Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Spring Rolls


This is a follow up to the wrappers made on this post. I have made these wrappers many times now and they still work. Last week I ran out strong white flour so I used plain flour, it wasn't as good the wrappers were easier to break. I can now confirm the stronger (higher protein contain) the flour the better. The other thing I also found out was they are not very good to wrap after in the fridge for few days, the wrappers become brittle and split easily. I will amend the wrapper making post saying they are good to keep in fridge.

I will now show you a standard way to fill and wrap spring rolls.

You can use any fillings you like. I find raw meat is so much easier to wrap than bits of loose filling. Do not use anything with very high water content, the rolls will split and spit during frying.

Here is a standard recipe I do use frequently.

Filling: (This will make about 20 rolls using the homemade wrappers)

450g (1 lb) of minced pork
1 medium egg
about 12 - 15g Wood ears or tree ear 木耳
2 small carrot
about 3 - 4 sprigs of spring onion
about 2 tsp grated ginger
2 tbsp of fried crispy shallot (if you have some)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
pinch of freshly ground pepper
small pinch of salt
about 1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp cornflour (corn starch), more cornflour is needed if the mixture is wet.
if you like spicy you can add some chopped chillies
if you have some fresh or canned water chestnuts, you can add some just chopped roughly

Method:
  1. Soak the wood ear till softened and expanded 3 - 4 times. Clean and finely shredded. Easier way to shred wood ear is too roll it up then shred.
  2. Grate the carrot using a cheese grater. (about 1 cup loosely packed)
  3. Rinse the spring onion and squeeze out any excess water then chop. (about 1/3 cup chopped)
  4. Now put all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Best way is to use your hand, keep squeezing and mixing till all combined and the mixture is quite firm. If you don't like the touch of raw meat use gloves.

Now make a flour and water paste for sealing the spring rolls. Use about 1 heap tbsp plain flour mix with water. The mixture should be runny.

To deep fry the spring rolls, I normally use a wok which uses less oil. Or you can use an electric deep fat fryer. Heat the oil till hot before adding the spring rolls. If using wok need to keep turning the spring rolls till done.

Once fried serve immediately.

If you are frying a big batch or serving these rolls at a later time, after frying keep the rolls in single layer in the oven around 120 - 130deg C.

How to wrap spring rolls. See slide show.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Tea smoked chicken 茶熏雞


Chinese Tea smoked chicken is not new, celeb chefs over here in UK have been doing it for years.

This smoked chicken I am doing here is how Chinese would normally do it. To ensure the chicken is full of flavour I marinated (brined) it for almost 36 hours. The chicken is steamed then followed by smoking. No oven roasting is necessary.

As you can see the chicken is beautifully golden brown and rich in smoke flavour. The marinade/brine also penetrates the meat which gives it a lovely flavour at the same time keeping the chicken very juicy.

This smoking method can either use whole chicken or chicken portions.

For this recipe I am using a whole chicken around 1.75kg.

Marinade (brine):

about 150ml shaoshing wine
about 50 ml light soy sauce
300ml water
1.5 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorn
2 star anise
4 - 5 peppercorns (lightly crushed)
1 thumb size ginger (no need to peel just thinly sliced)
2 stalks of spring onion (sliced)

Put the chicken in a zip lock bag, add marinade. Seal the bag. I used double bags just in case there is any leakage. Keep chicken in the fridge. Turning twice a day.

Before cooking take it out 30 - 40 minutes earlier to bring it to room temp. Take the chicken out and remove every bits of spices. Ready for steaming.

For the left over marinade, I boiled and strained it. Use it for noodle soups or add to any stir fries.


Steaming:

I used a dish to collect any cooking juice then rest then chicken on a rack so the juice will not touch the chicken. The steamed meat juice has a lovely flavour, can be used as sauce or stock.

Steaming time depends on the weight of the chicken, the chicken is not ready to eat after steaming, it will continue to cook while smoking. If you just like to steam and serve the chicken without smoking add another 10 - 12 minutes steaming time. To steam the chicken, when water is boiling turn the heat to medium. Very high heat steaming the meat outside will cook rapidly and turn tough before the inside is cooked.

For just cooked meat with a slight hint of pink keeping the chicken very moist, how the Chinese would like,
- 10 minutes/500g weight

If you like your chicken thoroughly cooked without any pink at all,
- 15 minutes/500g weight

When the chicken is done take it out and straight onto the smoker soon as you can. For whole chicken make sure to drain the juice from the carcass inside, ready for smoking immediately.

Smoking:
Use a wok/large old pan/steel stove top steamer, all with a lid. I used the same steel steamer that steamed the chicken for the smoking. Double or triple lined the dried 'smoker' with large pieces of foil.

Then make up a smoking material:
2 heap tbsp sugar
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp rice
1 handful of Chinese tea, about 5 tbsp (I used Ti Kuan Yin tea 鐵觀音)

Make the mixture then spread on the foil


Put a rack on top of the smoking material, or in my case I used a steel steamer I put the rack on the steamer. Put Chicken on the rack and put the lid on. Turn the heat up to medium and soon you will see white smoke, then turn the heat down to low. I could really smell the flavour coming out of the tea. Smoke the chicken till golden brown. Do make sure you take care of the smoke alarm while smoking and turn the cooker hood fan on. There shouldn't be too much heavy smoke lingering your kitchen that you may need the fire extinguisher anytime. Do not leave the kitchen unattended while smoking.

Smoking time:
about 15 minutes (medium smoked)
20 - 25 minutes (deep rich colour and flavour)

Here is a picture when the chicken has just put on the 'smoker' while the smoking material beginning to puff up white smoke.

If you have a glass lid for the 'smoker' you will soon see the chicken will turn yellowish after 5 minutes the colour will get deeper and deeper.

This is when the chicken started to brown. As you can see there is still heat and some steam to continue cooking the chicken while smoking.


This is when done after about 20 minutes. Heat off and let the smoke settles for few minutes before taking the chicken out. As you can see there is not a lot of juice dripped on the steamer. The chicken has turned very deep golden brown. Leave the chicken to cool and rest before chopping the Chinese style or carving.


Here is the charred material left. It has turned black and very hard. Just chuck it job done.

The cleaning part of my steel steamer after smoking was very easy, just a little cream cleanser it's sparkling again.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Steamed savoury sticky rice pudding 筒仔米糕


I had some of the stewed pork 滷肉 left and it is great to make 筒仔米糕 'tong zi mi gao' which is a savoury rice pudding/dumpling. It's again another speciality of Taiwanese snack or small eat (小吃 'xiao chi'). This rice pudding is similar to zhongzi, a lot easier to make without having to know how to wrap with bamboo leaves. Traditionally it is made with bamboo cup that looks like this. Now normally with rice bowls or pudding cups/basins.

Very simple and easy recipe. For this recipe you need 5 small pudding basins or rice bowls (I used 1/4 pt plastic pudding basin)

Ingredients:

250g glutinous rice (sticky rice)

about 1 cup of stewed pork 滷肉
3 - 4 salted duck egg yolks (if not available can use 2 hard boiled eggs fresh or stewed like as per stewed pork recipe), can also leave out if you don't like egg.

1.5 cup of water flavoured with 3 - 4 tbsp of the stewed pork meat sauce, if there is not much sauce sub with 3 tsp of light sauce + 2 tsp dark soy + 2 tsp fried shallot oil or sesame oil + pinch of ground pepper.

a little cooking oil

Method:
  1. Rinse and soak the rice for about 2 hours. Drain of excess water.
  2. If using salted duck egg yolks, cut in half. If using hard boiled egg cut into thick slices or quarters.
  3. Make up the flavoured liquid.
  4. Grease the pudding basins or rice bowls with cooking oil.
  5. Put a piece of egg on the bottom of the basin, then add 2 - 3 tbsp of stewed meat. Press with spoon so there is not air gap. Then add enough rice leaving about 0.5 cm room for the rice to expand. Using a spoon again press the rice down so it is not loose.
  6. Fill the basin with flavoured liquid just up to the level of the rice.
  7. Steamed at high heat for about 30 - 35 minutes till cooked through. Heat off, leave in the steamer for about 10 minutes to cool a bit before serving.
  8. Can either serve with or without turning the rice pudding out. Eat on its own or very nice with a spicy sweet and sour sauce. Recipe see below.

