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Chinese style braised oxtail bones – recipe

Chinese style braised oxtail bones are served as a topping on rice or served separately in a wide bowl. Vegetables as carrots and cassava are added making this dish a hearty and flavoursome nutritious dish. Paleo fans will enjoy its warming earthiness as much without any gluten ingredients. Interchanging between a variety of bean sauces (Chinese fermented soybean sauces), chilli paste and spices will allow you to play with an aroma to your own liking. Or be adventurous and choose to cook from other south-east Asian cuisines enjoying the different flavour, texture with salivating fragrances.

Serve in a bowl by itself with rice or noodles on the side, or topped above as a one-dish meal for lunch or dinner. As a main dish, if preparing a menu for more persons, I would suggest adding a vegetable- and doufu dish with a light soup to complement each other. The Chinese style braised oxtail bones will be the focus for your guests at the table. For the recipe scroll here below, click here for Chinese braised oxtail in Instant Pot information and photo images.

Difference between braise, stews and soup – Update 21 December 2015

I received engaging comments with the questions, how much liquid to add. Followed by the difference between braising and stews. In answer to my readers,  I am updating the post with the replied information on the method of cooking techniques used for tougher cuts of meat.

To start with the liquid in any recipe, it focuses on the right volume to add, water, stock or broth. Next, the cut size of the meat (small cubes) and cutting against the grain means cutting crosswise through the long muscle fibres in the meat. Breaking them up makes meat more tender.

Often used cuts are the less tender and gelatinous parts of meat for slow cooking as well as the use of accompanying vegetables in the dish. In order to fuse all the ingredients together to melt into a tender and flavoursome dish, is by breaking down the connective tissue as tendons (collagen) just simmering it slowly using the right low temperature.

Braising and stewing cooking technique are combination cooking methods using the hob and/or oven.

  • Braising is cooking meat on a bed of vegetables in a small amount of liquid, utilising steam and stewing in its cooking process. At the end of the cooking process, the meat often falls off the bone and the concentrated gravy is clinging to the pieces of meat.
  • Stewing is a slow cook method, where the food is cut into smaller pieces and covered in liquid using gentle heat for a long time. Here the meat is fork tender and the liquid is reduced covering the meat pieces in an aromatic thick sauce.

Cooking with high pressure is perfect it doesn’t require a whole lot of liquid, making it perfect for braised dishes in my Instant Pot DUO 7-1 I use or Lux 6-1 (version without yoghurt option). In comparison with my stove high-pressure cooker, where you have to manually set the timer and keep an eye on it still. The IP has automated meat/stew 30 minutes program you just press and walk away, at the end of time cancel the keep warm function so the natural pressure release can come down a bit faster (approx. 30-45 min.).

For a braised result, I submerge the meat by adding water or stock just barely covering it exposing some of the bones and meat. If you would opt for only (e.g. 50%) using half of water or stock to add, be aware that the gravy will reduce significantly as well. Tip: Keep in mind if this dish is completely cooled the gravy of the bones will be very gelatinous (jiggly as jelly). Meat jelly is another Chinese delicacy served eating it cold as homecooked food and can be creatively used in appetisers or bun fillings for example.

If I like to make a stew instead, I will submerge the ingredients covering it to ½-1 inch (1 ½ – 3 cm) above with liquid or more if it calls for a soupy consistency.

 

Drink suggestions:

  • Tea leaves: Green tea or Jasmine tea is very common, but Pu Erh tea has an earthy smokiness which is very pleasant with an added bonus it really cuts the fat down in your body.
  • For the beer fans: You will enjoy this dish with a light beer, a darker beer, even more, tasteful. In The Netherlands seasonal draft beer or bottled bock beer would be nice to pair along, it has richer, sweeter lager with warm toasty undertones and minimal bitterness. More information on Beleef bockbier 2015, with an overview of 125 different bock beers in The Netherlands. Besides Guinness Stout beer or a Kilkenny, share yours.
  • As for wine lovers: A red Bordeaux is an easy choice, but for the adventurous wine sleuth, an Australian Shiraz-Viognier Barossa 2006 is a discovery I can recommend. My all time favourite would be the Chilean Tarapacca Carmenere, rich in berry fruits and spices to pair with my bowl of Chinese style braised oxtail bones. You will not believe it, but I made my acquaintance and fell in love with Tarapacca in Taipei. Of course, there are far more than one grape or bottle, the more reason to cook and pair more meals.

