Steamed Chinese Long Lee Fish

“Good Canto” often meant “Hong Kong Canto” at NYU Stern, where my classes and social circles were dominated by fellow Asians, and I was informed by countless peers that my Cantonese sounded “funny”. Funny as my accent seemed (stemming from the parentals’ Wuzhou heritage), I never let it stop me from ordering dim sum in Chinatown or buying cheap fruits and veggies at the street stands. In fact, I always felt quite at home in Chinatown, where the fake goods hawkers still stand on street corners with their walkie talkies, yelling out brand name labels to entice passerbys to check out their warehouse goodies.

However, there was still one hurdle left to conquer. In all my years living in the city and countless hours in Chinatown, I had never done one thing: bought fish.

Now these are not your usual fish fillets, neatly scaled, deboned, and packaged at your local grocery store. These are freshly caught (or I’d like to think so) whole pieces of fish in all their glory, laying on beds of ice and waiting patiently for the chance to become someone’s next meal. I avoided buying fish in the past due to the dizzying variety and indecipherable Chinese characters, but I absolutely had to get fish for my first homecooked New Years feast.

I bombarded my dad with questions on which fish to buy before making the final decision – Long Lee please! Long Lee, known as Sole in English, was a flat, flaky fish my parents used to steam at home. When buying fish, always have the fishmonger scale and gut the fish. You have enough to worry about with all that bone left intact, and you don’t want the guts muddying up the flavor.

Steamy Kitchen had an excellent suggestion for serving the fish. Instead of traditionally serving the steamed fish with its cooking juices and cooked herbs, create a fresh herb sauce to drizzle on top. The modified recipe below is inspired by Jaden’s recipe.

You will need a dish to hold the fish and a large pot or wok for steaming. I bought one of those metal steamer legs on which to rest the dish, but you can also place an inverted bowl in the pot/wok to hold the plate of fish above the steaming water.

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Potato Leek Pizza

Hello world! Tried and true, no matter how busy life gets, I will never abandon Ling Li Eats. Wearing many different caps has kept me running around the last few months, but believe me when I say I would never give up the invaluable opportunity to do what I actually enjoy. Priceless 🙂

The potato leek pizza, a la Pioneer Woman, is a tribute to my favorite food group on the food pyramid (though to be fair, it’s pretty much neck-to-neck with the meats). Forget the Atkins diet, carbs make such excellent comfort food. Add some crumbled dairy on top, some thinly sliced meats aka bacon, a few strands of vegetables, and voila!

You have yourself a well balanced meal. I usually go for your standard marinara sauce pizza with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni/mushroom/sausage, so adding potatoes, leeks, and my goodness, goat cheese?? to my pizza was a fascinating new concept.

I cheated last time I made pizza from scratch, using Boboli pizza crust as a base. No shortcuts this time. I had serious concerns about the dough being too sticky, but setting the covered dough in a warm area fixed that right up. Watching the yeast work its magic on the dough was well, kinda magical!

Thin layers of sliced red potatoes.

Ingredients:

1/2 recipe for Pizza Crust (see below)
6 slices thick-cut bacon, 1-in pieces
3 Leeks, rinsed well to remove grit and thinly sliced
5 small red or Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced paper thin
1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Grated Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Spread pizza crust in baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

2) Fry the bacon over medium heat until cooked but not crisp. Set aside.

3) Leave some of the bacon fat in which to saute the leeks. Cook the leeks until soft, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

4) Use a sharp knife or mandoline to thinly slice the potatoes. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer over the crust, slightly overlapping the edges. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

5) Lay the mozzarella slices in a single layer on top of the potatoes. Place the leeks on top of the cheese, then arrange the fried bacon pieces over the leeks.

6) Sprinkle more crumbled goat cheese, grated Parmesan, and pepper on top.

7) Bake the pie for 8-11 minutes, until the edges of the crust are golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Slice and serve immediately.

How to make Pizza Crust:

Yield: 2 pizza crusts

Ingredients:

1 tsp or 1/2 packet active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling

Instructions:

1) In a mixing bowl, pour the yeast over 1 1/2 cups of warm water, stirring gently.

2) Combine the flour and salt in a separate bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and mix well.

3) Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture, mixing until the dough forms a ball. (I used my hands)

4) Drizzle a little olive oil into a clean bowl. Toss the dough into the bowl and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a moist kitchen towel and set in a warm place for 1-2 hours. You can also cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.

