Shiu Mai with Ground Pork,Mushrooms and Sweet Rice

If you have been to Dim Sum place before, you might be familiar with shiu mai already.  It is made with super thin wheat dough with fillings inside.  There are so many kinds of fillings for shiu mai.  They vary from area to area.  Pork and shrimps are a very popular choice in southeast part of China.  In the north, lamb, beef, and even sweet rice can be found in shiu mai fillings too. 

Each and every one of them is very tasty.  I personally prefer the ones made with sweet rice. 

 It is quite easy to make them at home too!  With a pack of store-bought wonton wraps, we can easily make a large batch of shiu mai.

Ingredients:

1 pack wonton wraps (sold in most Asian grocery stores)
1 handful dried wild mushrooms / shiitake mushrooms
1 cup of sweet rice
100 g fresh ground pork
1 to 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon rice cooking wine
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon white ground pepper
salt to taste  

Sweet rice might look like regular white rice.  But they are more glutinous when cooked.  That is why sweet rice is also called sticky rice and glutinous rice.

Dry wild mushrooms are sold in most Asian grocery stores too.  They are packed with tons of earthy, nutty, and fragrant flavors; and can be used in soups, stews, or stir fries.  

They can be substituted with shiitake mushrooms too.  Shiitake mushroom is another kind of mushroom with distinctive fragrance and are wildly popular in Asian countries too.  You shall be able in find them in almost every Asian grocery stores.

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Soak the dried wild mushrooms in cold water for a couple hours.

Cook the sweet rice in a rice cooker.  Sweet rice requires less water than regular rice.

Allow the rice to chill for 10 minutes or so.

Rinse the wild mushrooms under running water and drain them well.

Chop the mushrooms in a food processor.

In a large bowl, add cooked sweet rice, along with ground pork, mushrooms, oyster sauce, rice cooking wine, ginger, sesame oil, sugar, white ground pepper and salt.

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Gently whisk with a pair of chopsticks.

Add a couple tablespoons of ground pork and sweet rice filling to center of the wonton wrap.

Wrap the edges towards the center.  Brush the wrap with water or egg wash if needed. 

Add a bamboo steamer lined with small squares of parchment paper.   

Repeat the process until all are finished.   The listed ingredients above yield about 50 shiu mai.  Freeze extra ones if they are too much for a single meal.

Fill a wok with water.  Cook over high heat until water boils.  Add steamer.  Continue to steam over high heat for 12 to 15 minutes.

Serve hot immediately. 

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Isn’t it easy and quick?  

Sriracha sauce is great dipping sauce for shiu mai.  I also use it for dumplings too.  

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Pumpkin and Millet Porridge

中文菜谱: 南瓜糯小米粥

Porridge, also known as congee, has a long history in China.  It was invented when the food was scarce and very limited.  People added a lot of water to the pot with very little grains like rice, barleys, or millets.  The porridge cooked this way was thin, bland and tasteless.  But it fed a lot of hungry bellies when time was hard.  

Nowadays, people continue to cook porridge for its health benefits.  By adding different ingredients, porridges can be quite nutritious and tasty too!  And the combinations are endless.  You can put pretty much anything into porridge to make it sweet or savory.  If you like dim sum, that is a great chance you have already tried some porridge or congee already. 

I recently discover that millets and pumpkin can be a really combination for porridge too!

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Ingredients:

1 cup of glutinous millets (sold in most Asian grocery stores)
1 small Kabocha
water as needed

 

Glutinous millets are different from regular millets.  They are, well, more glutinous /sticky when cooked.  O(∩_∩)O~

Kabocha is also known as “Japanese pumkin / squash”.  They are usually small, round and dark green with beautiful stripes and dots across the whole squash.  

And kabocha usually taste sweeter, more tender and starchy than regular squash.  It is on the top of my favorite squash list.

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Directions:

Rinse the kabocha thoroughly under running water.  Put in on top of a steamer in an instant pot.  Fill the pot with 2 to 3 cups of water.   set on high pressure for 8 to 12 minutes depending on the size of kabocha. 

When cooked, remove kabocha’s skin and inner seed mixture.  

Use a fork to finely smash the kabocha flesh.

