Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Upping My Chinese Cooking Game with Homemade Dim Sum...


What I have been up to during March Break.
After going through a stack of dim sum lib books and watching DIY youtube home vids, this... 

Attempted a dim sum steamer fave pork and shrimp siu mai #recipedevelopment cause my student asked. Some key tips: chop the lean pork ham yourself, and use the slap technique "dat" against the bowl 10 times to create springy-ness to the filling. Of course making your own wheat wrapper is best, but wonton wrappers tinged with the characteristic yellow is an ok alternative for now. Pretty pleased with my first go, but with a few tweaks, they'll be much better next round. Can't wait to share and teach it at my upcoming Chinese cooking class with seniors. 

Shrimps, lean ham pork, pork fat and shiitake mushrooms, all hand chopped.

A little fish roe for a pretty pop

Kowa Bunga!!! Steamer heaven right there!

Har Gow crystal shrimp dumplings 🦐🥟, however not quite translucent, achieved through a thin skin wrapper. And mine are jumbo too, not bite-size cute. To make thin dim sum har gow wrappers it takes both patience and pressure. I used a heavy Chinese cleaver 💪. I tried the dough with 1 to 8 part wheat starch to potato starch, a bit of salt in boiling hot water and oil. Next time, to soften, I will knead the dough longer before forming the dough balls and also let it rest. Happy thou with the well-seasoned springy bounce of the shrimps, minced and chopped along with pork fat cubes. Master dim sum chefs are adamant about 13 pleats for optimum appearance and taste. I'm just happy I can pleat and seal lol. #dimsumgoals


Son over reacting lol

Jumbo har gow. So tasty. Need to make the dough thinner next time.

My last dim sum recipe trial and development to end the March break week- cheurng fun steamed rice rolls bespeckled with dried shrimps and green onions. Used a 4 to 1 ratio of rice flour to wheat flour and a bit of cornstarch. The key is proper pan greasing, stirring the batter well btwn each ladle and cooking until just done (1-1/2 mins). Yes, some breakage with the roll up but quite content. Good springy-ness with tender chew, and nice dried shrimp and onion aroma. Can't wait to fill 'er up with all kinds of yummies like whole shrimps or sauteed snow pea leaves. Next time I will try my student's recipe using 1 cup rice flour, 1 cup tapioca flour and 2 Tbsp. cornstarch. Always fun and tasty, catching up and cooking & eating with my gorgeous gurl Lisa @lisa.eats 😘😋🔪🥢.


Circular or rectangular pans work. Just grease them nicely.

Roll 'er up with a scraper.


With my so-much-my-junior twin Lisa @lisa.eats 


As you can tell this was a hurried post. What can I say... back from March break, I'm on the go, go, go.....
Stay posted...  dim sum tweaking & honing and their recipes on the way. Yay!



Monday, March 11, 2019

Classic Tomato and Egg and Sriracha Ketchup Shrimps...


"I never connected tomatoes to Chinese cooking," says Gary, one of the sweet senior learners in my Chinese cooking program. Never mind tomatoes but how about North America's darling burger and hot dog condiment ketchup lol? Try two very popular home-style Chinese dishes- one comfort classic tomato and egg, and the other- sweet heat spin on tangy ketchup shrimps with generous squirts of sriracha.

Stir-frying tomatoes and eggs together is a quick and satisfying staple in Chinese home cooking. Juicy tomatoes mingle with softly scrambled eggs in a saucy dish that's scrumptious over steamed rice and what I classify as "easy eats" as it's easy to shovel down and finish before you know it!

I grew up on ketchup shrimps. My mom always left the shells on (to seal in the natural shrimp flavours) and also for us to suck and savour the sweet tangy sauce from the crispy aromatic shells. It's how I like to prepare it for my family, except I love to add an element of heat with Vietnamese cuisine's table condiment sriracha chili sauce. It is made from a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. Sweet heat baby, oh yeaaaahhh!! 




Classic Chinese Tomato and Egg
Makes 4 to 6 servings

3 eggs
salt and ground white pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. oil, divided
1 green onion, cut into three pieces
2 large ripe tomatoes, largely diced
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. cooking wine
1/2 - 1 cup chicken broth, hot
2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1-1/2 Tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. sesame oil (optional)
Garnish: sliced green onions

Beat eggs together. Season with a little salt and pepper. Cook in hot skillet with 1 Tbsp. oil on medium-high heat until cooked. Break the egg up in large pieces. Remove eggs onto serving plate and set aside.

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and add one green onion cut into three pieces. Cook for a minute, then add tomatoes into the skillet. Add sugar and continue to cook for three minutes until softening and juice is released.

