Wonton Noodle Soup/雲吞麵

One of my must-haves every time I visit Hong Kong is the wonton noodle soup or 港式雲吞麵, you can find wonton stands everywhere and a bowl can be as cheap as 30 HKD (about 3 USD) with 7 juicy & tender shrimp wonton, chewy egg noodles and flavorful, warm seafood broth. A dish like this is perfect for dinner on a cold winter night, or if you prefer, a hearty breakfast in the morning.

For this recipe, you can “mass produce” the wontons and keep them in your freezer, they’ll last about 3 months. Although this recipe doesn’t include the recipes for the noodle and soup, you can basically use any noodle-soup combination you want.

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For 50 Wontons, You’ll Need:

  • 225g or 1/2 lb 80% lean ground pork
  • 550g or 1 lb peeled & deveined shrimp
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp bonito flakes (the original recipe calls for Chinese dried fish powder, which is 50% MSG)
  • 1 tsp cooking rice wine/Japanese mirin
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp starch
  • 1 tsp chopped chives
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 50 square wonton wrappers

How to make this:

  1. Purée half (225g) of the shrimp using a food processor, you can mince the shrimp with a knife too, but it’s just too much work. Cut the rest of the shrimp into 3 equal pieces.
  2. Thoroughly the puréed shrimp, cut shrimp chunks and minced pork together, add the egg, bonito flakes, cooking rice wine/Japanese mirin, soy sauce, starch, chopped chives, salt, and ground pepper. Stop stirring when the mixture turns into a pink, consistent, smooth paste.
  3. Place about a teaspoon of the paste in the center of the wrapper, wet the edge and fold it diagonally. Then wet the 2 tips and press them together, repeat until you used up all the wrappers or fillings.6262A7B9-6EFC-41B6-8011-CF9C7AE0FC91
  4. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then carefully drop the wontons in the boiling water. The uncooked wonton would sink to the bottom of the pot, and a good indication of the wontons are cooked is when they flow to the top of the water (the same rule apply for both fresh & frozen wonton).
  5. Serve the wontons with some blanched greens, noodle, and soup. Enjoy!

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Pork Vindaloo

One of my favorite Indian dishes is the Vindaloo, a slightly acidic and spicy meat stew from the Goa region in India. Even though in the western world, vindaloo is just another “hot & spicy curry from India”, the dish is actually inspired by a very popular Portuguese dish, carne de vinha d’alhos, which roughly translate to “marinated meat in vinegar and garlic”. It was brought to the Goa region by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century and after 200 years of improvements made by both Goanese and Portuguese cooks, when the British discovered this dish in the mid-1700s, it has transformed completely. However, when the dish was introduced back to the west, the tang from the vinegar was replaced by tomato sauce to reduce cost, meat is no longer marinated to save time, and the amazing balance of the different spices are lost under a blistering excess of chiles.

This Vindaloo recipe is very similar to that used by cooks from Goa, based on an early British India cookbook. The spices provide an earthy flavor that balances perfectly with the tangy-ness from the vinegar, and the heat is detectable, but not overwhelming.

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For the marinade, you need (*I use dried whole spices, if you use the powdered version, just use half the volume):

  • 8-10 Kashmiri chilies, dried
  • 1 tsp black mustard seed
  • 1 tsp whole cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 piece garlic
  • 1 piece ginger (about the 1/2 of a thumb size)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil (something neutral)
  • 2 tbsp water

For the Vindaloo, you need:

  • 1 lb pork shoulder (beef chuck or lamb leg)
  • 1 whole sweet onion
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup water

How to make this:

  1. Slightly toast the Kashmiri chilies, 72C87CDF-3BBF-43AC-8668-1BDFFD6E4BF2black mustard seed, cumin, and cloves in a pan, then place it inside of a food processor with the turmeric, garlic, ginger, vinegar, cooking oil and water. Blend the mixture until it turns into a thick paste.
  2. Cut the meat into 2inch/5cm cubes, them mix them with the vindaloo paste we just made, cover the marinated meat and place them in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but 24 hours is ideal.
  3. Chop the sweet onion, then place a deep pan over medium heat, add the oil and cook the onion with some salt and the cinnamon stick for 10 min. (I like to add 2 cloves of garlic to add some more garlic-ness)
  4. Add the marinated meat with all the paste into the same pan, cook for about 10 to 15 min or until the surface of the meat is browned. Then add the tomato paste, brown sugar and water into the pan. Bring it to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for about 1 hour or until the meat is tender.
  5. Serve the vindaloo with some warm fluffy rice. And Enjoy!IMG_1713

