Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Glutinous rice balls with grounded peanuts or "Sii Yang"

When I was little, I used to spend a lot of times at my godmother's house. She cooks very well and I love to watch her cook. She makes these glutinous rice balls for all sorts of occasions like weddings, funerals, chinese new years, winter solstice, and etc. She used to grind up her own glutinous rice flour using soaked glutinous rice with a stone mill behind her house. As a child I find that fascinating to watch. Of course, I couldn't wait to eat her glutinous rice balls since they are always melt in your mouth smooth.

Ingredients for rice balls:-
1 cup of glutinous rice flour (must be glutinous, any other kind will not work)
1/2 cup water + 2 cups of water for boiling rice balls
2 tsps of granulated sugar

Ingredients for ground peanuts:-
4 ounces of  raw, peeled peanuts 
3 tbsps of granulated sugar

1. Roast peanuts in a medium frypan over very low heat for 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent peanuts from burning. Set aside and let cool. Once cooled, pulse peanuts in a food processor until fine. Add sugar and mix well. Pour grounded peanuts onto a plate when rice balls are ready to be coated. Otherwise, store them in an airtight container for later use.

2. Boil 2 cups of water in medium saucepan over high heat. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, mix rice flour and sugar with 1/2 cup of water and knead dough until smooth. Take half of the dough and roll into 1 inch thick log. Divide and cut log into 10 pieces, each piece about 1 inch in diameter. Place one piece of dough in between you palms and roll into a ball. Set aside on a plastic film lined tray and repeat with remaining dough. Makes about 20 marble-sized rice balls.

3. Place rice balls into the boiling water and cook until they floats to the surface. Using a strainer, scoop and drain the rice balls before placing them onto the plate with grounded peanuts. Make sure all the rice balls are thoroughly coated with grounded peanuts before serving. Best eaten while hot.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Slow cooker "Buddha jumping over the wall"

As Chinese New Year approaches, I feel the urge to make something traditional like this soup. I've never had the real "buddha jumping of the wall" soup, also known as "fo tiao qiang" in mandarin. All I know is it takes many ingredients (about 18) to make and it's time consuming to prepare.  There are many versions out there but this is my version in a slow cooker minus a few items like pig's stomach and duck gizzards since those take time to clean. This is an excellent soup rich in flavor.

Ingredients (for 4 servings) :-
1 piece or 1 lb each of chicken leg, duck leg, pork leg- excess fat removed, chopped into 1x3 inches chunk, blanched in hot water separately for 2 minutes to remove impurities
1 lb of pork ribs, blanched in hot water for  2 minutes
1/4 lb of virginia ham, soaked in water for 30 minutes
6 pieces of dried scallops
6 pieces of dried abalone slices, soaked in water for 3 hours
4 pieces of dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in water for 30 minutes
2 pieces of fried fish maw, soaked in water for 30 minutes and blanched in hot water for 2 minutes
1 piece or 1 lb bamboo shoots, sliced into 1 inch size
2 pieces of thumb sized ginger
1/2 lb of soaked sea cucumber, intestines removed and cleaned thoroughly then blanched in hot water for 2 minutes
10 quail eggs, hard boiled and peeled
1 ounce of shark fin ( optional)
3 1/2 cups of water or enough to cover all the ingredients
Some foochow red rice wine (optional)

1. Set slow cooker at low heat. Place ham, scallops, abalone, fish maw, bamboo shoots and mushrooms in the bottom of slow cooker. Next, layer the ginger, pork feet, duck feet, chicken feet and pork ribs. Add  water and cook overnight or at least 8 hours.
2. Remove fat floating on top of the soup. Place sea cucumber, quail eggs and, shark fin, if using, on top of soup. Let cook undisturbed for another 1 1/2 hours. Again, remove the top layer fat before serving. Dish up in an individual soup bowl and drizzle 1-2 tsps of  foochow red rice wine for extra flavor or serve it as it is without the wine.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Foochow "bagels" or kompia

Cravings for different foods has led me down the road to discoveries and creations. Foochow bagels, or kompia as is known among Foochows, tend to be crispier and smaller in size compared to regular bagels. It could be eaten plain, stuffed with braised pork belly, pork skin or any sandwich stuffers to make a savory snack.
Since foochow bagels are not found here in Southern California, I decided to bake them myself. However, finding  a recipe to bake these discs in a home oven is a challenge since traditionally these are baked in an earthen oven like naan bread.  Needless to say, there are nada, zip, zero recipes out there. So, I decided to concoct a recipe combining different methods used for baking bagels, pizzas and naan.
After many trials and failures, and my kids begging not to be my tasters for failed bagels anymore, I finally came up with this recipe. Persistency paid off. These bagels may not taste as good as the fresh ones baked in an earthen oven but I should say it's pretty close.

Ingredients for12 bagels:-
2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour + 1/4 cup more to flour the kneading and rolling surfaces
1 cup of lukewarm water (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit) + 1/4 cup of room temperature water for spraying
1 tsp  of active dry yeast
2 tsps of salt
1 tbsp of sugar
Steam bath (hot water in a roasting pan)

1. Pour lukewarm water into a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir in yeast and let stand for 15 minutes. Add half of the flour to yeast mixture and mix by hand for 1-2 minutes. Add remaining flour, salt and sugar. Continue to mix for 3 minutes. The dough should be a little stiff at this point.

2. Flour your kneading  surface (like a clean kitchen counter) before placing the dough on it. Knead dough until smooth, about 10 minutes, adding as little flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to your hands. Shape dough into a ball and place it back into the mixing bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside for dough to double in size. This takes about 3 to 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in a fridge.

3.When your dough is ready, take it out of the mixing bowl and cut the dough into 4 quarters. Flour your rolling surface (clean kitchen counter) and roll one of the quarter dough into a six inch cylinder. Divide and cut into 3 balls. Take one dough ball and flatten with your palm. Poke a hole in the middle of the flatten disc and pull the dough on the edges to make it into a 3 inch diameter disc. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to let it rest for 15 minutes. Repeat with the other dough pieces.

4. Meanwhile, boil some water to make a steam bath. Set your broiler at 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a heavy baking pan on the top rack closest to the broiler for 1-2 minutes. Take out the hot pan and spray the hot pan with a little bit of room temperature water. Then, arrange the discs about 1 inch apart on the pan. I was able to place 6 discs on my baking pan. Spray discs with a little bit of room temperature water. Place the pan back under the broiler for 1 minute to puff up the bagels. Then, lower the oven temperature to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Move the pan with the bagels from the top rack of the oven to the middle rack. Create a steam bath by placing a roasting pan on the lower rack and add 1 inch of hot water to this pan. Continue baking for 12 to 14 minutes until bagels are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Watch the bagels without opening the oven door at 10 minutes and every minute thereafter as they tend to burn fairly quickly towards the end.

5. Remove baking pan from oven and and place bagels on a cooling rack. Let cool before serving. Repeat baking procedures with the remaining bagels. Using a serrated knife, I cut a slit in the bagels and stuffed them with salami. It was good. The kids finally gave me the thumbs up. I think I'll make these kompias again with sesame seeds since that's the one ingredient that I forgot to add this time.