Vegetables for Chinese New Year

February 17th, 2015

bok choy with peanut sauceHappy New Year! Gong Hay Fat Choy! Welcome to the year of the Goat (aka referred to as sheep or ram). On February 19,2015, the Chinese will celebrate the New Year or Spring Festival.

There is much symbolism in this two week celebration. Families will decorate their houses with branches of quince or plum blossoms. They set out bowls of tangerines with leaves or oranges to bring good luck, wealth, and long lasting relationships. Children wish their elders prosperity for the new year, and in return they will receive lucky red envelopes filled with money.

Many foods served during the new year have auspicious meanings. In this easy recipe for bok choy, green vegetables symbolize growth in business. A garnish of red chiles scares away evil demons and brings luck. JADE Sichuan Peanut Sauce spices up the flavor

Baby Bok Choy with Jade Sichuan Peanut Sauce

Baby bok choy, also known as Shanghai bok choy, are small heads with broad green stems and leaves. Lightly brown the cut side of the heads, and then add water and steam. Or if you like, omit the oil and simply add vegetable and water to hot pan, cover and pan steam.

Makes 4 servings

8 to 10 ounces baby bok choy
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (optional)
1/3 cup water
2 to 3 tablespoons Jade Sichuan Peanut Sauce or Jade Sesame Soy Marinade, or to taste
Cilantro leaves (optional)
Chopped fresh or pickled red chiles or red bell pepper (optional)

1. Cut the bok choy lengthwise in halves or quarters to make sections about 1 inch thick at base. Soak in water for a few minutes, than swish around to dislodge dirt. Drain.

2. Set a 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add oil and rotate pan to spread oil. Place bok choy, cut-side down, in pan. Add water. Cover and cook until bok choy is barely tender to bite, about 3 minutes. Drain off excess water, if present, and arrange the bok choy on a serving dish. Drizzle with JADE Sichuan Peanut Sauce to taste. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves and red chiles, if desired.

 

 

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    Quick Asian Meatloaf pie

    January 20th, 2015

    meatloaf pieWestern-style meat loaves are usually baked in loaf pans or fat dense logs and generally take a good hour or more to cook. Inspired by a Chinese steamed pork hash that reminds me of moist savory meatloaf, I created this baked meatloaf pie.

    I quickly seasoned ground beef with Jade Sesame Soy Marinade and onions. Instead of forming the meat mixture into a thick dense brick or log, I flattened the mixture into a  thin patty in a pie dish. In this new shape, the mixture cooked through in half the time of a traditional meatloaf. The result tasted moist and savory. Serve Asian-style with hot cooked rice and stir-fried vegetables. Or eat it Western style with mashed potatoes.  Leftover meatloaf also makes delicious sandwiches.

    Sesame Soy Meatloaf Pie

    For a light fresh supper, serve this pie-shaped meatloaf on a bed of  salad greens.

    Makes 4 servings

    1 pound ground beef
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    2 large eggs
    2 tablespoons dry sherry or water
    1/4 cup Jade Sesame Soy Marinade
    2 teaspoons cornstarch
    1 teaspoon honey
    3 to 4 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

    1.  Preheat oven to 400°F.

    2. In a bowl, mix the beef, chopped onion, eggs, sherry, 2 tablespoons JADE Sesame Soy Marinade, and cornstarch. Transfer mixture to an 8- or 9-inch pie pan and pat in an even layer.

    3. Bake in 400° F oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile in a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons JADE Sesame Soy Marinade and honey. After 15 minutes of baking, brush top of meatloaf with honey mixture. Continue baking until top is browned and meatloaf is no longer pink in center (cut to test), about 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven and sprinkle with green onions. Cut in wedges.

     

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      Holiday appetizer

      December 9th, 2014

      pork and pepper lettuce wrapsWith JADE sauces it is easy to create appetizers for holiday parties. Cook ground pork or turkey until crumbly, then add bright color with red bell pepper, crunch with chopped jicama, and zesty flavor with JADE Sichuan Peanut Sauce or JADE Mekong Ginger Sauce.

      For an easy buffet presentation, ask guests to scoop the warm mixture into crisp lettuce leaves, then wrap up to eat.

      jicamaPork and Pepper Lettuce Cups

       Jicama is a whitish to  tan-skinned tuber. Remove the skin to reveal the white, crunchy, slightly sweet flesh. Look for it in  farmers’ markets, Asian, Mexican, and many supermarkets. Ones from the farmers’ markets may be lighter in color and  juicier. Canned water chestnuts work as substitute.

