Homemade Vegan Chinese Wonton 自制素饺子/ Tofu and vegetables dumplings

IMG_9542

I have made many dumplings before but never a vegan one. And sometimes when the quality of meat was not good, the taste really does put off your appetite. And I wondered, why do we try so hard to cover the unpleasant ‘meaty’ taste, and not just make it vegetarian? So I did a test, and it turned out so great that even my non-vegetarian husband and sister loved it! And I see no reasons to make these dumplings with meat anymore in the future again. Win win, yeah!

It’s so easy that you wouldn’t believe, and you can make it two ways: boil or deep-fried like the normal ones. But here I’m going to show you my special trick that is healthier, still got the same crispy wonton edges. Instead of frying them in big pot of oil, I baked them, which I could control the amount of oil i brush on top, therefore a healthier option. 😉

IMG_9556(Make about 27 Wontons)

Ingredients:

1/2 pack wonton wrappers

1 pack tofu, crumbled

1 tbsp minced ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 spring onion, minced

1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 dl sweet peas

coriander, chopped (optional)

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp potato flour

1/2 tbsp Shao Xing wine

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp salt

Dash of white pepper

Methods:

  1. Defrost wonton wrappers completely, preferably in a fridge for a day or in room temperature for a couple hours.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl. Place halve a tablespoon of filling onto a wonton wrapper, close the edges completely by pressing with your fingers. Repeat until all the filling is used.

IMG_3692

To get boiled wonton:

Bring water to boil. Add 1 tsp of salt and oil, boil wontons for about 2 minutes or until they are floated on the water. Take them out with sieve and serve with soy sauce, dark Chinese Chinkiang vinegar and julienned ginger.

To get ‘deep fried’ / baked wonton:

Preheat oven to 200 ºC. Place wonton on an oiled baking sheet, brush each wonton lightly with oil and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve with Thai sweet chill sauce or mayonnaise.

IMG_3693

IMG_9563

I personally like the boiled wontons better. They are more juicy and I simply love vinegar. The baked/ deep fried ones are good too. You know, crunchy texture and more fragrant. Try them yourselves. It’s great for parties. 🙂

Cheat Okonomiyaki / Japanese savoury vegetables pancake 简易大阪烧

IMG_9394IMG_9383

Just that I haven’t emphasised enough, this is a cheating version of an okonomiyaki. Some Japanese people probably hate me right now for spoiling their recipe with one of the most popular foods in Osaka. It is embarrassing that I don’t have the key ingredient ‘Nagaimo’, a species of yam that I just cannot get in Finland, like many other things. So bear with me, this is my cheat and easy version of okonomiyaki. And seriously I think it is as good as those I ate in Osaka. (with a beer or sake in my hand of course)

IMG_9387

(Make 2 servings)

Ingredients:

130g Flour

110ml Water

2 Eggs

130g Cabbage, shredded

1 Small carrot, peeled and shredded

1 Chili, minced

1 Spring onion, minced

80g Mushroom of your choice, diced ( or pork, chicken, salmon, etc.)

1/4 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Garlic powder

Dash of white pepper

1/4 tsp Soy sauce (optional)

Topping:

Homemade barbecue sauce:

  • 2 tbsp Ketchup
  • 1,5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1,5 tbsp Oyster sauce/ Vegetarian stir fry sauce

Mayonnaise

Shicimi (Japanese spice mixture) / chili powder (optional)

Aonori (Japanese seaweed powder) / seaweed, ripped

Katsuobushi (Japanese bonito flakes)

Methods:

1) In a big bowl, slightly beat in  eggs, mix in water and flour and let it rest for 15 minutes.

2) Add the rest of the ingredients, stir lightly to mix well.

3) Heat up 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Pour out half the mixture into the pan and form a round shape. Turn heat to medium low. Let it fry until golden brown from the bottom, flip and continue to fry the other side. (Each side about 3-4 minutes)

4) To serve, spread 2 tbsp of homemade barbecue sauce on top of the pancake, follow by drizzling some mayonnaise, shicimi powder, ripped seaweed and bonito flakes. Serve immediately.

IMG_9392

IMG_9376

IMG_9390

Onigiri /My new favourite thing 饭团

PicShells

Last Christmas my husband and I went travelling to Japan. We were visiting Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Tokyo and Nagoya. We also soaked in the onsen of Hakone and ate the legendary black egg that cooked in the hot spring. The whole trip was spectacular. Foods were amazing, it’s killing me to even think about it. Despite ramen, I also felt in love with onigiri, this simple rice dumpling with a little stuffing inside. The Japanese have proved their love of rice. I swear I have never eaten anything better than the rice I ate in Japan. Need not to put anything, I would eat 2 bowls of Japanese cooked rice with no doubt, which I did anyway. The texture is firm and chewy, the fragrance is indescribable. You would have missed out a lot if you are on a low-carb diet, it’d had be so wasteful.

