I eat so much until people call me Dr. Fish Fish.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chinese New Year Eve's dinner

This is definitely the best Chinese New Year I had in U.S.

The Hubby is together with me, the most important among all. We don't have to do the long distance celebration through yahoo anymore.

I decided to cook a 6-dish reunion dinner for just the two of us, while thinking our family back home.

My budget for the dinner was US$50, and I did quite well in purchasing. ;) I will break down what each dish cost us.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Preparation in progress. No shrimp nor crab. No red meat. This was a meal that opted for healthier choices.

The cutting and cleaning part of the ingredient took me about 2 hrs. But the cooking part was only around 25 min, except for one dish that took 1.5 hrs to get done.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Tralalala~~~ our not so luxurious reunion dinner version 2010.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
The most expensive dish among them. Steamed fish. This is a very important dish, as in Chinese tradition, fish is same sound as savings. A whole fish is an essential element for symbolizing a lot of savings for the coming year. The fish is a complete from from head to tail. Only the scales and inner organs were cleaned. We only ate 1/4 of the whole fish, and keep the remaining for the next day, so that I have leftover fish (equal to have savings!!) I was glad the taste turned up pretty similar to mom's recipe, except that I did not used pork belly.

Preparation time: 10 min
Cooking time: 15 min
Ingredients: Whole red snapper (0.92lb, $7.35), sliced ginger ($0.09), sour mustard (1 pack for $0.69, only used 1/5, $0.14), sliced rehydrated shiitake + Japanese umeboshi + olive oil + soysauce (around $0.50), a steamer rack ($1.51)
Total = $9.59

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Next, an herbal chicken soup. This was my first time dealing with a whole chicken.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
The soup remained mild to balance up other more strong flavor dishes.

Preparation time: 15 min for the chicken, the mushroom and fuchuk required 1 hr for softening
Cooking time: 1.5 hr, first with strong heat, when boiled, turned to low heat until the chicken texture was fall off the bone
Ingredients: Whole chicken (more than 4lbs, $3.31!), chinese herbal ($1.00), fuchuk (one pack, $1.75), spring onion ($0.05)
Total = $6.11
Tips: I got the whole chicken at Vons, at only $0.77 per lb.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
A colorful combination of vegetables to make the must have mixed vegetable in my family tradition. I was pretty happy with this dish too, almost similar to mom's taste. It was a very easy to cook dish too.

Preparation time: 15 min for vegetable, 10 min for chicken breast (I bought chicken breast with skin and bone, cheaper, but need more cleaning work)
Cooking time: 5 min under strong heat
Ingredients: One red bell pepper ($0.19!), half cauliflower ($0.39!), 3 celery stalks ($0.30), 4 leaves of napa cabbage ($0.12), half pack of snow pea ($0.45), half of one chicken breast ($0.50!), bit of corn starch for coating the chicken breast + soysauce ($0.05)
Total = $2.00!
Tips: These cheap and fresh vegetables can get during sales at Sprout and 99 Ranch Market, I got the chicken at Vons.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
The next is a vegetarian friendly dish, very easy to make and a twist to use ready sauces. This is a combination of fresh black fungus with tomato and vegetarian ham. It is very easy for the sauce part, simply use a Sichuan Hot and Spicy Soup Base for Hot Pot by Lim Kum Kee.

Preparation time: 5 min (just clean the black fungus, cut the tomato into big cubes and diced up two slices of vegetarian ham)
Cooking time: 5 min under strong heat, no oil was used. Just heat the sauce with a little bit of water, stir the ham with the sauce for a while before adding black wood ear and tomato. Put on the lid and let it simmer for a few min. Done!
Ingredients: A pack of fresh black wood ear ($1.36), one huge tomato ($0.48), 2 slices of vegetarian soy ham ($0.80), Sichuan hot and spicy soup base (I got this during 3 for $2.00 offer, I only used 1/4 pack, $0.22)
Total = $2.86
Tips: Vegeratian soy ham is one of my top favorite among all the meat substitute. It is very multifunctions. You can use it in almost everything. I will show you other uses from time to time in the future. I got this whole big log in an Asian supermarket for only $6.60. Normally, it costs around $8.00-9.00 dollar. I prefer the pink ham and made in Taiwan, they are better quality and more flavorful.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
This next dish was just a way to use up my leftover long egg plant in the refrigerator. It turned out pretty well. It was a combination of very soft tofu + egg plant + chicken breast with a sprinkle of spring onion.

