Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Mediterranean pasta salad

I made this Mediterranean pasta salad for bento but it could easily be multiplied for a potluck dish, or for picnics and BBQs (if it's that kind of weather where you are at now!). The bento pictured here has pasta salad (with roasted peppers, courgettes/zucchini and salami) with cherry tomatoes and sliced kiwi.

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This pasta salad was conceived out of extra roasted peppers and courgettes from dinner based on an earlier recipe for oven roasted peppers. I just added cooked pasta and a few other ingredients and seasoning. Pasta shapes such as farfelle (bow tie), fusilli (spiral) macaroni and small shells would be ideal for this. This dish can be eaten cold as a pasta salad, or served straight away (or reheated in a microwave if packing in a bento) for a warm pasta dish. Omit the salami/pepperoni for a vegetarian version.

Ingredients (serves 2 as a side dish):

1 red peppers, diced
Half a small courgette/zucchini, diced
6 slices of salami or pepperoni, diced (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
100g pasta shapes
3 pieces of sundried tomatoes
2 tbsp sundried tomatoes oil
Small handful of chopped parsley (or use 1 tsp dried)

Method:

1. Cook the pasta shapes in a large pan of boiling water according to packet instructions, until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water and leave to cool.

2. While the pasta is cooking, preheat the oven to gas mark 5/200 degrees C. Mix the diced peppers, courgette, olive oil, salt and pepper in an oven proof dish. Cook in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes (less cooking time is required compared to the other recipe as ingredients are in smaller pieces). Stir and mix the peppers halfway through cooking, adding the salami/pepperoni if using.

3. Add the cooked pasta to the dish of roasted peppers and courgettes. Cut up the sundried tomatoes into small pieces (I find it easiest with scissors) and add to the pasta mix. Drizzle with 2 tbsp of sundried tomato oil (from the jar that the tomatoes are soaked in), season to taste with a little salt and pepper, and sprinkle over chopped parsley. Mix well and serve.

I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by The Cooking Diva this week.

prestopasta

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Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Food-o-graphie event: My cameras for food photography

food-o-grafie

Unlike most other blog events, Food-o-grafie is not only about delicious recipes or beautiful pictures but also a networking event for the exchange of ideas and experience about food photography. For the inaugural event, Zora has requested that we post about the cameras that we use for our food photographs. I have written a post of some tips for food photography, and a few lines in my About page, but have otherwise not said very much about the camera equipment that I use. So here's the run-down on the cameras responsible for the photos you see on Soy and Pepper.

The older photos (prior to February 2008) were taken with a point-and-shoot Canon Powershot A75. I have been a long-time fan of Canon cameras and loved the quality of their lenses since the days of film photography. Although their Powershot series is bulkier compared to the slim and sexy Ixus range, you get much better control of the mechanics and settings with a Powershot. The macro settings have served me well for food photography and it has pretty good colour representation, focus and White Balance treatment. A good all-rounder. Here are some photos taken with the old Canon Powershot A75.

IMG_4724.JPGLemon cream pie 6
Roast chicken legs with tomatoes 1Silken tofu with shitake mushrooms and spring onion topping

Unfortunately, my trusty Powershot died earlier this year in April 2008. It was damaged while I was on a trip to Boston. I contemplated getting a slimmer camera for convenience, since I have bought a DSLR by then, but eventually decided that the limited user control with a smaller but simpler point-and-shoot would annoy me too much and I went with another Canon Powershot, an A720 IS. I often carry this with me particularly to restaurants where whipping out a larger DLSR camera might seem too intrusive or conspicuous. Again, I am pleased with the results. Very simple to use, intuitive menu controls and the quality images that I have gotten used to with Canon lenses. Given the very dim lighting in most restaurants, I have been quite impressed with the light sensitivity of this camera. Another plus with the Powershot range is that they tend to be on the cheap side, compared to the ultra-slim range. So if function is more important than looks in your books, I would definitely recommend a Powershot (or the higher end ones like the Powershot S5 IS, which I very nearly bought while debating whether to buy a DSLR)

