Category Archives: Asian Snacks

Ham and Corn Taiwanese Homemade Bun (火腿玉米手工麵包)

(Edited October 18 2011)

close up view of the soft and fluffy bread….



3 years after I first wrote this article, I finally discovered a secret to making soft bread that lasts for more than a day. The secret lies in TangZhong, 65 degrees C, also known as the water roux method in some blogs.

The night before you bake bread, prepare a paste call TangZhong. The process of cooking the flour helps retain the moisture.

TangZhong is 1 part of flour to 5 parts of water. It is also known as the 65 degrees C because it is at this temperature that TangZhong is ready. Transfer TangZhong paste to a clean bowl. When it is slightly cooled, cover with a plastic wrap to prevent from drying up. Chill the TangZhong paste in the refrigerator overnight. This paste can be stored up to a few days. (If it turns grey, it is bad, throw it away!) Making TangZhong takes only a few minutes and the results is soft and fluffy homemade bread that stays soft longer.

Here are the ingredients:
TangZhong or Water Roux Starter 湯種
1/3 cup flour
1 cup water
Mix 1/3 cup bread flour with 1 cup water until there are NO more lumps. Put the mixture in a pot and cook over medium heat. I stir continuously with my wooden chopstick. The mixture will thicken. Once you see “lines” in your mixture, turn off the heat.

Bread Dough
2½ cups bread flour
3tbsp+2tsp caster sugar
1tsp salt
1 large egg
1tbsp+1tsp milk powder
½cup milk
half of the tangzhong you made
2 tsp instant yeast
3tbsp butter (cut into small pieces)

Method for preparing the dough:
(1) Put all the bread dough ingredients into the bread machine. Choose the dough setting and press start.

(2) After this cycle (about one hour and 30 minutes) the machine will beep. Remove the dough from the bread machine and place onto a silpat. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions. Shape into bun-like shapes. Cover with cling wrap, let rest for 15 minutes.

(3) Flatten each bun, add cheese slice, roll, cut and fold (as shown on pictures above). Do not top the ham and corn yet at this time. Arrange the buns on silpat and cover with a cling wrap. Leave it for the 2nd round of proofing, about 30 minutes.

(4) After 30 minutes, the bread is ready for its topping. Brush whisked egg white on surface. Spread corn, ham and mayonnaise mixture onto each bun.

(5) Bake in a pre-heated 375F oven for 13 to 15 minutes (reduce to 350F the last 5 min). Remove from the oven.

related article: Hokkaido Bread

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Shrimp and Mango Appetizer

“Mom, you are an iron chef!”
“Mom, can you make this everyday?”

My children are so sweet. I love hearing those compliments.

This is a simple appetizer that I learned from a church sister. As you can see, the ingredients are simple: wonton skin, mango, shrimp, cilantro, mayonnaise, and ketchup. Enclose the wonton skin, seal it tight (with some water, if necessary) and deep fry until golden brown.

This appetizer is super delicious and highly addictive.

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Quail Egg Shao Mai and Pork Shao Mai (燒賣)

Harrrr Gaoooo, Siuuuu Maiiii

Harrrr Gaoooo, Siuuuu Maiiii

 

Asian ladies chants as they push carts full of steamy Dim Sum across the aisles of a crowded Cantonese Dim Sum Restaurant.

Siu Mai is in Cantonese dialect. In the Mandarin dialect, it is called Shao Mai. Currently, there are two versions of Shao Mai in Wikipedia, the Cantonese version which has the ground pork, shrimp(optional), chinese black mushroom and the Jiangnan version which has an additional ingredient, the sweet glutinous rice.

photo of Shao Mai taken at Wong’s King Restaurant

In this article, I will be sharing the traditional Pork Shao Mai and my favorite, the Quail Egg Shao Mai recipes.

Tip 1: Although it is more convenient to buy peeled shrimp, I always buy shell-on and head-on shrimps, and peel the head and skin off myself, because the all the shrimp flavor are still in tact.

Tip 2: Use a little more water to mix with the ground pork if leaner ground pork is used.

Tip 3: With your hands, gather the mixture into a ball and throw it against the inside of the bowl for 3 to 4 minutes. I saw my MIL doing this and I find that her meat balls are ever so tender.

Caution: Quail eggs (thanks Julie Yee for this note) and shrimps have high cholesterol. So, eat in moderation.

