Chinese Steamed Fish (Yu are so good)

So you guys have seen Celinabean’s recipe for steamed fish, right? It was absolutely drool-making and seemed right up my alley when I felt just a wee bit family-sick after being down and with them for so little time this week. Family-sick. What? You use homesick, right? Well, family-sick is the same thing, only with family. Ok, so any way – I really wanted more tasty Chinese food, and I even went to the Hong Kong Bakery, but forgot they were closed on Tuesdays. So what the hey, instead of using my lucky money to buy one meal, I was one going to make one for just a little bit of it.

I plopped some frozen dumplings onto a lightly oiled (1 T peanut oil) high flame, and cooked them until they were well browned. After that, I reduced the heat to medium and tossed in 2/3 C of water and covered. Cook until water evaporates. This was a lot of water, so I might do 1/2 C next time since the freezing process gives off water when I cook them.


After letting my porgy sit in a bath of water with some salt, I stuffed the dickens out of him with cilantro, Chinese chives and ginger. Next time I’ll forgo the chives (they didn’t add much/any detectable flavor) and up the cilantro and ginger. Use lots of ginger. Probably a 2 inch piece.
Guess how much my fish cost? As you can see, it is a rather large porgy that flops a bit over the edges of a dinner plate. Following Celina’s advice, I went to the Asian Food Market on Colvin to get a big porgy and at $2.99/lb, let me tell you – what a great deal! I paid $3.53 for this, and they even scaled it and gutted it for me. Yay! I washed it off and found a few errant scales, but those guys behind the counter really know what they’re doing.

Mmm, yummy. But next time double the cilantro. At least double. They’re only $0.75 per fresh baggie at the AFM, and this was MAYBE 1/3 of it. Yummy, yummy. I think next time I’ll score the skin on top and stick in some ginger and layer cilantro on there as well. Don’t be afraid of loading this baby up – it’s not as bland as tilapia, but the cilantro and ginger really enhanced the fresh sweetness of the fish.


I’m not a big Heinekin fan like my Yeh-Yeh, but I did pick up a 6 pack of Singapore-based Tiger lagers. Something like $7.69 each, and I thought they were pretty good.

So you’ve got a caffeinated Albany John who is running around the kitchen trying to stick his paws into your precious fish and put an Albany John spin on things. But you are all “NO, GET OUT OF MY KITCHEN. WELL OKAY, YOU CAN MAKE THE VEGGIES. AND CAN YOU CUT SOME GINGER BECAUSE MY HAND STILL KIND OF HURTS AND YOU’RE BETTER AT IT ANY WAY.” Why do I yell so much?
Any whoooo – you put him on veggie patrol, and he whips up some napa cabbage cooked with garlic and some pepper. Yum, it’s still crispy. And at $0.59/lb, napa cabbage is a dirt-cheap and delicious side dish. My favorite!



Yay, now those dumplings are finally done, and so yummy. Chewy and crisp, with a porky filling. I even tried to arrange them all pretty-like for y’all, and this was one of the only pictures that wasn’t blurry as all get out.

Oh, and a quickie cucumber salad with home-pickled red onion. You can’t leave an Albany John in the kitchen too long without him coming up with something.


After dousing your fish with something like equal parts soy sauce and sweet vermout, and letting it steam over medium heat (again, Celina’s advice rocks) for about 15 minutes, our fishy-fish-fish was ready to eat. And btw, this is all the same plate that I used for stuffing the fish. No extra fish plate dishes. Just make sure you figure out how to get the plate out of the pot (I used a wok, and barely had any wiggle room to wedge my fingers in) without spilling the sauce. Thankfully I didn’t spill a drop. The dumplings tasted REALLY good dipped in this sauce, lemme tell you! And also over rice, and with the fish flaked off and soaked in it, eaten with rice… you don’t want to lose a drop of this goodness!

So yea, here’s the gist of the fish:
1 Fish, gutted and scaled
Cilantro (1 baggie, or a big fistful)
2-3 inches of ginger, peeled and sliced 1/16″ thick
Sweet Vermouth
Soy Sauce
Opt: let fish soak for a bit in some salted water to brine. I might play around with this more and see if I can infuse some flavor as well.

Stuff the cavity of the fish with ginger and cilantro (or whatever else you want, it’s your fish) and use tooth picks to close.
Pour equal amounts of soy and sweet vermouth onto fish, so you’ve got about 1-2 inches of space on the border.
Steam over medium heat 12-15 minutes if around 1 lb.
Carefully pull out and eat. Yum!
This fish would have been more than enough for 3 people, and good with other dishes for 4-5 people. We ate all of the fish, but that’s just because it was so good, and you know it won’t taste nearly as good the next day.
So gung hey fat choy again, ya’ll. This will totally cure any blues you have.
Oh, and the AFM folks speak mandarin, not cantonese. Whoopsies :/ Gong xi fa cai to you!