IMG_0482IMG_0395a
IMG_0491IMG_0429

Earlier this year, in February 2008, I gave in to a beginner's digital SLR, the Canon EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi in North America). The camera came with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. With a DSLR, it is true that the quality of the lens is more important than the body. With the EOS 400D being so affordable, the advice has been to forgo the kit lens (which is good value at that price, but not really a great performer) and pay a bit more for a much better lens instead. However, with no prior knowledge of using an SLR, and having very limited knowledge of a DSLR camera, I had no idea in the slightest what lens I would want to buy and so I took the 'easy' option of just buying the kit lens to start off with and learn about the camera as I go along. I figured that I could then make a more informed decision as to what type of lenses I would need for the photography that I am interested in. That worked for me, as I did figure out that lenses I want, but I do sort of regret buying the kit lens now as I have become increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of images. It is supposed to be an all round lens (arguably good for a beginner) but ended up being mediocre in all aspects and doing nothing very well (landscape, telephoto or macro).

After a few months, I was encouraged to buy a prime lens (non-zoom) that offers much better quality for the price compared to zoom lens. In a perfect world, I would have bought a dedicated macro lens but budget dictated that I go for a Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II. It is one of the best lens for the price and have produced beautifully sharp close-ups and very lovely portrait shots as well. A very 'bright' lens at f/1.8, it also performs very well in low light. The downside is that it feels rather plastic (not very study feel) but one can't complain very much with the price tag. I would highly recommend this lens for those looking to get more money for their buck in close-up shots but not wanting/able to fork out for a dedicated macro lens.

Hijiki nimono (simmered hijiki seaweed with edamame)Szechuan peppercorn and dried chillies
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I hope this has given you some ideas about camera options for food photography. Zorra has requested that we post a photo taken in September 2008. Here is one that I like for its clean colours and the curves of the shitake caps highlighted by the more elaborate whirls of the bowl pattern:

Shitake 2

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Friday, 17 October 2008

Chicken teriyaki

Chicken teriyaki is just about the standard item on most Japanese restaurants and takeout menus. If done right, it is a most savoury and delicious accompanient to plain rice. But it can sometimes be too sweet, or, worse still, have the strange tang of vinegar (don't ask...) that often comes from using bottled sauces. Teriyaki sauce is amazingly simple to make, using only the essential condiments of most Japanese cooking: light soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar (you can even omit the sake if you like).

You can of course use beef, chicken, prawns or firm tofu for this dish. Adding some vegetables like bean sprouts, thinly sliced carrots and snow peas will also make this a good one-dish meal on top of rice. If using beef, very thinly sliced beef is best for quick cooking on a pan or grill without drying out the meat. For chicken, I prefer to use chicken thighs for the same reason as opposed to chicken breast, which can get too dry. Most supermarkets have skinless and boneless chicken thighs available (or get them from your local butcher). Strange fact: chicken thighs and drumsticks are more expensive than chicken breast in Singapore, Malaysia and many Asian countries, as the more tender cuts are deemed more tasty and desirable. Conversely, thighs and drumsticks are very cheap compared to chicken breasts in the UK, US and Canada (is it true for Australia and New Zealand as well?), as they are more popular, seen as being more lean and healthy, and I suppose more convenient too! I still find it rather bizarre but hey I'm certainly not complaining about being able to buy cheap thighs and drumsticks.

Chicken teriyaki 2

Ingredients (serves 2):

4 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
3 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sake
3 tsp sugar
Some toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Method:

1. Trim the chicken thighs of skin and excess fat if needed. Place them in a bowl with the light soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar. Mix well and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
2. Heat some oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the bowl, draining off excess marinade, and cook in the pan. Pan fry for about 2 minutes on each side until the chicken is nicely browned.
3. Add 5 tbsp water to te reserve marinade (whatever's left in the bowl) and pour over the chicken. Cover and simmer on low heat until cooked through, about 2 minutes.
4. Uncover, increase the heat and reduce the sauce to a glaze to coat the chicken (be careful not to burn the sauce). Remove chicken and slice. Pour remaining teriyaki sauce over the chicken and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Chicken teriyaki 1

This dish is best served on top of rice so that the teriyaki sauce permeates into and flavours the plain rice. Yum.

