Sunday, 27 February 2011

Steamed pork cake with moi choi 梅菜蒸肉餅

There are so many types of Chinese pickled vegetables. If you have visited one of the larger Chinese supermarkets, you may be baffled with the array of dried or wet pickled vegetables: salt pickled, vinegar pickled, spice pickled, sweet pickled etc.. Everytime I go to those Chinese supermarkets in London I always find something I have never tried or heard before. So many to choose from and sometime I don't even know what some of them were.

One of my favourite Chinese pickled vegetables is moi choi 梅菜 which is a brownish looking pickled mustard green. There are several kinds of moi choi, I like and normally buy the type with a hint of sweetness, normally called sweet moi choi or sweet mustard green 甜梅菜. This pickled vegetable does not look or smell appetising before cooking, kinda like dirty socks but don't be put off once cooked it is quite tasty.


Today recipe is obviously with moi choi and the other star ingredient is cheap and cheerful minced or ground pork. It's steamed pork cake with moi choi, in Cantonese 'moi choi jin yuk biang' 梅菜蒸肉餅. This is nothing special an everyday Cantonese home cooking. My mum used to make this quite regular since we were kids and we all loved it. Simple and easy to make. Tasty with plain rice.



Ingredients: 
(meat cake enough of 3 - 4 people)

1 lb to 500g minced (ground) pork
1 fat clove of garlic, minced
1 thumbsize chunk of ginger, minced
1 tbsp light soy sauce
about 1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 - 3 tsp sesame oil
1 - 2 tbsp cooking wine
1 small/medium egg
pinch of sugar
1.5 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)

200g (1 packet) sweet moi choi 甜梅菜 (sweet pickled mustard green)

some chopped spring onion (scallion) and/or coriander (cilantro) - garnish


Method:

  1. Mix meat with all the ingredients except moi choi and garnish. If you like a firmer textured meat cake, marinate the pork and keep in the fridge for few hours before cooking. 
  2. Rinse the moi choi with several change of water to remove salt, sand and grits. Keep changing water till water is quite clear and no more gritty bits on bottom of bowl. Then using a knife and remove the woody layer outside the stem bits before chopping the moi choi as fine as possible. Put chopped moi choi in a large sieve, briefly rinse with water to remove some of the saltiness. Squeeze dry then put in a bowl and loosen. 
  3. Thoroughly mix moi choi with marinated pork. 
  4. Pile the meat mixture onto a deep dish. Form into a cake.
  5. Steam for about 30 - 40 minutes till meat is cooked through. Cooking time depends on thickness of meat. Check the centre of meat cake if it is firm inside out it is cooked. There will be quite a bit of meat juice surrounding the cake, great mixing with rice. Sometime there may be a layer of light brown custard like soft bits around the cake which I love. 
  6. While it is still steamy hot, sprinkle with some spring onion and/or coriander and serve with plain rice and some steamed or stir fried vegetable. 

Simple food simply tasty!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Red bean soup with chan pei 陳皮紅豆沙糖水

Red bean or aduki bean is a common oriental ingredient making into thick bean paste filling for buns/cake and also made into sweet soups or tong sui 糖水

We Chinese love sweet soups for dessert, there are numerous varieties. Red bean soup with mandarin peel (chan pei) is a common Cantonese dessert.


It's easy to make just take a bit of time to cook.

Here is how I make mine.

1 cup of red beans (aduki beans), best use deep red and plump ones from oriental stores
1/4 cup of black glutinous rice, optional
few pieces of dried mandarin peel (chan pei), about 5 - 10g
enough Chinese rock sugar 冰糖 or common granular sugar to taste
water

Method:
  1. Rinse beans and rice together. Add enough water and soak 6 - 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain of liquid. Put into a pressure cooker and add about 1.5 litres of water. 
  3. Rinse dried peel and break into small pieces. Add to the pot with the beans, rice and water.
  4. Pressure cook (boil/simmer) for about 40min - 1 hour till beans are really soft. De-pressure pot and open lid.
  5. Add few lumps of rock sugar, add one of two lumps at a time, simmer without lid on till sugar has dissolved, taste and add more if required. If not use normal granular sugar. 
  6. The soup is ready to eat. But if you like the soup smooth, blitz with a hand blender to the texture you like. For a really smooth texture, blitz longer. 
Serve sweet bean soup hot or cold. 


