Thai Chicken Salad

Borrowed the idea of Laab (meat salad in Thai), the recipe gives a tasty option to make good use of a lot of leftover roast you most likely have in summer. The simple Thai dressing transforms the less desired leftover and make it a great choice for a quick lunch or a refreshing appetizer for your family dinner.

The defining element of this Thai meat salad or laab dressing, is the toasted rice powder by using any kind of white rice, though traditionally it is done with Thai sticky rice. It is not laab without toasted rice powder. So no excuse to skip this ingredient.

I have provided a small “base” recipe so you can scale up to whatever quantity of leftovers you have. Be sure to scale up all ingredients proportionally; except the chilies, which you just add to taste.

Serve 1 to 2

  • 1 tablespoon          uncooked white rice
  • Roughly 150 g leftover chicken or any roast meat
  • 1 teaspoon     finely chopped palm sugar or light brown sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon          fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon          lime juice
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon     dried chili flakes, to taste
  • 3 tablespoon    finely sliced shallots
  • A big handful of mint or any other fresh herbs you have sitting around. Both cilantro and green onions are good options.

Method

  • Make toasted rice powder: In a dry saute pan, add the rice and cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly until the rice has a deep brown colour. Remove from heat and grind into a powder in a mortar and pestle or using a coffee grinder.
  • For leftover poultry, shred the meat into small strips. If using roast beef, thinly slice into bite-sized pieces. Heat the leftovers up slightly in a microwave so they are warm or room temp.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, chilies and shallots; stir until the sugar is dissolved. 
  • Add the leftover meat, toasted rice powder and fresh herbs, and toss until well combined.

Asian Dinner Rolls餐包cān bāo

There are so many creative ways to use this easy but great milk bread recipe. The milk bread dough, as a base dough, can be shaped to make loaf, cinnamon rolls and hot dog buns. The final product, as you can see from the photo my choice of our dinner rolls for this post, is fluffy, soft, slightly sweet, and golden.

Makes about 32 rolls or two loaves

  • 500g         bread flour高筋面粉
  • 70g                             cake flour低筋面粉
  • 75g (1/3 cup)      white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon   dry yeast 酵母
  • 1 teaspoon   salt盐
  • 1 +1 egg
  • 160ml (2/3 cup)      heavy cream, room temperature
  • 200ml            milk, room temperature     
  • 1 tablespoon    sesame seeds or/and poppy seeds, optional
  • Simple syrup, optional

Method

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients of 500g bread flour, 70g cake flour, 75g white sugar, 1 tablespoon of yeast and 1 teaspoon of salt.

2. In the same mixing bowl, place into 1 egg. Gradually add into 160ml heavy cream and 200ml milk. Use your hands to mix everything together..

3. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes till dough become smooth and elastic. If you’re in a humid climate and the dough is too sticky, feel free to add a little more flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together. If you feel the dough is a bit dry, you can add into 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk.

4. Wrap the bowl with cling film. Let the dough rest for about 1 to 2 hours till the dough becomes 2 times bigger in size. This is called the first proof. Proofing can take about 1 to 2 hours depending on the room temperature. If you use oven proofing function, it will take about 1 hour for the dough doubling in size.

5. Place the dough on the lightly floured surface. Punch air out of dough. Using a dough scraper, roughly cut the dough into 32 equal pieces. Each piece is about 35g. Shape each dough piece into a nice round ball by pulling from all the sides and tuck into the bottom. Keep the seam side on the bottom.

6. Line the baking tray with parchment paper. Place all the balls on the tray. Leave 1 inch gap between the balls. Cover the tray with a kitchen towel. Let the dough balls rest in a warm place (or use oven proof function) for 45 minutes to 1 hour till the dough balls rise in one and a half (1.5 x) in size. This is called the second proof.

7. Position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350° F/175°C. Brush the risen dough with egg wash.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds – this is optional. Bake the buns for 22-24 minutes.

8. Remove from the oven and brush the buns with simply syrup (sugar water) to give them a great shine, sweetness, and color.

No-knead Hokkaido Style Milk Bread

A very easy way to make a good loaf of Hokkaido Milk Bread. Traditional tangzhong roux method is a quite tedious process. You will have to incorporate chilled butter into the dough with your hands and keep kneading until the dough passes the ‘Windowpane Test”. This recipe requires no dough kneading, instead you just mix all the ingredients with a spatula and place the mixing bowl in the fridge overnight. The loaf still turns out light, fluffy and can be easily pull apart. It’s good enough to eat plain and even better in sandwiches, but in my opinion, it’s best when toasted.

