What’s up in our kitchen for New Year’s Eve!

New Year's Eve Dinner 2012

On this New Year’s Eve, we want to wish you a bright and shining New Year and hope it’s filled with many, many blessings!

I’ve been cooking and prepping for two days straight. Both trying new techniques on dishes I’ve been doing for years, and trying new dishes. Here’s a sneak peak at a couple things I’ll be serving the extended family later tonight. I’ll have full photos and recipes up in January.

I’m doing Asian tonight with a few dishes from different places. On the menu tonight:

Hainan Chicken Rice (China/Thailand/Singapore/Malaysia)

Hakka Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables

Fried Fish in Spicy Tamarind Sauce (Pla Rad Prik – Thailand)

Lettuce Wraps with Pork and Cloud Ear Mushroom Filling (China)

Gai Lon – green vegetables with Oyster Sauce (China)

 

Wood Ear or Cloud Mushrooms – Asian Ingredients

Wood Ear (sometimes known as Cloud or Black Fungus) mushrooms are a common, yet interesting, ingredient in Asian cooking. Used more for it’s texture, than it’s mild flavor, the mushroom still adds a substantive quality to the dish. You can buy them dried, or you can buy them fresh. Around the San Francisco Bay Area, they are easily found in Asian markets. If you don’t have access to an Asian market, or one that carries the fresh variety, the dried are just as good. You can find them online here:

Melissa’s Dried Woodear Mushrooms, 0.5-Ounce Bags (Pack of 12)

In my video, you can get an idea as to the texture and appearance of the mushroom.

If you have never seen or tried cooking with this ingredient, don’t fear! It’s really hard to go wrong with this in savory dishes. Just slice or chop up and add it. The taste is mild, as is the gentle crunchiness of it. It’s excellent to add a little texture to a silken tofu dish or even scrambled eggs.

One of the things I like to do with it is cook it and serve in Vietnamese spring roll rice paper or in leaves of Romaine lettuce hearts. Costco seems to have the Romaine lettuce nearly all the time.

Meat Filling with Wood Ear Mushrooms
Recipe type: Asian, Entree, Appetiser
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 - 6
 
A nice savory filling for use in lettuce or rice crepes.
Ingredients
  • (caveat with the ingredients, it's ALL to taste. I usually don't measure a thing when cooking Asian foods. The measurements below are my best guesstimate, having cooked this just a half hour before writing).
  • 1-2 lb. Ground Beef (ground pork or chicken would work too)
  • 1 tsp. Soy Sauce, or to taste
  • ½ tsp Lee Kum Kee chicken powder (opt.) http://bit.ly/LKKChickenBouillonPowder
  • ½ tsp Beef powder (opt.) http://bit.ly/BeefStockPowder
  • 1 TBS Tamarind paste ( http://bit.ly/Tamarind_Paste )
  • 2 TBS Oyster Sauce http://bit.ly/LKK_OysterSauce
  • ¼ cup Wood Ear Mushroom, chopped ⅛" squares or so
  • ¼ cup Water Chestnuts, chopped ⅛" squares or so
  • 2 Thai Bird's Eye Chili Peppers, chopped very fine (to taste)
  • 2 cloves Garlic, chopped fine
  • 3 Tbs Corn Starch
  • ¼ cup Cold water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients except the cold water.
  2. Add the cold water a little at a time, until you have a soft, wet meat mixture, but not so much that it's puddling.
  3. Preheat a wok with a few tablespoons of oil to med-high.
  4. Once the oil is hot, add the meat and leave for 3 minutes.
  5. Stir, breaking up any lumps to a medium fine ground texture.
  6. Strain excess oil and service in a bowl.
Notes
This works well with Romain lettuce "tacos", butter lettuce cups, or Vietnamese spring roll wrappers. http://bit.ly/SpringRollWrapper Serving suggestions. Have a bowl of cooked rice noodles or bean thread noodles. You can serve it with Hoisin sauce as a condiment to be spread inside as well. If you're using spring roll wrappers, have cucumber shreds and lettuce or spring mix to put inside and add a nice fresh, healthy crunch to it. A small bowl of lemon or lime wedges will put a contrasting sour to complement the salty, savory, and spicy taste of the meat.

 

 

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