Wok Wednesdays – Stir-Fry Fuzzy Melon with Ginger Pork

Stir-Fried Fuzzy Melon with Ginger Pork recipe comes from page 232 Stir-Frying To The Sky’s Edge by Grace Young. Check out Wok Wednesdays on Facebook, a group of over 500 members cooking their way through Grace’s fantastic cookbook.

Fuzzy melon in the wet market of Hong Kong

Fuzzy melon in the wet market of Hong Kong

As a Weight Watchers leader, a common summertime theme was to get members to try a new vegetable as there are many fresh options for vegetables available. I was always astounded by the limited vegetable palate of most members. Sometimes trying the zucchini was an adventure.

For me, I struggled to find vegetables that I had not tried and incorporated into my cooking repertoire. Asian vegetables opened a whole new world of things to try. Strolling through the enormous Asian markets in Minneapolis with my favorite Asian cook, Ari, was fascinating. I learned so much. What to buy, how to cook, frozen vs. fresh, canned vs. frozen. Little did I know that her help in Minneapolis would improve my cooking in Hong Kong. And, Wok Wednesdays has guided me along the way in finding new ways to prepare and cook the common Asian vegetable.

Fuzzy Melon

Fuzzy Melon

I have seen the fuzzy melon in the wet markets in Hong Kong. It is available year round. The fuzziness is not detected until you touch. It is a little prickly, but not too bad. These melons were tender and a bit on the small side. I selected two, and they were the perfect amount for the recipe.

Chopped melon

I did not peel them. My mistake but when I realized the recipe called for peeling, I tasted the uncooked piece, and the skin was tender and not bitter, so I proceeded. I actually think that visually, the dish, I think, is more appealing with some or all of the skin unpeeled.

In the wok and very pretty!

In the wok and very pretty!

It is amazing how far protein can go in a stir-fry dish. With only two ounces of pork in the dish, it was still very flavorful and filling. I thought the fuzzy melon was very close to zucchini. It had great texture, and the ginger was very nice with the pork and the melon.

The finished dish! Filling and tasty stir-fried fuzzy melon with ginger pork

The finished dish! Filling and tasty stir-fried fuzzy melon with ginger pork

Ok, I met the summertime challenge of trying a new vegetable. Actually, I meet that challenge a lot living in Hong Kong. Fuzzy melon was new for me. It was nice, and I would cook with it again. Maybe in a soup or fresh on salad. What could be next in tasting new and different things? Durian? Not likely at this time, but one never knows.

 

 

Temples and Elephants – Chaing Mai Thailand

Elephants are a symbol of Thailand. This temple is one of the oldest in Chaing Mai

Elephants are a symbol of Thailand. This temple is one of the oldest in Chaing Mai

It feels a little strange to consider our recent trip to Thailand and all that has unfolded since we departed. In Chaing Mai, there was no evidence of the political turmoil that the people were experiencing in the southern areas in and near Bangkok. However, recent reports in the South China Morning Post indicate that Chaing Mai is feeling the effects of the military takeover. I am sure that tourism will be down. Tourism in Thailand in the last year was already down by 20% even before the current strife. This decline in the economy is sad for a number of reasons . My heart goes out to the four-legged friends we met recently.

The lack of tourists to Chaing Mai is most concerning for the animals at the Elephant Nature Park that relies on tourist volunteers to feed and care for over 39 rescued elephants and 200 rescured dogs and cats as well as a number of water buffalo. Visiting tourists have the opportunity to learn about the situation for elephants post logging in Thailand and to feed and bathe these sweet and gentle animals. It is an enourmous task to keep these creatures fed and the visitors not only help by working, but the fees paid for entry to the park assist in purchasing the food and medical supplies needed to keep the park running.

At the Elephant Nature Park in Chaing Mai Thailand. Home to rescued elephants, dogs cats and water buffalos.

At the Elephant Nature Park in Chaing Mai Thailand. Home to rescued elephants, dogs cats and water buffalos. This sweet girl was the victim of a land mine on the Thai Burma border.

