Posts tagged ‘Chinese’

September 30, 2012

Celebrating Moon Festival

Happy Moon Festival! This year I am making an effort to celebrate Moon Festival on my own. Since moving away from home for a few years now, certain holidays have just been casually acknowledged. Moon Festival is such a great holiday to bring family and friends together, it is definitely a tradition I want to keep and pass along. In my childhood, we will lay out fruits, tea, and mooncakes on a table by an open window facing the moon. At night, mom will gather us together to observe the bright, beautiful full moon with lit lanterns and candles. Then we’ll go ahead and eat throughout the night until bedtime. In my nostalgic endeavor, Yip and I went to the Asian markets to buy mooncakes and an assortment of fruits. Here are some festive fruits we got:

Longan “Dragon Eye” (Doesn’t it look like an eyeball with its lacquered black seed)

Star Fruit

Dragon Fruit

Lotus seed paste and egg yolk mooncakes are Yip’s favorites. Most friends I know simply eat a slice and we are good for the year! Yip is the only one I know who can eat a whole box of mooncakes by himself! So it was difficult for him to wait and not eat them before I got to perform all my celebratory duties like taking these pictures. We celebrated in our community Movie in the Park event. Instead of lanterns, kids here were running around with glow sticks:) With the beautiful moon in sight, we had a little picnic with mooncake and fruits while watching Back to the Future.

March 3, 2012

Sweet & Sour Pork

This weekend, we are celebrating National Pig Day. It is my favorite event that my local farmer’s market organizes, where there are many pig theme decors, activities and yep food too! In the spirit, I’ll share this sweet and sour pork recipe, which I learned from my recent trip.

During my trip to Hong Kong, I managed to peek into Yip’s mom’s kitchen to see her secret in master cooking. This recipe was said to be passed from grandma to her and now to me. This is merely based on observation. I had to come up with the measurements as I cooked it myself when I returned home. All the ingredients are the same, but somehow food always taste better when mom cooks. This is not a dish we eat often at home, due to it’s popularity in take out and cumbersome steps. It is sure impressive for guests and colorful too. I feel happy knowing how it is prepared and cooking a tasty dish on my own.

Sweet and Sour Pork
(makes about 4 servings)

1 boneless pork chop (cubed)
1/4 of green and red bell pepper (chopped)
1/4 of onion (chopped)
3/4 cup pineapple (cubed)
1 egg
flour
oil for frying

Sauce
3 tb ketchup
2 tb vinegar (white/rice)
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 tb water
1/2 tb cornstarch

Directions:
1. Chop pork chop into 1/2 inch cubes and marinate for 1 hour or overnight with salt, sugar, and cornstarch.

2. Making the sauce:
Add ketchup, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, sugar, and water in a pot, cooking in medium heat. Stir to mix and adjusting the taste to your liking. (Example: needing more sour, add vinegar.) In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and a little water together. Add to your sweet and sour sauce to thicken it. Put sauce aside.

3. Frying pork:
Coat pork with egg wash and then flour to fry in oil. Take crispy pork out when golden brown and drain on paper towels. Put aside to cool. Refry pork to get it more crispy. Drain on paper towels to soak up oil.

4. In a wok, stir fry bell pepper, onion, pineapple. Don’t over cook. Add pork and sauce.

Hopefully, next time I go back to Hong Kong, I will learn more cooking. I know the bf will like that:)

October 11, 2011

Potsticker Recipe

Homemade potstickers are the best! Yip and I make them a lot at home and they are great with guests and parties. Back in college, my friends and I would have “wrapping” parties to wrap wontons and potstickers. It’s so interesting to see how different families have different styles of wrapping. We all bring our skills to the table to enjoy cooking and eating together. Making potstickers is not difficult, just a little time consuming if you’re wrapping them by yourself. (That’s why you have helpers!) I’ve never really have a standard recipe to go by because savory cooking is not quite as exact as baking recipes. You can basically mix the meat filling with any variety of vegetable or seafood. Some combinations I’ve added are mushroom, cabbage, chives, shrimp, and even pumpkin! They can be boiled, steamed, pan-fried (potstickers), and freezed. Recently, I made some delicious potstickers and remembered to jot down my ingredients. So I’d like share with you my homemade recipe:)

Pork Potstickers

1 package of potsticker wrappers

1 lb ground pork (I like to ground my own pork)

1 bundle spinach

1 small-sized carrot (julienne)

2 springs green onion (diced)

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 tb fresh ginger (minced and mashed)

1 tb corn starch

1 egg

splash of rice wine

salt & white pepper

_______________________________

Filling:

1. Prepare ingredients: julienne carrots (thin and small), diced green onions, mince garlic, mince and mash fresh ginger. Place fresh ingredients in a large bowl with the ground pork.

2. Cook spinach until welted. Squeeze out the juice with a strainer and spoon, cheese cloth, or your hands. Chop cooked spinach into small pieces and add to the bowl.

3. Add seasoning to the bowl of ingredients: cornstarch, salt, pepper, egg and rice wine.

4. Mix everything together.

Wrapping Potstickers:

5. Fill a small bowl with some water. This will act as “glue” to seal your wrapper.

6. Spoon 1 tablespoon of filling onto the center of the wrapper. Use your finger to brush water all around the edges of the wrapper.

7. Bring opposite sides together at one point and pinch in the middle. Pleating only the upper half of the dumpling, make about three pleats on one side going in the direction toward the center. Then repeat with the opposite side, so that the pleats on each sides are pointing towards the middle. You’ll get a nice crescent shape and a flat bottom.  (Stroll down for pictures.) If this is too complicated, you can just sealed the edges tightly.

8. Place your dumpling on a floured surfaced and continue to wrap more.

9. Before you wrap too many, it is a good idea to taste to see whether your filling is seasoned to your liking. Boil a small pot of water and cook a couple of dumplings. Let them cook in boiling water for a few minutes or until they float up. Taste test if you need more salt. If the flavor is good or got the approval of your taste tester, go ahead and finish wrapping your potstickers.

Cooking potstickers:

10. On a non-stick pan, arrange potstickers flat-side down and fill with water just covering the bottom of potstickers.

11. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, turn on high heat and cover with lid.

12. When the water starts to simmer, turn to low heat to steam potstickers.

13. Let the water evaporate and fried til golden brown.

14. Serve with dipping sauce like soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

Ta-da! Homemade Potstickers!

April 13, 2011

Steamed Custard Bun – Pig Bun Version

It’s the middle of the week and I have a craving for bao, steamed bun. My boyfriend replied, “Ok, we’ll go to the city on Friday, yea?” Living in a small town with no Chinese bakery, we have to trek a long way to get some of our favorite food. It can be quite inconvenient when one of us gets a craving. After work that day, my boyfriend brought me some pretty croissant and danish pastries. They were wonderful, but I still wanted to taste soft fluffy bun. So I decided to do some research and found some potential recipes…BUT the ingredients can not be found in our local supermarket. On top of that, I was inspired to make them into a shaped of a pig after going to the Pig Day event at my Farmer’s Market.

After some delayed, here is my recipe for steamed custard bun (奶黄包 / nai wong bao).

Steamed custard bun (奶黄包)
Recipes adapted from the following websites: Lydia Teh’s My Kitchen and Jo’s Deli & Bakery

Bun
2¼ tsp instant dry yeast
2/3 cup lukewarm water
(Optional: ½ tsp white vinegar or lemon juice)

2¼ cup cake flour
3/4 cup wheat starch
3/4 cup icing sugar
2 tb shortening or vegetable oil

2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cold water

Custard Filling
1 tb + 1 tsp custard powder
1/2 cup wheat starch
3 tb castor sugar
1/2 cup milk
3½ tb butter
1 large egg, slightly beaten
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Making bun:
1. Sift together flour, wheat starch and icing sugar. Place flour mixture in a large bowl and make a well in the middle.
2. Fill well with lukewarm water, vinegar and yeast. Gently stir water to dissolve the yeast, then slowly bring together flour mixture.
3. Add in shortening or oil and knead for 10-15 minutes until a soft dough is formed.
4. Cover dough with damp cloth and let it rise for 30 minutes or until it doubles in size.

Meanwhile…
Making custard filling:
5. Combine custard powder, wheat starch, and castor sugar in a nonstick pot.
6. Add in milk and stir mixture over low heat until mixed.
7. Add butter and dissolve in mixture.
8. Add egg and turn off heat. Keep stirring to form custard paste.
9. Divide filling into 12 portions and shape into balls.

Continue making custard bun:
10. Dissolve baking powder in cold water, sprinkle over dough and knead until well combined.
11. Divide dough into 12 portions. Roll a ball into a flat circle where edges are thinner than the center.
12. Place custard filling in the middle, and wrap to form a bun.
13. Place bun on parchment paper, and repeat for the other.
14. Prove for 10 min. and preheat steamer.
15. Arrange buns in a steamer with 1″ gap in between each bun. Steam on high heat for 15 mins.

To assemble pig, add the following steps to the recipe:
11a. Reserve one dough ball and color it pink with a few drops of red food coloring. (I didn’t have any food coloring, so I ground the closest red item I have, which is Haw Flakes.)
11b. Roll out the pink dough and shape little rectangles for noses and triangles for ears.
12a. Adhered nose and ears onto formed bun with a little water. Use a chopstick to poke nose holes.
12b. Eyes can be made with black sesame or raisins. Be creative! I used sushi seaweed and cut out different shape eyes to give my pig buns some expressions.

Notes:
-My custard powder and wheat starch was found in a small Chinese grocery.
-Original recipe uses low-protein flour aka Hong Kong flour. I haven’t been able to find it, so I used cake flour instead.
-For whiter buns, add a few drops of vinegar into steaming water.
-DO NOT open the lid during the steaming process.
-If there are yellowish spots on the steamed buns, it means the baking powder has not fully dissolved.

Beautiful yellow custard and my secret ingredient, Haw Flakes.

It’s coming to life!

It was funny lifting the lid after the buns finished steaming, and seeing the pain expression “(>_<)” on one of my piggies.

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