Tuesday, January 07, 2014
It's that time of the (new) year again where I would start losing sleep in mild panic. Just three weeks before the Lunar New Year and not long before my mother descends over the straits on me and my currently (rather) dire state of an apartment. With curtains to launder, hoarded mess to tuck away, windows to clean and only-God-knows-how-many other things associated with the annual grand spring cleaning waiting to be done, who has the time to think about elaborate dinners?
This dish though, yet another one using salted eggs - a Hakka staple, would be achievable. I'm sure most of my cooking Chinese readers can do this with their eyes closed. One of my many childhood favorites, I remember never failing to get excited every time my parents made it. It could be the only dish on the dining table for all I care, and I would gladly down lots of rice with it. My version is rather rustic, using only salted eggs and no water. My parents never attempted to make it soft and smooth like regular steamed egg.
For best results, use a good cut of pork with enough fat for flavor and texture. Mincing by hand is better than getting ready ground meat, and those calories burned while you work that cleaver wouldn't hurt. Be sure to use a shallow dish for steaming and the freshest salted duck eggs you can find.
May this simple back to basic concoction bring you some nostalgic memories from home this coming Horse year!
Hakka Salted Egg Steamed Pork (咸蛋蒸猪肉)
Recipe from my mother.
Yield: One dinner plate sized dish enough for 4 to 6.
- 3-4 salted duck eggs, raw
- 500-600 grams pork collar or shoulder, hand minced preferred
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 3 teaspoons sesame oil
- salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- coriander, sliced spring onions for garnish, optional
Once the pork is minced, mix well with the corn starch, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Let stand for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare your steaming vessel of choice (I use a wok) with boiling water and a steaming rack. Crack the salted eggs and separate the white from the yolks. With your fingers, gently pinch and break the yolks into smaller pieces.
Lay out the marinated minced pork onto a wide, shallow dish, ensuring even thickness around the plate for even cooking. Pour over the salted egg whites evenly across the dish. Personally I like to leave some parts of the dish pool with more whites for a rustic effect. Divide the broken egg yolks in between the meat, pressing some deep and letting others float on the surface. (If anyone who will be sharing this dish dislikes yolks, leave one section completely free of them and voila, problem solved!)
Steam over medium high heat for 20 to 25 minutes or till pork is cooked. Garnish with a few more drops of sesame oil, spring onions or coriander. Serve over warm steamed rice and extra soy sauce if necessary.
Continue reading Hakka Salted Egg Steamed Pork (咸蛋蒸猪肉)
Thursday, December 12, 2013
This morning one of my like-minded friend went on about how easy it is to make your own mayonnaise for an egg mayo sandwich. Said sandwich was so tempting he ate his packed lunch way before brunch hour. Now I'm reminded of this egg salad made quite a while ago by chance. Reading one of Heidi Swanson's many tried and tested recipes and voila, how refreshing it was to find a gem that uses yogurt!
Those of you who
As Heidi put it, the key is not to kill the eggs. Powdery yolks will not work for this application, so keep give sunny center some love and guarded restrain. Set yet still soft. I've learned to enjoy this level of doneness with anything calling for boiled eggs - scattered over fresh greens and lightly dressed with honey mustard, with nasi lemak, or the ever crucial soy sauce marinated syoyu tamago to go with a bowl of hot ramen soup.
The best thing about this discovery - the freedom to experiment with your favorite flavors. Celery is milder than scallions. If you have some shallots lying around, they work too - raw if you're like me, fried will up the umami factor and play down the sharpness. A bit of whole grain mustard, as an ode to the ditched mayo. A dash of smoked paprika for some heat but I bet sumac will be great too. Your creativity being the only limit, an egg salad will never be soggy and boring again!
Best Egg Salad
Recipe modified from this 101 Cookbook's Egg Salad Sandwich.
Yield: If it's up to me, not enough egg salad. This fills about 4 sandwiches.
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 1-2 tablespoons full fat/Greek yogurt
- Salt and pepper
- 2 stalks scallions, thinly slices
- 1/2 bunch chives, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2-inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for about 6-7 minutes. Immediately place the eggs into a big bowl of ice water for about 3-4 minutes. Crack and peel each egg, place in a medium mixing bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of the yogurt, a few generous pinches of salt and pepper, and mash with a fork. Mix just enough to break down some of the eggs, leaving some bigger pieces for texture. The soft yolks will add to the moisture, add more yogurt only if necessary.
Stir in the scallions, chives, mustard and paprika. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Spread over toasted sourdough or buttery croissant for complete satisfaction.
Continue reading Best Egg Salad
Friday, December 06, 2013
Taking things slow.
