Monday, 26 April 2010

Jellyfish salad 涼拌海蜇

If you've never heard of edible jellyfish or or eaten it before, you probably say eurgh...... For those like me who had it many times in Chinese restaurants you will love this salad. Jellyfish is tasteless. We love it for its crunchy texture. It will absorb any flavour you add to it.

If there is a good Chinese supermarket near you, you can buy the jellyfish and make the salad at home. Traditional jellyfish is preserved in salt or brine, it takes time to soak and de-salt it then it needs to be lightly blanched and shredded. If you are lazy like me, buy the shredded and ready to eat type like this picture below. All you need is rinse and mix with a dressing, I don't use the sachet of flavouring come with the packet. There is also ready to eat jellyfish which has already been flavoured I am not too keen on this.

I like to add chicken to jellyfish salad, bulk it up and add flavour to the tasteless jellyfish.

Jellyfish salad 涼拌海蜇
(liang bun hai je)


1 packet of ready to eat shredded jellyfish, not readily flavoured (about 170g)
1 cooked chicken breast (leftover from roast chicken), shredded
about 1 cup of finely shredded cucumber. without the soft core
about 1 tsp grated ginger
about 1 tsp finely chopped chilli
about 1 stalk spring onion (scallion), chopped
2 tbsp pan roasted sesame seeds

1.5 - 2 tbsp light soy
a little over 1 tbsp Chinkiang black rice vinegar
2 - 3 tsp sesame oil
1 - 2 tsp chilli oil
0.5 tsp chicken buillion powder (optional)
1 tsp sugar

  1. Rinse the jellyfish as instructed on the packet, squeeze dry with hands. I throw away the sachet of flavouring.
  2. Make the dressing. Add ginger, chilli, 3/4 of spring onion, chilli and sesame seeds. Mix this all together then add the jellyfish. Leave this to marinate for about 10 minutes.
  3. Then mix with shredded chicken and cucumber.
  4. Sprinkle on remaining spring onion, chilli and sesame seeds.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Childhood Nostalgia

Do you ever take a foodie trip down memory lane thinking about those childhood food you loved so much at one time, now seldom or no longer have them anymore. I have quite a few, some I still secretly enjoy now and again, some sound weird and some make me shudder thinking about them. Many of these are probably more familiar with people from the Far East.

Milo malted chocolate was and is still a favourite hot chocolate drink in the Far East. Every kid drinks Milo we always have a huge tin at home. Ever since moving to England, I never have Milo again. My favourite with Milo was not as a drink but in sandwiches. Sounds weird huh. What we kids like was spread a layer of condensed milk on soft bread then sprinkle on thick layer of crunchy Milo granules. This was my favourite sandwiches. Chocolate, sugar and milk what can be better than that for kids?

Second favourite sandwiches was peanut butter. Not peanut butter and jelly. For us kids in the family was peanut butter sprinkled with a layer of sugar. The sugar was a sugary kick for us kids and the crunchy texture of sugar was a bonus. I still have this sometime if I don’t feel guilty about the extra sugar.

Bovril was another hot favourite when I was a kid. We loved it with plain rice soup (congee, juk or moi). Another favourite was get some steamy hot rice, crack in an egg stir quickly and cover the bowl with a plate to let the steam cook the egg. Then stir in a spoonful of Bovril and few drops of sesame oil. I still have the rice now and again. Still love it.

Dessert favourite was probably jelly (jello) with tin fruits and evaporated milk. Make several bowls of jelly (jello) with different flavours. Let them set in fridge. Scoop some onto a bowl, top with tin fruits and drizzle with evaporated milk.

Another similar dessert was stir in some icecream into the melted jelly mix while it still hot. The icecream will melt and set the jelly very quickly. Instant creamy pudding anytime.

My favourite ice creams were probably Wall’s rum and raisins and Artic Roll. Still find Artic Roll in the supermarkets over here but haven’t had any for years. For local S E Asian icecream I loved coconut and yam (taro) ice cream , originated from the Philippines, purple (probably added artificial colour) icecream and quite yummy.