Here is a picture showing the different stages of filling the rice pudding.


And this is when they come out of the steamer.


I tried to turn them out of the basin, and they got a bit stuck on the bottom, so a bit lumpy and not a very nice picture. Never mind.



Here is the recipe for the sweet and sour sauce.

about 1/3 cup sweet chilli sauce
about 1/3 cup tomato ketchup
1 heap tsp miso paste
a little light soy to taste
1 - 2 tsp sugar to taste
3/4 water
1 heap tsp cornflour

Mix everything together till no lumps. Best mix miso first with a little water before mixing with the rest of the ingredients. Heat till thicken.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Sichuan potato salad 凉拌土豆


This potato salad is very nice as a side dish or eaten on its own. I made this reasonably mild not swimming in chilli oil like how the Sichuanese would have done so hot it will burn and numb the tongue very rapidly.

Salad is simple to make. Use non floury potato. The potato is either sliced paper thin or cut into match sticks. I used a mandoline which took less than 2 minutes. For this recipe I used 4 medium-small potatoes about 350g total. Once sliced or shredded rinse the starch off and soak for 5 - 10 minutes till potato is firm. Then boil a pan of salted water, add potato when water is boiling, cook for 4 - 5 minutes till potato is tender but still crunchy. Drain then mix with the dressing while hot. Leave to cool and the potato will absorb most of the dressing. Serve warm or cold, sprinkle with more spring onion and sesame seeds on top.


For the dressing:
2 tsp - 3 tbsp chilli oil (much as you can stand the heat)
0.5 tsp ground sichuan pepper (best freshly roasted and ground)
2 - 3 tbsp light soy sauce
1.5 tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 stalks spring onion (finely chopped)
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
0.25 tsp chicken stock powder (optional) or if you have some homemade chicken stock add about 1 - 2 tbsp. For vegetarian use vegetable stock.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Quick and easy homemade spring roll wrappers

I haven't come across anyone who does not like Chinese spring rolls.

Spring roll wrappers have different names:

chun gen pe 春捲皮 (the commonly known name, translated as 'spring roll skin')
Ruen bing pe 潤餅皮 (as in Taiwan and some part of Northern China)
egg roll wrapper (as in America/Canada)
Popiah (in Malaysia or Singapore, translated as 'thin skin' in Hokkien)
Lumpia (a Malay word used in Malaysia or Indonesia)

We can buy the wrappers anywhere now even at the regular supermarkets. These square wrappers are made with machine.

Have you ever seen how traditional handmade spring roll wrappers are made? Here is a video. Isn't it amazing how the dough seems to be alive dancing about. This skilled people can just swing a springy wet dough about and swipe it on a hot pan, and voila a thin film of the dough sticks on the pan and forms the superthin wrapper. This method must be made with bare hand and no other alternatives. If you've seen people doing it professionally for hours on the street in S E Asia hygiene can be problem, like hand sweat and dead skin cells, errhhh.... that put you off now hmmm........

I love to make it the traditional way but it is not that easy. The dough is the crucial part it needs to be very springy, stretchy and quite wet. I have tried several times the result wasn't very good.

Here is a quick and easy method anyone can do at home, inspired by my friend Gillthepainter on this post. This method I am using is like making pancakes, the batter is brushed on the pan. Non stick pan is a crucial tool. Temperature of the pan is also very important, too hot the batter will cook right away and lifted away from the pan the second you brush it, too low the batter will not set and stick. The temperature got to be just right so you can brush the batter on easily, will stick on the pan and evenly spread without much lumps and bumps. To control the temperature a bowl of water and piece of kitchen towel is the secret. Wiping the pan with a wet towel also helps to clean the pan if there are any bits of cooked batter.


Essential tools:

1 perfect non stick frying pan (without any scratches or peeling at all), for smaller wrapper use a small pan or large wrapper use a large pan. I used a pancake pan
1 pastry brush (preferably silicon, never use nylon)
1 silicon spatula (only for correcting imperfections)
a bowl with water and a piece of kitchen towel and chopsticks or tong (for temperature control)


The batter mix:

This will make about 20 pieces of 8 inch wrappers.

150g strong white flour (bread flour)
400 ml water
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

Mix everything together by hand or electric mixer till no lumps at all. I used a stick blender.


Method:
  1. Make the batter and leave to rest for about 15 minutes.
  2. Have a bowl ready with some water, a piece of kitchen towel and a pair of chopsticks (or tong). Heat the pan till hot then take the pan away from the heat. Squeeze out some of the water from the kitchen towel so it is not dripping wet, wipe this on the hot pan you will hear it sizzles keep wiping till the sizzling sound just about to stop. Then brush the batter on the pan. If the batter easily sticks on the pan without lifting (too hot) or not setting in globules (too cold) then you've just got it right. Practise a few times you will soon get the hang of it.
  3. When you brush the batter on the pan just go over once quickly covering the pan, a little patchy does not really matter, come back and brush all over a second time till you get a evenly spread batter.
  4. Put the pan back on medium high heat and heat it till you see the skin beginning to turn white and the top surface beginning to dry up. You will see air pockets forming underneath around the centre, at the same time the edge of the skin will curl up away from the pan. Then lift it up, turn over and heat the other side for few seconds. Voila one skin wrapper is made. Total cooking time is around 15 - 20 seconds.
  5. Cover the wrapper to keep it warm and the moisture will soften it.

Imperfections:
  1. Patching up: If you brushing skill is not that perfect and you see some holes during cooking just brush with a little batter over.
  2. Uneven lumps: if there are any uneven lumps or thicker areas on the skin, wait till the skin is just about done and has dried on top then gently press the lumpy areas down flat using the silicon spatula.

Here is a slide show



The wrappers are very thin, look very similar to shop bought spring roll wrappers. It is quite stretching and springy. If you get it just right, you can see your hand through it.

When the wrapper just come out of the hot pan, it is quite dry around the edge. Once you have stack the lot together and cover with cloth they will soften. When you are ready to use just gently peel leaf by leaf.

If you use straight away when fresh you can just wrap anything you like, wrap and eat without frying or baking, just like Vietnamese summer rolls or Malaysian popiah.

Not suitable for keeping in fridge longer than one day, wrappers will become brittle. Also not suitable for freezing either.

These wrappers are suitable as duck pancakes.

Or you can wrap with any filling you like, seal with water paste, then deep fry. To bake spring rolls brush with oil/butter then bake at moderately hight temperature.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Southern Taiwanese stewed pork rice 滷肉飯


Stewed pork with rice (lu rou fun 滷肉飯) is very popular anywhere in Taiwan from the market street food stalls to restaurants. Taiwanese stewed pork (滷肉 read as 'lu rou' in Mandarin or 'lor bak' in Hokkien) can be minced pork or pork cubes depending on which area of Taiwan you have this. In the north lu rou is always with minced pork while in the south cubes of pork is preferred.

This stewed pork cubes posted today is similar to any Chinese hong shao rou (紅燒肉) with a few twists here and there. The flavour is much stronger than this hong shao rou due to the added dried shrimps and large amount of fried shallots.

It is better to use pork with a bit of fat and skin like belly or shoulder. I always make a big pot whenever I cook this so I can save some for the freezer and for other recipes which I will post later.

Hard boiled eggs cooked in the same sauce is something that goes so well with the pork. I love eggs stewed this way, it's quite flavourful.

For this recipe, this will feed at least 6 people. You can put some in the freezer like I do or half the recipe.


Recipe for the Stewed pork and eggs.

