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.

 

Pandan Chiffon Cake 班兰戚风蛋糕bān lán qī fēng dàn gāo

IMG_5197.JPGThe celebrity chef Nigel Lawson was quoted that Pandan leaves are the next big food craze in the US and UK. This unique Southeast Asia plant, which are found in the backyards of many Malaysian homes, has a sweet fragrance that is likened to vanilla. Its extracted juices are the natural food colouring that is commonly used in some popular Southeast Asia desserts. It is also an essential ingredient for making the famous Singapore Chicken Rice.

 Makes one cake (use 25cm cake tin),

 For batter,  

  • 6                                  egg yolks (use very fresh egg weighting at 60g each, room temperature) 蛋黄
    100g                 caster sugar 白砂糖
    2 tablespoons     pandan juice (freshly made from pandan leaves + 4 tablespoons water)新鲜班兰汁
    1 teaspoon         vanilla essence 香草香精
    1 teaspoon         pandan essence斑兰香精
  • 115ml               sunflower oil (canola oil or corn oil is good too)植物烹调油
    140ml               coconut milk 椰奶
    200g                 cake flour 低筋面粉
    2 teaspoons        baking powder 泡打粉
    1/4 teaspoon      salt

For meringue 蛋白糖霜,

  • 9                                  egg whites (use very fresh egg weighting at 60g each, room temperature) 蛋白
    100g                 caster sugar 白砂糖
    1 teaspoon    cream of tartar 塔塔粉IMG_3400.JPG

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170℃. I use an oven thermometer to make sure to get the exact temperature. Use oven function of ‘Fan Plus’. Place the rack in the lowest level of your oven.IMG_3500.JPG
  2. First let’s make the pandan juice. Pandan leaf is not a juicy plant. To ‘squeeze’ the juice as much as you can, thinly cut the leaves then add them in the food processor with 4 tablespoons of water. After it comes a paste, place in a cheese cloth. Then squeeze the juice out in a bowl.IMG_3455.JPG
  3. Now let us cream the egg yolk. Place egg yolks into a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to whisk the yolks on medium speed (30 seconds). Gradually add into sugar and beat on high speed until the eggs have tripled in volume resulting a nice and light batter. This takes about 5 minutes.IMG_3456.JPG
  4. Add into wet ingredients Mix into the corn oil, coconut milk, pandan paste, vanilla essence. Sift into the dry ingredients of cake flour, salt and baking powder. Gently fold them into the beaten eggs until you can’t see flour anymore.IMG_3459.JPG
  5. Now let’s make meringue. Use an electric mixer, beat the egg whites over medium speed for one minute. Then add Cream of Tartar and whisk for one more minute. Then gradually add the sugar and beat over high speed for about 5 minutes.IMG_3460.JPG
  6. Now that the batter and meringue is done, It is time to mix them both together. Add one third of the meringue to the batter and mix it with a spatula so that you get a light green batter which is easy to fold. Then add the rest of the meringue to the batter and GENTLY fold the mixture in.IMG_3462.JPG
  7. Before you pour the mixture into the tin, give your batter bowl a few sharp blows by banging it on the table. This will get the big bubbles to rise to the top and burst.IMG_3437.JPG
  8. Now pour the mixture into the cake tin slowly making sure that as many of the big bubbles burst while the batter flows over the rim of the cake tin. Remember pouring the batter into the same portion of the tin and you will see that the batter flows around the tin without trapping more air.IMG_3463.JPG
  9. Now put the cake into the oven. Make sure that the oven thermometer shows 170 °C and put the cake tin as lowest in the oven as you can. It is critical to have more heat at the bottom than the top or else the top will brown, crack, become dry and start to sink before your baking is done. At around 15 to 20 minutes, you cake would have risen and start to crack. The entire baking time takes about 55 minutes.IMG_3464.JPG
  10. Once baking is done, overturn the cake and let it cool. Use a funnel to elevate the cake. This is important because if the cake is too close to your tabletop, condensation takes place and you will spoil the surface of the cake. To speed up the cooling process, you can drape a wet towel over the cake tin. This takes about 60 minutes. Once your cake is cooled, it’s time to remove it from the tin.FullSizeRender.jpg
  11. Use a sharp knife and with one movement separate the sides of the cake from the tin, pressing your blade as firm as possible on the cake tin.IMG_3493.JPG

IMG_3492.JPG

 

 

Pineapple Tarts 黄梨塔huáng lí tǎ

photo-11-1-17-3-17-20-pmIt is the time of the Year! With the Chinese New Year around the corner, you can find pineapple tarts just about everywhere in Singapore or Malaysia . Every bakery that churns them out is claiming that it’s tarts are the best. But I found out today these melt-in-mouth homemade tarts with buttery crumbly pastry and fresh homemade pineapple jam are the BEST I’ve had so far. It calls for simple and fresh ingredients with minimized use of sugar. No preservatives added at all.

