Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tempura, Eel, and Durian...taste bud sensations*!~

The cookstuff!

The other day I found out my grade for my summer course...98!! So of course, I decided to celebrate with one of my favorite (but smelliest) fruits....the durian.
photo taken by VeganBeats
It's like custard, a pudding like texture but a sweet flavor. I can't quite pinpoint what it tastes like...but the texture beats no other. It's not allowed to eat in public due to it's overpowering smell...but if you can get past that...try it, eat it, savor it. It's hard work to get into too, I was hacking away at this baby for nearly an hour, but the rewards are a plenty.

I also got into a much missed cooking mood, I had all those Chinese veggies I got a while ago, and they needed to be played with. I didn't want those beautiful greens to go bad! My dad was home and I decided on an easy way to get him to join me in some veggie munching...tempura!
I used my Chinese broccoli, carrots, and potato for the veggies, I wish I had more but I was working with what I had.This was pretty easy to put together, but warning when frying anything!!

photo taken by VeganBeats

What you need:
*batter: a 1:1 ratio of flour to water (you can add cornstarch or water chestnut starch for some extra crunch in there!)
*Veggies: anything you want!
*Oil: you can use any really, I used a mixture of olive and cocnut, adds a little subtle aroma and I'd like to think some interesting flavors.
*A deep pan, or something that can hold about an inch of oil.

1) mix the flour and water into a smooth batter.
2) Slice up and cut up whatever veggies you have. I cut the potato into matchsticks, like shoelace fries, and same with the carrots.  I cut the Chinese broccoli up into inch long pieces, and the leaves I roughly chopped.
3) Mix the veggies with your batter and turn the stove top on to medium/ medium high.
4) Put your oil in the pan and wait until it's hot, when it is use tongs or chopsticks to drop in some of the battered veggies.
5) Keep watch of your tempura, when it gets crispy it will look golden, flip over and watch again.
6) Take the tempura out and set on a rack resting on the pan, this way excess oil is reused and there will be more room for more tempura.
7) continue until there's no more veggies left.
Serve with a quick soy sauce or sweet chili sauce.

I also made some Mock Eel! This dish is similar to one of the most popular appetizers served at A Single Pebble, as restaurant I had the pleasure of working at!
Surprisingly I found a HUGE bag of dried shitake mushrooms, and I had this oil in the pan, wasting it is just not an option.

photo taken by VeganBeats
What you'll Need:
*6 ounces of dried shiitake mushrooms
*cornstarch (I like to use water chestnut starch though)
*soy sauce
*oil (I'm still preferring the coconut)
*deep pan, or one that's deep enough to hold 1/2 and inch of oil

1) Soak the mushrooms in cold water for at least 20 minutes. (If it's hot water you lose so much flavor)
2) Drain and press the mushrooms, try to get them as dry as you can.
3) Using scissors, cut the mushrooms into an eel shape by cutting a spiral.
4) Mix the mushrooms with cornstarch, or water chesnut starch. You want the mushrooms covered, but not powdery, a little bit more than dusted.
5) Heat the oil in the pan on high heat (BE CAREFUL!!) and deep fry the mushrooms.
6) When you have fried all the mushrooms, try to have only 1t of oil left int he pan.
7) Add 1T each of chopped ginger and scallion to the oil and stir until it is fragrant.
8) Add some water or vegetable stock, 3T of soy sauce, and 1.5T of sugar.
Reduce the sauce until it starts to bubble and add the mushrooms again.
9) Toss to coat evenly! And Serve as side or alone, it's packs a lot of flavor!
photo taken by VeganBeats
Happy frying...eeeep!

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