I became addicted to onigiri since there have been a lot of times when we starved while travelling from places to places, a Japanese kiosk then saved our life. Costs around 1€ (150 ¥) each, two onigiris would be a satisfying meal for me already. Always available and always so tasty. Who said that you can’t travel cheap in Japan? Well we have paid between 300¥ to 60000¥ for a meal, as you can see you really do have a choice.

Talking about rice, you must use good quality Japanese rice for making onigiri. Trust me, I have tried with Jasmine rice, bad Japanese rice and good Japanese rice, huge differences that you would not have guess. Basically you can stuff anything you like inside the rice dumpling. The most typical ones are with salted salmon, fish roe, pork chop, chicken, shrimp with mayonnaise, tuna, egg, and even sour plum which was not my favourite. It’s up to your preference. Be creative!

IMG_2213 IMG_2221 IMG_2222

(Make 6-7 onigiris)

Ingredients:

400ml High quality Japanese rice

600ml Water

140g Salmon/ Seaweed roe for vegetarian, more suggestion see below

1tsp Salt

1/2 tbsp Butter

2 tbsp Japanese rice vinegar (Optional)

Methods:

1) Wash rice until the water becomes clear and drain. Add water and washed rice to a pot and bring to boil. Stir well and turn the heat to the lowest and cover with lid. Let it cook for 15 minutes and turn the heat off. Let it steams by itself for 5-10minutes then it’s done. Add in the vinegar and mix well. Let it cool for a little bit.

2) Heat up butter in a pan and add salmon. Fry until the salmon is cooked. You can break the salmon after it is cooked and then add salt in it, or break the salmon while frying and add the salt. The first method you get a juicier fish and the latter you get a crispier texture.

To form a onigiri, you will need:

1tbsp Salt

1 bowl of water

3-4 Nori seaweed, cut in half into a rectangle shape

1) Make your hands wet with water and rub some salt on your palms, take rice and form a triangle shape.

2) Dig a hole in the middle of the triangle-shaped rice and add in the salmon flesh/seaweed roe. Cover the hole with a little rice and press firmly to shape the rice dumpling. Wrap half a nori sheet around it and voila, you are good to have a big bite.

IMG_2228 IMG_2232I have to say that my favourite stuffing is the dried fish roe and seaweed mixture powder that you can buy from a Japanese grocery store, which gives the most taste to onigiri. Nowadays creative people are making onigiri with barbecue chicken, kimchi and many more. For vegetarian, I’d suggest putting seaweed roe, tamagoyaki, smoked tofu, flavoured seitan and kimchi.

Add some black sesame seed for a more appealing look!

IMG_2235Isn’t it a good idea for picnic? 😉

Soto Ayam / Yellow Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup

IMG_2198

 

Soto ayam, a classic Indonesian dish that is spicy, sour, flavourful and infused in aromas. I have only tasted it when our Indonesian friend Nora made it for us a few weeks ago. I have been craving for soto ayam ever since and I tried to make it a couple of times. It was so good, not as good as the one Nora made though because she uses her own chili sauce and I think it makes a clear difference, of course. But now I have a basic recipe to share with you. If you ever enjoy noodle soup as much as I do, I assure you will love this one. It is very luring. It is a bit complicated to make since it requires a lot of spices and some works to do like boiling the noodle and egg, but trust me it is so worth the effort.

IMG_2201

( Make 2 servings)

Ingredients:

2 Chicken thighs (about 1 kilo with bones), cleaned

200 g Rice noodles, cook according to package or until soften

2 Shallots, sliced

4 Garlic cloves, diced

2 pcs Sliced ginger

2-4 Kaffir lime leaves

1 Lemongrass stalk, halved and then cut into long sticks

1 tbsp Coriander powder

1 tbsp Cumin powder

1/2 tbsp Turmeric powder

1 l Water

2 tsp Salt

White pepper to taste

To Garnish:

50 g Bean sprouts, washed

1 Hard-boiled egg, halved

Coriander leaves

Fried shallot

Lime wedges

Chili sauce (I used Siracha)

Sweet soy sauce

Methods:

1) Put all the ingredients except the rice noodles and garnishment into a deep pot, bring to boil and covered, simmer for about 30 minutes. (I used pressure cooker so it took about 15 minutes).

