Flaky Asian Buns with Red Bean Paste and Salted Duck Egg Yolks

中文菜谱:

豆沙蛋黄酥

Flaky buns are very popular in Asian countries.  Literally every bakery sells them.  The recipes and fillings vary from bakery to bakery.  Some popular choices are sweet red bean paste, lotus seed paste, mung bean paste, and even savory ground pork filling.

I like to bake my own instead buying them from store.  They are best when they are freshly out the oven, piping hot.  But it is very hard to get such perfect timing when buying from store.

The recipe was posted a long time ago here: Flower Shape Pastry Cookies with Red Bean Filling.  I use it every time I make flaky buns at home. Therefore I think I can proudly announce this is a time-tested solid recipe O(_)O~

Salted duck egg yolks are available in frozen food section in most Asian grocery stores.  Sometimes I make salt duck eggs from scratch.  They look and taste much better.  But the thing with homemade salted duck eggs is that it takes one month to marinate.  That is a long waiting time.  I usually go with store-bought version if I have a sudden crave and can’t wait 30 days.

Ingredients for the flaky buns:

150 g all purpose flour
105 g lard / butter / shortening / vegetable oil
40 g powder sugar
70 g water
110 g cake flour

For the filling

Salted duck egg yolks (12 to 15 yolks)
red bean paste (homemade or store bought from Asian grocery store)
egg yolk wash
black sesame seeds

 

Directions

Although you can use lard / butter / shortening / vegetable oil to make the cookies, lard is always the preferable choice because of its major role in making these buns’ flaky and air-like layers while no other oil/ fat can do the same.

The easiest way to get pure lard is to make it yourself at home.

Pork lard is sold by pound in Asian grocery stores.  And this is how it looks like.

With a sharp knife, cut it into small pieces.

Add pork lard pieces to a cast iron pan/ wok, along with 1/4 cup water.

Heat the pan over medium heat.  The water will gradually evaporate as cooking process going on.

When the pork lard pieces shrink in sizes and turn into light golden brown color, remove pan from heat.  Allow the mixture to cool for 10 to 20 minutes. 

Drain pork fat liquid.  Reserve what is needed for this recipe.  Store the rest in Mason jar.  Seal and refrigerate after it is totally cooled down.

In a medium bowl, add 55g lard, all purpose flour, powder sugar and water.   Whisk with a wooden spoon or chop sticks until all ingredients come together.  Knead with hands until the dough is smooth and elastic.  This is dough NO 1.

In another bowl, add 50 g lard and cake flour.  With a wooden spoon, mix flour and lard until they are well blended.  This is dough NO 2.

I always make my own red bean paste.  And I posted how to make red bean paste from scratch before: Sweet Rice Dumplings with Red Beans and Jujubes Wrapped in Bamboo Leaves

Everything is ready

Preheat the oven to 400F/204C

Divide dough NO 1 into 20 g/ each piece; dough NO 2 into 10 g/ each; and red bean paste into 30 g/ each.  Roll each of them into small dough balls.

Punch down each red bean paste balls and wrap the salted duck egg yolks with red bean paste.  Shape each pieces back into round red bean balls again.

Take one piece of dough NO 1; press it down with your palm; wrap it around one piece of dough NO 2; seal the edges; and roll it into a ball shape again.

With a rolling pin, roll the dough ball into 3 mm thin, roll it up from one end, cover with plastic wrap and repeat the process again 10 minutes later.  It is kind of similar to making croissants.

Press the dough down a little bit with a rolling pin or your palm.  Fold two ends towards center.  Press it down again and then roll it into 1/4 inch thin.  Place a red bean paste ball in the center.  Wrap it up and seal the edge with your fingers.  Roll it into a round dough ball. 

Repeat the process until all the dough balls are done.

Press down the dough balls a little bit between palms.  Add to a cookie pan lined with silicone mat.  

Brush with egg yolk wash and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the bun tops are golden brown.

These are some fine delicate and flaky buns! O(∩_∩)O~

The layers are really amazing.

Black tea or coffee is perfect for these sweet little flaky buns.

The best part is the flaky layers.  They are delicate, slightly sweet and of course, very flaky. Take a bite, and the layers crumble between teeth, and in your mouth, and maybe all over you O(∩_∩)O~

Salted duck egg yolks and red bean paste may sound a bizarre combination, but it works!  The two together create a savory sweet excellent balance and flavor.

