Archive for February, 2020

Sesame Ball Jian Dui

Feb 29th, 2020 Posted in Desserts recipes | no comment »

Sesame Ball Jian Dui

This little ball of golden goodness took a few tries to get right.  I wanted to make these light as air sweet treats for the Chinese New Year as they are a lucky symbol, being golden and perfectly round (golden coins, anyone?) and fortuitously expanding to several times their original size (yeah,your little venture is going to go through the roof!)  I mentioned to my mother, who is in town at the moment visiting, that I was going to make the wonderfully crispy yet chewy Sesame Balls also known as Jian Dui or Matuan.  She said to me, ‘Oh, those are easy, just like how you make tong yuan except you fry it!’   Well, sorry to say, dearest mother, you were a wee bit wrong.  It wasn’t really that easy at first to make these; however, once you get the trick of it, it’s easy enough and you can make gorgeous, hollow, perfectly round and yummilicious Sesame Balls!


Pre-cooked Dough 1/2 cup glutinous rice flour, 62g
3 tbsp water, 46 ml

Non Pre-cooked Dough5 tbsp glutinous rice flour, 38g
2 tbsp sugar, 25g
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch baking soda
1.5 tbsp water, 22 ml

1/2 cup white or black sesame seeds


Mix flour and water for pre-cooked dough until a dough forms.  Tear into ten approx. equal pieces and boil in small pot of boiling water for 3 mins.  Drain.

Mix remaining rice flour, sugar, baking power and baking soda with water until a dough forms.  Add in the boiled dough and knead until two doughs from one pliable smooth dough.  (If dough seems too dry sprinkle a bit of water.  If too wet add a bit of rice flour.)  Divide dough into 10 equal pieces and roll into round balls.  Pour a thick layer of sesame seeds into a shallow dish.  Use fingers to lightly moisten with water, then roll balls in sesame seeds until covered densely all over.  Repeat with all dough balls.  
In a wok pour in enough oil to completely submerge the balls at three times their uncooked size.  (Approx 3 inches)  Heat oil to 140C or 285F.  Carefully drop in 2-3 balls* which will drop to the bottom and cook.  Use spatula to gently turn balls to allow even heating on all sides.  When the balls rise to the top of the oil, continue rolling balls around evenly while gently pressing down just under the oil surface and against the side of the wok.  As you do this rolling and pressing the dough balls will expand.  Do it evenly on all sides and you will get a perfectly round result.  When the sesame ball is about 3 times the size of the original and a light golden brown remove from oil  (approx. 5 mins.)  (The balls will continue to darken a bit after removing from oil.)  Place on kitchen towel to drain any excess oil and then serve it up hot and golden!

Tip: Make just enough to eat in one go.  Leftover next day Sesame Balls are just not the same. 

*Tip:  Try frying only one ball in the beginning.  Once you get the hang of rolling and pressing at the same time you can fry more balls at the same time.

Rabbit Fish Congee

Feb 29th, 2020 Posted in Fish recipes, Rice recipes | no comment »

Rabbit Fish Congee

The autumn weather turns chill, cool northern winds blowing tree leaves adrift.  This is a classic Cantonese type of congee, or rice porridge if you like, that infuses the wonderfully creamy soothing heat of rice porridge with the sweet tender meat of the rabbit fish.  You can, of course, use other fish but this particular combination is a classic dish that you can, if you’re lucky, still find in some of the grand ol’ Cantonese restaurants that carry on in traditional fashion.  Or, shucks, if you can’t find it, try making it at home, trust me it’s worth the effort!  Rabbit Fish Congee is an easy enough dish to make at home, it just needs a bit of time to cook down the rice and soon you’ll be slurping on a perfect dish of creamy fish congee, warming yourself from the tip top of your head right down to the bottom of your toes!


1/2 cup uncooked rice
3 cups water, plus 2-3 cups water
3 rabbit fish, or any kind of small non oily firm white fleshed fish
1 piece dried tangerine peel, approx 2″
2 tbsp pickled mustard Zha Cai 榨菜, minced
3 tbsp spring onions, sliced to rounds

Soak the dried tangerine peel in warm water until soft.  Scrape white pulp off and slice into slivers.  Clean and gut fish.

In small pot, throw in the rice, dried tangerine peel, pickled mustard and 3 cups water.  The water should fill no more than 1/3 of the pot.  Heat over medium high until boiling and turn down heat to gentle simmer for 45 mins at least until the rice grains break down and the porridge is thick and creamy.  Be sure to keep an eye on the pot when bringing to a boil as it will tend to boil over.  While cooking add additional water as necessary, one cup at a time, stirring occasionally.  Taste and add salt if necessary.
Slide the fish into congee and cook over low heat for 5 mins.  Remove fish onto a plate.  Ladle congee into bowls, place one fish per bowl, sprinkle spring onions over and serve hot, creamy and delicious!