2) Add salt and pepper to taste, place cooked rice noodle into bowls. Drain the soup with sieve. Pour soup over the noodle, then top up with chicken from the soup, half an egg, lime wedge, coriander leaves, fried shallot, and some bean sprouts. To serve, add in some small amount of sweet soy sauce and chili sauce according to own preference ( I put about 1 tablespoon each). It was such a satisfying dish.

IMG_2202PS: When the rice noodle is cooked, do rinse it with very cold water to prevent it from sticking together.

I will try to figure out a vegetarian version of this soon. 😉

 

My first dish as a 13 year old/ Simple egg fried rice

Fried rice 3

I remember that I found a big bowl of leftover cooked rice in the rice cooker when I was home alone, hungry. Suddenly I felt so determined that I wanted to make food for myself. I was 13 and have never cooked in my life before. But during that time I have seen enough Hong Kong TV shows that teach people how to cook at home, and there was this particular dish called ‘golden fried rice/ 黄金炒饭’ which has brought many awards to the main character in the TV shows. His secret of the perfect fried rice is to make sure that every rice grains is coated with eggs, which are fried in a highly heated wok until they started to jump at the edge of the wok pan. So that every single rice grains is separated and firm that gives a nice flavour of egg and texture to the dish.

I’ve got so inspired and determined just out of a sudden. I was literally shivering while lighting up the gas stove as it was my first time. But somehow magic happened, I made the perfect fried rice! The process was smooth and trouble-free. I didn’t know that my fried rice was good until all my cousins came home and ate it and then wondered who has made it. They could not believed that it was me since I have never cooked. But one thing is for sure that I have got some talents as a 13 year old. 😉

Through years I have learned to make many types of fried rice. Basically it is like making spaghetti, you can put whatever you want with it. But I have found out that the best ones are those with the simplest ingredients. And this recipe is really easy that even a 13 year old can do. It is almost exactly the same recipe like I did back then except this time I have added broccoli and chilli to give some colours. 😀

Fried rice 2

Ingredients:

400g overnight cooked rice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, sliced

2 Chinese sausage / Vegan sausage, sliced (optional)

2 organic eggs

4 tbsp good quality soy sauce

1/2 tsp white pepper

100gram broccoli florets (optional)

Methods:

1) Heat up 2 tbsp of peanut oil in wok pan, fry garlic until golden brown. Add in sausage, onion, broccoli and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.

2) Add in rice, break to separate it gently and mix well with all the ingredients inside the wok. Make a well in the middle and break in the eggs. ( Make sure to turn the heat to the highest) Stir very quickly to coat all the rice grains with eggs.

3) When you see that the rice has absorbed all the moisture of the eggs, gradually stir in the soy sauce and white pepper. I added 2 tbsp at a time to avoid getting the rice too moist. Taste accordingly to your preference by adding more or less soy sauce.

3) Stir fry for another 5 minutes or so until the rice grains are ‘jumping’ at the edge of the wok pan because of the high heat. Make sure that happens in order to bring a little taste of the ‘wok’ as so we say, or the taste of burn to make it a perfect fried rice. When it looks done, serve immediately. Top with chilli or spring onions if you like.

Fried rice 1

Somtam Salad / Spicy Thai Salad 凉拌泰式沙拉 & Birthday

IMG_5917 It’s been a really hot summer. The weather doesn’t make me feel like eating or doing much. I’m not a big fan of salad, but lately I’ve been craving for something light, spicy, sweet and sour because of the heat. And here it is. Som Tam is a Thai salad dish that I’ve learned to love when I was working in a Thai restaurant downtown Helsinki. It was one of my favourite Thai dish to order from the kitchen especially during a long, hot working day, it always brought back my appetite. Usually serve as a starter, sometimes as a main pairing with steamed jasmine rice, hmmm… The original version is made with exotic ingredients like green papaya, Asian dried shrimp and fish sauce. For this post, I’m making it vegetarian with  ingredients that are easier to find, for example to replace green papaya with rutabaga, which tastes almost the same. The soul of this dish is the chili-lime dressing, which you can use it also as a dipping sauce, and a dressing for other dishes such as noodle salad or beef salad.

