Saturday, January 29, 2011

Seafood City: Marketplace servicing Filipino & Asian community

We visited Seafood City in Tukwila, WA about 20km south from Seattle. This location recently opened last September and offers a wonderful selection of Filipino and Asian-influenced seafood, meats, fresh produce, baked goodies, desserts, packaged food, restaurants and much more!

Seafood City was established twenty years ago with its first store in San Diego. They now have twenty locations sprinkled throughout the United States' west coast and hope they'll open one soon in my neck of the woods, Vancouver, Canada.
We toured around the store and found my favorites like a preassembled Halo Halo fruit mix. Halo Halo is a popular Filipino dessert typically served with a mixture of shaved ice, evaporated milk and sweet beans and fruits like red mung beans, palm fruit, jackfruit and macapuno (coconut). It's delicious and good for you!

Seafood City also has a good section featuring the infamous, Balut, fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo that is boiled and then eaten with a seasoning consisting of salt, chilli and vinegar. This is a common Filipino street food and considered to be an aphrodisiac with loads of protein. Perhaps not for the faint of heart;)

Hope you enjoy your quick tour around Seafood City and encourage you to visit one closest to you to explore and enjoy Seafood City's fabulous selection of food. Masarap!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Portland's Delicious Gem: Thien Huong Chinese Restaurant

During my recent visit to see my relatives in Portland, Oregon, they introduced me to a locally renowned Chinese restaurant, Thien Huong. This culinary institution prides itself for proudly serving authentic Asian food since 1987.

My Uncle Fernando quickly informed me Thein Huong is known for their salt & pepper squid and for someone like me who adores calamari, I couldn't wait to try their world famous dish!

I must say, they make the BEST salt & pepper squid! In my humble opinion, it's all in the batter and they've hit the jackpot. Their calamari is lightly crunchy on the outside, coated with just the right amount of salt and pepper and beautifully tender in the middle.

After admiring and savouring the delicious calamari, we didn't wait long to dive right into the rest of the scrumptious fare including beef and vegetable noodles,

deep fried rock fish,

and another favourites of mine, green beans in black bean sauce.

Here's my Auntie Filipina's recipe for Green Bean in Black Bean Sauce.

- 1 lb fresh green beans
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp ginger, grated
- 2 tbsp black bean sauce
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
1. Trim the ends of the green beans and rinse them. Blanche them in boiling water until the beans are slightly tender. Place green beans in cold water to cool off.
2. Heat oil in frying pan then add garlic and ginger till lightly browned. Add green beans and cook on high, stirring constantly until they start to brown.
3. Add black bean sauce and mix well. Serve pipping hot over warm white rice, lovely!!
Try this: My recommended brand for Black Bean Sauce is Lee Kum Kee Black Bean Garlic Sauce.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chicken Chow Mein

Chow mein or (炒面 chǎo-miàn) is a Chinese term meaning stir-fried noodles and it is typically combined with strips of meat (chicken, pork, beef or shrimp), onions, celery, carrots, bean sprouts or whatever vegetable mix your heart desires. I learned that chow mein was most likely introduced to America by Chinese immigrants who served this dish to Chinese labourers working on the western railroads in the 1850s.
Did you know: "Mein" refers to long, thin noodles. They can be stir-fried, put into soups, or boiled. "Chow" refers to a specific cooking style: stir-frying in a wok.
I love making chow mein because it can be cooked quickly for the masses to enjoy. It calls for parboiled noodles (previously drained dry and cooled) which are then stir-fried and placed one side while the remainder of the ingredients (your mix of favorite meat and veggies) hit the wok for their turn. When these ingredients are just about done, the noodles rejoin them and chow mein is created.

My recommendation, if I may, is to use a wok to cook your chow mein. Not only do you feel like an Iron Chef but you can employ the stir-frying technique of tossing your ingredients with less spillage. Another benefit is cooking all your food items thoroughly with a small amount of cooking oil and heat!
Did you know: Woks allow food to be cooked quickly because of its curve offers maximum cooking surface with minimal fuel contact. So you end up using less oil and heat to cook your food. The wok is also the ultimate kitchen tool of convenience, as it can be used to boil, sautee, stir-fry, deep-fry and steam. As one pot cooks all, clean-up is likewise minimal.
My boyfriend, Jaeger, taught me how to make his version of chow mein so here it is, so deliciously simple for you to enjoy!

