My Yu Xiang Qie Zi

A good Sichuan yu xiang eggplant dish is one of my favorite vegetable dishes and I love vegetables.  Here is my home version that does not require deep frying.  Deep fried eggplant is amazing, but it is a pain the butt to clean up along with how unhealthy oil soaked eggplant is.  It is cobbled together from various recipes and techniques I have tried, though in the end is quite similar to the Serious Eats version.

I use sambal oelek here instead of Sichuan pickled chili paste.  I have an expansive Asian pantry, but even I have to economize on things.  I only stock Vietnamese fish sauce and shrimp sauce, for instance, and sambal fills my pickled chili slot.

1 1/2 pounds Chinese or Japanese or globe eggplants, cut into 2 inch batons
2 tbsp sambal oelek or other pickled chili paste
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Zhenjiang vinegar
1 tsp of sesame oil
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
4 tsp minced fresh ginger
4 tsp minced garlic
4 scallions, whites thinly sliced, greens cut into 1/3-inch segments
2 tablespoons doubanjiang

Line entire surface of large microwave-safe dish with paper towels Spread eggplant in even layer.  Microwave on high power until eggplant feels dry, about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through to dry sides evenly.  Dry eggplant thoroughly.

Combine ginger, garlic and scallion whites with 1 tbsp of oil in a small bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine all ingredients from the sambal to the cornstarch and mix until homogenized.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add eggplant in even layer and cook, tossing or stirring occasionally, until pieces are charred on most sides, 5 to 7 minutes.

Push eggplant to the side and aromatics to the center of the skillet and stir fry for 30 seconds.  Add doubanjiang and cook for 30 seconds with aromatics.  Toss everything in skillet together and then scrape sauce into skillet.  Simmer for about 3 minutes, adding water as necessary if sauce becomes too thick.  Finally add scallion greens and give one final toss before transferring to a serving platter.

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Simple Key Lime Pie

I recently made the Sour Orange Pie from Cook’s Country magazine which is like a key lime pie but with sour oranges.  My wife and I loved it and she normally doesn’t enjoy these custard pies and thinks I like things too tart.  As such I told her I would make a very basic key lime pie for her, not too tart, and see if she enjoyed it.

Key Lime Filling:
1 can of sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
5 egg yolks
1/2 c + 1 Tbsp or 4.5 oz of lime juice (5 limes)
4 tsp lime zest

Whisk all ingredients together thoroughly and let sit while you make crust.

Graham Cracker Nut Crust (from Pie and Pastry Bible):

9 double graham crackers
1/2 c or 1.75 oz of pecans
3 Tbsp of sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
generous pinch of salt
4 Tbsp of melted butter

In a food processor pulse everything but the butter until you are left with fine crumbs.  Sprinkle the melted butter over the crumbs and pulse 5 to 10 times to incorporate.  Press into glass pie plate (do not use a metal plate for tart desserts as a general rule).  Bake 15 minutes in a 325 degree oven or until starting to brown.  Let cool for only a few minutes.

Now poor filling into crust and bake for 17-20 minutes or center is firm but jiggly.

 

 

 

 

 

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Oven Jerk Ribs and Sweet Potato Fries

Jerk Ribs

4 scallions, chopped coarse
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp molasses
1.5 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoons ground allspice
4 habanero chiles, stemmed and deseeded
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 cup soy sauce
(2½- to 3-pound) racks St. Louis–style spareribs, trimmed
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
limes for serving

Combine everything but vinegar in food processor and process into paste.  Rub into ribs and marinate for at least two hours.

Remove ribs from marinade and wrap tightly in foil.  Place in preheated 250 degree oven for 2 hours.  Remove foil and return to oven for roughly 1 and a half to 2 hours, until meat has no resistance.  Remove ribs from oven and turn oven up to 500 degrees.

Meanwhile add vinegar and reduce marinade into glaze and rub all over ribs.  Once oven has reached 500 degrees, place ribs back into oven until well browned, 5 to 10 minutes.

Sweet Potato Fries
Follow this recipe.  Add
2 teaspoons smoked paprika,
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar,
1 teaspoon garlic powder

to cornstarch.

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Chicken Pita Sandwiches

This is going to borrow liberally from Serious Eats’s Halal Cart Chicken recipe and pita bread recipe.

