Red-braised Tofu Skin Knots百叶结烧肉bǎi yè jié shāo ròu

FullSizeRenderTofu Skin Knots is widely known as bǎi yè jié (literally hundred-page knots) in southern regions of China.  Tofu skin is cut into strips, tied into knots and cooked with red-braised sauce resulting in a succulent, chewy and meaty texture of the final product. Inspired by a recent food tour to Taiwan, I gave the traditional recipe a twist by adding fresh and fragrant basil to balance the rich sauce of the hearty dish.

Serves 4-6

  • 250g       frozen Tofu skin豆腐皮
  • 250g       pork belly 五花肉, cut into strips of 5cm in length.
  • 1 tablespoon     cooking oil
  • 2-3 slices   ginger 姜片
  • 2 and ½ tablespoons      light soy sauce生抽酱油
  • 1 and ½ tablespoon        dark soy sauce老抽酱油
  • 1 tablespoon     rock sugar冰糖
  • ½ cup (4 tablespoons)                  water
  • 1-2 sprigs            fresh basil 罗勒

IMG_0982Method

  1. Cut the tofu skin into strips of 15cm in length and 5cm in width. Pick a strip. Hold the ends of the strip with your two hands, roll it up then tie into a knot. Don’t worry about making it perfect. Your tofu skin knots are going to be irregular and deformed. Just be careful when tying into knots. You may break a few strips depending on the quality and durability of your Tofu skin. Don’t throw the broken pieces away. Just cook them together with the knots.IMG_1125
  2. Place a tablespoon oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add into pork belly. Fry for a few minutes till meat turns white. Add ginger slices and cook for 1 minute. Pour into cooking wine and cook for another 2 minutes. Add into soy sauce, dark soy sauce and rock sugar. Cook for about 2 minutes. Turn to medium heat. Cook till pork is nicely browned. Stir into Tofu skin knots. Add water. Bring it to a boil. Then turn to low heat. Cover the pot. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir every five minutes to avoid burning on the bottom. Stir into basil before serving.

 

 

 

Grilled Pepper & Caper Salad 意式彩椒

It perfectly goes with your homemade Ciabatta or you could simply savour it as a salad dish. You will surely ‘wow’ your guests when serving it at your dinner party.

Serves 3-4,

4                           Large bell peppers, red and yellow
2 tablespoons     capers in salt, rinsed
12                          black pitted olives

For the dressing
3 tablespoons   extra virgin olive oil
2                           garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons   balsamic vinegar
salt and ground black pepper

Method

1.     Arrange the peppers in a preheated oven (200℃) for 20 minutes

2.     Remove the peppers from the oven and put in a plastic bag, seal the bag and leave for 5 minutes

3.     Peel the peppers, remove the cores and seeds. Cut the peppers into strips

4.     Distribute the capers and olives evenly over peppers

To make dressing,

5.     Mix the olive oil and garlic together in a bowl, crush the garlic with a spoon to release as much flavor as possible.

6.     Mix in the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

7.     Pour the dressing over the peppers, mix well and allow to stand at least 30 minutes before serving (or leave it in the fridge – it tastes equally good as long as it is consumed within 2-3 days.)

8.     Place all ingredients in a separate serving bowl by removing the excess juice.

 

Cranberry Spinach Salad 蔓越莓菠菜叶沙拉

It is perfect for every day meal or dinner party and only takes 10 minutes to put together. And you get to enjoy your homemade salad dressing. Makes sense to pre-make the salad dressing and leave it in the fridge – it helps you  focus time and efforts on preparing other dishes for the home dinner/party.

 Serves 3-4,

  • 200g                                    baby spinach or spinach (leaves only),菠菜叶
  • 2 tablespoons                   almonds, blanched and slivered,杏仁片
  • ½ tablespoon                    butter黄油
  • 3 tablespoons                   dry cranberry,蔓越莓干

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons                   white wine vinegar白葡萄酒醋
  • 2 tablespoons                   cider vinegar苹果醋
  • 2 tablespoons                   vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons                   caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon                       yellow onion, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon                     paprika (optional)匈牙利红椒粉
  • 1 tablespoon                     white sesame seeds, toasted白芝麻

IMG_0835Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook and stir almonds in butter until lightly toasted. Remove from heat, and let cool.IMG_0849
  2. To make the dressing, use a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, sugar, onion, paprika, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, and vegetable oil. Toss with spinach just before serving.FullSizeRender
  3. In a large bowl, combine the spinach with the toasted almonds and cranberries.

