Steamed Eggplant with Lao Gan Ma (Lady Sauce)

1 pound Japanese or Chinese eggplant (450g, about 3 eggplants)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon Chinese dark vinegar
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoon oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1-1 1/2 tablespoons Lao Gan Ma chili sauce (or any chili sauce or chili oil of your choice)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 scallion (minced)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Prepare your steamer. If you’re not sure how to set up a steaming apparatus, check our our post on how to set up a steamer, even without special equipment. Turn the heat on low to pre-heat the water in the steamer.

Cut each eggplant crosswise into 3 equal sections, then cut each section into 8-10 bite sized strips.

Fill a large container with about 2 quarts of water and 1/4 cup white vinegar. Soak the eggplant in the vinegar water for 3 minutes. Then remove the eggplant and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Arrange them on a heat-proof rimmed dish and carefully lower it into the steamer. Cover and turn the heat on high. Steam the eggplant for 8-10 minutes.

Now make the sauce by combining the Chinese dark vinegar, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and chili sauce.
Remove the eggplant from the steamer (no need to pour out the liquid in the dish), and evenly pour the sauce over the eggplant. Top it with the minced garlic and scallions. Try to keep garlic and scallions close together in a couple tight lines to make the next step easier.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a small saucepan until it starts to smoke lightly, and then carefully pour it over the garlic and scallion. Serve hot or cold. If serving as a cold appetizer, you can make this dish in advance.

Cantonese Eggplant Casserole (with Pork or Chicken)

4 oz. pork (or chicken, thinly sliced; 110g)
2 tablespoons cornstarch (plus 1/2 teaspoon)
1 1/2 pounds eggplant (680g, preferably Chinese/Japanese eggplant)
1 1/2 cups canola oil for frying (350 ml, plus 1 tablespoon)
3 slices ginger (minced)
4 cloves garlic (smashed and chopped)
2 scallions green parts and white parts separated and chopped
1 oz. Chinese salted fish (30g, deboned and minced; may substitute anchovy fillets)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar (look for the yellow bottle labeled, “Chinkiang Vinegar”)
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
4 teaspoons light soy sauce
1/2-3/4 cup water (depending on how hot your stove can get and how quickly the liquid cooks off)

Toss your pork (or chicken) with 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch and set aside. Wash the eggplants and dry them off with a clean kitchen towel. Trim off the ends, and cut the eggplant into 2-inch x 1/2-inch pieces. Add the eggplant pieces to a large zip top bag and toss with 2 tablespoons cornstarch until evenly coated.

Heat 1 1/2 cups canola oil in a small pot (the oil should be about 3/4-inch deep) over medium heat. To test the oil temperature, stick a bamboo or wooden chopstick in the oil. If you see a good deal of bubbles forming around the chopstick, the oil is ready for frying. Fry the eggplant in batches, cooking each batch for about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in your wok over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic and the white parts of the scallions. Cook for 30 seconds, and then add the pork (or chicken) and the salted fish (or anchovies). Stir-fry until the meat is cooked through. Now add the eggplant, sugar, vinegar, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, and the green parts of the scallion. Also add 1/2 cup water.

Turn up the heat to high and mix everything together. Because of the cornstarch used to coat the eggplant, the liquid should thicken into a sauce. Add a little more water if necessary to reach the desired sauce consistency. This dish should have some sauce, but shouldn’t be swimming in liquid. Also, remember not to cook the eggplant for too long; it shouldn’t lose its shape. Once the sauce is thickened, serve with steamed rice!

Fresh Peach Ricotta Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
3 large eggs at room temperature
2 cup white sugar
1 cup ricotta cheese full-fat recommended
3 large peaches peeled or not, as you like
For topping:
Flaked almonds
Brown sugar
Pinch salt

Garnish:
Icing/Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F with rack in the centre of the oven. Grease a 9 or 10-inch springform pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Set aside. *A 9-inch springform is the best option, if you have that size.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Prepare the peaches by peeling, if desired, then cutting 2 of the peaches into cubes and then cut the 3rd peach into slices. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs with the white sugar until light in colour and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the ricotta and mix in. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.

Using a spatula, gently fold in the 2 cubed peaches until combined well with the batter. Spoon the batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Arrange the sliced peaches on the top of the batter. Scatter some flaked almonds on top, then sprinkle with a bit of brown sugar and and pinch of salt.

Bake in preheated oven as follows: for a 9-inch springform pan, bake for 75-80 minutes. For a 10-inch springform, baking time will be shorter, about 60-65 minutes. In all cases, cake should have pulled away from the sides of the pan and the top should be evenly golden. You can test centre with a skewer to be sure it is cooked in the middle.