Food is separated in baskets for each elephant. Some have special dietary needs and medication.

Food is separated in baskets for each elephant. Some have special dietary needs and medication. Watermelon is a favorite.

Racks of pumpkin await prepartion.

Racks of pumpkin await prepartion.

elephant 3 steve and andrea with elephant 2

Since logging was banned in 1989, elephants still suffer. The ban left over 3,000 logging elephants essentially homeless. No longer needed, they were left with no purpose. Anyone can own an elephant. They are considered livestock and the homeless elephants were used as sideshows for tourists and until very recently, were used to beg on the streets in Bangkok. The Elephant Nature Park started to buy injured and exploited elephants giving them sanctuary and a quiet home. Some of the elepahnat here are over 80 years old.

Mom and baby enjoy a mud bath. Mud works as a sunscreen.

Mom and baby enjoy a mud bath. Mud works as a sunscreen.

Bath time at the river. Elephants need to bathe daily to keep them cool and to hydrate their skin.

Bath time at the river. Elephants need to bathe daily to keep them cool and to hydrate their skin.

bath 2

Additionally, the park works to train mahouts (elephant owners) throughout Thailand and in Cambodia to work with elephants in humane ways. The process of taming the elephants is a horrific and sinister process. We watched a film that showed the process, and I could not stand to watch or listen. The park founder Sangduen “Lek” Chailert has proven that there are humane methods to train elephants to be with people and is working to spread the word. 

Baby born in captivity with mother and aunt

Baby born in captivity with mother and aunt

Currently the park has raised three elephants that were born in captivity to be released back to the wild. However, the danger of poaching is too great for this to happen very soon.  It is estimated that there are just 1,500 wild elephants left in Thailand.

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Wok Wednesdays – Cashew Chicken

This recipe comes from Stir-Fry to the Sky’s Edge page 123 by Grace Young and is part of the Wok Wednesdays cooking project that can be found on Facebook or on Wok Wednesdayas 

cashew chicken

cashew chicken

 

Cashew Chicken. It is not a dish I would order in a restaurant. It was very easy and good, but not very remarkable compared to other dishes.

I deciced when I joined Wok Wednesdays that as I would always try to make the recipe as written when I can find all the ingredients. I then make notes and suggest changes I would make. for me and my family.  On this dish, I would definately add some heat in the form of thai chilis, serrono or jalepenos. It would be a great dish to serve to those that do not like heat, but enjoy an nice Chinese stir-fry.

Wok Wednesdays – Stir-Fried Garlic Snow Pea Shoots with Crabmeat

This recipe comes from Stir-Fry to The Skys Edge page 156 by Grace Young and is part of the Wok Wednesday Project that can be found on Facebook

The finished dish. Stir-Fried Garlic Snow Pea Shoots with Crabmeat

The finished dish. Stir-Fried Garlic Snow Pea Shoots with Crabmeat

This fairly easy, really decadent dish was a cinch to make and was packed with a very rich flavor. Pea shoots are sweet and tender when young. It was an easy find in the wet markets of Hong Kong. Lump crabmeat was more of a difficult find, but in the more western-style groceries we did find them.

Fresh, tender pea shoots.

Fresh, tender pea shoots.

Crabmeat and egg white.

Crabmeat and egg white.

Crabmeat is mixed with chicken broth and egg whites are whisked to form the sauce.

The stir-fry of pea shoots and garlic

The stir-fry of pea shoots and garlic

The garlic and pea shoots are stir-fried to make the base for the delicious crab sauce.

The first time I had pea shoots was in a pasta dish made by my daughter, Kam. The recipe came from the NYTimes Mark Bittman and and included morel mushrooms. It is a really wonderful dish, and a a perinneal favorite when we are in Oregon in spring and have a weath of delightful morels. Like the crabmeat, the morals are rich and lovely with the sweet and tender pea shoots.