      Many Asian supermarkets sell lean ground pork.

      Makes about 12 appetizer servings

      1 tablespoon vegetable oil
      1 pound ground lean pork or turkey
      1 cup peeled and chopped jicama or water chestnuts
      3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
      1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
      1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
      1/2 cup JADE Sichuan Peanut Sauce or JADE Mekong Ginger Sauce or to taste
      Small lettuce leaves, rinsed and crisped, such as little gem, butter lettuce, Belgian endive, iceberg
       

       1. Set a nonstick 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add oil and rotate pan to spread oil. Crumble turkey into pan and stir until meat is crumbly and lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add jicama, red pepper, onion, and JADE Sauce to taste. Stir until hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in cilantro.

       2. Transfer mixture into a serving bowl. Serve with a basket of the lettuce leaves. Let diners spoon the hot or warm mixture into the leaves to eat. Or if desired, spoon mixture into lettuce leaves and pass.

       

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        Bok choy salad

        November 18th, 2014

        bok choy saladBok choy reigns as a staple in the Chinese diet. I have eaten it all my life—stir-fried or blanched, but never raw and cold.

        Recently at Chino, a hot new restaurant in San Francisco, I ordered an intriguing  bok choy salad. It was bright and fresh with a unique crunch. The raw bok choy’s broad green stems contributed a crisp texture and a mouth-watering juicy succulence.

        With JADE Sesame Soy Marinade, it is easy to create a fast version of the salad. To make the dressing, simply mix the JADE Sesame Soy Marinade with a little rice vinegar and hot chile flakes. Add sliced raw bok choy, cherry tomatoes, and red onion and mix lightly together.

        bok choyBok Choy Salad with Sesame Soy Dressing

        I used baby bok choy (aka Shanghai bok choy) to make this salad. This variety has green stems and leaves.

        Makes 4 servings

        12 ounces baby bok choy (6 to 8 small heads)
        2 tablespoons JADE Sesame Soy Marinade
        2 tablespoons rice vinegar
        1/4 teaspoon dried hot chile flakes or to taste
        1/3 cup thinly slivered red onion
        8 to 12 cherry tomatoes, cut in halves

        1. Trim stem ends off bok choy and separate stems. Immerse in a cold water and let stand about 5 minutes. Rinse and drain well. If done ahead, wrap bok choy in a towel and slip into a plastic bag and chill up to 1 day. Blot leaves dry, if wet. Slice stems and leaves on the diagonal into about 1-inch wide strips to make about 6 cups.

        2. In a large bowl, stir together JADE Sesame Soy Marinade, vinegar, and chile flakes. Add onion, tomatoes, and bok choy. Mix lightly to coat bok choy.

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          Seasonal noodle stir-fry

          October 15th, 2014

          Rice Noodles with PorkFor a quick one-pan meal, I often invent a noodle stir-fry using seasonal vegetables, meat, and rice noodles. The secret ingredient is JADE Sichuan Peanut Sauce or JADE Sesame Soy Marinade. A few spoonfuls of the JADE sauces instantly seasons the noodles.

          The bounty from the farmers’ market often inspires me to create. Last weekend, I bought Chinese long beans, napa cabbage, and red bell pepper. I cut the vegetables into thin slivers and soaked dried rice noodles (a pantry staple for me)  in hot water to soften. In a hot wok, I stir-fried the vegetables and a little meat until the vegetables were crisp-tender, then added the soaked and drained noodles and JADE sauce to taste. Presto, I had a complete meal for two ready in minutes.

          Rice Noodle Stir-fry with Pork and Vegetables

          Feel free to vary the vegetables based on the season. You can substitute common green beans for the Chinese variety, but may need to add a little more water when stir-frying them.

          Look for the dried rice noodles (also called rice sticks; often used to make pad Thai) in the international section of many supermarkets and in Asian grocery stores. Prep all ingredients before you start stir-frying. When stir-frying the noodles, scrap down pan sides so they don’t stick.

          Makes 2 or 3 main-dish servings

          8 ounces dried rice noodles (about 1/4-inch wide)
          2 or 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
          8 ounces ground pork or beef
          1 small onion (6 oz), cut in thin slivers
          1 small red bell pepper (6 oz), cut in thin slivers
          8 ounces Chinese long beans or green beans, ends trimmed, cut in 3-inch lengths
          1/2 teaspoon salt
          5 to 7 tablespoons water, or as needed
          2 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage or common cabbage
          3 or 4 tablespoons JADE Sichuan Peanut Sauce or JADE Sesame Soy Marinade, or to taste

          1. In a large bowl, soak the noodles in very hot (not boiling) water until loose and pliable, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, rinse, and drain again.