Allow cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the outside and carefully remove the outside ring from the springform pan. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan base.

Penne with Smoked Chicken, Zucchini, and Green Beans

1 pound penne rigate
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound young green beans, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths and blanched until al dente
1/2 pound zucchini, cut into 1 1/2 -by-1/3-inch sticks
2 shallots, thinly sliced 1 pound boneless smoked chicken breast—skinned, trimmed of fat and shredded
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt
2 tablespoons minced parsley

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the penne until al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, in a small nonreactive saucepan, combine the mascarpone and sherry vinegar. Cook over low heat until melted; keep warm.

Heat the olive oil in a large non-reactive skillet. Add the green beans and zucchini and sauté until tender and lightly browned. Stir in the shallots and cook until softened. Add the smoked chicken and crushed red pepper, season with salt and cook just until warmed through.

In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the vegetables and the mascarpone sauce; add some of the reserved cooking liquid if the pasta seems dry. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

String Bean Chicken

1 lb (450 g) boneless skinless chicken breast (or thighs), sliced to 1/4” (5mm) thickness

Marinade
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 tablespoons fermented black beans (or black bean sauce)
1/3 cup chicken stock
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Stir fry
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 lb (450 g) green beans , cut to 1” (2.5 cm) long pieces
3 cloves garlic , chopped
2 teaspoons ginger , minced
2 green onions , chopped

Combine the chicken and all the marinade ingredients in a big bowl. Stir to mix well. Let marinate for 15 minutes while preparing the other ingredients.

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Stir to mix well.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Spread the chicken in the skillet in a single layer. Sear until the bottom turns golden without moving it, 1 minute or so. Stir and flip to cook the other side, until golden, another minute or so. Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a big plate and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the green beans. Turn to medium heat. Sear the green beans, stirring and flipping occasionally, until the surface is browned and the texture turns tender, 10 minutes or so (*Footnote 1). Reduce to medium-low heat if the pan starts to smoke too much.

Turn to medium-high heat again. Add the garlic, ginger, and onion. Drizzle with a bit more oil (or chicken stock), 2 tablespoons or so. Stir and cook for a minute to release the fragrance.

Add the chicken back into the skillet. Stir the sauce again to thoroughly dissolve the cornstarch and pour it into the pan. Stir a few times until the sauce thickens and coats the ingredients. Immediately transfer everything to a big plate.

Serve hot over steamed rice as a main dish.

Notes
Slowly searing the beans generates the best result. But if you’re in a hurry, you can sear the green beans for 2 minutes, add 1/4 cup chicken stock (or water), then cover to steam. Cook until the green beans turn tender or reach your desired texture, 2 to 3 minutes.

Buttermilk Cucumber Salad

2 cups thinly sliced cucumbers (from 1 large English cucumber or 3 mini, peeled fully or in stripes if desired)
3 tablespoons thinly sliced shallot rings (from 1 shallot)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup torn or chopped fresh tender herbs, such as dill, tarragon, basil, parsley or dill
INSTRUCTIONS

Transfer the cucumbers and shallots to a colander, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and toss to combine. Set aside to drain for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour.
Stir together the yogurt and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Taste and season with with salt and pepper, then stir in the cucumbers, shallots, and herbs.

Lao Hu Cai (Cucumber Tiger Salad)

3 Persian or mini seedless cucumbers
3 medium scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 medium jalapeño, finely chopped (seeded first if desired)
1 bunch cilantro, tough stems trimmed, leaves and tender stems cut into 1-inch lengths
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons vegetable or toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, then cut again in half crosswise. Cut into pieces lengthwise into thin strips. Place in a large bowl.

Add the scallions, jalapeño, and cilantro and toss gently with your hands. Add the vinegar, oil, and salt, and toss once more. Taste and season with more salt as needed.

Shaved Fennel and Cucumber Salad

1/2 cup pitted, torn Castelvetrano olives
1/2 cup cubed feta cheese
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large fennel bulb with fronds
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt
3 Persian or mini seedless cucumbers
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
Juice of 1 large lemon

Stir the olives, feta, and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil together in a medium bowl. Season with black pepper. Finely chop 1/4 cup fennel fronds from the fennel bulb and stir into the olives and feta.

Trim the fennel bulb. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, shave the fennel and cucumbers lengthwise into very thin slices. Toss the fennel, cucumbers, and lemon zest and juice together in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

To serve, plate the fennel-cucumber mixture in alternating layers with the feta-olive mixture so you get a little of everything in each bite.