- 1 pkg (400 g) fresh chow mein noodles
- 1/4cup cup oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 cups boneless and skinless chicken breast, cubed
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 4 cups chopped broccoli
- 2 cups bok choy
- 2 cups red bell peppers, sliced in matchstick strips
- 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2cup chicken stock
- 1 cup bean sprouts

Did you know: Chow mein noodles are made of wheat flour, and have a darker color and distinct flavor. When shopping for chow mein noodles, look for a package of dry long noodles that resembles spaghetti.

1. In large saucepan of boiling water, cook noodles until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain well and set aside in colander. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and lightly stir-fry the noodles till they are crisp and golden. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in bowl, whisk together oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil. Thinly slice chicken crosswise; add to bowl, tossing to coat.

3. In large wok or skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil over high heat; stir-fry chicken mixture for 2 minutes. Transfer to plate.

4. Add remaining oil to pan; reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic and ginger; stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add broccoli, red pepper, mushrooms and 2 tbsp water; cover and steam for 3 minutes. Add noodles and stock; stir-fry until hot. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pan; add bean sprouts and toss to combine. Serve immediately to hungry guests!
Try this: Leftover chow mein for dinner keeps well and can be saved for a yummy lunch the next day!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tourtière: Quebecois Meat Pie

Tourtière, originating from Quebec, is a meat pie made with minced pork, veal or beef and flaky pastry. A traditional part of Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve meal in Quebec, tourtière is now enjoyed throughout Canada and all year long!
Did you know: The term "tourtière" came from a cooking utensil that was used to make a pie or tourte. Tourte also means passenger pigeon in French and was traditionally used as the pie's meat filling. It was in the early 1600's that the word tourtière became known for the Quebecois meat pastry.

I was introduced to tourtière by my boyfriend's grandma, Mame, who grew up with this classic Quebecois meat pie as a food staple in her youth. She continues to make it till this day! I soon learned that the secret to a good tourtière is the texture of the filling and the flakiness of the pastry. According to Mame, to get really flaky pastry, you need to use lard.

I did some research and found out that the fat's purpose in the pastry is to melt during baking, leaving air spaces. When in the oven, flour starches tend to set around the fat, leaving layers and spaces as the fat slowly melts and is reabsorbed into the dough. The longer the fat takes to melt, in this case lard has a higher melting point than butter, the more defined the little air pockets become which form more flaky air pockets. So lard it is!

Another wonderful thing about
tourtières, they can be made in advance and frozen, then served hot or cold. I prefer hot, of course! Mame gave us a lesson to make her deliciously flaky and fragrant meat pie and hope you'll try it for your friends and family to enjoy.

Makes six, 9-inch pies

For filling:
- 3.5 lb ground pork
- 3 lrg onions, minced
- 10 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups peeled potatoes
- 2 tbsp celery salt
- 1 tsp allspice
- salt & pepper to taste
Did you know: Allspice is known as "quatre-epices" in French. The name literally means "four spices" and includes the following spices, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.
For pastry:
  1. For the filling, combine pork, minced onion, & minced garlic. Cook slowly over med-low heat, for about 1 hour. Try not to brown the pork.
  2. Cut and peel the potatoes then boil over med heat, for about 30 minutes. Take off from heat and mash the potatoes to make smooth mashed potatoes.
  3. Combine mashed potatoes and cooked pork mixture then set aside to cool.
Did you know: The goal behind chilling the meat filling is to give the pastry time to cook and puff up before the filling warms and becomes more liquid.
Pastry prep:
  1. For the pastry, mix together flour and salt. Cut in lard with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. Gradually stir water into flour mixture, stirring constantly with a fork. Add only enough cold water to make dough cling together. Let dough rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Roll out half of the pastry and fit into six, 9-inch pie plates, and trim edge of pastry with a knife so that's even with pie plate. Then spoon cooled pork filling mixture into prepared pie shell.
  3. Roll out remaining pastry to 10-inch rounds, cut steam vents and place over filling. Trim the edge of pastry so that's even with the pie plate and crimp edges. Brush pastry with egg wash and bake at 375 degrees for30 minutes, or until pastry is golden and filling is bubbly. Bon appétit!