Archive of ‘Recipes’ category

Strawberry Red Bean Mochi

Strawberry Red Bean Mochi_cover

These are amazing. Strawberries, wrapped in red bean paste (azuki bean paste), wrapped in mochi. It sounds hard, but its like super duper duper easy. Its like wrapping presents, strawberry presents resembling pretty little snowballs. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium sized strawberries
  • 180g Cooked red beans and 2 Tbsp Canola oil OR 150g red bean paste
  • 100g glutinous rice flour OR 95g Mochiko rice flour and 5g corn starch
  • 20g sugar (preferably caster sugar)
  • 150ml water
  • 25g corn starch for dusting

Non-Food things:

  • Fine sieve
  • Scale
  • Rubber spatula
  • Large bowl
  • Shallow pan

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Okay, I started by turning my cooked red beans into red bean paste. I asked my local Taiwanese tea shop for some cooked red beans because I didn’t want to bother cooking them myself. By the time I decide I need red beans or red bean paste, I have no patience to soak and cook a batch of red beans. So I got about some in a to-go cup. Yay for shortcuts.

I poured the red beans into a fine sieve and smashing the red beans through with the back of a spoon. I wanted to keep the red bean skins out of the paste so I’d get a smooth paste. I used the same spoon to scrape the paste off the back of the sieve and collected it in a small bowl.

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This paste comes out too liquidy to use for wrapping strawberries, so to create true red bean paste, fried up the paste in a pan using canola oil. This helps evaporate the liquid and works some fat into paste to help it solidify.

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I fried it up until the red bean resembled a runny-ish paste. Since its super hot, it won’t solidfy quite yet but it will look more paste-y than before frying. I transferred the hot paste back into the bowl, covered it in plastic wrap, and let it sit in the freezer to cool.

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While the red bean paste was chilling in the freezer, I prepped the strawberries. I washed and cut off the leafy stuff off the tops of the strawberries. I just cut it off with a knife to get a flat base. I also patted them as dry as possible with a paper towel.

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These kinda made me want to eat them. I held out for something better. I pulled the red bean paste out of the freezer after about 45 minutes, mixed it up, and divided it into 6 equal blobs about 20g each.

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Next, I took one blog and put it in my hand and smashed it into a round pancake about the size of my hand.

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I placed the strawberry in the center and wrapped the red bean up around the sides of the strawberry, making sure to leave the tip of the strawberry uncovered.

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It takes some finagling but just work the paste around the strawberry with the palms of your hands to try and get even coverage around the strawberry.

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I set these aside (don’t they kinda look like chocolate dipped strawberries?) and began working on the mochi. This is way less daunting than you think and its done in the microwave. Its crazy how easy this is.

I didn’t have glutinous rice flour, but I had rice flour (Mochiko) on hand. After some Googling, I found out that you can add some corn starch to make it glutinous rice flour, but had no instructions on what the ratio should be. How annoying. I guessed and went with 5g of cornstarch to 95g of rice flour. It worked. Lucky me.

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Okay, to this mixture, I added 20g of caster sugar. I opted for caster sugar or baking sugar because I wanted to make sure the mochi wouldn’t be grainy from regular granulated sugar. I used a fork (because I have no whisk) and mixed up all the ingredients.

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Tip: I do this on my scale (zero-ing out the scale between ingredients) and I love doing it this way. WAY less measuring cups and its so easy to just pour ingredients in. Also, you get WAY more accurate measurements.

Next, I added the water in three parts. Usually I’m pretty impatient about this and end up dumping all the liquid in at once, but for some reason I did it in three parts like the recipe said and I’m glad I did. Why? Because you get tons of lumpies and this helps you work in the liquid and minimizing lumpies. Here’s a series of water additions:

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Mix thoroughly between additions. Look! No lumpies!

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This next part was super weird to me when I read the instructions. Trust me. It works. Just go with it.

I took a wet paper towel (wrung out for extra water) and placed it over the bowl. I popped it into the microwave on high for 60 seconds.

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I uncovered the mixture, and mixed it up thoroughly with a spatula I dipped in water. Its significantly gooey-er so the wet spatula keep sit from sticking.

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After thoroughly mixing, I recovered it with the wet paper towel and put it back into the microwave for another 60 seconds on high.

It comes out even gooey-er than before.

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Again, dip the spatula in water and mix it up. I had to re-wet my paper towel this time around. I covered the bowl and popped it back into the microwave, only for 30 seconds on high this time.

Voila. Mochi.

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I transferred the mochi from the bowl onto a plate dusted with corn starch and rolled the ball in it to make it unsticky. Sticky mochi is SUPER hard to work with. You will see. I also divided the big blob up into 6 pieces. I eyeballed this.

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I covered my hand with corn starch and picked up a blog. You might need to re-dust your hand with cornstarch. I did. This stuff is SOOOO sticky. I stretched the mochi out into a circle-ish shape and placed the red bean paste covered strawberry in the center.

