Category archives: Culinary

Bakmi Ayam Bakso

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Bakmi Ayam Bakso (Chicken Noodle Soup with Beef Balls, Indonesian Style) is a very popular dish back in my home country, Indonesia. You can literally find an eatery that serves a variant of this dish in every corner of large towns, especially in the capital city, Jakarta. Also interesting to note that each town and city has its own favorite best place for a dish of bakmi ayam. In Jakarta alone, I can remember maybe 4 to 5 places where I would routinely visit in the past to enjoy a bowl of yummy bakmi ayam.

To make this dish, we have to prepare three main components, the noodle, the accompanying cooked chicken and the soup.

Preparing the Noodle:

Get a good package of chinese noodle. For best result, don’t use the dry packaged noodle but rather get the ‘fresh’ noodle instead. I also like the ones that are thin and light color. Boil the noodle until soft. In a big bowl, mix vegetable oil, fish sauce and ground white pepper then in the warm noodle into the bowl. Mix well. Set aside.

Preparing the chicken:

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I like to use chicken thighs, maybe legs. If you are concern about fat, you can either throw the skin part away or use chicken breast instead. For about 2 pounds of chicken, prepare 4 table spoon (yes, a lot) of chopped garlic and a tiny bit of chopped ginger. Cut the chicken meat into tiny chunks. Set aside the bones for making the soup later. In a wok, heat up about 2 table spoon of vegetable oil, then throw the chopped garlic and ginger in. In just 3 seconds or so, put in the chicken. Please don’t let the garlic and ginger turn brown or worse, burned! Wait till the chicken meat turn white then add 3 spoon of fish oil, a few dashes of white pepper, a few drops of cooking rice wine. Skip the rice wine if you rather not use alcoholic component. Add a half cup or so water, wait till the water boiled then turn the heat all the way down. Keep cooking the chicken for half an hour in low heat.

Preparing the Soup:

Boil a few cups of water and the chicken bones you set aside from the above step. Alternatively, you can also use chicken broth instead. Add beef balls into the soup. You can buy frozen beef balls at any asian supermarket. I like to use ‘tendon’ beef balls. Regular beef balls work as well. Keep boiling until the frozen beef balls are all thawed an turn soft. Add salt and ground white pepper to tast. Turn off the heat and immediately add some chopped chinese celery into the soup.

Serving:

In a serving bowl, put in the noodle. Add the some chicken on top. You can also drop some chopped scallion (green onions), mostly for garnishing purpose. On another, smaller, bowl, pour in the soup and a few beef balls. Serve the two bowls side by side.

Grilled Chicken – El Polo al Carbon

This is a traditional Mexican’s grilled chicken recipe. This and Mexican rice or tortilla and some salsa would make a great dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chickens, cut in half down the middle
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium size bell pepper, chopped
  • a bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tomatillos, husks removed, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot chili powder
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Cooking method:

Sautéed onion, garlic and tomatillos in oil until soft. Add chopped cilantro, bell pepper, juices and spices. Simmer for about 10 minutes while stirring. Set aside and allow to cool. Place chickens in a large container or large resealable bags. Cover with sauce and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours. Preheat grill. Remove chicken halves from marinade and place on medium hot grill. Grill for about 30 minutes turning occasionally and basting with reserved sauce every 10 minutes. Do not baste in the last 10 minutes of grilling.

Mexican/Spanish Rice Recipe

I received this recipe from my daughter’s best friend.  This is an authentic home made recipe. Here it is:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of rice (1 cup = 1 coffee mug)
  • 2 cups water or better, chicken broth
  • 1 tbspn chicken powder (or buillon)
  • 1/2 can of tomato sauce
  • olive oil

Cooking method:

  • heat pan with olive oil
  • fry the rice until golden brown (you can add onion and/or garlic before putting the rice in)
  • turn off stove & add tomato sauce, water & chicken powder … mix them well
  • turn stove on, bring water to a boil (cover with lid)
  • keep boiling (5-10 mins) until you can’t see the water anymore
  • turn off stove but keep the lid on for about 10-15 minutes
  • serve!

Tip: once the rice is fully cooked, immediately mix in some butter to add buttery taste and the shiny look.

Steamed Crabs, Baltimore Style

I love crabs, we love crabs, who doesn’t?  I have tried all kind of crab dishes and one of my favorite is the Baltimore (Maryland) blue crab, steamed, the Baltimore way.  If you are in the Baltimore area, you’ll notice that the Maryland Crab Cakes are not the only popular crab dishes around.  Venture into the harbor/marina area and you will find plenty of steamed crabs for you to feast on.  There are also plenty of ‘crab houses’ all around the Baltimore area.  about.com lists the top crab houses in the area.

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The secret to steamed blue crab Baltimore Style is Old Bay seasoning.  I have used Old Bay for so may years and loving it.  I know some people who would prefer the J.O. Spice instead.  Frankly, I haven’t personally use J.O., but I have tried someone else’s dish seasoned with J.O. and I don’t really see much of a different. I have also seen references where people would mix the two seasonings together.  Bottom line, I think it’s a matter of personal preferences.  I stick to my ol friend Old Bay for now 😉  Old Bay can be found in many supermarkets and therefore a lot easier to purchase … or maybe you can even try to produce the seasoning yourself: http://www.bluecrab.info/recipes/seasoning.htm.

So, how do you steam blue crabs?  The basic method I follow is, surprisingly, provided by the maker of Old Bay itself: http://www.oldbay.com/Recipes/Crab/Main-Course/OLD-BAY-Steamed-Blue-Crabs.aspx. My added value, personal touch to the recipe is to replace water with beer.  Beer seems to help soften the crab shells a bit so it is easier to crack open the shells.  Beer also add a nicer smell to the steamed crab, naturalizing the vinegar smell a bit.  We still want the vinegar for the acidic smell and taste.

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Enjoy your crab feast and to help you novice out there, here’s a how to pick/eat your crab instructions 😉

Stir Fry Long Beans, Szechuan Style

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I found this recipe on about.com site: http://chinesefood.about.com/od/vegetablesrecipes/r/greenbean.htm.  In summary, here are the ingredients:

  • 1 pound Chinese longbeans (also called yardlong beans or just longbeans)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
  • 2 scallions (spring onions, green onions), white parts only
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Pepper to taste, optional
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil for stir-frying, or as needed

Preparations:

  • Wash the longbeans, drain thoroughly, and trim the tops and bottoms.
  • Cut the longbeans on the diagonal into slices approximately 2 inches long.
  • Chop the garlic, ginger and white part of the scallions.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the longbeans and stir-fry until they start to shrivel or “pucker” and turn brown (5 – 7 minutes). Remove the long beans and drain in a colander or on paper towels.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the wok on high heat. Add the garlic, ginger and scallions. Stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the chili paste and stir-fry for a few more seconds until aromatic.
  • Add the longbeans and the remaining ingredients. Mix together and serve.

The only thing I added was some dried chili peppers.  Actually I didn’t have those on hand when I was about to cook.  I did however found some fresh chili (thai red chili pepper) so what I did was to ‘dry’ (with just enough, small amount, vegetable oil) fry the peppers separately.  Easy and delicious dish.