A food blog exploring the culinary wonders of Asia

The Steaming Wok

The Steaming Wok

A food blog exploring the culinary wonders of Asia

Recent Posts

Sanma No Nitsuke – Soy Simmered Pacific Saury with Ginger

Sanma No Nitsuke – Soy Simmered Pacific Saury with Ginger

I’m not sure why it has taken me so long, but I have begun to compile all the recipes I collected while living in Kesennuma, Japan which is located in Northeast  Japan. Tohoku–composed of Aomori, Akita, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and Yamagata prefectures–is famous for rugged…

Quick Nappa Cabbage Kimchi

Quick Nappa Cabbage Kimchi

I have to confess I am a kimchi fanatic. In fact, lately I have been experimenting quite a bit with making different fermented vegetables and fruit after reading The NOMA Guide to Fermentation by Rene Redzepi and the team at the Nordic Food Lab. I hope to…

Vietnamese herb and pomelo salad with roasted salmon belly

Vietnamese herb and pomelo salad with roasted salmon belly

One of the things I love about Northern California is the prevalence of farmer’s markets brimming with local produce and seafood. Last weekend one of the vendors had fresh salmon bellies from fish that had been caught off the coast that morning.  Salmon bellies along with the salmon collar are flavorful and melt in your mouth.  Since there is a higher fat content, they are also easy to grill without them drying out.  They also carmelize and develop a beautiful crunchy crust when prepared this way.  I prefer to use a charcoal grill, but if that is not available, you can grill them under a hot broiler or even on a hot cast iron skillet.

I had a few pomelos left over from the previous weekend and decided that a Vietnamese her salad would go really well with salmon.  For a dressing, I just made a quick nuoc nam dressing. I prefer a dressing that is a bit sour.  If you want to cut the tartness, feel free to add some additional sugar.  The key to making a balanced dressing is to keep tasting as you prepare it.  This dressing should be hot, salty, sour, and sweet. I think it combines really well with the richness of the salmon, and the sharp flavors of all the fresh herbs and the perfumed sweetness of the pomelo.  

Ingredients:

1 lb salmon bellies, 

1 large bunch each of mint, cilantro, and holy basil

1 large pomelo

1 seedless cucumber, sliced into half moons

4 – 5 shallots thinly sliced

Enough vegetable oil to fry the shallots in a small sauce pan

2 Tablespoons palm sugar (you can also substitute for brown sugar or cane sugar)

4 red or green Thai chilies, finely sliced.  Add more if you like a lot of heat

3 garlic cloves finely minced

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

3 Tablespoons fish sauce 

Directions:

  1. Rinse the salmon bellies and remove any large bones that may be remaining.  I like to salt it in advance of grilling it which helps remove extra moisture and contributes to a crispy crust when you grill it.  Put the salmon aside and let it rest while you prep the herbs.
  2. Rinse the herbs and pull off the tender leaves, discarding tough stems.  I like to use a salad spinner to dry the herbs at the end because I find that the dressing adheres better to the leaves when they are dry.  Toss the herbs together on a serving platter.
  3. Segment the pomelo.  I find it easiest to remove the thick pith and skin using a knife.  I then use my fingers to pull the pulp away from the thick skin on the inside of the pomelo.  The pomelo fruit should pull away in little pearls of fruit.  Sprinkle the bits of pomelo over the herbs.
  4. Heat 1-2 cups of vegetable oil in a small saucepan until it is hot enough to fry the shallots. I like to use a wooden chop stick to test.  If the dry tip of a chopstick bubbles vigorously when dipped in the oil, it is ready for the shallots. Carefully add in your thinly sliced shallots.  Be careful, the oil tends to bubble up when you do so.  Make sure the pan is deep enough so that the oil doesn’t go over the side. Fry the shallots for 4-5 minutes until it turns golden.  Strain from the oil and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.
  5. Create the dressing by mixing the sugar, Thai chiles, garlic cloves, lime juice, and fish sauce. Taste to check the balance in flavors and adjust accordingly. 
  6. Grill or broil the salmon bellies.  I find that depending on the thickness, the salmon broils fairly quickly.  I like to develop a little char on the outside.  This usually begins to happen in 4-5 minutes depending on the thickness of your salmon.  Cut into smaller pieces and let cool slightly before placing on the bed of herbs. 
  7. Drizzle the platter with the dressing and garnish with the fried shallots.  Enjoy!
La Paz Batchoy – Philippines Pork Noodle Soup

La Paz Batchoy – Philippines Pork Noodle Soup

Before the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines, Chinese traders frequented the island chain and brought a lot of their culinary influences, including noodle soups  However, this soup is not strictly Chinese and has Spanish influences such as the addition of  chicharron or pork cracklings.  I…

Stir Fried Celtuce

Stir Fried Celtuce

One of my favorite Chinese vegetables is celtuce, sometimes referred to as asparagus lettuce or Chinese lettuce.  Though it is not very common in the United States, it really should be.  It is packed with vitamins and niacin, has a mild nutty asparagus like flavor,…

Stir Fried Chinese Broccoli (gai lan)

Stir Fried Chinese Broccoli (gai lan)

Chinese broccoli or gai lan is one of my favorite vegetables. Not only is it super versatile and easy to cook, but it is also filled with folic acid, lots of vitamins and dietary fiber.  I often pair it with meat dishes or dishes that are a bit fatty since the slight bitterness helps cut the richness of other dishes. These also go really with steamed fish. When making them, make sure to make a heaping pile since they also reheat well.  The key is to cook them quickly over high heat and then remove them to keep them crunchy.  Also look for smaller stems on your gai lan.  If it is too woody,  you may want to trim the stems a bit so that they will cook faster.  I like to cut each stem at a bias, cutting bigger slivers from the stem and then larger pieces from the green leafy parts.  Also try to keep these two piles separate since the leaves take much less time to cook than the stems.