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I picked up one side of the mochi and stretched it over the tip of the strawberry.

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Repeat until the strawberry is covered in mochi. I pinched all the pieces together at the top. This takes some practice, but it gets easier.

Tip: Keep your hands and everything dusted in cornstarch at all times. Sticky mochi leads to disaster.

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Here’s what it looks like cut open.

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It was SO good. Om nom nom nom.

Egg Tarts

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I love going to dim sum, particularly because I can’t wait for dessert: egg tarts (dan ta). I can’t resist the buttery, flaky crust with the sweet jello-y custard filling inside. The worst thing that could ever happen on a trip to dim sum is not getting any egg tarts! Happened to me a few weeks ago, so I started searching for a recipe so I wouldn’t be a slave to weekend dim sum restaurants and the crowds. I made a few adjustments to the recipe I found and here’s what I used:

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour + 1/4 cup for flouring surfaces
  • 1 3/4 Sticks of Cold Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Egg Yolks (egg whites used for custard filling)
  • 1/4 cup  Cold Water

Custard Filling:

  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 3 Eggs + 2 Egg Whites (egg yolks used in crust)
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Non-Food:

I started with the pastry crust which requires two types of dough, a butter-based dough and a water-based dough. This gives it the layered flaky crust that is SO worth it. To start the butter dough, I cut the cold (super important that its cold!!!) butter into cubes. Sometimes I like to use European butter because its even fattier than regular. I placed that into the food processor with 1 cup of All-Purpose flour and processed until it became a solid pasty mass of goop that somewhat resembled dough.

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I scooped the contents out of the food processor onto plastic wrap and wrapped it up and molded it into a 1- 1-1/2″ square shape and placed it into the fridge to chill for 15 min.

Next, I washed out the food processor to start on the water-based dough. I started by separating two eggs and placing the yolks into the food processor and reserving the whites for the custard filling later. Next, I added 1/4 cup of ice cold water and 1 cup of All-Purpose flour. I processed this until it formed a ball of dough.

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If the dough doesn’t come together and looks like a meal-y texture, add 1/2 a tsp of water at a time until it comes together into a dough. Since the weather here in LA is SUPER dry, I had to add about 2 extra tsp of water.

Once the dough formed, I floured a cutting board to roll out the water-based dough about 1/4″ thick.

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I took the butter-based dough square and placed it in the center of the rolled out water-based dough and folded the sides of the water-based dough around the square, forming a nice little package.

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I turned the folded side down and rolled the whole thing out into a rectangular shape. I folded the dough into thirds to start layering the two different doughs to form the flaky pastry. I placed the folded dough into plastic wrap and placed it into the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.

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Note: It is super important to ensure the pastry stays cold, otherwise the layers melt into each other and the dough won’t be flaky anymore!

After 15 minutes in the fridge, I removed the dough and rolled it out again. This time, I folded the two sides of the dough towards the center, then folded the entire thing in half to form 4 layers. I placed the dough back into the plastic wrap and into the fridge for another 15 minutes.

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Next, I removed the dough from the fridge, rolled out the dough, folded the dough into fourths again. I brought the two sides into the center then folded the whole thing in half. I placed the dough back into the fridge to chill for another 15 minutes.

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Note: Make sure to flour the cutting board and rolling pin to make sure the dough doesn’t stick.

After the 15 minute in the fridge, the dough was ready to be rolled out. I took the dough out of the plastic wrap, and rolled it out about 1/4 inch thick. I used a cookie cutter (slightly larger than the egg tart molds) and cut out about 16 circles.

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It pained me to waste all the other dough so I layered the scraps together, rolled it out, and cut out another 4 circles.

I placed each circle into the egg tart mold and pressed gently on the bottoms then slightly on the sides and gently worked the dough up to the edge of the mold.

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To make sure the bottoms stayed flat, I pricked the bottoms with a fork 3 times in each mold.

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Now time for the custard. I started by making some simple syrup. I just used 1/2 cup of hot water and mixed it with 1/3 cup of granulated sugar. I mixed it up until all the sugar was dissolved and set it aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, I cracked 3 eggs and added the reserved egg whites, 1 cup of milk and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. I mixed it up with a fork (I actually don’t own a regular whisk…), then slowly added the cooled simple syrup mixture.

At this point, I preheated the oven to 400º F.

I poured the mixture through a sieve to make sure there were no lumps. Then I poured the custard mixture into each of the egg tart molds, leaving 1/8″ of room at the top.

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I placed the molds into a cake pan to catch any spills and to easily place the tarts into the oven. You can use a sheet pan as well.

I placed the tarts into the oven and baked for 30 minutes. Bake time can range from 25-30 minutes.

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The egg tarts will be slightly jiggly, but the custard will not stick to your fingers if you touch the surface. Let it cool 2-3 minutes and remove the tarts from the molds to cool on a wire rack. The tarts pop right out of the molds. You saw how much butter went into the crust.

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Serve hot or store in the fridge and bake at 400º for 6-7 minutes before serving.

