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Category Archives: Appetizer Recipes

Butternut Squash Apple Soup

A hearty soup that is also nutritious with plenty of vitamins and fiber. Chicken stock was used in the recipe below, but the soup can be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, diced (5-6 cups)
  • 1 green apple, peeled, cored, diced (1.5 to 2 cups)
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • Pinches of nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, basil, salt and pepper
Directions:
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat.  Sauté onions and carrot for 5 minutes.
  2. Add squash, apple and the broth to the pan. Bring to boil. Cover, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until squash and carrots are soften.
  3. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
  4. Return the soup to the pan.  Add curry powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, basil, salt and pepper.

*Add water to the soup for the consistency you like.

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三杯田雞 Three Cups Frog

As it was mentioend from previous post 三杯素雞 Taiwanese Three Cup Vegetarian Chicken, the three cups consist of sesame oil, rice wine and soy sauce.  It’s a simple yet presentable dish that is fit for anything from a small gathering to one of many dishes for a celebration banquet.  The strong flavoring and spiciness go well as a main dish with rice or an appetizer with wine.

Ingredients:

  • 2 frogs
  • 5 slices ginger
  • 5 garlic, mashed
  • 2 red bird eye chili (optional)
  • 1 green Cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4  red bell pepper (optional)
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons Rice Wine
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
Directions:
  1. Heat wok and pour in sesame oil.  Add ginger, garlic, bird eye chili, cook until fragrant.
  2. Add frog pieces and onions, pan fry until lightly browned.  Add rice wine, soy sauce, sugar and peppers.  Lower the heat, cook until the sauce thickens.  Stir in basil and transfer to a pre-heated clay pot to serve.
 

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砵酒焗生蠔 Braised Oysters in Port Wine

Oysters is one of those foods you either love or hate.  If you love it like I do, you will never have enough of it.  Whether they are raw, baked, fried, scalloped, or braised like in this recipe.  My favorite is to eat them raw on the half shell, but when live oysters are not available, cooking them is another favorite option.

I used to think that oysters are high in cholesterol, like most other shellfish, so I used not to eat them very often. However, newer research shows that oyster the has much lower cholesterol than we used to think before. So, even those who are trying to avoid cholesterol can safely eat away and not worry about it!

Ingredients:

  • 8 oysters (1 can of 16 oz oysters)
  • 2 stalk scallions/green onions, sectioned
  • 5 pieces of gingers

Sauce Ingredients: (See Step 4)

  • 4 tablespoons chicken stock or water
  • 1.5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons of port wine
  • 1/2 tablespoon corn starch

Directions:

  1. Clean the oysters in a bowl of water, with dash of salt and 3 tablespoon of corn starch.  Rinse with clean water and be careful not to break them apart. (see above)
  2. Lightly pat the oysters with corn starch.  Heat oil over medium-high heat and pan fry the oysters until golden on both sides.
  3. Wipe off the oil with paper towel.  Place oysters in a bowl and add 1 tablespoon of Port Wine, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce with a dash of white pepper.
  4. Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl.
  5. Heat oil over medium-high heat in skillet or clay pot.  Add gingers and scallions, stir fry until fragrant. Add oysters and the sauce.  Stir until the sauce thickens, then stir in another tablespoon of port wine, cover, turned off the heat.
More Oyster Recipe:
 
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Posted by on August 6, 2011 in Appetizer Recipes, Chinese

 

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拍黄瓜 Marinated Cucumbers

At this time of the year, it is harvesting time in the family backyard and we have lots of fresh cucumbers to work with. Cucumbers by themselves have a great fresh smell and taste that quickly reminds one of summer and fresh vegetables in general. But the flavor is also extremely light because of the high water content in them.

Marinated cucumbers is often served as an appetizer in a Chinese restaurant.  It is also served after eating a lot of fried foods and oily dishes in the New Year. The subtle balance of saltiness, sourness and sweetness can really boost one’s appetite.  As with many Chinese dishes, achieving a desirable smell is important. In this case, the sesame oil, garlic, and fish sauce combined with the fresh smell of cucumbers really define the dish.

Marinating achieves two important goals: firstly to draw the water out of the cucumber so that it becomes more crunchy and to concentrate its flavors, and secondly to impart flavors and a desirable smell into the somewhat bland cucumber. To achieve the second goal in particular, a key step in the preparation of the dish is to “smash” the cumbers before the marination process. Smashing the cucumbers has the effect of producing rugged edges, increasing the surface area of the pieces of cucumber and therefore making the seasonings more easily absorbed.