 

Red Zhug Sauce

3 dried guajillo chiles
1 chipotle morita chile
1 lb of red jalapenos or fresno chiles
1 tbsp soy sauce and fish sauce
6 garlic cloves unpeeled
1/2 cup cilantro
2 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoon cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Toast guajillos.  Slice fresh chiles down one side so you can lay them flat.  Remove seeds.  Broil for about 10 minutes with garlic.  Peel jalapenos once cool and then put all ingredients in food processor or blender and process until paste forms.  Add olive oil or water to loosen if needed.

Roast Chicken Schwarma
2 lbs of chicken thighs or drumsticks
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 tsp of dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1.5 tsp of salt

Whisk everything but chicken thighs together and then apply as a marinade for chicken for up to four hours.

Preheat oven to 450 F with a baking sheet inside.  Place chicken skin side down on preheated sheet and roast for 20 to 25 minutes.

Mayo Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, cilantro, and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt.

 

Pita Bread

 

Bread and Butter Israeli Pickles
4 kirby cucumbers sliced 1/4 in thick
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
1 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoons mustard seeds
3/4 tsp of ground turmeric
1/4 tsp of cloves
1 teaspoons celery salt
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp of salt

Combine vegetables and salt in and set in a colander over a bowl for at least an hour.  Drain vegetables and pack into a jar or sealable bowl.

Bring all other ingredients to a boil and then pour over vegetables.  Let cool and then seal and place in refrigerator.

 

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Sheng Jian Bao

My wife has a craving for this hard-to-find Shanghai bun snack, so this weekend’s project is to make some.

Dough:

1½ teaspoons rapid-rise (instant) dry yeast
¾ cup lukewarm water or milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
12½ ounces (2½ cups) bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour
1. Put the yeast in a small bowl, add the water, and set aside for 1 minute to soften. Whisk in the oil to blend and dissolve the yeast. Set aside.

2. To make the dough in a food processor, combine the sugar, baking powder, and flour in the work bowl. Pulse two or three times to combine. With the motor on, pour the yeast mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream and allow the machine to continue running, for about 20 seconds, or until the dough starts coming together into a ball. (If this doesn’t happen, add lukewarm water by the teaspoon.) Let the machine continue for 45 to 60 seconds to knead most of the dough into a large ball that cleans the sides of the bowl; expect some dangling bits. Press on the finished dough; it should feel medium-soft and tacky but should not stick to your finger.

3. Lightly oil a clean bowl and add the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm, draft-free place (for example, in an oven with the light on) to rise for about 45 minutes, or until nearly doubled. The dough is now ready to use.

Filling:

1 pound finely minced Napa cabbage (about 1/2 a medium head)
1 pound ground pork shoulder
1 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic (about 3 medium cloves)
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
4 scallions, chopped
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp of Shaoxing wine
1 tbsp of oyster sauce
1.5 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp of light soy
4 oz of jelled stock (store chicken stock with 1 Tbsp of gelatin mixed in)
Soy sauce to taste

1. While dough rests,
scrape any excess dough from now-empty processor
bowl and blade. Pulse cabbage in processor until finely
chopped, 8 to 10 pulses. Transfer cabbage to medium
bowl and stir in 1 teaspoon salt; let sit for 10-30 minutes.
Using your hands, squeeze excess moisture from
cabbage. Transfer cabbage to small bowl and set aside.

2. Pulse pork, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, 1 tablespoon
vegetable oil, rice wine, oyster sauce and pepper in now-empty food processor until
blended and slightly sticky, about 10 pulses. Scatter
cabbage over pork mixture. Add scallions and stock and
pulse until vegetables are evenly distributed, about
8 pulses. Transfer pork mixture to small bowl and,
using rubber spatula, smooth surface. Cover with
plastic and refrigerate.

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Dakdoritang, Korean Chicken Stew

Everybody has a chicken stew.  Koreans even have two!  This is a spicy gochujang based one, but they obviously have a sweet soy chicken stew too.  After all there are really only two flavors in Korean food, spicy gochujang/gochukaru and sweet soy.

This follows the same rules as my other chicken stews.