Ok, if you don’t want to go through all the kneading and baking process listed above but still want to know what they taste like, grab you car key and drive to a nearby authentic Asian bakery.  Remember the key word is authentic!  Buy one in store that is freshly out of oven, and you will know how good it is; and most likely you will agree with me that all the effort I go through to make them fresh at home is well worthy O(∩_∩)O~

Grilled Beef Tendon

中文菜谱:

烤牛筋串

Beef tendon is a rare ingredient in American grocery market.  But it is quite popular in Asian market for its unique texture.  Beef tendon has very tough tissue.  Maybe that is why it is underappreciated in American market.  After a long simmering/ cooking time, it becomes tender, gelatinous, still a bit chewy, with a mild beefy flavor.  We put it in broths, noodle soups, porridges, stir-fries, even meatballs. 

It is only until very recently that I discovered it tastes excellent even grilled! Wow! I am telling everyone I know that how good it is.  And I am going to show you a great way to grill beef tendon.

Ingredients:

2 large pieces of beef tendon (weighs between 1 1/2 to 2 lbs)
1 to 2 tablespoons rice cooking wine
1 large piece of ginger root, smashed
1 spice & herb bag
water for cleaning and cooking
salt to taste

 

Ingredients for spice & herb bag:

3 to 4 star anises
1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper corns
1 black cardamom pod, smashed
4 to 5 cloves
3 to 4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried ginger
a handful of dried red chili peppers, cut into pieces

 

Directions:

Add star anises, Sichuan peppercorns, cardamom, dried ginger, cloves, bay leaves, chili peppers to a piece of coffee filter paper.  Wrap and tie it up to be a spice bag.

Rinse the beef tendon.  Trim off any excessive fat if necessary.

 

Add beef tendon along with water, ginger, rice cooking wine, spice bag and salt to an instant pot pressure cooker.  Cook with high pressure setting for 40 to 50 minutes.  Beef tendon is become tender but still pretty chewy and al-dente which I like very much after 40 minutes’ cooking.  If you prefer softer texture, just cook 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Refrigerate beef tendon until completely chilled.  With a sharp knife, cut into half inch cubes.

Preheat the grill to 400F/204C

Brush both the griddle and beef tendon skewers with oil. And then add the skewered beef tendon to grill.

Remember to brush them with oil from time to time.  Otherwise the skewed tendon could be quite sticky to the griddle.

Brush with your favorite BBQ sauce too.

Soon, they would be golden brown.

Sprinkle with a mixture of crushed chili pepper, cumin and sesame seeds

Sprinkle with a little bit more spices before serving. 

Bon appetite! O(∩_∩)O~

Sizzling Grilled Lamb Loin Chops

Summer is the perfect season for backyard grilling and BBQ.  Grilling can be addictive. Once you try a perfectly grilled steak right off the grill, you can never go back to and be happy with the stove top version.  O(∩_∩)O~ 

Ingredients:

6 pieces lamb loin chops (weighs between 1 1/2 and 2 lbs)
freshly ground black pepper
McCormick steak grill seasoning or other seasonings of choice
sea salt to taste

Directions:

Quickly rinse the lamb loin chops under running water.  Pat dry with kitchen paper towel.

Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper on one side.

Flip them over and sprinkle the other side with McCormick steak grill seasoning.

Meanwhile, preheat the grill to 425F/218C with 2 sizzling plates in it. 

Add lamb chops.  Grill for 2 to 3 minutes.

Flip over and continue to grill the other side for another 2 minutes.

This is what lamb chops look like after 2 minutes’ grilling.

And this is after another 2 minutes’ grilling.  They are getting more and more golden brown and delicious. The extremely hot sizzling plates will continue to cook the lamb later.  So don’t worry if you think grilling time is too short here.

Transfer the lamb chops to sizzling plates.

And now get the plates out of the grill and serve.  That beautiful sizzling sound is like wonderful music to a foodie like me O(∩_∩)O~

Sizzling plate steaks are always on the top of my comfort food list.  I posted some before:

Sizzling Grilled Dry Aged Ribeye & New York Strip Steak

Boba Milk Tea with Black Sugar Syrup

中文菜谱:

黑糖鲜奶茶

Yes, we Asian people are totally obsessed with tea, milk tea and boba milk tea. Don’t get me start by counting the milk tea café on the streets in any big cities in China.  Chances are they might outnumber coffee shops and bars combined.

Tea choices in these cafes don’t always stay the same.  There are some hot trends once in a while.  For example, currently milk tea with black sugar syrup is more popular than other ones.

When I am too lazy to drive to China town, I DIY my own milk tea at home.  Trust me; it is so simple that even my husband can manage it! O(∩_∩)O~

The one from above is icy cold version.  And the one following is hot tea version.

