Spicy Ground Beef with Diced Dried Tofu

中文菜谱:

香辣牛肉豆干酱

The spicy ground beef here is more like spicy meat sauce.  It is not served as an independent entrée or appetizer in our house.  Instead it is used as a condiment or topping in rice and noodles. 

In China, there is a long time tradition to make meat sauce with heavy dose of salt and oil, in some areas chili peppers too.   The original purpose in doing so is to preserve meat and other food ingredients when food was scarce.  However, as time goes by, people get attached to this type of food.  Pick any Asian grocery store you like.  Go in there.  You will see so many different varieties of chili oil sauces, meat pepper sauces and pickles on the shelves.

Sometimes I buy meaty sauce from my favorite Asian grocery stores.  Other times I like spending time in kitchen whipping up my own special spicy meat oil sauce. 

I usually add spicy ground beef to the freshly homemade noodles as a topping.  The flavor is enhanced and the noodles are so much more appetizing  O(∩_∩)O~

Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground beef (95% or 100% lean)
2 gloves of garlic, peeled and finely diced
1 small piece of ginger root, fine chopped
2 tablespoons rice cooking wine
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/4  to 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup Pixian chili paste
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
1/3 to 1/2 cup crushed red chili pepper/ cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1/2 cup of cooking oil
1 package of dried seasoned tofu (weighs around 200g.  Usually sold in fridge section in Asian grocery stores)

Directions:

Dice the dried tofu.

Heat a light weight cast iron wok over high heat.  Add oil, and then ground beef, along with chopped ginger and garlic. 

Stir fry the beef until it turns slightly golden brown. 

Reduce the heat to medium low.  Add rice cooking wine, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, Pixian chili paste, oyster sauce, ground Sichuan peppercorns, crushed red chili pepper/ cayenne pepper.

Sauté the mixture over medium low heat for 8 to 10 minutes

Add diced tofu.  Season with salt.

And then continue to sauté for another 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove from heat

The spicy ground beef can be stored in Ball Mason jars in the fridge for up to a week.

It goes really great with noodle soup and steamed white rice.

I posted how to make noodles at home before: Homemade Noodles in Thick Pork Broth  

Cook the noodles in boiling water for 45 seconds to one minute.  Add to a bowl, along with soy sauce, sesame oil, Sichuan peppercorn oil, chili oil sauce, spicy ground beef with dice tofu, finely shredded cucumber, chopped cilantro, green onion, and of course, crunchy soybeans.

Crunchy soybeans was posted recently: Crunchy Soybeans

Use pair of chopsticks to toss everything together.

Bon appetite! O(∩_∩)O~

Crunchy Soybeans

中文菜谱:

酥黄豆

Crunchy soybeans are far more than a snack to us.  They can also be used as a crunchy topping for Asian style noodle soups too, or as a topping to almost anything you like.  And be careful, these beans can be additive too O(∩_∩)O~

It is super simple and easy to make crunchy soybeans at home.  All you need is a little bit of time and patience, and of course, some soybeans!

Crunchy soybeans make perfect topping for Chinese noodles.

Ingredients:

1 cup of soybeans
water for soaking
1 1/2 to 2 cups oil
salt to taste

 

Directions:

Add soybeans to a bowl, along with water.  Let it sit overnight.

Soaked soybeans

Drain the soybeans.  Add to a thick sauce pan.  Add oil.  I use a 2 quarts cast iron wok which is perfect for frying small batch of meat and vegetables.

Cook over medium low heat. 

With a spoon, stir the beans from time to time to prevent uneven cooking.

A few minutes later, soybeans start to change colors.

They slowly darken the color. 

Reduce the heat to low.  DO NOT use high heat here.  Otherwise, you might end up with burnt or chewy soybeans instead of crunchy ones.

The beans have been deep-fried over low heat for almost 30 minutes.

Now the color is beautifully golden brown.

Drain the beans and let them cool down in a plate lined with kitchen paper towel.

Sprinkle with fine table salt.  Store in an air-tight mason jar up to 2 weeks after the beans are completely cooled. 

I posted how to make noodles at home before: Homemade Noodles in Thick Pork Broth  

Cook the noodles in boiling water for 45 seconds to one minute.  Add to a bowl, along with soy sauce, sesame oil, Sichuan peppercorn oil, chili oil sauce, spicy ground beef with dice tofu, finely shredded cucumber, chopped cilantro, green onion, and of course, crunchy soybeans.

Use pair of chopsticks to toss everything together.

Bon appetite! O(∩_∩)O~

Wonton Soup with Pork and Bamboo Shoot Filling

中文菜谱:

鲜肉春笋馄饨

Wonton soup is a very popular breakfast choice in our house.  It is fast to maker, and it is also nutritious and satisfying.  We have the tradition to eat something hot like wonton soup, noodle soup or porridge for the first and the most important meal of the day. 

