Category Archives: Recipes

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.

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

Spring onion pancakes


Chinese Spring onion pancakes 葱油餠

Sometimes we just crave simple food that brings back memories. For a simple meal, we often make rice congee and have stir fry noodles with it. The rice congee would take some time to prepare, in order for the rice grains to break down enough to be creamy. While that’s going, I can also prepare Spring Onion pancakes to go with the meal. They do not resemble the western pancakes though, as these are not light or fluffy. Instead, they are chewy and most definitely savoury in taste (you can also make sweet versions with red bean paste filling, another stunner!).

By bringing back this oldie, I’m creating memories with my daughter too. J loves rolling these out, and have recently discovered via the Woks of Life a shortcut to these crispy delights: using round store-bought wonton pastry, create 6 layer stacks of pastry, oil, salt and spring onions. Roll these out and pan fry on a dry pan. Super quick and I hope that she will remember these and make them in the future, be it traditional way or the shortcut!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp Sesame Oil for the pancakes
  • 2 tsp fine salt
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • Rice bran oil for the pan

Dough Instructions

  1. Mix flour with water until it forms a smooth dough. Knead by doubling the dough over and pressing it down repeatedly, until the dough is shiny, smooth and very elastic. Coat this ball of dough lightly in oil and put it back in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rest for about 30 minutes.
  2. Finely chop the spring onion. (I use both the green tops and the white parts.) Set them on your work surface along with a small bowl of salt.
  3. Time to roll out the dough – Cut the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll out one part of the dough on the board. Roll until it is a thin rectangle at least 20 x 15 cm.
  4. Lightly brush the surface of the dough with sesame oil, then sprinkle it evenly with chopped spring onions and salt.Chinese Spring onion pancakes
  5. Starting from the long end, roll the dough up tightly, creating one long log of rolled-up dough.
  6. Cut the dough log into two equal parts.
  7. Take one of these halves, coil into a round dough disc. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes and ideally longer, while you repeat this process with the rest of the dough.Chinese Spring onion pancakes
  8. With you hands, press down a rolled dough disc into a flat, smooth, round pancake. Flatten it further by rolling with a rolling pin.Chinese Spring onion pancakes
  9. Chinese Spring onion pancakes
  10. Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Place the pancake dough in the dry pan and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes.
  11. Flip the pancake over and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes on the other side, or until golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the pancake dough rolls.

To Serve
Cut the pancake into wedges with a sharp knife, and serve immediately. Serve with your usual dumpling sauce (soy and vinegar).

Recipe Notes
Oils: This recipe calls for oil in two different places: Once to make the filling, and once to fry the pancakes. For the filling, any neutral oil will do, but tasters (and I!) prefer sesame oil.

Make-Ahead Tip: If you would like to make a few pancakes but save the rest for later, you can save the dough in the fridge for up to 3 days and in the freezer. Just make sure the dough is oiled and well-covered. You can also roll out individual pancakes and stack them between well-oiled layers of baking paper.

Chinese Spring onion pancakes 葱油餠

Choux Au Craquelin


Choux Au craquelin

Let me just start by saying choux pastry isn’t as difficult as you perceive it to be. It’s just science – eggs, fat and water doing its thing when heated, evaporating and expanding. I love watching it through the oven glass, seeing it rise and expand (time lapse anyone?) effortlessly and with such grace. I’ve used the same choux pastry recipe for many many years, and it works every time. Even before I had my Kitchenaid. It was always a one bowl action and me beating the eggs in vigorously to incorporate it into the batter. Usually they are piped into little domes for petite treats on a dessert platter, filled with whipped cream, or one time when I wanted a large dessert display but didn’t want to make macarons, a croquembouche tower.

What’s changed here is the addition of a cookie crumble layer that closely resembles the skin of Hong Kong style pineapple bun. After our second night in a row having the same dessert, we agreed that this is the best dessert of 2019 (well two months in): ice cream in choux au craquelin puff: crunchy, fluffy, sweet and creamy alllll in the one bite. So simple and yet so heavenly! I love the craquelin, creating this sweet crumble hat on top of the choux, allowing it to rise evenly (honestly have you ever seen choux that are this round in shape?)