For the tea:

10 g black tea leaves/ or 2 black tea bags
4 to 6 cups of water (or adjust water amount to taste)   

 

For black sugar syrup:

1/2 cup black sugar/ or really dark brown cane sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons water  

 

Other ingredients:

Black tapioca pearls (sold in any Asian grocery stores)
whole milk
water for cooking tapioca pearls

 

Directions:

Add black tea leaves to a French press  

Boil the water.  Remove from heat and let it to cool down for a couple minutes to probably around 195F/90C

Add water to the French press.

Add black sugar and water to a small thick sauce pan.  Cook over medium low heat until the mixture becomes syrupy.

It is really dark brown cane sugar and tastes like what we had back in childhood.

Cook the black tapioca pearls according to the directions on the package.  Cook in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover with lid and leave the tapioca balls in hot water for another 2 to 3 minutes. 

Rinse tapioca pearls and drain well.  Add to a small bowl along with 2 to 3 teaspoons black sugar syrup.  Mix well with a spoon.

Spoon the tapioca pearls to a tall glass.  Add more syrup if desired.

Frother 1/2 cup whole milk with the steam wand from an espresso machine

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Add black tea to the glass, and then frothered milk.  Drizzle some syrup on the top.

Refrigerate any leftover black tea. 

To make the icy cold version, add freshly cooked tapioca pearls, black sugar syrup, ice cubes, milk.  Stir with a jumbo straw for boba

Add black tea and ice cubes.

Add milk

Stir and serve.  It is such a nice treat in a hot summer day!O(∩_∩)O~

Sweet Rice Dumplings with Red Beans and Jujubes Wrapped in Bamboo Leaves

Last time I posted sweet rice dumplings with pork and mung beans wrapped in bamboo leaves .  They are savory and tasty.  And I make another batch of sweet ones this time with red beans.

Red bean is one of the most popular dessert ingredients in Asia.  After long simmering time, red beans become soft and smooth.  By adding oil and sugar, we can get creamy and silky red bean paste which is good for all kinds of pastry goods. 

Besides red beans, I also add jujubes and lotus seeds.  These two may sound rare and exotic to American people, but they are widely used and have been very popular in Asian countries too.  The combination of them together with red beans paste is pretty tasty and awesome.

Ingredients for sweet rice dumplings:

3 cups of sweet rice
1 package of split pitted jujubes(10 oz, 283g)
2/3 cup of fresh lotus seeds (sold in refrigerate food section in Asian grocery stores)
red bean paste
large bamboo leaves
water as needed

 

Ingredients for red bean paste:

1/2 cup small red beans
1/2 to 2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown cane sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil
water as needed

 

Directions:

These are the red beans and split pitted jujubes I buy from Asian grocery stores.  

Preparing red bean paste a day or two ahead of time would be a good idea.

Soak the red beans in water for 3 to 4 hours.  Add to a small pot with water.  Cook over medium low heat until the beans become very soft.

Use a vitamix blender to puree the beans. 

Add the puree to a non-stick skillet.  Cook over medium low heat.  Stir with wooden spoon from time to time.

Add 1/3 of oil and dark brown cane sugar.  Stir until they are absorbed by the red bean paste.  And then add another 1/3.  Repeat the process one more time after that.   

Finally the red bean paste is sweet, silky, and smooth.  It is done when the bean paste can maintain its shape.

Remove from heat.  Allow it to cool to room temperature.

Soak the sweet rice for 2 to 3 hours.  Drain well and fold in washed jujubes and lotus seeds.

The fresh lotus seeds are available in only a few Asian markets.  They are kind of hard to find.  If you can’t find them, you can just leave them out, or substitute with dry lotus seeds rehydrated in water for a couple hours.  The dry ones shall be available in all Asian grocery stores no matter how small the store is.  That is how much we love these tiny louts seeds O(∩_∩)O~

Soak dry bamboo leaves in water until well rehydrated.  Rinse well under running water.  Blanch the bamboo leaves in hot boiling water for a few seconds.  Drain and set aside for later use.

Fold every two bamboo leaves into a cone shape; add a couple tablespoons sweet rice with jujubes and lotus seeds.

Add a tablespoon of red bean paste

Cover with a thin layer of sweet rice mixture

Fold the bamboo leaves on top and wrap it up

Secure with cotton twine

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All done!

I use a Staub 5.75 quarts cast iron dutch oven here.  Fill the pot with water. Cook over high heat until it boils.  Cover with lid and reduce the heat to simmer for about 2 1/2 hours.

Drain well and allow the dumplings to cool down before serving them.

Unwrap the dumplings before consuming.  Sweet rice become sticky and glutinous when cooked.  The whole dumpling taste sweet, tender, silky and delicious! 

BTW, freshly homemade red bean paste is much better than the store-bought version in every way.  Red bean paste is the key ingredient here.  The extra effort to make it from scratch at home totally enhances the flavor, big time! O(∩_∩)O~