Chinese New Year in Manhattan and Flushing


Gong hey fat choy! I am back in the ALB area. And phew what a crazy 24 hours it was!
My brother, sister-in-law and I took the megabus down to NYC yesterday. No problems with the bus at all. It was waiting where it said it would be, and we were soon on our way to New York City. As soon as we hopped off the bus, we scooted over to the nearest subway and went over to Canal Street (this took longer than I thought it would.) and by the time we arrived we got to see Mott Street completely closed off with tons of confetti poppers littering the streets and some dragons dancing.

We were also pretty hungry, and went to a nearby bakery. It was swarmed, but I had an excellent baked char siu bao. It had onions in it that were still a bit crisp, and a rich, meaty flavor. I took a picture or two of the crowd, and was quickly flagged off by one of the managers. Whoops, sorry! Albany John is trying to teach me to say “Sorry” and “No Problem” in Chinese. All I know is that it was so good – I can’t wait to go back and get some more of those juicy baos!


We had met up with my Father and sister in Manhattan Chinatown, so after we saw enough of the festivities, we went back to our Yeh Yeh’s place and chatted a bit before heading over to dinner at Canton Gourmet (38-08 Prince St, Flushing, NY 11354). One of the things I love about visiting my family in the city is that wherever we go to eat, the food is amazing. Always. I might only remember a handful of the places’ names, but the food… oh, the food.

Here’s the jellyfish with cured pork meat. It tasted kind of like a chinese prosciutto. Other kinds have tasted hammier. I liked this plate – there wasn’t too much jellyfish (and the jellyfish was well seasoned, not bland or anything. If it’s under seasoned or not seasoned at all I think it can just taste like cold gooky things). There were also pickled shreds of daikon and carrot beneath the jellyfish. They were sweet pickles, yummy.

A shrimp dish. So succulent, sweet and simple. The peas were plump and tender. So was the other vegetable (they said it was asparagus. I didn’t think it tasted like it, but whatever it was certainly was tasty)
Canton Garden’s house special chicken – the skin is cooked all crisp and crackly, and topped with crispy garlic and scallions. I thought this was Peking duck for little bit. The meat was so juicy and tender. Just look at the skin – it was amazing. This was a very big platter of one whole chicken. The garlic crisps were so good too – a very good complement to the rich chicken.


Look at the salt and pepper baked pork chops in the upper right corner! These were soft, soft, soft. Melt-in-your-mouth tender and numtacular. They also had a sweet saucy coating on them. I liked that too, and I normally don’t like to combine sweet sauces with meats. (We also had made some pretty good headway on the chicken at that point)

Beef chow fun! My sister-in-law is awesome. These are one of her favorite Chinese dishes, and one of mine as well. I love the soft-yet-chewy texture of fat fun noodles. The beef was very tender, the bean sprouts crisp, and both had a great char. I love it when my fun tastes a bit smoky. Mmm, mmm


Sauteed beef with some veggies. Also tender as anything. We all agreed that Canton Gourmet had incredibly tender meat, and it was for all of the meat. Was it lots of tenderizer? Cornstarch? Magic? I’ll call magic. It was Chinese New Year after all.


Sauteed bak choy. These were also so buttery and tender. We ordered them sans animal products, and they were simple and refreshing. A good complement to some of the heavier dishes (not that I ate a ton of those pork chops or anything… I ate a ton of everything! hee hee), and wholly enjoyable.

Albany John called up mid-meal to wish us Gong Hey Fat Choy and his ears must have been burning, because right before he called, my family said that if he were there, we wouldn’t have had these leftovers. Albany John didn’t skip a beat and said he certainly would! I don’t think he could have finished all of it, but maybe a good 50-60%.

Best red bean soup dessert ever! The soup wasn’t overly sweet, and nice and thick with pureed beans and a few chunks of beans. I ate the whole bowl, but my sibs aren’t big fans of it.


We also celebrated my brother’s birthday – the staff even started singing with us when we sang him Happy Birthday. The fam ordered and picked up a cake for him – a sponge and fruit cake. Yummy!

Happy Chinese New Year – The OX!

Gung Hey Fat Choy! Wishing everyone lots of happiness and prosperity for the new year – the Ox!

I’m hopping down to NYC very shortly to spend New Year’s Day with my family. I’ve armed myself with enough lai see to handle a classroom of toddlers.
Lai see are the lucky money red envelopes given to unmarried younger people by older married couples. This is my first year to give them out – oh I am so excited!

We’ll be going out to dinner tonight somewhere in Flushing Chinatown – yum, yum! Have a good new year, guys! Try making some dumplings or scallion pancakes!

Fancy Spinach and Onions

“I don’t know what to call this dish without it sounding all fancy. I guess it is fancy spinach and onions.”

