Category Archives: Recipes – Asian

Peking duck with Chinese pancakes


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This is the cheats way to a Peking duck dish. I didn’t make the roast duck – I bought it. I really don’t have the time to make the roast duck and when these are so readily available, how could I not buy them instead? The time saved could be used to make another batch of macarons or, watch a movie with J! Equally pleasurable. The pancakes are a totally different story. These should be homemade. The aroma of the pancakes cooking will draw everyone to the kitchen and they will wait at their seats patiently, for you to say, ‘Dinner time!’ or in Chinese ‘Sik Fan la!’

This recipe will make about 30 smallish pancakes. Here’s how:

340g plain flour
240ml boiling water
1 tbsp sugar

Combine plain flour and sugar in a bowl. Add hot water gradually to the flour, stirring with a fork as you go.

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Keep pouring and mixing with a fork until the mixture starts to get sticky.

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Bring the mixture together with your hands. Knead the dough on the countertop until the dough is not sticky anymore, and feels elastic.
Add more flour/water as required (you shouldn’t need to!) It should end up quite smooth and elastic and non-sticky.

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Cover with a wet tea towel, and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

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Cut your dough in half. Roll out the first half on a floured surface to about 3-4mm thick and cut with large round cookie/ pastry cutters. Gather the off-cuts together, re-roll, and re-cut until all the dough has been cut, including the other half.

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Lay out all the dough circles on a baking sheet, and brush the tops of every other circle with sesame oil.

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Sandwich each pair together, with the sesame oil inside.

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Roll out each pair as thin as you can – don’t worry about it sticking, it just won’t because of the oil which makes it elastic and very flexible.

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Heat a pan on medium heat, pick up the rolled out pancake, and lay it into the dry pan. You should be able to place two pancakes in the pan at the same time,
It will start to bubble within 30 seconds. Not like a eggy pancake, but you will see the pancake rise in places.

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Turn it over and cook the other side. Once you see nice brown spots on it, they are done! It will take about 45 seconds for each side.

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Lift out, and place on a plate and let it rest for about a minute before carefully peeling the two paired pancakes by running your finger between them to break the seal, let the steam escape, and then carefully peel the top pancake from the bottom pancake.

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Finished pancakes

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How the inside looks like of a paired pancake

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They look quite inviting with the irregular shapes.

20120503-215418.jpgA quick tip: get yourself into a bit of a pattern while making them:
1) roll out 2 pancakes pairs
2) place in hot pan to cook
3) roll out 2 more pancakes pairs
4) flip first 2 pancakes pairs, wait 30 seconds for it to cook
5) remove from pan and set aside
6) place second lot of pancake pairs in hot pan to cook
7) roll out third lot of pancake pairs
8) flip second pancake pairs (and now you are at the point where you starting repeating these actions)
9) tease apart the first lot of cooked pancake pairs which had been set aside in step 5).
10) remove second pancake pairs from pan (8) and set aside
11) place third lot of pancake pairs in hot pan…

So essentially you move between your board, the pan and the plate with the cooked pancakes.
Once you get into a pattern, it will take no time to finish them all, and they will look identical in colour.

The duck and condiments
The hero of this dish is the duck, so don’t carve into it too early or risk draining the wonderful juices that are inside.
I have to admit I don’t like to eat the visible fat that lines the duck skin, so when slicing I would try to remove as much of them as possible.
I removed the legs and wings first, so that I have a wider surface to carve the skin and meat from (traditionally only the skin is eaten! The meat is reserved to make a secondary dish, like Sang Choy Bow, but I like the meat in these pancakes so I would carve the meat out along with the skin).
Chop cucumber and spring onions into similar sized lengths, usually the length of your finger, and put some Hoisin sauce in a small dish for serving.

To assemble, you pick up a piece of the pancake. Spread a little spoonful of hoisin sauce on it and place a piece of duck on. Top with some cucumber and spring onion slices, and roll it up tight. The gorgeous smell of the flour pancake mixed with the duck is purely addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, so make you make enough for everyone.
Give it a try, this is a fun dish!

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Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad


I LOVE Vietnamese food. I can’t seem to get enough of it. On our last Christmas trip to Hong Kong we went for Vietnamese lunches for not once, not twice, but at least four times (mum correct me if I am wrong but that is all the photos are showing.) I’ve got to do something about that – make it at home!. This here is admittedly a summer dish – light and refreshing is what it is, so it wasn’t particularly fitting for a cold autumn dinner. It didn’t stop us from eating it all though, as it was so delicious!

The ingredients you need are relatively simple:

Ingredients

300g Rump or Sirloin beef, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, juliened
1 cup of bean sprouts
a handful of mint leaves
1/4 cup crushed roasted peanuts
1/3 red capsicum, sliced
1 sping onion, juliened
2 stalks of lemon grass, whites only
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp corn flour

Sauce

4 tbsp Fish sauce
4 tbsp palm sugar, shaved
2 tbsp shao xhing wine (or sherry)
juice of 2 limes

Instructions

Marinate the beef with the lemon grass, fish sauce and corn flour for 30 minutes.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and place the rice noodles in. Cook for 3-5 minutes, check to make sure they are cooked (and not over! Cooking times will vary with different brands, so always test it.) Drain and rinse in cool water. Drain again and set aside.

Heat the wok and add about 1 tbsp oil. Quickly stir fry the beef until it has just cooked (about 1 minute). Remove from pan and set aside.

Mix the bean sprouts, cucumber, spring onions and capsicum in a bowl.

Using tongs, pick up some rice noodles and place them on the bottom of a bowl or the centre of a plate. Place a handful of the vegetables on top, add some beef slices, some freshly torn mint leaves and a sprinkle of crushed peanuts.

Place the sauce in small bowls for each person to pour over the noodles.

