Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bánh Bột Lọc Trần (The Naked Transparent Dumplings!) :-)

I had a few failed attempts at making this dumplings because I over-complicated the process by making the dough using the bread machine.  The dough became gluey and I couldn't make anything with it.

So keep it simple, mix it with a wooden spoon at first, then by hand later.  It should take less than 5 minutes for the dough to come together.

400-g tapioca starch
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/3 cup boiling water.

Put all the tapioca in a bowl.  Add 1/3 cup of boiling water at a time.  Mix with wooden spoon. Continue adding boiling water 3 more times.  By the 4th time, dough should come together with the "right" consistency (i.e. not sticky to hand, pliable, rollable, etc.)

Filling (using the same filling for Bánh Ít Ram)
3/4 lb pork belly, cut into small cubes
1 lb peeled shrimp, cut into small cubes
3 shallots, minced
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp black pepper (or more)
2 tsp mushroom seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp powdered annatto (optional.  Or 1 Tbsp annatto seeds fried quickly in hot oil to color the oil)

Bánh Ít Ram

Dough Ingredients:
16-oz (one bag) glutinous rice flour
1 tsp mushroom seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1-2/3 cup hot water

Mix all ingredients together to make dough.  I used about 30g of dough for each dumpling.
Use the filling recipe above.  Puree the leftover filling and saute until dry.  Use as topping.  (That's because I was too lazy to make a shrimp topping separately).

Steam for 5-7 (or was it 7-10) minutes.

Use banana leaves, brushed with oil, as dumpling liners.  I used wax paper once and the flour on the bottom was still raw because steam can't cook through was paper (?).  Also, it was super sticky, so I ended up pan-frying the dumplings after steaming.  They were super delicious that way.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Vietnamese Meatballs (Xíu Mại)

I made xíu mại based on this recipe.  There were so many out there, and most are similar, but I liked the proportions of the ingredients in this recipe.  However, my husband thought there was too much onion.  Maybe it was my fault, because I didn't follow the recipe that closely.  Or I used a lot of shallots, and it might be more pungent than regular onion.

To make the meatballs
1 lb ground pork
2 eggs
1 medium jícama, julienned
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp mushroom seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/2 Tbsp (~3 cloves) minced garlic
1/4 cup (6-8 stalks) chopped green onions, only green part.

Blanch julienned jicama in boiling water until wilted.  Drain.  Squeeze out water.  Chop the jicama into bits. You should have about 2 cups, more or less.

Mix the chopped jicama, ground pork, eggs, sugar, black pepper, mushroom seasoning, salt, minced shallots, minced garlic, chopped green onion.  Mix well.  Form into bite-sized balls.

Steam for 10 minutes.

To make the tomato sauce
3 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup minced shallot
1/2 - 1 Tbsp (~5 cloves) minced garlic
6-8 green onion, white part, finely chopped.
3 ripe tomatoes, squeeze out seeds, chopped.
2 cups (14.5 oz can) chicken broth.
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp corn starch + 2 Tbsp water, make a slurry.  ]

Heat oil.  Saute minced shallot, garlic and green onion until fragrant.  Add tomatoes, chicken broth, fish sauce, sugar, salt and water released from steaming meatballs.

Bring to boil, simmer.  Add corn starch slurry to thicken sauce.  Add meatballs.  Simmer for 5 minutes.

Coconut Layer Cake

I made this Coconut Layer Cake from Martha Stewart for my Mom's birthday, and it was so good.  I didn't follow the original recipe exactly, so here was my version.

I didn't use the Seven-Minute Frosting as the original recipe.  Instead, I used the Swiss Meringue Buttercream for the frosting with no coconut flakes because I needed a smooth layer.

Coconut Layer Cake

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup superfine sugar
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Coconut Cream Filling (recipe below)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange two racks in the center of the oven. Line the bottom of three 6-by-2-inch buttered round cake pans with parchment paper. (You can bake the batter in two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, but the layers will be slightly thinner). Dust the bottom and the sides of the cake pans with flour, and tap out any excess.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set the bowl aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-low speed until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, and keep beating until the mixture is fluffy and light in color, about 3 minutes. Gradually drizzle in egg yolks, beating on medium-low speed between each addition until the batter is no longer slick. Beat until the mixture is fluffy again, about another 3 minutes.

Alternate adding flour mixture and sour cream to the batter, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Beat in vanilla. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans in the oven, if needed, for even browning. Transfer cake pans to wire racks to cool, about 15 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, and let cool completely on racks, tops up.

I baked at 350F traditional oven with 8-by-2 inch cake pans for about 28 minutes, and the cake was brown, but still very moist inside.

To assemble, remove parchment paper from the bottoms of cakes. Split each layer in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Set aside the prettiest dome; it will be used for the final layer. Place another domed layer, dome side down, on the serving platter. Spread a generous 1/2 cup coconut-cream filling over cake. Repeat spreading coconut-cream filling on the remaining layers until all but the reserved domed layer are used. Top cake with the reserved domed layer. 

