Grilled Bell Peppers & Capers Salad 意式彩椒yì shì cǎi jiāo

coverA perfect tasty summer salad dish for your family meal. Those colourful peppers are pretty and healthy for you. You will surely ‘wow’ your guests when serving them as the appetizer at your dinner party.

Serves 3-4

  • 4             large bell peppers, red and yellow, slice individual pepper vertically into 8 pieces. Remove the seeds

    For the dressing

  • 3 tablespoons   extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2             garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tablespoons capers in salt, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons   balsamic vinegar
  • salt and ground black pepperIMG_8974

 Method

  1. Arrange the peppers in a preheated oven (200℃) for 20 minutes
  2. Remove the peppers from the oven and put in a plastic bag, seal the bag and leave for 10 Minutes. Then open the bag letting the hot air out and cooling off for another 10 minutes. Peel the peppers. This step is optional. Peeling the peppers definitely help the vegetables absorb the sweet and savory dressing. But if you find it troublesome, you can skip the step.
  1. Cut the peppers into bite-size strips and place them in a salad bowl.IMG_8983

To make the dressing,

  1. Mix the olive oil and garlic together in a bowl, crush the garlic with a spoon to release as much flavor as possible. Add into capers. Mix in the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour the dressing over the peppers, mix well and allow to stand at least 30 minutes before serving (or leave it in the fridge – it tastes equally good as long as it is consumed within 2-3 days.).IMG_8985

 

Grilled Whole Red Snapper with Orange Sauce橙味烤全鱼chéng wèi kǎo quán yú

Grilled Whole Red SnapperThis recipe showcases the delicacy of this wonderful fish by keeping the seasoning to a minimum and grilling it to give a subtle taste. By having it largely cooked in the oven, you get to enjoy the charred, crispy skin with a very amount of cooking oil. It goes so well with the fresh, sweet and a little bit sharp orange dipping sauce.

You can substitute the whole fish with fish fillet. But grilling the fish with bones intact adds flavour, succulence, and juiciness to the fish. If you prefer, you can cut off the head, but I love its render parts, including the cheek and the insides.

Serves 3-4,  

  • 1 Whole red snapper (or seabass), about 600g红鲷鱼或者海鲈鱼, gutted and cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons Mirin (Japanese Cooking wine), Sweet White wine or high-quality Chinese Cooking wine (see the recipe for homemade one)
  • 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
  • 1 garlic clove roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 spring onion, sliced green part for garnishing, minced white part to add into dipping sauce

Dipping sauce

  • 2 teaspoons                caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons                 fresh orange juice (save the zest for garnishing)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons             light soy sauce生抽
  • 4 tablespoons vegetables stock or water
  • 1 and half tablespoons    white rice vinegar
  • White part of the spring onion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon     ground red chili pepper (optional)IMG_6584

Method

  1. Scale the fish, discard the guts and clean well (hopefully you can get the cleaned one from your grocery store.) Pat dry with kitchen paper towel. Slash the fish to allow your seasoning to penetrate evenly later. Place it in a dish.IMG_6585
  2. Mix the cooking wine, sesame seeds, garlic, ginger and sesame oil. Pour the mixture over the fish. Rub the mixture into the slashes in the fish and also into the fish cavity. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes.IMG_6586
  3. Preheat the oven to 200C°(400F°).
  4. Meanwhile make the dipping sauce. Simmer the sugar and orange juice in a sauce pan over a low heat until reduced to a concentrated syrup. Add the soy sauce and stock to simmer for 3 minutes. Then pour the liquid in a dipping sauce plate. Add into the vinegar, minced spring onion and ground red chili pepper. Mix well. Set aside.IMG_7996
  5. Heat a grill pan (any oven heat proof pan) on the stove (it should be able to be placed in the oven later.) over medium heat and add the oil. Pat dry the fish (just remove some of the liquid but can still easily be coated with flour) Dust the fish with flour on both sides. Sprinkle the fish with salt on both sides. Wrap the tail in aluminum foil (so it won’t get burned in the oven later). Turn up the heat to high. Place the fish and cook for 2 minutes till fish nicely charred. Turning the fish and char the other side of the fish for another 2 minutes. This searing process will help lock the moisture of the fish after it is placed in the oven later. Place the fish in the oven. Cook for another 15 minutes.

    6. Remove the fish from the oven. Garnish the fish with sliced green part of spring onion and orange zest. Serve with the dipping sauce.

 

Steak Fajitas墨西哥烤肉卷mò xī gē kǎo ròu juàn

coverSteak fajitas are quick and easy to assemble with a bit of prep work and organization. It is a really fun dish because it gives the sizzling, wow factor when serving the beef at the table. If you have access to butcher, ask for outside skirt because it is tender and more marbled. A secret of the recipe is to add soy sauce to the marinade which you would not expect from a Mexico restaurant.

Fajitas, derived from the Mexican word for skirt steak, were created by Mexican farmhands, who grilled this cut of meat, wrapped it in flour tortillas, and ate them out of hand. Although originally made with skirt steak, they now are made with everything from shrimp and lobster to portobello mushrooms.

