Love that Crunch (from Bean Sprouts) May 20, 2010

Filed under: Meals — sotsil @ 8:59 pm
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I don’t know that many people who like bean sprouts.  Asians buy them regularly to add to soups and to green salads.  They spell b-o-r-e-d-o-m to some, and their taste doesn’t tingle the taste buds.  But there’s one way to enjoy bean sprouts and that’s to dress them up with meat or shrimp with a handful of other crisp greens.  The trick is to saute them but not to the point that they start to wilt and get soggy.


bean sprouts with shrimps1


I also remember bean sprouts stuffed into egg rolls – we called them "lumpiang togue" back home and we used to douse them in spicy vinegar.  Heavenly taste!  I’d have a hard time getting any of my North American friends to enjoy it so I don’t really serve them to invited guests for dinner.  They would accuse me of serving rabbit food, or insulting their culinary sensibilities or something absurd like that, and that I’m sure would ruin my reputation. 


Food has a way of making or breaking friendships.  One upon a time I gave one of my French Canadian friends a box of six steamed buns, thinking she would enjoy them with gusto.  A few weeks later, after I had not heard anything from her, I had to ask her if she liked them.  Her face turned red and she confessed that she spit them out so violently and threw the whole box away.  She said the taste and appearance of the inside of the bun were revolting.  Oh dear, never again…


The lady is still my friend although that incident haunts me every now and then.  The only time we break bread together is to have scrambled eggs for breakfast when we meet twice a year four our birthdays.  I guess there are people who don’t like to get out of their comfort zone when it comes to food.  I wonder if she’ll drop me like a hot potato if I served her the dish above.


Anyway, if you do care to venture into bean sprouts, here’s the recipe:


1 supermarket bag of bean sprouts (maybe 1-2 pounds)

1 cup shrimps (medium size)

1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced

2 tbsp onions, chopped

1 tbsp of garlic (I dare you to put more!)

2 tbsp canola oil

4-5 tbsp of soy sauce

salt and pepper to taste



1.  Wash the bean sprouts thoroughly in cold running water.  Set aside.

2.  Heat some oil and saute your onions and garlic – about a minute.

3.  Add your green and red bell peppers.  Continue to saute until soft but not soggy.

4.  Add your shrimps.

5.  When shrimps are cooked (be careful not to overcook the shrimps), add your bean sprouts, lowering the heat.  Mix the bean sprouts with the ingredients vigorously – about 1-2 minutes.  Make sure they still have their crunch.  Once they get soft and have shed off lots of water, I’m afraid you’ve overdone it!

6.  Flavor with the soy sauce and salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.


Note:  a cup of fresh bean sprouts contains 31 calories.  They’re low in fat and cholesterol.  They’re very high in riboflavin and manganese.


Don’t Scrimp on Shrimp! October 23, 2009

Filed under: Meals — sotsil @ 6:08 pm
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shrimps and snowpeas

Back in May, I posted a shrimp recipe with green beans.  Here’s the link:

The picture on the left is a variation of that recipe.  This time instead of green beans, I used snow peas and carrots.

Back when I was all skin and bones and my poor mother was at her wits’ end trying to fatten me up, the doctor said I had an allergy to shrimps.  Fortunately, that allergy didn’t last too long and I started eating shrimps and loving them.  They may be high in cholesterol but my mother could not have cared one bit because she thought of me as a malnourished-looking waif; she didn’t want neighbors and friends to think that she was to blame for my impoverished look.  She encouraged my love for shrimps and cooked meals which I devoured.  I was particularly crazy about her camaron rebosado (deep-fried shrimp in batter – similar to the Japanese tempura).  The fact that my father also loved shrimp made it a household staple.  During those days, we were more concerned about good quality shrimps and where to buy them than about the cholesterol issue.

I keep a bag of frozen shrimps available at all times because they’re one of the easiest to improvise a meal with.  Foodies will say there’s a world of difference between fresh and frozen, but I don’t mind that difference one bit because there will always be ingredients that can enhance the taste of frozen shrimp.  With a bit of creativity, imagination and enthusiasm, you can really whip up a dream meal.

