Coconut Muffins with Pineapple Habanero Jam

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It was a beautiful Sunday morning with warm sunshine and clear blue sky, but unfortunately Peter was on call all day and the girls slept through most of it.  That’s what the girls do every Sunday — making up for lost sleep. I could’ve easily just eaten some leftover or toast or an apple for breakfast, but decided to make a real breakfast for myself and enjoy it while watching food documentaries.  I am one of the judges for the James Beard Award in the category of documentaries and TV specials.  My breakfast solitaire lasted for more than 3 hours.  

I bought a large bag of coconut flour a while back and left it in the freezer after experimenting with it once or twice.  This morning, I decided to make coconut muffins with it.  I had forgotten how absorbent coconut flour was and how it would expand with liquid. I ended up with 18 large muffins instead of the 12 that I had planned to make.  They would last us for the rest of the week.  A bottle of pineapple habanero jam that I received as a Christmas gift turned out to be perfect for the muffins.  The jam carried a hint of tropic to complement the coconut flavor of the muffins while the habanero gave a kick that woke up the taste buds.

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Coconut Muffins with Spicy Pineapple Jam

Ingredients:

1 cup wholewheat flour

1 cup coconut four

1 tablespoon +1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup xylitol or sugar

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 19 fl oz can Mae Ploy coconut cream (If you cannot find coconut cream, you can substitute with coconut milk + coconut oil)

1 cup coconut milk or milk of choice

2 eggs

Pinch of salt

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Mix all wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Mix wet into dry ingredients. 

Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

The recipe makes 18 muffins.

Note:

Coconut flour is extremely high in fiber and very absorbent.  If the mixture feels a little dry, add a little more milk.

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Savory Egg Custard with Ling Cod

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Growing up in Shanghai, I often ate savory egg custard over rice. It was one of the first dishes I learned to make as a child. Eggs were rationed like pork, rice, cooking oil and many other essentials.  One of the reasons people made custard with their precious eggs was that eggs seemed to expand in volume when you steamed them into silken custard. I remember very clearly that if I had one egg, I would use a small rice bowl to steam a custard, and if I had two, I would use a large soup bowl.  No one used measuring utensils in those days; everything was done by feel and by experience.  Most times, we made it simply with minced scallion and a small dollop of lard; sometimes, we would add a little minced pork or thin slivers of ham.  Occasionally we would also steam the custard with clams. Clam custard is one of my favorite dishes to order when I eat at a San Francisco Chinese restaurant called the R&G Lounge.

If you have not ordered it in Chinese restaurants, you probably have had it as a warm appetizer called Chawan Mushi in Japanese restaurants.  It is prepared in individual cups or bowls with prawns and ginkgo nuts instead of fish.

Today, I prepared the savory egg custard with fresh ling cod fish, shiitake, ginger and scallion. Peter devoured it after a long day being on call at the hospital.  He called it delicious and soothing. 

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Savory Egg Custard with Ling Cod

Ingredients:

12 oz. ling cod, cut into bite size

8 dried shiitake mushroom, soaked and rehydrated

4 eggs, beaten

2 1/2 cup chicken broth

2 stocks green onion, chopped

1 teaspoon finely minced ginger

1 teaspoon thinly sliced ginger

1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes

Cilantro for garnish

1 teaspoon light soy sauce (optional)

1 teaspoon pure sesame oil

Ingredients for marinade:

2 teaspoons Shao Xing cooking wine

2 teaspoons soy sauce

Preparation:

Marinate the fish for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Beat the eggs.  Mix chicken broth and minced ginger with the eggs and pour into a large bowl or a corning ware as I did.  Add fish and shiitake into the egg mixture.

Boil water for steaming.  When the water boils, lower the container into the steamer and turn stove to simmer. 

Steam for 10 minutes. Open the lid and sprinkle chopped scallion, sliced ginger and pepper flakes on top.  Steam for another 10 to 12 minutes or until the custard is just set. Do not over steam or the egg and the broth will separate.