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Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Bento from last week and recipe for chow mein

Claypot rice with chicken, bacon and shitake mushrooms (garnished with chopped coriander), steamed broccoli and cherry tomatoes.
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Onigiri with teriyaki beef filling, cherry tomatoes, edamame, cheese skewer and container of soy sauce.
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Pork and mushroom chow mein, with slices of red peppers and snow peas, garnished with some spring onions and sesame seeds.

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For this bento, instead of packing stir fried noodles, a protein dish and vegetable side dishes separately, I decided to just mix it all up for a chow mein. You could prettify it with some carrot cut outs but a) I had no carrots on hand; b) I have no cutters; and c) err, I don't really do cut outs. So, it's rather plain, like most of my lunches, but I hope still delicious especially when piping hot from a microwave (thus the Lock and Lock container). We had this for dinner and I made extra for lunch. This is a dish that makes sense to cook for dinner and siphon some off for lunch the next day since it keeps well in the fridge.

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 bundles of chow mein noodles
100g pork or chicken, thinly sliced
4-5 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes, remove stalks and thinly slice caps (or use button mushrooms)
1 clove of garlic, minced
Half a red pepper, thinly sliced
Small handful of snow peas, sliced in half lengthwise or on the diagonal
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce (optional)
1 tsp corn flour mixed with 2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp chilli oil (optional)
Some finely chopped spring onions to garnish (optional)
Sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds to garnish (optional)

Marinade for pork or chicken:
2 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp Chinese rice wine
1/2 tsp corn flour
1/4 tsp sesame oil
Dash of pepper

1. Marinate the pork or chicken slices (or prawns or beef etc.) with light soy sauce, Chinese rice wine, corn flour, sesame oil and pepper. Set aside to marinate.
2. Soak the chow mein noodles in hot water for 5 minutes (or according to packet instruction). Rinse in cold water, drain and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of cooking oil in a large pan or wok until very hot. Over high heat, add the garlic, stir fry for 10 seconds until fragrant and then add the pork or chicken. When the meat is half cooked, add the mushrooms, peppers and snow peas and stir fry for 2 minutes.
3. Turn the heat down to medium and add the noodles to the wok. Pour over the oyster sauce, light and dark soy sauce, sesame oil and chilli oil and stir to mix well. Add a drizzle of water if it seems too dry (depending on whether you prefer it dry or moist). Finally, pour in the corn flour and water mixture to thicken the sauce, stir well and serve hot. Garnish with spring onions and sesame seeds if using.

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Monday, 13 October 2008

Chicken and bacon pasta in garlic cream sauce

I love pasta dishes especially for weeknights. They are quick to cook and usually don't use a dozen pans or dishes for preparation, which means quick washing up too.

Chicken and bacon tend to go well together. The saltiness of bacon (and the extra flavour of the smoked variety) compliments the rather bland taste (though nicely firm texture) of chicken breast. Toss in some garlic and cream and you've got yourself a tasty pasta dish. Peas will add a nice touch of green to the dish and a spot of veg (just add a cup of frozen peas in with the wine or cream), or you can serve it with a side salad or roasted peppers. Following on from my hunt for double cream in Vancouver, this is what I made with the whipping cream and a touch of butter as a substitute.

Chicken and bacon pasta in garlic cream sauce

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 portions of penne pasta
1 chicken breast, sliced into bite-sized pieces
2 rashers of bacon, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
150ml double cream (or whipping cream if you can't find double cream, like me!)
1 small knob of butter
1 small glass of white wine (optional)
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese plus extra for garnish
Small handful of parsley, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)


Method:

1. Cook the penne in a pan of boiling water until al dente, about 10-12 minutes, or according to packet instructions.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a heavy frying pan on the stove and add the olive oil. Fry off the bacon bits until some of the fat is rendered. Add the garlic and chicken and cook over medium heat until the chicken is cooked through.
3. If using, add the white wine and boil until the liquid is reduced by half. Turn the heat down and add the cream. Simmer the creamy mixture until the sauce thickens, being careful not to overboil, for about 2-3 minutes.
4. Drain the cooked pasta. You can either add the pasta to the pan with the sauce, or add the sauce mixture to the pasta pot (whichever would hold everything!). Add the parmesan cheese and butter and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Dish out onto plates or bowls, and garnish with parsley and sprinkle of extra parmesan. Serve immediately.