Add Chinese cooking wine. Stir tomatoes and cook for one minute. Pour in chicken broth. Cook until sauce is bubbling and the tomatoes are cooked. Add cornstarch mixture to sauce and stir to thicken.

Place the eggs back into the skillet. Toss for one minute and remove onto serving plate. Drizzle with a little sesame oil on top and garnish with slices green onions.


All prepped and ready set to cook!

Adjust sweetness with sugar to counter tomatoes' acidity.

The magic when fluffy scrambled egg hits cooked-down sweetened tomatoes.


A scrumptious and satisfying dish over rice that has saucy comfort all over it! 

For step-by-steps, see my Post.


Spicy Sriracha Ketchup Shrimps
Makes 4 servings

1/2 lb. medium to large shell-on deveined shrimps, thawed
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. oil
1 medium onion, chop into 1-inch pieces
1 green onion, white part cut into 2-inch pieces; green part chopped, for garnish
2 slices ginger
1/2 coloured bell pepper, chopped (optional)
2 -3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. Chinese cooking wine
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. sriracha hot sauce (adjust to your taste preference)
1 tsp. soy sauce
salt and ground pepper to taste
water

Mix shrimps with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 cup water with your hand for one minute. A bubbly grey foam will appear. Run cold water into the bowl and rinse well until the foam disappears and the water is clear. Drain and pat shrimps dry. Coat with cornstarch and mix well.

Heat oil in wok or skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Sauté onions and ginger for two minutes. Add pepper (optional) and continue to stir-fry for two minutes until onions are soft and peppers crisp-tender. Add shrimps and garlic and cook for a few minutes until they turn pink and their shells golden.

Drizzle in the wine; let cook for one minute. Add ketchup, sriracha and soy sauce; stir-fry constantly, then add some water and let it thicken from the cornstarch until shrimps are done. Top with chopped green onions and serve hot.



Ketchup & Sriracha is a great combination that makes shrimps burst with flavour!


Finish with a sprinkle of green onions.

For step-by-steps, see my Post.
  

I want to end the post with this wonderful story .... my exchange with Gary (mentioned in the intro) in this very tomato and ketchup cooking class. Back on the first day of teaching my seniors fall program, his daughter dropped him off and whispers to me that she registered her dad to get him out of the house. Quiet at first, often on his phone, keeping to himself among 19 other senior learners, he consistently came to my classes. Although, he doesn't participate in the hands-on (he also uses a support cane to walk), I noticed him increasingly attentive and inquisitive about the recipe origins and cooking methods being taught.

Well, I learned that he had traveled extensively to China and he knew a thing or two about China's history and regions more than I do (I still have not been to my motherland). And so the experiential stories unraveled, like adventure anecdotes that peppered my sessions to the marvel of his classmates and me! Like whole cabbages being stacked between homes as a storage pantry to the access of the villagers as they need them. How cool and what a sight to travelers!! He's returned to my Winter cooking program and now on the wait-list for Spring. In this very class on tomato and egg, and sriracha ketchup shrimps, he commented that he never would have connected tomatoes to Chinese cooking, and "thank you Sue, for showing me a gentler way to use sriracha, cause I never understood how people can squeeze that red stuff all over a bowl of Vietnamese pho." And then I heard from another senior, that he was heading straight to the Asian supermarket to pick up ingredients, cause he's cooking that night!!! My heart melted. 💕 

Yes, cooking and sharing that love of cooking is incredibly rewarding but when you actually ignite that spark in someone to take it beyond the classroom, then that's the real deal. I feel so blessed to be able to take my passion for cooking from my kitchen into theirs. The pleasure is all mine 🙏 


Friday, March 1, 2019

Home-Style Singapore Fried Noodles...


If you are a fan of Chinese noodles, you would have likely tried Singapore fried noodles. It's on most Chinese fast-food and dining menus with its stand out of yellow-tinted rice noodle strands flavoured with mild or spicy curry and tossed with a bevy of crisp-tender veggies and meat. Everyone I know whose had it, loves it. So it must be super famous in Singapore right? The contrary. In fact, it's foreign to the native Singaporean, leaving those traveling to the country baffled when they can't find a stall serving this very curry rice noodle in sight. The origin of this dish was apparently created by a Hong Kong chef who wanted to show that Cantonese cuisine can be multi-culturally innovative by combining noodles and curry (British-influence) in a stir-fry. How the country Singapore got attached to the name is the big question. Some say this dish is starkly similar to another rice noodle called fried bee hoon or xin zhou mi fen, loosely translated as ‘Singapore Rice Vermicelli Noodles'. However, if you are on the streets of Singapore, don't expect to find curry in their fried rice noodles, but rather a nice helping of chili sauce on the side if you want the heat.