In China I would often seen Chinese broccoli doused in oyster sauce, but I think garlic and chilis are my favorite preparation. I will sometimes throw in some minced ginger or even a dash of soy, but I think this dish is best kept simple to allow for the sweetness of the greens to shine.  The red chilis also help offset the bitterness.

 

Stir Fried Chinese Broccoli (gai lan)

Ingredients:

1 lb Chinese broccoli

2 Tbsp neutral cooking oil like grape seed oil

3-4 cloves garlic, smashed

1-2 red chilis sliced (I like finger hot, sometimes I will substitute chili flakes)

salt or a drizzle of soy to taste

Recipe:

1.Wash and dry the Chinese broccoli.  Be careful as there will sometimes be sand.  Slice the stems at an angle into small bite size pieces.  Once you reach the leafy section of the stalk, cut bigger pieces as the leaves tend to cook much faster than the stems that can sometimes be a little woody.  I will often make two different piles so that I can allow the stems to cook a bit longer without the leafy sections getting overcooked.

2. Heat a wok or skillet that has a lid over high heat.  Drizzle your oil in to the pan.  The pan is hot enough when the oil starts to smoke a little.  Quickly throw in your smashed garlic cloves and saute for about 30 seconds until you start smelling them release their flavor.  Add your chili flakes or sliced fresh red chilis.

3. Quickly throw in your washed greens.  Don’t worry if there is some moisture on them, this will actually help them cook and steam a bit.  Keep tossing the wok or stirring the contents of your skillet to make sure that the garlic does not burn.

4. Cover the contents of the pan loosely to allow the steam to help cook the greens.  Once they are fork tender, but still a bit crunchy (3-5 minutes), remove the greens and season with salt or if you prefer, drizzle with some soy sauce.

 

Sri Lankan Green Jackfruit Curry

Sri Lankan Green Jackfruit Curry

Although jackfruit is not that common in North American groceries, it is definitely worth seeking out.  This fruit originally from Southern India is now grown widely throughout Southeast Asia and is the largest tree-borne fruit, reaching up to 80 lbs!   Don’t fear, however, you…

Homemade Sriracha

Homemade Sriracha

I’m smitten.  Ok, yes, normally I would reserve that terminology for a person, maybe even a favorite pet, but this experiment making sriracha sauce in my own kitchen will likely change the way I cook.  I’m already planning on experimenting with making my own XO…

Pork Adobo with Coconut Milk

Pork Adobo with Coconut Milk

I’m a vinegar fiend.  I put it in everything. Just a touch of acidity makes other flavors pop.  In fact, before reaching for the salt shaker, try adding a drop or two of vinegar or lemon juice.  I think you might be surprised at how it transforms the dish.  Adobo has become my go to dish when I don’t have much time to cook and just want to make something comforting and fast.  Though I never did get a chance to try adobo while I was in the Philippines, I think this is a pretty good rendition.  You don’t have to just do this with pork, it works equally well with beef or chicken.  In fact, I usually do this with chicken wings or chicken thighs.  The coconut milk is also optional.  I like it with the pork because it does add a layer of richness that tones down some of the acidity from the vinegar.  I also suggest that you try finding palm or cane vinegar from the Philippines, I think it is especially suited for this, though you can also use rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

 

Recipe:

2-3 lbs pork spare ribs cut into 2 inch segments (ask your butcher or meat department

oil

handful of garlic cloves ( I don’t measure here, I think the more the better for this dish)

1 Tb whole black peppercorns

3-4 bay leaves

1 cup palm vinegar (you can substitute other vinegar here)

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 cup coconut milk

1. Rinse your ribs and pat dry.  Heat some oil in a large pan, and brown the meat.  You can skip this step, but I think it adds some nice color and the carmelization improves the flavor.

2. Once nicely browned, add your garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves.

3. Add vinegar, soy, and coconut milk.  Make sure that the ribs are fully submerged.  If not, add a little water.

4. Simmer this mixture at low heat for ~45 minutes to an hour or until the meat is tender.  Serve with some steaming white rice.

Sichuan Silken Tofu

Sichuan Silken Tofu

One of the things I miss about China is the plethora of savory breakfast options from soups to dumplings to this spicy tofu that has the perfect mix of spicy, sour, and sweet flavors.  As if this wasn’t enough, it is also a mix of…


All Time Favorites

Quick Nappa Cabbage Kimchi

Quick Nappa Cabbage Kimchi

I have to confess I am a kimchi fanatic. In fact, lately I have been experimenting quite a bit with making different fermented vegetables and fruit after reading The NOMA Guide to Fermentation by Rene Redzepi and the team at the Nordic Food Lab. I hope to…