Chinese Style Eggplant

Until I came to China, I never really enjoyed eating eggplant. We would usually simply grill it (most often together with zuchinni) and eat it with different kinds of dips. I guess somewhere deep inside I knew there’s more to this beautiful vegetable. Now it has most certainly become one of my favourites. I would order it very often in restaurants, a little petrified about all the oil that comes with it, yet always amazed with all the flavours.

Since I got my own kitchen, I tried to replicate the taste, without using all the oil. Traditionally the eggplant is cut to smaller pieces, then deep-fried until soft and ready to absorb all the delicious sauce. To avoid deep frying, I just peel the skin off, then brown it on maybe 3 tablespoons oil. Another way is to cut eggplant to pieces, leave the skin on, but soak the pieces in water for some time. This was my mother-in-law’s advice, and to be completely honest, I haven’t tried it (yet). If I want to indulge myself completely, I go to my favourite Sichuan restaurant and order it and forget about having remorse. But I promise you, this homemade version is just as delicious and much healthier!
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Ingredients:
2 eggplants (around 300g)
3-4 tablespoons oil (I use canola or coconut)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic (pretty sure I always use more, same with vinegar)
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 tablespoon chopped dried chillies
1 tablespoon chopped spring onion (plus some to garnish)
1 tablespoon chinese chilli paste (I use garlic flavoured)
1 tablespoon chinese black vinegar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
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Peel the eggplant’s skin off. Cut in small pieces, around 3 cm long. Brown it on 2-3 tablespoons oil. After the eggplant absorbs all the oil and browns a little, you can add some water to make it as soft as possible. Set aside.
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In a small bowl mix together the chilli paste, vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar. You may add a little bit of water. Stir all the ingredients together to make a sauce. Set aside.
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In the wok or a frying pan, heat the remaining oil and stir in garlic, ginger, dried chillies and spring onion. Keep stiring until they become aromatic (you will smell it, it’s wonderful). Add the eggplant, stir  a couple of times. Add sauce and stir another couple of times. Off it goes into a plate. Garnish with some spring onion if you feel like it. Enjoy hot!

Chinese sweet-and-sour cucumber

I know don’t how it happened it’s the last day of February already! Since I don’t have a full-time job and spend most of my days at home, they became so much shorter. Things that used to take me an hour or so to do, now I struggle to finish within a day. Something is definately wrong, or maybe I should just admit I became suuper lazy lately. I didn’t even manage to update the blog for the last month. Mostly because I’ve been sticking to some simple recipes, not really worthy of note; but also I’ve been unable to take photographs that would be nice enough. To be honest it’s greyinsh outside pretty much all of the time (urghh!) so the lighting is terrible, I have no way of overcoming it. Again laziness.
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On the brighter side, I recently bought a really fantastic cookbook, Fuschia Dunlop’s ‘Every Grain of Rice‘ (thank you Taobao). The evening I got it, I spent whole night reading it, showning my husband almost every photo, and getting super exited about every recipe. Now, I’ve heard great things about Fuschia’s books, some people say that previous books are even better, but I haven’t had a chance to read them yet. Nevertheless, I recommend ‘Every grain of rice‘ to anyone who has interest in chinese cuisine. You get authentic and simple recipes, plus the dishes are delicious and much healthier then the restaurant versions.  I have quite a lot of chinese cookbooks, but to be honest reading and using them is quite overwhelming for me at that point.
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Since getting ‘Every Grain of Rice’ I”ve tried several recipes already, today I want to share sweet-and-sour cucumber recipe. This was the first thing I made using Fuschia’s recipes, because everytime I go to chinese restaurant this is my absolute fav appetizer. The recipe is simple, but before coming to China, I would never think of making cucumber this way, so I think it’s worth sharing!.

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Ingredients: (from Fuschia Dunlop ‘Every Grain of Rice’)
1 cucumber (approx. 300g)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp Chinkiang vinegar (I love this vinegar, probably put a little bit more there)
1 tsp light soy sauce
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Smack your cucumber with a rolling pin. Peel the skin and cut into smaller pieces. Add the rest of the ingreadients and mix nicely.
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That’s the version I like to serve, original recipe doesn’t call for peeling the cucumber. You can add some chilli oil if you fancy something really hot.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Fake rice, aka cauliflower rice has been quite famous recently. Saw it on maaany blogs, with pictures so mounthwatering…I honestly couldn’t wait to try this out and when I finally got my food processor that is the thing I made immediately. The recipe is very simple, and I made my fried rice with stuff I had on hand. And now about the results… I think this is almost too good to be true. Delicious and light, I felt 100% satisfied, but wihout the usual guilt after eating loads of fried carbo. My (Chinese) husband’s reaction: ”The rice is strange”. Nevertheless, he finished his bowl. So I would recommend it to anyone, just expect something similar to rice, and you’ll be surprised!
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Ingredients:
1 small head cauliflower
1 carrot, shredded
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 eggs
2-3 tablespoons soysauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons chopped scallion
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First how to make cauliflower rice. Cut your cauliflower to small florets, wash them and dry completely. Don’t use the cord of the cauliflower. Put the small florets into food processor bowl and pulse a couple of times, until it resembles rice grains. Set aside.

