and drizzle generous amount of light soy sauce. Sniff and enjoy with hot rice or or a bowl of noodles.
Note: If  you can’t find dried shrimps, you can substitute it with minced fried salted fish of your choice eg. bacalhau, dried whitebait (shirasu), dried anchovy…

This dish may sound difficult at first but once you got your own method to fry quickly and pouring the garlic oil over the vegetables, is easy and fast to make. To eat it just stir or mix the ingredients. You will notice that it’s not oily at all. I love the gravy with plain white rice. :-)
Enjoy!

Wakame With Prawns in Sweet Chilli Dressing

Wakame is a fascinating seaweed yet this plant plays very important role in the daily asian diet especially in Korea and Japan without us noticing the significant role it plays. The nutritious kelp, rich in protein, calcium, iodine, iron, folate and Lignan, an important phytoestrogens that may provide protection against certain cancers. Proponents of both raw food diet (aka ‘living food’ ) and macrobiotic diets, extol the life-giving and healthful properties of wakame along with other seaweeds. 

I eat a lot of seaweeds besides Wakame but also Hijiki, Konbu, Nori, Aonori, Arame, Dulse, Agar-agar (best known it’s usage in jelly preparation besides carrageenan and konyakku(sourced from devil’s tongue/konjac tuber.) You can get the dried colourful mixed seaweed salad as ‘ Kaiso’ mix in packets with Japanese Salad sauce included or without. I prefer to make my own salad sauce. Best if you can find Yuzu to make Yuzu salad vinegar – it’s so refreshing and delicious! Seaweed is good for health if you have over-active or under-active thyroid – in another word weight problem… :-P Seaweed has high source of Iodine which helps the thyroid gland to function well. This is totally different if you take supplemental Iodine in liquid form compared eating natural food like seaweed, your body absorbs what it needs and discards what it doesn’t. Some seaweeds like Agar-agar, Hijiki and Arame were able to remove radioactive and toxic metal waste from our body.

Seaweed is a Umami-rich food. In other word, naturally occuring glutamate… better known as MSG. Foodies with MSG-sensitive please be caution with your intake… You can find more info at Umami Information Center.
Two days ago, I bought some fresh prawns and decided to use them with left over dried wakame for a quick meal. I ate this with plain hot rice and hot tea. Then ate some mooncakes as desserts :-D I know it’s not the right time to eat mooncakes but I just can’t help myself to taste earlier before the festival. There were so many choices and flavours that I had the hard time to choose… not forgetting the beautiful boxes they came with. Even Häagen Dazs in asian region has their own version of Ice Cream Mooncakes!

Wakame With Prawns in Sweet Chilli Dressing
20 g Wakame or any seaweed of your choice
2-4 nos Fresh Prawns/medium to large prawns of your choice
10 g White Sesame seeds
2 tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbl Sweet Chilli Sauce
1 tbl Light Soya Sauce
1 nos Lemon – for juice only
Salt and Sugar to taste (optional)
Some clean water for soaking wakame
Method:
1. Soak dried seaweed in some water for 30 minutes or until doubles it’s size. Drain the soaked wakame from the water.
2.Wash, peel and devein prawns; In a small pot, boil enough water to cover the prawns. When water boils, drop in the prawns. Blanch the prawns until it changes to pink or lightly curl up. Remove, drain and set aside. 
Note: You can boil the prawns whole and remove the heads, tails and shells later. I always keep them for homemade stock. Put in a freezer bag and freeze them for later use.
3. In a separate pan, dry-fry (without oil) the white sesame grains until fragrant. Remove and roughly crush the sesame seeds.
4. In a bowl mixed the Sweet Chilli sauce, olive oil, light soya sauce, lemon juice until well combine. Add the crushed sesame. Adjust the taste with salt and sugar. If you like more sourish you can add in extra lemon juice. 
5. In 4 small bowls, divide the wakame into 4 portions. Add a cooked prawn for each bowl. Drizzle the sweet chilli sauce dressing  before serving. Serve cold as salad or appetiser with main meals. Serves 2-4 small portions.
Note:Alternatively, you can mix all together and let it sit in refrigerator 1-2 hours to marinate and then divide into desired portions. Sprinkle some sliced spring onions and toasted sesame seeds.
♫ Enjoy ♪

