Friday, 29 April 2011

Steamed aubergine with glass noodles and minced pork 咸香絞肉粉絲蒸茄子


Few days ago this Guardian article mentioned aubergine has more nicotine than other vegetables. Guess I may be addicted to this humble spongy vegetable. I have posted quite a few oriental recipes with aubergine. Aubergine is one of those vegetables that must be thoroughly cooked to give it a silky texture and sweet flavour, utterly delicious IMO. Undercooked aubergine is awful feels and tastes like tasteless chewy sponge.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Spicy sweet and sour tempeh



This tempeh is sweet. salty, spicy and sour. Very moreish. The recipe is based on Indonesian tempe kering (dry tempeh) with my own twist. I used Korean chilli paste which has a sweeter more mellow flavour. I don't have any lime leaf so I sub with lime zest.

Ingredients:
about 300g tempeh
1 chopped onion
2 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp Korean chilli paste (gochujang)
2 tbsp soy sauce
some sugar to taste
1 small lump of wet tamarind softened with 1/2 cup boiling water, strained
few kaffir lime leaves, shredded (or some lime zest)
cooking oil

Method: 
  1. Cut tempeh into small pieces, stir fry with 4 -5 tbsp oil till golden brown. Remove.
  2. Add a bit more oil to wok and stir fry onion and garlic till softened. 
  3. Add gochujang, soy sauce, enough tamarind juice to your taste, some sugar and lime leaves or lime zest. Stir till sauce is hot. 
  4. Add fried tempeh, stir till sauce is absorbed. 

Note: Tempeh will absorb oil like a sponge, fry them with a fair amount of oil not too much or there won't be any oil left in the wok or pan. This will all go on your waistline :)

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Drunken pork belly 紅燒醉肉

Green ginger wine makes a great refreshing cocktail with lime and fizzy water.  I also use it for oriental cooking.when I am out of Chinese cooking wine. Stone's is nice. I also like Lidl's (silly me! just remember it's Aldi not lidl) own brand but it is only available around Christmas time.


This stewed pork recipe was created when I had a bottle of old ginger wine to use up quickly. I was pleased how flavourful it was. It's similar to hong shao rou but packed with wine flavour.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Scrambled egg with tomato 西紅柿炒雞蛋 (番茄炒蛋)

Xi hong shi chao ji dan 西紅柿炒雞蛋
= fun chair chow dan (fan qie chao dan) 番茄炒蛋

The above names all mean the same stir fried tomato with egg or scrambled egg with tomato, the Chinese way.

These tomatoes I used were so red, the juice looks deliciously red too.
There is no regional boundary where this dish comes from in China, it is popular among all Chinese not just in China but also worldwide unless anyone hates either or both the main ingredients. Such a simple dish but there is more than one way to cook it. I have tried it all and here is my review.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Stir fried mantou 炒饅頭


Stir fried mantou is a tasty way to use up stale mantou. An all in one meal/snack super quick and easy to prepare. A good way to use up anything in your fridge. Use any vegetables you have and some meat like leftover cooked meat, bacon, ham, lap cheong, spam etc... add the usual garlic, spring onion, chilli etc.. for more flavour. I love to coat the mantou with beaten eggs.

Cut 3 stale plain mantou into small pieces.
Beat 1 large egg in a deep bowl.
Cut a mixture of vegetables. I am using Chinese leaf (napa cabbage), carrot and green pepper.
Cut 2 lap cheong into thin slices. (or cut other meat into small pieces) For vegetarian version, leave meat.
Chopped a little garlic, chilli and some spring onion.
Just before cooking, add mantou pieces to the beaten egg, stir to coat mantou with egg.
Heat some oil add egg coated mantou, fry till pieces are golden brown. Remove.
Heat a bit more oil stir in garlic. Stir till fragrant.
Add in meat and vegetables. The tougher to cook ones in first till everything is cooked and tender. Add in some chopped chilli if using.
Seasoned with some light soy and pinch of pepper
Stir in mantou pieces.
Sprinkle with some spring onion.

Mantou 饅頭 - plain steamed bun


What is the difference between Chinese bao/baozi 包/包子 and mantou 饅頭?
Boazi is bun with filling and mantou is without filling. The word bao 包 in boazi means 'wrap' so it is obvious with filling.