If you have made the braised Oxtail bones, share your dinner send me a photo.

Enjoy!

 

Please read my disclaimer and disclosure on affiliated links and copyright notice for links and information in this post

 

Hainan Chicken Rice recipe dinner tonight

My adaptation of Hainan Chicken Rice recipe is here below with related links:

Aromatic poached chicken, tender and succulent very healthy and easy way of preparing. The poaching broth doubles as clear soup and flavours the cooked rice. Final result of three dishes; tender succulent poached chicken, flavored rice and aromatic soup.

Cooking dinner tonight

Prepare dinner for 4-6 adults, with kids, it can serve easily up to 8 persons.

  1. Hainan Chicken Rice foodie chat
  2. Hainan Chicken Rice tutorial step-by-step
  3. Chinese stock methods and variations
Recipe Hainan Chicken Rice; Preparing chickens; stuffing set

Preparing chickens; ingredients to marinate and for flavour

 

Hainan Chicken rice - lunch & diner

Hainan Chicken rice – lunch & diner


After reading and enjoying a good meal, why not travel to Hainan? The tropical island of China with white sandy beaches, turquoise sea and waving palms beckoning you to come and visit. “China’s southernmost province, an allure that is increasingly known worldwide as it is set to become an international tourist destination.” Source: China Daily

The island is located in the South China Sea near Vietnam. It has not always been such a commercial and busy island. Tucked away behind the vast country mountains, this island has long been hidden for tourism. Han Chinese already built villages around 200 BC. But the Li population was only discovered in the 1930s.

Hainan is also called ‘Tail of the Dragon.’ Money is not the problem, like many popular areas in China. The developments go here with the speed of light. The island has a speed rail that allows you to move, although we find that bikes are still the best option.

Hainan, China





Piri Piri chicken, baked potatoes & zucchini

With all the rain last week, cold wind and gloomy faces outside, it sure is time for comfort food. Had 3 large chicken legs, cut into parts and rubbed with Piri Piri spice mix then set it aside to marinate. Half of the time when cooking I whiz up the dishes without thinking too much, even when I am experimenting I should write it down immediately not to forget even to photo record the little tweaks.

Cooking with a camera in the kitchen, nearly broke the damn thing because it almost slipped off the counter. Or had to throw away cooking attempts because it burned while being distracted with other devices not being cooking utensils. Ever since the smartphone arrived featuring 5 or higher megapixels camera, combined with options for HDR settings I have become a die-hard fan. Using mobile photography as long as I don’t forget to pick it up and make shots in between. It is also the main reason why I am searching for photo apps as an amateur to make better photography shots of ingredients, dishes and fun things.

A while back I wrote a post about new photo video app, referring to Everlapse an iPhone app with PC version, well Flipagram is a newer app free download for iPhone, Android and Windows version. I have started using this app and become a fan, am really pleased with the results. While the photo video story below has an intense glow, it’s not because I used a filter but they were made in the kitchen at dinner time with only kitchen lightening hence the slight distortion.

In the kitchen busy cooking, background music entered the kitchen from the living room playing fittingly “I just wanna make you smile”. Now you know how this little photo video story came together. You can find the recipe here under attached to this post.

Piri Piri chicken, baked potatoes mix and zucchini

 

Instead of regular chicken seasoning give it a try with a Piri Piri spice blend, choose a Portuguese, African or original South American mixes or make your own mix it’s worth the try. You will grab this more often and not only for chicken, very versatile uses with all kind of meats, shrimp and prawns. Share your dish and favourite cooking method with us, leave a comment and like us on Facebook Asianfoodtrail page.