Ever tried sucking a dried pickled plum (som boi) with calamansi lime (limau kasturi) ? Cut a top off a small lime, insert a dried pickled plum in the centre and start sucking the combined flavour. It’s sour, salty, sweet all bind together with the unique flavour of dried plum. Can’t remember when I stopped eating this. I haven’t had one of this for many many years.

During my childhood time in the Far East we didn’t have any fresh milk, no dairy farm in the country. What we had were all processed milk products like full cream milk powder, condensed milk, evaporated milk, cream in a tin and even fresh milk in tin can, all UHT. Hot drinks like tea and coffee were loaded with condensed milk or evaporated milk and still are in the Far East. Yuck! Paper cartoon UHT milk appeared on the supermarket shelves when I was around 10 – 12, then we have cold fresh milk imported from Australia few years later.

The followings are some snacks and sweets (candies) I loved so much.

Planters cheez balls imported from the States. We had them quite often. The bright colour in them makes your fingers and tongue orangey.

Twisties chicken or cheese flavour , so full of chemical flavourings. I won’t touch them with a barge pole if I see them again.

Prawn cracker sticks (not sure if it was Calbee brand), used to have this all the time. I bought some about a year ago from a Chinese supermarket over here. Did not taste the same like those I had before.

Rabbit milk candy
one of my favourites. I used to lick off the rice paper first before sucking on the sweet. Have seen them over here in oriental markets but not had any for years.

Haw flakes 山楂餅 used to love this a lot. They are sweet and sour quite yummy. Great sprinkle on vanilla ice cream.

Horlicks tablets, plain and chocolate flavour. Small roll wrapped in paper. Great sweet (candy). Have not seen any for donkey years. Love to get some again if Horlicks is still making them.

Rowntree’s fruit gums – blackcurrant flavour only in a roll. Think I bought some over here many years ago.

Do you have any nostalgic childhood food to share?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Braised potato and belly pork with red fermented beancurd 南乳薯仔炆腩肉

This is my mum's recipe and has been a favourite since I was a kid. This dish does not look very pretty but it is very tasty comfort food. The braising method is similar to hong shao pork. The meat is succulent and potato chunks are soft and absorbed all the meat and sauce flavour. I can eat this every week and still don't get tired of it.

The secret to make the potato very tasty is to deep fry in oil first. This makes the potato tastes sweeter and nuttier. If you hate deep frying you can add raw potato to the stew but the potato won't be as tasty.

Here is the recipe:

Braised potato and belly with red fermented beancurd 南乳薯仔炆腩肉(nam yee she jai mun lam yuk)


350 - 400g belly pork (better with skin), cut into small chunks
700 - 800g potato, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 - 1.5 cup of oil for frying

1 rounded tbsp of red fermented beancurd (nam yee 南乳), about 2 tiny squares or 1/2 large square (depending on the brand used), crushed
2 tbsp of the red pickling juice from the fermented beancurd
3 - 4 cloves garlic, chopped
about 2 - 3 slices ginger
1 tsp five spice powder
2 - 3 tbsp Chinese cooking wine or shaoshing
2 star anise
1 tbsp light soy
1 tbsp dark soy or mushroom soy
2 - 3 tsp sugar
some ground pepper

  1. Heat the oil in wok till hot. Fry the potato for about 10 minutes till lightly brown. Remove potatoes and drain on a large sieve or spider skimmer. Remove oil from wok. You can also fry the potato in a deep fryer.
  2. Heat about 1 tbsp of oil in the wok and fry the garlic and ginger. Then add in the red fermented beancurd, juice, star anise and five spice. Stir till fragrant then add the pork, stir fry for couple of minutes then add wine, light soy, dark soy and sugar. Add in about 1 cup of water or enough just to cover the meat. Let the liquid come to the boil, lower heat cover with lid and simmer for about 30 minutes or till the pork is tender.
  3. Add in the fried potato chunks. Then add in about 1.25 - 1.5 cup of boiling water (just about covering the potato and meat), let this boil for few minutes, lower the heat and simmer till the potato has absorbed about 1/2 the liquid and the skin on the potato beginning to break and thickening the sauce. Heat off and sprinkle on some ground pepper. Do not let the sauce dry too much, the potato will continue to absorb the sauce after cooking.
If you don't fry the potato, add raw potato to the pork after the meat has been cooking for around 20 minutes and add in enough water to cover the potato and meat and stew till meat and potato are tender.