Ingredients:

about 1 - 1.2 kg pork belly or shoulder (with skin and fat), cut into small cubes around 1.5cm
a handful of dried shitake mushrooms about 40 - 45g, soaked and cut into small pieces. Save the soaking liquid
2 - 3 tbsp dried shrimps, rinsed (optional, if you don't like dried shrimps can leave out)
2 - 3 tbsp cooking oil or oil from frying the crispy shallot
about 6 tbsp light soy sauce (to your taste)
3 tbsp dark soy, mushroom soy or Taiwanese extra thick soy sauce (醬油膏, if you can find this)
1 heap tsp 5 spice powder
few crushed peppercorns
5 - 6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 thumb size ginger chopped
3 star anise
1 small piece cassia bark or cinnamon
about 1/4 cup any Chinese cooking wine or rice wine
1 chunk of Chinese rock sugar about 30g or 2 tbsp of normal sugar
3/4 cup crispy fried shallot (bought or homemade see recipe ), crushed

6 -8 hardboiled eggs, shelled

Method:
  1. Heat the oil then add garlic and ginger, stir for about a minute then add pork. Heat high and keep stirring slowly but continuously for about 5 minutes till pork has turned colour and some browning bits here and there. If the heat is not high the pork will stew and you will get lots of juice flooding the meat.
  2. Add mushroom, dried shrimps, 5 spice, peppercorns, light and dark soy, star anise, cinnamon and sugar. Keep stirring for another minute or two then add cooking wine and about 2 cups of water (some of this water can be from the mushroom soaking water), or enough water just about covering all the meat. Let this liquid come to the boil.
  3. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 30 - 40 minutes. Then add in hard boiled eggs, try to bury them in the sauce. Continue simmering for another 20 minutes or so till meat is tender, turning the eggs once or twice to evenly absorb the sauce.
  4. Finally add in the crushed fried shallots. Simmer for another 5 minutes then this stew is done. Have a taste if you like a bit more salty add more soy and more sugar if you like a bit sweeter.
There may be quite a bit of fat floating on top of the sauce, you can skim if you want to. I always leave it in the fat has lots of flavour.

This can be served right away or it is better to leave this meat and eggs for few hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge then reheat before serving.


To serve:

Plain rice
One egg per person and as much meat as you like.
Some Chinese green like pak choi, choi sum, kai lan or spinach.
I was going to serve this with a light pickled cucumber but the plan did not work out because I missed it out on my shopping list.
Yellow pickled Japanese/Korean daikon also goes well with this meat and rice.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

The basic - how to make crispy fried shallot


I use a lot of crispy shallot both in Chinese and S E Asian cooking.

These are some of the dishes I add fried shallots:

- sprinkling on any Chinese.Thai/Vietnamese noodle soups or Malay noodle soups like laksa or ayam soto etc..
- Chinese mix and stir noodles (kon low mein 干撈麵)
- cooked Chinese green (yaw choi 油菜) like choi sum or pak choi with oyster sauce and sprinkling of fried shallot and fried shallot oil.
- Chinese fish balls and glass noodles soup
- Taiwanese soy braised pork (lu rou 滷肉)
- Vietnamese rice sheet rolls (banh cuon)
- Malay spicy rice
- sprinkle on Indian Briyani is also very very nice

If you are too lazy and hate deep frying you can get ready fried shallots from most oriental supermarket like this. I never bought this and has always made my own using fresh shallots.

In England oriental shallots from the Chinese supermarkets are expensive, it's about £8 - £9 for a kg!! I normally buy English shallots from local supermarkets. The cheapest and best shallots I have found is from Waitrose, it's loose so you can buy as much as you want, it's about £3/kg.

To make crispy shallots, first you have to peel and slice the fresh shallots very thin. If the shallot is large, cut into half then slice. Wear goggles if you have to if you are teary. To make the fried shallot very crispy, mix with 1 - 1.5 tbsp of plain flour (per 250g shallot) thorougly at the same time loosen the shallots into rings or half rings.

To fry the shallot, use about 3/4 cup of oil per 250g of shallots.

Yield: 250g peeled shallots will make about 100g fried shallots.

Heat the oil in a wok or large deep frying pan till moderately hot, then add in the shallots, the oil should sizzle. The fresh shallot will lower the temperature of oil very quickly, so turn the heat to medium high so to increase the oil temperature very quickly so the oil will remain hot, sizzling with lots of bubbles. Stir the shallots slowly and continuously to prevent uneven cooking and browning too quickly around the rim of the pan. Once the oil is quite hot, turn the heat down to medium low and continue stirring. To test the oil is at the right temperature, put you hand few inches above the oil, if it feels burning hot, the oil is far too hot. Continue frying till the shallot has become light brown, then you need to watch very closely the shallot will burn very quickly from now. Turn the heat down to very low, continue stirring till the shallot has become golden brown. Heat off and take them out very quickly using a slotted spoon and straight onto a metal sieve to drain with a bowl underneath to catch any excess oil. Let this cool then store in air tight container. The fried shallot will become a bit more browner as it cooled.

Storage time: Can leave at room temperature for about a week or few weeks in fridge. The longer you keep, the fried shallot may loose its crispiness.

The oil left from frying the shallot is full of flavour, do not throw away. It is excellent to use for any cooking or add some to noodles, dried or with soup replacing sesame oil.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Ayam Kalasan with spicy yellow rice


Ayam Kalasan is Javanese spicy fried chicken. The chicken is cooked twice; i.e. first simmer in liquid then deep fry or shallow fry. The boiling liquid is rather unusual using the clear juice inside the coconut not coconut milk. I change the second cooking stage by grilling rather than deep frying, which is easier, healtier and less messy. The result is equally good, chicken is tender and full of flavour. To go with this chicken is a sauce made with the remaining cooking spices (see recipe) and a fragrant spicy yellow rice.

This recipe will serve 4 people.

A The chicken and the sauce


Ingredients:

4 chicken legs
about 175ml coconut juice* (not milk or cream, if not available use water with 2 tsp of sugar)
2 - 3 salam leaves** (optional if you can find some)

spice paste:
about 80 -90g (about 3 whole) shallots
2 - 3 cloves garlic
2 - 3 large red chillies
30 - 35g galangal
about 15g (pinky finger size) fresh turmeric (if not available use 3/4 tsp turmeric powder)
3 candlenuts
1 tsp salt

1/2 cup or 2 tomatoes, chopped
salt to taste if required

* Coconut juice is the clear water inside the coconut. To get this juice crack a fresh coconut and collect the juice. Young coconut juice is better and tastier. If not available use standard mature coconut. Or if you can find coconut juice in a tin/can use one which is unsweetened.
** Salam leaf is Indonesian bay leaf (not the same as English bay), I have never seen this in England so I leave it out.

Method:
  1. First prepare the spice paste, put all in a mini blender and ground to a paste.
  2. Put the chicken, salam leaves and spice paste in plastic bag and mix well. Leave to marinate for few hours or over night in the fridge.
  3. In a large saucepan or wok, heat the coconut juice till boiling then add chicken and all the spice paste, gently simmer without the lid for about 25 minutes, turning once or twice till the liquid has almost all dried out. Don't worry if the chicken is not cooked through yet.
  4. Take a roasting tray line with foil and put on a rack, put the chicken on and grill on high heat for about 12 - 15 minutes each side till the chicken is golden brown.
  5. There are still few tbsp of spice paste left on the pot/wok after cooking the chicken, add tomato to it and cook for about 10 minutes till the tomato is reduced to mush and the sauce is thickened, season with salt if required. Serve this sauce with the rice and chicken.

B. Spicy yellow rice

Ingredients:

375g basmati rice
700 ml water
1 tsp of vegetable stock bouillon or stock powder
1 tsp salt

1 onion about 150 - 160g, chopped
25g (about index finger size) fresh turmeric***, grated (or 1 rounded tsp of dried turmeric powder)
2 star anise
1 small piece cinnamon
4 -5 cloves****
1/2 - 1 tsp chilli powder
2 medium carrot, diced
2 - 3 tbsp cooking oil

3/4 - 1 cup frozen peas, rinsed


***Fresh turmeric gives a better flavour and colour. I grate the turmeric (without peeling the skin) straight from frozen using a Microplane grater.


Method:
  1. Rinse the rice and drain off water.
  2. Using a large saucepan with a lid, heat the oil and fry onion, carrot, turmeric, chilli powder, star anise, cinnamon and clove for few minutes till fragrant and vegetables are softened.
  3. Add water, vegetable bouillon, salt and rice. Cover and bring this to the boil. Then turn the heat to low and simmer till all the liquid is absorbed. Continue simmer at lowest heat for another 5 minutes. Put the peas on top. Lid back on and simmer for another 5 minutes. Heat off and leave for another 12 - 15 minutes before serving. Then loosen and mix the peas into the rice. Ready to serve.
Can also add some sultanas/raisins to the rice if you like. For a more fancy way to serve this yellow rice on its own, pile the rice on a large plate, sprinkle/garnish with any of these additional ingredients likes deep fried shallot rings, dry roasted grated coconuts (kerisik), toasted almonds, finely shredded thin omelette, hard boiled egg (sliced or quartered), cooked prawns, more peas, sultana and chillies, cucumber slices etc..

**** If you hate biting into a hidden clove in the rice, look for them when loosening the rice before serving.

As the the picture shown above, serve chicken with rice, sauce, sliced cucumber and a wedge or lime (optional).

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Assam babi (Tamarind pork)



Assam babi is Chinese-Malay fusion, speciality of Nyonya cooking. The pork has a lovely tangy taste of tamarind combined with spice mix and fermented yellow beans is quite tasty with plain rice, comfort food for the cooler weather. This braised pork is similar to this Burmese pork curry or a Chinesey rendang.

This recipe is enough for 3 people or over 4 - 5 people as part of meal with other dishes.


Ingredients:

about 800g pork* belly or shoulder (with skin if you like the gelatinous texture, skin also helps to thicken the sauce), cut into chunks
2 lemongrass, trimmed and bruised
2 tbsp fermented yellow or soy beans (I always use Yeo's for this recipe, if not available can use normal yellow bean sauce)
50g (about golf ball size) wet tamarind with seeds + 1 cup of boiling water
2 - 3 tbsp palm sugar or normal sugar (more if you like sweeter taste)
2 - 3 tsp dark soy sauce
salt to taste (optional), normally not required

spice paste
about 3 shallots (about 80 -90g)
1 large chunk of galangal (about 50g)
4 - 5 candle nuts
2 tsp shrimp paste (belacan)
1 large red chilli
few tbsp water
about 3 tbsp of cooking oil

some chopped green and red chillies (optional)


Method:

  1. Cut galangal and shallot into small pieces. Put all the spice paste ingredients into a mini blender with few tbsp of water and blend to a smooth paste.
  2. Soak the tamarind with boiling water, let it cool for a bit then squeeze with fingers to release the pulp then strain.
  3. Stir and cook the spice paste with oil for 2 - 3 minutes, then add the yellow beans lightly crushed the beans with the back of the cooking spoon or spatula. Add lemongrass continue stirring for a little bit longer till fragrant.
  4. Add pork and stir for few minutes, add soy sauce and tamarind juice. Let the liquid boil then turn the heat to lowest, cover and simmer till the pork is tender, about 1 hour. Add sugar and salt to taste.
  5. If the sauce is too runny, raise the heat uncover and reduce to the thickness you like. Don't reduce the sauce too thick, as it cools the sauce will get thicker.
  6. If you like spicy add some green and red chilli. Fresh chilli gives a nice flavour to the finished dish.

*Can also use chicken (breast or thigh meat) for this recipe. Use 1/2 cup of water to make the tamarind juice and cooking time is about 20 - 30 minutes.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Hong Kong Cafe style breakfast 港式茶餐廳早餐

Hong Kong is a food paradise. When I was working there few years ago, I hardly ever cook. Dim sum with friends was the routine every Sunday. During the working week Cafe restaurants were probably where I went for breakfast, lunch and sometime dinner most of the time. I love HK cafe restaurants or 'cha chaan tian' 茶餐廳, they serve food and drinks all day long from egg and bacon sandwich, french toast, Portugese egg tart to stir fried noodles/rice etc....

One of my favourite cafe breakfast is 'chaan dan tung' 餐蛋通 to wash down with 'yin yan lai cha' 鴛鴦奶茶. Chaan dan tung is macaroni soup with fried spam and fried egg, while yin yan lai cha is a milky tea with coffee. Both sound very strange but really quite tasty and reasonably cheap.

Here is what I do to recreate this at home occasionally for weekend late breakfast.


For the chaan dan tung 餐蛋通, all you need are these ingredients then assemble together

some tasty chicken or pork stock
cooked macaroni
one fried egg per person
2 slices of fried spam or Chinese luncheon meat per person
some blanched Chinese green (like choi sum) or iceburg lettuce
light soy and ground pepper to taste

Heat the stock add cooked macaroni and seasoned to taste then top with fried spam, fried egg and some veg.


For the yin yan milky tea coffee 鴛鴦奶茶

Blew some tea, preferably Lipton, Ceylon red tea or any far east brand English tea. If not use normal Tetley or other English tea.
Blew some light fragrant coffee like Arabica or Columbian, freshly ground is better but can also use instant if you like
Some hot milk or evaporated milk
some sugar (optional)

Mix 50:50 brewed hot tea with coffee add plenty of hot milk or some evaporated milk. Evaporated milk gives a distinctive S E Asian tea/coffee taste. I don't normally add sugar to tea or coffee but yin yan tea coffee is nice with some sugar.

Yin Yang tea coffee is nice too cold with plenty of ice. If you fancy you can add crushed iced, black pearls to make bubble tea 珍珠鴛鴦奶茶, serve in a tall glass with extra wide straws.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Pork floss 肉鬆


Pork floss (yuk sung 肉鬆) is not something I can buy easily from the Chinese supermarkets over here in England. I love it, it's one of those snacks once you start you can't stop. This brownish dried pork snack is the same sort of thing you find on English-Chinese 'crispy seaweed' at the restaurant. There are various type meat floss, pork being the commonest and there are some made with fish, chicken or beef.

Making this meat floss at home is not that difficult, it takes a bit of effort with plenty of hand and shoulder exercise. You will know what I mean when you read the instruction.


Ingredients:

Use either pork leg or shoulder, trim off all the skin and most of the fat etc... For this recipe the piece of meat I used was about 1.3kg (trimmed) which makes about 4 cups.

For every 1kg lean meat
5 tbsp light soy sauce
5 tbsp sugar
2 tsp five spice powder
3/4 tsp chicken stock powder (optional)

If you like spicy you can add some chilli powder

If the meat is very lean like leg or butt meat add 1.5 tbsp cooking oil, this shoulder meat was quite fatty so I omit the oil.

2 stalks of spring onion, leave whole
1 chunk of ginger, sliced
3 tbsp Chinese cooking wine

Optional:
some seasoned nori sheets (available in all oriental supermarkets like this)
some dry roasted sesame seeds



Cooking instruction:
  1. Cut the meat into large chunk about 500g pieces. Put the meat in a saucepan or stockpot, cover with boiling water and briskly boil for about 2 minutes. Discard the water and rinse the meat to remove any scum and also scrub the pan.
  2. Put the meat back into the pan or pot. Add boiling water just enough to cover the meat and add the spring onion, ginger and cooking wine. Bring this to the boil then very gently simmer for about 1.5 hours till the meat is tender and can be flaked with fingers.
  3. Take the meat out to cool completely. The cooking liquid or stock can be used for other purposes like noodle soup, congee etc...
  4. Flake or shred the meat with fingers. Another less messy method is put the meat into a zip lock bag, press or punch with hand to loosen the meat fibres. The end result is finely shredded meat.
  5. Mix soy, sugar, five spice, stock powder, chilli powder and oil together then mix with the meat thoroughly.
  6. Heat the wok to medium hot, add the meat and stir fry. This will take quite a long time and plenty or hand and shoulder exercise. Keep pressing and teasing the meat with the tip of the wooden spatula to loosen the meat fibres (especially those lumpy not finely shreded meat), at the same time turning or stirring to prevent the bottom getting brown too quickly. At first this may seem impossible the meat could be lumpy and wet or not thoroughly shredded. After a while you will see the meat beginning to loosen and the fibres getting finer and finer. Use low heat, if the meat is turning brown too quickly can use a heat diffuser. This will take about 1 hour till the meat is brown evenly and getting very dry. Do not stop stirring. If you are tired get someone to help. The longer you stir the crispier the meat floss which will melt in the mouth.
  7. When done leave in the wok to cool completely. The meat floss will get even more crispier once cooled. Then store in airtight jar.
  8. If you fancy you can mix in some shredded seasoned nori sheets and sesame seeds.

This pork floss is great to eat as a snack on its own or eaten with plain congee (rice soup), or use as sandwich filling, or maybe sprinkle on your DIY 'Chinese crispy seaweed'.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Kimchijeon (kimchi pancake)



I am a pancake fiend. You may have seen quite a few of my other recipes.

Here is another pancake recipe with kimchi and prawn. Yummy as a snack or light lunch with some salad.

Dead easy recipe.


Ingredients:

150g plain flour
about 150ml milk or water
1 large egg
1 cup (about 180 - 200g) kimchi with some of the juice (homemade or bought)
3 - 4 stalks spring onion
about 100g peeled prawns (raw or cooked)
dash of sesame oil
pinch of salt (optional)
some cooking oil for frying


Garnish:
chopped spring onion and sesame seeds.


Method:

  1. If using homemade kimchi better use old kimchi for better flavour. Roughly chopped.
  2. Slice spring onion diagonally into 1 inch strips.
  3. If prawns are large cut into smaller pieces.
  4. Mix flour with milk/water and egg to form a batter, add in kimchi with some of the juice about 2 - 3 tbsp. Then add spring onion. Have a taste if not salty enough add a pinch of salt. Then add prawns and a dash of sesame oil. Let the mixture rest for about 15 minutes. If the mixture looks a bit thick add a bit more milk or water.
  5. You can make mini pancakes or large one like I did. For this mixture, I made 2 dinner plate size pancakes with a 30cm frying pan. Heat the pan till hot, brush with oil then add batter, spread it out evenly, let this set and brown then flip over. For large pancake once the underside is done, slide the pancake onto a plate, brush the pan with more oil and flip the pancake back into the pan to brown the other side. When done slide onto a plate or chopping board for cutting.

Cut large pancake into wedges or squares.

Serve pancake with dipping sauce.


Dipping sauce:

A mixture of Japanese/Korean soy, some Japanese rice vinegar mix with enough sugar to taste. Dilute with a little water and sprinkle with a pinch of Korean coarse chilli powder (or any other chilli powder) and some dry roasted sesame seeds.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Epok Epok


Epok epok is Malay style semosa. Some people called them karipap. Epok epok is similar to Chinese-Malay style flaky curry puff, the only difference is the pastry. Epok epok is usually deep fried.

For the filling, some like sardine which I am not too keen. Some people used chopped hard boiled egg with potato. Chinese yam is also a common filling. Vegetarian version includes potato and vegetables like carrot and peas. I like curried flavoured potato with meat.

The pastry is much simpler than flaky curry puff. This pastry is soft yet very forgiving. If there is mistake or hole made can be easily patched up.




Ingredients:
This recipe makes about 30 pieces.

Pastry:
500g plain flour
175g butter or margarine
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
about 250ml water

Filling:
about 450g potato
300g minced beef, chicken or turkey
2 onion, about 300g
3 - 4 tbsp Malaysian meat curry powder (or any curry powder you have at home)
1/2 - 1 tsp chilli powder (optional if you like spicy)
1 heap tbsp sambal tumis or sambal oelek (optional if you have some)
1/2 - 1 tsp salt, to taste
1 tsp chicken stock powder (optional)
3 tbsp cooking oil

Method:
  1. Finely diced the potato. Rinse to remove starch then drain thoroughly. Chop the onion.
  2. Heat oil and fry onion till softened, add curry powder, chilli powder and sambal. Stir fry till fragrant. Add beef continue stir frying till beef turned brown. Then add in the potato and stir fry for about 5 - 6 minutes at medium heat till potato is almost cooked. Season with salt and chicken stock powder. Remove and leave to cool completely.
  3. Make the dough. First rub the fat into the flour. Then mix in the salt and sugar. Slowly add enough water and mix with a fork or chopstick till the dough is formed to a lump. No need to knead. Just leave the dough to rest for 20 - 30 minutes.
  4. Cut the dough into half and roll into a 1 inch thick sausage shape and cut equally into 30 pieces +/- 1 altogether.
  5. Coat the dough with flour, then roll it out into an oval shape, add filling, pinch to seal the edge. If needed a touch of water can be used to dampen the edge helping it to seal. Then crimp the edge.
  6. Continue doing step 5 till all the dough pieces are wrapped.
  7. Heat about 700ml of cooking oil till hot, turn the heat to medium low. Gently add the epok epok into the hot oil. Deep fry 8 - 10 pieces at a time till golden, turning a few times during frying. If the oil is too hot turn the heat down a bit. When browned the pastry becomes quite hard and crispy.
  8. Serve hot or warm.
If there are any left over can keep in the fridge for few days or frozen. Reheat in oven.

Beef stir fry with pickled mustard green


Pickled mustard green (hum choi ) is one of my favourite Chinese pickle. It's quite versatile, can be used for soup like this duck soup, braising with meat or stir fries. There are various types; some salty, some with a tangy taste, some sweet and sour, some with leaves, some without (like half a cabbage), some with chilli. I don't use those in a tin for cooking, they are nice with plain rice congee.

Beef stir fry with pickled mustard green is quite tasty. Recipe is quite easy.

Ingredients:

250 g Sirloin or rump steak
2 tsp of light soy
1 heap tsp of cornflour
1 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine
pinch of ground pepper
dash of sesame oil


300 -350g pickled mustard green (any type), this is one I used
3 medium tomatoes
1 small piece of ginger
2 cloves garlic
3 stalks of spring onion
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 - 1 tsp sugar
dash of Chinese cooking wine
1 heap tsp cornflour mixed with about 1/2 - 3/4 cup of water (depending on how much sauce you like)
some cooking oil

Method:
  1. Remove fat from the meat, cut into thin slices against the grain. Mix with marinade and leave for 15 - 20 minutes.
  2. Cut pickled mustard green into thin strips. Taste if salty, if yes soak for a while then squeeze dry.
  3. Cut tomatoes into wedges. Chop ginger and garlic. Sliced spring onion into 1 inch long.
  4. In a hot wok add about 1.5 tbsp and half the garlic and ginger, stir till fragrant, heat high and add in the beef and stir till colour change. Remove to one side.
  5. Add a bit more oil and remaining ginger and garlic, stir till fragrant add in the pickled mustard green stir fry till hot follow by tomatoes, stir fry for a little while. Add a dash of cooking wine and sugar to taste. Heat turn on highest, add in the beef and slackened cornflour and oyster sauce. Stir till thickened then add in spring onion.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Cucumber kimchi


I was given a bag of homegrown cucumbers. They were not the tender and juicy ones like those from the supermarket. They were similar to this , a bit tough for salad and taken far too much space in the fridge.

Had thought of making Malay acar (achar) but I still have few jars made a while ago. I wanted something quick and easy. Thought of making stuffed kimchi (oisobagi kimchi) but these cucumbers some had overgrown, far too thick with grown seeds and the skin was a bit tough. Not going to waste this bag of cucumbers, I peeled half the skin off (zebra stripes), quartered lengthwise, trimmed off the soft core and cut into chunks. There was about 2.3kg after peeling,trimming and cutting.

I did not salt the cucumber. (For standard juicy English hothouse cucumber it is essential to salt to release some of the juice, rinse after salting.)

