Red-braised Dried Bamboo Shoots笋干烧肉sǔn gàn shāo ròu

coverBamboo shoots are always a culinary delicacy in Asia especially in Chinese and Japanese cuisines. Freshly dug bamboo shoots are seasonal and are appreciated by people of that particular region. Yet easily accessible dried bamboo shoots have a meaty quality and are incredibly delicious. It has a chewy-tenderness and pleasant sweetness that’s not found in fresh or canned bamboo.

Serves 3-4

  • 250g                                      dried bamboo shoots 笋干 (it will turn into about 750g after rehydration. You would need half of the 750g to cook for this recipe.)
  • 2 tablespoons                       cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon                        rock sugar冰糖
  • 250g                                        pork belly 五花肉, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon                         Chinese cooking wine
  • 2-3 slices                                 ginger 姜片
  • 2 and ½ tablespoons           light soy sauce生抽酱油
  • 1 tablespoon                        dark soy sauce老抽酱油
  • 3-4 dried                               red chili (optional)
  • 2 cups                                    water
  • 2-3 sprigs                              Chinese parsley 芹菜, roughly chopped 

IMG_3921

Method

  1. The step one – let’s get dried bamboo shoots rehydrated. Soak dried bamboo shoots in water in room temperature for 24 hour. If your house is too warm, just leave them in the fridge. Rinse rehydrated bamboo shoots a few times. Place them in a big pot of water and cook for about 5-10 minutes after the water has boiled.  Use a chopstick to poke the bamboo shoots. If the chopstick can go through, it means that bamboo shoots are properly rehydrated. 

  2. This is how rehydrated bamboo shoots look like now. Remember that 250g dried bamboo shoots will turn into about 750g after rehydration. In this recipe, we will only use half of the 750g. The other half can be stored in the fridge or freezer for future use.img_3920.jpg
  3. Cut the pork into bite size. Slice the bamboo shoots into strips as thin as you could handle with knife. 

  4. Place 2 tablespoons of oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add into rock sugar and cook over low-medium heat for about 3-4 minutes till sugar melted and caramelized. Add into pork belly. Fry for a few minutes till meat turn white. Add ginger slices and cook for 1 minute. Pour into cooking wine and cook for another 2 minutes. Add into light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. Mix well. Cook for about 2 minutes. Turn to medium heat. Cook till pork is nicely browned. Add 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes. 

  5. Stir into bamboo strips. Add dried chili – this is optional if you do not care for spicy taste. Bring it to a boil. Then turn to low heat. Cover the pot. Let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes till bamboo shoots are soft to your taste. Stir a few times to avoid burning on the bottom. Stir into sliced Chinese parsley and cook for another 2 minutes before serving. 

 

 

 

 

Stir-fried rice cake 青菜炒年糕qīng cài chǎo nián gāo

IMG_3837My daughter can’t have enough of the dish and truly enjoys the delicious chewiness of these sticky rice cakes after coming back from her first visit to Shanghai. Nian Gao (rice cakes), which means “higher every year”, is a squishy, sticky foodstuff made by pounding cooked rice with a woonden cudgel until smooth and elastic, then forming it into cakes that are sliced before cooking. There are a big variety of ways to cook it: it can be stir-fried with all kind of ingredients or frosted with fine sugar.

Dried sliced nian gao, which must be soaked in cold water to soften it, are available at many Asian supermarkets. I choose to use fresh, vacuum packed Korean rice cakes which can be used directly from the package. The packaged rice cakes normally come in the form of oval slices of strips.