I like the potato on the soft side, if you like it firm use less water and just cook till tender without the skin starting to break.

If you don't like belly pork, you can sub with spare ribs equally very tasty but you need more as there isn't much meat on the ribs. Increase the quantity to about 450 - 500g.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Crispy chilli beef

Crispy chilli beef is a very popular Chinese available in most restaurants and takeaways in UK. Most Chinese restaurants branded this as a Sichuan dish. I have no idea how and why. This is just another British-Chinese creation, doubt if you'll find this anywhere in Sichuan China.

I love anything sweet, sour and spicy, this is rather nice and I don't mind cooking it occasionally.

As long as you don't mind deep frying, this is rather easy to make.


1 pc sirloin or rump steak about 300g
1 medium/small egg white
1/2 tsp five spice
2 - 3 tsp light soy
pinch of salt

about 1 cup of tapioca starch/ potato starch/ cornflour (cornstarch), tapioca is better and makes the coating crunchier

about 1.5 cup of oil for frying

1 medium/small carrot
1 small onion
a little fresh sliced red and/or green chilli
about 1/3 - 1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce (or to your taste)
about 1 heap tbsp oyster sauce
a little vinegar, any type you have
a little light soy

  1. Cut the beef into long and thin strips as fine as you can, best parallel to the grain. If you can't cut it parallel to the grain then cut the beef thicker if not the strips will break apart easily.
  2. Mix beef gently with egg white, light soy, 5 spice and salt and leave aside for about 15 - 20 minutes.
  3. Shred the carrot very fine and cut onion into slices.
  4. Put starch in a large bowl and throw in the beef, gently toss and mix with hands to coat beef generously with starch. Make sure to separate all the beef strips apart.
  5. Heat oil in wok till hot at medium heat, then fry beef in several batches till very crisp and light golden brown. This beef is very easy to deep fry, loosely drop in the hot oil then tease apart with a pair of long chopsticks or tongs. Continue frying till all the beef is done. Put fried beef on paper to absorb excess fat.
  6. Remove oil and clean the wok.
  7. Heat wok and add about 2 tbsp of oil and fry onion and carrot till soften, add a small pinch of salt. Then add in chilli sauce, sliced chilli, oyster sauce, vinegar and add in about 1/2 cup of water. Let the liquid come to the boil. Taste and check if salty, can add a touch of light soy.
  8. Finally add in the fried beef, give it a quick stir till the sauce is almost all absorbed.
  9. Eat while hot.
* To ensure the beef strips are crispy and stay crispy for longer, two things to remember:
  • make sure the beef is fried till quite crispy inside out, if the inside of beef is soft it will turn chewy and soft rather quickly after coating with the sauce.
  • Do not cook the beef in sauce for too long, high heat is essential. Soon as the the beef is evenly coated it's ready to serve.

Here is a picture of the beef after deep frying.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Spice infused pineapple

I love fresh pineapple just can't get enough of it. The only thing I have to be careful is fresh pineapple sometime gives me mouth ulcers. I love stewing pineapple for a short while with a little sugar and a few strips of lime zest, that's nice and helps to avoid ulcers. Lately I found stewing pineapple with spices is very tasty and I can have it with a meal.

This recipe is my current favourite side dish at the moment. It's lovely and fat free. So easy to make just simmer pineapple with spices and water. It's kind of like a pickled spicy fruit. I love it cold but it is also great serving it at room temperature. Nice with a rich meat curry meal.