Note:
  • I like to add black glutinous rice, it thickens the soup and slows down the bean separates from the liquid and settles on the bottom of the bowl.
  • More mandarin peel stronger the citrus flavour.
  • If no pressure cooker can use a large sauce pan or stock pot, the beans will take longer to cook. Increase water to about 2 litres instead of 1.5 litre, boil for 10 minutes on high then simmer up to 2 hours till beans are really soft. 
  • For a richer creamy flavour, can add some coconut milk to the sweet soup.
  • Tung yuen (sticky glutinous rice balls) goes well with this soup see this. Make a dough with glutinous rice flour and water, form into balls and boil with the sweet soup last ten minutes cooking time (not pressure cooking) till the balls float onto the surface. If you like to blitz the soup, blitz then reheat before cooking the tung yuen.
  • If there is enough leftover soup, fill into ice lollies/popsicle container or ice tray, freeze and eaten as frozen dessert.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Baked beans ala Chinese 茄汁豆炒豬肉

I love baked beans with English breakfast, on toast or on baked potato. Ever had stir fried baked beans? Since I was a kid I adored baked beans with pork ala Chinese style. I think many Chinese kids brought up in the far east are familiar with this. It's cheap and tasty, perfect comfort food with rice. 



Ingredients: 

1 regular tin size baked beans
150 - 200g pork* 
a little soy sauce
pinch of pepper
a little cornflour (cornstarch)
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion
some tomato ketchup
some oyster sauce
some sugar (optional)
some chilli sauce (optional, omit if cooking for kids)
cooking oil

Method:
  1. Dice pork into small pieces. Marinate with a little soy, pinch of pepper and cornflour for 10 minutes. 
  2. Chopped garlic and onion.
  3. Heat wok with a little oil, fry garlic and onion till softened and fragrant.
  4. Add pork and stir fry till pork is browned. 
  5. Add baked beans. Seasoned with enough ketchup, oyster sauce and chilli sauce to taste. If you like a sweeter taste add some sugar. Add some water to the make the sauce to the thickness you like. 
  6. Heat till hot and bubbly. 
  7. Ready to serve with rice. 

Chicken also works well with this recipe.
Can replace pork with spam too and omit marinade. 
Can also add some fresh tomato pieces to bulk up the dish.

If you like this you may also like stir fried corned beef

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Chan pei mui 陳皮梅 (Chinese fruit candy)

Anyone remembers and still eats Chan pei mui 陳皮梅? Chan pei mui is a traditional Chinese candy. I love it since I was a kid. It is a fruit candy, looks brown/black soft and chewy with a strong citrus peel flavour.

From the name chan pei mui 陳皮梅, you can guess the ingredients include chan pei or mandarin peel and the other is plum or in Chinese 梅 ('mui' in Cantonese or 'mei' in Mandarin).

I have not had chan pei mui for years. Lately I craved for some, reckon I could make some but have no recipe to follow. I do know the usual ingredients include plum, mandarin peel, ginger, liquorice and sugar. Based on this I gathered a few ingredients and made my own concoction. The result was excellent, much like what I remembered. Love it so moreish.


Here is to share with you the recipe if you like to try. This recipe will make about 55- 60.

Ingredients:
250g pitted prunes
about 350g (with stone) fresh red plums
50g peeled ginger
15g dried mandarin peel, chan pei
fresh mandarin peel from 2 medium size fruits
200 - 250g sugar (I used 200g if you like it sweeter add more)
1.5 tsp salt
1/4 cup lemon juice, about juice from 1 lemon
2 tbsp liquorice root powder 甘草粉*

* liquorice root powder is available from many Chinese grocery stores, looks greyish yellow like ground white pepper.