For the kimchi mix:
1/2 cup fish sauce (I used Thai, Korean is more authentic if you can find some)
4 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp Korean coarse chilli powder
2 solo garlic or 4 -5 cloves common garlic, thinly sliced
about 40g of ginger, grated
3 stalks spring onion, cut into 2 - 3 cm long
1 rounded tbsp korean salted shrimps (optional), available from Korean grocer
1 tbsp sesame oil

Then I just mixed the cucumber pieces with the pickling ingredients, leave at room temperature overnight then packed into containers before putting in the fridge. Best eaten after 2 days. Will keep for weeks.

This kimchi may not be authentic but it's so simple and quite tasty cold with rice, congee or mixed with fresh lettuce and grated carrot as salad. I am quite addicted to it I even munch on its own like snack.

Not a bad job for few tubs of pickle which took less than 15minutes to prep and free (almost, other than the pickling ingredients)

Friday, 18 September 2009

Pumpkin rice 南瓜飯


Bought a large pumpkin from the market, I already had pumpkin congee few days ago. This evening I had pumpkin rice which was rather nice. There is still half the pumpkin sitting in the fridge will have to think of something else soon.

For this pumpkin rice, I followed similar method for Cantonese 'yau mei fun' 有味飯 meaning flavoured rice. Here is how to make this.


Ingredients:
Recipe enough for 3 - 4 people

300g American long grain or Basmati rice (Jasmine/Thai fragrant rice is too soft for this recipe)

about 275g skinned and boned chicken breast or thigh (can also use lean pork), cut into small pieces
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp cornflour
pinch of ground pepper
dash of sesame oil
about 1/2 tsp sugar

350g peeled and seeded pumpkin or butternut squash, cut into approx 1.5cm cubes
3 Chinese sausage (lap cheong), sliced
2 tbsp dried shrimp, rinsed
1 - 2 shallot about 25g, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
some cooking oil

600ml chicken stock or water
light soy to taste
a little ground pepper
dash of sesame oil

Some chopped spring onion and chillies for garnish


Method:
  1. First rinse the rice then drain with sieve, shake to remove excess water. Leave rice to sit for about 20 minutes by which time all the surface moisture will be absorbed.
  2. Mix chicken with the marinade and leave for about 15min.
  3. Heat about 1 tbsp of oil. Fry half the shallot and garlic, stir for a bit then add in Chinese sausage and dried shrimps, stir for a while then add in the pumpkin pieces, stir fry for about 2 minutes. Push pumpkin mixture to one side, add a little bit more oil and stir fry the chicken till turning colour. Mix everything together stir then take everything out to one side.
  4. Now take a clean large saute pan with a lid. Heat about 1 tbsp of oil and fry the remaining shallot and garlic till fragrant, then add in the rice and stir fry for about 2 - 3 minutes till fragrant. {Add stock or water, pinch of pepper and some light soy. Lid on and heat till liquid boiling and add pumpkin mixture onto the rice without stirring.} Remove the pan from the heat and put a heat diffuser on the cooking ring then put the pan back on with the lowest heat, lid on and {simmer/cook for about 15 -20 minutes, give it a stir (if the rice is a bit dry add a bit more water) then lid back on and continue simmer for another 15 - 20 minutes till rice is cooked through.}
  5. Add a bit more light soy to taste and dash of sesame oil. Mix the rice thoroughly. Dish up and sprinkle with spring onion and chilli. Can leave chilli out if you don't like spicy.

If you have a rice cooker you can add the fried rice into the rice cooker and continue with {}in step 4, follow by step 5.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Dry roasted cashew nuts


Ever wonder how to dry roast cashews with a wok and tastes exactly like what you get in a tin or packet ready roasted from the store? The secret ingredient is salt. Yes salt and lots of it too. I learnt this from my mum many years ago and now passing this recipe to anyone who is interested. This method of dry roasting is far better than any oven roasting or deep frying. Before mum knew how to use salt, preparing cashew involved blanching the nuts first, drying then deep frying and the result IMO wasn't that brilliant for all that work.

Why salt? Salt is a very good heat transfer medium and evenly roasting the nuts to perfection while slightly salting them too. I promised the nuts roasted this way will not be too salty. The most important thing to remember is not to wash or dampen them before dry roasting or they will be encrusted with salt leading you cursing at me for inedible nuts.

Now what salt and how much is needed? The salt has to be free flowing cheap cooking salt, not fancy salt, rock salt or unrefined sea salt. For around 500g of raw cashews you need about 700 - 750g of salt.

Now how to do it. It's simple really all you need is tip the salt into a wok or large saute pan (must be spotlessly clean and no grease), heat and stir at medium heat for about 2 minutes then turn the heat down to medium low then tip in the nuts. Keep stirring and the salt will become very hot. The nuts will be perfectly browned (medium brown) in about 15 - 18 minutes. Then tip the lot into a colander with bowl underneath like picture below. Shake or stir with a large spoon, every single loose grain of salt will be removed.

*This salt can be re-used again and again till it becomes too dirty or smell rancid (from the residue nut bits) if kept for too long.


That's it, job done. Leave the nuts to cool then time to enjoy munching and maybe with a beer or two. Mmm.... yum. Guess what am I munching now.......


** If you fancy flavoured nuts you can add chopped rosemary or some five spice powder to the salt. The salt may not be that great for reuse, but hey salt is dirt cheap anyway.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Chinese spätzle soup ‘gedatang’ 疙瘩湯


Gedatang 疙瘩湯 is a Northern Chinese (like Beijingnese) speciality. Many eaten this for breakfast or comfort noodle type soup.

疙瘩 ‘ge da’ has various meanings in Chinese like a knot on a rope or some skin problems like warts, lumps or pimples. I have no idea why this soup has such ugly name, maybe due the the tiny nobbly shape of the dumplings.

Gedatang is like a mini dumpling/pasta soup, I guess similar to German Spatzles. The soup base can be anything you fancy; vegetarian, meat and veg and seafood etc…

Most common gedatang is with egg and tomato. In Chinese this is called 西紅柿雞蛋疙瘩湯 ‘xi hong shi ji tan ge da tang’. It’s kind of like tomato and egg drop soup but more substantial, similar to rice soup.

Here is recipe.


西紅柿雞蛋疙瘩湯 Tomato and egg gedatang


For 2 large bowl of soup, this is what you need.

about 250g ripe tomato, skinned if you preferred then cut into bitesize.
2 eggs, beaten
some cooking oil
650ml stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 heap tbsp each of chopped spring onion and coriander(cilantro)
few drops of sesame oil
ground pepper to taste
salt or light soy to taste

For the 'geda' dumplings/ spatzels
100g plain flour
few tbsp water


Method:

First make the geda dumplings. Put flour in a mixing bowl, using a spoon drizzle water bit by bit into the flour while stirring with a pair of chopstick. Keep mixing and stirring till the flour turns into tiny bits of dough, loosen and not clumped together and there is no dried flour left. If the dough does clump together, don't panic, sprinkle on a bit more flour and snip the dough up into tiny pieces with scissors. The mixture will end up like this picture below, these geda dumplings are around or smaller than pea size.

Close up look of these geda dumplings

Heat around 1 tbsp of oil till very hot then pour in the beaten egg and keep scrambling till the egg is set and slightly brown. Take the scrambled egg out and add more oil and stir fry the tomato till a bit mushy. Add stock and seasonings to taste, then add in the eggs. When the liquid is rapidly boiling, add in the tiny bits of dumplings. Let this cook at high heat for about 60 - 90 sec and turn the heat off. Do not cook the dumplings for too long or they will swell too much and making the soup too gloppy. Add in the spring onion, coriander and sesame oil. Ready to serve.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Stuffed aubergine 元寶茄子


I can't stop buying aubergines lately. It's so cheap in Lidl.

Here is another nice and easy recipe. It's stuffed aubergine with minced pork. In Chinese this is called 'yuan bao qie zi' 元寶茄子, loosely translated as Chinese gold ingot aubergine.