Serves 3-4,

  • 8 small             dried shiitake mushroom
  • 1 sprig              spring onions, (separate white and green pat, cut into small pieces)
  • 200g                   green bok choy
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons     cooking oil
  • 350g                    Korean sliced rice cakes
  • 150ml                  stock or water
  • 1 tablespoon    light soy sauce

Method

  1. Cover the shiitake mushrooms in boiling water and leave to soak for 30 minutes (you should keep the brownish water left as it can be used as ‘stock’ later when frying the rice cake.). Then remove the stalks and slice the caps into slivers. Cut the green boy chok across the elaves into 2cm in length. Beat the eggs in a small bowl.img_3818.jpg
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan over high heat Add the egg and stir-fry till barely cooked, remove the pan and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, add another 1 tablespoon of oil over high heat. Add white part of the spring onion, fry for 1 minute. Add into the shiitake slivers and stir-fry till fragrant. Add the boy chok for and stir-fry until the leaves have wilted. Put the sliced rice cake on top of greens in the frying pan, pour the stock or water around the edges and bring to the boil. Cover the wok with a lid, turn the heat down very low and cook gently 2-3 minutes, until the rice cake has softened. You may want to move around the rice cake slices to keep them from being stuck on the bottom of the pan. Stir in eggs and season with a tablespoon of light soy sauce.

 

 

Healthy Banana Muffins香蕉玛芬蛋糕xiāng jiāo mǎ fēn dàn gāo

cover.jpgThe beautiful aroma of the fresh bananas fills the room when these muffins are taken out of the oven – there is no better way to welcome kids back after their good and long day at school. These muffins are not fancy, but ultra soft, moist and flavorful. The majority of the moisture comes from yogurt and bananas. Kids love them and we all do. It is also a great way to make good use of overripe bananas which we have them at home all the time.

 Makes 12 muffins,

  • 1 and ½ cups         all-purpose or plain flour中筋面粉
  • 1 teaspoon    baking powder 泡打粉
  • 1 tablespoon   baking soda小苏打
  • 2-3           overripe bananas熟透的香蕉
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small carton    yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons   brown sugar or caster sugar (adjust the volume of sugar to your taste)
  • 1/3 teaspoon       vanilla essence
  • 35g        butter (melted and cool it off)IMG_3785.jpg

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175℃ or360°F. Line muffin tin (regular size, not jumbo, not mini) with baking cups/cupcake wrappers.  In the meantime, melt the butter in microwave or on the stove and cool it off.img_3799.jpg
  2. In a mixing bowl, place peeled bananas and make the banana mash.
  3. Then add into eggs, yogurt, brown sugar, a drop of vanilla essence and melted butter.
  4. In another medium bowl, mix together plain flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set the flour mix aside. Mix well. Add into the liquid mix indicated in step 2 above.
  5. Use a spatula to fold and combine the ingredients well until you can’t see flour anymore。
  6. Now pour batter into a lined muffin tin. I use a level ice cream scoop for even measuring. Fill liners to about 2/3 full (do not over-fill).IMG_3798.jpg
  7. Place the muffin tin into the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 25 minutes. You can insert a toothpick into the center of the muffin. The muffin is done if the toothpick comes out clean.IMG_3800.jpg
  8. Remove the tin from oven and place it on the cooling rack for about 10 minutes. Then enjoy.IMG_3804.jpg

Crispy Roasted Chicken脆皮鸡cuì pí jī

coverCan not ask a simpler way to roast a Chinese-flavoured chicken. The skin is golden and extremely crunchy while white meat is tender and juicy.

Serve 2-4

  • I whole chicken, 1.3 kg
  • 200g                       baby tomatoes, sliced into half
  • 6-7 cloves            garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons    cooking oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Dip sauce (optional):
  • 2 tablespoons                   light soy sauce
  • A few red chilies             slicedIMG_1353.jpg

 Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C°.
  2. Half the baby tomatoes. Roughly the garlic. Place 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a frying pan. Stir fire the garlic and tomato over low-medium heat for about 3-5 minutes. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Pat dry the whole chicken and tuck into with the tomato and garlic mixture.IMG_1361.jpg
  4. Sprinkle the chicken with about 1.5 tablespoons of freshly ground sea salt.
  5. Place the chicken onto an aluminium foil lined tray. Place it in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes till golden.
  6. Move the chicken out of the oven. Use a spoon to scoop out of the tomato and garlic mixture. Use a knife to scrap the salt on the surface of the chicken. Slice the chicken and top with the tomato and garlic mixture.

