Chinese Napa Cabbage in Supreme Soup开水白菜kāi shuǐ bái cài

coverCan you imagine this light and delicious cabbage soup symbols the pinnacle of Sichuan Cuisine? It is the great stock that elevates the humble cabbage to a true delicacy. Traditional recipe asks for more sophisticated approach and ingredients to cook the stock. I have simplified the process to make the light and healthy soup accessible to family dinner tables.

Serve 4-6

  • 1000ML        chicken stock 鸡高汤 (Click homemade Chinese Chicken Stock for recipe)
  • 160g           baby Napa Cabbage (or use the small, inner, core part of a big Napa Cabbage)  娃娃菜或者大白菜菜心
  • 1 tablespoon    dried Chinese Goji berries 枸杞子, soaked in water for 20 minutes
  • ½ teaspoon     salt or salt to tasteIMG_1842

Method

  1. Wash the Napa Cabbage. If you use a big Napa cabbage, half the cabbage and use a knife to take the inner core part of the cabbage out.IMG_1841.jpg
  2. Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Poach the cabbage in water for 1 minute. Drain. Place them into individual soup bowl.
  3. Use a separate pot to bring the chicken stock to a boil. Season the stock with salt.
  4. Divide the stock evenly and pour them into individual soup bowls. Top the soup bowl with rehydrated Chinese Goji berries.
  5. Serve warm.

 

 

 

 

Chinese Chicken Stock 中式高汤zhōng shì gāo tāng

coverWhen you have a good stock on hand, a great soup, sauce and dish is moments away! Good stock shall be an essential in your home kitchen as it is the ingredient that separates a great home cook’s food from a good home cook’s food. It is easier to make large quantity of your stock and store in the fridge or freezer.

 Yield about 2000 ML Chicken Stock

  • 2000ML         water (Water and bone and ham ratiois roughly 2:1 or should be just enough to cover the chicken bone in the stock pot)
  • 800g          chicken bone架子
  • 100g          Ham
  • 20g           ginger (crushed)
  • 5             spring onions (halved)
  • 2 tablespoons    Chinese cooking wine 料酒

Method

  1. Place the chicken bones, ham, ginger, spring onions and cooking wine with 2 liters of water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Cook over high heat to bring it to a boil. Remove the foam if needed.
  2. Turn to the medium heat and cover for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn to low medium heat and cook for another 45 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat. Use a sifter or colander to remove all the ingredients in the stock.IMG_1711.jpg

Soy Skin Rolls腐皮卷fǔ pí juàn

cover.jpgWith their blistered golden exterior and juicy filling of shredded vegetables. this classic dim sum dish can be either vegetarian or include shrimp or pork. Thin sheets of soy skin enclose the filling in what looks much like a Spring Roll, which is then fried to make the outer layer bubbles and crisp up, while the inner layers of soy skin remain soft and pliable.

 Yields 12 pieces,

Wrapper

2 big sheets     Soy skin, cut into square pieces in a dimension of 12cm. 豆腐衣剪成方块状, (make sure you get the plain one not the salty one. The plain one may need to be stored in the fridge.)

 Filling

  • 1 Half carrot, thinly sliced,胡罗卜切丝
  • 2                      Eggs, beaten and scrambled
  • 30g                  Wood ear fungus (after dehydration),水发后的重量
  • 30g                  Dried shiitake mushroom (after dehydration) 水发后的重量
  • 60g                   Mung bean sprouts 绿豆芽
  • 3 sprigs            Chives韭菜
  • 2 tablespoons  cooking oil (for frying the filling)
  • 1 tablespoon   light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon     sesame oil
  • 1/3  teaspoon  salt
  • 1 teaspoon     caster sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon     white peppercorn powder
  • 3 tablespoons    water starch (1 tablespoon of corn starch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water)

2 tablespoons of plain flour mixed with 3 tablespoons of water to make the flour paste

IMG_1171.jpgMethod

  1. Prepare and thinly sliced all the vegetable ingredients for the filling.IMG_1172.jpg
  2. Cut the soy skin sheets into small square pieces.IMG_1173.jpg
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in a pan and make the scrambled eggs over low medium heat. Set scrambled eggs aside.IMG_1176.jpg
  4. Use the same pan, place another 1 tablespoon of oil, fry carrots, mushrooms, mung bean sprouts and chives for 3-4 minutes till soft. Return scrambled eggs. Then add light soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, sugar and white peppercorn powder, mix well. Pour into water starch. Stir well till the filling becomes thickened. The filling is done.
  5. Now let’s assemble the soy skin rolls. Pick up a piece of small soy skin sheet, place a tablespoon filling in the middle. Fold it up towards the other end, then fold it again from left and right and then roll it up again. Then soy skin is dry, you will need apply flour paste to seal the edges.
  6. Heat the deep-fry oil to 200C°. Gently place the rolls. Deep fry over low-medium heat for about 4-5 minutes till golden.IMG_1195.jpg

Kung Pao Tofu宫保豆腐gōng bǎo dòu fǔ

IMG_1247.jpgA vegan version of the gorgeous Kung Pao dish. The Sichuan Cuisine boasts 24 different types of ‘complex flavours’复合味. The Kung Pao (the sweet-sour-scorched chili flavour) taste is obviously the most beautiful one. The two spices (Sichuan Peppercorns and Dried Chillies) are sizzled in oil until the chillies are darkening. Throw in a bit of sweet and sour. And you have Kung Bao Flavour, a truly marvellous taste.

Serves 3-4,

  • 250g                             fried tofu puff (豆泡),cut into cubes; or 500g extra firm tofu, cut into cubes and pan fried till golden
  • 6 tablespoons              cooking oil
  • 3 tablespoons               Sichuan peppercorns四川花椒
  • 1.5 tablespoons           garlic, minced蒜末
  • 1 tablespoon                ginger, minced姜末
  • 10g                               dried red chili, roughly chopped干红辣椒
  •  60g                              leek (only white part), cut into small sections. Try to get 2 small-size of leek if possible. If not, just use 1 big-size one. Slice them into small pieces of 1.5 cm in length. Split the big-size one then slice it into the same length. 大葱切宵 段(只用葱白)

 Seasoning Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon                 dark soy sauce老抽
  • 2.5 tablespoons           light soy sauce生抽
  • 1 tablespoon               Chinkiang vinegar镇江香醋
  • 2 teaspoons                caster sugar白糖
  • 1 tablespoon                corn flour玉米淀粉

Coriander                       for garnish(optional)

Method

  1. Cut fried tofu puff into cubes. If you use extra firm tofu, then cut the tofu into cubes, pan fry them till golden.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix all the ingredients of seasoning sauce (dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, Chinkiang vinegar, caster sugar and corn flour). Stir and mix well to make sure sugar is dissolved. Set aside.seasoning sauce.JPG
  3. Add 6 tablespoons of cooking oil in the work over high heat. When the oil is heated, add Sichuan peppercorns in the wok over LOW heat. Stir fry for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Skim and remove the cooked peppercorns if you feel them annoying when enjoying the food later. (Be sure of using low heat and be patient. Over-fried peppercorns bring a bitter taste. Pour the oil in a bowl. Set aside.IMG_3384.JPG
  4. Now place 1/3 of the peppercorn oil in the wok, turn up the heat to medium heat, add garlic, ginger, leek and cook for about 2 minutes or until fragrant. Then add dried chili and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer the cooked mixture into the seasoning sauce. Mix well. Set aside.
  5. Add rest of the oil in a clean wok, turn up the heat over high heat. When the oil becomes very hot, add into tofu puff cubes. Stir fry for about 2 minutes. Mix the tofu cubes with the cooked seasoning sauce. This process should take about less than 1-2 minutes.IMG_1236.jpg
  6. Transfer out on a plate and serve with rice.

Click Kung Pao Chicken and Kung Pao Shrimp for recipes

 

Chinese Glutinous Rice Dumplings 元宵yuán xiāo

Photo 10-2-17, 10 56 25 AM.jpgLet’s have a couple of these soft, chewy dumplings filled with a sweet black sesame seed mixture to wrap up the 15-day celebrations of the Lunar Chinese New Year. The glutinous rice ball, or 元宵 in Chinese, is actually the name for the Lantern Festival that occurs on the fifteenth day of the lunar new year. Eating the sweet delicacy together with family, you and your loved ones will have a sweet life throughout the year!

 Yields about 35 Yuan Xiao Dumplings

Fillings

100g          black sesame seeds 黑芝麻

40g           caster sugar

20g           unsalted butter

2 tablespoon    peanut butter (optional) 花生酱

 

Wrappers

250g    glutinous rice flour 糯米粉

180g    water in room temperature

 

Method

  1. In a small skillet, toast the sesame seeds over low heat for a few minutes, shaking the pan and stirring continuously to keep the seeds from burning. Use a small food processor. Add toasted sesame seeds and sugar and grind to a fine, sandy mixture. Melt the butter over low heat and cool it off. In a mixing bowl, combine the ‘sandy mixture’ with butter to form a big ball. Add peanut butter as it would help you bring the mixture together.Photo 10-2-17, 10 43 01 AM.jpg
  2. Form the mixture into small balls with your hands. Each sesame ball weights about 6gram.Photo 9-2-17, 5 19 18 PM.jpg
  3. In another mixing bowl, place the glutinous flour. Add the water, a small amount at a time, working and shaping the dough until it has a texture similar to playdough – not too soft, but smooth and easy to manipulate. If you find the dough is too dry and it is hard to bring bits of dough together, simply place a piece of dough (1/6 of the mixture) to a boiling water over high heat. Cook until the small dough float to the top of the water. Take the piece out and combine it with remainder in the mixing bowl. The ‘cooked’ dough piece plays the role of ‘glue’ to bring the dry bits of dough pieces together.Photo 10-2-17, 10 46 04 AM.jpg
  4. Roll the dough into a log of about 2cm and divide it into small equal pieces. Each piece weighs about 10gram to 12gram. Roll the piece into a ball. Use your thumb to make a deep indentation in the dough, and place a sesame ball into the hole. Close it up. It is important to make sure the sesame ball is completely covered with the dough. Gently roll the dumpling between your two hands to a perfect round shape. Continue with the remainder of the dough. Sprinkle some dry glutinous rice flour over the dumplings to prevent them from sticking to each other.Photo 10-2-17, 10 51 57 AM.jpg
  5. To cook the dumplings, bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat and gently drop the dumplings in. Use a wooden spoon to gently nudge the dumplings and make sure they’re not sticking to the bottom of the pot. When the dumplings float to the top of the water, add 1 cup of cold water (this will keep the skins from splitting), cover the pot and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove the dumplings from the pot with a slotted spoon and scoop a couple spoonfuls of the cooking water over them to keep them from sticking to each other.Photo 9-2-17, 5 53 10 PM.jpg
  6. To serve, place 3 to 4 dumplings into a small bowl for each person and add a couple of the remaining cooking water.Photo 10-2-17, 10 56 25 AM

Har Gow (Shrimp Dumplings) 虾饺xiā jiǎo

cover.jpegA delicate and light-tasting dim sum. It is not that difficult to make your own at home. The most challenging part is handling the dough because it is largely made from gluten-free wheat flour (澄粉), which is commonly used in making Chinese Dim Sum. A good tip is coating your work area with vegetable oil or using parchment paper.

 Yields about 24 Har Gows,

Filling

150g                                                    deveined and unshelled shrimp  鲜虾去皮去虾线
60g                                                      minced bamboo shoots (blanched)竹笋
60g                                                      minced pork fat (cooked) 肥肉
1 and 1/2 teaspoon                          salt
2 teaspoons                                       caster sugar白糖
1 and 1/2 tablespoon                       sesame oil香油
1/8 teaspoon                                      white pepper powder 白胡椒粉
1 teaspoon                                         corn flour 玉米淀粉

 Har Gow Wrappers

120g     wheat flour  澄粉
40g       potato starch 土豆淀粉(或者叫太白粉)
140ml  boiling hot water
20ml    vegetable oilIMG_1111.jpeg

