Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Steamed Meat Pie with Mui Choy

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Meat Pie is a classic dish to serve in the household. The Meat Pie is more literally translated to Meat Cookie though. Like many of my other recipes, this one is also steamed, making it something that can be prepared ahead of time, and then steamed just prior to eating.

Before I go into the actual making of the Meat Pie, there are two ingredients that I'll be using for the first time on this site. The first ingredient is Water Chestnut, and the second is "Mui Choy" (梅菜). Water Chestnut is actually not a nut, but is a vegetable that grows in marshes. The edible part is the corm that stores the food for the plant, allowing it to survive harsh growth environments. In other words, the corm is where all the flavour is as well. What makes the Water Chestnut corm fantastic for cooking is the fact that despite how you cook it, the texture remains crisp!

Mui Choy is a dried and salted mustard-cabbage. Before the advent of modern refrigeration, drying and salting effectively helped preserve food. There are supposed to be two variants of Mui Choy - a sweet and a salty version. Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure which kind I have, but my gut feeling says it's the sweet version. Regardless, a step in making ANY Mui Choy dish is to wash the Mui Choy well to remove the excess salt, sand and grit.

Ingredients for Meat Pie with Mui Choy:
  • 2 stalks of green onion
  • 4 water chestnuts
  • 1/4 to 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp dark soy (for colour only)
  • 1 heaping tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • vegetable oil
To make the Mui Choy Meat Pie:
  1. Open the package of Mui Choy 梅菜 (because of the inconsistency of naming this ingredient in english, I've included the written chinese name for ease purchasing in an asian supermarket). Wash the Mui Choy with lukewarm water to remove the grit and salt.
  2. Peel the water chestnuts and onion
  3. Finely chop the waterchesnuts, green onion, and onion and place a large deep dish
  4. Add the pork to the large dish as well.
  5. Add the dark soy, soy sauce, sugar, and lightly drizzle 1 tsp of vegetable oil
  6. Use your hands to evenly mix all of the ingredients together. Gently flatten out the meat pie to ensure even cooking throughout.
  7. Prepare a double boiler or steaming apparatus on high-heat. Once the water boils, lower to medium-high heat and steam for approximately 15 minutes.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lo Siu Ping On (Tofu and Fish Dish)

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As you can probably tell I've been busy lately and thus unable to update my blog. This next recipe is called "Lo Siu Ping On" or "老少平安" if written, is a traditional Chinese dish. The name of the dish sheds light on the choices of ingredients. "Lo" means elderly; "Siu" means the young; "Ping On" means safe and sound. Thus, the dish is safe and sound for both young and old. Given that the two main ingredients consist of tofu and fish paste, it becomes apparent that the dish is aptly named. The elderly do not have to worry about not having teeth and choking, while the young do not have to worry about removing bones. Hence, both are both safe and sound.

  • 1 tub of fish paste (~340g) from your local Chinese grocer
  • 1 brick of tofu (~400g) so that you have roughly a 1:1 ratio of fish to tofu
  • 1 link of Chinese sausage
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 stalk of green onion (for texture)
  • 2 Shiitake mushrooms (for colour and texture)
  • several dried prawns (for colour and texture)
  • Salt (a dash later on just for taste)
To make Lo Siu Ping On:
  1. Finely chop the sausage, green onions, Shiitake mushrooms anddried prawns
  2. Place the chopped ingredients into a large bowl and add the fish paste along with a dash of salt
  3. Gently mix the ingredients around using your hands or a pair of chopsticks
  4. Crack the egg into the bowl and gently mix the ingredients slightly again
  5. Throw a dash a salt into the bowl and a tsp of oil.
  6. Add the Tofu to the bowl and mix yet again, breaking up the tofu
  7. Mix the contents to an even consistency and transfer to a deep dish for steaming. Level the mixture without compacting it. This will ensure a consistent cooking time for the entire dish.
  8. Prepare a double boiler or steaming apparatus on high heat. Once the water boils, lower the heat to medium-high and steam for 15 minutes.
  9. After 15 minutes, remove from the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sticky Rice "Lor Mai Fan"

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Sticky Rice is a dish true to its name. It's also referred to as "Lor Mai Fan" if you go for Dim Sum. This recipe is fairly easy but you'll need 2 days to make it. In addition, there's a lot of prep work, and a rice cooker is also necessary to cook the rice.  A reader dutifully noted that this recipe is gluten-free provided that tamarind sauce is substituted for soy (thanks Mike!)

  • Glutinous Rice (2 kg bag)
  • 5 links of Chinese Sausage
  • Bag of dried cuttlefish / squid
  • Several Shiitake mushrooms
  • Some dried prawns
  • Several stalks of green onions
  • 4-5 strips of bacon
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • Dark Soy Sauce
You can be fairly liberal in terms of the quantity and type of each ingredient you decide to incorporate in your rice, however, you should maintain roughly a ratio of 1 cup of raw rice to 1 cup of toppings. Keeping this ratio will provide more of a visual appeal in your final product.

Preparing the Rice:
  1. Empty the glutinous rice into a large pot and fill to the top with lukewarm water. Leave overnight. This allows the rice to soak up some water and soften up a bit. If you omit this step, be prepared for some chewy rice.
  2. The next day, drain off the water and place the rice into the rice cooker. Fill with water until level with the rice. In contrast to making steamed rice, do NOT put extra water. Keep in mind that we already soaked the rice overnight. Adding more water will only result in a soggy rice when done.
  3. Press the cook button on the rice cooker. You can probably cook the rice manually over a stove, but you would need to babysit it to ensure it cooks evenly and does not stick.
Preparing the Topping:
  1. Beat the eggs lightly and cook to make an omelette. Finely chop and set aside until the very end.
  2. Finely chop all of the other ingredients
  3. Heat up the wok again, on medium heat. Add oil, and then stirfry the ingredients from those that require the most cooking time to the least. For example, I have raw bacon and chinese pork sausage, so I added those in first, then added the other ingredients once the bacon and sausage was half-cooked.
  4. Once the topping has been cooked, remove from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Mix the egg in with the other toppings, and then little by little, proceed to add the topping mixture evenly into the rice.
  6. At this point, you may add dark soy sauce to provide a richer dark colour, but there should be no need for additional sauces to enhance the natural flavours of the toppings.
  7. If you're entertaining guests, you may scoop out some of the rice into a bowl, then invert it onto a plate to achieve a nice mound of rice. Garnish with green onion as desired.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mini Egg Omelettes

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This recipe makes mini egg omelettes. The use of fish paste provides added flavour than using only eggs. If you're looking to make this recipe, I highly recommend making it with the Stuff Eggplants since you can use the same green onion soy sauce garnish for both dishes.

The ingredients required are:
  • 1 tub of fish paste (available from your local Asian grocer)
  • 4 Eggs
  • Several Stalks of Green Onion for the garnish
  • Soy Sauce
To make the Mini Egg Omelettes:
  1. Beat the eggs in a bowl, and then add to the fish paste.
  2. Ensure to mix the eggs evenly with the fish paste, you should get a chunky-batter consistency
  3. Heat up oil in a non-stick pan on medium-high heat. You may also use a traditional wok, but I find it easier to work with a non-stick pan. Spoon roughly tablespoon amounts of egg onto the pan.
  4. Do not touch the egg until you can see a very clear outer edge of cooked egg on the pan. If you move the eggs too early on, you'll see that the liquid egg will just run and ruin the half-moon shape we're going for. Gently fold the egg onto itself, and allow it to cook further. After another 30 seconds, you may flip the egg onto the otherside to provide an even colour for both sides.
  5. The finished product can be served with a green onion soy sauce garnish on the side. To make the garnish, thinly slice the green onion at a 35 degree angle to make long slices. Heat up oil in a small pot on high heat. Once the oil is boiling turn off the heat and toss in the green onion. Remove the green onions and place it into a small dish, and add some soy sauce.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Taro and Coconut Sago Dessert ("Sai Mai Lo")

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If you've ever gone for dim sum at your local restaurant where they have the push carts, you may have seen this dessert before. I've noticed these days that most restaurants make the sago dessert using honey dew lemon-based juice. It's really a shame that this dessert, "Sai Mai Lo" is hard to find, and it probably explains why I'm always hitting up the bubble tea shops for a cheap substitute that's essentially artificial flavouring based. Before we begin, I must say that I'm immensely confused about the terminology in differentiating between Tapioca, Tapioca Pearls, and Sago. Oddly enough, Sago is also referred to as "Frog Spawn" or "Fish Eggs" due to its similarity in appearance.

This is a dessert that can be served warm or cold. In addition, this interpretation calls for Taro, but you may skip the Taro steps entirely if you wish to only make it a Coconut Milk Sago Dessert.

The ingredients are:
  • 3/4 bowl of Sago
  • roughly 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped Taro
  • 1 can of Coconut Milk (~400mL)
  • 1 can of Condensed Milk (~200mL)