I enjoy this beauty but never attempted it. A request from one of the senior learners in my Chinese cooking program, got me excited to finally experiment. I tested/cooked a fabulous rendition for my family, and taught it in a couple of my cooking programs within two weeks. Since this is a dry fry noodle, the trick is to cook the vegetables separately to release most of their moisture, and also toss the noodles in the curry mixture in batches so strands are evenly flavoured and continues to cook until dry on heat. Resulting in a lovely dry not mushy rice noodle dish. So happy I gave it a whirl and love it! A winner for dinner, as it's truly a hearty delicious meal in one- golden curry-tinted fried rice vermicelli, juicy shrimp, sweet Bbq pork char siu, fluffy eggs and green and red peppers!  Scroll down for the full recipe.


Singapore Fried Noodles
Serves 6 to 8

1 pkg. (454 g) vermicelli thin rice noodle sticks
4 Tbsp. oil, divided
3 eggs, cooked into a thin crepe (thinly slice and set aside)
1/2 medium Vidalia or another sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 green pepper, thinly sliced
3 cups bean sprouts, ends removed, rinsed well
200 g small raw shrimps, sprinkled with a little salt and white pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. ground curry
1 tsp. turmeric

2 Thai red chili peppers, sliced (optional)
2 tsp. salt
½ lb. deli bought Chinese BBQ pork, sliced into matchsticks
Garnish: soy sauce and chopped cilantro

Cook noodles according to package instructions. Do not rinse. Keep warm.


I love the beautiful colours and textures in this gorgeous dish!

I like to add turmeric to enhance the dish's golden colour!

Thinly sliced Chinese deli BBQ pork is synonymous with this dish.

You can substitute pork with matchstick slices of king oyster mushrooms or chicken.

Cooking with parents over at Fraser Mustard #communitykitchen


Most of these parents are muslim. With their strict halal practice, food like pork and cooking wine (even traces of alcohol in ingredients) are not permitted in their cooking. At our culinary session last week, we just used shrimps and eggs.


Heat 1 Tbsp. oil on medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions and stir-fry for a minute until fragrant. Add the peppers, and toss for another two minutes. Remove onto a plate. Next, stir fry the bean sprouts for one minute to remove excess moisture. Set aside with onion and pepper mixture. 

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil and sauté shrimps until cooked about two minutes. Remove onto a separate plate.


Seniors cooking over at St.Stephen's Community Centre this week.

Whisking up eggs for the thin crepe.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil, sauté the green onions and garlic for one minute, careful not to burn. Add the curry and turmeric, chili peppers (if using), cook for one minute, then add the salt. This is to cook off the taste of the raw ground spices to create more of a paste. Slowly add the noodles in batches, tossing to ensure curry well coats. 


Toss the noodles in the curry mixture in batches so each strand is flavoured and continues to cook until dry on heat.


Add the onions, peppers, sprouts and toss for a minute. Lastly add the shrimps, toss well. Top with egg slices. Garnish with cilantro, sesame seeds and dashes of soy sauce as desired.


The nerve of these two, looking très content with my Singapore fried noodles after several hours recipe testing it in the kitchen... Nah, just the "mom is on her cam again look" and "we gotta look like we are excited!!!"🤨📸 

#lifeasafoodblogger
.

I always add a dollop of sambal oelek for a pop of heat!


I love the community feel #cookingandeatingtogether

With parents at Fraser Mustard- the largest Kindergarten school in North America.

With seniors over at St.Stephen's Community Centre.

What a way to finish the meal, counter the spicy heat and the winter chills but with a bevy of Chinese sweet red bean glutinous black rice tapioca dessert soup

Is that hot chocolate?-- No, it's Chinese sweet dessert soup!

My joint tweet with partner TDSB Welcoming Communities to highlight our very first session.