Method

 Step 1         Make the filling

  1. Slice the bamboo shoots. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the bamboo shoots in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain the bamboo shoots. Cook the pork fat in the same pot for 2 minutes. Drain. Mince bamboo shoots and pork fat. Set aside.IMG_1117.jpeg
  2. Use kitchen towel to pat dry the unshelled and deveined shrimp. Mince half of the shrimp and cut the remaining ones into smaller pieces. Different cuts result in contrasting mouthfeels.IMG_1118
  3. Add chopped and minced shrimp in a mixing bowl. Place into 1 teaspoon of corn starch and 1 and half teaspoon of salt and stir in one direction for 2-3 minutes until mixture becomes quite sticky. Then add sugar, sesame oil, white pepper powder, minced bamboo and minced pork fat. Mix well. Set aside, covered and in fridge for 30 minutes.IMG_1122.jpeg

Step 2          Make the wrapper

  1. Mix the 120g wheat flour and 40g potato strach in a mixing bowl. Use a chopstick to stir into 140ml boiling hot water. Mix well and cover with a lid, set aside for 10 minutes.IMG_1130.jpeg
  2. Add 20ml vegetable oil into the mixing bowl. Use your hand to mix it well with the flour mixture. Knead the dough on a working surface for 5 minutes. Shape the mixture into a ball. Then cover it with kitchen towel. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. (Wheat flour helps create the translucent skin of the dumplings while potato starch helps add some strechability to the dough.)

Step 3         Assemble

  1. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces.IMG_1128.jpeg
  2. Pick up a piece, shape it into a small ball. Place the ball onto a piece of parchment paper. Then use your palm to press it down to create a circular disc. Use rolling pin to smooth it out each disc till it is about 9cm in diameter. The wrapper is very delicate so handle it carefully when rolling out the wrapper and moving it onto your hand for assembling.

3. Spoon a teaspoon of filling into the center of the wrapper, form taco shape and start pinching one end of the wrapper to seal, heading towards the middle.

 

Step 4 Cook

Bring water to a boil on your stove.  Place all the dumplings onto the lined parchment paper. Steam the dumplings for 8 minutes with high fire.

Then serve hot! No dipping sauce is required. If you insist, just go with light soy sauce.

Crispy Fried Sesame Ball麻团má tuán

coverSesame balls are one of the most popular desserts in China and some Southeast Asia countries. Street vendors sell them and you can also get them at dim sum restaurants. It is a quite challenging Chinese recipe though. The problem comes during deep-frying – the sesame balls need to be turned continually to expand and become center-hollowed. You just need practice to skillfully manoeuvre the balls in the hot oil.

Yields 12 sesame balls,

  • Make the dough

150g    glutinous rice flour糯米

45g     caster sugar 白糖

110g    water (bring it to a boil)

½ tablespoon  cooking oil

  • 30g      white sesame seeds
  • cooking oil for deep dryingIMG_0877.jpeg

Method

  1. Place glutinous rice flour in a mixing bowl.IMG_0881.jpeg
  2. Bring the water to a boil. Resolve the sugar in the hot water. Pour the hot sugar syrup into the glutinous flour, stir and mix well.IMG_0910.JPG
  3. Add in ½ tablespoon of oil, knead until smooth and shiny dough is formed. Wrap with cling wrap and set aside for 10 minutes.IMG_0911.JPG
  4. Divide dough into 12 portions (25 g each), roll dough into ball shape, cover with cling wrap.IMG_0890.jpeg
  5. Coat generously with sesame seeds, press gently so that sesame seeds can stick firmly on the surface.IMG_0912.JPG
  6. Drop the sesame balls into oil when the oil starts to heat up, about 120°C to 130°C. Use medium-low heat to avoid burning. In 3 minutes or so, the balls will start float up to the surface.IMG_0897.jpeg
  7. Stir and gently press down with a slotted spoon while frying, sesame balls will expand in size. The secret is to gently press until the balls expand, crispy crust will form around the chewy and hollow center. Repeat the ‘pressing down’ in 3 or 4 times. In the meantime, use slotted spoon gently moving around the balls to ensure they are evenly cooked. Deep fried to golden perfection – this step takes about 15-20 minutes.
  8. Ready to serve. This dessert is better served while it’s still hot and it’s not suitable for storing in the fridge. Ideally, eat it as soon as possible for the best taste.