And with that, Fancy Spinach and Onions was born. Albany John ‘whipped’ something up. When I whip something up, it’s usually the froth to my nightly cocktails. For him, it’s letting himself loose in the kitchen and making the above on the fly. *sigh* The man oozes creativity.

What’s in it? First, Albany John roasted some almonds in ghee (droooool) with a magical melange of spices. Once those were roasting, he slowly cooked some onions until they were becoming translucent. Then I think he blanched some spinach and combined them all together. But really, he’s right. It’s a mouthful of fancy.

(Albany John will also hopefully be back to taking some occasional photos. These ones I take hurt the eyes!)

French Onion Soup and Crabs

If you wear contacts like me, don’t take them off after slicing several onions thinly. You will cry all night, and it won’t be pretty. But other than that, making French Onion Soup is pretty easy.
FOS Recipe:
Slice a bunch of white/yellow/sweet onions, depending on your preference.
Caramelize them on a low stove top for around 2 hours (it’s not that demanding – just come back every 8-10 minutes and stir it around a bit).
Chuck in some seasonings (I used a bit of oregano and marjoram)
Cover with beef stock/broth.
Note: if you are spending the time to make French Onion Soup from scratch, make the broth too. Or at the very least, don’t buy canned beef broth from the Supermarket. GAG. It tasted so tinny I was kicking myself over being so lazy. I doctored it up with a bit of Worcestershire sauce and a healthy splash of soy sauce, and it really took the metallic taste out of the broth and improved it loads. But still not great. I also suspect that boxed beef broth would be much better, but I will have to ask Albany John’s father, since he always knows that kind of stuff.
We also ate crab with it since I was at the Asian Food Market on Colvin Ave in Albany, NY and I noticed their lobster prices skyrocketed back up to $10.99/lb after being a delectably affordable $5.99/lb. And they were chock-a-block full of lobbies! Ah well. But the blue crabs were $2.99/lb and I’ve never tried making those before, so I chucked two in a bag and just boiled them for 5-6 min at home. Really pick them over, though, because it seemed like most of the crabs in the bin were dead or in a ‘please buy me and put me out of my misery’ state. We’re talking missing limbs. They were practically wheezing ‘kill me… kill meeee’. But I didn’t. I found the liveliest crabs I could. Two.
These two were so sweet and succulent! We dipped them in melted butter (like the slabs of munster cheese in the french onion soup wasn’t enough, hee hee) and picked at them like … well, like me. Trust me, it’s a sight. Not necessarily one to behold, but it’s a sight alright. They were a lot of work, but I can now see why “crab people” (not these crab people) love the little buggers so much. It’s a lot of work and not a lot of reward (compared to lobster), but the sweet, tender meat is just delicious.
Also, wash anything that came into contact with the crabs right after you’re done eating. Don’t just rinse your dishes off. If you wait until the next day to do it… you’ll have to wash the crabby stink out of your plates a good 3-4 times. Trust me, it was NOT something I want to do, ever again.

Popcorn

There is not much I love as much as popcorn. The Spectrum’s popcorn ranks highly – real, melted delicious butter on hot fresh popcorn. The more butter, the better! I’ve been straying a bit from my usual popcorn regime lately, and the results have been fabulous.
My typical popcorn order is either olive oil and kosher salt (and maybe parmesan) or butter and salt. Walnut oil has become a new favorite – it gives a subtle but surprisingly rich buttery flavor in each kernel. This picture is of popcorn popped in walnut oil, with a bit of melted butter (look, it’s hard to do less than 2 T of butter for popcorn. I’m kind of addicted) and gobs of paprika. It’s stain-yer-fingers good and the paprika just makes everything taste even more buttery. Yum!
My least favorite popcorn topping of all time has to be Old Bay. That is just WRONG. But then again Old Bay is also my least favorite flavoring. Pleh. What’s your favorite? Or most hated?

Rose-y Gin Fizz

I’ve become borderline infatuated with Great Cocktails on Hulu.com. They’ve got great personalities on the show who are well versed in how to make, well, Great Cocktails.

A recent episode showed the history of the Ramos Gin Fizz. After that piece was over, I was convinced I absolutely had to try making one RIGHT THIS MINUTE. However, we were out of lemon, and have never had orange blossom water/extract. So I improvised. Ladies and Gents, I give you a rose-y gin fizz:

Rose-y Gin Fizz

1 Oz heavy cream
4 oz milk
3 oz gin
¼ t rose water
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz lime juice
1 egg white

Club Soda

Add egg white, cream, gin, and rosewater to a shaker. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Add in all but club soda and shake 30-60 seconds more.

Pour halfway into glass, fill with club soda.
Serves 2.