Meanwhile, soak the glutinous millets for 30 minutes.  Drain well. 

In a cast iron pot, add about 1 gallon of water.  Cook on high heat until the water boils.  I am using a Le Creuset 4 quarts Dutch oven here.  It heats more evenly; can be served with pot and looks so good on the table.

Add soaked glutinous millets. 

Continue to cook on high heat until the millet mixture boils again.  Cover with lid and reduce the heat to simmer.  Do not cover the lid tight.  Leave some space on the edge so that extra moisture from the pot can evaporate. 

Stir with a wooden spoon from time to time.

The porridge would be done in about 45 minutes. 

Fold in kabocha puree with a wooden spoon.   Turn the heat back to high until the porridge boils again. 

Remove from heat and serve hot immediately.

The porridge has a silky and smooth texture.  Kabocha puree adds extra flavors to it. 

It is a bowl of sweet,  silky, and comforting porridge; just like a hug in a bowl! O(∩_∩)O~

Pan-fried Dumplings with Pork and Zucchini

中文菜谱: 鲜肉西葫芦煎饺

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Zucchini became an important vegetable when we were still living in a small town in Michigan.  We were far away from Asian grocery stores.  So I shop at the local farmer market a lot to get fresh produce and sometimes grass fed steaks, which, by the way, were super tasty and amazing. 

Leafy greens thrived in early summer.  When July came, most vegetable booths begin to sell local zucchinis, peppers, potatoes and corns. 

That was when I bought so many zucchinis and learned to develop different ways to cook them.  Besides stir fried zucchini, my favorite way is to dry them first a little, chop them up and then put into dumplings.

Chinese dumplings are like Italian pasta.  The ingredient and flavor combinations are endless.  Any ordinary ingredient like zucchini could be used in dumpling fillings and shine like a flavor star. 

Ingredients:

1 lb pork shoulder
5 to 6 zucchinis
1 pack of dumpling wraps (sold in frozen food section in most Asian grocery stores)
1 tablespoon rice cooking wine
1 to 2 teaspoon oyster sauce
1/4  teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4  to 1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1/4  teaspoon ground ginger
1 stalks of green onions, chopped
Chicken broth/ water  
salt to taste
cooking oil
white sesame seeds
water/ egg wash (for dumpling wrapping)


Directions:

Thinly slice the zucchinis.  Use a food dehydrator to partially dry the zucchinis slices just until they are dry to touch and the edges begin to wrinkle. 

If you don’t have a food dehydrator available, air dry and sundry methods are both ok too.

Grind the pork shoulder with a meat grinder.  If you don’t have a meat grinder, remember to ask for help to do so in the store, or you can also buy the ground pork.

Add ground pork to a medium bowl, along with ground white pepper, oyster sauce, rice cooking wine, ground ginger, and corn starch.  Whisk with a pair of chopsticks or a wooden spoon.  Gradually add chicken stock/water while whisking.  The more and harder you whisk, the tender and more elastic the ground pork filling will be. 

Use a food processor to finely chop the zucchini slices. 

Add to the ground pork mixture.

Add salt to taste.  Mix with a pair of chopsticks until well combined.

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Brush the dumpling wrapper’s edge with a little water or egg wash. 

Add a couple tablespoons’ pork filling to its center.

Wrap it up.

Repeat the process until all the dumplings are finished.

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Heat a small cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Add 1 to 2 tablespoons oil, and then about 10 dumplings.  Use more oil and a larger pan if you want to cook more than 10 dumplings at a time. 

Pan-fry the dumplings for a couple minutes. 

Add 1/3 cup of water.  Cover with lid immediately after adding water to the pan.

When all the water evaporates, reduce the heat to medium low.  Sprinkle with remaining chopped green onions and white sesame seeds on top.

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The bottoms of dumplings are golden brown.

Remove from heat and serve them hot immediately.

There two of my personal dipping sauces for pan-fried dumplings.  One is a combination of chili oil sauce + soy sauce + balsamic vinegar.  The other is sriracha sauce hot chili sauce.

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The crunchy golden bottoms of the dumplings are the best part! 

Zucchini’s flavor really stands out in the dumplings.  The fillings taste juicy, tender and with a significant sweetness from zucchinis.  Yum!