wax paper/ parchment paper/ cellophane paper for wrapping

Method:
  1. Cut prune into small pieces, soak with 1 cup of hot/boiling water and leave overnight to soften. 
  2. Soak dried peel till soften. Together with fresh peel boil with about 4 cups of water for about 10 - 12 minutes. Discard the water and drain. Boiling removes bitterness of the peel. Finely chop the peel.
  3. Plum removed stone and cut into small pieces.
  4. Finely chop ginger.
  5. Boil/simmer prunes, peel, plum and ginger with 1 cup of water till the fruit and peel become very soft. I used a pressure cooker took about half an hour. Without pressure cooker this will take longer and may need more water if the mixture starts to stick to the pan before the mixture getting soft. 
  6. When mixture is softened, add remaining ingredients. Stir and cook on medium high heat to reduce the mixture. During the initial stage of rapid boiling, the mixture will splatter keep stirring will reduce splattering. After a while when the mixture will thicken some more splattering will reduce and eventually stop. Stirring less when mixture beginning to thicken, but make sure to scrape the pan bottom to prevent sticking and burning. 
  7. Boil the mixture till very thick. The texture to look for is very thick like chutney, will drop off a spoon in a lump not so quickly. Overall it took me about 45 minutes. 
  8. Leave to cool completely. The mixture will become even thicker after cooling like a christmas pudding texture. 
  9. Cut some wax paper/ parchment paper/cellophane paper into 10cm squares. If you make this as gift you can wrap with wax paper inside and pretty tissue paper outside. 
  10. Spoon a lump of the mixture onto paper. Roll the paper then twist the ends to form a candy. 
Mixture after cooling

Wrapping
This freshly made chan pei mui is quite sticky and will stick to the wrapping paper but if you leave them on the table to dry naturally for few days they are easier to unwrap. Also try to resist eating them for a week or so will improve the flavour. 

They will make nice gift for anyone's sweet tooth and for Chinese New Year. 

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Back to basics - dried mandarin or tangerine peel 陳皮


Chan pei 陳皮 directly translated as 'ancient old skin', it is basically dried mandarin or tangerine peel. The reason why it is called ancient old skin is because it is not freshly dried peel it must be aged for at least a year before used.

Towards the end the year to spring, many people will eat a lot mandarins, tangerines or satsuma. Have you ever thought of using the peel instead of chucking it into the bin. Well you can make chan pei for nothing and save you a few pennies.

To make chan pei all you have to do is dry the peel somewhere warm like on the radiator or if you live in somewhere warm this time of the year you can dry the peel under the sun for few days.There is a bonus drying this on a radiator it gives a nice aroma to the room. Once the peel is completely dried and brittle, store in glass jar and keep somewhere cool away from direct sun and forget it for at least a year. Longer you age it better the flavour. My mum used to keep chan pei for over 10 years the peel still smelling very good. The aged peel will turn brown instead of its original bright orange colour.

So simple and easy. Why not make something good from waste material.

Uses:
Chan pei can be added to many Chinese cooking sweet and savoury. It is also used as Chinese medicinal herb. I was told it is very good to sore throat or help to clear phlegm build up if you have a luggy.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Tang yuan, fermented rice and egg drop sweet soup 酒釀蛋花湯圓

Tang Yuan 湯圓 are boiled soft chewy balls normally made with glutinous rice flour.

Today is the last day (day 15) of Chinese New Year called Yuan Xiao Festival 元宵節. It's also a full moon day today. CNY starts on the 1st day of lunar month and end on full moon. To end this festive season, many Chinese will eat soft chewy tang yuan. Most people will have the sweet type but savoury ones are also popular. Tang yuan can be plain or filled with sweet filling or meat filling

In Chinese tradition eating tang yuan is auspicious to end the festive season with a sweet ending i.e. in Chinese sayings 甜甜蜜蜜 (tian tian mi mi) and 圓圓滿滿 (yuan yuan mang mang)

甜甜蜜蜜 (tian tian mi mi) = literally translated as honey sweet, to symbolise a sweet and happy life

圓圓滿滿 (yuan yuan mang mang) = literally translated as round and full, to symbolise everything will have a successful and happy ending

See previous posts for other tang yuan recipes one and two

This is what I just made and eaten. Sweet, sticky, fragrance and yummy. Great tong sui 甜水 (Chinese dessert sweet soup)


Tang yuan, fermented rice and egg drop sweet soup 酒釀蛋花湯圓

Ingredients:
about 1 cup glutinous rice flour
about 40 ml room temp.water
1 tbsp sugar

few tbsp sweet fermented rice 甜酒釀 (much as you like)
1 egg, beaten
few tbsp sugar (to taste)
1 tbsp ginger juice (grate a chunk of ginger squeeze out juice)
a little dried osmanthus flowers, optional
boiling water

* osmanthus flowers or gui hwa 桂花 are fragrant edible yellow flowers from China, used mainly for tea or make into fragrant syrup for desserts. The dried flowers are not easily available in UK, can get from Ebay or some far east tea supplier website. I got mine from Hong Kong.

