Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Blueberry Scones

Serves 8
Prep time: 20 mins
Baking time: 20 mins

- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 5 tbsp of unsalted butter, cold
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp grated lemon peel
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup fresh blueberries

- Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl: flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. 
- Cut the butter into chunks. Mix the butter into the flour with your finger. Using your finger tips to rub the butter into the flour mixture until it look like course crumbs. 
- Make a well in the center and add in the heavy cream, lemon juice and lemon peel. Fold the dough.
- Gently fold the blueberries into the batter. Do not mash the blueberries.

- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- On a lightly floured surface, press the dough to a log (about 12"x3"x1/4"). 
- Divide the dough into 4 even portions and cut each block diagonally. Don't cut through the blueberries.
- Place the scones on a ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 mins or until golden.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Shrimp Lemon Grass Soup

I was craving for a bowl of hot and spicy Tom Yum soup today.  It is so warm and comforting, perfect for a cold winter night.

Shrimp Lemon Grass Soup 
Serve 2 people
Prep time 5 mins
Cooking time 10 mins

- 2 stalks of lemon grass (peel off the green part and finely slice the tender part)
- 8 raw shrimps
- 2 slices of ginger
- 2 Shitake mushroom, sliced
- 1/3 lb of watercress (you can also use bok choy or spinach)
- 1-2 green chili pepper, sliced
- 2 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tbsp of fish sauce
- 1 tsp korean chili paste
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 tbsp chopped scallion
- Freshly squeezed lime juice (from half a lime)

- Boil 4 cups of water, add lemon grass, ginger and fish sauce. Cook till boil, add the shrimp and cook for 2 mins.
- Add in mushroom and chili paste, simmer for 3 mins.
- Add in watercress, tomatoes and chili pepper, cook on high heat for 1 min.
- Add salt and scallion, lime juice. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) - Pretty Good For A First Try!

Soup dumplings (a.k.a. Xiao Long Bao) are a type of steamed buns from eastern China area. Xiao Long Bao (小笼包) literally means "small bamboo steamer buns".  Soup Dumplings have thinner dough compared to regular buns. And most importantly, they have soup inside. 

This is my first try of making soup dumplings. The dough is a bit too thick. But all in all, the dumplings are pretty darn good!

Pork Soup Dumplings
Serves 10 - 15 
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 1 hr (gelatin) + 10 mins (dumplings)

1) Prepare the gelatin 
You may have already asked: "How do they inject the soup into the dumplings?" Here is the secret - the stock is put in the fridge, so it forms gelatin. The gelatin is then wrapped inside of the dough, together with the meat filling.

- 1 lb chicken feet (or 2 lb pork hock)
- 2 slices of ginger
- 1 scallion, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
- Boil 6 cups of water. Add in all the ingredients, cook on high heat until boil. Simmer for 1 hr. Strain the soup, discard solids and keep the stock. Add 1 tsp of salt, and boil the stock on high heat for another 10 mins. Store in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. Finely dice the gelatin cube when you are ready to make the dumplings.

2) Prepare the dough
- 4 cups of all purpose flour
- 2 cup hot water
Mix the water with flour. Knead the dough until smooth. Let the dough rest for 15-20mins. Roll into a long and slim dough. Divide the dough into 1-tbsp size balls. Roll out the ball till very thin.

3)Meat filling
1 lb ground pork
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp of finely minced ginger
- 4 tbsp of vegetable oil
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 4 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground white pepper
Mix all the ingredients. Slowly pour some cold water in the meat and mix in one direction. Add more water, mix. Repeat this step until the stuffing has a softer consistency. The total added water is about 1 cup.

4) Wrap the dumplings
- Place the rolled-out dough on one palm, scoop some meat filling and gelatin on the dough.
- Have a bowl of cold water on the side. Use the finger to lightly damp the edge of the 
dough with cold water (to help bind the dough together).
- Use the thumb and index finger to pleat and bind the dough. The right thumb is on top of the dough, and the right index finger is on the back of the dough. Use those two fingers to fold and pinch the dough to make small pleats. Fold the dough for 360 degrees, then twist and bind the pleats all together.