3/4 cup water
4 - 5 green cardamom
4 - 5 cloves
2 star anise
1 pc of cassia bark or cinnamon (about 3" long)
2 slices of ginger
about 1/4 tsp turmeric powder

about 800g fresh pineapple (cut into chunks)
1 green and 1 red chilli (seeded, sliced or quartered, if you like less spicy use 1/2 red and 1/2 green)
3 - 4 tbsp sugar (to your taste, less if pineapple is sweet)
about 1 tsp of salt

  1. Put water, whole spices (except chillies) and turmeric powder in a saucepan and let it simmer for about 10 - 12 minutes till the liquid is very fragrant.
  2. Put in remaining ingredients and let this simmer for another 10 - 15 till the liquid is hot and steaming but not boiling. Stirring a few times so the pineapple is coated with the spiced liquid.
  3. Heat off, cover and leave to cool. Serve at warm temperature or keep in the fridge till cold.
Note: Do use stainless steel, glass or enamel coated pan. If you use aluminium or bare cast iron pan or spun steel wok, the pineapple could be discoloured and tasted metallic.

If you have a lot of the juice left you can use it to make a spicy sweet and sour sauce just simmer and thicken with cornflour.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Basic white loaf using water roux

I have talked about water roux and how it can add extra water to a bread dough without deforming the shape. This post is to show you how I make a standard white loaf using water roux. Normally for a white bread loaf the normal water content (hydration) is around 60 - 65%max. With water roux added, the dough water content can raise to 70 -80%. Eventhough there is so much water in the dough, it doesn't act like a ciabatta dough. This dough is soft but will hold its shape like a standard bread dough. When baked the texture is fine, soft and moist.

Water roux method is best for small soft buns and milk based soft loaf similar to brioche with rich butter, to maximise the softness.

It is ok for white loaf too. For a large loaf I find it is best not to add too much liquid or the bread can be moist but dense, 76% hydration is about right. If for small buns, can add a touch more liquid.

Here is the recipe.


Make a 2 lb loaf. Best make into burger buns or small buns too.

Water roux (custard)
60g plain flour
300ml water

Whisk flour and water together then pass through sieve to remove lumps. Then gently heat and stir this mixture for about few minutes till it has thickened to the consistency of custard. Remove from heat, cover and leave to cool for few minutes.

Remaining ingredients:

450g white bread flour (I use Allinson Baker's grade very strong flour)
25g butter or 2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp quick yeast
70 - 95ml water*

*The amount of water depends on the type of white bread flour you used.

While the custard is still warm add in the butter straight from the fridge to melt (or just stir in olive oil) and stir in the salt too. Leave this mixture to lukewarm.

Mix dry bread flour with yeast evenly.

Then mix custard and dry flour mixture together (by hand or machine, I always use machine), and gradually add enough water* till the dough is well mixed. The texture of the dough to look for is soft, a bit sticky and firm enough holding its shape. I mixed the dough in the machine for few minutes.

Do not be ambitious to add too much water, add enough till you are comfortable with the texture. Anything around and above 72% hydration (i.e. 70ml water for this recipe) is good enough. The more you get used to using water roux the more you'll know the maximum amount of liquid you can add to any type of flour.

Leave the dough to rise as normal to about 1.5 in size, then knock it down. You will find the dough is less sticky after resting and proofing. Dust hands and working area with a little flour and gently fold and knead it briefly. Then shape and put in a greased loaf tin, on a baking tray for a freeform loaf, or form into buns. This soft dough is not really effective for scoring before baking.

