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Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐)

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I like tofu so much and I’ll always stock up some different kinds of tofu in the fridge for cooking. They are so many varieties ranging from extra firm to extra soft tofu, including the fresh tofu, braised tofu, deep fried tofu or any other processed tofu. Tofu itself has no taste and many people think that they are plain and bland. One of my coworkers doesn’t even like tofu and I don’t understand why. I like the texture of tofu, it is so soft that just melts in your mouth. Most importantly when you cook it together with other ingredients, the tofu will absorb the taste and flavor of the dish.

You can see how the Korean people like tofu so much because the ‘Spicy Tofu Pot’ is one of their well-known cuisines. Tofu is beneficial to our health as it is made from soybean that contains calcium, iron and magnesium. As a matter of fact, Korean spicy tofu pot is a bit similar to Mapo Tofu dish that I am presenting today, they are both spicy tofu dishes but ingredients used are different.

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Stuffed Minced Pork with Bitter Melon (蒸苦瓜釀肉)

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Eric forwarded me an email with even more bitter gourd or bitter melon recipes. We are really not big fans, however it’s summer time, the weather is getting really hot. We know bitter melon is definitely one of the vegetables that could help to cool down your internal body heat. In fact it is very beneficial to your liver and stomach digestion, as well as high level of vitamin C. My coworker even taught me to blend bitter melon juice with honey for a nice cooling drink which is pretty good. I was thinking to make the drink but Eric doesn’t like it, so instead I tried one of the recipe he requested, which is the Steamed Stuffed Minced Pork with Bitter Melon (蒸苦瓜釀肉).

This recipe is similar to one of the Chinese Hakka recipe of Stuffed Tofu and other vegetables (釀豆腐), except this recipe uses only minced pork and it is steamed to cook. Basically this is an easy recipe, just mix and marinate the minced pork, then stuff it into the melon pieces and steam. The bitter melon are crisp, bitter yet so refreshing with just the natural sweet broth from the minced pork itself, no other seasoning is added.  If you like, you can always make a dipping sauce with soy sauce or soy sauce paste, sugar and few drips of sesame oil, add some chili and minced garlic if desired.

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Steamed Tofu with Pork Ribs (豆腐蒸排骨)

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I was looking for some easy recipes that don’t require a lot of efforts and works, maybe even some magical spells will make the food ready by itself in no time. Enough of imagination. The truth is it’s summer and fun time, I just got lazy to cook :p.  But I found some recipes that would help out — steaming using a rice cooker or on the stove.  Bah, this is just an easy way to cook the food and you can be off to do your stuff. In fact there are many recipes that can be cooked by using the rice cooker, which it is an efficient cooking style for more nutritious and healthy meals.

Steamed tofu with pork ribs provides you an excellent source of calcium and protein. Plus steaming makes it less oily and super fresh, the sweet broth absorbs the nature juiciness from the pork.  You can steam it with your rice cooker, or on stove top. Preferably for 30 up to 40 minutes, then the pork ribs will be much softer and tender.

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Braised Pork with Soy Sauce (Tau Yew Bak)

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The braised pork with soy sauce (or Tau Yew Bak in Hokkien) was one of my pleasant foods that my mom used to cook and yes, my mom is Hokkien. She makes luscious Tau Yew Bak as she sold this at her stall when she was a mixed rice food hawker. Tau Yew Bak is a typical Hokkien dish that is very popular in Penang, Malaysia and it had been popularized throughout the nation as well. Consequently, there are many variations of this dish based on individual or family’s recipe. However, all of them are almost similar.

Pork belly is the best meat to be used in this recipe. Although it’s a fattier meat, the fat in the belly makes Tau Yew Bak so good. I love pork belly especially when it is braised as this dish. The pork rind and the fat inside the meat will be tendered during braising. You will be totally amazed after trying on this savory dish. It goes tremendously well with steamed white rice. I did eat it with two bowls of steamed white rice. Yum…

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Pan-fried Char Siu / Char Siew (煎叉燒)

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In Malaysia, Char Siu (or Char Siew), as known as Chinese-flavored barbecued meat (typically pork), can be found in most Chinese roasted meat (shao la, 燒腊) stalls along with other roasted meats like duck, chicken and pork. Normally, these mouthwatering roasted meats are displayed in front of the stalls’ window to attract the customers and it is always hard to prevent myself from not buying some when I see them especially the char siu, my big time favorite.

In Los Angeles, it is not too hard to spot on a siu mei (燒味) eatery, which specializes in meat dishes like char siu, soy sauce chicken, roasted duck, white cut chicken, roasted pork etc . There are few good ones around. Therefore I never think of cooking the char siu because I can just grab it easily and I always assume it is too complicated to be made. Char siu literally means “fork roast”. The pork meat is being skewered with long fork and placed in a covered oven or over a grill fire to be roasted. Pork belly is the usually best to used for making char siu because it is much more tenderness and juicy.

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Lama Kitchen is a food and cooking blog fills with savory food with great cooking recipes and ideas for those of you who love food and home cooked meals. Read more