 

 

Stem Lettuce Salad凉拌莴笋丝liáng bàn wō sǔn sī

cover1Stem lettuce, also called celery lettuce, asparagus lettuce, is uniquely grown and enjoyed in China. The flavor and taste are reminiscences of both celery and lettuce. The tender pale green leaves (油麦菜) and white stems(莴笋), can be prepared separately and served as cold appetizers, salads or stir-fired dishes. Chinese believe that the stem lettuce is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.

Serves 4-6

 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

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  • 750g           Stem Lettuce莴笋一根 (You likely to get about 500g of the ingredient after peeling and removing the tough parts);  cut into thin strips
  • 1/3 teaspoon      salt
  • ¼ cup              dried wood ears mushroom木耳, rehydrated and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 Red Chili Pepper       Red chili pepper or red bell pepper, thinly sliced,红辣椒切丝 (optional)

Method

  1. Prepare a clean cutting board. Peel the lettuce stem and get rid of the tough end if any. When peeling, make sure you get rid of the tough white strings attached between the green core and skin.
  2. Move the clean lettuce stem onto the cutting board. Let introduce the ‘Bias Slicing” cutting technique to prepare the lettuce stem strings. Hold a small chef’s knife or cleaver at a 45-degree angle to the vegetable. Make the first cut. Continue making cuts at the same angle as the first cut, spacing the cuts evenly. Try to make your slices as thin as possible but please be careful not cutting yourself. Now use your knife patting down the stack of slices. Then hold your knife at 90-degree and cut the vegetable to thin strips. If this sounds complicated, just use Julienne cutting to prepare the vegetable strips as thin as you can handle.
  3. Place in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, let’s make Salad Dressing. 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.JPG
  5. Place the spring onions oil in a mixing bowl. Add into rest of the vinegar dressing seasonings. Mix well. Set aside.
  6. Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch rehydrated wood ears mushrooms. Drain. Rinse it under running water to cool off.IMG_2324
  7. Now return the lettuce stem strips. Use your hand squeeze the juice out of the vegetable. Move the juice out of the bowl. Add into the wood ears mushroom and sliced red chili pepper.
  8. Pour the vinegar dressing onto the sliced lettuce stem. Mix well.IMG_2329
  9. Chill in the fridge for a half hour then enjoy.

Chinese Hot Dog Bun中式热狗zhōng shì rè gǒu

cover.jpgThese fluffy, chewy buns are not only delicious, they are also very convenient to prepare with a large quantity, freeze and reheat. They make great party food as well as quick and healthy meals or snacks for kids.

 Yields about 6 Buns

  • 200g                All-purpose flour or plain flour 中筋面粉
  • 4g (or 1/2 tablespoon)  yeast酵母
  • 3g (or 1 teaspoon)     baking powder泡打粉
  • 15g        (or 1 tablespoon)             caster sugar
  • 110g                water in room temperature
  • 6                   good-quality hot dog sausage, 15cm in length each
  • 1 tablespoon         cooking oilIMG_1923

Method

  1. Place the flour, baking powder, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl and gradually add in the 110g water. Use your fingers to bring the mixture together and make a dough. Knead the dough for about 6 minutes till it is smooth. Cover the bowl with clingy film. 

  2. Rest for 30 minutes till the dough rises and doubles in size (room temperature in 28C°or so). Dough resting time varies depending on the room temperature.
  3. Now let’s make the hot dog. Roll dough into a long cylinder, then cut off 6 pieces of dough, about 50g each. Dust them lightly with flour. Stand them cut-side up and press down them into and roll them into a strip (about the length of hot dog sausage). Cover those dough strips and let them rest for another 5 minutes. 

  4. Pick one dough strip and roll it out to a rope from middle towards both ends (like you shape baguette). The rope should be 4 times longer than the strip. Then wrap the rope around the sausage. Tuck in the loose ends. 

  5. Place all the buns in parchment paper lined steamer baskets – make sure there is space between the buns, as they will expand. Leave the buns to rest for 30 minutes – this is the 2nd rise for the dough.IMG_1928.JPEG
  6. Fill a steamer pot or wok with water. Place the bamboo baskets or any the stainless steamer you would have. Cover the steamer. Turn to the high heat and cook for about 12 minutes. Turn off the heat. Don’t open the lid yet. Let it rest for 5 minutes then open the lid. This is an important step, because if you remove the lid too early, the buns will collapse and lose their fluffy shape! You can enjoy the buns now. 

  7. Or lightly coat the frying pan with cooking oil. Place the steamed buns onto the pan. Fry over medium heat for a few minutes till bottom is golden.IMG_1932.JPEG
  8. Done! Serve it with Ketchup if you like!

Tips:

  1. Make large quantity of the steamed hot dogs and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Make sure you steam the buns and let them cool completely before freezing.
  2. Reheat by placing the frozen buns into a steamer, and steaming for about 10 minutes. Or place the frozen buns on an oil-coated fry pan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes till bottom is golden.

Hot and Sour Soup酸辣汤suān là tāng

cover

The classic Chinese dish, when done it properly, can be awesomely delicious and nutritious. The sourness and hotness, coming from vinegar and spice, stimulates our palate while good-quality stock adds the richness and depth to this very flavorful and comforting dish.

Serve 4-6

  • 1000Ml (4 to 5 cups)              chicken stock (or click on homemade Chinese Chicken Stock for recipe)
  • ¼ cup of cornstarch and ¼ cup of water to be mixed together for water starch
  • 50g                         ham or pork loin, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup                    dried lily flower黄花, rehydrated and trim the both ends
  • ¼ cup                    dried wood ears mushroom木耳, rehydrated and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup                    dried shiitake mushrooms香菇, rehydrated and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup                    winter bamboo shoots (canned is ok), thinly sliced
  • 200g or 1 small block of packaged firm tofu, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon          dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon       light or soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon      salt (or salt to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon          caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon           sesame oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons    Chinkiang vinegar 镇江香醋
  • 1/2 teaspoon or 1 teaspoon         white peppercorn powder
  • 1 sprig Chinese parsley,     chopped, for garnishIMG_1748.jpg

Method

  1. Soak dried lily flower, dried wood ear mushroom and dried shiitake mushroom in warm water for 60 minutes till hydrated and soften. Drain and cut them into thin slice.IMG_1749.jpg
  2. Mix ¼ cup corn starch with an equal amount of water and use a spoon to stir until completely dissolved.IMG_1756.jpg
  3. Slice the ham into small strips. Slice the bamboo shoots and Tofu.IMG_1755.jpg
  4. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a wok or pot and add the ham or sliced pork loin. Stir to ensure the slices are not clumped together. Add the lily flowers, wood ears, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and Tofu and bring it to a boil and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.IMG_1758.jpg
  5. Now let’s season the soup. Add into dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, salt and sugar and sesame oil. Stir and mix well.IMG_1759.jpg
  6. Next step is ‘thicken the soup”. Turn to low-medium heat. This step needs a bit attention and technique. Use a spoon to remix your water starch (as indicated in step 2) in the bowl so it’s well combined. Use your soup ladle or spatula and stir the simmering soup at the center of the pot in a steady and circular motion to make a whirlpool while slowly pouring the water starch in a thin stream. This prevents the corn starch from clumping. Stop when you are about ¾ of the way done with your water starch to check the consistency of the soup. It should be thick enough to coat your spatula or ladle. Add the rest if needed.
  7. Keep the soup simmering and use the same technique with the beaten eggs and again, make sure the motion is fast enough so it will result in the beautiful swirls or egg “flowers” 蛋花instead of end up egg clumps.

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8. Add Chinkiang vinegar and white peppercorn powder. Garnish with Chinese parsley and serve.

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