Makes 1 loaf (by using a 9inch X 5inch loaf pan)

  • 400g                      all-purpose flour中筋面粉
  • 50g                        butter, melted and cool off
  • 60g                        white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon         salt
  • 2 teaspoons       yeast
  • 150g                      full-cream milk, lukewarm (40C/80F)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten (save a ½ tablespoon for egg wash)
  1. Place the butter in a bowl. Put in the mircrowave over low power for about 30 seconds. Place all the dry ingredients of all-purpose flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Add into melted butter, lukewarm full cream milk and beaten eggs. Combine above dry ingredients with wet ingredients. Mix well until no dry flour is seen.

2. Cover the mixing bowl and leave it in the room temperature until the dough size is doubled. Place covered mixing bowl in fridge overnight.

3. Remove the dough from fridge. Lightly dust your workspace. Cut the dough into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Cover the dough pieces with kitchen towel and let them rest for about 30 minutes.

4. Pick a piece. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a long oval piece. Pick one end of the oval and roll it up towards the other end to make a roll. Use your hand to press down the roll a bit so the roll stays tight. Repeat the process with the rest two dough pieces. Use butter to grease your loaf pan or place a parchment paper into the loaf pan. Place the three rolls into the loaf pan.

5. Cover the loaf pan with kitchen towel. Leave the dough rest for about 2 hours or till the dough size is about doubled. Brush the dough with egg wash.

6. Preheat the oven to 170C°/340F°. Place the loaf pan in the middle of the rack. Bake for about 36 minutes.

Pineapple Buns菠萝包bō luó bāo

Generally found in Chinese bakeries rather than dim sum house, these buns get their name from pineapple skin-shaped patterns on the topping. The buns consist of two parts, a soft sweetened bread roll wrapped by a crunchy topping composed of sugar, butter and flour. There are very similar Japanese Melon Pan buns, which are in turn variations on Mexican concha buns. It’s a small world, after all.

Makes 10 pieces  

MAIN DOUGH for the soft bread roll

  • 250g all-purpose flour (King Arthur all-purpose flour is preferred as its protein content is 11.7% which is higher than other brands.)
  • 1 teaspoon, salt
  • 40g                        white sugar
  • 1 and ¼ teaspoon             dry yeast
  • 1 large egg (about 60g), beaten
  • 3 tablespoons                    whole milk, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons                    water
  • 35g                                  unsalted butter (if use salted butter, just reduce above mentioned salt from 1 teaspoon to ½ teaspoon.) Cut into small cubes and at room temperature

BISCUIT DOUGH for the crunchy topping

  • 60g                        unsalted butter
  • ½ cup                    white sugar
  • 1 large egg (about 60g), beaten
  • 200g                      cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon         baking powder

Toppings

  • 2 tablespoons                    white sugar

Method

Step 1  Making the Main Dough

  • In a large mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients of 250g all-purpose flour, 40g white sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 and ¼ teaspoons of yeast. Mix well. Add wet ingredients of 1 large egg, 3 tablespoons of milk and 3 tablespoons of water. Use a spatula or your fingertips, gently mix the ingredients together until they are combined. In the beginning, the dough is very sticky and wet, but keep mixing until it forms a loose, sticky ball. Also, use the dough to pick up the flour on the sides of the mixing bowl. This step should take about 2 minutes. Transfer the dough from the bowl to a lightly floured work surface.
  • Press the heels of your hands into the dough, pushing forward slightly. Fold the top half of the dough in half back toward you. Then rock forward on the lower part of your palm to press it flat. Turn the dough slightly (to clockwise), fold it in half, and rock into it again with the lower part of your palm. This process is called “punching” the dough and the goal is to lengthen and stretch the gluten strands in the dough. Repeat for 5 minutes or so. Tip: If the dough doesn’t seem to be losing its stickiness, sprinkle more flour over the top and work it into the dough. You can lightly dust your hands with flour to keep the dough from sticking too much.
  • After “punching” for 5 minutes and the dough gets more elastic, press and stretch the dough, about 10 inches (25 cm). Then put small cubes of 35 g unsalted butter on top of the dough. Roll up the dough tucking the butter in, and then continue the kneading process.
  • Your hands, dough, and the work surface will get oily and messy in the beginning. Don’t be panic. I recommend using a metal/silicone dough scraper to collect the dough stuck on the work surface once in a while and keep kneading.
  • As you knead, the dough will absorb the butter and it will eventually become very smooth and easier to work with. Finally, start banging the dough onto the work surface and fold it over away from you. This helps develop the gluten (elasticity). Bang the dough, turn it 90 degrees, and “punch” it, using the lower part of your palm. Continue this process for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth, supple, and silky. Tip: Don’t let go of the dough when you are banging onto the work surface and don’t let it rest for too long between turns.