Jellyfish And Kyuri Salad

It had been long time since my last jellyfish meal :-P Yes, you read it right  j-e-l-l-y-f-i-s-h that floating wobbly, water filled animal with long stinging tentacles that spells out trouble for swimmers and fishermen alike. Do you know jellyfish has no brains, no heart and no blood yet they can breed, hunt food and move about?! Jellyfish have existed for 650 million years! You can say that’s bizarre but it’s a delicacy and enjoyed by many people. As for me, I rather eat jellyfish anytime than turtles! 
Ok… I don’t know which species of jellyfish I’m eating but I guessed it’s edible and not endangered (?) species right? :-D This batch was given to me by my neighbour. I think I got the tentacles part. Almost all the whole jellyfish parts can be eaten as mentioned by foodie bloggerMelting Wok.
Jellyfish And Kyuri (Japanese Cucumber) Salad
300 g Jellyfish (already prepared and cleaned by seller)
1 pc Japanese Cucumber (kyuri)
1 stalk Spring Onions
3 tsp  Rice Vinegar
3 tbl  Sesame Oil
4 tsp  Shoyu/Light Soya Sauce
1 tbl  Fish Sauce (Optional)
3 tbl  Sesame Seeds
4 tsp  Sugar
Some water to blanch the jellyfish
Method:
1. Wash jellyfish in fresh water. Drain and set aside.
2. In a pot, boil some water. When water boiled, pour the jellyfish into the hot boiling water. Blanch the jellyfish in few seconds (you will see that the amount will shrink in size) and quickly plunge it into cold water to stop the cooking. Drain the jellyfish.
3. When jellyfish is cold enough to handle, slice the jellyfish into smaller pieces. Set aside.
4. Wash the japanese cucumber: cut into halves lengthwise and remove the seeds. Slice them thinly. Set aside.
For the dressing:
1. In a small pan, roast the sesame seeds without any oil until fragrant and golden yellow. Crush lightly the seeds a bit to release the oil. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, shoyu until the sugar dissolves. Add in the sesame oil and sesame seeds. Stir the dressing well. Set aside until needed.
To assemble the salad; Mix the jellyfish and the japanese cucumber together. Pour in the dressing and mix well. Adjust the taste to your liking. Garnish with sliced spring onions. If you intend to serve the salad later, don’t add the dressing too early or you will end up with watery salad. Few minutes before serving is better because you also want the jellyfish to absorb the dressing…
Variation: You can add on to your sushi or top it up on Donburi meals. You can also add some chopped fresh chillies or chilli flakes to give that extra ‘kick’ :-)
Jellyfish is one of sea turtles main food and that helps keeping the jellyfish in control but now with the dwindling of sea turtles population these jellyfish is back with vengeance! In countries that were badly hit with the surge of jellyfish population had cost lost of income to the fishermen. Only way to control this situation is to stop eating sea turtles (also their cousins) and their eggs or else we all end up eating jellyfish as food or the other way round!

Boiled Osmanthus With Gingko Nuts, Lotus Seeds & Foo Chuk In Milk

 