Coconut Cream Filling

6 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar 
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
4 ounces (1 1/2 cups) unsweetened flake coconut 
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Unsalted butter, for wrap

Place egg yolks in a large bowl; whisk to combine; set bowl aside.

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whisk 1/2 cup hot milk mixture into the reserved egg yolks to temper. Slowly pour warm yolks into the saucepan, stirring constantly. Cook slowly, stirring, over medium-low heat, until mixture begins to bubble, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut and vanilla.


Transfer filling to a medium mixing bowl. Lightly butter a piece of plastic wrap, and lay it directly on top of filling to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

This is a really good coconut cream filling.  I loved the flavor.  I can probably make push cakes with this instead of icing.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pork Nuggets

I copied this recipe from my brother who really didn't know what he was doing, and I've perfected it.

1.5 - 2 lbs pork chop, 1/2-inch thick, cut into 1-inch nuggets

Marinate pork nuggets with
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp mushroom seasoning
1/4 tsp five spice powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayene (could be more if you want it spicier)
1/2 tsp minced garlic

Coat the marinated meat well with tapioca starch.

Warm oil to 350F.
Fry until light golden.

Increase oil to 375F
Refry for a few minutes until golden brown.

Cornbread Stuffing - Thanksgiving 2013

I made this cornbread stuffing for Thanksgiving and it was amazing.  Will definitely make this again, this Christmas probably.  I used Paula Dean's cornbread stuffing recipe from Food Network, and add some additional ingredients.

7 slices oven-dried white bread (Used leftover honey wheat rolls from Black Eyed Pea)
1 dozen corn bread (Used BEP leftover cornbread, about 12 pieces, give or take).
1 sleeve Saltine crackers
8 Tbsp butter
1 lb hot Italian sausage
2 cups chopped celery
1 large onion, chopped
7 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sage
1 Tbsp poultry seasoning
5 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350F

In a large bowl, combine crumbled cornbread, dried white bread slices, and saltines; set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the Italian sausage and cook until brown.  Add the onion and celery and took until transparent, about 5-10 minutes.  Pour the sausage and vegetable mixture over the cornbread mixture.  Add the stock, mix well, taste, and add salt, pepper to taste.  Add sage and poultry seasoning.  Add beaten egg and mix well.

Pour mixture into a greased pan and bake until dressing is cooked through, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Won Ton | Hoành Thánh

12 ounces lean pork, ground
4 ounces shrimp, shelled, deveined and finely diced
1½ cups scallions, finely diced
1½ tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp grated ginger
2 water chestnuts, peeled, finely diced (or ¼ cup jicama, finely diced)
1 Tbsp Chinese white rice wine, or gin
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1½ Tbsp oyster sauce
Pinch white pepper

36 wonton skins
3½ Tbsp cornstarch
10 cups cold water
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp peanut oil

Mix together all the filling ingredients, until thoroughly blended.  Place in a shallow dish, refrigerate, uncovered, 4 hours, or covered overnight.

Make the wonton:  Skins should be kept at room temperature.  Work with one at a time, keeping remainder under a damp towel.  Keep a bowl of water at hand to wet edges of skins.  Place 1 Tbsp of filling in center of a won ton skin, wet edges, fold in half and seal edges.  Wet the folded corners, not the sealed corners, and draw ends together to create a bow-like dumplings, like a tortellini.  Repeat until 36 wontons are made.  As each is made, place on a cookie sheet dusted with cornstarch.

Place water, salt and peanut oil in a pot, cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add won ton, stir and cook for about 8 minutes until won ton are translucent, and filling can be seen through the skin.  Turn off heat, run cold water into pot, drain.  Serve immediately.

Leftover wonton should be placed on wax paper to dry thoroughly before refrigerating for later use.

Taro Root Pancakes (Lai Wu Bok Bang)

1½ pounds taro root, peeled, ends removed, coarsely grated (to yield 4 cups, tighly packed)
2/3 cup Chinese bacon, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 extra large eggs
1 cup scallions, finely diced
1½ tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1½ tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp Shao-Hsing wine, or sherry
Pinch white pepper
3 Tbsp cornstarch

7 Tbsp peanut oil

In a large bowl mix all ingredients except peanut oil, thoroughly to make a cohesive mass.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat for 1 minute.  Add 3 Tbsp peanut oil.  When a wisp of smoke appears, scoop 5 generous spoonfuls of taro root mixture (about 3 Tbsp each) into the pan and flatten them.  Lower heat to medium-high and fry for 2 minutes.  Turn over, fry for another 2 minutes until both sides are browned and crisp.  Remove, drain on paper towels.  Continue until all pancakes are done.  With each batch you may have to add about 2 Tbsp peanut oil to the pan.  When done, turn off heat, transfer to heated dish and serve.

Makes 16 pancakes.