I had some extra custard left and poured it into a souffle dish and baked it off with the rest of the egg tarts. I found my creme brulee torch and sprinkled some sugar on the custard after it came out of the oven and caramelized the sugar on top. It was SO GOOD.

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Chinese Egg Dumplings

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My mother in law makes these Chinese egg dumplings and they are SO GOOD. So every so often, I park my self at my in-law’s house, specifically in the kitchen, and try to learn a few things. Seriously, it seems like food just appears like magic in the house because if you turn around for one second, all the food is cooked and no more cooking lesson. So it took me a few tries to learn how to make these, but it was worth it. Super soft and tender egg wrapped pork dumplings (instead of a traditional dough wrapper) which is cooked with some napa cabbage to make a stewy flavorful meal.

Ingredients:

  • 5 Eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 lb Ground Pork (not lean!)
  • 1 Tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Shao Shing Cooking Wine
  • 1/2 tsp Minced Ginger
  • 2 Tbsp Water
  • 6 Tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 1 Head of Napa Cabbage (about 15-20 pieces)

Non-Food Things/Tools:

  • Wok
  • Pan
  • Cooking Spatula
  • 2 Spoons
  • 2 Mixing Bowls

I started by prepping the napa cabbage. Basically, breaking apart the leaves, rinsing, and draining. I set those aside for later.

Next, I put the ground pork into a bowl. Use a fattier ground pork. None of that lean stuff. Begin rant: Vons only carries 95% lean ground pork. That’s it AND they wouldn’t grind any of it for me because it would taint their beef grinder. Get it together Vons. I went to my local Asian grocery store and got double the amount of meat (and probably 4x the fat) for 1/2 the price. End rant.

Chinese Egg Dumplings_01

 

Next, I mixed in the soy sauce, cooking wine, water, and minced ginger. Mix thoroughly because you don’t want to take a bite into a huge chunk of ginger. Blech. I actually had to measure all this stuff out myself. This recipe was described to me in as “put in some ginger”, “cap full of cooking wine”, and “oh, put some water”.

Note: I think you can substitute the cooking wine with a dry sherry (or so I’ve seen in other Chinese recipes). You can usually find this stuff now in the ethnic food aisle in the grocery store (even Vons, amazingly).

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In a separate bowl, I cracked 3 eggs (then added 2 more when I ran out of egg mixture) and added 1/2 tsp of salt. I beat the eggs and salt together until…the eggs were beaten?

Chinese Egg Dumplings_06

 

Now all the pieces were prepped and I began assembling the egg dumplings. This process took process finessing so I’ll try to give you all the tips I can.

First, I coated the bottom of a pan with some cooking oil. I use canola oil. Any flavorless oil will do.

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I turned the heat to med-low and let the oil heat up for a minute or two. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the egg won’t spread. If its too hot, it’ll burn before you’re done assembling the dumpling. The burning part totally happened to me.

So, I got very little instruction on how much egg to use for each dumpling. Apparently, if you’re super good at doing this, you can make zillions of dumplings per egg. I am definitely not that good. I used about 1.5 Tbsp of egg mixture per dumpling. That’s about 1 1/2 Chinese soup spoons worth. I used them because that’s what my mother in law used and I thought I could channel her dumpling making ninja skills. (Semi-worked).

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About 5 seconds after the egg hits the pan, It should look kinda like this. You can use the spoon the help spread the egg into an oblong circular shape. The top side should be mostly uncooked.

I scooped about a scant tablespoon of the meat mixture on one edge of the egg.

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Then, I used a spatula to fold one end over. Once the egg cooks, it fuses the dumpling together. This takes about 3 seconds and then I removed the dumplings onto a plate. The pork will be mostly if not completely raw.

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I repeated this process until I got through all the meat mixture. You may need to add more oil to the pan after every 3-4 dumplings. It looks like a mass of not that appetizing scrambled eggs, but don’t worry. It’s going to be SO GOOD.

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Next, I began assembly to cook the dumplings. I used a wok and coated the bottom with cooking oil.

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I lined the bottom of the pan with half the napa cabbage leaves. You have to use napa cabbage. It’s what gives the dish its awesome soupy goodness and flavor. If you really have to, you can use regular cabbage, but its just not going to be nearly as good.

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Next, I slid all the egg dumplings onto the napa cabbage bed in a single-ish layer.

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Next, I covered the dumplings with the other half of the napa cabbage. I essentially made a napa cabbage cocoon for my dumplings. They kinda steam inside which I think is why the meat stays so tender.

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I lightly sprinkled some salt on top and put a lid on the wok.

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I turned the heat on to medium and let it simmer for 20 minutes. The napa cabbage cooks down and creates a soupy liquid flavored by the porky drippings from the dumplings. Om nom nom nom nom.

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I mixed it up and made sure all the dumplings were cooked through, then transferred to a bowl. We eat family style so everyone gets a bowl of rice and scoops some egg dumpling delicousness on top to eat.

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