Not a photgenic dish, but it did not last too long.

a picture is worth a 1,000 words

a picture is worth a 1,000 words

Need a Guide in Burma (Myanmar)? – Look No Further

Steve and Mr. Han (in his signature hat) outside a Kachin restaurant in Bhamo, Myanmar

Steve and Mr. Han (in his signature hat) outside a Kachin restaurant in Bhamo, Myanmar

My husband and I just completed a 16-night trip to Burma. It was, without a doubt, the trip of a lifetime. On planes, trains, boats and cars from Yangon to Mandalay, to Mogok and Began; we experienced the beautiful people and rich culture of this land. Only because of our guide, Mr. Han, were we able to see and experience so much. It is fair to say that Mr. Han might be the most well-traveled guide for his age in all of Burma. As a child, he spent his summer holidays travelling with his father who was a lorry driver for the military. With his father, they covered every road in Burma transporting goods in every direction. For fun, Mr. Han memorized the names of all the villages they were in, in the order they visited and made note of the uniqueness of each place. With these experiences and his pride in his country, he is able to put together terrific itineraries based on personal requests and interests.
One of the things that sticks with me most about our trip is a memory of the request we made when starting to plan. I told him that I wanted to see the country and not just the touristy sites. He said to me, “I see, you don’t want to see a tourist, but you want to be one.” I loved the frankness and he was correct! I can say that, in several places on the trip, we were definitely the only western or European tourists for miles. We were told at the gem market in Mogok that we were the first Americans one man had ever seen there. We had lunch and cooking lessons in private homes and saw the relics of one of the most famous Buddhist monks in Burma.
From hiking the ice mountain outside Patao to river cruises on the Irrawaddy or Chindwin rivers to the dry lands of the temple-rich Began, Mr. Han can arrange it all for you. You will meet and support local enterprises, and villages, spread the wealth to the people in this emerging tourist destination.
One more thing to note, Mr. Han is a dedicated supporter of the National League for Democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi. If you are lucky and it is your wish, he might even be able to arrange a sighting of Burma’s most famous and dedicated servant. Mr. Han is amazing and so is the tours he provides!

Jennifer with a brief interaction wiht Aung San Suu Kyi. Mr. Han managed to capture the moment. At National League for Democracy Headquarters, Yangon

Jennifer having a brief interaction wiht Aung San Suu Kyi. Mr. Han managed to capture the moment. At National League for Democracy Headquarters, Yangon

Mr. Han Travels & Tours.
Address:No.162 /164 ,3rd Floor,Mahabandoola Road,Pazuntaung Tsp,Yangon,Myanmar.
Hot Line:+95 9 42102 3653,Tel / Fax: +95 1 9010403.
Email: mrhantravel@gmail.com or mr.han1000@gmail.com
Website: www.mrhantravels.com
www.vacationmyanmartour.com,www.myanmartravelservices.com

Wok Wednesdays: Stir-Fried Mongolian Lamb with Scallions.

Stir-fried Mongolian Lamb with Scallions

Stir-fried Mongolian Lamb with Scallions

This recipe comes from Grace Young’s Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge page 90 and is part of the Wok Wednesday’s online cooking project that can be found on Facebook.
Wok Wednesdays just celebrated the 500-member mark. Congratulations!Keep on Wokkin!

Last month, I finished reading “On The Noodle Road from Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta” by Jen Lin-Liu. It was an excellent read, and I so wanted to set out on her path to expereince all the noodle. I also was intrigued with the use of lamb in the northern part of China chronicled in the book. It makes sense that lamb would be used in this region, but you don’t find lamb in a stir-fry here in Hong Kong. So, I was pleased to try this recipe.

This turned out to be such an effortless dish for me. Not always able to find things like lamb or beef in the markets here, I found it within 15 minutes and less then 1 km from my house. I also had all the ingredients for the sauce on hand, and I quickly found spring onions (which also is not always easy).

I used the Cantonese-style wok for this dish because I love how it sears meat, and it did not let me down. The sear was great on the bits of lamb. I marinated the meat about three hours with the garlic and the sauce. And, using my handy-dandy micro shredder made quick work of the spring onions.

