Warm Mushroom and Water Chestnut Salad

Why is a mushroom a great friend to have? Because he’s a fungi. (No? Okay).

Mushroom Salad

If you, like me, are on a mission to stay away from junk food snacking, then warm salads are your best friends. They provide you that cosy, comfy, warm feeling and keep you full for longer. Bonus points for the health part too. The best part is that they aren’t that difficult to make, you can prepare large portions and store them in the refrigerator for reheating whenever your body says “nom-nom time”.

So the other day I came across a stall selling fresh young water chestnut that are my mum’s favourite. It made her happily squeal louder than she should have. I didn’t know what the fuss was about until I promised to try making her a water chestnut salad. I hadn’t cooked with water chestnut before but it looked rather innocent and friendly (insert puppy face fused with water chestnut). It turned out to be surprisingly yum because of its interesting, crunchy and lush texture. More water chestnuts, please!

Mushroom Salad 3

This is an Asian Stir-Fry style salad, so I suggest you keep your ingredients ready before you start cooking. Here’s what you will need:

Ingredients

  • Button Mushrooms – 2 cups (quartered)
  • Water Chestnut – 1 cup (chunks)
  • Boiled Broccoli – 1 cup
  • Ginger paste – 1 tbsp.
  • Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp.
  • Vegetable Oil – 3 tbsp.
  • Onions – ½ cup (thinly sliced)
  • Black Bean Sauce – 3 tbsps.
  • Brown Sugar – 1 tbsp.
  • Five Spice Powder – 1 tsp.
  • Chinese Rice Wine Vinegar – 1 tbsp.
  • Green Chillies – finely chopped (optional)
  • Spring onion greens and coriander to garnish
  • Seasoning

Method

Now that you have everything, it’s time to rock on with your wok on (couldn’t resist) high heat.

Add the oil and let it heat up. Once the oil is smoking, add the green chillies, onions and ginger-garlic paste. Sauté till the onions are slightly fried. Then, add all the sauces and condiments (black bean sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar and five spice powder) because you want them to latch on to your vegetables whilst they cook. First add the water chestnut and sauté it till the edges brown. Then add the mushrooms and finally the broccoli. Your wok must be smoking by now (if it isn’t then turn up the heat). This will give a beautiful smoky flavour to the dish. Lastly, season it with salt and pepper according to your liking. Garnish with greens and tuck in.

Happy healthy snacking (pat on your back)!

Mushroom salad 2

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Garlic Brown Rice with Beetroot and Flax Seeds

So I’ve been on a 2 month-long binge-eating spree. Let’s call it a holy food trail. Unfortunately, this holy food trail turned out to be quite unfriendly towards my digestive system and thus there was an urgent need for a detox and healthy food (making an ‘ugh’ face here but you can’t see).

Detox – That terrifying and horrible sounding word that I was afraid to even Google search. (I could already taste some bitter gourd in my mouth). However, it turns out, I was a total detox-illiterate, so to speak. Detox didn’t always have to be scary, bland food that doesn’t make sense to your taste buds. After some research and making a bullet list of healthy ingredients I made up my mind to start with the one thing I love the most – rice!

Also, I had no idea that toasted flax seeds tasted SO great.

It’s been a day and a half into ‘Detox and Health Food Week’ and to be honest, I feel ‘not-so-bad’. Of course I miss the greasy fries and the Mayo jar but Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Yoghurt are a healthy compensation.

Here’s hoping the ‘Deep Fry Devil’ doesn’t get the better of me this time. Good luck wishes to self.

Now onto some Green Tea while I write this.

Beetroot Brown Rice (Please excuse the clumsily clicked picture, this was all I could manage from my phone camera)

INGREDIENTS:

  • Brown Rice : 1 cup
  • Water: 2 and 1/4th cups
  • Oil : 1 tsp.
  • Garlic : 1 tsp (minced)
  • Beetroot : 1/2 (grated)
  • Carrots: 2 small (grated)
  • Spring Onion Greens
  • Coriander
  • Seasoning
  • Sesame Oil : 2 tsp.
  • Soy Sauce
  • Stock cube : 1
  • Flax Seeds : 2 tbsp

METHOD:

For the rice: In a pressure cooker, sauté washed rice in the vegetable oil and stir with in the stock cube. Add the water, put on the lid and allow the rice to cook for 2 whistles. Then the heat down to the lowest setting and allow it to cook for another 10 minutes in the residual heat.

For the stir fry: In a pan sauté minced garlic, beetroot and carrots. Add a dash of soy sauce,  and then the rice. Stir fry till everything comes together and the rice takes on a magnificent pink hue. Garnish with spring onion greens, coriander and flax seeds.. Once done, take it off the heat and drizzle sesame oil for flavour.

You could also add some scrambled egg for a healthy egg fried rice version.

I thought health food was boring but on having this rice, I stand corrected!

Chicken in Mandarin Orange Sauce

I found a bright orange orange in the fridge today.

It lay there, neglected, in all its orange glory so I picked it up and decided to cook with it. The first idea was obvious – crêpes. However, the more exciting idea was to combine it with some kind of protein. Thus I ended up making Chicken in Mandarin Sauce instead (glad I picked option 2).

Terribly simple and deceptively fancy. Not to forget, light and healthy as well.

Mandarin oranges are sweeter than the normal ones and gave the sauce a delicious acidity and a hint of sweetness.

DSC_0073

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

  •  Garlic: 6-7 cloves finely chopped
  • Ginger: 1 inch piece julienned
  • Green bell pepper: 1 julienned
  • Chicken: Boiled and cut into cubes
  • Chicken stock: 1 cup
  • Mandarin Orange juice: 1 cup
  • Onion: ½ julienned
  • Cornflour: 2 tbsps.
  • Chilli flakes: 1tsp
  • Oil: 1tbsp.
  • Salt and pepper: To taste

 

METHOD

However complicated it may look, this chicken dish is super simple to make. 20 minutes tops and you shall be rewarded with an Asian blessing. Before starting with the sauce, put a chicken breast to boil in some salted water and let it cook away. For the sauce, heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan. Once it is hot enough, add the chopped garlic and ginger and sauté till fragrant. You know the onion is ready to go in when your kitchen smells like an Asian street food stall because of the aromatic ginger and garlic. When the onion turns slightly translucent, add the chilli flakes, vinegar, salt and pepper. Take a peek at the chicken and if it is cooked (poke a sharp knife into the thickest part. It should go in without any resistance) cut it into cubes. Use the water as stock to make the sauce, as it will have some flavour of the chicken. Add the mandarin orange juice along with the stock and let it simmer for about 5 minutes on low heat. Mix in some cornflour paste once the liquid has reduced a little. I leave the bell peppers for the end so that they retain their colour and also give a bit of a crunch. The final step: mix in the cornflour paste to thicken the sauce. Once it thickens, add the chicken pieces, cover with a lid and allow the chicken to absorb all the flavours. Garnish with heaps of spring onion and serve on a bed of fried rice or steamed rice. Ni hao, comfort food!