This was quite good – I really enjoyed it. I over did it a bit with the rosewater (you really just want a hint of roses. Too much makes it taste soapy. Pleh) once and completely wrecked the drink. What’s your favorite new cocktail of late?

Helmbold’s

Last night I trekked over to Helmbold’s in Troy, NY. It’s kind of near Hudson Valley Community College, but not really. I can tell you that if you’re there during peak times, driving can be a pain in the booty, though. It is easy enough to find, though.

Helmbold’s is a butcher shop with a few deli condiments as well. They had non-Smithfield pork and had no problem at all telling me where they sourced their meats. I initially went in for one thing, and then came out with three things. But three tasty thing.

Above is what Albany John made out of the weisswurst ($4.99 for a 1 lb package, 4 to a package) – weisswurst with spinach and white beans. It was so tasty. He browned the sausages whole and then cut them up and tossed them in with the fresh spinach and beans. I have no clue what other sort of magic he worked, only that it all tasted great. The weisswurst was so tender, and the natural casing on the sausage gave it a great snap.

Helmbold’s is definitely worth a trip out – that’s why I went. I had never been and wanted to see what they had. Good prices, good looking meat, and great tasting weisswurst.


And because I’m an addict, we also made french fries out of potato in the deep fryer. Yum!

White Trash Dip

This is my own take on white trash dip, aka the heavenly velveeta dips I have grown to love this past year. I figure I rep the ol’ Chinesey side of the fam here all the time, why not rep the other?
Ground beef, some beans (I just used leftover beans from our earlier Mexican food we made) and velveeta. Melt in a pan and you are golden. Literally, it’ll be all golden cause Velveeta is neon yellow all on its own. Just don’t tell my mom I put beans in this because that would just absolutely ruin the thought for her – I suppose authenticity would require absolutely no beans at all, just more ground beef.
Y’all – this was so sinfully good with flax seed tortilla chips. I couldn’t get enough of it (thankfully we only made like ½ cup so I couldn’t OD on Velveeta dip), although Albany John had some, um, GI distress later on, if ye get my drift. Thankfully (or something like that) I was practically raised on fatty foods, so this didn’t do a thing to me.
I am SO making this the next time I have a party. Oh, and BTW – what is up with Velveeta being in the refrigerated section of grocery stores now? For real? It’s flipping Velveeta. That thing has the shelf life of a cockroach. I don’t know what it’s getting all fancy and needing refrigeration.

Hola Tastiness!

So I have been a bit derelict and am now returning to my Mexican roots. Ok, I don’t have any hispanic roots that I know of but I love eating and occasionally cooking Mexican food.

I’m pretty sure I’m getting close to mastering tortillas, too. First off, if you buy the 5 lb bag of Masa, just ignore the water recommended. It takes a lot more water. LOTS. You want something with the consistency of soft play doh. Then let it sit for around 20-30 minutes for the water to fully saturate the dough.

Making the tortillas in a press is becoming much easier the more often I do it, and the cooking isn’t even too bad. I’ve been using lots of oil lately, but I tried just cooking them over high heat in a cast iron pan and I’ve had beautiful results as well. Keep it lightly oiled as needed to keep the finish on the pan. I cook them for about 20 sec on one side, flip and cook 30-40 seconds until puffy and then flip over again to finish.

Albany John made some seasoned black beans from Madhur Jaffrey’s vegetarian book, which were excellent stuffed in a tortilla.

The Mexican Rice is really easy too – all done in the rice cooker:
½ C diced tomatoes
3-6 T hot sauce – we had a super spicy paste Albany John made a while ago from dried peppers which really added some seasoning and kick.
½ onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, diced
1 C long grain rice
¾-1 C water Plop them all in and cook until the thingy pops up, heh heh. My rice cooker is very low tech, if you can’t tell.

I also liberally dusted everything with Adobo. Mmm, adobo!

I also made enchiladas, which could have been moderately time consuming except that we bought the enchilada sauce, so it made everything way easier (and less spicy). Albany John made the same black beans spiced up the whazoo this time, so that made up for it.

My tortillas were a bit greasy, but now that I’ve gotten the pattern figured out hopefully everything will be less so from now on. I read that the way to make tortillas pliable to roll is to let them sit for a bit. Once I first cooked them they were like Frisbees. Tasty Frisbees, but still, not easy to make into a taco or anything. I just keep them covered and pile them atop one another once they are done cooking, and let them sit for maybe 10 minutes to soften before filling them and rolling them.

I cooked them in a 350F oven for about 20 minutes, and they puffed up a bit, absorbing some of the enchilada sauce. Yum, yum! I topped with a bit of cheese since I can hardly ever taste the cheese if it’s rolled in an enchilada.
After leaving them sitting in the sauce for a bit longer and cooling off they absorbed about all of the sauce – wow, these puppies were little sponges!