Method:
  1. Put glutinous flour in a mixing bowl, pour in half the water, mix then gradually mix in the rest of the water bit by bit while mixing with hand till no dry flour left and dough is not sticky to hand. If too wet add a bit more glutinous flour, too dry add few more drops of water. 
  2. Boil a pan of water (about 3 - 4 cups).
  3. Take a lump of the dough, roll between palms into a sausage, break into small pieces then roll each tiny piece into a ball. Drop the dough ball straight into the boiling water. Continue forming the dough ball till finished. 
  4. When the balls float onto the surface they are cooked. Remove balls and put into a pan of cold water. 
  5. When all the balls are cooked and removed. Discard the boiling water. If you don't mind you can use this water for the soup base but I find it a little thick for my taste. 
  6. Fill the same sauce pan with some fresh boiling water about 3 cups.
  7. Mix fermented rice with a little water to make sure rice grains are separated and not lumpy. Add to the pan of boiling water. 
  8. When the liquid is boiling rapidly add in the cooked balls, add enough sugar to taste. 
  9. Boil for a little while till liquid is boiling rapidly again. Pour in the beaten eggs in a thin long stream while stirring the liquid to form fine egg ribbons. Heat off soon as the egg is poured in. 
  10. Stir in ginger juice and sprinkle on a little dried osmanthus flowers. 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Taiwanese meat and mushroom sauce 台式香菇肉燥


台式香菇肉燥 - Tai Shi Xiang Gu Rou Zao

This is Chinese spag bog sauce Taiwanese style. The flavour is similar to this chunky style recipe.

Cheap, flavourful and very versatile, this sauce is great with plain rice, any noodles (dry or soup), stir fries vegetables or serve with plain rice cake. I normally make a big batch, store some in fridge for up to a week or freeze till ready to use. Hard boiled eggs are great simmering with the sauce to absorb the sauce flavour. This type of flavoured eggs are called 滷蛋 'lu dan'.

Meat sauce and lu dan served with braised pumpkin and rice
Taiwanese meat and mushroom sauce

Ingredients:
about 1 lb - 500g minced (ground) pork
handful of dried shitake mushroom (about 40g), soaked and roughly chopped
2 tbsp dried shrimps (soaked and roughly chopped)
4 - 5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 thumb size ginger, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp five spice powder
1/4 - 1/3 cup crispy fried shallot 油蔥酥(homemade or bought or sub with crispy fried onion)
1/4 cup light soy
1 tbsp dark soy (if you like the sauce darker add more dark soy)
2 tbsp Taiwanese thick soy sauce 醬油膏 or oyster sauce (I used oyster sauce)
1 small chunk (about 2 tbsp) rock sugar or 1 tbsp plain sugar
1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine like Shaoshing
2 tbsp cooking oil
peeled hard boiled eggs (optional, many as you like)

* Keep the mushroom soaking water top with more water to 3 cups

Method:
  1. Add oil to heated wok, when oil is quite hot add garlic and onion, Stir fry till light golden. 
  2. Add dried shrimps stir till fragrant. 
  3. Add pork break into small pieces. Keep stirring till meat juice is drying and meat is almost cooked through.
  4. Add wine and ginger. Stir for a little while. 
  5. Then add mushroom. Stir for a little while.
  6. Add soy sauce, dark soy and thick soy or oyster sauce and rock sugar.
  7. Add crispy fried shallot. 
  8. Add about 3 cups of the diluted mushroom soaking water. Turn the heat high till the liquid is boiling. 
  9. Lower heat, cover and simmer gently for about 1 hour or longer if you like the meat really tender. Check every 20 min or so, add more water if required. 
  10. When done the meat sauce is watery rather than thick.
* If adding peeled hard boiled eggs, add them around last 20 - 15 minutes cooking time. Bury eggs in meat sauce.

Cover and leave the pot of sauce (and eggs) aside for 5 - 6 hours or overnight. The eggs will absorb the flavour. The sauce gets better left overnight and becomes thick after cooling.

Reheat and use this sauce with anything you like. Keep remaining in fridge or freezer. 

Pumpkin pudding 南瓜布丁


This is a refreshing pudding and easy to make. The mandarin peel makes the pudding quite fragrance.

Pumpkin skin is quite tough to peel. I cooked the pumpkin with the skin on, once cooked the skin will become very soft. For this recipe I cooked about 450g of de-seeded pumpkin with skin, wrapped in baking paper then put in the microwave on high for about 12 - 15minutes (time depends on micro power), turning once or twice during cooking to evenly cooked all sides. Leave to cool, remove skin then roughly chopped. (can also used steamed or baked pumpkin).