Before serving, pour a teaspoon of light soy sauce and a teaspoon of pure sesame oil, and sprinkle cilantro.  If you want to enjoy the custard by itself and not with rice, you can omit the teaspoon of soy sauce.

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Osso Buco Style Chicken on Creamy Polenta

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This hearty osso buco style chicken is a perfect dish for a cold winter day. It is yummy and healthy on its own, but extra delicious if you ladle it over a bowl of creamy polenta.  It is also the kind of food that will taste better the next day if there is any leftover. 

Though I am Chinese and didn’t grow up eating Italian food, Italian cooking comes naturally to me.  There are a lot of similarities in the way food is prepared, though often with very different seasoning.  We use onion, carrots and tomatoes in stews or braised dishes.  We enjoy pouring warm saucy food over rice or noodle.  We even love gruel similar to the texture of polenta.

In the first months after arriving on an American college campus, I had no money, but using a prepaid plastic card, I could eat everything to my heart’s content in the cafeteria. I lived on spaghetti and ice cream— spaghetti for its similarity to Chinese noodles, ice cream for its sheer sense of luxury.  

However, I didn’t fall in love with Italian food until my month long stay in Rome filming The Last Emperor at Cinecitta Studio in the late 80s. I hardly ate any Chinese food during that month and was surprised that I didn’t miss it all that much. (Well, to be completely honest, I did crave the taste of soy sauce once in a while.)

Now that I have lived in San Francisco for more than two decades, I consider Italian dishes comfort food.

So here it is, my Italian comfort food. 

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Osso Buco Style Chicken on Creamy Polenta

Ingredients for Chicken:

5 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

2 carrots, diced

1 onion, diced

3 stocks celery, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 cup + 2 tablespoon white wine, divided

2 cups chicken broth

1 sprig rosemary

3 sprigs thyme

6 tablespoons wholewheat flour

1teaspoon dried rosemary, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preparation:

Marinate the chicken thighs with 2 tablespoons white wine and 1/4 teaspoon salt and keep in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Mix the flour, garlic powder, pepper, chopped rosemary and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large shallow bowl.  Dry the meat with paper towel, dredge in the flour mixture and shake off the excess.

Heat a tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet on medium high and brown the chicken thighs. 

Set the browned the meat aside in a plate.

Pour the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet and add minced garlic, stir until aromatic.  Add the chopped onion, carrots, celery and tomatoes in the skillet and sauté for about 5 to 6 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and stir for another minute.

Return chicken to the skillet.  Pour in 1 cup of white wine and 2 cups of chicken broth.  Add the rosemary and thyme, tied together with a kitchen twine. Close the lid and bring to boiling temperature. Lower the heat to let it simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes.  If the dish feels to soupy, open the lid and turn the stove to high to reduce the liquid to desired level.

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Ingredients for Polenta:

1 cup dry polenta or yellow cornmeal

2 cups 2% milk

1 1/2 cup chicken broth

3 oz Gruyére cheese, shredded

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation:

In a medium sauce pan, heat the milk and the broth to a boil, lower the heat to simmer, slowly stir in polenta. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes until thickened, stirring often.  Add cheese and salt and stir for 2 minutes until cheese is melted. If the polenta feels too thick, add a little more milk.

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Ingredients for Gremolata:

1/2 cup minced parsley

1 teaspoon minced lemon zest

1 teaspoon minced orange zest

1 clove garlic, minced

Preparation:

Use a grater or a vegetable peeling to get the outer most layer of the lemon and orange skin.  Mince the zest with a knife.

Mix the zest with chopped parsley and minced garlic.

Note:

I dredged the chicken thighs in seasoned flour before I browned them to give them more flavor, but it is all right to brown them without the flour.

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I finished using the rest of the parsley and the lemon without its skin by making a salad with avocados, tomatoes, marinated olives and radishes.  The dressing was simply lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I topped it with chopped pistachio nuts.  It is a very refreshing and satisfying salad.