Make a pork mince mix with about 150 - 180g of minced pork (depending on the size of the aubergine), mix this with 2 - 3 large soaked and finely chopped shitake mushrooms, 1 tbsp of chopped ginger, 2 tsp of light soy, 1 tbsp shaoshing wine, pinch of ground pepper, 1 heap tbsp of cornflour and 1 tsp of sesame oil. Leave this to marinate for about 15 minutes.

Then take one large aubergine, cut off the stalk and slice the aubergine into fan shape about 7 - 8 mm thick slices, taking care not to cut through leaving about 0.5cm underneath uncut.

Using a butter/serving knife, gently stuff the pork mixture in between the cuts. When done, smooth the surface and gently squeeze both ends towards the centre to firm up the meat.


Then either steam the aubergine or bake. Steaming is the traditional method since most Chinese kitchens do not have an oven, this will take about 20 - 25 minutes. Or I much preferred to put the aubergine in a roasting tray or loaf tin, add in few tbsp of water and cover the tray or tin with foil then bake at around 180deg C for about 1 hour or a bit more till cooked through. Test with a skewer into the centre layer of aubergine if it pierces through easily it's cooked.

Then carefully transfer the aubergine onto a dish, save the cooking liquid. Now make the sauce. Fry a little of chopped garlic (1 clove) with around 2 tsp of chopped ginger with some cooking oil, then add in 1.5 - 2 tbsp of oyster sauce, the aubergine cooking juice, 1.5 tbsp shaoshing wine, a little light soy sauce (optional), pinch of ground pepper. Stir then add in 1/2 cup of water mixed with 1 heap tsp of cornflour, stir till hot and thickened. Finally add in a dash of sesame oil. Pour the sauce over the aubergine.

Then garnish with chopped spring onion.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Cantonese Lo Bak Goh 蘿蔔糕


I have posted the recipe for Malaysian/Singaporean style stir fried lo bak goh or commonly known as chai tow kway, here is a similar recipe for Cantonese style with added meat and other ingredients to make it more savoury and flavoursome.

Lo bak goh 蘿蔔糕 is also called turnip cake, daikon cake or radish cake. It is a steamed stodgy cake made with rice flour and mooli/daikon. Usually seen or served pan fried in slices. This cake is a Cantonese favourite for Chinese new year and is available in all Cantonese dim sum restaurants all year round. This fried cake in dim sum restaurant normally looks pure white and quite plain with few minute pieces of Chinese sausage etc, the seasoning is usually msg, salt and some sugar. Homemade lo bak goh usually without msg and contains more 料 'lieu' or added ingredients, also the adding of soy sauce can make the cake looks not as white as those in restaurant. Chinese 'wax' meat or preserved meat like lap cheong (sausage) or lap yuk (bacon), minced pork, dried shrimps or dried scallops are common ingredients added for flavour and texture.


Here is how I normally make this savoury cake.

Ingredients:

2 - 2.5 stick lap cheong (chinese sausage)
100g skinless lap yuk (chinese bacon) or 100 -125g minced pork
2 tbsp dried shrimps, soaked
about 3 dried shitake mushroom (about 10g), soaked removed stalk
2 dried scallop, soaked and shredded (optional)
2 - 3 walnut size shallots
2 decent size clove garlic
pinch of ground pepper
0.5 - 1 tsp salt or to taste
1 - 2 tsp light soy sauce

about 750 - 800g peeled mooli or daikon
about 250ml water (can use the soaking water for dried shrimps and dried scallop to replace this water)

280g rice flour
50g tapioca starch or potato starch
300ml room temp. homemade chicken stock (or water with added chicken stock granules about 1 heap tsp)
1 tsp sesame oil

cooking oil


Method:
  1. Soak the lap cheong and lap yuk (if using) in boiling liquid for few minutes till soften then finely chopped.
  2. Finely chopped garlic, shallot, soaked mushrooms and dried shrimps.
  3. Grate mooli/daikon. I used the food processor grater, saves a lot of work. For a very fine cake texture and save cooking time can also puree the mooli using the food processor.
  4. Mix rice flour, starch, sesame oil and stock together.
  5. Heat wok with few tbsp oil and fry shallot and garlic till soften. Then add sausage, bacon (or minced pork), dried shrimps, mushroom and scallop (if using). Fry till fragrant, and make sure meat does not clump together then add remaining seasoning ingredients. Remove to one side. Check if the wok has any brown sticky bits, if yes wash before proceeding to next step. Browning bits can make the cake looks greyish or brownish.
  6. Stir fry mooli with a little oil for about 2 minutes then add 250ml water and cook for few minutes till the mooli is softened.
  7. Stir in flour mixture, taste to check if more seasoning is needed and cook at low heat stirring all the time for till the mixture started to thicken like runny porridge before it gets too thick heat off.
  8. Grease a large casserole dish or non loose base aluminium baking tin or 2 - 3 disposable foil oblong/round containers. Pour cake mixture into dish/container, smooth the top with dampen fingers lightly touching the surface. Ready for steaming. For one large cake this will take about 1.5 hour, for a smaller cake about 1 hour. Test with a skewer into the centre to see there is no whitish paste to ensure it is thoroughly cooked through. Once cooked, take the cake out cover loosely and leave to cool. If without a large enough steamer can cook the cake in the oven using a water bath (large roasting tray filled with some boiling water) covered with foil.
  9. Can be eaten while warm as it is or cut into slices when cooled and fry with a little oil till both sides are golden brown. It is much easier to slice if the cake is cooled in the fridge for few hours or overnight.

Serve the cake with or without frying with Cantonese chilli oil, XO sauce, soy sauce or any favourite chilli sauce.

This cake will keep in the fridge for 4 - 5 days or frozen in chunk. If frozen, defrost before frying.



17 Feb 2010

Attached is a picture from PlumLeaf who has followed this recipe. She got it wrong using hot stock to mix the dry flour but the cakes did turn out looking good.







If you like this type of cake you may also like taro cake.


Thursday, 6 August 2009

Hong Shao aubergine 紅燒茄子


Hong Shao or braised aubergine is a nice simple dish. I like it without meat. Normally the aubergine is deep fried first before braising, but deep frying can absorb a lot of oil. Here is a method that does not need too much oil and the aubergine is still very soft and silky. Do use freshest aubergine if you can, aubergine that has been sitting around in the fridge for over 5 - 6 days tends to be a bit tough to soften, I don't know why but had found out the hard way several times.


Ingredients:

2 medium size aubergine (eggplant), peel and cut into irregular slices see picture below
2 medium size mixed pepper (any colour you like), cut into bitesize
2 tbsp chopped ginger, about thumb size piece
1 rounded tbsp chopped garlic, about 2 - 3 cloves
Cooking oil

Seasoning sauce:
2 tbsp yellow bean sauce or sweet yellow bean sauce or a mixture of both
1.5 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce or 1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinkiang black rice vinegar
2 tbsp shaoshing or cooking wine
pinch of ground pepper
1.25 cup water

soy sauce to taste (optional)


Thickener:
1 level tbsp cornflour mixed with some water


Garnish:
some chopped coriander
some chopped ginger
dash of sesame oil



Method:
  1. It is easier to cook the aubergine if cut in this shape like picture above. Just rotate the aubergine as you slice, you will then get this irregular triangular thin slices. You can leave the skin on if you like, I find without the skin, the mouth feel of the aubergine is much silkier.
  2. Stir fry the sweet pepper with 1/3 of the garlic and ginger with 1 tbsp oil till softened. Take out and leave aside.
  3. In the same wok without washing it again, top up with about 4 tbsp oil and the remaining garlic and ginger, chuck in the aubergine straight away, with medium heat keep stirring, you will see all the oil is absorbed by the aubergine very quickly and aubergine getting browner at the same time. Do not panic and add any more oil just keep stirring till the aubergine pieces have become soften and moistened on the surface.
  4. Mix all the sauce ingredients (except soy) together, pour into the aubergine, stir and let this braise till the aubergine pieces are really soft.
  5. Add in the sweet pepper and continue cooking for another minute or two, then thicken with cornflour, taste if salty enough if not add dash of light soy. Add a bit more water if the sauce is too thick for you.
  6. Plate up. For a fresher taste, sprinkle with coriander and more chopped ginger then drizzle on some sesame oil.