 



Recipes adapted from Chinese Snacks by Huang Su Huei

Quail Eggs Shao Mai

(makes 20)

Filling
1/3 lb pork loin (ground pork can be used instead)
1 1/2 T pork fat
1/6 lb raw shelled shrimp
1/2 precooked bamboo shoot

Seasonings
1/2 T each cooking wine, sesame oil
2 t cornstarch
1 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

20 quail eggs (Cook about 5 minutes in boiling water until hard. Remove, drain and shell the skin.)

20 wonton skins (Trim the skin to make them round.)
For the filling: Dice Chop the pork loin, shrimp, pork fat and bamboo shoot. Place in a mixing bowl and add seasonings. Mix well.

To wrap the Quail Egg Shao Mai: Place a quail egg in the center of the wonton skin. Put 1 portion of the filling on top of the egg. Push the filling down gently with a wet spoon. Place the Shao Mai, open side down, in a steamer about 1/2 inch apart. Steam for 6 minutes over high heat. Remove and serve.

Pork Shau Mai

(makes 24)

Filling
3/4 lb pork loin (ground pork can be used instead)
1 1/3 oz pork fat
4 presoftened shitake mushroom
1 tbsp chopped bamboo shoot

Seasonings
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 T cooking wine
1/2 T sesame oil
1 t sugar
3/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper

24 wonton skin

masago eggs for garnish

For the filling: Dice Chop the pork loin, pork fat, mushroom and bamboo shoot. Place in a mixing bowl and add seasonings. Mix well.

To wrap the Pork Shao Mai: Place 1 portion of the filling in the center of the wonton skin. Push the filling down gently with a wet spoon. Place the Shao Mai, open side up, in a steamer about 1/2 inch apart. Steam for 6 minutes over high heat. Remove, garnish with masago eggs and serve.

7 Random Facts about me….

And now for some fun. I have been tagged by Suganya. I will use the similar format as her.

1) I have never own a pet. A few years ago, someone gave me 3 small gold fishes. I was excited, so I bought fish food, water neutralizer, etc. However, after 3 days, the fishes all died, one after another. (Suganya owned 22 cats over a period of 10 years of before marriage!)

2) Took piano lessons but not musically inclined. My daughter, on the other hand, is musically gifted. She has won piano competitions one after the other. Her fingers glide through the black and white keys effortlessly.

3) Not too crazy about cartoons but my hubby and 2 older children are fans of Scooby Dooby Doo.

4) After 16 years, I am thankful to God that I can maintain a great friendship with my classmate from college. Currently, we email each other, at least once a week, and sometimes once or twice a day. She is my Angel who advices and comforts me. Although she never leaves a comment on my blog, she leaves nice encouraging comments via emails to me.

5) Like Suganya, I can also easily start a conversation even with a stranger and can make friends within minutes.

6) The details on how I started blogging is in my “About Me” page but in short, I was inspired by another Mom who blogs about food.

7) I have never baked a pumpkin pie but if Suganya can’t do it well, I probably can’t as well.

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Oyster Omelet (蚵仔煎)

This is my husband’s favorite dish.

The first time I ate oyster, I could not understand, why would a person enjoy eating a soft, mushy, and sea smelling thing? Why would someone consider oyster as priced food? Certainly, eating oysters is an acquired taste.

I was reading about oyster on wikipedia and found out this interesting fact. There is no way of determining male oysters from females by examining their shells. While oysters have separate sexes, they may change sex one or more times during their life span.

Fresh oysters must be alive just before consumption. A simple rule: oysters must be tightly closed; oysters that are already open are dead and must be discarded. To confirm if an open oyster is dead, tap the shell. A live oyster will close and is safe to eat. Dead oysters can also be closed, but will make a distinct noise when tapped.

Enough introduction on oysters. Let me talk about Oyster Omelet, Oh-Ah-Chian 蚵仔煎. In Fujian or Hokkein language, Oh-Ah means oyster. Since this dish originated in Fujian, China, it is also popular in places with Fujian’s influences such as in Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan (where it is often sold in night markets).

In the US, Oyster Omelet can be found in very authentic Taiwanese restaurants. This dish has 4 major ingredients, oyster, powdered sweet potato starch, eggs and greens, topped with a little sweet chili sauce.

When my husband walked through the door tonight, he was immediately filled with excitement because he smelled something familiar. Throughout the dinner, he kept telling me how delicious it was. In the end, with a sigh, he said, I shouldn’t eat this last piece of oyster. I admit that this dish is full of cholesterol from the eggs as well as from the oyster, so I told him that I am not going to make this dish anymore, at least for a long time. He immediately gobbled up the last bite!