When the dough gets silky and smooth, pull the end of your dough with your thumb and fingers. Keep spreading the dough with your fingers, stretching the dough into thin translucent membrane. This test is called Windowpane Test to see if the dough’s gluten has been developed enough. If the dough tears, the gluten isn’t quite ready yet. Knead the dough for another 2 minutes and test again.

  • Shape the dough into a ball by pulling all sides of the ball to the bottom and pinching them together. Place the dough in a bowl (the seam on the bottom). Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 1-2 hours. I use a Proof setting (100ºF/38ºC) in my oven.

Step 2   Making the Biscuit Dough

  • In a large bowl, add 60 g unsalted butter and mix with the spatula until it becomes smooth. Add 100 g white sugar and mix with the spatula until they blend well together.
  • Slowly add a very small amount of 1 large beaten egg into the bowl and blend well together before you add another small amount of the egg. Continue until all the egg is well blended. Sift 200 g cake flour and ½ teaspoon baking powder into the mixture. Using the spatula, mix well until the dough is not floury. Collect the dough and make it into a ball.
  • Roughly cut the dough into 10 pieces. Starting from the big piece, measure the weight again till it weighs ⅒ of the total weight (in my case, 40-41 g). If it’s heavier, pinch off the dough and add the extra dough to a smaller dough, by stuffing the extra into the inside of the smaller dough. Roll the 10 pieces of biscuit dough into 10 balls. Place them on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 10 minutes until it hardens a bit.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size, dust your index finger with flour and put it in the center of the dough. If the hole doesn’t close, then the dough is ready for the next step. Remove the dough with a silicone dough scraper and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Press the dough with your hands to release gas in the dough and deflate.
  • Using a dough scraper, roughly cut the dough into 10 equal pieces. Starting from the big piece, measure the weight again till it weighs ⅒ of the total weight (in my case, 46-47 g). If it’s heavier, pinch off the dough from the center and add the extra dough to a smaller dough, by stuffing the extra into the inside of the smaller dough. Knead to combine well. Shape each dough piece into a nice round ball, pulling from all the sides and tuck into the bottom. Place the dough on your left (right) palm, and rotate it with your right (left) hand, keeping the seam side on the bottom.
  • Put the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or kitchen towel to prevent it from drying. Rest the dough for 15 minutes at room temperature.
  • Put the biscuit dough on the lightly floured work surface and flatten the dough with your hand. Using a rolling pin, roll out into 4 inch (10-12 cm) flat rounds. Continue the rest until the main dough is ready.
  • Place the biscuit dough on your palm and put the main dough in the middle, seam side facing up. Then flip to show the biscuit dough on top. Gently pull all sides of the biscuit dough wrapping around the main dough.
  • Coat the biscuit dough with white sugar (2 Tbsp) and remove the excess sugar. Then using a dough scraper or knife, gently score the biscuit dough into a crisscross pattern (I score 3 lines each side). Place the dough on the baking sheet, seam side on the bottom. Cover the dough with plastic wrap to prevent from drying. Let the dough rise in a warm place until the dough rises one and a half (1.5 x) in size, about 50 minutes (I used the Proof setting (100ºF/38ºC) in my oven).
  • When the dough has risen halfway, preheat the oven to 360ºF (180ºC). Note: If you are using the oven for proof, you have to transfer the dough to a warmer place so you can preheat the oven.

Step 5 Baking

  • Bake at for 13-15 minutes. Toward the end of baking if you see the bread is not being browning evenly, rotate the bread once so that the bread gets an even color.
  • Once the bread is baked, transfer to a wire rack. Let it cool for 5 minutes, and enjoy!

To Store

  • Once the bread is cooled completely, individually wrap it in plastic to prevent it from drying. Then put it in an airtight container or bag and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to a month. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator or microwave to warm up inside.