All posts by michtsang

Congee (rice porridge: 白粥) with pork and salted egg


Congee

Congee

Congee

Congee

(mum’s version always has dried scallops for added sweetness)

Congee

Congee

Congee and fried dough. 白粥油炸鬼

The story behind this dish speaks to one of the foundational dishes of the Chinese culture, which is my heritage.

Congee (pronounced as ‘jook’ in Cantonese), is jasmine rice boiled down till soft, much like porridge. There used to be a shop selling congee at every Hong Kong street, and the good ones will have queues from early in the morning.

A good Hong Kong style congee can be described as creamy with a consistency similar to a thick soup. It should neither be runny or gloopy. There is a good amount of water, yet it isn’t watery. The grains should have broken down and not be wholly visible.

This can be eaten as any meal of the day, and is our go-to when we feel under the weather or needing a bit of a detox after big meals.

The variation to the congee is in the food you add to it. Mince, chicken, squid, dried scallops, fish and fried dough… Whatever you like.

My favourite is a very simple salted pork shoulder. The pork shoulder is marinated with a generous amount of salt and Chinese wine and this is cooked in the rice congee. When it’s done, the meat is pulled apart and eaten with condiments all mixed in with the congee.

This is what my mum cooks for me whenever I was sick, whenever we’ve returned home from our travels. Since I have lived apart from my parents for the last 20ish years, it’s a dish that always reminds me of her loving care. It’s also a meal that my NZ-born daughter loves and I hope she will one day master it. Ironically it only took a week-long hospital stay for me to finally write this recipe down…

Ingredients

  • 3/4 jasmine or long grain rice
  • 6 cups of water (more to adjust thickness)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • (or for a quick version, use left over cooked rice that has been frozen)
  • 400g pork shoulder
  • 1 tbsp chinese shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 8 cups of water

Toppings

  • Fried shallots
  • Spring onions
  • Fried dough 油炸鬼
  • Crispy fish skin
  • Seaweed paste (Japanese)
  • Salted egg 咸蛋(see recipe at the end. Duck eggs is traditionally used, but substitute with chicken eggs if you can’t find duck eggs. )
  • Preserved egg 皮蛋(preserved with a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quick lime and rice hulls for several weeks.)

Instructions

  1. Marinade meat with chinese wine and salt over night.
  2. Rinse rice and drain slightly. Place in a small bowl and sprinkle the salt over rice grains and mix in oil. Add just enough water to cover the grains. Set aside for 20 mins. This helps the grains break down faster and congee will later cook quicker (reach the right creaminess faster).
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the soaked rice, which should have developed cracked lines along the grains, into the boiling water.
  4. Keep it at a rolling boil for 10 minutes, stiring often. Turn it down to a medium boil, and cook for a further 5-10 minutes. The rice grains should have puffed up and slightly broken down by now.
  5. Add the meat, and let it simmer for 1.5 hours. Remember to stir often to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom (this is easier if you have a thermos cooker or crock pot, where it keeps the hot temperature of the pot inside another capsule, so that the food continues to cook without needing to stand by the stove).
  6. Check for creaminess often, adding water if it becomes too thick.
  7. Remove pork and shred to small pieces. Set aside.
  8. Place ladles of hot congee into bowls, add shredded pork and serve with toppings.
  9. If you want to have other protein like beef slices, chicken thigh pieces, fish or squid: instead of the shredded pork, you can cook your protein towards the end. I usually have a second pot ready and when the big pot of plain congee is ready, I will scooop half of that into the second pot and cook the meat in it. That way I will always have some plain congee as the base for a second flavour.

To make Salted eggs:

  1. First find a jar that will fill 8 eggs.
  2. Remove the eggs and fill the jar with water half way.
  3. Pour the water in a pan and add enough salt to make a saturated salt solution i.e. Where it has so much salt dissolved in, it can’t dissolve anymore. That’s when you see salt crystals still appear with lots of mixing. You may need 500g salt at least.
  4. Warm the salt solution up on the stove, with 2 tea bags and 3 tbsp of shaoxing wine. Let it cool.
  5. Place eggs into jar and pour the cooled salt solution in. Make sure eggs are completely submerged with liquid and doesn’t float up. You may have to put a small plate in the hold the eggs down. Close lid and place in a dark corner or the pantry for 30 to 40 days.
  6. Cook by boiling the eggs in hot water for 8 minutes. Shell and serve with congee.
  7. The salted yolk can be used to make the glutinous wrapped parcels too.