 

 

No-knead Rye Bread 橙香黑麦面包

FullSizeRender (1).jpgThe recipe was Inspired by the gorgeous rye breads that I enjoyed on a recent trip to Hanoi. A small amount of dark and earthily-flavored molasses is used to add smoky depth – combined with the hint of orange, the loaf is tempting and simply irresistible. No kneading techniques are required. The process couldn’t be simpler, yet the results are awesome.

 Makes one loaf,

  • 122.5g        bread flour高筋面粉
  • 122.5g        dark rye flour 黑麦面粉
  • ½ teaspoon    dry yeast 酵母
  • 1 teaspoon    salt盐
  • 1            orange zest   新鲜橙皮末
  • 1 tablespoon   molasses 糖浆
  • 188g         water in room temperatureIMG_0753

Method

  1. Combine the bread flour and rye flour in a big mixing bowl. Mix well. Add into yeast at one side and salt at the other side. Add into orange zest followed by molasses. Gradually pour into the water and mix the ingredients well until you do not see any dry flour any more.Cover the bowl with a plastic bag. Leave the dough in the bowl to rise for about 3 hours in room temperature till it doubles in size.IMG_0883.JPGIMG_0884.JPGIMG_0885
  2. You now need FOLD the dough. Dust the counter top or any work surface. Then tip the dough out onto flour-dusted surface. Gently stretch the dough into a square. Use both hands (you may want to use a scraper as you are dealing with a very wet sticky dough.) to pick up the right side of the dough and lift it off the work surface, stretching the dough upward as you lift (just don’t tear it.) Fold the flap of dough one-third of the way across the square. Repeat it for the left side of the dough. Then using both hands, pick up the end of the dough farthest from you and lift it off the work surface and fold the flap of dough one-third of the way across the square. Repeat by picking up the dough nearest to you. Once done, flip the dough over so that what was once the bottom of the dough is now the top. Cover the dough with a plastic bag and rest for 20 minutes. (The folding technique here is not for forming the final product; this is done after the first rise to create structure in the dough. This is more to be required for high-hydration doughs.)IMG_0886.JPG
  3. Lightly dust the proofing basket (you may use non-stick loaf tin if you do not have the proofing basket at home). Place the dough into the basket with bottom of the dough facing up. Cover the proofing basket with a plastic bag. Rest for 60 minutes. In the meantime preheat the oven to 230℃. Insert a small baking tray filled with water and place the tray on the bottom of the oven. (this helps create steam inside the oven which will result in a nice, chewy crust of the loaf.) Flip the dough over and place it on a baking tray.IMG_0887IMG_0891.JPG
  4. Bake for 20 minutes till the beautiful aroma of the rye and orange fills up your entire room. Place the bread on a cooling rack for 30 minutes till it is completely cooled off.FullSizeRender.jpg
  5. Enjoy a plain piece, or spread onto butter, honey/jam or both.RyeCrumb

 

Tofu Skin Sheets Salad凉拌豆腐皮liáng bàn dòu fǔ pí

Tofu Skin SaladTofu Skin is a byproduct of the tofu-making process. At the grocery stores, you’ll likely find tofu skin sold three ways: dried, fresh, and frozen. The frozen sheets have a firm, slightly rubbery texture that becomes soft and pliable when moistened. If sealed in an airtight package, it stays fresh for months and offers a lot of versatility. One of my favorite ways to enjoy it is to make it a salad with the Chinese Vinegar Dressing.

Serves 3-4

  • Chinese Vinegar Dressing
  • 5 sprigs               spring onions, roughly chopped,香葱切丝
  • 4 tablespoons    Cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons    Chinese white rice vinegar 白米醋
  • 2 tablespoons    Chinkiang vinegar镇江香醋
  • 2 teaspoons         Sesame oil 香油
  • 1/2 teaspoon       table salt
  • 1 tablespoon     light soy sauce 生抽
  • 2 teaspoons         caster sugar白糖dressing

__________________________________________________________________________________

  • 250g (1 packet)   Tofu skin Sheets豆腐皮 (千张), thinly sliced
  • 80g                                                   Carrots, thinly sliced  胡萝卜切丝

Method

  1. Heat the cooking oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add spring onions and fry over low medium heat for about 5 minutes. Drain by removing the caramelized spring onions. This will yield 3 tablespoons of spring onions oil.spring onions oil
  2. Place the spring onions oil in a mixing bowl. Add into rest of the vinegar dressing seasonings. Mix well. Set aside.dressing (2)
  3. Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Blanch sliced Tofu skin sheets and carrots. Cool off the blanched vegetables under the running water. This takes about 3-4 minutes. Drain.
  4. Combine blanched Tofu skin, carrots with the vinegar dressing
  5. Enjoy.