Recently this seems to require more effort and thought than what I have in my reserve. The constant gaze at the clock, rushed deadlines at work, lack of quality sleep, downing lunch in front of the computer. I had to check myself when eating - take your time, savor the taste, feel the fullness. When reading, try not to skim through. When walking, avoid the hordes of phone-wielding zombies. In a conversation, pause to listen. When doing nothing else, take a deep breath.
Will we realize when everything is clocked with a countdown results will suffer? The rushed sandwich with just one sad piece of pastrami. The burnt milk around the steam wand. Unhappy customers, angry clients, mistakes to correct, tasks to redo, botched grand plans. Worst of all, when it all ends, we become too tired to care. It's no longer about details, standards, consistency. Just get it out there, over and done with, let's move on before losing out.
Perhaps this is why I always return to baking.
It can't be rushed. It demands focus, mindfulness and a little bit of discipline. Read the recipe once. Check the quantity twice. Sift the flour thrice - our grandmothers meant business. The butter creams for four minutes, and it will be another five after the eggs. The cake bakes for an hour, if not 10 minutes more. Keep peeking into the oven, it will not rise faster. Two hours to cool down, way after you're done with the dishes and finish a cup of coffee. Take it or leave it.
Understand the process, appreciate the art and insist on quality. Apply yourself.
Blood Orange Chiffon Cake
Recipe modified from this Pandan Chiffon Cake.
Yield: One 25cm 5-inches tall cake.
- 180 grams cake/top flour
- ¼ tablespoon baking of soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 180 grams castor sugar, halved
- 160 milliliters blood orange juice
- grated zest of 2 blood oranges
- 8 eggs, separated
- 6 tablespoon corn oil
Pre-heat oven to 170°C and position a wire rack at the lower third rack. Prepare a clean 25 cm chiffon cake tin, do not grease.
Sift the flour and baking soda into a small bowl, add in the salt. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the corn oil to form an emulsion. Add the blood orange juice and orange zest. Mix well before adding half (90 grams) of the sugar and whisk till sugar has melted. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk well into a smooth batter, there should be no lumps. Set aside.
On medium-high speed of a stand or hand held mixer, whisk the egg whites. Start adding the remaining sugar once the egg whites begin to foam, gradually in 3 additions. Beat till the meringue is smooth and glossy, with stiff peaks. Be careful not to over-beat the egg whites.
Immediately stir in approximately 1/3 of the meringue into the flour batter. With a flexible rubber or silicon spatula, fold in the meringue gently and mix well. Once a roughly homogeneous mixture is achieved, add the rest of the meringue and repeat the gentle, light-handed folding process till the cake batter is well combined. Scoop from the bottom of the bowl to ensure no meringue or flour batter is left unmixed. Do not beat or overwork the batter as this will knock out the air you've put into the meringue.
Pour the cake mixture into the cake tin. Using your spatula, dip it into the batter right to the bottom and make circles around the tin twice. This is to remove any large air bubbles possibly trapped while pouring in the cake batter. Bake at 170°C for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 160°C and bake for another 45 to 50 minutes or until cake is done. The cake tester should come out clean. Don't fret if the top of your cake cracks a little, this is normal.
Remove the cake from the oven and immediately overturn it to cool completely, up to 2 hours. I like to do this over an upturned funnel as the legs of the chiffon cake tin are not long enough to avoid the top of the cake touching its resting surface - the cake should rise to the same level or slightly higher than the center tube. You can also use a narrow necked bottle but ensure that it's stable enough to support the weight of the cake. Release the cake by running a sharp, thin knife along the sides of the cake tin and subsequently the bottom of the tube. The cake is meant to be served upside down as it is heavier on the top.
Continue reading Blood Orange Chiffon Cake
Life Is Great explores the incredible world of food and cooking. We hope to share with you our most delicious moments and inspirations.
“Just like becoming an expert in wine–you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford–you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. The you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.”
Julia Child (Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
“Life is short. Live your dream and share your passion.”
- Hakka Salted Egg Steamed Pork (咸蛋蒸猪肉)
- Best Egg Salad
- Blood Orange Chiffon Cake
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
- Rose Levy Beranbaum's Basic Brioche
- Meyer Lemon Bars
- (A Better) Chocolate Chiffon Cake
- Tiramisu Cake (Encore)
- Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
- Sarawak Kolo Mee
- Momofuku Milk Bar's Banana Cream Pie
- Hong Kong Part III
- Hong Kong Part II: Zongzi/Bakchang (粽子/肉粽)
- Caffè HABITŪ (the table) at G.O.D. Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
- Hong Kong Part I
- Australia 2010 Part 1: Melbourne
- Bourke Street Bakery, Sydney
- Il Fornaio, St Kilda
- Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne