Beef Chow Fun干炒牛河gàn chǎo niú hé

coverThis Cantonese dish is made from stir-frying beef and wide rice noodles. You will find it in any Dim Sum restaurants. You can certainly make it at home. Try to get the fresh rice noodles at your local Asian markets. But if no luck, you can also substitute dried rice noodles, similar to what you would use for pad Thai.

An important element in beef chow fun is to get that elusive wok flavor镬气(huò qì)or 锅气 found in Chinese stir-fried dishes. It refers to the “breath of the wok” when cooking over very high heat, and the unique umami flavor that results. If this sounds difficult to achieve at your home kitchen, you can get close to it by separating the chow fen into small batches to really get the full effect of the Cantonese street food vendors who make chow fen to order one serving at a time.

The other tip is to use chopsticks to toss the noodles instead of spatula to keep the noodles from getting stuck together without breaking them. 

Serves 3-4

  • 150g                               dried wide rice noodles or 400g fresh wide rice noodles
  • ½ pound or 220g         beef (sirloin steak or any cut good for stir fry), thinly sliced and cut for bite-size
  • 2 tablespoons              cooking oil
  • ¼                                     medium size yellow onion, sliced
  • A small bunch of Chinese green chives or spring onions韭菜
  • 1 cup               mung bean sprouts,washed and drained, 豆芽

Marinade sauce for beef

  • 1 tablespoon                  Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 teaspoon                      light soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon                 oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon                       sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon                  corn starch
  • A pinch of white peppercorn powder

Stir-fry sauce

  • ½ tablespoon                           light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon                               dark soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon                               caster sugar
  • 1 cup stock or waterIMG_6733

Method

  1. Soak the wide rice noodles in warm water for about 20 minutes, and drain in a colander. If the noodles are in really long strands, you will want to cut them into 10- to 12-inch lengths, or you will end up with a huge noodle ball when cooking. And nobody wants a huge noodle ball. If you use fresh rice noodles, you can skip this step.
  2. In the meantime, cut beef into thin slices, put into a bowl. And then add all of ingredients for marinade sauce. Stir until well combined and set aside for around 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare the stir-fry sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl.IMG_6737
  4. Heat up 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a wok. Add beef slices in to cook around half minute or just until the color of beef slices changes. Transfer the beef slices out but leave the residual oil in.
  5. Add into the sliced onion over low heat till soft and fragrant. Then stir in the rice noodles. Use chopsticks and stir in for 1-2 minutes. Then add into the stir -fry sauce. Keep tossing your pan or wok until the noodles are well coated with the sauce. Gradually add into 1 cup of water or stock till absorbed by the noodles. The process takes about 5 minutes.
  6. Return beef slices, bean sprouts and 2/3 of the chives and fry for another 1 minute. Keep tossing the noodles with chopsticks to avoid noodles stick together.
  7. Transfer the noodles into a serving plate. Garnish with the rest of the chives. Serve hot!

Napa Cabbage and Tofu Slaw凉拌白菜心liáng bàn bái cài xīn

coverThere are times you would just want nothing more than a pile of vegetables with simple dressing, after days of rich meals. A very minimum preparation time involved, this Asian-style slaw comes to the rescue with crisp Napa cabbage and chewy extra firm tofu The result is the fresh, light and nutritious salad good for both cool and warm weathers.

Serves 2-4

  • 7-8 pieces, roughly 200g Napa cabbage, thinly sliced大白菜芯, use the good and tender part of the cabbage stalk (they look like yellow not green) and use the stem part only
  • 1 spring onion
  • 120g or 2 small pieces Extra firm tofu豆干, sliced and blanched
  • 3-4 sprigs          Coriander, roughly chopped, 香菜
  • 4 or 5 Thai bird chili  or 1 big red chili
  • 1 tablespoon        skinless peanuts
  • 1/3 to ½ teaspoons            salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon     caster sugar白糖, optional
  • 1 tablespoon     white rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon         sesame oil香油IMG_9273

 Method

  1. Prepare all the ingredients. Thinly slice the Napa cabbage. Remove the leaves and save it in the fridge for future use. Slice the spring onions. Soak the sliced cabbage and spring onions in the water in a big bowl for about 20 minutes.IMG_9274
  2. Sliced the tofu. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add into the tofu. Once the water becomes boiling again, transfer the tofu out, dry them with kitchen towel. Place it in the salad mixing bowl.IMG_9277
  3. Use a colander to drain the cabbage and spring onions. Use kitchen towel to dry them then transfer to the same salad mixing bowl. Add into chopped coriander, sliced bird chili and peanuts. Add into peanuts, salt, sugar vinegar and sesame oil.IMG_9278
  4. Toss well. Serve in a half hour later. This allows the cabbage to absorb the dressing well.

 

Chinese Meat Pie牛肉馅饼niú ròu xiàn bǐng

coverThis unleavened xian bing stuffed with ground beef fillings is a hallmark of Northern Chinese cuisine. People often translate xian bing to “meat pie,” but it’s more of a seared dumpling. The dough is a wetter, chewier dumpling dough that’s been rolled out to a thin disk, filled with minced meat and vegetables, and pan-fried.

The story of the Chinese bing begins more than two thousand years ago. Its’s importance to Chinese cuisine has not changed, even if its form has. Nowadays, it’s usually a flattened, wheat flour-based circular bread product. From that base, though, an endless variety of bings spring. Bing doughs can be leavened, unleavened, or scalded. Their cooking technique varies, too: steaming, frying, and toasting are all common.

Yields 6        

Make wrappers

  • 300g          plain flour 中筋面粉
  • 200g          water in room temperature

Make fillings

  • 300g           ground beef or pork
  • 1/2 teaspoon      salt
  • 1 teaspoon      sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon   dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon     light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon       sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon     Chinese cooking wine
  • A pinch of ground white pepper
  • 125g           chopped green or yellow chives

Dipping Sauce (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons, Sichuan Chili Oil
  • 1 tablespoon, Chinkiang VinegarIMG_8893

Method

  1. First let’s make the dough – add the flour in a bowl. Gradually add into the water and mix it with chopsticks. Keep stirring the dough in one direction for about 5-6 minutes. You will get a quite soft and sticky dough. Cover the dough (you can just flip it onto the working space and cover it with the mixing bowl.)  Rest for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. In the meantime. start making the filling. Cut the chives into 0.5cm-length small pieces. In a separate mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients together.
  3. Thirdly, let’s make the wrapper and assemble. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and place them on a heavily floured working space.
  4. Pick one piece and roll it out to a big circular disc in 18-cm diameter. To wrap the bing (meat pie), you make a bun first. Hold a wrapper flat in one hand, place 1/6 of the fillings in the center of the wrapper. Use your other hand to pinch the edge of the dough to enclose the filling. Fold the edges to the center around the filling while twisting so the bun is completed sealed. (just like the way you make Chinese Pao).
  5. Flip the fun upside down. Place it on the floured working space. Press it down to a flat circular piece. Repeat with rest of the wrappers and fillings until all are done.
  6. Now let’s cook. Place 2 tablespoons cooking oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, arrange a few meat pies in the frying pan. Cook for about 6 to 7 minutes until golden. Then flip the meat pies and work on the other side until golden. Place cooked meat pies in a kitchen towel to remove grease while keep cooking the rest.
  7. Serve hot!

Grilled Bell Peppers & Capers Salad 意式彩椒yì shì cǎi jiāo

coverA perfect tasty summer salad dish for your family meal. Those colourful peppers are pretty and healthy for you. You will surely ‘wow’ your guests when serving them as the appetizer at your dinner party.

Serves 3-4

  • 4             large bell peppers, red and yellow, slice individual pepper vertically into 8 pieces. Remove the seeds

    For the dressing

  • 3 tablespoons   extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2             garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tablespoons capers in salt, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons   balsamic vinegar
  • salt and ground black pepperIMG_8974

 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 10 Minutes. Then open the bag letting the hot air out and cooling off for another 10 minutes. Peel the peppers. This step is optional. Peeling the peppers definitely help the vegetables absorb the sweet and savory dressing. But if you find it troublesome, you can skip the step.
  1. Cut the peppers into bite-size strips and place them in a salad bowl.IMG_8983

To make the dressing,

  1. Mix the olive oil and garlic together in a bowl, crush the garlic with a spoon to release as much flavor as possible. Add into capers. Mix in the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
  2. 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.).IMG_8985