Boiled Osmanthus With Gingko Nuts, Lotus Seeds & Foo Chuk In Milk
1 pkt Fresh Gingko Nuts (100 g @)
1 pk Fresh Lotus Seeds (100 g @)
300 ml  Fresh Milk
1-2 tsps Preserved Osmanthus Paste
2 pcs Fresh Foo Chuk (Fresh Soya Milk Skins)
1-2 tsps Dried Osmanthus Flowers
Some Sugar (to boil Gingko Nuts)
1. In a small pot, put in the Gingko nuts and cover with some water (just enough to cook the nuts) When nuts cooked enough to your liking, add in some sugar to taste. Remove the nuts from the pot and set aside.
2. In a clean pot, pour in the fresh milk. Add in the fresh Lotus Seeds. Let the milk boils and add in the sweetened Gingko Nuts. 
3. Let the milk boils again for 1-2 minutes. Add in the preserved Osmanthus paste. Stir until the paste dissolves. If using the preserved Osmanthus paste, you don’t need to add in any sugar. The paste is sweet enough to sweetened this dessert. 
4. Add in the fresh foo chuk. Reduce the heat and simmered until mixture reduced slightly.
5. When the Lotus Seeds are cooked, add in 1 tsp of Dried Osmanthus. Stir the mixture. 
6. Turn off the heat and let it steep for awhile wild the dried Osmanthus infused with the milk.
7. Serve in individual bowls either hot or cold and sprinkle with some Osmanthus on top.
Reasons why I used 2 types of Osmanthus because the Osmanthus Fragrans in the preserved paste was actually a white variety and larger petals. Due to the preservation state with sugar, the paste looked dull but still with Osmanthus scent. So, for the color contrast to this dessert I also used the orange-flower variety; Osmanthus Fragrans Aurantiacus which can be use as well if you can’t find the preserved Osmanthus paste.
Note: If you feel that the lotus seeds is too bland you may pre-cook it with some sugar earlier. Beware that fresh Lotus Seeds cook faster than dried seeds. If you’re using Dried Lotus Seeds, please pre-soak the seeds with warm water until soften ( I leave it to soak for 24 hours) and then boil it until tender. You can decide later if you want to add sugar for sweetness if using in desserts. If you’re using it for savoury dishes, you don’t need to add anything prior to cooking because the Lotus Seeds will absorb the sauce/gravy after the dish cooked.

If you can’t find fresh foo chuk which is made from soya bean milk skins rolled up in small bundles you can use the dried version which you have to soak until soften and cut to smaller bite sizes pieces before cooking.

Nowadays, you can find ready cleaned & skinned Gingko nuts & Lotus seeds in small packets of 100 g. If you can only find Gingko nuts still in their shells, you have to crack the shells open and check for any spoilt nuts. Pour some hot boiling water over them and let it soak for few minutes or until the brown skins are loose. Drain, rinse under cold water and rub between kitchen towels to remove the skins off.

Variations: You can also add in some Lily Bulb petals, yam, sweet potatoes or chopped Waterchestnuts to have a crunchy dessert. 

Grilled Nasu With Smoked Bacon And Feta

White, Green, Purple, Indigo, Oval, Long… related to plant family of Nightshades of tomatoes, capsicums, potatoes and tobacco. Yet we still alive!!! We loved them so much (ok, not the tobacco part and look what it did to humans!) that we included them into our daily consumption and national dishes. Strange isn’t it? What leads to this meal was while ‘cruising’ my favourite foodie blogger – Ivy of Kopiaste‘s online kitchen few days ago, she cooked this simple yet lip smacking Melitzanes Giahni!!! Smacked my head, rushed down to my fridge and wheewww… they are still in eatable condition! Thank you to Ivy for reminding me… LOL  