The best thing about these puffs are that once made, you can easily store them in the freezer, and refresh them in the oven for 5 minutes before your next round. Our ice cream selection today is the Appleby Farms Ipanema Coffee, so dreamy.

Post-publish note: Erin noted our recipes were very similar and I must say this is pure coincidence! My choux pastry recipe dates back 20+ years (with tweaks here and there) and the Craquelin recipe is a scaled up version from one I had in a pastry class, similar to the HK tiger skin on breads for pineapple buns. In the interest of full transparency, you can find her recipe on her cloudy kitchen website.

Choux Au craquelin

Craquelin

  • 100g unsalted butter, soft (room temperature) and cubed
  • 120g brown sugar
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Choux Pastry (same for puffs or éclairs)

  • 125g full fat milk
  • 125g water
  • 100g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 5g vanilla bean paste
  • a pinch of salt
  • 20g sugar (omit if you prefer a neutral flavour choux to make way for a sweeter filling)
  • 160g plain flour
  • 240g eggs, lightly beaten (this equates to about 4.5 size 7 eggs which are about 55g each. I beat them in two bowls, one with 4 eggs and the other with 1 egg. You will see why in the instructions following)

Making craquelin

  • Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat all ingredients on medium until combined.
  • Tip the dough onto a large piece of baking paper, and place a second sheet over it. Flatten dough and roll out to 2mm in thickness.
  • Place the baking paper-sandwiched dough in the freezer for an hour, or until ready to use (this step can be done in advance of baking day).

Making the choux pastry

  • Preheat a convection oven to 190 °C. Place milk, water, butter and pinch of salt into a medium size saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, till the butter melts completely. Take pan off the heat, and immediately add, all at once, the plain flour, and mix vigorously with a spatula or wooden spoon. Mix till there are no lumps of flour visible and the dough is smooth and shiny.
  • Return to a low heat and cook for another minute to dry the dough slightly. The dough should pull away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan should be clean. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or a bowl if using a hand held mixer).

Adding the eggs

  • Beat the dough (while still hot) and add in the main lot of eggs in a stream. It is important to gradually pour the eggs into the mixture, and allow it to be incorporated before adding more.
  • After you’ve added the first lot of eggs (4 eggs) stop the mixer and check the consistency. At this point, the batter should still be too stiff. The batter would not stretch down like a V shape before breaking off. Slowly add half of the 5th egg (your second bowl of whisked egg), which should be just enough to bring it to the right stretchy texture. If not, then add a bit more from what’s left of the 5th egg.

Choux Au craquelin

Note: To save time, I often prepare the pastry to this step a day in advance. On baking day, leave in room temperature for at least 10 minutes before piping.

Piping

  • Fill batter to three quarters of a piping bag with has a large round tip fitted (or just use snip the ends off the piping bag and use without a tip). Pipe large round domes, 58mm (2 1/4 inch) size rounds, matching the cookie cutter size for your craquelin discs. I can fit 12 on my standard sized baking sheet. There should be enough to pipe 2 sheets full.

Choux Au craquelin

  • Take the sheet of craquelin from the freezer and peel off the top piece of baking paper. Using a cookie cutter, cut 24 discs. Place a craquelin disc on top of each dome just before baking.

Choux Au craquelin

  • Bake at 190°C for 18 minutes and switch the trays around for even baking. It should be all puffed and golden (don’t be tempted to open the oven door before it rises). Reduce oven heat to 175°C and bake a further 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown all around (if your oven produces beautifully even heat throughout, and the puffs aren’t too brown when you check at this point, you can probably keep it cooking at 190°C throughout. My 1994 recipe says that but my current oven is on the hot side, hence the reduction in temperature half way).
  • Remove from the oven and cut a small vent in the side of each puff using a sharp knife to release some of the steam. Cool on a cooling rack.

Choux Au craquelin

  • When completely cool, cut the puffs from the earlier slit you’ve made to three quarters of the way, so that the lid still attaches to the bottom of the puff.
  • Fill with a scoop of your favourite ice cream and serve immediately.
  • Alternatively, fill with whipped chocolate ganache (like a creameux) and fresh whipped cream.

Choux Au craquelin

Choux Au craquelin