Tuesday, March 17, 2015

MKee's House Special Fish with Rice- Ga Herng Ban Kao Fan

There's only one restaurant that Mr. ABC Chef (Tim) likes in Chinatown..it's a Cantonese BBQ restaurant named M Kee. This place is near and dear to the hearts of many of our friends. You know it's a legit because you would see the older folks from the Cantonese congregation go there- a very good sign.

One of our Cantonese friends, Amanda, whose father is a chef, had this dish that we had never seen before. It had fish, pork, string beans, celery, dried black beans, and didn't look like anything we had seen before! We asked for the name and ordered it with rice.

It was...DELICIOUS! Generous chunks of fish, crunchy Chinese celery, seared string beans, morsels of ground pork, and seasoned well with dried black beans and fermented olives.  The combination of all the flavors together was quite magical, frankly :)

Ever since then, it's become our favorite when we are there, and we recommend it to anyone who asks. There was a period where we went to M Kee so much that we got to know the waitresses and they would instinctively jot down my order as "ga herng".

Needless to say, others have caught wind of this tasty dish, and share a common love for it.

Amy, Nafis, and our other CCCNC friends- this recipe was made for you and all other fellow lovers of ga herng! I did my best to re-create it, and I think I have gotten rather close. Let me know if you have suggestions! May this give you the powers to re-create this dish at home, and bring your tastebud memories back to the local joint that is M Kee.

*Apologies to all Cantonese people out there- I have no idea how to "spell" this dish properly in PinYin. Sorry if it is majorly butchered!

Special ingredients for this dish include:

The label says black beans, but they are actually olives based on the Chinese characters..
Funky looked fermented olives

I like these- they are dried and last forever

See? They last so long there is no expiration date ^_^V

Ga Herng Ban Kao Fan*
serves 3-4

2-3 Tbsp+ oil
16 oz firm fish filets, like basa/swai, cut into 1-1 1/2 inch pieces
5 oz ground pork
2 scallion stalks, chopped
6 oz string beans, trimmed and chopped into bits
2x1/2 inch slices of ginger, cut lengthwise into strips
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp dried black beans
1 Tbsp fermented olives
2 tsp Shaoxing or rice wine
3/4 tsp sugar
4 oz Chinese celery, chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
1 tsp soy sauce (optional)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Taiwan Eats Part IIIb of V: Hualien

I realized that that first post was SO LONG! So, I'll split it up into parts..


Overall Comments: This is a cute place with a great view of the Pacific Ocean! We had biked along the bike path at Seven Star Lake (七星潭)before coming here, and it was a nice way to wind our afternoon down. We passed the time while drinking, eating, and enjoying the scenery. Make sure to stop by the fence and feed the goats with anything you find on the property! Rest assured, as they don't spray any of the shrubs, trees, and bushes that grow nearby. These same goats produce the milk that you drink in the beverages at the cafe. The only downside of the cafe is that there is a minimum order of about $180 NT/person (if my memory serves me right), but upside is that with the goat milk tea and goat milk coffee we ordered, we also got goat milk cheesecake.

What we got:
-Goat Milk Coffee: This place is obviously known for their goat milk coffee. If you imagine the essence of goat cheese and the taste of coffee, this is it! However, T, a coffee purist, takes his coffee black, and felt that the goat milk watered the coffee down. He is also not as much of a goat cheese fan, so it all made sense. He did, however, LOVE the coffee, and asked for 3 refills on just the coffee. We asked the server about the origins of the coffee, and it turns out that the owner takes great pride and care in making her own blend of 3-4 types of beans.
-Goat Milk Cheesecake:  The house-made cheesecake definitely came from the freezer, and was not fully defrosted when we ate it, but was tasty and creamy, once it thawed. Thumbs down to not having fresh cheesecake, though..
-Goat Milk Iced Tea: I ordered the goat milk iced tea, which tasted much more like milk than tea. At least they weren't stingy with their milk!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Hong You Chao Shou

I love eating Sichuan food! When we go to Sichuan restaurants, we will often order spicy oil wontons, also known as hong you chao shou (紅油抄手)。 Hong you translates to 'red oil,' better known as chili oil. Chao shou is another way to say wonton. So,hong you chao shou  = chili oil wontons.

When we were in Taiwan last year, I got two cookbooks- one of which was this tiny, old cookbook in Taiwan called 正宗川菜,which means 'authentic Sichuan dishes'. I love this little book for its pictures and approach to breaking down Sichuan food into what I would describe as different flavor styles.

I decided to go all out and make these wontons from scratch- from the chili oil to the wonton skins. If you think about what you get at a restaurant- 6 or 7 tiny wontons for ~$6-7, you will definitely be happy knowing that you can make these on your own at a fraction of the price =)

I highly recommend that you make the chili oil in advance, because it keeps extremely well, and you will be able to cook these chao shou in no time!
Wonton skins, and from the same dough, noodles that were eaten with Niu Rou Mian

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tang Yuan (湯圓) - Stuffed Glutinous Rice Balls

Tomorrow is the Lantern Festival, which is called Yuan Xiao Jie (元宵節)in Chinese. I don't know much about it, other than the fact that it tang yuan is traditionally eaten at this time. Hooray for an excuse to eat tang yuan!

So, tell me more about tang yuan, you say. Remember yuan zi? Tang yuan are basically filled yuan zi. I think there are actually savory fillings and sweet fillings, but my only experience is with sweet, so that's what I'll be featuring today.  A common filling that is also my favorite is black sesame paste, and other popular fillings include peanut and red bean paste

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Almond Crisps

Have you ever seen these almond cookies at Chinese/Taiwanese bakeries? They are usually really expensive, and sold in clamshell containers.

I remember that one of our family friends would bring us some when they came to our house, and we would always eat them within the day.

If you like almonds, you will like these! They are crunchy, only a bit sweet, and require very few ingredients that you probably have at home.

Almond Crisps (杏仁片餅)
recipe from HipFood