Tonkotsu Ramen

IMG_3714On a warm winter evening, nothing can beat a warm bowl of noodle and soup, and one of my favorite noodle dishes is Japanese Ramen! The flavorful broth matched with the chewy but tender noodle with toppings like Tempura or Char Shu is just the perfect combination. Even though the wildly popular soy & miso broth are amazing with the curly, thick ramen noodle, my favorite on a cold winter night is a very special ramen, known is the west as Tonkotsu Ramen.

Tonkotsu ramen is a ramen dish that’s from Fukuoka, on the Kyushu island (southern end) of Japan, and it is a specialty in the region. Like many amazing dishes, like Pot-au-feu, Barbacoa, Mujaddara or Gumbo, it has a humble origin, and it is famous for the long preparation time. Invented as an affordable fast food for workers on the harbor and fish market, the soup broth is used cheap pork bones and affordable other ingredients, which is typically boiled for several hours. The dish is traditionally served with thin ramen noodles so they can be served quickly during the short breaks, and topped with sliced Char Shu, braised pork belly. In Japan, Tonkotsu ramen is also known as Hakata ramen, so when you are they, give it a try!

Today, we will make a version where most ingredients can be easily gathered in the western world, since a lot of ingredients are hard to find outside certain countries, so if you are a ramen snob or purist, please understand that even though this is not exactly the same as how they make it in Fukuoka, the flavor is similar, the ingredients are affordable and easy to find, and the most important thing of all is that it is DELICIOUS. Let’s make it! (Also, this takes about 24 hours to make, so be prepared.)

Here’s how to make one of the most iconic toppings for ramen: Cha Shu

You’ll Need:

  • 1.5 kg or 3.3 lb pig trotters (if you can’t find it, don’t worry, just use the same weight of pork soup bone (*ask your butcher), plus about 0.45 kg or 1 lb of chicken wings)
  • 1 kg or 2.2 lb chicken backs and carcasses
  • 1 large onion
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 1 knob ginger
  • 2 dozen scallions, white parts only (save the greens for garnishing)
  • Optional: 1 pound slab pork fat back

How to make this:

  1. Cut the pig trotter crosswise into 1-inch disks (or ask your butcher to do it for you), bring a large pot of water to a boil, then place pork and chicken bones (and wings) in the boiling water to blanch them for about 2 min. Strain and wash all bones under cold water, removing as much as the dark marrow (actually coagulated blood).
  2. You now need to char the aromatics, if you have a blow torch, you can just char the surface of the onion, garlic, and ginger. If a blow torch is not available, heat the vegetable oil in a medium cast iron or non-stick skillet over high heat until lightly smoking, then add onions, garlic, and ginger, tossing occasionally until deeply charred on most sides, which takes about 10 minutes total.
  3. Place the bones in the pot with charred vegetables, scallion whites. Add water and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, skimming off any scum that appears, then reduce heat to a bare simmer and place a heavy lid on top.
  4. Cooking until broth is opaque with the texture of cream, which takes about 14 to 16 hours, add a little bit of water to keep the bones submerged at all times, which is about once an hour after hour 4. (If you must leave the pot unattended for long period of time, top up the pot and reduce the heat to the lowest setting while you are gone. Return to a boil when you come back and continue cooking) 

  5. Once broth is pretty much done, cook over high heat until reduced to around 3 quarts. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer, then strain again through cheesecloth. Skim liquid fat from the top.

All you need to do after the broth is completed is to cook some thin straight noodles, which is traditionally used at ramen shops in Fukuoka, add a couple slices of Cha Shu, Ajitsuke Tamago (Japanese pickled eggs), and enjoy!

Ps. These are the Ajitsuke Tamago (Japanese pickled eggs), I soft boiled the egg and pickled it in a soy-mirin-sake marinade for about 24 to 72 hours in the fridge.

 

 

Cha Shu

img_0874Cha Shu is a tender, salty, sweet, fatty, melt-in-your-mouth slices of braised pork belly. Though it originated in China, the Japanese adapted it and made it their own. It’s just the perfect topping for a bowl of lovely, warm ramen.