Piri Piri spice blend it’s just a tiny bottle, little bag or packet but it carries a long and interesting story. A history of slavery and an origin far from what most people believe they know about this pepper, watch here for the upcoming post.

Bitter gourd stir fry egg mix preserved & salted

Bitter gourd is very popular vegetable throughout South-East Asian cuisines, you will find this Asian vegetable in soups, stews, stir-fry dishes and healthy juice drinks. Bitter gourd aka Bitter Melon (or Bitter squash) is now widely available in Asian supermarkets and shops.

This uneven textured green vegetable is good for one’s health. Drinking bitter gourd juice is a great way to detox your body, while regularly eating bitter gourd as a part of your daily diet is known to prevent skin ailments and aids a glowing skin. It contains a lots of vitamins ad nutrients and is especially highly beneficial for diabetics for lowering down their blood sugar levels. The bitter taste boosts the immune system and while there is no accounting for taste, you are definitely into Asian food if you serve, cook and eat Bitter gourd often.

Cut in halve, remove seed & pith

Cut in halve, remove seed & pith

Cleaning Bitter Gourd

The secret of appreciating bitter gourd is to make sure you clean the bitter gourd well;

  1. Slice the gourd in half and scrape out all the seeds with membranes and pith (white sponge), leaving only a thin layer of white 2-3mm to the green skin of the bitter gourd and cut in thin slices.
  2. Or cut cylindrical and carefully clean by hollowing and removing the insides out for stuffing and further preparation.
  3. Parboil the remaining flesh (especially with larger cuts) to mellow its strong flavor for a few minutes only, then prepare for casseroles, stir-fries, stews or soups.

With young and smaller bitter gourds I skip parboiling but make sure I clean them well and season during stir-frying, to ensure that bitterness turns into a pleasant flavor adding to the final dish.

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From left to right: Salted Duck eggs, Chicken eggs, Preserved eggs

Various eggs

  • Century eggs 皮蛋 pídàn is a Chinese delicacy, preserved duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls. The traditional method of processing time depends on the method and may take several week up to several months. At present a simplified approach of soaking the eggs in a chemical bath for 10 days speeds up the aging process while wrapped in plastic. We buy both interchanging century eggs wrapped in rice hulls or in plastic packs for convenience, it can be cooked and often used in cold dishes as salads too.
  • Salted duck eggs 咸鸭蛋 xián yā dàn or 咸蛋 xián dàn (salted eggs) is another typical Chinese food preserve made by soaking the duck eggs in brine or in damp salted charcoal. You do not see them often anymore, eggs covered in a thick layer of salted charcoal paste, mostly they are wrapped in plastic containers or vacuum packed. We often eat them as a side dish with congee (rice porridge) or as an ingredient in baking, rice dumplings or stir-fry dishes. You need to cook salted duck eggs before further preparation in cooking or baking.
  • Eggs are a common staple food and one of the most versatile ingredients used in cooking. The most commonly used bird eggs are chicken, duck, goose. In more refined gourmet dishes the two opposites in egg sizes, quail eggs or ostrich eggs may be used.

Bitter gourd stir fry egg mix preserved & salted

While stir fried bitter gourd with eggs is a common dish found in many local South-East Asian cuisines, the origin of this dish is infused by leftover rather than a particular native dish  since we have eaten many bitter gourd egg stir fry versions. The ingredients are more or less the same the used seasonings may differ by locality and cook. A simpler version will be linked here soon.

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Sliced bitter gourd, three eggs mix and chopped garlic

Scroll down for this recipe as shown in the image.