Leave to rise till double in size. I brushed the loaf with beaten egg to give it a golden shine, this is optional. Bake in preheated oven at 210 - 220deg C for 5 - 8 minutes then turn it down to 200 - 190deg C for a further 30 - 35 minutes. For buns bake for about 15 - 18 minutes at 200 - 190deg C. I have also poured some water onto the base of the oven to create steam.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Steamed ribs and butternut squash with black bean sauce - 豉汁排骨蒸南瓜

Had this last night it was very tasty. It's steamed pork spare ribs with black bean sauce on a bed of butternut squash. The ribs were tender and juicy coated with lots of black beans mixed with garlic, ginger and chilli. The butternut squash was soft and sweet. A recipe to keep.

Here is the recipe to share with you.


450 - 500g pork ribs**, chopped into small chunks or buy them ready cut in small pieces
500 -60 peeled butternut squash or pumpkin, cut into chunks
5 level tbsp (1/4 cup) fermented black beans or dousi, (whole dried beans not those blended into sauce), rinsed and roughly chopped
1 small piece of ginger, chopped
2 - 3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large red chilli (or to your taste), chopped
1.5 - 2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 - 3 tbsp cooking oil
1 heap tsp of cornflour (cornstarch) mixed with 2 tbsp water

a little spring onion (scallion) as garnish

** If you want to use black beans sauce in a jar, reduce the qty to about 2 tbsp because most of the Chinese brands black bean sauce is very salty.


  1. Heat a small pan or wok. Add in cooking oil, black beans, garlic, ginger, chilli and sugar together. Stir and simmer till the mixture is hot and fragrant, about couple of minutes. Heat off and let this cool a little then stir in soy sauce and slackened cornflour.
  2. Mix this black beans mixture with the ribs. If you have time leave to marinate for about 1 hour, the meat will be more flavourful. If you don't have time can go ahead and steam right away.
  3. Line a deep dish with buttenut squash chunks. Top with the ribs.
  4. Steam at medium heat for about 1 hour or till the ribs are tender.
  5. Sprinkle with a some spring onion as garnish.
  6. Serve with plain rice.

** You can sub pork ribs with pork belly, beef frying steak or chicken. Steaming time for pork belly and beef will be about the same 1 hour. Chicken will take about 25 - 30 min.

If you don't have a large enough steamer. You can cook this in the oven. Add about 1/3 cup of water or stock to provide the steam, then cover the dish with foil and cook in a moderate oven for about the same time. Check after 30 - 35 minutes to ensure the juice is not drying up.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Lap yuk 臘肉 - Chinese dried bacon

I have never made lap yuk before. I made this batch of lap yuk together with the lap cheong. It's very easy just marinate and hang to dry, that's it. I am not that crazy with lap yuk like I am with lap cheong, but it is nice to know how to make this.

Here is what I did.


1.75 - 2 kg belly pork
1/2 cup of light soy
1 tbsp dark soy
1/3 cup sugar
2.5 tbsp salt
1 tsp five spice
2 tsp crushed Sichuan peppercorns
1/3 cup Chinese rose wine (mei kwei lu) or Shaoshing wine
5g #2 cure salt (Prague #2 or insta cure #2)

  1. Cut the belly into long strip about 3 - 4 cm thick.
  2. Mix the marinade together then mix with the pork.
  3. Put pork and marinade in plastic ziploc bag and leave in the fridge for 3 - 4 days. Turn the bag once or twice a day to ensure the meat is evenly marinated.
  4. Take the pork out and make a hole using a skewer about 1" from the end then push a small piece of string through. Tie the string into a loop.
  5. Hang the meat on a pole or wire clothe hanger, leave enough room between each piece for good air flow. Leave to dry somewhere airy. I just leave mine to hang in the kitchen near a open window.
  6. The meat will get drier and drier. About a week it will be ready.

I had some steamed with lap cheong. I left the skin on. When steamed it was soft enough to chew when hot and was leathery when cool. The flavour of the pork is nice. The fatty meat is very firm and translucent. The lean meat part is chewy. It's not my favourite to eat it steamed. I will use the rest to braise with something or chopped and add to something like lo bak goh or dim sum etc....