 

 

 

 

You Need:

  • 0.9 kg or 2 lb slab of boneless pork belly, with skin-on
  • 120 ml or 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 250 ml or 1 cup sake
  • 250 ml or 1 cup mirin
  • 100 g or 3.5 oz sugar
  • 5 scallions stem (aka the white part)
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 3 thick slice of ginger
  • 1 shallot

How to make it:

  1. img_3643.jpgIf the pork belly you have is in a long rectangular shape, you can lay pork belly on cutting board and roll up lengthwise, with skin facing out, then tie it up using butchers twine. If you don’t have a shape like that, you don’t have to do this.
  2. Sear the surface of the pork belly until the sides except for the skin on top is browned. Then heat 1 cup water with the soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, scallions, garlic, shallot, and ginger in a saucepan until boiling. Place the meat in sauce and transfer it to a 135C or 275F oven, turning pork occasionally, until pork is fully tender which should take about 4 to 5 hours.
  3. Place it in a sealed container (ideally something here the meat can be fully submerged in the sauce) and refrigerate until completely cool (ideally 20 hr so the meat can absorb the maximum amount of flavors)
  4.  When ready to serve, remove pork belly and strain broth. Slice pork belly into thin rounds, then heat the slices with a blowtorch, charring its surface, then serve.
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Easy Pumpernickel Bread

 

Pumpernickel is a heavy, slightly sweet bread made with rye. It’s soft and tender, and perfect for winter weather. Even though traditional German style Pumpernickel contains no coloring agents, and during baking, a process known as the Maillard reaction produces the deep brown color, sweet, dark chocolate, coffee flavor, and earthy aroma that Pumpernickel is known for. But in order to achieve this, the loaves have to be baked in long narrow covered pans for 16 to 24 hours in a super low-temperature (about 120 °C or 250 °F) and allow the steam to slowly cook it in the oven. If you want to check it out, the Youtube channel Great Big Story made a video called Baking Bread with Lava in Iceland, talking about a similar tradition in Iceland. However, what we are making today is a much easier version of it with almost a very similar flavor and texture profile, with the addition of wheat flour, at a higher baking temperature, and a dramatically shortened baking time.

You’ll Need:

  • 360 g (or 3 cups) bread flour
  • 160 g (or 1.5 cups) dark rye flour
  • 50 g (or 0.5 cup) cornmeal
  • 25 g (or 0.25 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 470 mL (or 2 cups) whole milk
  • 60 mL (or 0.25 cup) molasses
  • 3 g (or 1 tsp) kosher salt
  • 20 g (or 1.5 tbsp) dark brown sugar
  • 10 g (or 1 tbsp) active dry yeast
  • 45 g (or 3 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened (plus more for greasing)

How to make this:

  1. In a large glass bowl, whisk together the bread flour with the rye flour, cornmeal, cocoa powder, and salt. (This is the dry mix, notice we didn’t add the sugar to the mixture because in baking, sugar is usually considered to be apart of wet mix)
  2. Heat up the whole milk in a cream pan until it reaches about 40 °C or 204 °F. Mix the brown sugar and the yeast into the full milk and let it stand at room temperature until it gets a little foamy, which takes about 5 minutes. (In this process, we add the sugar to the warm milk so that we can provide an ideal environment for the yeast to do its thing)
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast mixture with the molasses until it mixes together evenly at low speed. Then add the dry ingredients to the bowl and continue mixing at moderately low speed until the dough begins to clean the sides of the bowl, which takes about 6 minutes. And finally, add the softened butter and increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the butter is incorporated and the dough is sticking to the hook, about 6 minutes more. (The dough at this point will look kinda greasy)
  4. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and it springs back to the touch,  it takes about 8 to 10 minutes. Then transfer the dough to a buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 1 to 1.5 hour.
  5. Pat the dough down, then place it in a lightly butter a loaf pan, and cover it an let it rises for another 3o min. When the dough is at its final rise, preheat the oven to 190°C or 375°F. Then bake the pumpernickel bread for about 35 minutes, until the crust is dark brown. Let the bread sit for more 10 minutes outside the oven in the loaf pan, then carefully remove the bread from the loaf pan and let cool completely (1 hour or longer).
  6. Optional: I like to sprinkle on some rolled oats before baking to add a nice crunch on the crust. You can add almost any crushed nuts into the dough but always soak them in water before adding them, to the dough.