Mantou 饅頭 is the staple carb for Northern Chinese more than rice, it is eaten at breakfast, lunch and dinner in place of rice. Plain mantou's texture is normally a bit chewy not like Cantonese cha siu bao super white doughy soft cakey like texture sweet and stick to your teeth.

Traditional mantou is very plain, white not much flavour and normally shaped like a little pillow or just a plain round bun. Nowadays there are hundreds of different flavoured mantou including adding vegetable juice like spinach juice, carrot juice and vegetable puree like pumpkin, some use different flour like cornmeal, wholemeal, millet, black glutinous rice flour etc..... For cuteness and prettiness many mantou are shaped into animals or flowers (called flower bun or hua juan 花卷) etc.. The only constant and never change is mantou is without filling and steamed. Flower bun is slightly different than plain mantou it can have some spring onion, vegetable or ham added to enhance the flavour and these bits are kneaded with the dough not filled.

Normally mantou is eaten fresh straight after steaming. Because it is a staple food for many Northerners, it is always available and leftover is unavoidable. Stale mantou can be a bit tough and people come up with some cleaver ideas like:
  • deep fried mantou enhances the flavour and texture, crisp and nutty on the outside and soft inside. 
  • mantou can be cut into pieces and stir fried with meat and vegetable just like rice and noodles
  • mantou can also cut into small pieces and add to soup and eaten like soup noodles
  • sliced mantou dipped in beaten egg then fried with a little oil till golden is delicious.  
How to make mantou? Very easy if you can mix a dough you can make mantou. For a standard mantou all you need is some flour, yeast, water, pinch of salt, sugar and a steamer. Plain flour mantou is softer and bread flour mantou is chewier, both equally good. If you like a pure white mantou use bleached flour.

This is a standard plain mantou recipe.

400g flour (plain flour or all purpose flour, bread flour or wholemeal)
1 tsp easy blend or quick yeast
2 tsp baking powder
25 - 40g sugar (if you like less sweet buns use little sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
about 200ml tepid water

a little dusting flour

Mix dry ingredients together, slowly add water and start mixing till the dough is formed and no more dry flour. No need to knead right away leave to rest for 15 - 20 minutes this way dough is less likely to stick to your hands. Then knead dough till smooth. No need to over knead or buns can be quite chewy. Cover and leave to proof for about 45min - 1 hour. The dough does not need to expand to twice its size, some sign of swelling is ok. Then it is ready to form into buns.

To form the buns there are 3 standard ways, first lightly dust working area with some dry flour then 
  1. Simplest way is roll the dough into a thick sausage about 3 - 4cm thick then cut the log into 3 - 4cm thick pieces. 
  2. Roll the dough out into a sheet about about 35cm x 25cm x 0.5cm thick, very lightly brush the top layer of dough with water. Roll this sheet up into a log. Using both hand lightly roll the log to tighten and stretch it to about 40 - 45cm long.  Cut the log into 3 - 3.5cm thick pieces (about 10 - 12 pieces). This method of forming dough the resulting buns will show a spiral pattern on the cut sides.
  3. Take a chunk of dough about golf ball size and roll it into a ball.


Once the bun is shaped. Line one or two steamer trays with muslin cloth or perforated baking paper before putting the buns in, leave enough space for buns to expand. Leave to rest for 25 - 30 minutes. Heat steamer till boiling then steam buns for about 18 - 20 minutes at medium heat.These buns will swell up to 2 - 2.5 its original size. Do not open lid after steaming is done. Remove the steamer tray with the lid on and cool buns for about 5 - 10 minutes. Opening the lid soon after steaming the skin of the buns will dry quickly due to steam vaporisation from the surface.

These are some variations, add a touch more water if the dough is dry.
  • replace water with vegetable juice or puree. 
  • Replace some of the flour with roasted and ground sesame seeds, peanuts or other seeds
  • Replace 1/2 plain flour with wholewheat flour, buckwheat flour, cornmeal etc.....
  • Replace some flour with cocoa powder

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Biang Biang Mian

If you think supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is not easy to remember try the most complex Chinese character related to a noodle's name. This word is so complex it is not in any Chinese dictionary or any computerised Chinese type set. Take a look at one single Chinese word with 57 strokes!

