Polenta 2 Ways

Will made polenta a few nights ago with some fancy schmancy polenta he ordered online. It’s the more rustic version, so it was a little rough and gritty, in a good way.

Polenta 2 ways

The first way was for dinner, which involved cooked polenta and slow cooked peppers. Cooking the peppers for an hour on low, low heat really brings out the flavor of the peppers. Do not try at home if you don’t like the taste of bell peppers.

Polenta 2 ways

The second way was made from leftovers. Polenta cut into circles with a cup and then pan fried till crispy and topped with bell peppers. Yes please.

A Celebration of Chinese Food

To celebrate Chinese New Years week, the BF and I decided to make Chinese food dinners for the whole week.

chinese dinner
Braised tofu sheets, bittermelon and scrambled eggs, and stir fried bok choy. I think this is the first time the BF attempted to make 3 dishes for one meal.

chinese dinner
The next night, I made vegetarian pot-stickers. Because I didn’t make the wrapper from scratch, this actually didn’t take that long. The only time consuming thing is wrapping the dumplings, but with two people, one package of wrappers goes by fairly quickly.

chinese dinner
We wanted to take a break from eating too much greasy and savory stuff, so the BF made porridge one night. The porridge is about 1:9 rice to water. So that it’s not so plain, he topped it with chopped onions and shiitake mushrooms sauteed together. We also had some tea eggs in the fridge, so we threw that in there too.

chinese dinner
I was at work late and wanted to cook something quick and easy, which is why I decided on broccoli stir fry on my last night of cooking. Maybe broccoli beef is more Chinese American food, but it was still good. For the sauce, I used soy sauce, rice wine, water, garlic, and some potato starch to thicken.

Chinese Dinner for Chinese Parents

The BF got Land of Plenty, a cookbook full of Sichuan recipes. He made some fish-fragrant eggplants (yu xiang qie zi / 鱼香茄子 ) for dinner a few days ago which were such a success that I felt we were finally ready to take the next step: make Chinese dinner for my parents this weekend. Chinese parents are notoriously critical of everything, so I was nervous about cooking dinner from the motherland for them.

Of course, we couldn’t just cook one dish, so we decided on two more: dry-fried green beans (gan bian si ji dou / 干煸四季豆) and Sichuan-style steamed fish (qing zheng xian yu / 清蒸鲜鱼).

Fish fragrant eggplant

We added some freshly fried tofu to the eggplant dish to give it more substance which wasn’t that much more work since we already had oil from deep-frying the eggplant. The fried tofu was a good addition, but we should have made the sauce stronger or more salty because the tofu soaked up a lot of the liquid from the sauce and the dish ended up being a bit more bland than it was the last time the BF made it.

Stir fried long beans

The dry-fried green beans were also easy to make thanks to the oil we already had. Flash-frying it first in oil really does make a lot of difference in the texture of the beans. We also added some finely chopped shiitake, pieces of fried tofu, and salt-preserved mystery Chinese veggies to the dish to give it more savory bits.

#project365 fish getting ready for a steam bath.Finished fish

before & after

For the fish course, I bought two whole bass (small ones) from the market. They were washed and then marinated in some xiaoxing wine, then stuffed with Chinese bacon (even though the recipe called for ham, I think it really meant Chinese bacon), slices of shiitake, and dried shrimp. Then the whole thing was put into a big bowl with boiling broth poured over it, and then steamed for about 10 minutes. I went too long with the steaming so the fish was slightly over-done, but the flavor of the fish was fantastic. The Chinese bacon really does add a lot to the dish. I usually don’t cook meat other than for my parents when we do dinner, so I’m pretty happy that they seemed to like the fish.

My parents seemed to enjoy dinner, which was a relief. It’s ironic that I had to look up Chinese recipes in a cookbook written by a white British woman, but I have to admit that the dishes we chose were hit.