Blistered Cucumbers with Spiced Seeds

4 Persian or mini seedless cucumbers
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and set aside.

Toast the sesame seeds in a cast iron skillet over medium heat until lightly golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Add the cumin and coriander to the skillet and toast until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind until the seeds are just cracked. Transfer to the bowl of sesame seeds and add the red pepper flakes.

Wipe out the skillet and pat the cucumbers dry. Heat the oil in the skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the cucumbers cut side down, and cook until browned, about 4 minutes.

Transfer to a cutting board, cut each piece in half lengthwise, then serve with the spicy seeds for dunking or sprinkling over.

Stir-Fried Green Beans with Pork

For the pork & marinade:
8 ounces ground pork (225g, can substitute ground chicken or beef)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons ginger (minced)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch

For the rest of the dish:
3 tablespoons oil (divided)
1 pound green beans (450g, chopped to ½-inch pieces)
2 tablespoons garlic (minced)
1/2 red bell pepper (diced finely)
4 red chilies (chopped, optional)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt (a pinch, or to taste)
2 tablespoons water

Combine the ground meat with all the marinade ingredients. Stir until any standing liquid has been absorbed by the meat. Marinate for 15-20 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the chopped green beans. Stir and spread the beans into a single layer. Cook for 30 seconds. Then stir and repeat the spreading step several times until the green beans are slightly charred, wilted, and cooked through. Turn the heat lower if needed to avoid burning. It takes about 5-8 minutes to cook the green beans this way. (To speed up the cooking, add a few drops of water each you stir, to create some steam.) Transfer the cooked green beans to a dish and set aside.

Now add 1 tablespoon oil to the wok, with the heat turned up to high. Add the ground meat and brown it. Don’t stir too much; give the meat a chance to brown and crisp. Once the meat has browned, reduce the heat to medium.

Next, add the garlic, bell pepper and chilies. Stir-fry for 1 minute. Add in the cooked green beans, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, r, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper, a pinch of salt (to taste), and 2 tablespoons water. With the heat all the way up on high, stir-fry for a final 10-15 seconds and serve.

Fried Green Tomatoes

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups corn meal
4 green tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
Oil, for frying
Buttermilk dressing, for serving

In a large plastic food-storage bag, mix together the flour, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Place the green tomato slices in the bag and shake until well coated.

Beat together the eggs with the buttermilk until well combined. Place the cornmeal on a plate.

Dip the flour-coated green tomatoes into the egg mixture then lightly dredge in the cornmeal. Place the cornmeal-coated tomatoes on a large plate or sheet. Repeat until all are done.

In a large heavy skillet heat 1/2 inch of oil on medium high to 350°F, about 5 minutes. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the temperature by sticking a wooden spoon into the oil. If it bubbles around the spoon, it should be ready for frying. Line a large plate or sheet with paper towels.

Working in batches, slide the tomatoes into the hot oil and cook for 1 minute then turn and cook for another minute or until golden. Remove with a slotted spatula to drain on the paper-lined plate.

Lightly salt the fried green tomatoes, then serve warm with buttermilk dressing.

Salad-e Shirazi (Persian Cucumber, Tomato and Onion Salad)

3 to 4 Persian cucumbers (about 3/4 pound)
1/2 red onion, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons any combination of finely chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, basil or dill
1 teaspoon dried mint
2 to 3 medium tomatoes (about 1 pound)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2 limes), plus more as needed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt and black

Remove alternating stripes of peel on cucumbers and trim ends. Dice cucumbers into 1/4-inch pieces and place in a large bowl with onion and fresh herbs. Using your fingers to break up any large pieces, gently grind the dried mint into the bowl. Remove tomato cores, dice remaining tomatoes into 1/4-inch pieces and add to bowl.

In a small bowl, make a vinaigrette by whisking together 1/4 cup lime juice, oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Just before serving, dress vegetables with vinaigrette and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and lime juice as needed. This salad should be bright, crunchy and tart, a nice counterpoint for rich, buttery rice and unctuous stews. Serve at room temperature or lightly chilled. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days.

Green Bean Poriyal (with variations)

Oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – a few, roughly torn
Shallots – 2 tbsp, chopped (can also use red onions)
Whole dried red chilies – 3-4
Green beans – 1 lb, washed and diced into 1/4? pieces (very short!)
Shredded coconut – 1/4 cup
Salt – to taste

Heat oil in a deep skillet or pan. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves. When they start to sizzle and crackle, add the onions and red chilies. Saute till onions are lightly golden.