Keep the dried bacon in the fridge or freezer. I am not sure how long it will keep in the fridge before it will go off or turn rancid, so if you want to keep it for longer 2 - 3 few weeks, I'd strongly suggest leaving it in the freezer.

Friday, 9 April 2010

DIY Lap Cheong tasting

Well the batch of homemade lap cheong is ready to eat. I had tried a little a day for the last few days, I am still here no funny tummy or illness. I am now happy to declare they are safe to eat.

Result and taste test:
  • Total drying (hanging) time is 1 week at room temperature. After drying the weight loss is around 30%. The outside of the sausages was a little drier and firmer than the inside. So I put them in a plastic bag and leave on the counter for couple of days it seems to do the trick, the sausages firmness has even inside out.
  • They looked great dark plum in colour with bits of fat meat showing.
  • Smell. After hanging for a week, they don't smell a lot. But after I put them in a plastic bag for few days (if the weather is warm leave in the fridge), the nice smell has come back.
  • Taste: Very nice like the real thing. I am confident to say they taste better than any lap cheong I had bought in UK. I may add a bit more spices and wine next time.
  • The lean meat has shrunk a lot more than the fat meat. I think the fat meat is a little on the high side. Next time I will reduce it to around 28 - 30% : lean meat.
  • The artificial skin tastes ok and tender. I have no problem with it. The only problem I had is it tears or splits quite easily during stuffing. So for the next batch I will definitely try natural skin.
  • To keep. In fridge or freezer. If you want to keep them for longer than 2 - 3 weeks, best in freezer. I don't really know if it will go mouldy/turn racid if you leave it in the fridge for too long.

I steamed some (whole) lap cheong yesterday for around 20 minutes then sliced diagonally. Here is the picture I had it with homemade lap yuk and pickled cucumber. This sweet and sour cucumber cuts the richness of the meat and tastes good too.

Steaming plumps up the sausages a bit. It's very tasty and tender. The colour is spot on.

Here are uncooked sausages sliced for fried rice. You can see they are quite fatty.

Here is the fried rice. Lap cheong fried rice is one of my quick and easy favourites. Now I can have this anytime without worrying the lap cheong can be quite expensive.

Recipe, Ingredients:

1 Chinese rice bowl of loosen cooked rice, cold or overnight, per person
1.5 - 2 lap cheong per person, sliced
1 egg per person, beaten
some chopped garlic
dash of light soy
handful of chopped spring onion
a little ground pepper
dash of sesame oil

  1. Stir fry the lap cheong till lightly brown and some fat is oozing out.
  2. Stir in the garlic and add the rice. Stir fry till rice is piping hot. Add dash of light soy to taste.
  3. Push rice to one side and add beaten egg in the centre and scramble till set. Stir in the rice and mix, stir till fragrant and evenly mixed.
  4. Finally add pinch of ground pepper, dash of sesame oil and stir in the spring onion.

I have never made any sausages before. I am so thrill this batch of lap cheong has gone so well. I can see I will be making them regularly from now on. I can't wait to use the stuffing attachments I received last week. Don't think I will ever buy another lap cheong again. There is no worry what other preservatives the store bought lap cheong have. I will play with other flavourings, spices, meat texture and using other type of meat. I am already thinking maybe I can make some liver lap cheong.

The other thing I like to try is to smoke them. I don't have a smoker will have to think of a cheap way to do it.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Fresh cucumber pickle

I make this cucumber pickle quite often, it's easy, quick and very tasty. Goes well with any grilled meat, roast chicken or on its own as a side dish.


Cut a large cucumber into half lengthwise, remove the soft core and cut into very thin slices. Mix with about 1 tsp salt and leave it for a while and drain off the liquid. Then make the pickling mix with 1/2 lemon juice, 1 tbsp of Chingkiang black vinegar, 1 - 2 tbsp light soy to taste, enough sugar to taste, 1 chopped garlic clove, 1 red chilli sliced and a little sesame oil. Mix with cucumber and leave to absorb the flavour for about 20 minutes. Ready to eat. Nice with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds too.

