Exploring the world one bite at a time
Whenever I head to my favourite local Chinese supermarket, I feel a little as Winnie the Pooh must have done when he shouted:
“We’re going on an Expedition, all of us, with things to eat. To discover something.”
My expedition begins hunting through the supermarket isles, searching for ingredients I have never even heard of. (What are Bean Curd Sheets?)
At home the journey continues as I work with ingredients I have never even seen before. (Why does soaking make these dried mushrooms look like massive algae?)
The exitement rises as I check the seasoning (Uhm, is this flavour what they call umami?)
The most thrilling bit is when my guest join in the discovery. (What is THAT???)
A successful expedition ends for me much the same way as it did for Pooh as he
“went back to his own house, and feeling very proud of what he had done, had a little something to revive himself.” (like some left-over Bean Curd Rolls).
(found on the blog ‘Use Real Butter‘)
5-10g (1/2 oz) dried Chinese black or shitake mushrooms
5-10g (1/2 oz ) dried Chinese tree ears mushrooms
115g 4 oz pork
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine
1 tsp cornstarch
60g (1/2 cup) bamboo shoots
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 pkt (225g / 8 oz) bean curd sheets (tofu skins)
3 tbsps vegetable oil
2 tbsps soy sauce
pinch of sugar
- Bring some water to the boil. Soak the mushrooms in the hot water for about 20 min.
- Cur the pork into julienne strips.
- Combine the soy sauce, Shaoxing, cornstarch and add the cut pork.
- Cut the bamboo into julienne strips.
- Drain the mushrooms. Remove any hard stems. Cut the remainder into julienne strips.
- Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot add the pork and fry until just cooked.
- Add the bamboo and mushrooms and cook for another minute.
- In a small bowl mix 1 tbsp of cornstarch with a little water into a paste.
- Unfold the bean curd sheets. If the edges are not regular cut them into shape with a pair of scissors. (To get uniform sized rolls, I cut the sheets the same size as my chopping board.)
- Briefly hold the sheets under running water. Wipe off excess water with a kitchen towel.
- Lay the sheet on your chopping board with one of the narrow ends towards you.
- Place some of the meat filling on the bean curd sheet. Fold in the long sides and then roll the narrow end away from you. Do not roll too tight.
- Dip your finger in the bowl with water and then the cornstarch. Run your finger along the open edge of the roll and fold close. Lay on a plate seam side down. Continue making the remainder of the rolls.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Place the rolls in the pan seam side down. Fry until lightly browned on all sides. Remove from the pan. You can prepare the rolls ahead until this step.
- Place a shallow bowl of a sheet of parchment paper into a steamer. Layer the rolls inside.
- Sprinkle rolls with 1 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp soy sauce and a pinch of sugar.
- Cover and steam for about 5-10 minutes or longer if you prefer the sheets softer.
- Pour the sauce that has collected over the rolls and serve hot.
Serve as part of a dim sum style dinner with:
Tea and soy infused eggs
Although the snow outside makes it look more like Christmas, it is Easter again. To go with the non-traditional weather we are making some unconventional Easter eggs: Marbled Chinese Tea Eggs. They take little effort and look absolutely stunning. You can use regular eggs or try quail eggs for an even cuter result.
These eggs are super tasty and not only for Easter. They make a great snack or little side dish for a dim sum style dinner; or add them to a salads and stir fries.
6 regular eggs (or 18 quail eggs)
6 tbsp light soya sauce
2 tbsp dark sweet soya sauce
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
3 pieces of whole star anise
8 black peppercorns, left whole
1 long cinnamon stick
1 tea bag or 2 tbsp loose black tea leaves
- Place the eggs in a large saucepan or pot, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, and then remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. (Place quail eggs in boiling water for 4 minutes)
- Use a slotted spoon to place the eggs in an ice bath for a few minutes. Leaving the hot water in the pot.
- Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, tap and roll them to break the shells all over.
- Add the soy sauces, salt, sugar, star anise, cinnamon, pepper corns to the hot water.
- Hang the tea bag into the water (or sprinkle in the tea leaves.)
- Return the cracked eggs to the pot.
- Cover and bring to the boil. Cook at a low simmer for 2 hours. Ensure that the eggs are covered in liquid, adding water if necessary.
- Turn off the heat and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate the eggs in the liquid over night.
Tips & Variations
Consider some of the following
- Chinese five spice powder
- mandarin rind or juice
Other Easter egg recipes
Imagine having these on your table within 5 minutes of pulling them out of the freezer
Cook once and eat twice – or in this case three or four times. I love foods that you can make in bulk and then just keep in the freezer.
These prawn dumplings are one of my favourite freezer dishes. They are very easy to make and once you have the hang of folding the dumplings, they do not take that much time to put together. The dumplings freeze beautifully and only take about four minutes to cook from frozen.
Make a large batch and keep them in the freezer for about 3 – 6 months. Then next time you feel like having a lazy evening, just pop the dumplings in a steam basket, defrost some edamame beans and relax. These dumplings make a lovely starter or great little dish for a dim sum style meal. Or serve with stir fried vegetables and rice or vermicelli for a light and effortless dinner.