I have noticed that the fresher the cucumber, the higher the water content seems to be. With the freshest cucumbers, like I am using here, a longer marination process is recommended. For example, I made a batch last night by marinating for about 3 hours. To my surprise, they were even better today after being refrigerated overnight!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 red bird eye chili or 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Using a large knife, preferably a cleaver, smash the cucumber on the chopping block, until the cucumber cracks open.  Remove the seeds inside of the cucumber,  then chop them into smaller pieces (about 1.5 inches long).
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. You should notice that a significant amount of liquid has emerged. Rinse off the salt and drain.  Add 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, 2 minced garlic, and 1 chili.  Mix well and refrigerate at least another 2 hours.
  4. Drain the excess water from the cucumbers again.  Add fish sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 minced garlic, 1 chili, and sesame oil. Top with cilantro to serve.   You may serve the dish now or refrigerate even longer for the best taste.
 

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豉椒炒蜆 Clams in Black bean Sauce

These mouthwatering clams in black bean sauce is one of the most popular dish every time we go to a Chinese restaurant for family gathering. The crushed fermented black beans along with the minced garlic and chili bring out both flavor and fragrance. This dish is sure to be a hit for any seafood lover!

Live clams should be used for this dish. There really isn’t any viable substitute for this, as clams lose flavor very quickly if they are not extremely fresh. Live clams are usually available in larger Asian grocery stores that feature a seafood section. Preferably, you have access to a store that simply has the clams put in a pile and you are allowed to pick them out individually. You can tell if the clam is alive by checking for the following:

  • Shells should be complete without any broken pieces
  • If the shells were slightly open, they should close when lightly tapped. The clam is dead If the shells re-open after you force them to a close
  • If the shells were already closed, it is very hard to tell. If a bowl of water is available, try checking to see if it floats. A floating clam is a dead clam. If no water is available, try picking heavier clams (but this is not always reliable)
  • You can usually tell whether the entire batch is fresh or not after a while. For example, if I end up picking 2 or 3 out of 10 examined clams. This is when I know the entire batch is probably not that great and would try to buy the clams at another store

Once you get home, put the clams in a bowl in cold salt water, and put the bowl in the fridge for 2-3 hours. This supposedly causes the clams to spit out any sand particles. Before cooking, scrub the shells thoroughly with a stiff brush and with plenty of water. Clams live in muddy/sandy areas and you do not want any of that to end up on your dish!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb manila clams
  • 1.5 tablespoon crushed fermented black beans
  • 2 red bird eye chili
  • 1/8 green pepper,  julienned
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Wash and clean clams using directions above
  2. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, corn starch, sugar and water.  Set aside.
  3. In the large skillet, heat oil under medium-high heat.  Add shallots, garlic, and fermented black beans; cook until fragrant.
  4. Add clams, stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, add chili and green pepper, then cover and lower the heat.  When the clams open, stir in the corn starch mixture.  Cook until sauce is slightly thickened.  Discard any clam that remains closed at this point as this is an indication that it is not fresh. Sprinkle cilantro on top and serve.
 

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Crispy Potato Bites

While I was thinking of a way to use a leftover potato I have in the fridge, I came up with this idea to make them into crispy, bite-sized balls. The idea originates from from some of the other potatoes dishes that I’ve made in the past, like seaweed potato pancakes. This is probably a good way to use leftover mashed potato as well.  I love how they are crispy without frying, and how they look cute like roasted marshmallows.

In this recipe, I used corn and cilantro as the filling, but you can easily use any number of ingredients. I am certain that things like cheese, onions, ham, bacon bits would go great with this and I will for sure try them out when I make these next time!

Ingredients:

  • 1 potato
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons corn
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • Dash of salt
  • 3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs

Directions: (makes 24 potato bites)

  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water.  Cover and bring to a boil; cook for 20 to 25 minute or until very tender.
  3. Mash the potatoes and mix with corn, cilantro, corn starch and salt.
  4. Shape mixture into balls.  Dip each one in bread crumbs then transfer to a lightly greased baking pan or cooking sheet and bake until golden brown. (about 15 minutes).  If they don’t turn brown after 15 minutes.  Broil for 1-2 minutes.
 

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Crab Cakes

Kick off your Fourth of July party with this simple and luxurious appetizer!  This crowd-pleasing American favorite uses just enough seasoning so that it won’t overpower the sweet taste of fresh crab meat.  Use a light dusting of flour to bind the crab cakes together and to form a crisp and golden crust on the outside. Crab cakes are sometimes served with a sauce, but in this case, the crab cakes are so flavorful by themselves that I think a sauce would be unnecessary and probably overpowering.

 

Ingredients: (makes 16 mini crab cakes)

  • 1 lb of fresh crab meat
  • 1 cup red onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup panko or bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup Veganaise or Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Dash of cayenne pepper and salt
  • 4 tablespoons flour


Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except flour.
  2. Form the mixture into patties and lightly dust with flour.
  3. Lightly coat skillet with oil, heat over medium to high heat.  Cook patties, 3-4 minutes each side until browned.

 

 

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