5) Steam dumplings
- Line the bamboo steamer with lettuce or Napa cabbage leaves (or you can use cheese cloth). Place the dumplings on top the leaves. 
- Steam on high heat for 10-12 mins.
- Serve with dark vinegar and shredded ginger.


**How to eat a soup dumpling?
- Carefully use the chopsticks to pick up the dumpling from the steamer. To be safe, use a soup spoon as well.
- Bite a small hole on the dough, drink up all the soup in the dumpling first (HOT!). (OK, you may use the spoon to catch the broth. Don't waste the soup!)
- Dip the dumpling in the vinegar and finish it. (nom nom nom)

** I'm lazy and I want to eat out. Where should I go for soup dumplings? 
- My all-time favorite place is Nanxiang in Shanghai. It is the most famous place to go for Xiao Long Bao in China. Customers stand in line for hours - those dumplings are worth the wait. 
- In Manhattan, my favorite so far is the Mini soup buns with pork and crab meat from China Fun.  

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Raspberry Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies

Those raspberry cookies are very popular - buttery and sweet. I have made those cookies for a few times now, and each time it came out great.  I got the original recipe from here.

Raspberry Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies
Serving: 25 cookies
Prep time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 45 mins

- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
- 1/2 cup raspberry jam

- In a medium bowl, soften the butter. Use a electric mixer to mix together butter with sugar until smooth.
- Mix in almond extract and flour. Gently knead the dough until it comes together.
- Roll the dough into 1 inch balls (I used a 1-tbsp measuring spoon to scoop out the dough).
- Place the on ungreased cookie sheets. Press a small hold in the center of each ball (I used the back of a 1-tsp measuring spoon to make indentation).
- Fill the hole with raspberry jam (about 1 tsp).
- Place cookie sheet in the fridge for about 20 mins. So that the jam and cookie dough have the same temperature before going in the oven.

- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Bake for 15-18 mins or until the edge of cookie is lightly brown.
- Cool off the cookies on a rack.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Agedashi Tofu with Mushroom Medley 揚げ出し豆腐

Agedashi tofu is a traditional Japanese tofu dish - lightly fried silken tofu in tentsuyu sauce.

I was really amazed when I had this dish for the first time. It is light and flavorful. The texture of the tofu is very interesting- firm on the outside, silky and fluffy on the inside. This dish is healthy and vegetarian-friendly.

Agedashi Tofu with Mushroom Medley
Serves 2
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins

- 1 block of silken tofu (about 10 oz)
2 oz daikon (white radish)
2 oz baby carrots 
- 1 scallion
- 1 pack of chef's selection gourmet mushroom (10 oz)
  (The one I got has Velvet Pioppini, Brown and Alba Clamshell mushrooms. You can also use Maitake or oyster mushrooms.)
- Oil
- Salt
- Potato starch or corn starch
- 1/2 cup dashi broth
- 2 tbsp purpose soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sake
- 1 1/2 tbsp mirin
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp Yuzu Kosho (optional, this condiment is made from yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit)

1) Prep
- Grate the daikon and carrots for about 2 tbsp each.
- Finely slice the green part of the scallion, about 2 tbsp
- Remove the stem of the mushrooms

2) Fry tofu
- Cut the tofu into 1x1x2 inch squares
- Dry the tofu carefully with paper towel
- On a plate, lightly cover the tofu with starch
- On a heated oil pan, fry the tofu squares on both sides for about 2-3 mins each side or until golden
- Place the fried tofu on paper towel to remove the excess oil

3) Cook mushroom
- On a lightly oiled pan, stir fry the mushrooms for about 2 mins. Add 1 tsp of salt.
- Plate the mushrooms

4) Make tentsuyu sauce
- In a sauce pot, mix 1/2 cup dashi with soy sauce, sugar, mirin and sake. Cook till boil
- In a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp of starch with 2 tbsp of dashi broth. Mix well and slowly pour into the sauce pot.
- Stir the sauce on high heat till boil

5) Plating
- Place the fried tofu on the mushrooms. Scoop daikon, carrot and scallion on top of the tofu. Add 1 pinch of yuzu kosho on each piece of tofu if desired. Drizzle tentsuyu sauce over all the ingredients.

