Monday, August 25, 2014

Stir-fry Potato Strips ( 炒土豆丝)

Sichuan Stir-fry Potato Strips ( 炒土豆丝)


4 (about 300g) potatoes, cut into thin strips
60g carrot, cut into thin strips
50g Sichuan preserved vegetable, cut into thin strips
65g red capsicum, cut into thin strips
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 shallots, chopped finely
2 dried chilli, cut into half and soaked to soften 
1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 sprig of coriander leaves,cut into 2 cm lengths

1 tbsp black vinegar or to taste
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
salt & pepper to taste

  • Soak potato strips in a bowl of cold water for about 5 - 10 minutes and rinse to wash away the starch.  Repeat three times.  Drain well.
  • Heat oil in a wok until hot, toss in the Sichuan peppercorns.  Discard the peppercorns immediately once they smell aromatic.  Toss in the dried chillies and chopped garlic and shallots and fry under medium-low heat until fragrant. 
  • Add in potato and  carrot strips together with Sichuan preserved vegetable and stir fry on high heat for about 5 minutes.  If they begin to stick to the wok, add a little water. Add in seasoning  and keep frying until the potato strips no longer taste raw but still a little crunchy.  Lastly toss in the red capsicum strips and drizzle in sesame oil.  
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Before serving, sprinkle some toasted sesame over the potato strips.

Black Beans Pork Spare Ribs

Fermented Black Beans Pork Spare Ribs


350g pork spare ribs
2 tbsp dried fermented black beans, rinsed and mashed a little
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 shallot, chopped finely
small knob of ginger, chopped finely
1 dried chilli, soak to soften, cut into big chunks
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp cooking oil
spring onions, garnishing
1/2 tbsp cornflour + 1 tbsp water, to thicken sauce

1/2 tsp cornflour
1/2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil

  • Wash and pat dry the pork ribs, add in the marinade and mix well.  Set aside for at least 1 hour. 
  • Heat oil in a wok and saute chopped ginger, shallot, garlic and dried chilli until aromatic.  Toss in fermented black beans and fry for about a minute.
  • Add in pork ribs and fry until light brown. Add in dark and light soy sauces and sugar.   Pour enough water to cover the ribs.  Bring to the boil and lower heat to simmer until ribs are tender. Add in pepper.  
  • Thicken sauce with cornflour mixture, stir well.
  • Garnish with chopped spring onions.  
  • Serve hot with steamed rice.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hakka Yong Taufu (客家酿豆腐)

Stuffed Tofu  (客家酿豆腐)

Although I am a Hakka, I don't really know very many Hakka dishes, so when asked to name one Hakka dish, no doubt the classic Hakka Yong Taufu instantly comes to mind.  The Hakka versions of Yong Taufu has more depth of flavour with the addition of minced pork and salted fish or dried shrimps as well as minced garlic - which distinguishes Hakka Yong Taufu from the Cantonese version which only uses fish paste as filling.  I am sure every family, Hakka or not, has their own version of Yong Taufu.

I like to use semi-soft taufu which are often too soft and delicate to cut into triangles and stuffed with filling.  So I adopted the 'open-face' method - which I scooped out a little cavity in the taufu and stuffed with filling.  The stuffed taufu is then pan-fried until slightly crispy on the outside but still maintain its softness on the inside; and then braised.  Besides taufu, a variety of vegetables can be stuffed with the fish and meat paste, eg okra, bitter gourd, eggplant, chillies, tofu puff, etc.

It is indeed time consuming to make this laborious Yong Taufu but is well worth the effort.

The 5 steps to making Hakka Yong Taufu from scratch:
1.   Prepare fish paste
2.   Prepare Hakka Taufu stuffing (fish & minced pork paste)
3.   Stuff taufu
4.   Cook the stuffed taufu (pan-fried and then braised)

Prepared fish paste:
1 Spanish mackerel tail (yield about 800g flesh)
1 egg white
1.5 tsp salt
2.5 tbsp tapioca starch
4 tbsp cold water

  • Fillet the fish.  Using a metal spoon scrape the flesh from the skin of the fillet as well as from the bones.
  • Place the flesh and all the ingredients except water into the food processor and PULSE until fine, adding water gradually.  Process until the fish paste comes together and turns light colour.
  • With wet hands gather the fish paste together and keep 'throwing' it onto the chopping board   or a large mixing bowl until it becomes firm and shiny (wet your hands so that the paste won't stick).
(At this stage, you can make fish balls or stuff the paste into taufu or vegetables)

Prepare Hakka Yong Taufu stuff (fish & meat paste):
800g fish paste
500 minced pork
70g dried shrimps, finely chopped or processed in the food processor)
50g garlic, finely minced
3 tsp pepper
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
3 tsp salt
0.5 tbsp tapioca starch
  • Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well.
  • Throw the fish & meat paste onto the chopping board (or mixing bowl) until it is firm.
  • The paste is then ready to be stuffed into taufu (or any vegetables you prefer).
(Leftover fish & meat paste can be frozen)

