Friday, 23 July 2010

Quick & Easy Chinese Dinner - Dishes from my Childhood

Growing up in my mother's kitchen she has always been a great source of inspiration and when we were younger, we were lucky to have a WAHM.  It meant that she was always there for us when we finished school and would cook us all kind of goodies.  We are older now and have our own homes and families and I can't wait for the day she retires so she can spend more time again in the kitchen trying out new recipes and snacks and all sorts of good things to eat!

Many of the chinese dishes I attempt now are influenced from my childhood and are things mum would cook for us to eat as our one plate meals.  We'd often have a one plate meal where we have our own bowl of rice and it'd be topped with a stir-fried dish of meat and veggies.  Simple cooking and often eaten in front of the TV!  We'd only sit around the table and share multiple dishes when dad was at home or if we had guests.  Now, as mum still works (not at home anymore), when she has her day off from work she still likes to cook various dishes that we sit at the table and share - even if it's only 2 or 3 of us.

My hubbs likes courgettes and I don't mind them but have had a few from the supermarket that are bitter to eat.  No idea why so I only buy them in the summer months (am growing them in garden at the moment too!).  I have found that my half vietnamese/half chinese hubby seems to enjoy the oriental style dishes that I cook.  Some of the dishes he suggests cooking (or what he used to cook for me before we were married) are very similar to what my mum cooked.  The only difference I find is that he tends to use fish sauce in cooking whereas my upbringing would be to use soy sauce.

Courgettes are bountiful in the supermarkets now and I cooked these dishes for our dinner on Wednesday:

Stir-Fried Courgette with Pork

150g sliced pork (I had spare rib chops again but chicken will work well or even beef)
2 medium sized courgettes, halved lengthwise then sliced
1 shallot, sliced
2 small garlic cloves, minced
dash of white pepper
few drops of sesame oil
splash of soy sauce (1tsp)
splash of chinese wine (1 tsp)
1/2 tsp cornflour
2 tsp squid sauce
2 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 cup water
cornflour and water mix

The pork was mixed with pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, chinese wine and the cornflour and left to sit in a dish whilst I prepared the vegetables.
I heated 1 tbs of oil in a work and then slid the pork in.  Leave to fry for about 1-2 minutes before turningthe meat over to brown slightly.  Add the shallots and stir.
Add the sliced courgettes and garlic and fry for 2 minutes before adding the water, squid sauce and oyster sauce.  Leave to cook for 3 minutes.
Check the sauce for seasoning, thicken with cornflour and water mix.

Mum would often cook us tomato, egg and beef.  She says it's full of vitamins and nutritious.  I once cooked it for hubbs and he didn't like it.  Said it was neither beefy or tomatoey!  As I wanted another dish for dinner, (I usually cook enough so I can pack a ricebox lunch for hubbs.) I decided to try tomato and egg (minus beef this time).  It seemed to go down with no complaints this time! 

Tomato & Egg

3 medium sized eggs (my babies eggs are only around 55-60g with the shell)
3 medium sized ripe tomatoes (I only buy vine ripened ones as the flavour is more superior than regular salad toms) quartered, or cut into 1/6ths
1 shallot, sliced,
1 spring onion, white part sliced in thin rings and the green parts shredded
1/4 cup of water
2 tsp tomato puree (mum uses tom ketchup)
1/2 tsp sugar
cornflur and water mix

Heat 1 tbs oil in a wok and add the eggs (you can beat them up first or just scramble lightly in the wok).  Don't bash them up too much as you want large enough pieces of egg to eat later.  Put aside on a plate for later.
Add the tomatoes, shallot and the white part of the spring onion to the wok and let sizzle for 30 seconds or so.  Add the water and let the tomatoes cook a little.  If the water evaporates too quickly (my gas flame isn't particularly powerful) add a splash more water.  Add the tomato puree and sugar.
Tatse the sauce, it should be tomatoey and not too sharp - add more sugar if necessary.
Add the spring onion greens, add in the cooked egg and thicken sauce with the cornflour and water mix.

We loved this dish as kids and mum still cooks it occasionally now but she's not a beef fan so she sometimes cooks it with spam batons, fish cake slices or small minced pork patties.

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