Asian-Inspired Bean Sprout Salad with Citrus and Soy Dressing

Whew! I’ve made it through yet another exam season. Grad school is a bit different, we tend to have large research papers to hand in. I’m relieved to be done course work for a few weeks. And am working on a few other projects before the spring term begins. One is a research project I’ve been working on for a little over a year. It’s nice to see it coming together! The other is an event for game enthusiasts: Make a Game or DIY Trying. We’ve invited local speakers who work in the game industry to talk about their careers and will host a design competition in the afternoon. I’m looking forward to taking a few days off next week to relax before the next set of classes start.

With everything coming to an end for the term, Bryan and I took the evening of April 23rd off to celebrate our 9 year anniversary! 9 wonderful years. It sounds like a long time. It hasn’t felt all that long.

Us at Bryan's convocation -- there are very few pictures of us because I'm usually the one holding the camera

Us at Bryan’s convocation — there are very few pictures of us because I’m usually the one holding the camera

Anyway, we were both quite busy during the day, but were able to spend the entire evening together, starting with dinner at our favourite restaurant, Taka! It’s on the opposite side of the next town (near where I grew up), but is always worth the trip! The family that manages the restaurant is very generous, they always greet us with enthusiasm, give us appetizers on the house, which usually means we go home with leftovers. Yesterday was no different. Warm welcome, fantastic and friendly service, delicious food, and enough leftovers for a quick lunch today. We then headed home for a quiet evening. We’ve been watching Game of Thrones (I got the DVDs for my birthday a while back) and watched the final episode of season 2. We can’t wait for season 3 to finish and come out on DVD!

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a salad that I’ve been making a lot recently that we’re both very fond of. The idea for the salad is based off of a recommendation from a friend. It’s very easy to make and surprisingly filling!

Asian-Inspired Bean Sprout Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups bean sprouts – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1/2 cup watercress – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen edamamae beans – approximate cost $1.50

Method

  1. Cook edamamae beans according to package.
  2. Soak hot edamamae beans in an ice water bath.
  3. Rinse the bean sprouts and watercress.
  4. Pat dry.
  5. Combine bean sprouts, watercress, and edamame beans in a large salad bowl.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Top with Citrus and Soy Salad Dressing.
  8. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Citrus and Soy Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine) – approximate cost $0.15
  • 3 teaspoons Kikkoman soy sauce – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 teaspoons sesame oil – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing glass. 5.75
  2. Mix well.
  3. Pour over salad (before the oil and citrus separate).

Makes 2 meal-sized servings (approximate cost: $2.88 per serving) or 4 appetizer-sized servings (approximate cost: $1.44 per serving).

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Shrimp Stir-Fry with Cookin’ Greens and Spicy Sauce

Over the summer, I received coupons to try any products from the Cookin’ Greens line of frozen vegetables. I frequently forgot the coupons at home on shopping days. And I never quite felt like making a special trip to the store when the coupons stared at me from their spot on the fridge. Eventually, they expired. Unused. I was a bit disappointed that I never found the time to use the coupons.

Despite letting the coupons expire, I still wanted to give the product a try. On a recent trip to the grocery store, I picked up the Athlete’s Mix (collards, kale, spinach, red pepper, and white beans). I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to make at the time, But the mix looked very appealing!

The other night, I had some shrimp that needed to be used up. I suggested a pasta, but Bryan didn’t sound very enthusiastic about it, so we decided that I should make a stir-fry instead. This was the perfect opportunity to try the Cookin’ Greens, because we wanted a quick dinner without much fuss. No chopping required. It’s really a toss what you’ve got into the frying pan sort of dinner.

The stir-fry? Delicious (and healthy too)! I was very glad that I’d made enough for leftovers. This will definitely make a reappearance on my dinner table sometime soon! It would probably also go very well with chicken or tofu pieces.