Stir-fried Asparagus 清炒芦笋 qīng chǎo lú sǔn

cover_blurred backgroundThe easiest and tastiest way to enjoy this gorgeous vegetable. The combination of the knife skill of roll cutting (滚刀切) and water-starch coating method ensures every side of the asparagus is evenly coated with salt which greatly helps release the umami taste existed in the asparagus. When going to grocery shopping, you want the thickest stalk you can get. The sweetest, juiciest part of an asparagus is in its stalk; The thicker the stalk the more of that sweet, pale green flesh there is. To make use of it, you must pare away the tough dark green rind that sheaths the stalk. There is no question that you must peel it. If you don’t, you will end up discarding better than half of what is good to eat in an asparagus.

Serves 2-4

  • 250g                                    asparagus (with thick stalk)芦笋,roll cut滚刀切
  • 1 and half tablespoons    cooking oil
  • ½ teaspoon                         salt

Water starch

  • ½ tablespoon           corn flour生粉
  • 2 tablespoons           water

ingrdients Method

  1. Roll cut (滚刀切) asparagus into long strips (try to keep some skin on each one). How to roll cut? Simply make a diagonal cut at one end of the asparagus. Roll the asparagus. Roll the asparagus 1/4 – 1/3 of the way toward you. Make another diagonal cut to the asparagus. Keep roll cutting. Continue rolling and cutting the asparagus until you reach the end. Place the small pieces in a bowl. Set aside.roll-cut
  2. Mix 1/2 tablespoon of corn flour with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl to make the water starch.IMG_0422.JPG
  3. Heat the cooking oil in a wok over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the asparagus and stir fry for 1 minute. Sprinkle the salt and stir fry for 1 more minute. Stir into the water starch in the wok. Mix it well with the asparagus and cook for another 1 minute.stir fry
  4. Move the asparagus in a plate. Serve.

Fish-fragrant Eggplant鱼香茄子

fish-fragrant eggplant

People tend to stereotype Szechuan cuisine as being simply ‘hot and spicy’ – this is not true. What really distinguishes Szechuan cookery is its mastery of the art of flavors. This dish highlights the gorgeous layering of flavors that is the signature of Szechuan cooking. Pickled chillies with fermented bean paste give the dish its warmth and luster; the garlic-ginger-spring onion trinity adds a luxurious kick of flavor and a hint of sweet and sour serves to harmonize all the other tastes. Do not be fooled by the name – there is no fish involved in the recipe at all. So it is also a perfect dish for vegetarians.

 Serves 2-4,

  • 2                             Asian long eggplants (about 500-600gram) 紫皮长茄子
  • 2-3 cups                 cooking oil for deep-drying
  • 2                              pickled red pepper四川泡椒, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon         Szechuan fermented bean paste (Doubanjiang) 郫县豆瓣酱
  • 1 tablespoon          garlic cloves, minced蒜末
  • 1 tablespoon          ginger, minced姜末
  • 2 tablespoons         spring onion, white part and green part minced and separate葱末
  • 1/3 teaspoon  or none    salt

seasoning sauce

  • 1 tablespoon    light soy sauce生抽
  • 1/2 tablespoon    Chinkiang vinegar镇江香醋
  • 2 teaspoons      corn flour生粉
  • 1 teaspoon       caster sugar白糖
  • 150ml                stock or wateringrdients

 Method

  1. Roll cut (滚刀切) eggplants into long strips (try to keep some skin on each one). Place them in a large bowl. Sprinkle them with salt and mix well and leave in the bowl for about 30 minutes. You will get about ½ cup of water coming out of the eggplant. Drain before moving the next step.cut eggplant.JPG
  2. Prepare a separate bowl; mix all the ingredients for the seasoning sauce. Set aside.seasoning sauce
  3. In a wok, heat the oil for deep-frying to 350°F (180˚C). Carefully add the eggplant in batches and deep-fry for three to four minutes until slightly golden on the outside and soft and buttery within. Remove and drain on paper towels.deepfry eggplant
  4. Pour the deep-frying oil into a bowl. Scoop 2 tablespoons of the oil to the same wok. Turn to a low-medium heat. When the wok is hot again, minced ginger, garlic and spring onions (white part) until fragrant, then add the pickled pepper and Szechuan fermented bean paste and stir-fry until the oil is red. Return the deep-dried eggplants, mix well and fry for a minute. Gently pour into the seasoning sauce. Let them simmer in the wok for a minute or so to absorb the flavors of the sauce. Stir a few times to make sure the eggplants are well coated.fry seasonings
  5. Move from wok, sprinkle chopped green onion.final

Tips

Since both doubanjiang (fermented bean paste) and soy sauce contain salt. So you may just need a little bit or none of the salt at all in this recipe.