Korean Style Spinach salad

>>  Monday, November 17, 2008

This simple, healthy, and tasty spinach dish can be eaten either hot or cold.  It works well as a side in many Asian cuisines, such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.  It is a versatile dish, and can easily be tailored for any of these cuisines by the addition of certain ingredients.

1) First, cook the spinach.  You can either blanch it very quickly or steam it very quickly.

You want to make sure that you cook it quickly!  I typically steam for about 10-15 seconds (until the leaves wilt) and then I remove the leaves and quickly rinse with cold water to stop further cooking.  I do this in small batches.
You don't want to overcook the spinach because it loses its bright green color and becomes overly mushy.
If you blanch, I would only blanch for 5 seconds.

2) Next, try to squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible.  I typically take a handful of spinach at a time and squeeze it into a ball, as shown in the picture below.

3) Once most of the water has been squeezed out, I chop up the spinach using a pair scissors. 

4) Finally, add salt, sesame oil, and garlic powder (or minced fresh garlic) to taste.  Optionally, you can add soy sauce, sesame seeds, hot pepper flakes, or other cuisine-specific spices.
Serve warm or cold.  Enjoy!

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Ro Geng Mian (Ba Genh) - Pork, Bamboo, and Mushroom Noodle Soup

>>  Sunday, November 16, 2008

RoGengMian (4 of 6)
One of Bryan's favorite Taiwanese dishes is the pork noodle soup shown above. This very common Taiwanese dish is called "Ba Genh" in Taiwanese, or "Ro Geng Mian" in Mandarin, and consists of pork and fish paste nuggets in a thick soup flavored with black vinegar (or Worcestershire sauce), white pepper, mushrooms, and lots of cilantro.

This recipe is adapted from Taiwanese Homestyle Cooking by members of NATWA

6-10 dried mushroom pieces
1/2 lb pork butt or shoulder (can also use ground pork)
1/2 cup sliced bamboo shoots
1/2 lb prepared fish paste
6 cups water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 T soy sauce
1 egg, beaten
1 t salt
1 T sesame oil
Soup flavoring
1 T minced garlic
1/2 t sesame oil
1/4 t white pepper (can add more to taste)
1 1/2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup cilantro (coarsely chopped)
Mix 4T cornstarch with 4 T water and mix to form a milky liquid.
click image to see larger image


Wash 6-10 dried mushrooms and soak in hot water until soft (about 10 minutes). Slice to desired size.
Drain and rinse 1/2 cup of sliced bamboo shoots.

1) Cut up about 1/2 lb of pork butt into 1/2 inch pieces.
2) Mix the pork together in a bowl with the marinade and marinate for at least 2 hours.

After marinating, mix the pork with the fish paste (available in the freezer sections of a lot of Asian grocery stores. I have bought this both at Super 88 and also at C-Mart).

Combine in a pot the water (6 cups), salt (2 tsp), sugar (1 tsp), mushrooms, and bamboo shoots. Bring the pot to a boil. Form a ~1 inch "nugget" with a piece of pork and some fish paste and drop it into the boiling water.

Boil until all the pork nuggets are floating. The soup will look a little something like this:

At this point, you can do one of two things. If you want the thick soup by itself, stir the thickener into the soup and bring to a boil. You can then add the soup flavoring agents. Feel free too adjust the flavors to taste. Serve with chopped cilantro on top.
Alternatively, you can boil some noodles and add it to the soup. I used fresh noodles (purchased from the refrigerator section of Asian supermarkets). Because fresh noodles give off a lot of starch, I was able omit the thickening agent since the soup was already pretty thick once I added the noodles.

Final product with noodles!
RoGengMian (4 of 6)

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UPDATE: Now CLOSED - replaced by Unique Dumpling in the same location.  The Super 88 Allston location is still open

Wisteria is a Taiwanese restaurant that had been on Newbury Street for as long as I can remember. I think the first time I went there was in 1994 (!). Less than a year ago the restaurant closed its Newbury Street restaurant and opened up two restaurants - one at the Super88 Food Court and the other one in East Cambridge on Cambridge Street.

Initially I was really excited that Wisteria was finally moving to Cambridge. We always liked going there whenever we were on Newbury Street. They were one of the earliest Taiwanese restaurants in the Boston area (before Taiwan Cafe, Mulan, and Jo Jo Taipei opened). It was fun getting traditional Taiwanese dishes such as Three cup chicken, rice sausage, and peanut rice drink.

When it opened at Super88, the waits at that restaurant were super long, and yet we kept ordering food there. It was my favorite stall at Super88. I loved getting the pork and chive dumplings, sauteed veggies, and other Taiwanese specialties. I absolutely couldn't wait for the East Cambridge one to open, since that one would be even closer to my home.

The East Cambridge location finally opened last fall. We've probably been there a total of 5 times since it opened. I think the restaurant is a mixed bag. Some dishes are excellent. For example, I love the egg pancake and the Taiwanese style congee. Other dishes, such as the crispy seafood and oyster pancake, were greasy and bland.

I still really want to love the restaurant, since it would be so exciting to have a really yummy Taiwanese restaurant near my home. I will still continue to try it and figure out which dishes are my favorites. Any one have any suggestions?

I also heard that Mulan has been improving a lot, and it quite good now. Jo Jo Taipei has also been getting rave reviews. One of these days I'll have to do a full fledged Taiwanese food review.

We'll see - the elusive search for amazing Taiwanese food continues . . .


We went back to Mulan last week, and this time asked our server (who I think is the owner) to recommend their best dishes. We ended up ordering the House special beef noodle soup, the handmade dumplings (boiled and pan fried), and a lamb stir fry dish (sorry, can't remember!). They also threw in twin lobsters (sauteed with ginger and scallions) for free since we ordered over $35.

This was definitely one of our best meals at Mulan. Even though it was still not amazing (especially compared to restaurants in California or Asia), it was still enjoyable. The House special beef noodle soup was tasty, and the handmade dumplings were pretty good too. The "guo tia" (pan-fried dumplings) are the the long-shaped kind, which I like. I also really liked the lamb stir fry dish.

As a side note, they do have some fun exotic drinks. They sell a whole variety of boba drinks, and they also sell a sentimental favorite of mine - peanut rice milk ("mi jiang" in mandarin, "bi lieng" in Taiwanese) - hot or iced!

Wisteria on Urbanspoon

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