I made this dish as a side for my husband’s 26th birthday party last Saturday. Everything was gone beautifully. 😉 My vegetarian relatives loved it too! Other than Som Tam, I also made Malaysian curry chicken, pork dumplings and Thai style spicy tofu with mixed vegetables for our guests. We had a really nice brut to start, continued with a bottle of Alsatian rosé to pair with the food. It was a really nice lunch celebration. Together with our family we bought a bicycle for my husband as a gift and he was really happy about it. IMG_5910   Thai chili-lime dressing

4 Garlic, minced

1-2 Chili, minced (deseeded if you are less tolerant)

4 tbsp Soy sauce /Fish sauce

Juice of 2 lime

1 tbsp Brown sugar

Method:
1) Pound the chill and garlic with mortar and pestle if you have one.

2) Mix everything together until the sugar dissolved. And voila! You have a lovely Thai dressing.

 

Continues to the cheat version of Som Tam recipe

(Make 2 servings as main or 4 servings as side)

200g Rutabaga, peeled and thinly shredded

150g Carrot, peeled and thinly shredded

100g Green beans, cut into 1” length

100g Cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tbsp Toasted peanut

Methods:

1) Blanch green bean in boiling water for about 1 minute. Strain and rinse under cold water, drain well and set aside.

2) Mix all the ingredients together with the Thai chilli-lime dressing. Let it stands for a few minutes in room temperature to absorb the sauce.

3) Take the dish out and discard excessive liquid from the salad. Top with additional roasted peanut or coriander leaves if desired. Serve.  

IMG_5904

And of course, if you could get green papaya easily then you should definitely use it for this recipe. But in Finland, rutabaga is available all year around in any shops, therefore I’m using it here 🙂 If you have dried shrimps and are not a vegetarian, toast them and add them here for more authentic taste.IMG_5905

IMG_5914It would look better on a bed of salad if you could imagine. 😉

IMG_5939The cook and the brut.

IMG_5957Celebration in progress.

IMG_5964

IMG_5944

This is a dish that you could adjust according to your preference. Sometimes I like to put more sugar, sometimes I’d put more chili. Taste the sauce before mixing the ingredients in and you are on good hands. I also like to mix this chill-lime dressing with glass noodle, add some mint leaves, cucumber and shallot and it becomes another delicious Thai dish that is perfect for the summer. 😉 I also found a really good post about making Som Tam, check it out here.

My beautiful, lovely Grandmother/ 外婆的咸肉粽/ Glutinous Rice Dumpling Wrapped in Bamboo Leaves

IMG_4760

I only started to appreciate traditions and festival foods after I came to live in Finland, a place that has winter more than 6 months, celebrates to the midnight sun during the summer that lasts no longer than 2 months. It is clearly different than where I came from, Malaysia. As Malaysian Chinese, we carried out many practices originated from China. Some food and cultures have been also created only in Malaysia partly influenced by the Malay, Indian and European cultures. To name, black pepper crabs, pork ribs in herb tea, fish head curry are becoming some of those signature dishes of Malaysia.

This dish I’m introducing today is one of those festival dishes originated from China. Making glutinous rice dumpling or ‘Zongzi’ in Chinese, during the Dragon Boat Festival remains one of those practices carried on from generation to generation. There is a nice story about the history of making glutinous rice dumpling. You may go ahead and google, all I will tell you is that this dish was supposed to be for fishes not human. 😀 Well, now it does not sound as tempting anymore, does it? No worries, this is not the same anymore compared to how it started. It is safe to be consumed by human and super delicious!

My grandmother, who I love to death used to make Zongzi every year. She would make countless bundles of these and hang them everywhere under the ceiling to cool. We always have too many Zongzi and enough to hand out some to the neighbours and relatives, it made me so proud. My grandmother used to have all the energy for it. But she stopped doing all these fun stuffs after she got that terrible stroke that made her body half paralysed. Before that she used to be out going, travelling to China, playing Ma Jong everywhere, running after me with bamboo stick real fast. I have been really sad to see that terrible change in her life. For over 20 years, she has been hiding from the society in her empty house, avoid meeting relatives and feeling ashamed of how she looks, not capable to walk properly. When me and my Finnish husband got married, I was excited to bring him back to the village I grew up in Johor Bahru and to meet my grandmother. I remembered while this white guy walked into her home, my grandmother immediately said that, ‘Oh no… there is nothing to see here, I’ve got nothing to show in my house, I’m a shamed!’

Should have correct her immediately that she is the only one and the most beautiful thing to be seen in that empty house.