Homemade Chinese Wheat Gluten Mian Jin

Feb 28th, 2020 Posted in Noodles recipes | no comment »

Homemade Chinese Wheat Gluten Mian Jin

Once you have your wheat gluten washed you tear it into small pieces and either boil, steam or deep fry it.  I think you can also bake it but I haven’t tried that personally.  Steaming creates a nice fluffy rise and good aeration of the gluten.  Boiling also creates rise and seems to provide more of a squeak when you chew.  Boiling and steaming both will make something you can use for Kao Fu, that wonderfully aromatic oh so yummy Shanghainese vegetarian dish.  (See Grandma’s Red Braised Wheat Gluten Kao Fu recipe here.)  Deep frying the wheat gluten creates Oil Fried Mian Jin, little golden puffs which have a much airier texture and a smooth tender texture when cooked again.  The top photo of this post is the Kao Fu made after we boiled the wheat gluten.


3.5 cups all purpose flour, 454g
1 1/8 cup lukewarm water


Mix flour and water together in bowl.  Stir and knead until a rough mass of dough comes together.   Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let dough rest for 10 mins.  Knead 10 times and then cover and rest dough for another 10 mins.  Knead dough again, it should be quite smooth and elastic this time.  Now cover and let rest for 1 hour.
Place bowl in sink and fill to cover dough with room temp water.  Knead and squish the dough in the water in the bowl until the water turns milky white.  Dump water out and refill with fresh water.  Repeat until the water no longer turns milky white but is only slightly cloudy.  The mass left in your bowl, the wheat gluten, will be a tan color with a springy elastic texture and should clump together in one lump.  If you want at this point to keep the washed main jin for another day, submerge in cool water and keep in the fridge, changing the water everyday. 
For the next stage of making wheat gluten main jin you can either boil, steam or deep fry it. Each method produces different to slightly different results in texture.
Boiled Mian Jin, also known as Kao Fu, and is dense but springy with lots of small holes that absorb flavor and juice.  To boil, heat a pot of water.  Tear and twist apart the wheat gluten mian jin into approx 24 pieces, placing each piece onto a plate without touching.  Take one mian jin in your fingers, stretch it and drop immediately into the water.  Boil for 5-6 mins or until floating on top of water.  Remove, drain and the wheat gluten mian jin is ready for braising or stir frying.  
Steamed Mian Jin, often also known as Kao Fu, and is dense but springy with lots of small holes that absorb flavor and juice.  It seems to be slightly more springy in texture than the boiled gluten.  To steam, place the whole washed mian jin on a plate in the steamer and steam for 20 mins.  Do not open the steamer lid but allow to cool down for 45 mins before opening the lid.  Take out and slice into cubes or slices as you prefer and it’s ready for braising or stir frying.
Oil Fried Mian Jin is really different in texture, soft, tender and slippery while still absorbent of flavors and juices.  To deep fry, tear and twist off the mian jin into approx 24 small pieces, carefully squeezing all the water out and placing each piece on to a plate without touching.  Deep fry until it puffs up to a ball and turns a golden brown color.  Remove to drain on paper towels and it’s ready for use in braised dishes or stir fries.  Note that the Oil Fried Mian Jin will deflate when cooked again.
Once you have boiled, steamed or oil fried the mian jin, you can keep in air tight container in the fridge for a few days before using.

Milky White Fish and Tofu Soup

Feb 28th, 2020 Posted in Fish recipes, Soup recipes, Tofu recipes | no comment »

Milky White Fish and Tofu Soup

This milky white, delicate and nourishing soup is made from nothing but fish and its bones!  A famous kind of soup which people murmur about in hushed tones, in awe of the whiteness of the soup and the culinary feats that are required to achieve that pure and awesome whiteness.  Well, sorry to those folks and yet hurrah for them as well, cuz I’m here to say that this milky white soup ain’t so hard to achieve after all, if you know how to go about it!  No added milk, no added soup stock, just need some fresh fish and fish bones and you’re well on your way to making a totally fabulous, milky white, Fish and Tofu Soup, that not only is a beautiful creamy white but also tastes out of this work yummilicious!