Then add the chopped green beans and stir fry for a minute or so. Sprinkle some water and salt, reduce heat to low, cook and cover till beans are just cooked.

Open the lid, fold in the shredded or grated coconut and saute for a few more seconds to make sure there is no residual water in the pan.

Remove from heat and serve hot along with rice and sambar or dal.

Notes:

You can add 1/2 tbsp of urad dal (or dehusked black lentils) along with the mustard seeds and fry them till they just begin to change color. You can also add a pinch of turmeric and coriander powders along with the salt, but we actually prefer to have thoran without it.

You can cook vegetables like carrots, beetroot, cabbage, long beans and gourds the same way. You can also try combinations like carrots-beans, cabbage-carrots-beans or asparagus-green peas. Try it for yourself and see!

Green Bean Palya

1 tablespoon oil or ghee
3/4 pound green beans – cut into about 1/2 inch long pieces
pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon urad dal
1/2 teaspoon chana dal
3 fresh curry leaves (can use dry)
1 dried red chili – broken into pieces
1/2 teaspoon sambar powder
2 tablespoons frozen fresh grated coconut – thawed out
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste

Heat oil under a medium flame. Put in a pinch of hing or asafoetida, mustard seed, urad dal and chana dal.

When the mustard seed starts popping and the dals start browning, put in the curry leaf and broken up chili pieces. Mix everything around for 10 seconds until everything is coated with oil.

Next throw in the green beans.

Mix it all up.

Add a little bit of water, turn the heat to low, cover and cook until the beans are almost tender. Mix in sambar powder and cook until the beans are tender. Add the coconut and cook for a few minutes. Turn the heat off and add in the lemon and salt and mix well.

Vangi Baath (Eggplant Rice)

2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seed
pinch of hing or asafoetida
2 fresh curry leaves
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 small eggplant, cut into 1 inch long strips (can use different varieties)
1 green pepper – same size as eggplant
1 small red onion
2 teaspoons vangi baath powder (recipe below)
1 cup cooked and cooled rice
juice of 1/2 lemon (or tamarind extract)
fresh frozen coconut – optional if not in powder

In a frying pan or wok under medium heat, add oil, mustard seeds and hing. Wait for the mustard seeds to pop and then add in the curry leaves and coat with oil. Add in the onion and fry until translucent. Add in the eggplant and green pepper and the turmeric and stir well.

Cook the vegetables until the eggplant is half-cooked. Add in the vangi baath powder and stir fry thoroughly so that the spice mixture is on all of the vegetables. Turn the heat down to cook through and stir periodically.

Once the vegetables are cooked, add in the rice and stir well. Turn off heat. Squeeze lemon and mix together. Top with coriander leaves and serve with yogurt, raita or majjige huli.

Notes: This was a rice for long car rides or on picnics. It’s quite hardy and since it’s so flavorful, you can just eat it as is. Traditionally, vangi baath is made with eggplants, but it can be made it with cauliflower too. You can also fried peanuts to the mix which was really good. Serve it with plain yogurt, raita or majjige huli.

Green Yogurt Curry (Majjige Huli)

1 1/2 pounds summer squash (yellow or green zucchini), cut 1/2 inch thick rounds with large pieces cut again in half
3 cups yogurt (or combo yogurt and buttermilk)
small bunch cilantro leaves
1/2 cup frozen fresh grated coconut, thawed
2 tablespoons chana dal
2-3 green chilis
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
salt to taste

for tempering
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
pinch of hing / asafetida
1 dried red chili
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
4 fresh curry leaves

In a pan, fit a steamer with water below, but just at a level that is below the steamer and not touching it. Place cut summer squash in the steamer basket. Turn the heat to medium/high and when the water starts to boil, turn to medium and cover. Steam for about 15 minutes or until tender. Immediately immerse the squash in a bowl of cold water to avoid overcooking.

In a blender, put in the chana dal and grind until powder. Have about a 1 cup of water by the blender. Add in coconut, green chilies, cilantro, cumin seed, black mustard seeds, turmeric powder and slowly add water as needed so that you can a well ground paste. You want this to be as smooth as possible but by adding in enough water. For this recipe, I added in about 3/4 cup water. When you have a nice paste, add in your yogurt and/or buttermilk. Blend this well.

In a pan place the steamed summer squash, the yogurt curry and salt to taste. Put the heat on medium. You want the mixture to boil once. At this time, turn the heat off.