          2. Set a well-seasoned or nonstick 14-inch wok over high heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons oil and rotate pan to spread oil. Add the pork and stir-fry until meat is lightly browned and crumbly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper, beans, and salt; stir-fry until onion browns, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons water and stir-fry until beans are bright green, about 2 minutes. Add cabbage and stir-fry until hot, about 1 minute.

          3. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add the drained and rinsed noodles and 2 tablespoons water. If they stick, add 1 tablespoon oil. Stir-fry until the noodles soften, about 2 minutes. If the noodles still seem chewy and firm, add another 1 to 2 tablespoons water and stir-fry until they are barely tender to bite. Stir in JADE Sauce to taste. Transfer to bowls or plates. If desired, offer additional JADE sauce to add to taste.

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            Skirt steak and red peppers

            September 1st, 2014

            sesame soy skirt steakA gift card to Prather Ranch, a meat shop in San Francisco’s Ferry Building  inspired this recipe. Among the market’s many options were skirt steaks. Compared to tender beef steaks such as rib-eye or tenderloin, the chewier skirt steaks were a bargain. A good thing, because I actually prefer the robust flavor of this long skinny cut that is part of the diaphragm muscle.

            I soaked the steak in JADE Sesame Soy Marinade for a couple of hours, then grilled it with whole green onions and sweet red peppers. Serve this dynamite combination for a late summer supper.

            Grilled Sesame Soy Steak and Sweet Peppers

            You can substitute flank steak for the skirt steak. Instead of cutting the flank steak into smaller pieces, simply marinate and grill the whole flank steak, 5 to 6 minutes a side for medium-rare. Slice the steak crosswise into thin slanting slices.

            Look for the sweet red peppers at your farmers’ market now through early fall. Or use red bell peppers.

            Makes 4 servings

            1 beef skirt steak (about 1 1/2 lb.)
            3/4 cup Jade Sesame Soy Marinade, or as needed
            4 to 8 green onions
            4 small red sweet red peppers such as shishito, gypsy, Anaheim (or 1 large red bell pepper, cut into quarters lengthwise)
            1 tablespoon vegetable oil

             1. Cut the steak crosswise into 4 equal lengths. In a heavy-duty plastic bag or shallow bowl, coat the steak with 1/3 to 1/2 cup JADE Sesame Soy Marinade. Seal bag or cover bowl. Chill steak, turning occasionally, 1 to 4 hours.

            2. Trim root ends off the green onions. Trim the green tops so they are 4 to 6 inches long. On a dinner plate, mix 2 to 3 tablespoons JADE Sesame Soy Marinade and the oil. Place the onions and peppers on a plate and turn to coat with the oil mixture.

            3. Lightly oil the grill and preheat over high heat. When the grill is hot, lift the steak pieces from marinade and place on grill. Cook over high heat, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes a side for medium-rare. Transfer the steaks to a serving platter or dinner plates. Set the green onions and peppers on grill and cook until lightly charred, about 1 minute a side for green onions, 2 to 3 minutes a side for red peppers. Place onions and peppers alongside steak.

             

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              Jade vegetarian noodle salad

              August 1st, 2014

              Vegetarian noodle saladAt a casual noodle house in Seattle, my sister-in-law ordered her favorite dish, a composed vegetarian salad. Mounds of colorful vegetables cascaded over cooked noodles and a chunk of tofu to make a stylish main-dish salad. A small decanter of soy-sesame dressing accompanied the plate. The salad, like the café, was modern and fresh.

              The most complicated element of the preparation was the salad dressing, but with JADE Sichuan Peanut Sauce or JADE Sesame Soy Marinade,  this salad is effortless.

              It’s so easy to duplicate this salad for an easy summer lunch or light supper. This is free-form salad. You can vary the ingredients to fit what you have on hand. Even leftover cooked vegetables and meats work. Choose a variety of vegetables. Or replace tofu with cooked tiny shrimp, even thinly sliced leftover cooked steak or cooked chicken. Mound the elements separately on plates or wide shallow bowls for a company-worthy presentation.

