Tuesday, 20 September 2011

How to Make: Steamed Red Bean Tapioca Jelly Cake (Hong Kong Bakery Sweet)

''Steamed Red Bean Tapioca Jelly Cake.''  Sounds like an interesting combination of words?  Well it is a delicious common item to see in Hong Kong Asian Bakeries.  It is also always sold in bakeries in Vancouver, Canada for about $1.29 a piece.  Not only do they look beautiful but they are so delicious.  The tapioca turns clear when it is finished cooking and has an incredibly gooey- chewy-ness to them.  You can use tapioca or sago pearls, they both work here. Tapioca pearls are made with tapioca starch and sago is made with potato starch.  Traditionally, they are filled with Red Bean Paste but you could try it with other pastes such as lotus, taro etc.  It is incredibly easy to make, and the end result is almost like a not-so stringy Japanese daifuku mochi, with half the mess. I made mine in a 16.5 cm by 7 cm square baking tin but an 8 inch tin will do too.  You can put it in any moulds you want, even muffin tins, but the times will vary depending on the thickness of the pearls. Give it a try, you'll impress your taste buds and your guests!  This recipe is adapted from Christine's Recipes of Steamed Tapioca Red Bean Cake.  Be sure to check out Christine's Recipe Blog! Click Here.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

How to Make: Red Bean Paste (Anko) used in Chinese, Japanese and Korean sweets.

Red bean paste is a sweet bean paste that is commonly in East Asian sweets. Red beans have a slight sweet taste even without having sugar added to it.  However, it is most commonly sweetened, and used to flavour, fill or as a base for sweets.  It is used to make Japanese jelly (Yokan), to fill Korean doughnuts and Chinese pineapple buns, as a topping of the Malaysian Ice Kacang and many, many more.  There are 3 main types red bean pastes.  There are the whole, the chunky and the smooth.  The whole one consists of the red beans being whole which is all slicked in a sugary syrup.  The chunky one has the beans mashed with the skins on with a few addition of whole beans for texture. The smooth one is the most common one to be filled in pastries, and cakes.  It is completely mashed and have been strained through a sieve to remove the skins leaving a satiny smooth dark paste.  
   Red bean paste is extremely easy to make, and it can flavour almost any sweets and desserts like red bean cake, red bean pie, red bean pancakes, or just on top of vanilla ice cream.  The best ratio I've found to make red bean anko paste is 1:4 (red beans to water, respectively).  So please multiply or divide according to the amount you require. Both metric (left side) and imperial measurements (right side) are listed.
    Red beans (commonly labelled, ''Anko'') are very easy to get at any Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Malaysian, almost all East Asian markets.  They are in packets and usually inexpensive, perhaps $1.29-$2.50 CAD a packet.  There are pre-tinned and pre-made pastes available as well, but you can't control the sugar content and the addition of preservatives.  I think it's best to make your own, and it's easy too!

Friday, 9 September 2011

How to Make: Golden Syrup (The British Style)

Golden syrup is one of Britain's greatest contribution to the culinary world.  It is a thick, sweet, golden syrup, that has a reddish tinted hue to it.  It looks like molten, edible amber.  Traditionally it is served drizzled on top of scones and clotted cream, (known in Cornwall as the, ''Thunder and Lightning'').  Though it may seem just like a sweetener, it actually has a unique slightly sourish, bitter flavour to it, which adds such depth to cakes, pies, biscuits, cookies and even in marinades.  It is an important ingredients required to make Chinese mooncakes.  Golden syrup is made of sugar and water which has been allowed to caramalise, and combine with an acid to it to make it stable as a liquid, preventing it from crystalisation.
For so many months, I've been looking for Golden Syrup (yes, the name deserves to be capatilised),  in the USA, but I've had no luck.  The only thing that bared any resemblance in look, was Aunt Jemina's pancake syrup, which we all know, is an inferior, cheap substitution of real maple syrup.  Not only does it not taste good, but it's not quite bad for you (not saying that Golden Syrup is health food too).  Golden Syrup however, is available widely in Canada, made by the traditional UK brand Lyle's and our own Canadian brand, Roger's, both packaged in tins and glass jars.  It is also widely available in the UK (of course), Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Germany, Norway.... the list goes on, but not so common in the USA apparently.  So with no luck in finding it in the USA, I figured why not try making it at home?  I searched up some recipes and I based it upon this recipe from Neck Red Recipe's Blog, but only made a small batch, because I wasn't sure how it would turn out.  I tweaked the recipe and the texture was very close to the ones in the market!  The scent is not like the commercial ones, but it's pretty good! I think it's a fantastic recipe!  It's a must-try, especially since you'll need them to make lots of Nigella Lawson's recipes!  Again, both metric and imperial are listed, but the metric measurements will ensure consistent results.
Thanks so much to Neck Red Recipes!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

How to Make: Meatloaf à la mode


The school season has started, and time is not so plentiful as it was in the summer!  So when time is scarce, I try to make a dish that can last two or even three days.  Meatloaf is a good one to make.
It can be eaten with rice, in a sandwich or just as it is.
       Meatloaf is a common dish in English speaking nations such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom, and the United States.  Everybody has their own recipes, so I did some research on a few recipes and I saw some interesting techniques that were used such as using potato chips, mashed potatoes, heavy cream, cheese, ground almonds, yoghurt, sour cream, a whole bunch of others.  I personally find that when all of these ingredients are added, it dilutes the taste of the meat, and it ends up tasting like soggy dense bread.  Breadcrumbs are common in meatloaf, but I use Panko, which are Japanese breadcrumbs.  They are much lighter and airier than italian-style breadcrumbs.  This prevents the meatloaf from having a dry and grainy texture.  The idea of adding some hard boiled egg in the middle was an idea I stole from Nigella Lawson's meatloaf recipe, but the actual meatloaf recipe is my own.  The eggs in the middle of the meatloaf makes it so appealing, especially when it is cut.  The bacon wrapped around the loaf makes it even so flavourful because it creates a crisp crust around the juicy meatloaf.
       This meatloaf is one worth trying!  It's very appealing and easy.  I've provided both imperial and metric measurements in the recipe, the imperial is on the right side and the metric measurements are on the left side.  This recipe can be doubled or halved if want to change the serving size.  If doubling the recipe add another 20 minutes in the oven.  If cutting the recipe in half, reduce the cooking time by 15 min.

Click on the description below to buy Panko.  Panko should not be hard to find, it is widely available in both Asian supermarkets and Western supermarkets.
Panko Breadcrumbs on Amazon.

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