Eringi mushrooms are a great alternative to meat. They have no flavor, but they fry well. For this recipe, I only used the stems and not the mushroom caps. You can use the whole mushroom, but I’ve found that the stem fries better than the caps. What I’ve been doing is removing the caps and using them for a different vegetarian recipe the next day.
Last July, when I moved to Japan, I lived in a small neighborhood in Osaka. It has tons of little food shops. It was impossible not to find something good to eat. One shop in particular sold Indian food. Over the past few years, I haven’t really eaten too much Indian food, because it was expensive or the restaurants were a little out of the way. Going to that shop and being able to indulge in inexpensive, Indian food was incredible. I loved everything about that little shop.
Now, I live in Tokyo, a food mecca. However, I live a little outside of the city and there are only four Japanese restaurants and a McDonald’s near my house. Luckily, the majority of grocery stores are fully stocked with ingredients from non-Japanese cuisines, so, it’s easy to recreate Indian food at home.
Recently, I’ve been craving Indian food. I wanted to try to make Chicken Tikka Masala from scratch. Overall, the process of making the masala wasn’t as overwhelming as I thought it would be. I’ve only made Indian food about two to three times in my life, and it used to feel strenuous. Making it in a rice cooker helped with the flavor. If you don’t have a rice cooker, try making it in a slow cooker.
I still remember the first spring roll I ever ate. I was in high school and my friend bought a lunch container of spring rolls from the grocery store. I asked him what it was and he let me try one. At the time, I had eaten the fried version of the roll from cheap Chinese restaurants.So, I had no idea what to expect. My first thought was about the wrapper. I did not know that spring roll wrappers were opaque and soft. The roll was filled with vegetables, some I had never heard of, and cooked shrimp. It was paired with a simple ginger and soy sauce. The first bite I took tasted fresh, unlike the fried rolls. In a way, it was unreal how a roll with very few ingredients could taste so good.
Ten years later, I’m living in East Asia and making spring rolls. Surprisingly, the spring rolls that aren’t fried are difficult to find in Nanjing. So, I’ve learned how to make them at home.
At first, I thought making spring rolls was tedious. It does take time to prepare the ingredients before you put them in the spring roll wrapper, especially if you are using an ingredient that needs to be cooked beforehand. When I make them with noodles, I will wait fifteen minutes for the noodles to cool down before handling them. Now that I’ve had more practice, I find it relaxing.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with fillings to see what works and what doesn’t. Here’s what I’ve discovered:
* Cucumbers and carrots are crunchy and keep well overnight in the fridge.
* Bell peppers are good for spring rolls that you plan on eating now, but they slip out of the spring roll when you try to eat one.
* Seasoned vermicelli noodles allow the spring rolls to become a meal, instead of an appetizer, and you don’t have to make a dipping sauce.
If you have some other ingredients that you enjoy adding to your spring rolls, feel free to tell me in the comment section below.
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Fried rice is one of the quickest Chinese dishes to make; it’s also one of the cheapest. When making fried rice all you need is rice and vegetables. You can make it with beef, chicken or top it with scrambled eggs. It’s very easy to make, especially for beginner cooks, and it gives me a chance to try some new Chinese ingredients.
Although I am not a vegetarian, I prefer to eat vegetarian Chinese dishes. I think that most of the sauces and spices used in Chinese cooking compliment vegetables and tofu well. Plus, Chinese vegetables are different from the ones we use in the U.S. The Woks of Life, a blog that focuses on traditional and non-traditional Chinese dishes has a whole glossary dedicated to Chinese vegetables. For this recipe, I decided to keep it simple with carrots and broccoli. However, in the past, I have used bok choy, scallions, bean sprouts, edamame and many other vegetables.
If you are going to try to make fried rice at home, I suggest that you have everything mise en place. This is a fancy French word meaning “putting in place”. Since you will have to work quickly when cooking the ingredients, it’s almost necessary to put all of your ingredients in separate bowls. If you don’t have everything in place, your food can burn and it will be disastrous, trust me.
Don’t be afraid to make fried rice at home. It’s simple to make and doesn’t require much time or money. Even in Nanjing, it’s cheaper for me to make friend rice at home than buying it at a restaurant. Lastly, it’s an easy way to start exploring the world of Chinese cooking.