Ingredients:

10g agar strips
3 cups water
about 1/3 cup sugar (more or less to your taste)
about 300g cooked pumpkin, roughly chopped
1 tsp fresh mandarin or tangerine zest (can sub with orange peel)
30g cornflour (cornstarch)
1/2 cup water
1 cup coconut milk (from a tin/can)

* mandarin or tangerine peel is more fragrance than orange.

Method:

  1. Cut agar strips into small pieces with scissors, boil with 3 cups of water till agar strips completely dissolve.
  2. Add sugar and stir.Then add pumpkin. Stir and check if the mixture needs more sugar. Heat mixture till boiling. 
  3. While the mixture is cooking, mix cornflour with 1/2 cup water then stir in 1 cup of coconut milk. Pour this into the pumpkin mixture soon as it boils. Stir vigorously to avoid lumps.
  4. Heat till mixture thickened and coming to a boil near the rim of the pan. Heat off.
  5. Cover and leave mixture to cool for about 15 minutes.
  6. Pour mixture into container or jelly moulds.
  7. Leave to cool then chill in the fridge. Cut into pieces or turn out from jelly moulds.
  8. Serve cold as dessert.
* If using jelly moulds, brush moulds with thin film of cooking oil. These makes the pudding easier to turn out. 

Friday, 11 February 2011

Back to basics - Homemade five spice powder 自製五香粉



Chinese five spice is a classic flavouring in many Chinese cooking. I have bought and used many different brands of five spice powder. I noticed they all smell different and some didn't have much aroma at all.

Though it is called five spice, it is not a concrete rule to use only five type of spices. Five spice powder can contain 5 or more spices in any proportions. Common spices used can be any of these spices, the lower ones on the list are less common.
  • star anise
  • fennel seeds
  • Sichuan peppercorns
  • black or white peppercorns
  • cassia bark (Chinese cinnamon) or standard cinnamon sticks
  • clove
  • dried ginger
  • Chinese nutmeg
  • dried mandarin peel
  • Chinese cardamon 草果
  • Sharen 砂仁 (a type of Chinese spice, I don't know it's English name)
  • liquorice root
* some of the spices are not known or easily available outside China or Far East.

I started making my own blend few years ago and never go back to bought stuff. Homemade is so much fresher, more pungent and cheap too. The only essential tool is a coffee or spice blender. 

Here is my blend and recipe if you like to give it a try; I normally use 6 spices. Sometime I also add 1 piece of dried mandarin peel 陳皮 too to give it a nice citrus scent. 


'Five' Spice Blend 五香粉
This recipe makes a small jar of ground spice about 3/4 cup

Ingredients: 
15g star anise 八角/大料 (about 1/4 cup)
15g fennel seeds 小茴香 (about 1/4 cup)
15g cassia bark (Chinese cinnamon) or std cinnamon stick 桂皮 (about 1/4 cup)
12g Sichuan peppercorns 花椒 (about 1/4 cup)
8g black peppercorns 胡椒 (about 1/8 cup)
2g cloves 丁香 (about 1 tsp)

* first four spices are easier to find and cheaper in oriental grocery stores

Look at this picture and see the difference in amount for this blend. A bit more or less of each spice is not critical. Only thing to remember is use clove very sparingly it's very strong. 

From top left: fennel seeds, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, cassia bark, black peppercorns and cloves.


How to blend?
  1. Measure the spices. Break up the larger spice like cassia and star anise into small pieces.
  2. Put all the spices in a dry wok or frying pan, dry fry for about 2 minutes at medium heat stirring all the time till all the spices become quite hot and a pungent aroma is released. The purpose of frying the spices is to dry the spices to make them very brittle so they are easier to blend. Heating the spices also release the aroma. 
  3. Leave the mixed spice to cool completely. Do not blend hot spice, this will give out a lot of heat, not only burn the spice but can also damage the machine. 
  4. Put cooled mixed spice in a spice blender or coffee blender no more than 2/3 full. Blend or pulse for about 10 - 30 sec, till spices are blended to a powder. Remove the cup, shake the spices and reblend again if you have to. 
  5. The ground spice will get a bit warm. Do not blend too long or the spice will overheat and spoil the aroma.
  6. Sieve the ground spice. If there is only little gritty bits left throw them away, if there is still quite a lot of large pieces left behind, blend and sieve again. 
  7. Let the ground spice cool down then store in air tight glass container. I normally use jam jar. Ground spice does not store very well in plastic container and may absorb a weird plasticy smell from the container. 
  8. This spice will keep fresh for weeks. Do not keep near sunlight or warm area. Do not blend too much and replace it with a fresh batch if the aroma has deteriorated after sometime.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Homemade sweet fermented rice 甜酒釀

Fermenting cooked rice is a very old Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other S E Asians tradition, the main use is to make rice wine. Fresh partially fermented rice is very sweet, great to eat as it is like a rice pudding or use for cooking.

