Category Archives: Recipes – Bread & Breakfast

Easy Bagels


Bagels

Bagels

Bagels

As the markets are now closed due to the COVID19 lockdown, we haven’t been able to enjoy some of our favourite products for weeks. Specialty dumplings, sauerkraut, gozleme… and also bagels. I happen to have high grade flour, peacefully bought before the lockdown, so I set to work over Easter.

These didn’t require much work at all, and turned out pretty fun as well. Each proof was only a measly 20 minutes and a tiny amount of yeast was called for. Try make them bigger (into 6) or smaller (into 10) and that will serve as lunch or for snacking. A pretty good lockdown recipe I would say, considering how flour and yeast are such a hard-to-come-by-commodity at the moment.

I’ve played with 2 types of toppings here, a homemade ‘everything’ topping and one for the onion and cheese lovers. Feel free to scale up for future bagel action.

Ingredients

Makes 8

Dough

  • 3/4 tsp instant dried yeast
  • 240ml water, luke warm
  • 450g bread flour (also known as High Grade flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp maple syrup

Bi carb soak

  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • Large pot of water

Everything bagel sprinkle

  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds

Cheese sprinkle

  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese, grated

Method

  1. In a small bowl, add luke warm water and yeast and set aside.
  2. Add flour, salt, olive oil and maple syrup to a standmixer bowl. Add in the warm water with yeast. Mix together and then knead with a dough hock attachment for 5 minutes. The dough should be springy to the touch.
  3. Remove dough and divide into 8 pieces. Roll into smooth balls and cover with an oiled cling film. Leave to proof in a warm place for 20 minutes.
  4. Push a hole with your fingers through the middle of each ball, stretching as you go. This forms a dough ring.
  5. Cover with oiled cling film and let them proof for another 20 minutes in a warm place.
  6. Preheat the oven to 250C.
  7. Into a large pot of gently boiling water, add the baking soda.
  8. Place bagels, 3 at a time, into the bi carb soak. Cook each side for a minute. Remove and drain on a cooling rack.
  9. Sprinkle the bagel toppings on the bagels, pressing them in if you need to. Alternatively, you can place the sprinkle ingredients in a shallow bowl and dip the bagels in. You’ll need to beware of the heat though.
  10. Repeat until all bagels have had a soak and toppings added.
  11. Place bagels on a lined baking tray and bake for 8 minutes.
  12. Reduce the heat to 225C and bake for another 6 minutes.
  13. Cool on a wire rack. Serve with cream cheese, salted butter for breakfast or as a snack. These are freezable too!

Bagels

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕


Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

I have fond memories of making delicious food with my mum and grandmother around Chinese New Year. When making Turnip cake, Mum always put copious amounts of sausage and mushrooms and I got so used to that ratio, that I would snub other store- bought ones in favour of hers.

This is one of my favourite Chinese New Year celebration dishes. It’s not just for Chinese New Year though – you can have it year round and quite often at yum cha too.

The recipe says to chop and grate the turnip. The reason for this is purely for texture. You can really taste the sweet turnip with the thicker strips and the grated portion contributes to the overall sturdiness of the cake.

As the batter will be really sticky, I highly recommend cooking this in a non stick pan, rice cooker or even the pot of the pressure cooker, which is what I used. The clean up is so much easier!

Highly non-traditional, is the use of a sharp edged tray to cook these in. This is to facilitate equal sized pieces and hasten the preparation of all welcoming dishes before guests arrive. You can make them in many types of pans: round baking pans, rectangular loaf pans and if they are for gifting, make them in foil trays so they can be transported easily.

Wrap any left overs with food wrap and place in a sealed container. It will keep well refrigerated for up to 5 days.


Ingredients:
800g chinese Turnip 白蘿蔔
170g rice flour 粘米粉
30g wheat starch 澄麵
4 Chinese sausages (about 120g), diced
8 Chinese mushrooms 冬菇 (soaked 240g), diced
5 dried scallops 60g, chopped
2 shallots, diced
3/4 cup Chicken stock (I use Gault’s)

Instructions:

  1. Peel the skin off the turnip. Grate half into a bowl, and chop the rest into fine strips (around 0.5cm)
  2. Oil your steaming pans.
  3. Mix the flours in a bowl, set aside.
  4. In a hot pan, fry the diced sausages, mushroom and scallops for a few minutes, until fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Add a tablespoon of oil in the pan and fry the shallots until fragrant. Add turnip and cook for a few minutes, then add chicken stock, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the turnip is soft.
  6. Turn off the heat and add in flours in a quick motion. Stir to create a semi cooked batter. It should be thick and not watery.
  7. Add the cooked sausages, mushroom and scallop, stir to mix well (you can also reserve some of this cooked mixture and layer it on the top).
  8. Pour mixture into your oiled steaming pans and steam on high for 45 to 60 minutes. It’s done when there are no opaque batter when poked with a toothpick.
  9. Cool thoroughly for it to harden.
  10. Slice into 1 to 1.5 cm pieces and pan fry both sides till golden.
  11. Serve with sriracha hot sauce or XO sauce.

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

Chinese New Year cake 新年年糕


Chinese New Year cake

Chinese New Year cake

Chinese New Year cake

Chinese New Year is coming early this year (25 January 2020 instead of the usual February timeframe). With just a week before the first day of the Lunar New Year, I thought I’d better get some of the traditional celebration food items ready.