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Baked Ginger Scallion Shiitake Rock Cod

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I did my weekly shopping at Costco today.  As usual, I brought a shopping list, but ended up buying many more items that were not on the list, such as a bag of organic roasted seaweed chips with brown rice.  They were addictive and I wish I never saw them.  There was no rock cod on my list, but I saw that the fillets were packed only hours before the store opened and decided to buy a tray.  Freshness is the key to preparing any good seafood.  That’s why many Cantonese restaurants have tanks that house the live fish or shell fish.  When we order fish we would always ask for “swimming fish.”  Well, rock cod packed on the same day is the next best thing to “swimming fish.” 

Though my hometown Shanghai is a a coastal city, growing up I seldom had fish, which was usually reserved for special occasions or Chinese New Year. I never had any “swimming” rock cod either, only belt fish or yellow croaker.  Nowadays, if you visit an authentic Shanghainese restaurant, you will see fried belt fish or braised yellow croaker on the menu instead of steamed cod.  I began cooking and eating rock cod after I married my Cantonese husband, who measures the quality of a Cantonese restaurant by its steamed cod.

Today, I prepared the rock cod fillets by wrapping them in parchment paper with sliced ginger, scallion, red jalapeño and Japanese shiitake mushroom and then baking them in the oven.  Wrapping the fish in parchment paper seals in the moisture and the flavor, and it also ensures the tenderness of the fish. It is like steaming in the oven. I love the intensely aromatic steam that escapes from the piping hot pouch when I open it. And the broth from the fish is absolutely delicious over rice.

This recipe is relatively easy and is one of the tastiest fish dishes that I have ever cooked.  Try it!

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Baked Ginger Scallion Shiitake Rock Cod

Ingredients:

4 pieces 4 oz rock cod fillet

8 to 10 dried Japanese shiitake mushroom, rehydrated and sliced

3 stocks scallions, 2 inch slices

1 red jalapeno, sliced lengthwise

1 tablespoon thinly sliced ginger

2 tablespoons or more light soy sauce, separated

4 teaspoons or more Shao Xing cooking wine or other Asian cooking wine

4 teaspoons sesame oil

Sesame seeds for garnish

Marinade:

2 tablespoons Shao Xing cooking wine

Preparation:

Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for an hour or longer until completely soft and rehydrated. Keep the soaking water.

Marinate the fillets in the cooking wine and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes in a sealed container.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Wrap the fillet individually in parchment paper with 1 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon wine, 1 teaspoon shiitake soaking water, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, topped with slices of ginger, scallion and shiitake.  If you prefer your fish a little saltier, you can increase the soy sauce to 2 teaspoons.

Fold the sides of the parchment paper together and seal with a metal paper clip on top. 

Arrange the packets on a baking sheet.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or so depending on the size of the fish.  I baked mine for 15 minutes because the fillets were thick.  You can fold the tail end in two to match the thickness of the body.  It is important not to over cook the fish.  If anything, you should err on the side of under cooking it.

Serve hot from the parchment or transfer to a shallow bowl. The broth is so delicious that you will need a spoon.

Note:

If you don’t have dried the shiitake mushrooms, you can make this dish with fresh shiitake.  Dried shiitake has a more intense flavor.

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Lemony Khorasan Wheat Salad

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I went to Amy Tan’s house for an Asian Pacific Fund charity dinner, which was meticulously prepared by an amazing amateur team led by Lance Lew, whose day job is director and producer of Asian Pacific America’s weekly show on NBC Bay Area.  The four-course dinner was a perfect melding of East and West flavors such as dried salted plum powder with pan seared scallops, pappardelle in black bean garlic Alfredo.  Innovative yet not fussy, it was one of the most delicious meals that I have had for a long time.  More power to passionate amateur chefs!  Cooking is an integral and enjoyable part of life, not a show or a competition requiring hard-to-pronounce ingredients or a showbiz personality. 

At the end of the dinner, Amy asked us to take some Meyer lemons from her abundant harvest.  Those are some of the most fragrant and juicy lemons that I have ever tasted and I decided to put it to good use right away in this Oriental Wheat Salad.  Oriental wheat is an ancient grain also called Khorasan wheat or kamut, and it contains more proteins, lipids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals than modern wheat.  It is also nutty and chewy and twice the size of other kinds of wheat.