Stir-fried Fava Beans with Ground Pork and Pickled Vegetable

Fresh fava beans are such a culinary delicacy.  The fresh beans come with light green color and a mild grassy, earthy and refreshing scent and taste.  When cooked, they become a bit sweet and starchy. 

For those who have never had fava beans before, they are very similar to what young lima beans taste like.  The skin on the outside is a little bit firmer than lima beans.  And they are both very tasty!

I cook with fresh fava beans a lot.  The best season for them is late summer.  And they are usually available in Asian grocery markets.  If you live in Houston like I do, Central Market is another good place to shop for fresh fava beans too.

Ingredients:

2 lbs fresh fava beans
200  to 300 g ground pork
1/2  package of Sichuan pickled vegetable, finely chopped (1/2 package weighs about 50 g.  It is sold in most Asian grocery stores)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup of chicken broth/ water
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 slice of ginger root, minced
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
5 to 6 dry red chili peppers, diced
vegetable oil for cooking
salt to taste

Fresh young fava beans are usually sold in pods so that they stay fresh and the beans don’t get bruised. 

Pick the ones with big fat “belly”.

Peel fava beans from their pods.

Directions:

Heat a cast iron wok over high heat.  Add oil, along with minced garlic, ginger, diced peppers and ground pork.  Stir fry over high heat for several minutes until the ground pork begin to turn slightly golden brown.

Add chopped Sichuan pickled vegetable. Sautee for a minute or two. 

Add fava beans and sautee everything together for another couple minutes.

Add chicken broth/water, along with rice cooking wine, oyster suace, low sodium soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar and salt.  Cover with lid and reduce the heat to simmer for 7 to 8 minutes.

Turn the heat back to high and cook until the broth evaporate. 

Sautee over high heat for another couple minutes. 

Remove from heat and serve hot immediately.

Charcoal Grilled Beef Short Ribs

中文菜谱: 碳烤牛仔骨

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When it comes to BBQ, what Asian people have in mind is quite different from American style BBQ.  We prefer to grill skewed meat over hot and smooth flames coming out from burning charcoal.  People gather around the table where the meat is being grilled drinking, talking, laughing and waiting for the meat to be ready.  That is how we do BBQ O(∩_∩)O~

One of my favorite meats to grill is beef short ribs.

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Cut into smaller pieces

I don’t always marinate the ribs prior grilling.  So a dipping sauce or seasoning is necessary.  A simple mix of salt and pepper will do.  But I like to go extra miles to make a lot better O(∩_∩)O~

Ingredients:

A handful dried chili peppers
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
3 to 4 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1/4 cup dry roasted peanut
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium low heat.  Add Sichuan peppercorns, chili peppers and sesame seeds.  Pan roast until the sesame seeds turn into pale yellow color.  You should be able to smell intense aroma Sichuan peppercorns at this point.

Add Sichuan peppercorns, chili peppers, sesame seeds, peanuts, salt, and sugar along with freshly ground black pepper to spice / coffee grinder

Finely grind them

Charcoal fire

Put on a grill wire mesh.  When it gets hot, add beef short ribs

Flip them over from time to time.  It is the key to great Asian tabletop style BBQ

Smells amazing

When the short ribs are done, coat them with dry seasoning.

It is not perfect until you have cold beers in your hand! O(∩_∩)O~

Sometimes it is hard to find long cut beef short ribs, this one will do too.  It is widely available in most American grocery stores.

make some thick cuts

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Start grilling!

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Dried seasoning is really good for grilled beef short ribs.

And don’t forget the beers!

When unfortunately I can’t find any kind of beef short ribs, I buy skirt steak.  It is good for tabletop grilling too.

Thinly cut with an angle

Grill them over charcoal fire

The reason I love Asian style tabletop grilling is that it requires just some very simple ingredients but very tasty if done the right way.  Burning charcoal add smoky flavor to the meat.  Flipping the meat from time to time can prevent burning and also helps the meat to cook more evenly. 

The most important thing is that families and families gather around the table chatting and drinking when waiting for the BBQ.  It is very relaxing and heart-warming moment. O(∩_∩)O~