A mission statement

Hello, and welcome to My Kitchen and I. Every year I choose a cuisine to explore. This year, it's the year of the Snake! And I'll be continuing to cook mostly Asian foods, particularly Chinese dishes. Have I finally found the best cuisine in the world? Come explore and cook with me and let's find out. Please feel free to share your stories and comment on anything you see here, and thanks so much for visiting. Hope you enjoy the Year of the Snake in food!


Monday, July 23, 2012

The Feast of the Free Fishes

3 Free fish
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T sherry
1 inch pc fresh ginger minced
mountain of celery leaves

Once upon a month, I run up to a little Asian market on Olive Boulevard in St. Louis for a month's worth of cooking ingredients for my Asian cooking adventures.

I say that it's little, but this market is not really that little. It's actually closer to the size of a super Walmart, and it's stuffed full of just about every imaginable ingredient. You can find chicken feet. You can buy all manner of fresh fish. You can find eels and a thousand varieties of tea. One time I thought they didn't have something I wanted, but then a store manager took me right to it.

There is, I will warn you, an odd smell when you walk in the door. I don't know what it is. But if you can get past that intimidating smell, there's a whole new realm of new and exotic cooking ingredients awaiting exploration. I say realm, because there is such a kingly amount of ingredients — but the prices won't set the peasants back too much either.

Last trip, the fresh produce aisle sported my favorite bing cherries for 99 cents a pound, and a large bunch of what looked to be organic green onions for only 99 cents! Closer to home I'd have paid $2.99 a pound for the cherries and $1.99 for the green onions. These weren't on my list, but I know a good deal when I see one, and the cherries were delicious!

I don't know that this is the "best" Asian supermarket in all of St. Louis. But it is right across from the King Wonton tea house where I had my first steamed pork bun, so it's earned a soft spot in my heart. It's definitely worth a stop at both places if you're looking for a little adventure at reasonable expense, but if you go, you absolutely must stop at the teahouse for steamed buns. I insist.

On the way home last time, I stopped off at a gas station to refill my tank and whilst rearranging my bags, I felt something cold among the double dark soy sauce and chrysanthemum tea. Something cold and ... squishy.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Totally Cool Green Hummus & beef satay #sundaysupper beat-the-heat

Now I know this is not a very Asian dish. Forgive me, please. But I was having my very own personal Iron Chef moment. It was the end of the month, and just about everything was running low. I didn't even have any soy sauce!

All I could find in the pantry for protein were some lentils I'd bought last year and never did anything with. And in the freezer there was some asparagus and a bit of feta cheese.

I started out making a lentil salad. It didn't thrill me. But I couldn't let it go to waste, either. I have a rule since coming back from Haiti, and I just can't help it. It may not make any difference whatsoever, but food in my kitchen doesn't go to waste if I can help it. No matter what!

Putting away the dishes, dusting, finishing the laundry, it seemed as if I were doomed to another lentil salad the next night. Then, as I trudged to the kitchen, a lightning bolt struck.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chinese tea eggs 茶叶蛋 -- great breakfast for on the go

A great beat-the-heat recipe because you can cook an
entire week's worth of breakfasts in one pot.
The first place I found these little gems mentioned, I thought the recipe book referred to them as Japanese tea eggs, but a friend from Japan says he never heard of these before.

Then I saw eggs just like them in the book Culinaria Southeast Asia: A Journey Through Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. They were called cháyè dàn (茶叶蛋 ), pronounced chah-yay dan where the marks represent rising or descending tone respectively. You could think of it like saying chah? yay! dan!

The Chinese tea eggs were prepared exactly the same way as the other cookbook had specified. So I think these really are Chinese. Not Japanese, as I had been thinking all this time.

In any case, these marble eggs have become my go-to summer breakfast. They look very elegant no? But they are so seriously simple, a child could make them. And they are a great beat-the-heat recipe. You can cook an entire week's worth of breakfast in one pot in just 20 minutes! They are Super fast! Super easy! What's not to like?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Steamed Buns with BBQ pork -- perfect food

A little while back a friend took me to an authentic tea house in St. Louis, where I had my first steamed bun. It was love at first bite. These little beauties are called baozi (包子), pronounced like you're saying bow in bow-wow followed by zit without the "t."

Steamed buns take just 15 minutes on the
stovetop and they're done. That makes
them the perfect summer bread. They're also
ideal for using up any little dab of leftover
barbecue that isn't quite enough for a meal.
Check below for more great barbecue
ideas from the #letslunch bunch!
The version I had were filled with a little barbecue pork, and they were Delicious. I have been craving them every day since eating the first one. So of course I had to learn to make them! Right away!

Can you say addictive? These certainly are.

I like them for breakfast. They're great with lunch, too. Why not have one for dinner? They'd make a nice little snack before bed. Gee, one more couldn't hurt, could it?

What is that five buns already?

I can't stop eating them!

These are ideal for using up any dab of leftover barbecue that's not quite enough for a meal. They are also a good excuse to squirrel away a couple of ribs before dinner where no one but you can find them. Save everyone else's waistline right? Because, we're thoughtful like that.

These buns will reheat well if you want to steam several at once, but the dough also keeps well for three to five days in the refrigerator or you can freeze them. That way you can steam a fresh bun any time you want. Although I warn you, that power may be dangerous to your waistline. These things are that good!

The buns only take 15 minutes on the stovetop start to finish, which is why they are the perfect summer bread. There's no oven to preheat. It's just 15 minutes on the stovetop in a bamboo steamer and then a little round ball of blissful bread filled with a delicious barbecue is all yours.