Prep time: 5 mins, excepting mushroom soaking time   Cook time: 30 mins

3 dried mushrooms 
1 carp tail
3 slices ginger
6 cups boiling water
1/2 tsp salt
1 soft tofu 300g, sliced to 1″ cubes1 tbsp potato starch (we like to use this one)1 bunch cilantro, chopped roughly
1/4-1/2 tsp white pepper

Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water just to cover for at least an hour or until soft .  When the mushroom is soft, remove the stem and slice into very thin slices.  
Wash and dry carp with kitchen paper as well as you can.  Add 1-2 tbsp oil into a hot wok, add in ginger and stir a little until fragrance is released.  Add in the fish and let fry over medium high heat until golden brown.  Flip over and repeat on other side.  Remove from pan and let cool.  When cool enough to handle, use a fork (or your fingers) to remove all the fish meat from the bones and break into small flakes, discarding the skin and setting aside the bones.  
Add a tbsp of oil into hot wok, add in the now meatless fish bones and fry again until golden brown on both sides.  Add in boiling water and turn up the heat to high.  When water reboils cover, turn heat down and simmer for 20 mins.  Pour soup thru a strainer to remove the bones, then pour back into pot.  Add in mushrooms and salt and bring the soup back to a boil.  Add in cubed tofu and fish meat and bring back to a simmer for 2 mins. Add a bit of water to corn starch, stir to dissolve the starch and add to soup, stirring in gently.  Remove from heat, sprinkle on cilantro and white pepper and serve hot.  Enjoy!

Fried Dace Fish Ball Patties

Feb 28th, 2020 Posted in Fish recipes | no comment »

Fried Dace Fish Ball Patties

These Fried Dace Fish Ball Patties are a delicious seafood treat originally from Shunde and now a local HK favorite, though usually served up in the form of steamed or deep fried balls.  We love the fragrant golden skin that comes with frying but, since we don’t often deep fry at home, we flatten our fish paste balls so that we can just pan fry them instead.  These tasty patties are made with the paste of the dace fish, much loved for its sweet, firm, flavorful meat.  The dace fish is not only used in many delicious dishes like Three Fried Stuffed Treasures and Watercress & Fish Ball Soup, but also is the fish used to make the fabulous and famous canned Fried Dace with Salted Black Bean.

Prep time: 10 mins  (not including soaking time)  Cook time: 10 mins 
1 lb dace fish paste, 450g
20 small dried shrimps
1 dried tangerine peel (chen pi)
1 bunch cilantro
2 stalks spring onion
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
2 tbsp fermented clam sauce

Soak the dried tangerine peel in hot water to cover.  When soft, remove and carefully use small knife to scrape off the white pith and then mince.  Mince the dried shrimps.  Wash and dry the cilantro then chop finely.  Wash and dry the spring onions, chop finely.  Add shrimp, chen pi, cilantro, spring onions, salt and pepper to the fish paste and mix thoroughly in a large wide bowl.  Scrape up a handful of the paste and throw with force back into the bowl.  Repeat 20-30 times until texture changes and paste is shiny.  
Wet hands slightly to prevent sticking.  Separate paste into eight equal size balls, then press down lightly on each one until a patty is formed.  Heat large frying pan over medium heat.  When hot add 2-3 tbsp oil and add in the patties.  Fry for 2-3 mins or until golden brown.  Flip and repeat, adding more oil if necessary.  Remove from heat.  Arrange on serving plate, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with dipping saucer of fermented clam sauce.  Enjoy!

Lemony Lemon Pound Cake

Feb 28th, 2020 Posted in Desserts recipes | no comment »

Lemony Lemon Pound Cake

Lemony Lemon Pound Cake Recipe
Prep time: 15 mins, Cooking time: 45 mins

9 x 4″ loaf pan

1 cup butter (227g)
1 cup sugar (215g)
2 lemons, zest of
3 eggs
1 3/4 all purpose flour (218g)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp milk

Lemon Sugar Syrup
1/2 cup sugar (100g)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Lemon Zest Drizzle
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar (180g)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, zest of

Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Butter a 9×4 loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on both sides to allow you to pull cake from pan when done.

Add cubed butter, sugar and zest of two lemons to mixing bowl and beat at high speed until very light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating in throughly each time.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add the half of flour mixture to butter egg mixture and mix at low speed until just combined. Add in milk and mix in. Add in the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Pour into pan and smooth top. Bake 45 mins or until a knife stuck in comes out clean.

While cake is baking make the Lemon Sugar Syrup. Combine sugar and water in small pot and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Let cool to room temperature, then add in fresh lemon juice.

Leave the cake in the baking pan once out of the oven. Use skewer to poke holes through to cake bottom at 2″ intervals. Pour about 1/2 -3/4 cup of sugar syrup over the cake, using a brush to help the syrup settle evenly. Let the cake sit in the pan until completely cool and syrup absorbed.

While cake is cooling make the Lemon Zest Drizzle. Shift powdered sugar into mixing bowl. Add lemon juice and zest and whisk until smooth.

Use a sharp knife to loosen cake from sides of pan and lift out using parchment paper overhang. Remove paper and place on serving plate. Pour drizzle evenly over cake and let set for 10-15 mins or until hardened before slicing. Enjoy your lemonlicious!