This recipe has been submitted to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Judith of Think On It this week.

prestopasta

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Friday, 10 October 2008

Cooking with cream across the Atlantic

I wanted to cook some pasta in cream sauce the other day and went to my local Supermarket in search of some double cream. To my dismay, I just could not find any! I tried asking one of the staff restocking the diary section and, bless his heart, he clearly doesn't do any cooking himself and had no idea what I was talking about asking for "cooking cream".

"What are you making?" He asked. "Pasta," I replied. After not being able to find any cooking cream for me, he confessed rather sheepishly, "well, I just get my pasta sauce from a jar!" I didn't know whether to laugh or tut in disapproval. Heh.

After failing to find any double cream or cooking cream in Safeway, Capers (owned by Whole Foods) and two nearby ethnic grocers, I went online to solve the mystery of the non-existent double cream (wondering perhaps it goes by another name here in Canada). It turns out that I wasn't being dim or looking in the wrong places. Double cream basically does not exist in Canada! Discussion on some food forums revealed that some foodies manage to get hold of double cream (also called heavy cream) in Ontario and around the east coast of Canada. But it certainly seems to be elusive in Vancouver and the west coast.

Different types of cream are distinguished according to their consistency and purpose, and this primarily boils down to their milk fat content. In the UK, different types of cream and their minimum milk fat content are as follows:

Half cream or coffee creamer - 10-12%, only used in coffee/beverages
Single cream - 18%, for pouring over desserts and in coffee
Whipping cream - 35%, for whipping into a light consistency and used in desserts
Double cream - 48%, for cooking and also whipping (whips very quickly and easily)
Clotted cream - 55%, served as a spread with scones and cakes

Single cream has a thin consistency that is good for pouring and for cooking with when you need more creaminess than milk. However, it is not suitable for boiling as it will curdle with only a minimum of 18 per cent fat. Whipping cream is a lighter version of double cream. It whips beautifully without being quite so rich.

Double cream is extremely rich with a minimum fat content of 48 per cent. This also means it can stand being boiled in cooking without separating, and can be whipped to a fluffy consistency more easily and quicker than whipping cream. When whipping double cream, however, you have to be careful not to over-whip as the cream becomes grainy and slightly separated. When chilled, double cream also serves as a luscious thick pouring cream.

I certainly didn't know this before, but clotted cream has at least 55 per cent butterfat! It has a pale buttery colour and is very thick and rich. A speciality of the West Country in England, it is made by heating the cream to evaporate some of the liquids, resulting in a kind of concentrated cream. It is heavenly spread on scones or fruit tarts. Definitely not for every day but certainly worth a treat on occasion if you come across any.

In North America (US and Canada), different types of cream sold in most places are as follow:

Half and half - 10-12%, made up of half cream and half milk
Light/coffee cream - 18-25%, usually used as coffee creamer
Medium cream - 25%, I have not seen this where I am
Whipping cream - 30–35%, easily available )
Heavy whipping cream - 36% or more
Extra-heavy or manufacturer's cream, more than 40%, generally not available at retail except at some specialty stores or restaurant/catering suppliers.

Armed with the knowledge that it's the butterfat content that I needed to look for as to replace double cream, I eventually bought 35% fat whipping cream, which was the highest fat content I could find. It is certainly quite low fat content compared to the 48% of proper double cream. But it seems to be the best that I could find around here, and certainly better than half and half or coffee creamer. The result was quite satisfactory, with the addition of an extra pat of butter to enrich the sauce and increase the milk fat. Still, if anybody living in Vancouver knows of where to buy minumum 48% fat double cream (also called heavy cream in the US), please drop a comment!