The great thing about having hot wonton soup in the morning is that the soup is appetizing and also warms you up both inside and out. 

You are always rushing in the morning? No problem.  The trick is to prepare ahead wontons ahead of time.  Make a large batch when possible, freeze them and store in an air-tight Ziploc bag for up to a month.  All is left to do in the morning is boiling water and gathering seasonings. 

Ingredients:

1lb ground pork
1 package of frozen bamboo shoots (weighs 1 lb.  The fresh version would be better if available)
1 package of wonton wrappers
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons rice cooking wine
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
chicken stock/ water (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup)
salt to taste
egg wash/ water (for wonton wrappers)

 

Directions:

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

Thaw the bamboo shoots, drain well and finely chop with a food processor. 

Add chopped bamboo shoots to the ground pork mixture, whisk until well combined.

Season with salt

Wonton wrappers are usually sold frozen.  Remember to completely thaw them ahead of time before using.

Brush the edges with egg wash or water. 

Add a couple teaspoons of pork filling to one corner.

Roll towards the other end.

Pull both long ends and stack them together.

Repeat the process until all the wonton wrappers are done.

Cook a large pot of water over high heat until it boils.  Add wontons.  Cook over high heat.  Soon the water would boil again.  Add 1/2 cup cold water to the pot.  When the water boils again and the wontons float, it is the time you can tell they are cooked through.

Meanwhile, add seasonings for the soup to the serving bowls.  I use mini dried shrimps, seaweed, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, minced garlic, chili pepper oil sauce, chopped cilantro, chopped green onion, and chopped pickled vegetables.

Add wontons along with a ladle or two of hot broth to the serving bowls.

Stir gently with chop sticks or a spoon.

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Bon Appetite!

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~ 

Sweet Rice Dumplings with Pork Belly and Mung Beans Wrapped in Bamboo Leaves

Dragon Festival 2018 comes on June 18.  It is not only celebrated by Chinese people, but also some other Asian countries too.  The traditions on this day is to take a bath/ shower with herbal medicine; eat some  sweet rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves; and watch boating completion. 

Among these celebrating events, the dumpling part is most attractive to me.  I used to make dumplings together with my mom when I was really young.  I carry on the tradition to make sweet rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves.  And I am hoping someday I can pass it onto my child in the future as a family tradition.  Although we have been living in America for a long time, we still hold on to our cultures and traditions, which I guess is why American cultures are so amazingly diverse and always evolving.  People from all over the world hold on to their origins but also embrace other cultures.

In a way bamboo wrapped sweet rice dumplings are like pasta from Italian families.  Each family has its own family recipes or secret ingredients.

Dumpling ingredients:

2 lbs sweet rice
1 package split mung beans (13.2oz/375g)
1 1/2 cups pinto beans
1 package salted duck egg yolks
2 tablespoons soy sauce
salt to taste
water
large bamboo leaves
marinated pork belly

For marinated pork belly:

2 lbs pork belly
2 to 3 tablespoon soy sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons rice cooking wine
1/4 teaspoon white ground pepper
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
salt to taste

Directions:

Rinse pork belly under running water.  Pat dry with paper towel and then cut it into I inch cubes. 

Add the pork belly to a medium bowl, along with soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, ginger, rice cooking wine, ground white pepper, oyster sauce and salt.  Mix well.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or a couple days. 

Stir a couple times in between so that the pork belly could be seasoned more evenly.

Soak sweet rice and pinto beans with seasonings and water for 2 to 3 hours.

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.

Soak the split mung beans with water and a pinch of salt for an hour.  Drain and rinse a few times until the water drained from mung beans is clear.

Salted duck egg yolks can be found in frozen foods section in Asian grocery stores. Cut each of them into small bite size pieces.

All set to go!

old every two bamboo leaves into a cone shape; add a couple tablespoons sweet rice with pinto beans.

Add a tablespoon mung beans, one piece pork belly and one piece of duck egg yolk.

Add another tablespoon sweet rice and pinto beans.

Fold the bamboo leaves on top and wrap it up

Secure with cotton twine

I make about 40 dumplings.  And this large 9 quarts Le Creuset dutch oven comes in handy.  All of the dumplings fit in one pot. 

This was my birthday gift earlier this year.  And my cat beat me to it O(∩_∩)O~

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

They taste best when they are hot

The sweet rice, beans, pork belly and salted duck egg yolk almost melted together after such a long time simmering.  Pork inside is so tender and flavorful.  Sweet rice on the outside is soft and glutinous in a good way.   And the refreshing scent from bamboo leaves is a nice touch too.