If you like a mixed vegetable pickle you can add radish (common radish), mooli or carrot.

The thicker cut the vegetable the longer you need to pickle the vegetable.

There may be quite a bit of picking juice. It's very tasty to use as dressing for other salad or use it as a sweet and sour sauce.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Filipino Biko (Glutinous rice pudding)

I adore homemade English rice pudding with lots of ground nutmeg and a brown skin on top, but I hate rice pudding in a tin/can I can never touch that stuff.

Biko is Filipino rice pudding using glutinous rice and coconut milk. Great stuff. I made this with my own tweaks adding nutmeg like how I love English rice pudding. Also I added a layer of lovely caramel on top. I love Biko as much as the English rice pudding.

Here is my recipe.


2 cups (about 400g) glutinous rice

1 tin (400ml) coconut milk
1 tsp salt
3 - 4 tbsp brown sugar, more if you like sweeter (remember the caramel topping is quite sweet)
freshly ground nutmeg (much as you like, I add about 2 - 3 tsp)
2 large egg

* If you don't like nutmeg you can use ground anise or ground ginger, qty to your taste.

1 tin Nestle Carnation caramel or Dulce de Leche**
250ml coconut milk
1 large egg

**If you can not get Dulce de Leche, you can boil a tin of condensed milk for 3 hours, or tip the condensed milk into a small saucepan, stir and cook till caramelised.

banana leaf for lining if you have some if not grease baking tray/dish with butter.

Baking dish/tray: I use a Pyrex oblong roasting dish

  1. Soak the rice for few hours.Drain with sieve and shake off excess water. Put rice in a glass or microwave proof bowl. Then add in about 300ml water. Cook rice in microwave for about 8 - 9 minutes on high till water is absorbed.
  2. I did not leave the rice to cool. Stir in coconut milk, salt, sugar and as much nutmeg as you like. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl then stir in rice mixture.
  3. Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Line a baking tray or dish with banana leaf. To soften the banana leaf gently heat with direct flame. Pour in the rice mixture. I grated more nutmeg on top. Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes till set.
  4. While the rice pudding is baking, make the topping. Mix all the ingredient together. Take rice out after 15 - 20 minutes baking. Pour on the topping. Return rice pudding to oven and bake for another 35 - 40 minutes till the topping is rich golden brown. I love nutmeg so much I grated more on top after baking.
  5. Serve hot or cold. When hot the top is really delicious and crunchy. When cold this pudding can be cut into slices.

Rice pudding ready for oven

Bake till topping is rich golden brown.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Super hydration soft bread using water roux aka tangzhong 湯種

If you like soft bread and have thought of using bread improver but hate using chemicals here is a great recommendation.

There is a craze coming from the Far East to use something called 60deg C water roux aka tangzhong 湯種 to make all sorts of soft breads. I think this water roux method originated from Japan.

What is a 60deg C water roux? It’s basically a cooked water and flour paste. Why 60deg C? I have not a clue. All the recipes I have come across so far I have not noticed anyone meticulously measuring the temperature of the paste to 60deg C. So I don’t think this 60deg C is important, so long as the water and flour paste is cooked to smooth custard like paste.

What is the advantage using water roux? I am not sure about the science behind this. Somehow adding this custard like paste to bread dough it acts like a sponge and absorbs a very high level of liquid and holding the dough’s shape without flopping to a flat cake. I have used this many times and I have managed to hydrate the dough between 70 – 80%. The lower end hydration is using low gluten flour like plain flour and when using all high gluten bread flour I had achieved about 82% before. It’s amazing. Also I noticed the dough is quite stretchy even without much kneading.

Most of the water roux recipes I have seen so far use water and plain flour to make this paste. I have replaced water with milk and sometime adding cream to it.

How to make the paste? Quite simple. The proportion of flour to liquid is about 1 : 5 (i.e. for every 10g of flour add 50ml of liquid). Whisk together then sieve to remove lumps and cook gently while stirring till the mixture thickens to the consistency of custard. Leave to cool down then add to bread mix.

