This Week’s Menu: Hot Stuff!

Summer had definitely arrived on the Garden Island. Temperatures are heating up, and humidity levels are starting to climb as well. We’re grilling more, and this week I’m adding a couple more main dish salads to the menu. Nothing on the menu this week requires the oven to be turned on, at least not in the afternoon.

Some of our la jiao jiang - pretty hot stuff!

Some of our la jiao jiang – pretty hot stuff!

This past weekend the girls and I made a batch of la jiao jiang, a Chinese hot chili condiment which originated in Hunan Province. All three of our girls are Hunan “chili girls” (girls from Hunan are said to have fiery temperaments), and love spicy foods, especially YaYu. So, when a friend posted this recipe a while ago we knew we had to make it. Other than crushing the ginger, the recipe is easy and quick, and makes enough to fill a quart jar. YaYu will probably finish it off in a month – we’ve even caught her eating it right out of the jar.


  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 1 cup minced garlic
  • 1 cup freshly crushed ginger
  • 2 cups crushed red peppers
  • 2 TBSP kosher salt (we used Hawaiian sea salt)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

Heat oil in a large skillet; add ginger and garlic and sauté until they start to brown. Add the crushed red peppers and cook for another two minutes. Stir in the salt and sesame seeds and allow to cool before placing in a glass jar. La jiao jiang will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator. (We bought the minced garlic and crushed red peppers at Costco; the ginger came from the farmers’ market.)

Hiyashi Chuka - this version has added mung bean sprouts beyond the traditional egg, cucumber and ham (red pickled ginger and sliced tomatoes are traditional garnishes)

Hiyashi Chuka – this version has added mung bean sprouts to the usual toppings of egg, cucumber and ham (red pickled ginger and sliced tomatoes are the traditional garnishes for this salad)

Otherwise, here’s what’s on the menu this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Thai red curry chicken (tofu for me); steamed rice; sweet and sour coleslaw
  • Wednesday: Hiyashi Chuka (“Chilled Chinese”) salad. Mine will have baked tofu in place of the ham; we use rice vermicelli instead of chukamen noodles
  • Thursday: Spaghetti with fresh marinara; grilled Italian sausages (vegan for me); grilled zucchini; bread
  • Friday: Panzanella with beans and feta cheese (no cheese for YaYu or me) – I double the recipe for our family
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Cuban-style burritos (black beans, saffron rice, grilled sweet potato, sautéed banana & fresh pica de gallo wrapped in a tortilla); sliced mango
  • Monday: Mabo nasu (eggplant) made with crumbled tofu instead of ground pork; steamed rice

This week at the farmers’ market I’ll be looking for cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh basil, zucchini, eggplant, bananas and mangoes.

Here’s hoping this week’s menu plan goes as well as last week’s did!

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