Category Archives: Recipes – Asian

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

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

Pork and chinese cabbage dumplings


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I have fond memories of a little J enjoying her first dumpling. She looked so surprised when she found tasty soup inside the thin wrappers and she cutely asked for more. It’s so pleasing to see this kiwi-born kid enjoying Asian cuisine as much as good o’ fish and chips.

Her favourite dumplings are pork and chinese cabbage filled. They require an extra step than their Pork and Chives cousin (check out that post and see how sweet J looks when she was a little younger).

Here, the Wong Bok (Chinese Cabbage) needs to be sliced, blanched in hot water and drained. Once cooled, I squeeze as much water out of them as I can. It will look like there is a huge amount of cabbage, don’t worry, it does reduce drastically in volume after blanching and a whole cabbage can indeed go into making 120 dumplings.

They are the perfect partner to beautiful pork mince, as their flavour is more neutral than chives, providing a clean tasting match. You also won’t feel the need to brush your teeth and gargle with mouthwash three times after eating them.

J and I enjoy this time together, wrapping the little parcels. Below are photos with her showing you how the pleating is done. (scroll to the bottom for the recipe itself).

They are perfect for freezing (on a tray, dusted with a bit of flour); boiling, steaming and pan frying. I have included two cooking methods in the recipe below. Now, time to roll up your sleeves and get ready to wrap!

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Pork and Chinese Cabbage filling

  • 1kg lean pork mince
  • 1 large Chinese Cabbage (Wong Bok)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp chicken stock powder
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp shao xhing wine (or sherry)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp corn flour
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Wraps

  • 2 packet of dumpling wrappers (120 pcs), these can be round or square shape. (Another post coming later with a recipe for the wrappers.)
  • Small bowl of water, for sealing
  • Extra flour, for dusting

Directions

  1. Mix all of the filling ingredients together and let it marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. In the mean time, take the dumpling wrappers out of the fridge and let it return to room temperature before starting to make the dumpling. They are more pliable i.e. if you are greedy you can fit more into each dumpling.
  3. Take a little spoonful of filling and place it in the middle of the wrapper.
  4. Dip your finger into the bowl of water and wet the edge of the wrapper.
  5. Fold the wrapper over the filling, forming a moon shape.
  6. Hold the dumpling in your left hand, like holding a taco.
  7. With your right index and middle fingers, flex the dough towards the left to form one pleat.
  8. Press the dough down together against your left thumb, which is just supporting the other side of the dumpling.
  9. Repeat 5 times. (There’s a short video on my Insta stories, under Recipes – Salty.)
  10. For boiled dumplings: Fill half of a large pot or saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. (note not to fill over two-thirds of the pot as you will be adding more water later on.) Add 1 tsp salt to the water and add 30 dumplings in, be careful not to over crowd the pot.
  11. When the water returns to a boil, pour in half a cup of cold water and wait for it to return to a boil. At this point, you add a second half cup of cold water. This is repeated until you have added water three times in total and the water has returned to a full boil. The dumplings are ready! Repeat to cook the rest of the dumplings, if not freezing for later.
  12. For pan fried dumplings: heat a large pan with 2 tsp of oil. When the pan is hot, place dumplings in, flat bottoms down, in a circular pattern. Cook on medium high for 1-2 minutes till the bottom is nicely crisp. Pour in hot water that goes to to a third of the height of the dumplings. Note: it will bubble like mad! Cover with lid and let it cook for 2-3 minutes in medium heat. Keep an eye on it to make sure the water hasn’t evaporated too quickly. Once the water has evaporated, a lattice skin will form on the bottom of the pan. Take it off the heat, and carefully place a plate over the dumplings. Flip the pan while holding the plate with the other hand so that the cooked dumplings are transferred over to the plate entirely, without breaking the lattice skin. (Imagine flipping an upside down cake on a plate.)
  13. Serve with chilli oil, a tiny bit of soy sauce, sesame oil and Chinese vinegar.

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The Wong Bok was kindly gifted by The Fresh Grower. Thank you!

Chinese Roast Pork with crispy crackling


Roast pork. Bao. Crispy crackling
Roast pork. Bao. Crispy crackling
The closest chinese roast meat shop is 30 mins of driving away. To get our roast pork fix, we have to plan ahead and go on weekends. 

There has to be a better way, I thought to myself. So I decided that I will make my own!

Ingredients:

  • 2kg pork belly
  • 3 tablespoon five spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 3 tablespoon shaoxhing wine
  • 1 cup salt (coarse or table, i used a mixture)

Method:

  1. Wash and use paper towels to dry the pork belly.
  2. Make some horizontal slits on the skin side of the pork.
  3. Rub the meat side with wine, the five spice and white pepper powder.
  4. Flip meat over and brush skin with some white vinegar.
  5. Leave overnight to dry in fridge. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 350F/180c, arrange a pan on the bottom 1/3 of oven rack and fill with water. Line a roast pan with foil and place the pork belly on a rack that fits this pan.
  7. Layer the top of the pork belly with the salt evenly.
  8. Place the pork belly at the bottom 1/3 of the oven and bake for 1 hour.
  9. Bake until the salt crust forms, the salt should be hardened. Check water in the pan below and add if needed.
  10. Remove the pork belly from the oven, pull off the salt crust and discard.
  11. Raise the heat of oven to 465f/240c, place the pork belly back in and roast for another 30 to 40 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes. Cut and serve immediately with some chilli sauce and hoisin sauce, or eat as is.

    Roast pork. Bao. Crispy crackling
    You should have left overs for lunch. What I really mean is you should make enough so that there are left overs, afterall you are going to have the oven on for an hour, so might as well make use of all that heat! 

    You can use the roasted pork belly in soup noodles, fried rice and stir fry dishes. I had them with some steamed baos for lunch the other day and they were soooo good. 😋

    Roast pork. Bao. Crispy crackling