5) Once the dough has risen, divide it in half and stretch the dough to the desired shape, pressing it into an oiled 13×9 griddle with your fingers. The thinner the better. The surface of the dough should be lumpy from finger marks so it receives and holds toppings better. The remaining dough be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 3 days before use, or frozen for up to 6 months.

Mmhmm…Delicious pizza, fresh out of the oven. With the pizza loaded with toppings, it was actually easier eating with forks and knives. Excellent flavors with the potato, leek, bacon, goat cheese combination.

Silly me overestimated the amount of dough necessary per square inch though, resulting in a thicker than desired pizza crust. If that happens to you, I recommend either sticking it back in the oven for a few more minutes or doing what I actually did. I placed a few pizza slices in a griddle and crisped the bottoms over the stovetop. Yum.

To continue the story of my Florida adventure, which unfortunately already feels like a faint memory of the past, we roadtripped to Orlando that Friday after 2 nights of warm sunny Miami beaches. Amidst the mandatory BCG mingling and organized events, we were still able to scrap together an entire day of doing whatever we wanted. First choice without even the slightest doubt in our minds: HARRY POTTER WORLD, HERE WE COME!

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Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Sriracha Mayo

I find the smell of bacon absolutely irresistible. I love watching the thin strips sizzle on the griddle, bathing in its own fat, the meat slowly curling up as it browns to a crispy perfectionShark Tank featured an entrepreneur with a prototype of a pig-shaped alarm clock that wakes you up in the morning with freshly cooked bacon.

I want. Now. (The idea, unfortunately, could not find an investor on the show. Potential fire hazard… plus I guess I would prefer to have the smell of bacon drifting in from the kitchen rather than from the adjacent nightstand).

Bacon is a great enhancement to any dish (bacon bits in salad? YUMM), and it was just one of those fatty, lazy weekends. 

Bacon wrapped around scallops is amazingly good, and make for great appetizers at parties. Of course, I was cooking for two, so the leftovers just made for a great snack the next morning. The spicy mayo dip provides a great kick to the dish, and you should definitely adjust the amount of Sriracha based on your spiciness tolerance.

Ingredients:

8 sea scallops
8 slices bacon
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
Olive oil
8 toothpicks

Spicy Mayo Dip:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbsp Sriracha Hot Chili
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tbsp chopped cilantro

Instructions:

1) Marinate the scallops in the teriyaki sauce for 20 minutes.

2) Wrap each scallop in a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place the scallops on a lined baking sheet. Cook under the broiler for 10-15 minutes until bacon is thoroughly cooked.

3) Combine the ingredients for the Spicy Mayo dip. Stir well. Enjoy with the bacon wrapped scallop!

Inspired by Griddle Chef

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Simmered Daikon Radish

Remember that dashi broth concocted for the miso glazed salmon? Ling Li never wastes anything when she cooks :). To round out the Japanese-themed evening, I listened to my inner conscience and added some vegetables to the dinner lineup.

Daikon is a delicious white radish that can be eaten raw or cooked. There are many methods of preparation, ranging from thin pickled slices for Korean ban chan dishes to the Daikon & Pork Bone soup my parents make at home (luo bo tang). I also like simmering the vegetable in a light soy sauce mixture until soft (and then eating it with my soy sauce cornish hen!) My absolute absolute favorite? Turnip cake, aka luo bo gao. Get me a plate of that pan-fried any day at dim sum. Had some unbelievably delicious ones everywhere I went in Hong Kong.

In Japanese cuisine, daikon is often shredded and mixed into ponzu (soy sauce and citrus juice condiment) as a dip. This recipe takes the vegetable and simmers it in a dashi-soy sauce-mirin-sugar broth, finished with a pinch of salt.

Ingredients:
1 lb daikon radish
2 quarts of rice rinsing water
1 piece of kombu (kelp)
3 cups dashi stock
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Scallion (optional, garnish)

Dashi stock ingredients:

1 1/3 oz or 6 inch of kombu (kelp)
4 cups of water

Instructions:

1) Peel the daikon and cut into 1 1/2 inch thick round pieces. Make a shallow criss-cross in one side of each daikon slice.

2) I couldn’t serve a Japanese meal without rice, and I collected 2 quarts of the water used to wash the rice for this recipe (apparently the water from washed rice gives daikon radish a milder taste when cooked). Boil the water and add the daikon. Simmer for 35 minutes.

3) Drain the water. Mix the dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and salt in a bowl and add to the pot. Place a piece of kombu (kelp) at the bottom and the daikon on top (I used the kombu from the dashi stock).

4) Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until soft. Arrange daikon slices in a dish and cover with remaining cooking liquid. Garnish with scallion.