Use 1 tablespoon of oil to make scrambled eggs. Try not to overcook as I did. Set aside.

Heat the remaining oil on the large skillet or a wok, put in cauliflower rice and shredded carrots, stir fry for a couple of minutes. By the end of the frying add eggs, season with soysauce, sesame oil and scallion. Try and season to your taste.

Or course you can put everything you want into your fried rice. This is just the simplest version of all:) Enjoy your veggie meal as soon as possible!

Avocado egg salad

I’ve been trying to get more fruits and veggies into my breakfast. Usually I would just go with toast and egg, enough to keep me full to 12am. 12 am is a magical time in China, when about 99% of its vast population will enjoy lunch. I wasn’t used to this at first, but quickly it became a habit. Anyway I’ve been looking for new ways to enjoy my toast and egg and this quickly became my favourite.

 

https://perfectlysassybread.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/avocado-egg-salad/

 

Ingredients:
1 ripe avocado, in cubes
2 cooked eggs
2 tablespoons yoghurt
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
lime juice
salt and pepper

https://perfectlysassybread.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/avocado-egg-salad/

 

Cut your ingredients in any way you like. I like when the egg yolk is still soft, but its totally up to you how you make it. Just mix all of together and serve with a worm toast:)

Mashed and Baked Sweet Potatoes

Summer in Suzhou ended two days ago. Like, literally last Sunday we went to the park to play, and after three hours in 30°C morning sun my skin felt a little bit sunburnt. Today though, temperature dropped, its rainy and greyish. Autumn has finally come. Another sign of autumn: street vendors already changed their carts. Instead of cold noodles, you can now get half a dollar, big and delicius, street-baked sweet potatoes. Yestarday I decided to bring some of its amazing flavour to my own home.

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Ingredients:
4 medium sized sweet potatoes
1/4 cup coconut milk
olive oil to drizzle
salt, pepper to season
2-3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
coliander to garnish
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 Preheat the oven to 200°C. Wash the potatoes and pierce a few times with a fork. Put them on a baking sheet or a silicone mat and bake for about 45 minutes.
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Check whether the potatoes are soft. If so, take out of the oven, let cool for a few minutes, cut in halves lenghtwise. Take out the inside, and put into small bowl. Leave about 1mm of the potato.
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Brush the skins with olive oil, put to the oven to grill for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, mash the potatoes with coconut milk, salt and pepper.
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Take the skins out of the oven, fill with mashed potatoes, sprinks some parmesan cheese over it, and put into the oven again, for about 10 minutes.
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 Garnish with coliander and enjoy! 🙂

Balsamic-glazed veggies

Pumpkin is an ideal veggie. Well, at least for me. You can do so much with it. Sweet, sour, spicy – pumpkin mends well with anything. Last week, hubby was out of town, which meant I could have a veggie night. But, today’s recipe can as well be used as side dish. It’s healthy, quick and mess-free. I bet you will like it.

Roasted pumpin and carrots with balsamic glaze :)

Ingredients:
450g pumpkin (in cubes)
450g carrots (in cubes)
red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon mustard

Roasted pumpin and carrots with balsamic glaze :)

Set the temperature of the oven to 200°C. In a bowl mix together the veggies, add oil, thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Mix. Bake around 30 minutes, strirring in the middle of baking time.

Roasted pumpin and carrots with balsamic glaze :)

In a saucepan, mix vinegar, honey and mustard. Bring to boil, cook about 8 minutes, until the glaze is thickend.

https://i0.wp.com/31.media.tumblr.com/fceb5301f171ba8e4a5094ab172d3918/tumblr_ndxtt3vFi71u256hqo3_500.jpg

Pour the mixture over the veggies. Mix gently.

Roasted pumpin and carrots with balsamic glaze :)

Roasted pumpin and carrots with balsamic glaze :)

Chop parsley, then toss over plate, serve;)

Enjoy!