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(Freshly Baked Pumpernickel Bread)

 

Carbonade Flamande

Imagine a dish that combines the beefy-ness (is that even a word?) of Beef Bourguignon and the natural sweetness of French Onion Soup, you get Carbonade Flamande, a sweet-sour beef and onion stew made with a lovely beer from Belgium. The beef is slow-cooked to perfection, with the help of the enzymes in the beer, they become so tender that you can break it apart just by lightly pushing it with the tip of a fork, while the natural sugars are slowly extracted from the onion, mixing perfectly with the sweetness of the beer. This dish is usually paired with french fries (which are invented in Belgium), boiled potatoes or mashed potato.

You’ll Need:

  • 1 kg (about 2.2 lb) Chuck Beef
  • 1 medium Sweet Onion
  • 1 Shallot
  • 30 g (about 2 tbsp) Butter
  • 1 L (about 4 cups) Belgium Abbey Beers
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 fresh Thyme
  • 2 fresh Bay Leaves
  • 2 pieces of Bread (preferably Gingerbread)
  • some mustard, salt, and black pepper

How To Make This:

  1. Cut the chuck beef into 5 cm (about 2 inches) cubes, you don’t have to trim the beef because the fat is where all the flavors come from. Marinate the beef cubes in 1/2 L (2 cups) of beer for about 1 hour with some cloves, you don’t want to marinate the beef for too long because the enzymes will turn the meat from tender to mushy.
  2. Drain and dry the beef, save the beer. Season the beef generously with salt and black pepper, then in a heated pan, place 15 g of butter in the hot pan, then immediately sear the beef cubes in the pan, cook each side for about 2 min or until they turn brown. Place the browned meat in a container, don’t clean the pan.IMG_9986
  3. Thinly slice the onion and shallot, then in the same pan, add 15 g of butter over medium-low heat, cook the sliced onion and shallot for 10-15 min or until they turn into a dark brown, completely soft and reduced about 1/2 in size. You can add a tbsp of brown sugar for some extra sweetness.BeFunky Collage
  4. While the onion is being caramelized, let’s talk about the beer. I used St. Bernardus Brewery’s Abt 12, which is not a certified Abbey beer, but any Belgium brown ale will do, with a bit bitterness, fairly heavy body, and a pronounced fruitiness and cereal character. Some people use Trappist beer, which is a bit pricey compared to most, but uses whatever you prefer.IMG_0006
  5. Place the caramelized onion and browned beef cubes together in a heavy duty stew pot or dutch oven, mix in a bit of flour, then add all of the beer, herbs. Then generously spread some brown mustard on 2 pieces of bread (preferably gingerbread), place them face down into the pot and let it soak. Bring the stew to a boil, then cover the pot and let it simmer over medium-low heat for about 3 hours.IMG_0110
  6. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley, serve the stew with some french fries, boiled potatoes or mashed potato.

Salmon Poke

Okay, before this recipe even starts, here’s a quick little history lesson on eating raw salmon. Some of you might not remember this, but there was a time when making nigiri or sashimi with salmon was unthinkable, since parasites are common among Pacific salmon and the only way to kill them is to cook them. However, some dude in Norway figured out that Atlantic Salmon don’t have parasites in them, so after a lot of marketing work making it popular in Japan and the U.S. in the 90s, raw salmon finally became a thing.

You’ll Need:

  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 cup pine nut
  • 1 lb (about 1/2 kg) raw, skinless sashimi-grade salmon
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 sheet nori, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1/4 shallot
  • 2 tablespoons fried shallots
  • 4 teaspoons (about 20ml) soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons (about 10ml) sesame oil

How to make this:

  1. Quickly brine the salmon is salt & sugar water for 5 min, dry it well and wrap it and let in sit in the fridge for 30 min
  2. Finely mince the shallot, then mix it with the macadamia nuts, pine nut, sliced scallion, sliced nori, sesame seeds, fried shallots, soy sauce, and sesame oil
  3. Cut the salmon into 1 cm or 1/2 inch cube, fold them into the sauce mix, try not to mix it too hard
  4. Wrap it, and let it sit in fridge for another 2 hours for the flovur to go into the salmon
  5. Serve it with some rice and extra scallion & sesame seeds