Monday, September 22, 2014

Steamed Okra with Gochujang Dressing 蒸秋葵(羊角豆)拌韩式辣酱

Okra is not an ingredient or vegetable that I often cook with; not because I do not like it but fresh tender local okra is not easy to come by. When I saw some fresh ones at the Asian supermarket, there was no hesitation to buy them even though it is not super cheap - a pack of maybe 20-25 for about $3 (at $3.99/lb). Fresh local okra is also currently piling up the farmers markets' booths, so do enjoy more okra before its season ends.

Many times, okra is used in stews because when cooked/braised, they natrually thicken up gravies e.g. gumbos. Similar to fresh fish, I like to steam fresh okra, and enjoy the fresh sweetness of this vegetable. When not over-cooked, the tender-crunch of okra is a test of freshness.

Other than being a rich source of dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins mentioned here, okra also propagates good bacteria in our intestines; as the fiber and mucilage (slimy texture when cooked) actually help adjust blood sugar by regulating its absorption in the small intestine. To reduce the slime, it is usually suggested to avoid overcooking or cook it whole.

Steaming is definitely one way to avoid over-cooking; plus it is an easy, fuss-free and relatively clean cooking method. Interestingly, I actually enjoy steamed eggplant, and steamed okra for its natural clean flavors, and easy-cooking of course.

In this recipe, the okra is sliced half length-wise so that the sauce dressing thoroughly flavors up the entire dish. You can steamed them whole if you prefer.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ginger Soy-Sauce Chicken 姜炒酱油鸡

This "old-school" homey dish is cooked primarily with ginger, soy sauce and chicken. The gravy is just....too good! A total wipe-out when served.

It pairs very well with steamed rice or plain porridge/congee. In order not to waste the gravy, one of us actually dished the rice into the plate used to serve the chicken so that all the gravy is absorbed by the rice, and no gravy is wasted.

You may like to try Quick-Braised Onion Chicken or Braised Chicken with Bittergourd if you enjoy such "dark-sauce" chicken dishes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pesto Pita Bites 青酱脆饼

Finger-friendly snack bites that will definitely please a crowd and even better, make a crowd envious of this homemade pesto. These pesto pita bites are one of the easiest hors d’oeuvres to make, and they are delectable.

This Italian oil-and-herb sauce with basil's flavonoids and volatile oils - eugenol and rosmarinic acid, boost brain production of dopamine and serotonin therefore lifting up your mood. Basil is also a good source of vitamin K and manganese.

The other healthy ingredient in this pesto is walnuts. This pesto sauce is packed with Omega-3 good fats. Walnuts is a terrific source of protein, but it may not be easy to unlock the energy from the nuts as they are covered in phytates. Phytates is an indigestible plant compound that inhibits our enzymes from fully digesting nuts. By soaking the nuts in purified water overnight, you will rinse away phytates and make the nuts, including the key energy-booster nutrients, more digestible.