Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers – February 23rd

This week Zarah and I decided to try some Asian recipes. With the exception of an occasional stir fry, I have seldom cooked Asian food at home, so this was a welcome opportunity to try something new.

I was immediately intrigued with the idea of making soy milk from scratch when I first read pinkcocoa’s IMBB 11 post. I don’t drink soy milk very often (and when I do it is of the chocolate persuasion), but I have cooked with it from time to time. Mostly, though, I was just curious to try homemade soy milk. I also wanted try pinkcocoa’s okara pancakes which are made with the ground soy (okara) that is a by-product of making soy milk. I found that pinkcocoa’s instructions for making soy milk were quite easy and I was very pleased with the results. This soy milk has a pleasant beany flavor which is unfamiliar to me, but is something I think I will grow to like. I used it in the okara pancakes and also made some chocolate pudding – both were quite good. The pancakes were moist and delicate with a sort of nutty texture that I really liked. Using okara in cookies or quick breads would add an interesting texture as well as nutrients and fiber. If you drink or cook with soy milk, do give pinkcocoa’s recipes for soy milk and okara a try!

With this week’s Asian theme in mind, I started wandering around the numerous Asian food blogs out there that are written in English (Santos’ list of Asian women’s food blogs is an excellent starting point if you are similarly inclined) and came upon Ruth’s my little cyberspot. I was exploring her recipe archive and thought her recipe for Zha Jiang Mian (Beijing noodles with thick minced beef sauce) sounded easy and yummy – a perfect weeknight dinner. I made it last night, substituting Udon noodles for the Taiwanese noodles. I had originally intended to add some chili flakes since Ruth mentioned the dish would normally include something spicy, but I forgot. Even so, I thought it was delicious. It is a hearty meat sauce flavored with hoisin sauce, sherry, ginger, onion, and garlic. I don’t know how Udon noodles compare to Taiwanese noodles, but I thought they worked well with the sauce. This is a recipe that I will definitely make again.

That’s all from here – now hop on over to Zarah’s to see what's cooking at her place.


Reid said...

Hi Cathy,

I've never made soy milk from scratch, so you deserve a lot of credit for doing so. I'm going to try it too.

Zha jiang mian from what I'm told, is a Chinese interpretation of a Korean dish. The meat sauce is actually suppossed to be quite spicy. I don't think the noodles make too much of a difference in this dish. The main thing is the sauce.

Stephanie said...

How funny! My on-line cooking club has picked 'Asian' for March's theme. We're thinking broad...China, Japan, India, you name it.
Now I just have to narrow it down *one* recipe!

Oh, the cooking club's blog is:

If you're interested...

Cathy said...

Hi Reid - welcome home! The soy milk was really easy (though I did dirty quite a few dishes in the process) and something that I will do again. I was reading that there is an enzyme in soy milk that inhibits the digestion of protein, so it's probably better to cook it longer (30 minutes). I had some of the leftover Zha jiang mian tonight and added a little chili paste - yum!

Hi Stephanie - I think I had come across your cooking club blog before but didn't realize it was for an "on-line cooking club". How does that work? Do you pick a theme and everyone posts on the blog about what they cooked or do you actually plan a meal together? I think it will be hard for you to pick just one recipe! As you say, they are so many different cuisines that fall under the label of "Asian", not to mention the vast number of recipes!

Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy,

You are amazing- your own soy milk! I might have to give it a try, too.

The noodle dish sounds incredible, and since I love spicy dishes I'll definitely have to make it. Thanks!

You guys are both doing such a great job with this project!


Cathy said...

Moira - thank you, but I'm really not! The credit should go to pinkcocoa, who not only made soy milk but did a wonderful, illustrated post on the topic. Hope you do try the Zha jiang mian and glad you're enjoying Dining with the Bloggers!

pinkcocoa said...

hi Cathy
I have been meaning to leave you a comment all these while. Sorry it's rather late :p I am glad you like the soy milk and the pancake. Thanks for trying out my recipes too. I have also read about the enzyme in soymilk but I totally forgot about it when I was doing my post. *Oops* Mum always just cook it for around 15min but I guess cooking it longer won't harm it.
This "Dining with Bloggers" idea is so very interesing! I also like your "Monday with Maida".

Cathy said...

Hi Pinkcocoa - thanks! Believe it or not I was just thinking last night that I should make soymilk again this weekend (I've got a bunch more beans). I think I'll cook it longer this time and then I think I'll try the okara in some muffins. Thanks again for the recipes pinkcocoa, this really was a fun project!

Anonymous said...

Know this comment is rather late, but came across this as I was doing research on zha jiang mian.

Reid, actually, the Korean ja ja mein (dang, there are so many ways that it is written, I don't know which one is correct!) was originally brought to Incheon by Chinese immigrants. At least, that is what my research is telling me. see more at

Interestingly enough, the Japanese also have a version of this--just as 'ramen' is their take on Chinese soup noodles. The ones I had in Japan featured a warm sauce over cold noodles, which I didn't care for very much--it made every thing lukewarm (whereas I am a 'hot things hot, cold things cold' kind of person).

I get cravings for this on a regular basis--and I've used pretty much what was on hand for the noodles. Usually udon or 'elastic' noodles from Chinatown.

Cathy said...

Hi Anon - thanks for the background information and thanks for jogging my memory about this dish. I'm going to have to make it again soon!