Full Recipe:

Singapore Fried Noodles
Serves 6 to 8

1 pkg. (454 g) vermicelli thin rice noodle sticks
4 Tbsp. oil, divided
3 eggs, cooked into a thin crepe (thinly slice and set aside)
1/2 medium Vidalia or another sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 green pepper, thinly sliced
3 cups bean sprouts, ends removed, rinsed well
200 g small raw shrimps, sprinkled with a little salt and white pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. ground curry
1 tsp. turmeric

2 Thai red chili peppers, sliced (optional)
2 tsp. salt
½ lb. deli bought Chinese BBQ pork, sliced into matchsticks
Garnish: soy sauce and chopped cilantro

Cook noodles according to package instructions. Do not rinse. Keep warm.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil on medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions and stir-fry for a minute until fragrant. Add the peppers, and toss for another two minutes. Remove onto a plate. Next, stir fry the bean sprouts for one minute to remove excess moisture. Set aside with onion and pepper mixture.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil and sauté shrimps until cooked about two minutes. Remove onto a separate plate.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil, sauté the green onions and garlic for one minute, careful not to burn. Add the curry and turmeric, chili peppers (if using), cook for one minute, then add the salt. This is to cook off the taste of raw ground spices to create more of a paste. Slowly add the noodles in batches, tossing to ensure curry well coats. Add the onions, peppers, sprouts and toss for a minute. Lastly add the shrimps, toss well. Top with egg slices.

Garnish with cilantro, sesame seeds and dashes of soy sauce as desired.




Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Red Bean Sticky Black Rice Tapioca Coconut Soup...


Happy Chinese Lantern Festival aka Spring Lantern Festival!🏮 Today marks the final day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations- the end of 16 fun days! 🤗🎋 Common food eaten is tang yuan- glutinous rice balls filled with red bean or black sesame paste. I didn't make rice balls but another sweet- a delicious soup in the name of red beans, adding glutinous black rice and tapioca. Made creamy with coconut milk and a bit of sugar, it is a great alternative sweet finale to wrap up CNY! Plus its rich in protein, dietary fiber, iron and other nutrients. Just five ingredients and you are on your way to sweet comfort heaven with every spoonful- creamy mauve studded with red, purple and clear pearls, a Chinese dessert house fave! For the purist traditional red bean dessert, check out my Simple Red Bean Soup Dessert.


Red Bean Sticky Black Rice Tapioca Coconut Soup
Serves 8 to 10 (~1 cup each)

3/4 cup red adzuki beans (rinsed)
3/4 cup black glutinous rice (rinsed)
2 litres water
3/4 cup small tapioca pearls (sago)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup rock sugar or brown sugar
1 can (400 ml) coconut cream

Soak rice and beans overnight. This helps soften and lessens the cooking time. Bring water to the boil, add in black glutinous rice and red beans. Bring to the boil again, reduce to low heat, cover and cook for 1 hour 30 minutes, until both ingredients have soften. Cook the tapioca until semi-translucent. Add in salt, sugar, and coconut cream. Stir well. Bring to the boil over medium heat, add in tapioca and mix well. Bring to the boil again, then off the heat, cover and let tapioca soak for 7-8 minutes until fully translucent. Add more water for viscosity. Serve hot, warm or cold. Note: overnight the mixture will thicken, add water and adjust sweetness to desired taste.


A trio of Chinese dessert harmony!

Cook the tapioca until semi-translucent. 

Add in salt, sugar, and coconut cream. Stir well. Bring to the boil over medium heat, add in tapioca and mix well.


Bring to the boil again, then off the heat, cover and let tapioca soak for 7-8 minutes until fully translucent. 


The combo turns out a creamy mauve soup studded with red, purple and clear pearls.  


A great sweet ending to wrap up Chinese New Year celebrations!


Flashback on CNY Family Reunion Dinner at my parents place. Upon arrival, a family joint prayer by burning incense proceeds. Incense sticks are lit up, held between clasped hands, wishes and prayers are silently chanted while performing a sequence of three standing bows. Then the sticks are placed into the rice bowl and left to burn until finished. We do this first looking to the sky facing the window for overall blessings and then again in front of a mini altar dedicated to our ancestors, or a food offering display. This is to pay respect to the loved ones who've passed on as well as asking for protection and good luck for the gods above.

"Bi Sun"-- prayer to the heavenly Gods and our ancestors. 

Tang yuan are glutinous rice balls stuffed with a sweet filling- such as sesame paste, red bean paste or peanut butter. It symbolizes family togetherness and is auspicious to eat on the eve of Chinese New Year to solidify family harmony for the year and also at the end of the 16 day celebration. My dad instead for our reunion dinner (eve) made our family tradition recipe from his mom, my late ma ma using plain sticky rice balls cooked in chicken soup with shredded nappa cabbage, sliced Chinese sausages, dried shrimps and minced orange peel. It isn't my favourite, but the memories of my grandma helming the kitchen every year rolling and cooking this, makes it a special food always in the hearts of my siblings and I!


My dad's family tradition recipe for savoury tang yuan.


Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous Year of the Earth Pig!