 Makes 100 pieces  

Wrappers

  • 510g                      plain flour/all purpose flour 中筋面粉
  • 350g          unsalted butter
  • 100g                      condensed milk 炼乳
  • 2 egg yolks   room temperature

Homemade pineapple filling (pineapple jam)

  • 3       ripe pineapples
  • 250g      granulated sugar 白砂糖

Method

Step 1  make pineapple filling/jam

  1. Peel the pineapples. Cut away some of the core but not totally remove it (By leaving small part of core so the jam has some bites in.) Cut into small cubes.
  2. Put 1/4 of the pineapples into a blender till it becomes puree (do not add water). Do the same with the rest of pineapple cubes.
  3. Sift the pineapple puree so to remove some of the juices. Don’t throw the juices away – the byproduct makes a couple of glasses of good fruit juice.photo-11-1-17-6-19-32-pm
  4. Cook sifted the pineapple puree in a wok or sauce pan over medium heat for about 10 minutes till juice almost evaporates.
  5. Now add in sugar. The mixture will turn watery again after sugar added. Continue stirring with a wooden spoon for about 15 minutes till it becomes a thick paste.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 60 minutes. Stir from time to time to avoid burning.
  7. Scoop out the pineapple jam into to bowl and let it cool completely. Scoop a small portion (10g) and use your hand to shape it into a ball. If you find it is too watery to difficult to make it into a ball, just place the jam the fridge for a few hours then try again.Photo 11-1-17, 9 39 22 PM.jpg

 Step 2   make the wrappers

  1. Sift the flour. 面粉过筛
  2. Cut the butter into small cubes. Use your fingertips to rub butter in the flour till the mixture resembles bread crumb.
  3. Add into the mixture the egg yolks and condensed milk. Use your hand to combine them together till it becomes a soft dough. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and leave it in the fridge for 20 minutes.Photo 11-1-17, 9 41 01 PM.jpg

Step 3   Assemble

  1. Divide the pineapple filling/jam into 100 portions (8g each) and roll them into a small ball
  2. Roll the dough into 100 portions balls (10g each) and roll them into a small ball
  3. Flatten a piece of the dough ball, place a pineapple jam ball in the middle. Bring the edges together and press tightly to seal. Roll it in between your palms to shape it into a ball.
  4. Use a paring knife, cut the criss-cross shape on the top to create pineapple pattern. Or use any fun or desired small-size cookie cutter or pastry cutter that you happen to have at home.Photo 11-1-17, 6 21 24 PM.jpg
  5. Place all the little pastries on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  6. Apply egg wash with a brush. Try to brush the entire pastry ball including top and sides.
  7. Preheat the oven to 165℃. Place the baking try in the upper deck of the oven. Bake for 24 minutes or till they become golden brown.Photo 11-1-17, 9 54 22 PM.jpg
  8. Cool completely before enjoying.Photo 11-1-17, 9 53 19 PM.jpg

Clay Pot Rice煲仔饭bāo zǎi fàn

IMG_0689.JPGIt is a traditional Cantonese dish but now becoming popular throughout China. The rice is slowly cooked in a clay pot, giving the dish a distinctive flavor. It is typically served with Cantonese-style cured pork and vegetables. A perfectly cooked clay pot rice has a great flavor of all the ingredients, with nicely crisped and scorched rice on the bottom of the pot.

Serves 4-6,

  • 2 cups Thai Jasmine rice泰国香米
  • 2 cups and 2 tablespoons plain water in room temperature
  • 4 Cantonese-style sausage广式香肠
  • 2 slices ginger姜片
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons light soy sauce生抽
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce蚝油
  • 1/2 teaspoon caster sugar 白糖
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil香油

Serving with

2 Bok Choy青菜

4 green onions, chopped (optional)

IMG_0627

 Method

  1. Rinse the rice carefully and then soak with clean water (2 cups and 2 tablespoons) for around 15 minutes.IMG_0628.JPG
  2. In the meantime, slice the sausage into thin slices.IMG_0629.JPG
  3. Bring the pot to a boil, turn to the low-medium heat and continue to cook the rice for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid, add ginger slices firstly and then top with sausage slices. Drizzle oil over the edges. Cover the pot. Turn to low heat and cook the rice for 30 minutes.IMG_0691.JPG
  5. In the meantime, blanch the bok choy in a pot of boiled water. Drain and set aside. Let’s also make the sauce. Get a clean bowl, add into all sauce ingredients. Mix well.

6. Remove the lid of the pot. Place onto the bok choy. Sprinkle all the sauce evenly over the top of the pot.

7. Use a big spoon to stir everything together to make sure all grains of rice are nicely coated with sauce. Do not miss those beautifully crisped rice on the bottom of the pot!IMG_0682.JPG