Shrimp Stir-Fry with Spicy Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs, beaten – approximate cost $0.70
  • 2 1/2 cups sticky rice, cooked – approximate cost $0.75
  • 16 pieces of shrimp – approximate cost $8.00
  • 2 cups Cookin’ Greens Athlete’s Mix – approximate cost $2.20
  • 1/4 onion, chopped – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon cane sugar – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil – approximate cost $0.10

Method

  1. Cook sticky rice according to directions.
  2. Preheat a frying pan and 1/2 teaspoon of grapeseed oil.
  3. Add the onion and shrimp (I used uncooked shrimp with the shell on, a bit more finicky to eat, peeled shrimp will also work well).
  4. Preheat a second frying pan and 1/2 teaspoon of grapeseed oil.
  5. Add the beaten eggs to the hot frying pan.
  6. When egg begins to set, carefully flip it.
  7. Break egg into bite-sized pieces.
  8. Remove egg from frying pan.
  9. Add the ketchup, cane sugar, dark soy sauce and chili garlic sauce to the shrimp.
  10. Mix well to coat.
  11. Add the Cookin’ Greens.
  12. Mix well and cook until heated through.
  13. Divide rice into four portions.
  14. Add equal portions of shrimp and greens.
  15. Decorate with egg.
  16. Drizzle with sesame oil.
  17. Serve and enjoy!

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $3.13 per serving).

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Beef Burgers with Asian-Inspired Flavours

One of my blogging goals I set for myself is to post three times per week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), except on those really busy weeks when I can’t meet those goals. To help me continue motivating myself and working towards my blogging goals, I’ve decided to start participating in What’s Cooking Wednesday – a weekly blog hop/link party hosted by The King’s Court IVTurning The Clock Back, and Confessions of an Overworked Mom. I’m excited to be participating!


As you can probably tell, I’ve been making a lot of burgers lately. Earlier this week, I shared the chicken burgers with smoked paprika and rosemary that my brother and I prepared for mom’s birthday.

Bryan visits a friend on weekends who owns a barbecue. The get-together is of the ‘bring your own food to throw on the grill’ sort. So, I’ve used this as an opportunity to play with adding various seasonings to burgers. This burger with Asian-inspired flavours is his favourite so far.

I kept a few at home to try myself and it is quite tasty! I especially like it topped with avocado mayo. I would have preferred avocado slices, but none of the avocados at the grocery store were ripe and I didn’t have time to wait for them to ripen.

Bryan has asked me to make this again (even though he ate them just the other week). While I enjoyed these as well, I declined so I can experiment with a few more types of burgers. Surprisingly, he is ok with this (I was half expecting that he would be disappointed). Instead, I was pleasantly surprised when he complimented my saying he loves when I experiment while dreaming up what we will have for dinner.

What are your favourite flavours to add to (beef) burger patties?

Beef Burgers with Asian-Inspired Flavours

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef – approximate cost $4.50
  • 1 egg – approximate cost $0.35
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (or white wine) – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (more if you’d like it spicy) – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.10
  • 4 hamburger buns – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Combine the ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, dark soy sauce, mirin (or white wine), lemon juice, chili flakes, sesame oil and black pepper in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix thoroughly using your hands (but be careful not to over-work the meat, that will make it tough).
  3. Divide the beef mixture into 4 portions.
  4. Shape each portion into a burger patty.
  5. Cook the burger patties any way you like!
    1. Barbecue the burgers until cooked through and slightly toast the buns.
    2. Fry the burgers over medium-high heat.
    3. Grill the burgers on a counter-top grill.
    4. Broil the burgers in the oven, turning once to cook both sides.
  6. Serve on hamburger buns with your favourite toppings!

Serving Suggestions

Serve with slices of your favourite vegetables and condiments.

Vegetables

  • Red onion
  • Green onions
  • Tomato
  • Lettuce
  • Avocado

Condiments

  • Mayo
  • Japanese mayo
  • Avocado mayo
  • Ketchup

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.85 per serving + toppings and condiments).

Chicken Hearts, Gizzards, and Liver Stir-fry

The weather has been so gorgeous here lately, that I’ve been taking the opportunity to walk more often rather than driving or taking the bus. I decided to take a detour through the park on my way from school to UpTown the other day, expecting to make a short stop by the petting zoo and continue on my way. Somehow, I’d forgotten that there would be baby ducks and geese everywhere, and stopped to take a few photos of the fuzzy ducklings and goslings. So cute!

I think the ducks thought I would feed them, which worked out well for a close-up photo!

The geese, as you could imagine, weren’t as welcoming. The adult goose was hissing at me while I snapped this photo. They are very protective of their goslings. I managed to get this photo and get away safely. The babies are just so adorable, I had to stop! Seeing all the animals return after winter, and the cute little ones is one of my favourite things about spring!