              JADE Vegetarian Noodle Salad Plate

              If you don’t like tofu uncooked, pan brown drained, dried tofu slices in an oiled non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, until browned on both sides, 5 to 8 minutes total. Or for a non-vegetarian version replace tofu with 1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked tiny shrimp, thinly sliced leftover cooked steak, or shredded cooked chicken.

              Makes 2 main dish servings

              4 ounces dried soba noodles or Chinese wheat noodles 
              1/3 cup JADE Sichuan Peanut Sauce or Sesame Soy Marinade, or to taste
              8 to 12 ounces firm tofu (see note above)
              1/2 to 3/4 cup each of 3 or 4 different vegetables such as thinly slivered carrots, red bell peppers, cucumbers, cooked green beans, napa or common cabbage
              1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh cut raw or cooked corn kernels (optional)
              1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
              3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

              1. In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, bring about 3 quarts water to a boil. Add noodles and cook just until barely tender to bite, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water, and drain again. In a bowl mix noodles with 2 tablespoons of the JADE sauce.

              2. Drain tofu at least 5 minutes in a colander. Cut tofu into 1/2-inch thick slices. If desired, cut in smaller bite-sized pieces. Set tofu on towels and pat dry. (If you prefer, pan browned tofu, see note above.)

              3. On each of 2 large shallow bowls or dinner plates, place half the noodles in a mound. Set half the tofu alongside. Mound vegetables, corn, and tomatoes in separate piles around the noodles. Sprinkle green onions over noodles. Offer JADE Sichuan Peanut Sauce or JADE Sesame Soy Marinade to drizzle over salad to taste. Mix lightly.

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                Chinese chicken salad

                July 2nd, 2014

                chinese chicken cabbage saladChinese chicken salads come easy to smart cooks who stock Jade Sichuan Peanut Sauce or JADE Mekong Ginger Sauce in their pantry. With these sauces, you can instantly create salads like this one that feels just right for lunch or a light supper on a hot summer day.

                Many versions of Chinese chicken salad exist. This one uses shredded Chinese napa cabbage as the base. Sliced celery contributes a crunchy bite to the chicken mixture.  A flurry of summery fresh vegetable garnishes colorfully brighten and lighten the salad. Finish with a drizzle of JADE Sauce.

                Jade Chinese Chicken Cabbage Salad

                Fresh raw corn kernels add bits of natural sweetness. Remove husk and silk from one ear raw corn. Stand corn upright with thicker end down. With a sharp knife cut kernels off cob.

                Use the steeping technique in this recipe to cook the chicken.  Or use leftover cooked chicken.

                Makes 3 or 4 main-dish servings

                About 1/2 cup Jade Sichuan Peanut Sauce or Jade Mekong Ginger Sauce, or to taste
                3 tablespoons rice vinegar
                6 cups thinly shredded napa cabbage
                2 to 3 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken
                1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery
                1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and drained
                About 1 cup fresh cut raw corn kernels (see above)
                1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
                1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

                 1. In a large bowl, mix 3 tablespoons Jade sauce and vinegar. Add cabbage and lightly mix together. Spread cabbage in a thin layer on a large rimmed platter or wide shallow bowl. Or spread equal portions on 3 or 4 dinner plates or wide shallow bowls.

                 2. In the same bowl (no need to wash), combine chicken, celery, onion, and 1/3 cup JADE Sichuan Peanut or Mekong Ginger Sauce. Mix lightly together. Mound the chicken mixture over cabbage in the center and sprinkle with corn, tomatoes, and cilantro. Drizzle with additional JADE Sichuan Peanut or JADE Mekong Ginger Sauce to taste.

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                  Greek-Asian sandwich wrap

                  June 8th, 2014

                  chicken satay sandwich wrapA recent trip to Greece inspires this sandwich wrap merging Asian flavors with JADE sauces, and Greek bread. In Greece, it is hard to resist the aroma of meats grilled on skewers (suvlaki) or huge vertical spits (yiros). The meats can be eaten on a plate, but many Greeks order them wrapped in a warm chewy round of pita bread. Sliced tomatoes, a big dollop of tzadziki (a yogurt and cucumber sauce), and sometimes a handful of fries join the meat. The vendor deftly wraps the pita around this wondrous combination and you have a fun meal to eat out of your hands.

                  In this JADE fusion version, wrap the Greek pita bread around satay, Southeast Asian grilled meat skewers and pickled vegetables. Drizzle with JADE Sichuan Peanut Sauce.  The result is a delicious merging of cuisines that is irresistible.