2-3 lbs of chicken thighs, drumsticks or leg quarters, remove skin and bones if preferred
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp of peeled ginger, thinly sliced
1 tbsp of shrimp paste, optional
3 tbsp of gochujang
1 tbsp of doubanjiang or an additional tbsp of gochujang
1 tbsp of gochugaru or more to taste
3 cups of chicken stock or kombu/anchovy stock
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1 tbsp of honey or more to taste
2 small russet potatoes, about 1.25 lbs, in large chunks
12 oz of carrots in large chunks
handful of spring onions cut into 1-2 inch pieces

Preheat oven to 325 F

1. Saute onion, garlic and ginger in some oil until softened.  Then add gochujang, doubanjiang and gouchgaru and stir fry for a minute or two.

2. Add chicken stock, soy sauce and honey and bring to a simmer.  Then add potatoes and carrots and return to a simmer.  Place in oven uncovered for 30 minutes.

3.  Remove pot from oven and put over high heat on stove.  Add chicken to pot, return to a simmer and then return to oven for 30 minutes.

4. Add spring onions to pot and return to oven for another 15 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and simmer on stovetop if vegetables are not tender enough.  Season with additional soy sauce, honey or gochugaru and sesame oil.

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Morning Buns, Two Ways

**Update** The chocolate filling as written is too bitter.  I adapted it from a babka recipe which had a bit more sugar directly in the dough which may have compensated for this quality.

 

There seems to be some confusion about what morning buns are.  Many recipes seem to be confusing them with cinnamon rolls and are making them with rich brioche doughs.  In reality, morning buns are sweet, cinnamon pastries made with a laminated croissant dough.  Here, Cook’s Country cheats with a quick puff pastry.

Kouign amann are similar in their modern incarnation, but originally kouign amann were large butter cakes and not the petite pastries they are typically sold as now.

I have added a bit of sugar outside of the dough in order to give it a crunchy, caramelized texture akin to kouign amann.  I also include a traditional cinnamon filling and an alternate chocolate filling.

 

(Heavily adapted from Cook’s Country)

Dough
3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2¼ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
¾ teaspoon salt
24 tablespoons (12 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch slices and chilled
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream, chilled
¼ cup (2 ounces) orange juice, chilled
3 tablespoons ice water
1 large egg yolk

Additional 1/2 cup sugar

1. For the dough Combine flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in 1-gallon zipper-lock bag. Add butter to bag, seal, and shake to coat. Press air out of bag and reseal. Roll over bag several times with rolling pin, shaking bag after each roll, until butter is pressed into large flakes.

2. Transfer mixture to large bowl and stir in sour cream, orange juice, ice water, and egg yolk with wooden spoon until combined. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds.

3. Press and roll dough into 20 by 12-inch rectangle, with short side parallel to counter edge. Roll dough away from you into firm cylinder, keeping roll taut by tucking it under itself as you go.

4. With seam side down, flatten cylinder into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Transfer to parchment paper–lined rimmed baking sheet, cover loosely with greased plastic wrap, and freeze for 15 minutes.

Fillings
Cinnamon
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) granulated sugar
½ cup packed (3½ ounces) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate *Don’t Use*
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter
4.5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg white

For cinnamon filling: Combine all ingredients in bowl.

For chocolate filling: Microwave chocolate, butter, and cocoa together in medium bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, about 30 seconds. Stir in sugar until combined and let cool completely. Whisk in egg white until fully combined and mixture turns glossy.

5. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and roll into 20 by 12-inch rectangle, with long side parallel to counter edge. Spread filling, leaving ½-inch border around edges.

6. Roll dough away from you into firm cylinder, keeping roll taut by tucking it under itself as you go. Pinch seam closed, then reshape cylinder as needed to be 20 inches in length with uniform thickness.

7. Grease 12-cup muffin tin with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Coat bottom and sides of muffin cups with 2 tablespoons sugar and tap out excess.

8. Spread ¼ cup sugar onto bottom of shallow dish.  Using serrated knife, trim ½ inch dough from each end and discard. Cut cylinder into 12 pieces and coat with sugar in dish and then place cut side up in muffin cups. Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours. (Unrisen buns can be refrigerated for at least 16 hours or up to 24 hours; let buns sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.)

9. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees.  Sprinkle buns with 2 tablespoons sugar and sea salt and press to adhere. Bake until buns begin to rise, about 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Continue to bake until buns are deep golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking. Let buns cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and discard liners. Serve warm.

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