 

Note: a word of caution while bitter gourd is highly nutritious, the vegetable should not be eaten or given to allergy sufferers, pregnant women and young children:

  • If you happen to be allergic for melons such as honeydew and cantaloupe (cucurbitaceae plants aka gourd family) you better avoid preparing or eating bitter melon.
  • For pregnant women the vegetable contains laxative component which may cause premature contraction and lead to miscarriages. Contact your doctor first.
  • For very young children, since the plant insulin is very effective in keeping blood sugar levels down it might cause the child sugar levels to drop.
  • For diabetes, you can add bitter melon to your diet but MUST check you blood sugar level and consult your doctor if in treatment with sugar medication, because bitter melon can cause your blood sugar levels fall dramatically if consumed too excessively.

Flat beans stir-fry with ground pork & bean sauce, recipe

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Flat beans are in season now for € 0,99 p/kg, fresh bright green, smooth skin, crunchy and string less, flat beans belong to the same group as runner beans. Flat beans here in The Netherlands/Europe are cooked, boiled or steamed, although I do not know many cooks who will use this unless they have a steamer appliance or steamer-oven otherwise too much hassle. My favorite way of cooking is stir-frying, the cutting up takes more time than cooking in a wok or saute pan/flatware.

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Day before I had prepared fresh aubergines with SiChuan chilibean paste and I only needed half a package of ground pork meat, so I had some leftover ground meat to be used.

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When I refer to soybean paste, I realized it can be confusing especially since I have 4 kinds of bean sauce. Three as shown in the picture above; the first one is a Taiwanese brand, the two glass jars Chinese and the fourth one missing is a Thai version (a photo will appear in another dish soon). Now for tonight’s dinner I only used bean sauce, the middle jar but if I would be cooking with chicken or dou fu I would mix bean and hot bean sauce together for an even stronger flavor.

Flat beans stir-fried with ground pork & bean sauce

To speed up cooking even more, you could zap the bean in the microwave for 5-7min (depending microwave power), we like a crunchier texture so never pass beyond 7 min otherwise even stir-frying will make them wilt even more. With cutting up the vegetables, cooking the rice (2-3pers) and stir-frying this dish dinner is served with 15- 20 minutes tops.

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You can substitute flat beans for runner beans and make this a vegetarian dish by omitting ground meat, variation are endless. You can even create a spicier version by mixing both the bean and hot bean sauce or adding a chili paste to enhance spiciness and leave out the bean sauce entirely. This recipe gives you a base to mix and match and experiment further to create your dish.

Aubergine stuffed with minced lamb and spices

Greek/Turkish Stuffed Aubergine with minced Lamb and spices
Greek/Turkish Stuffed Aubergine with minced Lamb and spices

Had plans for MaPo DouFu, but the minced meat was Lamb mince, slight adjustment and a dive into the cupboard and fridge to see what else was available. On the left two shiny aubergines, a jar with tiny dried bird’s eye chilli peppers, a quick look in the cupboard with jingling spice bottles. Two bell peppers from the vegetable drawer, asked hubby to snip a big hand of fresh parsley from our potted garden outside. Love Greek and Turkish cuisines and thought it would be a nice surprise after a few days of Asian dishes, with most of the ingredients at home it is easy to fuse flavours and mix with spices. Creating a new dish or cooking a flavour is most of the time not ingenuity but missing an ingredient which forces you to substitute in the hope it fuses and blends all well together. If it does happy faces at the table, if not it will be voted out not to be repeated. Luckily this dish is a keeper, easy to prepare and adapts with all most all vegetables even a spinach version turned out tasty, so go figure.

Aubergine vegetarian version

If you want an aubergine vegetarian version just omit the meat and cook the vegetables or you may add one can of chickpeas instead. After cooking and filling the eggplant shells, you will have more than enough stuffing left over to enjoy the next day either for lunch or dinner.

