[Taiwan] Random Photos

[Cooking] Homemade Office Lunch Boxes

By Michelle Chiang

Homemade lunch boxes save time and money and bring joy to a busy work day. During my time working in an office 5 days a week, I developed a habit of preparing my lunch box in the morning.in 15 – 20 minutes.

I transported my lunch box in a colorful wrapping cloth.

If I had rice leftover from the evening before, I either made a couple of side dishes, or made it into fried rice or risotto. If there was no rice cooked, I made noodle or pasta dishes. Since I am a daily cook, there are always ingredients (and sometimes leftovers) I could pull together to make something edible. I kept things simple: use the same container (I had four), no seafood or anything with a strong smell, and microwavable for 2 minutes. If I had enough ingredients, I made 2 or 3 identical boxes. 

Now I am working from my home office, I am not eating as well. When lunch time comes, my exhausted brain usually has a hard time deciding what I want to eat. I often ended up eating whatever was fast. Having lunch prepared in the morning allowed me to relax at lunch time. I think I will try to make lunch boxes again.

Michelle Chiang is a professional built environment designer and home cook living in Los Angeles, California, USA.

[Cooking] Fried Rice

By Michelle Chiang

Fried rice is a versatile dish. The key is to use adequate amount of oil and high heat. The rice grains should be separated but not dry. No wok is necessary. Use a large flat bottom shallow frying pan. The idea is to maximize air flow into the fried rice.  

Bacon Fried Rice

Ingredients:
Steamed rice – 1 cup per serving
Eggs – 1 per serving
Green Onions – thinly sliced
Bacon – 2 – 3 strips per serving; cut to small pieces
Soy Sauce – ½ teaspoon per serving
Water
Oil if needed

Steps:
Cook bacon in pan with medium heat
When bacon is cooked, but not crispy, scramble eggs in bacon fat
Add rice to pan, turn heat to high, add oil if necessary
Continue to stir-fry rice with bacon and eggs to incorporate air flow until rice grains are all separated
Don’t force rice to separate. Broken rice will stick to pan.
Add soy sauce to taste, make sure soy sauce hits the hot pan and quickly mix with all ingredients
Add green onions to pan, continue to stir-fry.
(Add additional vegetables such as peas and diced carrots if desired)
Add splash of water and stir to distribute moisture into fried rice.
Serve immediately

Options

  1. Prepare cooked protein (bacon, ham, chicken, or shrimp) and eggs separately and add to fried rice at the end of stir-frying
  2. Add finely chopped lettuce at the end instead of splash of water
  3. Peas, diced carrots, and other vegetables can be added
  4. Fried chopped garlic can be added; be careful not to burn garlic

Using Eggs

  1. Scramble eggs: add scrambled eggs to rice in pan
  2. Coating with egg yolks: mix cooled steam rice with egg yolks. This helps the rice to not stick to pan
  3. Add beaten eggs to fried rice before adding vegetables

 

Michelle Chiang is a professional designer and home cook living in Los Angeles, California, USA.

 

[Cooking] Sauteed Vegetables

By Michelle Chiang

Sauteed vegetables are simple and quick.

Leafy vegetables require little time to cook: cabbage, napa cabbage, baby bok choy, bean sprouts, kale, and spinach.

Vegetables that need more time to cook: green beans, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus. When cooking these vegetables, ‘water-fry’ first will reduce the cooking time in heated oil.

The key is to use adequate amount of oil and salt. Keep the time of oil being heated as short as possible. Vegetable oil or animal fat is recommended.

Sauteed Leafy Vegetable

Ingredients:
Leafy vegetable – cleaned and cut to proper size
Oil
Salt
(Chopped garlic is optional.)

Steps:
Heat up pan, add oil
(Add chopped garlic and sauteed for few second until fragrant)
Add vegetable to pan, sauteed till soften
Add salt to taste, incorporate into vegetable
Serve immediately

Sauteed Vegetable with “Water-Fry”

Ingredients:
Vegetable – cleaned and cut to proper size
Water
Oil
Salt
(Chopped garlic is optional.)

Steps:
Heat up pan, add small amount of water, enough to cook vegetables half-way through.
Add vegetable to pan, sauteed till water evaporated.
Add oil to pan, sauteed till vegetable is done.
(Add chopped garlic and sauteed for few second until fragrant)
Add salt to taste
Serve immediately

Mushrooms with Butter and Soy Sauce

Ingredients:
Mushrooms – cut in half (quarter if mushrooms are large)
Butter
Soy Sauce
(Parsley flakes are optional)

Steps:
Pan fry Mushroom and butter till mushrooms are slightly brown on the edges.
Add soy sauce to taste, soy sauce must hit the hot pan for enhanced flavor.
(Sprinkle parsley flakes on top.)

 

Michelle Chiang is a professional designer and home cook living in Los Angeles, California, USA.