* If you don't like sweet pepper you can leave it out.
** If you like the aubergine spicy, you can either add chopped chilli or chilli oil.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Drunken chicken wings (醉雞翼)


Drunken chicken wings are really nice with cold beer or as a nice appetiser/starter. The chicken wings are full of flavour after the long marination. Can use other parts of chicken like whole wing, wing drumlets, drumsticks or use half /whole chicken. If using bigger piece of chicken or half/whole chicken poaching time is longer and needs more wine marinade.


Very easy recipe.

Ingredients:

A. Poaching the chicken
15 - 18 chicken wings (middle section)
2 - 3 slices of ginger
1 stalk of spring onion (cut into 5 -6 cm long)
1 tbsp shaoshing wine
1 heap tsp salt

B. Wine marinade

1 cup (250ml) shaoshing wine*
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 walnut size rock sugar (crushed) or 1 heap tbsp sugar (rock sugar is better if you have some)
1 chunk of ginger, cut into 6 - 8 slices.
1 tbsp fragrant toasted sesame oil


* For the shaoshing wine do use one which has a nice flavour. See this picture below, the square bottle is made in Taiwan and I find it tastes like medicine. The blue label bottle is Shaoshing Hua Diao Wine 紹興花雕酒 is what I like to use, it is available in many large Chinese supermarket like Lung Fung (London) or Wing Yip.






Method:
  1. Poach the chicken wings. Put ingredients A in a saucepan, cover with boiling water. Bring the liquid to the boil, let this boils briskly for about 1 minute. Turn the heat off. Cover and let the remaining heat of the water to finish cooking the chicken wings, poach for 5 minutes. Drain and bin ginger slices and spring onion.
  2. Plunge the wings into icy cold water, let the wings cool down very quickly. Drain again. Shake off excess water.
  3. Put the wine marinade ingredients in a zippy or freezer bag, add in the wings and mix. Put the bag in a container with the sealed side on top to prevent leaking. Leave this in the fridge for 1 - 2 days, turning 2 - 3 times a day. Marinate in a plastic bag needs less wine marinade and easy to turnover the wings.
  4. Take the wings out, serve cold or at room temperature.
The leftover wine marinade can be reused or for other Chinese cooking.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Sayur lodeh (vegetable curry stew)


Sayur lodeh is a Malaysian/Indonesian spicy vegetable stew. This is not strictly vegetarian because of the fishy ingredients like dried shrimps and shrimp paste to give the curry stew its unique savoury taste.

I love to cook it the Nyonya style with some fried tofu. I always cook a big pot and save some for freezing. This stew is actually better left in the fridge the next day.

This is my recipe. See this slide show.



Ingredients: Quantity is quite a lot will feed 6 - 8 people. Can reduce to suit your needs.

Rempah (ground spices)
15g ginger
100g shallot
15- 18g fresh turmeric (if not use dried powder about 1 tbsp)
3 cloves garlic
2 fresh red chilli
10g (about 6) large dried chillies - more chillies if you like it hot!
4 -5 candlenuts
1 thin slice of Malaysian belacan or shrimp paste about 15g (if not use Thai shrimp paste about 2 tsp)
25g dried shrimps

Spices not ground: These are not blended into the spice paste because they are fibrous and can be difficult to blend, giving the curry a rough fibrous gravy.
2 lemongrass
25g of galangal

Vegetables:
150 - 180g white cabbage
125 - 150g carrot
1 small aubergine about 150g*
100 - 125g okra (optional if you don't like it)
100 - 125g snake beans (or other green beans like french beans or runner beans)
1 medium size red pepper
2 small courgette (zuchini)*

* Aubergine - use only freshest aubergine. If it has been sitting in the fridge for over 5 - 6 days, it will be very tough to cook and could be bitter spoiling the curry stew. Same with courgette, old courgette can taste bitter too.

** You can mix and match any vegetables you like, other vegetables like cauliflower, potato, onion, butternut squash, pumpkin etc.... Tempeh is great for this stew.


Other ingredients:
100 - 125g (about large handful) puffy tofu or about 150g normal fried tofu with soft centre
1/3 cup cooking oil
salt
a little sugar to taste
fish sauce (optional)
1 tin (400ml) coconut milk


Method:

A. For the rempah:
  1. Soak the dried shrimps just covering with water. Leave this to soak for about 15 min.
  2. Remove seeds from dried chilli, cut into small pieces and soak with warm water till softened. Drain.
  3. If using Malaysian belacan, dry roast in a dry hot pan for about 2 minutes each side. If using Thai shrimp paste, just use as it.
  4. Peel the shallot and garlic and de-seed the fresh chilli. Cut everything into small pieces.
  5. Peel ginger and turmeric, cut into small pieces
  6. Put all the rempah ingredients with the dried shrimp soaking water in a small blender or food processor, blend till very smooth. Add a bit more water if you need to make sure the machine is running smoothly.
B. For the other spices:
  1. Trim the lemongrass, bash to bruise them.
  2. Cut galangal into slices.
C. For the vegetables:
  1. Clean and cut into small pieces.
D. For the fried tofu (Puffy tofu is what I used)
  1. Cut into bite size.

Cooking:

  1. Using a wok or very large saute pan, fry the spice paste with oil and 1 heap tsp of salt for about 10 minutes at medium low heat till the paste is fragrant and oil is beginning to split around the side. Stirring most of the time to avoid the paste sticking to the pan or wok.
  2. Add in the cabbage, carrot and aubergine. Also add in galangal and lemongrass. Stir fry for about 4 - 5 minutes without adding water till the vegetables have softened.
  3. Add in the beans, okra and fried tofu. Stir fry for another few minutes without water.
  4. Add in about 1.5litres of water to cover all the vegetables. Bring this to the boil. Then simmer for about 20 -25 minutes.
  5. Then add in remaining vegetables. Simmer for another few minutes till all the vegetables are tender.
  6. Then add in 1 tin of coconut milk. Season with some sugar, salt (or fish sauce) to taste. Fish sauce is not a common ingredient for sayur lodeh but I find it tastes better than salt. Simmer the curry vegetable stew for a little while longer.
  7. Check the thickness of the curry gravy, thin it down further with water if you like a thin soupy gravy. If more water is added bring this up to boil again, then it is ready to eat. I like the gravy not too thin.
Note: Whatever vegetables you like to use, add in the toughest or longest to cook vegetables first and tender ones last.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Corned beef stir fry


I am not ashamed to say I love tinned corned beef as much as I love Spam or Chinese luncheon meat. I don't like plain corned beef straight from the tin for sandwiches. We always had it stir fried with onion. Every time I make this I can always eat a big bowlful of hot steamy rice. It's trashy but tasty comfort food, sometime it's what I need. Any leftover I normally make sandwiches.

This recipe is what my mum used to cook for the family since I was a kid. I reckon similar recipe is common to many S E Asian Chinese.


Ingredients:

1 tin (about 350g) of tinned corned beef
2 medium onion, sliced
1 - 2 chilli, chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp kecap manis
1 heap tsp sugar
1 - 2 egg, beaten (optional)
2 - 3 tbsp cooking oil
handful of chopped coriander


Method:
  1. Stir fry onion with cooking oil till onion is soften.
  2. Add corned beef, mash it with the cooking spatula/spoon. Add kecap manis, soy and sugar to taste. Stir fry for about 5 minutes, keep stirring to avoid sticking till the corned beef is quite dry. Stir in the chilli.
  3. Add in the beaten egg, do not stir till the egg is beginning to set, stir to combine.
  4. Stir in coriander.

Beaten egg absorbs the moisture from the corned beef mixture making it drier.

You may have noticed from the picture I did not add egg because I ran out and I was too lazy to go to the shop. It was still as nice.

If you like this stir fried corned beef a bit more spicier, add a tablespoon of hot curry powder/curry paste when frying the onion is also very nice.