Stuffed Taufu:
Use a sharp paring knife to cut a square on the taufu (do not cut too deep).  Use a teaspoon to carve out the taufu to make a crater-like hole and fill the hole with the fish and meat paste; smooth the surface with wet hands. (Reserve discarded taufu for later**)

Cook the stuffed taufu:
Ingredients for sauce:
3 cloves garlic, minced finely
2 shallots, minced finely
1 tbsp fermented soy bean paste
1 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp light soy sauce
sugar & salt (adjust to individual taste)
approx 2 cups of chicken stock or water 
1 tbsp cornstarch + 1.5 tbsp water - for thickening of the gravy
coriander leaves - for garnishing

  • In a frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Place the stuffed taufu with the stuffing side down and fry in batches until brown and crisp (about 2 min on each side).  Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain the oil.
  • With a little oil in the pan, saute garlic and shallots until aromatic.  Add in the fermented soy bean paste and sugar, stir quickly before adding chicken stock, oyster sauce and soy sauce.
  • Arrange all the stuffed tofu in frying pan and pour in sauce.  Cover and let simmer under medium heat for about 10 min (do not over cook the tofu).
  • Thicken sauce with cornstarch mixture.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.

Yong Tau Fu

** Mashed taufu with fish and meat paste:

  • Mash the discarded taufu chunks.  Add in fish and meat paste and combine well.
  • Make the paste into small patties and fry in hot oil.
  • Patties can be braised together with the yong taufu or eat them on its own with chilli sauce.

    Friday, August 8, 2014

    Homemade Meat Floss (肉松)

    Dang Gui (Chinese Angelica Root)

    Ingredients:  (Made 220g pork floss)

    550g pork neck, cut into 4 cm cubes, blanched with boiling water
    1 slice Dang Gui (Chinese Angelica Root)
    2 slices ginger
    1 1/2 cup water 
    2 tbsp oil

    Seasonings: ( Adjust according to personal preference)
    1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
    Salt & pepper, to taste
    3 tbsp raw sugar, or to taste
    dash of five-spiced powder

    • Cook the meat with until tender (add more water if it dries up).  Drain well and discard the dang gui.
    • Put the cooled cooked meat into a resealable plastic bag and using a pestle, flatten the meat.  
    • Transfer the meat onto a plate and use two forks to tease them apart.  Then put the meat into a wok together with 1 tbsp of oil and mix well.  Add in all the seasonings and fry over low heat until meat is completely dry and flossy (about 45 minutes).  Add the remaining oil and continue to fry for another 2 minutes.
    • Cool the meat floss and store in air-tight containers

    Thursday, August 7, 2014

    Oats-Wholemeal Bread

    Wholemeal Bread

    Wholemeal Bread

    Do you know that the aroma of freshly-baked bread has more than just the power to make your mouth watered, it can also make you kinder to strangers? According to a study on the effects of delectable aromas and social interaction, the French researchers found 'spontaneous help was triggered by pleasant ambient smells'.  When volunteers dropped items outside a bakery giving off the sweet scent of baking bread, 77% of passers-by stopped and helped.  While other studies have made a connection between pleasant smells to better moods, the new study sought to make a concrete tie between aromas and good deeds.  Isn't that interesting?  

    Adapted from Carol's  湯種100%全麥吐司


    (A) Tang Zhong Dough (mix together and chill overnight in the fridge)
    50ml scalded milk
    50g organic wholemeal bread flour

    (B) Main Dough
    100g Tang Zhong
    200g organic wholemeal bread flour
    50g rolled oats
    1 egg (50g)
    1 tsp instant yeast
    1/2 tsp salt
    30g honey
    90g cold milk

    30g olive oil

    extra rolled oats for topping

    • In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine all ingredients (B) except oil together.  Then add in (A), knead until well combined.  Gradually add in olive oil and continue to knead until dough is smooth and elastic. 
    • Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with clingwrap.  Place it in a warm place to allow the dough to rise until at least doubled in volume.
    • Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and divide into two equal portions.  Shape into balls.  Cover and rest for 20 minutes. 
    • Flatten the dough into rectangular shape and roll them up like swiss rolls.
    • Place the two rolls  into a greased loaf pan; cover and let it proof again until almost doubled or 90%.  Spritz the dough with water and sprinkle with rolled oats.
    • Bake in a preheated oven (175 deg C) for about 40 minutes or until brown.
    • Remove the bread from the pan immediately.