Preparing the Sago Jelly:
  1. In a medium sized pot, bring the water to a boil on medium-high heat.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add the Sago. Stir the Sago gently to prevent clumping at the bottom of the pot, and continue to do so until the water boils again.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and cover for 3 minutes.
  4. Prepare a cool water bath by placing a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl, and turning on the tap so that a gentle stream of cool water flows into the mixing bowl. Drain the Sago into the mesh strainer. This step is important to stop the cooking process of the Sago jelly. NOTE: Your Sago should be clear on the outside, but the centre should still be white. If the Sago is cooked fully now, it will turn to mush by the end of the recipe. Cooling it now will preserve the ball shape of the Sago.
Preparing the Taro:
  1. In a small pot, boil the taro until it's tender enough to mash. Don't mind the amount of taro my photo as I was actually using the rest of the taro in another dish that night.
  2. Remove the taro from the water and mash it into small chunks about the size of chocolate chunks used when baking cookies. Keeping it in chunks will provide some texture in the dessert.
Making the Taro and Coconut Sago Dessert:
  1. In a large pot add 2 to 3 litres of water and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. The water level should not exceed 3/4 of the height of the pot at this point.
  2. SLOWLY add all of the condensed milk while stirring. Stirring will prevent the condensed milk from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Add the coconut milk into the pot, turning it into a creamy white colour
  4. Add the taro to the pot and continue to stir
  5. Once the liquid boils, turn the heat off and REMOVE from the heat. Add the Sago to the pot and cover.
  6. Serve either warm or chilled. Remember to give a gentle stir prior to serving as the Sago will settle.
I borrowed the following picture from Wikipedia just to show what the dessert will look like when serving.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Glutinous Lunar New Year Cake

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I haven't been posting new recipes in a while simply because my work schedule was too hectic, and then the new year festivities began. With the year of the Tiger just beginning, there is no better way to celebrate than with some Glutinous Lunar New Year Cake.

The recipe calls for the following ingredients:
  • Glutinous Rice Flour (a 400g bag)
  • 1 tsp wheat starch
  • 2 lumps of sugar cane sugar (or 3 sticks of brown sugar - see other recipes for the brown sugar that I always use)
  • 2 cups of water
The approximate time to make the cake is roughly an hour and a half from start to finish:
  1. First melt the sugar and water. Be careful not to burn the sugar, you only want the two to come together to form a homogenous mixture. Once the sugar has melted, remove from the heat.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the wheat starch and the glutinous rice flour.
  3. Slowly add the heated sugar and water mixture to the dry ingredients. Work slowly here to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients together. I prefer to mix the two by hand as I find that the use of an electric mixer causes too much of a mess and offers less control.
  4. The goal is to turn the cake mixture from a chunky peanut butter appearance to a smooth peanut butter feel. During the mixing process, you will need to break up any chunks of the dry ingredients that may have formed. By mixing by hand, there's more control over the entire process.
  5. Oil a casserole dish or deep cake pan. Add the cake mixture to it and smooth off the top. Prepare a double boiler to steam the cake. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium, place the cake dish in the steamer, and steam for 1 hour. After you're done steaming, you may garnish by sprinkling some sesame seeds on top, and adding a red date (called "hung jo")

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Kai-Lan (Gai Lan) with Beef

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Kai-Lan (芥蘭 if written) is known by several names including Gai Lan, Chinese broccoli, Chinese kale. It's from the same species of plant such as Broccoli, and has a slightly bitter taste. It is a cold-weather vegetable, meaning that now is actually the best time to get it in the supermarkets. One of the main differences when cooking this compared to Broccoli is that both the Kai-Lan leaves and stalks are actually eaten.

  • Several of bundles of Kai-Lan (the local chinese supermarket may have them pre-bundled and bagged already)
  • 1-2 gloves of garlic
  • 1-2 slices of ginger
  • 1/4 pound of sliced beef, marinated with soy sauce and small amount of ginger juice.
  • 1/2 a small onion, sliced
  • 1 flat teaspoon Sugar (since Kai-Lan is bitter)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Oyster Sauce
  • Cornstarch

To make the Kai-Lan with Beef:
  1. Wash the Kai-Lan and chop by first removing the leaves, then breaking down the stalk into bite sized pieces. Chop the stalk at an angle (as indicated by red lines in the following photo) to make the pieces more visually appealing. Wash the Kai-Lan one more time.
  2. Heat up a wok on high-heat and add vegetable oil. Once heated, toss in the ginger slices. After about 15-20 seconds, add the Kai-Lan to the wok - it will immediately start to sizzle and crackle. Immediately add the sugar to the Kai-Lan, stir around, and cover the wok.
  3. After about 5 minutes, check on the Kai-Lan and see if the stalks are tender to the bite. If not, mix around and cover for an additional minute as necessary.
  4. Remove the Kai-Lan from the wok, but retain the condensation from the Kai-Lan in a bowl.
  5. Add a bit of oil to the wok again under high heat. Toss in the onion and garlic pieces, and stir around. After about 30 seconds, add the beef to the wok and continue to stir-fry. If the wok/beef appears extremely dry during the cooking process, add a tiny amount of the Kai-Lan condensate to the wok.
  6. Make a sauce by adding 1/4 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp oyster sauce, and 3/4 tsp cornstarch to 1 tablespoon of water. Mix evenly and pour into the wok. Once the sauce bubbles, it's done. You may double the quantity of sauce made if required.
  7. Remove the beef from the wok and place onto the Kai-Lan. Serve hot.