[Daishi Recipe -
- 1 kombu sheet (5"x5") (dried kelp)
- 2 tbsp bonito flakes
- Place kombu in 4 cups of cold water, boil on high heat. Before the water start to boil, take out the kombu. Heat till the water boil, add in bonito flakes and turn off the heat immediately. Let the flakes sit in the broth for about 5 mins. Strain and store the broth.]

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pan Fried Pork Buns

Pork bun is one of my most popular dishes. It is just simply great: soft fluffy dough on top, with crispy bottom and delicious ground pork inside.

In China, Baozi 包子 (bun) is a very common breakfast food. It is said that the history of baozi dates back to 300AD. There are many different kinds of stuffing: sweet red bean, vegetable, pork, etc.  Buns are served mostly steamed and sometimes pan fried. 

Pan Fried Pork Buns
Serves: 10-20 people (about 25 buns)
Prep time + Cooking time: 2.5 hrs


- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 oz or 1 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 1/4 cup milk

- 1 lb ground pork
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp of finely minced ginger
- 4 tbsp of vegetable oil
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 4 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground white pepper

Prepare the Dough
- In a small bowl, add 1/4 lukewarm water to instant yeast, oil and sugar. Mix well.
- Add flour to a large bowl. Add in the yeast water, mix well. Add 3/4 cup lukewarm water, mix.
- Add the milk to the flour mix. Mix and knead until the dough binds together and becomes smooth on the surface.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap. Store the dough in the oven for about 1 hour. The size of the risen dough is about twice the size before.
- Cut a piece of dough (about 2 tbsp). Cover the rest of the dough with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.
- Roll the piece of dough into a ball. Lightly flatten the dough. Use a small rolling pin. Use your left hand to turn the dough in a circular motion, while your right hand roll the pin to stretch out the dough. The edge of the dough should be slightly thinner than the center. 
- When the dough is about 3 inches in diameter, it is good to wrap.

Prepare the Stuffing
- Add ginger, scallion, garlic, egg white and corn starch to the ground pork. Mix well.
- Add in soy sauces, cooking wine, salt and white pepper. Mix. 
- Slowly pour some cold water in the meat and mix in one direction. Add more water, mix. Repeat this step until the stuffing has a softer consistency. The added water is about 1 cup total.
- You can pan fry some stuffing first and taste if it has the right amount of salt.

Wrap Buns
- The wrapping part may look challenging. It only takes some practice to get the hang of it.
- Place the flattened dough on your left hand (again i'm talking from a right-handed person's perspective), scoop some stuffing (about 1 tbsp) on the center of the dough. 
- The right thumb is on top of the dough, and the right index finger is on the back of the dough. Use those two fingers to fold and pinch he dough to make small "wrinkles". Your left thumb pushes the dough clockwise, while the right hand folds and binds the dough. Fold the dough for 360 degrees, then twist and bind it all together. There you have it!


Pan Fry
- On a large skillet, drizzle vegetable oil. Place the buns on the heated pan. Sear the bottom for about 2 mins or until lightly brown. Make sure there is space between the buns.
- Pour a cup of water (carefully!) and cover the pan. Cook on high heat for 5 mins or until the water evaporates. 
- Remove the lid, cook for 2 mins or the bottom of the buns are golden brown.
- Serve immediately with soy sauce or dark vinegar.
[**Steam on high heat for 15-20 mins for steam buns]