Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Glutinous Rice Balls with Black Sesame Filling (Tong Yuan)

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Happy New Year of the Snake!  I can't believe I didn't mention this on my last post, so I've decided to apologize by posting a recipe for Glutinous Rice Balls filled with a Black Sesame Filling (Tong Yuan). Tong Yuan is very popular during the Winter Solstice, but I decided to figure out how they are made so I could have them for the Lunar New Year.  There are many variations on how to make Tong Yuan.  They can be found in a myriad of variations from being different colours, from unfilled to filled, and even the filling itself can vary!

This recipe is for Tong Yuan that's filled with a black sesame filling.  It is a little harder to make than the unfilled ones, but it's definitely worth a try.  The reason it's harder is because the goal is to make the outer shell as thin as possible without it breaking during the cooking process.  After all, black sesame filling all over the outside of a white Tong Yuan isn't as visually appealing.

The serving will also require us to make a syrup for the Glutinous Rice Balls.  This too can have different variations, but I prefer making a brown sugar syrup instead of a clear one.  The reason why I like using sesame powder in my recipe is that it provides a different texture than the outer later of the rice ball.  Eating glutinous rice balls is an experience!  You first start by nibbling at the outside edges because it may be very hot.  Once you're absolutely sure that the filling inside won't burn you, you bite down and release a torrent of sesame flavour.  Enjoy this recipe and don't forget to tell me how the glutinous rice balls turn out!

I use sesame powder to make a black sesame filling.  Feel free to substitute it with lotus paste or red bean paste from your local Chinese grocer.  To make the Glutinous Rice Balls with Black Sesame Filling gather the following ingredients:

For the filling (may substitute with store bought Lotus Paste or Red Bean Paste):
  • 3 teaspoons black sesame powder
  • 1 teaspoon lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

For the dough:
  • 1 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

For the syrup:
  • 2 sticks of brown sugar
  • Small piece of ginger
  • Water

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Basa Filet Fish Congee

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It's Saturday, so I decided that I would make fish Congee today for a good heart-warming lunch.  This recipe uses the recipe for plain Congee as the starting point.  Any type of Congee simply uses the plain Congee recipe and builds upon it.  The recipe for plain Congee can be found here: Plain Congee Recipe.

The ingredients you will need are:
  • 2 large Basa filets
  • A small piece of Ginger, julienned
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

To make Basa Filet Fish Congee:
  1. Prepare a pot of plain Congee.
  2. Take the Basa filets out from the refrigerator and ensure that they are thawed.  Using frozen Basa filet without proper thawing will result in a very fishy tasting Congee.  Drain off any excess water and pat dry the filets.
  3. Slice the Basa filets into bite sized pieces.  When you slice try to do it at a 45 degree angle.  This provides more of an area for the Congee to cook the fish, and it also makes it more visually appealing.
  4. Add the filets, ginger, cornstarch, and salt to a mixing bowl and mix all of these ingredients together using your hand.
  5. Place the plain Congee on the stove and turn it on high heat.  Once the Congee begins to boil, add the fish to the pot.  Stir continuously to prevent the Congee from burning on the bottom of the pot.  The fish is fully cooked when you can no longer see pink.  This is why we sliced the fish diagonally earlier.  Once the fish is cooked, turn off the stove and remove from heat.
  6. Ladle the Basa filet fish Congee into a bowl and serve.  At this point you may garnish with green onions, peanuts or cashews, or even diced pickled cabbage.  Notice how flaky the fish is in my picture.  The cornstarch helps greatly as a binding agent and also adds some texture to the fish.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Savoury Turnip Cake (Daikon) Dim Sum Style (Part 2: Serving)

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In this segment I will teach you how to serve the Turnip Cake (Daikon Cake) that I posted here: Savoury Turnip Cake (Part 1: Steaming).  As I mentioned in the first segment serving the Turnip Cake is quick compared to the steaming of the Turnip Cake.  This is the perfect lazy weekend lunch and pairs extremely well with Congee.
To serve the Turnip Cake:
  1. Take the Turnip Cake out of the refrigerator
  2. Slice the Turnip Cake into rectangular sections.  I recommend you slice them about 1 cm thick.

  3. Heat up a non-stick pan on medium-high heat.  Pan Fry the slices of Turnip Cake until they're golden brown on each side.
  4. Plate and enjoy.  To accompany the Turnip Cake I like to have some Hoisin Sauce.  Hoisin Sauce translates to seafood sauce, but the English label will likely say either Hoisin Sauce or Oyster Sauce.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Savoury Turnip Cake (Daikon) Dim Sum Style (Part 1: Steaming)

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This recipe is to make a savoury Turnip Cake in the Dim Sum Style.  Pronounced in Cantonese it is "lor bak gou"(蘿蔔糕) .  The first part here that I'll be teaching is to make a large portion that can be stored in the refrigerator.  When you decide to serve it you only need to slice however large a portion and heat up that amount.  For the perfect brunch meal at home that's simple and quick, having some Turnip Cake will definitely be the key!

The basis for this recipe is mainly Rice Flour and Daikon.  To be honest I'm confused at this point because I've seen the labels at the grocery store for Daikon Radish, but others refer to this vegetable as a turnip.  Perhaps one of my readers can shed some light on this.  For the rest of this recipe I will refer to the turnip as Daikon though.  The other ingredients such as Chinese pork sausage, dried prawns, and mushrooms serve to bring some colour into the dish, making it visually appealing.

Gather the following ingredients:

  • One 400g bag of rice flour.  Look for "粘米粉" on the label to make sure it's the correct type of rice flour.
  • 3 medium sized Daikon (or 2 large ones)
  • Several links of Chinese pork sausage
  • Several Shiitake mushrooms
  • A small amount of dried prawns
  • A couple shallots
Notice that my ingredients here are very approximate, because there is no set amount to use, simply because it's not necessary to be exact.

To make the Savoury Turnip Cake:

  1. Peel the Daikon and using a cheese grater, grate the Daikon on the largest holes.
  2. Place the shredded Daikon in a large pot.  Add 1 cup of water, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt, then boil on high heat for 5-10 minutes.  This will soften up the Daikon.  Let it cool down for 10 minutes afterwards.  The Daikon has a very strong smell at this point, so I like to have the kitchen fan hood turned on the highest speed.
  3. Dice the Chinese pork sausage, Shiitake mushrooms, dried prawns, and shallots.  Add these ingredients to a pan and panfry them until about cooked.
  4. Once the boiled Daikon has cooled, add the rice flour little by little.  If the boiled Daikon is too hot, it will cook the rice flour immediately and will lead to clumping.  The whole bag of rice flour doesn't need to be used.  You only need to add enough to so that it's slightly more viscous than muffin batter would be.  The key is that it should not be runny at all, so if your mixture is runny when you tilt the pot, add more rice flour!
  5. Once your Daikon has been mixed with the rice flour to a smooth consistency, add in the cooked ingredients from the pan and mix evenly.
  6. Oil a casserole dish that is about 2-3 inches deep.  Scoop the Daikon and fill the dish 70% full to the top.  Put some oil on your hand and lightly pat down the top to make a smooth texture.
  7. Prepare a double boiler and steam for 1 hour.  You will know the Daikon Cake is fully cooked when a wooden chopstick inserted into the middle comes out clean, and no Daikon Cake sticks to it.
  8. Remove the Daikon Cake once it's cooked.  You may sprinkle some sesame seeds on top at this point if you want.  Now let the Daikon Cake cool down.  You may leave it overnight, but whatever you do, do NOT attempt to dump it out of the casserole dish until it has fully cooled.
  9. Once cooled, you may dump out the Daikon Cake and store it in the refrigerator for a future meal.
Notice that this recipe is in fact very similar to the Savoury Taro Cake.  Turnip Cake tends to be softer in texture and accompanies Plain Congee very well.