Right… I’m referring to Aubergine aka Eggplant. One of my favourite is Nasu (Japanese Eggplant), a small, thinner skin, fast cooking, sweeter and it’s purple, one of my favourite colour! Nasu can be fried, grilled, steamed, simmered, pickle and lovely in curries. If you’re health conscious, beware that aubergines absorb oil quickly and use lots of oil when frying them. Also, it’s important to soak cut pieces in salted water to avoid discolouration and some cooks claimed that salt removes the bitterness of aubergine. 
I’m not sure of the latter solution though… because I seldom salted them unless I was distracted and need to leave my kitchen for some time. I would cut the aubergine the last and dumped the pieces straight into the pan after frying the basic ingredients. Furthermore, I love bitter vegetables – one of my favourite is the Bittergourd (Mormodica Charantia) and you can learn of its usage not only as food but as preventive cure as well. 
It’s a simple and light dish and I need to use up what’s left over before my next shopping. I have this idea in my mind for sometime to use the 2 packs of Dodoni Feta cheeses. I love feta cheese… I bought 1 kg of feta from a cheese shop in front of Athens’ Agora @ Athinas Street (Athens Central Market) to Belgium tucked nicely inside my luggage during my last trip :-P I love the way the Greeks kept their feta in large barrels and cut them up in slabs for sale. For me, Feta must be PDO (kind of AOC) from Greece.I think Ivy would agreed with me on that!
Grilled Nasu With Smoked Bacon and Feta
2 pcs medium size Japanese Eggplants (Nasu)
4 slices Smoked Bacon
100 g – 150 g Feta (more if you like)
Few sprigs of Italian flat Parsley
Good amount of Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Heat oven to 200ºC.
2. Chopped the parsley finely – set aside.
3. Crumble or cubed the feta cheese in a bowl.
4. Wash the aubergines and cut them into halves lengthwise. Place them in a deep dish.
5. Add Salt, generous amount of Olive oil and fresh grinded pepper to taste.
6. Grilled at 200ºC at middle rack for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven.
7. Roll the smoked bacon around the grilled aubergine. ( I use a spoon to turn the aubergineand chopsticks to fold the smoked bacon around but you can use your own method to do so).
8. Spread the crumbled feta and parsley on top; using the top heat, continue to grill for 10 minutes or until bacon is crispy and feta nicely browns. Serve with extra Olive oil by the side or salad.
Note: I didn’t rolled the smoked bacon with the aubergine for 1 st grilling and added the feta only at last minutes of grilling to avoid overcooking the Japanese eggplants and the feta browns too quickly. I prefer that way… :-)

Wagashi-Handcrafted Food Art!

Oh my goshhhhhh! Wow! Oh My! That’s all I can say when my Japanese neighbour brought me a box of Wagashi. Look at the pictures below… these are called Namagashi. They are too beautiful to be eaten! What I Love about Wagashi is they are sold according to 4 seasons besides the regulars in their menus. Each season the pastry shops will make wagashi with their own interpretion themes. If you look closely each wagashi has a story to tell… The 1st time I tasted wagashi by chance was at Toraya at 10,rue St Florentin in Paris many years ago. What a coincidence I just bought a new box of Matcha and I’d been waiting for the right time to drink it. Well, this is perfect timing!

A flower????
Did you see the tiny ladybird and dew on top of the leaf??? :-D This one has a dollop of Anko

A Strawberry???
My favourite is the  sea-blue cube-like wagashi with 3 red color goldfish inside. It also looked like an Ice-cube…
This purplish wagashi is lovely too. This version has a firefly!

Looks like a peach isn’t it?
Enjoy! :-D

Ginseng Eryngi Mushroom (Insam Saesongyee)

What’s the scoop??? Ginseng Eryngi Mushrooms??? I really don’t believe it until I looked again at the pack in my hand! I grabbed this pack from the supermarket shelve without noticing any difference between this Eryngii Mushrooms or Pleurotus Eryngii I used to buy (I did a scoop about it before) until I reached home. They (whoever they were…) must be joking – Ginseng Mushroom??? How they managed to fortify the mushrooms with Ginseng? Grow the mushrooms on ginseng root mulch (the end of the roots were considered the cheapest $ ) or spray ginseng extract onto the mushrooms? I sure would love to see how they did it :-|

After digging online for more information… This Ginseng Eryngii is call Insam Saesongyee (Ginseng (Saponin) Content 2.46 mg/g) and the producer also produced Ginseng Enoki or Insam Pengyee (Ginseng (Saponin) Content 2.16 mg/g)! It’s the new ingredient in culinary world and be prepared to indulge in recipes cooked to enhance the taste of these Ginseng Mushrooms… The Taste? There’s this after-taste sweetness, slight crunchy than the ‘original’ P.Eryngii.  There’s no strong Ginseng smell at all… :-( If you have eaten Ginseng before, you will have that idea.
Ginseng Eryngi Mushroom (Insam Saesongyee)

Ginseng Eryngi Mushroom (Insam Saesongyee)

What’s next? Dang Shen Mushroom? Dang Wei Mushroom? :-)
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