    This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up organised by Bake for Happy Kids and My Little Favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from the Domestic Goddess Wannabe

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    Pipa Tofu ( 琵琶豆腐 )

    Image from

    These tofu patties are shaped to resemble  a  pipa (Chinese琵琶, prounced as Pee-pah) which is one of the oldest Chinese musical instrument with a pear-shaped wooden body; hence the name Pipa Tofu.   

    (A)  Ingredients  (Makes 28 pieces)

    160g minced Spanish mackerel flesh
    100g minced pork
    60g prawns, minced
    40g bacon, chopped finely
    50g carrot, chopped finely
    4 water chestnuts, chopped finely
    2 shiitake mushroom, softened and chopped finely
    340g soft tofu, mashed
    2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
    1 tbsp finely chopped spring onion
    1 egg white
    1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
    2 tsp white pepper
    2 tsp salt, or to taste
    1/2 tsp sugar
    1 tbsp tapioca starch

    Mix together for coating during frying:
    2 tbsp plain flour
    2 tbsp tapioca starch

    enough oil for deep frying

    • In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients (A) together to make a paste.
    • Grease porcelain Chinese soup spoons with some oil, scoop spoonfuls of the paste and mould into a shape of Pipa.   With wet fingers, smoothen the surface.  
    • Place the spoons on a stainless steel plate and steam for about 7 minutes.
    • Drain the liquid from the plate for later use.  Remove the tofu paste from the spoon.  
    • Lightly coat the steamed tofu with the prepared flours.  Fry them until golden brown. Drain well.
    • Serve the crispy Pipa Tofu with your favourite chillie sauce. 

    Or cook the Pipa Tofu with vegetables of your choice:

    Napa cabbage, cut into pieces
    Bok choy, cut into pieces
    Carrots, sliced
    Enoki mushrooms
    chopped garlic

    (B)  Ingredients for Sauce:
    reserved liquid from the steaming process
    1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
    salt & pepper, to taste
    1/2 tsp cornflour + 1 tbsp water

    • Heat a wok with a little oil, stir fry chopped garlic until fragrant.  Add in carrots and stir for about a minute.  Then add in the rest of the vegetables and enoki mushrooms together with the reserved liquid.  Season with oyster sauce and salt & pepper.  
    • Return the Pipa Tofu to the wok and toss well.  Simmer for a few minutes and thicken sauce with cornflour mixture.  
    • Dish out  and serve hot.  

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Golden Sponge Cake (千叶黄金蛋糕)

    This recipe is a keeper!  It was taken from  美食杰, a Chinese website featuring many wonderful recipes.  I have no idea how to translate 千叶黄金蛋糕 into English, so I had to make do with the name 'Golden Sponge Cake'.  This moist and tender cake is kind of a cross between a chiffon and a sponge cake. 

    The recipe didn't state the size of the pan used so I used my 30 x 20 cm rectangular pan and my cake turned out quite short -  only  2cm high.  And I decided to cut the cake into two and sandwiched together with some whipped cream.  
    Source:   千叶黄金蛋糕  (with some changes)

    1 egg yolk 

    55g butter
    55g warm milk
    50g plain flour
    15g corn flour
    4 egg yolks
    1 whole egg
    1/2 a vanilla bean pod

    5 egg whites
    1/4 tsp cream of tartar
    55g caster sugar 

    • Line a 30 x 20 cm pan with baking paper.  Preheat oven to 160 deg C.
    • Sift plain flour and corn flour together.  Set aside.
    • Place 1 egg yolk into a small piping bag.  Set aside.

    • Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat until small bubbles start to break on the surface. Meanwhile cut the vanilla pod into half, lengthwise and scrape out all the seeds and add into the melted butter.  Stir well.  Turn off heat.

    • Immediately add in flour mixture all at once and quickly stir to combine.  At this stage the batter should be quite thick.   Pour in warm milk and mix well.  Then add in whole egg and egg yolks, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.  The batter will become smooth and quite runny.

    • In a clean, dry mixing bowl, whisk egg whites with a handheld mixer until foamy, add in cream of tartar.  Then whisk until soft peaks form and add in sugar, in three additions and continue to whisk until it reaches firm peaks stage.

    • Add one-third of the meringue into the egg yolk mixture and gently mix until it is well incorporated.  Next, pour the egg yolk mixture into the meringue and using a rubber spatula, gently fold to combine.  Pour batter into the prepared pan.

    • Snip off the end of the piping bag filled with egg yolk.  Pipe diagonal lines across the surface of the batter, drag a skewer or toothpick through the lines in opposite directions across the cake to create a feathered effect.  (As you can see, I didn't do a good job on the pattern, that is why I covered it up with icing sugar when I took pictures of the cake)
    • Bake for about 25 - 28 minutes or until golden brown.

    • Cool the cake completely before spreading whipped cream on it.

    This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up organised by Bake for Happy Kids and My Little Favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from the Domestic Goddess Wannabe

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