In the next post, I will detail the pasta in garlic cream sauce that I made with the substitute cream. Here are some previous recipes that use cream:

Sausage and mushroom penne in mustard cream sauce
Sausage and mushroom penne in mustard cream sauce 2

Salmon and mushroom linguine in cream sauce
Salmon and mushroom linguine in cream sauce

Salmon pie
Salmon pie 2

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Wednesday, 8 October 2008

How to cook steak

AP loves steak. He thinks beef is the meat above all meats; it is uber-meat. I think it's a man thing :p To be fair, there are times when I really just want to sink my teeth into a juicy piece of steak. I find there's pretty good value for steak dinners here in Vancouver. Not necessarily cheap but you get a lot for your money. But then, it isn't that difficult to cook steak at home either. Especially when beef is actually much cheaper than chicken here in Vancouver. I bought two pieces of beautiful sirloin steaks from Safeway last week during a promotion. The promotional price was very good, but then even the regular price was cheaper than back in the UK. Price per kg, it was cheaper than skinless and boneless chicken breast, which didn't make a lot of sense to me... Well, we're defintely going to make the most of that!

Steaks are not difficult to cook. A good quality piece of meat, just some simple seasoning and minutes on a frying or griddle pan is all that is needed. Couple that with mashed or baked potatoes and seasonal greens or a salad, you have yourself a lovely meal. (You might even want to light some candles and open a bottle of wine for a special evening.) As long as you follow some simple but important points, you are more than likely to turn out beautifully cooked steak at home every time.

How do you like your steak?

Tips for cooking steak

1. Avoid buying steaks that are cut too thin as they are easy to overcook (which means no 'frying steaks' or 'minute steaks'). I tend to buy steaks that are about 3/4 to 1 inch thick.

2. Bring steak to room temperature before cooking, so make sure to remove the meat from the fridge at least 15 minutes before cooking.

3. Good meat should require little seasoning, so that the flavours of the meat itself can come through. But all meats will benefit from a light drizzle or brush of olive oil, and some salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4. Preheat the frying pan or griddle pan until very hot before adding the meat.

Steak on the griddle pan 1

5. Place the steak on a hot pan and cook on medium high heat, turning only once. If you want criss cross lines, rotate the steak on the same side after a minute of placing that side down.

Steak on the griddle pan 2

6. For rare, cook for 3 minutes on each side. The centre will be very red and when pressed, the juices will be a little bloody. For medium, cook for 4 1/2 to 5 minutes on each side. The centre will be pink and juices will be a little pink but mostly clear). For well done (if you really must...) steaks, cook for 7 minutes on each side. There will be no trace of pink in the centre, and juices (if any... just joking ;) ) will be clear. These cooking times are a guide and actual cooking time will depend on the thickness and cut of your steak.

7. IMPORTANT: Let the steak rest on a warm plate before serving. When just off a hot pan or grill, the meat is like a tense muscle. Resting for 5 minutes allows the meat to relax and the juices to flow, giving a much more tender texture and juicy flavour.

Here's our steak dinner, sirloin steak with mashed potatoes with mushroom and onion topping and steamed broccoli.
Sirloin steak with mashed potatoes with mushroom and onion topping and broccoli

Some would argue that a good steak should not be defiled by any such nonsense as sauces and toppings. I do agree that a good piece of meat should be able to stand up on its own so that one could enjoy its flavours for what they are. However, I also like a good peppercorn sauce, red wine sauce or a pat of garlic and parsley butter melting on a steak sometimes. For those of you who might like a bit of a sauce for your steak, here's an easy method:

Simple red wine sauce

After removing the steak from the pan, bring it back up to medium heat and deglaze the pan with a small glass of red wine. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, stirring to incorporate bits in the pan left by the steak. Add about 100ml of beef stock and simmer until reduced. At the end, turn the heat down to low, add a small pat of butter and stir until it melts, to enrich the sauce and give it a silky texture. Season with a little salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Pour over the steak. You can omit the red wine and just use the beef stock if you wish.

Here is a slightly more fancy method with mushroom and onion:

Mushroom sauce

After removing the steak from the pan, bring it back up to medium heat. Add a small amount of finely sliced onions and cook until just turning soft. Add some finely sliced mushrooms (about 4-5; great if you can use portobello, brown chestnut or wild mushrooms) and continue to cook until the mushrooms are just starting to soften. Deglaze the pan with a small glass of red wine. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, stirring to incorporate bits in the pan left by the steak. Add about 100ml of beef stock and simmer until reduced. At the end, turn the heat down to low, add a small pat of butter (or sour cream) and stir until it melts, to enrich the sauce and give it a silky texture. Season with a little salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Pour the mushroom and onion sauce over the steak. (You can omit the red wine and just use the beef stock if you wish.)