In Chinese sweet fermented rice is called 甜酒釀 'tian jiu niang'  or 醪糟 'lao zao'. This is not rice pulp after rice wine is filtered. The cooked rice is only partially fermented for few days till it becomes very wet like porridge, very sweet.with a nice fragrance and a hint of alcohol. I have bought this fermented rice in a jar but it is not as good as homemade.

The rice used must be cooked glutinous rice and the fermenting yeast must be rice wine yeast. Rice wine yeast is available in some Chinese grocery stores. The are in small pack with 2 whitish balls like this.



Sweet fermented rice is very easy to make.

Cooked rice mixed with rice yeast powder

Ready to use fermented rice after 5 days. I have given it a stir, does look like thick rice porridge.

Ingredients:


500g glutinous rice
1 rice yeast ball* (about 10 - 15g)
water

*This yeast balls I used are made in Shanghai. I find the result is always very consistent and tastes good. There are other rice yeasts available, some in flat cake shape. Different rice yeast may give different result some sweeter and some will produce a sour tasting fermented rice. In Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei you can get rice yeast made by the Malay or aboriginal people, some of their rice yeast are very good some not so good.

Method:
  1. Soak the rice for 4 - 5 hours or overnight. Drain. Put in a glass dish add enough water to just cover the rice. Steam for about 30 - 40 minutes till rice is cooked through. Can also cook rice in microwave or rice cooker, cooking time will be different. 
  2. Cover and leave rice to cool. 
  3. Boil some water leave to cool. 
  4. Crush the rice yeast with pestle and mortar to powder.
  5. Put the rice in clean mixing bowl, loosen with a wooden spoon the rice is very sticky difficult to stir. Sprinkle with boiled cooled water and ground rice yeast to loosen rice and thoroughly mix yeast into the rice. Amount of water needed is about 1/2 cup, a little bit more is ok too.
  6. Pour rice mixture into a thoroughly clean glass jar or plastic container. You can make a hole in the centre of the rice (not essential), this will give indication when rice has fermented and juice is appearing in the hole. 
  7. Cover (not air tight) and leave in the warmest place in your house or next to a radiator during winter time. 
  8. Check the rice after 2 days (much longer up to a week if room temperature is cool).  When the rice becomes very wet and juice collecting on bottom of container or around the container it's ready. Another indication is juice started to collect at the centre hole made previously. The texture to look for is the rice is soggy like thick rice porridge and taste very sweet. If it tastes sour or too alcoholic something has gone wrong maybe overferment or temperature too high.
  9. Stir the mixture, store in clean jar or original container and leave in the fridge up to a month. Do not air tight the jar due to further fermentation. The mixture will continue to ferment so the longer you leave it more alcoholic it becomes when sugar turns to alcohol or become a bit sour when sugar turns to vinegar. So use it when the mixture is still at its sweetest stage. If you are not going to eat it within a month can put some in the freezer. 
I have fermented this batch for 5 days (longer than normal due to weather is still quite cool) to get the right texture and taste. Sometime it only takes 2 - 3 days if the room temperature is warm.

* It is important to make sure all utensils or containers are very clean, best rinse with boiling water before use. This is to prevent contamination and spoiling the rice. Best use glass container or plastic container that is very clean and no hint of smell from food you have stored in it previously

Can eat the fermented rice as it is or mix with some osmanthus flower syrup 桂花醬 or mixed with fruits and fruit juice. Great to add some to Chinese sweet soup, tong sui 糖水 . Another one I like is add some to sweet egg drop soup.

I will post some recipes how to use this fermented rice later.

There is one non food usage. Some Japanese chemists have discovered fermented rice is great for skin prolonging young and healthy skin. This fermented rice can be used for face mask because it is full of enzymes and vitamins and as a natural astringent, good for oily skin or reducing freckles. Blend with honey to make a even more nutritious face mask. Taste good too! Because the fermented rice contains some alcohol, some people can be sensitive to so do test before applying on whole face,

CNY 7th day

Happy Birthday to all! 