In a small saucepan, heat the oil under medium heat and add in the hing, black mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds start to pop and the cumin seeds start to brown, turn the heat to low and add in your curry leaves and dried red chili, broken in half. Coat everything with oil and pour this oil mixture on top of the yogurt curry.

Serve majjige huli with hot rice. You can also chill it if you like, but traditionally at home, we would eat it after it was just prepared.

*When eating curry the next day, do not heat it.

Paneer-Stuffed Mini Peppers with Green Pea Chutney

Paneer Stir-Fry
4 oz. paneer cheese, crumbled or cubed small
1 tablespoon oil
1 small shallot, minced
1 inch ginger piece, peeled and grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Indian green chills (can sub in Serranos or jalapeño)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/3 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
salt to taste

Green Pea Chutney
1/3 cup blanched green peas or thawed out frozen peas
3 tablespoons yogurt
3 tablespoons cilantro leaves
squeeze of lemon
salt to taste

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a cookie sheet pan.

In a pan under medium-high heat, place 1 tablespoon of oil. When hot add in cumin seeds. When seeds start to brown after a few seconds, add in shallot. Turn the heat to medium and cook until translucent, a few minutes. Then add the garlic, green chili and ginger. Fry for 30 seconds, mixing about until fragrant. Add in the coriander powder, turmeric, garam masala and mix well. Fry for a few seconds. If pan is getting dry, can add in a few drops of water. Add in the paneer cheese and mix well. Sauté paneer for few minutes. Add salt to taste and turn off heat.

Layer the halved sweet mini peppers on a greased cookie sheet pan. With a teaspoon, fill the pepper halves with paneer stir-fry. Place in the oven to bake for 15 minutes, until peppers are soft and drying out a little on top.

Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, add in the peas, cilantro and yogurt. Puree and transfer to a bowl. Add squeeze of lemon and salt to taste.

Line a plate with the baked peppers and drizzle the green peas chutney on top. Serve immediately.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Tamarind Dressing

2 large heirloom tomatoes
2 cups cherry tomatoes
4 thai chili peppers, red and yellow color
2 tablespoons whole cilantro leaves, fresh
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder, freshly ground + extra if needed
2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
3 teaspoons dark brown sugar or jaggery crushed
1/4 teaspoon toasted coriander powder, freshly ground (see notes above)
100mL cup water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt flakes

Thinly slice the heirloom tomatoes and arrange them on a serving platter. Add the cherry tomatoes over them.
Slice the chili peppers lengthwise in half and arrange them over the tomatoes. Sprinkle the cilantro leaves over the tomatoes.

Take a 500mL mason jar or glass jar with a lid. Add all the ingredients from the tamarind to the olive oil. Close the jar tight with its lid and then shake vigorously until it forms an emulsion. Taste the dressing and adjust seasoning if necessary with salt and pepper.
Drizzle enough dressing over the salad and sprinkle with the Maldon sea salt flakes and/or pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

Stir-Fried Long Beans

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 inch ginger (minced) (30g)
2 red chilies (seeded and cut into pieces)
2 tbsp fermented soy beans (drained and minced)
1 tsp sugar
1 lb long beans (cut into 2 inch lengths) (450g)
1/4=cup water (60mL)

Heat a wok or large fry pan. Add vegetable oil and swirl it around to coat the wok or fry pan.

Add garlic and ginger. Sauté for 20 seconds. Then add red chilies and sauté for another 20 seconds.

Add fermented soy beans and sugar. Continue to stir fry for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.

Add prepared long beans and water. Stir fry for another 5 minutes or until long beans are tender and sauce has thicken.

Turn off stove and transfer vegetables to a serving dish.

Chinese Banged Cucumber Salad

4 cucumbers (japanese or english type)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 clove garlic, smashed (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce 1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp sesame oil

Wash your cucumber thoroughly. Cut off the tips on each side. Holding one end, carefully bang on cucumber with the flat of your cleaver until the cucumber splits and flattens out. It will be a little mushed up which is what you want. Once the whole cucumber is flattened, chop into bit sized piece. (We like to chop at a diagonal.) Do the same to each cucumber.

Add 1/2 tsp salt, mix and place into colander. Let cucumber drip juices out for 15-20 mins in the fridge. Squeeze cucumber lightly to remove most of the juice.

Mix together the chopped cucumber, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil. Taste. It should be equal parts salty, sour and sweet. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Let marinate in refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour, stirring once or twice, before serving. The longer the marination, the tastier.