Serve 4

The Marinade:

  • 3 tablespoons         olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons         fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons          light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon          cumin孜然
  • 1/3 teaspoon          salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon           black pepper

For the Fajitas Filling:

  • 1​ beef skirt, about 650g or 1 and half pounds
  • 2 medium bell peppers, a mix of red, green, and yellow, cored, seeded and cut into 12 wedges
  • 1 large yellow onion or purple onion or mixed both, cut into wedges
  • 12 (8-inch)​ flour tortillas (stacked and wrapped in foil) and sour cream, optionalIMG_6551

Method

  1. Gather the ingredients of the marinade. In a 1-gallon zipper-lock food storage bag, mix the oil, lime juice, soy sauce, cumin, salt, and black pepper.
  2. Scoop out 2 tablespoons of the marinade sauce and save it for later use. Now add the beef skirt into the bag. Close the bag, pressing out the air, and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.IMG_8228
  3. Place a cooling rack on the baking tray. Drain the beef skirt by leaving the tray in the fridge for about 1 to 2 hours. “The drying’ process will help get charred steak and enhance the sizzling wow factor later on. Save the leftover marinade.IMG_6552
  4. Do not throw away the zipper locker bag. There would still be plenty of leftover marinade there. You can choose to place into your vegetable wedges. Shake the bag to help vegetables evenly coated.IMG_8229
  5. Now let’s cook the steak. Place a skillet or caster iron pan (it can be placed on the table as a serving dish) on the stove and turn up to the high heat. When the pan becomes piping hot, add the beef steak (the side facing up in the fridge/the drier side to be placed down on the pan). Cook for 3 minutes on both sides or medium-rare. Remove the steak onto a cutting board to rest.IMG_6555
  6. On the same pan, place peppers and onions. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Cook over medium-high heat for a few minutes.IMG_6554
  7. In the meantime, slice the steak diagonally across the grain into bite size.
  8. Return the beef to the frying pan and place the beef onto cooked peppers and onions.
  9. When ready to serve, turn up the heat to high. Pouring the 1-2 tablespoons of the marinade sauce you’ve saved earlier. You will immediately hear the sizzling sound from the pan.
  10. Serve immediately! You can enjoy the dish with or without Tortilla.

 

Sichuan Boiled Fish水煮鱼shuǐ zhǔ yú

coverIn restaurants, Sichuan boiled fish is usually made with a whole freshwater fish – often carp or catfish. But you can avoid the struggle of dealing with a whole fish by just using the fish fillets at home. It doesn’t make this dish any less authentic. I would also make good use of the hot-spicy seasoning for fish packet available at most of the Asian supermarkets. The cooking method would be similar to Sichuan Boiled Beef or Shui Zhu Niu. You boil everything, and then hot oil sizzles over the dish in a heatproof bowl.

Serves 4

  • 650g                              Fish fillets. You can choose from tilapia, flounder or catfish. The fresh fish fillets are better. But frozen ones will work too.
  • 2 tablespoons             Chinese cooking wine
  • 2 tablespoons              all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 teaspoon                 salt
  • 150g                                soy Bean Sprouts黄豆芽
  • 150g                                any type of mushroom
  • 150g                                celery西芹
  • 150g                                napa cabbage大白菜
  • 2 tablespoons + ¼ cup cooking oil
  • 1 packet (about 200g)    hot-spicy seasoning for Fish水煮鱼调料
  • 750ml                               water or chicken stock
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons           dried chili pepper干辣椒, adjust the volume based on your tolerance level of the spiciness
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons                      Sichuan Peppercorns花椒, adjust the volume based on your tolerance level of the spiciness
  • A few sprigs                                   cilantro 香菜IMG_8450

 Method

  1. Pat dry the fish fillets with kitchen towel. Cut the fish into 1/2-inch thick slices at a 45-degree angle. The goal is to get pieces of fish with a lot of surface area, as they’ll shrink once cooked.IMG_8452
  2. Next, marinate the fish. Add 1/3 teaspoon salt, 1tablespoon Chinese cooking wine and 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Mix everything well. IMG_8455
  3. The active cooking time takes less than 15 minutes, so make sure the rest of the ingredients are prepped while the fish is marinating, and that you’re ready to eat right afterwards, because this dish is best served immediately.
  4. Make sure you now have a big, deep and heatproof bowl ready as the serving dish.IMG_8456
  5. Bring a big pot water to a boil. Blanch the pre-cut vegetables. Drain and place them in the big serving bowl.
  6. In a wok set over high heat, add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Add into the hot-spicy packet and cook for about 2 minutes till fragrant. Pour into the water or chick stock and bring it to a boil. Add half of the fish and cook for about 3 minutes till fillets turn white or cooked.
  7. Use a slotted spoon to move the cooked fish onto the vegetables. Do the same with the half of the fillets. Once done, pour the rest of the sauce into the bowl.
  8. Place your desirable amount of dried chili pepper and Sichuan peppercorns on top of the fish. Place a separate frying pan on the stove over high heat. Add into ¼ cup of the cooking oil. Once the oil becomes piping hot (very hot), pour the oil onto the dried chili pepper and Sichuan peppercorns. Garnish with cilantro.

    9. Serve immediately.