Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao) with Tofu

When I go to a Thai restaurant I usually order pad see ew or pad woon sen, but every once in a while I'm in the mood for something a little spicier, and for that I turn to drunken noodles, or pad kee mao.  According to the menu at my favorite Thai restaurant, Pepper Sky's, drunken noodles were "originally stir-fried by a singing drunkard to starve [sic] off midnight hunger.  Ingredients previously thought to be incompatible were tossed into the wok, and voila[!] Drunken noodle."

Sadly, Pepper Sky's is currently closed for renovations, so I decided to try making the dish myself.  I pretty much followed this recipe from Food52 except I added some sugar to the sauce since I prefer my drunken noodles slightly sweet.  I also increased the amount of egg since I wasn't adding any shrimp.  I wasn't able to find rice flake noodles, so I used the widest rice noodles I could find.  If you can find fresh wide rice noodles, I would suggest using those and skipping the soaking step. 

This is one of those recipes where you want to make sure you have all the vegetables minced and chopped before you start cooking since it comes together pretty quickly.  Feel free to add other vegetables; I'm used to seeing tomato slices, baby corn, bamboo shoots, carrots, string beans, and zucchini in the drunken noodles I get at Thai restaurants.

Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao) with Tofu (adapted from Lollipopsicle by way of Food52)
serves 3

7 oz. wide rice stick noodles
2 tablespoons hoisin or soy paste (if using soy paste, add a teaspoon of sugar)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1-3 teaspoons sriracha, depending on how hot you want it
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot or 1/2 red onion, minced
3 eggs, lightly beaten
5 oz. fried tofu
1 red bell pepper, diced
A large handful of Thai basil leaves

Place the rice stick noodles in a wide container and pour enough boiling water over the noodles to cover them by an inch.  Stir the noodles periodically so that they don't stick together.  Check them after 10 minutes to see if they are pliable and continue to soak until they are.  You may have to add additional hot water.  When the rice noodles are pliable but not mushy, drain. Try to time this so that the noodles are ready just in time to be added to the skillet.

Mix together the hoisin (or soy paste and sugar), soy sauce, oyster sauce, sriracha, and fish sauce in a small bowl.  

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the vegetable oil.  Add the minced garlic and shallot and stir fry until golden brown.  Move the garlic and shallots to the sides of the pan and add the eggs to the middle.  Scramble the eggs until just set and add the fried tofu, sliced bell pepper, and any other vegetables you might be using.  Stir fry for a couple of minutes, then add the drained noodles and the sauce.  Stir fry for 5 minutes, then add the basil and cook for another couple of minutes until some of the noodles are starting to get brown and crispy.  Serve hot.

Previously:  Taiwanese Oyster Omelet (Without the Oysters)
Six Years Ago:  Zuni Cafe Ricotta Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage

Monday, May 18, 2015

Taiwanese Oyster Omelet (Without the Oysters)

I know, I know, it's almost blasphemy to make 蚵仔煎 (pronounced "uh-ah-jian" in Taiwanese) without the oysters, but honestly, the oysters are my least favorite part of this dish.  I love the blend of crispy and gelatinous textures from the sweet potato flour batter, the fried egg that holds it all together, and the tangy red sauce that smothers it all, but the chewy, cooked oysters just get in my way.

For this recipe I combined the omelet from Tiny Urban Kitchen and the red sauce from Serious Eats.  The sauce was so spot on that when I took my first bite, I totally thought I tasted an oyster in there and was pleasantly confused.  If you want to make this with oysters, use 3-4 small, shucked oysters for each pancake and either add them to the hot pan before the batter for a minute or two or mix them in with the batter before cooking, depending on how cooked you want them.

As a word of caution, the batter made from sweet potato flour (which you should be able to find at an Asian grocery store) will be one of the stickiest things you've ever worked with once it starts cooking.  Make sure you use a non-stick or thoroughly seasoned pan, and even then, I would suggest using a generous amount of oil to make sure it doesn't stick.

Taiwanese Oyster Omelet (Without the Oysters) (adapted from Tiny Urban Kitchen and Serious Eats)
makes 1 omelet

For the red sauce (makes enough for several omelets):
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon miso
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water

For the omelet:
1/4 cup sweet potato flour
Pinch of kosher salt
Dash of white pepper
1/2 cup water
Vegetable oil
A small handful of celery leaves (or other leafy greens like baby spinach or bok choy)
1 egg, lightly beaten

To make the sauce, combine the ketchup, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and miso in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Simmer for a couple of minutes until the sugar dissolves.  

Mix the cornstarch and water to make a slurry and add to the saucepan.  Stir until thickened, another couple of minutes, and then cool to room temperature. 

To make the omelet, mix the sweet potato flour, salt, white pepper, and water into a smooth batter.  Heat a non-stick or thoroughly seasoned pan over high heat.  Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan generously, not enough to deep fry but enough that there is a visible layer of oil all over.