Preparation time: 5 min (cut the tofu, cut the egg plant in wedge shape and diced the chicken breast)
Cooking time: 15 min under medium heat, just a bit of olive oil was used. Add in a teaspoon of black bean paste with half teaspoon of ground chili past with a bit of olive oil. Add in the eggplant then add on some water, simmer with lid for about 5 min. Add in the chicken and simmer for another 5 min. Add in the tofu for the last 5 min. Garnish with a bit of spring onion.
Ingredients: Very soft tofu (10 0z., $0.50), 1 long eggplant ($0.30), half of one chicken breast ($0.50), 1 tsp black bean paste + 1/2 tsp ground fresh chili paste (can be bought in a can in Asian supermarket, $0.30), green onion for garnishing ($0.05)
Total = $1.65!

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
The last one is another very vegetarian friendly dish. Super easy to prepare. If you are a mushroom lover, you will like this. I got all these three mushrooms in 99 Ranch Market.

Preparation time: 5 min (Hand tear the enoki and shimeji, sliced the eringi)
Cooking time: 5 min under strong heat, just a bit of olive oil was used. Brown a bit the eringi, then add in shimeji, the enoki only added in at the last minute. Add soysauce according to own slatiness liking. Garnish with a bit of spring onion.
Ingredients: One pack of enoki ($0.49), one pack of shimeji ($0.99), half pack of eringi or king oyster mushroom ($0.75), soysauce + green onion for garnishing ($0.10)
Total = $1.84!
Tips: This is a versatile dish. You can use all sorts of mushroom. I personally like the combination of these three because they match with each other.

Two plates of brown rice = $0.40 (we got brown rice at $0.79/lb at Sprout)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
A Yam Seng with the Hubby before we started our meal.

A bottle of Chinese beer : $1.50

Grand total: $25.95!! (even after including the electricity, it will not exceed $30.00)

Not too bad huh? ^_^

We did not finish the dish. I guess I won't have to cook for the next three days. :P

Friday, February 12, 2010

New year new blogging style

It is going to be Chinese New Year in another 2 days. We are not going to have a grand one, as the Hubby is the sole breadmaker now. We need to be very careful with our expenses until I finally landed a job. However, that does not mean we don't get to celebrate it in an economical way.

In fact, I have been thinking these few days, I want to make this blog a record of my days in making cheap, yummy and nutritious dinners. I like to save money, I like cooking, nothing beat seeing the hubby so enjoying his dinner after a long and tired day at work.

I have written down 8 dishes I want to make for our new year eve's dinner tomorrow. My limit is US$50, hopefully much cheaper.

Up next is our cheap New Year Eve's + Valentine's dinner next. ^_^

I promise, I will blog at least 5 times a week from now on. Be it only about a cheap dinner. :P


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Go Saints!!

Man~~~ I am so lazy. I am so not initiated to blog.

I am stressed. So don't ask me anything about job finding. Thanks.

Promise will announce loud loud here when I get one.

Went to a Cajun restaurant with the Hubby to cheer for the Saints. New Orleans was the first city I went in U.S. There is something about this place that just captured my heart.

For the first time, I enjoyed so much in watching the game from the beginning until the end. I am happy to get more familiar with the rules. Couldn't say the same for the commercials. Previous years seemed to be better.

We all went berserk when Saints did so well. Even joined the small victory parade led by the restaurant's owner.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Would never have thought I could enjoy watching an American football game so much.

Oh, I think I am liking Superbowl game more than the hot dudes in World Cup. ;)