What I like about this recipe is the cracker-barrel crunch offered by the snow peas and the carrots.  The trick is not to overcook them so they get just the right crunchiness.  And it’s a meal that needs no salad as a side dish because you’ve got your vegetables already.

Here’s the recipe (it’s so simple – you might even say, “hey this is just like the way they make it at the Chinese restaurant!”):


method for shrimp and snow peas

As a matter of interest, shrimp contains many vitamins and minerals, notably niacin, vitamins B-12 and D, iron, potassium, sodium, phosphorous, and others; it is also high in protein.  For every 100 grams of shrimp, you get the equivalent of 444 kj of energy!


Cabbage Strips: Budget Meal # 1 August 26, 2009

Filed under: Budget Meals — sotsil @ 11:00 am
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cabbage with shrimp

When purse strings are a bit tight and you’re less inclined to prepare family meals with ingredients that eat into your grocery budget, you look for recipes that are not just “quick and easy” but also nutritious.  These types of recipes flood cyberspace and I’m sure that with some diligent research you can end up with a dozen to keep in your recipe files.

Economic downturn or not, I’ve always had a fondness for short recipes; that is, I tend to go for meals that can be prepared with five to seven ingredients.  I have a mild aversion to “kitchen gymnastics”  where the recipe has several stages, along with complex steps that have to be followed with Olympic accuracy.

Cooking is supposed to be fun so that when the meal is ready, you’re not too exhausted to enjoy it.  I’ve come across recipes that read like the Guinness World of Records and demand herculean effort – they turn me off.  I don’t want to use four different pans and half a dozen spoons and ladels just for one dish and tax my arms and elbows – only to find out hours later that the concoction collapsed because I happened to open the oven door just a tad.  Goodbye.

This is a cabbage recipe that we often ate back home and it is versatile enough that you can substitute the shrimps with either beef, chicken or pork.  You may even want to use tofu if you’re not into seafood or you’re a vegetarian. Your utensils?  one knife, one frying pan, one wooden spoon.  Chopping the cabbage into strips should take no more than 10 minutes.  Or you can use your food processor – but then that would mean having to take it out – another utensil to add – and washing it afterwards.  A good sharp knife and nimble fingers should serve you well:


cabbage ing


1)  Heat canola oil (you can use any kind of oil) on medium heat for 2 minutes.

2)  Saute your onions, garlic and tomatoes – about 2-3 minutes.  Do not let garlic burn.

3)  Add your shrimps.  Continue to saute for another 1-2 minutes.

4)  Then add the cabbage strips and mix well, making sure all the strips are cooked until tender to the bite, adding your oyster sauce at the same time.  Mix and coat well (about 2-3 minutes).

5)  Serve with white steamed rice!

A few tips:  (a)  Cabbage cooks quickly (especially when they’re in strips) so make sure you don’t let them turn soggy.  They should be crunchy, not tough. 

(b) You can thaw your frozen shrimps in the fridge overnight, or else rinse them under cold running water for 3-4 minutes.  Set them aside until you’re ready to add them to the frying pan. 

(c)  If your shrimps are large, you don’t need 2 cups. 

(d)  As for the oyster sauce, I always dilute it with a bit of water until I reach a creamy consistency.  Don’t put too much water, otherwise you’ll end up with a “liquidy” oyster sauce.

(e)  If you prefer tofu, buy the extra firm tofu and slice them into cubes.  Fry them on high heat for the first 3-4 minutes, and then gradually decrease to medium heat.  The idea is to have crisp, well-browned tofu cubes.  When your cabbage is ready, the tofu is the last ingredient that you sprinkle over your cabbage.

Cabbage nutrition facts:  very low in saturated fats, a rich source of protein, vitamins A, B6 and C.  Also contains magnesium, folate, potassium, calcium, thiamine, copper and other minerals.