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Category Archives: Vegetarian Recipes

紅豆年糕 New Year Red Bean Cake

紅豆年糕 New Year Red Bean Cake

年糕, or “nian gao”, is a type of food made with glutinous rice. It is commonly prepared and eaten during Chinese New Year. There are 2 main types of nian gao, the Shanghainese style, which is prepared as a savory dish, and the Cantonese style, which is typically a sweet food that is pan fried for a crispy exterior and sticky interior. The preparation for the Cantonese style is presented here.

Some people like to just have it plain, but personally I like it with a filling. The cake it self is only lightly sweetened so that the sweetness is not overwhelming. With the sweeter red bean filling, the level of sweetness is just right.

After the nian gao is prepared and put into the fridge, the pan frying process is also very important when you’re ready to eat it. The key is the slice it in thin slices, about 0.5 centimeter thick, dip it in some whipped eggs, and pan fry under a small amount of oil under low heat. The key is to heat it all the way through so that you have soft interior and crispy, but not burnt, exterior.


Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of red beans
  • 1 lb of Rice Flour 糯米粉
  • 2.5 oz of Dried Wheat Starch 澄麵 (about 1/6 of the package)
  • 3.5 pieces/sticks of sugar cane

Directions:

  1. Soak red beans overnight in a pot of water.  Bring it to boil and simmer for an hour.  Turn off the heat and cover for 2 hours.  Repeat the process for two times until the beans are soft.   At the last simmer, add about 1 cup of brown sugar or 2 pieces of sugar canes.  Drain and reserve the liquid.
  2. Melt 3 sugar canes with the liquid from red bean (about 2 cups).  Remove from heat and let the ”sugar water” cool down.
  3. Place the rice flour and dried wheat starch in a large bowl.  Slowly stir in the “sugar water”.  Add more water if the mixture is too thick, but only add enough water that allows you to stir.
  4. Slowly stir in red beans, be careful not to break them apart.
  5. Lightly grease the pan with oil and pour the mixture in there.  Steam for 1.5 hour (for a  9″ Round Cake Pan) or until the edges of the cake pull away from the pan. *This recipe makes two 9” round cake pans of red bean cake.
  6. Remove the cake from the heat and cool.  Then cut them into square slices.
  7. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat.  Dip the slices in egg wash and pan fry each side over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until the slices is soft inside.

 

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Guacamole

Looking for a perfect side dish for a New Year Party?  Guacamole may be what you are looking for. The simple combination of ingredients creates a flavorful condiment as a dip for nachos. You can also use it as a spread for sandwiches or a side with the main course.  It is also great for the health conscious – it is rich in fiber and full of vitamins.

The most important part of the guacamole is, of course, a great avocado. They must be soft—but not too soft. It is slightly preferable to have one that is too hard than too soft, as you run the risk of having the avocado turn brown when overripe. When it is at the right level of ripeness, you’ll feel a slight give when pressing on it. If your finger punctures the skin easily, it definitely too soft.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeno, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon scallion/cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Direction:

In a small bowl, mash the avocado until is pureed.   Combine all ingredients above and refrigerate for an hour for best flavor.

 

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Black Bean Soup

This is a dish that is perfect when It’s raining outside or if for whatever reason you just don’t want to go out to do food shopping.  All you need here is a can of black beans and some onions, tomatoes, or peppers. If you don’t have these either, you might even experiment with whatever you have lying around the house. Try accompanying with rice or simply some bread for a healthy and complete meal. Also adding a dash of hot sauce, or even add in some jalapenos when cooking to give it a bit of a kick!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Direction:
  1. Saute onion, bell peppers, and garlic in a small pot with the juice from the can over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until vegetables soften.  Add the beans, tomato, white wine vinegar, cumin, oregano, bay leave and salt.
  2. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, covered, simmer for 20 minutes or until the soup thicken. Garnish with diced red onion, tomatoes and pepper.
 

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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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Mashed Potato and Mozzarella Baked Egg Casserole

Using the same mixture from Crispy Potato Bites as the base and with inspiration after reading Zucchini mozzarella baked egg, I created this breakfast dish.  It has a filling of mashed potato and is topped with a baked egg. Bread crumbs provide a slight crunch and the cilantro some color and extra flavor.  It may seem that a baking casserole is too much work for the morning rush, but using pre-cooked ingredients or making it the night before (except the baking part), you’ll only need 12 minutes in the oven for this quick and nutritious breakfast.

 

Ingredients: (makes 2 casseroles)

  • 1 potato
  • 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons corn
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 1 cup of mozzarella
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. Mash the potatoes and mix with corn, cilantro, corn starch, salt and pepper.
  3. Pour the mixture into two oven-safe 16 oz round dishes.  Add 1/2 cup of mozzarella into each dish. Carefully crack an egg into each one, making sure to keep the yolk intact.  Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of panko and 1/2 teaspoon cilantro on top.  Bake for about 15 minutes at 450 degree or until the whites are just set.

Other Baked Egg Recipe:

Baked Egg with Mushrooms Roasted Pepper and Spinach

 

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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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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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