The following recipe is adapted from Passionate Eater.

Ingredients:
10 oz jar of refrigerated shucked oysters, drained
1/4 cup powdered sweet potato starch
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce as shown in the photo grid (or substitute 1 tbsp of sriracha mixed with 1 tbsp of ketchup)
3 large eggs, scrambled
1 tbsp of vegetable oil (divided)
1 cup of cooked garland chrysanthemum greens (Dang Oh), stir-fried with 2 cloves of chopped garlic (can substitute mustard greens or spinach for the chrysanthemum greens)

Method:

Combine the sweet potato starch, water, and oysters until thoroughly blended.

Swirl the scrambled egg mixture into the heated pan. Since I use a nonstick pan, I did not add any oil to the pan. Being careful not to break the egg omelet, heat it until it begins to set.

Pour the starch batter with oyster on top of the omelet. Cover with a lid, allow it to cook until it begins to turn translucent. Add the cooked greens. Flip the sweet potato starch pancake and cook until it becomes translucent throughout. The pancake should have a gluey texture, almost like mochi. Now, take the cooked pancake off the heat.

Spread the hot sauce on the surface of the scrambled omelet, and enjoy!

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Roast Pork (Char Siu)

I have a very good friend from Beijing China who is a great cook. Watching her cook in the kitchen is like watching a ballerina gracefully performing a dance.

One important lesson that I learned from her was using the right kind of meat to make Char Siu, and that is to use the Pork Shoulder Butt cut.

If you live in Portland, Costco Warehouse sells this type of cut in the meat department. I usually buy in bulk, roast the marinated pork and make different dishes with this meat. Sometimes, I would distribute the roast pork to my neighbors and friends or vacuum seal it for future use.

Recipe
Use a plastic bag to marinate your strips of pork overnight with the following:
3 tbsp of sugar
1 1/2 tbsp of wine
1 1/2 tbsp of oyster sauce

This recipe is for 2 to 3 lbs of meat. If you have more meat, adjust the amount of marinade. Bake the meat in a preheated oven with 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes. The following are before and after photos. Additionally, you can dip the cooked strips of pork into (1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp dark soy sauce, 1 tbsp honey) glaze and grill it for a short while to give the pork a shine. Glazing recipe is from Auntie Lily. Traditionally, char siu were dipped in red food coloring. I prefer to omit the coloring.

Here are some ideas to make different meals out of these 6 strips of meat.

Sliced Roast Pork with Saffron Rice.

 

Siew Pao (Baked Roast Pork Bun) 燒包

Char Siu Pao 燒包

Other dishes that uses roast pork include Wonton Mein and Char Siu Fried Rice. I have posted an article on Wonton Mein recipe but the photo does not look as delicious as WMW‘s Wonton Mein photo. I took that photo before WMW told me about the “best shot” option on my camera.

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Day 1 (Home Remodeling)

Praise God. The weather was sunny even though the forecast was not. Thanks for praying for us.

This is a challenging project because it is 3 stories high.

 



Simple dishes that I managed to make this afternoon. One of my friends, after seeing my blog asked me if I cook fancy dishes every day. The answer is No. Some days, we go out for dinner. Other days, my husband barbecues. And for days like today, when we cannot leave the house because we are doing a remodeling, I heat up my well seasoned wok and cook this simple one pot dish that has protein and fiber.

I even had some spare time to make a dessert and an appetizer. The dessert was inspired by WMW’s article.

I used the same short-cut pastry for the skin of both the Egg Tart and Siew Paos.

Here’s the recipe for the Egg Tart filling. Beat 2 eggs, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 cup milk and strain this beaten mixture into each tart. Bake in 370 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes in the middle rack.

Click here for Siew Pao recipe.

 

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Steamed Char Siu Bun

Success! Success! Success! I made steamed Char Siu Bun from scratch.

Two years ago, when I was in Australia visiting, I told my 2nd younger sister I can make Pao. She was amazed, however, after half a day of labor, she was disappointed with the Pao that I made. She told me that it did not taste like the Pao from Dim Sum Restaurant.

Two years later, after many failures, I have discovered the secret to making light, fluffy and delicate with delicious flavor char siu buns.

 

Char Shao Pao 燒包

 

 

This recipe is complicated because you need to prepare a dough starter. To make the dough starter you need to save a small piece of simple dough and let it stand overnight in the refrigerator until it becomes sour. The dough starter can be kept for one week in the refrigerator.

