Monday, August 31, 2015

Tomato Scrambled/ Fried Eggs 番茄炒蛋

I never knew what dry-farmed tomatoes were until I read this post. After tasting some super-sweet and juicy dry-farmed tomatoes this summer, I really do not miss industrial-farmed tomatoes, even when labeled organic and/or vine-ripe, any time soon.


The centuries-old dry-farmed technique originates in the Mediterranean and is still being used to grow grapes and olives. In California where water is currently a big issue, such a dry-farmed technique cuts off irrigation after the tomato plants are established, "...stresses the plant, forcing its roots deep into the soil in search of water and focuses its efforts on producing fruit. The resulting tomatoes are usually smaller and lower in yield, but pack tremendously intense flavor and a dense, firm texture." (Source: thekitchn.com)


Oh my, how true is that! These dry-farmed tomatoes are so sweet and juicy in my own bare-taste test and perfect for this simple Tomato Scrambled/ Fried Eggs recipe.

The key to this dish is not to over-cook the egg such that it becomes too dry. The perfect tomato fried eggs should be moist, fluffy, sweet, savory and fragrant.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Yu Cuisine, Zhengzhou, Henan China 豫菜, 郑州河南

Admittedly, I did not appreciate Chinese history when I was young. However, a ten-day trip in China just this end July/early August has become both an eye-opener and educational insight. It started from Zhengzhou 郑州 - Henan province 河南 (considered “中原” central China), explored inwards towards the west of Henan to (1) Xi'An 西安 - Shaanxi province 陕西, Luoyang 洛阳, Dengfeng 登封 then to the eastern side of Henan (2) Kaifeng 开封 and ended in (3) Beijing 北京.

Bottom of this map: Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Kaifeng; top (north of Zhengzhou): Beijing

Henan is a good entry and access point into understanding Chinese history, from the first emperor of China (Qin Shi Huang 秦始皇 - Qin Dynasty) to the last emperor of China (Pu Yi 溥仪 - Qing Dynasty).

Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan, is well-served and connected by the China high speed rail (some call it bullet train). The Zhengzhou-Xi'An line takes you to Huashan 华山 and Terracotta Warriors 兵马俑 in about three hours while the Xi'An-Beijing line transports you from Zhengzhou to Beijing in less than five hours. From Zhengzhou, one can also arrange chauffeured car rental limo-service and make separate day trips - one to Shaolin 少林 located in Dengfeng, and Longmen Grotto 龙门石窟 in Luoyang (both on the west side of Henan); and another to Kaifeng (once the capital of Song dynasty, Kaifeng is usually associated with Justice Bao).

Bullet train tickets

As the capital of Henan, Zhengzhou undoubtedly takes Yu cuisine 豫菜 as its main cuisine, being one of China's most traditional and oldest cooking styles and the representative of culinary civilization of Central China.

Meat skewers羊肉串, braised fish maw白扒广肚, Tong Zi Ji 桶子鸡 @Yu Feng Yuan, Zhengzhou 裕丰源, 郑州

Henan cuisine is characterized by meticulous preparation, and especially known for its delicious broth/soup. One good example is Hui Mian 烩面 - a traditional Henan style of braised hand-pulled noodles dating back more than 800 years, in which the essence lies in the broth. The broth is made from boiling then simmering mutton marrow for at least five hours, resulting in a white brothy soup often called "white soup". When serving, the warm broth is served with noodles, accompanied by ingredients such as soybean strands, mung-bean strands, quail egg and woodear mushrooms.

Hui Mian 烩面 @Yu Feng Yuan, ZhengZhou 裕丰源, 郑州

LiYuBeiMian 鲤鱼焙面 is fried carp in sweet and sour sauce served with super-fine noodles. This is a very traditional dish of Henan and claimed to be one of the ten famous Yu cuisine dishes.

Fried carp in sweet and sour sauce with super-fine noodles, served in a restaurant at KaiFeng

Monday, August 24, 2015

Zucchini Noodles with Mushrooms Enoki 西葫芦清炒金针菇

Widely known as no-carb or low-carb noodles and a great alternative to pasta was what really did not appeal to me at first as I cannot do without carbs.

Now, I should have tried Zucchini Noodles earlier since I like how this present itself as a vegetarian side-dish, nicely paired with steamed rice or plain noodles. For the latter, simply toss (real) noodles with the thin zucchini ribbons, and the mix-in is flawless.

As long as zucchini/Italian squash is in-season, fresh and tender, I am quite sure this dish is going to be a regular at meal times. You may also try Stir-Fry Zucchini, Zucchini Fritters, or Zucchini Pizza.

No fancy equipment e.g. Spiral Slicer is required. All you need is a vegetable/julienne peeler.


Pass the peeler over the side of the zucchini lengthwise to produce long and thin "noodles". As the zucchini "noodles" are so thin, the dish cooks quickly, in a matter of 5 minutes or less. Zucchini "noodles" can be enjoyed raw in salads or cooked/sauteed to make them more tender.