It's the 7th day of CNY again. In Chinese tradition it's everybody's birthday. We called today 人日, reads as 'Ren le' in Mandarin or 'Yan Yak' in Cantonese, literally means 'people's day'.

See previous post and some recipes related to today celebration like yu san and 7 ingredients soup and the reasons why they are selected as special for Ren le.

For a change I am going to have egg and noodles. Egg symbolises birth and noodles longevity.


Monday, 7 February 2011

Golden pumpkin cake


Golden Pumpkin Cake 黄金南瓜糕

One of Cantonese favourite Chinese New Year's cake is lo bak goh (turnip or mooli cake). This year I subbed mooli with pumpkin. The cake has a mild sweetness and lovely pumpkin flavour. It has a nice golden colour. Gold or golden colour is auspicious during CNY to symbolise wealth and prosperity. So why not try this to celebrate with friends and family. I know it's a bit late but CNY is not ended till 17th Feb.




The recipe is almost identical to my previous lo bak goh recipe

Pumpkin Cake 南瓜糕

Ingredients:

3 sticks lap cheong (chinese sausage)
125 - 150g minced pork
2 tbsp dried shrimps or shredded dried scallop , soaked (optional)
handful of dried shitake mushrooms without stalks (about 20g), soaked
2 - 3 walnut size shallots
2 fat cloves garlic
pinch of ground pepper
0.5 - 1 tsp salt or to taste
1 - 2 tbsp light soy sauce to taste
some ground pepper
1 - 1.5 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp sesame oil

about 750 - 800g peeled pumpkin (choose pumpkin with firm and sweet flavour), can sub with butternut squash

about 1/2 cup water

280g rice flour
75g tapioca starch or potato starch
500ml water or room temp. homemade diluted chicken stock (or water with added chicken stock granules about 1 heap tsp)

Garnish (optional)
2 tbsp chopped spring onion (scallion)
1 tbsp chopped red chilli
2 tbsp chopped preserved radish (chai bo)

2 - 3 foil cake tins (round or oblong) or takeaway containers

Method:
  1. Soak the lap cheong in boiling liquid for few minutes till soften then finely chopped.
  2. Finely chopped garlic, shallot, soaked mushrooms and dried shrimps.
  3. Grate pumpkin using a cheese grater or grate with food processor coarse grater attachment.
  4. Mix rice flour and stock (or water) together.
  5. Heat wok, add cooking oil and sesame oil and fry shallot and garlic till golden. Then add lap cheong, minced pork, mushroom and dried shrimps or scallop (if using). Stir fry till fragrant and make sure meat does not clump together then add remaining seasoning ingredients. 
  6. Add grated pumpkin stir briefly then add 1/2 cup water. Continue stirring for few minutes till the mixture is thoroughly heated through. 
  7. Stir in the flour mixture. Heat off. Continue stirring there should be enough heat to partially cook the mixture to a thick paste. Taste to check if more seasoning is needed 
  8. Grease 2 - 3 aluminium foil baking tins (round or oblong). Spoon cake mixture into containers, press firmly to ensure no air pockets in the cake mixture. Smooth the top with dampen fingers lightly touching the surface. 
  9. Ready for steaming. Preheat steamer till very hot. Put cake in steamer loosely covered with baking paper, steam at medium heat for about 1 - 1.5 hours depending on thickness of cake. Cake less than 1.5 inches thick will take about 1 hour, cake about 2 - 2.5 inches thick will take about 1.5 hours. Test with a skewer around the centre to see there is no whitish paste to ensure it is thoroughly cooked through. Covering cake with baking paper is to prevent condensation collected on top of cake and making it soggy wet.
  10. Once cooked, take the cake out, lightly brush with oil and cover loosely then leave to cool.  Brushing with oil is to prevent surface drying. This cake is too soft to cut when hot. Better put in fridge after cooling. 
  11. Turn the cake out. Garnish with chopped spring onion, chilli and preserved turnip. This salted turnip gives a salty taste and a bit of crunch.
  12. Cake can be eaten while warm better still cut into slices after cooling (chilling) and fry with a little oil till golden. 
* If without a large enough steamer can cook the cake in the oven using a water bath (large roasting tray filled with some boiling water) covered with foil.

This cake is suitable for freezing. Defrost before cutting and frying.