Char Siu Bun filling (makes about 24).
1 lb roasted pork
mix slightly less than 1 cup water with 1 1/2 T each: sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce
mix 2 T cornstarch with 2 1/2 T water
2 T lard (which I omitted)
1 1/2 t sesame oil
1/4 t pepper
Cut the cooked roasted pork into 1/4″ cubes. Bring the soy sauce mixture to a boil. Add cornstarch mixture to thicken. Add sesame oil and pepper. Let the mixture cool. Add the pork and mix well.

 

Recipe adapted from Chinese Snacks by Huang Su-Huei.

Simple Dough Recipe
6 cup flour (all purpose flour)
1/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup warm water
1 T yeast
1 T baking powder
2 T shortening

I used my bread machine to make this dough. But you can make the dough without using the bread machine. Results will be the same. The first step in making any “yeasty” dough is the yeast itself. Check the expiration date on the yeast. If the yeast is not expired, dissolve the sugar in a warm water and the add the yeast. After 10 minutes, if the yeast becomes foamy and floats to the top, the chances of your dough rising is high. If the yeast does not become foamy and float to the top, your yeast is not active. Perhaps the water you used is too hot or too cold. Do not proceed further until you are sure the yeast you are using is active.

If you are using bread machine, just throw all the ingredients into the bread pan, choose the dough setting and push the start button, after 3 hours or so, when the machine beeps, the dough has risen and is ready for use.

If you are kneading the dough by hand, put all the ingredients in a bowl and knead the dough until smooth and elastic. I read somewhere that if you touch the dough and it feels like a baby’s bottom, it is ready. Cover the kneaded dough with a sheet of plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for about two hours until it has tripled in bulk.

To make the dough starter, after the dough tripled in size, save a piece of dough about 4 oz. Wrap the small piece of 4 oz dough in a plastic wrap and put it into the refrigerator.

If you are not a picky like my sister, you can use the remainder dough to make buns. The dough is not as light and fluffy but it is still delicious. The following photo shows how to wrap a pao. I used the left-over filling from Siew Pao.

Roll the dough into a long roll and cut it into 24 pieces; Flatten each piece with the palm of the hand to form a thin circle. Place one portion of the filling on the center of a dough circle. Wrap the dough to enclose the filling. Shape the dough circle by pleating and pinching the edges to form the bun. Make the other buns in the same manner. Let the buns stand for 10 minutes then steam them for 12 minutes. Remove and serve.

 

 

If you have extra dough, you can make Peanut Butter Flower Rolls.

 

 

Now, once your dough starter turns sour after a night in the refrigerator, you are ready to make the fluffy Dim Sum Char Siu Buns. Here is the recipe:
Dissolve 4 oz dough starter with 3/4 cup water and add 2 cup flour. After kneading, place the dough in a bowl and cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place. Let the dough rise for 8 hours or until it has doubled or tripled in size. I used the bread machine to knead and to keep warm.

After the dough has doubled or tripled in size, prepare the following dough with 1 t baking soda, 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 T shortening, 3 cup flour (use less if you feel the air surrounding you is dry, I always use less flour and add a little by little if needed), 1 T baking powder. Combine these two doughs and knead until smooth and elastic. I also used the bread machine for this step. Since the bread machine is still on, you have to push the stop button first. I left the original dough in the bread machine, added the rest of the ingredients (baking soda, water, sugar, shortening, flour and baking powder) into the bread machine, choose the dough setting and push the start button.

Roll the dough into a long roll and cut it into 24 pieces; Flatten each piece with the palm of the hand to form a thin circle. Place one portion of the filling on the center of a dough circle. Wrap the dough to enclose the filling. Shape the dough circle by pleating and pinching the edges to form the bun. Make the other buns in the same manner. Let the buns stand for 10 minutes then steam them for 12 minutes. Remove and serve.

If you leave more than 30 minutes, the dough will be over risen and dough may shrink after steaming.

Lee Ping’s notes: (1) For health reasons, I used unbleached flour, so the bun looks a little off-white. (2) Also, I use bamboo steamer lined with parchment paper. Bamboo steamer is good for steaming buns because the water from condensation is absorbed by the bamboo and not dripped back to the bun during the steaming process. (3) If you find that during your kneading, the dough is too dry and you add water, make sure you knead it well. Otherwise, your bun will look like a face with tiny pimple holes (mo peng in Hokkein Language). (4) If your dough smells sour, a little baking soda (less than 1/4 tsp) will neutralize the sourness.

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