02/25/16

Qingjiao Rou Si

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Qingjiao Rou Si

(recipe from Effortless Bento)

200 g thinly sliced beef

salt and pepper

2 poblano peppers

200 g canned bamboo shoots, drained

1 1/2 tsp soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp mirin

1 tsp oyster sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp potato starch

2 tsp water

Directions

  • Dust the beef with salt and pepper.
  • Remove the stems and seeds from the poblanos, and then slice the peppers into matchsticks.
  • Slice the bamboo shoots into matchsticks as well.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, mirin, oyster sauce, and sugar to make the sauce.

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  • Now that everything is prepared and in it’s place; put your wok over high heat, add the oil, and wait for it to warm up.
  • Stir fry the beef until it is browned.
  • Add in the poblano pepper and bamboo shoots, continue to stir fry. They don’t need long because they are cut so thin.

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  • Pour the sauce over the beef and vegetables, stirring to coat.
  • Dissolve the potato starch into the water and add it to the wok, letting it simmer until the sauce thickens.
  • Serve hot!

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So tasty! I made this to pack into some bento lunches to take to work, but ended up eating it with rice at supper too. It’s a fairly pared down stir fry, so one could add in whatever extra veg or starch their heart desires, but there’s something to be said for the clarity of flavours and textures you get from sticking to just a couple of ingredients.

The recipe called for green bell peppers, but the green ones are my least liked of the bell peppers, so I substituted for poblano peppers instead. I don’t regret the decision at all, but if you want to use green bell peppers you certainly can!

 

08/5/15

Pretty Pleated Shumai

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Shumai

(recipe mashup between The Dumpling Sisters and Effortless Bento)

 

100 grams scallops

400 grams ground pork

1 inch nub of ginger

1 small or 1/2 large leek (white part only)

1 tsp cooking oil

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

2 Tbsp potato flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp baking soda (optional)

dumpling wrappers (the thin kind)

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Directions

  • D’huk the scallops. (What a fun word! Watch the video for pronunciation, it wasn’t what I thought it would be from how it was spelled. The Dumpling Sisters explain that to d’huk is to run your knife through, or hack into smaller pieces.)
  • Mince or grate the ginger.
  • Finely chop up the leek. Fry the leek in a small pan over medium heat until it softens.

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  • In a mixing bowl, combine the pork, ginger, fried leek, soy sauce, sesame oil, potato flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir vigorously until the filling starts to bind. Then add in the scallops, gently mixing so that everything combines.

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  • Scoop the filling onto your dumpling wrappers by the spoonful.
  • Create a circle with your thumb and pointer finger, using this to cradle the soon to be dumpling so that it will start to take shape.
  • To create the pleats around the top of the dumpling, use the back of a spoon, or a chopstick, to pull the dumpling wrapper toward the middle in increments.
  • Adjust your grip, so that you’re not so much cradling the dumpling anymore as you are holding it around the top. Flatten out the filling (use the back of your spoon, or the palm of your opposite hand) and give the dumpling a little squeeze around the collar, so that the pleats in the wrapper stick.

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  • Repeat until you run out of filling.
  • To cook the dumplings, steam them over boiling water for seven minutes.
  • Shumai are delicious on their own, but if you simply need a dipping sauce, mix together equal parts of soy sauce and rice vinegar!

These came out so tasty! I’m really interested to try out the version that Amy and Julie make using prawns instead of the scallops. For me, making dumplings is as fun as eating dumplings. It’s a win-win situation. :)

The lovely ladies at The Dumpling Sisters make a good point: one need not have a steamer in order to steam dumplings. They give some good ideas as different apparati to use for steaming if you are not the owner of a steamer. (I’m not going to link it again, but if you haven’t yet, check out their video!) I used a space ship shaped vegetable steamer in a pot with a tight fitting lid, lined with some perforated parchment paper so that the dumplings wouldn’t stick. It worked like a charm.

Changes I would make for the next time I make shumai:

  • I would probably skip on the baking soda. It seems as though the baking soda is added in to tenderize the pork (one doesn’t add the scallops until later because they aren’t in need of tenderizing). While tenderness is an esteemed quality in foods with animal protein, I found this addition gave the filling a little bit of a weird mushy texture.
  • I would use thinner dumpling wrappers. The wrappers I brought home from the store were thicker than I normally use, and I just found it was a lot to bite through. So, my suggestion to you is to get or make thin dumpling wrappers.
  • Mr. made the suggestion that diced up water chestnuts would be a good thing to include, as they are in the potsticker recipe. It would add some contrasting texture, to be sure. I think I would like to try making shumai again without the baking soda tenderizer and see what the texture is like before going so far from the original recipes as to add the water chestnuts in. We’ll just have to see what makes us happy!

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Also, shumai make a super cute addition to a bento lunch! Yay!

On the lunch menu that day was shumai with dipping sauce, snow peas, crab and radish salad, red bell pepper, smiley Babybel cheese, and cherries macerated in balsamic vinegar.

Bento pro-tip: if you want to keep your cheese from getting water logged by nearby items, leave the wax on as a barrier to keep the wet from touching your cheese!

This time last year: Huevos Falsos

2 years ago: Particularly Delicious Chili

3 years ago: Thai Peanut Sauce

4 years ago: Stacked Summery Salad

5 years ago: Pomegranate Lemonade Slush

 

12/6/12

Retro Party Fun

It’s getting to be holiday party time! And I’m here to clue you into an awesome idea for your party, or a party/potluck/get together that you’re attending:

Cocktail sausages!

They don’t immediately jump to mind, I admit,  because they aren’t overly flashy or fancy. It’s difficult to pass on bringing something composed like roasted beet towers with blue cheese mousse when bringing something to a gathering, a savvy cooker does want to impress after all. Or maybe you’re putting on a spread, but don’t have a whole week to prepare all the attention requiring recipes that you’ve clipped out, and this dish gives you something to add to your table with little thought or effort.

With the holidays (whichever winter solstice time ones you celebrate) nearly upon us, though, it’s good to remember that food need not be fancy to be impressive and enjoyable, and I have yet to experience a crowd that hasn’t made a tray or two of cocktail sausages disappear.

While you’re rushing about trying to get into your party clothes and make sure that the napkins are out, these lovelies can bubble away in the oven unattended. They make for a tasty retro bite or two, whether off a toothpick or a cocktail stick. We really only eat them at parties, so they always make me want to get out my cocktail shaker.

Retro Fun Cocktail Sausages

(adapted from Nigella Lawson)

2 pounds cocktail sausages

1 Tbsp sesame oil

1 Tbsp garlic infused olive oil (or just regular olive oil, if you don’t have)

1/2 Cup honey

2 Tbsp soy sauce

Directions

  • Heat the oven to 400 ° F.
  • If the sausages come linked together, separate them, and then place into a shallow roasting dish.
  • For the sauce, whisk together the oils, honey and soy sauce.
  • Pour over the sausages and give them a bit of a stir so that they’re all coated.
  • Roast for 35-45 minutes, or until they are well browned and starting to burst. If you happen to be in the kitchen, give the roaster a bit of a stir about halfway through the time.
  • Serve with tiny forks, cocktail sticks, or toothpicks and enjoy hot!

This time last year: Butter Tarts

And the year before: Tortellini Soup