My Recipe

Hot and Sour Soup


8 oz boneless skinless chicken thigh
2 oz dried Chinese mushroom (about 6 to 8 pieces of 1½” diameter)
1/4 to 1/2 oz dried black shredded fungus (about 1/3 cup)
4 Tbsp (1/2 pack) Sichuan preserved vegetable (榨菜)
1/2 to 1 lb medium firm tofu (drained)
1 Tbsp ginger (shredded)
1 tsp chili oil
3 Tbsp green onion (chopped)


900 ml 25% reduced sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup Chinese red vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1½ tsp Sugar
2 tsp dark soy sauce
dash Szechuan ground pepper
2 tsp cooking wine

Thickening solution:

5 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1 tsp sesame oil


  1. Give dried mushroom a quick rinse, then soak in cold water in a covered bowl for about 1½ hour or until softened. Cut off stems, if any. Rinse cap between the gill and squeeze out water. Cut caps into thin shreds.
  2. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add chicken. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn off heat. Leave chicken in covered saucepan for about 25 minutes. Remove. Cool and tear into shreds.
  3. Soak dried fungus in slightly hot water for about 30 minutes. Rinse and drain.
  4. Rinse tofu with cold water. Drain and cut into thick strips.
  5. Mix seasoning ingredients and thickening solution separately.
  6. Add 1 tsp oil to a wok or cooking pot. Add seasoning ingredients, Chinese mushroom, black fungus, ginger and Sichuan preserved vegetable. Bring to a boil. Add thickening solution. Keep stirring until mixture boils and thickens. Add chili oil, tofu and chicken. Bring mixture to full boil again. Add chopped green onion. Mix well and serve hot with additional chili oil if desired.

Nutrition value for 1/6 portion of recipe:

Calorie 126, Fat 3.9 g, Carbohydrate 13 g, Fibre 1 g, Sugar 3 g, Cholesterol 31 mg, Sodium 937 mg, Protein 11 g.

Is Sous Vide Cooking Safe?

The Institute of Food Research (IFR) has been undertaking research for the Food Standards Agency to establish if the cooking technique sous vide is safe. Sous vide uses lower temperatures to improve food quality and could be a step closer to being more widely adopted after Institute of Food Research scientists assessed the steps needed to ensure the process is safe.

Sous vide cooking involves vacuum packing food in a plastic pouch and then heating in a water bath. Chefs are attracted to the precise nature of the temperature control, allowing innovative use of the technology to create new textures and flavours by manipulating the behaviour of food components such as proteins, starches and fats.

In designing new recipes and processes, microbial safety is paramount and much data has been collected on how well food poisoning bacteria grow and survive in different foods at different temperatures. This data has been collected together and made available through ComBase, a BBSRC-supported National Capability based at IFR. Food manufacturers and academics regularly consult ComBase’s extensive database of microbial growth information.

Recently, there has been an increase in the number of sous vide foods being cooked at lower temperatures, e.g. 42°C to 70°C.Most data on microbial growth in food is based on temperatures below 40°C, with studies focusing on how bacteria grow at ambient temperatures, for example during storage. Other studies have looked at the temperatures at which bacteria are killed, usually around 55-60°C and above. Lack of information in the range of about 40 to 60°C makes it very difficult for cooks, manufacturers, regulators and enforcement officers such to calculate the lethality of such low temperature heat treatments and judge the risk of foods containing pathogens.

To address this issue Dr Sandra Stringer and colleagues at the IFR, which is strategically funded by BBSRC, have gathered the information needed to properly assess the hazards associated with lower temperature cooking. The scientists also carried out a feasibility study on extending models in the ‘Combase Predictor’ database. Specifically they investigated how much work would be needed to upgrade the ComBase database to model the hazards E. coli, Salmonella and L. monocytogenes between around 40 and 60°C. This would help ensure that the safety assessment for sous vide foods is consistent, effective and commensurate with any risk to public health.

This work was carried out as part of a project for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to provide the best information on this issue and propose a way forward to fill the knowledge gap. The full report is available on the FSA website.

Source: Institute of Food Research


Full Report – SAFETY OF SOUS – VIDE FOODS (pdf) …..

Sous vide cooking: A review by Douglas E. Baldwin in International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science …..

Scientists Put Cancer-fighting Power Back into Frozen Broccoli

There was bad news, then good news from University of Illinois broccoli researchers this month. In the first study, they learned that frozen broccoli lacks the ability to form sulforaphane, the cancer-fighting phytochemical in fresh broccoli. But a second study demonstrated how the food industry can act to restore the frozen vegetable’s health benefits.

“We discovered a technique that companies can use to make frozen broccoli as nutritious as fresh. That matters because many people choose frozen veggies for their convenience and because they’re less expensive,” said Elizabeth Jeffery, a U of I professor of nutrition.