How to make dashi stock:

1) Wipe kelp with a damp paper towel. Soak in 4 cups of water for an hour.

2) Bring the water and kelp to the boiling point, but remove the kelp before the water actually boils.

The dish was actually a bit too sweet for my tastes, but the boyfriend liked it. I prefer my vegetables savory and salty when cooked, but I trust that this is a pretty standard Japanese way of cooking daikon since it was included it in my handy dandy recipe book.

Hope you enjoyed this series on Japanese cuisine!

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Huevos Hyacinth

Great cookbooks are no longer limited to the commissioned writings of famous chefs or household TV personalities. The democratization of the cookbook allows more people with a good story and recipe to get their works published.

I stumbled upon the Pioneer Woman’s blog while googling for Photoshop actions one afternoon, and I’ve been a devout fan since. Ree Drummond’s cookbook “The Pioneer Woman Cooks” was actually my first cookbook purchase in years. Worth it? I think so! Nothing like step-by-step photo tutorials of how to make some finger-licking, lip-smacking southern comfort cowboy food. Makes me want to take a trip down south to experience the real thing. Her food blog also offers countless recipes and gorgeous food photos to boot.

So I decided to try my hand at some of the dishes Pioneer Woman would serve to Marlboro Man and the kids. Nothing too heavy since I was still trying to get in shape for a Disney trip later in June (which, by the way, was fantastic fun. Didn’t actually go to any of the Disney parks but had a blast at Harry Potter World. More on that later).

Final choices? Huevos hyacinth for the appetizer and potato leek pizza for the main course. Can’t tear me away from the eggs or carbs 🙂

Ingredients:

2 thin slices ham or turkey
2 large eggs
2 tomato slices
Picante sauce (optional)
Butter
Salt
Black pepper
Crumbled goat cheese (or Monterey Jack)

Instructions:

1) Butter individual ramekins and place a piece of thinly sliced ham or turkey at the bottom. Add a tomato slice on top of the meat.

2) If you’re feeling spicy, use a couple tablespoons of picante sauce instead. I used both tomato slices and a few drops of Frank’s hot sauce.

3) Gently crack an egg over the top of each ramekin. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

4) Top each ramekin with ¼ cup grated cheese. Monterey Jack works nicely, but I used some of the leftover goat cheese from the potato leek pizza.

5) Broil for 2 to 4 minutes, removing when the yellow of the egg is still soft but not overly runny.

Serves two.

The egg whites came out too runny after 4 minutes, so I stuck the ramekins back under the broiler for a few more minutes. While tasty, I’m sad to say I wasn’t an immediate convert. There was too much liquid in my ramekin, a combination of the hardly-solidified egg white and juice from the tomato slice. Great flavor from the goat cheese and deli meat though. (Goat cheese, my new cheese love…)

Had much better results with the potato leek pizza though..here’s a preview of what’s to come next post:

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Chicken Gizzard & Heart Yakitori

Japanese yakitori is usually made from bite-sized pieces of chicken meat or offalskewered on a bamboo skewer and grilled over charcoal. Diners usually have the choice of having it cooked with salt (shio) or tare sauce. This recipe uses the tare approach, a marinade that is usually made of mirin, sake, soy sauce, and sugar.

You are missing out if you’re one of the foodies out there still afraid of trying internal organs. I grew up with the mentality that food should never be wasted, and every part of the animal can and should be eaten. I have vivid memories of my dad sucking the juices from shrimp heads and my mom fighting to claim the eyeballs from the steamed fish.

As a result, I have no fear (and even welcome) ear, tongue, feet, stomach, intestine, lung, liver, sweetbreads…you name it, and I will most likely eat it. That’s why one of the most exciting culinary trends to date is the increasing readiness of people to experiment with new foods and the restaurants out there ready to cater to the growing demand.

One of my personal favorites would have to be chicken gizzard. The meats have that irresistible crunchy, chewy texture, with a simple soy sauce marinade really bringing out the flavors. I purchased a 20oz package of Perdue chicken gizzard and heart at Gristedes for only $1.89! Good deal? I would say so.

But then again…what about the nutritional value? My curiousity led to a quick Google search. A cup of chicken gizzard has 212 calories and a whopping 179% of your daily cholesterol needs. Not something you want to be eating everyday, but hey, one large egg has 71% of your daily cholesterol needs, and I sure as hell am not giving up my eggs 🙂

This is a delightful appetizer to serve on a stick, and hopefully you’ll be expanding the taste palettes of all your dinner guests! (Maybe make some on the grill for this year’s Memorial Day weekend BBQ?)