Soba noodles with a Basil, Cardamom and Coriander lime sauce


Soba noodles with Basil, Coriander, Cardamon, garlic and lime dressing

Soba noodles with Basil, Coriander, Cardamon, garlic and lime dressing

Soba noodles with Basil, Coriander, Cardamon, garlic and lime dressing

Soba noodles with Basil, Coriander, Cardamon and lime vinegrette

A few weeks ago I went to a pottery workshop in beautiful Titirangi, Auckland New Zealand. They served a delightful vegetarian lunch and one of the dishes served was from Yotam Ottenlenghi‘s SIMPLE. The cookbook is filled with really easy recipes and after tasting this soba dish, I just had to remake it at home.

My recipe below is an adaptation of the original recipe, as J is allergic to pistachios and avocados are out of season. We also don’t have Nigella seeds so have used chilli flakes instead. This is optional.

Love the tanginess of the lime, but mostly, I am blown away by the cardamom. Feel free to up the cardamom quantities, I have been quite liberal with it myself! You should have left over dressing with the quantities below, which is great stored in a jar for a second meal.

Ingredients

  • 250g buckwheat soba noodles
  • ½ tsp of cardamom seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 35g (1 cup) basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 35g (1 cup) coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3 limes: slightly press and roll limes on the bench surface. Finely grate for 2 tsp zest, then juice to get 80ml.
  • Extra lime, cut into 4 wedges, to serve
  • 5 tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 drops of garlic essence (optional)
  • 1 red or green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (optional)
  • 2 ripe avocados, deseeded and cut into thin slices (optional)
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional), to sprinkle over
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet.
  2. Once cooked, drain into a colander and rinse under cold running water. Set aside in the colander to drain well.
  3. Crush the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle (if using pods, open for seeds and discard the outer husks).
  4. Place the crushed cardamom seeds in a mixing jug with the basil, coriander, lime zest and juice, oil, garlic, chilli, avocado (if using) and 1 tsp salt.
  5. Place noodles in a large mixing bowl and pour dressing in. Mix everything together well, taste and add more seasoning if needed.
  6. Serve platter style. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes, if using, and serve with a wedge of lime.

Soba noodles with Basil, Coriander, Cardamon, garlic and lime dressing

Granola


Buckwheat granola

Buckwheat granola

Making my own granola is such a game changer and incredibly satisfying. It’s all about personalising your cereal – you can add all your favourite cereal ingredients into the mix, and leave out all the things you don’t like. Personally, I don’t like shredded coconut, but love freeze dried fruits, such as Fresh As’s raspberries. Love walnuts but not so much pecans. There’s always something in each of the prepacked options that I dont want to eat and so I’ve never been fully happy with the choices of packaged granola in the supermarket.

I also love buckwheat and recently it’s a much more commonly stocked item in the supermarkets and bulk bin shops. This isAmongst all the likes and dislikes in our family, it’s so much easier to make our own to tailor to our preferences. You can swap out any nuts or seeds from the recipe below, even the quantities listed are only a general guide, there’s no issue with changing them, so long as you add sufficient oil and sweetener to bind it. This is a good starting point as a base recipe for making granola. I will likely change it up by adding different freeze dried fruits to the mix.

To make this gluten free, omit oats and use more of other ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups raw buckwheat groats
  • 2 cups rolled oats (I used Harraways)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts or seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, flaked almonds)
  • 3 Tbsp linseeds
  • 3 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey (I used Noble’s)
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed, olive or avocado oil
  • 3 Tbsp nut butter (I used Nut Brothers smooth peanut butter)
  • 1/3 cup dried fruit (I used Fresh As freeze dried raspberries)
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 160C. To a mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients, except the fruit. Stir to combine.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the maple syrup, oil and nut butter. Stir till homogenous and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix well to ensure even coating.
  3. Spread the mixture evenly onto a baking paper-lined tray. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until fragrant and deep golden brown, stirring halfway.
  4. Let the granola cool before adding the dried fruit and chocolate (if using) . Place cooled granola in an air tight container. Serve with your favourite thick unsweetened yoghurt.