Easy peasy! Are you making this today?

Chinese pickle – turnip, carrot and cucumber


Sushi has become a very common choice for meals these days, for its multitude of flavours and healthy ingredients (perhaps not so the fried pork cutlet with layers of fat-ladden mayo).
Surprisingly, J doesn’t like sushi and I still haven’t figured out exactly why. With her new found love for prawns, I might try a prawn salad filling next time to tempt her. Except she might unpick the whole thing and eat just the prawns. Well that will be an entirely different post and I digress.
One evening I served an extra dish of scallop sushi – bought from Sushi Pac as a reward for S – and J frowned and asked me what the pink coloured slices on the side of the box were.
“They are ginger slices, pickled in vinegar.” and J replied,
“Oh life can be a real pickle, eh?” I was stunned! Where did she pick this up from? So I ask,
“Who taught you this?”
“er…Linda!” (her teacher at childcare)
“Do you know what it means?”
“Yes it means sometimes, some things shouldn’t break, you know, but some things then break! We don’t know what to do. That’s a pickle!” she said a matter of factly.

I was made speechless by that explanation, and was inspired to make some pickled turnip, carrot and cucumber.

Ingredients
600g turnip (about half of a large one) – in Chinese it is called ‘white carrot’
2 carrots
1 small cucumber
2 tbsp salt
750 ml apple cidar vinegar
2 3/4 cups sugar

Peel the carrots and cut them into logs: about finger-length and half centimeter by half centimeter wide. Half the cucumber lengthwise and scoop the seeds out and discard. Cut the cucumber into same size as the carrots. Sprinkle about 2 tbsp of salt over the vegetables and gently massage it in. This draws the moisture content out and makes a nice crunchy pickle. Leave this in a colander to drain for 30 minutes.

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In the mean time, pour the apple cider vinegar into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add sugar in, stir to dissolve it. Turn off the heat and let it cool.

Give the vegetables a good firm squeeze and use paper towels to dry them further. Put these in a large glass jar, and pour the cooled pickle solution in. Leave overnight in fridge.

Serve with anything really. After all, you never know what kind of pickle life is going to throw at you.

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Chinese Poached Chicken


This is a dish where most of the cooking is done without spending too much time in front of the stove. You can work on your other dishes while this is cooking. Yes you have a bit of chopping and tearing to do in the end, but to me it is time well spent for a healthy, delicious and succulent dish. Chicken cooked like this remains very moist and tender. J loves this.

Ingredients:
1 size 14 whole chicken
2 litres chicken stock
2 teaspoon salt
8 whole black peppercorns
1 stalk of green onions, chopped into finger long lengths
5 slices of ginger
Enough water to cover the chicken

Dipping Sauce:
5 Tbsp oil
2 stalks of green onions, chopped into small thin rounds
4 slices of ginger, chopped into small pieces
3 tsp salt

Garnish (optional):
Cucumber ribbons
Coriander
Spring onions
Garlic chilli sauce
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Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking and cooling time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Instructions:

1. Place the chicken, chicken stock, salt, peppercorns, green onions, ginger in a large stockpot and set it over high heat. Add enough water to cover the chicken.
2. Bring this to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer, and cook for about 1 hour until the chicken is still very tender. Skim the surface of any foam. (If you own a Thermos cooker, then you would bring this to a boil for 5 minutes, take it off the heat and place it in the outer shell of the Thermos cooker for an hour).
3. Remove the chicken and place in a large bowl. Chill it with cold water. Replace water a few times until the chicken has cooled down.
4. Once the chicken is cool to the touch, set it in a large bowl.
5. If you don’t like eating chicken skin, gently remove it and discard.
6. Remove the wings and drums off. Reserve for plating.
7. Tease the two breasts off the bones – they should come off quite easily if the chicken is cooked. (If there are any signs of an undercooked chicken, you can put the whole chicken in the microwave for a short 30 seconds to finish the cooking process.) Set aside.
8. Continue to remove all the meat off the bones. Discard all bones.
9. Slice the chicken meat into thin pieces. Plate up with wings and drums on the side.
10. Make your dipping sauce by heating the oil in a small pan. Add the chopped green onions, ginger and salt. Fry until it is fragrant, about 1 minute.
11. Pour this into a dipping sauce dish, and serve with chicken.
12. Best served with hot rice and optional garnish of cucumber ribbons, coriander, extra spring onions and hot chilli sauce.

Dumplings with Pork and chinese chives


I haven’t always made macarons. Believe it or not, I cook more savory dishes than sweet! When I feel stressed and in need to do something to relax, I make dumplings*. It’s quite therapeutic really, mixing ingredients and wrapping the little parcels of joy. I think it is the repetitive nature of the process, that calms me down and allows my thinking brain a rest.

Today J will demo for you how these are made.

Pork and Chinese chives filling
400g lean pork mince
100g fatty pork mince
1 large bunch of Chinese chives
1 egg
2 tsp chicken stock powder
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp shao xhing wine ( or sherry)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp corn flour
1 tbsp sesame oil

wraps
1 packet of dumpling wrappers (60 pcs), these can be round or square shape.
Small bowl of water, for sealing
Extra flour, for dusting

Mix all of the filling ingredients together and let it marinate for 20 minutes.
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.

Take a little spoonful of filling and place it in the middle of the wrapper.

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Dip your finger into the bowl of water and wet the edge of the wrapper.

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Fold the wrapper over the filling, forming a moon shape.
Pinch the edges of the dumpling to seal it off (there are many ways of pinching the dumplings, however this is the easiest way, at least for J.)

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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 the dumplings in, be careful not to over crowd the pot.

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!

Serve with chilli paste, soy sauce and/ or Chinese red vinegar.

* It is very possible that next time I feel like doing something repetitive, I will be making macarons!