Now traditionally these steamed cakes are made in round pans, then cut into thin slices before the last bit of pan frying. I thought, since the end game is to have relatively similar sized pieces for ease of cooking, why don’t I use a rectangular loaf pan? That way I can cut pieces of the same size throughout, easily. Unconventional I know, with the use of a sharp-edged loaf pan, as the Chinese uses the round shape for its auspicious meaning of fulfillment, completeness and unity. I made a little round one to satisfy tradition but am not afraid to break from it.

These are sticky when it first comes out of the steamer; allow it to cool for a good few hours in the fridge to firm up. This will make it much easier to cut. It will look opaque when it is cold. Don’t fret: once pan fried, the cake softens, turns slightly transculent and is so moreish and lovely to eat. It’s not overly sweet either, and is the perfect sweet dish to serve any guests who come to wish you well/ “bai nin” 拜年.

I’ve shown the Chinese translation of some of the ingredients below, just in case you need it to find the right kind.

These cakes symbolizes a pay rise or promotion in the coming year. Happy New Year!

Ingredients:

  • 320g Glutinous flour 糯米粉
  • 115g Wheat starch 澄麵粉
  • 400ml water
  • 400g Chinese brown cane sugar (rectangular pieces) 片糖
  • 130ml coconut cream
  • 30g Rice Bran oil
  • Egg, beaten, for frying

Makes 1 large 6 inch cake or
1 small 4 inch and a bread loaf pan

Method:

  1. Sieve flours into a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a deep saucepan, add water and bring to a boil. Add sugar and dissolve. Add coconut cream and rice bran oil. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Add flours in small portions to the sugar syrup, all the while stiring. Ensure mixture is homogenous and lump free. If required, push mixture through a sieve to remove all lumps.
  4. Oil your choice of cake pan(s) and line with baking paper. Pour the cake mixture in and steam over a high heat till fully cooked, 65 to 75 minutes. I place a round steaming rack on the bottom of my wok, add hot water right up to the bottom of the pan and cover it with the lid to steam. Remember to check often and add hot water to the wok from time to time, to maintain the water level – be careful not to let the water run dry. Test with a skewer to ensure the centre isn’t watery.
  5. Remove from the steaming station to cool. Leave in the fridge to harden for a few hours. This will make it easier to slice.
  6. Slice into 1 cm thick pieces. Beat an egg in a bowl and dip each piece of steamed cake in the egg to coat.
  7. Pan fry both sides till golden and the cake has softened.

Chinese New Year cake

Hong Kong Steamed Rice Noodle Rolls, 豬腸粉


豬腸粉 steamed rice noodle rolls, Hong Kong style

豬腸粉 steamed rice noodle rolls, Hong Kong style

豬腸粉 steamed rice noodle rolls, Hong Kong style

Other than rice congee, the second item of food we always get after our flight back into Hong Kong, is rice noodles. Be it rice noodles rolls, simply served with a trio of sauces and sprinkling of sesame seeds (豬腸粉) or the steamed rice rolls at yum char with fillings such as prawns, beef mince/coriander/water chestnuts or char siu Chinese Bbq pork (蒸腸粉) . Both are made with a rice flour batter, creating thin sheets of noodles that are slightly elastic and bouncy.

Both are J’s favourite and I have promised her to write this recipe up for a while. It only took a week-long hospital stay for me to find the time to do so. Over the recent long weekend, we got to test it a few more times to make sure the quantities in the recipe are right. These reheat well and tastes just like the ones we have in Hong Kong!

Be sure to first figure out your steaming station and consider whether the size of the steaming dish will fit your steamer. Here’s a not so glamorous photo of my set up:

豬腸粉 steamed rice noodle rolls, Hong Kong style

Edit: I’ve also subsequently realised that all you need is a well-oiled tray. So lately I have ditched the baking paper lining when making these.

Ingredients (makes 6-7 rice noodles)

  • 120g rice flour 粘米粉
  • 15g wheat starch 澄麵
  • 45g cornstarch 粟粉
  • 520ml water
  • pinch of salt
  • 20ml neutral oil, such as rice bran

Instructions

  1. Set up your steaming station. Find a metal tray that fits into the wok, sitting on top of a steaming rack. Oil the tray (Edit: the baking paper is now proven redundant! line it with a piece of baking paper, with about 2 cm hanging over the tray on one side. Trim so that the paper sits flush to the edges of the other 3 sides.)
  2. Mix all the ingredients together. Whisk the batter until there are no lumps.
  3. With the water at a rolling boil, pour about 1/4 cup or just enough batter onto the lined tray (this depends on the size of your tray). Make sure it’s very thin, barely covering the bottom is just enough. Gently spread the batter into the corners of the tray as well.
  4. Steam for 3 minutes, covered.
  5. Remove the lid, and carefully, using a pastry scraper, roll the rice noodle sheet up from one end of the tray to the other. It’s easier if you hold the baking paper slightly taunt on one side with one hand and roll/push with the other towards the opposite direction. Place on a plate and keep warm. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
  6. If you are making filled rice noodles, place fillings in the first third section of the sheet and steam for 4 minutes. Remove the lid and roll the rice noodle sheet from the filling side. (for fillings that doesn’t need more cooking, like fried dough Yau Cha Guai, simply place the filling on the rice noodle sheet after the sheet is cooked. Roll the sheet with the filling inside.
  7. Cut them into shorter pieces. Drizzle with sweet soy sauce, hoisin sauce and most importantly, sesame sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional) and serve warm.

豬腸粉 steamed rice noodle rolls, Hong Kong style

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.