Ingredients:

1 lb chicken gizzard & heart
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar
2 cloves garlic
Scallions

Instructions:

1) Wash chicken gizzards and hearts thoroughly. Cut into bite size pieces.

2) Mince the garlic. Combine soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and garlic in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes until sauce thickens.

3) Save 3 tbsp of the sauce for serving and pour remaining sauce over the chicken. Mix well, cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours.

4) Soak the bamboo skewers (toothpicks in my case) in water for an hour to minimize burning in the oven.

5) Wash and cut off the white part of the scallion. I added this piece to my yakitori and saved the green part for garnish. Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto the skewers, alternating with the scallion if desired.

6) Broil in the oven for 13 minutes. Serve skewers with reserved sauce brushed on top.

*) To make the scallion curl garnish, cut the vegetable into 3 inch pieces and make thin lengthwise cuts 2 inches in. Place in cold water and let stand 1 minute until edges curl. Remove from water – it is now ready to be used on your plate!

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Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Apples and Walnuts

Salad making has never a specialty of mine. My parents immigrated from a land where vegetables had to be thoroughly washed and well cooked. As a result, raw vegetables were a rare part of my diet growing up. I do fondly remember eating the occasional iceberg lettuce doused with thousand island dressing with my dad, who had a penchant for the thick, creamy sweet condiment.

This early exposure to thousand island dressing was probably what fueled my love for Big Macs growing up 😛

The warm goat cheese salad I present to you today is a healthy, light way to start off your next meal. Use a different type of apple if you find the Granny Smith to be too tart, especially paired with the honey apple cider vinaigrette. I cracked open my own walnuts with a garlic press (I do recommend getting an actual nutcracker though), but you can buy pre-shelled walnuts to make your lives a bit easier.

Ingredients:

1 granny smith apple, sliced
3 oz goat cheese log, sliced into 1/3 inch rounds
3 cup spring mix salad
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Vinaigrette:
5-½ tbsp honey
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 pinch salt
1 pinch freshly ground Pepper
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 dash lemon juice

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 375 F. Place the sliced goat cheese on a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes until the cheese has melted inside but still retains its shape.

2) For the vinaigrette, whisk together the honey and vinegar till the honey has dissolved. Season with salt and pepper and slowly add the olive oil while stirring. Add a dash of lemon juice. Taste the vinaigrette and adjust accordingly if you want a sweeter dressing.

3) Toss the spring mix greens with the dressing. Add the walnuts and apple slices and mix well.

4) Plate the salad and add the warm slices of goat cheese on top. Enjoy!

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Roast Chicken and Potatoes

The monthly subscription business exploded in popularity about a year ago as monthly hand-selected boxes including beauty products (Birchbox being an original), doggy treats, and Paleo snacks came on the scene to tempt consumers.

Andrew loves his Bespoke Post subscription – a monthly shipment of manly #boxofawesome goodness. You can find a comprehensive list of available subscription boxes at Fantabulously Frugal.

The concept is fairly easy – pay X dollars a month and the company will ship a hand-selected box of goodies straight to your doorstep. It’s a great way to sample new products, and you can purchase the full-size versions on the website if something strikes your fancy.

I of course jumped on the chance to get a free trial box of food through Foodzie. Foodzie allows you to discover artisanal treats like crispy seaweed snacks and organic dried pineapple for the monthly subscription price of $29.95 ($19.95 when the service first started). I like Foodzie’s branding strategy – every box is a tasting adventure! They also help small-batch food makers get their products out there on the market.

My box of goodies included sample packets of Wood’s Gourmet spices and a recipe card for some roast chicken and potatoes. Make sure to rub the chicken liberally with the Basil & Lemongrass Herb Sea Salt. I love anything that simplifies the cooking process and still makes me feel like an awesome cook :D. The tender, juicy leftover chicken makes perfect sandwiches for lunch the next day.

Ingredients:

1 small whole chicken (about 3 – 3 1/2 pounds)
1 tbsp of Woody’s Gourmet Basil & Lemongrass Herb Sea Salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 sprigs of fresh marjoram
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 lb of small German butterball potatoes
Woody’s Gourmet Fresh Rosemary and Sage Sea Salt, to taste
extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat it dry. Drizzle the olive oil on top and rub it over the chicken.

3) Rub the chicken (inside and out) with the lemongrass sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Stuff the cavity with the sprigs of fresh marjoram.