The flavour of these dumplings is very light and delicate. The crunch of the prawn contrasts wonderfully with the soft wonton skin.
12-04-14: I put fudginggoods comment into practice and added lime zest and a little chili – fabulous! It adds just a touch of zing!
(from the blog ‘Rasa Malaysia‘)
About 20 dumplings
340g fresh, peeled and deveined shrimps (medium to large)
zest of 1/2 lime
1/2 red chili
1 teaspoon egg white
1/2 teaspoon tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon chicken or vegetable bouillon powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon oil
about 20 wonton skin
Make the filling.
- Rinse the prawns. Pat dry with paper towel. Cut each shrimp into small pieces.
- Chop chives.
- Zest lime, and chop chilli finely.
- Combine prawns, chives, zest chili and remaining marinade ingredients. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Make the wontons:
- Lay wonton skin on a flat and dry surface.
- Dab your index finger in a small dish with water. Trace around the skin.
- Add some filling to the center.
- Make three folds one side of the sheet.
- Now fold double into a half-moon shape.
- Press the two halves together.
Cook the dumplings:
- Either steam: Bring some water to the boil with a steamer basket. Steam the dumplings for about 3 minutes (or 4 if frozen).
- Or fry: Heat some oil in a pan. Fry the dumplings 2 minutes until golden. Add about 100ml water and immediately cover with a lid. Steam for about 3 minutes (or 4 if frozen).
- To freeze the dumplings, place them on a chopping board. Do not let them touch. Place in the freezer until frozen and then transfer to a freezer bag.
- soy sauce for dipping
- edamame (I buy mine frozen at the Asian supermarket)
- for a full meal serve with stir-fried vegetables and (fried) rice or vermicelli.
Tips & Variations
- the marinade can be replaced by a 1 1/2 soy sauce, 2 tsp rice vinegar and some (white) pepper
- with any leftover wonton skins you can make wonton cups to serve an appetizer salad or with filled yoghurt and fruits as desert
Tender chicken – one pot, no effort
Every year I am surprised that there are so few hour of light there are in a winter’s day. Inevitably I start dreaming of luxuriant sunshine and far away lands
The Philippines a tropical paradise
I wanted to bring some of those exotic flavours into my cozy, candle-lit winter home. At the same time the cold winter weather is making me crave hearty and rich foods. How to combine these two worlds? Chicken Adobo!
Adobo is cooking method from the Philippines that takes me back to my travels through that beautiful country. This simple chicken stew is full of deep and earthy aromas. Granted it is not sophisticated or refined, but its dark flavours with a hint of sweet and an edge of acidity make for perfect comfort food.
This dish must be the easiest recipe ever. Basically you just throw all the ingredients in a pot and allow it to simmer for at least an hour. You can make it ahead; the stew actually tastes even better the next day. In my eyes this makes for a just about the perfect weekday dinner.
(a found on the blog ‘Chinese Grandma‘)
4-6 chicken drumsticks
3 onions, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper, finely ground
3 bay leaves
70 ml (1/3 cup) soy sauce
70 ml (1/3 cup) apple cider vinegar
70ml (1/3) cup water
- Remove the skin from the chicken and place it into a large pot. (In the original recipe the skin is left on.)
- Slice the onion and add.
- Mince the garlic and add.
- Add all the remaining ingredients. Sugar, pepper, bay leaf, soy sauce, vinegar and water.
- Cover and cook for 30 minutes up to 1 1/2 hours depending on how much time you have. Stir once in a while. The longer it cooks the more tender the chicken becomes.
- Towards the end of the cooking time check the thickness of the sauce. If you find it too runny take of the lid and allow the liquid to reduce.
- Vegetables like green beans or pak soi
- A salad of cucumber, cherry tomatoes and bean sprouts with a oil and apple vinegar dressing.
Tender coconut chicken with fresh herbs and a hint of heat
A wonderful little appetizer that is quick to put together but looks stunning on any dinner party table. Lovely for a summer celebration or an Asian feast. This time however it was the third salad I made for my Thanksgiving appreciation of ALL – the sea, the earth and the sky.
(based on a Donna Hay’s recipe from ‘Instant Entertaining’)
about 6-8 wonton cups
2 chicken breast
about 1 can of coconut milk
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp Muscovado sugar (or other brown sugar)
a few leaves of basil
1. Slice the chicken breast down the center into two large thin pieces.
2. Gently heat the coconut milk. Add the chicken and poach 10-12 minutes until tender. Allow to cool.
3. Deseed and chop chili.
4. Combine with lime juice and fish sauce. Set aside.
5. Chop the fresh herbs. Combine the meat, dressing and herbs.
6. When you are ready to serve spoon the filling into the wonton cups.
Tips & Variations
• Instead of serving the chicken in a wonton cup you can also shallow fry a sheet of wonton in some oil, allow to drain and use it as a “cracker”.
• The original recipe uses plaincooked chicken. If I am making this dish from scratch I prefer poaching the chichen in coconut milk – but if you have some chicken leftovers this is a great recipe for using them up.