I tried to call her every week and if not, I feel guilty and regret that I didn’t. Too bad there is a thing called time zone differences in the world. It makes it rather difficult to reach her before her bedtime. I’m sure my grandma would be very proud of me for making these rice dumpling all by myself. Oh well, my sister helped a little. 😉 I can’t see but next time when I tell her this, I’m sure she will be smiling like this.

Popo pic1

I did not realise that Popo, my grandmother looks much older than the picture in my head. 😦 Last phone call she said that she has a reason to feel happy again because she heard my voice. (Cried…)

Here is to my Popo, my beloved grandmother.

IMG_4770

(Make 50-60 bite sized Zongzi)

WARNING! THIS IS A VERY COMPLICATED AND TIME CONSUMING DISH!

Ingredients A:

1 kilo Glutinous rice

400g Peeled split mung bean

200g Dried chestnut

200g/ 1/2 pack Dried bamboo leaves

15-20 pieces Dried shiitake mushroom

4 Tbsp Oyster/Mushroom sauce

4 Tbsp Seseme oil

4 Tbsp Soy sauce

2 Tbsp Deep fried shallot (optional)

Several salted duck eggs (optional)

Plastic stings or hemp, cut into 50cm long and tight into bundles (I used wool thread :-P)

 

Ingredients B for Carnivores:

500g Pork belly, cut into biteable cubes

100g Dried Shrimp (optional)

2 cloves Garlic, minced

2 Tbsp Oyster sauce

1 Tbsp Soy sauce

1 Tbsp Dark soy sauce

1 Tsp 5 spice powder

 

Ingredients C for Vegetarians:

300g Seitan, cut into biteable cubes

150g Peanut, soaked in water (Can be replaced by canned peanut)

50g Chinese preserved kale/ vegetable (optional)

2 cloves Garlic, minced

2 Tbsp Mushroom sauce

1 Tbsp Soy sauce

1Tbsp Dark soy sauce

1 Tsp 5 spice powder

 

Methods:

1) (Ingredients A) Soak glutinous rice, peeled split mung bean, dried chestnut, dried bamboo leaves and dried shiitake mushroom in water separately overnight. Washed and drained. Mix glutinous rice and mung bean together with 2 tbsp oyster/mushroom sauce, 2 tbsp sesame oil and 2 tbsp soy sauce and deep-fried shallot in a bowl. Set aside.

2) Heat up oil in wok pan, stir fry mushroom and chestnut separately with the rest of the sauces, place also separately.

(The reason to place ingredients separately is to make sure that you get a piece of everything wrapped into every rice dumplings one by one.)

For Carnivores (Ingredients B):

2) Fry pork in oil with garlic, add oyster sauce, soy sauce, dark soy sauce and 5 spice powder until cooked. Meanwhile, toast dried shrimp in hot pan with a little bit of oil until fragrant. Set aside.

For Vegetarians (Ingredients C):

2) Fry seitan in oil with garlic, add in mushroom sauce, soy sauce, dark soy sauce and 5 spice powder and mix well. Meanwhile toast peanut with a little bit oil and salt. Set aside.

3) To make a rice dumpling, placed 2 bamboo leaves together horizontally and put both ends together to make a pocket. Put in 1 tbsp of rice-mung bean filling, add one piece of everything on top: mushroom, chestnut, pork/seitan, peanut, some Chinese preserved kale (optional) and salted duck egg (optional). Top up more rice-mung bean filling to cover up. Fold the leaves to closure, wrap the dumpling tightly with strings.

4) Cook rice dumplings in a deep cooking pot with enough water that covers them. Add 1 Tbsp of salt. Bring to boil, turn the heat to medium low, cook the dumplings for 4 hours. Enjoy as breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner.

I froze most of the dumplings in freezer and whenever I feel like it, I take it out and steam it for 10-15 minutes. I have let my Finnish, Chinese and Russian friends tried too, some said that one is definitely not enough! 😀

IMG_4785

It is important to tight the rice dumpling well and firm in order to prevent leaking during cooking process. FYI, 2 of mine leaked.

 IMG_4807

 Here is my vegetarian version of Zongzi.

IMG_4830

With a pressure cooker, it only takes 40 minutes to cook the glutinous rice dumpling (Zongzi) ready.

IMG_4847

There are many ways to wrap a rice dumpling. Be creative and make your own style! No stress.

IMG_4856

If you may wonder, the main flavour of this dish comes from the fragrance of the bamboo leaves: woody, tea like aromas, hard to describe, very unique indeed!

IMG_4857

 Now you may understand why I think my Popo would be proud of me for making this dish. 😉

IMG_4820