This word reads as 'biang'


Biang biang mian (in Chinese charaters)

Biang biang* mian is a well known noodle from Shaanxi** 陕西 Province in China. It is famous probably due to the complexity of its name. Biang biang noodles is an ancient recipe, has been known for over a thousand years.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Chinese leaf with vinegar sauce 醋溜白菜

Chu liu bai chai (cu liu bai cai) 醋溜白菜

Chu liu bai chai is a simple vegetarian dish, a well known Lu Chai 鲁菜 from Shandong 山東 region where it is famous for the production of good quality vinegar.

This stir fried Chinese leaf or napa cabbage main flavour is the vinegar to give it a sharp taste. The vegetable is stir fried briefly to keep it crunchy.

Ingredients:
About 600g Chinese leaf or Napa cabbage
few dried chillies, de-seeded and cut into small pieces
2 tsp Sichuan pepper, dampen with a little water or soak for few minutes. This is to prevent burning during frying and IMO gives out more flavour
2 clove garlic, chopped
a small piece of ginger, chopped
about 1 heap tbsp chopped spring onion (white part)
2 - 3 tbsp cooking oil

sauce:
2 - 2.5 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar or other good quality Chinese vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
0.5 tsp salt
2 tsp light soy
1 rounded tsp cornflour
1 tbsp water

Method:
  1. Mix the sauce ingredients together.
  2. Boil a pot of water, when boiling blanch Chinese leaf for about 1 - 2 min. Remove and drain.
  3. While the vegetable is still hot, heat oil and fry the Sichuan peppercorns, when oil is fragrant remove peppercorns. Then fry the dried chillies till brown.
  4. Add ginger, garlic and spring onion, stir fry briefly.
  5. Add blanched vegetable stir till heated through. Add sauce stir till sauce has thicken. Done. There is not a lot of sauce at this point, but after transferring to a plate more vegetable juice will seep out to make the sauce. 

Monday, 4 April 2011

Stir fried pork and cucumber with yellow bean sauce 炒黃瓜醬


Chow hwang gua jiang 炒黃瓜醬

Most people have cucumber raw or pickled, I love stir fried cucumber.

This is a simple stir fry but the recipe is not that common. The original recipe is from Ching Imperial kitchen specially made for Empress Dowager Cixi as condiment or side dish. Traditional  raw vegetable pickle was normally served but because Doweger had a tender tummy, her chef made this cooked condiment/side chao hwang gua jiang, specially to whet her appetite so she could enjoy the rest of her meal.

This stir fry recipe and ingredients are really simple; main ingredients are pork, cucumber and yellow bean sauce.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Honey lemon and ginger fish


I love honey, lemon and ginger hot drink. I have it quite often with or without a cold. This combination also works for a Chinese style sweet and sour.

Here is the recipe for this simple fried fish with honey lemon and ginger sauce.

Ingredients:

about 500g fish fillet
1 tbsp soy sauce
pinch of ground pepper
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1 egg beaten

1/2 cup of cooking oil for frying

Sauce:
4 - 5 tbsp lemon juice (about 1 medium lemon)
about 3 - 4 tbsp finely shredded ginger
about 1 heap tbsp finely shredded lemon rind (from 1 lemon)
about 2 - 3 tsp soy sauce
about 4 - 5 tbsp honey
a little chilli sauce (optional), omit if you don't like too spicy
about 2 tbsp water
1 tsp cornflour

Method:
  1. Cut fish into bite size pieces. Mix with soy sauce, ground pepper, cornflour and plain flour. 
  2. Prepare the sauce. Mix everything together.
  3. Heat oil till medium hot. Mix beaten egg gently without stirring much to coat the fish pieces. Drop fish pieces into hot oil and fry till golden brown. Fry the fish in several batches. Drain on paper towel to absorb excess oil. To keep the fish batter crispy warm in the oven at medium heat. 
  4. When all the fish pieces are fried. Remove oil and clean wok. 
  5. Heat the sauce without any oil till thicken, add fish pieces stir quickly to coat with sauce.