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

 

Grilled Whole Red Snapper with Orange Sauce橙味烤全鱼chéng wèi kǎo quán yú

Grilled Whole Red SnapperThis recipe showcases the delicacy of this wonderful fish by keeping the seasoning to a minimum and grilling it to give a subtle taste. By having it largely cooked in the oven, you get to enjoy the charred, crispy skin with a very amount of cooking oil. It goes so well with the fresh, sweet and a little bit sharp orange dipping sauce.

You can substitute the whole fish with fish fillet. But grilling the fish with bones intact adds flavour, succulence, and juiciness to the fish. If you prefer, you can cut off the head, but I love its render parts, including the cheek and the insides.

Serves 3-4,  

  • 1 Whole red snapper (or seabass), about 600g红鲷鱼或者海鲈鱼, gutted and cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons Mirin (Japanese Cooking wine), Sweet White wine or high-quality Chinese Cooking wine (see the recipe for homemade one)
  • 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
  • 1 garlic clove roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 spring onion, sliced green part for garnishing, minced white part to add into dipping sauce

Dipping sauce

  • 2 teaspoons                caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons                 fresh orange juice (save the zest for garnishing)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons             light soy sauce生抽
  • 4 tablespoons vegetables stock or water
  • 1 and half tablespoons    white rice vinegar
  • White part of the spring onion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon     ground red chili pepper (optional)IMG_6584

Method

  1. Scale the fish, discard the guts and clean well (hopefully you can get the cleaned one from your grocery store.) Pat dry with kitchen paper towel. Slash the fish to allow your seasoning to penetrate evenly later. Place it in a dish.IMG_6585
  2. Mix the cooking wine, sesame seeds, garlic, ginger and sesame oil. Pour the mixture over the fish. Rub the mixture into the slashes in the fish and also into the fish cavity. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes.IMG_6586
  3. Preheat the oven to 200C°(400F°).
  4. Meanwhile make the dipping sauce. Simmer the sugar and orange juice in a sauce pan over a low heat until reduced to a concentrated syrup. Add the soy sauce and stock to simmer for 3 minutes. Then pour the liquid in a dipping sauce plate. Add into the vinegar, minced spring onion and ground red chili pepper. Mix well. Set aside.IMG_7996
  5. Heat a grill pan (any oven heat proof pan) on the stove (it should be able to be placed in the oven later.) over medium heat and add the oil. Pat dry the fish (just remove some of the liquid but can still easily be coated with flour) Dust the fish with flour on both sides. Sprinkle the fish with salt on both sides. Wrap the tail in aluminum foil (so it won’t get burned in the oven later). Turn up the heat to high. Place the fish and cook for 2 minutes till fish nicely charred. Turning the fish and char the other side of the fish for another 2 minutes. This searing process will help lock the moisture of the fish after it is placed in the oven later. Place the fish in the oven. Cook for another 15 minutes.

    6. Remove the fish from the oven. Garnish the fish with sliced green part of spring onion and orange zest. Serve with the dipping sauce.