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.