This Oriental Wheat Salad is satisfying as a vegetarian meal in one dish, or it can be enjoyed as a side dish for grilled meats. It is really simple to make and very yummy.

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Lemony Oriental Wheat Salad

Ingredients for Salad:

1 cup uncooked kamut, cooked in 3 cups water, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon olive oil

2 stocks celery, finely diced

1 cup parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

1/3 cup chopped dried apricots

Pepper to taste

Ingredients for Dressing:

Juicy from 1 large lemon, about 2 1/2 tablespoon

2 tablespoon finely chopped red onion

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

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Preparation:

Cook the grain in a rice cooker or in a pot with 3 cups of water, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon olive oil.

Mix the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.

When the grain is done, let it cook to room temperature.  Mix with the celery, parsley, walnuts and apricots.

Toss gently with the dressing and let sit for 20 minutes for the dressing to be soaked into the grain.

Note:

If you don’t have kamut, wheat berries or farro will work very well for this recipe too.

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Guests at the charity dinner

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Lance with Emerald Yeh and me

Buttermilk Banana Pancakes

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I hadn’t made pancakes since New Year’s breakfast, and when I saw the very ripe bananas in the fruit basket I decided to cook banana pancakes for breakfast.  What could be better than splurging on a tall stack of pancakes on a Saturday morning?

I added 1/2 cup PB2 powder to the batter for a hint of peanut flavor and for a dose of added protein.  If you are not a peanut lover like me, you can simply use all wholewheat flour and no PB2.  

Those pancakes turned out fluffy and soft in the center and crispy around the edges — absolutely delicious.

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Buttermilk Banana Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 cup wholewheat flour

1/2 cup PB2 or 1/2 cup more wholewheat flour

1 very ripe banana, meshed

1 large egg

1 1/2 cup buttermilk (You may need to adjust the amount of milk based on how large the banana is.)

2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted (you can also use vegetable oil such as canola oil)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons xylitol or sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Sliced banana and toasted walnut for topping

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Preparation:

Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Combine all the wet ingredients in a separate mixing bowl, making sure that the melted coconut oil or butter is not hot.

Make a shallow hole in the dry ingredients and slowing pour the wet into the dry as you stir and mix them together.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium heat.  Scoop batter onto the griddle using either 1/4 or 1/3 measuring cup.  When the batter begins to bubble and the the underside is golden, flip it over with a spatular.  Cook another 1 minute or so for the other side to become golden. 

Serve hot topped with sliced banana, toasted walnuts and maple syrup.

Saturday Brunch…

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Poached egg on smoked salmon

What more can I say about Saturday mornings? I have written about my love for them many times since I began this blog over a year ago.  I know people who start out their Saturday mornings in the gym or on the golf course and I admire their active way of life, but I never want to leave the house until mid afternoon.  I enjoy the feeling that there is no where to rush to — just sipping my tea and reading the paper while the muffins bake. Yes, I still have subscription of newspapers that get dropped off at my door.  I am completely unwilling and unable to let go of this old fashioned habit that connects me to the person that I once was.  Like many of my compatriots who came to the US during the 80s as students, I read newspapers to improve my reading comprehension in English, and learned to make sense of the American life via Dear Abby. 

There is an interesting article on The Wall Street Journal today, titled The Secret of Immigrant Genius. It talks about the role of “schema violations” —  the very act of uprooting and replanting that we go through as immigrants — in intellectual development. Apparently, when we feel topsy-turvy and when our temporal and spatial cues are off-kilter, our creative juice flows more abundantly.

Through out those “topsy-turvy” early years in America, kitchen was always a place of comfort and reorientation for me.  Cooking is universal; it makes you feel at home wherever you are.

Now a few words about these muffins.  When I have a craving for more decadent muffins made with real butter and sugar I would just buy them in a neighborhood bakery.  When I make my own, I always try to use alternative ingredients that are higher in nutrients and lower in sugar, butter or simple carbs.