I am pleased with just about everything that I make from SFTTSE, but this was truely an outstanding dish. The flavors of the sauce complimented the lamb. It had a bit of spice to it and the sauce was great. I served with just steamed green beans and some rice. I don’t think I want lamb any other way, except for maybe in a gyro!

Simple ingredients for Mongolian lamb prepped and ready to go!

Simple ingredients for Mongolian lamb prepped and ready to go!

Wok Wednesdays- BBQ Pork Lo Mein and Catch Up

BBQ Pork Lo Mein...Delicious!

BBQ Pork Lo Mein…Delicious!

It has been a while since I have been able to get back to my wok in Hong Kong, but this last weekend I made up some time and tackled three recent recipes from the Wok Wednesdays schedule.

Barbeque Pork Lo Mein was a quick and easy dish that delivered great taste. This recipe comes from Grace Young’s Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge page 273 and is part of the Wok Wednesday’s online cooking project that can be found on Facebook.

I purchased my BBQ pork at the barbeques stall near my house in the Central wet market. I also made BBQ pork from Grace’s recips in SFSE page 285. My version was not quite as good as that purchased, but not back for a first attempt. This is a simple stir-fry and a quick meal.

Choi Sum

Choi Sum


Choi Sum is a dark leafy green available all year in Hong Kong wet markets. I have always prepared choi sum steamed and with a little bit of vinegar, just like a spinach. This recipe from SSFE page 196 is excellent. The oyster sauce really enhances the flavor. You may find choi sum in US markets named Yau Choi. Same vegetable.
fresh Choi Sum

fresh Choi Sum

Southwest Roadtrip

My Driver

My Driver

Being confined in a boot, unable to drive and directed to stay off my feet is frustrating. I am trying my best but by the end of the week, a girl has to get out of the house. So, I got my driver to take me on a Southwest road trip.

Southwest desert straight roads

Southwest desert straight roads

Phoenix to Las Cruces, New Mexican was the plan. Getting out on roads that we have not traveled before and eating really good New Mexican food…red and green chile. Also experienced the best pozole I have ever eaten!

Possibly the best pozole I have ever eaten from

Possibly the best pozole I have ever eaten from Luchador in Las Cruces, NM. Also, cool invention of “holey” plate to serve the soup!

Luchador food truck at Las Cruces Saturday Farmer's Market

Luchador food truck at Las Cruces Saturday Farmer’s Market

We arrived in Las Cruces late in the day and took a quick trip to Mesilla. Light was beautiful and the public square is very sweet with the Basilica and Mary watching over all.

Basilica of San Albino in Mesilla, NM

Basilica of San Albino in Mesilla, NM


Mary against a beautiful sky.

Mary against a beautiful sky.

The Kitchen God

Kitchen God for the Year of the Horse

Kitchen God for the Year of the Horse


As the year of the snake comes to a close, and preparations for the new year are in full swing, it is time to pay special attention to a very important member of the Chinese home, the Kitchen God.

The Kitchen God lives close to the stove or hearth in each home. Usually in the form of red and gold sign of his name or in a photo, his purpose is to observe the health of the family throughout the year and return to the Jade Emperor to report what has been said and done in the household over the past year. He is one of the most worshiped and respected of all gods that protect the home and family. Additionally, he can inspire the cook to make healthy and flavorful food for the family throughout the year.

Before the Kitchen God returns to heaven to make his report, offerings of liquor and delectable foods are offered to make him happy and maybe a bit tipsy. Additionally just prior to his return on New Year’s eve, his lips are smeared with honey to “sweeten” his words or to stick his lips together so he cannot report. The effigy is then burned, and a new one is put in its place. If you are lucky enough to have a statue of the Kitchen God, it is removed and cleaned to begin a new cycle.

My kitchen god is in Hong Kong awaiting my return. He oversaw my purchase and seasoning of two good and trusty woks that prepared many a delicious dish. He also inspired my cooking and kept all who entered our home well-fed and happy.

The Kitchen God has been invited into our Phoenix home, and he will preside over the health and happiness if this place. Also, a new flat-bottomed wok found is way here just in time to cook for the beginning of the year of the horse.