To add this paste to any bread mix, this will replace all or most of the liquid required for the bread dough.

I have made soft milk loaf, burger buns, sweet rolls, Chinese sweet and savoury stuffed buns (steamed or baked) using this method. So far the results have been very good.

This method has revolutionised my soft bread making. You have to try it to believe. It’s fantastic.

Here is a recipe for hot cross buns using this method with about 76% hydration.

Hot Cross buns

I like any spicy and fruity sweet bread and buns. Since it is Easter I have the excuse to make a batch of hot cross buns.

I like this Dan Lepard recipe - day bake with Mumsnet. I like the use of glace ginger, I am sure will be very nice. I am not one to follow any recipes exactly as written. I always add my own tweaks. I like to use this Dan's recipe together with water roux.

My tweaks:

1. make a water roux using 60g of flour and 300ml water and add this to the bread mix.

2. Here is the change to Dan's recipe ingredients:
  • 175ml warm water (replaced by water roux)
  • 1 sachet dry instant yeast (5 g or 1.5 tsp)
  • 550g plain flour (changed to 250g plain flour and 250g bread flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75g sugar, any sort (reduced to 50g)
  • 4 tsp mixed spice
  • 75ml milk
  • 75g butter, cut into smallish pieces
  • 150g raisins or 100g currants (100g sultanas and 50g mixed peel)
  • 150g chopped glacé ginger, or mixed peel (150 glacé ginger)
  • Finely grated zest of an orange or lemon (lemon)
  • 1 large egg
  • Sunflower oil or extra flour for kneading (only flour for dusting)
Water paste for the crosses : about 3 tbsp of plain flour mix with about 3 tbsp water.

Glaze: a little honey

Changes to the method:
  1. Make the water roux. Mix flour and water together then sieve. Gently heat and stir the mixture till just thicken like custard. Put the cold butter in to melt. Stir in sugar and salt. Then finally add in beaten egg. If it is still very warm leave to cool down. If lukewarm or cooler then ready to use.
  2. Lightly warm the milk and stir in yeast. Leave for about 15 minutes.
  3. Put all dried fruits and lemon zest together in a bowl.
  4. Put dry flour and mixed together in bread machine. Mix.
  5. Add remaining ingredients to the dry flour and spice. Turn on bread machine and mix till dough is evenly mixed together.
  6. Leave the dough to rise in a warm area to rest and proof for about 1 hour. I leave it in the oven which has been preheated to around 50deg C.
  7. Then take the dough out. The dough is quite soft and a bit sticky. Divide the dough into 15 equal pieces around 95g each.
  8. Lightly dust hands with flour and lightly fold and shape each small piece of dough into a ball and tucking most of dried fruits inside. Put on greased baking tray and leave in a warm area to rise till double in size.
  9. Preheat oven to 200deg C (390 deg F)
  10. Make water paste and pour into a plastic bag, cut off corner and pipe on the buns.
  11. Bake for about 20 minutes till golden brown. If the buns are getting brown too quickly after 15 minutes can turn the oven down to about 190 deg C (375 deg F)
  12. Brush the buns with honey.
  13. Serve warm best with butter.
Review on moisture content:

Dan's recipe: 175ml water + 75ml milk + 50ml egg = 300ml total liquid.
Hydration : 300ml liquid /550g flour = 54.5%

My adjustment using water roux: 300ml water from the water roux + 75ml milk + 50ml egg = 425ml total liquid.
Hydration : 425ml liquid / (60g flour from water roux + 250g plain flour + 250g bread flour) = 75.9%

Increase of moisture compared to original recipe = (425 - 300)/ 300 = 41.7%

Buns shaped and put on baking tray

Buns risen ready for oven

Pipe on crosses

Baked and brushed with honey

Buns texture is quite fluffy, soft and moist.

Spread with butter and enjoy