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Apple Carrot Walnut Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup wholewheat flour

3/4 cup almond flour

1/4 cup xylitol or sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

2 eggs

5 tablespoons milk

1 cup shredded apple

1 cup shredded carrot

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (butter is fine, too)

Preparation:

Pre-heat oven at 350F.

Mix all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Mix all wet ingredients in a separate bowl.  Pour wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix, but don’t over mix.

Ladle the mixture into the muffin cups — either oiled or line with paper muffin cups. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  The recipe makes 12 large muffins.

Note:

You can also use all carrots or all apple in this recipe.  If your apples or carrots are not very juicy, you will need to add a tablespoon or so more milk to compensate for the moisture.

Tahini Yuba Salad with Crunchy Vegetables

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I know I have shared a Yuba noodle salad just a week ago, but here it is again — the non-spicy version.  It is so simple to prepare, so delicious and healthy that I make some version of it three or four times a month.  Today, I doubled the recipe and we each enjoyed it from a bowl right in front of the TV screen while we watched a screener of Mad Max: Fury Road. Since I am a voting member of the Academy, I have all the films from 2015 on DVDs. I watch most of the films, especially my favorite indie films by myself during the day when no one is around, but for louder and more commercial films it’s more fun to watch with the family.

Usually we have a no device rule at dinner table, but once in a while when the girls are too pressed for time, they will eat while doing their home-work, or on a Friday, like tonight, we will have a movie dinner.  Typically on a movie night, we have popcorn, nuts, fruit salad or desserts all laid out on the coffee table alongside the dinner — the closest I ever get to a Monday night football, with herbal tea instead of beer.

Amy Tan once told me that the yardstick of cultural assimilation, the proof of one’s becoming a true American is watching football. I suppose I will never be a true American by that definition, but what about just movies and popcorn?  Shouldn’t that be the second closest yardstick next to football and beer?  Maybe movies and tahini Yuba noodles are even more American — this is a land where cultures blend and become born again as American.

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Tahini Yuba Noodle Salad with Crunchy Vegetables

Ingredients:

1 pack Yuba Noodle with tahini from Hodo Soy (available at Costco)

2 carrots, julienned

1/2 long English cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced

1/2 bunch radishes, thinly sliced

1 stock green onion, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped + leaves for garnish

1 teaspoon or more sesame seeds

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

1 teaspoon pure sesame oil

Preparation:

Prepare vegetables.

Open package.

Mix everything in a salad bowl.  Garnish with cilantro leaves sesame seeds.

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Cherry Almond Roca Fro-Yo

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Every Christmas, Peter would receive from his patients so many boxes of chocolate truffles, butter cookies, dried fruits and nuts, cheeses and sausages that they would last us for nearly the whole year.

As a child in Shanghai, I used to save up my weekly bus fare to buy candies and other treats.  I would walk to the little shop that sold cigarettes and snacks and look into the glass jar for a long time before deciding on which piece to buy.  Candy was a luxury that was often purchased one piece at a time during those years of scarcity.  I saved all the wrappers after I ate the candies and pressed them in my favorite books.  Now and then when there was no pocket money left for candies, I would look at the wrappers and fantasize about the sweetness on my tongue.  I probably would have been willing to sell my soul to the devil for a piece of candy back then.  That was the reason why my mother repeatedly told my brother and me that all strangers who offered children candies were dangerous criminals to be avoided.  Not in my wildest childhood dreams could I ever have imagined to be the owner of so many boxes of candy.  I guess I have come a long way.

In the meantime, I have been trying to find creative ways to enjoy the sweets without being filled with too much guilt afterwards.  Today, I made a low fat, low sugar fro-yo with ALMOND ROCA and dried tart cherries from Peter’s patients.  The texture is creamy with a little crunchy and chewy bits in the midst.  It is so delicious that you won’t believe it is actually good for you.  Since it is low-fat, it is best if you enjoy it fresh out of the tub.  If you decide to leave it in the freezer for future consumption, it will harden and you will need to thaw it for 30 minutes before eating.