“Whenever I’ve told people that frozen broccoli may not be as nutritious as fresh broccoli, they look so downcast,” she added.

As little as three to five servings of broccoli a week provides a cancer-protective benefit, but that isn’t true for bags of broccoli that you pluck out of your grocery’s freezer, she noted.

The problem begins when soon-to-be-frozen broccoli is blanched, or heated to high temperatures, to inactivate enzymes that can cause off-colors, tastes, and aromas during the product’s 18-month shelf life, she explained.

The extreme heat destroys the enzyme myrosinase, which is necessary to form sulforaphane, the powerful cancer-preventive compound in broccoli, she said.

“We know this important enzyme is gone because in our first study we tested three commercially frozen broccoli samples before and after cooking. There was very little potential to form sulforaphane before the frozen broccoli was cooked and essentially none after it was cooked as recommended,” said Edward B. Dosz, a graduate student in Jeffery’s laboratory.

In the second study, the researchers experimented with blanching broccoli at slightly lower temperatures instead of at 86ºC, the current industry standard. When they used a temperature of 76ºC, 82 percent of the enzyme myrosinase was preserved without compromising food safety and quality.

Sulforaphane is formed when fresh broccoli is chopped or chewed, bringing its precursor glucoraphanin and the enzyme myrosinase into contact with each other. The researchers first thought that thawing frozen broccoli in the refrigerator might rupture the plant’s cells and kick-start the enzyme–substrate interaction. It didn’t work, Dosz said.

But they had previously had success using other food sources of myrosinase to boost broccoli’s health benefits. So the researchers decided to expose frozen broccoli to myrosinase from a related cruciferous vegetable.

When they sprinkled 0.25 percent of daikon radish—an amount that’s invisible to the eye and undetectable to our taste buds—on the frozen broccoli, the two compounds worked together to form sulforaphane, Dosz said.

“That means that companies can blanch and freeze broccoli, sprinkle it with a minute amount of radish, and sell a product that has the cancer-fighting component that it lacked before,” he said.

One question remained: Would sulforaphane survive the heat of microwave cooking? “We were delighted to find that the radish enzyme was heat stable enough to preserve broccoli’s health benefits even when it was cooked for 10 minutes at 120ºF. So you can cook frozen broccoli in the microwave and it will retain its cancer-fighting capabilities,” Dosz said.

Jeffery hopes that food processors will be eager to adopt this process so they can market frozen broccoli that has all of its original nutritional punch.

Until they do, she said that consumers can spice up their frozen, cooked broccoli with another food that contains myrosinase to bring the cancer-fighting super-food up to nutritional speed.

“Try teaming frozen broccoli with raw radishes, cabbage, arugula, watercress, horseradish, spicy mustard, or wasabi to give those bioactive compounds a boost,” she advised.

Source: University of Illinois

An Appetizer with Mussels and Raviolis


Vanilla Broth

3 lbs island blue mussels
1 cup chardonnay
1 medium onion, minced
30 threads saffron
1/2 tsp Tabasco
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 large vanilla bean

Green Onion Essence

1/2 bunch green onions, green
portion only, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Chive Raviolis

8 oz sea scallops
1/4 cup coarsely chopped chives
2 oz white dry vermouth
freshly ground pepper, to taste
18 Asian dumpling wrappers
cornmeal for dusting


  1. Vanilla broth should be made one day ahead. In large pot, with tight fitting lid, over high heat, steam mussels and wine until mussels open. Remove mussels from shells and set aside some shells for garnish. Remove any beards from mussels. Strain broth through fine mesh strainer.
  2. Return broth to heat and add onions, saffron, Tabasco, water, cornstarch and garlic. Scrape centre of vanilla bean into broth. Discard pod. Bring to simmer and gently cook 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let steep until ready to serve, at least 15 minutes or preferably overnight.
  3. To prepare green onion essence: Combine all ingredients in food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to small saucepan. Over high heat, heat through until it begins to separate and bubbles form, about 5 minutes. Strain through fine mesh strainer. Do not apply pressure, let drip naturally.
  4. To prepare raviolis: Combine all ingredients, except wrappers and cornmeal, in food processor and process until thoroughly combined. Mixture should be pale green colour with dark green flecks. Place 1 to 2 tsp of filling on each wrapper. Moisten edge with water and fold over to create triangle. Press down edges with fork to seal securely. Dust with cornmeal to avoid sticking. Poach in boiling salted water until tender. Do not overcook.
  5. Prior to serving, reheat broth. Add mussels until just heated through.
  6. Place 3 raviolis on each plate. Ladle broth with mussels over top. Garnish with green onion essence and mussel shells.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Gusto!

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