Friday, 21 October 2011

How to Make: Sweet Taro Paste/Red Bean Baked Pastry Dumplings (Manju 만주) Adapted from Maangchi

Recently, I've found about a Youtube celebrity chef; Maangchi.  If you haven't seen her, go look her up NOW.  She is so relaxed and makes everything looks so delicious and easy.  Her video and recipe of Manju (Click here to see her recipe and video!) made me make it.  I've adapted the recipe to more Chinese style and diary free, and in fact, these kinds of pastries are common in Asian Markets.  T&T Supermarket in Canada have something similar to this in their baking aisle, but I don't know what it's called. This pastry is actually amazing easy to make and only takes a couple of minutes to prepare.  You'll impress anyone with the cute chestnut shape.  You can shape it however you want but I like it like this.  I've used the taro paste this time, and it was pretty damn good!  But you can always use red bean paste or any other pastes. Maangchi uses lima beans, but I can't find them. Give it try, you'll be so you made beautiful pastries!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

How to Make: Chinese Sweet Taro Paste (芋泥餡) ''Or Nee'' Dim Sum/Yum Cha Filling

Taro Paste is a common and relatively a new filling to see in Chinese pastries, steamed buns and desserts.  Chinese pastries are usually filled with some kind of paste whether it be red bean paste, lotus seed paste, black bean paste, black sesame paste, chestnut paste... the list goes on.  The taro paste however, is my favourite and the easiest, quickest one to make.  Taro (芋头 yù tou) is a starchy root vegetable that originated from Hawaii.  It is used in various cuisines such as Hawaiian, African Japanese, Chinese, and almost all Southeast Asian cuisine.  The flesh of the root has a murky grey-ish tint to it with specks of purple.  When it is cooked, the purple specks tints the entire vegetable giving it a beautiful cloudy-purplish colour.  The texture of a taro is like a potato, with a little less moisture and has a distinct taste to it.  It has a mildly-sweet, coconut-like flavour which complements many Chinese dishes.  It served at Dim sum/Yum Cha  restaurants as a filling in the Coconut Pudding Jelly (椰汁糕), Pineapple buns, Steamed buns, baked buns, etc.  Taro paste is very exciting to see and taste whenever it is inside a bun because it fits so well, texturally, visually and flavour-wise.  Plus, when do you ever get to eat something purple that isn't food coloured?
   It is so easy to make, you can start filling your cakes, puddings, buns, and even savoury foods with it.   You can serve by itself as a dessert which is called ''Or Nee'' which is a bowl of taro paste, topped with a little bit of sugary syrup, and peanuts.  You can get taro at all Asian grocery markets.  Pandan is the Southeast Asian version of vanilla, but has a completely different profile in taste.  You can find the extract in bottles or the leaves frozen in the freezer section, or if you're really lucky, the fresh leaves.  But you can use vanilla if you can't find it at your Asian grocery store.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

How to Make: Chinese Chive and Prawn Pan Fried Dumplings 韭菜虾饺 (Gai Coi Har Gow) Chinese Dim sum/Yum Cha Recipe

Dim sum/Yum Cha is favoured throughout the world (Click here to see what Dim Sum/Yum Cha is). Delicious snack-like dishes offer such elegance to the eyes and the multitude of textures in every dish is truly a unique experience. Today, I'm sharing the recipe of a very common dish to see at Dim Sum/Yum Cha-they are Chive and Prawn Pan Fried Dumplings 韭菜虾饺 (Gai Coi Har Gao). At the Dim Sum/Yum cha restaurants, they are commonly distributed by trollies equipped with a portable electrical grill or griddle attached. They are pre-steamed and are reheated and pan fried as per order right in front of you. I remember I saw Giada de Laurentiis eating this dish on her show, ''Weekend Getaways'' on Food Network TV! So this dish is definitely a favourite throughout the world! The Chinese garlic chives can be purchased at almost all Chinese and Vietnamese grocers, but you can substitute it with other kinds of chives and with the addition of some chopped garlic. The Chinese garlic chive have broader leaves and a much stronger garlic taste and aroma to them. The skin of the dumpling a crisp exterior and a soft chewy interior when they are ready, it's absolutely delicious! Please note that the recipe requires wheat starch! Not all purpose wheat flour. This is very important as wheat starch has no gluten which allows it to be soft. You can easily get it cheaply at any Asian market.

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