Pour the batter into the pan, and lower the heat to medium.  Once the top of the batter is set, add the leaves, continue to cook for another minute, and then add the egg.  Use a spatula to start testing the edge of the omelet to see if the bottom is cooked and releasing from the pan.  When the bottom has released and the egg is mostly set, flip the omelet over and turn off the heat.  The residual heat from the pan should be enough to finish cooking the egg.  

Invert the omelet onto a plate and drizzle a generous amount of red sauce on top.  Serve hot.

It's kind of freakish how intact my omelets ended up; I'm used to them being pretty mangled blobs of gelatinous messes.  In fact, the picture above was a little too perfect so I ended up drizzling more sauce on top just to make it messier, which is how I ended up with the top picture.  It's also more representative of how much sauce you want on the omelet. 

Next:  Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao) with Tofu
Previously:  Scoglio all'Andiamo (Saffron Fettuccine with Seafood in a Lemon Garlic White Wine Sauce)
Last Year:  Serendipitous Chocolate Chip Cookies
Six Years Ago:  Red Bean and Black Sesame Ice Cream

Monday, May 11, 2015

Scoglio all'Andiamo (Saffron Fettuccine with Seafood in a Lemon Garlic White Wine Sauce)

Last year I was lucky enough to win two nights at a Marriott resort of my choosing in the Caribbean through an Instagram contest.  At first I considered going to St. Kitts & Nevis since I had never been before, but the airfare was outrageous, so I ended up choosing to go back to Grand Cayman.  I used my points to stay an extra two nights at the Ritz Carlton and brought along two girlfriends.

I was sad to find out that the Periwinkle restaurant at the Ritz was gone because I had the best truffle fries of my life there a few years ago, but when I found out that the Italian restaurant that had replaced it, Andiamo, had the truffle parmesan fries on their menu, I insisted that we go there for our last dinner on the island.

The fries were as good--if not better--than I remember them being, but I was also really impressed with their version of pasta allo scoglio, also known as pasta ai frutti di mare.  Scoglio means "rocky seashore" in Italian, and all types of seafood can be used in this dish.  Shrimp and mussels were on sale, so that's what I used, but clams, scallops, and calamari would also work.

Unlike most recipes for pasta allo scoglio, there were no tomatoes in Andiamo's version; all I tasted was a clean white wine sauce with garlic and lemons spiked with the delicious juices from the clams and mussels.  The sauce was so good we asked for another basket of bread just so we could soak it all up.  The pasta they used was a saffron fettuccine, which I attempted to make from scratch.  Since I didn't have any saffron on hand, I added some saffron salt to the fresh pasta dough and finished the dish with more saffron salt.  If I were to make this again, I'd probably add a pinch of turmeric to the pasta dough to bring out the bright yellow coloring more.

Scoglio all'Andiamo (Saffron Fettuccine with Seafood in a Lemon Garlic White Wine Sauce)
serves 2-3

1/4 cup butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 lb. mussels and/or clams
1 lb. peeled raw shrimp and/or scallops
1/2 lb. dried fettuccine or 3/4 lb. fresh fettuccine
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)
Saffron salt (if you have it, if not, regular sea salt is fine)
Freshly ground pepper
Lemon slices

Bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Cook the fettuccine to al dente (if using fresh pasta, wait until the after adding the shrimp to the pan to start cooking the pasta).

In the meantime, melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large skillet.  Add the garlic cloves and saute for a minute.  Add the white wine and the mussels and/or clams.  Cover and let steam until the shellfish have opened.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the shellfish from the skillet and set aside in a bowl.

Add the shrimp and/or scallops and cook until just opaque.  Add the cooked pasta, lemon juice, parsley, and shellfish back to the skillet and toss well.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately with lemon slices and crusty bread to soak up any leftover sauce.

Next:  Taiwanese Oyster Omelet (Without the Oysters)
Previously:  Gordon Ramsay's Sublime Scrambled Eggs - Two Ways
Last Year:  Candied Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Five Years Ago:  Passion Fruit Ice Cream
Six Years Ago:  Carrot Cake Ice Cream

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Gordon Ramsay's Sublime Scrambled Eggs - Two Ways

A few weeks ago I got this delightful e-mail from my friend Lyh-Rhen asking if I wanted to buy any eggs hatched by the chickens from his farm.  Boy, did I ever!  I love looking at all the pictures of the flowers that Fivefork Farms grows, but I travel way too much to justify joining their flower CSA.  So I was super happy to be able to support them in a way that I can really utilize.

Aren't they so pretty?  I love the light green ones the most.  So far I've used them to make homemade pasta, baked goods, shakshuka, and my all-time favorite way to eat eggs, but I wanted to try something new, something special to highlight the farm fresh eggs.

Then I remembered a recent conversation I had with some friends about this video of Gordon Ramsay making scrambled eggs.  I don't even remember how it came up, but as soon as someone mentioned it (it might even have been me), everyone else who had ever seen it ecstatically chimed in.  This video has over 10 million views, and quite a few of those are mine.  There's just something really fascinating about watching someone so confident in the kitchen taking something so simple and describing it in a way that elevates it to a whole other level.  If you haven't watched it yet yourself, you should definitely do it when you have a chance.  You'll never make scrambled eggs the same way again.

If you don't have time to watch it right now, what you need to know is that adding salt too early in the process breaks down the eggs too much so it becomes a watery mess.  In the same vein, Gordon doesn't beat the eggs before cooking them; he cracks the eggs into a cold pan and starts stirring it in there with some cold butter over heat.  By constantly stirring the eggs and taking it off the heat when the pan gets too hot, you get perfectly creamy eggs which are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the rubbery, dry version you may be used to.  He also adds crème fraîche to prevent the eggs from overcooking at the end, but since I didn't have any, I just skipped the step.

Gordon serves the scrambled eggs over toast that's been drizzled with olive oil.  I decided to try an Asian twist by adding chopped scallions to the eggs and drizzling the toast with sesame oil.  Both versions are truly sublime.

Gordon Ramsay's Sublime Scrambled Eggs (adapted from Gordon Ramsay Makes It Easy)
makes 1 serving

2 thick slices of crusty bread
3 large free-range eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons ice-cold butter diced
1 tablespoon crème fraîche or sour cream (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Classic Version:
Few chives, snipped
Good quality olive oil

Joy's Version:
Scallions, chopped
Toasted sesame oil

Break the eggs into a cold, heavy-based pan, add half the butter, and place onto the stove over generous heat. Using a spatula, stir the eggs frequently to combine the yolks with the whites.

As the mixture begins to set, add the remaining butter. The eggs will take about 4-5 minutes to scramble – they should still be soft and quite lumpy. Don’t let them get too hot – keep moving the pan off and back on the heat.

In the meantime, toast the bread.

Add the crème fraîche (if using) and season the eggs at the last minute with the salt and pepper, then add the snipped chives or chopped scallions, depending on which version you're making.

Drizzle the toast with the olive oil or sesame oil and pile the softly scrambled eggs on top.  Serve immediately.

Next:  Scoglio all'Andiamo (Saffron Fettuccine with Seafood in a Lemon Garlic White Wine Sauce)
Previously:  Chocolate Mochi Cake
Last Year:  Nutella Mini Crepe Cakes
Five Years Ago:  Lilikoi Malasadas (Portuguese Donuts Filled with Passion Fruit Curd)
Six Years Ago:  Stuffed Artichokes

Monday, March 30, 2015

Chocolate Mochi Snack Cake

Bouncy.  Chewy  Springy.  Squishy.  These are probably not words you usually associate with a chocolate cake, and yet this Chocolate Mochi Snack Cake is all of those things.  Just looking at this cake you'd think it would be dense and crazy sweet like a brownie, but it's actually rather light and just sweet enough that you keep wanting another bite.  It reminds me of a steamed cake, like the kind you get at dim sum.

I found the recipe on Food52 and modified the directions a bit by melting the butter and chocolate right in the metal bowl of a stand mixer over a pot of simmering water.  This way you don't have to worry about possibly burning the chocolate and it's one less transfer to worry about.  If you don't have a stand mixer, you can melt the butter and chocolate in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water and proceed with an electric beater.  I also mixed the eggs with the evaporated milk and vanilla extract before adding to the melted butter/chocolate mixture to help prevent the eggs from cooking and curdling. 

Since this cake is made with rice flour, it is totally gluten free!  I'm not sure how you could make this without the eggs to make it vegan, but I bet you could substitute coconut milk and coconut oil for the evaporated milk and butter to make it dairy free.  Update:  I tried making the dairy free version, and it was awful.

Chocolate Mochi Snack Cake (adapted from Food52)
makes one 9" x 13" cake

2 cups glutinous rice flour
2 scant cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
24 oz. evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9" x 13" baking pan.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking soda in a large bowl.  Whisk together the evaporated milk, vanilla extract, and eggs in another bowl.  Set aside.

Melt the butter and the chocolate chips together the metal bowl of a stand mixer set over a pot of simmering water, stirring frequently until you have a smooth mixture. 
Remove the bowl from the pot and set it back in the stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  With the mixer running on low, add the evaporated milk, vanilla, and eggs mixture and mix until incorporated.
Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until the batter is smooth and lump free. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the cake no longer jiggles. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
This cake should be stored at room temperature rather than refrigerated.

Next:  Gordon Ramsay's Sublime Scrambled Eggs
Previously:  Homemade Squid Ink Pasta
Five Years Ago:  Duck Fat French Fried with Rosemary, Maldon Salt, and Truffle Oil, Apple Tarte Tatin
Six Years Ago:  Cincinnati Chili, Hong Kong Style Pan-Fried Noodles

Monday, March 23, 2015

Homemade Squid Ink Pasta

I've been wanting to make my own squid ink pasta ever since I first had it in Venice, so I was pretty excited when I finally found some squid ink at DiLaurenti on my last trip to Seattle.  It came in these little pricey packets, but a little goes a long way.

I pretty much followed my recipe for a better homemade pasta, but I substituted squid ink for one of the egg yolks.  Because this recipe produces a drier dough, you don't have to dust the pasta with any additional flour to keep it from sticking, and it also lets the color of the squid ink pasta shine through.

I found that I could really smell and taste the brininess of the squid ink compared to the dried squid ink pasta I had bought from Venice.  I ended up using this pasta to make the First Night in Florence Spaghetti, and it just made that already fantastic dish even better.

Homemade Squid Ink Pasta
makes 2 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
8 grams (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) squid ink

On a large, rimmed baking sheet, make a pile with the flour and dig a well in the middle.  Crack the egg into the well and add the egg yolks and squid ink.

Using a fork, start stirring the liquids and slowly incorporating more and more of the flour into the well until you have a nice, thick paste.  Combine with the rest of the flour and start kneading with your hands.  If the dough is too dry, wet your hands as many times as you need just for it to all come together.

Continue kneading by hand or in a stand mixer (with the dough hook attachment) until you have a smooth, uniform dough.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 20 minutes.  At this point you can refrigerate the dough, well wrapped, overnight and bring it back to room temperature the next day before continuing.

Cut the dough in half.  Run one half through the pasta machine set at its widest setting.  Fold the dough in thirds and run through the machine again, repeating 3 times.  Then, run the dough halfway through and pinch the ends together so it forms a loop.  Adjust the setting to one notch thinner and roll through, continuing to adjust the setting one notch thinner each time the loop has gone all the way around.  When the dough looks almost transparent, stop and cut the dough out of the machine and then in half.  Repeat the whole process with the other half of the dough.

If your dough is feeling tacky at this point, let it dry a bit on some tea towels.  Otherwise, you can go ahead and fold the dough in half three times so you have a manageable width to cut.  Using a sharp knife, cut the noodles into the width you desire.  Shake out the noodles and let them dry some more on the tea towel.

Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil.  Add the pasta and stir occasionally so that the noodles don't stick to each other.  The pasta is done when they float to the surface.  Remove from the water immediately to preserve its perfect al dente texture.  Toss with the sauce of your choice.

Next:  Chocolate Mochi Snack Cake
Previously:  Cacio e Pepe for One
Last Year:  Dan Bing (Taiwanese Egg Crepe)
Five Years Ago:  Mama Huang's Secret Beer Duck Recipe
Six Years Ago:  Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cacio e Pepe for One

I love macaroni and cheese, but sometimes I just want to make enough for one serving.  Or I don't have any milk in the refrigerator.  Or I'm starving and and need something that only takes a few minutes to make.  Luckily, this recipe for cacio e pepe meets all those requirements!

Italian for "cheese and pepper", this dish comes together in a flash and uses ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and refrigerator.  Pecorino Romano is the traditional cheese used for cacio e pepe, but in a pinch, you could also use parmesan or another hard, grated cheese.

The first time I made this, I used the fresh pasta I had made in the previous post, but I've also since made this with regular dried spaghetti.  Obviously, the fresh pasta was better, but the version made with the dried pasta was still pretty decent, and much better than anything that comes out of a blue and orange box.  I like mine slightly gooey and with less pepper, but if you like it creamier, you can add more pasta water, and feel free to use as much pepper as you like!

Cacio e Pepe for One
serves one (duh) but can be easily doubled

Kosher salt
1 serving of uncooked pasta, dried or fresh
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
50 g (about 3/4 cup) freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Bring a pot of salted water to boil.

Add the butter and pepper to a skillet large enough to hold all the pasta.  If using fresh pasta, turn the heat on once you add the pasta to the boiling water.  If using dried pasta, wait until there is 1 minute left before the pasta is done to turn on the heat.  Toast the pepper over medium-low heat.

When the pasta is done, transfer it to the skillet using tongs or a pasta scooper.  Toss with the butter and pepper, then start adding the grated cheese, alternating with some of the pasta water.  Continue tossing until the cheese has melted and coated all the pasta.  Season to taste with additional pepper and salt.

Next:  Homemade Squid Ink Pasta
Previously:  A Better Homemade Pasta
Last Year:  Miso-Glazed Eggplant
Two Years Ago:  Happiness Cake
Five Years Ago:  Momofuku's Crack Pie
Six Years Ago:  Korean Pancake Face Off