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Healthy Cherry Roca Fro-Yo

Ingredients:

2 cups fat-free Fage

1 cup 2% milk

5 tablespoon xylitol or other sweetener

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

4 pieces ALMOND ROCA, + 1 more to sprinkle if desired, chopped

3/4 cup dried sweetened tart cherries, roughly chopped

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Preparation:

Mix all the all the ingredients except for the ALMOND ROCA and cherries in a powerful blender.  Pour into the ice cream machine.  As the machine is churning, add the ALMOND ROCA and the cherries in with a spoon.

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Spicy Chen Pi Beef

 

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In Chinese culture, nothing edible is ever thrown away — pig’s ear, innards, fish head, chicken feet, orange peel… you name it.  During the years of scarcity when I was growing up, every part of an animal or a plant could be made into a delicious dish. 

Ever since I brought back the oranges from my mother-in-law’s garden in Los Angeles, I have been saving the rind to turn into Chen Pi. Not only are her oranges extremely sweet and juicy, the peel is also thin and fragrant, which is perfect for making dried orange peel. In the olden days, it would take a long time to produce Chen Pi.  You must first leave the rind in the sun to dry, and when it’s dry, you’d steam it.  Then you’d dry it again in the sun. The process of drying and steaming would be repeated 9 times before the peel would acquire a piquant fragrance and become Chen Pi.  People cook with it, or drink it in their tea.  They also make snacks of it.  You can find the snack version of Chen Pi in most Chinese super markets.

I dried mine in the oven and I only repeated the drying and steaming process 3 times, but the Chen Pi was very aromatic when it came out of the oven the final time and the house was redolent with the sweet scent.

When I saw the beautiful filet mignon tails at the neighborhood butcher’s, I decided that they would be perfect for a spicy Chen Pi beef stir fry. And it was absolutely delicious! 

You don’t have to make your own orange peel. It’s available at most Chinese herbalists or dry goods stores.

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Spicy Chen Pi Beef

Ingredients:

4 pieces, about 1.2 pounds filet mignon tails, cut into 1 inch cubes

3 tablespoon to 1/4 cup cooking oil

8 slices peeled fresh ginger

3 clove garlic, sliced

4 dried red chilies (I left them whole because I only wanted the dish to be mildly spicy, but you can cut them if you want to turn up the heat.)

1/2 small red bell peppers, seeded and diced

1 jalapeño, seeded and diced

4 stalks green onion, sliced diagonally and separate the white from the green part

2 heaping tablespoons dried orange peel (available in most Chinese herb stores)

1 teaspoon orange zest and more for garnish

1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn or Sichuan peppercorn powder 

Cilantro leaves and crispy garlic for garnish

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Marinade:

2 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons Shao Xing cooking wine

Sauce:

1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon sugar or xylitol

1/4 teaspoon white pepper powder

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Preparation:

Marinate the cubed filet mignon pieces for 20 to 30 minutes.

Mix all the Sauce ingredients in a small bowl, stir to combine well. Set aside.

Soak the dried orange peel in 2 tablespoons water until soft.  Save the water.

On medium high heat up a wok with the oil, stir fry the red chili and Sichuan peppercorn (if using) until aromatic. If you are using whole Sichuan peppercorn, you may want to spoon out and discard the peppercorn as they are very strong in flavor especially if you bite into a whole one.  (I love biting into a Sichuan peppercorn for a burst of flavor that numbs my tongue, but Peter only wants a hint of the peppercorn flavor in the dish.) 

Turn heat to high and add the sliced ginger, rehydrated dried orange peel, white part of the green onion and chili into the oil and stir for 30 seconds.  Then add red bell peppers, jalapeño and stir for about 30 seconds.  Add the beef and stir fry until 50% done. (Alternately, you can sear the beef cubes in a separate pan and then add to the mixture in the wok.)

Add in the sauce and the saved orange peel water. When the sauce thickens, add the green part of the green onion and orange zest and stir for another 30 seconds.

Serve hot with rice.

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