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My dear Chinese friends, are you tired of all the Chinese New Year foods? Want something light, healthy and simple? Look no further. This is very simple to prepare and easy on your tummy! Bonus is that you can prepare ahead of time!

Eggplant Appetizer 凉拌茄子

Eggplant Appetizer 凉拌茄子

Eggplant Appetizer 凉拌茄子 (serves 4 people)

Ingredients:
2 Chinese long eggplants

Sauce (mix together):
2 cloves garlic– minced
2 red hot peppers (optional)– minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp black rice vinegar 黑糯米醋– see note below
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp chili oil
1 tsp sugar

Chopped cilantro for garnish

Method:

  1. Fill a large bowl with some water (enough to soak eggplants after they are cut), add in 2 tbsp white vinegar. Start the steamer on high heat.
  2. Wash eggplants and remove the stem caps. Cut into 3-inch length pieces, then cut in half lengthwise. Immediately soak cut eggplants in vinegar water. Since eggplants tends to float on the top, use something heavy (pot, plate, bowl etc.) on the top to press down eggplants, so they are totally submerged in vinegar water to prevent discoloration after cooking.
  3. Drain the water. Place eggplant in steamer with skin side face up. Steam on high heat for 3 minutes. Remove and let cool.
  4. Cut eggplants into strips then place in a bowl or deep dish plate. Spoon over the sauce and garnish with cilantro. Served cold or room temperature.

Regina’s Note:

  • Black rice vinegar 黑糯米醋: I like to use black rice vinegar in this recipe because it’s less acidic than typical white vinegar and has a some sweetness to it. If you use white vinegar, use less amount and increase amount of sugar.
  • To prevent eggplant from discoloration after cooking, soak in vinegar water and steam with skin side face up.

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Pickled Assorted Vegetables 涼拌什錦泡菜

Pickled Assorted Vegetables Recipe 涼拌什錦泡菜 

Ingredients:

1 chayote
1 kohlrabi
1/2 stick carrot
5 Persian cucumbers
1/4 stick daikon
3 gloves garlic– chopped
1-2 red hot peppers– chopped
sushi vinegar
sugar
water

Method:

  1. Prepare chayote: Peel off the skin and remove the core. Rinse to remove the sliminess of the chayote. Cut into small bite size. Put in a bowl and sprinkle some salt (no more than 1/4 tsp). Rub salt into chayote with your fingers. Set aside for it to draw out the liquid. Rinse with water , then squeeze out as much water as possible. Pat dry.
  2. Prepare kohlrabi: Remove the outer skin of kohlrabi, then cut into small thin size. Put in a bowl and sprinkle some salt (no more than 1/4 tsp). Rub salt into kohlrabi with your fingers. Set aside for it to draw out the liquid. Rinse with water , then squeeze out as much water as possible. Pat dry.
  3. Prepare carrot: Peel off the skin and remove both ends. Cut into small bite size. Put in a bowl and sprinkle some salt (no more than 1/4 tsp). Rub salt into carrot with your fingers. Set aside for it to draw out the liquid. Rinse with water , then squeeze out as much water as possible. Pat dry.
  4. Prepare cucumbers: Remove both ends and the core of cucumbers. Cut into small bite size. Put in a bowl and sprinkle some salt (no more than 1/4 tsp). Rub salt into cucumbers with your fingers. Set aside for it to draw out the liquid. Rinse with water , then squeeze out as much water as possible. Pat dry.
  5. Prepare daikon: Peel off the skin and remove both ends. Cut into small bite size. Put in a bowl and sprinkle some salt (no more than 1/4 tsp). Rub salt into daikon with your fingers. Set aside for it to draw out the liquid. Rinse with water , then squeeze out as much water as possible. Pat dry.
  6. Combine all vegetables, garlic and peppers in a large bowl (non metal, non plastic). Add enough sushi vinegar to cover half of the vegetables. Then add enough water to barely cover the top of vegetables. Add sugar to taste. Stir with a spoon until sugar dissolves. Cover and let it sit in the fridge for at least 1 day for the marinade to soak in. Stir the vegetables the next day and continue chilling in the fridge. Pickled vegetables last at least 2 weeks if kept well in fridge. Be sure to use a clean dry spoon to take out a portion for consumption.

Regina’s Note:

  • How to pick kohlrabi: Pick young kohlrabi that is more greenish rather than pale color, preferably with a little green leaves on the top. Old kohlrabi will have tough, chewy fibers/roots throughout the vegetables that make it impossible to use for making dishes.
  • How to pick cucumbers: Always pick cucumbers that are firm. There should not be any wrinkles on the skin or else it’s not fresh.
  • How to pick daikon: Pick daikon with smooth skin. Check the cut stems– they should look freshly cut. Put daikon in your hand and it should feel heavy to you. If it doesn’t feel heavy the daikon might be old or hollow inside.

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Yes, century eggs! The egg white part looks like clear brown jelly sometimes with needle marks like snowflakes, and it tastes like harden jelly, a bit rubbery with a very mild flavor. The  greyish yolk, however, carries a pungent smell and more flavorful. Sometimes the yolk is a bit soft in the center, as you slice through the gooey yolk will stick to the knife. For preserved eggs, I like salted eggs better than century eggs. However, one time when I tried this cold appetizer at a Hunan restaurant and I fell in love with it. It is quite easy to make. The combination of roasted peppers (sweet and spicy) and century eggs blends pretty well; a great side dish to go with just a bowl of steam rice. If you can take spicy foods and century eggs, try it out.

Roasted Peppers with Century Eggs 燒椒皮蛋

Roasted Peppers with Century Eggs 燒椒皮蛋

Roasted Peppers with Century Eggs 燒椒皮蛋 Recipe

Ingredients:

2 red bell peppers
6 fresh jalapeno peppers
2 century eggs

seasoning:
1 tbsp black rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp peppercorn oil 花椒油

Method:

  1. Cut bell peppers in half, remove stems and seeds. Drizzle with little oil and roast in the oven at 375°F for about 30 minutes. Cool then peel off the skin. Cut into strips.
  2. Fire roast jalapeno peppers directly on top of flame until the skin turn black completely. I always put jalapeno peppers on a skewer, and roast them directly on the flame on my gas stove top. At first the skin will make little crackling sound then it will start blacken, but hardly any smoke.  When the peppers are blackened, remove from flame and cover them with a paper towel for a couple of minutes. Use the paper towel to rub off the blackened skin and remove the seeds. Cut into strips.
  3. For century eggs, remove the shells and cut into thin wedges.
  4. Put bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, century eggs and seasoning a bowl. Toss gently to mix the flavor well. Serve immediately. Do not mix in seasoning if serving the dish later as it will becomes watery.

Regina’s Note:

  • Only mix in seasoning a few minutes before serving or the dish will get watery the longer it sits in the seasoning sauce.

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