While I was out taking pictures, dinner was marinating in the fridge at home. I’m quite excited to share this recipe with you. It looks like a giant mess of a stir-fry, but it was really tasty. Bryan thought so too, but he rarely complains about anything I serve him, he’s such a good sport when I try out new recipes!

Normally, I avoid cooking liver. It’s cheap, yes, but it’s not always my favourite. It tends to have a weird texture and a strong flavour. It’s one of Bryan’s favourites, so I make try to buy it every month or two and eat it for one meal, leaving Bryan to finish off any leftovers. However… this adapted stir-fry recipe is a hit. I enjoyed it and didn’t really notice the things I normally dislike about liver. I will be making this again. In fact, I will probably make this often. On top of being delicious, it was very affordable!

How do you usually prepare liver? Any tips for having it turn out delicious every time? Please link to recipes if you can!

Chicken Hearts, Gizzards, and Liver Stir-fry

Recipe adapted from Simple Chicken Liver And Gizzard and How to make the green seasoning paste that’s so unique to Caribbean cuisine, both recipes from Caribbean Pot

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken livers – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1/2 pound chicken hearts – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/2 pound chicken gizzards – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 Vidalia onion, diced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, halved – approximate cost $3.00
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.45
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, de-seeded and minced – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 lime, juiced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 cups of uncooked Basmati rice – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/2 cup water

Method

  1. Cut the chicken hearts, gizzards, and livers into bite-sized chunks.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken hearts and gizzards (set the liver pieces aside for now), lime juice, salt, pepper, tomato pieces, garlic, jalapeño pepper pieces, thyme, cilantro.
  3. Mix well and marinate in the fridge for 2 hours (or longer).
  4. Cook Basmati rice according to directions.
  5. In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  6. Add the onions and cook until softened (about 5 minutes).
  7. Add the chicken and marinade to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes, the chicken pieces should brown a bit.
  8. Add water, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce and reduce heat to simmer.
  9. Cover the pot with a lid and allow mixture to cook for 30 minutes (stirring occasionally and adding water if liquid begins to boil away).
  10. Turn heat up to medium.
  11. Add liver pieces.
  12. Remove lid from pot and cook for 5-10 minutes (until the liver is cooked through, watch it closely at this point, because liver cooks quickly).
  13. Serve over Basmati rice and enjoy!

Makes 5 servings (approximate cost: $2.13 per serving).

Beef Heart with Shaoxing Wine Sauce

I’m constantly looking for ways to save money on our meals. One of the easiest ways I’ve found to cut costs from our weekly grocery bill is the eat offal. I am lucky that my family raised me to eat these cuts of meat without fuss. I’m thankful that Bryan is an adventuresome eater and tries nearly everything I put in front of him without complaint.

My favourite grocery store always has an abundant stock of hearts, liver, feet, tongues, etc. One of my worries when we started eating these cuts of meat was that we would get bored of it over time, that there were only a few ways to prepare these dishes.

Of course, that led me to read recipes and wanting to experiment with cooking. Here’s a few of my favourite recipes about eating offal:

The dish I prepared was completely different from those I read about. As I was reading through the blogs, I was craving Chinese food. I didn’t find many Asian-inspired recipes for eating offal, although I’m sure they’re out there. If you know of any, please point me towards them!

Beef Heart with Shaoxing Wine Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 beef heart, trimmed (here’s a great tutorial on YouTube) – approximate cost $3.50
  • 5 garlic cloves, halved – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 cup Shaoxing wine – approximate cost $1.00
  • ⅓ cup dark soy sauce – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 cups water

Method

  1. Cut beef heart into bite-sized pieces.
  2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Add beef heart pieces to the pot and brown the meat.
  4. When the meat is almost completely browned, add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, and water.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  7. Place a lid on the pot and cook for at least 2 hours (Add more water as it cooks if it looks like it is boiling away).
  8. In a measuring cup, combine cornstarch and a small amount of cold water, stirring until the cornstarch is completely dissolved.
  9. Slowly pour the cornstarch mixture into the pot and stir until thickened.
  10. Serve in bowls with plenty of sauce.