Steamed egg custard 香滑炖蛋


Steamed egg pudding 香滑炖蛋

Steamed egg pudding 香滑炖蛋

A simple dessert, reminiscent of childhood days in Hong Kong. They are loved for the smoothness and silkiness of the custard. The key to this is to always use a sieve to remove clumps in the mix before pouring into bowls, and to tightly cover the bowls while steaming.

Try eating it hot as well as cold – there is quite a difference in the experience!

Makes 3 small rice bowl portions

Ingredients

  • 180ml full fat milk
  • 120ml water
  • 80g sugar (best to use chinese rock sugar 冰糖)
  • 3 eggs, lightly whisked

Instructions

  1. Heat milk and water in a smal saucepan and melt the sugar in it. Set aside to cool to 40C.
  2. Whisk eggs lightly with a fork.
  3. Once the sugar mixture has cooled, add whisked eggs in.
  4. Using a sieve, pour the egg mixture into small bowls or ramekins. This removes any lumps in the mix.
  5. Cover tightly with foil and steam on a rack in a wok or steamer for 9 minutes.
  6. Turn off heat and leave for another 2 minutes before removing bowls from the steamer.
  7. Carefully peel back the foil to avoid water on the foil dripping over the surface or he custard.
  8. Serve hot or cold.

Steamed egg pudding 香滑炖蛋

Steamed egg pudding 香滑炖蛋

Espresso Mascarpone Chocolate Cake


Espresso chocolate cake with Caramélia coffee glaze

So pleased to be introducing this delightful cake: Espresso Mascarpone Chocolate Cake, drizzled with a Caramélia chocolate glaze with Cacao nibs.

Made with Nespresso Envivo Lungo extractions, this is the next cake you are going to fall in love with. Coffee and chocolate is always a perfect match and I’ve been changing up my cake flavours by switching to different Nespresso coffee variations. Each came out with a different flavour profile and I think each had a different personality too (!)

Mascarpone cheese makes this cake moist throughout. I love making cakes using buttermilk, sour cream or mascarpone cheese, it adds a tang to it and balances out all the sweetness. Mascarpone cheese results in a more uniform and smooth texture, whereas sour cream and buttermilk gives a crumbly light result.

The glaze, oh can I tell you about this star-of-the-show glaze! Valrhona Caramélia chocolate simply melted down with warm cream and poured all over. We lovvvved the outpouring of chocolate when we broke the chocolate dam. That added drama and was so much fun.

Oh and if this ever happens, the cake remains moist even after 1 week!! (but chances are you would have devoured it way before.)

Ingredients
Espresso Chocolate cake

  • 300g soft brown sugar
  • 175g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3g (1 tsp) Heilala vanilla baking extract
  • 2 large eggs (size 7)
  • 110g almond meal
  • 200g plain flour
  • 80g cocoa powder (Valrhona)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2g (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 160g mascarpone cream cheese (Tatua Dairy)
  • 190ml hot coffee (2x Nespresso Envivo Lungo extractions, you will have 10ml left over)

Espresso Caramelia Milk Chocolate Glaze

  • 135g Valrhona Caramélia milk chocolate
  • 135ml cream (at least 36% fat)
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175C (fan forced) and lightly grease a bundt pan, careful to go into all the crevices.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat together the sugar and butter, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat for a few seconds to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each has been fully incorporated before adding the next.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and then add a third of it to the sugar/butter/eggs mixture. Add in half of the mascarpone cream. Add a third of the dry ingredients, then the second half of the mascarpone cream. Finally add the last third of the dry ingredients (The batter is thickish at this point).
  4. Mix in the hot coffee, until you have a smooth batter. Transfer the batter into the prepared bundt pan, smoothing out the top. Lightly tap the pan on a flat surface to ensure the batter has filled all the crevices.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45-50 minutes or until a long toothpick inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before upending it to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. For the glaze heat the cream in a pan and place the chocolate and coffee in a small pot with a pouring spout. When the cream begins to shimmer and before it boils (don’t let it boil as evaporation will reduce the liquid volume) pour it over the chocolate and coffee. Wait a few minutes before stirring, until the glaze becomes homogenous and is smooth and silky. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake, have some fun doing this! Slice and enjoy!

Espresso chocolate cake with Caramélia coffee glaze

Espresso chocolate cake with Caramélia coffee glaze