Chinese Glutinous Rice Dumplings (Yuan Xiao Dumplings) 元宵

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Let’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, orYuanxiao 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白砂糖
  • 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, place the ‘sandy mixture’ and add melted butter. I would like to add peanut butter as it makes easier to bring the mixture together. You can replace it with extra butter then let it cool off in the fridge for 1 hour if you are allergic to peanuts. photo-10-2-17-10-43-01-am
  2. Form the mixture into small balls with your hands. Each sesame ball weights about 6 gram.photo-9-2-17-5-19-18-pm
  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
  4. Roll the dough into a log of about 2cm diameter then divide it into small equal pieces. Each piece weighs about 10 gram to 12 gram. 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 keep them from sticking to each other.photo-10-2-17-10-51-57-am
  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
  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

Pineapple Tarts 黄梨挞

photo-11-1-17-3-17-20-pmWith 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 90-100 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
  • 1 egg yolk and 1 teaspoon milk to make the egg wash

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 spatula 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. It is ready when the jam is able to stick on the wooden spatula.
  7. Scoop out the pineapple jam into to bowl and let it cool completely.photo-11-1-17-9-39-22-pmStep 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-pmStep 3   Assemble
  1. Divide the pineapple filling/jam into 100 portions (7-8g each) and roll them into a small ball
  2. Roll the dough into 100 portions balls (10-12g 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
  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
  8. Cool completely before enjoying.photo-11-1-17-9-53-19-pm

Chinese Dumplings水饺

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Reverting to my comfort food after a week-long holiday feast. The Zucchini 西葫芦from the local supermarket adds a sweet, tender and refreshing flavor.

Makes about 45 dumplings

Wrappers

  • 300g               all purpose flour or plain flour 中筋面粉
  • 165g                 water in room temperature (substituted by carrot juice or spinach juice of your choice. If you use vegetable juice, increase the quantity to 180g.)
  • 1/3 teaspoon   salt

Fillings

  • 250g      ground pork
  • 125g       ginger and spring onion water* (calls for 15g sliced ginger and 15g roughly chopped spring onions and 200g water)
  • 1 teaspoon    salt
  • 1 teaspoon   sugar
  • 1 tablespoon  light soy sauce 生抽
  • 1 teaspoon    sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon   cooking oil (optional)
  • 250g   shredded zucchini 西葫芦 or blanched assorted mushrooms or any suitable vegetables)

Method

  1. Combine all wrapper ingredients in a mixing bowl. Use your hand to mix them together.
  2. Tip the dough out on a lightly floured surface and, using your fingers and palms, knead for 5-6 minutes till the dough becomes smooth.
  3. Put the dough back to the bowl, cover it with cling wrap and leave to rest for 20 minutes. (you can start to make fillings while you wait)
  4. Divide the dough into three pieces. Pick one piece, roll the dough into a long snake of about 1.5cm diameter then divide it into 15 equal pieces.
  5. Simply use your hand to pick up each piece and pound it into the floured surface to make a small circular disc. Then use a rolling pinto smooth out each disc till its about 9cm in diameter. You can add some flour to the rolling pin to keep the wrappers from sticking.

For fillings

  1. *Ginger and spring onion water – add sliced ginger, spring onions and water in a bowl. squeeze ginger and spring onions in the water, rub them in the water then drain by discarding used spring onions and ginger.
  2. Place ground pork in another mixing bowl. Add 1/3 of the ginger and spring onion water, use chopsticks to stir the meat in clockwise direction for 100 times. Add the other two 1/3 of the water using the same approach.
  3. Add rest of the filling ingredients and mix well with ‘watered’ ground pork.
  4. Combine above mixture with shredded zucchini or other vegetables.

Assemble

  1. Spoon a tablespoon 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.

Cook (9-10 minutes)

  1. Make a big pot of boiling water.
  2. Add the dumplings into the boiling water and cover the pot. Fill into the pot with 1 cup of cold water every 2-3 minutes for three times whenever the water starts boiling.

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