                  Chicken Satay Pita Bread Sandwiches

                  For an alternative to JADE Mekong Ginger Sauce or JADE Sesame Soy Marinade, mix together 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder, and 3/4 teaspoon sugar.

                  For best results use very fresh pita bread. Refrigerated or old pita bread tends to crack when folded.  Or you could cut the breads in half crosswise and gently separate the layers to open the pocket; fill the pocket with the meat and pickles. The thin flat rounds of bread might also be called pocket or peda bread.

                  Makes 6 servings

                  1 1/4 pounds skinned boned chicken thigh
                  1/2 cup JADE Mekong Ginger Sauce or 1/4 cup Jade Sesame Soy Marinade
                  1/3 cup rice vinegar
                  4 teaspoons sugar
                  1/4 teaspoon salt
                  1/4 teaspoon dried hot chile flakes
                  2 or 3 small thin-skinned cucumbers (such as English or Persian)
                  1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and drained
                  Vegetable oil
                  6 pita breads (6 to 8 in. wide)
                  1/2 cup Jade Sichuan Peanut Sauce, or to taste

                  1. Trim off and discard excess fat from chicken. Cut chicken into 1-inch chunks. Mix the chunks with JADE Mekong Ginger Sauce or JADE Sesame Soy Marinade. Cover and chill 30 minutes to 4 hours.

                  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the vinegar, sugar, salt, and chiles. Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, then thinly slice enough to make 2 cups.  Mix cucumber and onion with vinegar mixture.

                  3. Thread meat on 6 thin skewers. Lightly brush the meat with oil. (If skewers are bamboo, wrap exposed skewer ends with foil so they don’t burn.) Set skewers over high heat on an oiled grill. Turn skewers as needed to brown all sides. Cook until chicken is no longer pink in center of thickest part (cut to test), 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from grill. Place bread on grill and turn just until warm, about 30 seconds a side. Transfer bread to plates.

                  4. Place a chicken skewer on each bread. Wrapping bread around meat, pull out skewer. Drizzle with JADE Sichuan Peanut Sauce to taste. With a fork, lift out some pickled cucumber and onion and scatter over meat. Wrap bread around meat and eat.

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                    Ginger-glazed wings

                    May 3rd, 2014

                    ginger-glazed wingsJADE Mekong Ginger Sauce burnishes chicken wings with a sweet-tangy sticky glaze with lively flavor. Some consider the wings of the chicken not worthy of eating. For me, they are the best part of the bird. I love chewing on their bones, gnawing off bits cartilage around their knobby ends. They are especially appealing when they are cloaked in a zesty sauce and baked until their skin takes on a deep rich color.

                    Marinate the wings in JADE Mekong Ginger Sauce so the flavor can seep into the flesh, then bake in a hot oven. Finish off with a final coat and bake a little longer to set and brown the glaze. Make a big batch  for a party. Guests will find them irresistible.

                    Jade Ginger-Glazed Wings

                    Cut the recipe in half for fewer servings. Coating the pan with foil and nonstick spray makes it easy to remove the wings from the pan and clean-up is minimal.

                    Makes 8 to 12 appetizer servings

                    3 1/2 to 4 pounds meaty chicken wing sections
                    About 1 1/4 cups JADE Mekong Ginger Sauce
                    2 to 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro or thinly sliced green onions, optional

                    1.  In a large bowl or plastic bag, coat the wings in 1/2 cup of JADE Mekong Ginger Sauce. Cover and chill, turning bag over occasionally, at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

                    2. Preheat oven to 425° F. Line 2 shallow baking or broiler pans (about 12- by 17-inch) with foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Lift the wings out of sauce and place at least 1 inch apart on pans; discard used marinade.

                    3. Bake in the preheated 425° oven until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush wings with some of the remaining 3/4 cup JADE Mekong Ginger Sauce. Return to oven, switching pan positions. Bake until browned and glazed on top, 8 to 10 minutes.

                    4. Remove the pans from oven and turn wings over. Brush with remaining JADE Mekong Ginger Sauce. Return to oven and bake until wings are nicely glazed and browned, 6 to 8 minutes more. When wings are still hot, loosen from foil with tongs or a wide spatula. (If allowed to cool on pan without loosening first, they will stick. If they do stick, return pans to oven for a few minutes, then remove wings while warm.) Transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with cilantro.

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