Looking for an easy way to cook vegetables and make them more flavorful? Sauteing is my answer. My mom does it a lot with a variety of veggies like bean sprouts, bitter melon, Napa cabbage, etc. She taught me to cook them with garlic, chili peppers, salt, and a little bit of water. Quick, easy, and tasty.
Napa cabbage has been one of my faves to saute. This crunchy and mild cabbage absorbs flavors nicely. It makes a wonderful side to beef, chicken, or fish dishes. (Optional: we could also make the dish more colorful by adding red bell peppers and/or mushrooms.)
Here’s my recipe to serve two:
- 1 Napa cabbage, cleaned and sliced (I usually pick a small one, just enough for two)
- 4 garlic, chopped
- 4 Thai peppers, chopped
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil
- ¼ cup of water
- 1 bell pepper, cored and chopped (optional)
- 1–2 cups of Shiitake mushroom, stemmed and chopped (optional)
- Heat up a medium pan, add oil (over medium heat)
- Cook garlic and peppers for two minutes
- Add slices of Napa cabbage and mix with the garlic and chili peppers (add bell peppers and mushroom here too, if using)
- Add salt, mix. Then add water and cover the pan with a lid.
- Let it cook for five minutes until the it simmers. (The cabbage will release its moisture and wilt. But, it will still be a bit crunchy even after cooking.) Taste and add salt if necessary.
- Serve while it’s still hot
Thanks for reading!
Is it possible to be bitter and good at the same time? In the case of bitter melon, it is. Just as the name implies, bitter melon…is… bitter. But with the right seasonings/spices this vegetable can make a delicious dish.
Growing up, stir-fry bitter melon would often show up as a side dish on my family’s dinning table. My mom would cook the vegetable with garlic, shallots, and chili peppers. Whenever the dish appeared, I would have a bite and convince myself that it would be less bitter from the last time I tried it. Of course, it was never the case. Each time it showed up on the table, I would always have a bite. I guess after years of “having a bite” of it, I grew to like this dish.
It had been years since the last time I had stir-fry bitter melon. At a recent trip to the market, I saw one bitter melon left on its section on the vegetable rack. I took it home and followed my mom’s recipe. But I also added my own twist to the dish: I added two cups of Shiitake mushrooms and a little bit of light soy sauce. The mushrooms definitely offered a sweet flavor and meaty texture to stir-fry. Both bitter melon and mushrooms absorbed the mix of garlic, shallots, chili peppers, and light soy sauce really well. Here’s how I did the stir-fry:
- Halve one bitter melon. Remove the core with a small knife (the most bitter part)
- Slice them up into thin cuts
- Fill up a medium bowl with ¼ of water and two tablespoons of salt
- Soak the bitter melon cuts for an hour or so. The salt water helps get rid of the bitterness of the melon.
After an hour/two:
- Rinse the bitter melon from the salt water, set aside. (Please rinse them really well. Otherwise they’d be too salty.
- Chop three garlic, two shallots, and two Thai peppers
- Heat up a medium pan on the stove
- Add one tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil
- Add the garlic, shallots, and peppers and let them cook in the pan for two minutes
- Add one teaspoon of light soy sauce
- Add the rinsed bitter melon to the pan
- Add the stemmed and chopped Shiitake mushroom
- Cover the pan with a lid and let everything cooks for 5-8 minutes (until the bitter melon cuts and mushrooms are soft)
- Set aside and let it sit in the pan for a few minutes (10-15) to give some time for the dish to absorb all of the seasonings and flavors
- Serve with jasmine rice
A great side dish to accompany my spicy squid (next blog entry).
(My version of Mi Goreng Jawa)
Similar to the universality of beef stew dish, noodle seems to exist in many different cultures’ cuisines. For many Indonesians, especially who live in the island of Java, the Javanese pan-fried egg noodles or Mi Goreng Jawa is most likely a favorite dish (among many).
I simply love the flavor of this noodle dish. It gets cooked with nutmeg, candlenuts, soy sauce, garlic, and shallots. Traditionally, the dish is mixed with some greens, pulled chicken, and scrambled eggs. In my version, I mix in a bunch of flavorful and meaty shiitake mushrooms and hardy collard greens and I get myself a delicious one-pot meal. The combination of the spices coats the noodle, mushroom, and greens so well it is almost addictive. I try to make a huge pan of it whenever I cook this dish, invite friends over for a meal, and eat the leftover for a couple of days :).
My version will require:
- 1 bag of fresh egg noodle. (They come in 3-4 bundle per bag. Find them in the refrigerated section of your Asian grocery store.)
- 2-3 cups of fresh shiitake mushrooms. (Remove and discard all of the stems and then chop the top of the mushrooms.)
- 1 large bundle of collard greens. (Strip the leaves off the stem, discard the stems, stack and roll up the leaves, and slice them into 1 inch slices or thinner.)
- 4-5 shallots (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 4 candlenuts (finely chopped)
- ½ teaspoon of nutmeg powder
- Black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of canola/vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 4 tablespoon of sweet soy sauce. (If you don’t have sweet soy sauce, mix 4 tablespoon of regular soy sauce with 4 tablespoon of honey.)
- ½ cup of water or chicken (or vegetable) stock
- 3 eggs (scrambled)
Here’s how I do it:
- Fill a medium pot with water (halfway) and bring to boil.
- Once boiled, using a food stainless steel strainer, dip the noodles in the water for a minute.
- Place the noodle in a large bowl and set aside.
- In a large pot, heat up the canola/vegetable oil (medium heat), and add all of the spices: shallots, garlic, chopped candlenuts, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Let them sizzle for two minutes.
- Add the noodle.
- Use two forks and your arm muscles to mix all of the ingredients well with the noodle.
- Add the soy sauce and sweet soy sauce. Continue mixing.
- Add the collard greens and mushrooms.
- Add half a cup of water or chicken stock. Lower the heat, continue mixing, cover the pot with a lid, and let it cook for 5 more minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
- Serve with the scrambled eggs on top and Thai peppers on the side (optional)
Serve 6+ people generously.