Variations we like for the next meal as lunch or dinner ideas are:

  • Wrap in a tortilla as a burrito with extra lettuce or with rice.
  • Grill Turkish/Moroccan bread/Ciabatta layer with lettuce and top with eggplant stuffing
  • If you don’t have time to wait and bake the potato, zapp the spud in the microwave on full, cut a cross and pull it open top the eggplant stuffing on top with a dollop of yoghurt.
  • or if you happen to have some hummus, lavash and other dips you can have it as a snack too.

Share the food! Enjoy and send me a photo of your dish 🙂

Chicken Broccoli easy stir-fry recipe

A request from TinYee for “What’s for dinner?”, how about a quick stir-fry tender chicken with broccoli florets flashing out of the wok onto a plate. Let’s not forget to write down the Chicken Broccoli easy stir-fry recipe and post it please :-).

If you’re cooking for a family or friends this is a healthy and tasty dish to serve on the table. Chinese stir-frying and Asian cooking is all about setting up for flash cooking.

Chicken Broccoli stir-fry recipe is an easy budget-friendly dish and a crowd pleaser. All the ingredients can be easily substituted with other meat cuts and greens in season. Pork, lamb, beef (even fish, see note) with vegetables like cauliflower, green beans, Pak Soi or Chinese cabbage. Versatile and ideal to mix vegetables of what is left in the refrigerator and needs to be finished

 

Quick, easy and economic no leftovers of ingredients, whether you cook Chicken Broccoli easy stir-fry for 4 persons or make 4 meals ahead for your weekly meal plan. Start with the preparation, cutting up the ingredients in bite-size pieces. Season the thinly sliced meat quickly set aside. blanch the vegetables and quickly into an ice-bath. Have all other seasoning bottles and jars ready to grab and heat up the wok.

Cut up broccoli florets or other vegetables in equal bite-size pieces. Blanch the vegetables, short and quickly into an ice-bath. This will stop the cooking process. Have all other seasoning bottles and jars ready to grab and heat up the wok.

Chicken broccoli easy stir-fry recipe

Tip:

Check the fridge if other ingrediënts can be chopped into the dish too. This help clearing and finishing into a colourful and healthy cooked meal. When stir-frying always add the hardest/toughest ingredients first and soft ingredients last into the wok.

Another Chinese stir-fry recipe is Flat beans with ground pork and bean sauce or try seafood suggestion Thai Red Curry Mussels Recipe.

Cooking notes:

  • This recipe is suitable to adapt for Keto, Paleo and diabetes diet.
  • For soy sauce gluten free options:
    • soy sauce choose tamari sauce (wheat free) as the closest substitution
    • Bragg liquid amino (purist would say nay because it’s not made with a natural fermentation but chemical process instead)
    • Coconut amino (a healthy soy substitute, made from coconut sap. It has a salty, slightly sweet flavour and is rich and dark in colour)
    • fish sauce (made from fermented fish/seafood although it is different it tastes as good). If there are none dietary restriction I often use both in cooking.
    • home-cook experiment, make your own instead. Will follow up soon with a discovery post.
  • Cooking oil
    • Olive oil use light, extra virgin is too heavy and will carry an after taste.
    • Sesame oil is only used for flavouring at the end, not intended for stir-frying, it burns too quickly and becomes bitter.
    • Coconut oil is mostly used in Keto and Paleo cooking.
  • Chicken seasoning powder in principle should be gluten free or use a vegetable powder as substitute
  • For vegan diet:
    • use fresh tofu
    • dried compressed soy flavour tofu
    • Tempeh (fermented soybeans)
    • Okara, when I make fresh soy milk the leftover soybean pulp is called Okara. Very nutritious and versatile to make pancakes or burgers.
    • Quorn
    • You can also buy a large variety mock soy meat packages at Chinese supermarkets.
  • Instead of meat, you can also substitute with fish fillets too. Coat the pieces in corn flour and fry them first, take out, continue with the recipe and add when almost done.
  • Cornstarch is what I standard use, next tapioca starch and tapioca flour or arrowroot.
  • Mushroom sauce (vegetarian) and oyster sauce are both used as extra flavour seasonings or omit.