 

[Cooking] Make Ahead Marinated Vegetables

Marinated vegetables are a great way to enhance any meal. They last up to 5 days.

Vegetables to use: cucumber, cabbage, napa cabbage, blanched bean sprouts, or re-hydrated kelp.

Salt is main ingredient to draw out moisture and preserve the raw ingredients. Add salt to julienne or sliced vegetable and let it sit in refrigerator for at least an hour to overnight. Squeeze out the water and it is ready to be enjoyed. If it is too salty, rinse with water.

Seasoning:

  1. Combine equal parts of sugar and sushi vinegar or sushi vinegar.
  2. Add minced garlic or ginger.
  3. Both 1 & 2
  4. Add minced garlic, chili pepper, and sesame oil.

 

Kelp Salad

Ingredients:

Kelp – from making dashi
Carrots – julienne
Garlic – 1 clove, minced
Scallion – 1 stem, thinly sliced diagonally
Soy sauce – 1 tablespoon
Sugar – 1 teaspoon
Sushi vinegar – 1 teaspoon

Steps:

Cut kelp into thin strips
Combine soy sauce, sugar, and sushi vinegar in small bowl and adjust to taste
Combine kelp, carrots, garlic, and scallion in bowl, dress with seasoning
Refrigerate for minimum 1 hour before serving, can keep for 2-3 days

 

Bean Sprouts Salad

Ingredients:

Soybean sprouts
Garlic – 1 clove, minced
Scallion – 1 stem, thinly sliced diagonally
Jalapeno – half; seeds removed, thinly sliced
Salt  
Sugar
Rice wine
Sesame oil

Steps:

Blench soybean sprouts, let cool
Combine soybean sprouts, jalapeno, garlic, and scallion in bowl
Season with salt, sugar, rice wine, and sesame oil to taste
Refrigerate for minimum 1 hour before serving, can keep for 2-3 days

 

Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:

Persian Cucumbers
Sugar – approx. 1/6 of cucumber
Salt
Rice Vinegar – same amount as sugar
Ginger – thinly sliced

Steps:

Smash cucumbers, cut into small pieces, and place in a mixing bowl
Add sugar to cucumber, mix well until sugar dissolves
Add salt to taste, mix
Add vinegar, mix
Add ginger
Refrigerate and serve the next day, garnish with sesame oil (optional)

 

Michelle Chiang is a professional designer and home cook living in Los Angeles, California, USA.

 

[Tea] Dos and Don’ts of Tea Enjoyment

Dos:

Do enjoy tea with small bites.
Pairing tea with sweet or savory small bites can enhance the experience and prevents damage to the stomach lining.
Black tea – food contains butter, cheese, milk, cream, and/or egg.
Oolong tea – sweet or savory food that is not heavy with dairy.
Green tea – food that is not greasy and is light in flavor.

Do brew tea with the right temperatures.
Oolong tea – boiling water (212 F)
Black tea – short of boiling (200 F)
Green tea – very hot (190 F)

Do take time to enjoy tea.

Do enjoy a variety of teas.
Different teas have different nutrients.

Do share with loved ones.

 

Don’ts:

Don’t drink tea on an empty stomach.

Don’t leave tea liquid soaking in tea leaves overnight (or for a long period of time).

Don’t overdrink.

Drinking tea does have many benefits, but it should be enjoyed in moderation.

Don’t be too concerned about ‘the right way’.

Different cultures have unique traditions relating to tea drinking.

 

[Cooking] Make Ahead Broths

by Michelle Chiang

Various types of soups and dishes can be made if broths are available. Common broths are Japanese dashi and bone broths.

Dashi

Ingredients:
Water – 3 quarts
Dried kelp – 2-5”x8” (approx.) pieces
Dried bonito flakes – 1 cup

Steps:
Soak dried kelp in room temperature water for 1 – 2 hours (overnight OK)
Heat up water, remove kelp before boiling
Boil for 30 seconds, add bonito flakes, simmer for 10 seconds, turn off heat
Strain the soup when cooled

Uses:
Miso Soup
Udon Noodle Soup
Daikon Stew
Japanese Style Omelette
Tempura Sauce

Bone Broth

Ingredients:
Water
Bones – chicken, pork, or beef bones
     – Use ‘leftover’ bones from steak or rotisserie chicken. When using raw bones, either cook them in pan with oil or roast in oven with oil drizzled on top.
    – Place raw bones in pot with cold water, bring to boil, rinse bones thoroughly.  
Vegetables – optional
     – Save vegetable scraps such as asparagus stems, daikon radish heads, onion stems, etc. in freezer.

Steps:
Prepared bone and water in pot.
High heat and bring to boil, skim off debris.
Turn down heat to low, add vegetable if desired.
Simmer for 2 – 3 hours.

Michelle Chiang is a professional designer living in Los Angeles, California, USA.