I topped the mashed potatoes with the mushroom and onion mixture and drizzled some of the sauce over the steak.
Mushroom and onions

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Friday, 3 October 2008

Glut of bento update

I have been a little behind in my bento update. Here are some made in the past week and a half:

Maple honey ham (very strong flavour!) and cucumber in whole wheat bread, grape tomatoes and marble cheddar cheese.
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Egg fried rice, edamame and teriyaki shitake and king oyster mushrooms. I was going to put this lunch in the microwave at work so the edamame were put in there frozen as they were.
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Edamame, roasted peppers and chicken and bacon pasta salad.
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Inarizushi, edamame, onigiri with chicken teriyaki filling and strawberries.
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Potato salad, cucumber batons and strawberries.
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Rice with bacon furikake, pork and cabbage dumplings, and stir fried peppers and asparagus. The bacon furikake is just finely chopped bacon fried in a pan until crisp. I then placed that on top of the rice and added some regular furikake mix (nori, sesame seeds and bonito flakes). It got the thumbs up from AP, but then I think that's the case for anything with bacon ;)
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Wednesday, 1 October 2008

King oyster mushroom and kai lan in oyster sauce

As mentioned in this blog on various occasions, AP and I both love mushrooms. White button, brown chestnut, portobello, dried shitake, fresh shitake, shimeiji, enoki... you name it, we love it. I was delighted to find king oyster mushrooms being sold at the H-Mart in downtown Vancouver and very cheaply too. I have only had this mushroom once or twice; they were very expensive in the UK, if I ever did see any.

King oyster mushroom 2

Here's one with a large egg for scale:
King oyster mushroom 1

The king oyster is a very meaty mushroom with a large and elongated stalk. The stalk has a texture that is both silky and chewy. It is said to resemble abalone, hence its Chinese name of abalone mushroom (bao yu gu; 鲍鱼菇). On its own, king oyster mushrooms have little flavour but it absorbs other flavours like a sponge, so they tend to be cooked with strongly flavoured condiments such as oyster sauce, soy sauce and miso. In this case, I have paired them with dried shitake mushrooms. You can also use fresh shitake mushrooms but I love the 'concentrated' flavours of dried ones, and the soaking liquid adds even more mushroomy goodness to the sauce.

Shitake 1

Ingredients (serves 3-4 as a side dish):

3 large King Oyster mushroom, sliced
4-5 dried Shitake mushrooms
200g kai lan
1 clove garlic, minced
100ml water or chicken stock
100ml mushroom soaking water
1 tbsp oil for cooking
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp water


Method:

1. Soak the dried shitake mushrooms in warm water for 20-30 minutes until soft. Remove and gently squeeze out excess water. Cut off the hard stalks and discard. You can either slice the shitake in half or leave whole. Reserve 100ml of the mushroom soaking liquid, discarding the gritty bits at the bottom.
2. Wash and separate the leaves of kai lan. Cut in half if the stalks are long. Blanch the vegetables in a pan of boiling water for about 3-4 minutes. Drain and arrange on a plate.
3. Heat some oil in a large pan or wok. Over medium heat, stir fry the garlic for about 30 seconds until fragrant, and then add the the shitake and king oyster mushrooms. Stir fry the mushrooms for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the stock and mushroom soaking water (use 200ml water if not using the mushroom soaking liquid) to the wok. Add the oyster sauce and sesame oil and mix well. Turn the heat right down and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, allowing the mushrooms to soak up the liquid and flavours. Remove the mushrooms and lay them out on top of the vegetables.
5. Bring the liquid back to boil and add the cornflour mixture. Simmer until the sauce thickens. Pour the sauce over the mushrooms and kai lan and serve.

King oyster mushroom and kai lan in oyster sauce

I have used kai lan (芥兰, sometimes sold as Chinese Broccoli) in this dish. You can also use other vegetables such as broccoli (separate into small florets) or asparagus (cut into sections). Remember to parboil them accordingly (not too soft, retaining some bite) as different vegetables cook at different rates.

You can make this a vegetarian dish by using vegetarian oyster sauce (often sold as mushroom-'oyster' sauce).

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