Makes about 6 servings (approximate cost: $0.94 per serving).

Egg Drop Soup

I usually avoid cooking Asian foods at home. The recipes often call for a variety of exotic sauces and spices that I don’t keep on hand. That, tied in with the perceived complexity of the recipes usually discourages me from even trying.Last week, I came across a recipe on The Kitchn for Egg Drop Soupthat looked so simple I had to try it for myself. It really was easy to make! From start to finish, I think it took 20 minutes to prepare (and I might even be over-estimating!).egg drop soupWe needed a quick dinner with a few leftover in case our guests were hungry when they arrived. Our friends assured us they weren’t hungry, but a few hours later one of them gave the soup a try, saying they just wanted a small taste. As I filled the soup bowl, he commented that it would be way too much because he wasn’t very hungry. When we cleared the table, the bowl was empty. As you can imagine, I was very glad that our guests enjoyed the dish as much as we did.This soup is so simple and tasty that it could easily be served as the main course on a busy weeknight or as an appetizer when you have guests.

Egg Drop Soup

Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chicken broth – approximate cost $4.00
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cornstarch – approximate cost $0.10
  • 8 large eggs – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons red miso – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/2 package of firm tofu, diced into bite-sized pieces – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 bunch bok choy, thinly sliced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 8 teaspoons of sesame oil – approximate cost $0.20
  • 2 teaspoons of white pepper – approximate cost $0.10

egg drop soup

Method

  1. Pour the chicken broth into a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add miso and soy sauce. Stir until miso dissolves.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium-low (so the mixture simmer for 15 minutes)
  4. Taste and add more soy sauce as needed.
  5. Add the tofu pieces and bok choy slices.
  6. Whisk together the eggs in a small bowl and add the remaining teaspoon of cornstarch to the eggs. Mix well until there are no powdery lumps. Set aside briefly.
  7. In a separate bowl or cup, combine 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with a small amount of cold water. Mix well until there are no powdery lumps.
  8. Slowly mix the cornstarch and water mixture into the stock and let it simmer for a minute or two until the broth no longer tastes starchy and begins to thicken.
  9. Ask a friend to help you with this part. Have your friend to hold a fork over your pot of soup.
  10. Slowly pour the eggs through the fork while constantly stirring the soup. Let the soup stand for a few seconds to finish cooking the eggs.
    Note: If you don’t want to invite anyone to assist, work in batches. Pour a small amount of the eggs through the fork and take a short break to stir the soup. Repeat until you run out of eggs.
  11. Serve immediately. Provide green onions, white pepper, and sesame oil on the side as a topping and allow others to add these items to taste.

Makes 8 servings (approximate cost: $1.25 per serving) as an appetizer or 4 servings (approximate cost: $2.50 per serving) as a main course.

Yakitoki-Style Chicken Hearts

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Savory chicken hearts. We enjoy chicken hearts frequently because they’re reasonably priced, versatile, and tasty.  Quite often, I will find a recipe that calls for a more typical cut of chicken and substitute chicken hearts. More often than not, this approach works well. My most recent ‘experiment’ was to cook chicken hearts with a yakitori sauce.

I learned to cook yakitori (Japanese translation is approximately ‘grilled bird’) as a high school student. I was lucky enough to attend a school that taught a Japanese language course and the teacher, who had spent a significant amount of time teaching in Japan, also offered us culture classes from time to time. Learning to cook yakitori was one such class.

Since then I have modified the recipe to use more cost-effective ingredients. This sauce is simple to make and very tasty. I recommend trying it the next time you are cooking chicken!

Yakitoki-Style Chicken Hearts

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of chicken hearts (or other cut of chicken) – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1/3 cup white or red wine, whatever you have on hand (the original recipe calls for mirin) – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (the original recipe calls for a Japanese soya sauce such as Kikkoman) – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/3 cup water

Method

  1. Combine wine, soya sauce, and water in a small pot. Cook at medium heat with the lid off so the liquid reduces. Stir frequently!
  2. When the liquid has reduced to a sauce-like consistency, remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a separate frying pan, cook chicken hearts and half of the sauce over medium-high heat until meat is cooked all the way through. Reserve the remaining sauce to serve at the table.

Suggestion: Serve with rice and stir-fried vegetables.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.25 per serving)

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