4) Rinse the potatoes and place them into a cast iron griddle. Toss them with the rosemary sea salt (to taste), a sprinkling of freshly-ground pepper and a generous drizzle of olive oil.

5) Heat a large cast iron griddle over medium-high heat. When the griddle is hot, place the chicken, breast side down, into the griddle. Cook for a few minutes, letting the skin brown lightly. Flip to the other side, and cook for a few minutes before flipping it again and placing it in the oven to roast.

6) Place the potatoes alongside the chicken. Check the potatoes after about 30 minutes and take them out of the oven when they’re fork-tender. Check the chicken to make sure it is not browning too quickly. Roast the chicken for about 45 minutes to an hour (until the juices run clear).

Remove the chicken from the cast iron griddle and set it on a large cutting board. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before carving it (this helps keep it moist and juicy).

7) Serve the chicken with the potatoes.

Serves 2.

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Chicken Teriyaki

Inspiration? A quick and cheap Japanese entree that would balance out the Miso Glazed Salmon. Complexity? Possibly one of the simplest dishes I’ve ever created. This particular recipe should be called an LJ shortcut. It features two very basic ingredients – chicken and marinade sauce 🙂

Teriyaki sauce is usually a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sake, and honey. (Variations include adding sugar, ginger, garlic, etc).

However, I just happened to own an unused bottle of Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce, and I decided to take the lazy route with the premade sauce. Super easy recipe to make, a welcome dish that slowly cooked in the oven as I worked on the homemade dashi stock for the other dishes.

Ingredients:

6 chicken drumsticks
Kikkoman teriyaki sauce.

Instructions:

1) Put drumsticks in a bowl and cover with teriyaki sauce. Cover and marinate overnight in the fridge.

2) Lay chicken on lined baking pan and bake covered at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes, turning once. Make sure the meat is fully cooked before serving.

Yumm tender chicken meat! Simple is good =)

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Steamed Mussels in Garlic and White Wine

Shame on me, it’s been a while since my last update. The hectic balancing act that was my life the past few months has now calmed down a bit, giving me additional reflection time on next steps. And of course, time to return to my food blog and take care of some neglected LJ Bistro dishes from the end of Summer & Fall.

I wanted to cook a seafood themed dinner for LJ Bistro #15, and some steamed mussels sounded like the perfect opening dish. I’ve always placed a high value on shellfish, with fantasies of one day eating unlimited lobsters dancing in my mind. Until then, I satisfy those shellfish cravings with $1 happy hour raw oysters and $2.50 seafood chigae from Woorijip. And on special binge sessions? Juicy king crab legs at Chinese buffets *drool*.

Mussels are definitely on the affordable end as well and surprisingly easy to cook! No longer are you limited to fancy French restaurants for your Moules Frites fix. Enjoy these fine moules delicacies from the comfort of your own home. And *ahem* according to Andrew, this dish is perfect for you male cooks out there looking to impress a special lady friend (sophisticated dish created with minimal effort).

On a final note before we dive into how to steam some delicious mussels, I want to invite you guys to join Lot18, a beautifully designed daily deals website that provides insider access to fine wines, specialty foods, and epicurean-themed excursions. I actually haven’t quite learned to fully appreciate a glass of full-bodied wine, so for me I love browsing the site for deals on cookware and utensils. I recently purchased a gorgeous Nero fondue set. Now I just need some people over to enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 lb mussels
1 cup chopped onions
6 cloves minced garlic
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp flour (optional, used to thicken broth)

Instructions:

1) Clean the mussels by placing them in a bowl of water for about 30 minutes until the mussels open up and disgorge any sand. Scrub the outside shells with a brush under running water, removing the “beard” from each with your fingers. Throw away any mussels whose shells are not tightly shut.

2) Heat the olive oil in a large griddle over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes until the onions are translucent.

3) Add the tomatoes, white wine, parsley, thyme, flour, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring everything to a boil.

4) Add the mussels, stir well, and cover the griddle. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes until all the mussels are open. While steaming, shake the pot once or twice to distribute the broth over the mussels and to make sure they don’t burn on the bottom.

5) Discard any mussels that do not open. Mussels that do not open were dead already before being cooked, and you don’t want to risk getting food poisoning! Pour the mussels and broth into a large bowl and serve immediately.

Don’t forget a few thick chunks of bread to soak up all that delicious broth at the bottom! I went with a freshly baked demi baguette from Trader Joes. If you’re feeling very ambitious, fry up some frites to eat alongside your steamed mussels. Bon appetit!

Inspired by Ina Garten’s “Mussels in White Wine” recipe

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